In the Book of Mormon, Where are the women? The Bible mentions 188 unique women by name. The Book of Mormon mentions 3 unique women by name!

The Book of Mormon Positive Passages (women are only ever addressed twice) speaking of women or speaking to women? 1 Nephi 26:33; Alma 32:23

How does the Book of Mormon portray women?

When women are allowed to rule, everything goes to hell. 2 Nephi 13:12 (Also see 2 Nephi 13:16-17,26, 14:4. 15:14)

Women don’t get or need spiritual witnesses it seems – Alma 19:9

The great and abominable church is female, hell is female, uncleanliness is female (admittedly wisdom is female)

Jesus of the Book of Mormon uses negative female imagery – but Jesus of the Bible never does, see 3 Nephi 20:41

Carol Lynn Pearson argues that the scarcity of women mentioned in the Book of Mormon is a “strong anti-female statement made by Nephite society,” in whose record we see a few “spiritually dependent [women]” and a plethora of faceless, nameless women listed as part of their husband’s possessions. Francine Bennion has attributed to Nephite culture what might be seen as a fairly common set of assumed characteristics about ancient societies: The power of men over women in Book of Mormon societies produced abuses, as does any hierarchy not based on virtue alone. Even when good men did not abuse their power but protected women and were tender with them, men did have the power. Men made the decisions. Men did the ruling, the judging, and the prophesying. Men did the preaching, and addressed it to “my brethren.” Men defined the history and recorded it. Women were primarily accessories to men, dependent upon them not only for survival but also for identity, which is presented as a matter of relationship to a man, usefulness to a man, or use by men.

In the Book of Mormon some negative portrayals women:

Deceived by an anti-Christ (see Alma 30:18);

Polygamous wives or concubines (see Mosiah 11; Ether 10:5)

Prisoners of war who were fed human flesh or were raped, tortured, and eaten by their captors (see Moroni 9:7–10)

Harlots (see Mosiah 12:29; Alma 39:3)

Slaves or servants (see Alma 19:15–16; 50:30)

Witches (see 3 Nephi 21:16; Mormon 1:19; 2:10)

Captured, “forced married” and later pleaded for the lives of their husbands/captors (see Mosiah 20:1, 2, 5; 23:31–34).

The LDS Church (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) has trouble letting go of its sexist doctrines and policies because they’re pushed so strongly in the current version of the temple rites.

Baptisms and confirmations for the dead are sexist:

The fact that an endowed male can baptize and confirm others in the temple while an endowed female cannot is the textbook definition of sexism. It’s as sexist as saying a qualified man can drive a car while a qualified woman cannot, and it teaches children that men can do things that woman can’t.

Initiatories are sexist:

For many women in the LDS Church, the temple is the only time they will have another woman lay their hands on their head and pronounce on them a blessing. Nevertheless, the LDS Church simply does not recognize women having any priesthood authority. Moreover, a part of the initiatory is even more bluntly sexist is who they are anointed for. Every man is anointed in preparation to become “a king and a priest unto the most high God.” Every woman is anointed in preparation to become “a queen and a priestess” unto her husband. (Even if she is not yet married). For the LDS Church, Man serves God. Woman serves man. That is obviously sexist. It treats women as merely a support staff for men, and it plants the seeds of spousal abuse.

The endowment is sexist:

The entire endowment rite itself has men and women divided on either side of the room, each wearing different ritualistic costumes. I already explained above how separating between women and men re-emphasizes a false and sexist dichotomy that forgets those outside that dichotomy. Even more so, by having different costumes for women and different costumes for men, the false and harmful belief that all women are one way and all men are another way is cultivated. The most disturbing part of the endowment rite is when each of the women promise “to keep the law of the Lord and hearken unto the counsel of their husbands as he hearkens unto the counsel of the Father” while the men only promise to “obey the law of God and keep his commandments.” (Who cares about men hearkening unto the counsel of their wives, right? In fact, Adam is punished for harkening unto Eve. What a terrible husband, hearkening unto his wife). How many women have been silenced because of this covenant? This particular part of the endowment reeks of unhealthy power dynamics. It becomes clear that man is found between Eve and the Lord, and Eve loses not just her individuality to her husband, but she is silenced as well. The most problematic part of the female costume is the veil that is placed over her face when she prays. No such veil is placed over the faces of the men. Why is this? Any reason you can come up with is probably sexist and can lead towards damaging and unrealistic stereotypes. The sexism of the endowment rite continues for many newly wed couples until the end of the rite when women are pulled through the veil by their husbands who represent the Lord. Women are expected to share their new names with their husbands while men are expected to keep their own new names secret from their wives.

Sealings are sexist:

A woman “gives” herself to be her husband while the man merely “receives” her. As in, he doesn’t give himself equally to her during the sealing rite. In the endowment, women as servants of their husbands, but now they’re being treated as possessions of their husbands. Another unfortunate thing about the sealing rite is that men can be sealed to multiple women for all eternity, but women cannot be sealed to multiple men. That is sexist.

Sexist quotes/teachings by the LDS Church leaders

“Young women you will be the ones who will provide the example of virtuous womanhood and motherhood. … You will understand your roles and your responsibilities and thus will see no need to lobby for rights.” – Elaine S Dalton, Jan 15, 2013

Men get the priesthood, women get the babies (unless you are Sherry Dew and then you get a cushy job at Dewseret Book): “Here is the truth about womanhood. Our Father gave His daughters a divine endowment of gifts that give us unique influence. First and foremost, we have the high privilege of bearing children…No wonder our Father placed us at the heart of the family and thus at the center of the plan of salvation. We are the Lord’s secret weapon…The world won’t tell us this stunning truth, but the Spirit will…It is time for us to wake up to the potential magnitude of our full influence as latter-day women of God and then to arise and do what we were sent here to do.” – Sheri Dew, May 1, 2008, BYU Women’s Conference

“Husbands, love and treasure your wives. They are your most precious possessions.” – Gordon B. Hinckley, closing remarks, April 2007 GC

“Every good woman knows the backhand” – Thomas S. Monson (1948–2013)

“Young women are exceeding young men in pursuing educational programs. And so I say to you young men, rise up and discipline yourself to take advantage of educational opportunities. Do you wish to marry a girl whose education has been far superior to your own?” – Gordon B Hinckley, October 2006 Priesthood Session

Being a leader is not being favored. Submission is a woman’s sacred place: “There are those who suggest that males are favored of the Lord because they are ordained to hold the priesthood. Anyone who believes this does not understand the great plan of happiness. The premortal and mortal natures of men and women were specified by God Himself, and it is simply not within His character to diminish the roles and responsibilities of any of His children.” – M. Russell Ballard, Women of Righteousness, Ensign, Apr 2002

Apostle Ballard to women-Don’t even think of wearing pants: “We don’t need women who want to be like men…dress like men…act like men. We do need women who…have a spiritual confirmation of their identity, their value, and their eternal destiny. Above all, we need women who will stand up for truth and righteousness and decry evil at every turn.” – M. Russell Ballard, Women of Righteousness, Ensign, Apr 2002

Kitchen councils (because of course that is where a woman belongs): “There is certainly a place for formal teaching in our homes with our families. There is also a power in informal teaching that goes on in families. Informal councils involve parents and children to bless families and strengthen individuals. I like to call them “kitchen councils.” The mother went to the kitchen to prepare dinner, and her daughters joined her. They stood side by side peeling and chopping, talking and coordinating activities. They were counseling together! Second, in ward or stake councils, besides representing your organization, you also represent your own point of view. Women who attend these council meetings can be the family filter, which would certainly include being a defender and a protector of the family. When activites are discussed, a woman can voice her perspective on how an activity will affect the family.” – Sis. Margaret D. Nadauld, Past Young Women President, The Joy of Womanhood, Nov 2000

“As sisters in Relief Society we are to assist one another preparing for the day the bridegroom returns. By actively taking part in the Relief Society organization, our lamps will be full. Our faith will remain strong…Many times we think just being a member of the Church will entitle us to all the Lord has promised. But each blessing requires obedience.” – Mary Ellen Smoot, Come, Let Us Walk in the Light of the Lord, Ensign, Nov 1998

“In the beginning, Adam–not Eve–was instructed to earn the bread by the sweat of his brow. Contrary to conventional wisdom, a mother’s calling is in the home, not in the market place.” – Ezra Taft Benson, To the Mothers in Zion, 1987

“Numerous divorces can be traced directly to the day when the wife left the home and went out into the world into employment. Two incomes raise the standard of living beyond its norm. Two spouses working prevent the complete and proper home life, break into the family prayers, create an independence which is not cooperative, causes distortion, limits the family, and frustrates the children already born” Spencer W. Kimball, San Antonio Fireside, Dec. 3, 1977, pp. 9-10

“[Women], you are to become a career woman in the greatest career on earth–that of homemaker, wife, and mother. It was never intended by the Lord that married women should compete with men in employment. They have a far greater and more important service to render.” – Ensign, June 1975, & From Faith Precedes the Miracle

“Too many mothers work away from home to furnish sweaters and music lessons and trips and fun for their children. Too many women spend their time in socializing, in politicking, in public services when they should be home to teach and train and receive and love their children into security” – Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball (1895 – 1985), p. 319

Highest reward to women in Mormonism (giving birth): “To be a mother in Israel in the full gospel sense is the highest reward that can come into the life of a woman.” – Pres. Joseph Fielding Smith, Mothers in Israel, Relief Society Magazine, Dec 1970

The Mormon position on women has changed little since the early 1800’s, when the official view was that “woman’s primary place is in the home, where she is to rear children and abide by the righteous counsel of her husband” – McConkie, Bruce R. Mormon Doctrine 844. Salt Lake City, Bookcraft Inc., 1966.

Helpmate to the Priesthood (men): “The place of importance that was assigned to the women’s Relief Society is really analogous to the place of mother in the home. The sacred and responsible status in each case was established by the Lord himself. In both callings women are to stand side by side with the men who hold the Priesthood. Even as a wife is a helpmate in the home, so the Relief Society, being an extension of the home, is a helpmate to the Priesthood.” – Hugh B. Brown, Relief Society-An Extension of the Home, Relief Society Magazine, Dec 1961

Kimball advised departing missionaries as follows: “The brother missionaries have been in the habit of picking out the prettiest women for themselves before they get here, and bringing on the ugly ones for us; hereafter you have to bring them all here before taking any of them, and let us all have a fair shake.'” – Qtd. in Richard Abanes, One Nation Under Gods: A History of the Mormon Church. (p. 297)

“No woman will get into the celestial kingdom, except her husband receives her, if she is worthy to have a husband; and if not, somebody will receive her as a servant” Erastus Snow (1818 – 1888) was a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) from 1849 to until his death. Snow was also a leading figure in Mormon colonization of Arizona, Colorado, and New Mexico.

“Women are too slow in moving forward, afraid of criticism, of being called unwomanly, of being thought masculine. What of it? If men are so much superior to women, the nearer we come up to the manly standard the higher we elevate ourselves.” – Relief Society president Emmeline B. Wells 1875

By Damien Marie AtHope

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