Relative Status of Men and Women

The community is organized around principles of hierarchy and submission. In many ways it mirrors a small corporate or military organization with its focus on obedience to appointed authorities. In this arena, males dominate all forms of public leadership. God holds men accountable for exercising familial leadership in keeping with biblical principles (Bartkowski, 2001, p. 55). The Prophet, or leader of the community, plays a "strong role in arranging marriages, sometimes without consulting prospective partners or families" (Bennion, 1998, p. 89).

As young infant males are treasured above females, but upon entering their teenage years most young men are held in less esteem, due in large part to their being regarded as potential competitors in a highly restricted pool. In every polygynous society, women are a limited good. In the 1960s local law enforcement officers in Colorado City routinely harass nonelite young men into leaving the community. Today this is no longer practiced and there is a growing pool of unmarried men who continue to live in the community.

Women do control their sexuality. Many women do not want to become pregnant and thus refuse to have sex with their husbands. Moreover, women know that if they leave their husband, they will become available for marriage to other men, who want to elevate their religious status through having numerous wives. The drive to gain greater celestial glory is an added incentive for men to accept women into their family. This is not true in every case; some men, especially if they have a good working family, will hesitate in bringing in a new wife as it may undermine the harmony of the home.

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