**As always thanks for allowing occasional advertisements so that I can rake in my millions.
**This is a post heavy in Mormon speak and spurred by Wear Pants To Church Day which was started on a FB page here. You can also read other opinions about it here and here. Or just google Pants To Church...this was national news people!
Also, here is updated information on how to help the residents of Newtown, including addresses where you can send letters of support and encouragement. Info here.
When pressed to know if I was wearing pants, this was my reply: Well I started this gram with the intent to post what I was wearing. Then I decided this was becoming a 'stars upon thars' thing and I didn't want to contribute to any divisiveness which is why I'm not saying what I wore...at least not here. Perhaps a blog post about it...But honestly it all feel so insignificant to me in the aftermath of Newtown.
So here you have it: I wore a skirt. And although it's with some hesitation I throw my hat into the ring, there are three main reasons I did so. If you think I'm here to scold you pant wearers...well please read to the end.
1. I personally have not and do not feel as though I'm unequal to or less than the brethren in the church. I do not recall ever being treated as 'less than' and more importantly I do not recall ever feeling 'less than.'
Years ago I was a single gal, with a college degree working in the corporate world. I had a great job and genuinely loved my coworkers and the company culture as a whole. I was one of two women in my department, and we were good friends. We were also friends with the other guys, including our boss. The company heads were also good guys. In fact, most of them I would say were great men. Between my boss, the CEO and additional VP's I was surrounded by guys I could trust and even ask advice from on a personal level...sometimes a really personal level. My work was respected and I was respected. The environment was professional yet fun. It was without a doubt the best working environment I was ever lucky enough to be a part of.
That being said, I don't remember the circumstances, but I do remember the day I asked my boss, "Is this because I'm a girl?" Whatever it was, it wasn't the only time I felt this way. Left out of professional conversations I should have been in on, or even activities/events I should have been a part of because I was a girl. A woman. My boss looked at me incredulously and said, "What? No!" But I knew he was wrong and I knew he didn't get it.
As I look back at my lifelong membership in the LDS church, I can't ever think of a time I felt the way I occasionally felt in my 4 short years at that wonderful, yet still flawed, company. (Ironically, most of those men I spoke about above were LDS). Certainly there have been times I didn't agree with opinions being touted as 'doctrine' or uncomfortable stories and experiences I couldn't remotely relate to. There have even been leaders that have taught things I felt were actually not in line with church doctrine or Christlike teachings. I chalked those up to shortcomings of individual members, and not short comings of The Church on the whole. (Do I capitalize that?) I have been in plenty of priesthood led meetings over the years and can't recall a single time I felt my voice was diminished, silenced or scoffed at because I was a woman. And I have led or been a part of many meetings where a man's presence was not needed (I say that because one article claims women can't hold a church meeting without a man present. Not true). I have however often heard society telling me I should feel like a second class citizen in regards to my standing in the church. The misrepresentations of our faith, council and doctrine has never really bothered me though. I come from a family of divorce and my mother worked throughout my entire childhood. In many ways our family didn't fit the perfect Mormon family mold. To be honest, I felt more discrimination on that front than on any issues of female equality.
All this being said...I know this is not every woman's experience and that is not to be diminished. But this was my experience, and it is not to be diminished either.
2. I didn't understand the goal and purpose that wearing pants would accomplish.
I believe in gender equality, but I'm not sure I see it as these sisters do. I could not for the life of me grasp what this movement was trying to accomplish. "We do not seek to eradicate the differences between women and men, but we do want the LDS church and its members to acknowledge the similarities. We believe that much of the cultural, structural and even doctrinal inequality that persists in the LDS church today stems from the church's reliance on--and enforcement of--rigid gender roles that bear no relationship to reality." Which inequalities? What rigid gender roles are they talking about? The Priesthood, women staying home to raise children? Women who wear pants to church? Which ones do they think are doctrinal vs. cultural? I might agree or I might really disagree depending on what exactly they're talking about.
The thing is we've lived in lots of wards where women and girls wear pants all the time to church and I don't think anyone has batted an eye. And I don't mean nice suits and dress pants, many times we're talking jeans, t-shirts and high-tops. And no one cared! We were just glad they were there! And I would assume they hadn't been looked down upon or treated with disrespect because these were members who came back week after week. So perhaps this was a problem specific to certain Mormon concentrated areas? I don't know...but to me the fact that we can wear pants to church and that I often see women who do wear pants to church--repeatedly!--made it a little null and void to me.
Not to mention the additional press that seemed to fan the flames of confusion? Why are women wearing pants? Equal rights? It's not about the pants? What?
3. What was perhaps my biggest concern was I found the method to be encouraging divisiveness, rather than unity, pitting sister against sister, the antithesis of Christlike behavior.
The very nature of this Wear-Pants-to-Church-on-Sunday was one of an outward display of opinion which immediately invoked comparison, analysis and misjudgment. Perhaps you're saying, Yes! That's exactly why we needed to wear pants so we can stop doing this to each other! But in my opinion there are other ways to go about accomplishing this task without setting us up to very directly and visually choose sides. Perhaps a call for a church-wide fast. Sunday morning as I was about to post a picture on instagram of me wearing a skirt I stopped and realized posting a picture of myself in a skirt with my 'holier than thou reason' was exactly why I didn't want to participate in the first place! I had been checking the different posts on instagram and seeing who was wearing a skirt and who was wearing pants, with comments along the "You go girl!" line and the other extreme of shaming each other and proverbially shaking our heads. Church is a time to worship together as saints, renew our covenants and gain insight through lessons and listening to the spirit. I worried that far too many woman were going to be distracted with who was wearing what and what statement exactly was she making. Was this Sister So and So's first time wearing pants? I'm surprised Sister Such and Such is wearing a skirt...maybe she just didn't hear about it. Yeah Sister Whatsherbucket's wearing pants! Holla! I kept coming back to this idea: One of my favorite quotes from CS Lewis says, "Aim at heaven and you get earth thrown in. Aim at earth and you get neither." For me, this was an 'aim at earth' idea.
HOWEVER, I have to say, as I've continued to contemplate this tonight and writing this post in my head, I've also had a new idea. For me, Wearing-Pants-to-Church just didn't sit well and I stuck with my skirt. Yet, for others they feel strongly that pants were the way to go and felt validation from God in doing so. How could we both feel so right about our decisions? Would God give contradictory feelings and ultimately contradictory guidance for two different people? Can it be possible? If it gets them to the same conclusion, the same greater goal, I believe He will. For me, wearing a skirt kept me focused on the sacrament and unity. But perhaps for others they felt accepted and loved while wearing pants for the first time in a long time. The Lord has told some people to fight during wartime while urging others to lay down their weapons of war. (There's a very good chance I have some serious faulty logic in this comparison). Ultimately He wants us to come unto Christ, in pants, skirts or jeans and high-tops.
Though I only think this is only possible through humility and love, sometimes a different means can get us to the same end. Believe me I had no intention of wrapping this up in a tidy "see we're both right!" sorta of way. In my opinion the method was still not the way I would have gone, but ultimately our choice in how we acted and reacted was probably more telling than anything else.