Sisters struggle to reconcile feminist beliefs with Mormon faith

December 13, 2013

By: Katie Mingle

(Photo courtesy of StoryCorps)
Shannon and Didi Mehner

Chicago sisters Shannon and Didi Mehner describe themselves as Mormon feminists.

In Mormonism, women cannot hold the priesthood or assume certain leadership roles in the church. The Chicago sisters are troubled by this, and say they’re fighting to change it ... within their church.

They visited the Chicago StoryCorps booth to talk about the challenges of reconciling feminism and faith.

Shannon: I think I always knew I was feminist. I always kept my feminism kind of separate from my identity as a member of the Mormon church. And so I think when I got married is when it all came crashing together. I obviously love Nick, and I’m really glad I got married, but a lot of your identity starts to feel like it sinks into your husband’s identity.

StoryCorps’ mission is to provide Americans of all backgrounds and beliefs with the opportunity to share, record and preserve their stories. This excerpt was edited by WBEZ.

Shannon decided to keep her maiden name, rather than to take her husband's.

Didi: Shannon and I grew up with a dad who kind of always told us we could do whatever we wanted.

Shannon: He is also extremely conservative, so when he gets mad about us being feminists, I always tell him that he created us, and made us this way.

To hear how Shannon plans to raise a “raging feminist boy,” and how she won a victory that both sisters say is a big deal in the Mormon church, click on the audio above.

Katie Mingle is a producer for WBEZ and the Third Coast Festival.