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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Adetola Hassan, December 16, 2001. Interview R-0160. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Thoughts on gender roles within the Mormon Church

Hassan discusses her thoughts on gender roles within the Mormon Church. According to Hassan, because the Church placed such a high emphasis on personal relationships with God, Mormonism helped to free young women from social norms by allowing them to focus more on self-worth. Additionally, she argues that Mormonism did not inhibit women's independence by making them choose between work and family. Indeed, Hassan argues here that she fully expected to have a career while simultaneously upholding Mormon ideals of family and marriage, just as her mother did.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Adetola Hassan, December 16, 2001. Interview R-0160. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

What do you feel that the Mormon doctrine has to offer single women in determining the ideal roles [Recorder is turned off and then back on.]
ADETOLA HASSAN:
I think even from when you get into women's I think there is a lot of emphasis on self-worth because I think society in general does a lot to degrade women. So I think it just sort of helps and sometimes I think a lot of women base their self-worth on how they're treated especially by males, and I think it definitely helps. It stresses the fact that you are a daughter of God and that you are who you are not because of what other people think or how you dress or who you are. It's focuses a lot on your relationship with God, and so I think that's really positive especially in our society today.
BARBARA COPELAND:
That's a very powerful statement. If all of us could think along those lines and in those terms I think that there things would be a whole lot better most certainly. Just wanted to know also from your point of view can single African American Mormon women abandon their independence by letting men, letting the men provide while they stay at home with children?
ADETOLA HASSAN:
I don't think it's necessary to stay at home just because my mom didn't, and I mean obviously you have to put your family first but which my mom did, but she still had a career, and she was very much a career woman. So I don't think you have to stay at home. I think if that's a choice that you want to make. I don't think that makes you any less of a role because you are taking care of home and that is your job and like no matter what men would like to say they couldn't do it without you. I don't think that that is compromising your independence if that's a choice that you make.
BARBARA COPELAND:
This pattern or just role of independence, do you think that these can be easily broken to give way to accepting and adapting to the Mormon ideal. Like well I know that with the statement that you just said would say no that you really don't have to break, you really don't have to break your independence so to speak. You can so in other words are you saying that you, an African American woman Mormon can still be independent and at the same time still answer or still answer to the Mormon ideal, go along with the hierarchy in the church even if she feels that she should still have the same opportunity to perhaps maybe fulfill some of those same hierarchical priesthood roles?
ADETOLA HASSAN:
I think it's definitely a matter of perspective and if you feel that [Recorder is turned off and then back on.]
BARBARA COPELAND:
And so you were saying it's a matter of perspective.
ADETOLA HASSAN:
Yeah if you feel I'm sure because I guess before I used to be like, you should've obviously I've got friends who like I'm going to stay at home and take care of my kids. I'm like why? But because I personally plan on having a career but also taking care of my kids. So it's a matter of what you feel, I think like for me I have chosen to see that you can have—
BARBARA COPELAND:
You can do both.
ADETOLA HASSAN:
Right.
BARBARA COPELAND:
And still be able to live the Mormon ideal and not feel like you're giving up your independence just to fit into that hierarchical church structure.
ADETOLA HASSAN:
There are always people in any religion who think that women should stay in the house. Well that's their point of view.