#hearLDSwomen: In My Ward, Women Can’t Use the Church or Hold a Young Women Activity Anywhere Without a Man Present
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!
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.
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.
“If any man have ears to hear, let him hear.” (Mark 4:23)