Date of Award
Master of Arts
Theses & dissertations (Interdisciplinary)
Interdisciplinary Graduate Studies (Arts and Humanities)
This thesis examines how Mormon constructions of gender that limit women's sphere and narrowly prescribed women's roles have elicited strong resistance from many members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. A rich tradition of feminist theology and activism exists within the LDS church, but little work has been done to analyze the overarching effectiveness of these feminist efforts in bringing about change in the tradition. In order to address this issue I begin by teasing out how the LDS church's process for making changes to doctrine, policy, and practice differs from the change process of mainstream Protestant denominations, and how LDS church's particular change process informed its response to the civil rights movement--explaining why the eventual resolution took the form it did. I follow this with a consideration of how Mormon feminists have presented their positions and arguments for change, how the church as an organization has responded, and the current state of official church positions and rhetoric with respect to feminist issues. Finally, I pose the following questions: What lessons does the history of race related change within the LDS church hold for us regarding the potential change process for addressing feminist concerns? What avenues are available to the church for making changes in the roles it prescribes for LDS women? And is there evidence of imminent change or that change is in process right now? After analyzing the evidence available in the literature, I suggest that the LDS church is currently experiencing neither the internal nor the external conditions necessary to motivate it to seek and enact deep, genuine change in its construction of gender roles. In addition, I argue that while some of the church's behavior suggests movement toward a more conciliatory stance toward women, on balance, the majority of evidence suggests that the church is not taking steps to prepare for a major doctrinal change as it did in the lead-up to changing its doctrine on race.
Holly Theresa Bignall
Bignall, Holly Theresa, "Hope deferred: Mormon feminism and prospects for change in the LDS church" (2010). Graduate Theses and Dissertations. 11699.