When I was at BYU, I was called into the bishop’s office. My bishop was a 60 something Orem raised seminary teacher. He had decades of experience interacting and counseling youth. He started off this meeting by saying, “I prayed to see who the new Relief Society President should be and the answer was you, which surprised me because I considered you somewhat of an EASY woman”.
Think about this for a moment. I know I did.
I asked him to clarify his insult. He said, “You know, one of those LOOSE women”.
I had never been to see this bishop. I was not immoral and did baptisms for the dead regularly. I was stunned. I couldn’t even process the new calling because I felt like I’d been punched in the face. Was it my blonde hair? My red convertible? Why did he think this?
Not only was he insulting my virtue by saying I looked “easy” he was also insulting my class—something ironic considering we were in the most affluent ward at BYU. He was basically saying I looked like I’d “give it up” to any guy walking down the street.
I left there very shocked and hurt. Here he was calling me to the highest calling a woman could have, yet I felt like I had done something wrong, or that I was giving off the wrong vibe to people.
Sure enough, in my year as RS president, a HANDFUL of other girls came to me in tears, with the SAME EXACT STORY. He has called them EASY and LOOSE.
He didn’t have to molest them. He didn’t have to ask them detailed questions about their masturbation habits or the type of light or heavy petting engaged in (the word petting gives me the creeps to this day). He just had to say one offhanded, extremely hurtful thing.
A bishop’s words and opinions have power. A bishop is called of God. He is the father of the ward. His words and judgements carry the weight of his office.
This harmless looking old seminary teacher probably did not know how he was damaging the psyches of countless young women. Their parents could have coached these girls to be prepared for whatever would come, but we were all at BYU, and our parents were far away, happy that we’d “made it” to the promised land. Instead, our worth was being undermined and diminished, without cause, by the very man who was called to be our shepherd.
I should have gone to the stake president with all of our stories. But I didn’t. Why? Because I was taught to respect the office of the bishop. Because I was a good Mormon girl. Because I knew little if nothing would happen to him, and I’d probably just get released.
My little story is pretty benign compared to the unspeakable horrors on this website. Nevertheless, I add this note to the rising chorus in order to vocalize the notes of truth that many people choose not to hear. Irrevocable, soul degrading damage can occur when someone with ecclisiastical power speaks to trusting young people about sex and personal worthiness.
He later became a stake president at BYU.