The Mormon Woman Card
“Frankly, if Hillary Clinton were a man, I don’t think she’d get 5 percent of the vote. The only thing she’s got going is the woman’s card.” Donald Trump
Regardless of your political leanings, Donald Trump’s recent “woman’s card” comment invited deserved commentary, some of it wryly hilarious. The Washington Post’s Alexandra Petri, for example, wrote: “Ah yes, the woman’s card. I have been carrying one of these for years, proudly. It is great. It entitles you to a sizable discount on your earnings everywhere you go … [and] if you shop with the Woman Card at the grocery, you will get to pay 11 percent more for all the same products as men, but now they are pink. … Show the Woman Card to your health-care provider and you will enjoy new limits on your reproductive rights, depending on what the legislators of your state have decided is wise. … Present the Woman Card to a man you have just met at a party and it is good for one detailed, patronizing explanation of the subject you literally got your PhD in.”
Like Petri, I’ve enjoyed the perks of the Woman Card for years. Drop the Woman Card in a discussion, and men might pat your face when you’re trying to make a point. Let it slip from your wallet, and you get infantilizing and clueless compliments like, “I thought you were just a normal girl, but you’ve got a head on your shoulders.” Since I’m considerably older than Petri and lived through the Mad Men era, my experience also taught me that the Woman Card bought you unsolicited sexual advances and innuendos from male bosses, doctors, educators and, yes, occasionally church leaders.*
Which brings me to the other card in my wallet—The Mormon Woman Card. It offers tons of added benefits.
The Mormon Woman Card entitles you to:
- Membership in one of the oldest and largest women’s organizations in the world—run by men.
- Countless talks by male Church leaders that define the scope of women’s experience, responsibilities and aspirations despite your experience, responsibilities, and aspirations.
- A glass ceiling, like that of your secular sisters, but it’s a stained-glass ceiling and, apparently, designed to last through the millennium. Despite your gifts, talents and abilities, it restricts access to the full range of Church callings and opportunities to serve that are available to men, even, arguably, where priesthood isn’t necessarily required.
- Religious texts, general conference talks, lesson manuals and decision-making councils composed of nearly all male voices.
- The assurance that your value as a woman is primarily linked to being a wife and mother—whether or not you’re single, widowed, divorced, childless or no longer have children in the home. This often leads to uncomfortable Mother’s Day celebrations at Church, both for the childless and the guilt-ridden child-weary. (The fact that women are expected to carry the Motherhood Card means they are discouraged from applying for the platinum access card of cards among Mormons—The Priesthood Card. Men, however, may apply for the Priesthood Card, whether or not they apply for the Fatherhood Card, and many seem to manage both. The reason for this gender discrepancy must be buried somewhere in the fine print.)
- A significant discount in Young Women budgets and resources as compared to the Boy Scout and Young Men programs.
- The expectation that, though you and your husband are equal partners in the home, he ultimately presides over you and your family. (In his absence, your ordained teenage son can fill in.)
- The opportunity for you or your daughter to sit alone in a room with an adult male priesthood leader and be interviewed about your sexual practices and worthiness to fully participate in Church programs and temple worship.
- Scrutiny as to whether or not your clothing covers enough of your knee or shoulder to keep male libidos in check.
The Mormon Woman Card. What’s in your wallet?