My friend Sandy, who is awesome, wrote a blog post for Feminist Mormon Housewives today. You can read it here. (Her regular blog here.)
Now, if you've read that, you may want to just skip what I have to say. Because it won't make you feel any better or worse about your position, if any, whatever it is.
Prepare for a long-winded, indecisive rant, friendos.
When some friends of mine online suggested that Mormon Feminists start doing some stuff to remind people that, much like those Whos of Whoville, we are here, I was all about it. As much as certain things about the LDS Church bug me sometimes, I suspect that if more people knew about them, more people would say, "Hey, that bugs me too! Let's fix that." PROGRESS FOR EVERYONE!
Then one of them suggested, "Hey, why don't we all wear pants to church one Sunday?" and my enthusiasm plummeted.
I know, I know. Why wouldn't I be supportive?
Do I think women should be "allowed" to wear pants to church? Of course. I'm not the fashion police -- and what's more, the LDS Church has said since the 1970s that there's no official church dress code for the ladies. Go forth and wear pants, friends!
Do I think that, given the standard of "Sunday best," I own dress pants that are nicer than some of the dresses and skirts I own? Absolutely. My job can sometimes require a fairly formal dress code, and I wear suits and dresses pretty interchangeably. I don't think that one outfit is particularly better than another just because the structures are different. I also think anyone who insists that an informal dress (or jersey maxi skirt, boots, and a Northface pullover, you know who you are ...) is more appropriate for church than a pair of nice wool slacks on the basis of "Well, it's a dress!" is just kidding themselves.
Part of it is just that I don't want to wear pants to church. Period. It's not social conditioning or peer pressure (at age 28, I'm sort of past that sort of thing). I just ... don't want to. The tomboy Ru of my childhood would probably be like, "YES! Pants to church!"
But adult Ru is like, "Well, I would be warmer ... but I just like a good reason to wear a dress. Sue me." I don't feel more or less reverent, more or less respectful, in a dress. I just like dresses. And by the end of a regular work week, a lot of times I am just kind of sick of slacks. And that seems like a good enough reason to wear a dress.
But that isn't the reason I feel squeamish. The real reason was simple: a big part of me just knew, "This is going to get misconstrued. By a lot of people."
Because I don't care about pants. And I can't stand that people still confuse concepts of "sameness" and "equality." Every enemy of feminism ever has attempted to equate the demand for equal rights to the imaginary demand for breastfeeding men and women who can pee standing up. (STRAWMAN ARGUMENT ALERT.)
I don't want to be a man. I like being a woman. I just wanted to get treated as well as a man because there is no justifiable reason why I shouldn't be.
I want women to have equal say about church finances. I want the Young Women's program to be as well-funded as the Young Men's. I want non-priesthood church positions to be filled equally by men and women. I want to see a woman pray in General Conference. And heck, why not have a woman speaker at Priesthood session of conference? Men speak in the Relief Society general, and some of the men in the audience could probably use the reminder that sometimes women have authority, too.
Newsflash: I don't even want the priesthood. I mean, it's cool if you do, but the things I want (women who have children at home to be eligible to be seminary teachers -- maybe we'd have a few less creepster seminary teachers out there, amiright?!) have more to do with the institutional structure of the church than anything.
I want so many things to be better about the LDS Church. Things that I think most people would agree with, if they weren't so convinced that feminists want to kidnap pregnant women off the street and force them to have abortions.
And people are going to see the word "pants" and think all I want are different genitals. Because let's be honest -- our society is not big on the "critical thought" thing.
So even though I supported the basic idea presented, I thought I wasn't going to participate. I didn't want to take away from the event, so I was just going to keep silent, but I didn't want to offer my support, either.
The "decline" responses to the facebook invitation started pouring in. The anti-pants crowd is, in a word, insane. I knew there would be some misunderstanding of the motives of the group, but seriously. Heaven forbid you ask an LDS woman to wear nice slacks and pearls instead of a frumpster denim jumper this Sunday, because she will throw down. Sweet spirits? Ha.
And then on the "accept" side, I saw so many things that I thought couldn't possibly be happening. One gentleman shared that an usher in a ward in Arizona actually TURNED HIS GRANDMOTHER AWAY because she wore a pantsuit after hip surgery on Easter Sunday.
(Let's all just pause for a moment to consider that. Grandmother ... hip surgery ... Easter. NO CHURCH FOR YOU, PANTSY.)
So what am I going to wear to church on Sunday? Beats me, honestly. On one hand, I want to support a group and a cause I care a lot about. On the other, I think this is not the best way to raise awareness of our concerns. Back to the other hand, I can't quite believe the level of cray that surrounding this whole thing, and the obstinate lawyer in me wants to jump to the side of the down-trodden.
AND I DON'T EVEN WANT TO WEAR PANTS TO CHURCH.
But I love Horton Hears A Who!
In short, I am muddled, friends. So any thoughts you might able to offer, I would really appreciate.
Keeping in mind, of course, that in the end I might choose to declare this Sunday a mental health day and just stay home.
And yay (maybe) pants!