EmJen’s latest at BCC, the recent prominence of Ordain Women, and my having just watched an adaptation of Tess of the d’Urbervilles have all reminded me of an article in the New Era that I read last summer at my parents’ house, entitled “Your Aaronic Priesthood Duties,” by Paul VanDenBerghe. It’s boilerplate church magazine stuff, nothing remarkable whatsoever. It tackles the subject by office — deacon, teacher, priest — you know the drill.

However, on page seven, there is an unexpected addition: “Young Women and the Priesthood.” My first reaction was mild surprise that it had actually occurred to someone at the New Era to at least include a shout-out to the young women (however unsatisfactory) in such an inherently male-centric article. Naturally, its content is exactly what you would expect: even though women can’t hold the priesthood, its blessings are available to all, blah, blah, blah, you get the holy ghost and gifts of the spirit, etc.

Then the part that made my blood pressure rise:

How can young women help young men be worthy priesthood holders? One young man answered: “I think two of the biggest things they do are to dress modestly and be kind to everyone. The modest dress helps me keep my thoughts in check, and I can actually look at them while talking!”

That’s right, girls, your principal connection to priesthood power is covering your filthy, unholy, and shameful bodies so that the male youth of zion can bear to gaze upon you. A woman’s sole priesthood duty is modesty. This is of even more importance than Jesus’ second great commandment.

And there was revived in her the wretched sentiment which had often come to her before, that in inhabiting the fleshly tabernacle with which Nature had endowed her she was somehow doing wrong.

— Thomas Hardy, Tess of the d’Urbervilles