Monday, December 17, 2012

On Pants

Music: Because I Have Been Given Much-LDS Hymnal
Mood: Sober Contemplation

Hello, only me again. 

I was inspired to come back and write today about pants.  Yes, pants; those wonderfully warm and cozy garments that fill the closets and cubbie-holes of most American households.  If one would have told me 2 weeks ago that I would have spent the better part of the last week and a half defending my right to wear pants I would have told them they were crazy--but I would have been wrong.

Wear Pants to Church Day (an event on 12/16/12 organized by the Mormon Feminist group All Enlisted) has meant many things to many people.  To a raving segment of orthodoxy represented on Facebook it surely meant that not only was "The End" near, but it prompted all sorts of reactions ranging from "I don't care, but..." to actual death threats.  Yes, you read that correctly, death threats.

Doctrinally, women are of course not prevented from wearing pants to Church because honestly it would just be silly.  However, in Mormonism sometimes culture can so invade doctrine that to the untrained or unconcerned mind the two are literally inseparable (cue raving Facebook masses).  This event was to be a sort of launch pad for further action with the ultimate goal being gender equality within The Church.  It was a brilliant idea.  It was a visible way to both raise awareness, and to honor our baptismal covenants to mourn with those that mourn and comfort those who stand in need of comfort.

But mourning over pants, are you for real?  Yes.  Previously I had of course heard many stories of people being shunned or ostracized because they did not fit a particular mold within The Church (I have even experienced it myself, but not due to clothing) but this past week I have heard what amount to horror stories of unrighteous dominion, ecclesiastical abuse, and un-Christlike attitudes aplenty.  These stories ranged from women being talked about behind their backs or even in front of their faces for daring to wear pants all the way up to those who were actually turned away from meetinghouses for something as sinful as bifurcated attire (for shame!).

I knew I needed to be involved from the beginning, but these stories, and the reaction from those who would willingly cast these people off so they can remain in their comfortable bubbles was something that I just could not sit with.  I knew I was in.  There was an event page set up on Facebook that was ultimately taken down that at one point had over 2,000 people who had indicated they would wear pants and/or purple attire (purple being a color historically associated with the suffrage movement) on 12/16.  The news media including print, television, and the internet had picked up on the story in a few major cities including internationally.  There was much ado about us women and our pants.

Despite many links, explanations, and borderline manifestos it never seemed to get through to the detractors that it was never about the pants.  The pants were always a symbol.  The pants were a way for us to say that we were here, and that we care.  A way for those sisters who have been hurt when they should have been loved to know that there was someone who wanted them there, and someone who understood their pain.  That under our watch no women would ever be turned away or ostracized for wearing pants again.  We had put a high-heeled foot down and were making a stand. 

Pants day came and went.  It was relatively uneventful for me personally (I was the only woman in my ward wearing pants, although there were several people in purple but it could have been a coincidence).  As the day rolled on though, and pictures poured in of happy smile after happy smile in pants and purple graced the fMh Facebook group it started to really stir something within me.  Some of these people (including myself) who had been hurt by their brothers and sisters were back.  They had gone back to show support for others.  While the pictures rolled in so did the stories.  Some were bad, but mostly they were good.  A new friend in the ward, a secret feminist on your side, finding out family or a loved one were going to wear pants/purple to show their support for the disenfranchised as well.  It was uplifting, and I truly believe it is what our Heavenly Parents would have us do.

"By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another."-John 13:5

I will be proud one day to tell young women or even my own child that I was there.  That a time presented itself for me to stand up for what I believe in, in defense of others and I took it, and now things are different.  All the horrible and exasperating comments of the last week can't touch that knowledge--nothing ever will.

Quackin' in my pants.