A while ago we received a comment from a concerned reader that believed that the church "degraded" women. This is unfortunately a misconception that many outside the church seem to have because women do not hold the priesthood and therefore must be being demeaned by the organization. I obviously cannot speak for all women in the church, but I just wanted to write a little bit about how I actually feel that the church provides quite the opposite for women - true fulfilment and opportunities for self-improvement.
Our church leaders continually teach about the importance and divinity of womanhood. In our last General Conference, many references were made of the irreplaceable role of women, including an entire talk entitled "Daughters of God" (given by M. Russell Ballard), which encouraged women to reach towards their full potentials. Leaders have also given a great deal of counsel to women to obtain as much education as they can, which will in turn strengthen them and their family members. In our church, women have many possibilities to teach, lead, and serve. The women's organization of the church (the Relief Society) is the largest women's organization in the world and has almost limitless opportunities to teach and serve many around the globe. In addition to the countless ways women forward the work of the church, men are taught to revere and honor the women in their lives.
Through church leadership and local support, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Saints truly can strengthen women and help them achieve their best. Despite these teachings do women sometimes feel overwhelmed or inadequate to the tasks placed upon them? Definitely. With many societal pressures on how to be the "perfect" women, this is often the unfortunate case inside and outside of the church. Being a modern woman is especially difficult in a world that devalues the natural roles of mother and nurturer. However, if gospel principles are followed and women accept the best that they can do and not the best their neighbor can do, true happiness can be found in the honorable and unique role of womanhood.
In closing, there are many things that I do find degrading: pornography, society's crumbling view of the importance and sanctity of marriage, how women are often portrayed in the media, the idea that being "just a mom" is not enough, and the perception that if a women is a full-time caregiver she must have no other options available to her. On the other hand, something that I find genuinely ennobling: the church and how it helps me focus my life on the things that truly matter most - specifically, the Lord, my family, and personal growth.