The LDS church, in a move doubtlessly intended to demonstrate their benevolence toward women, has subtly solidified their implicit status as inferior to men: they've restructured missionary leadership to include some token female positions.
As announced on the Mormon Newsroom, the church is introducing a "Missionary Leadership Council" which will include the mission president, his wife, assistants to the president, zone leaders, and the brand spankin' new Sister Training Leaders.
The sister training leaders "will be responsible for the training and welfare of female missionaries assigned to them" because obviously it's unacceptable for a woman to be in charge of a man. They will "spend time each week training and evaluating the needs of female missionaries" and "report directly to the mission president on the needs of sister missionaries." So the women are in charge of only worrying about the women stuff while the big strong men get to carry the responsibility for everything that goes on in the mission. Also, mission presidents' wives will be "asked to play an enhanced role in training and caring for sister missionaries," cementing the idea that the women will be taking care of women stuff. Nowhere does this announcement make any reference to the remotest glimmer of possibility that any female could ever be in charge of any male.
The icing on the cake, though, is this line:
Full expression from all participants is invited in council settings, unifying the efforts of both male and female council members.
There is no assurance that opinions from male and female sources will be given equal weight and there's no chance in hell that the councils will be in any way numerically gender-balanced, but at least the few women on the council will be allowed to express themselves.
The church leadership doesn't seem entirely clueless--they seem aware that people both inside and outside of the church are calling for better treatment of women. But this move is disingenuous. The church is effectively saying that, to prove how much they value women, they're going to give women a few empty positions of leadership that are still subject to male oversight and allow them to go off into a corner and do their womanly stuff together with their own mostly useless leadership structure.
That makes two kind-of-good-but-not-good-enough strides for feminism within Mormonism in the past few days. But if women ever gain truly equal footing with men in the church, that day is a long, long way off. Because both these victories have been subtle put-downs at the same time.
And that doesn't seem right to me.