From Housewives to Protesters: Mormons for the ERA: LDS Church as Oppressive
LDS Church as Oppressive
While MERA portrayed themselves as freeing Mormon women, several national newspapers portrayed MERA as victims of the LDS Church’s patriarchy and the LDS Church as overreaching politically. Headlines such as “Mormon Men Call All the Shots” and “Mormonism Swallows you Whole” portray the LDS Church as oppressive, all-encompassing, and restrictive.
A political cartoon by Shaw McCutcheon appearing in the Spokesman Review on December 7, 1979, depicts an older man next to a woman dressed in a chador (outer garment or open cloak worn especially by Muslim women) holding a sign that reads, “Mormon women for ERA.” The man, who is labeled as the “Mormon Church,” puts a veil around the woman’s face, only leaving her eyes exposed. The caption along the bottom of the cartoon reads, “Chador veils right here in the U.S.?” This cartoon demonstrates a common portrayal of the LDS Church silencing Mormon women who support the ERA.
These cartoons, along with newspaper headlines and articles, demonstrate the characterization of the LDS Church as having numerous resources and the ability to stop the ERA. The media portrayal of MERA protesters was overwhelmingly positive; they regularly covered events and provided important publicity for their cause. The LDS Church did not have a favorable depiction in the national media with headlines criticizing their political involvement, use of money, and church patriarchy.