Tag Archives: Dialogue

The Invisible Hands of History

19 Aug

As I read the 1971 “pink issue” of Dialogue, much like Elizabeth I was jarred by the intimacy of the articles. I guess I’d expected treatises on women and the priesthood, discussions of the Mother Goddess, and perhaps more of a bitter, academic edginess. Instead I found that the most subversive element (besides the sometimes odd juxtaposition of handwritten quotes or drawings throughout the issue) was that many of the contributors merely described the pedestrian details of their own lives in straight-forward, engaging, and distinctive voices. Reflecting on Claudia’s earlier post, it seems like perhaps such a collection of ordinary, honest accounts by LDS women is the best defense against what Leonard Arrington terms “the male interpretation of Mormon history.”1

In a lengthy volume on the futility of social science research, John Elster warns against the danger of trusting experts in any field: when dealing with experts, we can’t always separate out fact and evidence from the unquestioning assumptions of our informant.2 To illustrate: while grappling with the evolution of present day gender roles, feminist writers are often tempted to suggest that the modern [i.e. Western] organization of the sexes stems from more or less unfair prehistoric practices. Indeed, paleontological literature tends to reinforce the stereotype of the Man-as-Hunter, Woman-as-Weaver-Gatherer. However, this has much more to do with paleontologists’ reliance on personal preconceptions for explaining the past than anything implied by the fossil evidence. If a hominid skeleton is found alongside sharp objects or tools, it is generally assumed to be male; if it is small, it is assumed to be female, although generally it might just as well be a smaller or younger male. Some paleontologists concede that the tiny skeleton of the famous “Lucy” could just as well be remonikered “Lucifer.”3

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Claudia Bushman on the Pink Dialogue

30 Jul

We’re pleased to have Professor Claudia Bushman’s reflection on the pink issue of Dialogue, for which she wrote the introduction and served as guest editor. In “Women in Dialogue: An Introduction,” Professor Bushman describes the gathering of the coterie of Boston-area Mormon women who met with some regularity to discuss feminist issues. These women considered the dominant model of womanhood in the LDS church and examined its scriptural and historical origins. As a result, they “argue . . . for acceptance of the diversity that already exists in the life styles of Mormon women” (8). Poignantly Professor Bushman queries, “Does it undercut the celestial dream to admit that there are occasional Japanese beetles in the roses covering our cottages?” (6). The group’s questioning reveals the need to understand the complexity of the Mormon woman’s heritage (see 7). With each generation, Mormon women continue to confront this complexity and struggle for women’s liberation anew. Please welcome Professor Bushman. Continue reading

The Pink Issue of Dialogue, Part I

28 Jul

Note: Summer 2011 will be the fortieth anniversary of the Pink Issue of Dialogue.  The publication of this issue marked the beginning of a resurgence of Mormon feminism and an increased interest in women’s history.  The women who were involved – Claudia Bushman, Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, etc. – have become important figures within the Mormon academic community.  In this series of blog posts, we examine the Pink Issue of Dialogue and think about the moment from which it sprang and the possible meaning of that issue today.

(Edit: Thanks to Kristine for reminding us to add the link to the 1971 Pink Issue of Dialogue: https://dialoguejournal.com/archive/issue-details/?in=23)

In the early 1970s, Claudia Bushman, Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, and other women living in Boston formed what they would call the “L.D.S. cell of Women’s Lib.”  They read Kate Millet and discussed Relief Society lessons.  Out of these discussions grew a special pink edition of Dialogue that focused on the experiences of the women within the Mormon Church.  Edited by the discussion group that had coalesced around the original members,  it included articles on nineteenth-century Mormon feminists, the difficulty of balancing academic work with family, and the challenge of being single within a church that exalted families. Continue reading