LDS Feminism: The Conservative “More Traditional” Approach

The traditionalist argues that the woman needs to stay within the traditional social culture that her “roots” began in. Traditionalists see this as the woman staying in the house, raising kids, cleaning, cooking, and teaching, all of which are conducted under the dictatorship of the father/husband figure of the household. This approach wishes for traditional family structures to stay intact and that this form of running the family is the only way to create a peaceful society. An analogy that is often used to describe this type relationship is that the Father is the head of the household and the mother is the heart. Heaton[1] describes these traditional values as forming from the commonly referenced metaphor, “Mormons believe in male authority and in a more traditional division of labor between husbands and wives.” (p.88-89) The particular division of gender roles, that is shown through this quote, within the household creates the glue that binds traditional feminism into what it currently is today. However, it is interesting to note how the approach of Traditional Feminism incorporates the abilities that are more prominent within the Female Gender into the daily socio-cultural life of the intra-religious social interactions, and within the culture inside of the religion and outside of the family. The family is seen as the most important commitment to the mother, but offering and giving service to the needy is a close second.  

Even though the traditional feminists are in support of a patriarchal run social hierarchy, these women also recognize that they are an important unit within the LDS social system and within the culture of their respected communities. This can be seen through the actions that are taken by the Relief Society, a philanthropic and educational women’s organization and an official auxiliary of the LDS Church. It is important to note that the relief society is completely female ran. This organization exists within every Stake, Ward and Branch of the LDS Church. Through the relief society LDS Women prepare major service projects which help society and specific needy individuals. Along with this service oriented goal the relief society teaches women that it is their DUTY to keep the males in the church worthy of the priesthood and their children worthy of the sacred covenants that they will gain as they get older. These two separate roles of “Motherhood” create a sense of individuality as a Mother and Wife and a sense of communal responsibility towards the church. An example of this is the following quote from Beamans research. This quote is from an interview Beaman held with a woman named “Martha” who is an LDS Traditionalistic Feminist,

“Martha is a 60 year old mother of 5 children who has always been a full-time homemaker, although she has training as a teacher. Her family has a long Mormon heritage of which she is proud. She is angry about the changes in the church during the past two decades, and is especially bitter about the diminishing of women’s roles and responsibilities in the Relief Society. She has gradually developed a feminist consciousness over the past two decades, and now describes herself as a Mormon feminist.”

Martha’s feministic attitude and approach shows exactly how Traditional LDS Feminism approaches its goals and what these goals hope to accomplish.



[1] Heaton, T.B. K. L. Goodman, and T.B. Holman. 1994. In Search of a Peculiar People: Are Mormon Families Really Different?  In Contemporary Mormonism: Social Science Perspective, edited by M. Cornwall, T.B. Heaton, and LA. Young, 87-117. Chicago: University of Illinois Press.



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