LDS Knickers in Knots Over LDS Sisters in Pants

A Facebook group called All Enlisted (as in “we are all enlisted until the conflict is o’er”) states on its about page that

It is intended to be a place of action where active LDS men and women can engage in acts of peaceful resistance to gender inequality in the LDS church. Drawing inspiration from suffragettes and civil rights leaders, we aim to display a respect for personal revelation and community strength as we seek to build Zion, a place where we fully realize and embrace the truth that all are alike unto God.

Accordingly, it created an event for this Sunday called Wear Pants to Church Day.  Peaceful resistance to gender inequality, right?  No one is advocating picketing or throwing stuff. They’re not even suggesting that people stay home!  Show up and worship, teach Primary, take the sacrament. It’s just that if you’re a sister, you might consider doing it in pants. If you’re a dude, maybe you could “show your support by wearing a purple shirt, tie, socks, or ribbon, purple being a color historically associated with the suffrage movement.” Just a small gesture by a Facebook group with fewer than 400 members, most of them in North America if not Utah, right?

NO!  To some members of the church, it’s a harbinger of the end of times.  Seriously: check out this comment, for starters:

I’ll say this, everyone get your food storage and your oxen ready. If this is what is happening in the church, we are officially out of problems and at the top of the pride cycle…… get ready for a crash back to earth

People are quoting the Proclamation on the Family and Gordon Hinckley’s statement on why women don’t have the priesthood and calling to repentance everyone who supports the action.  Typical of the comments is this:

Doctrinal inequality? Why do you belong to a church you don’t believe… I think you need to work on your testimonies…

There even memes: Boromir from the Lord of the Rings saying, “One does not simply wear pants to church” and so forth.  The best response, though, is another Facebook group: Mormons Against Women Wearing Pants to Church.

Though I care very much about gender inequality in the church, I really don’t have much of a dog in the specifics of this particular fight. I hate pants and quit going to church over 20 years ago.  Frankly one of the only things that made the weekly three-hour block of meetings bearable for me was getting super overdressed, wearing cocktails dresses and bejeweled peau de soie pumps.  Were it not for the opportunity to wear clothes too fancy for school or work, I could hardly force myself out the door to attend something as morally and intellectually vacuous as relief society, Sunday school and sacrament meeting.  After I quit going to church, the only things I really missed were singing hymns (“We Are All Enlisted” was always one of my favorites) and my Sunday wardrobe, which I suddenly had nowhere to wear.

But I recognize that there are women who hate wearing skirts as much as I hate wearing pants.  I hate wearing pants so much that I sometimes avoid activities that supposedly require them, like, I don’t know, hockey games. The first hockey game I ever went to, in 1988, I just wore what I had on that day, which was a dress.  I ran into one of my (male) students, who informed me that it’s uncool to wear dresses to hockey games. Whatever. Perhaps there are women who avoid church because they resent the dress code, so why not make them feel like what they wear doesn’t REALLY matter, and people can just deal with their idiosyncratic sartorial tastes?

I also recognize that there are Mormon feminists who find attending church almost as rewarding as I find skipping it.

So I’m supporting this.  I even thought briefly of finding a ward and showing up in pants (I do own a few pair; I just don’t like wearing them) but there’s no reason to go to extremes.  Still, it’s quite a hoot to visit the page and see people acting like this really is the end of the world.

(Note: at the time I publish this, the event has 1,075 people attending. I hope it gathers even more attendees. Can’t wait to see what happens after that.)



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9 Responses

  1. I remember in our ward growing up, there was a woman who always wore pantsuits. She was the kind of strong-willed woman that no one dared say anything to – my mother was always quite envious, as she wanted to wear pants but didn’t have the courage.

    Funny, how such a small thing can be so big. I am the opposite – now that I don’t go to church, all I own are pants. I would really have to scramble for skirts/dresses if I went back to church.

  2. aerin says:

    I have worn a nice pant suit to at least two job interviews and funerals. I would like to wonder what the big deal is – except that appearance is often so important to many mormons. How you look is more important than what you do, who you are. I wore pants to church in high school a handful of times, and I did get some looks. I was on my way out, however.

    With that said, it’s amazing that this discussion is occurring in 2012. There are nice pant suits for mothers at weddings. And skirts/dresses are not always practical for winter weather – in fact, they are impractical.

  3. visitor says:

    I have been following this on a few blogs. The general hysteria it’s occasioned is blowing my mind!

    I have never used the word “cult” in connection with the LDS (though I’ve seen many ex-Mormons use the word). But the idea of wearing pants as a heroic act like any adult doesn’t ordinarily make their own choices about dressing themselves, on the one hand, and people lathering themselves up in opposition to it, on the other, is NOT normal behavior. Don’t know if it’s misguided righteousness, fear-motivated defensiveness or group think run amok but it just isn’t proportional or normal and it sorta screams “cult”.

  4. chanson says:

    On thing that’s especially interesting (as I think the people organizing the event pointed out), women are not officially forbidden from wearing pants to church. So why get so offended by this? It’s not like they’re suggesting something really rebellious like “Wear flip-flops to church day.” 😉

  5. Chris F. says:

    No, no, no, they’ve got it all wrong. Women wearing pants to church isn’t a harbinger of the end of times, it is merely a symptom. The real harbinger was when Obama was re-elected: Chuck said so!

    @4- Interestingly enough, my wife often wears flip-flops to church, but would never consider wearing pants.

  6. Holly says:

    just found out that some of the organizers have actually received death threats over this.

    Death threats.

  7. Holly says:

    Here’s a followup story from the Chicago Tribune, including a discussion of one of the death threats:,0,4924364.story

  8. chanson says:

    @5 I could have sworn I heard that there was a talk in General Conference recently telling people not to wear flip-flops to church. But none about women and pants. Not yet, anyway. 😉

    @6 & 7 That is insane!

    Regarding the point on enjoying wearing a skirt: I’ve been kind of mulling this one over.

    I sometimes go to the opera with my husband, and part of the fun is that it’s our only excuse to get dressed-up. I get the impression that it’s the same story for most people who get dressed-up for the opera (and those people who don’t dress up don’t get treated as though they’ve made a faux pas). And, naturally, plenty of the women — even dressed-up — wear pants.

    But I never really felt like “Sunday best” was an enjoyable type of dressing up (especially since the church in Minnesota was so cold!). Even if the idea is that your attire should be respectful and reverent, it would be nice if the culturally-enforced dress code had a bit more flexibility.

  1. December 16, 2012

    […] the bloggernacle exploded. For some reason, this particular suggestion, at this time, in this manner, touched a nerve. Perhaps it’s that many people were not aware […]

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