12.18.2012

That's what you get for being subversive!*

I got a comment from someone asking if I was going to weigh in on Pants Day. Except I kind of don't want to, because I'm a bit burned out from all the people yelling about it.

Here is an explanation from Joanna Brooks about what this was about.

Here is an awesome article that explains why some of the current policies and procedures (note: not the doctrine) of the Church make some women feel unequal.

Here is an even awesomer article that explains how men experience church culture differently from women.

The event organizers set the date for December 16th and created a Facebook event page. And then the WHOLE. DANG. INTERNET. EXPLODED.

Or at least that's how it seemed to me. Things got super, super ugly. I have to say--if the idea of women wearing pants to church (which is not against the rules) or wanting to discuss the idea of gender inequality within our culture can bring out this kind of anger, defensiveness, offensiveness, and let's not forget death threats from people who all profess to be brothers and sisters in Christ, then clearly, all is not well in Zion.

I did wear a purple scarf with my dress on Sunday to show support, and the Gentleman Husband wore a purple tie. The day before, I'd received a call from a member of my bishopric. My first thought: "Crap, how did they know I was thinking about wearing pants???"

Turns out, that's not why they were calling. They wanted to ask me to be the new Gospel Doctrine teacher in my ward.

Now . . . I've only been in this ward for about six months, and I really love it. I love the vibe, love the people, love it all. But I absolutely did not expect this. The two current teachers are white middle-aged males who are well-read, articulate, experienced, and at least one of them has a professional teaching background. I can't help but feel that I'm . . . a step in a different direction, if you will. (GH's response: "Are you sure they were asking you to teach the adults? Of course you'd be great, but are you sure it's not one of the teenage classes or somethings?") I'm going to take it as a huge compliment that they'd ask me to get up there and do my thing, even if I am beyond nervous and intimidated.

I feel very blessed to live within the boundaries of a ward whose leaders and members cultivate a sincere attitude of outreach and inclusiveness. The fact that they're calling a young female whippersnapper like me to teach Gospel Doctrine to all the Real Live Grownups is just one example of that. If I'd shown up in pants last Sunday, I doubt anybody would have had a thing to say about it. But I know that's not everybody's experience, and that there are many women who do feel marginalized, who feel that their voices are not heard or wanted, and who wonder if they really belong in our church. That's why I wore purple--to say, "I hear you," and also, "You absolutely belong here--come sit by me."



*My mom's response when I called with the news about my new Church job. Nice one, Mom. When I start teaching out of Rough Stone Rolling, I'll be sure to say it was her idea. 


20 comments:

Science Teacher Mommy said... [reply]

You'll be superb.

Kayla @ Freckles in April said... [reply]

I actually had a negative experience (I wore a pants PIN..not even pants) but that was because of my own idiocy, not the movement. And when I was whining to my husband about it I'm pretty sure your title was exactly what was running through his head. I got zero sympathy.

Kayla @ Freckles in April said... [reply]

Also, you will be an amazing Gospel Doctrine teacher. I would love to sit in your class!

liesel said... [reply]

I wore a purple shirt in lieu of pants, and my husband would have worn a purple dress kerchief in his pocket had he gone, but he did not. I wanted to show support, but doubted that people in the wilds of Montana would have even heard about it (they hadn't as far as anyone I talked to). Also I didn't want to stir up controversy, such as the aforementioned interned explosion just in case. Mostly though, I just wussed out. But I had friends and sisters who did. And they had positive (or neutral) experiences. There was no-one there in pants in my ward (that I saw). But a few others in purple like me. Some of which may or may not have just been a coincidence. (though I am pretty sure the inactive lady in front of me was on purpose). I had wondered what you were going to do as well, but refrained from asking..

You'll be a fantastic Gospel Doctrine Teacher.

Liz Johnson said... [reply]

You will ROCK IT.

May I suggest the Engaging Gospel Doctrine podcast? It's really good, very faithful, and yet tackles the more nuanced stuff. It has a lesson overview and then a roundtable discussion. I listen to it for fun, because church with 4 kids six and under does not exactly fill my cup, if you know what I mean.

There's also a FB community for it where they take questions and such - Mormon Stories Sunday School.

Nemesis said... [reply]

STM, thanks!

Kayla, I am now dying to know what happened. Any chance you could email me with the story?

Liesel, what part of Montana do you live in? And yes, I saw several purple-wearers at church but couldn't tell if it was the same KIND of purple I had on. :-)

Liz, yes! I have bookmarked that one & am hoping it will be really helpful. Thanks!

And everyone, I promise I didn't post about the new call to be all, "Oh, I feel so nervous! Validate and compliment me, please!" I mean, I won't turn such things away, but I promise I'm not fishing for it. ;-)

Saxon said... [reply]

of course the trouble was it was rather difficult to read about the whole "wear pants to church day" here in the uk without sniggering a little bit because of course it would have had a whole different meaning over here.

Nemesis said... [reply]

Saxon, yeah. I heard that the British Saints were having a bit of giggle-fits about the word "pants."

tsk tsk . . .

Señora H-B said... [reply]

I chickened out too. I wore leggings under my dress, but I don't think that counts.

I'm so jealous of the ward that gets you as a Gospel Doctrine teacher. I haven't been to Gospel Doctrine in a very long time. I just...can't. We went from a teacher who questioned absolutely everything and offended everyone (one of Mr. H-B's close friends, as a matter of fact) to an extremely dry teacher. I hope you're the refreshing middle ground that everyone needs!

Lauren said... [reply]

I'm one of your blurkers and was wondering when you'd chime in on this. As a self-labeled liberal Mormon Feminist, I wore a pants 'pin' because I don't own a pantsuit or anything nice enough that I deem appropriate for my own Sabath worship. Though I have worn pants (scrubs even!) to church when I've been able to attend church after my shift at the hospital. I was able to have a few conversations about why I felt the need to participate, the closest to my heart being that a widowed woman can't remarry in the temple unless she breaks her first temple sealing. This happened to my dear sister in law and it has rubbed me wrong for years that had she been male, she could have been sealed to two men. Now the children she and my brother in law have together are under the sealing to her and her first husband, not their biological and earthly father. They are a great faithful couple and satisfied that all will be made well in Heaven with our just heavenly parents, but I can't help but wonder why? I explained to my ward member that I hope this is one more of the cultural things that will perhaps be changed someday.

Anyways, just wanted to let you know that I enjoy your blog and your "subversive" voice. :)

elliespen said... [reply]

Now I wish I lived in your ward because you teaching Gosoel Doctrine sounds like a whole ton of awesome.

I did not wear pants/trousers to church on Sunday and I don't think I have any purple at all, but I did talk about it in my RS lesson and then posted the relevant portion of my lesson on my blog. I was very pleasantly surprised at the overwhelmingly positive response, especially given said Internet explodings.

AmyJane said... [reply]

So, living not in the Utah, and having sick kids all weekend keeping me off the internet more than usual, I just recently caught wind of the pants brouhaha.....and um, I don't get it.
Are the pants about wanting cultural change? If so, what changes are people after? Just things like more women praying in General Conference and such? And women feeling free to wear pants to church, obviously?
Or, are the pants about wanting doctrinal change, i.e. sisters who want to bear the priesthood in the same way men do?
I really honestly can't tell, as all I can find is people yelling at each other online about it, while not really sharing what the end goal of this event was. Enlighten me?

AmyJane said... [reply]

Also, I think you'll make a wonderful Sunday School teacher! I'd come to your class. And I have a hard time sitting though Sunday school for that's saying something!

liesel said... [reply]

I am in beautiful Missoula, arguably the least rural part of Montana. But still in Montana (which seems to still be scared of the internet) nonetheless. (The last combined Priesthood/R.S. meeting we had, we went over how to look up the new youth program on LDS.org. I'm not kidding.) Lack of general internet connectivity notwithstanding, I really love it here.

Nemesis said... [reply]

Amyjane, that link to Joanna Brooks gives a decent explanation. To some women, the pants thing may have included feelings about priesthood, but as I understand the stated purpose it was about showing support to women who have felt marginalized by challenging a cultural norm and also about inviting discussion about NON-priesthood-related cultural gender biases, such as, yes, women praying in General Conference, allocation of funds between programs for girls and boys, etc.

Saskia said... [reply]

I bet you'll be awesome at teaching Gospel Doctrine. A friend of mine recently got the same calling (he's slightly subversive as well, I mean, he wants a PhD in queer studies) and I love the vote of confidence in calling non-standard Mormons to teaching.

emandtrev said... [reply]

Girl, you totally had it coming. And not because you are so subversive. ;-) You are well-spoken, well-read, and just plain rock out intelligent conversations. I don't feel the need to compliment you (although I like doing that too), but that's just the honest truth. You are going to be a-mazing!

And, just for the record, we have two female Gospel Doctrine teachers and one male in our ward. :) They are all *really* fantastic.

Lady Susan said... [reply]

So, I am glad that you chimed in on this. However, I think these issues are more "issues" where the church has been long, long established and you have cultural norms that are not based on doctrine/handbook, etc. You go to other places where it is a branch or struggling ward and your concerns are more about just having enough bodies of any gender to make things work.

And for the pants, I have to sort of laugh. In Ukraine, it was more common to see woman in pants than a skirt/dress. 1) because you couldn't really find modest skirts/dresses. 2) it was warmer in the winter. 3) it was what people had to wear, and they didn't have the income to buy a new wardrobe for church.

And finally, I have been the Gospel Doctrine teacher for the last 2+ years. (Am going to get released soon.) I like to approach the class more as a graduate seminar where I expect a lot of input and thoughts from the class rather than setting myself up as some sort of gospel scholar (which I am not). This has been different from other teachers where they have brought a sort of air of authority with them when teaching the class.

Mrs. Clark said... [reply]

Commenter Lauren, I do not believe it is true any longer that widows cannot be sealed to subsequent husbands. Your relatives should check into it.

I understand that you are just linking to the article, not necessarily endorsing it, but the third article you linked in your post--the one with the "gender" comparisons (I am old-school and hate, hate, hate the misuse of the word gender when the word sex is correct) is quite a reach. Perhaps it is a "privilege" that men have leaders of their same sex in church, but can we please just accept that that is the way it is?

And I chuckle a bit at the irony of your husband's questions about whether you were REALLY called to be the Gospel Doctrine teacher...would you, or anyone else, have reacted that way if he had been given that calling instead of you? (Based on what I have read in your blog for the past couple of years, you will rock!) So maybe there is some truth to that article, after all...

Brittney said... [reply]

Thanks for weighing Nem, I didn't mean to twist your arm :) Honestly, I didn't read any of the internet explosion until after the fact- was definitely not impressed with the hate. I wore a purple dress and my handsome husband wore a purple tie. But see, the thing about living in Wisconsin is that it's really not terribly unusual to see a woman or two in pants at church. There did seem to be a couple ward members who were aware of the event, but their info was worse than third hand- so far off base.

You will be a magnificent Gospel Doctrine teacher- how I wish I could hear your lessons!

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