Mormon feminists? Yes they exist, and they're for Obama

Thu Oct 18, 2012 11:08pm EDT
 
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By Peter Henderson

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - One group was not surprised to hear Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's comments about "binders of women" at the presidential debate this week - Mormon feminists.

Yes, there are Mormon feminists, and no, they do not think it is impossible to believe in women's rights and be devout members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a religion that once allowed polygamy and places a heavy emphasis on the role of women in the home.

But Romney's phrase, delivered in the presidential debate on Tuesday and which quickly went viral on social media, underscored the tensions over the role of women in the church.

Aimee Hickman, co-editor of the Mormon feminist magazine Exponent II, said Romney's remarks in which he said he looked at "binders full of women" while searching for staff as governor of Massachusetts suggested he was comfortable having powerful women around him, even if he put it awkwardly.

Yet when he then described setting up a flexible schedule for a senior aide so that she could go home and make dinner for her family, he was speaking in the church's paternalistic language that casts women ultimately as mothers, she said.

"The emphasis on them (women) being seen as leaders or them being seen as breadwinners is still really missing from our rhetoric," Hickman said. Romney's response put that "on full display," she added.

Hickman noted that feminists in general tend to be liberal, and Mormons are no different in that regard.

"I pretty much know every Mormon feminist, and I can't think of any of them that are going to vote for Romney," laughed Lisa Butterworth, who runs a blog called Feminist Mormon Housewives here   Continued...