Monday, September 20, 2010

Barbara B. Smith influence on Mormon Women at time of ERA


It helped me to read what Stephanie posted in eulogizing Barbara B. Smith.  Her expansive description of the time in which Barbara Smith took office of President of Relief Society reflected a time of great inner organizational structural change in the LDS church.  At the time of ERA, I knew little of Mormon faith, beliefs or culture, only that the LDS women were marching in lockstep to help defeat ERA.  At the time I was not in the fullest sense of the feminist movement, but I was in a budding career and much interested in growth of recognition of equal wages for women who found themselves in the workplace (either by choice or economic circumstance).  I recall my thoughts at that time of thorough surprise, puzzlement and even disdain in hearing that Mormon women were not in support of ERA.  How could sisters not support sisters, I wondered.  What was this peculiar belief set that permitted the women to hold to the status quo of too many characteristics on the economic and domestic frontlines belonging to a ‘man’s world’?

Perhaps Barbara B. Smith wasn’t as far off the mark as I believed at the time.  Now that even Mormon women find themselves in the workplace, and not necessarily by choice, but by economic circumstance, women’s rights have taken a slightly backwards step forcing choices to multi-task as wife, mother, parent, and working woman.  The ‘SuperWoman’ as it was thought we women could be in those years of the movement (1970’s n 198'0’s) has proven to be unrealizeable.  Some role element suffers - be it the career, the parent, the wife.   I now believe an economy that forces women into the workforce at the expense of raising their children has consequences for the woman and the children.  Which is not to say it can’t be balanced and done well, but it takes enormous energy and superb help, not always readily or handily available. 

Having said that, I also believe that an economy built on consumerism has worn out it’s welcome and revisiting what we ‘need’ instead of what we ‘want’ is timely.  We may well find out that we need less consumerism and want more time to be in and with family. 


Related Posts with Thumbnails