In the Sunstone article we find that women regularly exercised their priesthood up until Joseph F. Smith sent a letter in 1946.
Many people asked “how could correlation remove all knowledge of this in such a short time”. I thought a fitting way to see how correlation is able to subtly modify views of members in the church would be to review and analyze leadership roles defined in Young Women’s. My Hypothesis is that every woman’s story will be illustrating how she obeys a man, or how she was strong and independent and obedient to church authority. There maybe be a margin of up to 5 examples without me rejecting the null hypothesis (figuring that maybe on days like Christmas, or Pioneer day they might break from it, 5 days out of 52 weeks or about 10% of the lessons).
Now I haven’t looked at a Young Women’s manual since the 90’s when I taught young women’s as a missionary (Long story, short version is it was a small branch and we did whatever was necessary to help out), so going into it, I could totally be proven wrong.
TITLE: Come follow me. Women following a man; okay, it’s Jesus, but not a strong name implying women’s strength like “As Sister’s in Zion”, or “The Handmaiden of the Lord” (Still subservient but a quote of what the Mother of Jesus said). However I do have to say that “Come Follow Me” in context is what Jesus said to his apostles; encouraging them to leave the worldly and to serve as leaders in the kingdom. In LDS connotation it is a phrase for every member so it is, in effect equalizing. Not so bad so far.
Lesson 2: Sister Orgando – Independant, Told originally by Pres. Monson, they give the woman her own voice.
Lesson 4 (Holy Ghost): They have a video where girls discuss conference talks. Only a man’s talk is discussed. Girls are asked to read “Teaching our Children to Understand“, about a little girl who is taught that when her brother won’t share she must pray to heavenly father. The Story is not resolved whether the brother shares or not; but the girl “feels better” and that is enough. However the girl does go to her mother for guidance. Story 2 “Only upon the principles of righteousness” is all about how a man is able to tell his wife what to do, jokingly at first, but after about when he is able to use the priesthood to lead, although the less focuses again on a daughter turning to her mother for consoling feelings. The final one “The Why of Priesthood Service” is about Uchtdorf being ordained in the Aaronic Priesthood.
Lesson 5 – Central article says “Our daily contributions of nurturing, teaching, and caring for others may seem mundane, diminished, difficult, and demeaning at times,” definitely pandering to the roles that women are to be set in. Her mother, being a single mom for 40+ years, could be a central strength and a story of being on her own, but instead “she relied on the power of prayer, priesthood, and covenant promises. ” and then the story defers to President Hinkley’s opinion of women. The video “Significant in Every way” is actually pretty woman-empowering. Uchtdorf then gives a rendition of the ugly duckling, which he gives as a masculine version. Another talk “the moral force of women” gives several examples of pioneer women without illustrating how they defer to men.
And with that, in the first 5 lessons I have to reject the null hypothesis. Earlier lessons may have rewritten the past, and while there is no indication of priesthood use, it’s clear that women in the manual are allowed to be independent of thought, and to do good without having to defer to authority. I’m really impressed on this one. The Young Women’s manual passes the Bechtdel test with flying colors on almost every lesson. Now there are Lots and Lots of quotes by LDS General Authorities that could fill up the full time, but it is there such that if a YW’s leader wanted to teach the lesson entirely from a woman perspective, it could be done in a majority of lessons.