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Women's authority within Mormonism

Updated on March 8, 2013

Male Supervision for all Female Callings (Positions)

During my membership in the LDS religion I have worked with children, young women and adults. Every one of these callings (positions) entailed teaching the gospel (Mormon beliefs and interpretation of scripture). Even as president of a sub-organization such as Young Women's I have always had male leaders supervise my activities and decisions.

My creativity was always welcomed as long as it didn't interfere with male approved handbooks or manuals. The lessons in the manuals couldn't be supplemented by outside (non-lds or unofficial church) materials.

Even though I have enjoyed the variety of positions held within the Mormon Church the submission to male leaders felt limiting and even discouraging. Frustration over male decisions that were unmovable and the discrimination of females and minorities was to common.

Because I was raised to be obedient to my male leaders I never questioned their authority and when I encountered unjust or "uninspired" behavior I tried to justify it somehow or ignore it and put it on a back shelf.

On my 18-month mission on Temple Square and Sacramento, CA (four month "field" work) I have been a Trainer, District Leader, and Zone Leader. And though I held these "higher" positions I was only an executer of male authority. During my mission I have dealt with several companions (usually you are in a twosome) that didn't want to work or that did not want to be there but stayed because of family pressure. Then I have viewed these missionaries as less because of their lack of obedience and faith. Male authorities constantly talked to these persons and one even got kick out of the mission. Today I know that these ladies were mistreated.

A mission can be very stressful and unhealthy, Check out this newspaper article:

Isn't a calling supposed to be a volunteer position?

Not to long ago I have served in the Primary presidency (organization for children under the age 12). One of my responsibilities was over the cub scouts in our ward (congregation), another one was filling teacher positions for Sunday instructions.

At one occasion a Cub Scout mother threw a fit because we were serving cookies, some of them were peanut butter cookies. Her son was allergic to peanuts, which was never brought to our attention. I defended the person who voluntarily bought this particular type of cookies (I donated the rest of them) because we have asked for help with the refreshments weeks before and the complaining mother never responded. She said very rude things to me and I stood up to her. The Primary president next to me only wanted to shut me up not her so I told her off so she left my side.

Shortly after the incident I brought this matter to the bishop (leader of my congregation) and he assured me his support, which at a later time he basically withdrew. Looking back I can only shake my head in disgust.

As it turned out the Primary president couldn't support me with anything. She held secret meetings with the other counselor and opposed my suggestions regularly. I hate to say this but I was better qualified to be the president than her but submitted myself to the judgment of male leaders and accepted to work as one of her counselors.

In one of our meetings we discussed a nursery worker who wanted to be released from her position in the nursery (18 mth - 3 yr old). She has been there for a while and wanted a change. My opinion was to find someone else for her position and I volunteered to take her place. The reply was "We need you to do all the cup scout stuff because we do not want to do it". The Primary president asked our opinions on the matter even though she already knew the bishops answer. He said: "Keep her in there, she needs to learn something."

All this and other things that happened during this time made me "quit" my calling. I asked the bishop to release me and if he didn't he should not be surprised to hear screaming and yelling from the Primary. He released me and put me in the nursery and the nursery teacher took my position. She never knew what really happened. For all I know she thought it was all inspired.

One thing I realized then more than ever is that a calling should be a volunteer position and no one should ever be forced into a calling or pressured to do it. Nobody gets paid at this level.

Male leaders make all the decisions. The Primary president had no say whether to keep her in the nursery or not, he told her what to do. And if she would have disobeyed she would have been in trouble. Women in the LDS Church do not have authority over anything!! They are not even allowed to pray in General Conference (The Relief Society Meeting is not part of the Conference).

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