Pantsformation

By: hawkgrrrl
December 18, 2012

“I stood amazed at the furor I had unwittingly caused.”  Amelia Bloomer

When I first heard about the group All Enlisted organizing women to wear pants to church on Sunday, December 16, I was of two minds.  On the one hand, who cares?  Pants aren’t against the rules anyway, and I see lots of women wearing pants to church, not as many as wear dresses or skirts, but every week a few.  And it’s clearly not the point of church (staging a protest); we’re there to repent, to take the sacrament, and to worship Christ.  But on the other hand, I immediately saw some benefits too:  women who felt inauthentic, judged, or ostracised would see from this act of solidarity that they can be accepted for who they are.  They can step out from behind their mask and find that they are still loved, welcome, accepted.  They will see that there’s room in the pew for us all.  Plus, why should anyone feel weird about wearing dressy pants to church when they are allowed?  And yet, many of us do.

Sis. Beck told the women of the church that they had no idea how much power they have, that our vision for Relief Society is a mere fraction of our potential.  I suspect she’s right about that.  Somewhere along the line, we went from being a huge organization of women doing good works, including women healing the sick, to an auxiliary on par with the children’s organization that can’t buy a pencil without male sign off and can’t meet without a priesthood leader in the building.  Women have been infantilized in the church, little by little.

On my mission, there was a rule that I, a 22 year old woman who had lived on my own for 4 years, had to check in at night with a 19 year old male missionary who had literally never done his own laundry or cooked his own meals prior to his mission.  The male missionaries did not have this requirement.  It definitely coloured some of their perspectives about the sisters.  I was told on more than one occasion that the sisters were “a pain.”  They were weak and you had to babysit them.  I’m sure that wasn’t a majority opinion, but I heard it expressed often enough that I concluded that protectionism breeds misogyny.  Treating people differently just because their biology differs has unintended negative consequences.  I say unintended because I truly believe the leaders of this church love the women.  I’m not sure that all of them always understand the women, but I’m sure they love us.  One of the elders from my mission, someone I would consider very conservative, posted a Pres. Hinckley quote in response to this event about treating the women of the church with love and respect.  He ended with, “Men, are we listening?”

Alice Walker famously said:  “I have seen the axe, and the handle is one of us.”  It never ceases to amaze me how women turn on other women.  It is said that women are more socially advanced than men and that we exert social pressure more effectively than men do.  Social pressure is a euphemism for shame, judgment, and ostracism.  As unsavory as it is for women to turn on one another in judgment, in this case, a few men took it even further.  The All Enlisted Facebook page was taken down because there were so many who had reported it as offensive, and there was even a death threat; one young man, an employee of BYU, said activists should be shot in the face at point blank range.  Based on the commentary there were many reasons people gave for opposing the idea of women wearing pants to church en masse.  Some objected to the pants (despite the church having no anti-pants stance), some objected to the organizing aspect, some felt feminism is divisive (certainly when compared with silencing women), and a few seemed to simply hate women (see below).

The rational argument is that church isn’t the place for protesting; I agree with that.  Frankly, I’m not much for protesting or activism in general.  That which we resist persists.  But I’m not sure this fits the term “protest” in any real sense.  I would say it’s more akin to wearing a ribbon to raise awareness.  After all, nobody was there to do anything but worship.  Everyone participated in church the same as any other week, in my case, even more mindful of my covenants than usual.

But if we want to protest something, here’s something to protest.  I’ve seen too many people in my lifetime who have stopped coming to church because they were offended, dismissed or mistreated.  We have a real tendency in this church to blame those who are offended, even when people have been horrid to them.  We believe everyone should just “get over it” and “suck it up” and “quit whining.”  All fine notions, and I’ve made the case before that wallowing in victimhood is disempowering.  But I’m not sure they are very productive things to say, especially when someone feels they have been disregarded or disrespected or not accepted or welcomed.  The byproduct of that is that the ones who still come to church are the offensive ones!

I truly hope nobody intends to be offensive, but consider this.  Are those who are thick skinned and who focus on the privileges and exclusivity of the church, in the best position to charitably judge the ones they’ve offended?  Or are they more likely to justify their offensive actions (like everyone does)?  Yes, there are some people who are more easily offended than others, but we are also told:  “Woe unto the world because of offences! for it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh!”  If we can make people feel just a little more comfortable, accepted or welcome through something as simple as not judging them for wearing pants or for being a feminist, maybe we’ll find we have a few more butts in seats on Sunday, and far more interesting discussions in our classes.

But there were some other arguments that seemed less meritorious:

  • Wearing pants to church is disrespectful to God.  Only God can see the hearts of people and know why they are wearing what they are wearing.  I’ll let him judge intentions.
  • Women are trying to look like men by wearing pants.  Except that women wear pants every single day of the week.  There are far more similarities than differences between the sexes.
  • This is why men are in charge – back in the kitchen, ladies.  Submit to the patriarchy! Ironic perhaps.  A few men even called on their priesthood in decrying the group.  Sounds like unrighteous dominion.
  • Pants have nothing to do with equality.  They certainly did 50 years ago.  Pants, like white shirts, are symbolic only.
  • The male dress code is equally oppressive. Granted.  Men were encouraged to wear a purple tie or coloured shirt to help change our Pharisaical culture.  Since the men have Movember, maybe we could create Pantsuary.
  • Women are already equal.  If the church were run entirely by women, I’m pretty sure the men would say the same thing.
  • Women aren’t equal but they have babies (or vague “special” womanly gifts) which is even better.  I’m not going to even justify this with a response.

“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

In this case, it’s not the leaders insisting on it.  In fact the church’s response was basically: “Wear your best, whatever that is, but please come join us.”  It’s the membership, the culture, that is behaving in ugly ways, not the leadership.

So, what happened in our ward?  There was good will from everyone, in pants and in skirts, purple shirts and white.  It was no big deal, which is what I thought it would be; some women wear pants every week.  I see men in cargo shorts, tee shirts, jeans, and every coloured shirt you can imagine.  I once saw a guy in a swim suit attending sacrament meeting (not a Speedo, although I did see a guy hiking the Australian outback wearing a Speedo).  We have a lot of out of town visitors as well as investigators.  People wear whatever they think will be appropriate or whatever they have with them.  We are multi-cultural, and women wear Indian sarees (that show the midriff) and salwar kameez (3rd to the right in the picture – there were also 2 other sisters wearing this on Sunday, both Indian), Vietnamese ao dai (to the left – that’s me – and my friend next to me in the white and black ao dai).

The opening prayer was a sister in pants.  The first talk was a brother in a purple shirt.  The final talk was a sister in a skirt.  There were 6 women in pants that I saw and 3 men in purple shirts.  Our ward is diverse.  Several women who wore skirts said they would have worn pants, too, but just didn’t for whatever reason.  And people should feel free to wear whatever they choose that is nicest; they will be welcome.  I found that many people “liked” the picture of us in our pants that was posted on FB, including lots of people whose support I was pleasantly surprised to see.

  • Did women wear pants on Sunday in your ward?  Did men (intentionally) wear purple?
  • Do you think this will help women feel more accepted, authentic and less judged?
  • Is it divisive or do those divisions already exist, and one side has been oppressed into silence?  Is it healthy to be more open about our diverse perspectives or will it cause too much contention?
  • What else should be done to help women and men achieve their true potential and feel welcome in our wards?

Discuss.

**Here are a few of the comments that appeared on the now defunct Facebook page.  Most fall into the if-you-don’t-like-it-get-out-nobody-wants-you-here-anyway” camp.  Which is ironically the point of the outreach.

  • “As a Melchizedek priesthood holder, I have determined this whole event/protest to be contentious and inappropriate in nature, and entirely uninspired of God. I call on this page’s creators, who profess to be active members of God’s kingdom, to immediately shut this page down and wear pants if they want to on Sunday.”
  • “Wearing a dress is a privilege! Womanhood should be embraced, not put under a bushel!”
  • “Heaven forbid you wear a skirt for a whopping 3 hours of your whole week. You’re all being silly. This church doesn’t discriminate or do anything else of the sort for that matter. So be a lady. Suck it up and put a skirt on. It’s not going to kill you.”
  • “This is like the war in heaven all over again!”
  • “They are obviously not truly converted.”
  • “I am not a member of your faith either, but feel people like you and others in your church are pretty PATHETIC. . . . There is no other species quite as endangered right now as a white male in this society. From our own president to all the people like yourself, you are destroying the white male. . . You don’t give a damn about your husband other than using his body to create life inside of you. You have stripped him of his masculinity. . . What is he left with? You can also tell where your sis Page stands as well with her short hair and pant wearing ways. I am sure she has her hubby right where she wants him too.  What is it that you are feeling so unequal about? . . . Quit suffocating your husband!  Women are not oppressed in your church. Quit trying to make the “white males around you into bad guys.” A woman wrote this.
  • “Trading in your dresses for a pants suit is gonna make it even harder for you gals to land a husband. Just saying…”
  • “If you’re going to wear pants, they might as well get penis implants too, to make them even MORE masculine.”
  • “Was this page created by lesbians? Just curious…”
  • “your dumb.” Personal fave.
  • “When you witness the rebellion of women (this event is a perfect example) and you consider that Eve was more easily beguiled than Adam, it becomes apparent that, in His wisdom, God had made the decisions He has regarding women and the priesthood.”
  • “Inequality… last I checked relief society gets the soft chairs?”
  • “If you man haters can’t stand to wear skirts to church, then start your own church. It’s a dress code like they have in the workplace, high school, military etc. I’m sorry if you’ve let men walk all over you but you ladies need to find other ways to raise your self-esteem. I definitely won’t be taking part this Sunday because I’m not a bored wife that has to make herself feel important by wearing pants to church. And I look smoking hot in a skirt.” Except the church has stated that there is no dress code and pants are A-OK.
  • “Shouldn’t you ladies be busy making us sandwiches?”
  • “You don’t get it at all. Your rebellion is for all the wrong reasons, and as a priesthood holder, I’m offended you would ask me to wear a colored shirt, one that I shouldn’t be wearing while performing priesthood ordinances. Humble yourselves and have some respect for the Lord and His house.”
  • “I am not lying, because no real member of the LDS church (in good standing) would display sooo much rancor against the plan of salvation and the official proclamation to the world. No matter what you do or say, the light of the gospel will go forward and you will be judged in the end. I don’t care what all you wicked people say…Truth exists without believers. I would worry about your selfish selves!!!!” But apparently a real member would express this kind of rancor against other members.
  • “I don’t floss my teeth on fast sunday because some food might get in my mouth. . . ” No idea why this was posted, but I thought it was funny.
  • “I am a kind, loving individual, but i can smell a stinky, liberal, feminist from over 5000 miles away.” Kind and loving indeed.
  • “If you want EQUAL RIGHTS think about this: HOW WOULD YOU DO ON THE CROSS?” Yikes.

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47 Responses to Pantsformation

  1. Jared on December 18, 2012 at 6:48 AM

    Prosperity can cause faith to be anemic. The rising generation, those roughly thirtyish, may see the world differently than prior generations. Maybe its due do America ripening in iniquity.

    The Book of Mormon speaks about the rising generation.

    Church members “began to decrease as to their faith and righteousness, because of the wickedness of the rising generation.”

    (Book of Mormon | 3 Nephi 1:30)

    “many of the rising generation that could not understand the words of king Benjamin, being little children at the time he spake unto his people; and they did not believe the tradition of their fathers.”

    (Book of Mormon | Mosiah 26:1)

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  2. Jace on December 18, 2012 at 7:20 AM

    So it’s over now, does this mean we can stop hearing about it? Yes, there were nasty comments, they constitute a very very small portion of the overall response. I think nobody even knew about it in my ward last sunday.

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  3. Jake on December 18, 2012 at 7:25 AM

    I think the parallel you make with the pants and wearing a ribbon as a mark of solidarity and support is a good analogy. The wearing of pants was a sign of support for the feminist cause, whilst you may interpret this ala Boyd K. Packer as being inherently rebellious and protesting that is a separate issue to the wearing of pants.

    We do not object to the wearing of Poppies (at least here in the UK) on remembrance Sunday (around the 11th November to commemorate the war victims), or the monopolisation of meetings on that Sunday to talks that generally are a glorification of military victims and war heroes. As somewhat of a pacifist I see this as a form of political support and action that I do not agree with, yet I do not call it a protest and rebellion against Jesus’s pacifist teachings, as I know it is done as an act of solidarity. The political debate about war and violence is separate to the wearing of a poppy. Likewise, the wearing of pants was an act of solidarity and is separate to the wider debate about gender equality within the church.

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  4. Hedgehog on December 18, 2012 at 9:20 AM

    I do get the feeling that some in our congregations are stuck in the 1950s. How did that happen? Presumably members somehow how managed the transition from the Victorian era styles, through the 1920s and on. Was there the same fuss going on, amongst the membership, that some seem to make about women in pants now? Or was there simply less deference to those making a fuss? As a student over 20 years ago, I had women friends who had never worn a dress or skirt in their entire 20 or so years of life. Many of them good religious folk. And yet, there are still those in our congregations who want to force women into a skirt or dress, when they’ve never worn one, and are very uncomfortable in them. It’s mind-boggling to anyone who hasn’t had to grow up seeing those attitudes.

    Your: “Somewhere along the line, we went from being a huge organization of women doing good works, including women healing the sick, to an auxiliary on par with the children’s organization that can’t buy a pencil without male sign off and can’t meet without a priesthood leader in the building. Women have been infantilized in the church, little by little.”
    may well have something to do with it. Women in the church would appear to have been systematically stripped of any power and authority they once held, and now feel they have none. Infantilised yes, and certainly institutionalised. We shouldn’t feel the need to ask permission for our choice of clothing for crying out loud. We have eyes, and intelligence. We can see and know for ourselves what is acceptable dress in the communities and nations in which we live and work. And trousers are just fine, at weddings, at christenings, at funerals, pretty much most places in fact. There are trousers available to suit every occasion.

    Love the Hugh Nibley quote.

    Q1. I wore pants (trousers) on Sunday. There may have been a couple of others. I don’t know for sure but there are a couple of women who often do anyway. My daughter wore purple (annoyed that she only had very casual trousers). I didn’t see any purple otherwise.

    Q2. Yes.

    Q3. I was having this discussion with my mum. She suggested a possible tack to take would be the one C S Lewis suggested for reconciling high and low church Anglicans. I quote her: “C S Lewis said that if high-church people refrained from genuflecting, lest they should lead their low-church brethren into idolatry, and if the low-church members did genuflect, so as not encourage their high-church brethren to be irreverent, then the C of E would become a positive hotbed of charity. Or something like that.” My thought was that the low church equivalents have been doing their part for the best part of half a century, with no reciprocation from the other side. So, Yes to the “do those divisions already exist, and one side has been oppressed into silence?”. That this is so, is far, far from healthy.

    Q4. Stick to the gospel principles, ditch the ‘rules’.

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  5. Hedgehog on December 18, 2012 at 9:24 AM

    Oh, and didn’t Primary used to be independent too? It was run seperately to Junior Sunday School, and you had to bring pennies for the Primary Children’s hospital, even in England…

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  6. Jared on December 18, 2012 at 9:33 AM

    It’s not what you wear to church that matters, that is, as long as your “real intent” is to worship God.

    It is the same with those who lead, the apostles and prophets; what is their real intent? Are they conspiring to subject the sisters of the church for an evil purpose?

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  7. Howard on December 18, 2012 at 10:56 AM

    I think the rising generation does have something to do with it but in a much different way than Jared apparently means and preceding generations make it possible for younger generations to evolve and grow. It is the rising of humankind through Maslow’s hierarchy of needs: physiological needs must be met first > then safety needs take precedence and dominate behavior then love and belonging > then esteem and finally > self-actualization. A generation gap takes place between the categories (and sub-categories) where the older generation is incapable of understanding the motivation and desires of the younger because they have not achieved this level yet themselves and the younger owe their growth and achievement to the older but often can’t see that it was achieved by standing on the backs of the older generation. There is also a parallel vertical path of spiritual enlightenment that humankind can and sometimes does switch one to leaving mortal needs behind and focusing on spiritual growth, this is the path Christ wants us on (sell what you have, give to the poor, follow me). I am the descendant of Willie Handcart people, they were very tough individuals and a very tough generation who were focused on physiological needs and sometimes failing to provide them resulting in death! But in order to be tough they were much more cut off from their feelings than we are today and they did what they had to do to get the job done and this included well defined gender roles. Introspective? Egalitarian? No, not very. Thank God their offspring are not like they were and thank God they were who they were so that their offspring could grow to this point! In a church efficiently led by Christ these gaps would be embraced and brought together as one family with love and respect for the generational welding links necessary to bring unity and oneness, but unfortunately this church is not efficiently led by Christ although I believe He still visits the wheel house but I doubt his voice is heard and understood nearly as often as he uses it because the brethren lack the prophetic skills of Joseph’s clear and frequent revelation relying instead on inspiration which is much more man than God. Thus we have a generation gap whereby the octogenarians determine the culture of the church and scratch their heads as to why there is an exodus of young people as they cling to and enforce the letter of ancient Mosaic laws while preaching the importance of family! Their position is an unresolvable oxymoron that they are blind to leaving the members focused on pharisaical debates of the evils of Coke drinking and women waring pants to church. We have truly lost our way!

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  8. Mike S on December 18, 2012 at 12:57 PM

    Rising generations are a big part of it, but I see if differently from Jared. Consider the history of the United States.

    When the Constitution was written, only white, male, landowners had any rights at all. Women were essentially property. Blacks were property. This attitude was reflected in the early leaders of the Church who said things such as:

    “I think no more of taking a wife than I do of buying a cow”

    “You see some classes of the human family that are black, uncouth, uncomely, disagreeable and low in their habits, wild, and seemingly deprived of nearly all the blessings of the intelligence that is generally bestowed upon mankind…”

    As “rising generations” came along, things have changed from how the United States was started and the early days of the Church. The natural progression with each generation has been for more equality and respect. People of all races can worship together in the temple. Women can pray in sacrament meeting. Etc.

    But there is a ways to go. For all of the reasons mentioned in the OP, women are still subjugated to men in our Church, in many areas that are non-doctrinal but just administrative. And women are doing things like “wearing pants” to bring these issues to the forefront. This is perhaps how things SHOULD be done. In an interview with President Hinckley, he was asked:

    David Ransom: At present women are not allowed to be priests in your Church…Is it possible that the rules could change in the future..?

    Gordon B. Hinckley: He could change them yes…But there’s no agitation for that. We don’t find it.

    If President Hinckley leaves the door open for possibilities, why criticize women for “agitating” for it? President Kimball sought consensus for giving blacks the priesthood for months and years before the revelation came to change it, and this after years of “agitation” by people. Is this different?

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  9. Hedgehog on December 18, 2012 at 1:17 PM

    Mike #8: “Gordon B. Hinckley: He could change them yes…But there’s no agitation for that. We don’t find it.”

    I’m speechless… When did he say this?

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  10. Frank Pellett on December 18, 2012 at 1:35 PM

    Hedgehog, it comes from an interview with Presidently Hinckley on the Australian ABC network show Compass in 1997.

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  11. Jared on December 18, 2012 at 2:04 PM

    I’m thinking of Mike S and Howard’s comments. They covered a broad range of subjects, I’d like to respond with an opinion.

    After all of the pondering, thinking, inductive and deductive reasoning is concluded on the subject at hand, there can be various conclusions (C,T,and T). However, for those who are earnestly seeking the kingdom of God there can be but one conclusion (C): acquiring the gift of the Holy Ghost.

    Followers of Christ who possess this gift, and do not resist it, are focused on those things that Heavenly Father would have them do. They have faith that they will find their way to the kingdom of God and be given the gift of eternal life.

    I believe, individuals who are guided by the Spirit are not easily deceived. I don’t believe they will challenge the apostles and prophets by joining in “boycotts” so their demands can be heard.

    These individuals have sufficient faith, and know they can take their concerns directly to the Lord and receive guidance.

    If there are enough such individuals in the church petitioning the Lord the prophets will receive guidance from the Lord and will speak in the Lord’s behalf.

    I believe there are many things the Lord would extend to the saints that would prove beneficial but He is unable to because of the lack of faith manifest by the saints.

    ———————————-
    Note:

    The Book of Mormon uses the phrase “rising generation” to refer to those who fall away from the Lord’s church.

    Both Howard and Mike S applied this phrase in a different context than I used it.

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  12. Howard on December 18, 2012 at 2:21 PM

    Jared,
    I respect your belief but disagree. I’ve been following the Spirit since 2003 sometimes at great personal cost. I have been taught these concepts by listening closely to the Spirit. It’s okay to constructively challenge the church, this is implied by President Hinckley’s agitation comment above.

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  13. Brian on December 18, 2012 at 2:37 PM

    “Individuals who are guided by the Spirit are not easily deceived.” You lived on a different planet than I do, Jared. I have never met anyone in my 60 years who was above being “deceived”. From the Hoffman purchases by the church, to the Kinderhook plates to our stake being ripped of $90,000 by one of our high council members in charge of the PFR monies, deception is no harder to find in the church or out. No one walks on water.

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  14. James on December 18, 2012 at 3:09 PM

    Your mission may have been different, but my recent stateside mission had required nightly calls for both elders and sisters. Part of the purpose was “checking in.” Although yes, the sisters would still always be “checking in” with their male leader.

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  15. hawkgrrrl on December 18, 2012 at 3:40 PM

    James – my mission was Europe and over 20 years ago, so could be different. I suppose you can see how differentiated treatment would lead male district leaders to call it a pain to have sisters in their district as a result. It would have been less of an inconvenience for them if none of us had chosen to serve.

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  16. James on December 18, 2012 at 3:47 PM

    hawkgrrrl – Right, I definitely agree with your assessment of the consequences of that policy; I was just saying there’s hope that this blatant “infantilization” of women on missions doesn’t happen everywhere/all the time.

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  17. Jared on December 18, 2012 at 3:54 PM

    #13 Brian-

    I didn’t say that a follower of Christ who actually possesses the gift of the Holy Ghost is above being deceived. I believe the prophets have the gift of the Holy Ghost and we know that Hoffman’s lies went undetected when he met with them. The Kinderhook plates may be another example (D&C 10:37).

    When I wrote “individuals who are guided by the Spirit are not easily deceived” I was specifically addressing things that have to do with their personal salvation (2 Nephi 31:13-21).

    If a church member don’t possess the faith, or even have the notion in their minds that God can be relied on to guide them in decisions pertaining to their personal salvation, then something more needs to be done to get to that point.

    I believe we live in a day where the many saints have known nothing except prosperity and therefore are spiritually anemic.

    Much of my spiritual growth came in consequence of my experiences in Viet Nam. So I see the world from that perspective. And it goes without saying, but I will, I can only speak from my life’s experiences.

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  18. Howard on December 18, 2012 at 4:19 PM

    Jared,
    I have been deceived BY the Spirit! The purpose was to gain my participation in the elimination of my own worldly possessions and to cause me embarrassment and loss of face. Most Mormons I know would say this was the adversary not the spirit but they would be Pollyanna wrong. God’s ways are not our ways and God is often indirect sometimes untruthful and often less than straight forward in His teaching methods. The Spirit was teaching me what materialism is by removing me from it and reducing my fear of loss of creditability through the process of ego reduction (ego death) by having me actually experience it. The Hoffman deception may have been allowed for similar reasons or to bring wandering prophets to their their knees seeking a closer relationship with Christ!

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  19. Jared on December 18, 2012 at 4:42 PM

    Howard-

    I appreciate what you’ve relate. I think there are many ways Heavenly Father deals with us.

    We have the prophets and scriptures to help us while in mortality. If we can gain the gift of the Holy Ghost then we have a personal guide.

    The most important function of the prophets and scriptures is to show us how to obtain the gift of the Holy Ghost.

    We certainly don’t have be be perfect to acquire the gift of the Holy Ghost, but we do need to be sincere.

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  20. Will on December 18, 2012 at 5:51 PM

    I would like to see women without pants

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  21. Mike S on December 18, 2012 at 6:21 PM

    Granted my mission was over 20 years ago and in Europe, but the sisters NEVER checked in. I was, at various times, zone leader, mission secretary and assistant. And never, at any time, did anyone check in with anyone else, male or female. That’s what companionships are for.

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  22. Mike S on December 18, 2012 at 6:22 PM

    #20 Will: I would like to see women without pants

    This isn’t that kind of site. :-)

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  23. Roger on December 18, 2012 at 8:03 PM

    40+ years ago 19-year old missionaries could be very immature and extremely judgmental. There’s we’re sister missionaries who should have been APs and who ought to now be running things. I was capable of extremely chauvinistic and bigoted behavior whilst on my mission and later at the Y. To the extent that I have discarded my foolish and hateful notions, I have to acknowledge that I owe none of it to any LDS experience. It was in the business world, having women as peers, subordinates and as bosses, that caused any scales to fall from my eyes. It wasn’t dress codes that changed behavior and attitudes. It was the sad experience and the further prospect of scarce and special talent going elsewhere that made many of us realize that our heretofore benighted approaches were costing us big time.

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  24. Mormon Heretic on December 18, 2012 at 8:17 PM

    I looked around but didn’t see any women in pants in my ward. My wife said she saw someone in pants and was surprised.

    I wore a black dress tshirt (no tie) and sportcoat, and I didn’t shave…. Then again, those things aren’t abnormal for me to wear to church, so it would have surprised no one.

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  25. Hedgehog on December 19, 2012 at 1:17 AM

    #11 Jared: “I believe, individuals who are guided by the Spirit are not easily deceived. I don’t believe they will challenge the apostles and prophets by joining in “boycotts” so their demands can be heard.”
    Also taking into consideration your further comments. Reading many of the stories of women’s experiences about why they decided to wear pants to church, many of them certainly believe they were guided by the Spirit to do so. As do I. It wasn’t something I did lightly. I wanted to be sure I could attend the meeting in the right Spirit and frame of mind, and I did.

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  26. Hedgehog on December 19, 2012 at 1:23 AM

    Frank #10, Thanks for that link.
    Not aware of any agitation? Wasn’t that one of the topics some of the September Six were grappling with, and agitating about?
    Well, with the massive expansion in the internet and blogging since, I don’t think that could be said any more.

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  27. Hedgehog on December 19, 2012 at 1:37 AM

    Howard #7, I have been pondering your remarks. It’s true that we owe our progress to the generations that have gone before, and I agree it is important to recognise them for that. I was feeling rather sad that they didn’t get the opportunity to experience our position, but then I recalled Caroline’s comment here (http://www.feministmormonhousewives.org/2012/12/feminism-101-why-pants-matter-a-brief-primer-on-social-norms/) near the bottom of the comments.
    (What is the etiquette for referring to comments on different blogs/posts?).
    Whatever one makes of her comment, I did like the idea in conjunction with your remarks, that just as we can look back at the lives of our ancestors and learn from them, appreciate their sacrifices and build on that, they also can look down on us and what we are now doing with what they have given us, and be able to continue their learning from our experiences. It feels like a true turning of the hearts concept.

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  28. hawkgrrrl on December 19, 2012 at 2:00 AM

    Jared: ” I don’t believe they will challenge the apostles and prophets by joining in “boycotts” so their demands can be heard.” How is wearing pants, which the church quickly stated are allowed, challenging the apostles and prophets?? Make no mistake, this was challenging the culture, a culture the leadership quickly disavowed as coming from them.

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  29. Howard on December 19, 2012 at 6:25 AM

    Hedgehog,
    Thanks for 27. You wrote:I was feeling rather sad that they didn’t get the opportunity to experience our position… I think they will and it wouldn’t surprise me if we found ourselves experiencing theirs; that is watching those still alive and realizing our own ignorant bias and lack of enlightenment!

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  30. Jared on December 19, 2012 at 10:53 AM

    #28 hawkgrrrl-

    Change the culture? I think it would be more accurate to say they want church leaders to get a revelation on the priesthood for women like they did for blacks.

    The way they sent this message was by wearing pants. Pants is not the issue, as I’m sure you know, the priesthood is at the center of their demonstration, boycott, however one wants to put it.

    The fact the scriptures, the word of God, center on men leading isn’t a creation of men, it is the mind and will of God.

    As for the blacks receiving the priesthood, it was always understood that one day they would. To my knowledge that isn’t the case for women.

    I’ve always understood the definition of a God to mean a glorified man and woman. That says a great deal about the role of women in God’s plan. What greater blessing can a woman or a man receive?

    Should the Lord reveal something more then that will be up to Him. Until such a day comes, we’re obligated to sustain the apostles and prophets.

    If one chooses otherwise their free to do so, but they won’t be eligible for the same blessings as those who follow the prophets.

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  31. Howard on December 19, 2012 at 11:24 AM

    Jared,
    I think it’s clear to the vast majority of Mormon feminists few non-feminists support them in the goal of female ordination. So they have set their sights on areas that are more attainable because they do not require doctrinal change.

    men leading…is the mind and will of God. Well, maybe it once was but it’s interesting to note that President Hinckley implied this could be changed if there was agitation for it.

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  32. Brian on December 19, 2012 at 11:39 AM

    “As for the blacks receiving the priesthood, it was always understood that one day they would.”

    There are countless statements by a prophet speaking in his official capacity (BY) that the blacks would not receive the priesthood in this life. The belief that they would at some point in this life came much later.

    The church would not have the kinder, gentler teachings on gays if it were not for society as a whole moving in that direction. If not for prop 8 and the public backlash, the church would not have gone before the SLC city council endorsing gay housing legislation. Never in a million years. The evidence for that is the church’s quiet but certain efforts to pass the Utah constitutional amendment for there to be no legal recognition of any gay partnership, union, marriage, etc. Church leaders are very aware of the public square conversation. That is why they have such prolific PR efforts. I am not a woman, I no longer attend the LDS church and don’t pretend to understand all feminist issues. Raising consciousness is never a bad thing. When people are hard of hearing, you have to talk louder.

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  33. Jared on December 19, 2012 at 12:13 PM

    #31 Howard

    I don’t see that Pres. Hinckley implied that if enough women “agitate” then they could have the priesthood. But he did say that God could make a about women and the priesthood and that is the only way it would happen.

    “He could change them yes. If He were to change them that’s the only way it would happen.”

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  34. Jared on December 19, 2012 at 12:14 PM

    Brian-

    Why don’t you attend the LDS church any longer?

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  35. Howard on December 19, 2012 at 12:26 PM

    Jared,
    Sorry, I don’t understand all of your comment but President Hinckley clearly said he could change the rules to allow women to be priests BUT there’s no agitation for that. Implying if there were agitation he might give women the priesthood but since there’s none he won’t bother. That implication is clearly an invitation to agitate for change! And it implies the quantity of agitation affects the motivation and outcome.

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  36. Jared on December 19, 2012 at 12:32 PM

    Howard-

    My last comment was poorly written, sorry.

    I copied part of the conversation so all could read it and decide for themselves what Pres Hinckley was saying.

    RB: At present women are not allowed to be priests in your Church. Why is that?

    GBH: That’s right, because the Lord has put it that way. Now women have a very prominent place in this Church. They have there own organisation. Probably the largest women’s organisation in the world of 3.7 million members. There own ???. And the women of that organisation sit on Boards. Our Board of Education things of that kind. They counsel with us. We counsel together. They 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.

    RB: They all say that?

    GBH: Yes. All except a oh you’ll find a little handful one or two here and there, but in 10 million members you expect that.

    RB: You say the Lord has put it that way. What do you mean by that?

    GBH: I mean that’s a part of His programme. Of course it is, yes.

    RB: Is it possible that the rules could change in the future as the rules are on Blacks ?

    GBH: He could change them yes. If He were to change them that’s the only way it would happen.

    RB: So you’d have to get a revelation?

    GBH: Yes. But there’s no agitation for that. We don’t find it. Our women are happy. They’re satisfied. These bright, able, wonderful women who administer their own organisation are very happy. Ask them. Ask my wife.

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  37. Brian on December 19, 2012 at 12:35 PM

    While being active for 40 years, I struggled with the historical and doctrinal issues that so many do. I put them on the proverbial shelf. I think it was the Book of Abraham “translation” that was the straw that broke the camels back. Joseph Smith putting in black and white what the facsimiles said and every Egyptologist since saying his translation was meaningless did me in. It was basically the mind winning the battle with the heart.

    I have come to believe the feelings that members attribute to the (one and only) spirit are the same good feelings that hundreds of millions (billions?) of members of other religions have but point them in other directions. For every convinced Mormon, there are thousands of convinced other believers.

    I can tell you are a good person, Jared. While your beliefs are very important to you and you are convinced you “know”, you show more patience that the typical internet true believer that I have encountered. I appreciate that.

    My patience, on the other hand, has long since worn thin since I believe Joseph Smith quite simply made it all up and I fell for it.

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  38. Mike S on December 19, 2012 at 12:42 PM

    #36 Jared: You quote, correctly:

    GBH: He could change them yes. If He were to change them that’s the only way it would happen.

    RB: So you’d have to get a revelation?

    GBH: Yes. But there’s no agitation for that. We don’t find it. Our women are happy. They’re satisfied. These bright, able, wonderful women who administer their own organisation are very happy. Ask them. Ask my wife.

    That is how revelation has occurred in the Church. Something troubles someone enough that they put time and thought into thinking about the problem. And many times, whether its giving blacks the priesthood, banning polygamy, or even starting a new church, God answers the seeking soul.

    But the key is that we (and our leaders) have to be seeking. If the leaders simply assume that the status quo is sufficient, they won’t even be considering the question. As President Hinckley said, “there’s no agitation for that. We don’t find it. Our women are happy. They’re satisfied.”

    But that’s not necessarily true. There are a number of women who are unsatisfied with their role in the LDS Church. In my view, the point of things like this is NOT to force the leaders to give women the priesthood, but to “put it on their radar”. If the leaders see that perhaps the status quo is damaging to up to 50% of the Church, perhaps they might ASK if things should be different.

    Now, the answer might be no, nothing is to change. But maybe, the answer might be yes. Many things that prophets have emphatically taught against have changed over time. Maybe this is one of them. And unless people “agitate”, the question will never be asked.

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  39. Jared on December 19, 2012 at 1:16 PM

    Brian-

    Thanks for sharing your experience. I can understand how you reached the conclusion you did.

    I might have reached the same conclusion if my experience was the same as yours.

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  40. Jared on December 19, 2012 at 1:23 PM

    Mike S-

    I agree with your thought.

    In #30 I wrote:

    Should the Lord reveal something more then that will be up to Him. Until such a day comes, we’re obligated to sustain the apostles and prophets.

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  41. Howard on December 19, 2012 at 1:58 PM

    Sustaining does not preclude agitating for change! Pres. Eyring: By our sustaining vote, we make solemn promises. We promise to pray for the Lord’s servants and that He will lead and strengthen them (see D&C 93:51). We pledge that we will look for and expect to feel inspiration from God in their counsel and whenever they act in their calling (see D&C 1:38)…As we raise a hand to sustain a person, we commit to work for whatever purpose of the Lord that person is called to accomplish.

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  42. Rigel Hawthorne on December 19, 2012 at 1:59 PM

    The only sister that I saw wearing pants was one who returned to the church this year after not attending for 20 years and everyone was happy to have her there.

    It’s funny, I think if men had worn purple shirts to my ward, that could possibly have caused a bigger reaction than sisters wearing pants. A photo on FMH showed a member of the bishopric wearing a purple shirt, and I can’t see that happening in our ward without the bishop reacting. If young men had worn bold purple shirts, I think they may have even been asked to refrain from passing/blessing the sacrament, or at least told to be an usher.

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  43. Jeff Spector on December 19, 2012 at 3:23 PM

    “But there’s no agitation for that.”

    Translation: We (the Brethren) are not asking.

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  44. hawkgrrrl on December 19, 2012 at 7:17 PM

    Jared – there are some LDS feminists who would agitate for female priesthood, but certainly not all. Even if they did, so what? As you say, it’s only used in service to others (which is, BTW, what all leaders say). As a leader in business with over a thousand employees, the majority of my time isn’t spent sitting in my office contemplating the awesomeness of my power but solving the real life day to day problems brought to me and trying to help my employees achieve their full potential. That’s the nature of leadership. The more diverse the leadership team, the more creative the problem solving, the better the listening, the more richness of insight. But that is not why I participated.

    Most women I know who participated in the pants day did it to show solidarity for women and to make it clear as active sisters that feminists (whether they want the priesthood or not) and women in pants have a place in our church. That is also why the men wore purple shirts. It was a gesture of Christian love. The sexism I encounter in the church is usually either generational or means well. It is a sexism that is lacking in self-awareness. Most people at church aren’t sexist at all in my experience, which makes it much easier to enjoy spending time with them. It’s often a cultural extension of the organization.

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  45. hawkgrrrl on December 19, 2012 at 7:49 PM

    Jared – I strongly recommend this article: http://www.slate.com/blogs/quora/2012/12/17/do_some_women_hate_feminism.html

    It’s a good explanation why some people are so uncomfortable with feminism when feminism is really just about equal rights and respect for women, something everyone wants. E. Oaks recently spoke in my stake and he was very clearly pointing out the need for equal rights, equal pay, and equal respect for women. According to this article (and my impression when he spoke), he’s a feminist.

    Perhaps this is your reason for disliking feminism: “People who benefit from women being inferior to men. This includes both men and women. For example, this could include women who want to be financially supported, and men who want to feel valued because of their financial support.” This is a common narrative in the church, a path many have advocated. However, individual exceptions apply. Not everyone is cut from the same mold nor should be.

    Here’s what I don’t like about feminism at times: “People who are opposed to abortion, sex before marriage, etc. You can be pro-life and a feminist. But, some people might be categorically opposed to feminism because the majority of feminist are pro-choice, pro-contraception, pro-sex worker rights, etc.” I’m not opposed to choice (I wouldn’t strike down Roe v. Wade) but I would never recommend an abortion and I believe pre-marital sex among teens is a particular disadvantage to women. The outcomes are not equal should the girl get pregnant; the risk for girls is naturally higher, at least physically, but probably also emotionally.

    The only common ground among feminists is that they want women and men to be free to pursue the lives they choose, having equal rights to do so.

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  46. Jared on December 19, 2012 at 9:06 PM

    Hawkgrrrl-

    I agree with with most of what you’ve covered. I would define myself as a feminist from what you’ve written.

    I have daughters and I’ve wanted them to have all the opportunities my boys have in the marketplace. So far, with the education and raw talent they have their earning the same income a man does in their career fields.

    We’re talking across categories, however. I approached the pants issue 100% from the perspective of church members who’ve made covenants.

    Laying up treasure in heaven shouldn’t take a back seat to anything else we do in this life. My wife sacrificed her opportunity for advanced education so we could raise a family of boys and girls. She was at home with each of them as they grew up. All the while, she worked part-time in our business and helped me deal with the thousands of customers we acquired. All of our children are adults. We still have our business, yet we are able to serve as missionaries in our area.

    We’ve tried to cover all of the bases and have been blessed in our efforts. It hasn’t been easy–its has been an adventure.

    I appreciate your thoughtful and well thought out response to the comments I’ve made on your post. Thanks

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  47. Douglas on December 26, 2012 at 9:39 PM

    Excellent posts by most, but esp. HawkChick’s on women and the Priesthood.
    What GBH said is accurate. IF he’d been directed by the Savior to ordain women to the Priesthood, he’d have done so PDQ. That’s the only concern. What does the Savior want for His Church? For now, He doesn’t want women to have it. This in light of IAW “the Gospel according to Doug” that this same Savior has an eternal companion and likely there is no man who ever has a higher regard for the female of our species than He. So women can attire themselves in “pantalones” in Church for all I care, and let them agitate about their role both in forums as this and in counsel with their local leaders. They should listen to all legitimate concerns and gripes, but ultimately the changes come via revelation, not agitation.
    To me, it’s not that I don’t value my Priesthood because I do treasure it, but having it alone does not make me a better man, and it certainly doesn’t automatically make me, as a man who has it, any better than any women. Au contraire, mes souers. If anything, it reminds me that I have a responsibility to serve others, my sisters both in and out of the Church as calling(s) and/or circumstances deem appropriate. Lastly, we Brethren need to recognize that inability to bear the Priesthood doesn’t preclude leadership skills in our sisters. The Bishop or Stake President who ignores the talents of the sisters under him is not serving his charges well and is allowing his foolishness to impede the work of our Lord.
    This coming from an amateur Sci-Fi writer for whom the epitome of feminine strength is the “Emperor’s Hand” and later the wife of Luke Skywalker. No woman looked finer with a light saber and a holdout blaster…

    http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Mara_Jade_Skywalker

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