A Few Things

December 15, 2012

By Gabrielle.

Hello, Friends. How are you holding up? No doubt, you are probably trying to wrap your head around the horrible news of yesterday, and at the same time attempting to enjoy a holiday weekend with your little ones. I find my attempts to do both absolutely brain bending. Word of the shootings came to me yesterday (Friday) as I was writing this exact A Few Things post. Of course, as soon as I heard the news, all work ceased. I couldn’t form another thought, and certainly not a sentence. And I know I’m not alone — my inbox pretty much dried up yesterday, when normally it would be very busy on a December Friday.

I don’t know that my brain is any further along at comprehending what happened yesterday, but I woke up today to my kids feeling festive and talking about Christmas and wanting to visit the local creche exhibit and I feel compelled to at least attempt some normalcy, so I’m writing this post and hoping it will bring some needed distraction, and possibly even cheer, to anyone who’s feeling overwhelmed. I’m going to write the list in my typical, cheerful-with-lots-of-exclamation-points tone — please forgive me if it feels out of place. They are typed with a heavy heart.

Here are a few things I’ve been wanting to share with you:
- Hah! It’s French, but I think you’ll follow along. Thanks, Monique.
- The anatomy of a holiday card.
- Family project: Recycling a canvas.
- I oohed and aahed through every photographThanks, Danni.
- Maintain Your Joy.
- Benchwarmer has his day in the spotlight. Happy, happy!
- For my LDS friends, I just heard about this yesterday (apparently my 12 member branch was the last to know : ). I love my church and I will definitely be wearing pants.
- You’ve seen this before but it never fails to bring a smile.

And here are my posts on Babble this week:
- How do you display your stockings? Click through for tons of fun ideas!
- Cookie exchange this weekend? Here you go: 20 ideas and recipes.
- More details on my last-minute grocery store gift picks. What would you add?

I hope you are having a good weekend. I hope you’re able to find a hopeful or lovely thought and cling to it until the cloud lifts. And if you’re compelled to take action, I hope you’re able to find something fruitful and satisfying to do. I will meet you back here on Monday. I miss you already.

kisses,
Gabrielle

P.S. — The image at top is the holly swag on my front door. See more on my Instagram stream.

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{ 101 comments }

1 Jenny D. December 15, 2012 at 9:39 am

Well….I too am a Mormon and I too love my church but I don’t believe that the clothes we choose to wear to church should be used to make a political statement. There’s no dress code or anything that says what we have to wear to church so dresses/skirts, or pants could be worn by women at anytime. Everyone should feel welcome at church regardless of what they are wearing or what their political opinions are.

2 Design Mom December 15, 2012 at 1:36 pm

Hi Jenny! It sounds like you have strong opinions about this, and I won’t assume I can change them. But here are my thoughts in response to your comment:

1) I was curious about why you think of this as a political issue. I don’t consider it to be one, and wasn’t sure what you meant.

2) As for the dress code, you’re absolutely right of course, there is no rule. But I think it would be silly to pretend there’s not a Mormon social norm telling us that women should wear skirts/dresses to church. Going against the social norm of skirts-on-women-at-church is what’s causing such strong reactions. For a more thorough discussion of social norms, I found this article helpful and unemotional.

Your last sentence — “Everyone should feel welcome at church regardless of what they are wearing or what their political opinions are.” — I certainly and strongly agree with! And that is a huge driving force for me personally, and the very reason I’m wearing pants tomorrow. There are many, many stalwart members, that have doubts or questions about the gospel and/or church culture, that do not feel welcome at church.

By wearing pants, I’m in no way shunning those who are wearing dresses, instead, I am saying to those who have doubts and questions but are trying to remain faithful: I hear you. I am one of you. You can talk to me about whatever’s on your mind.

3 Jenny D. December 15, 2012 at 3:22 pm

Thanks for your response Gabrielle! I will admit that the first I heard of this was from your link so I did do more reading and I was wrong in saying that it was a political thing. However it is still making a statement. I have family members who are homosexual or struggle with the gender inequality issues and I have had friends from as far back as high school, nearly 20 years ago, who felt more comfortable wearing pants to church. I struggle with some of the Mormon-social-norms myself and I know that there are several topics that members of the church tend to be silent about (I have been through a divorce which can be a tender topic at times at church). With that said, I hope that my friends, family, and acquaintances know that I support them, no matter what, through my actions every Sunday even though I choose to wear a skirt to church. I hope that helps explain where I am coming from a bit better.

4 Design Mom December 15, 2012 at 4:19 pm

And thank you right back for your response, Jenny. I do love knowing more of your backstory and it definitely helps me see where you’re coming from a bit better.

I think, like you and like me, every member of the church struggles with Mormon culture issues from time to time. How can they not? No organization can meet the needs of its members perfectly, all of the time. I hope we as a church can get more comfortable talking about the hard stuff. It seems like a congregation should offer its best comfort and welcoming arms when a member is going through the tough stuff (like a divorce, or a faith crisis).

I’m sure many of your friends, family, and acquaintances know that you support them no matter what. Probably they all do. But if you’re unsure that they know for certain, there’s an easy way to demonstrate it tomorrow. : )

5 Starr December 15, 2012 at 9:42 am

Hi Gabrielle, yesterday was such a shock. As an expat, it makes me so sad that such terrible things happen at “home.”

I was going to be wearing trousers tomorrow, too. But a pair of unwell children means a parent has to stay home & my husband is teaching a class so…my participation will have to be in spirit rather than in act. But I can’t wait to hear if anyone else in our ward stands out — and I plan on giving them a big “thumbs up” when I see them next.

6 Design Mom December 15, 2012 at 1:38 pm

It’s so true, Starr. Watching it all happen from an ocean away is so strange.

I hope your child feels better soon!

7 ali December 15, 2012 at 10:25 am
8 Krista Hansen December 15, 2012 at 12:52 pm

That article was fantastic! Thanks so much for the link!

9 Design Mom December 15, 2012 at 1:40 pm

I hadn’t seen it. Very interesting! I don’t agree with at least one of her key premises, but I’ll have to give it a deeper read to make sure I understand where she’s coming from. Thanks for the link!

10 Elyssa December 15, 2012 at 11:37 am

Thank You, Gabrielle, for acknowledging what a difficult and horrible time it is for everyone in light of yesterday’s events. And also – thank you for posting even though it might not have been an easy thing to do. I needed a good post from you to take my mind off things for a few minutes, and you provided just that. I appreciate it.

11 Design Mom December 15, 2012 at 1:41 pm

So glad to hear it, Elyssa! I spent several hours seeking out the cheeriest links I could find. : )

12 Pamela Balabuszko-Reay December 15, 2012 at 11:55 am

You always spread love and light and your post is most welcome.

13 Design Mom December 15, 2012 at 1:41 pm

Thank you for the kind words, Pamela!

14 Anonymous December 15, 2012 at 12:47 pm

I consider myself a well educated, faithful, opinionated member of the LDS church. I do not believe that Sunday Sacrament meetings are the place to express personal issues and political statements. What next, women will be wearing pants in temples? Really? Does that seem right to you? No, because it’s not. We are not about living “gender equality” through what the world defines it as. If one thinks we are old fashioned and if one believes “that much of the cultural, structural, and even doctrinal inequality that persists in the LDS Church today stems from the church’s reliance on — and enforcement of — rigid gender roles that bear no relationship to reality.” (from the group All Enlist), then maybe one should do a reality check of their own and ask oneself if they truly believe, in detail, the teachings of the church and why one is even a member if they don’t. The gospel is not about this. It’s about the Savior and living a his gospel. It’s not about feeling like you need to prove something by wearing pants.

15 Design Mom December 15, 2012 at 1:47 pm

Oh dear. You feel such strong feelings, but don’t dare attach your name to them. The fact that you felt you had to leave this comment anonymously is yet another reason to wear pants tomorrow. We should be able to discuss challenging topics openly and freely — especially at church!

I’m not sure if you even realize it, but you just told me that you think I shouldn’t be a member of the church. Do you really think that? It’s a really awful, cruel thing to say.

If you’d like to edit your comment, feel free to email me and I’ll make the changes for you.

16 Dani December 16, 2012 at 12:31 am

Gabrielle, you are beyond classy. Thank you so much for sharing this with your readers. I have been disheartened to see some of the comments directed to those of us who have chosen to wear pants this week. It seems like such a small, trivial thing but many people (our people!) have really been upset by it. I don’t feel like this is a protest at all and have been saddened that so many of my sisters in the church have accused me of that, as well as calling me to repentance. On the other hand, I have had some lovely friends come to understand some of the hurt and loneliness I have felt and it has been a blessing to be able to share with them my concerns. It has opened up a dialogue that I didn’t think I would be able to share, even with my closest friends. So I am proudly wearing my best pants tomorrow, with gratitude.

17 Design Mom December 16, 2012 at 5:20 am

I’m so sorry to hear that anyone is calling you to repentance for wanting to bring light to an issue you feel strongly about. Breaks my heart. Wearing pants does seem like a small, trivial thing on one hand. On the other, it clearly demonstrates how deeply our church culture runs and the harmful effects it can have if we’re not careful.

18 Kari December 16, 2012 at 2:54 pm

But this really isn’t about pants. That’s where I have a problem. I don’t mind at all if women wear pants. Go for it! But this is only the first step of All Enlisted to change things in the church, and I see it all going too far. I guess we will see. I did not wear pants today because I don’t support where they’re going.

Gabby, I know one of the women who started this group (Kimberly brinkerhoff baptista), and I have always felt like you remind me of her. Funny now that you two have come together in this way!

19 Design Mom December 16, 2012 at 3:40 pm

Hi Kari. For me, today was definitely about the pants and what they symbolize. I don’t know what All Enlisted is, and sadly, I can’t say I’ve heard of Ms. Baptista — but I’ll be sure to do to a search!

Just out of curiosity, when you say this group wants to change things and go too far, what is it you have in mind?

20 Kari December 16, 2012 at 9:51 pm

This doesn’t look like it’s going to post under your comment, but this is the only place to click reply! So sorry if our conversation gets out of order.

I hope I’ll be able to explain my thoughts clearly. I’ve been reading about this topic for days, so my thoughts and feelings are coming from various sources. (Plus I’m doing this on an iPad, so this is trickier than cutting and pasting on a computer!)

I will start at the beginning. Stephanie Lauritzen, one of the founders, if not the main one, wrote a blog post about it that rubbed me the wrong way. This was written right before it all “went down,” I think. Here’s one of many parts that rubbed me the wrong way:

“Can you imagine what would happen if the Mormon Feminist movement stopped playing nice? If faithful, devoted women stood as Silent Sentinels outside the gates of the Church Office Building. If the women who loved the church enough to face accusations of apostasy and potential excommunication organized a sit-out, so that one Sunday no Mormon Feminists came to church.”

Then later she mentions starting revolutions. Let me know if you’d like me to explain why I don’t like those parts of her post or if you see where I’m coming from. The link to that post is: http://mormonchildbride.blogspot.com/2012/12/the-dignity-of-your-womanhood.html

Next! To explain who All Enlisted is, it is just the name of the group behind the event. I read on Jezebel.com that this event will be the first of…we will see how many! Here’s a quote:

“Both women said that All Enlisted’s goal is to organize acts of peaceful resistance to gender inequality — hopefully, “Wear Pants to Church Day” will just be the first — and that they wanted to start small by confronting a cultural norm instead of some of the larger issues Mormon women face.”

Like I said in my previous comment, I’m not sure that I like where this could go. So all I can do it wait and see. Here’s the link to that article, although I’m not sure it is a post worth reading: http://jezebel.com/5967794/mormon-feminists-under-fire-for-encouraging-women-to-wear-pants-to-church

I have a few other thoughts regarding where they may be hoping to go with this (based off of several comments on their Facebook page, so I’m not totally sure if All Enlisted totally agrees with this or if it is just other women ), which is regarding women and the priesthood. I know it’s a topic that is out there, and it just opens a whole new thing about believing prophets and stuff like that. So I won’t quite go there.

Hopefully I’ve made some sense here. Such a complicated issue!

21 Amy December 15, 2012 at 2:10 pm

As a Mormon, I have a hard time understanding women’s desires to wear pants to church as a statement. I’m not saying it’s wrong; I just don’t understand the need. If people want to know who else doesn’t understand gender roles and wants support I think there are better ways to do it. I don’t have any issues with gender in the Church- I believe that men and women are created differently and that it is a beautiful thing. I believe God gives the Priesthood to men, not women, I am ok with that. I am grateful for the blessings of the Priesthood in my life and feel fully blessed even though I don’t hold it. I think for those who struggle with gender issues then going to the Lord with concerns and questions is definitely something that should be done.
I just feel that Sundays should be a time that we focus on being rejuvenated and learning the gospel. We come to worship the Lord and are asked to wear our best clothing. If you feel most comfortable and dressed well in pants, then by all means wear pants to church every Sunday (we have people in our ward who do that and we love them the same). But if you feel that wearing your Sunday best means dressing in a skirt or dress, then I think that is appropriate.
I just hope that those who attend in pants are not trying to distract from the whole purpose of going to Church- partaking of the sacrament and worshiping the Lord.

22 Design Mom December 15, 2012 at 2:30 pm

Some thoughts in response:

- I appreciate you stating: “I’m not saying it’s wrong; I just don’t understand the need.” Thank you for not saying it’s wrong. Perhaps someday you’ll understand the need. Perhaps you won’t.

- You mention that you think there are “better ways to do it”. I’m sure there are other ways, but this seems as good as any. Do you have something specific in mind? An alternative suggestion?

- I also believe that Sundays are a great day to spend “learning the gospel”. And I would definitely say challenging topics are part of the gospel. I can’t think of a better time (or a safer time, where we’re with a group of people committed to the gospel!) to have discussions about troubling points in church history, or the idea and role of gender in this life and the next, or the odd traditions of the word of wisdom, than during our Sunday meetings. We’re there to learn, right? Isn’t it better to discuss topics like this in a church setting, than having your teenager learn about troubling past racism on the internet or other hostile environments?

- I’m sure those wearing pants won’t be trying to distract from worshipping the Lord. My hope is that those wearing dresses won’t say: Well, I’m okay with how things are now, so I’m not going to acknowledge that what others are feeling and struggling with is real.

23 Marianne December 15, 2012 at 2:47 pm

ugh. Thats what I want to say.

24 Design Mom December 15, 2012 at 2:53 pm

There’s a lot to say ugh to right now.

25 Adrienne December 15, 2012 at 2:50 pm

I know you are a lover of great beauty, and thought that because of that and your tenderness for children you would want to know about this petition started by my sister-in-law to encourage the media to focus on love and not fear, to help us all remember those innocent lives that were lost, the heroes who are stepping up in the aftermath, rather than pay any attention at all to the killer. You can find the petition at http://www.change.org/petitions/cnn-fox-news-huffington-post-cnbc-nbc-cbs-abc-don-t-show-the-ct-shooter-show-those-who-are-spreading-love?utm_campaign=autopublish&utm_medium=facebook&utm_source=share_petition&utm_term=282382

26 Design Mom December 15, 2012 at 2:52 pm

Thank you for the link, Adrienne! I will definitely check it out.

27 Sarah December 15, 2012 at 3:29 pm

It is a hard day here and there is much discussion (some full of nastiness and fear, some full of compassion). Like Elyssa, I came to your blog looking for a bit of a reprieve, some beauty to cut through this fog. I found it, not only in your holiday post and links, but in the measured, respectful tone you take in your comments section.

Thank you,

Sarah in NJ

28 Design Mom December 15, 2012 at 4:10 pm

It does feel like a fog. That’s such a great description, Sarah. And thank you for your kind words. Made my day!

29 Victoria W December 15, 2012 at 3:43 pm

And whether you post my insanely long comment or not, please know how much I enjoy your blog. It brings beauty and humor to my day. And as a French teacher who used to live in Rouen, I love it when you post about your life in Normandy!

30 Design Mom December 15, 2012 at 4:02 pm

Oh dear, Victoria — I think I missed your insanely long comment. Did it not go through? I want to read it!

We are headed to Rouen after church tomorrow. I love it there!

31 Victoria W December 15, 2012 at 4:13 pm

I’m going to email it to you as I’ve tried twice to post it but it won’t go through. It’s just my non-LDS perspective on the pants issue. And I’d love for you to post it as the pants/skirts debate has been a hindrance to my potential involvement in the Mormon church (my husband’s family’s religion). It’s a criticism I hope sounds respectful; I certainly intend it to be.

32 Design Mom December 15, 2012 at 4:20 pm

Please do send it!

33 Design Mom December 15, 2012 at 4:33 pm

Received it, and posted it below.

34 Sarah December 15, 2012 at 3:53 pm

That Tic-Tac video was hilarious! Oh, my goodness. Can you imagine being that person?! I love that the one guy totally hightailed it out of there.

On the topic of the pants-wearing… I have mixed feelings. Initially, I thought the pants wearing was actually a great idea–I think it’s a great way to open up dialogue about what is doctrine and what is the “societal norm” or culture in the Church. I know there are members whose best clothing IS slacks or their nicest jeans, so to me it’s irrelevant what they’re wearing–for me, the attitude behind it is what matters. I’ll be the first to admit to wearing a skirt every week and sometimes having my mind almost as far as possible from worship because I’m angry or sad or distracted by thoughts of work, etc. So dressing the part doesn’t mean you’re automatically better suited for a spiritual experience and communion with God.
The thing that turned me off of participating in wearing pants tomorrow, is that I don’t support all the issues that were tied to it in the background. I believe that men and women are equals, and while–like I said above–I think the women who started the All Enlisted group have 100% valid feelings and issues that should be addressed, I personally got more a feeling of protest from the group and their statements about enlightening the General Authorities about women’s issues and inequality. Maybe I understood what I read wrong, but that idea of protesting or making it an issue of women’s equality, rather than a discussion of why our Church culture can make people feel unwelcome, led me to decide against participating. Because to me, the wires were crossed, and the Pants Day seemed presented as one thing (support those who may not have felt welcome because they look or dress differently, open a dialogue about Church cultures vs. Church doctrine), while it is actually a group statement about women’s rights and equality. I don’t know if I’m explaining myself properly, but essentially I feel like there are two issues being presented, and it’s creating a breeding ground for misunderstanding of the motives, when I know the intention is to create MORE understanding and dialogue.
I truly hope that those opposed to the whole pants-wearing event are able to be respectful. I would truly love to see some positive dialogue come out of this–the culture vs. doctrine issue is something my friends and I discuss all the time. And while I personally don’t struggle much with issues of inequality in the church, I understand that for many women it’s a huge issue. I feel like my experiences have been so positive in the church, and reading some women’s experiences makes me furious and so sad, so I understand the need for discussion. I’m sure, in spite of the negative dialogue, there has been a lot of good dialogue happening as well, so I hope that continues far beyond tomorrow. Enjoy the rest of your weekend, Gabrielle!

35 Design Mom December 15, 2012 at 4:09 pm

I think I hear you. If it’s about doctrine vs culture, you’re okay with it. If it becomes about women’s issues and equality specifically, you’re not on board — or not on board as much. Is that about right?

For me, the first issue (doctrine vs culture) so informs the second issue (women’s issues and equality) that they become one and the same.

I encourage you to go with your initial thoughts! : ) I’m sure those who are struggling will be overjoyed to know you acknowledge what they’re going through (even if you’re not going through it yourself).

36 Tori December 16, 2012 at 6:39 am

Amen, Sarah. Turning sacrament meeting into a protest is more than unfortunate. I too have many issues regarding the culture of the church, but a protest during our most sacred meeting of the week is at least a distraction, if not contentious. Will those coming in both skirts and pants have their minds on the emblems of the Savior’s sacrifice or the questions of gender equality? I’m sure there will be both preparing, but making sacrament meeting the platform for this expression will make it harder for many. Short sighted.

37 tori December 16, 2012 at 6:44 am

Present, not preparing. That is what happens when you do this stuff on your phone!

38 Design Mom December 16, 2012 at 10:39 am

“Turning sacrament meeting into a protest is more than unfortunate.”

I’ve read several comments along these lines and feel they are misinformed in kind of a big way. Here’s what I mean:

- Wearing pants to church, which is not against the rules, is not turning sacrament meeting into anything. Heck, if you arrive late and everyone is already sitting down, will you even know who is wearing pants? Wearing pants is a quiet, peaceful symbol to let the disenfranchised know they are not alone.

- But much bigger than that, we have many examples from our church leaders that they are A-OK with the idea of bringing up divisive topics during sacrament meeting. Let’s take the California elections of 2008 as an example. Letters from the First Presidency about the topic of the ballot were read from the pulpit all across the state during Sacrament meeting. I’d say wearing pants is about 1000 times less divisive than that was.

For a more recent example, let’s consider how many times we heard the November election mentioned in sacrament meeting over the last 6 months. If the Bishop in your congregation didn’t stand up, interrupt the election talk and ask the members to refrain from the subject (I did hear of one bishop who did this and assume there were others), then his silence was approval.

- I hope it’s not, but it feels disingenuous when I read a comment about protecting the sanctity of sacrament meeting, because the comments aren’t followed up with a history of dedication. If someone were to say: “I think sacrament meeting is an inappropriate time for this topic and all divisive topics, in fact, during the 2008 California election I wrote letter after letter to the First Presidency asking them to keep the ballot topic from sacrament meeting.” Well then, that would feel less disingenuous.

- It just seems like during the pants-to-church discussions, this topic is the only topic people feel is inappropriate for sacrament meeting.

Does any one else feel like this about these types of comments? Tori and Sarah, do you feel you would have the same reactions, and take the time to make comments on a blog about it if someone mentioned another divisive topic — say Joseph Smith & polygamy — in sacrament meeting?

39 tori December 16, 2012 at 4:08 pm

You are right, Gabrielle, wearing slacks to church it is not against any church doctrine. We often have women who choose to wear pants in our congregation. They are welcome and treated kindly. However, in this specific instance, women have been asked by All Enlisted to wear pants as a statement. If they do not usually wear pants, they are being asked to “start a dialogue”, in the words of the organization’s founder, with a silent demonstration at sacrament meeting.

Ms. Lauritezen’s motivation is as follows:

“The gender norms that exist within the church aren’t necessarily doctrinal gender norms but they’re just cultural and so we do want to challenge that a little bit and say there’s others way to be Mormon,” said Lauritezen. “I think we need to go towards equality. I think that’s where we need to be going. I think that’s where we are going and All Enlisted is a way to keep that movement going.”

She is correct. Some of the gender norms aren’t necessarily doctrinal. And I would agree that the wearing of skirts v. slacks to church is one of those. If Ms. Lauritezen, or anyone else, wants to wear slacks to church, please do. However, in calling on like-minded women church-wide to wear pants to the meeting where we partake of the emblems of Christ’s sacrifice and renew our covenants with Him, she turns the meeting into a demonstration. I would be curious to know how many participating women were distracted in their worship of the Savior today by this utterly silly pretension during the sacrament? And those that participated, did they dress their daughters in slacks as well and explain to them that they were all going to take a stand today against misguided cultural norms? Please. What Mormon cultural norm will we protest next week during the sacrament? Take your pick. There are plenty to choose from. Many that I feel pretty strongly about.

I’m curious…who are the disenfranchised you speak of? I honestly do not know who they are or how wearing pants to sacrament meeting helps them. Perhaps you can explain.

Regarding whether my voice is sufficiently authentic in terms of “divisiveness”…that is a sticky wicket, isn’t it? I do happen to agree with church leaders that some political issues touch on doctrine, and I understand that the GA’s are compelled to address them. I also understand that some of those matters of doctrine that touch on political issues can be painful for many members. I have had my fair share over the years, but I have always considered that to be my problem, not the church leadership’s. After all, I am always free to go where I will not encounter that sort of conflict. I’m afraid that the First Presidency will continue to speak out on political issues that they feel overlap with church doctrine. We will need to content ourselves with their not endorsing political candidates.

Non-political doctrine can be painful/hard to understand for members as well and create a sense of conflict and disunity between the individual and the church as well as the individual and God. That doesn’t mean that the topics can or should always be avoided. I, for one, would welcome more discussion regarding Joseph Smith and polygamy. I don’t see that discussion as being divisive, but it certainly would be fraught with angst. Either way, isn’t it comparing apples with oranges? Cultural norms v. Joseph Smith and the new and everlasting covenant of marriage with all of its attendant baggage? And doesn’t the comparison trivialize the more weighty matters?

Speaking of more weighty matters, Ms. Lauritezen’s beef isn’t really cultural norms, is it? Her agenda is really “equality”. And who doesn’t agree with equality? Certainly not me. But how does she not feel equal? She really doesn’t elucidate. And I doubt that wearing pants will heal her feelings of church-induced inferiority.

40 Design Mom December 17, 2012 at 2:30 am

Hi Tori. I’ve read your comment a few times — there’s a lot packed in there — and I hope I’ve understood it. (I’ll be embarrassed if I missed the mark.)

It sounds like you’re totally on board with divisive/angsty topics being talked about in church, but you don’t like the way this movement was organized.

You bring up several topics that I was actually surprised by. You mention not knowing of any disenfranchised members. I have to say, I thought I had misread your sentence at first because I know of many, many disenfranchised members. They’ve commented on this very post. They’ve sent me emails. They’ve posted on facebook. They pull me aside in the hallway at church to cry on my shoulder. They’re not hard to find. Are you sure you don’t know any?

I was also totally surprised by your last paragraph about equality. When I read: “And who doesn’t agree with equality? Certainly not me.” I actually gasped. Hah! Because so many people who are troubled by this pants-wearing are indeed against equality, and they will tell you so. They seem to believe that inequality in our church is foreordained. I don’t agree with them. And it sounds like you don’t either. Perhaps you are on board with the pants-wearers and you don’t even know it. : )

41 Bellenza Bistro December 15, 2012 at 4:11 pm

Thank you for a very thoughtful, sensitive post…difficult, I’m sure, in the midst of what should be “the most wonderful time of the year” but isn’t for Newtown. Your link to the ‘Maintain Your Joy’ site is particularly apt. Have a JOYful holiday season!

42 Design Mom December 15, 2012 at 4:23 pm

I’d never heard the phrase “maintain your joy” until I visited that shop. But it really resonated with me.

43 Victoria W December 15, 2012 at 4:32 pm

My husband was raised LDS in Idaho. I was raised conservative evangelical in Alabama. In trying to form a religious path we could walk as a couple, we’ve both “tried out” the other’s church. And for me, the clothing issue with LDS has been so distracting and disappointing. Aren’t there more important issues to discuss? Does the LDS church not realize that making skirts vs pants an issue alienates people who might otherwise give the Mormon church a serious look.

The thing is, when I go to church, unless it’s cold and/or rainy, I’m usually wearing a skirt. I just prefer skirts to pants. My stepdaughter however (from an LDS background), always feels VERY uncomfortable in a skirt. My thought has always been that’s it’s more important that she is there and comfortable, so I never force her into a skirt/dress. She is modestly dressed, clean, and her hair is brushed–all of these hard enough with a child who has Asperger’s–how could I ask for more?

For a time when I was growing up, we attended a tiny church with 20-25 African-American members in a poor community. We were the one Caucasian family. When Christmas and Easter rolled around, there were always lots of visitors. For those holidays when attendance was heaviest, the men would show up in overalls, and the women in much plainer dress. Their rationale was they never wanted the visitors who were there because of the holiday to feel out of place because maybe they weren’t as nicely dressed as the members. That has stuck with me for almost 30 years.

Skirts or no skirts, Sunday best or jeans, I don’t understand how these can be issues. I heard it a lot in the churches of my youth, but it has never come up in (non-LDS) churches I’ve attended as an adult. I would love to learn more about the Mormon church as it has meant so much to my husband and his family, but to hear such non-issues be debated as if they were truly important issues of salvation leads me to continue to have doubts as to whether I could be a member. Would I be accepted if my clothing did not meet expectations?

(And furthermore, are people who attend in churches elsewhere in the world where gender specific clothing norms might be different expected to conform to our American view of Sunday best attire? A discussion for another time, perhaps.)

I’m counting on you to wear those pants, ladies. Bring the focus back to where it should be.

Respectfully,
Victoria

44 Design Mom December 15, 2012 at 4:50 pm

Oh, Victoria. I love the story of the people coming in overalls. So beautiful. Gave me goosebumps!

As far as what to wear to church goes, you’re absolutely right — it should be a non-issue. And technically, it isn’t. There is no dress code or official dress rules for Mormon church. But. Cultural norms for Mormons are strong, and the reality is, if you became a member of the church, and consistently wore clothes to Sunday meetings that were against cultural norms, you would start to get comments. Well meaning, but mis-guided comments. And probably some plain rude comments as well.

You could, of course, continue to wear whatever you like, and the congregation would eventually get used to it and just consider it a quirky little thing. But it would take some confidence on your part to get to that point.

That said, even with the cultural norms I struggle against, I’m still definitely a Mormon through and through. And it’s possible you would find great joy here, as I have. I have no idea where you are on the political spectrum, but you may find this post helpful: http://wp.me/pLaYV-9D

And now, I must be off to bed!

45 Victoria W December 15, 2012 at 8:58 pm

How I love Mormon Girl’s response to those readers, asking my very same questions! (She reminds me of Rachel Held Evans, a similar writer within the evangelical church.)
Thanks for your thoughtful and honest response. The more I hear from LDS members such as MG and others whose beliefs are similar to my own, the more optimistic I am about one day having a place there. I have addressed and dealt with these very same questions within my own evangelical background, but having to address them again in a different (albeit related) faith keeps me from moving forward just yet. It’s no small thing to ponder leaving the church in which you were raised.
And I’ve taken up enough space. Very jealous of your trip to Rouen! I so enjoyed watching the Tic Tac video, trying to see what things I recognized. :)

46 Starr December 16, 2012 at 6:16 am

Bravo to both of you for this discussion. I can’t wait for my husband to come home from church (it ended 15 minutes ago), so I can show him.

47 Julie December 16, 2012 at 6:22 am

Victoria-I agree, pants and clothing should be a non-issue. I’m sorry if you’ve ever felt alienated at our church due to the way you’ve dressed, or due to (perhaps erroneous) social norms. I really appreciated Becky’s post below wherein she eescribes that remembering the doctrine of the church and ignoring distracting social norms is important (i responded to her comment below).
When I was baptized (to the great consternation of my parents), I asked a dear friend what advice she would give me. She responded- “remember that the church is true, it’s people are not. If you go to church long enough you WILL be offended.” it may sound trite, but I have always remembered that advice, and it has helped me many times.
I also want to say, thank you for being open about your concerns, Victoria, and for bringing your children, and your wonderful xperiences to church. I hope that you will feel loved there, and most of all, feel close to Our Savior.

48 Victoria W December 16, 2012 at 4:23 pm

Julie, I’ve never experienced any rudeness with regard to my clothing or my beliefs, but I know that expectations of me as a non-member are different. It’s because of the love of my husband and his family and their full acceptance of me, regardless of my faith, that I’m open to this church as a possibility. They are an excellent example of the best the Mormon church has to offer.
I sooooo love all the conversations taking place on this page. I’ve rarely seen such respectful discussions. I usually avoid religious debate as it can turn sour so quickly, but I’m glad to see that’s not always the case.

49 rachel swartley December 15, 2012 at 5:33 pm

Thanks for the link to the top 75 Pictures of the Day. Many of them are truly incredible!

50 Design Mom December 16, 2012 at 5:22 am

My jaw dropped with every single one!

51 Melissa Walsh December 16, 2012 at 7:31 pm

I found them to be beautiful, amazing, and uplifting!

52 Emily December 15, 2012 at 6:09 pm

Hi Gabrielle, thanks for your thoughtful posting, as always. I was part-raised Mormon (divorced parents) though I was never baptized. My three sisters and I left the church completely, not long after the separation into Young Men and Young Women groups. Quite frankly, we couldn’t see any way our ambitions and views fit into that of the church, no matter what our feelings on doctrine/gospel, etc., even at that young age (around 13). We received pamphlets explaining it to be out ‘duty’ to be stay at home mothers (college was suitable only for the purpose of better educating future children) — which didn’t sit well with four ambitious ladies (three of us are now PhDs/MDs, and the fourth a CPA). And the realization that the Young Men groups in our ward were receiving career coaching workshops while we were taught cake decorating was too much to stomach. Although I will never return to the church, I respect many of its qualities and principles… and I hope movements such as the one your describe will encourage greater openness and respectful debate.

53 Design Mom December 16, 2012 at 5:26 am

Thank you so much for sharing your story, Emily. I’m sure there are many who can relate. I too hope this movement will encourage openness and respectful debate and discussion. There are many promising signals!

54 vandegee December 15, 2012 at 6:55 pm

Gabrielle,

Thanks so much for your openness. As a non-mormon (really, my knowledge of mormonism is nearing zero), northeastern liberal protestant, the idea that pants wearing is even an issue is really, really hard to understand. BUT, that’s not my point. My point here is to say I really appreciate your open attitude and honesty in bringing up a subject that’s clearly difficult for people, and something that warrants discussion.
We went to quaker meeting as a kid. No preacher (male or female). No “service.” Just regular people. Some dressed up, some wearing what they feel comfortable in. Some wearing all they can afford, some wearing jeans and a t-shirt because that’s what they want to wear. But ALL feeling close to God. As the quakers say, if you feel God’s spirit, way will become clear.

Anyway, thanks for this post, thanks to your readers who posted thoughtful words (pro and con pants). I really appreciate the civil discourse, the opinions on boths sides, and feel enlightened by it.

55 Design Mom December 16, 2012 at 5:29 am

I feel the same way — such gratitude to my readers for the civil discussion. I know how hard that can be to do on the Internet.

And I love your recollection of the Quaker meeting.

56 becky December 15, 2012 at 8:26 pm

while i was born and raised in the church and am active to this day…as well as being a bit of a “feminazi” (my dad’s nickname for me), i’ve never felt my feminism was not reflected in the church. but because of my turbulent childhood, constant badgering from non-mormon family members and my world travels – i’ve always been forced to get down to the nitty-gritty of it all pretty fast – that the gospel is defined by the prophets, the scriptures and personal inspiration – not by wayward bishops, uncles, aunts, grammas, judgy young women’s presidents… in addition, i think the moving every year of my childhood and being in countless wards allowed me to simply connect with the gospel and not the cultural undertones that is bound to take place in any communal setting in society.

that being said, i wear skirts because it is a departure from my everyday uniform – it is a reminder to me to keep the spirit present and to have an extra dose of reverence in my morning as i hustle kids to church and go to my meetings. but i also shave my legs, wear makeup and blow dry my hair on sundays for the same reason…”sunday best” and all. so, if i were to make a statement it would most likely be a hairy, spotty, matted version of myself in a nice pair of slacks. :)

i’m not diminishing the statement this is making, or the pain many woman feel in the church regarding their roles – or rather “assumptive roles” – in life. i come from a background where i was always told that i had to go to college, and was pushed to pursue passions…that being said i was also taught to make bread and sew and keep a home.

my membership and my feminism is about the pursuit of passions, education and equal opportunities. of the six (and then 8) girl cousins in my family that went to school and roomed together at byu at the same time – all of us have advanced degrees. there are dentists, lawyers, nurse practitioners, bio-chemists, artists and more. we are uncompromising in our passion for our rights as women, as well as uncompromising in our pursuit of happy, eternal families and marriages.

so i will not be wearing pants – mostly because i don’t fit any of my nice pants right now. :) but i will be rooting on the women that choose to.

at this point in my life, my responsibility is to my daughter and future granddaughters. i will raise them the way i was raised. the gospel will not be filtered through paradigms of convention or social pressure or communal assumptions.

they will be feminist. they will be proud. they will be amazing.

57 Design Mom December 16, 2012 at 5:40 am

Love your passionate response! My favorite line: “My responsibility is to my daughter and future granddaughters. I will raise them the way I was raised. The gospel will not be filtered through paradigms of convention or social pressure or communal assumptions.”

Sorry to hear there are no workable pants in your closet at the moment. If I lived in your ward, I would make you an “I Wear Pants” button. : )

58 Julie December 16, 2012 at 6:07 am

I wholeheartedly agree, THANK YOU for this post. I will not be wearing pants today (I’m singing in choir and i also feel i dont have to wear pants for people to know im approachable) but it doesn’t mean I don’t support those who have ever felt out of place- i myself am a convert and experienced alienation from my f amily when i was baptized, And Thus i always try to talk to people who look like they need a friend. . And you’re right, it’s important to focus on Doctrine, not distracting social norms. P.s. I’m learning to sew…,and m a working mom! I can chose o be the strong woman I want to be and still be a faithful member of our church. P.p.s on the iPad, apologies for poor grammar.

59 Design Mom December 16, 2012 at 10:18 am

I’m sure you do support those who feel out of place. But do they know you support them? Wearing pants is an easy way to make it known.

60 becky December 16, 2012 at 10:58 am

a button! why didn’t i think of that?! i wonder if i can pull something together before church? good thing it’s christmastime and my craft supplies are everywhere!

61 Kristy December 15, 2012 at 8:46 pm

Thank you, Gabby, for some cheerful links to cut through the gloom and for your words about the pants. I’m reading through the comments and cheering out loud for you!

62 Design Mom December 16, 2012 at 5:30 am

Yay for cheerful links!

63 Andrea December 15, 2012 at 9:33 pm

Love your site. Love you. Here’s the flipside from one of your reader’s via my facebook post. :)

And about wearing those pants tomorrow…
See, I wore a skirt for a total of 18 months nearly EVERY day. Um, in the Dominican Republic in the sweltering humidity and heat. (No A/C mind you.) Oh yeah! And I even climbed on top of a big rig loaded with garlic and rode hitchhiker style for 30 miles. Yup, you guessed it! In a skirt. It was memorable to say the least.

Then there was that time 6 months ago when I walked a 3 mile pioneer trek in Nauvoo with 4 kids and NO husband. I had a skirt on that time, too! Oh, and a 10 month old on my back. Good times. (Although the Bishop’s daughters saved my girls several times.)

Thanks dad for taking me elk hunting in 6 feet of snow on horseback with the MEN. Good to know we’re all on the same side (and so glad to have the guys around to do the dirty work). Thanks, Dad! You have a confident daughter who knows she wears the pants even without “wearing the pants!” I’ll honor my gender by looking classy in my best dress and walk proudly and happily by partner and best teammate, Tyler.

64 Design Mom December 16, 2012 at 5:05 am

Sounds like she’s sassy! I imagine she brings lots of personality to her congregation. : ) But I’ll tell you, her response sits funny with me for two reasons:

1) To me, her mission experience is a great example of how our church culture can replace common sense. Instead of a strict dress code for our sister missionaries, I would prefer a simpler guideline — something like, you are representing the church and witnessing of the Savior, please dress appropriately — which would allow people the option of wearing pants while riding a top a truck full of garlic. It sounds as if she felt inapproriately dressed at the time.

I keep thinking of the beautiful videos that have been shared by Mormon Helping Hands about the clean up in New York. The volunteers cancelled church to help, and they showed up in work clothes. I think we would all agree their actions were appropriate and very Christian.

2) I’m sure she doesn’t intend it to be so, but her tone feels compassion-less to me. I keep searching for the perfect parallel and coming up short, but I’ll try anyway. Imagine if I heard about many women who were struggling in their marriages, specifically, they didn’t like sex. For a whole bunch of various reasons, they just weren’t into it. But they knew it was a problem and wanted to improve the situation. What if I responded by saying: What? I don’t get it. I have no idea what they’re talking about. That sounds crazy to me. How could someone not like sex? I love sex. I have sex all the time and can assure you it’s the most fun thing in the world. Why are they making such a hullabaloo?

Would that be a compassionate response? Of course not. There are a lot of members of the church who are struggling right now. Wearing pants to church is a simple, easy way to show them you want to help.

65 shawna December 15, 2012 at 11:51 pm

I love your friday posts and look forward to them every week! Thanks for sharing!
Just have one thought in regards to the pants thing. I just heard the most amazing talk from Sheri Dew at What women want that addressed this very idea. She answered a lot of questions and really inspired me. You really need to find and listen to this talk–totally awesome. Call Deseret book and ask them to send you a copy of the video. It was beautiful and you will be so glad that you listened to it. Love your blog.

66 Design Mom December 16, 2012 at 5:21 am

Maybe they’ll post it online. Would love to see it.

67 Julie December 16, 2012 at 6:30 am

Gabrielle- I just want to say that I will nt be wearing pants tomorrow (see my above respons to Becky), but I very much appreciate that you have helped me to see that pants at church today is not a way for people to make waves, but to help others to feel love and accepted. I do appreciate your measured and kind responses. I hope others feel welcome wherever you go to church due to your welcoming attitude.

68 Design Mom December 16, 2012 at 10:42 am

Thank you for the feedback, Julie!

69 courtney December 16, 2012 at 6:48 am

I really appreciate your bravery in supporting the Pants in your post. I’m not in any kind of visible position, and it took every ounce of courage to click “like” on that facebook page. I stopped attending church this spring because of the pain I feel stemming mostly from this issue, but I was almost tempted to go today just so I could wear pants. Your diplomatic comments have been heartening and encouraging to read. Thank you!!

70 Design Mom December 16, 2012 at 10:45 am

Oh Courtney. Breaks my heart to hear of your pain. We are losing so many of our best members over the way women are treated and talked about in our church. We need to take this seriously.

It it disturbing to me when people shrug it off because they personally haven’t felt it to be a problem.

71 Ashlynn Allen Mitchell December 16, 2012 at 7:14 am

Gabby you are meant for this – you always respond so perfect. Loved reading all the comments & responses – especially those concerning pants to church. I wonder who will be wearing pants in my Orem, Utah ward today … I’m home sick with croup kids & a bad cold for myself so my husband will have to tell me. :)

72 Design Mom December 16, 2012 at 10:46 am

I hope there are/were lots of pants wearers!

Feel better, Ashlynn. I heard about a detox bath a few weeks ago that sounds promising for colds. The link is on this post if you’re curious: http://www.designmom.com/2012/11/a-few-things-141/

73 Jill W December 16, 2012 at 9:02 am

My two cents on the matter is this. Everyone is entitled to questions. Everyone is entitled to their passions, their pursuits, etc. Women are entitled to wearing pants to church in support of those (women and men or just women?) who have serious questions and starting up a dialogue….. in adult Sunday School. In Relief Society.
I, as a parent, would feel extremely upset if one of my sisters in the gospel wore pants to church as a Primary teacher or as a part of the Young Womens and started the same dialogue in her classroom. And the dialogue WILL happen.
“Why are you wearing pants today?”
All I ask for is a response grounded in doctrine. That it’s okay to have questions, but that there is a very specific way that we go about getting them answered. That we search, we ponder, and we pray. That we look to Heavenly Father for the answers and that we stay with Him until we get those answers.
Because while it’s okay to let a child know that questions are how we grow, we are not entitled to give/burden them our personal journey to faith, especially if those children are not our own and we won’t be there a few years down the line to help them. That’s what I ask for.

74 Design Mom December 16, 2012 at 11:09 am

Jill, I found this comment more offensive than any other in this conversation. I am trying to calm myself before I respond. It’s dinner time for my family now, but I’ll be back later.

[ Update: for those who are curious, Jill and I ended up having the conversation via email. ]

75 Kathryn Carmona December 16, 2012 at 9:18 am

Oh Gabby, always stirring the pot! Please, never leave us! I have to laugh, because of course here in New York, people come to church in everything imaginable! I am glad they are here. Wear what you want, just show up! I must say, I don’t understand how dressing more like a man helps the feminine (or any other) cause, but I guess this is just a symbol of support for those feeling disenfranchised. It most certainly will be a distraction in many congregations, (although probably not mine or yours) and take the focus off the most important purpose of church attendance, there is no doubt about that. For that reason, it seems a bit self-serving to me. I can suggest an alternative. How about everyone come to church and go up and introduce themselves to someone they have never met, or someone who looks completely different from them. I try to do that every Sunday, and am disheartened when I see other members pass by someone new or lonely, because they just can’t be bothered. I know this won’t immediately solve some of the bigger issues that many are concerned about, but I see a lot of “I feel hurt, or lonely, or not a part” language out there on this subject. So maybe, all of us just being more Christlike to each other is a start. Love you Gabby! Love, Kathryn Carmona

76 Design Mom December 16, 2012 at 11:04 am

Kathryn, you are an amazing example of compassionate service and I’m sure you know by now that anytime I’ve been asked to speak on the subject, I basically just share stories from the Kathryn Carmona compassionate service play book. Your idea of introducing yourself to someone on Sundays is easy and wonderful and should definitely be advocated.

But this: “I don’t understand how dressing more like a man helps the feminine (or any other) cause.”

I mean, come on. You wear pants every day and you’re not trying to dress more like a man. You have legs that go for miles and you look hot in pants! Wearing pants is not about trying to dress like a man and I know you know that.

As for our New York ward, it’s the one I had in mind when I thought of this topic. It seems like it’s anything goes, and we like to talk about it that way, but it’s just not true. I can remember specifically which women would wear pants, how often they did it, and I remember the comments that were inevitably made. It’s not earnest to imply that Mormon women wear pants to church all the time and no one even notices.

Regarding the distraction and this movement being self-serving, as I’m sure you can guess, I 100% disagree. I explain myself on this point in my response to Tori (above).

I’m going to try over-simplifying the movement to see if it helps you understand where I’m coming from. For me, it’s a no brainer. If there’s a simple thing I can easily do (like wearing pants to church), and it will help people around me feel more welcome and understood, I should do that thing.

If I personally came to you, Kathryn, outside of this movement, and I said, “I feel like members of the church want me to leave our religion. Would you please wear pants to church to show me there’s a place for me here?” I think we’re good enough friends that you would say yes.

But what if you had to pause when I asked you? What if you weren’t sure if you would say yes? Well let’s think about that for a minute. It’s not even against the rules. There is no dress code. But the Mormon social code is so strong, that even if you could do something that would help a friend, something that wasn’t against the rules, you would still hesitate. I mean, that says something pretty horrible about our Mormon social norms and the damage they do.

77 Kathy Reid December 16, 2012 at 10:54 am

Did your daughters wear pants to church? Why or why not?

78 Design Mom December 16, 2012 at 11:06 am

Maude & Olive were on board. Betty was unclear on the topic. June wanted to wear ballet clothes. : )

79 Destry December 16, 2012 at 11:28 am

Yes. ^this. All of this. Thank you so much for so kindly and eloquently saying all of the things I’ve struggled to articulate about this issue. You are so right. And I’m so saddened by the mean spirited, name calling & hurtful remarks being slung by those who aren’t taking the time to listen or who disagree. We are all members after all. Why can’t we have a civil discourse? I’m shocked by the backlash over something that there isn’t even a ‘rule’ or guideline against doing. Please know you are a beacon for others.

80 Design Mom December 16, 2012 at 4:06 pm

Oh man, our Mormon defense muscle is strong! Even when we’re not actually being attacked, we come out fighting. : )

81 Abbie December 16, 2012 at 12:46 pm

I grew up LDS, served a mission, married in the temple, etc., but now attend the Episcopal Church. It is interesting to see debates like this occur, as I know that if I were still an active LDS member I would be completely on-board and wearing pants to church (which I occasionally do nowadays). As someone no longer active, my voice is often misinterpreted as devil’s advocate and I desperately hope that doesn’t happen in this comment because my LDS faith and upbringing mean the world to me.

As a missionary in Italy 10 years ago I remember being instructed by our Zone Leaders and Mission President to inform the newly baptized women of the church what was and was not appropriate to wear on Sundays, with a specific counsel to ask them not to wear pants. This always made me feel uncomfortable because I felt that there were other more pressing issues to address in a new member’s life. It makes me happy to now see other people who share this opinion.

I am encouraged to see posts and comments such as the ones found on your blog, that–to me– take a position on an issue and do so in a manner that is respectful of others. I was so happy to see your beautiful (silk-like?) pants on Instagram this morning. Though most dress in Sunday best at the church I now attend, this encompasses dress pants, slacks and sometimes even jeans. Who am I to judge what someone else’s best is?

I wish I had known other people that had struggled with their faith when I was going through my own crisis in the LDS church. Perhaps I would not have felt so alone. On the other hand, I truly believe that God has a strong hand in my life and that he has guided me to where I need to be, and it’s a pretty awesome place. I applaud you for your openness in sharing your opinion and doing so in a manner that is respectful.

82 Design Mom December 16, 2012 at 4:03 pm

Yes! The pants are silk with some beading on the top. I’ve had them for almost a decade and I always feel glamorous when I wear them.

I too wish you had known other people who had struggled with their faith when you were going through your faith crisis. I’ve come to realize it’s much more common than we like to think.

It’s wonderful to hear you’re in an awesome place now. Sounds like a good place to be!

83 Apryl December 16, 2012 at 2:35 pm

Gabby, I love you. You are great!

84 Design Mom December 16, 2012 at 3:59 pm

Kisses to you Apryl!

85 Eliza December 16, 2012 at 2:35 pm

Did you see this? http://www.lds.org/new-era/1974/12/qa-questions-and-answers
From 1974! Scroll down until you get to the question about wearing pants…

I had a sick family so I didn’t go to church today either, AND I didnt even know about this “event” until I saw your post today, and I’m still thinking about it, not sure what to think about wearing pants on one day, as a statement. I didn’t even think of dress specifically as an issue! I completely agree that we should support our members (and nonmembers) who are concerned with gender equality, and make everyone comfortable no matter what they wear, but I don’t think that it has anything to do with the doctrine or the Lord’s teachings, and more to do with misguided local leaders and leaders who have dated ideas. As a young single adult (not that long ago, 2004) – I had a friend who wanted to wear a really classy, modern, FEMININE pantsuit to one of our family ward’s “black tie” dinner/dance events – the bishop at the time told her she would not be allowed to attend! She did come, and I can’t remember what she wore, but she has since left the church – and though we’re not close anymore (nothing to do with her leaving the church, but I was just on a holiday visa in Australia and moved home to Canada…we’re still FB friends) she definitely had issues with women’s roles in the church. I think that bishop was very wrong and uninspired with that choice. He had outdated ideas about what women need to wear. I’ve felt that way about young men being pressured to have short hair, too. That seems to stem from the 60′s and 70′s when there were “radical” hippies with “crazy” ideas who wore their hair long…but has nothing to do with doctrine, and why has this idea carried forward to today? I grew up in a ward where ONE independent and wealthy woman consistently wore (and still wears) pant suits to church every Sunday and I remember as a child thinking that it was different and I always felt she was intimidating – but I doubt this was because of her pants so much as it was about her general demeanour – she didn’t come off as the lovey-dovey type! I now know that she is indeed a generous and loving person, but she still seems intimidating to me! I wonder if this has to do with her pants or her personality?

I have so many varying trains of thought on this, I could go on forever! Had I found out about this sooner, would I have been passionate enough about it to wear pants? Is it better to wear pants on one day to make a statement that MIGHT distract from the general spirit and create a conversation AT church, or to wear pants to church just whenever I feel like it, and create a conversation with my friends, husband, songs, and (future) daughters about strength, independence, feminism, and femininity (I think being feminine is important, as a female, whether you’re wearing pants or a dress), and respect? Is this literal – about what you wear? Is it about education, career, respect and cultural/societal norms? Or is it about the Lord’s priesthood? Is this questioning the authority of the prophets? Or is it questioning the humanity (and potential for errors) of our local leaders?

86 Eliza December 16, 2012 at 2:38 pm

(I’m almost glad I couldn’t make it today now, because I’m not sure I’d have been educated or decided enough on the topic to be brave enough to make a statement if I felt it necessary.)

87 Design Mom December 16, 2012 at 3:59 pm

Hi Eliza. I really enjoyed reading your train of thought! I’ll bet it reflected the thoughts of many women as they heard about this for the first time.

I hope you find a comfortable place to settle your thoughts as you ponder the questions. I just exchanged emails with a woman who is so upset about this movement she can’t think of much else. So tough!

And speaking of long hair or hippie hair, I hope we can get over our Mormon aversion to facial hair too! : ) Ben Blair has been sporting his beard for just over a year now and I find it so handsome. I would miss it like crazy if he was asked to shave!

88 Lindsey Hicks December 16, 2012 at 3:32 pm

Thanks for your courage Gabby. I am shocked by some of the negative comments you’ve received. I wore my favorite Ann Taylor slacks today;)

89 Jennifer December 16, 2012 at 3:34 pm

I have been an active member of the Church my whole life. My husband and I both hold leadership callings in our ward. On the outward appearance, we are the perfect LDS family. And for many years now, I have experienced a major crisis of faith. I won’t go into it all the nitty-gritty here, but let me just say that I love my community of believers, and the standards of the Church, but I have serious challenges with some significant points of doctrine and some aspects of Church history. I am uncomfortable with the idea that I have to just “pray it all away.” Through this long journey, I have learned what faith truly is, and what it means to be faithful in the middle of doubt. I honestly do not know what the future holds for me in relation to the Church, and I am taking it oh-so-slowly. One day at a time. One prayer at a time. But I will say that I feel very alone among my church peers. There seems to be no safe haven in the Church for voicing very legitimate concerns.

All this being said, I wore a skirt to church today. It’s just habit. I like wearing skirts and getting gussied up. (I also think that the tragedy on Friday has knocked the wind out of me, and in my mournful emotional state, I just didn’t have the energy to take a stand today.) I see women all the time who wear extremely casual skirts to church as their Sunday best. I also see women who look fabulously dressed up in dress pants. I don’t know that we can honestly say that skirts are always “Sunday best” and that pants aren’t.

A number of years ago, in a different place from where I live now, I visit taught a new convert who wore jeans to church every.single.Sunday. She also had several tattoos and was generally a bit unkempt. We thought that eventually she would catch on to the fact that the other women dressed up a bit for services. She did not. Eventually, the well-meaning RS President asked my visiting teaching companion and myself to kindly suggest to this new member that she wear something dressier to church. And you know what? We never said a word to her. We had spent months making her feel welcome in our congregation, feeling loved and needed. Drawing attention to her choice of clothing seemed judgmental and foolish. It still does.

90 Design Mom December 16, 2012 at 3:53 pm

So interesting, Jennifer. I think people would be shocked at how many families that appear to be perfect LDS examples are undergoing faith crises right now. And I wish I could tell you that church is a safe haven for you to voice your concerns. I know it’s not. And I know it should be. And hopefully you saw some pants wearers today that you might feel comfortable opening up to.

I feel like the internet changed everything. Parts of our history that have been previously shushed are now out in the open. I personally think we will continue to lose members at a high frequency unless we learn to talk openly about the really hard stuff.

91 Lindsey December 16, 2012 at 6:53 pm

Jennifer, I can totally identify with you! I have been going through the same thing. Don’t give up! The church needs people like you. I’m finding out that there are more people going through a faith crisis right now than we realize and we all need to talk about it together. So don’t give up! I’m trying not to. :)

I would have worn pants, but our family was all home sick today.

92 Celeste December 16, 2012 at 8:12 pm

This comment thread has been eye-opening. The horrible, negative comments and wonderful alike.

Since I was 16-years-old and told it was my place to support the boys rather than work/serve as they do, the issue of women’s roles in the church has left me with a painful mistrust for church leaders. As I’ve learned about the history of women in the church, that mistrust has deepened. It has been a difficult journey to where I am now.

Though I have signed petitions, read anything about feminism in the LDS Church I could get my hands on, attended forums and had many, many discussions about the topic, I could not get on board with this particular platform. I felt it was impossible to get empirical evidence of participation, the purpose of it wasn’t as clearly defined as I would have liked and I wasn’t sure of how seriously general authorities would take such a novel approach. Petitions, conferences and such feel more effective to me.

Now that the opportunity is past, part of me feels regret. Part of me feels I made the right decision (I taught Relief Society on an already-touchy subject and felt that any negative feelings toward me would harm the spirit of the class).

With all that said (I think I’m wandering) I feel like the negativity with which this peaceful show of opinion and support was received only validates the importance of these issues.

93 Design Mom December 17, 2012 at 2:17 am

“I feel like the negativity with which this peaceful show of opinion and support was received only validates the importance of these issues.”

I think that’s where I’ve ended up as well. The reaction was the validation.

94 Lindsey Hicks December 16, 2012 at 3:35 pm

Oh and I taught primary today too. I don’t think any of my kids even noticed. Bless them for not being superficial!

95 Design Mom December 16, 2012 at 3:46 pm

Hah! I love that. I remember being hugely pregnant as the primary chorister and talking about the upcoming baby during music time — then realizing they hadn’t noticed my belly at all.

96 Miggy December 16, 2012 at 7:41 pm

I haven’t read all the comments, but here is my take.

I honestly can’t identify with this issue of feeling ‘less than’ in the church. More often than not I have felt that women are put on a pedestal. We lead, we hold callings, meetings, and many other things without a man present. (I say that because in one article I saw someone say women can’t even hold a meeting without a man being present. Not True). I have however felt the world telling me that I SHOULD feel slighted because we are encouraged to stay home with our children where possible, and because we can’t hold the priesthood. But I personally have never felt this burden.

That being said I get that some woman have felt this way. I get that some people wrestle with gender inequality in the church.

Of course I believe in gender equality. I do, but I’m not sure I see it in the way that these sisters see it. And I could not for the life of me grasp what this group was trying to accomplish. (We do not seek to eradicate the differences between women and men, but we do want the LDS church and its members to acknowledge the similarities. We believe that much of the cultural, structural, and even doctrinal inequality that persists in the LDS church today stems from the church’s reliance on – and enforcement of – rigid gender roles that bear no relationship to reality.) Which inequalities? What rigid gender roles are they talking about? The Priesthood, women staying home to raise children? Which ones do they think are doctrinal vs. cultural? I might agree or I might really disagree depending on what exactly they were talking about.

Finally, pants at church seems to miss the mark for me. While we are not told what to wear specifically other than “our Sunday best” I think for many of us dresses and skirts are our Sunday best. I don’t think this is a Mormon thing. When seeing woman walk the red carpet or other events where you wear your ‘best’ they are usually in dresses or gowns. I would say it is a widespread cultural norm (at least in the west) that dresses are ‘fancier’ than pants. That being said, I’ve lived in many, many wards where woman and girls regularly wore pants and no one batted an eye. At the end of the day we’re just glad they’re there, and often they are wearing their best…which happens to be pants. I would not and do not think twice about a woman wearing pants to church. But for me, I would have felt that I was not respecting the Lord’s house by not wearing what I know to be “my best.”

Lastly, as I read what people were posting online all I saw was decisiveness and a little snobbery on both sides of the fence. People posting their choice via instragram with comments along the “you go girl!” line while others posting a proverbial shaking of their heads. Like Dr. Suess I was finding it to be a very “stars upon thars” thing that distracted from the real purpose of Church (worshipping and renewing covenants) and whether intentional or not, seemed to create more divisions than anything else.

At the end of the day, while I wholeheartedly believe in gender equality, this particular movement was not something I could identify with. And while I don’t think encouraging people to wear pants was wrong, it just misses the mark for me. CS Lewis said “Aim at heaven and you get earth thrown in. Aim and earth and you get neither.” For me, this was an “aim at earth” idea.

97 Design Mom December 17, 2012 at 2:16 am

Hi Miggy, the concept of “putting women on a pedestal” is deeply troubling to me. By putting a woman on a pedestal to be admired or worshipped, we are objectifying her and making her less than human. We’re also making her powerless to help or contribute other than by being beautiful to look upon, because there’s essentially nothing she can do from that little pedestal but stand there and be stared at or ignored. Though it may seem counter-intuitive, putting women on a pedestal is actually a very anti-woman thought. And if we examine it, it’s not doctrinally sound. We know that women are not more spiritual/important/worthy than men. We know that men are not more spiritual/important/worthy than women.

I’m glad you’ve never experienced the feeling of being less thqn at church. I’m probably one of the most confident people you know and pretty much never feel less than, but many, many women at church do. And we need to take their pain seriously, because they’re leaving in droves. The numbers will break your heart.

And I do hope you get a chance to read the comments! There’s a lot of good conversation here and I imagine you might find it insightful.

98 Miggy December 16, 2012 at 7:45 pm

ps–I LOVE what Kathryn said above about reaching out to someone we don’t know or who looks a little ‘different.’ That would be a real force for change and good.

99 Tracy December 16, 2012 at 7:55 pm

My daughter told me about this too late for me to do anything or I might have taken the trouble to get a kilt and wear it in solidarity. The ironic thing is that, in my own little protest against cultural norms, I haven’t worn a white shirt and seldom a tie ever since I heard one bishop say that a white shirt and tie were the “uniform of the priesthood.” Yuck, talk about marching in lockstep. Yet today, for a whim, I decided to dress up in a suit and tie. However, the shirt was a lovely dark blue shade.

100 Ashley Hallett December 16, 2012 at 9:15 pm

Can I just say, what a relief!
Before the shocking news of the tragedy hit, I was having my own world rocked with a tiny facebook post of my own on the pants issue. To me, it comes down to this- eiter we CAN or we CAN’T. The leaders have said CAN, so I really, really don’t understand the backlash. My facebook exploded with venom from people I either consider friends or at the very least am generally on good terms with. Real venom. It shocks me how quickly I was turned upon. And my spirituality questioned. and my Personal worthiness began to be backhandedly scrutinized.

Over the years my husband and I have realized that we have no real friends in our church. They are situational friends. they are only ‘friend-ly’. But the minute you see something differently (not even nessicarily redically or against doctrine or anything outside the box like that… just socially different) You are No Longer Part of The Group. It has been painful. The minute your life does not conform to the societal norms around here you are not to be trusted and the callings stop. The friendships stop. And you are suddenly alone in a place that used to feel like home.

I have not been to church in maybe 6 months for, well, a lot of reasons. My husband is becoming a pilot and the schedule does not match up with mormon standard life. Though we told everyone, we have faded into ‘someone they used to know’ This is not the first time this has happened because of a schedule, illness, or family trip.

Why? We have both been life long members, worthy. Husband is a friendly RM, we are both college educated. married in the temple. 2.5 kids.
And yet now. Now I am a radical because I have asserted that gender is still an issue… and that I’d really much prefer to wear pants. Especially while pregnant!

If we, as sisters can turn on each others and spew venom that quickly, and the men can turn and dismiss us with a curt “I think this conversation is innapropriate and should stop” (yeah. really.) Then, well, I think they have only given real substance and validity to the issue. Clearly, we have some things to really discuss.

101 Design Mom December 17, 2012 at 2:06 am

Hey, Friends! Monday has arrived and I’ve got work to do, so I’m going to close the comments now — sadly, I won’t have time today to monitor them and respond.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart for maintaining a respectful tone in your comments and conversation here. I can’t tell you how much it means to me.

P.S. — If you’re craving additional uplifting conversation on the topic, read the comments on this post. So calm and sweet! They will melt your heart and make you weep. And this wrap-up was nice too!

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