#hearLDSwomen: There Was No Recourse for Me on My Mission When My Zone Leaders Exercised Unrighteous Dominion

When, on my mission, my zone leader demanded that I sing a duet with my companion at the next zone conference. I don’t sing, and I asked him multiple times if I *had* to. He affirmed I did have to sing at the conference. The experience was embarrassing and filled with anxiety. It still makes me sick to remember all the ways I didn’t stand up for myself.
– Anonymous


I loved my missionary service. It was brutally difficult, but I wanted to be there. I served alongside mostly young men, and I came to love and respect many of them deeply. It rankled sometimes that I wasn’t eligible for leadership service positions, but for the most part I enjoyed working with my district and zone leaders. Once, as a formality, I asked a zone leader for permission to leave my ward boundaries to say goodbye to and introduce a struggling investigator who’d moved unexpectedly to the Elders in his area (the investigator lived about 15 minutes away but was in our singles’ ward boundary, just not in our family ward’s boundary). The zone leader left a message on our answering machine telling us that we could not go. I called him back and said that we knew what was right for our investigator and we were going anyway and who was he to tell us no when most missionaries wouldn’t have even asked and we were just trying to be obedient. My tirade wasn’t exactly Christlike, but he gave us permission to go (with some arbitrary qualifications). I chafed, knowing my anger had less to do with this Elder and more to do with the knowledge that I would always be the one asking permission, never the one granting it.
– ElleK


My companion and I did as we were asked and asked permission from our sister training leaders to do something. They gave us permission, but after we did it and the zone leaders found out, they chastised us for asking permission to do something from the sister training leaders and not from them (because the STLs were apparently not allowed to give permission to do anything because they didn’t have the priesthood to guide them).
– Chloe M.


I have no idea what to call my “Mission President’s Wife.” They call them “Mission Moms,” but she was more than that. She did a large amount of work and I would say that the work she did was definitely 50/50 with my Mission President. Where is her calling & position? The other day I went out to eat with them. People asked my plans and I thought about the fact that I didn’t know what to say. “I am eating lunch with my Mission President and his wife.” No, now I just say, “I am eating lunch with my mission presidents.” I wish they had a title and that their work was recognized.
– Anonymous


While I was a missionary at the MTC, I was asked to serve as what I think they were calling a district leader for the sisters in my district (this was fall 2006). In this position, I regularly met with priesthood leaders to report regarding the sisters. The first meeting I attended, I was accompanied by the sister I was replacing–to ease me into the role. I served and loved the opportunity to get to know all the sisters in my district. When I was transitioning out of the position, I planned on accompanying the sister that was replacing me to the regular meeting (as the sister I replaced did with me). While attempting to enter the meeting I was reprimanded. I got an earful about how we shouldn’t seek for power and attempt to retain influence and power. I was shocked. I was happy to let another sister fill the role; I was simply doing what I had been taught to do. It was a very clear instance of a priesthood leader putting me in my place and assuming he knew my heart and mind.
– Anonymous


Pro Tip: Systems where men hold authority over everyone and women only hold authority over women are not equitable and are incredibly problematic. Do not exercise control over women just because you can. Recognize that there is no real recourse for women who experience unrighteous dominion.

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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4 Responses

  1. Risa says:

    “…the knowledge that I would always be the one asking permission, never the one granting it.”

    EllenK perfectly sums up what it’s like to be a woman in the church.

  2. meems says:

    This is the exact line that struck me too.

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