More thoughts on 'Pants'.

A few more thoughts on yesterday's event:

I believe that Heavenly Father created women and man to be equal.
Unfortunately, he created people that are not perfect.
Which is why there is inequality.

While there are women that don't feel this way (yay!) there are many who do.
Similarily, there are men that feel outcasted. (Like anyone not married by 26 is a "menace to society".)
This day was for them.

No one can deny that historically, women have been disadvantaged. The Mormon culture is no exception to this. 

Wearing pants, while a protest, was also a way of confirming how far we've come.

At the same time, wearing pants was a reminder of how much further we have to go.

"The action here has nothing to do with some rule about wearing pants to church. Calling attention to social norms within our community, those “unwritten order of things” that so often negatively impact or impose on women (and yes there are some for men too!) and doing so in a spirit of sisterly solidarity is important. Many of these may seem “small”, but accumulated they help define our social world. Other norms, however, have profound effects on women’s psychological, emotional and physical well-being. Some of the worst we have already left behind as enlightened members and leaders have come to understand and reject them. Choosing to violate this particular social norm has large symbolic meaning within the broader arc of feminism since it was among the symbolic rights our feminist foremothers fought for and a symbol they used in the past in their fight for suffrage and equality."

I've explained that I wore pants for myself and for others that felt alone.

Also, I wore pants For my mother, who was told:
  • "a woman doesn't need an education".
  • that taking care of her aging mother with severe Alzheimer's was "woman's work", so she had to carry all the responsibility. 
  • for being mocked, belittled, and criticized for being an "old maid" before she got married at twenty three
I wore pants for my mother, who despite all these things, has been socialized to not think that any of this is a problem

Wearing pants was in no way criticizing the Gospel or Heavenly Father. 
It was a wake up call to our social culture that sometimes overpowers our spirituality. 


Pants Pt. 2

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]

I'm an activist. (can you tell?)
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?


I'm a little late to the party (thanks, finals, for taking over my life) but today is Wear Pants to Church Day.
I haven't been attending church for the past few months, so I'm not going today, but If I was, I would be wearing pants. Even though I don't wear pants and I hate them. I would wear pants for the cause.

To feel power and autonomy.

Wear pants this Sunday – and every Sunday if you wish. And if and when you begin to experience a bodily sensation you associate with authority, give the sensation a name. Decide if it’s fear or rebellion or honor. Let that sensation pass through you….. through you and out of you so that you can move on to other things.
To stand together for a cause.
But 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.
To challenge gender/social norms.

The pant suit carries many connotations, most prominently, that of the professional women.  The fact is that when people accuse women who want to wear pants to church as wanting to “be men” it is playing directly (whether they know it or not) on the gender norm that men are professionals and providers while women are the center of the domestic sphere. Clearly these are gender norms in which the church has long been heavily invested and have consequences for women and families.
The fact women can even wear pants,  own property, even not BE property were all thanks to women who stood up and demanded they be heard and counted.One way to do this is to challenge the “unwritten order of things” to begin conversations, open dialogue and yes, even raise a little heck.  What is more Mormon than that? 
I'm so proud of all the sisters that decided to wear pants today.
I hope that by doing so, by presenting a challenge to the norm and the "unwritten" social rules we face so many of in Mormon society, that things can change.


Mothers & Daughters

I was recently talking with a dear friend about how "it's mothers that are the problem" when it comes to girls body image and weight issues. She told me of a recent example when her mother told her "If you just lost some weight you could get married." 

This problem with mothers is both accurate, and false at the same time.
It is not mothers that are the problem per say, but the society they are born in that works to tell mothers that it is their duty is to present pretty, perfect, daughters for society.

There is a pressure on mothers to be responsible for for how their daughters turn out. More so than a father's responsibility for their sons, or daughters. Or mothers with their sons.

Women have been conditioned in our society to be a certain thing. To be an object to be looked at, rather than an autonomous person. That they must follow these "unwritten" social rules on how to look, how to be, how to be looked at, in order to be loved. It is not the individual woman, the mother that thinks this, but again, it is the society that tells her to be this way.

One of the best examples of this problem is seen in the brilliant movie Spanglish. (Which i've blogged before).

Katie Makkai speaks to this phenomenon, the anxiety that confounds both mothers and daughters, beautifully in her spoken word piece.

She explains that her mother "was raised to believe the greatest asset she could bestow on her awkward little girl was a marketable facade".

I have had experiences like hers.

My grandparents fostered children when my dad was growing up. Sometimes they'd talk about their experiences over Sunday dinners. There was one story in particular my Grandma told again and again. With gusto, and pride.
There was one girl put in their care, who was 'chubby', to paraphrase my Grandma's words. My Grandmother would talk about how she "whipped that girl into shape". How she cut down her portions, and after dinner, when all the other kids would get cookies, and this girl would ask for one too, my Grandma would tell her "there will be no cookies for you!". She beamed with pride as she explained that, eventually, the girl lost some weight.
I'd be sitting there, listening to her go on and on and on. Whenever she told that story, I felt like that little girl. I felt her shame and her Otherness. I felt my Grandma's disgrace. I would just sit there in silence, relaying the latest Boy Meets World episode in my head and pretend I wasn't there.

When I started to gain weight as a child, my mother would tell me not to worry. That the same thing happened to her. That "it'll get better". She told me that the same thing that happened to her would happen to me. That "when you get to high school, you'll just thin out".
Only I never did. My mom didn't really gain weight until after she had kids. She had some 'chubby' childhood years, but she was tiny when she was the age I am now. Our experiences were really so different, but she couldn't see how drastic things were with me.

She let me go on diet pills when I was 12. She took me to the doctor and let me try them, since they had  worked for her. My parents got me braces, to fix what my father referred to as my "freak mutant teeth".  They took me to the salon to dye my hair blonde. They bought me contacts so I didn't have to be made fun of for wearing glasses anymore.

I'm not blaming her/them at all in listing these examples. They were doing all of these things out of love. They thought it was best for me. They tried to give me everything they could to help me. To make me pretty. To make me fit in, find acceptance, and be loved. I was bullied as a child. For quite a a few reasons, for no reason at all, but mostly, for my looks. They were only doing what they could fathom would help.

My mother used to comfort me by telling me "they'll be sorry one day, when you're a model, walking down the runway with your long legs" after being bullied for my height. In being a model, I would finally be socially accepted as 'pretty'. Only then, would I win.

Only, I'm not a model. I'm still not socially acceptably pretty. I am not desired. I still have not been accepted.

But somehow, I've found self acceptance. Yet all those kids that made fun of me would look at me today and still see the same problems.

However, I don't. I look at myself and see beauty in me, just the way I am.

I have broken the chain of unhappiness. Of never being good enough, passed on by my mother, from my grandmother.

My future daughter will never be given false hope and consolations on how, "one day" she'll be pretty and socially accepted. I'll teach her that no matter what, she is beautiful, for exactly who and what she is.

At least, it is my greatest hope that I will be able to teach her that.

I am trying to teach my mother that right now.

Last time I was home (in August of this year) my mother said to me as I was leaving the house "Erin, I think you need to change your skirt. You can really see the shape of your body in that."

My mother and father both criticized me for having body hair.

Here I am, at twenty three, still being told by my mother (and father) how to change myself to be socially acceptable. I've had this blog for years, which my mother sometimes even reads, but she still hasn't accepted my self acceptance.

So I continue to bring this issue up. I try to make her see that I am just fine exactly the way I am. That I don't need outside validation anymore. Not even from her.

I hope one day I can make her see this. To stop comments on how I should change to find validation from others.

I've given up hope in changing my father, who points out every blemish and imperfection I have the first second he sees me when I return home for a holiday or family celebration. Never "Hi Erin, i've missed you" but, "ugh, did you see that zit on your chin?"

I hope that our society can one day change. That this confrontation between mothers and daughters won't be a problem anymore.

A while ago, Pink came out with this song.

When I first saw this video, I immediately thought "Pink had a daughter." I googled, and discovered, that she in fact had recently had a baby girl, as the end of this video makes pretty clear.

I still cry watching it. It depicts so much of what i've been through, what I know so many other girls have been through.

I can only hope that one day this story won't ring so true.

Even though in my work, I see it's still a problem.

By speaking out about it, I hope to be able to one day see this all changed.
That women will no longer be defined by their worth in how others perceive them.
That mothers will no longer hope for outside validation for their daughters, but to encourage it from within.


Body Love

I just had to share this here. It is one of the most beautiful and inspiring thing i've ever seen/heard.
I really don't know what else to say. 
This really says it all.

I know girls who are trying to fit into the social norm 
like squeezing into last year’s prom dress 
i know girls who are low rise, mac eyeshadow, and binge drinking 
i know girls that wonder if they’re disaster and sexy enough to fit in 
i know girls who are fleeing bombs from the mosques of their skin 
playing russian roulette with death; it’s never easy to accept 
that our bodies are fallible and flawed 
but when do we draw the line? 
when the knife hits the skin? 
isn’t it the same thing as purging, 
because we’re so obsessed with death, 
some women just have more guts than others 
the funny thing is women like us don’t shoot 
we swallow pills, still wanting to be beautiful at the morgue, 
still proceeding to put on make-up, 
still hoping that the mortician finds us fuckable and attractive 
we might as well be buried with our shoes, 
and handbags and scarves, girls 
we flirt with death everytime we etch a new tally mark 
into our skin 
i know how to split my wrists like a battlefield too 
but the time has come for us to 
reclaim our bodies 
our bodies deserve more than to be war-torn and collateral, 
offering this fuckdom as a pathetic means to say, 
“i only know how to exist when i’m wanted” 
girls like us are hardly ever wanted you know 
we’re used up and sad and drunk and 
perpetually waiting by the phone for someone to pick up 
and tell us that we did good 
You did good. 

( i know i am because i said am, my body is home) 
so try this 
take your hands over your bumpy lovebody naked 
and remember the first time you touched someone 
with the sole purpose of learning all of them 
touched them because the light was pretty on them
and the dust in the sunlight danced the way your heart did 
touch yourself with a purpose 
your body is the most beautiful royal 
fathers and uncles are not claiming your knife anymore 
are not your razor, no 
put the sharpness back 
lay your hands flat and feel the surface of scarred skin 
i once touched a tree with charred limbs 
the stump was still breathing 
but the tops were just ashy remains, 
i wonder what it’s like to come back from that 
sometimes i feel a forest fire erupting from my wrists 
and the smoke signals sent out are the most beautiful things 
i’ve ever seen 
love your body the way your mother loved your baby feet 
and brother, arm wrapping shoulders, and remember, 
this is important: 
you are worth more than who you fuck 
you are worth more than a waistline 
you are worth more than any naked body could proclaim 
in the shadows, more than a man’s whim 
or your father’s mistake 
you are no less valuable as a size 16, than a size 4 
you are no less valuable as a 32A than a 36C, 
your sexiness is defined by concentric circles within your wood; 
you are a goddamn tree stump with leaves sprouting out: 
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...