I don't always wear pants. (okay, I pretty much never wear pants. I hate them.)
And I haven't been going to church for the past few months.
But today, I did both.
For me, it was to stand up for gender inequality.
To fight our incredibly gendered culture that is Mormonism.
To welcome any who feel different.
Who don't fit the cookie-cutter social norm, perpetuated by our culture, not our gospel.
I sadly only found out about it this sunday morning, but I knew immediately I had to finally get back to church.
There was a fire lit in me for a cause greater than me.
To stand up for discrimination.
To break out of the norm.
To create a more inclusive space.
To foster a safer and more accepting culture that will readily accept a diversity of saints.
"even a gentle break with Mormon social convention, even a modest effort to help progressive Mormons feel less alone in the faith is enough to engender a national reaction, as Wear Pants to Church Day organizers have since discovered." [x]
When I am learning about the injustices and in equality that still plague our society I feel a fire begin to burn inside me. One that can't be put out unless I do something about it. That thing is often blogging. It's what works for me.
I get filled with this light that tells me "this is what you are here to do".
When I'm in a Women's Studies (or Sociology or Philosophy) lecture, I feel it.
So I act on it.
Today, I felt it.
So I did something about it.
On my good days, I know that Heavenly Father sent me here at this time to be a fighter.
To help garner change to make it a better place for others.
I have my bad days, when I feel like I shouldn't be here and don't want to be and can't find any motivation to stay here. (which is why I haven't been attending church lately)
But taking action like this helped get rid of those doubts.
It reminded me that I am here for a reason.
That I can fight.
For love, and acceptance.
Which is what Mormonism is about.
I stopped going to church in my teens.
The biggest motivation for this was to get away from the bullying I was experiencing from the girls my age. (And our assigned leaders.) I didn't fit in, and they let me know it. I wasn't like everyone else, and so I wasn't welcome there. But I didn't want to be like everyone else.
Sunday lessons in Young Women's only taught us how to be the perfect wife and mother, that doing so was our only reason for this life. That it was the only option.This never sat right with me. That couldn't be all there was. I didn't want to be that. I was different.
I looked different. I was fat. I experimented with my appearance.
Dying my hair black convinced everyone around me that my soul was black, and they all treated me like a criminal. In reality, I was doing nothing wrong. My tormentors, the other girls, were the ones breaking the Word of Wisdom, going against church teachings. But they kept their hair either blonde or brown and dressed preppy and smiled and agreed with the leaders, so they were adored.
I don't want it to be like that for my future children.
So today's action was the perfect (tiny) step to achieving that.
In the simple act of wearing pants, I hope to have shown that women have other roles besides in the home. That it's okay to be different. That we are all Heavenly Father's children, and that we all deserve the love and acceptance He gives us.
Our religion is one that should not have "Others".
And the gospel doesn't.
But the Mormon culture does.
And we need to stand against it.
We need to stand for our difference, celebrate who we are.
But hiding our differences and questions has costs as well -- to those who maintain silence and to the larger faith community. It fosters fearfulness, timidity, inauthenticity and intimidation. It fosters the assumption that all Mormons think and believe alike, and with this is fosters unintended thoughtlessness and carelessness. Not only toward Mormons concerned with traditional gender inequalities but to anyone who doesn't fit the cookie-cutter Mormon model: from the stay-at-home father and the gay teenager to the new convert and the interracial family.[x]
My good friend James showed solidarity by wearing a purple tie.
We were the only ones who really knew what was going on, but it was nice to have an ally! It's important for members to stand together to fight for a cause they believe in.
I stand for a more inclusive space for women, transgender, gay, lesbian, bisexual, and questioning youth. For saints of every colour skin to be accepted. For anyone that feels like they don't fit in at church. For all of these disadvantaged groups to be given the autonomy and choice over how they will go about this life.
I wore pants for them.
I wore pants for myself, to remind me that I can be different and still feel God's love.
I wore pants so that women (and men, and inter sexed) won't be forced into such narrow social roles.
After all, Heavenly Father gave us agency.
Why not use it?