The complete title of this talk is:
“To Do the Business of the Church: A Cooperative Paradigm for Examining Gendered Participation Within Church Organizational Structure.”
McBaine is the founder of the Mormon Women Project, a non-profit web site. She works at Bonneville Communications, which is responsible for the “I’m a Mormon” campaign. She has been published in many periodicals.
“There is a tremendous amount of pain among women in the Church.” She says many women feel like they are treated like lesser human beings at Church. Nearly half of the people leaving the Church cited women’s issues.
She wants to publish reaffirming narratives of women in the Church. She also serves as a bridge between various women’s groups. We need to explain better why women cannot pass the sacrament. We cannot devalue these opinions as “prideful.”
She says there has to be room for struggle, for doubt, for wondering about the role of women in the Church.
Many of the rites of passage for men and boys are obvious. Boys receive the priesthood, pass the sacrament, receive the Aaronic and Melchezedik priesthoods, etc. The rites of passage are not so obvious for women. We tell our daughters they will never be able to pass the sacrament, be the bishop, be the prophet, etc. This can cause a lot of pain for girls.
It is important to affirm to girls and women that they are needed and that their opinions matter.
She points out that we need a new narrative that does not compare the Church to secular organizations. She said she has been involved with Church public affairs on how to create the correct narrative.
She says there needs to be emphasis on an eternal paradigm. We need to emphasize the cooperative structure of service. She says that hierarchical power in a cooperative structure is not as important, especially because no one is materialistically rewarded. In a cooperative structure, there is a division of roles and a division of labor. We need to emphasize an ordered approach to Church structure. It is not about power and “leadership.” It is about being servants and being facilitators within the larger community. We do not use “top-down power.” In the Church, every position is a service position. Power is a human construct, not an eternal principle.
We need to make the contributions of women more visible. The Gospel is a gospel of empowerment for women. She discussed a conversation with a bishop when he tried to think of new ways for young women to be involved in Sacrament meeting. (Girls could be greeters, etc).
Other suggestions: We need to have women’s leaders be as visible as the men at stake conference and during ward conference. More women need to sit on the stand.
The women need to be addressed by their titles as Primary president, Relief Society President, etc.
Use more quotations from women in talks, in conference, etc. We need to hear more sermons from women in the Church’s history.
In church history, there are women who are described as “a prophetess and a revelator.”
Avoid having men always speak last at Sacrament meeting. Invite the Activity Day girls to participate in the Pinewood Derby. Ask Sacrament speakers to discuss talks by women leaders in the Church. Baby blessings can be difficult for women because only the husbands are involved. Recognize the mothers as well during blessings.
Boys join their fathers in home teaching and participate in priesthood meetings. Young women are not included in Relief Society meetings, and are not encouraged to go visiting teaching. McBaine encouraged women to take their daughters with them visiting teaching. She praised her husband for taking their daughters to the father-son campouts and noted nobody has ever objected.