Thursday, December 13, 2012

Fighting just to Fight . . . Never a good idea!

There is an idea moving around the interwebs that has sparked a huge conversation/contention about Mormon feminist and wearing pants to church on Sunday. Normally this wouldn't bother, and in most ways it doesn't. I think people have the agency to choose what to wear on Sunday. What does bother me is that someone has chosen a very sacred time during the week, a time where we recommit ourselves to the savior, into a political rally.

There is a time and place for everything. There is a time to air grievances and to express disagreements. The middle of a sacrament meeting is not one of them. Sunday is a time of worship, a time to remember and express gratitude for the sacrifice of the Savior. It is not a time to single out a group, or segregate yourself by 'taking a stand'. And it is has really bothered me that people who are proponents of this day are saying things like they are fighting the culture, or this is a way to identify others who have the same ideas or it's not political.

1) Fighting the culture of the LDS church is like fighting all of Western culture. It's useless and pointless. You shouldn't wear pants to church because you want to fight against a culture. You should wear pants because that is the best thing you wear. The idea of 'Sunday Best' will always be a suite for men and a nice dress for women. If you don't have that, wear the next best thing. I don't feel like the Mormon culture is perfect, far from it. But making a political stand against wearing dresses is just silly. 

2) Wearing pants to church to help identify others who are like minded so you can band together creates separatism and a us vs. them mentality. You never want to create a group that is separate from the whole. Once that happens, everyone around you, including yourself, segregate this group. 

3) There is no way this isn't political. The feminist movement is a political movement, there is no way to separate them. If you are pushing feminism into a religion, it is political. 

At then end of the day, what we wear to church isn't the matter here. It is a group of people fighting against something that has nothing to do with the doctrine or teaching of the LDS faith. Pushing a protest, a worldwide protest, in the middle of a worship service where covenants are recommitted is inappropriate and a slap in the face of the Lord.  


  1. Many have argued that this action is an act of rebellion, but I really doubt that is the intention. In an interview by Joanna Brooks, Sandra Durkin Ford of the group All Enlisted had this to say in regards to Sunday the 16th: "Women wearing pants to Church is not prohibited by Church policy, doctrine, or scripture. No Church leader has ever told women they can’t wear pants on Sundays. There are lots of statements from Church authorities encouraging people to dress in their Sunday best. But women wearing dresses to Church is simply a gendered custom. With this action, we are challenging a gendered custom so as to become visible as Mormon feminists to each other and our wards" (

    It may seem like this is a case of "fighting just to fight," but I believe the majority of the women involved are completely genuine in their desire to begin a conversation about how we can change the culture to better fit with both doctrine and feminist ideals. I am not sure what I will wear on Sunday, but I do feel that conversation is a necessary one. You may not like women wearing pants this Sunday collectively, but you have to admit it is stirring up that conversation.

    In the same interview, Stephanie Lauritzen said "We planned “Wear Pants to Church” Day to raise awareness and visibility: to allow Mormon feminists to say, “We’re here, we’re all in this together, and we’re ready to work to make the Church better. We’re faithful. We’re serving. We’re ready to work.” We also wanted a gentle first step—the action doesn’t even break any LDS Church rules.'"

    As a progressive Mormon Woman, I can really see the value in knowing that other women feel the same way that I do. There are many cultural norms that I feel need changing in our culture, but I often feel alienated and afraid of judgment from other church members when I got against cultural norms. I may never be a mother and I am likely to work all my life, and as a Mormon woman, that can be culturally frowned upon. The Proclamation to the World on the Family is often cited to justify these cultural norms, but the doctrine of the church (including this document) acknowledge that some families cannot adhere to this ideal. Family planning and employment are matters to be dealt with by the family under the direction of the Lord. The cultural reaction to this doctrine has loosened greatly with the passage of time and with women struggling through cultural biases to do what is best for their family, and Mormon culture will continue to change as people struggle to do what they believe is right, even when the culture does not accommodate. That is how cultures change.

    American life is a political minefield. Though it may be ideal to separate politics from religion, it is an impossibility. The Church tries not to get political very often, but there have been many instances where the church has made a very public political stand; for example, leading up to the prop 8 elections members were asked at the pulpit to make financial donations and donations of their time to help the initiative pass in California.

    If this conversation remains outside the church mainstream, it is likely to stray from doctrine, and cause progressive active members of the church to feel that they do not have a voice in shaping their culture. My voice may be small, but it is just as important as the voice of a conservative Mormon.

    Thank you for continuing the conversation. It is such an important one. Hope you still love me if I choose to wear slacks on Sunday ;-)

    1. I would always love you Amanda! There is not much, short of hurting my baby, that you could do to make me not love you!!!

  2. This issue has really been bugging me. Never, have I felt discriminated by or unequal to men in church. I don't understand why some women feel that in order to feel equal, they need to be exactly like men. I have a friend who left the church because she felt that men had the priesthood, and women were 2nd class because we didn't. She failed to realize that we as women are given the most important spiritual gift of being mothers, and for those women who don't want or cant have children, the role of a nurturer is still gifted to them.

    The church is all about equality. We are there to be partners in marriage. We are told that all decisions in the family should be made BETWEEN husband and wife. I'm fine with women wearing pants to church if that is what they feel is their Sunday best. But I don't want to be judged by those women when I walk in in my dress and have them think "she's bowing down to cultural stigmas. She doesn't want to be equal to men." I know they probably wont, but that's what this whole issue is making me feel.

    1. I feel the same way Brook! I have never felt like I was unequal to men in the Church. Men have a divine role to hold the priesthood while women have the divine role of creation and rearing. I'm feeling like that's a pretty good trade off.

  3. I completely agree with you! I also liked how this blogger said it: