General Conference-Will it Ever Change?

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Today the First Presidency announced that the Saturday evening sessions to the semi-annual general conferences will be discontinued. Traditionally, a Saturday evening session was held for priesthood holders in April and then women in October.

Also traditionally, the priesthood session featured a lineup of male speakers, while the women’s session also featured a lineup of male speakers. (The 2020 women’s session featured three male and three female speakers–an obvious nod to gender equality.)

Which brings me to my point, as an ex-Mormon writer and blogger, part of me mourns the loss of the women’s session. Those thinly veiled celebrations of manhood were comic gold! The saccharine sweet put-downs laced with endless reminders of our sacred role. The corny stories about how special mommy is even though she’s unemployed and under-educated. Not to mention the string of comparisons to inanimate objects: sticks of gum, unlicked cupcakes, pristine rosebuds, and clean dishware. Suffice to say, the satire wrote itself. Like in 2015 when Cheryl A. Esplin likened the sisters to full cans of soda:

The concept of being filled with light and truth became particularly important to me because of an experience I had many years ago. I attended a meeting where members of the Young Women general board taught about creating spiritually strong families and homes. To visually demonstrate this, a Young Women leader held up two soda cans. In one hand she held a can that was empty and in the other hand a can that was unopened and full of soda. First, she squeezed the empty can; it began to bend and then collapsed under the pressure. Next, with her other hand, she squeezed the unopened can. It held firm. It didn’t bend or collapse like the empty can—because it was filled.”


We likened this demonstration to our individual lives and to our homes and families. When filled with the Spirit and with gospel truth, we have the power to withstand the outside forces of the world that surround and push against us. However, if we are not filled spiritually, we don’t have the inner strength to resist the outside pressures and can collapse when forces push against us.”

Okay, as I wrote previously on my old blog, Ward Gossip, this works for me. But I’m surprised that a member of the Primary General Presidency would admit that in order to be full of “the Spirit and gospel truth” an LDS woman has to swallow the intellectual equivalent of an entire cup of dissolved sugar that’s been shot up with pressurized gas.

Do you see what I mean?! The satire wrote itself!

All this being said, the elimination of any LDS church meeting is always good news. It would be better news if the end of the meetings meant the end of the patriarchal rhetoric. I fear that won’t be the case. My guess is the message will be the same, only condensed into an “efficient” two-day, eight hour marathon of mind-numbing tedium punctuated by misogyny, shaming, and cutesy faith-promoting vignettes. Comedy gold for ex-Mormon writers like me. But more pain and guilt for the believers.

Some things never change.

5 thoughts on “General Conference-Will it Ever Change?

  1. Also traditionally, the priesthood session featured a lineup of male speakers, while the women’s session also featured a lineup of male speakers.

    This was always one of the most insidious parts. They offer women the chance to hear the wise words of the most important, most inspired leaders (who are, of course, all men, obviously). It’s a clear message that women have nothing of value to say that anyone would want to listen to, even on subjects specific to women.

    I agree that it’s comedy gold, but less so for the people who take it seriously. Good riddance.

    Additionally, it’s very clever way to eliminate those embarrassing annual photo ops of women asking to attend the priesthood session and getting turned away.

  2. Yes, I meant to say something about the protests outside of priesthood! I remember one in particular when the protesters were blocked by a garbage truck. Not so good for church PR.

  3. Interesting that the change coincides with a continued decision not to have in-person attendees. Maybe the Salt Lake leaders can use some time for personal reflection.

  4. I hadn’t thought about how this aligns with virtual-only conferences. I assume they’re planning to go back to using the Great and Spacious conference building again at some point, and they’re hoping that by then everyone will have forgotten about how the priesthood session was repeatedly a focal point for high-profile protests for women’s ordination. 😉

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