Why did you decide to participate in the Wear Pants to Church campaign? Responses from the Survey of Mormon Feminists

I had 3 boys, but when our daughter was born, I started to see the world in a whole new light. I tried to see the world through the eyes of this little girl, and it seemed like there were so many things that were so blatantly unequal and unfair to her, just because she is female. And to see what she is going to walk through as a girl growing in and through Mormonism…. there’s just a lot that is so un Christlike. I can’t change all this, I can’t change the situation, but I’m aware and I see it and I’m going to try to make it better for her.

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I live in a ward with a lot of new converts and a lot of people who are unable to afford nice clothing. I wore pants in solidarity with them. I also wore pants because I believe that the practice of women wearing skirts is cultural and not doctrinal, and since there was no doctrinal reason not to wear pants, I chose to wear them because I prefer them.

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To show support for myself and anyone else in the church who has ever felt that they didn’t belong. Or who were judged for thinking outside of the mainstream. I grew up in the church on the east coast and moved to Utah when I was 16. It was a terribly painful experience for me. I was treated like a sinner CONSTANTLY because I did not fit in culturally. I’ve never been able to fully reintegrate into the Church culture since.

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I decided to participate because I’ve felt that many of the guidelines we follow are not doctrinally but rather culturally based.
I participated because I don’t really believe God cares about what we wear as long as we are trying to be respectful towards the ordinances we make. I participated because, as much as I love to wear skirts, other women cared, and that was a reason good enough for me.

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Because gender exclusion in the Church gives me pain. If there was anyone else in my ward who felt the same way, I wanted them to know that I mourned with them.

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I thought the expectation of how women should dress at church was lopsided. For example, I could wear a casual dress to church and it was ok, but dressy pants were not seen as fully appropriate. I was in a ward missionary meeting once and the Relief Society President brought up a concern that she had about a recent convert wearing pants to church. She wondered how we could get this woman to start wearing a dress or skirt. Sentiments such as that made me start to suspect that perhaps men wear suits and women wear dresses because suits represent power and dresses don’t. I decided on my own that I should start wearing pants to church, but I didn’t really have the nerve. When I heard about pants to church I was very happy to participate. It gave me the excuse to wear pants when I had been putting it off for months.

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I was initially unsure if I was going to participate, but then when so many people (church wide and in my own ward) responded so negatively to the idea – I know that I had to do it. I had to stand in solidarity with my sisters who are struggling with the same things I struggle with.

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I honestly felt it was a non-issue initially until I saw some of the negative reactions from men and women being posted on social media. This for me turned it into an issue. It should never matter what a person wears to worship. I have lived in countries where people where tattered jeans and the only shirt they own to church (men and women), and it never affected worship. It seems like a select part of the Mormon culture decided that it really mattered what women wore to church, so I wore pants to show that it does not.

I participated because this was a quiet and respectful show of independence and practicality. My sons wore purple ties, and I purchased some dress pants for church. My daughter chose to wear a dress. What a woman wears to church should not matter, and observing this campaign did not disrupt any of my ward members’ ability to worship.

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Because I was scared to – so I knew I had to. And largely do that if there was anyone else in my ward who felt strange and lonely like I did, they would see me and feel less alone. I wanted investigators to see someone dressed like them, I wanted my fellow church goers to see a faithful woman wearing something other than a skirt.

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I wanted to express my solidarity for women in the church who felt marginalized or different, and express my identity as a Mormon Feminist.

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I participated to show solidarity with those who have questions or have been hurt. And because having a more gender inclusive church simply makes sense, in my mind and heart.

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I feel there are many inequalities in the church that are over looked simply because that is the only way we know of doing things. The wear pants to church allowed for those things to be brought out into open discussion.

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I was really conflicted since the Wear Pants to Church Day was not explained very well and I worried about being misunderstood. I decided to participate because I often feel alone in my struggles, and I wanted to send to message to anyone else that was struggling that they are not alone.

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Because others need to know they’re not alone in feeling different. Plus it’s just silly to expect there’s only one way to show reverence and respect – especially when that One Way is defined by something as superficial as clothing.

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To raise awareness of the cultural expectations placed on women within the church and to show that there are people who are opposed to them.

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Dress standard is social and cultural. It should not be an outward sign of worthiness or spirituality. It only serves to continue the separation of the sexes visually. Dresses/skirts are often impractical with young children. There shouldn’t be any pressure for women to wear a certain type of clothing, or for men to wear white shirts.

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This campaign was a way I could feel unified with my other MoFem men and women out there. It helped me feel not so alone. I felt like I was also declaring to my ward family who I really am (even if the majority didn’t even know that the campaign was going on.) This was one of the best Sundays of my life. I have since worn pants to church on occasion. This was a big deal for me, b/c I had just finished serving as RS president, and I worried what people might think of me given my level of service. Stupid, I know, but a concern nonetheless.

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I participated (1) because after talking about it to my daughters, they wanted to wear pants and I support them, (2) because I am a feminist and I’m completely comfortable with my ward knowing that I am, (3) because everyone should feel comfortable and welcome at church regardless of what they’re wearing, and (4) to be a visual reminder to those who feel different for whatever reason that there are others who are different too.

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I went back and forth on this one…My hesitation was believing that Sunday meetings are a time for edification and that wearing pants would potentially bring a negative spirit to Church or just be immodest (directing attention to myself). I ultimately decided to participate because I wanted to provide a space for people to ask me about/discuss women’s issues in the church. My feelings about social justice issues outweigh my concern for propriety.

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Pants Day felt big and important. I like wearing dresses/skirts and will probably always wear them to church in the future, but the pants (of course) were never the point. It was about doing something visible, uniting, and still faithful as a body of feminist women. I was one of the organizers of the event (in a pretty minor way), and from that position, I know that the campaign became bigger and more controversial than we ever expected it to be. We actually thought it would be a gentle, non-threatening thing. If we had known how much media interest and backlash would have resulted, I think we would have nailed down a firmer message or intention. In any case, it was an opportunity to take a risk as individuals and as a community, a bonding experience, and a chance to stand as a witness — a witness of faith, of love, of God, of sisterhood, of hope. I loved that.

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I initially didn’t want to do it, because I thought it brought an element of triviality to legitimate pain and hurt that many Mormons and Mormon Feminists feel every Sunday. But, after seeing the backlash on the facebook event page I decided to participate not only to stand in solidarity with other Mormon Feminists but also to demonstrate to any one in my own ward who may have had similar feelings as those who were actively attacking the event that there are Mormon Feminists everywhere, and that we are normal, faithful Latter-Day Saints.

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Because I jump at any opportunity to bring visibility to women in the church and further dialogue that will lead to more inclusion and equity.

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I have worn pants to Church twice in my life before that event. Both times as a teenager. One time I was visiting another Church, and everyone wore nice pants, so I did, too. And the other time I had traveled all night on a train, and had to choose between making it to Church in time wearing what I was wearing, or going home and changing, but not making it to Church. Both times that I wore pants, I had gotten horrible comments from members of our Church. These experiences had been very negative memories in my life. I participated, because I wanted to overcome my fear of criticism from others, as well as support those who sometimes stick out by not being as conventional, and also to change a culture that feels the need to chew someone out over their clothing, when we may not even know why the person is wearing what they are.

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I have felt like an “other” at church because my husband is inactive. I wanted to support those who feel excluded for some/any reason. I also think it’s important to point out the differences between culture and doctrine- there is no dress code for church, but based on the backlash, you would think we were going to church naked.

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As an investigator I wore a beautiful and very modest pant suit to church. People actively avoided speaking to me. The next week I wore a mini skirt and everyone lauded my wardrobe choice. That doesn’t make sense to me whatsoever, and the people who treated me like that need to shake their heads.

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I wore pants to church because I do not believe that God or Jesus care what I wear to church as long as I am showing respect, and I don’t believe that the people in the Mormon culture should care either.

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I wore pants to church to show that I am the same God-loving and God-respecting person in a dress or in pants. I did it because I would like women to have the choice to decide what they feel comfortable wearing to church. I did it because I was a missionary on a bike and that skirts can be really tricky to manage in the winter, in the rain and in the cold when riding a bike. I did it because I lived in other countries where my sisters are riding bikes, buses and trains to church and that wearing pants for them on Sundays may just be making their lives just a little easier. I did it because some people are so blinded by what they think it the right way that I wanted to let them know that I worship with my heart and not through the clothes I wear.

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I was on the fence about Wear Pants to Church for a long time. The vitriol and the notorious death threats against participants helped push me over the edge into participation. I’ve given my heart and soul to this church, and in many ways I fit the definition of a TBM–I endorse the church’s basic truth claims, and I’ve served a mission, married in the temple, served in various callings, year in and year out, and I’m raising my children Mormon. But I have been deeply wounded by the systemic gender inequities in the church that I love and to which I’ve given my life. For the most part, I mitigate or swallow my feelings at church for the sake of the community. That’s an inevitable part of the compromise of community. But in my best judgment, Wear Pants to Church was a moment at which I felt the need to take a public and principled stand. It’s a stand I felt the need to take regardless of the success or failure of the movement as a whole; for me it was a very personal moment of aligning my public actions with my private beliefs, of being willing to risk social disapproval in order to silently make my beliefs and feelings evident in the community. That said, I think this movement was widely, almost excessively successful because the opponents played right into the hands of the national media. The death threats made opponents look like troglodytes. The organizers won well beyond anyone’s wildest dreams.