Every time it has made me want to jump up and down and yell at the top of my lungs
"YES THERE ARE
YOU JUST AREN'T LOOKING FOR THEM!"
I'm feeling an urgent need to set the record straight so that if any of you are ever sitting in a class, reading a blog, or having a conversation with someone who starts lamenting that there aren't any women in the scriptures you can... gently... enlighten them.
First, before I give you the numbers I want you to get a paper and pen (or if you have a really good memory you can do it in your head) and make a guess about how many women you think are mentioned by NAME in the Old Testament, New Testament, Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price.
Then write down how many UNNAMED women you think are in each of these books.
Then write down how many women, named or unnamed, you think are in ALL the books of scripture.
If you haven't guessed you should....
I'll give you another minute.
Okay, so here are the numbers that I got from my own study of the scriptures (so please realize that these numbers might be off just a little... but they are as accurate as I could get them with my limited resources)
Named Women: 133
Unnamed Women: 90
Groups of Unnamed Women: 145
Parables or Prophecies Specifically Including Women: 319
Total Women: 368
Named Women: 33
Unnamed Women: 28
Groups of Unnamed Women: 16
Parables or Prophecies Specifically Including Women: 60
Total Women: 71
Named Women: 3
Unnamed Women: 18
Groups of Unnamed Women: 66
Parables or Prophecies Specifically Including Women: 24
Total Women: 87
(Here is a complete list of them)
Named Women: 2
Unnamed Women: 4
Groups of Unnamed Women: 4
Parables or Prophecies Specifically Including Women: 20
Total Women: 10
Named Women: 5
(I didn't include women who were also mentioned in the Old Testament)
Unnamed Women: 2
Groups of Unnamed Women: 17
Parables or Prophecies Specifically Including Women: 5
Total Women: 24
Grand Total of all the Women in the Scriptures: 556
I am going to be writing this blog for a long, long time.
Please remember though that the "groups of unnamed women" can include anywhere from two or three women to 10,000. Also in addition to the 556 women mentioned specifically in the scriptures there are 428 parables or prophecies that specifically address or mention women.
Does any of this surprise you?
How did you do on your guessing? Did you guess more or less? I'd love to hear how you did.
I know that after I first completed the Women in the Scriptures Challenge I was astounded at all the women who were mentioned. Why had I NEVER heard of any of these women?!
Over the last few years I've began to see that the reason people don't think there are any women in the scriptures is because they aren't looking for them. They are either not reading their scriptures at all and are getting their information second hand through lessons and talks or they are reading their scriptures but aren't stopping to notice and ponder on the people they are reading about.
The other problem that people run into is that they try to compare the amount of women mentioned to the amount of men mentioned in the scriptures. "There may be 556 women in the scriptures but there are three times more men! That just isn't fair!" It is true that there are many more men in the scriptures but that doesn't lessen the beauty that we have LOTS of wonderful women role models as well. What we need to focus on, instead of comparing numbers, is how grateful we should be for the 556 women we DO have. In a day and age when most women didn't know how to read or write, and in some cases were excluded from spiritual life all together, it is amazing that we have as many of their stories as we do. We just need to start paying attention to them and talking about their stories. Just like in real life women are often "invisible" or "below the radar" simply because no one gives them specific attention or includes them in meaningful conversations.
It made me sad when recently I was watching a movie clip on 2 Kings 22 (in which the temple in Jerusalem is rebuilt and the scriptures re-discovered) that the story of Huldah was totally skipped over. It wouldn't have taken the film directors more than 5-10 seconds to include her, but they didn't. It made me wonder if they had even noticed her when they were reading the scriptures. It is my sincere hope that as more people-- men and women-- start opening their scriptures and looking for the women that flood their pages they will start
and BEARING TESTIMONY
about these incredible women and sharing their stories.
So next time you hear someone complain "There just aren't very many women in the scriptures" I want you to tell them...
Open your scriptures...
because the women are there,
just waiting to be discovered.