Choice and Accountability

When I was 13 years old, my church changed a key component of the Young Women’s program: they introduced a theme, centered around seven values. One of these values is titled “Choice and Accountability.”

One of the things I love about my church is this very concept–we each have the freedom to choose, but we are accountable for the choices we make. So, for example, when I chose to leave BYU and get engaged to a loser who wasn’t LDS (he was a loser for other reasons that had nothing to do with his religion), I was accountable for the consequences of that choice.

I was accountable. No one else. No one forced me into that engagement, and no one forced me to leave him.

So when I read stories like this one, of a girl accused of causing the men at BYU to think horrible thoughts, I lose it. The anger boils inside of me and I have to remind myself that every religion has morons in its membership. Because while I spent ages 13-18 repeating a motto every Sunday that pointed me toward wife-ing and mothering and reciting seven core values that included taking responsibility for my own choices, I have no idea what the boys were learning.

Apparently, it was “Don’t worry about your salvation, because we’ll make that the girls’ problem.”

Their choices were placed near the hemlines of the mini-skirts I wore. It was MY responsibility to keep all that testosterone in check. Boys’ libidos were up to ME to control. And the fact that little has changed in the past 20 years drives me insane.

Because if I’m accountable for the choices I make–including my thoughts–then aren’t men just as accountable for their choices? And I know this isn’t an issue particular to my church.  (Warning to Mom, Deanne, and Jennie: you might not like this clip. But it makes my point.)

I’m in a ward now where the Young Women join us old-fogey women for the first 10 minutes of our lesson. In that 10 minutes, we all stand and recite the same motto that was introduced 25 years ago–with a few changes (a rant for another time). I used to say it with everyone else, but then I stopped. There is a little too much pain wrapped in that motto. So now I just stand.

And I think now, I’ll just sit.

11 thoughts on “Choice and Accountability

  1. That clip was awesome. I am torn on this issue myself, but more of the “we can't expect men to respect us or take us seriously when we dress like strippers”, not the “we can't expect men to control their animal instincts when we dress fashionably and not like Hudderites”.

  2. BTW, this is the first comment all week I could get to post…your word verification keeps kicking me out. Had to enter the last one three times before it took. Not sure if you changed something or if blogger just got crazy insane.

  3. That anonymous was NOT me…and for the record, I think you are spot on. If everyone would accept accountability for their own actions, the finger-pointing could end. “It's not MY fault, it's the OTHER guy's fault.” (name the show…) 🙂


  4. I've been…..confused is the word that comes to mind right now…about that motto for years.

    I honestly think that most young men were taught what most young women were taught about modesty. That being said-I really hope that more people will take a stand against the message conveyed in the letter that was given to that cute girl this week. That thought needs to be abolished from the LDS vernacular completely.

  5. Deanne–exactly. I should be able to wear v-neck sweaters without a man losing control of his faculties. And I'm sorry the blog is persnickety. I'll look into it.

    Anonymous–I think the 3 Billy Goats Gruff are missing you about now.

    Mom–That previous comment wasn't about you. 🙂 And I don't know which show that is!

    Joy–I think I'd be a little less confused (great word to describe it) if the Young Men did the same thing every week. I know in some wards, the Young Men recite their theme, but it's not as universal as the YW. But I'm the token crazy gender-equality liberal in my ward. 😀

  6. Yay for crazy gender-equality liberals!! <3 (I'm just testing the comments again to see if they long as it doesn't take me to blogger in Japanese after I think it works)

    BTW, it is also an American school of thought. The Japanese are amazing in their respect of others, and the way women dress is not construed to mean anything other than that's what they felt like wearing that day. The longer I'm here, the more I think America has a long way to go with respect to common courtesy and decency towards others.

    Soapbox out.

  7. Anonymous–thanks for the link; I remember reading that when it came out. If you had my number, you could call and we could talk about it.

    Enjoy getting fat. 😛

  8. As a big fan of the YW program I have to say I love the motto and I'm not sure what's so bothersome about it. I know a lot of people have issues with the new “virtue” value. I've actually been doing some studying up on it to understand it better myself, having been of the thought that it was about chastity. Truth is all those values start sounding the same in one way or another and virtue reminds me a lot of integrity. Speaking of integrity – I'm not a fan of the anonymous note. I think that shows a lack of it – not being able to directly speak to someone about an issue. On the other hand, when I was at BYU I was tempted to write a few notes (sorry I was an immature 19 yr old). I was highly annoyed by the people who observed the honor code in their own way. Like a lot of things in the church, the honor code either errs on the side of being too particular and detailed or it allows for too much personal adaptation so there's bound to be some offense taken one way or another. I thought the girl looked perfectly modest – no troublesome thoughts on my end anyway – but now that she's pointed it out to the world I'd say she's lacking a bit of modesty in the sense of drawing a lot of attention to herself. As for her clothes, I am not a fan of leggings being passed off as pants. There's a place for them – like in a dance class I guess (or who knows where else) but I for one don't think they count as modest daily wear – just a bit too “form fitting” as the Strength of the Youth pamphlet would put it.

    Anyway, I shared the whole incident with Bret so he could appreciate the unfairness of it all and he decided to argue against me. I was surprised. He said the men in the church are always getting preached to about controlling their thoughts and watching where their eyes go. He also claims they recite the scout oath (I think in scouts, though, I doubt in church). I personally think those young men would benefit from a weekly recited motto. My favorite part of our motto, btw, is “We are daughters of our Heavenly Father.” Love that! Wish all my girls could really understand that.

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