After participating in Pants to Church last year, Alisa from New Zealand wrote:
I gave a big smile to the only other woman I saw wearing pants when I crossed her in the hall chasing my kids to Primary. She had spiky hair and a happy smile and was talking to a lot of people. I thought, maybe she was wearing pants for the same reason I was, although I knew that the “pants event” probably wasn’t as well known here in New Zealand as it would be in Utah. I wasn’t able to talk with her until just before we left to go home.
The woman was a recent convert to the church, having been baptized when her husband, who was less active, had begun attending church services again.
When I told her I liked her pants she said that it was all she had to wear. I told her that it was only cultural that women traditionally wear dresses to church and that she should feel confident that she looked great and was perfectly dressed for church. I was happy to be wearing pants if only to let her know that she wasn’t the only one wearing pants that Sunday.
It was a good experience to feel for the day what someone might feel like coming to church as a bit of an outsider. There is a real strength in gaining a persective on what others might feel.
I’m am so grateful for your work. I’ve always considered myself one of those “Mormon Feminists” even as far back as when I was a teenager and they told me I needed to wear something pastel to get up and sing with the other Young Women in sacrament meeting and I said “Nope! I’m playing the piano and besides, they aren’t looking at me back here so I will wear my black dress and black shoes and my black hair (I had the whole goth thing going on) and you’ll just have to get over it!”
Well, FFW to just yesterday when we had a new, sweet sister baptized and confirmed into our ward and she came to church in jeans! (She actually wanted to be baptized before she even took the discussions, that’s how strongly she felt the spirit!!)
Well, I was kind of scandalized! I almost asked the missionaries, an older couple, if she needed a couple of skirts because I had tons and would be happy to give her a couple! But I kept my mouth shut because, whatever, she’s at church and she’s working on her testimony and so long as she isn’t there in a bikini then YAY.
So, I will wear pants on Dec 15th, PURPLE PANTS even and I will hug this new sister every week and tell her how happy I am that she’s there in her jeans (with her young son too!!) and I will keep my big fat mouth shut about what she’s wearing because it mattereth not. What matters most is the contents of our hearts and right now, my heart is overflowing.
I did not wear pants to church last year. I apparently missed the memo, and I was frustrated that I did not have the chance to stand with my sisters. This year, I plan to wear pants to church with a shiny purple top. I am excited for this day. I am also afraid for this day.
I have been asked why I would want to “be like those people” who don’t come to church appropriately dressed. I have been asked why I would want to upset the order of things. And I have thought long and hard about my true reasons for wearing pants to church.
I am a born and raised Mormon. I have spent a lifetime in the Church and know what is expected of me as a Mormon woman. I spent the first thirty years of my life like most LDS women I know. I wore my Sunday best each week and went to church where I visited with my friends and served in my callings. When a woman came to church in pants, or a short skirt, or a skimpy top, I judged her. When a man came to church in grubby work clothes or jeans, I judged him. When new people came, I gave them a grace period of adjustment where I figured they just “didn’t know better” yet. When a previously active member became less active, I judged them for not being faithful. I was guilty of judging my brothers and sisters for how they came to church.
And then I became that woman. I was the woman who didn’t attend church every week. I was the woman walking the line by participating in what the Bishops handbook “strongly discouraged.” I was the woman who “knew better,” but still chose to follow my own path. I hate to believe that I never realized the judgement I passed on others until I became other. But it is what is true.
I wear pants to exemplify the other. I wear pants to show that if I can choose to belong with the homogeneous “us” or stand apart with the varied and often unaccepted “them,” I will choose “them.”I will stand as a follower of Christ, who said “love one another” and invited all to sit at his table.
And if it takes wearing pants to open the eyes of my brothers and sisters who don’t know how to see beyond the “us,” I will wear pants. And if they still do not see, that is all the more reason to wear pants.
I did not know about this day. I will support it specially because I am a convert to the church and am very conscious about how it feels when you do something that bothers some very strict “born in the church” members. My sister left the church because of members who said insensitive things to her. She is still inactive. She is a very loving and kind person and should be enjoying the blessings of the church. But she is a lot on the wild side and did dress a bit inappropriate. So when ladies join the church and I see them feeling “left out” I become their friend and certainly care less if they wear pants or not. Our dress changes gradually as we enjoy friendships and try to fit in with the group. We are smart enough to do so on our own. We do not need people lecturing us specially when we are just starting to feel the spirit of God after baptism.
Carole posted last year about why she wore pants:
I was pretty ambivalent about Stephanie Lauritzen’s call to wear pants in support of gender equality. But something changed when I started to read all the negative comments to Stephanie’s Face Book event. It wasn’t the “those women should be shot in the face” comment from a BYU student that put me over the edge, it was the comment from someone named Cheryl who said, “if some women have a problem wearing a skirt to church, they should just stay home.” She had time to re-think that extremely judgmental, less than empathetic comment, but she reiterated it again. Fill in the blank and see it for what it is. If someone has a problem, no matter what it is, that isn’t fitting with the typical Mormon, they should just stay home. Stay home, is not the admonition from our Savior. “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden and I will give ye rest.” Brigham Young didn’t tell folks to stay home either, he said that our “chapels should smell like a tavern on Sunday morning.” And of course there’s the idea that the church isn’t a showplace for the perfect, but a hospital for sinners–which includes all of us. But then wearing pants isn’t a sin at all. It’s not even church policy for women to wear a skirt, rather it’s a pretty strong cultural norm. So once I read Cheryl’s over-the-top judgmental comment, I knew that I had to wear pants, at least for a day. Read More
As we have worked on the messaging behind the Pants to Church Day event, we have faced criticism that we’ve strayed from the gender equality message from last year. The truth is that it’s not just women that feel marginalized in the LDS church. Our LGBT brothers and sisters fight a similarly difficult battle for equality. People of Color have a difficult history with the LDS church. Single parents; divorced parents; childless men, women and couples are all struggling to fit into an impossible mold.
A Mormon feminist ally, Edward, writes on his blog:
The Mormon church will not achieve the ideal of Zion until it comes to value women and LGBT people as equal members. That is its great challenge. Although LGBT folks could theoretically be included in the church without helping women achieve equality, that would not be Zion. We without them cannot be made perfect.
How can we help our Mormon feminist siblings? We can recognize and value the feminine within ourselves. We can notice how we consciously or unconsciously discount the words and contributions of women. We can examine our churches, workplaces, and families for imbalances of power. We can seek a relationship with our Heavenly Mother, the source of the divine feminine within each of us. We can seek out our feminist sisters and brothers, join their groups, come to know and love them, and thrust in the sickle with them.
The church is an important instrument of salvation. But one day—having fulfilled its function—the church will cease to exist and we will stand naked before the judgment bar of our Heavenly Parents. In that day, the only thing that will matter is whether we held up the hands that hung down.
Please consider joining us on December 15 in a celebration of inclusion of all people within the Mormon church. We need each other. We are stronger together.
I remember thinking last year that wearing pants to church seemed like a trivial or insignificant gesture. I mean, I wouldn’t care what a person wore to church, so what was the big deal?
Well, as I watched the day approach, I saw comments directed at the pants-wearers (by otherwise faithful LDS members), heat up and become vitriolic and judgmental. Then I saw, if something as small and inconsequential as Sunday wardrobe could inspire such unkindness…how must the women who feel “different” in other ways feel? How are they received on Sunday?
So, for me, wearing pants on Sunday is a way of showing anyone who feels “other-ized” that they have a friend in me.
When I first joined the church, I came to church in a high necked, knee length dress that happened to be sleeveless. I was pulled aside by a girl in my ward and told that if I couldn’t get appropriate clothes to wear to church (meaning a dress with sleeves) that I shouldn’t come. This was a week after my baptism.
I was lucky in that I had wonderful missionaries who constantly checked on me and saw that I was upset. They told me that we are asked to wear our best but that there is no rule about what you can wear. I will wear pants as a show of solidarity to those members and investigators who feel like they don’t belong. As President Utchdorf said in this last conference “there is room for you.” Indeed there is room for everyone in the church.
Regardless of your circumstances, your personal history, or the strength of your testimony, there is room for you in this Church. Come, join with us! (President Uchtdorf, October 2013)
I was recently asked how I approach people when recruiting them for Wear Pants to Church Day. I participated last year and nothing dramatic happened, so it only seemed right to invite others along. While talking about it with some wonderful Mormon Feminists in my ward, we sadly concluded that the term “feminism” should be avoided if we wanted anyone to be involved. This has made conversations easier.
I always approach people on one-to-one basis. My first step is to ask if they’ve heard of Wear Pants to Church Day. If it’s the first time they’ve heard about it, I explain what is all about. Their answer is most likely to determine whether I keep the conversation going or not.
So far, responses have been positive. Most people would say it does not matter what you wear to church, but what you do. That leads me to casually drop in the conversation that Wear Pants to Church Day is now an annual thing and we are looking for supporters.
Some freak a little bit and look for assurance that this event has nothing to do with women wanting the priesthood or members telling leaders how the LDS Church should be run. I mostly focus on acceptance. Wear Pants to Church Sunday is our statement to the world and to the Church that, as Elder Uchtdorf said, “You are welcome”. This is our statement that no matter what you are, where you are from, what you do, and especially, what you wear, we love you. We are your ally, we are your friend, and we will stand by anyone’s side when they are in need. Wear Pants to Church Day is about love.
I hope that we welcome and love all of God’s children, including those who might dress, look, speak, or just do things differently. It is not good to make others feel as though they are deficient. Let us lift those around us. Let us extend a welcoming hand. Let us bestow upon our brothers and sisters in the Church a special measure of humanity, compassion, and charity so that they feel, at long last, they have finally found home. (Elder Uchtdorf, April 2010)
The years 2012 and 2013 have been years of change in the LDS Church. We’ve seen a new edition of the Church Handbook of Instructions, new Young Men’s and Young Women’s manuals, a new edition of the scriptures, a lowering of the missionary age, hoards of new sister missionaries and a new sister missionary leadership position, missionaries now use the internet and Facebook, the Church reached out the to the gay community with mormonsandgays.org, the Revelations in Context series that brings greater transparency to church history, the release of the Joseph Smith Papers project including the Nauvoo Relief Society Minute Book, women prayed in General Conference for the first time, and the Priesthood Session of General Conference will now be broadcast over the internet like other sessions. There have been so many changes that I’m sure I’ve missed a few.
If you look closely at these changes, these are generally progressive moves by the LDS Church. Sure, the new YW and YM manuals are not perfect, but they are an improvement over the previous ones. The change in missionary ages has meant a sharp rise in the number of overall missionaries but especially in the numbers of women serving. Read More