When the Bishop asked me to speak to you today about the recent announcement concerning the new General Women's Meeting, which was tagged by LDS.org as a "milestone," I was pretty excited. I was also pretty out of breath, too, considering that I sprinted all the way from the bishop's office to the cultural hall when he gave me that look. (pause for polite laughter) You guys know the look! (pause for scattered laughter) That look that says, "you can either come accept a speaking assignment now or I'm going to call you as nursery leader." (pause for awkward silence due to overselling the punchline)
Anyway, I have to tell you, I think it's just wonderful that we have a living prophet today, even Thomas S. Monson, who speaks for the Lord and dictates the marvelous press releases of our loving Heavenly Father. Here's an excerpt from the latest one:
As the women of the Church gather together--sisters, mothers, and daughters--they, their families, and the Church will be strengthened and blessed.Isn't that fantastic? I'll just take a moment and let those words sink in so you can feel how palpably inspired they are! (pause for silent contemplation)
So what the Church has done, in order to better demonstrate the equality of women within our membership, is consolidate the annual Relief Society broadcast with the annual Young Women meeting and move them into General Conference Madness. Now, twice a year, all the women of the church are invited to a special meeting just for them--except that, obviously, it will be presided over by the male leadership. They'll be taught about their important womanly duties, such as getting married, being mothers, and supporting their husbands in the priesthood.
Now, according to dictionary.com, a milestone is defined as "a significant event or stage in the life, progress, development or the like of a person, nation, etc." Just look at all the significant progress being made in the development of our nation of righteous women! Now they have twice as many broadcasts intended for a non-Y-chromosomal audience instead of being targeted at two age groups! Truly the prophets and the apostles physically converse with God the Father on a daily basis!
I'd also like to take a moment to address the issue of gender equality directly. (pause for it to dawn on the ward that shit just got real) I know there's been some murmuring among us--probably because of taking the world's values too much to heart--about how women are not treated as equals in the church. I think this demonstrates pretty clearly that women are on the same plane as men--if not higher! After all, the scheduling of this new meeting places it precisely one week before the Priesthood General Session of General Conference. Not only do the ladies get to go a whole week before the men (implying deference to their higher virtues and duties) but they are also encouraged to bring all sisters age eight and up (as opposed to twelve and up for the priesthood session). The Brethren are clearly more eager to teach to the Daughters of God than to our Priesthood Holders.
Speaking directly to the women, now...I know that some of you may feel tempted at times to wear pants to church. And I know some of you feel that it is within your rights to try to get into certain priesthood meetings to which you were not invited. And I know some of you feel the urge to point out the disparity in leadership between men and women. And I know some of you may even start to think that women should be given the priesthood. But to those of you who may struggle with Gender Inequality Dissent Addiction, or GIDA, I exhort you prayerfully consider the pattern the Brethren have laid out for us with their meeting schedules. They've designed independent but equivalent special meetings for the men as well as the women in which each sex can receive divine counsel--and, hopefully, personal revelation--concerning their stewardships as mothers or priesthood holders. A leadership responsible for creating such a balanced, if occasionally partitioned, method of preaching the word of God cannot, in good faith, be criticized for sexism.
And besides--it's the worst-kept secret in the Church that the women are really the stronger spirits. Gordon B. Hinckley once said that behind every great prophet of this dispensation was a loyal wife--reminding him to read his scriptures. (pause for yawns) And I can tell you from personal experience that even though I've given a few stressful anointings of the sick in my time, I tremble in fear at the thought of staying home with my two-year-old like my wife does every day while I'm at work! (pause for laughter on the off-chance anyone is still listening)
In closing, brothers and sisters, I'd just like to say that, not only are the separate roles of women as nurturers and men as priesthood holders divinely established, but so is this landmark new meeting schedule. I'm actually excited for my wife to go to this new meeting! I think it will be great for the sisters to get together twice a year and have obnoxiously perky, administratively impotent middle-aged female figureheads whose supervisors are all men tell them how blessed they are to be women in the church.
I say these things in the name of our Lord and Savior, even Jesus Christ, who has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows, who knows all that we have suffered, including crazy fantasies of gender inequality, amen.
(pause to grab a tissue from the podium before sitting down)