I really shouldn't have ever found this book. I just looking for some nice pioneer women's stories that talked about women working in frontier times. I just googled some random words and this book came up: Daughters of Light and had all these interesting things to say about women and the priesthood....and it was written in the 1970's. So I was combing through BYU's library shelves looking for that book when I found, sitting just a few books away, The Flight and the Nest by Carol Lynn Pearson.
I have no idea why I was looking around at the other books. They were all saying some very angering (is that a word?) things about LDS women's lovely place by the hearth. I probably put them back in all the wrong places because I was trying to close them and get them far away from me as fast as possible.
But...then this one, The Flight and the Nest by Carol Lynn Pearson, popped up and I kept reading and reading until I realized that this was a book I've been looking for and I didn't even know I needed it. It's a history--or a kind of collection of writing--that LDS women did in the church publications about "women's emancipation." Basically, it shows that LDS women thought that the restoration of the gospel was helping to free women from centuries of being shackled and subjected. With the light of the gospel, their role as women was being illuminated as one that was important, noble, and necessary. And they weren't just talking about motherhood under the assumptions we have today about gender roles. They were talking about a full development of women's potential. Here's a few gems I found today:
“I had always known that if I ever met the women of the Mormon pioneer past, they could teach me a great deal—quilting, soap making, giving birth on the prairie, singing through incredible hardships, having faith in God and seeing that faith rewarded. But I never knew that they could teach me about some of the more sensitive issues of womanhood. I had forgotten that they lived during the age of women’s “emancipation.” It had never occurred to me that they had already done battle with many of the questions that are pertinent today and that I might learn from their observations and experiences. And I had no idea that (most wonderful of all) they had written—with strength and balance and good sense—about their journeys into this other frontier on which they and other women were unquestionably pioneers.” (Carol Lynn Pearson, Preface xi-xii)
P. 12 “they saw the Spirit of the Lord working throughout the world, upon all people, bringing new light and new thought to the subject of woman. And to them this new thinking was an absolutely essential part of the redemption of woman made “necessary” by the fall of Adam and Eve from a better state.” (Pearson)
p. 14 “Man, in his might and blindness has wrested from Eve’s daughters their God-given rights in the dominion, hence this modern war which woman-kind is waging to obtain them back again. The struggle is surely divinely instituted and will ultimately succeed, for the world’s problems today are sadly in need of the decisions of pure, high-minded, God-fearing men and women.” (Ida S. Peay "Taking A Stand for the Right" Woman's Exponent June 1913)
p. 15 “Others, again, not only recognize that women’s status should be improved, but are so radical in their extreme theories that they would set her in antagonism to man, assume for her a separate and opposing existence; and to show how entirely independent she should be would make her adopt the more reprehensible phases of character which men present, and which should be shunned or improved by them instead of being copied by women” (Eliza R. Snow, Woman’s Exponent July 15, 1872 “Woman’s Status")
p. 16 “They [LDS women in this time] were, however, undeniably thrilled to be living in the “women’s era” and devoted themselves with great energy to the things that they considered to be progress. They felt they could do much good in the world by moving into an expanded sphere that included levels of activity besides the home.” (Pearson)
p. 16 “to see woman from the homestead alone is to view her from a contracted standpoint, which retards her liberty. And I believe we thus hinder her progress, for there are social questions that will never be understood until woman shall stand by the side of man to discuss them. The one will always have need of the other; they will walk together, side by side, and find completeness in each other” (Lizzie Smith “The Equality of the Sexes” Young Women’s Journal March 1890).