There's a DN article (hat tip: FMH) summarizing Prof. Toscano's remarks at the recent UVSC Mormon Studies Conference. The first line, while stating she is "a University of Utah professor," also emphasizes that she is "an excommunicated member of the LDS Church." Interesting how the DN seems to think that fact is now part of her professional resume or compromises her academic credentials (which is exactly why the Church exes scholars it doesn't like). Interesting, too, how the passive construction hides the real actors. It would feel different, for example, it DN had written: "Male leaders of Prof. Toscano's LDS ward and stake excommunicated her in 2000."
Then there's the question of why she was excommunicated: For not knowing when to take hints from local leaders and just shut up? For publicly talking about touchy female doctrine (MIH, female priesthood)? Because those male local leaders know what they're supposed to do when they get an envelope in the mail from the Strenghening Church Memberhip committee? I suppose if the DN is going to throw in that Prof. Toscano is an excommunicated Mormon they should complete the thought with an accurate statement of what motivated her local leaders to ex her. They could, say, call them on the phone, interview them, and ask pointed questions. That's what reporters do, you know.
As for the talk itself, sounds like more of the same. Somehow, her points don't seem to resonate, for example complaining because Pres. Hinckley's "telling of the creation puts women in the role of the receiver, not the active participant." That just seems a little remote for most people. Then she complains about the "church's exclusive portrayal of the divine as masculine." Like that's news? I think she needs to come up with a new angle on this whole topic.
She notes that "[a]ny woman who complains about gender equity in the church is immediately accused of being power-hungry." Yeah, well anybody who complains about anything is depicted as ambitious, sinful, or both. The implicit message thus conveyed: Mormons who don't complain are humble and righteous. God loves people who don't complain. Don't complain. But this derives from the LDS approach to church governance, not anything to do with gender roles or LDS female doctrines. The problem is the lack of any mechanism for feedback in the LDS system and, more generally, intolerance of any kind of feedback except adulation. Other denominations have councils or conferences where lay or clergy representatives attend, voice concerns on the issues of the day, and formulate policy alternatives. An examination of why no such mechanism has evolved in the LDS Church and how such a forum might emerge seems more relevant on this issue than framing the whole discussion around LDS female doctrines. Plus, this seems like an approach that would at least resonate a bit with a wider LDS audience.
Frankly, there are few LDS women who are really upset about gender roles. Yes, there are some who talk about it and sound mildly critical, but they still march off to church every Sunday like everyone else. They aren't really concerned enough to do anything more than complain to friends. Anything more is a ticket out of the Church, as illustrated by Prof. Toscano. Besides, even persistent and activist complaining isn't going to change anything. There were significant difficulties in church administration and ongoing negative PR that helped provide motivation for the 1978 policy change. "Gender roles" seems to be largely an internal discussion without external motivators, and one that is going nowhere.