Last December, a grassroots effort by Mormon feminists urged women to wear pants to church — something that is nowhere forbidden by LDS doctrine but in some locations has been frowned upon by the conservative subculture of Mormondom.
On December 15, Mormon women will do this again, likely with even more grassroots support from both women and men, who are encouraged to embrace pants and the color purple as signs of their commitment to the full flourishing of LDS women. The gesture also seeks to demonstrate solidarity and welcome among people who often feel they just don’t fit in at church.I wear pants to church almost every week. If questioned, I tell people that I've had that nightmare where I forgot to wear my pants, and it just never ends well.
That is typically the end of that conversation.
The response to last year’s “Wear Pants to Church Day” was fascinating. Many people were supportive. But the organizers also received some accusatory, angry comments from fearful people who knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that the specter of Mormon women wearing pants to church proved that dogs and cats were about to start mating together and civilization would soon end in a fiery rubble. The organizers were told they were unfeminine extremists who hated men so much they felt the need to dress like them. (Um, irony much?)
According to the New York Times, one irate protestor threatened to shoot any Mormon woman who arrived to church in pants, because apparently the same gospel of Jesus Christ that tells him it’s anathema for women to have two pieces of fabric between their legs also tells him that it’s totally fine to deprive them of their right to breathe air.
In an unexpected twist to the story, the organizers have applied to submit a “pants quilt” to the Smithsonian museum (see the lovely photo here).* I was asked to participate in this remarkable undertaking, sending the pair of pants I wore on that extraordinary Sunday to the quilter who would then snip them for possible inauguration into their rightful place in American history.
But I am too much a creature of habit to care so much about history that I would allow a pair of scissors anywhere near my favorite slacks. I’m also just too damn Mormon — too frugal, practical, and boring — to relinquish an article of clothing until I’ve completely worn it out. Ain’t nobody touching my favorite pants.
I will be wearing my pants again to church on December 15, and possibly a thousand more times after that. (I will wash them in between, I promise.) I hope some of you will join me in wearing pants to church.
And life will go on as usual, with hyper-conservative Mormons bewailing this tiny token of women’s equality as a harbinger of doom, liberal Mormons countering that it’s not really that much to ask for, and everyone else wondering when Mormons might see fit to join the twenty-first century.
* Note: In the original edition of this post I said that the pants quilt had already been accepted by the Smithsonian Museum. I have since learned that the quilt has been submitted but not yet accepted, nor is its inclusion a certainty. I have corrected this in the post above and apologize for the error.