Voices from the Exponent Backlist: Thoughts about the New General Women’s Meeting
The announcement yesterday about the new General Women’s Meeting — a meeting for females 8 and older, held every six months, and run by the general presidencies of Primary, Young Women, and Relief Society — caused some excitement on the Exponent back email list. Below is a glimpse into some of our thoughts about this new meeting.
Are they doing this twice a year to make this women’s meeting a closer parallel to the priesthood meeting? I am confused, however, as to why they’re combining it with primary.
I’ll be curious about the tone of this meeting. The priesthood session does not use any primary-voice language or tone for the 12-year-olds. I think there’s a sense that these boys are ready to be “men.” But I have a feeling that with 8-year-old girls, you’ll hear some doctrinal simplification.
I like the idea of welcoming girls 17+, but I fear that lumping girls 8+ in with the women indicates an attitude wherein women are just children to be educated by the all-male priesthood
Church leaders are hearing us, but they are not really listening.
I love getting together for the broadcast and dinner with the women of my stake, and that was why I was excited when I heard about this because now it won’t just be one time a year. But I can see with ages 8 and up, doing a dinner might not be feasible.
As for the inclusion of Primary leaders in this meeting, on one hand I am glad that Primary leaders will finally have a chance to talk and teach. But on the other hand, it does kind of seem like it might be more appropriate for the kids if they could do some sort of separate primary broadcast, with more videos and singing and much shorter.
I hadn’t really thought about women getting lumped with children. I was just excited that young women would start to be treated more like adults, the way the young men are. But adding the kids does change the dynamic.
I hate the lumping together of women and children. I feel like I will be like watching the early episodes of the Brady Bunch when Carole sat with the children as Mike became adjudicator and she followed his orders equal to the children, far from equal to him. Bah. I am also uncomfortable with the female descriptors in only familial terms: we aren’t women — we are sisters, mothers and daughters. If there was a bigger focus on Heavenly Mother, I think I could feel better about the ‘daughter’ term, but otherwise, the female familial labels are problematic.
In reading about this, I recall a strong historical argument wherein the creation of the Boy Scouts was to ensure a working class, i.e. elite men ran the world, and reformed larrikins were trained to be working class Boy Scouts to support the elite men. I feel like this new meeting and lumping of all in one is the same thing: training females from the age of 8 as the church working class, in positions that are separate, secondary (yet necessary) and in support of the male priesthood (ruling) class.
I want to know when boys age 8-11 stopped being legitimate members of the primary? This is really irksome.
I am thinking the reason they chose age 8 is to make certain this meeting is not parallel to the Priesthood session. If it were age 12 and up I could view it as an organizational precursor to a quorum for women. But with age 8 and up women and children are clearly grouped together as auxiliary and dependent. I would rather have separate YW and RS meetings than this.
Primary is the one time boys/men have female leaders and the boys aren’t invited to hear their leaders speak. What does that say about the importance of women’s words and counsel to boys?
Someone posted on a facebook thread about this topic that he thinks they are going to change the name of the Priesthood Session to “The general men’s meeting,” and that 8 year old boys likely will be invited there. He said he recently had stake conference and that a visiting authority nearly said as much. I would not be surprised.
1. As many of your have pointed out – putting women, YW, and children together is a double edged sword – and it cuts both ways.
2. I think changing the name of the Priesthood Session would be a good thing; allowing us to start untangling priesthood and maleness. Hopefully this will allow us to study Priesthood more closely. And use it more fully.
I actually like having separate men and women’s meeting (for part of church) and I like the idea of cultivating brotherhood and sisterhood – AND I would like those separate meetings to be equal.