Taking A Stance Without Wearing Pants

As I was leaving my ward building Sunday December 9th, I announced to the bishop and others standing near me “remember that next Sunday is black tie Sunday”, so don’t act shocked when I stroll into church looking like I’m bout to go to the Christmas Ball with Jesus. I wasn’t prepared for what was coming my way as a Sista in this church. On 12/12 a Wednesday facebook, twitter, and the social media highway was all a buzz about the up rising of Mormon Women. Everyone wanted to know who was wearing pants to church on Sunday? At first I thought it was a joke, it was not a joke, these Sista’s were serious, they were actually gearing up to wear pants to church, on a Sunday. There was a whole facebook page dedicated to it, the news media was actually covering it, NPR reserved a whole 3 minutes to talk about it, WHAT?

Sista Laurel and I have both at separate times in our lives worn pants to church we had no idea it was or could be seen as an act of defiance. We certainly had not worn pants in the past to be defiant. We wore pants because that’s what we wanted to wear. When I wore my pants no one treated me in a negative manner. No one politely or impolitely for that matter asked me to leave the church because Mormon women don’t wear pants. It was just business as usual, the opening prayer got said, the sacrament got passed, and responsibilities got handled. Some people looked at me strange, because it’s not typical to see an LDS sister wearing pants to church but nothing rude was said directly to me, and I have yet to hear any reports that were bad. As I pondered the conversations that I’d participated in on facebook, twitter, and within my social circle. I started to feel somewhat fearful as to whether or not I would be judged by some of the women that I loved and respected if I chose not to wear pants to church on Sunday. In my real life, not my Sista Beehive life here in zion. I am very active in my community, I would consider myself a fighter for those who can’t or don’t know how to fight for themselves. I am one who speaks up, and these days when I speak up it’s rarely for me or my children; Usually it’s for someone else, someone who feels bullied in some way by  the system, or powers that be. I have even been invited to battles, and joined in only to find myself at the front of the line taking the blows until ultimately I am left alone in a fight I had not planned to participate in except  a friend tearfully asked for me to shoulder a burden, and I obliged.

I don’t know what a Mormon Feminist is, friends who claim to be have tried to describe the group to me but their description of themselves aren’t even the same. So, I still don’t really know not 100% what a Mormon Feminist is. For example, I know that I’m a woman, I know that I’m a Mormon, and I know that I’m African American/Black (both terms acceptable to me). I don’t know that I am a Mormon Feminist, you understand what I’m saying? Although I’ve been told several times that I am, (of course I’m scratching my head on this one). As I read comments and had my own discussions it was clear that Mormon Feminist Women should stand together and they wanted all Mormon Women to stand with them they were asking for an act of solidarity. One of my running buddies asked “don’t you want equality in the church? Don’t you want to feel like you have a voice”? Now, clearly she is a running friend only and we don’t attend church together because she would ask me completely different questions. She said “You can get all dressy any time, this Sunday is for Sista’s, it’s to say I’m here if you need me, I have your back, I got’cha, you know? Letting them know you will stand with them, that’s all it’s  about.”    REAL TALK:  I can’t do all that in a dress? Where were these Sista’s from? I know what the start of a fight looks like when I see one, and this is the start of a fight. Where I’m from it’s better to fight in a pretty dress then to get bet up in one!

After contemplating the pants issue I decided to dress up for Jesus. Dressing up for church was what I was taught to do, so I skipped wearing the original boring semi-formal dress that I was going to wear for something with a little more pop. The way that we dress in our church has been an adjustment for me as well, while it’s not my desire to wear pants I like dressing up a little more then we do in our faith (especially in Utah) the women tend to dress a bit more casual then what I was exposed to in my youth. Which isn’t completely bad, it’s just different and I had to learn to adjust to things here and to this culture. However there are times when I have a desire to DRESS and when the mood hits I break out my “Holiness” outfits. They call attention to themselves, people at church always want to know why I’m so dressed up and I tell them “I dressed up for you and Jesus”, they smile, I smile, all is well in zion.

I decided that I wasn’t going to dress down, but as an act of solidarity I was going to dress up. I wore a sparkly black tea length dress (black for the tragedy that happened in Connecticut), a red belt and red pumps for the season (although Sista Laurel would claim it was for the UofU), a few purple braids & purple eye shadow (you can’t tell in the photo) purple for women suffrage: And all my fabulous accessories. In my wonderful outfit, I was prepared to stand next to any Sista that stood in need of a friend. In my red pumps I was ready to stand strong and call out anybody who had a negative thing to say to my Sista who came in her best slacks to worship with us at OUR Fathers House. In the best black dress I could find in my closet Sunday I was prepared. I was unsure and I was afraid, but I was willing to stand with ALL those who stood in need of a Sista and I knew that at the end of whatever fight (should one jump off) there were going to be other RIGHTEOUS Brotha’s and Sistas standing with me and my sista(s) who decided to venture into the house of the Lord hoping to glorify His name, in the clothing of their choice, in a space that was comfortable for ALL of God’s children.

** The good news is we were able to have a conversation with some of our Feminist Mormon Sista’s it was eye opening. We got more information about the Pants To Church Event. What we discovered is there is a place and space for everyone, we just have to be willing to come to the table to have the conversation. The conversation was started it isn’t finished yet so we will just leave it at to be continued…
The Conversation can be heard here on SiZ Radio: Mormon Women Talk About Wearing Pants To Church

These are some of the Sistas that sat at our table:

JoAnna Brooks  ~Ask A Mormon Girl
Karyn Dudley ~A Journal Black Mormon Girl
Kristina Monson ~ All Enlisted
La Shawn Schultz~A Sista In This Gospel

  • A1962sunflower

    I really liked what you had to say, I only wish I could write as well as you, I second this motion~!

  • elenazona

     To my dear Sistas,

    I have only been following you for a few
    months and I must say, I love that you are ‘out there,’ willing to talk,
    to show the world our faith, to take pride in your heritage as well as
    your religion. I find your discussions to be well thought out, well
    written, and relevant to what is happening in the world today.

    I
    find the subject of ‘Taking a Stance Without Wearing Pants’ very
    interesting. I am a lifelong member of the church and have never worn
    pants on Sunday. Not because I found it offensive, but rather because it
    honestly has never occurred to me to be frustrated that I have to wear a
    dress. I agree that Sunday is the day of the week we should work to
    look our best to show respect for our Lord and Savior. If another woman
    came in pants because she thought it was her best, more power to her!

    And
    regarding Mormon feminism…I guess you could call me a feminist. I
    believe that women have the same right to fair pay, fair treatment, and
    recognition for their contributions to our society just as much as men
    do. But I do not struggle with the Priesthood. In my humble opinion, men
    NEED the priesthood to bring them closer to God. We don’t. We carry the
    power of life within us, right under our hearts. We are more sensitive
    to the Spirit and to the workings of our Heavenly Father. We see Him
    moving through our lives. Men struggle with these things. Their
    priesthood responsibilities provide them with the opportunity to draw
    closer to their Lord, to experience Him on a more personal level like
    women do all the time. I do not resent them for the Priesthood. I am
    glad it is not one more responsibility I have to carry in this life.

    There
    have been times in my life when I have felt ‘marginalized’ within the
    church. Much of that was due to my own actions and choices. But
    sometimes it was the dynamics of the congregations I attended. I
    understand the frustration and despair of women who feel that they do
    not matter in the eyes of those around them. I feel that the women that
    are staunch and angry ‘Mormon feminists’ do not truly understand their
    place as a daughter of God. Perhaps their frustration is due to a lack
    of communication and understanding between them and their Father in
    Heaven. I wish them peace and comfort in their struggle for recognition
    and resolution to their frustrations. I will look forward to hearing
    more on how it goes.

    God bless you, Sister Beehive and Sister Laurel. Stay strong!

    P.S. You look lovely and totally rocked that outfit! :)

  • dbartsy

    Another great post. I just love reading your stuff! This post however, made me a bit sad. I, like you, feel that it should be talked about, and not made into a movement. For pants? Pants are nice, so nice, but so is a nice skirt. I wore pants for both my pregnancies because they were the most comfortable item of clothing, and both my babies were born in the winter, so I was cold.

    I didn’t feel like a rebel when I did, and yes, I expected some thoughts to go inside some sisters’ heads, but none were said to me. I like wearing my skirts, and dressing up on Sundays, mainly because at work I prefer to wear pants so Sundays are reserved for my skirts. But I have also come to appreciate that I am dressing up out of respect. I used to be super casual too, but now that I am older I have come to appreciate dressing up a bit more.

    I only wish I had a cute dress like yours! Love the belt and the shoes too! Like some of the comments below, I hope we all find a way to be okay, to not care so much about the clothes we wear, but instead, concentrate on helping each other out. I really do not think Jesus or God would want us to divide ourselves over something so small. Eternal perspective… But maybe it’s big for some wards? Communication is the key. :)

    Thanks again for your awesome insight.

  • vicvic

    First off, I love your outfit. Second, I did wear pants on Sunday as a stand for gender equality and as a way to protect my freezing legs, but ultimately I see deciding between pants and skirts as inconsequential and personal as deciding between flats and heels… it is more about the issues it symbolizes. Unfortunately so many have reacted in anger, callousness and hate, and that really makes me sad. Reading your post though lifted my spirits and made me feel warm and fuzzy and for that, I thank you :)

  • http://youtube.com/micahstubz Micah Stubz

    Awesome idea! To be honest, we (me) have gotten too casual with our worship and it carries over into our life. The way we dress is a form of communication.  I need to start wearing a suit more often.  Maybe I’ll get one for Christmas.

  • http://twitter.com/SISTASinZION Sistas in Zion

    Hopefully Santa will bring you a suit for Christmas. If not for Christmas, Easter is right around the corner. Can you imagine, being in a ward where everybody dressed up? I bet Elder Holland would come there to PREACH to us all the time :)). He is our Mormon Preacher <3 him! 

    Thanks Micah for stopping by our blog and sharing. When you get your suit post a picture on facebook (tag us, & like our page). 

  • A1962sunflower

    FIRST OF ALL you look fabulous in your dress!~  I too dressed up for Jesus on Sunday…..  And I think it is so silly, that women think they need more power in the church, more say.  I am just laughing and laughing because we all know women have ALL the power.  I do not know one man that is not controlled by his wife~!  HECK, I try to make my husband make more decisions on his own~!~!  How many women have you heard say; I wish my husband was more spiritual..hhmmm  Anyway, I know they are talking about the heads in SLC, but do we know them all personally?  What goes on in their hearts and homes……. just a thought~!

  • http://twitter.com/SISTASinZION Sistas in Zion

    Thank you for your compliment. Dressing up brings my spirit up, hopefully it does the same thing for you. I don’t think it’s silly that women in the church feel like they need more power. I find it sad that we are acting out instead of having a conversation. Conversations need to start at the bottom and work their way up, if we are getting it wrong, the leaders will let us know. We can’t always run to them and expect them to tell us what to do. Like Elder Bednar’s book says “Act In Doctrine”. 

    Thanks again for taking time to leave a comment, keep sharing your thoughts with us. 

  • Karen

    Oh my goodness you are soooo darling in your tea dress!  I loved this take on the whole mormons-go-crazy over pants thing.  You know there are some places where wearing pants is common place….like my Momma’s home ward in Seattle….nobody blinks an eye!  Thank you for this lovely perspective! <3  P.S. I love your blog you two make me smile!

  • http://twitter.com/SISTASinZION Sistas in Zion

    Thank you Sista Karen! Lot’s of places wearing pants is common place, I don’t understand why some are so emotionally tied to not wearing pants  that they are upset about the women who wanted to wear pants. Perhaps because we all know that deep down it might not be about pants… It might get painful in this place for a few minutes, then all can be well in zion :D. 

  • Karen

    Well said!  Thanks for you insight!

  • Maybesmithee22

    Phenomenal discussion Sista Beehive and Sista Laurel!   Point of reference and respectful dialogue is so often trumped when things like this come about and I must say this is why I know you have the fan base and success that you have.  Thank you for encouraging healthy dialogue and allowing us all to see the POWER and the beauty that we ALL have collectively in this gospel—in “the clothing of [our] choice, and in a space that is comfortable for ALL of God’s children.”  Amen and Halleluyer. 

    and that dress was all too perfect on you ;)  I shall continue to dress up for Jesus and stand up for my sisters in my own sphere of influence. “I AM”  of great worth in this journey He has placed me here for, of that I have no doubt. You inspire many Sista Beehive.  I have witnessed that first hand.  Thank you for the strength you exude.  Continue on. It can’t be denied nor ignored.

  • Jamyrbz

    fantastic, thanks, and I loved that you dressed up for Jesus, I’m pretty sure he loved the dress with the red pumps, because I know I did!

  • http://twitter.com/SISTASinZION Sistas in Zion

    Thank you! Thanks for reading and commenting! I know He LOVED it cause I felt blessed and highly favored ALL day long :). Blessings to ya!  

  • Mkay

    What a great read,and you look fabulous in the photo!! I myself had not heard of the pants ‘event’,and I can’t imagine,not wearing a skirt or dress to church…it just seems more respectful to me…I wear a uniform to work every day,so come Sunday I really glam and sparkle it up,my ward is really great,and I think if I dressed more plainly,they’d wonder what was up….when I went from red to purple hair there was no fuss,the Good Lord knows me,and this is just me being me,if it displeased him in any way,I think he’d let me know!! ♥

  • http://twitter.com/SISTASinZION Sistas in Zion

    You had me at Purple hair, LOVIN IT! Glam it up Sista, Jesus needs us to glam, sprinkle, and shine it draws people to us and makes it easier to share the gospel! You do you Boo! ‘Cause Jesus knows you :). 

  • HeatherG

    I Love your guts Miss T!  Thanks for always putting on your best for Jesus! 

  • http://twitter.com/SISTASinZION Sistas in Zion

    Try’na figure out a way that we can work it out so that I can start attending Genesis again! I miss my Genesis family, really I do! I miss giving my Brotha E. a hard time. We will see you soon :D. I love you! and I can tell you that Sista Laurel loves you too! Thanks for helping to spread the word about Sistas In Zion, we really appreciate it & thank you for always leaving a comment letting us know that you stopped by! It really means a lot to us. There are a lot of WONDERFUL things happening for us right now and we owe much of it to you and the rest of the family! Thanks~ Smooches!

  • Laura

    I had not heard of the “pants to church” event.  I’m not really going to bother to look it up.  I admire so much that you gave this personal thought and came to your own conclusion.  What we “should” wear is so culturally based that the specifics often get muddled with the actual doctrine.  Personally I say represent yourself and Jesus to the best of your ability.  It doesn’t matter what that ends up looking like because it is different for each person.  I would LOVE to see a sister break out a “holiness” outfit for church!  I’m not super fancy like you but when we moved down to Florida I was just plain shocked at the casualness.  It was so funny to see flip-flops, t-shirts, and lots of denim.  Of course, in a north suburb of Chicago I saw a ton of those denim jumpers over polo shirts.  To each their own!  It is about the Lord and our covenants to serve and represent him, not  turning ourselves in to one homogenous mass.  Love the red pumps!

  • http://twitter.com/SISTASinZION Sistas in Zion

    Thank you! Honestly my red pumps are some of the most comfortable heels that I’ve had! Talk about HAPPY FEET, umm-kay! You are right, to each their own. It really is a personal thing to present yourself before the Lord, what you are wearing when you do it is your personal choice.

  • Elona Rohde

    I loved this!
    I wholeheartedly agree with this, and I just LOVE your
    outfit – you look gorgeous! I’d never thought of it as dressing up for Jesus before, but I
    very much like that.  I guess I’m one of those who could probably be accused of being too casual.  I use my four boys as an excuse for my appearance, but I will try to do better.  Regardless, I know that Heavenly Father and Jesus love me, and no matter what I wear they are pleased when I make it to church.

  • http://twitter.com/SISTASinZION Sistas in Zion

    You are so right Elona! Ultimately it’s really about our personal relationship with our Father in heaven, as long as that is in tact everything else is secondary, right?

  • http://twitter.com/SISTASinZION Sistas in Zion

    Thank you, Sista Aubri! & thanks for your comment!

  • Aubri

    You looked beautiful on Sunday…loved the outfit, but now I love it even more.  Very well said!

  • Lo

    Protesting in church is SO bizarre to me. I don’t get it! What was the purpose? For feminists? Because the MEN of the church make us wear dresses? wah wah. Would the women like to wear TIES? Or as my husband calls them, a noose? Because SURELY men in ties only want the women in dresses because misery loves company….. right??

  • http://twitter.com/SISTASinZION Sistas in Zion

    Haha— I will have to remember that when Brother Beehive gets cranky after church with a quick “Brotha,  you need to loosen that tie?” look. Thank you for the laugh tonight it’s been a long day… To many kids not enough time for the Christmas Seasonal activities. 

  • SilverRain

    Thank you! I almost could have written this.

    Well, except for the African American/black part. I’m as tragically pale as the white sands of Florida.

    I want to support people who feel marginalized. Goodness, I’m one of them at times. But it is a gauntlet bring thrown down, and that I don’t support.

    It seems to me that there are two prongs to this, those who intend to pick a fight, and those who think it it’s merely support of those who don’t feel accepted. The message is mixed, and anyone who disagrees with part is labeled as haters of the other part, whether or not it is true.

    It is a win-win for enemies if the church, and I don’t yet see much benefit to those who are truly struggling.

  • http://twitter.com/SISTASinZION Sistas in Zion

    SilverRain, I wish you could have written this, it would have save this Sista some stress :). We can benefit if we continue to have the conversation… follow the pain. It will be uncomfortable for a while until we all get comfortable having that conversation, right? It’s more about us individually (members) and less about the foundation. I’d better stop before I start preaching up-in-here! :) Thank you for your comments.

  • http://twitter.com/SISTASinZION Sistas in Zion

    We could definitely use a little more peace and comfort as we forge a path back to our Father in heaven. Thank you for reading our post and for being an active participant!

  • http://www.facebook.com/leanngw LeAnn Gledhill Williams

    Wow, I am loving this one. I am smiling too. Amen to it all. I also loved the pictures of you; it was awesome.  All I can say is that I have never felt like I was treated different in the church because I am a woman. If anything I feel like the gospel has offered to me a place to grow and become a stronger daughter of our Heavenly Father with all of the blessings that brings. The woman I feel I am today is because of the gospel of Jesus Christ. I have always felt an equal to my husband. I have never served in a position in the church that I haven’t felt I was an equal in every respect. In fact, I have felt deep respect from men in the church.
    I personally think the feminist movement has taken away many respectful things that men once did for women; such as opening the door of a car or a doorway. Men paying for the date and this list is much longer. Why in the world would we want to wear pants to church if we have a dress.I love to dress in my best for the Lord. We are missionaries in the Inner City Project. Many of the people we serve don’t even have a dress and they come in the best pair of pants they have and it is totally OK. I do notice that in a few weeks of attending church they are usually able to get a dress. I helped one sister get some church clothes and the first day she wore a dress she came in like a queen. She felt so good inside that dress. This is all very strange to me. All I can think to say is Why all the fuss??

  • NateBeth Callister

    I love you!

  • Cathy

    I so appreciated your call for a peaceful and respectful dialogue. There is a place for everyone. Listening to each other can only help. I LOVE your blog. You keep it real, and that is my favorite :)

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