Your contempt betrays you

The pants thing is done and gone ad nauseum. In our house, too. But I have some thoughts.

First of all, imagine this: A friend, a sister, comes to you and tells you that she is hurting and that she has found a way to feel less alone, to feel more understood, to stand up for what she believes in and show solidarity for those who have made her feel less alone, a way to show God what is in her heart, a way that God has told her is an okay offering of her broken heart and contrite spirit, a way to feel more herself in God’s presence, in the community of believers that she aches to be a part of even as she too often feels marginalized, misunderstood and misused. She has decided to wear pants to church.

What is your response? And how would Christ have us respond to such a friend and sister?

a) Your contempt betrays you.

b) Your hurt for her hurt and your massive indifference to her attire is the best possible evidence that all is well in Zion.

c) Your compassion and desire to understand what is incomprehensible to you, your yearning to reach out in fellowship even when you are righteously convinced that you are right and she is wrong, your humility and love, your turning of the other cheek against such (insolent!) provocation is magnificent.

When I was nineteen I shaved my head. At the time I had no thought of gender social norms. I was in Europe for the first time, I had left a heady, consuming and ultimately wrong-for-me relationship, and I wanted an outward expression of my inward change of heart. I shaved my head.

Sunday I wore pants to Church.

Both times I felt like I was right with God again, that I had re-adjusted my course to walk more fully with Him, and that Jesus knew, loved and accepted the offering of my heart. That I was, and am, okay with God, and that what anyone else thinks or thinks they know about me, is immaterial.

And now some posts and articles to answer your questions (I don’t agree with everything in these posts, but they are marvelous food for thought and worth your time):

But I’ve never felt marginalized or hurt. Does anyone really? (And here is that contempt again, as the subtext is: Does anyone who matters feel hurt by patriarchy? Does anyone who is righteous feel marginalized? Does anyone with a testimony think that gender inequity is a problem?)

Neylan McBaine at FAIR, CJane Pants Part I and Part II, Joanna Brooks in Huffington Post, Wearing Pants

Why pants? What is a social norm?

Feminist Mormon Housewives, Mormon Women Who Wear Pants to Church: A Manifesto

But our church, like our country is one of the most progressive about women, can’t you be happy with that? (i.e. it could be worse!)

The dignity of your womanhood

But why must you protest in Sacrament Meeting?

The Politics (say it ain’t so) of Pants

Why do men feel so threatened by women doing something that the Brethren have specifically NOT counselled against?

How to Silence a(n LDS) Woman: You’re Doing it Wrong

People didn’t really respond so viciously, did they?

Women Wearing Pants at Church Bingo (this is a humorous aggregation. The text of the death threat on the original Facebook event page was “every single person who is a minority activist should be shot .. in the face . point blank . GET OVER YOURSELVES ..” I was also appalled at comments such as: “these dumb bitch feminists don’t understand what the Gospel of Jesus Christ is even about.”)

But you started it, haven’t you brought this response on yourselves?

Less than 1200 words on on pants

If you don’t like the church, why don’t you just leave?

“If you don’t like it, leave” and Religious Pluralism

How do women look in pants at church?

Wear Pants to Church Day


What is wrong with feminists? Why can’t they just accept the church?

How Mormonism Changes and Managing Liberal Expectations,

If women have agency, the same as men, how are they not equal in church?

Women in the Mormon Church: The Limits of Agency

(And even though the pants thing was really about culture and not about challenging doctrine, here’s a bonus post. Do any (faithful, intelligent) men think women should have the priesthood? Gender and Priesthood)

Did any women consider themselves feminist and choose to wear a dress?

How I feel about pants

Doesn’t God hate it when we ask questions?

 Joseph Smith — HistoryHear me

Start with the person nearest you

I am proud of my Utah blogging friends (like Emily and Stephanie) who ran a memorial campaign for the Newton shooting victims. I don’t blog often enough to merit a pause, and I’ve always distrusted and disliked the impulse I have to personalize things. But I think this is a failing we all share, evidenced most obviously and distressingly by things like our sweeping ignorance about the 168 children killed by drone strikes in Pakistan or the 3000 children who die daily from diarrhea.

Yesterday I got an email from my children’s school saying a lot of appropriately broken-hearted things about the Newton children and teachers, and then describing the lockdown drill they ran on Friday. My kids had mentioned it in passing, and mostly I tried to shield them from the news. Until Callie complained about what we were having for dinner and I cried and told her she was lucky to be alive. We are all lucky to be alive.

And though I had cried when I listened to this and teared up at the sight of this, what brought me to sobs in a parking lot was this from my children’s school. In an effort to make the lockdown drill more realistic, they shouted in the hallways and banged on the classroom doors. They had explained to the children beforehand what was going to happen, because their intent wasn’t to frighten but to show what it may be like.

It should never be like that.

Not for any child. And the only way to make anything good come of this is to make life better for someone else.

My many failings overwhelm me. My inadequacy for even my small, simple calling of mother shames me. And the numbers of the suffering are an ocean. I keep repeating to myself:

Never worry about numbers. Help one person at a time and always start with the person nearest you.
― Mother Teresa

Because the Declaration of Independence . . .

This afternoon Callie changed out of her uniform, unloaded the dishwasher, finished her math homework, wrote her testimony in her shiny new “Faith in God” booklet, passed off the first Article of Faith and nagged me to get her to Activity Days on time. Normally I send Avery and Callie off on the three-minute walk together, but today Avery was finishing up her contribution to her school’s Winter Store.

We drove to the church (sad, but it’s sprinkling and we were a minute late, despite Callie’s persistence) and sadly, Activity Days was last week. Turns out we are not on the email list for the eight- and nine-year olds, just the ten- and eleven-year old group. I apologized profusely to Callie, who was not mollified.

If only it were every week, I mused aloud, then it would be easier to remember, rather than keeping straight whether this is a first and third Wednesday month or a second and fourth, or, as in December (and June, and July, and August) a once-a-month on the first or second or third or fourth Wednesday month. Callie knows Scouts is every week because every Wednesday Dad leaves dinner early, as he will tonight and next week and probably they’ll skip the actual day after Christmas but even so they’ll manage to meet three times before the year is out.

And Callie wants to know why. I said it’s one of the things that frustrates Dad and me most. She asked if I’d told anyone about it, and I said we both had, quite recently, and she wanted to know why it hadn’t changed, then, and I said I don’t know. I’m sorry. How do you think we could change things? How could we make people realize there needs to be change?

And she said, “Because the Declaration of Independence says boys and girls are equal.” And I said, that’s not exactly what it says but I certainly agree that that’s what it means. But our nation’s founding wasn’t perfect either. That whole three-fifths compromise and all.

Only in the case of Scouts versus Activity days it’s more like girls are one- to two-fifths. On a good month.