According to Wallet Hub’s gender equality studies, Utah is ranked the second last state in terms of equality between self-identified males and females and is marked in the top 5 largest gaps between representation in executive positions, number of work hours, educational attainment, life expectancy at age 65 and political representation.

ABC 4 Utah News covered a bake sale being ran at Jordan high school in the state of Utah. Three female students sold cookies to males for one dollar, and to females for only 77 cents. This seemingly unfair pricing was meant to bring awareness to the gender wage gap between males and females in the United States. In the coverage, Kari Schott reveals the statistic that in the United States for every dollar a man makes, a woman only makes 77 cents. Through its report, ABS 4 Utah News focuses mainly on the controversy the bake sale brings rather than focusing on the larger issue of gender inequality that is present. This news piece fails to include any background information about the United States economy to make the piece more informative and helpful to the cause. It takes a neutral stand point on the controversy of the bake sale as a news piece is encouraged to, but contributes no depth to the argument, or attempt to explain the reasoning behind the controversy.

In Utah the average women makes 55 cents for every dollar earned by a man, explaining why the wage gap is so important to discuss at Jordan high school (Kirk). Approximately 62.2% of Utah’s residents belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS), largely influencing its society with the values it holds (Canham). By considering the impact of having a strong religious presence in its body, a connection can be made between LDS values and the gender inequality in Utah.

Mormon essentialism has gone through dramatic changes regarding it’s inclusiveness. From the mid-1800s to 1978, those of African descent could not participate in LDS practices (LDS.com). This was not an uncommon theme among churches; most were segregated in the same fashion. After a revelation the church changed its ruling and “extended the blessings of the temple to all worth Latter-Day Saints, men and women” (LDS Newsroom). The church preached the teaching “black and white, bond and free, male and female;… are all alike unto God” (2 Nephi 26:33). Having members of differing races was a leap of progress for the LDS, but gender equality still had not been embodied.

Kate Kelley supported the belief that women should be allowed to be ordained priests. Through her organization “Ordain Women” she created a movement where anyone concerned with the gender inequality can raise their points knowing they have others who support this issue (Halper). She had been a committed Mormon for her entire life, until the church excommunicated her for her views (Halper).  This hegemony was decideed by a completely male panel holding a bias positionality, for they have not experienced the oppression Kate and other women of the LDS have been through (Halper). The panel was fixated on the situated knowledge of Mormon history arguing that women cannot obtain leadership positions in the church because all of the apostles were male, failing to consider the changes in gender equality reaching North America presently (Halper). In Halper’s opinion piece on the issue she questions the reasoning done by this panel. If only men are able to become priests, why does the church allow boys as young as 12 years old to be ordained, but not a grown women?

Apostle Dallin H. Oaks believes “they [women] are not free to alter the divinely decreed pattern that only men will hold offices in the priesthood.” This display of sexism reflects the Mormon church’s inability to live by their official teaching of equality of race and gender in God’s eyes. Considering this display of oppression against women in the Mormon religion, it is no surprise that the state of Utah is ranked as the second worst in the United States for economic equality between the sexes. Through an intersectional analysis of the teachings of the LDS and the Utah’s unfair economy, there is a prominent theme of discrimination impacted by the overarching Mormon history Utah holds.

— NH

WORKS CITED

Bernardo, Richie. “2014’s Best and Worst States for Women’s Equality.” Wallet Hub. http://wallethub.com/edu/best-and-worst-states-for-women-equality/5835/

Canham, Matt. “Census: Share of Utah’s Mormon Residents holds steady.” The Salt Lake Tribute. Web. 17 Apr. 2012. http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/home3/53909710-200/population-lds-county-utah.html.csp

Carlisle, Randall. “Gender inequality bake sale causes stir at Utah high school.” Good4Utah.com. Web. 17 Mar. 2015. http://www.good4utah.com/story/d/story/gender-equality-bake-sale-causes-stir-at-utah-high/10246/0gE6cCkPA0mvNkLZEjyO4Q.

Halper, Katie. “The Mormon Church Excommunicates Women For Calling Morman Church Sexist. Feministing. Web. Nov. 2014. http://feministing.com/2014/06/24/the-mormon-church-excommunicates-woman-for-calling-mormon-church-sexist/.

Kirk, Chris. “Map Shows the Worst State for Women to Make Money.” Slate. Web. 18 Oct. 2012. http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/map_of_the_week/2012/10/gender_income_inequality_maps_by_county_and_by_state.html.

“Race and the Priesthood.” The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Web. 2015. https://www.lds.org/topics/race-and-the-priesthood

“Race and the Church: All Are Alike Unto God.” The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints Newsroom. Web. 29 Feb. 2012. http://www.mormonnewsroom.org/article/race-church.

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