As many of you did, I read Kathryn Soper’s article about Mormon feminism with great interest. But it’s a paragraph in Claudia Bushman’s response to it that I am pondering. Bushman wrote that the feminist ideal of equal pay for equal work has contributed to an economy where it is difficult to make ends meet on one income, and that this creates a problem for Mormons who believe in the ideal of a non-working mother because it’s increasingly difficult to make it on one income. “Large families, large houses, traditional role models, and single incomes have led to some painful economic realities in current Mormon lives: bankruptcy, foreclosure, welfare. That’s not what anyone had in mind. We need some creative new role models,” she wrote.
Indeed. I have very close associates who have experienced all of those economic realities. When one paycheck simply will not allow a family to have children early and often, pay tithes and offerings, stay out of debt, and be “self reliant,” families have to make painful choices. Often they must at least temporarily let some of those ideals go. If choosing between following Church ideals and paying one’s bills is to be avoided, something needs to fundamentally change in many Mormon families. In today’s economy, are there new models to be found? I am only one person, but my life is pushing the boundaries of the ideals set forth in the Proclamation on the Family, and may provide if not a model than at least an example of diversity. So I’ll do as Claudia suggests and record my story. And to borrow a phrase from that infamous feminist Sarah Palin, I’ll answer the question, How’s that equal-y, feminist-y thing workin’ for ya?