Sunday, December 15, 2013

Why I Wore Pants

I wore pants to church today.  I did not participate in the pants event last year, the stated purpose last year was "to bring attention to gender inequality".  This year the purpose is to "celebrate the inclusiveness of the Gospel" and I decided to this year.  I cannot control what other people think about me, or why they assume I do the things I do -- that is out of my control.  But since I did receive a question about my motivations today, I thought I would share.

(I saw someone else share their reasons this way online so I wanted to borrow it)  Here are NOT reasons that I wore pants. 
  1. Because I think women should be ordained to the priesthood.  No, I do not believe this.  I do believe women already exercise Melchezidek priesthood authority in our temples, which proves that priesthood is not gender exclusive.  I also believe there is more to be revealed regarding women and the priesthood, and how the priesthood functions in the next life.  But I do not support the Ordain Women movement.  There may be women who believe this that are wearing pants, I am not one of them.
  2. Because I think there are no innate differences between men and women.  No, I believe there are essential physical and spiritual differences and gifts to men and women.  I don't believe those are best described by the words "leader" and "nurturer" -- but I believe there are differences and I have no problem with gendered organizations and meetings, ie Priesthood Quorums, Relief Society, etc.  I also believe that perfection in Godhood is realized by Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother becoming one.
  3. Because I want to protest at Church and be in everyone's face about an "issue".   No, I'm not protesting anything.  I came to church to worship God and partake of the sacrament.
  4. Because I'm a liberal/democrat Mormon.   No, you may be surprised to know I've never voted for a democrat, although I would describe myself as politically centrist.
  5. Because I have a lot of friends all wearing pants together as a group.  No, I was the only woman I know of in Rexburg-land wearing pants.  I'm sure there may be others.  I saw hide nor hair of them today.
  6. Because I think all women should stop wearing dresses and skirts to Church and wear pants.  No, we should wear what we all decide is best for us to church wear to church.
  7. Because I wish I were a man.  No, my nine-year-old self used to feel this way when I was forced to wear my first training bra; but no, I'm very happy being a woman.
I am a practical girl at heart, I wear what keeps me warm, comfortable, and happy.  Any fellow Rexburgians out there can attest to the fact I wear my large furry Russian winter hat indoors and out whenever I feel cold - even throughout the whole ward Christmas dinner.  Because cold.  So there are many reasons why I wanted to wear pants - these are listed as items 3-7.  The reasons why I chose to wear pants are 1-2, because when it comes down to it, I truly am a practical pragmatist.  
  1. Because it is so, so cold in Rexburg.   Truly, I am more sensitive to cold than most people I know.  I wear jackets in 70* weather and don't wear shorts until it's 80* outside.  Last week I also wore pants when it was -20* windchill and exposed skin was at risk for frostbite.  I wore pants again today at 22* and it wasn't too bad.  I think from now on my personal rule is if it's below zero, the pants come out.  
  2. Because in Primary sometimes I'm crawling on the ground.  As a Primary Chorister it is easier for me to feel confident I'm not flashing anything to anyone.  I have friends who serve in nursery who find it infinitely easier to live the principle of modesty while doing their callings in pants.  As an aside, I also think sister missionaries should be allowed to wear pants because it's often cold and they ride their bikes.  Who thinks it's safe, appropriate, or modest to ride a bike in a skirt or dress?  Yikes, the stories of accidental flashings and bike crashes!
  3. Because I'd like to celebrate and create inclusiveness in the LDS church.  Because there is not one right way to be a good Mormon woman.  Because I'd like to support those who have ever felt excluded at church for whatever reason.  This reason hits several points for me.  First, I have never felt like an outsider until I was not able to have children, and then end up living in a ward with many young mothers.  It was often awkward, painful, and frustrating.  Especially when it seemed every RS lesson would start with, "I know today's lesson is about "faith" (or "prayer" or "tithing") so I decided to teach my lesson about how to teach your children "faith" or "to pray" or "to pay tithing".  There are a myriad of reasons to feel like you do not fit into LDS culture, be you single, working mother, childless, liberal/democrat, feminist, black, LGBT, etc.  Over the past year since feeling prompted to start my blog about my "feminism" I've been called apostate, told that I was destroying others' faith, that I'm not qualified to teach youth lessons on priesthood, that I'm attacking the Prophet, etc.  Last year some women received death threats for wearing pants to church.  This is one way for me to support others and love and include others and say all are welcome here. 
  4. Because I personally have come to realize there is a difference between LDS cultural expectations and the pure Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ.  The only reasons I had NOT to wear pants to church is because (1) what other people would think of me and (2) because "it's not what girls are supposed to do".  In other words, it's a cultural expectation or norm.  I do not believe I have to wear a skirt or dress to be feminine.  All angels and people in the afterlife in LDS art and movies are depicted wearing robes, regardless of gender.  Our Savior challenged the social norms of his day.  He interacted and loved people the religious leaders shunned: women, prostitutes, publicans, Samaritans, lepers, etc.  He often broke rules that others considered sacred, that weren't based in scripture nor the Gospel.  He fought against the religious people whose outward dress and behaviors were supposed to measure their spirituality.
    The worst sinners, according to Jesus, are not the harlots and publicans, but the religious leaders with their insistence on proper dress and grooming, their careful observance of all the rules, their precious concern for status symbols, their strict legality, their pious patriotism... the haircut becomes the test of virtue in a world where Satan deceives and rules by appearances.
    Hugh Nibley, Waterman, Brian and Kagel, Brian Kagel. The Lord's University: Freedom and Authority at BYU. Signature Books. 1998
  5.  Because I want to live by the principle of wearing my "Sunday Best" to church, and I don't think that requires a dress or skirt.   I consider my nice pants to be dressier than quite a few of my skirts and dresses.  In the past when I needed to be warm at church I wore my really long, ankle-length jean skirt (looks kind of pioneer style).  My black pants are much more "Sunday Best" than that skirt.  Also pants are not a masculine form of dress.  During the week when I wear pants I'm not dressing like a boy, pants are now gender neutral in our culture.  So factoring in that I don't think wearing pants is any show of disrespect in sacrament or Sunday - and there is no rule or guideline that women must wear pants, it all just comes down to a decision between me and the Lord about what is appropriate.  Based on my beliefs on modesty I shared earlier, if I feel Heavenly Father accepts what I wear, I don't need to worry about anyone else.     p.s.  Scott Trotter, an LDS spokesman, responded to last year’s event by saying “Attending church is about worship and learning to be followers of Jesus Christ. 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” (Dec. 11, 2012). 
  6. Because even though I believe in differences in gender, I don't believe gender roles should be taught so exclusively.  I've shared before that my life was infinitely blessed when I realized we are all sent here as individuals to use our talents to build the Kingdom of God and NOT just to fill our roles as men and women.  For most people that includes men providing for their families and women raising the children and that is wonderful.  Personally, for me, it would have been easier to follow God's path for my life if I had not believed in gender roles so fervently; but if I had been more open to the fact that God very often leads you on a path that is different than the norm.  That it isn't a bad or negative thing to experience, only to be endured to the end, that it can be embraced and celebrated.  That we should spend more time teaching about how to receive and recognize personal revelation in our lives, and less time already assuming what God's will is in our own and others' lives. 
  7. Because I feel that is another step of me being who I genuinely am.  That I can outwardly dress and share who I am and what I believe on the inside.   Others don't have to share my opinions or thoughts.  But I should be who I am, and I shouldn't hide or hesitate or apologize.  I should not be abrasive or in your face, but loving and kind and open. 
So that pretty much sums it up - because it's not an easy answer . . . there are many reasons.  There may even be more that I haven't articulated even to myself yet, but I'll stop there - for all of our sakes.
Remember, Love each other!

7 comments:

  1. Hi Kristine,

    Sorry, I was going to post on By Common Consent, because I very much like your post. But I am always very wary of any backlash that might come at me. And I am not reaching out to you because you are trying to find other people in Rexburg, I just wanted to throw out my perspective.

    As a fellow feminist who is hating, hating living in Rexburg at this time, I think if you got any push back from the community/ward/people-who-think-you-are-being-political it is because you decided to do the article in the standard journal. I am sure you follow the paper and most everyone around here is very scared of the changes that are taking place at the paper...if you remember the Gay and Engaged in Rexburg up-roar.

    I don't believe that the people at the SJ are out to provide the news. I believe right now they are out to stir up controversy. I keep wondering if they are going to stop people in the grocery store to talk about "Mormon and Buying Beer!"

    I would love to change things so much. In my parents ward, the Stake President told all the men they had to shave their facial hair (moustaches included) and these are old farmer guys. I have never seen such a sad group. Women MUST wear tights or nylons and closed toed shoes. All summer too. You can guess I don't go to church.

    So I applaud the pants thing, 100%. I believe your reasons were true. I would just stay far away from certain people at the SJ who would send you to the slaughter house for their own reasons...certainly not yours.

    I guess maybe I am too passive. I don't think the Rexburg newspaper is ready for ANYTHING outside old school Rexburg.

    Hope this doesn't make you mad. Not my intent...just been reading too much lately I guess. :)

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    1. you are right - I wasn't aware about any of the context of the newspaper, we are fairly new in town . . . and should not have agreed to talk to him. Your parents have the world's worst ward ever!! Here in Rexburg? Shoot. Me. Dead.

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    2. also: you should come to church with me; I'd love a fellow faithful pants-wearer by my side!!

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  2. Hmm. Julia, I think I'd have told the stake president that my facial hair was none of his business. Does no one ever push back a little? I guess that surprises me a little.

    Love the Waterman and Kagel quote. Brian Kagel and I were in the same mission together way-back-when. :)

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  3. It may surprise you to know that women wear pants to church on a regular basis in areas outside of Mormonland. When I visited Prague in 2001, the relief society president came in pants. I lived in Chicago for three years, and women came to church in nice pants all the time. I went to church in pants while living in Nevada because I couldn't find a nice skirt. I felt completely at home, and no one even looked at me strange. You look very nice, by the way!

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    1. Seeing that I lived outside mormon valley the past 10 years it doesn't surprise me at all. WOmen wearing pants to church in Virginia and Las Vegas (while we lived there) didn't even get a second look.

      But life sure is different in Rexburg :/

      and thanks! I like my outfit, too!

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  4. Oh, Great!!!Your article is very good.
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    Great review! I think the same! :) Ms. Alice

    ReplyDelete

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