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Nine Moons » Blog Archive : Wear Pants To Church Day » Wear Pants To Church Day

Wear Pants To Church Day

MCQ - December 12, 2012

A group is asking Mormon women to wear pants to church this Sunday as a sign of support for gender equity. I support the idea of gender equity and I am supportive of this effort, though I don’t know anything about the group that is behind it. It’s causing an uproar of sorts, and some backlash, even though the Church has stated that it does not officially take any position on the question of whether women should wear dresses or pants to church meetings:

“Generally church members are encouraged to wear their best clothing as a sign of respect for the Savior, but we don’t counsel people beyond that.”

-Scott Trotter, Church Spokesman

This is one of those times that the backlash has become a bigger story than the original issue. Apparently, those who are opposed to women wearing pants to church (and apparently there are quite a few people in this category) are escalating the rhetoric beyond any reasonable level. I’m not sure why this would be a hot-button issue for people.

If you are a woman, will you wear pants? Please let me know your thoughts on this issue and if you have an explanation for why some people seem to have such a problem with this.


  1. The discussions (read: train wreck) are the predictable result of the clash between Mormon fundamentalism and feminism.

    Comment by Trevor — December 12, 2012 @ 5:42 pm

  2. Maybe, Trevor, but it seems more than that. The people who are protesting against this rather mild feminist symbolic gesture are not really fundies in the traditional sense. They are mostly regular LDS folks from what I can tell, but for some reason, the idea of some women wearing pants to church is treading on something sacred for them. Seems like an ovrreaction to say the least.

    Comment by MCQ — December 12, 2012 @ 6:06 pm

  3. Personally I’m offended as a feminist that this group would choose the wearing of pants as their symbol of support for gender equality. Identifying feminism by what women wear plays into old tired stereotypes that are frankly an insult.

    Comment by Jacob J — December 12, 2012 @ 6:09 pm

  4. The anti-pant-wearers’ rhetoric has become really really overblown. Although in this day of parody sites and troll profiles, it is sometimes hard to tell a genuine Facebook comment, this one stood out in my reading today and the person behind it seemed pretty legit:

    These ladies you are talking about need to pipe down and wear a dress. The question was never whether or not they were equal to the men, but whether or not they showed reverence. In our culture, women show respect and reverence at church by wearing a dress. In other cultures, they show respect by covering their faces, hair and bodies! Which would we prefer, huh? A lady came into our church in slacks and I thought it was silly. I don’t understand LDS feminists. They must not attend the temple often, where women perform the same priesthood ordinances as men—while wearing a dress. There is nothing diminishing to one’s value in society about wearing a dress. Just the opposite! Dresses are beautiful and special if you find the right one. Actually, I prefer skirts and blouses but whatever. How’d you like to be a man and all wear the same uniform, white shirt and tie business? Blheck. Womens studies was the LAMEST class I ever took. Full of a bunch of insecure women writers who need to get a major CLUE!

    There just seems so much wrong with this comment that it’s hard to even start. Ironic the uncritical mentioning of covering faces then the temple in the next sentence and also the assertion of a cultural norm (women wear dresses in “our” culture to show respect) contrasted with the “official” word you reference above, economic elitism, etc.

    I think Jacob makes a good point about the potential for reducing this complex debate to a point of superficial fashion. That said, though lamentable, I think the sharpness of the debate is ultimately a positive outcome. If for nothing else because it will raise questions about the assumptions behind conservative reactions to challenges to perceived cultural norms within Mormonism.

    Comment by jtz — December 12, 2012 @ 6:50 pm

  5. Well, exactly, jtz. It seems to me that this whole symbolic gesture has already served its purpose by flushing the weirdos out of the shrubbery and getting them to own up to their crazy-ass ideas in public. The comment you quoted is a good example. If that’s a real person then it’s a good thing we know that there are people out there who actually feel that way, the better to avoid them.

    Comment by MCQ — December 12, 2012 @ 11:04 pm

  6. It was quite something how half a dozen Mormon web sites fired off posts yesterday lamenting the over-reaction of their backward fellow saints. Even Nine Moons found it important enough to devote its twelth post of 2012 to the topic.

    Comment by John Mansfield — December 13, 2012 @ 5:12 am

  7. http://heidisommerfeldstevenson.blogspot.com/2012/12/wearing-pants-really.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+Delicious%2Fmillennialstar+%28mstar-worth-reading%29

    “I find it highly disturbing that during a month when we should be focusing on the birth of the Savior and all the wonderful things He has done for us, there are those who think that it is more important to bring division and politics into our Sunday worship, taking the focus off of Him and putting it onto themselves.”

    Comment by Mystery — December 13, 2012 @ 10:08 am

  8. John, I’m glad that you’re counting our posts, but I’m not sure what the number has to do with anything. Both you and Heidi seem to be saying that this issue isn’t important enough to comment on. I disagree.

    This group is asking for support for its cause and, as a show of that support, asking women to wear pants to church. You may not agree with its cause, and that’s fine. But to villify them and compare their actions to satan’s, as Heidi is doing, seems strange.

    I wouldn’t necessarily say that shows they are “backward.” But it is a problem that we can’t engage in this dialogue without someone playing the satan card.

    Comment by MCQ — December 13, 2012 @ 11:47 am

  9. Check out Sister Uchtdorf at the next General Conference. She is a member of the Traveling Pantsuit club. This is much ado about nothing. Most folks in most LDS congregations, and especially those of us out in the “mission field,” really don’t care what folks wear to church, regardless of sex. Dress clean, be nice, bring the Spirit, seek the Spirit. That is all anyone can ask of those who attend three hours of meetings on Sundays.

    Comment by Immman — December 13, 2012 @ 2:47 pm

  10. I agree Immman, but you know that this is not really about wearing pants, right?

    Comment by MCQ — December 13, 2012 @ 4:29 pm

  11. I posted this over at MM, so I’ll post it here too:

    Here are some words which to me, seem to apply forcefully to this situation, and the attitude of people who are saying such irrational things to try to stop this gesture in support of gender equality:

    Such an attitude stems from a tragic misconception of time, from the strangely irrational notion that there is something in the very flow of time that will inevitably cure all ills. Actually, time itself is neutral; it can be used either destructively or constructively. More and more I feel that the people of ill will have used time much more effectively than have the people of good will. We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the hateful words and actions of the bad people but for the appalling silence of the good people. Human progress never rolls in on wheels of inevitability; it comes through the tireless efforts of men and women willing to be co-workers with God, and without this hard work, time itself becomes an ally of the forces of social stagnation. We must use time creatively, in the knowledge that the time is always ripe to do right.

    Those who are against this gesture should ask themselves what they are standing against, and whether there would have been any change in 1978 if it had not been for the tireless efforts of men and women (incuding, but not limited to the prophet) who were willing to be co-workers with God in changing people’s minds (including but not limited to the prophet’s) so that the change could happen.

    Comment by MCQ — December 13, 2012 @ 11:31 pm

  12. My best guess at the reason some people have such a HUGE problem with such a little thing as a relative handful of ladies wearing pants to Church is this: you are criticizing their Church. This is an entity that means so much to them that ANY hint that someone somewhere somehow in the Church was wrong about something is too painful. They just want so darn much for the Church to be perfect.

    Like I said, that is a guess. I don’t get it, myself.

    Comment by ESO — December 14, 2012 @ 10:11 am

  13. If it were really that simple, or if that in any way justified the reactions of the worst offenders, then that would make sense.

    Comment by MCQ — December 14, 2012 @ 5:06 pm

  14. I wonder if the word has gotten out to church goers in Connecticut? The Chapels should be full today.

    Comment by Jack — December 16, 2012 @ 10:49 am

  15. Except for a very small circle of people (us included, I guess), most church members didn’t even hear about this. And most of the ones who did, that I know, don’t care. We all have so much more to worry about than what other people wear to church. Like what we wear to church. And how cute we look…..etc. etc. But that’s a girl thing.

    Comment by annegb — January 12, 2013 @ 3:17 pm

  16. A woman and her daughter wore pants to church this Sunday. Actually, her daughter wore levis. I was sitting by them, so I noticed, although I might have noticed the levis anyway. Anyway, I didn’t quite know how to bring it up, so I asked “are you guys bloggers?” They laughed and the girl said “what’s a blogger?” She said her mom doesn’t let her use the internet much. Another woman wore pants, too, so that’s three. Nobody seemed uncomfortable, including the pants wearing trio. Like I said, I see women wearing pants fairly regularly in our meetings (I sit on the stand, as a chorister, most of the time.) I think Silver Rain’s analysis of the pants thing was spot on and given with an inspired kindly tone. I’d link it but for some reason my computer freezes every time I go to her site.

    Comment by annegb — January 14, 2013 @ 1:00 pm

  17. What I meant by “bringing it up” was the FMH movement. I didn’t know how to tactfully say “hey, I see you’re wearing pants. We probably know some of the same people.” So I did it awkwardly and they had no idea what I was talking about. It was all good.

    Comment by annegb — January 14, 2013 @ 5:09 pm

  18. What was SilverRain’s take on it?

    Of the people I spoke to who participated in the pants movement, none were bloggers and none were actually in favor of women wearing pants to church. They simply wanted to support the idea of more equality for women.

    I think the movement was just wearing pants to show solidarity that one day. It isn’t an ongoing thing. So if you see a woman in pants at church, it’s most likely that they know nothing about the movement and just like wearing pants.

    I wore a purple tie on the pants-wearing sunday, not because I like purple. Just to show solidarity. I may never wear that tie again, but I was glad to participate in the movement.

    Comment by MCQ — January 16, 2013 @ 10:03 pm

  19. Go to her blog; she wrote about it quite eloquently. I can’t link to it. Something on my pc.

    Comment by annegb — January 17, 2013 @ 1:44 pm

  20. http://rainscamedown.blogspot.com/2012/12/dramatic-gestures-to-inspire-change.html

    Try this; my computer has some setting that is causing problems for me with blogspot.

    Comment by annegb — January 17, 2013 @ 1:52 pm

  21. No, annegb, I don’t think she gets it at all.

    Comment by MCQ — January 20, 2013 @ 11:32 pm

  22. Then I don’t, either, mcq. What does “getting it” mean? Agreement? How is she off?

    Comment by annegb — February 18, 2013 @ 11:55 am

  23. It’s a very whiny take for one thing, and then there’s this paragraph:

    But let’s get real, folks. The pants-wearing gesture is not designed only to show support to those who feel marginalized in the Church or to demonstrate one’s agreement with equal pay. Were that the case, it could have been anything from just wearing purple, to encouraging people to go up and honestly bear testimony about their difficult experiences in the Church and how that has helped them grow closer to their Savior and reach out to others. But, no, the pants thing was specifically chosen in order to irritate people, to “shake them up.” I just don’t find that tactic very useful for the stated purpose, or for healing

    That’s the screwiest thing that’s been written about the movement yet.

    First of all: equal pay? No one was demonstrating for equal pay. We don’t get paid in church. This is about church issues. Not equal pay. If you want to talk about equal pay you don’t do it in church, you do it at the NYSE or on the steps of the capitol. I can’t believe she even said that.

    Second: I think she is waaay over dramatizing others’ motives and the effect of wearing pants. Why should it irritate people or shake them up for women to wear pants. Some women already wear pants without any fuss being made, so why would these women wearing pants be so irritating and shake people up? That’s just a swing and a miss on her part, that whole paragraph.

    Comment by MCQ — February 21, 2013 @ 1:28 am

  24. See, I think everything she says makes perfect sense. I guess you don’t get it.

    Comment by annegb — February 26, 2013 @ 9:05 am

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