When the Ordain Women movement was planning to attend the Priesthood session, my first response was passively supportive. I felt it was overreaching, but that overreaching is sometimes necessary to expand the Overton Window:
The Overton window is a means of visualizing which ideas define that range of acceptance by where they fall in it. Proponents of policies outside the window seek to persuade or educate the public so that the window either “moves” or expands to encompass them. Proponents of current policies, or similar ones currently within the window, likewise seek to convince people that these should be considered unacceptable.
Other formulations . . . add the concept of moving the window, such as deliberately promoting ideas even less acceptable than the previous “outer fringe” ideas, with the intention of making the current fringe ideas acceptable by comparison.
I wasn’t tempted to join because I’m not sure I care about being ordained personally, and I don’t know the right approach to improve gender equality in the church without losing the strong support structure that exists and largely seems to work for men. I have no doubt that women are underutilized and overlooked in the church, and that more female input is needed given the rhetoric we often hear.  Solving it is another matter.
I certainly don’t consider myself to be pessimistic in general, quite the opposite, but specific to the role of women in the church, I don’t see much reason to believe there will be significant progress. I see baby steps and retrenchment; I don’t see evidence that women are truly being heard. Personally, I feel I am quite successful navigating the current environment even though I feel it’s less than ideal. I simply don’t believe it will change much, although I welcome thoughtful changes like the mission age shift. 
When the church responded by broadcasting the Priesthood session for all to see, if I had been in charge of the movement I would have stopped at that point. It wasn’t much of a gesture, but it wasn’t zero. It reminded me of the subtle face-saving actions of authoritarian governments in Asia. The result is not much in the immediate, but the subtle acknowledgement itself is noteworthy and indicates a slight shift toward the group being acknowledged, like politely nodding at an acquaintance in a restaurant. Instead, the movement went forward, and seeing the rejection of these faithful sisters, including watching a dump truck parked to block their entry and their tear-stained faces as they were turned away was incredibly hard.
I recently had lunch with one of the leaders of WAVE, and we talked about the limited place of women in the church as well as the fact that the majority of feminists who are also activists ultimately leave the church. She felt that the church would ultimately have to address the exodus of women. I, on the other hand, believe it’s more likely that church leaders are glad when these women leave because they can be dismissed as apostate and they become less of an irritant. To draw a parallel, in my work experience, we conducted annual employee surveys to gauge employee engagement and loyalty. If a leader’s group had very low scores, this was taken very seriously; it limited a leader’s career. However, people who leave the company no longer take the survey. It’s one way to boost scores and the perception that all is well.
While I see little reason to hope that leaders care about addressing women’s concerns in a meaningful way, particularly based on the tone deaf rhetoric at the last general conference, it doesn’t actually impact my day-to-day church experience. Most Mormons don’t follow the sexist rhetoric we hear anyway. Our lived experience is not as unequal as the “ideal” described.  The level of sexism and patriarchy lived by the average Mormon is much lower than it sounds coming from the pulpit at General Conference. Your results may vary.
In the 1942 film, Now, Voyager, Bette Davis plays the unwanted, unloved spinster daughter to a domineering mother (played by the deliciously tyrannical Gladys Cooper) who demands her dutiful service but restricts her choices, almost to the point of indentured servitude. As Bette’s character Charlotte Vale explains in her nervous breakdown scene:
“I’m fat. My mother doesn’t approve of dieting. Look at my shoes. My mother approves of sensible shoes. Look at the books on my shelves. My mother approves of good solid books. I’m my mother’s well-loved daughter. I’m her companion. I am my mother’s servant. My mother says! My mother. My mother! MY MOTHER!”
Up to this point, Charlotte, like some Mormon women (and men for that matter), has never made – or owned – her own choices. She has been content to live in a perpetual childhood, to be told what to do, to live a life defined by duty, and to regard any personal interest as selfish and bad, something that must be hidden away in a room. I don’t believe the church is domineering and tyrannical in the way Mrs. Vale is with her daughter, but the journey from dutiful daughter to independent woman (or man) is the same. With the help of Dr. Jaquith, her psychoanalyst, she begins to find her own self worth and make her own choices. When Mormon women make and own their own choices and don’t act primarily from a sense of duty, they sometimes choose things that don’t fit the narrowly prescribed roles for women. The rhetoric aimed at women can seem irrelevant and unnecessarily restrictive to women who make and own their own choices.
Charlotte connects with Paul Henreid’s character, Jerry, when they meet on a cruise during her recovery and after the first stages of her transformation to an independent woman. Jerry is trapped in a loveless marriage to a wife who requires that he stay married to her out of a sense of duty, and he also chooses to stay in the marriage to protect his daughter Tina, a young Charlotte-in-the-making. Making a connection and being valued for who she is make her stronger to handle her mother’s controlling behavior when she returns:
“I don’t want to be disagreeable or unkind. I’ve come home to live with you again here in the same house. But it can’t be in the same way. I’ve been living my own life, making my own decisions for a long while now. It’s impossible to go back to being treated like a child again. I don’t think I’ll do anything of importance that will displease you, but Mother, from now on, you must give me complete freedom, including deciding what I wear , where I sleep, what I read…Mother, please be fair and meet me halfway.”
At the end of the movie, although Jerry and Charlotte can’t truly be together because he remains married, they agree to accept their situation as best they can. They share a cigarette (it was 1942 after all), and Jerry asks her if she can be happy this way. Charlotte replies, famously:
“Oh, Jerry, don’t let’s ask for the moon. We have the stars.”
Both Charlotte and Jerry are still restricted by a sense of morality and duty; they remain under the rules of society. But they find a way to make peace with that and still find a limited sort of happiness. This could be a form of learned helplessness, but on a higher plane than the depression that led to her breakdown in the first place. It’s a helplessness toward others changing, yet feeling personally empowered to make and own their own choices within accepted societal limits. One feels Charlotte has transcended her friend and ally (and would-be lover) Jerry and is now operating on par with Dr. Jaquith, a fully self-actualized individual calmly explaining the way things work to others.
While I feel I can make and own my own choices, the reason I feel fairly helpless about the role of women in the church is because I can only affect my own sphere. I don’t feel capable of influencing change beyond the people I touch directly, and then only in a limited way. I have the stars, and I’ve learned not to ask for the moon.
Is this the best approach to take in order to remain in the church but also to be true to oneself as a woman? I suspect that it is in fact the path most women, even those who reject the title feminist, who remain in the church have taken. Very few women in the church fully agree with the limited sex roles that are touted because every person sees more in him or herself than just a role. Nobody likes to be pigeonholed. We are all exceptions.
Ultimately, the difference between those who stay and those who leave seems to be activism, the hope that things beyond our control can be controlled and changed.
The movie La Femme Nikita is about a girl rescued at the last minute from the death penalty who is trained (in the American remake of the French classic retitled “Point of No Return”) by the elegant Anne Bancroft to assassinate at the government’s behest. After witnessing a particularly gruesome murder, the “cleaner” (Harvey Keitel) who is there to dispose of the bodies becomes suspicious of Nikita’s ability to keep the murders secret. Nikita remembers Bancroft’s mentoring, and holding her head high she says, “I never did mind about the little things.” She learns to operate within the system without addressing those things she cannot change, even when those things are jarring and incomprehensible. 
Maybe when the little things aren’t really little, patience and a chin up help you live to see another day. Willfully ignoring unpleasant things helps. After all, that which we resist, persists. For today, that’s enough.
 Based on a recent survey I did, only 37% of Mormon SAHMs feel that the work they do is challenging and a good use of their talents (by contrast 82% of Mormon SAHMs believe their husband’s work is). Only 46% see their work as SAHMs as rewarding (while 68% of them believe their husband’s career is). This illustrates a huge perceived gap in personal satisfaction when church members follow traditional roles. The gap was significantly smaller in dual career households, although perceived satisfaction of the husbands was much lower. 67% of working women saw their work as challenging and a good use of talents (only 59% believed their husband’s work was), and 64% of them felt their work was rewarding (while only 46% of them felt their husband’s work was rewarding).
 And as I’ve said, nobody cares what I think anyway. Partly because I’m a woman, but also because I’m a lay member, not a leader.
 Based on the aforementioned survey  Mormon marriages follow the same patterns as the US national averages: 48% SAHMs, 4% SAHDs, 52% of women doing some type of work for pay (24% of whom are the primary earner in their home). We may only talk about one model, but we live quite differently.
 Like pants, on December 15.
 Polygamy comes to mind.