Today in my art theory class we talked about feminism. I had been afraid of discussing this topic because I have always had a negative prejudice towards it - angry women complaining about oppression and doing nothing other than being angry. The blessing of attending BYU is that after yesterday's discussion I have been able to reconcile feminism with teachings of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. While there are, of course, extremes in feminism, I feel that there is a place for feminism and I am now able to understand that.
God sees men and women as different, yes. We have divinely appointed in specific roles. However, this doesn't make one gender superior to another; men and women are equal partners in this great journey of life. We both need each others' skills, perceptions and strengths to help us in our own weaknesses. As my Doctrine and Covenants teacher Brother Perkins explained, husbands preside in the priesthood with their wives as counselors. Wives preside in parenthood with their husbands as counselors. In both of these divine offices, both men and women have the opportunity to do the work of Jesus Christ, to better ourselves as we stand in His stead.
And so, what feminism means to me is to advocate a perception of women based on how God perceives us. Women have been, are now, and will be a powerful force for good in the world. Men need us, and we need men. We have been divinely appointed to teach and nurture, which is not an oppressive role, but a glorifying and exalting one! There is great satisfaction and joy in doing the work to which God has appointed us. Women are worth great thought and study.
One of my professors asked on her blog for readers to describe their favorite "femocentric" art work and explain why. Here is mine - the statue of Joseph and Emma Smith on Temple Square. (Unfortunately I do not know the name or sculptor.)
I'll admit that I am a bit biased in this because I absolutely love Emma Smith; she is my hero. But I love this work because it represents the perspective on women that I have just shared. This statue depicts Joseph giving Emma a coin as a symbol of how she is to direct the Relief Society in caring for the poor. In this way, it shows the power of good women. Her face is resolute, determined and eager to do the work God has asked of her. Both her husband and her God trust her to do great things, and she did do them. I feel that this work portrays both the equal importance and different roles of men and women in God's eyes. Here's another angle.
I just love it. How grateful I am for the gospel of Jesus Christ which opens my eyes and helps me to see.