Liberators of Oppressed Mormon Women

“Liberate Demoralized Sisters”

It becomes evident that MERA saw themselves as liberators of oppressed LDS women through their picket signs and newsletters, which often contain sections asking MERA members to contribute picket sign ideas. One of the ideas shared in the October 1980 newsletter spells LDS vertically with each letter representing a word so the sign reads “Liberate Demoralized Sisters.”[1]




In the above article, Karen Beard equates Utah to a police state with restricted news access and increased surveillance. [Click image to enlarge.]
(Utah State University, Merrill-Cazier Library, Special Collections & Archives, Collection MSS 225, Box 16, Folder 8.)

The need to free LDS women from their oppressive state is evident in a June 1981 MERA newsletter advertisement encouraging members to sign up as ERA missionaries. The advertisements detail the goals of the mission and end with a plea to “Free Dorothy!!! There are lots of Dorothy’s in Utah. Perhaps we can help to free them—and ourselves.”[2] The idea that women in Utah are less free than LDS women in other parts of the country is further discussed in a 4 Women newsletter when Karen Beard equates her experience visiting Utah to that of a police state with restricted news coverage and increased police surveillance. She writes:

It was wonderful to be able to show our support of our Utah sisters and to give them news of the “outside world.” We took pictures and news clippings of the chainings and arrests in Bellevue, Wa. [sic] They saw photos that had been in newspapers all over the country but NOT in Utah papers.

She goes on to describe the atmosphere saying, “I knew that the atmosphere would be different in Utah—I expected more hostility than at home—but the restrictions were a surprise. I felt that I was in a police state. The police surveillance was overwhelming.”[3] Mormon women living outside of Utah felt obligated to educate and enlighten women living within Utah, whom they believed were less educated on the issue and came to their position on the ERA because of the LDS Church’s stance. 

[1] “Mormons for ERA Newsletter.” October 1980. MERA MSS 225, Box 3, Folder 1, USUSCA.
[2] “Mormons for ERA Newsletter.” June 1981. MERA MSS 225, Box 3, Folder 1, USUSCA. 
[3 ]Karen Beard, “I went to Utah and Was Glad to Come Back to America,” 4 Women Newsletter, June 1981. MERA MSS 225, Box 16, Folder 8, USUSCA.