What Women Know—FAQs

1. Critics accuse you of mounting a personal attack against Julie Beck.

We acknowledge President Beck's remarks on the significance of mothering, the importance of honoring ordinances, and the responsibility for nurturing, teaching, and leading children. However, many of us feel that our experiences are not reflected often enough in official texts and pronouncements from the pulpit. We believe that women are more complicated and diverse and our situations more challenging and nuanced than is generally recognized.

2 – Some readers are concerned about your treatment of the Stripling Warriors story. Why did you include that statement?

We wanted to remind ourselves that this is, first and foremost, an account about teen soldiers who have to go to war because there are few grown men left to do so, and because their fathers have taken a vow of nonviolence. It is a story of horrible necessity and of brutal experience.

War hardens and maims its participants both physically and emotionally; survivors are often changed for life. Even though the young fighters prevailed and gave their mothers credit for instilling in them their exceptional faith, we do not pretend their wartime experience did not come at a terrible cost. 

Many of the contributors to this document have family and loved ones serving in the military. We are grateful when they return alive. But we cannot forget that others die daily in violent conflicts.

3 - Critics argue that your statement's introduction specifically references President Beck's talk, but you do not directly address the issues in her talk.  Why is this?

We do not disagree with every point that President Beck makes.  Our statement concerns President Beck’s talk only insofar as we used it as a springboard for a collaborative discussion of our lived experience.

4 - What do you hope to achieve with this open letter?
This isn't a letter. This statement represents our dialogue with each other, which we hoped would spur larger discussions.  We initiate conversations to identify our strengths, become more explicit about our values, and reduce feelings of isolation and inadequacy.  For us, the significance of this project is the process of thinking, questioning, and taking responsibility for our own lives.

5 - Who are you and what is your agenda?

We are women who regularly discuss religion and women's issues. As a group, we wanted to frame the discussion regarding women more expansively. Few seemed to be doing this, so we decided to do it on our own. If people read our work and feel acknowledged, supported, sustained, understood, challenged, or spiritually nourished, we are satisfied our statement has served its purpose.

6 - What do you say to critics who believe that you are espousing ideas contrary to church doctrine – specifically that you are condoning the choice for husbands and wives to forego childbearing?

We acknowledge that people’s circumstances vary significantly in a worldwide church. For example, in many areas of the world where AIDS is rampant, where access to contraceptives is limited, and where children suffer and die due to inadequate health care and nutrition, many parents struggle with family planning choices that their more privileged peers seldom have to face.  We are also aware that it is not universally possible for everyone who wants to have children to do so.

We agree with Church policy that these decisions are private matters.

7 - Some critics write you off as stereotypical silly, shrill, bitchy, bra-burning, strident, whiny, man-hating, frigid, ax-grinding, hysterical,  humorless, Godless, angry FemiNazis.  Do you have a response to them?


8 - The introduction to your letter says that your "inspiration and experience" are different from those of President Beck. Your critics interpret this as saying that your views are superior to those of church leaders.

We speak only for ourselves, based on our own inspiration and experience. We are not competing with or comparing ourselves to General Authorities or to President Beck. We hope that the majority of readers will view our statement as a sincere expression of our experiences and our hopes for women everywhere

9 - Are you limiting who can sign your document?

 No.  There is really no way for us to do this. We don’t control who links to our statement or web site.

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Text Copyright ©2007 by WWKN
composed mid-November 2007
last updated Nov 20, 2007
Photo of Helen Weeks, former Tabernacle Choir member, is by Mark Werlin.