It was deadly silent in the Young Women’s room where I was sitting as a Laurel some twenty years ago. The Young Women president, whom I loved dearly, was reading a letter. It was an open letter to the Young Women of the church, long before the days of open letters on the internet. This letter was from a woman who had been raped, and it was written to us, the Young Women of the church. She said she invited the rape because her makeup was too much, her sleeves were too little, her skirt was too short and her nails were too long. She was alone, in the wrong place, and dressed “inappropriately.” It was her fault because of her dress, she told us. She had asked for it. And she was paying for it.
We sat in reverence and shock at the close of the letter. “This girl was nineteen, but it could happen to you….” That could happen to me! I felt sick, but… something felt… wrong. Something twinged in me… because, well… didn’t the man who attacked her—didn’t he have a choice? I mean, wasn’t HE the rapist? I sat feeling confused and a little angry. I felt like I should question this… but I didn’t know why. And I was scared. Because no one wants to be raped.
In conclusion, the Young Women’s first counsellor reverently added, “Because men really do have less control in this than women.” BAM. That was it!! That is what was bothering me! The Plan of Salvation. Agency. Because I was being taught that we all had agency…. And this was teaching me that men do NOT have agency. At least when it comes to sex. And this didn’t make sense. This was not the gospel I knew and loved. This was false doctrine. But I didn’t challenge my Young Women’s leaders…. even if what they were teaching me was opposite to what I was being taught in rape prevention classes at school.Read More