I am not a woman, so perhaps that should preclude me from even discussing this. However, I feel justified because I have worked with many women in and out of the Church. I have also been educated in the Feminist/Critical Theories. Regardless of my qualifications, I can write about what I want because I can.
Margaret Toscano has an obvious agenda in her recent discussion of women in the Church at a Mormon Studies Conference and Utah Valley State College. But the fact that she had an agenda is not really the point of argument.
Toscano’s arguments to prove her disagreement with the status of women is really the issue. Toscano argues that President Hinckley’s statement that the creation of women was the crowning event of the creation is demeaning because women were only a product of men’s work, and that women weren’t involved in the work.
I am not speaking doctrinally here, but I am not sure that women weren’t involved. Although the story of the creation is told using only male characters, isn’t it possible the women too were involved? Whether they were consultants, workers, architects, or supervisors (under Christ himself) in the process, I don’t know. But why couldn’t they be. Toscano assumes that it was men, because she has a biased opinion that religion would never allow it.
Toscano also argue that a review of recent publications by the church shows the women talk about relationships and men talk about doctrine. What she misses here is that most authors for church magazines choose their own topics. They are not instructed what to write about. Rather they write from their hearts and what they desire to write about. So, it is women reflections on themselves and their lives she is criticizing. Toscano refuses to accept womanhood for the value it brings to humanity.
Her final point regarding the portrayal of a woman as God, is muted by the fact that Mormon’s believe that God couldn’t be God without an eternal companion. This doctrine is most poignantly seen in the hymn “O My Father,” where in the last few lines of the thrid verse reads:
In the heav’ns are parents single?
No, the thought make reason stare.
Truth is reason; Truth eternal
Tells me I’ve a mother there.
This Mother God may not be portrayed in such media as magazines or other artwork, but that is out of honest and sincere respect. Recent artwork is nothing short of disrespectful of Christ and his sacrifice. To start putting the Mother God into art would only open the door for such disrespectful “art” to be created in her image.
Toscano refuses to open her mind to the idea that the status of women in the Church is actually higher than that status of men. Women are cherished and honored regularly for the great work they do. Sometimes these honors are presented in humble familial ways, but the honor is there.
If a person can’t accept that there is honor in motherhood, service to others, caring about relationships, and being a woman, then perhaps the change does not need to happen in society. But rather, the change needs to be within the person herself.
For more on this subject check out Nate Oman’s blog.