The Hallmarks of Righteous Women : Gendered Background Expectations in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints
Sociology of Religion
Association for the Sociology of Religion
In this article, we examine how leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS or Mormon) collaborated with some Mormon women to construct gendered background expectations. Based on LDS archival materials, we analyze how LDS leaders and their representatives embedded specific notions of what it means to be a woman into the institutional and theological structure of the religion by (1) defining womanhood and (2) teaching femininity in ways that sanctified gender in- equality. In doing so, LDS leaders and Mormon women, regardless of their intentions, reproduced gender beliefs that facilitate the subordination of women while anchoring these beliefs within existing Mormon doctrine. In conclusion, we draw out implications for understanding (1) the role of gendered background expectations in the structure of conservative religions, (2) the importance of deconstructing sanctified gender beliefs, and (3) potential opportunities for making sense of apparent contradictions within religious notions of gender.