Looking over the reading on Mother Ann Lee once again, and wondering how to relate this all back to Women's Studies as a whole, I noticed that in the Shaker faith, there are many more realistic duties and roles expected of each community member than there are in, say, Catholicism. There were sacrifices for the whole community, just like there are in real life, and there were expectations for each person, like real life. I find this interesting that some considered this a 'utopian' community, yet it seems to be more realistic than most religious communities--there are no real roles or sacrifices to the community of Catholics, there are only sacrifices to God and sometimes to yourself.
I wonder if this has to do with the fact that this religion was founded by a woman. Was she more realistic that the men founding other religions? Was she simply looking to establish something more than a religion and that is where the difference lies? I'm not sure, but it seems that her perspectives and past experiences as a woman probably lead her to making some of the decisions she did when forming the Shaker lifestyle. For example, she must have realized that without a husband, she was much happier, so there would be little mingling among the sexes in her religion.
Though there wasn't much interaction between women and men, Mrs. Gold mentioned in her presentation that there was a division of labor, but an equal respect. I wonder how Mother Ann Lee achieved this. I wonder what the men were like who were coming in to this experience. Were they simply outnumbered by the women, so they obeyed them? Were they spooked by Mother Ann's seemingly supernatural ways and didn't want to upset her? Were they just really open-minded, progressive-thinking people? Or was Mother Ann simply confident and unwavering enough with her beliefs that the men respected her words?
I sometimes wonder whether that is it--a lack of confidence--that separates us from men and their respect. If we didn't second-guess ourselves or think of men as better in any way, could we prove to men, without them, that we are capable and deserving of equal treatment?