Where the inside of my mind leaks onto the screen.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

The Reason for the Fight

I'm trying to hold my tongue here, but it just isn't working.

Here's what I don't get about the whole "wear pants to church" thing.  What exactly are these women trying to change?  There is no church policy that says women have to wear dresses.  In fact, I am fairly certain that most of us wear dress for one or both of two reasons:

  • Our mothers (and Western culture) taught us that when we want to show the ultimate respect, we wear a dress.
  • We want to show respect.
It's all a choice.  It's always been a choice.  So I just don't get the point of making a big fuss.  With no policy to change, I have to assume these women are trying to change perception.  

Good luck.

I really couldn't possibly care less what someone else wears to church.  That is their business, and who am I to say that a pant suit doesn't show equal amounts of respect?  But that doesn't mean I won't do a double take.  And it doesn't mean I won't judge.  

Not because I'm a judgemental Utah Mormon, either.  No, its because I belong to a society in which women wear dresses when they want to show respect.  Not all women, true.  But most women wear dresses to weddings, to funerals, to dances.  And when someone does something different than what most do, it is human nature to take notice, to consider the reasons for the differences, to pass personal judgement on the difference.  

Now my personal feelings are based in what my mom taught me.  The church is Heavenly Father's house.  When I am going to be in the chapel, I wear a dress.  If I am going to step foot in the building except for the purposes of sports, I wear long pants.  That's what my mother taught me, and it makes sense to me.  I dress up for job interviews.  I dress up for family pictures.  And so I'm totally okay with dressing up to go visit Heavenly Father's house.

I also remember clearly that when my school changed to uniforms and required the girls to wear a jumper on Mondays and Wednesdays, my mom would not allow me to wear shorts under my dress.  "If they wanted you to act like you were wearing shorts," she reasoned, "they wouldn't be requiring skirts."  So I guess I was just raised that you dress a certain way not just for outward appearance, but because dress affects behavior.

And I admit to being a bit more judgemental than the average bear.  I really don't think women or girls should wear leggings under their dresses to church or that boys should get away with a polo shirt when girls have to wear dresses.  I also don't think flip flops have any place at church.

But I totally get - and respect - that the definition of dress up is a personal one.  And so of course I'm not going to act differently.  I'm not going to base friendships differently.  But I am going to notice.  And some organized pants day isn't going to change that part of my nature.

Besides, if the plan really is to get people to stop noticing women wearing pants, I think they're going to have to go a lot further than an LDS Sacrament Meeting.  We're really talking about changing an entire culture, here.  That's a pretty big uphill battle.  And I'm saddened by the few who choose to fight it where I go to worship.

Wear pants if you want to.  Your choice.  Always has been, always will be, and no one but you can know your internal motivation.  But please consider the purpose of the organized pants day, and consider that bringing a fight to church may not be a way to prove respect.