"(Not so) Well-behaved Women: Piety and Practice Among 21st Century Mormon Feminists"
Harvard historian Laurel Thatcher Ulrich could have never predicted the immense popularity of her 1976 phrase “well-behaved women seldom make history,” observed nearly two decades later emblazoned on all manner of popular feminist paraphernalia. Adopted as a maxim by a new generation of Mormon feminists, the phrase positions the religious activism of a well-organized, media-savvy network of agitators against an intransigent and retributive institutional patriarchy. As Mormon feminists press for change to entrenched gender inequality, they simultaneously disrupt normative assumptions of subservience and docility, while calling into question critiques of the implausibility of agency and concomitant piety. Considering Braidotti’s (2008) discussion of key players in the non-secularist “feminist project,” such as Daly and Schussler-Fiorenza, this paper examines the trajectory of the contemporary Mormon feminist movement and its potential contributions to the broader conversation about post-secular feminist thought.
Christine L. Cusack earned a B.A. in Communication from Brigham Young University and an M.A. in Communication from the University of Ottawa. She is currently in her third year of a Ph.D.in Religious Studies, conducting fieldwork for her dissertation on the topic of religion, non-religion and public education in Canada. Her other research interests include women and religion as well as religion, media and social change. She is affiliated with the Mormon Social Science Association and is one of the founders of Mormon Feminist Canada.