Friday, November 15, 2013

Young Women's Conference

Women speakers in General Conference were always the worst. They always seemed to adopt an incredibly high, sappy tone similar to the register one uses when speaking motherese. Even from a very early age I found them impossible to pay attention to, so when I found out that there was a Young Women's Conference I was more than happy I was not required to attend. Who the hell needed nearly two full hours of straight Magic Flute voice? Not I.

But once I got out on my mission I had a change of heart. Young Women's Conference was important. The talks addressing the the future women of the Church were important. They had to be - everything the Church has to say is critically important! I was sure I had overlooked the impressive content simply out of bias toward the method of delivery (i.e. middle-aged women in pastels - the typical color choice for LDS women about to go Magic Flute voice all over the microphone). 

I decided to give their talks a fair shake. I needed to know what they were saying. I needed to tune in to the spirit they brought, if not their voices. So I started reading the Young Women's Conference talks from the Conference editions of the Ensign that had piled up over the years in my mission apartment. I don't know how many conferences-worth I read but I do know the more I read the angrier I became.

Why were all of these talks so doctrine-less? All I could really find in these talks to young women was manipulative bullshit about how they all needed to be virtuous because Heavenly Father loves virtue and wants them to be worthy to marry in the temple. Typically in Mormon speak "virtue" means sexual chastity. All the girls were being told, more or less, was "be happy, don't drink coke, don't dress like a slut, and protect your hymen because otherwise you'll make Heavenly Father sad/disappointed/angry". Obey, girls, you don't want to have any regrets on your wedding night!

It was disgusting. I wrote home about it. I asked my family what the was going on. Had Young Women's Conference always been so doctrinally shallow and so socially manipulative? (It just so happens that all LDS conference addresses are shallow and manipulative, not just the YWM talks.)

I doubted the fair treatment of women in the Church. I could see at least one way in which people with a vagina were treated with at least some level of condescension, and I didn't like it. Why would God instruct his servants to dish out a load of fluff to His daughters, the future mothers of Zion? It didn't seem right. When I never received any response from my family and friends on the topic I of course found a way to cope. I doubted my doubts and moved forward with faith.

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