#hearLDSwomen: In My Ward, Women Can’t Use the Church or Hold a Young Women Activity Anywhere Without a Man Present

Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash

Once or twice when I was leaving the Phoenix temple at night, a random man came up to me and said it was his duty to walk me to my car. That temple is small with a small lot and I told the man that my car was right by the temple gate, within sight of the temple grounds. The Phoenix temple is out in the desert with nothing but a few nice houses around, very safe area. But no, he still walked me. I was really perplexed as to what could happen to me in the four feet from the gate to my car on well lit temple property. Meanwhile having a strange man come up to me and walk with me was incredibly unnerving and did not make me feel safe!
– Sarah

 

In my previous ward, a priesthood holder had to be present for every Young Women activity. The Young Women were coming to swim in the pool at my apartment complex, and the leader asked if my husband could join us at the activity. He had other plans that evening, so they had to call a bunch of people to find someone else until they finally got one of the girls’ dads to come. He was about 30 minutes late and sat by the side of the pool on his phone the whole time. It was needless infantilization of the YW leaders and a waste of time for the dad, who clearly had places he’d rather be.
– ElleK

 

The Relief Society had a retreat in the mountains a few years in a row–one of the ladies had a huge and super awesome mountain chalet that she was happy to let us use. Every. Single. Year. a member of the bishopric slept in a back bedroom (we didn’t see him, he didn’t eat with us, he just….LURKED…) because the leadership deemed that it was inappropriate for 30+ grown-ass women to be together without a presiding priesthood member.
– Sarah Jane Bates Gray

 

As Relief Society president, I was told TO MY FACE in front of the entire Ward Council that women couldn’t be in the building without a priesthood holder because we weren’t able to make good decisions about our own safety, and that we weren’t as strong as men and couldn’t defend ourselves. FIRE WAS COMING OUT OF MY EYES.

I called my dad and asked exactly what the Handbook said. Then I called my bishop and he said he wasn’t going to stop us from using the building. And the priesthood holder we could get was a 70 year old man that was maybe 5’4″. Yeah, I think we will be fine.
– Terina Holmes

 

Pro Tip: The stipulation that women can only use the church or have activities when a man is present is not in the Handbook (other than for overnight activities). Do not infantilize women by implementing unnecessary policies. Remember that women often feel LESS safe with a man around who they don’t know well.


Click here to read all of the stories in our #hearLDSwomen series. Has anything like this happened to you? Please share in the comments or submit your experience(s) to participate in the series.

“If any man have ears to hear, let him hear.” (Mark 4:23)

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5 Responses

  1. Ziff says:

    As always, I appreciate these posts even if the stories shared are infuriating. It strikes me that all of the ones in this post are examples of men going beyond what’s even in the Church Handbook. I mean, what they’re doing isn’t terribly surprising, since they’re clearly basing their decisions on church policies and norms that already infantalize women. But these are examples of such low-hanging fruit if the Church were to get serious about trying to make women feel more welcome: they could just come out and say hey men, you don’t have to look beyond the mark of the Handbook and have men “supervise” *every* get-together involving two or more women, or have men threaten women by walking them to their cars when they don’t want to be and don’t need it.

    • Anon says:

      The church is not serious about making women feel welcome. We are nothing to them. It is a church for men, by men.

  2. Huntley Thatcher says:

    Every RS activity has a couple of men there……they sit with us and eat etc. I resent it and when I voiced my opinion no one else seemed to understand my feelings. Very disturbing…….their attitude is don’t think just do as you’re told and shut up!

    • Anon says:

      But likewise, we aren’t allowed to creep and lurk in on their activities.

      • Jennifer says:

        Yes! A good start to bringing attention to this problem is to show up at male activities. I took my son to the priesthood session of conference held at the chapel. Not to make a point but simply because I wanted him to attend and his dad was inactive and didnt want to go. I’ve done other ‘priesthood’ jobs like opening the overflow partition because I didnt have a place to sit. I’ve put away chairs. It’s good for all members to see that we dont have to assign jobs by gender and we dont need men to help or supervise us all the time.

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