14 Dec

Pants. At Church. On A Female.

Posted by Jenna, Under Religious

The shooting in Connecticut is devastating. The children.  The parents. The families. My thoughts are with them.

I’ve always been a dress girl, even for occasions when a suit was appropriate. For me this isn’t about not liking dresses.

There are three areas where members of the Church, influenced by social and political unrest, are being caught up and led away. I chose these three because they have made major invasions into the membership of the Church. In each, the temptation is for us to turn about and face the wrong way, and it is hard to resist, for doing it seems so reasonable and right. The dangers I speak of come from the gay-lesbian movement, the feminist movement (both of which are relatively new), and the ever-present challenge from the so-called scholars or intellectuals.

Elder Boyd K. Packer, 1993*.

A new group on Facebook called All Enlisted recently started inviting people to an event called Wear Pants to Church day on December 16, 2012 (it was originally an event with 2200 people attending, but complaints by users in opposition to the event caused Facebook to flag it and pull it down, now it’s a Facebook page with numbers building once again). The reaction has been unlike anything anyone expected, and I had to stop visiting the event page because it was so full of hateful and rude comments from those both in support of and in opposition of the idea of women wearing pants to church as part of a formalized movement. On the event page stories were shared of women who had worn pants to church and been rebuked by a fellow church-member because of it. These are real experiences and the feelings of these women deserve to be acknowledged and validated. Women wearing dresses is an American social norm, and dressing in a way that society has deemed feminine should not be equated with dressing respectfully. Many news sources have reported on the situation, with several prominent bloggers weighing in as well. This post by CJane is my favorite.

In 1997 Gordon B. Hinckley, who was at that time Prophet of the LDS Church, gave an interview where he was asked why “women are not allowed to be priests” in the LDS Church. President Hinckley responded with “[Women] bring in insight that we very much appreciate and they have this tremendous organisation of the world where they grow and if you ask them they’ll say we’re happy and we’re satisfied. … All except a oh you’ll find a little handful one or two here and there, but in 10 million members you expect that. … But there’s no agitation for [revelation regarding women in the Church]. We don’t find it. Our women are happy. They’re satisfied.

All Enlisted is a group ready to do the agitating President Hinckley referred to. Wear Pants to Church day is thousands of members joining together to say “It isn’t just a little handful here and there.” Please listen to us.

It was suggested on my Facebook wall that this kind of thing would be appropriate if done as a demonstration outside of church headquarters. Maybe a sit-in or silent protest of some sort with signs and women in dress pants?

 No.  

If feminist men and women are on the news or on the sidewalk speaking about pants and inequalities they feel, they are too easily painted as “the other”. When the women wearing pants are worshiping with you, they are one of the group. They too have committed to share each other’s burdens and lift the downtrodden. When they put on those pants and (bravely) walk into church they are admitting that they have a burden. They are asking you to commune with them, to try to understand them.

Boyd K. Packer’s sentiment that gays, feminists, and so-called intellectuals are a threat to the LDS Church is still prevalent, as evidenced by the vitriolic dialog on the original Wear Pants to Church event page. Below are short summaries of some of the statements I saw on that event page, and my responses to them.

“We show our respect by wearing our Sunday Best. Women wear dresses, mean wear pants.”

Once upon a time there was no Nordstrom, no Kohls, No Ross/TJMAxx/Marshalls, no Goodwill. Clothes were made by hand, and wardrobes were small unless you were wealthy and could pay for someone else to make them by hand for you. Family members labored physically in order to meet the needs of the household. Certain items of clothing were set aside for church else they be worn down. Thus the idea of Sunday Best was introduced.

But what does that mean in our day? Why is a clearance dress from Forever 21 purchased for a few dollars and topped with a cotton cardigan considered Sunday Best; but a pant suit custom-made from sustainable materials** is unacceptable and disrespectful if I have a vagina?

Should I be setting aside my most expensive or luxurious pieces of clothing for church? Imagine if everyone actually did that. Socioeconomic differences between attendees would become even more stark than they already are.

My socioeconomic status should not dictate whether it is socially acceptable for me to wear pants to church. I am speaking directly to the unvoiced attitude that females who don’t have the means to buy new clothes can get away with wearing pants to church, but those who have the money to do so show their respect to God by wearing skirts or dresses. In the past I have also held the attitude (and heard/felt it expressed by others) that we should accept convert/investigator females in pants, but that it is unacceptable for a lifelong member to do so. The message sent is that the convert/investigator is ignorant or doesn’t know any better, but with time she will be educated about the proper way to dress for church. I feel confident that this attitude exists church-wide because of the many personal stories shared detailing how a new member was “educated” by a longtime member about the way women are supposed to dress in the LDS church for Sunday worship.

“Think about Jesus and focus on what is really important. Your pants demonstration is stupid and worthless.”

Being a thoughtful, considerate, conscientious, kind, service-providing type of person and also being the type of person who wears pants to church as a female in order to agitate for social change are not mutually exclusive. This month my husband and I will sit down as a couple and discuss how we want to use our resources throughout 2013 to help others. Last week I went to the Bishop’s Storehouse and spent several hours packing produce; this week I bought a bag of travel-sized deodorants for our church Christmas breakfast/service activity and will spend some time on Saturday morning stuffing socks for the needy; and on Sunday I will wear pants to church.  I can be both a feminist and (try to) be a person who makes the world better for other people. I can always do more, of course. But wearing pants doesn’t mean I am only a feminist who wears pants. We are all so much more than that.

“Sacrament meeting is no place for politics.”

The Church set the precedent for this when it used the pulpit to tell members how to vote in states across the US when gay marriage laws were being decided. It did so in 2008, it did so in 2012, and I imagine it will continue to do so.

“If you don’t like things the way they are, why don’t you just leave”.

This year, someone very close to me said that exact thing to me. I am ashamed to say that there is a comment on my blog where I said the same thing to someone else when they expressed frustration with some things about the Church (this was several years ago, my how things have changed for me!). Even though this is a church founded on the idea of personal revelation and asking questions, the attitude prevails that if you don’t like the status quo then you shouldn’t be a part of the group. I deeply apologize to all of those who felt this attitude for me in the past, and I am saddened to see it’s so widespread.

I am wearing pants on Sunday, December 16 because I feel alone in my new ward. I have yet to find anyone who shares many of the concerns I do, or is frustrated and confused about the same things I am***.  This day is an opportunity for me to see if there are other people who have heard about the event and are also saying that they think and feel and believe in similar ways. I’m wearing pants because it is painful for me to sit  in a room exclusively made up of women hearing lesson after lesson learning what men have said, week after week. The manuals the Relief Society (church organization exclusively for women) uses are filled with quotes from men telling me how to be a Christian.  A mother. A woman. Why doesn’t God speak to His daughters? And if He does, why are they not qualified to share what they’ve heard?****

I’ve been told directly and indirectly that if I can’t fall in line that I should just leave. Who is going to see me in pants (and the hundreds, possibly thousands, of LDS women around the world doing the same) and reach out to say “We want you here. Whatever kind of ‘you’ that might be. Please stay.”

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*Less than 5 months after this the September Six were excommunicated from the LDS Church

**I am not suggesting that I want to wear that particular pant suit to church, or that anyone necessarily should. It’s just an example.

***This is not meant to imply that I only want to be friends with people who think, act, or believe the same way I do. But there are things I think and feel which are, at best, unpopular among the general membership. I long to find someone who I can completely be myself with, without fear or rebuke or abandonment.

****For a long, heartfelt list of reasons why LDS women feel unequal in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, see this post at LDS Wave.

55 Comments


  1. Beautifully said, dear heart.

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  2. I completely agree this is overblown. This has everything to do with cultural Mormonism and nothing to do with the gospel of Jesus Christ. Several places I’ve lived (NOT Mormon strongholds), women have worn pants to church if they wanted to. No one fussed over it, everyone has different backgrounds and circumstances and it’s no one else’s business anyway.

    Many places I’ve lived, LDS women feel equal to the men because of how they’re treated and valued in these places. Again, I attribute differences to cultures, not to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Perhaps I should also attribute it to the full understanding of men’s and women’s divine roles by both men and women in these places. Different does not mean one is better than the other. Both are vital in the Church just as they are in a family.

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    TF Reply:

    Totally loved this comment from EB, and the reply from Kelly too. the Gospel of Jesus
    Christ is not flawed, the people are. I too have lived in areas where nobody cares if a woman wears pants to church. I’ve worn pants to church and wasn’t treated any different, people were just glad I came even though i didn’t have a dress, and not becasue I was an investigator. I’m a life long memeber. I have also never ever felt less than anyone else. If anything I think the Gospel holds the role of woman and womanhood in very very high regards. without the women in the Gospel it would not function. Women are important and I have always felt valued and equal in the gospel.

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  3. Simply wonderful. :)

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  4. Wow Jenna! This is very brave. To some extent, I share your grief “Why doesn’t God speak to His daughters? And if He does, why are they not qualified to share what they’ve heard?” I can’t bring myself to sit in the Catholic pews I was raised in for a reason very similar to this-I don’t see myself in the leadership figures. Anyhow, I’ll be thinking about you on Sunday morning :)

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  5. I love this, Jenna. You are so eloquent — the world would be a better place if everyone stood up for their beliefs, but also respected the values of others, the same way you do.

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  6. Honestly, I do agree with some of the points you make here. Socioeconomic status should not dictate the things we wear to worship our Savior. Some of the most wonderful sacrament meetings I have attended have been those in the company of humble women. Women who wear jeans to church because jeans are the nicest thing they own. I have absolutely no problem with this. In fact, I feel that as a Christian woman it is my duty to accept and love my brothers and sisters regardless of their outward appearance. If a woman feels more comfortable in pants, or does not wear dresses, but still seeks to attend worship services–more power to her. However, I feel that this demonstration you speak of does not come from that same spirit. Because it is apparent that you have a very strong testimony of the gospel, it confuses me that you would bring your concerns to a causal public forum like this instead of seeking out inspiration privately. Especially considering that the “September Six” link you posted links further to anti-Mormon literature.

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    Katie Reply:

    Ah, one of the “I’m confused how your testimony is different from mine, so it must be wrong” comments.

    People seek out public forums for issues like this because they are important to discuss, and because this is an issue lived out in public that women are judged for- taking it up privately would do nothing to address the cultural issue.

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    Chelsea Reply:

    I never said what you’re quoting me to have said.

    I don’t understand how nit-picking something sacred and cherished is constructive when many non-members are reading this and now wondering if our church contains a bunch of wack jobs.

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    Sophia Reply:

    Chelsea, I think that the constant fear of how the Church is perceived tends to be a very convenient way for squelching any discussion. It seems one cannot discuss any issue around the Church without an admonishment to “think of how it looks!” or “can you please let your readers know that not all Mormons think this way?”

    Honestly, that kind of reaction to honest, thoughtful, open dialogue leads me to make more negative assumptions about Mormonism than the honest, thoughtful, open dialogue does in the first place.

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    lifeonmulberry Reply:

    “it confuses me that you would bring your concerns to a causal public forum like this instead of seeking out inspiration privately”

    Isn’t it possible that Jenna has sought inspiration through prayer and private thought, which led her to this conclusion (that joining others who share her concerns is a good idea)?

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  7. First of all I am not a LDS member or do I attend a LDS church, so for me wearing pants to church is normal. Wearing jeans to church is normal even, many years ago our church went from ‘Sunday best’ to ‘come as you are’. It hasn’t been an easy change- attendence actually dropped for a few months, but eventually the members and non-members learned that it was the same message beging spoken. The same people were sitting around you and it almost have caused our church to grown closer. I can promise you I do not wear dresses to work, the store, the gym, or the doctors every week and I talk to God at all those places too. Why should how one dresses determine who they are with God.

    I am sorry you are struggling to find yourself in your new ward. I have had several Mormon friends over the years and this always seems to be something that is a topic of conversation. One of my friends was so sad when she got married because she had to find ‘new’ friends.

    As I am glad you posted again I have missed reading about your life (is that pathetic?).

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    tf Reply:

    This whole issue actually has nothing to do with wearing pants. Lds women can wear whatever they like to church.

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  8. I can’t believe this is something so many people get upset about. There are much better things to worry about than so and so who wore pants to church today. Why don’t these type of people put their actions toward things that actually matter and could help people? I would never want to be in a church that makes a big deal out of such petty things.

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    Jenna Reply:

    The woman who organized the event received a death threat. I wish I was joking.

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    tf Reply:

    Its because it has nothing to do with actually wearing pants. Nobody cares what you wear to church.

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  9. So, let me get this straight. You’re wearing pants on Sunday in order to protest God and the way He runs His church?

    Good luck with that.

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    Katie Reply:

    When did God say women have to wear pants?

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  10. Bravo! And thank you!

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  11. Such a well written post! I hope that you find your fit in your new ward. I live just down the road in San Jose and while I don’t know any LDS locally, I have to imagine/hope that the LDS community around here will be open and welcoming to you on Sunday.

    On an unrelated note, my husband and I recently had dinner at the Hay Market in Willow Glen. It is a farm to table concept and the menu changes pretty often (and even nightly if a dish is really popular). The food was delicious and it won’t break the bank on date night! Also, if you haven’t checked out Christmas in the Park in San Jose, I highly recommend it. The park itself is decorated with lots of holiday displays, lights and trees. There are also an ice skating rink and some carnival rides that are run by a different group but in the same area.

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  12. You blow my mind on a regular basis.

    BTW – That pant suit is AMAZING.

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  13. Good for you! Very interesting post.

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  14. There is no such thing as the Oppression Olympics. There’s no competition for which group of oppressed people is suffering the most, nor does the fact that someone faces greater injustices than you mean you need to shut up and count your blessings. And yep, even middle class American ladies are allowed to speak up when we feel we’re not equal to men.

    We’ve not won the fight for equality in our culture when most of our religions are led by men, and great groups of women are raised thinking that God privileges men above women. Pants are a tiny outward sign of a much bigger issue, and are a fine place to start.

    Good luck, Jenna! I’m not a Mormon, but I’m cheering you ladies on from the sidelines. Nice work.

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  15. I’m not a Mormon or a feminist, but you can wear whatever you like, in my humble opinion. God looks at the heart :)

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    A Reply:

    you’re not a feminist? so you do not want men and women to be treated equally?

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  16. I’ve been reading your blog for quite some time but have never been so moved to comment. I think you are incredibly brave. This is not really a matter of pants or dresses, it’s the physical demonstration of a disparity of equailty among men and women within the church. I believe the LDS community has many wonderful attributes and positive things that it offers its members, but I do not believe that gender equality is one them. For the sake of future generations of women, I am so pleased to see a spark of change, or at the very least recognition that no one who struggles with these feelings is alone.

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  17. Jenna, while I’m not a member of the LDS faith, I agree with and support your sentiments and actions. My views and beliefs in my own Christian faith have changed quite significantly as I have prayed, read and learned from discussions with other Christians who grew up in different cultures. The recent decision of the Church of England General Synod to vote against ordaining women as bishops makes it quite difficult for me to belong to the C of E here in London. This was the laity who voted against it- the same people who sit next to me in worship.

    I’m praying for your and the other LDS women tomorrow to have the strength to not give up, and for your fellow members to be open to dialogue.

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  18. I’m a member of the LDS church and this is the first time I am hearing about this. I’m glad that you posted it, because it allows me to open my eyes. I was reading further into some things too. After reading some background on the September Six, I find that to be so sad. Sometimes the whole process of disfellowship and excommunication are upsetting to me. It is true that as a church we tend only hear about all the great things in our history. It is a great story to know about the saints moving west, but there was also murder, lies, and deceit along the way. We don’t ever really hear about that unless we do research or possibly take a history class to teach us about it. it is sad to me that some people were excommunication for researching and questioning things in the church.

    I was tempted to wear pants tomorrow at church, but I find that wouldn’t be me. I like wearing a dress. And I have grown up on the east coast (and still live there) and this problem of judging people who wear pants still exhists. Jenna is very right about that. However, it should not matter.

    I have really appreciated reading your blog because it has allowed me to think about my own questions with the church and then to prayerfully react. That is what we are supposed to do and not just blindly be part of a church and accept it as perfect. Thank you so much and I hope you see someone else where pants tomorrow. And I hope you make friends too…I know how challenging that can be when you move!

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  19. The feelings you describe toward the end are exactly my feelings about my membership in the Catholic church. I don’t feel the gospel is flawed, I feel that the men speaking on God’s behalf are flawed… and I want women to have opportunities for leadership, and for their voices to be heard. I hope you find others who share your concerns in your ward.

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  20. The ironic thing is that, at least to this outsider, comments like this one (that ignore the point of the protest and belittle the women taking part) make the event seem completely necessary.

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  21. While not a member of the LDS faith, I am a friend and family member of many. HUGE kudos to you! And as you continue to steer progress, may you attract converts … For, many of the ideals and messages you’ve conveyed are the barriers that limit the expansion of the meaningful, positive messages of your faith.

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  22. Being an LDS woman I get frustrated with the way that people complain about woman’s issues in the church. I also get annoyed with sexist comments from people who want to speak for God instead of rely on what is in the scriptures. Most of the reasons people give for why woman don’t have the priesthood for example is utter nonsense. There are specific instances where widows are the preisthood authority in their homes and can assist an elder in blessing their children if no one else is avaliable. Women complete ordinances in the temple for other women. Eve is principal speaker in Eden and I’ll think you’d be hard pressed to find any other Christian religion that gives her as much respect as ours. Forget that, most of them portray her as a satan herself.

    We have more than the catholic church in that we have a relief society general president who holds revelatory power for women worldwide. Did you not get your copy of Daughters in My Kingdom, an instructional manual prepared by Julie B. Beck that is solely about the history and work of the Relief Society? Every effort was made to give every women a free copy of this book so that they could read and learn about things that women had done in this church. I’d like to see more blog posts by feminists on that.

    Further more our male priesthood leaders have a lot of work to do. They have to make a lot of scarifices and many of these sacrifices is paid for in precious hours of time. If our brethen do not fulfill their priesthood responsibilities they are damned. The brethern could not do the work that is required of them if they did not have someone to help them take care of their familes at home. A division of labor is necessary. So when you support your husband in his callings you are making it possible for him to keep the oath and covenant of the priesthood. Sometimes I think woman asking for the priesthood is akin to ancient Israel asking God to give them a King. Do you think more woman would be saved in this church if the lord gave them more responsibility than they do now and then damned them if they did not complete it? I’m sorry I simply think we are not prepared yet. The men have a hard enough time as it is and they need our help, a lot of our help. I think if we did have the priesthood we would just complain about what a burden it is and how much time it takes to fulfill those callings. The fact is that we already have a lot of work to do. We need to stop wasting our time on efforts like this and get to WORK.
    Sure there are going to be offensive comments from stupid people, sure there are going to be things we get offended at but if a group thinks that wearing pants is going to solve that problem then they are sadly mistaken. That is just a part of being alive, having the priesthood or more “equality” is not going to save anyone from getting hurt by fallible people because God created us that way. That is why there is an atonement, and that is why there is forgiveness. Make note by hurt I mean taking offense at situations and comments wherein the person is making a sincere effort to do what is right. There is no excuse for abusive behavior and every priesthood holder I know would agree that women are to be treated with respect.

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  23. This isn’t an issue of self “pants”. It’s an issue of self-worth.

    I feel sadness for the sisters that feel so little of their worth that they would attempt to orchestrate this protest, because it means that they have not yet gained a true testimony of the divinity of womanhood in the Lord’s plan of happiness, and how essential they are to that plan.

    The ironic thing to me is that women wearing pants to Church is not prohibited by Church policy, doctrine, or scripture. No Church leader has ever told women they can’t wear pants on Sundays. There are, however, many statements from Church authorities encouraging people to dress in their Sunday best. Traditionally, most women have taken this to mean a skirt or dress.

    Sacrament Meeting should always be about the worshipping the Savior, and is not the appropriate venue for trying to draw attention to ourselves and our causes.

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  24. Jenna~

    I give you tons of credit for writing about this in a public forum! While I am not LDS, I have read your blog since the beginning. Another commenter mentioned that there isn’t an official dress code for church, so why would people be “shunned” for wearing pants? Is it really that big of an issue within the church? To me as an outsider I would just think there are so many other issues in the world, that the church would rather focus on.

    The other question I have, from reading the blog it seems that you have started to question the church’s beliefs. Is this a normal progression as you age and does TH have the same views and concerns?

    I hope the wearing of pants today allowed you to show your individuality!

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  25. Well said Kelly. There are women who are actually disrespected and oppressed (even in this country) and I wish that we as women would focus more on these larger issues rather than petty insignificant issues. These things make us seem ridiculous to the rest of the world.

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  26. TwoWishes Tara says:

    As an outsider, I don’t get the pants thing at all. Just can’t wrap my head around a situation where it would even be an issue. But wanted to say how much I respect you for writing about your religious struggles on your blog. That takes a lot of time, soul searching, and careful writing and too many bloggers (me included) rarely put in that effort. But reading other people’s deeper struggles is, I think, what keeps the blogging community worthwhile.

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  27. How did it go? Are you going to do a follow up post?

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  28. First world problems…

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    HRC Reply:

    Just because it doesn’t matter to you, doesn’t mean it is a first world problem. Seriously, I am not white knighting here or whatever, but people have bitched at Jenna for years for being too submissive to the doctrines of the Church and now that she’s asking questions and trying align her personal beliefs and her faith it still isn’t good enough. I am not suggesting you have to agree with everything a blogger says but ‘first world problems’ is hardly a constructive contribution to a conversation, now is it?

    I am Jewish and other than one ‘incident’ where I wore pants to an Orthodox synagogue as some form of protest against a bunch of inherently cultural and social issues within the Sydney Community I have never questioned the tradition of wearing skirts and dresses to shul. For the record, I felt super uncomfortable and in retrospect my issue was not really with the synagogue but with the cultural community and had very little to do with gender politics within Orthodox Jewry which I think is why I felt uncomfortable. But I was 21 and you live and learn. Hindsight is 20/20, right?

    That being said, there are similar issues between women in Orthodox Jewry and women in the LDS faith. A lot of this stuff is coming to a head in Israel at the moment and it’s interesting to see it from another perspective with another faith.

    I think that in this case this is about more than just pants. The pants are just a small element of a far bigger picture. Or at least that’s the way I see it. And I do think it is brave of every LDS woman who is wanting to stand up and make the Church more inclusive of women who deviate from traditional roles in some way or another.

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    lifeonmulberry Reply:

    …and… as if that takes away from it actually being a problem?

    If you’re looking for someone to tackle Middle East Peace Talks, you’re hanging around on the wrong blog. I don’t understand the value of a comment on this being a “first world problem.”

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  29. This is such an interesting post. The movement of LDS women, however small it may seem now, attempting to move an inherently patriarchal religious organization towards equality is a daunting task, but an important one. As a non-LDS, I have wondered at the way the LDS faithful always pray and refer to a “Heavenly Father,” but not a “Heavenly Mother,” despite the church’s stance that motherhood is supposedly the highest of callings. It seems illogical, to me, as a non-LDS and difficult to understand. Why wouldn’t you pray to and be worshipping your mother figure rather than a father figure? Or at least both equally? Isn’t it a mother that actually carries and bears children?
    Jenna, maybe you can offer some insight for those of us who don’t know these perspectives on your faith. Why doesn’t the faith center around both heavenly parents?

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    Jenna Reply:

    The commonly taught idea is that Heavenly Mother is so sacred that we are not supposed to speak of her. She is a completely silent and inactive partner to Heavenly Father (though Brigham Young spoke about how she bore her spirit children in a literal way, akin to the way women bear children mortally) In the past those who have prayer or preached of her have been excommunicated.

    I strongly disagree with this view and am glad that the period of excommunication is over (the media would prevent this from happening today because the Church is very worried about its public image).

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    tf Reply:

    Do you really believe she is an inactive partner to our Heavenly Father?

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    Ellen Reply:

    yeah… citations please?

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    Jenna Reply:

    A better question would be “Show me some discussion from church leaders detailing what she actually does. Other than exist.”

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    tf Reply:

    Im not saying we know a whole lot, and im not going to get into it, i was just wondering if people really think she does nothing. Do you believe all women will be inactive in the after life and merely just exist? Just because you dont know much about someone or something doesnt make them inactive…so in all honesty i was wondering if people really honestly thought that.

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    tf Reply:

    Plus who knows. She could be doing lots of things in other worlds. That will probably open up a whole other can of worms…there are lots of things we dont know here in mortality.

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  30. Jessica Carney says:

    I am so sad that you have had such negative experiences:(

    I have attended The church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints my whole life and I have always understood “Sunday best” as what ever clothing you would see fit to represent God in. I have never experienced people being shunned or made feel inadequate by wearing pants. I attend a branch right now and at least 20% of women wear pants; it’s not a problem we are focused on drawing close to Christ not comparing our Sunday dress.

    I do think that too often we are quick to take offence by others comments and suggestions. I think we need to be less affected by what others say and more concerned by what our heart looks like; the Lord Looketh on the heart…

    I don’t see why everyone wearing pants one day of the year is effective, if you want to wear pants then wear pants I don’t understand why there needs to be a big deal made over it. I think sometimes we can expel so much energy on a negative feeling of frustration and it distracts us from choosing the very best chooses in our life.

    That’s just my thoughts:)

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  31. Thank you for writing about this. I’m a Jewish woman, who belongs to an egalitarian, socially progressive by religiously conservative congregation and I never feel like I’ve been expected to wear a skirt or dress, but all the women my age do! There are women who wear pants, but they’re mostly older, like at least 45 or so and older.

    I don’t feel like anyone would give me a funny look or anything for wearing pants to services, but I don’t because I wear pants almost every day in my day-to-day life and wearing a skirt on Shabbat helps me set aside the day from the rest of the week. In some congregations I’m sure there are women who feel they “can’t” wear pants to services. It must be hard to feel so socially trapped!

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  32. This is a very interesting and thought-provoking post. Thanks for sharing!

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  33. Girl, you have grown so much since I first started reading your blog three years ago. It is truly inspiring to read posts like this where it is clear you are deeply questioning your upbringing and religion. Questioning does not equal rejection – in fact, I think it leads us all to a deeper faith and commitment. I am a non-LDS feminist, so I find this whole issue fascinating. Are you going to post an update??

    Reply

    Jenna Reply:

    I’m not sure I have anything to share. Or rather, it’s not quite time for me to share my thoughts in full. Maybe someday.

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  34. I hear a lot of people saying that clothing doesn’t matter in the LDS Church. It definitely does in certain wards. Whether it’s the stance of the church or not, having the members uphold a “higher standard” can be extremely hurtful.

    Let me explain: I was barely 21. Just divorced. Had a newborn and a 21 month old. Moved to an entirely new state on my own. My grandmother passed away. A very challenging time in my life. It was my first week in Utah and forced myself to go to church. I remember feeling good about myself because I fit in pre-pregnancy clothes. Anyway, while in the Sacrament meeting my newborn began to fuss so I took her and my 21 month old out to calm her. My 21 month old then began fussing (he was non-verbal and just barely beginning to walk at the time) and I was trying to get him to walk to the Mother’s Room with me. I dropped the diaper bag and a small box of goldfish spilled. I was squatted down, holding my newborn and trying to verbally calm my whiny older child and pick up the goldfish when the door opened and another woman came out of the meeting. I’ll admit I felt a rush of relief, thinking maybe she would be able to help for a moment. Instead, she knelt down beside me and said, “In this ward, we don’t allow blue jean material. Oh, and you need hose on.” and turned and walked back in to the meeting. I. was. mortified. I left as soon as I had the goldfish picked up and never returned to that ward.

    I cannot say this was the single reason for my leaving the church because it absolutely wasn’t. But it sure got the ball rolling and now that my family attends a church that values everyone, doesn’t care what people are wearing, and openly accepts everyone regardless of race, sexual orientation or anything else, I am thankful to that rude woman in that ward, but I cannot deny that I have hot tears of humiliation running down my face just writing of her words and recalling the deep feelings of inadequacy she brought to the surface.

    Reply

    Jenna Reply:

    Kay,

    I’m really sorry that happened to you. I wish people would really listen to stories like yours and think about how they approach and value others. What we wear shouldn’t matter. Especially to church.

    I’m glad you’ve found a place that is a good fit for you. I think that is what matters the most.

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  35. Hi Jenna, I started reading when my sister-in-law who knows you from BYU mentioned your blog.

    I consider myself a feminist LDS woman. I am becoming a surgeon in my last few years of residency. I am married but almost 30 without children. And I plan to work. My husband and I are definitely equals I would say.

    Here is a link to my thoughts on this topic. I haven’t heard anyone else voice this point of view. Would love to hear your thoughts.

    http://erinsheffield.blogspot.com/#!/2013/02/who-wears-pants.html

    Reply

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      I'm a farm-raised almost-crunchy stroller-pushing picture-taking lifestyle-blog-writing gastronomy-obsessed divine-seeking thrift-store-combing cheese-inhaling pavement-pounding laughter-sprinkling lover of individuality and taking chances.
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