Friday, May 13, 2011

Episode 7: "No Room For Fear" — Amelia's Story

Right click here to download the mp3.



Part of the aim of this podcast is to give voice to our stories as Daughters of Mormonism. This episode is an interview with Amelia, who will be one of our panelists for future discussions. She shares her journey to this point and talks particularly about Proposition 8 and having a voice that is heard.

Amelia will be watching the comments to answer questions or discuss issues raised in her talk.

24 comments:

  1. I thought you raised some really important concerns with how Prop 8 was handled, and the difficult position it put many members in. You talked through this difficulty very well.

    I am excited to hear what you do next on the project!

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  2. Alisa, I think a lot of pro-8 members didn't understand that the church's involvement was hurtful for reasons beyond those associated with the church's position on homosexuality and gay marriage. That effort really crystallized some of the problematic aspects of church teachings and culture, making their consequences for dissidents more unavoidable in some ways. I never thought I would feel spiritually battered by the church and my Mormon community and family, but I did.

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  3. Wonderful to hear your story laid out like this Amelia. I think it is so valuable to hear examples of orthodox members gaining the shift in perspective that alters their worldview so drastically, and for listeners to hopefully understand that these changes don't come about from sin or disobedience or anything negative. Thank you for sharing your journey!

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  4. I agree, Corktree, that it's so important to get our stories out there, not just our opinions. It's our stories that make it possible for people with divergent beliefs to understand one another without attributing their differences to error or sin. So often on the internet we engage with people as if they were isolated manifestations of certain opinions or ideas or beliefs, rather than complex individuals who have taken interesting, real, often painful journeys to arrive at those ideas and beliefs and opinions.

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  5. Loved hearing your story, Amelia. So much of what you said resonated with me. I am not as far on the journey as you and look forward to learning from your example here.

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  6. Amelia, thank you for sharing your powerful and courageous voice. I resonated deeply with one of your reasons for staying within the community being that you with your gifts and training can give expression to views and ideas that others cannot. I would also add a benefit you certainly exemplify is waking people to ideas they do not yet know they relate to. We are in SL too... hope we can meet at some point! (Katrina is my wife; I am sure she feels the same)

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  7. Katrina, good luck on your own journey. Mine has been both beautiful and painful, but it is mine and I try to embrace where I am at in that journey as much as possible. I often find myself wishing that the church and its members would spend less time talking about what journeys should look like and instead celebrate what they do look like. So I hope that as you keep reading/listening, you'll also share your own experiences. I think there's a lot of strength to be found in sharing our journeys with others.

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  8. thanks for your comments, Jared. I have always really valued those times when someone else has articulated an idea and something has clicked in my mind as true. As something I finally understand that I've been feeling for a while. I hope what I have to say can do that for other people. And I expect that participating here will have ideas clicking for me as I talk to other women on the panel and engage with listeners.

    I'd love to meet you and Katrina sometime. I'll figure out how best to contact me and post it here but at the moment I need to be off.

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  9. I'm glad to hear a more liberal voice. It sounds like the panel will be well rounded.

    I always thought that they gave out gifts on mothers day to everyone women to not hurt the non-mothers. I think it would hurt a lot of women to remain seated and watch the mothers be honoured especially if they were having a hard time with their status as a childless women in the ward. I know of one women who left the church because of Mother's day and her infertility, so it's already a time when women feel excluded. I think giving a gift is a way to try and make them feel included. I also think that giving gifts to all women reinforces the belief in Mormonism that all women are mother regardless of whether they have children in this live or not. Personally, I think should just scrap the whole thing. I think church would be just fine without celebrating mother's day or father's day, but that will never happen. I would love it if we celebrated Women's History month and heck even Black History month. That would be great! I would have loved that as a kid.

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  10. Polly Anna, I'm sure you're correct that giving gifts to every woman on Mother's Day is meant to be inclusive of women who are not mothers. And I completely understand how doing so might be important for women struggling with infertility. The answer I generally propose is asking women who consider themselves mothers to stand and be honored, or to take a gift at the back of the room as they leave church that day. I just don't think it's appropriate to impose the "if you are in possession of a uterus, ovaries, a vagina, and mammary glands, then you are a mother" thinking on all the women in a congregation. Largely because it reinforces the thinking that all women are mothers. I am not a mother. And I have never tried to be a mother. I honor those women who are. I honor those women who have struggled to become mothers and have not been able to because of fertility problems. I know how much stress they experience physically and emotionally and spiritually because I have friends who have struggled with fertility. I think they should be honored for their sacrifices and struggles, too. But again, why should I be honored--I who have never struggled with or sacrificed anything to become a mother and have never been a mother--just because I have the right plumbing?

    On top of the fact that I think it minimizes the real work and pain and love and struggle of women who actually are mothers and who have actually struggled with infertility, honoring me minimizes my work, implying that it's meaningless because the really important work I do is "mothering" (whatever the hell that means for a single, childless woman). This line of thinking causes single, childless women like me as much hurt as not giving a gift to every woman may cause non-mothers who have struggled with fertility. And some of the non-mothers struggling with their standing in the church do so because of this thinking, because "woman" has been reduced to mean "mother" when in reality the two are not equivalent. "Woman" is a larger category in which "mother" fits; they are not, however, reversible categories.

    Frankly, if the church were to value all of its women for all of their various accomplishments and life paths, this wouldn't be such an issue. I'm with you when you say you'd like the whole thing to be scrapped, but I doubt that will happen. I'm not even really convinced it should happen. What could happen is the church no longer imposing such confined gender prescriptions on its members and instead celebrating and authenticating a wider variety of life paths. And that would go a long way towards alleviating problems like this particular one (how to celebrate mothers without hurting non-mothers).

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  11. Amelia,

    you're my sister from a different...ah well, it doesn't rhyme this way I guess ;) but oh how I could relate!!
    I've tried like you to be the unquestioning Molly Mormon, and one day I woke up and walked around in my life, and realized this is not me at all.
    I am so glad to hear that you can go to BYU and emerge a feminist!!! Whopppeeee! Seriously, after reading a Boyd K. Packer talk, in which he says that homosexuals, intellectuals and feminists are the biggest threats to the church, I am grateful that you, an intellectual and feminist, who might not be homosexual, but is sympathetic and pro-gay rights, could come out of an institution like BYU.

    Anyway, I so enjoy "meeting" you and other like minded mormons, but at the same time I'm so disappointed no one lives close to me :(

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  12. Juliane, one of the very best things about the internet is finding some kindred spirits. I've been lucky to actually meet and become friends with some of them in real life (though I only see some of them once or twice a year). Others I only know online. But I still really value that community. I'm glad to count you as part of my online community now.

    If you ever head to SLC, do drop me an email. I'd love to meet you sometime. And Katrina and Jared if you'd like to get in touch with me, you can use this email:

    x2ameliaATgmailDOTcom

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  13. Thank you, Amelia. You have helped me to clarify some issues that have felt "off" to me for a while, but I hadn't been able to put my finger on the roots of.

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  14. I'm glad, kopela. Thanks for listening.

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  15. Amelia, I adored this interview. I've loved your posts at Exponent and I look forward to hearing you on this podcast as part of the panel. I related to so many things you said. Thanks also for these links to the different resources. Only a few were familiar to me and I'm looking forward to exploring each of your recommendations. Thanks again!

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  16. Thanks for sharing your story, Amelia. I look forward to hearing your contributions to the podcast and the panel.

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  17. Thanks for sharing your story, Amelia. There are a lot of aspects of it that resonated with me (hard to believe now that when I started at BYU I was super orthodox!). And I also was more disturbed by the church's outright misrepresentation of facts during the prop 8 campaign than by the church's actual stance.

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  18. Lotus, Mister Curie, and Kiskilili--Thanks for listening and your support. I'm really excited about working with Sybil and Sara and others on this project and it's good to see some familiar faces from the bloggernacle listening (wow is that a mixed up statement, seeing faces on the internet listening...)

    Kiskilili, I think the misrepresentation aspect of the church's involvement in Prop. 8 so often gets overlooked because the issue itself is not easy to ignore. But that really was what had me feeling spiritually battered in 2008. I can understand a lot of practices that are fuzzy--I get the justifications for missionary work and for PR campaigns and for simplifying the church history presented in Sunday School. And while I have problems with such things, I do understand the other side of them. But I just can't countenance outright misinformation and manipulation of people's fear in order to accomplish a goal. And that's what the Prop. 8 effort felt like to me. I can't understand how an organization can claim divine guidance and argue that it is the only way back to God and then do things that so clearly lack integrity.

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  19. Gail KnickerbockerMay 22, 2011 at 9:03 AM

    Thank you for sharing your experience, Amelia. I have not been nearly so outspoken, nor called anyone on their stuff. I just keep quiet mostly. When they called me to participate in the Prop 8 campaign here in IDAHO I simply said, "No, I am not interested in participating." I got madder and madder as the chips fell and they wanted us to clear out our inbox of ALL emails regarding their having ever asked us to participate. So wrong on so many levels. My respect for the church altogether went way down at that time. I had already given up belief in the theology but had not yet come out as an unbeliever. AND when I did come out I never said anything to the Bishop or the Stake President about the prop 8 business. It just never came up. My unbelief was so surprising to them that that is all they wanted to grill me about.

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  20. Amelia,

    I enjoyed your conversation with Sybil. I can relate with your views on many issues, especially the Prop 8 fiasco and how hurtful that was to so many people.

    I offer two points of criticism:

    1. You made a blanket statement that for you, dating and Mormon men were not compatible (my words) ... or rather Mormon men weren't interested in you. I was mildly bothered by this as you casually stereotyped us. I think if you had looked around, you would find all types of Mormon men (even at BYU) who are very aligned with your ways of thinking. There are also many non-Mormon men who would have been equally put off by you. I encourage any women like you to keep an open mind about Mormon men when looking for a partner.

    2. You mention that you have the gift of gab (my words) which helps you to be convincing when speaking. However, you have a t=strong tendency to use HRT (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High_rising_terminal) which made it difficult for me at time to continue listening. All three of my daughters have the same habit and I am struggling to break them of it.

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  21. I'm a bit slow to get to it, but I loved hearing more about you and your experience with the Church, Amelia. I always enjoy your writing on the bloggernacle, particularly your articulateness in responding to arguments that so badly need to be responded to!

    In the podcast, I really liked the point you made about the story of the woman taken in adultery who was brought to Jesus. I think it's a great point that people are too hasty to see themselves as proxies for Jesus in the story rather than as the misguided accusers.

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  22. Dan, thanks for your comment. You're right that I made a sweeping generalization about Mormon men not being interested in me. But in my experience Mormon men have not been interested in me. I attended singles wards for 13 years in several different areas of the country, each of which with Mormon cultures radically different from the others. I also attended a family ward that was designated as a magnet ward for mid-singles. At no point in that experience did I have Mormon men express much interest in me. Are there some Mormon men out there who may be interested? I'm sure there are. I know Mormon men who are interested in and have married women similar to me. But none have been interested enough in me to date me with any longevity (and usually the dates don't get past #2 or #3).

    For what it's worth I accept almost any date invitation regardless of who is asking (there has to be something really off for me to say no). I've never turned down a Mormon man and I've asked plenty of them out. Because I agree with you that there are all kinds of Mormon men. And I've had plenty of encounters with non-Mormon men who aren't any more tolerant than Mormon men of who and how I am.

    As to HRT--I guess I don't understand what the problem is other than it pushes your buttons (sorta like Jimmy Stewart's voice pushes my best friend's buttons so she won't watch any of his movies). If I give this another listen, I'll pay attention to see what you're pointing to and assess whether I think this is actually a problem. I did think it was interesting that the Wikipedia article you pointed me to said: "recent evidence shows that assertive speakers, leaders of the peer group are more likely to use HRT in their declaratives than the junior members of the particular peer group."

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  23. Thanks for listening, Ziff. And the feeling is mutual--ZD is one of my very favorite bloggernacle hang-outs because of how articulately and thoughtfully all the permas there make their arguments.

    I think it's really common for us as believers to situate ourselves in Jesus's position or the position of the righteous characters in a lot of scripture stories--not all, but a lot. I think it can be a really problematic trend since it can obscure the need for self-examination.

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  24. Excellent sum up of the Prop 8 manipulation and misinformation. I was disturbed not only by the coersive nature of the leadership initiatives, but also by the fact that these actions directly contradict LDS scripture (D&C 134:9)

    A friend of mine in CA said that he had no issue with homosexuals and supported legal same sex marriage, but that he had decided that he would 'yes' on Prop 8 only on the basis of being obedient to the prophet. I think that's awful.

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