Thursday, December 13, 2012

It's Not About Pants!!

I'm a Mormon. But you already knew that. I'm also a feminist. But you probably already knew that, too. And I know you know this: I do not like to wear pants. My favorite part of the day is when I shut the front door and immediately take my trousers off. Sometimes I replace them with pajama pants. Sometimes I just sit in front of the space heater in my crazy underwear. And you are welcome for that visual.

When I grew up and found out that my butt is big and my thighs are thunderous, I learned to love skirts and dresses. Mostly dresses. I never fall asleep on the futon in my jeans. I always fall asleep in my Sunday dresses. Because they are so scrumptious and comfy, you know? And I'm extremely classy. So while I don't always look forward to church, I usually do look forward to spending the day in a nice A-line frock.

This week, some Mormon feminists asked the rest of us Mormon feminists to show our solidarity and wear pants to church this Sunday. Immediately, Facebook lit on fire. Everyone and their dogs started weighing on the merits and de-merits on pants on ladies at church (which is funny because dogs don't wear pants or dresses). I got anxious. (Wha?! Me?) Do I wear pants to show my fellow worshippers where my heart is? Do I risk making them think I'm even more of a weirdo than they already think I am? (I've already pegged myself as wacky by adding "and sisters!" to any scripture reference that addresses brethren...). Do I pull my PR slacks out of the back of my closet and squeeeeeeeeze into them, even though they're roughly two sizes too small? Do I participate in a movement that I believe in, even if doing so makes me uncomfortable, so that I can tell my daughters (should I ever have any) that I tried to make things better for them the best way I knew how?

Honestly, I don't know yet.

I took the issue to my Facebook friends. And immediately after I posted a link to a news article and asked if anyone was planning on pants-ing it up this Sunday, I panicked. Did I not learn my lesson during that horrible election?

But you friends are the best.

Nearly 100 kind, understanding, respectful comments and only a couple instances of snark and/or misunderstanding. Not everyone agreed with one another, but honestly, it seemed like everyone was trying to understand. Compared to the now removed "Wear Pants this Sunday" event page, what happened on my comment thread was positively loving.

Guys. Ladies. That's what this whole pants thing was about. Not about whether or not it's OK to wear pants to church (it is). Not about feminists believing women should be identical to men (they don't). It was about raising awareness, starting a dialog, creating a space full of love, empathy, and greater understanding. Some people failed; some passed with flying colors.

You may not feel the inequities in the church or in our society at large, but you know what? Other people do. Lots of other people. And it hurts them inside. It hurts me inside. At this point, I'm not really asking for radical changes. I just want people to listen to each other, to acknowledge each other's concerns and fears and pains. To walk a mile in their Ann Taylor, pin-striped, flat front trousers. Or whatever.

And if you see me at church this Sunday in a dress, know that I still support my MoFem trouser-wearing sisters. And if I show up in pants, please keep in mind that I am probably terrified and itching to get home and swap them out for my pajamas and a space heater.


Adrienne said...

Beautifully written.

Jen said...

Amen and amen.

Also, it was so refreshing to read a civilized discussion of this issue. Thanks for playing hostess.

Amber Vasquez said...

every time you blog, i get happy. :)

Audy & Ash said...

I hope I passed with flying colors! Gretta you are the best, and as usual we love reading whatever you write!

Gretta Whalen said...

@Audy&Ash I'm not the one doling out the grades, but you pass every test in my book! Flying colors and all.

And thank you, Adrienne, Jen, and Amber!

Lisa said...

I have to admit, Mormon feminism is something that I think about only when I am reading blog posts like this, and maybe for a little while after. While, I don't think the Church doctrines are discriminating, I do realize that there are people in the church, too many people, who don't understand the doctrines, and abuse their so-called power; or on the other hand, are afraid to stand up and be equal partners, or believe that they have an equal voice. I guess I just don't understand the purpose of wearing pants to church. (which I don't have a problem with, by the way)

To be honest, I think people getting to know you and others who share similar viewpoints/concerns, as the awesome, faithful people you are, is the best statement that can be made.

Whatever you decide to do, I'm just sorry I won't be there on Sunday to see it.

Aria said...

I just love me some Gretta. You make me want to be you...I mean better. Love

Maggie said...

Love you to pieces, Gretta. Well said!

Maggie said...

Yes! Well said, Gretta. Love you!