Relief Society Speakers Compared to Other Women’s Organization Speakers – Visuals That Will Blow Your Mind
I officially belong to two female organizations – the Relief Society (for over two decades), and Girl Scouts of America (where I have been a leader for 7 years). Neither organization is perfect, but both have brought great experiences and friendships into my life.
A couple months ago, I received a package with m’n’ms, microwave popcorn, and a drink mix along with this announcement for a stake relief society event:
It’s a cute flyer for an online broadcast to watch at home during covid, and the movie snacks to eat while watching it are a really nice touch. It’s honestly a great idea.
It didn’t come with snacks (unfortunately), but it is also an online event for girls and adults to listen to a message from one of the most influential women in America today.
The big difference I noticed between these two online events for their female-only organization members was this: the relief society event invited a male speaker and put a quote from a male leader on the invitation, while the Girl Scout organization invited a female leader and put a picture of her and another girl on the invitation.
I honestly can’t imagine a stake priesthood meeting where their invited guest is a local stay at home mom who is great at public speaking. Likewise, I can’t fathom Girl Scouts of America inviting a successful male leader to address their members. There’s certainly nothing wrong with hearing from successful male leaders in general, however the purpose of a female organization is to learn from and engage with successful female leaders, especially because those have traditionally been lacking in representation while male leaders (as an example, every single president of the United States ever) are everywhere to be found.
Wouldn’t it have seemed strange if Girl Scouts had invited Barack Obama to talk to the girls instead of Michelle? So why doesn’t it seem strange to everyone that my relief society broadcast invited a local male speaker (despite an abundance of qualified female speakers to choose from instead)? He’s not a church authority – he’s literally just a regular guy who writes religious books and hosts a podcast. There happen to be lots of women who write popular LDS books and host podcasts, too.
I also belong to women’s hiking groups, and I follow a local museum that has been hosting online presentations from female leaders in science and technology this past year. Because these groups are specifically targeting the experiences of women and girls, I’ve noticed they seek out and invite only guest speakers from that half of the population.
I looked up different national and international women’s organizations on the internet. Most of them have had only online events this past year, so it was easy to see who they choose to invite as guest speakers. Almost without exception, the speakers are female. If a man does sit on a panel, he’s always the minority (for example, five women and one man) and they are never, ever the keynote speaker.
Here are images from prevalent women’s organizations. Whether you agree philosophically with them or not isn’t important. The important thing to notice is who they invite to address their memberhip.
Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA):
National Organization for Women (NOW) Conference speakers:
National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO):
Girl Scouts of America:
Natural History Museum (Salt Lake City, UT), Women in Science Conference:
BYU Women’s Conference Speakers*
Here are some local Relief Society Conference posters off of Pinterest:
And finally, our General Conference Speakers:
If we intend to keep calling ourselves a women’s organization, can we start acting more like one? Because oh, man (not woman!)… it feels so strange.
PS. I think it looks even more strange to outsiders as they hear us referring to ourselves as the “largest women’s organization in the world”.
PPS. I looked up numbers for the other organizations I posted images from above, and we aren’t the largest by a long shot. For example, the YWCA has 25 million members internationally, more members than we even have in our entire church.)