It’s all about the pants: women’s pants, that is.
Did you hear about the recent move on the part of Mormon women calling attention to issues of gender within the Mormon faith? In an act of solidarity and consciousness-raising, on December 16, 2012, many women wore pants to Sunday worship services all across America. While there is nothing specific within Mormon doctrine stipulating women must wear skirts or dresses, the practice of “wearing one’s Sunday best” has largely resulted in such a reality.
So, in a move designed to move beyond talking (largely confined to themselves) and to create awareness Mormon feminists transgressed the Sunday social norm by wearing pants.
As Mormons and feminists questioning the patriarchal assumptions embedded within their tradition, LDS Wave provides a list of the problematic contradictions existing within Mormonism where women are told on the one hand how valued they are by God and on the other hand, how they are made to feel inferior within their faith communities because acceptance of patriarchal culture is condoned as somehow representing God’s plan. Some of the ways these conflicts are felt will sound all too familiar to those within Christian evangelicalism:
I feel unequal when there are more (a lot more) men’s voices in religious texts, meetings, leadership positions, and decision making bodies.
I feel unequal when women doing the same job are called by different titles (i.e. Sister vs. President) and/or are accessories to rather than serving equally with their husbands, i.e. Mission President’s wives.
I feel unequal when my value is primarily linked to being a wife and mother rather than by being a child of God.
I feel unequal when the men in my life acknowledge that they have no female spiritual leaders in their wards or communities.
I feel unequal when women have less prominent, prestigious, and public roles in the church, even before and after childrearing years.
I feel unequal when males handle 100% of the church finances.
I feel unequal when I am taught at church that my husband presides in my family, he is the head, and all things being equal, he has the final say.
I feel unequal when people preach that men and women are completely equal and in the same breath say the above sentence.
I feel unequal when fathers and mothers are encouraged to fulfill primary roles to provide and nurture, but only the fathers are given the freedom to seek out the best way for them to provide, whereas, mothers are told the best way for them to nurture—to be stay at home moms.
I feel unequal when men teach me that being a stay at home mother is the most important thing a person could do, and yet most of them do not do it.
I feel unequal because most men, even inspired ones, can’t fully understand or provide enough resources for sexual abuse.
I feel unequal when young girls are taught about modesty and chastity from older men, especially because females make decisions about these things for very different reasons than males.
I feel unequal because many of the official church declarations and proclamations have no female input, regardless of how drastically they affect women.
I feel unequal because local leaders rarely use gender inclusive language even though church manuals and General Conference talks try to do so.
I feel unequal because we know very little about Heavenly Mother and her role in the Godhead and there doesn’t seem to be any emphasis on the part of our leaders to pray and find out more. I don’t know what my divine potential means as a female and that makes me feel less important.
I, for one, am thrilled to see Mormon feminists taking this stand and hope we will find ways to work together to address the all-too-frequent reality that religious systems have been perpetuated sexism, have undergirded male power, have silenced and controlled the Other in the name of God.