Gender inequality isn’t just limited to the workplace, as we know and discuss frequently. It’s an epidemic we face in many facets of life including religion, and women are fighting back.
This Sunday is the second annual Wear Pants To Church Day, a day created by a Mormon feminist equality group as an act of solidarity to emphasize that there is more than one way to be a good Mormon woman. The day also aims to encourage inclusiveness in the LDS Church. Traditionally, female members of the LDS Church wear skirts and dresses to Sunday church services.
“It’s not about pants, it’s about broadening the cultural expectations about what it means to be a Mormon woman.”
Although it isn’t prohibited for LDS women to wear pants to church, they are often judged, in spite of the dress restriction being lifted over forty years ago.
Having been made to feel like an outcast in her local congregation for wearing pants, Nancy Ross, the founder of Wear Pants to Church Day, explains on the group’s website why she created the initiative.
“I thought my pants were doing just fine at church until I was asked to meet with the bishop. He told me that someone in my ward called the stake president to report my pants,” Nancy shared. “It was time to stop the perpetuation of the cultural myth that there is something wrong with women wearing pants. I’m pushing back against the tiny little box I’m often asked to fit into as a Mormon woman.”
The group wants to be clear that Wear Pants to Church Day isn’t intended to be disrespectful to the LDS Church, but rather serve as a chance to educate, outreach and support those who feel they have been discriminated against.
“We know that there are a number of people that feel marginalized at church and that they don’t belong,” she said. “We believe everyone is welcome at church.”
The push for equality by Mormon women’s groups has grown over recent years. This past April, LDS women celebrated a milestone when Jean Stevens, a member of the Primary general board of the LDS Church, led morning prayer at a semiannual gathering for the first time in the conference’s 183-year history.
One of the first women known to wear pants was Elizabeth Smith Miller (the cousin of suffragist Elizabeth Cady Stanton) in 1851, it is amazing that over 160 years later, some women are still being held to this standard. As Ms. Smith Miller once said about wearing pants, ‘The question is no longer how do you look, but woman, how do you feel?”