I see gender inequality all around me.
- In the homes of friends and neighbors, women work far more hours than men, carrying most of the responsibility for children and domestic work, while simultaneously sacrificing career success.
- In social gatherings and meetings, I watch men pontificate about the issues of the day, while women are ignored and forced to the edges of the discussion circle.
- In the workplace, women are paid much less than men for the same or comparable work.
- Men occupy most of the executive positions, while women fill the ranks in business support functions.
- In government, men are seen as bold leaders, while women are called pushy, angry, and shrill.
In my home state of Utah, women earn only 67 cents for every dollar earned by a man. But, this is not a pattern that begins in adulthood. In the United States, the pay gap manifests itself in the form of lower allowance payments to girls, and the requirement that girls perform more work at home.
So why will I be at the action? For thousands of years, religions have been the central institutions for enforcing gender inequality. Religion has been used to justify patriarchy and keep women subject to male rule. Here in Utah, the LDS Church is the dominant patriarchal institution, and its central justification for denying power and authority to women is its teaching that only men can hold the priesthood (the power to act in God’s name).
As long as my fellow citizens believe that gender discrimination comes from God, we will live in an unequal society. As long as most of my fellow Utahans believe that God picks only men to lead, women in my state will continue to face discrimination in every part of their lives.
Because I believe in equality, I will be at the October 1st Action. I hope that you will join me there.