My name is Caroleen.
While growing up in the 60’s and 70’s in a happy upper-middle class Catholic home, I experienced gender equality. The only time I felt discriminated against was when my dad hired a boy from my class to mow our lawn. I was incensed and made it clear that I was equally capable as any 6th grade boy – in fact I had beat most of them in arm wrestling – and my dad was being chauvinistic to restrict me in this way. He relented and I, sometimes grudgingly, mowed our lawn through the twelfth grade. Aside from this experience, (and perhaps because of it) our home was free from stereotypes and sexism. Power tools, football games, and science experiments were as common in my life as sewing my own clothes, playing the organ and experimenting with dance.
At the age of eighteen I was baptized into the LDS Church, after which I left for BYU. Immersed in the 1980s Mormon culture, I immediately learned “how” to be Mormon. Eager to fit in, I accepted the “doctrine” of the priesthood and didn’t question the sexist practices of the church. Still a strong and capable woman, I was equal to men in every respect… except at church.
I married after finishing a degree in elementary education—a “typical” degree for an LDS woman, but my choice was not based on social pressure. After teaching for one year, my first child was born and I became a full-time mom. I dreamed of having a big family, and that dream was encouraged in the Mormon culture. My second child was born thirteen months later, and—with an average of nineteen months between every birth thereafter—we had a total of eleven children. I have loved every minute of raising my kids.
My husband travels almost weekly, and so—embracing the “can-do” attitude of my childhood—I don’t expect him to do the “man work.” I learned to do electrical work, plumbing, painting, dry wall, finish carpentry, furniture building, etc., as we repaired and remodeled our homes. During this time I was highly involved in volunteer organizations, including church. I spent years in Primary, Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, Relief Society and Family History. Don’t get me wrong—I appreciate my husband and his contribution to our family. He’s a wonderful husband and father. He’s lots of fun and a very involved in our children’s lives. But because of his travel, I have had a very large portion of the responsibility at home. From my own experience I know that women are every bit as capable as men in all types of roles.
The LDS Church disqualifies half its members from important service and leadership roles. The Church does not allow women to hold the priesthood, and then uses the priesthood as a qualification for millions of Church positions. Unless the Church stops using priesthood as a qualifier for callings that involve money or true leadership, I believe women should be ordained.