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Mormon feminism is a feminist movement concerned with the role of women within Mormonism. Mormon feminists advocate for a more significant recognition of Heavenly Mother, the ordination of women, gender equality, and social justice grounded in Mormon theology and history. The modern form of the movement has roots that go back to the founding of Mormonism, including the largely independent operation of the female Relief Society, priesthood blessings by women in early church history, and the women's suffrage movement in the western United States.
The first wave of Mormon feminism embraced many of the ideas of liberal feminism that were a product of the Enlightenment, i.e., "the authority of individual reason, equality of the sexes, [and] rational/legal concerns such as the right to vote." In the early history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church), early feminist assertions surfaced in the 1840s with the founding of the Female Relief Society of Nauvoo, Illinois, with Emma Hale Smith as its first president. Eliza R. Snow promoted the idea of a Heavenly Mother and equal status for women. The Woman's Exponent was a periodical published from 1872 until 1914 in Salt Lake City whose purpose was to uplift and strengthen women of the LDS Church and to educate those not of the Mormon faith about the women of Mormonism. With some help from the Relief Society, Utah Territory was at the forefront of women's suffrage; in 1870, it became one of the first states or territories in the Union to grant women the vote, though the federal government removed the franchise from women in 1887 via the Edmunds–Tucker Act.
After the consolidation of the Relief Society Magazine into the Ensign in 1970, an independent publication calling itself Exponent II was started in 1974 by several Cambridge, Massachusetts-area women, including Laurel Thatcher Ulrich and Claudia Bushman. The magazine focused on the experiences of Mormon women from a feminist perspective. In the 1970s, the LDS Church came out against the Equal Rights Amendment. Among others, Sonia Johnson fought against the church on ERA and was excommunicated for this.
In 1993, Maxine Hanks, Lynne Kanavel Whitesides, and Lavina Fielding Anderson spoke out for women's rights and were excommunicated from the LDS Church as a part of the "September Six". Joanna Brooks left the church because of this event, but later came back and spoke out for women's rights. The Feminist Mormon Housewives group was started during the 2004 presidential election as a place to discuss the founder's liberal, feminist views. Neylan McBaine founded and is the editor-in-chief of The Mormon Women Project which supports feminist views from a more orthodox and believing framework. In 2013, Kate Kelly started the Ordain Women website to host profiles of individuals calling for the ordination of Mormon women; she was excommunicated in June 2014.
- Hanks, Maxine. "Women and Authority: Re-emerging Mormon Feminism". Signature Books. Retrieved March 8, 2015.
- Wilcox, Linda (1992), "The Mormon Concept of a Mother in Heaven", Women and Authority: Re-emerging Mormon Feminism, Salt Lake City, Utah: Signature Books
- Sherilyn Cox Bennion, "The Woman's Exponent: Forty-two Years of Speaking for Women," Utah Historical Quarterly 44:3 (Summer 1976): 226
- Bradley, Martha Sonntag (2005), Pedestals and Podiums: Utah Women, Religious Authority, and Equal Rights, Signature Books.
- Barlow, Rich, "A Feminist Look at the Mormon Faith", Boston Globe, 2006-06-17; accessed on 2008-03-27.
- Young, Niel. "Equal Rights, Gay Rights and the Mormon Church". New York Times.
- Riley, Duncan (March 28, 2005). "Feminist Mormon uses blog to spread message". The Blog Herald. Retrieved 2009-04-28.
- Stack, Peggy Fletcher (October 6, 2007). "LDS Web site offers 'a safe place to be feminist and faithful'". Salt Lake Tribune. Retrieved 2009-04-27.
- McBaine, Neylan. "About Neylan". NeylanMcBaine.com. Retrieved April 29, 2011.
- Stack, Peggy Fletcher (September 28, 2010). "Mormon feminism: It’s back". Salt Lake Tribune.
- Welker, Holly (March 16, 2014), "Ordain Women Transforms Mormon Feminism", Religion Dispatches
- Walsh, Tad (June 23, 2014), "LDS bishop excommunicates Ordain Women founder", Deseret News