Sunstone 2012 Preview

Comments on Andrew’s recent Why are Ex-Mormons So Angry (and other questions)? Part II thread discuss a possible MSP presence at Sunstone 2012, and wonder when it will be.

It’s scheduled for July 25-28 at the Olpin Student Union Building of the University of Utah campus. After quite a few years of being held over the first weekend in August, it was changed to the last week of July, so as not to coincide with the Outdoor Retailers Convention, which sucks up almost all the available hotel rooms and parking spaces in Salt Lake City. Plus if you show up to 2012’s symposium a day or two early, you can enjoy all the Pioneer Day shindigs, and who wouldn’t be down with that?

The theme will be “Mormons and Mormonism as a Political Force,” and yes, I thought of it. That’s right: the person the bloggernacle thinks is single-handedly ruining Sunstone came up with the themes for both 2011 and 2012.

I knew there would be plenty of people who saw immediately the vast possibilities of this theme — after all, pretty much every panel ever presented at Sunstone could be shaped to fit and support i t– but I was surprised by the men (and they were invariably men – perhaps because women who go to Sunstone are already familiar with the whole “the personal is political” argument) who reacted with irritation at how “narrow” the topic was. So I wrote this to explain its broader application:

Think beyond senators, governors, and candidates for president. Ask yourself: how do Mormons deliberately try to shape the social fabric that covers us all? How do they cooperate among themselves and with others to get what they want? What is the political and social fallout when Mormons organize, canvass, and vote in order to make an entire state or country “choose the right”? How do Mormons exemplify the feminist adage that “the personal is political”? In short, how do Mormons exercise, submit to, challenge, and understand power? (And can you really be both Republican and a good Mormon?)

Check out page 46 of the 2011 final program for an awesome illustration of a power fist sporting a CTR ring. Wouldn’t it be cool to have that on a t-shirt with the slogan “It’s personal. It’s political. It’s Mormon. Its Sunstone 2012.”?

To be clear: sessions need not fit the theme to be accepted. There are always a few requisite panels on polygamy no matter what the theme is. But it’s sort of cool to have a conversation about a particular topic, and to see how Sunstone can help shape and expand the discourse happening about it.

No official call for proposals has been issued yet, which means there’s also no deadline, but it will probably be around April of 2012. Mary Ellen has a folder for early submissions, and you can send her something right now if you want — I already did. :-)

 

56 thoughts on “Sunstone 2012 Preview

  1. Excellent!!! I can’t wait — and you can put me down for an advanced order of that T-shirt!

    There are always a few requisite panels on polygamy no matter what the theme is.

    Right, but polygamy easily fits the theme this year — it’s a pretty big Mormon example of “the personal is political.” On that note, I hope there will be a panel or presentation about the CoJCoL-dS’s efforts to convince the press that nobody else has the right to self-identify as “Mormon”,

  2. I was surprised by the men (and they were invariably men perhaps because women who go to Sunstone are already familiar with the whole the personal is political argument)

    ???

  3. Wow, TT–it’s nice to see that your motor skills are sharp enough that you can hit one key three times in a row. Congrats!

  4. I thought my first comment was a pretty self-explanatory point about being perplexed by this gendered remark. I didn’t intend it to become a point of clarification or discussion, nor did I expect to be attacked. I just wanted to note some minor disapproval.

  5. I was perplexed by the fact that all the people who said, “Mormons and politics?! What a dumb, narrow topic!” were all men, and tried to offer some possibility for why that should have been the case.

    And I didn’t intend to attack you, TT–sorry if it came across that way. Just wanted to note some minor disapproval at the weak, ineffectual way you noted your disapproval.

  6. No worries, Holly. Minor disapproval noted.
    I guess I would probably say that the reason that your experience was that only men were “irritated” could be explained in a number of different ways, and was probably not because, as you imply, men who attend Sunstone are dumber as a class than women who attend Sunstone. It seems to me that clarifying what is meant by the Sunstone theme could probably be done without expressing irritation at those pesky “men.” There may very well be some room for a good discussion about the way that the topic is framed (not that I have a dog in this at all), and it seems to be that framing the discussion as “all those who disagree with this topic are men who don’t know anything about 1969 feminist slogans.”

  7. [completing my fragment sentence] and it seems to be that framing the discussion as all those who disagree with this topic are men who dont know anything about 1969 feminist slogans is probably neither an accurate understanding of the events, a necessary gendered conclusion to draw, nor a productive way to clarify the meaning of the theme in a non-hostile way.

  8. I guess I would probably say that the reason that your experience was that only men were irritated could be explained in a number of different ways

    Well, duh. That’s why I offered one possibility for the phenomenon, instead of positing an absolutely indisputable explanation.

    and was probably not because, as you imply, men who attend Sunstone are dumber as a class than women who attend Sunstone.

    That is entirely YOUR assumption and not at all present in what I experienced or intended to convey. As it happens, some of the men who found the topic narrow have thoroughly respectable PhDs from thoroughly respectable institutions and traffic on reputations as intellectuals, so there is reason enough to imagine that they are not, as you put it, “dumb.”

    Nor did every last man who heard of the topic express disapproval. Some men were downright enthusiastic about it. I never intended, by mentioning the reactions of a portion of the male attendees at Sunstone, to give anyone the basis for drawing conclusions about either ALL the men who attend Sunstone or my opinion of all the men who attend Sunstone. I think it is quite unreasonable of you to do so.

    However, knowing as I do something about the type of woman who regularly attends Sunstone, it seemed likely to me that those women have had conversations about the broader meanings of “political”, and so grasped the topic’s possibilities more quickly, without needing to see it spelled out.

    without expressing irritation at those pesky men.

    Certain men are who expressed irritation–with the topic. The feeling I both experienced and expressed was surprise at certain men’s reaction.

    Any other attitude on my part is something you are reading into it, and without much grounds.

  9. Holly, I appreciate the clarification and accept your explanation that you meant “certain men.”

    Whether my conclusion about your gendering of your opponents given the fact that you saw gender as a relevant category among those who disagreed with you, so relevant that you felt you needed to explain to your readers that not only were they men, but also that the fact that they were men was a factor in their failure to understand the proper scope of the theme, and then again to emphasize that women who attend Sunstone are capable of grasping “the topic’s possibilities more quickly,” is or remains justified is perhaps another area of minor disagreement.

  10. it seems to be that framing the discussion as all those who disagree with this topic are men who dont know anything about 1969 feminist slogans is probably neither an accurate understanding of the events, a necessary gendered conclusion to draw, nor a productive way to clarify the meaning of the theme in a non-hostile way.

    The comment that incurred your minor disapproval was NOT an attempt to clarify the meaning of the theme. The paragraph I quoted was an attempt to clarify the theme. It, you will note, makes no mention of anyone’s gender, does it?

    You’re seeing hostility where none existed. The reaction of me and the other women who encountered the irritation was surprise, not anger.

    So I must say that if you think I drew too many conclusions from one phenomenon, a major part of the problem is that you have somehow concluded that I drew a great many conclusions that I did not, in fact, draw.

    Whether my conclusion about your gendering of your opponents given the fact that you saw gender as a relevant category among those who disagreed with you, so relevant that you felt you needed to explain to your readers that not only were they men, but also that the fact that they were men was a factor in their failure to understand the proper scope of the theme, and then again to emphasize that women who attend Sunstone are capable of grasping “the topic’s possibilities more quickly,” is or remains justified is perhaps another area of minor disagreement.

    Of course I saw gender as a relevant category. Duh. I just didn’t imagine that one would draw conclusions about a human being’s basic intelligence based on their gender. Their appreciation of certain ideas, perhaps, but not whether they were “dumb.”

  11. Holly, my objection is that you see gender as relevant to the euphemistically stated, “appreciation of certain ideas.” Whether you were “surprised” or “hostile” is much less important than the fact that you thought that the most relevant factor among those who expressed “irritation” at the theme was that they were all dudes.

    Imagine for a moment if I said something like: So, hey guys, I had this brilliant idea (last year and this year too!)! But, I was surprised that certain women, (and don’t think that I didn’t notice that not one of them had a penis!), just didn’t see how awesome it was, so here is the condescending explanation where I invite those women to self-introspection about the deep meaning of my idea (men, don’t worry about it because I told you that “invariably” women were the ones that didn’t get it). Would you be justified that me feeling like I needed to explain me great idea to “certain women” was an unnecessary gendering of the issue? I would hope so.

  12. In my reading of the post, she homogenizes women more than she homogenizes men. She’s referring to certain men who surprised her, but then apparently all the women who attend Sunstone know the personal/political argument, as related to these certain men who do not. Holly has a habit of engendering a sisterhood where they may or may not be one, but I’ve learned to take this as one of her idiosyncrasies.

  13. I think the various positions are now clear and our feuds are now familiar. And, folks, when you see drama, please don’t jump in and help people fight.

  14. @15: Well, TT, considering that Mormon women spend a lot of time trying to figure out why Mormon men don’t understand certain things about gender–in particular, it’s really hard to get men to grasp the concept of male privilege–I’ll leave it to you to figure out if there just might be some difference between a dude saying “Wow, women just don’t get this shit” and a woman saying, “Wow, men just don’t get this shit.”

  15. Rather than “help people fight,” may I suggest that you both are tackling opposite sides of the elephant?

    In a Mormon context, which is highly gendered, it’s not hard to imagine a group of men acting one way, and a group of women acting another. The answer to this is probably noting how gendered a situation is, but also breaking up the homogeneity to suggest that, in this case, many men also love the “political Mormonism” theme — for example, I think it’s timely, because it’ll be an election year.

  16. chanson, I agree that we’ve stated our positions, but I don’t think we were fighting! I think Holly best summarizes the issue of whether

    there just might be some difference between a dude saying Wow, women just dont get this shit and a woman saying, Wow, men just dont get this shit.

    We disagree that a difference exists. Perhaps we could further explore why we disagree, as we did on some post in the past where I saw Holly making similar gender essentialist and gender binary statements, but it probably isn’t worth it.

    Does the comment reveal some broader problem with Holly’s thinking, her ways of engaging her conversation partners, or even the state of Sunstone? Probably not. It was just a small parenthetical comment and I’m willing to just chalk it up to idiosyncrasy too.

  17. but I dont think we were fighting!

    Good. I’m more than happy to butt the hell out if all participants feel that this discussion is civil and constructive. 😉

  18. The answer to this is probably noting how gendered a situation is, but also breaking up the homogeneity to suggest that, in this case, many men also love the political Mormonism theme for example, I think its timely, because itll be an election year.

    I would have thought that would be the answer to this as well, which is why I wrote,

    Nor did every last man who heard of the topic express disapproval. Some men were downright enthusiastic about it. I never intended, by mentioning the reactions of a portion of the male attendees at Sunstone, to give anyone the basis for drawing conclusions about either ALL the men who attend Sunstone or my opinion of all the men who attend Sunstone. think it is quite unreasonable of you to do so.

    I don’t know why it wasn’t, but I’m willing to chalk it up to some “idiosyncrasy” on TT’s part, like the time he asked me to explain all my ideas about gender rather than asking me to explain a comment he assumed was referring to one situation when it was really about another.

  19. Perhaps it is just an idiosyncrasy on my part, and I’m willing to grant that, but I’m not satisfied with Alan’s answer. For the same reason, I wouldn’t be persuaded by someone who said: “Women just don’t get. Well, not all women, but ‘certain women’ (you know who they are, those darned women who despite their excellent education, you would think would be able to get it, but just don’t!) don’t get it. But us men do, don’t we fellas!”

    I do, however, think his question is an excellent one: “In a Mormon context, which is highly gendered, its not hard to imagine a group of men acting one way, and a group of women acting another.” But the answer to this question is determined with data that is not based on anecdote, or “familiarity” with the types of women and men who attend Sunstone. Nor can we really be sure that statistically significant numbers of Mormon men or Mormon women acted in divergent ways with respect to Holly’s theme proposal.

    If they did, perhaps one might ask, “why don’t Mormon women challenge figures of authority?” or “why don’t Mormon women ask for clarification?” or even “why does the ‘political’ appeal to Mormon women this year and not to Mormon men?” But I suspect that none of these questions are really justified on the basis of the evidence presented (a few people that know Holly and are involved in Sunstone enough to feel that they have a say in its direction emailed her about it), nor can they be answered on the basis of Holly’s personal experience. I guess that I am just not convinced that maleness was a factor at all in having an opinion about whether the topic was too limited.

  20. (a few people that know Holly and are involved in Sunstone enough to feel that they have a say in its direction emailed her about it)

    Oh good grief, TT.

    How do you know how the discussions about the theme were conducted? Do you have any real basis for assuming they occurred via email? Is it possible that some of them happened face-to-face?

    And how do you know that all the conversations happened between me and someone else? Is it possible that a dude talked to one of the other people involved in Sunstone, and that person told me about the conversation?

    Because face-to-face conversations were involved, and a conversation between someone else was indeed reported to me.

    So many of your assumptions about the situation are entirely baseless, but you proceed as if you know all there is to know about what happened, and I’m the one missing all this important information.

    But I suspect that none of these questions are really justified on the basis of the evidence presented

    NO KIDDING. Like I said, you’ve drawn way too many conclusions about this.

    I guess that I am just not convinced that maleness was a factor at all in having an opinion about whether the topic was too limited.

    Actually, both men and women had an opinion about whether the topic was too limited. Both men and women expressed the opinion that it wasn’t. However, the only people to express the opinion that it was too narrow were men, which, as I mentioned, surprised me.

    Given that I didn’t presume to offer a conclusive reason as to why certain men and no women expressed the opinion that the topic was narrow, only a guess as to why that was the case, I “guess” it’s just fine that you’re not “convinced that maleness was a factor at all in having an opinion about whether the topic was too limited” as you were that “a few people that know Holly and are involved in Sunstone enough to feel that they have a say in its direction emailed her about it.”

  21. Holly,
    I don’t think that addition of more anecdotal evidence filtered through the same assumption about the relevance of maleness to the question makes any difference.

  22. Well, TT, given that you feel entitled to make assumptions without any evidence whatsoever, I guess I won’t try any harder than I have so far–meaning, not at all–to convince you that you need to be convinced by the possible explanation I posited based on mere anecdotal evidence, which still beats the nothing you rely on for your assumptions. You are as welcome as you ever were to believe that I have failed to provide you with an absolutely indisputable reason for why a minor phenomenon occurred in the context of a situation so unimportant to you that you say of it, as you did @10, “not that I have a dog in this at all.”

    Given that you say @20 that “it probably isnt worth it” to you to figure out why you disagree with me, I wonder why it’s not even worth it to you to acknowledge that I’m perfectly OK with you remaining unconvinced by a guess I readily admit is merely a guess.

  23. Somebody remind me to rent one of those popcorn stands for Sunstone (you know, the kind they park at movie theaters). Otherwise, I suppose it shouldn’t be that hard to find colorful popcorn boxes to distribute to friends and bring to the various panels.

  24. TT @20

    Does the comment reveal some broader problem with Hollys thinking, her ways of engaging her conversation partners, or even the state of Sunstone? Probably not. It was just a small parenthetical comment and Im willing to just chalk it up to idiosyncrasy too.

    TT @28

    I object to the offending remark not in spite of being a guess, but because it is a guess.

    sigh.

    Somebody remind me to rent one of those popcorn stands for Sunstone (you know, the kind they park at movie theaters). Otherwise, I suppose it shouldnt be that hard to find colorful popcorn boxes to distribute to friends and bring to the various panels.

    A beer cart or doses of Maalox might be more appropriate if people are going to follow TT’s model of discourse.

  25. Holly,
    I guess I’m not quite sure what the sigh worthy contradiction is between saying that your parenthetical remark is both an idiosyncrasy and a guess to which I also register a minor objection. Then again perhaps this exchange does reveals something about how you think, how you engage conversation partners, and perhaps even the state of Sunstone after all. Just a guess, mind you.

  26. Oh, what the hell.

    Two things. First, your objection to my guess is duly noted. I don’t think you offer a meaningful critique of it, but it’s been noted.

    Second,

    TT @20

    I think Holly best summarizes the issue of whether

    there just might be some difference between a dude saying Wow, women just dont get this shit and a woman saying, Wow, men just dont get this shit.

    We disagree that a difference exists. Perhaps we could further explore why we disagree, as we did on some post in the past where I saw Holly making similar gender essentialist and gender binary statements, but it probably isnt worth it.

    Unless you think it still isn’t worth it, go ahead and explain, TT, how a Mormon man saying, “Women just don’t understand patriarchy” is exactly the same as a Mormon woman saying, “Men just don’t understand patriarchy.” Go ahead and explain (mansplain) how issues of power and privilege make no difference in statements about gender within Mormonism, which is, as Alan notes, highly gendered.

    And if you’re not going to do that because it really isn’t worth it (or possible?), just accept that I’ve noted your minor objection but find it silly, and decide that you’re done here.

  27. Chris, given that you’ve said you’re anxious to ignore me, I do find it interesting that you pursue me in as many venues as possible, intruding on conversations between me and a friend on facebook about our friendship, or dropping in to troll here.

    And I do wonder if this is really a good use of your time, if perhaps you might want to attend to your marriage, which I hear is extremely troubled, or to your mental health, which several people close to you have assured me is not sound, or to your children, whom I understand almost drowned last week while you were busy ignoring them, sitting on your ass, picking fights all over the internet and unfriending people.

    Truly, if sniping at me is more important than saving your marriage, your sanity or your children’s lives, I guess I have some remarkable power over you. It’s nice to know.

    And you might also consider that you might be the one and only person banned from Sunstone and have no option to attend, no matter who else goes, since threatening a board member with violence isn’t exactly kosher behavior.

  28. Holly,
    I entered this discussion with no more than a desire to register a minor objection to your remark about the ability of (“certain”) men to understand a conference topic without a condescending explanation. I appreciate that you’ve noted it, ignored it, and called it silly. Please also note that these are not particularly taken as signs of a conversation done it good faith.

    I think that from our previous exchange some months back, it is evident that I don’t hold on to gender essentialist notions or accept the idea of a gender binary. From what I can tell, you do, and that very much informs how you interpret the world. I don’t think it is desirable to rehearse this debate since we seem to have different formative feminist experiences.

    I don’t think that the hypothetical you provided is really at all similar to the comment you made in structure, content, or context, and you’ve ignored the hypotheticals that I offered we discuss in 14 and 24 that attempted to mirror your own comment. That, and that you are gearing up to defend comments that do make universal claims about men and women does not suggest to me that you have really thought this through.

    From what I can tell, you’ve conceded that your comment about the relevance of maleness was no more than an unfounded, yet “possible explanation I posited based on mere anecdotal evidence,, and have asked that I be satisfied with that explanation of your remark. I’ve accepted your explanation, noted that I think the guess was unjustified because of the negatively charged gender essentialist assumptions that informed it. With that, I think the discussion is done and am just going to let the issue die, as I expected it to with my first “???”.

    I decline to go further. Take that as a failure to provide a compelling argument on my part, and act of cowardice, or reflection of the level of esteem I hold you in. Until next time. Adieu.

  29. That’d be awesome. At some point we should post a sign-up sheet. And maybe some suggestions for debate topics for the Bloggernacle vs DAMU cage match.

  30. I can’t imagine anyone having any problem with your references. Mostly, I’m just curious regarding the extra security arrangements we’re gonna have to put in place if the FPR crew is coming and who’s gonna wind up getting stuck with that bill.

  31. One note on Internet discussion technique:

    Everything you say on a blog is, by definition, logged. Once a discussion gets to the point where people are writing repetitive clarifications of their respective points, further clarification comments generally don’t improve your case. Seriously, a lot of times you come off better by making your point clearly once, and then allowing the other person get in the last word (especially if their last word looks like a minor variant on their second-to-last word).

    Also, as I said earlier, I really don’t care for people coming here to exacerbate drama. OTOH, making allegations about someone else’s IRL family life is not a constructive way to respond to such behavior.

  32. If people are serious about putting together an MSP panel at Sunstone next year, Id probably be interested in participating.

    Yes, we are. And it would be great to have you join in the fun!

    And maybe some suggestions for debate topics for the Bloggernacle vs DAMU cage match.

    Seriously, I think it might be interesting to see a panel that has a panelist representing each the various Internet Mormon communities: Nothing Wavering, the Bloggernacle, Outer Blogness, the New Order Mormons, the Mormon Mommy Blogs, etc.

  33. Holly @ 33: Those blog posts you linked to and the comments that follow are very interesting. Particularly the exchanges between Amelia and Saint Mark. I think I’ll write a post, so stay tuned.

  34. OK, here are some first draft panel proposals:

    Why Are ExMormons So Sexy?

    Is ExMormonism really the World’s Fastest Growing Religion? If you don’t believe in the church anymore, why are you still blogging about it? How’s the view from Outer Blogness? Authentic former-Mormon bloggers will tell you everything you ever wanted to know about ExMormonism but didn’t think to ask!

    Panelists: All the MSP crowd, plus maybe that Measure guy from the reddit, please sign up below.

    Us vs. Them and Them and Them and Them

    Mormons are famous for their boundary maintenance — either you’re in or you’re out! And now (thanks to the Internet!) we can establish our own little nation-states, sometimes warring, sometimes aligned. Panelists will discuss the goals and philosophy of their own communities and their feelings about the other communities.

    Panelists will include one representative from each of the following communities: Outer Blogness, the Bloggernacle, the New Order Mormons, Nothing Wavering, Mormon Mommy Blogs, and possibly others…? Volunteer yourself or others for this panel below.

  35. Chris H.,

    It appears that you find threats of violence amusing. As the recipient of your threats, I don’t find them the least bit amusing. I am not sure where you got the idea that it is acceptable to threaten other people with criminal violence. It is not funny, and it is very much NOT okay.

    I am reasonably certain that your statements violate the Wyoming criminal code. Wyoming Statutes 6-2-506(b)(i) (available at http://legisweb.state.wy.us/statutes/statutes.aspx?file=titles/Title6/T6CH2AR5.htm%20 ; page down for the relevant section) reads:

    “A person commits the crime of stalking if, with intent to harass another person, the person engages in a course of conduct reasonably likely to harass that person, including but not limited to any combination of the following: (i) Communicating, anonymously or otherwise, or causing a communication with another person by verbal, electronic, mechanical, telegraphic, telephonic or written means in a manner that harasses;”

    (The statute elaborates that: “‘Harass’ means to engage in a course of conduct, including but not limited to verbal threats, written threats, lewd or obscene statements or images, vandalism or nonconsensual physical contact, directed at a specific person or the family of a specific person, which the defendant knew or should have known would cause a reasonable person to suffer substantial emotional distress, and which does in fact seriously alarm the person toward whom it is directed.”)

    I believe that your comments threatening me are a relatively clear violation of the criminal statute. I am not a Wyoming attorney, but I would be happy to verify this conclusion with local counsel. In addition to violating the criminal code, your comments may also violate the code of conduct or faculty handbook for your institution. (I haven’t checked, but many academic institutions have policies along those lines.)

    You need to STOP making threats of physical violence. You also need to STOP engaging in harrassing behavior towards me or Holly. Your actions have significant legal consequences, and I may take further action in response to your threatening comments (including, pending further discussion with Utah counsel, seeking a restraining order).

  36. Kaimi — pardon me for not catching comment @42. Threats of violence are unacceptable here.

    Chris H — Please do not address Holly or Kaimi on MSP again nor write about them here (even obliquely).

  37. @49: Good thing, then, that screen shots were taken, and that I saved the email notice generated by the system when certain comments first posted, including commenter name, email and IP address.

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