Barbara Bradshaw Smith, who was the face and focal point of the LDS Church’s battle against the Equal Rights Amendment, died yesterday at the age of 88. According to The Salt Lake Tribune:
On national television and newspaper front pages, she was the well-dressed, soft-spoken woman who became the face of LDS Church opposition to the Equal Rights Amendment.
But while Barbara Bradshaw Smith helped lead the faith’s fight against the failed constitutional amendment, she also sought to expand women’s roles, saying she supported additional rights but not the ERA.
The former LDS Relief Society president, who suffered from pulmonary fibrosis, died Monday at age 88 in Salt Lake City.
Now, I remember this fun little fight against the ERA, which always has perplexed me. And how the LDS leaders (read MEN) talked all their women into going along with this ALWAYS perplexed me. Because it WAS the Mormon women who led the fight, with the men behind them, using them like puppets with a hand sticking up their back, telling them when to open their mouths, and what to say. AND HOW TO THINK.
From the Trib article:
Smith also was at the center of the controversial 1977 International Women’s Year Conference in Salt Lake City. Critics claimed LDS women took over the gathering on orders of church officials in an effort to thwart the ERA.
I remember my mother attending that conference, like so many other Mormon women, dutifully doing their part to keep MEN in control. Now the LDS apologists and defenders might jump in here and say the Mormon Church offers MORE to women than ANY OTHER CHURCH. I’ve always found this interesting, since:
1. In order to make it into the Celestial Kingdom, the highest of all God’s kingdoms, you have to be pulled through the “veil” by a MAN. In short, if you aren’t married in the temple, and some dude doesn’t know your SECRET name, although you don’t get to know his, then you ain’t getting the shot at the top glory. Hello Telestial. Or is it Terrestial. I don’t remember. But, hey, you get the point. A woman’s SALVATION, at the end of the line, is totally in the hands of a man. If that man doesn’t want to let her in, well, she’s screwed.
2. Only a man can hold the “Holy Priesthood.” Women, they say, get to hold it “through” their priesthood holder. Sorta like that game we used to play at my friends house, when we were young and dumb, and we’d all hold hands and the one at the front (always a boy) would touch the electric fence and the rest of us would wait to feel the shock course through our bodies. Hey, we lived in rural Farmington. It livened things up a little.
3. The thing I remember most about the Church’s fight against the ERA is the fear tactics used. I remember hearing them. “If it passes girls and boys will have to take gym together and shower together.” Gasp. OMG. Yikies. Um, why?
Yeah, that pretty much is what it was all about. Fear and stupidity.
So what I am wondering is WHAT DID the ERA really threaten? Why are people so scuared of equality, and partnership? I remember jumping a little at the electrical current, which you really only felt if you were at the front of the line, and thinking, “Why did I do that? That wasn’t fun.”
Yeah. Not fun. Godspeed Barbara Bradshaw Smith. Here’s hoping your husband remembered your secret temple name so you got into the Celestial kingdom okay. (Here’s a hint: they used the same name for all women who went through the temple that day. All you gotta do is find someone who was there on the day you were. Although they probably won’t tell you, because it’s secret. TOP SECRET. Hmm. Well, good luck in the hereafter.)