General Conference-Will it Ever Change?
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.