Thursday, September 30, 2010

Mormon feminists respond to changing-table debate

Posted By on September 30, 2010, 9:09 AM

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City Weekly was flooded with comments regarding calls for gender equality reforms in the LDS Church by the new Mormon feminist group WAVE.---

One simple reform proposed was requiring changing tables in men’s rooms of LDS chapels. This modest  recommendation resulted in numerous readers challenging the notion and claiming the tables already were in place in all chapels.

“First of all, changing tables are not in all the men's rooms,” writes Tresa Edmunds, spokeswoman for the Women Advocating for Voice and Equality group, in an e-mail. “They are in some, but that means that someone locally took initiative, or it was included in a recently built building. I have attended church around the nation, and if a men's changing table was available, it was a rarity.”

Lisa Butterworth with the Feminist Mormon Housewives blog, set up a poll which as of the time of this post, had counted 354 votes, counting 181 votes from readers confirming changing tables in the men’s rooms of their chapels, 76 votes confirming no changing tables in their men’s rooms and 97 votes not knowing for sure.

The changing table issue raised in the story spawned hundreds of comments from readers who couldn’t even accept the rather benign call for grassroots action on issues as seemingly non-controversial as changing tables in LDS chapel’s men’s rooms. While some might be discouraged that such a simple proposal might receive so much debate, Edmunds sees the issue as important still, even if it does seem inconsequential.

“If someone dismisses a changing table, they are dismissing a symbol of the support a woman is given, the value placed on her contributions in other callings, and the benefit of engaged fatherhood,” Edmunds writes. “Yes, it’s trivial because it’s such a small change, but it is emblematic of so very much more.

“Women's needs are so often treated as trivial, as an afterthought. As unimportant to the more grand efforts of the Church. If even asking for something as easily acquired as a changing table is scoffed at and debated, why would a woman feel that her experiences would be respected enough to share?”

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