WHY I’LL NEVER WEAR PANTS TO CHURCH

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.

They explain,

“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.

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12 comments

  1. Great post.

  2. bravo! thanks hollie. i’m sharing this!

  3. I found your blog from a friend on facebook. :) · · Reply

    well put. I appreciate your thoughts on the topic. I am kind of bewildered by this whole movement–I think you nailed it right on the head when you said it was something “personal.”

  4. amen to that! as an active LDS woman i totally agree with your thoughts. these women need to save their “protests” for non sundays.

  5. former mormon · · Reply

    I am happy to hear that you have never witnessed the damage the church has done with its sexist attitudes. Unfortunately, I have witnessed it first-hand. When my mother approached our bishop about my father’s neglect and asked him for help; instead of counseling my father, he instead blamed my mother for my father’s indifference. He suggested that she try harder to look pretty and that she should try harder to shield him from all the “negative aspects” of us kids (i.e. noise, tantrums, poor school performance). My sister, who has been a tom-boy since birth, was chastised quite frequently during church, young womens, and seminary to look more feminine. She, as well as myself, my brothers, and my mother, are no longer part of this church. This church that chooses shame as a means of control.

    1. this is really sad- what a shame that this has been your experience- and it really is a problem. Open communication is definitely needed about these kinds of experiences.But I agree with her when she said that the people in the church (and I think this is true of females as well as males) are not perfect. Her point is that God is perfect and thats what is comes down to: you and him. I never thought about it as being so involved in choice- it is simple and it is true. we can choose the way we see ourselves and others. we can have faith in the way god sees us. reading this made me remember a leader i had in young womens who made me feel bad that I didn’t want to be a stay at home mom one day. I was kind of mad for a couple of seconds but then i just kind of realized and felt that my heavenly father would never want me to feel this way, and if I had a problem i should take it up with him before I got defensive and hurt over it. I did: and I instantly felt a feeling of faith. I always remember that I go to church for Him, not for anyone else.
      Also one time a guy got up in testimony meeting and told us all he was Elijah and he got to earth on a silver plane. The gospel is true: the church is true. But some of its members are off their rockers!!!

    2. I remember a similar circumstance that happened in our ward as I was growing up late 70’s or early 80’s, much of this I have learned years later from my mother. That is why in the last few decades the bishops have been counseled to refer husbands & wives to LDS social services for counseling with someone who is licensed to counsel people in their relationships. As I have learned over the years there were many couples that received this type of council & “support the priesthood holder in your home” articles doled out instead of offering councling with a professional. Over the years we have learned together that bishops can only do so much, if my bishop in 2000 had counseled my ex and I instead of referring us to a professional I can only imagine what counsel we would have received, he had given his wife the silent treatment for over a week that month.

      I have always felt the gospel is perfect ( as it comes from Heavenly Father), the church is not as it is filled with people & in my opinion there has only ever been one perfect perso on this earth.

      Sorry for your families experience, I can only remember 2 bishops my entire life that I did not understand or agree with on any subject. Mind you I have moved a lt, 4 high schools, one of them twice, lived in 2 states, at least 8 cities/towns & more than 1 ward in most of those cities/towns. That is a lot of wards & bishop’s. Again each member is a person & as such they all have their free agency to choose how they will act & some of us just will not get along well with certain personalities, thankfully I only lived in these bishops wards while they were presiding for fairly short times.

  6. That was the most beautiful response I have ever read. Thank you for so eloquently saying exactly what I feel.

  7. I think we can all, always, work a little harder to make EVERYONE feel included. Often, listening and dialogue is all that is needed.

    We are ALL different in some way, and ALL the same in some way. We should acknowledge and celebrate the sameness and the differentness.

    I am the mother of two kids, I work part time and I am active in the Church. I learnt to value my role as a wife, mother, woman, daughter….at home.

    Nothing I have ever heard at Church, no interaction with Church members, has ever detracted from that. There are some jerks at Church. I’m a jerk sometimes. “It mattereth not”
    x from Australia

  8. Thank you so much for a wonderful response. To me, imperfect people in the Church (i.e., bishops, etc who offend) merely show that the gospel is indeed true.

  9. Thank you so much for saying everything I’m thinking. I really appreciate your post! Very well said.

  10. “God is here!” I couldnt agree more. Thank you for sharing your perspective.

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