Really. Like NEVER.
Currently a group of Mormon feminists are promoting a day of omitting the social norm of wearing a skirt or dress to church. Instead, they propose to women all over the world to wear pants to their Sabbath day meetings this week. Their goal is to draw awareness to what they claim is an inequality in the church. Their claim is eloquently put, and nowhere do they reject the idea of remaining “faithful” Mormons.
“When our religious community doesn’t realize that we exist, they inadvertently say and do things that threaten the very existence of Mormon feminists. They make snide comments about the female investigator who wears pants to church. They openly criticize mothers who work to support their families. They ignore single women and women in part-member families and women without kids. Our leaders continue to publish manuals and write articles and give talks that alienate increasingly larger swaths of women. Faithful women who fail to conform to the traditional gender norms espoused by LDS church culture and doctrine, sometimes in spite of their best efforts, find that they can no longer call Mormonism their spiritual home.”
I acknowledge that sometimes “our religious community” is not perfect- sometimes things are said or done in ignorance, sometimes feelings are hurt, sometimes key messages are misunderstood. Sometimes people leave the church over these things. The key element in all of this is that our religion is a personal and personable one. I hear the opinions of these Mormon feminists and I feel their despair, I appreciate their angst as something they want to keep appropriate and humble. But more significantly, I see the personal-ness in it, and my first thought is that something about how they think the Church and its leaders see men and women is not quite right.
I have to wonder about this, because I have to believe that no one would believe our God, or our Savior who I believe sits at the head of our religion, thinks that women are in any way inferior to men.
I say that there is “personal-ness” in this debate and in this gospel because, as I was reading the Mormon Feminist group’s claim and various media that surrounds this issue, I thought about my own experience as a woman within the gospel. I say with genuine consideration on the matter, that I have never seriously felt in any way inferior to a priesthood holder, or any other man within the gospel. Perhaps you might think that I have lived a sheltered life, perhaps you might think I could be oblivious or brainwashed on the subject. I would disagree with you purely on the basis of my upbringing.
My parents- though not perfect by any means- have always shown me in a quiet and very natural way the balanced role of parenthood. As I have grown older I see their bond as less of a “patriarch and matriarch” system, and more of a marriage between man and woman. I think I realize how exceptional it is that I have never seen my father dominate my mother or vice versa physically or emotionally. I’ve never seen either of them act superior one to the other. I’ve never known of a family decision to be made without either party being completely comfortable with that decision. Perhaps this really is a rare phenomenon?
I mention my family because I believe that every principle of the gospel begins in the home and is nurtured in the home. Because I saw my father and mother counsel with each other so often, and because I saw that both of their contributions to our home were equally as critical to my personal wellbeing, I have never seriously questioned the way that God or my religion interprets gender.
I believe that Christ, who is the leader and center of my religion, has no doubts as to the worth of women in His Church. I also believe that He communicates with living prophets today, and that He would not have His church administered in a way that would intend on alienating any of its members. Whereas I do not believe any of us, as members of the Church, are perfect, I believe His plan is.
In short, and rather bluntly, I see this “feminist” movement or feeling as something personal rather than actually feminist. One has the choice to feel hard done by, misrepresented, or inferior. I choose to feel equal, I choose to have faith in the idea that God sees me as equal, and instructs his most sacred and trusted servants to know that I am equal. I understand that He sent His son to die for me with just as much sincerity as a man.
I understand my role as a woman is divine. I have been created with purpose in a way that is vital to my Heavenly Father’s plan. I understand the very definition of God to be literally Man + Woman: where the gaps are filled and together something is complete. Even life can be created! I mean, you do the math: do you really think God chose an inferior sex to literally harvest life?
I believe this Church to be a forum where women can be celebrated. The Relief Society is the world’s largest association of women. We can choose to celebrate the knowledge that we have, that we have a critical role in God’s plan, and divine responsibilities that in every way match and equal the roles of men. I see that there is a lot of room for every member of the Church- male or female- to be more compassionate.We can choose to judge the investigator of the church who attends in pants, or the mother who works outside of the home. Or we can choose to lift where we stand, starting in our homes.
The Mormon Feminist group acknowledged that the Church has never formally instructed women to wear skirts or dresses to church, only that we should wear our best clothes. Personally, I do not view it as a “cultural norm,” but I see the way that I dress for church as a way that I can show respect for my Father in Heaven. Believe it or not, in my dress and appearance, I can acknowledge the greatest gift He has given me: that I was created by Him to be a woman. Of all the days in the week, I can show Him my gratitude by celebrating my womanhood on the Sabbath day. I’ll be as feminine as I can be!
The group explained,
We chose pants because they are a symbol of the feminist movement and because it seemed like a good way to test the strength of our feminist voices here in Whoville. Many of us knew we’d be the alone in our congregations in bucking this cultural norm, and viewed wearing pants as a way to say, “I am here.” Perhaps we’d even start a few conversations with men and women in our wards, or at the very least our families.
To this, I take offense. Peaceful demonstration or not, this day is not for demonstrating anything other than devotion to God. It’s not a time to say “I am here, I am here, I am here.” It’s a time to say, “God is here.” It is a time to renew your commitment to God. It is a time to set an example to your children that you choose to have faith in God’s plan, and that you are a part of it.
You can choose to put symbolism in the things that you wear. As for me, a skirt on a Sunday (at least) will always make me honored to be a pivotal and equal part of God’s plan.