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Thunder from the RightEzra Taft Benson in Mormonism and Politics$
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Matthew L. Harris

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780252042256

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: September 2019

DOI: 10.5622/illinois/9780252042256.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM ILLINOIS SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.illinois.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Illinois University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in ISO for personal use.date: 12 May 2021

Women and Gender

Women and Gender

(p.178) 7 Women and Gender
Thunder from the Right
Andrea G. Radke-Moss
University of Illinois Press

Benson’s views on women’s roles might be dismissed as simply the old-fashioned vestiges of Mormon patriarchy and generational sexism. Certainly, “Motherhood to the exclusion of all else” and the redirecting of feminine ambition back toward the home had been a rhetorical line from LDS leaders since early in the twentieth century, especially in reaction to the gender shifts of World War II and beyond. Like other anxieties within Mormonism about postwar disruptions in American life, the movement for women’s equality--and church leaders’ reactions to it--can best be understood against the backdrop of Cold War fears about the infiltration of communism, atheism, sexual liberation, and expressions of anti-authority impulses into American life. For Benson, as this essay argues, Mormonism’s emphasis on family, tradition, children, and maternity offered a reliable counterinfluence to the Cold War and the social liberalism of the 1960s that brought sexual debauchery, crime, and the degradation of women.

Keywords:   Equal Rights Amendment, Patriarchy, gender equality, Relief Society, Family, 1960s, women’s rights, gender roles, feminism, feminists

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