#hearLDSwomen: Ostracised for Discussing the History of Relief Society, Shamed about Modesty

I’ve gotten berated for stating the history of women having the priesthood in RS and kindly sharing my hope and opinion that this would again be the case, and I was called into the bishop’s office for it. He told me I wasn’t going to make any friends saying things like that. He didn’t even argue the point about women in the priesthood, and I doubt he even knew the history, but he chose to shame me and scare me socially instead by saying women were going to circle the wagons to protect the sanctity of the priesthood when someone says something contrary like I did.

So essentially, he knew and encouraged women to turn on other women and sort of played this puppeteer role.

Conversely, I’ve sat in gospel doctrine principles (the one for new members or investigators) and heard a grown man say that the young women (teens) in the ward need to dress more modestly because it has an effect on the men. Not the boys, the men. He went on to say it was the young women’s responsibility to portray themselves modestly to prevent this from happening. I raised my hand to push back on that disgusting comment of course and said young women are not responsible for the thoughts of grown men and that they needed to take responsibility for their own thoughts. The teacher (a man) immediately cut me off and let the disgusting comment man have another chance to say his rebuttal about how modesty is an issue and we all need to help teach the young women.

It was so awful. I still remember feeling like I was in some sort of weird social experiment and everyone was brainwashed. After that gospel principles class, the sister missionaries actually came up to me and thanked me for my comment and said this affects them all the time.

But they didn’t feel safe to say anything in class. And I can see why.
– Lesley

Pro Tip: Don’t encourage bullying or shaming, and don’t participate yourself.


Click here to read all of the stories in our #hearLDSwomen series. If you would like to submit an experience, please do so here.

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

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8 Responses

  1. Bro. Jones says:

    I’m really sorry. Thank you for trying to get a word in edgewise in your classes. It may not mean much, but you probably gave hope to someone else in the class who remained silent about it.

  2. Jan Signore says:

    This is so sad to hear, I honor you for speaking up in these church settings. I have not yet been brave enough to do that in a church meeting. This is rape culture, women considered responsible for men’s feelings and actions. It is indeed shocking to speak up on such a common sense issue and fell ostracized and demeaned. When I hear an instance such as this one I understand that church attendance can become too painful. As a wise sister in my ward said to me recently, we work so hard to get people in the door, how about taking care with those who come and struggle.

  3. Ziff says:

    Yikes! I’m sorry that you got shut down by men determined to spread rape culture at church. It’s sad that this impulse comes all the way from the GA level.

  4. Lana says:

    When you are talking about the priesthood in Relief Society do you refer to the picture next to your text, which shows women performing laying on off hands on the sick woman?

    In the early church women did not have priesthood and therefore could not use it. But they were able to heal the sick by faith in Jesus Christ and fervent prayer using laying on off hands.

    • Nancy Shorter says:

      If they laid on hands, would it be the ordinance of laying on of hands or just a gesture since they were women? Why not kneel and pray rather than lay on hands? Ordinance / gesture? Are we “ allowed” this gift as women of laying on of hands today or must we call two priesthood holders for the blessing of the sick through ordinance? I am 68 years old and was never told about this as a woman that I had the ‘gift ‘ ,but not priesthood ordinance to lay on hands to heal the sick or do anything like unto it. I learned about the early sisters years ago healing through the laying on of hands in my personal research and study not from correlated church materials handed out to be read by general membership. Since a child, I have exercised faith even before the age of 8 being told I could move mountains if I believed strongly enough. If laying on of hands is not allowed today by women, but allowed during Joseph Smith’s day, which prophet took it away and why since God is the same yesterday and forever? Was it removed like the priesthood was from the blacks after Joseph Smith was killed ? Why? Actual citing and documentation from early church records would be so appreciated. Maybe from Journal of Discourses or History of the Church? Maybe early journals kept from members? Books such as The Work and Glory are historical fiction having some fact, but members sometimes think them to be non fiction. I don’t mean to sound curious but I am a seeker of truth which gets covered up to protect appearance which makes everyone feel oh so good, thereby ,being lost way too often . Citing is vital. Thanks for any help given.

  5. SC says:

    There is SO much about women’s ordinance officiating in the early church that we still don’t know because the church has excised it from our records and won’t make it available to historians, but those accounts that are available do show Sisters participating in ordinances, presiding over meetings, and more. We should be able to discuss our history within the organization whose history we are discussing, sheesh! Wasn’t that the whole reason for “Daughters in My Kingdom”???

    Also, I have had BIG problems in past wards with men skeeving on YW—you are not alone—but priesthood holders seem more interested in helping/rescuing the men and shaming/coercing the YW into mormonlike potato sacks in order to help cover up the fact that there are so many skeevy men in leadership positions at church. I am losing my daughters to the world because of it—they are smart and although I am fighting for them, they don’t like being told that they are of lesser value to the church than skeevy men’s “priesthood power.” (Ugh)

    Thank you for this post. Everybody in the church needs to read it!!!

  6. Chiaroscuro says:

    its not “modest” for men to insist that young women need to dress differently. modesty is about being unassuming. it is very privileged to expect others to dress for your benefit. I hope men in the church learn to take responsibility for their own thoughts. they have been taught for too long that women and girls are responsible for their thoughts and feelings; and that just plain isn’t true.

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