For What it's Worth: My "Women Should Wear Pants to Church" Response

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

For those of you who don't live in Mormontown, Utah, USA, let me give you a little background before I dive in here.

There is a group of LDS women called "All Enlisted." Recently, they have asked other LDS women to wear dress pants to church on Sunday instead of the traditional dress or skirt. For those of you not familiar with LDS church worship services let me clear some stuff up.  typically, members wear their "Sunday best" to worship as a sign of respect. However, there is no "dress code" that you have to have to enter. Everyone in any attire is welcome to worship. The CULTURE of the religion (not the doctrine of it) has shown that women typically wear a dress or a skirt and men wear a suit or white shirt and tie. But like I said, anyone is welcome to the services, no matter what their outfit looks like. The church actually issued a statement that says church members are encouraged to wear their best clothing as a "sign of respect for the Savior" but they don't dictate clothing options beyond that.

So the All Enlisted group is calling for LDS women to wear dress pants to church. This doesn't seem like a big deal to me. Really, who cares? I have seen women do this and I have never seen them asked to leave or treated differently. This rally to arms seemed odd to me. Looking closer, I saw that the group is not ONLY asking women to wear pants, but to wear pants in protest of inequality of women in the church.

Whoa there, Betsy.

There are a few reasons this bothers me:

#1. I hold my worship services especially sacred. I try really hard to focus on Christ and His atonement. Distractions like big ol' protests make me feel... well... distracted.

#2. I have never EVER felt inferior as a woman in my religion. Yes, I have had weird things taught to me by people in the church, but upon further research had found that those weird things were not doctrinal and therefore irrelevant in my life. And yes, I admit  I have a few questions about some things- but it's nothing a pair of tailored pants is going to answer. I should also mention that I have never felt SUPERIOR to men in the church either. If there is one place in this world I feel equal to men- it is within the doctrines of my religion.

So, here's my dilemma. I teach singing time to kids 18 months-7 years. I am up there jumping around and last week was rolling around on the floor in a desperate impersonation of a melted snowman. Just last week I thought: "I should find some nice dress pants so I'm not worried about flashing the kids."

Well, thanks, All Enlisted, now I can't do that. Here's what your little protest has done:
It has taken away the freedom to wear whatever you want to church and not be judged. Which is hilarious, because I'm pretty sure your point was the opposite of that.

If I wear a dress to church on Sunday, I will be standing with the people all over facebook who are screaming: "Women should NEVER wear pants to church! It is DISRESPECTFUL! Also, there is NOTHING about our religion's culture that needs to change when it comes to equality among men and women! You're all crazy *gasp* feminists!"

I don't agree with that at all. So, wearing a dress is out.

But okay, now let's say I wear dress pants on Sunday. Now, I have people in dresses looking at me and assuming that what's running through my head is this: "Dresses are SUPPRESSION! The church has made me feel unequal and inferior to men! I must actively fight against my religion in order to make it what I want!"

I don't agree with any of that either.

The point is, I am annoyed. Why not wear pants to church if you feel like it? Why not ask women to wear pants to church solely because pants are the issue? Why does everything have to turn into a big fat political statement? I had this same issue with Chick-fil-a a while ago. First it was chicken sandwiches displaying my "stance" and now it's dresses and suit pants.

I'm grumpy about this.

And I'm probably going to church in my underwear on Sunday in protest of irritating protests.
Or, as my friend Nathan recommended, a skort.


  1. Whouhou!!! I am so glad I just read this because I have had issues about this here in Scotland, back in Canada this was not an issue, you could even come to the temple in dress trousers in winter... I agree that it is up to the member, all that should matter is that you are doing your best to come to church and well dress what you feel comfortable with!

  2. yeeeeck! i hadn't heard anything about this when you posted it to facebook, but i agree with you. sunday BEST means whatever YOU feel best in. honestly, i've seen people come to church in dirty flip flops, greasy hair, and a baggy tee shirt and thought, "just because that's paired with a skirt does not make it appropriate for sunday worship. is that *really* you looking your best?" and for some people, perhaps that IS their best. and MAYBE..for some people...a pair of nice slacks and blouse is the outfit they feel their very best in. and i think that's great. i guess this is a tangent about what constitutes "sunday best" and doesn't really have anything to do with feminist issues. that stuff just makes me want to putt my hair out, though, because like you said...we are not inferiors in Christ's church. we are every last bit as important as the men we sit next to and i feel like people who protest our role in the church just don't understand it.

  3. Sigh.

    I say you skip church on Sunday.

    Wait, is this happening in all wards and stakes?

  4. So, I saw this because my friend Shaun commented somewhere on Facebook and it ended up in my feed. However, I can't comment there so I came back here to say

    Thank you!

    I heard about the pants to church thing in a very round about way and I have to say the whole thing was weird to me. I have seen women wear pants to church before. Usually it's older women too. Heck, my mom says in Arkansas we had a family that just wore their nicest pair of overalls to church because that's what they had. As a matter of fact, in response to what Nahomie said, you can, actually, show up to the temple in street clothes if you need to (if you have some terrible emotional trauma away from home or something) and so long as you have a temple recommend, they will let you in. However, most temple attending members appreciate the sacredness of the temple enough that they don't do that.

    I totally feel your pain, having melted a few snowmen and done some jumping up and down to do as I'm doing more than once. My solution: a peak of garment won't scar a kid for life. They're there to cover us up after all. And if you live in Utah they probably see their Mom's poke out occasionally anyway.

    What really gets me is the lack of respect for worship services this shows. If you have a problem, bring it up with your priesthood leadership. We may live in a democratic country, but our church is not a democracy. Protest have little to no place in worship meetings, and as you said, they distract from our purpose of being there: the Savior.

  5. Thank you Thank you Thank you for posting this. I agree with you wholeheartedly! I want to be able to wear dress pants in the winter months to keep my legs from freezing, can't do that now because I'll be making a statement that was not meant to be stated.

  6. Some days I'm glad I don't live in Utah, and other days I'm really glad I don't live in Utah.

    Also, don't let anyone drive you to wearing a skort, Carrie. You're better than that.

  7. My thoughts exactly. Maybe I should go in a really nice bathrobe ...

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