057: Women and the LDS Church Part 3 — An Interview with Dr. Claudia L. Bushman

Today we hear from one of the foremost voices on Women’s Issues within Mormonism: Dr. Claudia Bushman.

Dr. Bushman is a historian by training, and has taught at Columbia University for many years. She is the author of several books and articles, including: “Mormon Sisters: Women of Early Utah” and “Mormon Domestic Life in the 1870s: Pandemonium or Acadia“. Perhaps most significantly, Dr. Bushman is one of the founders of Exponent II, a Boston-based magazine and now blog focused on feminism and women’s issues within Mormonism. She is also one of the early contributors to the now famous “Pink Issue” of Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought — which was a pivotal work dealing directly with Mormon women’s issues.

In this interview with Dr. Bushman, we learn what she means when she describes herself as a Mormon Feminist. She also recounts her involvement in the formation of Exponent II, as well as in the broader area of women’s issues in the LDS church. To conclude, Dr. Bushman discusses her views on the critical role of women in the church today — and how we, as a church, might work to better accommodate, and better utilize women in the 21st century.

I would also like to express my deep gratitude to Melissa Wei-Tsing Inouye, who conducted this interview for Mormon Stories podcast. Melissa is completing her Ph.D . at Harvard University, and specializes in the history of China’s Christian communities.

To participate in a discussion about this episode, check out the Exponent II blog.

Also, to hear more of Skye Pixton’s music (as featured on this episode), check out: https://skyepixton.com

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  1. Great podcast as usual. I checked out Skye Pixton’s site and checked out her EP. Loved it, bought it. Where did you get a hold of the hymn featured on the podcast? I can’t find it for purchase anywhere.

  2. Great podcast.

    My critics.
    This interviewer wasn’t as good as John. Not because she wasn’t good but because she doesn’t go over the basics for some of us that are less familiar with some things. The one thing she did do well is she never interupted and let Claudia speak. Some questions I would’ve liked her to have asked:

    What was the era(sp??) ? and why was the church against it?

    What was in your news letter that was controversial?

    I thought the interviewee was brilliant, thoughtful and interesting. Congratulations Claudia.

  3. Let me bear my testimony of Exponent II. When I was a freshman at USU, I happened to find a copy of it, lying on a table in the old USU library’s Honors program lounge. I don’t know how it came to be there, but it was so surprising and wonderful to find it. Open discussion of women’s issues– many of which were already bothering me then. I think that, and Sunstone kept me in the church through my undergraduate years. I’m not sure when Exponent II started, but I discovered it about 1977.

  4. Also, I thought it might be good to post the link to Exponent II’s site here:

    There are a few of the old columns there.
    RJ, she did explain a bit of what was controversial– a big part of the controversy was that they weren’t under church supervision. They just were running themselves. Issues discussed in those early newspapers would not seem very radical at all to us today, in my opinion. It was stuff like she mentioned in the interview– how the buildings aren’t designed well for women and kids, how to juggle kids with a little life of our own, or how to deal with our drive for perfectionism in homemaking. Maybe before I subscribed it was a bit more radical, and, at the time, its very existence was radical, but looking back, it doesn’t seem particularly frightening.

    The ERA story is a very long one, so I’ll be interested to see what John has in the works for that.

  5. I totally agree that John should do these interviews. He’s a wonderful interviewer, the fans of Mormon Stories Podcasts are already expecting his approach, and they’re in tune with his way of asking questions, and furthermore, the fact that a man is asking the questions may help the podcasts to connect to many males in our church who might be put off a bit by an all-female show. They might think it’s not really of concern to them or meant for them. If John himself does the interviews, it’s an example or a model of a man asking about women’s issues, being directly concerned with them, and considering them vital issues of our church today. That’s the message I think might be sent by having John conduct the sessions himself.

  6. Oh, and thanks so very much for this interview. Dr. Bushman has supercharged me with excitement and inspiration about women’s roles in the church.

  7. To MartyMoose: glad you loved the music! You’re right: my website focuses on my songwriting rather than spiritual arrangements.

    The “Nearer My God to Thee” recording will be released soon on a CD of unique hymn arrangements by Clayton Pixton. You can preview some other tracks and sign up to hear about the release at http://www.claytonpixton.com/music2–deseret_cd.html.

    In the meantime… I’ve added the mp3 of “Nearer My God to Thee” as a free download on my website in the “Live Recordings” section of the “Music” area for anyone who wants it now. (https://skyepixton.com/disc_all.html#Live)


  8. I’m dropping the MartyMoose in favor of my name. I want to be cool like everyone else.

    Thanks for the the links and posting the hymn, Skye. I appreciate it muchly.

    As for the podcast, I thought it was interesting that John wasn’t doing the podcast. But I wasn’t put off by it at all. Being a guy, I think it’s useful to have a woman interviewing a woman an women’s issues. It would be interesting to have an interview with her done by John as well to complement the one we already have. Looks like he has some stuff in the pipeline though :)

  9. Pingback: John Dehlin Part 2: Constructive or Destructive Mormon Critic? + Gospel Tangents - Mormon History Podcast

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