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.