A couple days ago, I was talking with some friends during our bi-weekly trip to the gym. The subject wasn't exactly important. We were just talking about a boy one of us knew, who just happened to be at the gym as well. In the midst of debating whether or not she should say hi, a man suddenly popped in the periphery of our little group.
"Oh no she didn't!" he joked and we laughed in good humor. Obviously he thought we were gossiping, but we weren't. So we laughed along.
He stepped away to get a drink from the water fountain we were standing near. After getting a drink, he stopped back at our little group and said, "Sorry I broke up this little relief society meeting."
The he chuckled and walked away.
The whole exchange was no more than 30 seconds if that.
At first I was enraged. But that rage quickly gave way to deep deep hurt.
What is it that he thinks the relief society is exactly? And what about his opinion of women in the church? Is that how most men in the church feel?
As I've studied Mormon Women's History this semester, I've come to realize how off base everyone's perceptions of Mormon women are; including our perceptions of ourselves.
Still, I have never felt as degraded and sickened as I was by that off-handed comment.
I guess I just expected him to know better.
Relief Society isn't a gathering place for gossip. It isn't a place for darning socks, knitting delicate doilies, and creative cooking.
It's a place to come together as sisters. It's an equalizer. It's the largest women's organization in the world; driven by charity as it's motto. It's a place where we expound doctrine. We testify to each other of our beliefs. It's through the medium of Relief Society that we utilize our agency to progress.
I've been thinking a lot lately about what my cause in life can be. What can I advocate to make a difference in this world?
In that moment of hurt that's led to hours of contemplation, I think I've found it.
I want to be an advocate for the study of Mormon women; for their histories and stories. I want to be an advocate for women who have guarded home and hearth, society's soldiers; the women that rarely make the history books even though they should. Those are the women I want to study. Those are the women I want to be like.
And slowly, slowly, the image of the Mormon woman will change into the reality of what she actually is.