I don’t have anything new to add to the substance of the (apparently raging) debates about pants day or whatever it was that was planned for feminist-leaning ladies in the church. I have empathy and sympathy for most of the people who are or were in on that little consciousness-raising plan, but I also think I understand some of the backlash.
What I really wish is that, somehow–though maybe it wasn’t even possible–this could have been done more subtly, less divisively, and (this is the part that doesn’t seem realistic) in a way that didn’t attract the more extreme elements on both sides who have serious chips on their shoulders. I wish it could have been done in a way that didn’t make this event a target for people so insecure about their own faith that they are terrified of stripping away the thick layer of conformity insulating their testimony, or people so angry that resentment of patriarchy insulates theirs.
It seems to me that this could have been something much more interesting, and less dramatic, than it appears to be becoming–a moment in which some women in the church exercised a prerogative granted to them on paper (most of the time) but often denied verbally, violation of a rule that doesn’t really exist officially but is enforced through social influence. It could have been Jennifer Aniston looking her manager in the face and saying, “Yes ,I’m wearing the minimum number of pieces of flair. That’s all I’m wearing. You keep saying that’s all I’m required to wear, so that’s all I’m wearing. I’m going back to work, now. Let me know if this failure to break rules will have any official consequences.”
Maybe the answer was just to not make it a discrete event at all, but an ongoing trickle of behavioral information through the church. Maybe, like I suggested above, nothing could have kept this from becoming trench warfare on the bloggernacle (as it apparently is).
Anyway, it’s a mess. Like most nasty messes, it reveals more about the players than it does about the issues. From what I’ve seen, it’s revealed the petty meanness of several people on both “sides” (why did there have to be sides?) of this issue (sigh… I guess it’s an issue, now). It has revealed deep insecurities in authoritarians and feminists alike. But mostly it has revealed a fairly large number of people who, as far as I can tell, didn’t want it to become something so divisive.