I've loved reading all the thoughts that have been shared about this. In my head I've been responding, or talking it out with my husband, which has made for some great conversations. The following may be rambly, as I'm typing quickly to get some thoughts out before I get back to making dinner (Friday pizza night!).
At young women the other night, the girls were planning an activity in which they are going to make rounds over the next few months visiting several of the widows in our ward. The president and I looked at each other and both said, "visiting teaching practice". It was something that had been on my mind lately after listening to my husband call up one of the young men to go home teaching with him. Why do the YM start doing REAL priesthood responsibilities as soon as they turn 12, and the YW don't? The boys have their opening exercises with the men, they home teach with them, collect fast offerings, etc. Proper priesthood behavior is constantly being modeled for them. I don't see that happening with the women. Why aren't the YW invited to go visiting teaching? To bring meals? I remember my first calling as a visiting teacher. I was 18 and had no idea what I was really supposed to do. And neither did my 18 year old partner. I still don't know if I'm doing it "right" as I've never really had regular visiting teachers come to see me! I could see that being an improvement - having the YW and RS work together better.
We've been trying to impress upon the young women the importance of some of the lessons we've been teaching in class - lessons on family, homemaking, scripture study, etc. They're not getting it. They don't even WANT to have kids - so they see no reason to learn about anything remotely homemaker-ish. They said they want to learn "real life skills". I'm confused by what they want...I think THEY don't know what they want. I think they're getting too many conflicting messages. I don't want to force my personal feelings on them, but they obviously aren't grasping in any sense why motherhood would be a noble calling.
But back to the pants movement. I agree, Andrea, that their stated mission I DON'T agree with. I also didn't think the venue was appropriate for the message. So many of the reasons given that I heard from friends/bloggers, etc., made absolutely no sense to me. One woman said she wore pants so that investigators to the church would feel more comfortable. Really? That's your basis? How about you just say hi and sit by them for a few weeks so they have a friend.
I agree that so many of these women are suffering from a severe lack of understanding. Definitely not understanding their role as a daughter of God. Do they think that God is wrong in the organization that he created? Because I think it would be very difficult to believe that God was wrong, and still have a testimony. In which case, you'd have to believe that men have mis-interpreted God's word - (in which case I ask, if they have, wouldn't he have corrected us by now?) I know that I appreciate learning more about this stuff. I find myself feeling like you do, Andrea - why didn't I know this sooner??!!! And then I want to tell all the young women what I know so that they can have that knowledge to aid them in their paths through life. But perhaps Marilyn is right - perhaps that is not the way it needs to happen. Maybe it's a necessary part of our testimony and our understanding of our purpose to come at this line upon line, gaining a greater understanding of the doctrine as we are ready for it.