Pulitzer Prize-Winning Professor to speak on Mormon Feminism

For Boston-based Naclers: Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Laurel Thatcher Ulrich will be speaking this Sunday in a panel discussion addressing the question “Where Have All the Mormon Feminists Gone?” Other panelists are Maxine Hanks, Kate Holbrook, and me. The event will be at Quincy House at Harvard University at 7:30 p.m.

(The answer? Gone for bloggers, every one. When will they ever learn…?)

20 comments for “Pulitzer Prize-Winning Professor to speak on Mormon Feminism

  1. Kristine: what are your expectations for this event? Do you know what she will say? Can you tell us something about her and her previous work?

  2. John F.,
    She got her Pulitzer Prize for A Midwife’s Tale. She also co-wrote a series of essays with Emma Lou Thayne entitled, All God’s Critters got a place in the Choir. You should probably start there.

  3. Would it be too much trouble for you to tape record this, type up a transcript, and post it here?

  4. The discussion won’t be taped, but I’ll post something about it.

    Ben, that article is, in fact, the jumping-off point for the discussion–thanks for posting the link.

  5. ROTFLMAO, a random John. Good one!

    Boston-based Naclers beware: I’m going to try to make it.

  6. My wife and I had to leave at around 9pm to relieve the baby sitters, when the discussion seemed to just be getting under way (It had started with approx. 15 minutes given to each of the 4 panelists to offer her answer to the question of where the Mormon feminists have gone). It was an outstanding panel! I loved hearing what they had to say.

    I’ll leave it to others to expound in detail about what was said. One point that resonated quite strongly with me was Kate’s (I didn’t catch her last name) point that boys are taught to make goals as though things like marriage and family won’t have any impact on their fulfillment, while girls tend to be taught to wait on the resolution of these kinds of unforeseeable contingencies. This is the kind of thing that as soon as I heard it, it clarified my outlook on several things that are very important to me concerning the opportunities available to my daughters.

    The other parts that resonated quite strongly (in no particular order) were everything that Laurel Thatcher Ulrich said. And everything that Maxine Hanks said. And everything that Kristine Haglund said. Well, OK, the whole thing resonated quite strongly with me–mostly because it focused on the significant points of common interest rather than fixating on the more minute areas of disagreement (and unfortunately, both feminists and non-feminists can get caught up spending too much time focussing on these).

    Again, it was fabulous. Thanks, Kristine, for advertising this and participating.

  7. Lisa, you were mentioned, by the way, and FMH received at least a few enthusiastic endorsements.

  8. This was absolutely FABULOUS!!! What an amazing panel.

    Kristine, you did such a wonderful job.

  9. “…boys are taught to make goals as though things like marriage and family won’t have any impact on their fulfillment…”

    I wonder how true this is? It seems to me that boys are frequently taught the opposite. Indeed I know many, many men who completely changed their careers or schooling based upon waiting for the resolution of things like marriage and family. It seems to me that the rhetoric of placing family first which is drummed into mens heads in the church is a strong counterweight to the above.

    Admittedly in a more general social setting of American culture one might see the above. But then by the same measure that general social culture in America is pushing this on women more and more as well.

    So while I can see the tendency you point out DKL, it seems there are also other ones as well.

  10. Certainly, it’s a generalization, Clark. It’s kind of like saying that men are taller than women; they generally are, though everyone knows men shorter than most women and women taller than most men. Since we both agree that this kind of thing occurs, I think that your counter example misses the point.

    But I think that you’re missing the point in a deeper, more important way. It’s not that the boys/young-men/men are setting their sites on something and then pursuing it undeterred to completion. Boys are taught to make these goals at a young age, and then to naturally adjust them as they encounter life’s obstacles.

    I observe that girls are more often encouraged to hold off on many goals altogether (e.g., a career) in order to wait on unforeseeable contingencies. For example, I know women who are entering their 30s who have just kind of found that they now have a career–something they never planned on having. To my mind, women would be better served to have been told from childhood to plan on having a career and then adjust their plans as circumstances require. Instead, they were told to plan to have a family, and they ended up with a career quite on accident.

    One very simple way to think of it is like this: The boy is encouraged to plan on having a career (something over which he has a good deal of control) and adjust accordingly. The girl is encouraged to plan on having a family (something over which she often has very little control).

  11. I was at the panel as well. Kate’s last name is Holbrook, and I heartily recommend the book she just co-edited (Global Values 101), as it speaks to many of these issues from a different vantage point (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0807003050/sr=8-1/qid=1142905490/ref=pd_bbs_1/102-4099228-7510523?%5Fencoding=UTF8).

    I agree that all panelists were in excellent form and that the audience with rare exceptions was also thoughtfully involved. So many important themes with so many variations that it’s hard to keep them all straight. I think the panelists were correct in variously asserting that certain core assumptions of what was once called feminism have made their way into our culture to such an extent that it’s no longer necessary or perhaps useful to call them feminist.

    There are several components to these ideas; one of the strongest is about the nature of parenthood, which to my eye is the strange and unusual juxtaposition of some of the most intense, sublime relational emotions with some of the most banal, monotonous, or even disgusting physical and temporal experiences (Kris had a wonderful description of inserting food into one end of a little body and wiping the residuum of that food from the other end of the little body). The more I experience parenthood, the more I don’t understand it, though I sense that it needs more of our time, energy, and attention.

    I thought Laurel’s suggestion wise: if we are a full-time parent, we start with slow, sustained steps leading toward some additional goal, 30 minutes in a day, one day or half-day in a week.

    I sensed in the comments an undercurrent (brought to the surface by Kate’s reference to Witherspoon’s citation of June Carter) of hoping “to matter” to “live deliberately” to borrow the phrase of a much older Bostonian. This can apply across gender lines, particularly to men who have uninteresting jobs that nonetheless pay the bills and provide material resources for raising children. Taking time and attention to matter, to connect with something important or nourishing. My wife and I are in the process of a move that we envision as a rejuvenated commitment to quality of life, and I felt supported in that decision by the excellent comments of the panelists.

    I also thought the discussion of priesthood inclusion was refreshing, thoughtful and respectful.

    PS: in interest of full disclosure, I am friends with three of the panelists and am married to one of them.

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