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Mormon Women Project

By: Saskia T - May 23, 2014

As Ben noted here, Mormon history is often told through a male lens. And as my advisor likes to say, women bear the brunt of being different. As a consequence, when their stories are told, they’re often relegated to a specially-labeled conference session or class unit or journal article, somehow set apart from instead of being an integral part of whatever history is being told. Obviously, I don’t know the solution to this problem, except to tell women’s stories wherever I can. Which is why I spent a good while perusing the site of The Mormon Women Project. I’m sure many of you are familiar with the project, but for those that are not, the project aims to showcase “the diversity and strength” found in the roughly seven million LDS women around the world. The site features profiles and pictures of women that “overcome personal trials, magnify motherhood, contribute to communities outside their homes, or be converted to the Gospel.” To insiders, it hopes to show that there is no one right path a faithful Mormon woman must follow, and to outsiders, it shows “the immense strength and wisdom of our people.” [2] Quite the charge.

Less saccharine and proscriptive than the faith-promoting stories in the Ensign, for example, these stories deal with women that have lost a child or a spouse, dealt with infertility, or use skills learned on their mission to manage their family and home. But there are also profiles of women with successful careers outside the home–lawyers, health care professionals, professors, photographers, social justice advocates, farmers…all women that speak the difficulties involved in juggling the many different roles they play, but also how much joy their work gives them, and that they firmly believe they are where God wants them to be.

I am an unashamed digital voyeur–I read blogs daily that are written by people I will never meet because I love the glimpses they give me of other peoples’ lives. I’m never going to be a Catholic mom with five kids, or a med student with a dog, or a long-legged fashion blogger (especially not that). But I read their stories because they show me how big the world is and how different our experiences can be. I was reminded of this when I started reading these interviews because the project manages to give a voice to the young Mormon mommies, but also the world travelers, the queer Buddhist Mormons, the scientists, the converts struggling to figure out Mormon culture they adopted when they became a member. And obviously the site has a certain slant, and the persons interviewed are carefully selected, and there are other objections that can be made to how this project is conceived and carried out. But still, one thing the project does incredibly well is illustrate how there is no one model for a faithful Mormon woman, no matter how often the female experience is simplified, generalized, and packed into a tidy lesson meant for General Conference, or sacrament meeting, or an academic classroom, for that matter.

 

[1] http://www.mormonwomen.com/about/

highlighting the righteous choices women make in all circumstances and locations. It celebrates women who have made deliberate choices — with the help of the Spirit and personal revelation — to overcome personal trials, magnify motherhood, contribute to communities outside their homes, or be converted to the Gospel. – See more at: http://www.mormonwomen.com/about/#sthash.fVDJAYfn.dpuf

 

highlighting the righteous choices women make in all circumstances and locations. It celebrates women who have made deliberate choices — with the help of the Spirit and personal revelation — to overcome personal trials, magnify motherhood, contribute to communities outside their homes, or be converted to the Gospel. – See more at: http://www.mormonwomen.com/about/#sthash.fVDJAYfn.dpuf

 

This digital library will show that among the 7 million women currently members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, there is stunning diversity and strength that may not always be recognized. The MWP is particularly interested in highlighting the righteous choices women make in all circumstances and locations. It celebrates women who have made deliberate choices — with the help of the Spirit and personal revelation — to overcome personal trials, magnify motherhood, contribute to communities outside their homes, or be converted to the Gospel.

To an audience inside the Church, their stories support making personal choices with God’s help that often stand apart from the pressures of Mormon culture. To an audience outside the Church, their stories show the immense strength and wisdom of our people.

- See more at: http://www.mormonwomen.com/about/#sthash.fVDJAYfn.dpuf

This digital library will show that among the 7 million women currently members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, there is stunning diversity and strength that may not always be recognized. The MWP is particularly interested in highlighting the righteous choices women make in all circumstances and locations. It celebrates women who have made deliberate choices — with the help of the Spirit and personal revelation — to overcome personal trials, magnify motherhood, contribute to communities outside their homes, or be converted to the Gospel.

To an audience inside the Church, their stories support making personal choices with God’s help that often stand apart from the pressures of Mormon culture. To an audience outside the Church, their stories show the immense strength and wisdom of our people.

- See more at: http://www.mormonwomen.com/about/#sthash.fVDJAYfn.dpuf

This digital library will show that among the 7 million women currently members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, there is stunning diversity and strength that may not always be recognized. The MWP is particularly interested in highlighting the righteous choices women make in all circumstances and locations. It celebrates women who have made deliberate choices — with the help of the Spirit and personal revelation — to overcome personal trials, magnify motherhood, contribute to communities outside their homes, or be converted to the Gospel.

To an audience inside the Church, their stories support making personal choices with God’s help that often stand apart from the pressures of Mormon culture. To an audience outside the Church, their stories show the immense strength and wisdom of our people.

- See more at: http://www.mormonwomen.com/about/#sthash.fVDJAYfn.dpuf

This digital library will show that among the 7 million women currently members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, there is stunning diversity and strength that may not always be recognized. The MWP is particularly interested in highlighting the righteous choices women make in all circumstances and locations. It celebrates women who have made deliberate choices — with the help of the Spirit and personal revelation — to overcome personal trials, magnify motherhood, contribute to communities outside their homes, or be converted to the Gospel.

To an audience inside the Church, their stories support making personal choices with God’s help that often stand apart from the pressures of Mormon culture. To an audience outside the Church, their stories show the immense strength and wisdom of our people.

- See more at: http://www.mormonwomen.com/about/#sthash.fVDJAYfn.dpuf

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9 Comments

  1. I love the Mormon Women Project, and I think it’s part of a greater emergence of Mormon women telling their stories and owning their own narrative. Claudia Bushman also started the Mormon Women’s Oral History Project at Claremont that’s still up and going (Melissa Mason and myself are heading it up now, and we’re still taking histories!), and I think there’s a real movement towards showcasing that there’s no such thing as a “typical” Mormon woman – we’re far too diverse in too many ways to really paint us with one brush.

    Comment by liz johnson — May 23, 2014 @ 2:36 pm

  2. Glad you’re highlighting this. One small typo correction: there are roughly seven million LDS women in the world. One letter makes a big difference!

    Comment by James Goldberg — May 23, 2014 @ 5:18 pm

  3. Thanks for the shout-out to a wonderful project. I know that Neylan McBaine, the founder of MWP, has worked tirelessly to make sure that MWP hits all the right notes, as you have described here. Diversity, internationalism, professional women, and more diversity. I can’t speak directly for Neylan, but something she might say is that true empowerment for Mormon women comes in letting the richness and depth of their individual experiences and voices portray them as more than just stereotypes. You have captured that spirit very well here.

    Comment by Andrea R-M — May 23, 2014 @ 6:32 pm

  4. James, yes, thank you for catching that. I never was all that good at numbers…

    Thanks, Liz and Andrea. Yes, on everything you say.

    Comment by Saskia T — May 23, 2014 @ 9:04 pm

  5. (Post edited to correct typo.)

    Comment by Saskia T — May 23, 2014 @ 9:06 pm

  6. A sincere thank you for capturing the spirit of the project and sharing it here on a site that I think is also doing a wonderful job of telling authentic stories.

    Comment by Neylan McBaine — May 24, 2014 @ 12:20 am

  7. It’s a great resource for writing on Mormonism as well. When working on a devotional book that needed more stories about women, I steered on over to the MWP to get those stories. I think it worked out well.

    Comment by smb — May 24, 2014 @ 8:34 am

  8. I love the Mormon Women Project!

    Comment by Kristine A — May 30, 2014 @ 9:20 pm

  9. I wish it had more followers than other Mormon Women facebook groups.

    Comment by Kristine A — May 30, 2014 @ 9:21 pm