I was not, originally, a fan of Pants Day last year. I was thinking “Oh, those wacky Mormon feminists (that I love — let’s be clear) are just picking a fight they don’t need to pick, and this is a bad idea.” But I love Mormon feminists, so I paid attention to what they were saying, and I found they weren’t being as wacky as I originally thought. Things I learned by listening:
- This wasn’t a protest.
- This wasn’t violating policy — pants have been approved for women to wear to Church for decades.
- The point was to help Mormon feminists (and fellow travelers, like me) to identify each other, and to provide a time when those who haven’t had as much contact with the Church of late could come and find people who might be able to help them find a place within the Church.
- Wearing of pants wasn’t required to participate. Wearing purple would do.
So, nobody was being disobedient or rebellious, and people were coming to Church who hadn’t in a long time. Looked like all up-side to me.
And then I went to the Salt Lake Tribune’s website, and looked at the discussion on an article about the event, and was, frankly, disgusted. Not by the rebellious, garment-burning feminists, but by the out-of-control reaction of their opponents. Threats of violence and death — this is not an exaggeration. Ugliness and verbal abuse all over the place by people who clearly prided themselves on being “good” Mormons, but who clearly had a shaky grip on the notion of how a Christian is supposed to behave.
That was when I decided I was going to participate and support this. Not because I think women wearing pants to Church is very important — I don’t. But because I wanted to do what I could to show that the hateful and disgusting rhetoric of those idiots on the discussion board do not represent all Mormons.
I wore a purple shirt and a tie with purple in it that day. I didn’t see any women in my ward in pants, but I did see a sister wearing purple and her husband said to me “Oh, yeah. We were supposed to wear purple today!” He was wearing a white shirt, which he usually didn’t. But the mission was accomplished — I had identified myself as a participant to those in the know, and had connected with folks who were open to things on the less-than-orthodox side of Mormonism, like me.
I’m going to do the same thing this year. I’m no more feminist than I was last year (and no less, either). I don’t think I’m going to be any more “out” because of it. But I want to join with my feminist friends in making a space within the Church where those who feel like they don’t fit in can feel welcome. The Church needs Mormons of all kinds, with all kinds of labels and perspectives and relationships with the institutional Church, until we all come in the unity of faith. Not unity of opinion — unity of faith. Those who are more drawn to notions of social justice, equality, and voting for Democrats are necessary to the Church reaching its potential, just as those drawn to notions of traditional values, hard work and voting for Republicans are. Like 1 Cor 12 says, all kinds are needed — a body needs eyes, feet, hands, and a spleen. Even a butt-hole (try running a body without one for a while and see how that works for you), so there’s room for me.
I invite others to join me in this. Be you eye, hand, or NOM or ex-Mo or non-Mo. Put on some pants or trousers or purple and show up and you may find yourself in the presence of brothers and sisters you never knew you had. I am surrounded by brothers and sisters that I see as such, who don’t see anything like that in me. 15 Dec. LDS.org can help you find a meetinghouse close to you, or the congregation that you live within.