The Girls’ Meeting

By: hawkgrrrl
March 25, 2014

Sisterhood or getting the men off the hook for parenting?

Q.  What do an 8 year old girl and an 88 year old woman have in common?  A.  Both are the apparent target audience of the upcoming Women’s Meeting.

For the first time ever, the General Women’s Meeting that precedes General Conference once per year has been expanded to include not only the Young Women, but also all girls ages 8 and up:

All women, young women, and girls eight years of age and older are invited to participate in the general women’s meeting on Saturday, March 29, 2014, at 6:00 p.m. mountain daylight time.

This is an interesting change, one that I confess has me confused.  I’ve heard a few possible explanations being thrown around.

Sisterhood is Inclusive; Brotherhood is Competitive

I have observed in the past that the women’s Relief Society organization is already far more inclusive than the male Priesthood equivalent.  Typically younger men are in the Elder’s Quorum, but older men “graduate” or are “promoted” to the High Priests’ Group in time.  Eventually, if they haven’t been “promoted,” they are sometimes just grandfathered in because at some point it becomes ridiculous for them to be lumped together with the young, strapping Elders’ Quorum in which they will be asked to help people move and play aggressive pick up games of basketball at the ward.

Not so in the women’s organization.  You enter at age 18, and there you stay until you die.  When I asked why this division is made for the men, I was surprised how many men were quick to defend the separation of the old and young men, essentially stating that the two age groups had little in common, being at very different stages of life, some with kids, others retired, some in school, others trying to move ahead in their careers.  It seemed a bit lost on them that these are the exact same age divisions experienced within the Relief Society, and yet there has been no carnage or bloodshed in all my years in the organization, just a lot of women feeling like a high percentage of the discussion is not for them.  What’s good for the gander is apparently not good for the goose.

Adding children ages 8 and up is perhaps a bit too inclusive.  After all, what do we all have in common once we are including children? Uhm . . . I’m not sure.  My ward is pitching our commonality as a love of ice cream.  However, as an adult woman, my palate is a bit more refined.  I would prefer a light pistachio gelato to a 5 gallon tub of Western Family chocolate.

Childcare Coverage

That’s a long line for ice cream.

Is this change to eliminate the excuse of some non-attenders as not being able to get away from the kiddos?  If so, that was a lame excuse in the first place for any of them with husbands.  Maybe the husbands are cool with staying home with their male offspring, doing jackass style stunts and burning stuff in the backyard while the women-folk are out of the house.  But if that is the reason, then what is it going to take to give women a break from our kids?

I have begun to think that some Mormons think the human gestational period is 18 years, not 9 months. [1]  Not that hanging out at church is exactly an ideal hen night, but still.

Modeling Motherhood

Is the objective of the change to indoctrinate the young ‘uns (but just the girls) as early as possible to be ready to become mothers?  If so, I think that indoctrination is already being crammed down their throats routinely in Primary, Activity Days, Young Women, and at BYU.  What’s two more hours of it?  Why is this necessary?  My daughter is already expressing cynicism about the focus on marriage (she’s 11).  Most women marry and have children anyway.  Are we spoiling the pot with this relentless focus?

I’m not sure why the General Women’s Meeting should be focused on motherhood any more than Priesthood would be focused on fatherhood (except that we don’t seem to have much else to say to women).  After all, many women and girls in attendance are not mothers or are past the age of child-rearing.  Presumably, those between the ages of 8 and somewhere in their mid-20s are mostly non-mothers, and those over age 55 or 60 at least are probably to the point of having mostly adult children.  Those in their 40s and 50s are mostly done giving birth, and in my case, also done talking about it.

Infantilising Women

From “I am a child of God” to “As Sisters in Zion” in one meeting.

One cynical theory bandied about is that the church already sees women as basically children anyway, so why not seal the deal by inviting actual children to their meeting?  After all, there is a tendency for women leaders to use what we in the church refer to as “Primary voice” even in the all-inclusive General Conference sessions.  While that’s a bit of an overstatement, one wonders how content that is appropriately aimed at adult women will suit girls aged 8-12.

The Priesthood session is still ages 12+, perhaps because of the requirement that at least one talk be aimed at eliminating pornography while no such requirement exists for the women’s meeting.  I suppose it’s unlikely that attending the women’s meeting with their young daughters will result in anyone having to have “the talk.”  Not so if they invited the 8-12 crowd to the Priesthood meeting.

What a Girl Wants

As I sat in Primary (substituting) last week, and the girls were encouraged to attend the women’s meeting with their mothers, I couldn’t help but think how difficult it is to get kids of any age interested in sitting through General Conference, let alone for one more church meeting.  Forcing my kids to sit through the Gilbert temple dedication was painful enough, watching them sleep upright in uncomfortable positions, draped over the metal folding chairs like koalas at the zoo.

Abraham Lincoln was famous for his eight-hour speeches that people found riveting and rousing.  Nowadays we can’t even make it through all four verses of I Believe in Christ without checking our phones for texts or twitter updates. [2]  Is that an indictment of our attention spans or an indictment of outmoded attempts to get attention?  Perhaps we need to rethink how we get our messages across to the younger generation.  And the older ones, too.

Discuss.

[1] It’s the best explanation I can come up with for women, and only women, being barred from teaching seminary or institute for CES or being temple workers if they have children under age 18 while no such restrictions for  men exist.

[2] It’s a pretty long hymn.  Srsly.

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61 Responses to The Girls’ Meeting

  1. Hedgehog on March 25, 2014 at 6:20 AM

    I believe I am correct that ‘the talk’ didn’t feature in the Priesthood session last conference, but did get a mention in one of the general sessions.

    The thought of this new meeting makes me weary. In the first place does it mean we will now only hear from the auxiliary presidents and not counsellors? That would be a shame. In the second place I fear they are hoping to set the younger girls firmly on the designated gender path for women in the church.
    My daughter declared herself a feminist at 11.

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  2. Howard on March 25, 2014 at 6:37 AM

    I’m puzzled by this range of ages. I know my 10 year old daughter enjoys having time with her mother and grandmother and they her but her mother and grandmother also enjoy their time together without the child and the two experiences are entirely different. This is apparently a return to a past practice 1984-93, how did it work then?

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  3. Steve on March 25, 2014 at 8:57 AM

    I’m guessing the idea was to try and include the primary general presidency to increase the number of women general leaders over the meeting from a mere 6, to 9 leaders. Inviting girls ages 8-11 was probably seen as the best way to justify this inclusion.

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  4. Jeff Spector on March 25, 2014 at 9:34 AM

    Well, I suppose one could say that having 8-11 years old girls at the meeting is far superior to having 8-11 year old boys there. :) In any regard, I find it a bit too inclusive. As Hawk correctly points out, the life of an 8 years is far different than that of a 38 year old woman. Much like the Priesthood session, they are probably going to speak to the lowest common denominator and it may not meet the needs of the majority of those who attend, who are older. The result of that is then they will want to attend Priesthood meeting…..

    Oh, wait, they already do…. ;)

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  5. hawkgrrrl on March 25, 2014 at 10:26 AM

    Howard, beats me. I never went that I remember, even though we were very active in the church, and my mom was RS president during those years. Maybe it wasn’t broadcast everywhere. We only got one session of general conference over the air.

    Hedgehog, I agree that the church is fighting a losing battle if they think this meeting is going to create girls satisfied with limited gender rolls. My daughter declared herself a feminist at age 9, stating it was unfair that the girls didn’t get to pass the sacrament or be ushers but just had to sit there bored and unused. All the church will do is drive them away because why would a young girl seek a testimony in an environment hostile to her full potential?

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  6. Howard on March 25, 2014 at 11:01 AM

    My daughter is a 2nd generation quite feminist. Quiet because neither would ever make a fuss about it. Her mom grew up in an area where there were no girls to play with so at 9 she had to convince the boys to let her play with them. She reasoned she could do everything they could do and more because she could do the splits. None of the boys could do the splits so they let her play! It seems to be a logical conclusion for a girl with self esteem to come to. My daughter has a firm testimony that girls are better than boys.

    She attends a Lutheran private school when she is exposed to a lot of Christianity in her life. I’m not exposing her to LDS sexual repression under the guise of overly modest dress or the guilt of “dirty” thoughts or the responsibility for boy’s “sinful” thoughts and actions or the indoctrination of LDS thought control, mind idling and putting important questions on a shelf. She is as innocent and as naive as any little LDS girl but she knows she can bring up any issue or topic, ask questions and get straight answers. She also knows there are many answers, not just the canned ones from church.

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  7. Jeff Spector on March 25, 2014 at 11:45 AM

    “All the church will do is drive them away because why would a young girl seek a testimony in an environment hostile to her full potential?”

    I think this is a risky proposition. It implies that everything is and should be open to everyone regardless. That clearly does not reflect real life in any quarter.

    If everyone aspired to everything, there might even be more depression in the world as they are built up to reach for that which is somehow not possible.

    Folks have to be aspirational, but also realistic.

    In some cases, girls, young women, women have all the advantage and boys, young men and men are now at a clear disadvantage. And no one should be punished for the sins and shortcomings of the past.

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  8. hawkgrrrl on March 25, 2014 at 11:50 AM

    From a comment someone made on another forum, here’s one other reason the meeting was expanded: “It was thought that what women wanted was a special event they could share with their daughters, like men do with their sons at their meeting. This sends the message that we celebrate femaleness, see?” All I can say is that if that’s true, what a great example of a failure to listen. Did anyone really think that what women wanted by attending the priesthood session?

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  9. hkobeal on March 25, 2014 at 11:58 AM

    You could add this as a reason?:

    They hoped to make Ordain Women go away by creating this meeting so they could have a ready response when women request admission to the priesthood session.

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  10. hawkgrrrl on March 25, 2014 at 12:01 PM

    hkobeal: Meeting notes: “Let’s demonstrate we are listening to women by giving them a solution that doesn’t meet any of their stated or unstated needs, but is not inconvenient for us.”

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  11. Frank Pellett on March 25, 2014 at 12:04 PM

    “They hoped to make Ordain Women go away by creating this meeting so they could have a ready response when women request admission to the priesthood session.”

    This will only work if men are barred from the meeting, and there are no men Presiding. Would be the ideal, but I’m not holding my breath.

    I know we like trying to come up for reasons for things, but is this really helping anyone? It feels like people trying to come up for reasons we “don’t talk about” Heavenly Mother, or worse, why there was the ban on blacks. It might help some people feel better (or feel superiority that they know better), but bad reasons are still just that – bad. Maybe there was a good, or at least not bad, reason, and we’re just so used to finding bad reasons we can’t see it.

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  12. Kristine A on March 25, 2014 at 12:35 PM

    I will let my 8 year old know there is a meeting and that I’ll take her out for ice cream after if she wants to go; but let her stay home with dad if she wants. She already has a hard time listening and liking church I don’t want it to be a negative experience – while I see it being very positive as she ages into YW.

    I see killing 3 birds with one stone:
    a) female primary aux leaders were folded in and needed somewhere to go (as opposed to this I think the Primary should have 1 annual meeting where stakes plan a primary service project for the kids to do and listen to a 30 minute message broadcast. It is a mixed gender organization, and my years of leadership in primary make me want it acknowledged as such….)
    b) let’s teach them their gender roles early so they won’t get confused
    c) that it was a way to get those “equality” types women to shut their traps

    in fact I’m tempted to watch it dvr style the first time just to screen the experience before I have to do so publicly with other people . . . .

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  13. Kristine A on March 25, 2014 at 12:40 PM

    Also at September’s RS meeting it was all about covenant keeping, and 8 year olds are the first covenant makers (I think that was the reason I read in their press release). Still doesn’t help me understand the age disparity between boys and girls though.

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  14. Howard on March 25, 2014 at 12:49 PM

    I think this is a risky proposition. It implies that everything is and should be open to everyone regardless. That clearly does not reflect real life in any quarter.

    I know a wonderfully bright and awake good looking women in her early 50s who’s career goal since she was little was to be a SAHM and that’s what she did until empty nest and a divorce left her without other marketable skills, without income and largely without career options.

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  15. Kristine on March 25, 2014 at 1:04 PM

    4 verses of “I Believe in Christ” might be survivable. The problem is that there are really 8, and we slow down between every. single. one.

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  16. mh on March 25, 2014 at 1:18 PM

    Wow howard, after that last comment (thought control), it makes me wonder why you would have anything to do with such a repressive organization.

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  17. Howard on March 25, 2014 at 1:33 PM

    You don’t think there is thought control? We are taught to suppress our sexual thoughts, to become like little children and become teachable (open ourselves to indoctrination), to only question faithfully and to accept literal illogical concepts from prophets, from scripture and by extension from the church Correlation Dept, NewsRoom and Public Relations Dept. I obviously don’t but given my deep interest in psychology I’m strongly aware that compliant are swayed by this. I’ve posted this before but you might be interested in how this works psychologically. The Psychology of Religion

    Why? The gospel is true MH but that says little about the church.

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  18. Jeff Spector on March 25, 2014 at 1:48 PM

    But Psychology is true, right…..

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  19. Howard on March 25, 2014 at 2:02 PM

    Jeff,
    Listen to the podcasts, do your own study and you decide.

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  20. Mormon Heretic on March 25, 2014 at 2:12 PM

    Howard, rather than keep asking questions, it would be nice for you to actually answer one occasionally.

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  21. Howard on March 25, 2014 at 2:42 PM

    Hmm,
    MH: …why you would have anything to do with such a repressive organization.
    H: Why? The gospel is true…

    Jeff: But Psychology is true, right…..
    H: …you decide.

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  22. Jocelyn Bell on March 25, 2014 at 3:22 PM

    Surprise, surprise…white dudes derailing the entire conversation with a pissing contest.

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  23. Jeff Spector on March 25, 2014 at 3:32 PM

    Who you callin’ white!

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  24. Mormon Heretic on March 25, 2014 at 4:36 PM

    Jocelyn, can you tell me why the feminists are avoiding the conversation? At least the “white dudes” are commenting. The feminists seem to be absent. Have you got nothing to say, or do you just like to use the word “pissing contest?”

    Howard, I agree that we are derailing the conversation. I will just say that your tactics of answering with a question are tiresome, as are your frequent negative comments. I mean I complain too, but your diet of comments seems to be unceasingly negative. It would be nice to change your commenting style a little more positive. “Mind Control” and “repression” really do make me wonder why you associate. Sure the gospel is true, and as we both know, the gospel is not the church. Maybe you should go independent if the organization is so bad and unhealthy. I don’t find the church repressive and mind controlling, so I just wonder why someone with those feelings would like to participate in such an organization, instead of starting their own, or joining the CoC where presumably they also have the gospel without the repression.

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  25. Martin on March 25, 2014 at 4:37 PM

    Well, I usually like to give church leadership a chance to see how their latest idea pans out, but I can’t say I know of anyone who thought including the primary girls is a good idea. We’ll have to see how it pans out, but I don’t see it.

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  26. hawkgrrrl on March 25, 2014 at 5:01 PM

    MH: Maybe the feminists don’t want to get splashback on their shoes.

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  27. Kristine A on March 25, 2014 at 6:02 PM

    I’ll leave one more comment as a moderate mormon feminist:

    1) we are exhausted from last week, emotionally and internet-commentingly
    2) I disagree with the inclusion of 8 year olds for a variety of reasons.

    it’s like they take one step forward by providing us a meeting equal in structure and status but no, not really. one step forward one step back.

    this is the point to my response to the PR letter — whatever apparently they are talking to women in the church and attempting to make changes. Problem? The women they are listening to aren’t any of the women with issues and problems. So the solutions being presented deeply reflect a lack of understanding what our issues and problems are in the first place. Most women in leadership do NOT understand why I have questions or why I want changes to be made. Unless there is an attempt to bridge the gap with empathy (I would suggest focus groups with the wide variety of mormon women, OW fems, non-ow fems, non-fems who want changes, and status quo women). . . we’ll continue talking past each other.

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  28. MB on March 25, 2014 at 6:38 PM

    I just got released from teaching 8 year olds in Primary. All but one of those girls is totally capable of participating in a long church meeting and getting something out of it. The 9 and 10 and 11 year olds even more so. And I am pleased that they will be in on some of the things that are directed at the teenagers in the congregation. They need that information where I live. You might be amazed at some of the stuff they deal with on a regular basis.

    I think we’re short-changing these girls when we think they are not capable of attending, and gleaning good things from it, be they feminists or not. And I sincerely hope that none of the speakers aims her talk at 8 year olds. They’ll pick up immediately that they are being condescended to.

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  29. Howard on March 25, 2014 at 7:10 PM

    MH I get that you and apparently Jeff are unhappy with my comment. I also get that 2 people liked the commemt (plus me) so not everyone agrees with you and I guess that puts it in a controversial catagory. I also get that you don’t like the church critical nature of many of my comments, noting that it exceeds yours, which I guess somewhat sets the limit here? You objected to my refering to thought control so I clarified what I meant and provided a link to some science that is relative to it. Church sexual repression of young females is not a new idea of mine that I was introducing here, it is commonly discussed on Mormon feminist blogs which is where I first encountered the concept.

    You also wrote: Maybe you should… Well, actually the comment you so strongly objected to is addressing what I AM doing about it and this is what I was sharing here, I’m not exposing her to it and the reason why I’m not is apparently what started this.

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  30. Kristine A on March 25, 2014 at 8:02 PM

    I just told my 8 year old about the meeting and she asked me, “is it going to be boring or fun? Like have cookies and coloring at it?” Eh, I told her no cookies and coloring but I would take her out to ice cream afterwards. She said, “I think I’ll go next time.” I told her she still had four days to think about it.

    I saw in her eyes a desire to be taken seriously and have a meeting to go to that was for her (I told her it was for the women of the church and I think that made her interested), but hanging on to her childhood while it lasts.

    whatever reservations I have, I’m withholding judgment until I see how it all plays out.

    even if it turns out great with the 8+ year olds, I’d like to see equitable treatment – if we raise the bar for 8 year old girls let’s do the same for boys. They are all covenant keepers now…

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  31. Starfoxy on March 25, 2014 at 10:23 PM

    “female primary aux leaders were folded in and needed somewhere to go”
    Now that I’ve read this, it is blindingly obvious. They ‘heard’ our request to see more female leadership. Well, we have nine female leaders (3 RS, 3 YW, 3 Primary), but in order to officially include the Primary ladies, there has to be some primary kids there.

    Bam! Now we have an official meeting that includes every high profile female leader the church has. See? Progress! Maybe.

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  32. Howard on March 26, 2014 at 7:07 AM

    MH wrote: …your tactics of answering with a question are tiresome… I’ve given this some thought and I typically do this as a short cut to explaining what I’m taking about. Is the Gospel true? Is the church true? Is psychology true? These are three different kinds of true, so these questions tend to derail both my point and the thread in general. Answering these questions can take many words (a you can see here) and quickly logically leads to the unending question/debate what IS truth? It’s an unnecessary entanglement IF you are actually attempting to understand what I mean, in other words IF you are asking for the purpose of clarity answering your question with a question may get us there much more quickly with much less overhead. On the other hand and at the same time, if you are asking for the purpose of trapping me or shooting my concept down so that you can “win” (a pissing contest? as one commenter called it) by using some off topic ploy or a trick by say comparing the truth of church to the truth of psychology answering the question with a question directly avoids falling into the trap of equating apples truth with oranges truth. Finally, I’m often phone blogging while I’m with others and that makes lengthy answers difficult and undesirable, answering a question with a question shortcuts a lot of words and works just fine when clarity is the goal.

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  33. Martha on March 26, 2014 at 7:54 AM

    Part of me is happy that the activity day girls are getting thrown a bone. They get pretty much nothing. They’re supposed to work on the faith in God award, but it is no longer an actual award. If they work on it for four years they get autographs from the bishop and primary president in their little faith in God book. That’s it. But the other part of me feels like this move is the leadership saying that women and children are the same in the eyes of the church and in the eyes of God. I guess in the existing priesthood hierarchy that is sadly pretty much true.

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  34. Jeff Spector on March 26, 2014 at 8:59 AM

    One of the interesting facts of this discussion (the general one, not this specific one) is that it seems OK to be very critical of general Church Leaders, calling them out of touch, stanch patriarchs, preserving their power and, many other non-complementary things. Things you might not say to their faces if ad when you met them. But, for a certain group, any criticism of feminists or the Ordain Women group is not permitted nor welcome.

    It seems that since the protest, or demonstration or request (whichever you feel inclined to call it) does not resemble a 1950′s union gathering, with vitriol, violence and signs, that it is somewhat OK or acceptable.

    The genius of the tactics is that they are so quiet and polite that they somehow do not qualify as protest or demonstration. but they are merely “requesting…..” But, IMO, they are no different except they use phrases like .. “we are just asking,”we are faithful…” and “we are the church.”

    It is truly brilliant and it takes brilliant people to come up with those tactics. No question.

    My issue really is that now that they have been asked not to come and demand entrance to the Priesthood session, if they do, it is an act of defiance and goes against the statements they have been making.

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  35. KK on March 26, 2014 at 10:12 AM

    The explanation that the kids are invited to allow the other “auxiliary” presidencies to speak is one of the kindest. But still, why should children have to be in the audience in order for us to hear from the women of the church? Are Primary presidencies only capable of speaking to children? Couldn’t they come up with something that’s doctrinally relevant for the women of the church to hear without addressing children? After all, men have been speaking in RS meetings for years now…I’m feeling starved for spiritual messages from women. We need female perspectives and experiences with God. I’d love to hear from RS presidencies, Primary presidencies, Sunday School teachers, the lady who’s in charge of humanitarian efforts…Let the women speak! There’s no reason we need children in the audience for that to happen.

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  36. Howard on March 26, 2014 at 10:23 AM

    I largely agree with your general analysis Jeff, I think you well understand how it plays both consciously and subconsciously.

    Some observations:
    I think General Church Leaders particularly the 15 are what the law calls public figures, probably the principals of OW are as well but garden variety feminists and bloggers are not. The secular world recognizes different rules for public figures vs. the rest of us when it comes to criticism and defamation.

    There is quite a big difference between vitriol, violence and signs vs. OW’s peaceful presence outside the last priesthood meeting. They were respectful while pressing their point and impressing their presence.

    I agree that the strategy and tactics are brilliant! Isn’t it interesting that it takes such brilliance and such pressing to vertically penetrate the invisible one way membrane that lies between the members and the brethren?

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  37. Katie on March 26, 2014 at 10:31 AM

    Kristine A’s comment about including the Primary presidency raises another question. Wouldn’t the men who are serving in Primary be best served by being able to attend the meeting where their auxiliary leaders are speaking? Not that they’d necessarily want to go to another meeting, but my point is that all the people with priesthood callings will attend the meeting the priesthood leaders speak at, all the women with YW callings attend the meeting where the YW leaders speak, and all the women with RS callings attend the meeting where RS leaders speak (I acknowledge that not all these leaders speak at every meeting). But it would make sense that likewise, all people with Primary callings could attend the meeting where the Primary leaders speak.

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  38. Katie on March 26, 2014 at 10:41 AM

    To argue with myself, I guess the purpose of these meetings are not to be leadership meetings for those holding callings. They’re more for the attendees of each branch. So it still doesn’t work out that 8-11 year old girls can attend the meeting over Primary, but the boys can’t.

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  39. alice on March 26, 2014 at 11:12 AM

    #34 Jeff, exactly when and where were men barred from criticizing OW? The fact that criticism is met with further information, opinion, criticism, objection or reaction of whatever kind is not and never has been prohibition.

    I don’t know what the supporters of OW will do on April 5 but I look forward to seeing things develop. If they fail to heel to the suggestion of a “spokesperson” of uncertain authority to remove themselves from the property of the church they belong to and support in countless ways, if they continue to attempt to get officials of the church to speak directly to them and enter into some reciprocal dialogue about why there are such hard and gender based limitations imposed on us all, then I’ll appreciate their efforts.

    Jesus says a good shepherd goes out to find the one that is lost. Can’t the Brethren find it in their hearts to speak to representatives of10% of the church who are hurting to the point, for some of them, of feeling pushed out when they want to stay and participate fully?

    Do not ever make the mistake of thinking that because you can silence or displace an issue it goes away. This question will only have more urgency and power to alienate the next generation of women. Isn’t it better to be open to what strategies and resolutions we may begin to take now?

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  40. Jeff Spector on March 26, 2014 at 12:10 PM

    Howard,

    You had me until the last paragraph. The tactic is brilliant because it sucks large numbers of people into believing it isn’t a protest. Because the Brethren choose not to directly engage with this group of members does not mean they do not engage with members.

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  41. Jeff Spector on March 26, 2014 at 12:18 PM

    Alice,

    I’ve read the responses of those who do not like that OW is criticized for their approach or tactics, that they will probably not take NO for an answer, no matter who gives it. if you are wanting me to cite chapter and verse of that criticism, I cannot. However, I do not agree with the kinds of poor manners that some people have exhibited toward the sisters, suing foul language and hate speech. Unacceptable, period.

    Feelings are less important than facts. Because someone feels a certain way does not give them license to demand an audience. I would have no issue if a GA chose to meet with the OW group to hear them out. Perhaps they should. But, I suspect, short of ordination, it will not satisfy.

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  42. Howard on March 26, 2014 at 12:21 PM

    This group of members knows that well Jeff because the larger group of marginalized women they represent have been ignored and marginalized or placated for a very long time and the problem is it appears that the women the brethren are engaging do not represent the concerns of these marginalized women. The logical result of that is further marginalization and polarization.

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  43. Jeff Spector on March 26, 2014 at 12:56 PM

    Howard,

    According to your definition, there are many groups of marginalized Church members who may be driven by their “feelings” that they are marginalized. Which ones deserve more attention?

    - Single women, who are not married
    - Youth from broken homes
    - Part member families
    - Divorced members
    - Young Single Adults
    - Middle Single Adults
    - Widows
    - Widowers
    - The sick
    - The affirmed
    - Elderly members
    - Disabled members
    - Impaired members
    - The poor
    - Men with beards and other facial hair
    - Social awkward people
    - Those from a different culture
    - Those of different racial backgrounds
    - Mixed Race marriages
    - Bi-racial children
    - Gay members, who are faithful
    - Gay members who have partners or who are not celibate
    - Sinners
    - Adulterers
    - Ex communicated members
    - Women who want the Priesthood

    and others.

    Some of these groups really need the attention of Church Leaders? Who should be first since we all share ( or should share) a common goal?

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  44. Howard on March 26, 2014 at 1:01 PM

    Good question Jeff. I don’t know. That seems to be the task at hand. Adding women to the top leadership of the church would help sort that out. Privileged LDS women should probably be at the bottom of the list.

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  45. Jesse on March 26, 2014 at 1:01 PM

    Jeff,

    I take exception to your statement that “Feelings are less important than facts.” It is true that facts bolster arguments. However, the sorts of facts we collect are determined by our feelings and beliefs. The sorts of facts we pay attention to are a function of our feelings and beliefs. The ways in which we interpret facts are influenced by our feelings and beliefs.

    We cannot ask people to separate facts from feelings or lived experience or belief because that is essentially a non-human behavior. We are not logic machines. We are experiential, pattern-detecting, emotional creatures who like to apply the veneer of logic and rationality to our arguments because it gives them a sheen of impartiality and respectability. (This last sentence is perhaps a bit hyperbolic)

    We find facts to support our feelings….on whatever end of the spectrum those feelings may be. In fact, the only reason I ever request and audience with my superiors (because who requests “an audience” with an inferior or equal?) is because I feel a certain way.

    I like Thomas Monson’s message from several years ago: “Never let a problem to be solved, become more important than a person to be loved.” I like it because it prioritizes feelings (love) and people over facts (problems) and solutions–something I struggle with.

    Jesse

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  46. Jeff Spector on March 26, 2014 at 1:34 PM

    Howard,

    “Adding women to the top leadership of the church would help sort that out.”

    Women are already at the top leadership of the Church and have been since 1841.

    “Privileged LDS women should probably be at the bottom of the list.”

    Like Lawyers?

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  47. Angela C on March 26, 2014 at 2:01 PM

    I did see a great post from another friend whose 8 year old daughter is super excited to go to a meeting, just for all the women / girls. Maybe this will be good in some ways. I don’t remember being excited about church meetings at age 8, but I imagine there are some girls who think it’s cool. I suppose we shall see.

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  48. Jeff Spector on March 26, 2014 at 2:25 PM

    Will they love it more if all the talks are given in that Primary voice.

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  49. Douglas on March 26, 2014 at 2:44 PM

    8-11 y.o. grils ARE baptized members. If they’re old enough to have accountability in the eyes of their Lord for their actions, and able to take upon themselves the convenants of baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost, then they can handle a few hours of WC alongside their mothers/sisters.

    I will be getting up “bright and oily” tomorrow to go the the Stake Center and help with setup for Saturday. This is NOT a burden, rather, a pleasure. If serving in this manner is what Sister Kelly and her OW gaggle have in mind, then indeed their concerns ought to be taken more seriously. Somehow, however, I’m dubious that they’re clamoring to do the grunt work.

    Hawk, I feel bad that your daughter feels “unused” as if her inability to pass sacrament makes her second class. My question, which probably would be a supreme thread-jack, is: What are your ward leaders (Primary, YW, RS, bishopic, etc.) DOING about it, and, likewise, YOU and her father? I hope for her sake and your own that you view this attitude with alarm and are dealing with her feelings. I’m certain that there IS a “place” for the sisters, especially the next generation, and it sure as “heck” ain’t learning how to be the “hidden one”, walking two steps behind and one to the right of her prospective eternal companion. I don’t necessarily have a problem with the “Mother in Zion” aspect to a woman’s “role”, just the attitudes conveyed, at times, that (ode to Vince Lombardi), “Motherhood isn’t everything, it’s the ONLY thing”. (for women). Our sisters are collectively and individually more than brood mares. Too much trying to shove the round peg through the square hole.

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  50. Kristine A on March 26, 2014 at 2:50 PM

    Katie, a few years as Primary President scraping the bottom of the ward barrel (so to speak, because my bishopric did suggest names for callings and my only question back to them was: have they been to church two weeks in a row? If yes I’ll take them. You’d be surprised how many times I got, “well they haven’t been to church yet but we met them once.”) Primary is a mixed gender organization and should be treated as such. Too often I was treated as the lead-babysitter-coordinator……..to be seen and not heard……

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  51. Kristine A on March 26, 2014 at 2:54 PM

    To presume the Church doesn’t have time or resources to meet or do focus groups is beyond me. Even if they delegate it to Public Affairs….. They did surveys when temple attendance was down and made changes according to responses; wasn’t that 1990?

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  52. Howard on March 26, 2014 at 3:30 PM

    Women are already at the top leadership of the Church and have been since 1841.

    Oh! Gee, I didn’t know that! Which women was the President of the church and how many made Apostles?

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  53. Douglas on March 26, 2014 at 3:50 PM

    #44 – (Jeff) EXCELLENT point.

    - Single women, who are not married (don’t bug ‘em about getting married or try to fix them up. Let them handle their social lives.)
    - Youth from broken homes (bishops are specifically directed to pay attention to these kids; we all can be more sensitive and attentive).
    - Part member families (Make the Church an asset to the members therein, not a bone of contention with other family who aren’t members or active, especially a spouse)
    - Divorced members (Don’t play the “blame” game. Butt out. You don’t know what went on in that home, and both ex-husband and ex-wife need the Gospel and fellowship more than ever)
    - Young Single Adults (Again, don’t pressure into ‘pairing up’. Let biology run its course. It’s worked for thousands of years, why fool with it?)
    - Middle Single Adults (Depends on your definition. Again, SPs, don’t begrudge your MS members the ability to assemble themselves or chain them to a ‘family’ ward)
    - Widows (Been commanded to care for them since ancient times)
    - Widowers (not specified, but implied above)
    - The sick (Another commandment in effect since days of yore…)
    - The affirmed (Likewise…)
    - Elderly members (Implied in all four above…)
    - Disabled members (Likewise…)
    - Impaired members (Some impairments may require professional help. Help, but make sure you’re actually doing good!)
    - The poor (Another longtime commandment. Government sucks at this job which members AND the affluent population in general SHOULDN’T need to be commanded to do – D&C 58:26)
    - Men with beards and other facial hair – (Why do we depict the Savior and his ‘OG’ Twelve with them if they’re so ‘sinful’?)
    - Social awkward people (A toughie, but get over yourself and live with the possible embarassment)
    - Those from a different culture (like Texas…)
    - Those of different racial backgrounds (Easier said than done, but it’s part of the ‘job’…embrace it. LIVE it. LOVE it. DO it)
    - Mixed Race marriages (amazing considering that until recently the Church officially counseled not to do them, even though they were begrudgingly permitted [SWK: "There is no condemnation..."]. If you oppose “mixed” race marriage (opinions vary as to what exactly this means), keep it to yourself and/or your immediately family. Speaking opposition, even with the best of intent, likely does far more harm than good. Other members’ choice of spouse is there own business, thank you.
    - Bi-racial children (same as above and implied. This is especially a sore point with me, as my bi-racial stepkids were subjected to at minimum insensitivity and at times, regrettably, outright bigotry from their ‘fellow members. To subject a child to that treatment is cowardly and despicable, and I wouldn’t hestitate to call someone out on that.)
    - Gay members, who are faithful (If so, how would we ‘know’? Their orientation is their own business)
    - Gay members who have partners or who are not celibate (More for the bishop/SP to deal with. Be kind and don’t set yourself up in judgement).
    - Sinners (Likewise, though too general…)
    - Adulterers (SAME as Gays who aren’t ‘celibate’. Just b/c their ‘sin’ is “opposites attract” instead of the SAME “old song” doesn’t make it any better. The Lord is still offended and the participants need to repent). Still, be nice, and leave the judgement to the ‘offical’ judge(s).
    - Ex communicated members (By definition an oxymoron. They are fit subjects for ‘missionary work’. If they’re repentant and working to get back in, by all means, be sensitive and supportive, and, hey, that’s less missionary work to do! Be glad for it in any case)
    - Women who want the Priesthood (‘Skipper’ of the Madagascar Penguins said it best: “Smile and wave, boys, smile and wave…”). Appreciate their desire to go home teaching and get a door slammed in their face, or help move a family when you got notice only a night in advance AND you have tickets to the ballgame that day, or set up and take down for the sisters, and clean up the kitchen, but fend for yourselves when it’s a ‘PH only’ sort of affair…)

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  54. Mormon Heretic on March 26, 2014 at 8:03 PM

    Angela, my 9 year old daughter is very excited to go to the meeting. It will be interesting to see if she feels that way after the meeting.

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  55. jspector106 on March 26, 2014 at 8:16 PM

    “Which women was the President of the church and how many made Apostles?”

    The same number the Jesus called.

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  56. Howard on March 26, 2014 at 8:22 PM

    Lol!

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  57. Rigel Hawthorne on March 27, 2014 at 11:26 AM

    In over a decade of marriage, I’ve never seen my wife go to a single general women’s meeting, though she listens to general conference addresses (usually only the men) repeatedly. With the inclusion of younger girls, I thought I would gently use the “guilt” key about our daughter needing to go, but that didn’t seem to go anywhere with one turn of the key, so I’m dropping it. Will see if my daughter raises it as an issue, as it was encouraged in primary and she heard of it.

    Ditto on ‘I believe in Christ’ being 8 cyclic, torturing verses. Could be used as a punishment for those on “The Biggest Loser” who fall to the food temptations.

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  58. Angela C on March 27, 2014 at 9:57 PM

    I know it was a typo, but I think we should start calling Him “the Jesus.”

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  59. Jeff Spector on March 28, 2014 at 7:40 AM

    oops. but I’ll leave it there.

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  60. […] to staunch traditionalists, the inequality is glaring, and is going to be a problem. Even the newly-minted ladycast was full of women in purple (perhaps in support of Ordain […]

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  61. Paula on April 1, 2014 at 2:31 PM

    “Women are already at the top leadership of the Church and have been since 1841.” Except for when the Relief Society was disbanded by the male president due to their opposition to polygamy. When was it again that they were “allowed” by men to become a womens organization until they were stripped of being fairly autonomous when correlation took control?

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