PATRIARCHS AND POLITICS: The Plight of the Mormon Woman by Marilyn Warenski

PATRIARCHS AND POLITICS: The Plight of the Mormon Woman

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Mormon Warenski examines the women of the Latter Day Saints from what she calls an ""academic and philosophical"" rather than a ""political"" perspective. The ""plight"" of these women, she contends, is to be torn between the dictates of a patriarchal and increasingly reactionary religion, which considers women as (at best) helpmates, and the stirrings of feminism, which Warenski oddly regards as a ""spiritual"" movement. The two don't mix, she says--indeed the clash of Mormon patriarchy and feminism is an archetypal case--but she tries optimistically (if pointlessly) to find areas of contact. Mormon women were confined to the household, but at least they weren't dependent, Warenski contends, enumerating an impressive record of accomplishment and drudgery, right down to raising stinky silk worms in the parlor when commanded to (and incidentally making a silk dress for Susan B. Anthony). Early Mormon suffragists (women got the vote first in Utah because it served the church's purposes) have been replaced by anti-feminist puppets taking orders from the church and the John Birch Society to defeat the ERA in Utah and across the country. Surely there is room for political analysis here, but Warenski plunks instead for the flaccid generalization: ""A set of values is reflected by the Mormon society, and most of the values are positive."" (Although she says she interviewed many Mormon women in an oral history project, she never lets their voices be heard.) Broad, sketchy, confused, and apologetic, the book exemplifies better than it describes the Mormon woman's ""plight.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1978
Publisher: McGraw-Hill