Less than 1200 words on pants

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The Scientology Rule asks adherents to ponder how their actions would look if performed by a Scientologist. If they look cultish when others do it, they are cultish when you do it. The point is to escape the bubble and see yourself from the outside. It is not always pretty but generally worth it if you want to try to avoid fundamentalist, kooky, or pernicious behaviour.

Looking at Pantsgate from the outside, one sees nothing of good report. I wish I could dismiss it as a brouhaha only boiling in the Mormon bubble. After all, I am in a faraway ward in which women would wear trousers without much notice, so I ought not to care. But when these things reach the pages of the Daily Mail it is my religion that is being defined for the masses over here, whether I like it or not. So it is my business.

What do we see? Firstly we see a religion that looks like it inhabits a world straight out of Pleasantville. It is normal for religious people to dress modestly but this is not about modesty, it is about the sacralisation of 1950s clothing norms. Normal people do not want to return to the misogyny of the 1950s — however pretty the dresses — and so Mormonism comes across as a petty throwback to a somewhat discredited age. This is the news as reported by the gentile press. That this passes as a feminist protest in Mormonism looks kind of cute and harmless to me as an insider — this is a very well behaved, very Mormon protest! — but from the outside it’s a red flag of weirdness.

The second thing we see is even worse. The Pants Day Facebook page was shut down because, as I understand it, the nastiness spiralled out of control. One expects bad behaviour on the internet but that this was undertaken by Mormons is embarrassing. There is a lot of religious sparring on blogs and message boards but the Facebookers were mostly just your average member, checking in to spew their disgust  in an occasionally misogynistic and violent manner and very often dismissive and Pharisaical. If this is what lurks under the surface when we are confronted by a harmless display of non-conformity such as this then we should be worried. This second story has not yet been picked by the media and I hope it won’t be.

I am disheartened. I have made efforts to counter media disdain of Mormonism over here but I think it may be a losing battle. The church itself has spent millions of dollars on a campaign to display the modern face of Mormonism as a religion firmly engaged with the world of 2012 not 1952. I fear that this is a waste. Perhaps the “I am a Mormon” adverts should be removed from taxis and put up at church because here is the message we insiders need to hear: the modest woman wearing pants (and all the other people she symbolises) is a Mormon too. Please, please just leave her (him) alone and stop equating the mild raising of a hand to express concern about gender imbalance as some kind of virulent apostasy.

When this Pants Day thing was announced, the women in my house were kind of meh. Trousers are worn from time to time, but dresses and skirts are nice too. However, now that the naked disdain for women and the passive-aggressive witch-hunt against those who do not wish to conform to arbritary cultural mores has come to the fore, they are now going trouser shopping on Saturday. They feel it imperative to do so. I agree.

Comments

  1. Thank you Ronan, this is great. Count me in as being disheartened as well.
    Some of the hatred I’ve seen written on this subject in recent days has been astonishing and incredibly upsetting.
    It’s awful when people think “when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren” means “when thou art converted, speak ill of those who are also converted but might have slightly different cultural views to your own”

  2. Well this really is a sign that the church is as large as the statistical report says, for the lunatic fringe to be that big:)

    But more seriously, do we know that all the comments were actually from real church members? Is it possible that any of them were plants from the organizers to bring about the very reaction described in the last paragraph? (Not picking on this group in particular, but it’s been done before.)

    I dunno, for us to do something in response to the lunatic fringe is about the same as doing something because church leaders said so. It’s still a matter of caring more about what other people think than what you think is right for you.

    I am not wearing pants because I already rejected the cultural norm. I decided long ago that I wasn’t comfortable wearing dresses/skirts to church, so I made myself a wardrobe of culottes that work well for me since I commute by bicycle, including to church most weeks. Third way. Of course others should do what works for them. And I will support others to make their own choices as I always have.

  3. That sounds you just heard was Ronan smashing it out of the park

  4. Thanks, Ronan. On the spot, as always. Yes, media reports continue to be disheartening (as I just posted about the topic on T&S). Unwittingly, a number of our own contribute to it by well-meant initiatives. But I also agree with Naismith that there probably is more to the latest meltdown — too many anonymous voices that cannot be genuine and play a destructive game. But for the sadly genuine ones, yes, “Perhaps the “I am a Mormon” adverts should be removed from taxis and put up at church”.

  5. Given that it was a Facebook group I don’t think you can really accuse the organisers of artificially creating debate within it through fake voices, as facebook means that for the most part its real people and to use other fake profiles it involves a lot of work, that is not that easy on facebook in contrast to say blogger or wordpress. Yes, they could have done that but its more probable that they didn’t and we just have a bigger lunatic fringe then we realise

  6. I have often thought that the I am Mormon campaign was having just as much an impact, maybe even more so, on members than it was on non-Mormons. I admit I like seeing interesting, modern Mormons and some were down right cheerworthy (Celine Pelouse!)

  7. Let to Mormon conspiracy theories begin!

  8. Living in small town Mormon Corridor, I can state that the Mormon extreme fringe is, in fact, that big. And many of them are under the impression that all other good Mormons are just like they are. Is there a Mormon Ad showing a woman in pantsuits at church? Because that would be just awesome…

  9. Right on Ronan.

    And the idea that the lunatics are being artificially created by the organizers of this movement is assinine. People have received death threats. Are you really saying that they created artificial death threats in order to drum up publicity for their cause? Who do you think these people are?

  10. Naismith- I created a FaceBook account, because I wanted to be part of what I saw as a Ghandi like way to start conversations and peacefully let out voices be heard. I was invited to join All Enlisted, and have been witnessing and giving suggestions when I have them.

    I can tell you that All Enlisted is not responsible for the vitriol, not the threats of physical harm, and even death threats, which are the reason Facebook chose to remove the original event page. The people who made those threats have long-standing FB profiles, are members of the church, and their names and information have been turned over to the authorities. The BYU student who made the original death threat is being investigated by the police, the BYU ethics office, and members of All Enlisted who are members if law enforcement are going through all of the backups to the files, as of a few hours before FB pulled the page, and making sure their threats are reported to the authorities in the appropriate jurisdiction. Those are only the actual threats of violence or death. The hateful, disparaging, insensitive comments outweigh them by at least 50 to 1, and include calls for disfellowship, excommunication, public humiliation, and a call for any woman who wears pants to church to be denied the sacrament and/or kicked out of the church building. The comments made about what should be done to the husbands of women who wore pants were not any more charitable, and if temple recommends were pulled from everyone who didn’t force all pants wearing women to not enter the building, it is safe to say that congregations who have women who already wear pants regularly, would be completely wiped out from stake leaders down to deacons who might inadvertently pass the sacrament to the women, who suddenly could only be referred to in course and vulgar language.

    And those are the public comments. Private messages sent to organizers and people who had simply RSVP’d yes were generally more vulgar, more pointed in calling in to question personal righteousness, and more likely to threaten violence.

    I wish it was trumped up or a fringe element, but I can testify, that none of the radically nasty response was written by organizers trying to create a false conflict. Go to the comments sections on TBMS blogs that address this, it is easy to find lots of people, happy to sign their names with connections to their own blogs or website, who would agree that those who would even think about wearing pants to sacrament meeting, “should go start their own Godless church, since they are already not Mormon.”

  11. Several people have accurately brought up that they are not sure “what” wearing pants to church means. I don’t claim to speak for anyone other than myself, but I was asked to take what I understood, and write an explanation of why “I” was wearing pants, and what I wanted people to think or understand when they saw me. So far it has been well received by the All Enlisted community, but is not a formal statement at this point, since there is a recognition that everyone means something slightly different.

    http://www.poetrysansonions.com/2012/12/my-feminist-mormon-perspective-why-i.html?m=0

  12. #2 – Unfortunately, it’s unlikely that the threats came from sock puppets. I have found that if you scratch the surface and start getting to know more people in your ward to the point that they feel comfortable (those in leadership positions included) you will find a cesspool of homophobia and misogyny. Racism seems to be waning, at least where I live, but the use of slurs or tactless comments towards LBGTQ and women who don’t fit the mold is common. I’ve been on the receiving end of some of these myself. The time DH mentioned to our bishop that the term he used was a slur, the bishop said “well, at least I didn’t use the term [even worse slur].” Yikes.

    The only way I can deal with it is to keep many at arm’s length. The gospel is true, but the church environment right now is downright exclusive and hostile.

  13. I agree that there is no place for hated or unkindness. Regardless of one’s views, kindness and charity should permeate all discussions.

    That said, I think that there are some legitimate objections to turning our sacred meetings and ordinances, such as the sacrament, into protest forums. The organizers of this initiative crossed this line, in my opinion, and their effort became not one of raising awareness but of disruption of sacred ordinances.

    I think we need to be careful to not label any disagreement with the means of protest as hate-speech. All sides of the issue should probably calm down.

  14. Aaron,
    Don’t you mean “hit for six”?

    Thanks, all, for the comments. It’s totally unbelievable to me that many of the FB comments would be fake. The thing I am struggling with today is not whether they represent the “lunatic fringe” but whether this is actually the Mormon centre as it exists just under the surface. I want to believe it’s not and I’m pretty sure my ward is not full of such hidden venom, which offers the comforting truth that to be a Mormon need not mean one needs to be a Dolores Umbridge.

  15. another ldsbishop says:

    In the spirit of sharing a bit of hope and good news this time of year…

    I’m a bishop in the Northeast US, and I had never really thought about the pants thing until I started reading the related media stories and blog posts. Once I started thinking about it, I realized that we do have several women who wear pants to church every week. I’m not sure anyone has ever really noticed, or if they have, they’ve kept it to themselves. This is simply not an issue. I attribute this to having a congregation full of converts and thus a pretty weak connection to Wasatch Front culture.

  16. This has gone from silly to sad to terribly troubling in just 72 hours. Death threats? This Taliban-like portion of our church needs to be cut off at the knees.

  17. Unknown,

    Whatever the motivations of the organisers, an individual can have motivations that need not be allied to some kind of “protest”. If I were a woman I would wear pants on Sunday not as a protest but as a sign of solidarity with those women whose otherwise modest dress is taken as some form of satanic rebellion against God, an attitude which is really a small symptom of a wider misogyny. And if it is intended to be a “protest” by some, I wonder where and how else you would want them to make their statement? If it grates that women are subjected to unnecessary and sexist clothing mores on Sundays, what on earth would be the point of wearing pants to Family Home Evening as a protest? So, for me it’s not a protest, but if it is, it’s up to you to suggest better ways of going about it because as it stands, this is about as benign as you can get.

  18. RJH-

    Initial reports and new articles about the event couched it as a gentle form of subversion, demonstration and/or protest.

    Turning the time in which our ordinances are performed into a time for demonstrations indicates to many a lack of respect for the sacred nature of the ordinances. You can’t argue that sacrament meeting has long been said by the brethren to be one of the most sacred meetings of the church. Turning that occasion into a time to protest strikes many as inappropriate. (To be clear, I am not saying that wearing pants is inappropriate, but rather chosing to protest during the sacrament is.)

    By your logic, it seems you would support benign forms of protest during temple ordinances. Is that true? Is there any occasion in the church that would be imune from peaceful forms of protest?

    I think there are a variety of times that LDS members gather in which ordinances are not performed where a similar protest could be made. What about General Conference and Stake Conferences, for example? 10,000 people showed up for the General Relief society meeting in the Conference Center in pants.

    Simply put, there were other ways for the organizers to make their point without interferring with what many members consider to be some of the most sacred demonstrations of their faith.

  19. Unknown (#18)
    How do you differentiate between the women wearing pants as a form of protest and those who wear pants to church occasionally anyway? You can’t. It’s not as if they’ll be holding banners and chanting.

  20. @15, we have several recent converts and reactivated sisters who wear pants in our Philadelphia area ward. I really hope the bluenoses who are aware of and oppose the campaign don’t unfairly lump these sisters into what they consider a counter-culture protest (the pants wearing sisters may be aware and want to participate-I don’t know them well enough) and then treat them harshly. One of the bluenoses is our RS president who has already opined that sandals in church are a form of disrespect. She’s a good, dedicated person if a bit confused between culture and the gospel. I would hate for anyone, like our recent converts and reactivated sisters, to become collateral damage in this internicene Mormon culture war between the dead-enders and normal Mormons. Our ward would be a lot poorer if any of our members stopped coming including, reluctantly so, the uber-orthodox culture warriors who militantly patrol the boundaries of their self imposed standards. After all, on our best days we only get barely 30% of our people out anyway. We need to find ways to make our Church more welcoming and inclusive and pants are a silly, arbitrary line to draw for entrance to our community.

    That said, I have two teenage daughters and I may use my role as preisthood holder/presiderer and require them to wear pants this Sunday. If I’m feeling really powerful with my priesthood and role as presiderer I may ask/beg my wife to also participate.

  21. I am truly curious how you see wearing dress pants as creating a protest forum. There has been no suggestion that anyone change their behavior in sacrament meeting, or that anything should be handled differently, except what I wan gets dressed in. The was a conscious choice to NOT choose a fast Sunday, or a fifth forum Sunday. All of the “solidarity” suggestions for men would allow any priesthood holder to still perform every function on the priesthood that can be done outside the temple. (I guess if a man chose to wear a purple dress shirt, in a ward that required white shirts and ties to pass or bless the sacrament, that might stop him from participating, but I haven’t heard anyone suggest that someone who has a calling or responsibility should wear anything that would prevent them from fulfilling that calling.)

    Indeed, as organizers have talked about what to consider as part of the suggested options, there has been a focus on not asking men to wear kilts, (although a few have said they intend to anyway) or for anyone to have any type of cross-dressing element to the day. I don’t see women wearing pants to be like men, but to peacefully take a social norm, which has been allowed for over 40 years, and start to claim the right that has been there, and to do it in a way that is a step forward for women’s voices, without taking anything away from the men in the church.

    I joined because it is a way to say, I am here and I want to be heard, but in the Ghandian way of trying to create more for everyone, instead of simply taking from one group and giving to the other. :-)

  22. >That said, I have two teenage daughters and I may use my role as preisthood holder/presiderer and require them to wear pants this Sunday

    Funny.

    Unknown,
    If you think that Mormon women would not also be sneered at and called to repentance for wearing pants to stake conference then you are in a dream world. Nothing would satisfy you, so stop being disingenuous. As for the temple, there is quite obviously a massive liminal gap between the temple and sacrament meeting, where noise, snoring, and iPad reading are the norm.

  23. You can’t argue that sacrament meeting has long been said by the brethren to be one of the most sacred meetings of the church.

    One also can’t argue that the Mormon sacrament meeting continues to be treated by the membership as an essentially informal affair; hence the need for the repeated admonitions, I suppose.

  24. The word protest is a misnomer, IMO. To me, this is akin to wearing a pink ribbon for breast cancer awareness. It just says to other women: “All are welcome at church, and Sunday dress includes your ‘best’ whatever that is.” And I normally never wear pants to church, but I will do so this week after seeing the hatred spewed at my sisters, mostly by other women in the church. I too see women at church in pants every week. I see men in shorts. I saw a guy in a swim suit one week. Nobody will care. The point is nobody should care. But apparently a bunch of people do care and are under the mistaken impression that the church has outlawed pants. Challenging the culture is healthy. I don’t think it will be a distraction, but we’ll see.

  25. Can I just give some perspective from someone who is brand new to this and hasn’t read anything at all about it other than some headlines and the original post?

    WHY?

    What are the organizers hoping to accomplish? You said the church is being embarrassed by this and made to look very backwards. Is that an unfortunate side effect or is that the point?

    If a woman wants to wear a pant suit to church, why doesn’t she just do it and not have to be making a statement about something while she’s doing it? Or is THAT the point?

    Or is this just like the proverbial argument between husband and wife about which way the toilet paper roll should go, but it’s actually not about the toilet paper roll, it’s about who feels loved and who feels in charge?

    Seriously, I haven’t studied up on this. What’s this all about, anyway? I’m too lazy to look it up.

  26. Not having a purple shirt, I will wear a bolo tie. To me this has become an issue of protection for my friends, against whom death threats have been made. “First they came for the Jews,” and all that.

  27. Kevin Barney says:

    WaMo no. 16, a long, long time ago there was a comic in the Daily Universe at BYU, featuring the Ayatollah Khomeini. He’s holding up a sign that says something like “Death to those who cut across the grass [or don't stop for the National Anthem, or some other BYU bugaboo, I don't remember exactly].” And there are all sorts of BYU students supporting him holding signs like “Ayatollah, he’s our man!” It was a really funny comic, because it was so painfully true. Your comment reminded me of that.

  28. RJH – Why the acrimony? I listed several options that would satisfy me. I did not say that not all would be satisfied by a protest in a different forum. I’m sure that they wouldn’t. I did say, however, that a protest in a different forum would make some of those who view sacrament meeting as a sacred, covenantal occasion less resistent to this proposed initiative. I also fail to see a distinction between the temple ordinances, where people sit in a room and snore and make noise as well. (At least in New York they do.) In the minds of many, the fact that others fail to respect the sacrament in other ways does not justify failing to respect it in additional ways.

    My only point is that if the goal of the organizers of this protest was to build sympathy to their cause, their insenstitivy to the forum of their demonstration, i.e. the occasion of the performance of ordinances, may have turned-off those that might otherwise be sympathetic. If the goal of the organizers of this initiative was to simply make a stir, they have done so. Of course, no matter what they do, some will be resistant.

  29. “Given that it was a Facebook group I don’t think you can really accuse the organisers of artificially creating debate…”

    I am not accusing anyone of anything. I realize that everyone is a bit testy and hypersensitive right now. But I am only asking the question. That is all. It’s a valid question, since that kind of thing happens. I am sure that some folks called it “assisine” when questions were first raised about Andrew Wakefield’s data on immunizations and autism.

    “Astroturfing” is the process of artificially creating a supposedly grassroots movement. Yes, there were negative reactions. But it is entirely possibly that that the apparent huge magnitude of the response may be partly due to a smaller number of people commenting under various online personas, and enlisting their friends And if some joined just to support this, how many joined just to oppose? Why should those comments not be viewed with the same skepticism that we view online reviews? (You know the owner’s mother wrote that first 5-star gushing one, right?)

    I don’t condone death threats or any harm to anyone who is exercising their legal rights. But it is a reality of being a public figure today, and even for the suffragists in the early 1900s. Most of the political organizers that I work with would say that it is a sign they are doing their job.

  30. their insenstitivy to the forum of their demonstration, i.e. the occasion of the performance of ordinances, may have turned-off those that might otherwise be sympathetic.

    On the other hand, someone not at all inclined to be sympathetic to these kinds of things, as a rule — someone like, oh, ME, for instance — has been swayed to sympathy not for what I suspect was the original motivation for this “event,” but by the absolute naked hatred that has been so widely expressed, and the belligerent tone of, oh, say, YOU, to participate. The only pair of paints/slacks/trousers I own is an old pair of pajamas, so I’ll have to participate by wearing my brightest purple skirt suit. It won’t be a coincidence.

  31. Ardis- I agree that the reaction to the initial event has done much to engender sympathy. But, I take the organizers at their word that it was not their intent to create this type of negative, vitrolic firestorm. It that was their actual objective, then they have succeeded marvelously. I still think, however, that many in the Church will be more inclined to support the position of these women, if it doesn’t look like they are being disrespectul to foundational doctrinal principles like the ordinance of the sacrament. Of course, there will always be those that don’t.

  32. Mark Brown says:

    Unknown,

    In my ward, a young man routinely administers the sacrament while wearing a Bugs Bunny tie with his white shirt. Somehow I think the ordinance is strong enough to hold its own with a few women wearing pantsuits or slacks. If it disturbs your worship, I suggest you need to re-examine your own motives for being there.

  33. Mark Brown says:

    I will also suggest that there is more to the three-hour block that sacrament meeting. A woman I know who works in the nursery leaves the meeting early so she can change into trousers in time to greet her pupils. I think this is entirely unnecessary but it is because such crazy attitudes exist among us that she feels she needs to do this. If nothing else, have some respect for her.

  34. Personally, I think this is going to accomplish nothing but to make a bunch of women who already have about 1,000 times as many Sunday clothing options as men look like they’re whining because they don’t have 10,000 times as many. If a woman wants to wear pants, she should wear pants, but this whole attitude of “Hey! Let’s distract people from worshipping the Savior by staging a worthless protest in Sacrament Meeting!” that’s causing us all to look like idiots.

    http://ldsmag.com/article/1/11915

  35. In the minds of many, the fact that others fail to respect the sacrament in other ways does not justify failing to respect it in additional ways.

    In the minds of others, wearing pants does not fail to respect the sacrament in the first place, rendering the slippery slope towards the temple moot.

    Bugs Bunny tie

    A young man in our ward once blessed the sacrament wearing an Adidas track jacket! It was black, however, so from a country mile or so it looked a little like the business wear we Mormons view as Sabbath-approved.

  36. Mark – I never said wearing pants disturbed my worship. I said that because of the sacredness of the occasion, people may be put-off by turning it into a place to make a political or social statement regarding gender equality, and that this might contribute to some of the strong negative reactions.

    The fact that many do not treat the event as a sacred occasion by doing other things, such as wearing a bugs bunny tie, does not diminish my point. As evidenced by the numerous general conference talks on the subject over the years, I think that the church leadership would like all of us to “raise the bar” on our sacrament observance. The fact that such message is not being applied does not provide justification for the further lowering of it.

    Again, so that everyone can stop making personal comments about what they assume I do or do not believe, I don’t care if people wear pants. It will not ruin my day. I am simply suggesting that more sensitivity on the part of the organizers of this initiative to the sacred nature of the forum in which they have chosen to make their statement might have led to less contention and might have expanded the positive response among some, but not all, of the membership in general.

  37. Mark Brown says:

    And again, the lessening of the sacredness of church is entirely in the eye of the offended. Let’s remember, often our sermons in church are devoted to protests against the outside world. In this sense, the women who wear trousers can serve as reminders of the numerous places in the Book of Mormon where people were excluded or ridiculed because they didn’t show up with the right clothing. See, it’s easy to turn this around into a positive thing if we want to.

    The pickle-suckers need to get a grip. Maybe we need to pass out copies of elder Bednar’s talk at the door, just so people can act like grown-ups about this.

  38. A review of this thread reveals that I have now been accused of living in a “dream world,” “disinengenous,” “beligerent” and need to “re-examine my motives” in response to a fairly simply point regarding the forum in which the pants initiative organizers have chosen to operate and how they might have engendered more support.

    None of my comments have been rude or disrespectful. Indeed, I have acknowledged the utterly inappropriate behavior of many of those who have reacted wrongly to the event. I have also said, I personally don’t care whether pants are worn or not.

    If we want to criticize others for their overly harsh, inappropriate any in many cases evil responses, we should probably take more care in setting the proper example ourselves. It is no wonder that tensions escalate so quickly.

  39. Mark Brown says:

    The line about the sacredness of sacrament meeting is actually astonishing to me. We tolerate horrible music, talks-about-a-conference-talk, incredibly boring sermons, warnings from the pulpit about the New World Order, all with equanimity, but this ,THIS is beyond the pale. I am amazed at us, and not in a good way.

  40. Mark Brown says:

    Yes, Unknown, your helpful suggestion for how the organizers might have been more effective has been duly noted. It is still not clear whether you wish them success anyway, or whether you just wish they would shut up and go away. Which is it?

  41. It has been said before ad lib about other places in the world, but just to second Another LDSbishop (15): “I’m a bishop in the Northeast US, and I had never really thought about the pants thing … I attribute this to having a congregation full of converts and thus a pretty weak connection to Wasatch Front culture.”

    Same thing in Europe. Mormon women wear whatever they see fit for Sunday – and so do many men. It’s a non-issue. However, the temptation to Talibanization can be perceived when in small units some types of returned missionaries are called to leadership positions. Also second- or third-generation members, who were raised in strict families, sometimes show this tendency to control behavior of members. Signs of fanaticism we need to watch.

  42. If the response to “our” tone is so uniformly negative, perhaps “we” should examine how “our” words fail to communicate “our” intent. (Clue: This is a parody of your last comment, which, in switching from first person singular to first person plural, becomes passive aggressive no matter how free it otherwise may be from inflammatory vocabulary.)

  43. Ronan, thank you so much for this.

  44. Sharee Hughes says:

    I think the whole thing has been blown totally out of proportion. Wearing pants to Sacrament Meeting does not lessen the sacredness of the ordinance, but doing so as a protest is not really a good idea.

  45. Mark:

    I’m not sure that the oranganizers of this event have a uniform consensus as to what they are advocating for other than the nebulous idea of gender equality. So I can’t say that I completely support them in all of their objectives. From my perspective, however, I think there is much that could be done to foster gender equality in the church, and I would be happy to see steps taken to do so.

    In my own ward and stake I have sucessfully advocated for the equalizing of YM and YW budgets, inviting YW to missionary preparation events and having the YW take fun trips like our YM do. I recognize that these are very minor and simple things, and do not begin to address all concerns. But they have made a difference for the YW of our ward, and will make a difference for my daughters. Thus, I feel like I am generally supportive of many efforts to foster equality and have taken proactive steps to bring that about in my spheres of influence.

    Ardis:

    I am sorry that my word choice offended you. Such was not my intention. As noted above, I am in favor of efforts to increase equality in many areas. My experience has taught that there are better ways to do that than others. Turning sacrament meeting into a statement is not one of them in my mind, and may do more harm to the cause then good.

  46. Man, unknown is getting shredded. But I think that he raises an interesting point: maybe one of the reasons that people are responding so viscerally to this is because they are uncomfortable with people using sacrament meeting as a forum for demonstration. (although I don’t deny that a lot of people are mad because they are just plain crazy) I have no problem with women wearing pants, I have no problem with feminism or Mormon feminists, but I was a little uncomfortable when I heard about this happening in sacrament meeting.

    Pointing out that people snooze or angry birds their way through sacrament meeting doesn’t address my discomfort. I don’t think that my discomfort is because I am sexist or hate Mormon Feminism. I really think that it stems from my understanding of the purpose of church meetings and my discomfort at people using that time to try and call attention to political agendas (as important as those agendas might be). Just a thought.

  47. But when I hear the pants “issue” brought up, I always think of Sister Haney, a stately elderly sister of pioneer stock who never has a hair out of place, who visit taught someone who felt she couldn’t attend because she only had pants to wear. Sister Haney went home and changed into pants, then brought the sister to church. That’s Christianity, folks.

  48. Mark Brown says:

    47, lolz @ the objection to using a church meeting for a political agenda. Perhaps you have heard of this thing called proposition 8?

  49. Honestly, I have no idea how wearing pants to church got turned into “don’t hijack my sacrament meeting holiness.” Yes, sacrament meeting comes first in most wards, because it is first. It would be beyond silly to say there is nothing wrong with wearing pants to church, except during sacrament meeting.

    Sorry guys, I try to be patient, but I call BS! You would not suddenly all be sweetness and light about this is women were changing, en mass, in the bathrooms, from dresses to pants, between first and second hour. Only moms whose babies constantly are throwing up all over them bring a change of clothes because they expect the wear two outfits during a three hour block of meetings!

  50. Mark Brown –

    Where do you reside? Your sacrament meetings are very different than the ones I attend. There has not been one political comment in the sacrament meetings in my East Coast ward in the last year to my knowledge. We have plenty of other problems, but I do not recognize the types of meetings that you are describing. Perhaps, that is why it seems to me that many of my fellow congregants will abhor the idea of using sacrament meeting to make a social/politica/equality statement.

    Whether you think it should be so or not, the simply fact is that many do not feel that sacrament meeting is the place for such things. You are free to say that these people are wrong, disagree with their perspective and call them names. But, ignoring and belittling the sentiment is not going to win additional friends for the gender equality movement. Part of any advocacy or change initiative is speaking in a way in which your target audience will listen to and understand. In my mind, the organizers of this effort could have done a better job of that.

  51. Jeff (#34), the Meridian article you linked and more specifically the comments following it are what is making us look like idiots, not the desire of this group to wear pants as a sign of solidarity that, in the view of those doing this, women’s voices aren’t being appropriately heard or listened to in the Church due to generational attitudes about women’s abilities and roles that are culturally determined and that have nothing at all to do with the Gospel.

  52. Re Unknown (#51), Arizona and Texas are indeed a different world than the East Coast, even (especially?) among Mormons.

  53. John F. (#53) – Understood. But I don’t think the target audience for this initiative was limited to Arizona and Texas and Utah. And, I don’t think the negative response has been limited to those locations either.

  54. Well, I guess the wear-pants-to-church people proved they have a point. I have to admit that when I first heard about the “protest”, my reaction was pretty much the same as Unknown’s — good grief, don’t come to sacrament meeting with protest on the brain. But I also figured it was harmless enough and that when they showed up in pants and nobody really cared, hopefully that would be that. My only concern was that if the objective was to get attention, they’d have to up the ante next time until their protests turned confrontational. Shows they didn’t have to work all that hard. I’m honestly stunned at what I’ve read (and exceedingly glad I live in my ward). Apparently our inner vessel does indeed need cleaning and Sacrament meeting is where I go to get cleaned, so if it takes wearing pants to do it, I’m not opposed. However, I think everybody needs to check his or her outrage at the door.

  55. 1) A woman wearing pants to church is not sin or transgression in any way. Labeling it as such is the heart of the problem in our culture.

    2) I have said already that I also was/am concerned about the blurring of culture and doctrine in the eyes of those outside the Church as a result of this “event”. (and saying something that is a protest isn’t really a “protest” is silly – This is a protest in every sense of the word, and we shouldn’t run from that term.)

    3) I have no problem with protests that involved church meetings, if they are respectful and don’t cross important doctrinal lines. Thus, I have no problem with this protest, in theory.

    4) My concern about the culture/doctrine blurring has been FAR outweighed by my much deeper concern over the . . . abominable . . . reaction to it by so many members. Again, see #1 above.

    5) I now support this event primarily because I believe we can’t support the response to it, even indirectly or by omission.

  56. I was initially concerned about the appropriateness of staging a protest in Sacrament Meeting. I don’t, and didn’t, believe it was the right venue, even though I’m sympathetic to the organizer’s objectives. Thus, I was content to sit this one out.

    However, when I saw the vitriol, I knew I couldn’t leave my sisters out there alone. There are things more important than protocol and even the sanctity of an ordinance: and that is the protection of those who are threatened, the call to love our neighbor, and to stand with those who need comfort. I could not believe the viciousness of the abuse. I will be wearing pants to church on Sunday to let them know I love them. Even if I disagree with their choice in venue. For me, that is far, far, far, far, far more important, and will ultimately enhance the sanctity of the service.

  57. Everyone, there was just a mass shooting at an elementary school in Connecticut. Suddenly pants don’t seem so important. I doubt anyone will be thinking about this controversy this Sunday. I won’t. My thoughts and prayers will be with those kids and their families.

  58. Central Standard says:

    Further proof to me, as if I needed more, there is a great difference between the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the church…

  59. Dave K,

    Agreed. I find the whole thing ridiculous, both on the part of those who felt a protest or similar event was necessary and on the part of those who thought someone else’s expression of discomfort or concern worth an unkind word. This pales in comparison to this morning’s events.

  60. It’s fascinating to me, that on an internet forum where anonymity is acceptable and trolls are an occasional occurrence, that no one has stopped to consider the impact of the internet being used as the communication medium and what impact that has on how people respond. Yes on Facebook all of these people are using their own names (most likely) so anonymity disappears but that doesn’t change the behavior when you’re typing something to people you don’t really know from the seclusion of your desk or iPhone rather than saying these things directly to someone you know or have to face.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/30/opinion/30zhuo.html?_r=0

  61. I have a confession: I have spent my entire life in the Church. I grew up in Utah. Before this brouhaha I didn’t know that there was a norm anywhere in the church against women wearing pants. I honestly have no idea if I regularly have seen or not seen some in pants at Church. It has never occurred to me to notice. The idea that wearing pants could be construed as a gesture of apostasy or immodesty is genuinely bizarre to me. Who on earth are the people getting themselves into a lather over this to the point of making threats? They need to get a grip on themselves…

  62. I don’t really understand the vitrol over it. I’m in Texas and women are in pants every Sunday.

    I really don’t understand what this particular thing is for…

    I could get into wearing pants to support overcoming cultural norms that are harmful to women and not even supported by doctrine anyway.

    I could get into wearing pants to support those who have been hurt by gender inequality issues.

    Much of what I read also talks about solidarity with feminists…and there I have an issue. Do they want me? They haven’t in the past. I share many of their concerns,but have been told bluntly that 10 children is too many. I have questions about gay marriage…thus i’m not feminist enough. I believe in the church…and have chosen to shelve some questions, and that was also the wrong answer for mormon feminists.

    I detest the vitrol I’ve heard mention of against the protest.

    There will be casualities…those who always wear pants being mistaken for whatever it is the person assumes wearing pants means this sunday.

    IT’s not ghandian because it is SO unclear. there is no law against pants. and we’ve been told it’s not about the pants anyway.

  63. If there’s any disrespecting of sacrament meeting going on, I put it 100% on the arm-flappers, not on the pants-wearers. Before people started freaking out, this had the potential of being about as disruptive as “brown tie Sunday” or “Part-your-hair-on-the-left” Day” or “Wear-flat-heels-to-church Sunday.” As intrusive sacrament meeting demonstrations go, It didn’t even rise to the level of the peaceful “Fast-for-Mitt-Romney Day” that got spontaneously organized a couple months back. But some people just can’t stand to watch someone else enjoy their hot Postum without succumbing to the urge to step in and whip the beverage into a froth.

  64. Tired but still kicking says:

    I am an LDS woman living in Virginia. I have been wearing slacks to church for over a year now, in addition to dresses and skirts. I am one of the few women in my ward who does, but no one (male and female leadership, other Relief Society sisters, priesthood men, etc) bats an eye.

    I come to church in my Sunday best with my focus on God. And that is all He requires of me.

    I had not planned to participate in this event. I wore pants last week, and I have a new dress I was excited to wear this week (silly, I know, and not as God-centered as it should be, but I am in the middle of a stressful event, so I needed something to look forward to). I will wear pants this Sunday, however, because I cannot believe that the people participating in this group have been so mistreated.

    In fact, I will probably wear pants for the next month or so. (I will be traveling for the holidays, and you know what? Pants travel better than dresses anyway.) I will not be doing this to make a scene or flaunt my protesting spirit, but to show that this is not an issue and that I, an imperfect-but-doing-my-best woman, can worship God in any number of respectful outfits.

    (Also, I am an umpteenth generation LDS person [my grandmother is very proud of "our Nauvoo heritage." I care more about how my actions improve the present world. But I digress]. Perhaps closed-mindedness correlates with number of ancestors and/or years in the church, but I think it it is dangerous to say “it’s those pioneer-heritage members who are the problem.” Radicalism comes from all shapes, sizes, history, and backgrounds)

  65. Unknown said: “I think we need to be careful to not label any disagreement with the means of protest as hate-speech.”

    For what it’s worth, I wrote an early-in-the-disscussion comment that appeared on the FMH blog in which I disagreed with the means of protest. Nobody labeled it hate speech, and in fact I received at least two responses which were respectful of and took into account my concerns (although they didn’t change my mind). In most of the bloggernacle, the discussion has been quite civil, even where there’s disagreement.

    So I think it’s unfair to suggest that “any disagreement” has been criticized as hate speech. But what appeared time and time again on the Facebook page was indeed hate speech, mostly from traditionalist (for lack of a better word) members of the church using their real names (or so their Facebook profiles would suggest). As someone who loves the church, flaws and all, I found their behavior embarrassing at best, and it made me very sad to see this kind of vitriol being uttered in the name of Christ.

  66. Hmmm. I haven’t followed the Facebook rantings. But presuming these are real members of the church making real threats and/or using inappropriate language, should it subject that person to church discipline? Should there be at least a meeting with the Bishop/Stake President admonishing those ranting members to cease and desist, apologize, and so forth? By and among members of the church, do we have unfettered freedom of speech?

  67. Thanks for the thoughtful comments, all. Given that the shooting was mentioned a while back, I think it’s time to close up shop for now.

  68. I think the pants day should now become a regular event and that purple be worn every week.

  69. Comments are back on.

  70. I am wondering how many women wore pants today in protest? 500? How big a deal is this really?

  71. If it weren’t a big deal, it wouldn’t have triggered the backlash it did. All the more if the backlash diminished the numbers.

  72. I didn’t see any women in pants in my ward, though it is a pretty conservative ward, so i’m not surprised. I wore a purple tie in support of the cause but no one seemed to notice. I hope others had good experiences with it but it seemed not to make a ripple in my area.

  73. I actually thought about checking to see who was wearing pants, but then I realized I didn’t want to look and end up making assumptions about people based on appearance – which would have been an ironic result.

  74. I live in a small Arizona town. One of the Baptist Church’s Pastor’s has a weekly column in the local paper and I think he heard of the LDS “women wear pants to Church” because his column addressed how men and women should dress for Church AND every other day. He used Bible verses to support what he wrote. (He frequently attacks the LDS Church in his column, and once the Muslims)

  75. I think its a mistake to think that any online brouhaha is representative of the general population or of the general population of the church. I’ve come to find that people tend to overgeneralize all over the place. If one person makes an insensitive comment to them in church then they overgeneralize in their mind that everyone feels the same way. Unfortunately its a programming bug of the brain to do so, but its good to be aware when we are doing it. Then we can compensate and ask ourselves the tough questions about how many people are really involved in this. I bet that there were hardly anybody in my ward was aware of the thing, and I bet that even fewer even cared about it in the least bit.

    Whenever I come to online blogs such as this I think about this. I used to overgeneralize that opinions expressed were far more representative then they actually are. What I find is a small number of vocal people are the ones expressing the majority of opinions and that most people don’t feel quite as strongly about most of the things discussed.

  76. Come on Ray, you didn’t look? I call BS, you know you looked. Own up to it brother, it’s really going to be ok.

  77. I could relate to Ray’s 74. I did look, and found that I was paying more attention to what people were wearing than I ever had in the past. Is that a good thing, to have that sense heightened? It did not make me feel comfortable. Hopefully next week I will get back to normal of not worrying about what anyone else wears.

  78. >62

    CARL: Do I know you?

    GEORGE: Yeah, sure, we met at Jerry Seinfeld’s apartment. When you fumigated for fleas over there.

    CARL: Seinfeld… Oh yeah, funny white guy, right?

    GEORGE: Jerry? Yes, I suppose he is white. You know, I never really thought about it. I don’t see people in terms of color.

  79. #79: Hilarious. We should all be sartorially-blind.

  80. #77 – As I said, brother, it was an intentional choice when I realized I was planning on looking.

    Having said that, thanks for the laugh. I needed it tonight.

  81. Yes Virginia, even Mormon liberals have a persecution complex.

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