Where We Stand provides a fascinating look into part of a culture of which we rarely get a glimpse: The Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-day Saints (LDS). Abby Hansen is a young mother and wife in a devout LDS family and community. Abby grew up within the teachings and doctrine of the church, yet in early adulthood, began to feel that woman within the church are not treated equally, especially when it comes to ordination. LDS fears three main threats: homosexuality, intellectualism and feminism. This film deals with the latter….pun intended.
It is a church dominated by men.
Abby Hansen is indistinguishable from any other American wife/mother her age. Car seats filled with bickering kids, shopping, housework and getting the kids ready for church. Abby is a typical American housewife. She has her differences with the church though, but is a mild-mannered rebel, advocate, even militant by LDS standards. Abby is conflicted with how far out she should go in standing up to the male-dominated church doctrine. Her husband is neither supportive nor disapproving of her feelings toward the church.
Within, or rather on the extreme fringes of LDS culture, is a group of like-minded women who feel that women within the church should be allowed to be ordained. Abby decides to join this group of women. There is a severe juxtaposition between their view and the words of Abby’s church elder, Dalin Oaks, who proclaims from the pulpit that women within the church are there to provide bodies for the church. In other words…they are LDS baby makers.
The church hierarchy considers women of Abby’s persuasion to be dangerous and actually seek to protect other LDS women from their influence. Confrontation is taboo in the LDS culture and women like Abby risk alienation, sanction and even excommunication.
Abby tries to decide how far she should go in bucking the church while at the same time rebelling in a small way by dressing in pants for services, which are also frowned upon by the church. On the face, she seems to be an unlikely thorn in the side of LDS, but is extremely likeable and extremely determined at the same time. Her feelings of being left out of a significant part of the church she grew up in gives her a rock-solid backbone, yet not in a careless fashion. She knows the possible consequences.
Abby goes on to make a huge statement about her beliefs even after her mentor is excommunicated from the church. The support she receives and the outcome of her actions is both refreshing and enlightening.
For a look at humble feminism behind the curtain surrounding the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-day Saints, do not miss Where We Stand!