Not All Men... But Maybe You

Here is some gentle instruction for our mutual edification, directed at bishops and other men who have the responsibility in their callings to edify, uphold the voices of, and respect women.

When you witness a woman expressing their frustration with how they haven't been or aren't being shown the respect they deserve in their LDS congregations or their homes, you don't have a responsibility to contradict them. Your responsibility is not to defend the Church by saying that "Not all men" engage in bad behavior, or "Not all women" are experiencing that pain.

You have a responsibility to listen.

What do y'all think the value is to a woman who is telling you she is hurting and struggling in hearing that some unknowable number of other women throughout the Church are just fine? How does it help to consider there are women in the Church who are not hurting or struggling? How does reminding her that there are women who are having their needs met help her at all? 

To me, all this has ever done is reinforce that the pain and frustration I'm experiencing shouldn't be happening because men in the Church are obviously capable of doing better. It reinforces to me that my expectations are not unreasonable.

1 Corinthians 12:26 reminds us that we all are a part of the body of Christ. If any one of us is in pain, we are all supposed to suffer with them. It is our duty to care, to alleviate pain, to correct the harm that is being done. Not to minimize it, to say it doesn't matter, or to pretend it's not happening.

I don't care where you are in the Church. Not every woman around you is happy, well-taken care of, listened to, respected, and treated with the dignity she deserves. If you think your leadership is perfect on this front, it's because you aren't being trusted with the way women actually feel.

If you're more worried about The Church and its reputation than you are about acknowledging the real harm that has come to women through their Church membership, you aren't going to be "one of the good ones." 

Know that. Sit with that.

To be "one of the good ones," an ally to women in the Church, that's not something you can claim for yourself. That has to be earned, given to you by the women you have helped. And just because you do that with your female relatives doesn't mean you can use them against every other woman in the Church to minimize their struggles. Treating a handful of women with respect is not currency, so don't try to use it against women who don't know you.

If this behavior has to be explained to you, let's just go ahead and say that it may not be all men, but it's definitely you.

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