A couple of years ago I was in a Stake in which someone asked the Stake President why women didn't hold the Priesthood. He responded the every member, both men and women, have full access to the blessings of the Priesthood. Every member can be baptized, can take out his or her own endowments, can be married, and can receive Priesthood blessings. It seems like this argument has become more common within the church as it faces accusations of being sexist. For example the current Sharing Time manual has a lesson on the Priesthood titled "Blessings of the Priesthood are available to all." Equality is achieved, the argument goes, because everyone is enjoying all the benefits. I agree that the ordinances that the Stake President listed are available to all. However, I believe that there are additional benefits that come with holding the Priesthood that were not mentioned.
To name a few that I can think of off the top of my head, from the age of 12, boys are able to serve the entire congregation through an important ordinance. This service is very visible and believed to be spiritually necessary. These young men are often publicly thanked each week for their service. Furthermore, many men have the experience of sitting in a position of judgement and counsel. For example, I served as a missionary, but never conducted a baptismal interview. I have no idea what it is like to discuss another person's personal worthiness and to try to voice how God feels about their choices. Men have the opportunity to perform other ordinances for their family members such as baby blessings, baptisms, and confirmations. Through these ordinances, men are asked to speak the mind and the will of God through inspiration. Can you imagine how much you could learn through those experiences? Can you imagine how much you could grow when you are asked to take on such difficult tasks?
In my mind, saying that all members have full access to the blessings of the Priesthood is analogous to saying that all the members of a business benefit from having a structure of leadership within that business. Sure, all members do benefit from having the structure there, but not all members are able to enjoy the growth and experience that comes from being leaders. Of course, one could argue, that within the church not all men enjoy the benefits of these leadership experiences. Fair enough. But virtually all men enjoy participation in many of the benefits that I list above, while no women do. I think another argument could be that men aren't able to enjoy the experience of being mothers so it all evens out. In my mind, this argument doesn't hold very much water. Other than pregnancy and breastfeeding, there is not a parenting task that a man cannot be fully involved in. Some may argue that pregnancy allows you to have a special bond with the child that cannot ever be achieved by the father. This argument also doesn't hold water for me either. It assumes that an adoptive mother could never have the same bond with a child that a biological mother does. Based on my background in child psychology, there is plenty of evidence to suggest that children can form strong emotional attachments to their caregivers whether they are biologically related or not.
Obviously, not everyone is going to be able to have every experience. However, wouldn't it be beneficial to open the opportunities for those experiences to a wider variety of people? Wouldn't women benefit from being called as spiritual leaders, or sitting in counsel with others? Wouldn't men benefit from being fully involved parents?