“No means no.” As a child of the 70s and 80s, I heard this catchphrase a lot. Some marketing genius came up with it for PSAs about date rape. It’s meant to emphasize the importance of obtaining sexual consent before proceeding with sexual deeds.
I never had a lot of problems with people not respecting me when I said “no” to sex. But, before some smartass tries to tell me it’s because no one was interested, I will state that like almost all women, I was occasionally sexually harassed by men. I just mainly stayed out of situations in which I would have to deal with them. I’m not sure why that was. To my knowledge, I’ve never been raped. I did have some unfortunate encounters with a pervert when I was growing up, but he just showed me pornography. He never actually touched me. For that, I’m grateful.
Last night, I had an experience in a comment section with a very aggressive pro-life warrior. I had just read a news story about 80 year old Florida Representative Frederica Wilson. In the late 1960s, Ms. Wilson almost died from a pregnancy that resulted in a stillbirth. Doctors pronounced her baby dead in its seventh month of gestation. However, because her pregnancy predated Roe v. Wade, doctors were not permitted to induce labor. According to the article, Wilson said:
“I had to learn how, first of all, to handle the immense grief that comes with losing a child and the fact that the corpse of that child was still within me. I cried every night and all day. My little body was wretched with pain, weakness and frailty.”
Today, I relived one of the most painful times in my life on the House floor. I shared my experience of being forced to carry my dead baby. Prohibited by law to induce labor, I carried my deceased child inside me for two months and almost died. We can’t go back. pic.twitter.com/emuWzQDgWX
Wilson was commenting about anti-abortion legislation just passed by the House. The “born alive” bill will not go anywhere right now, as the Senate will probably not address it, and even if they passed it, Joe Biden won’t sign it. But it is a sign of what’s to come, as extremist right wingers try to impose their ridiculous anti-abortion views on the majority of Americans. I can’t help but notice that a lot of these folks are men. Quite a few of them are pushing shaming messages toward women who have casual, consensual sex. They claim they aren’t wanting to punish women for having sex for fun. But then, when a woman unintentionally gets pregnant, they think she needs to “lie in the bed she made for herself.”
Sure enough, there were several of these pro-life men opining in the comment section of the Washington Post article. A woman posted this excellent comment:
An embryo at 4 weeks is the size of a poppy seed. A 10 weeks fetus is the size of a pomegranate seed. Besides the contribution of one cell from a man, it is essentially a parasite using the woman’s blood, bone, muscle, etc. Don’t like abortion? Don’t have one. Mind your own business, in other words.
Then a pro-life man challenged her. He asked when she thought abortion should be banned. A lot of us, myself included, responded that it shouldn’t be banned at any stage of pregnancy. I’ve mentioned this before, but I’ll restate it for the latecomers. The vast majority of women who have abortions after the first trimester do so because there’s a medical reason. Either she’s sick, or the developing fetus has catastrophic medical problems. Late term abortions aren’t something a person does for fun or convenience. Any person who would do that for shits and giggles is not someone who should be a mother, anyway.
It wasn’t long before a guy named Kenneth decided to harass me with his pro-life views. I usually try to be respectful when I make comments, but this guy wouldn’t let up. He kept hammering away at me, trying to trip me up, challenging my opinions about abortion. I found him very disrespectful and responded accordingly. It reminded me of times when some horny guy wanted to do something sexual, when I didn’t. Fortunately, I never had an issue saying “no”, mainly because for some reason, I was afraid of sex and aggressive men. My fear of sex was greater than my fear of being socially rejected.
However, I happen to know that a lot of women, particularly young women, care a lot about what men think of them. So, when a man comes on to them, they’d rather just give him what he wants. They are willing to give in to his demands for sex. That’s how some of them end up pregnant when they never meant to be. While not every man is an asshole in this situation, a lot of men are.
I noticed that Kenneth had some “slut shaming” qualities. He commented to me that a woman who has a one night stand and has an abortion is doing so out of convenience. Obviously, he thinks that’s wrong. First off, the woman shouldn’t be having casual sex. Secondly, if she does get pregnant, she should commit to the pregnancy. Thirdly, if she doesn’t want to be a mother, she should give the baby up for adoption. He makes it sound like this is an easy thing to do. He acts as if pregnancy is easy, painless, and CHEAP.
Kenneth seems to think that he’s morally superior to pro-choice people, because he’s against abortion. Moreover, he thinks he has the right to hammer his views at total strangers. I normally don’t give guys like Kenneth much time, but I was feeling sort of hostile last night. He lobbed his impassioned entreaties at me, clearly getting nowhere, but unable to stop trying. I got increasingly annoyed, as he tried to explain to me– a woman– about pregnancy and the morals associated with it. It wasn’t the first time I’ve encountered this phenomenon.
I finally tired of Kenneth’s bullshit. It was time for dinner, and I wanted to end the conversation. So, after he referred to me as a “pro-abortionist”, I wrote this:
I am not a pro-abortionist. I simply don’t think you need to concern yourself with women’s healthcare decisions. It’s not your business. Especially since I highly doubt you vote for people who care about helping the poor or making healthcare affordable for everyone. Now please leave me alone. I’d rather clean the lint out of my bellybutton than continue this pointless dialogue with you.
As you can see, I very clearly asked him to leave me alone. I even used the word “please”. It’s a very clear indication that I’m saying “no” to continuing the discussion. It was getting nowhere, and my dinner was getting cold. But, not surprisingly, Kenneth came back with more stupid drivel. So I blocked him.
If I hadn’t had dinner in front of me, I might have pointed out that he was acting like a horny man. I refer to the type of man who pressures a woman for sex, won’t take “no” for an answer, and then slut shames her when she gets pregnant! This type of man accuses women of “getting themselves pregnant”. They call them sluts. They don’t want to help them. Instead, they say they should have been more careful. Guys like Kenneth put all the responsibility on women, as they demand to have a say in their healthcare decisions.
A few months ago, I had a similar experience, not on the topic of abortion, but about Virginia Military Institute. I wanted to comment because a number of my family members went there or worked there. Bill and I married there, although he’s not a graduate. My favorite relative, Uncle Brownlee (RIP), was in charge of the physical plant in the 1990s. He was actually at the forefront of making VMI accessible to women. I commented, and a man very soon attacked me for posting something positive about VMI. This guy wasn’t a right wing pro-life asshole, like Kenneth. Instead, it was a left-winger named Kent, trying to school me on how “racist, sexist, and abusive” VMI is.
I’m not going to try to tell people that VMI doesn’t have its problems. It’s not where I would have wanted to go to college. However, I do know that a lot of people– men and women– have done well at VMI and love the school. I think the good far outweighs the bad. Moreover, I have personal experience with VMI, thanks to my family members who attended and worked there. My perspective means that I don’t agree with people who think the school should be shut down for its sins of the past. This left-wing guy, Kent, who likely has ZERO actual experience with the school and probably doesn’t know a single graduate, felt the need to hammer me with his views.
As Kent tried to tell me more about “abuse” and all of the reasons VMI is “terrible”, I asked him to leave me alone. Naturally, he wouldn’t. For some reason, he couldn’t manage to do that. Instead, he came back with two more paragraphs of drivel. It was probably lost on him that he’s pretty abusive himself. I ended up blocking him, too, after pointing out that he doesn’t seem to be able to respect the word “no”. Perhaps he’s more like an “abusive” Keydet than he’d like to admit. I’m sure the strong and brave young women who choose VMI for college can make an informed decision about their higher education choices without Kent’s input, in spite of his penis.
I can’t help but notice that a lot of pro-life men missed the memo regarding “no meaning no”. I’ve noticed that they are also a lot like fat shaming men. Maybe it’s not so much the pro-life types that are like this, but it’s more narcissistic assholes who are. A narcissist can be on either side of the political spectrum, after all. But they do have one thing in common, and that’s the tendency to shame other people. And narcissistic men love to do it to women, especially those they see as somehow morally weak.
To these types, a fat woman is weak because she eats too much and dares to be in public when she’s not attractive to him. This is annoying to him. A pregnant woman who wants an abortion has the nerve to reject the sperm of the man who fucked her. She should have kept her legs crossed, just as the fat woman should keep her mouth closed. What they see as a lack of discipline is disgusting to them. But they never seem to look at their own behaviors, do they? The hypocrites!
I don’t have time for hypocrites, nor do I have the energy to waste on guys like Kent and Kenneth. My mind is perfectly good, and I have the ability to make my own decisions and form my own opinions. I don’t need help. When I ask to be left alone, I mean it. No means no.
Maybe if more men like Kenneth respected women who say no to them, there would be less of a need for abortion. Either way, it’s none of his goddamned business if a woman wants or needs an abortion. Women like me are going to fight for the right to make our own healthcare and education decisions without help from anti-choice assholes like Kenneth… and Kent, for that matter.
Here’s a repost of my reaction to Kim Hall’s viral blog post about braless teenaged girls in towels or pajamas. I’m sharing it to go with today’s partial repost. It was written for my original blog on September 5, 2013, when I was living in Texas. I’m mostly leaving it “as/is”. I think it’s a pretty good post.
Yesterday, my Facebook feed was positively littered with links to a certain blog post written by a Texas mother of four who wrote an open letter to all the slutty girls out there not wearing bras and taking selfies before they go to bed. I could link to that post, but I don’t see the point of doing that. It’s all over the Internet.
To be honest, I’m of a mixed mind about this woman’s post. I am generally not a fan of people taking slutty looking selfies. If they are teenaged girls, I figure it’s because they are caving to some kind of external message that they need to be “sexy” in order to be desirable. I think that’s sad, but I sort of understand it. Growing up is hard. Still, if I were a mother, that would not be something I’d want to encourage. On the other hand, I don’t think “slut shaming” is good, either. I think it’s best to encourage common sense.
Of course “Mrs. Hall” immediately made her post the subject of scorn when she included photos of her handsome sons in their bathing suits at the beach. Her daughter was wearing a modest one piece tank suit and it looked like they were just having clean family fun. But if you’re going to be complaining about “scantily clad teenaged girls” who might give your sons boners, you ought not post photos of your boys dressed in a similarly scantily clad fashion. Yes, I know that on the beach, it’s perfectly acceptable to be wearing a bathing suit, while most people don’t think of pajamas or nighties as clothes you’d see in public. But the fact is, we still see a lot of skin on those boys… and if your point is that girls need to cover up, you’d best take care with your own photos.
Apparently, Mrs. Hall then thought better of it and posted another version of her post with photos of the kids covered up. But the damage had already been done and lots of folks began posting rebuttals. These days, America is pretty polarized when it comes to morality. We have a lot of really religious folks out there who are trying to take back the country, as it were, and at least by my observations, seem to be taking things to extremes. We also have a lot of folks who are proudly atheist and are also taking things to extremes. The people in these two groups may not be as many strong as those of us in between, but they are very loud, and some of them are very articulate. Consequently, the Internet becomes inundated with viral posts that both speak to and repel people who identify with these two groups.
I have friends on both sides of the spectrum, so I’ve seen the FYI post for girls a number of times already. I have also seen rebuttals and parodies. I found the initial blog post hypocritical, smug, and ill-conceived… but I also understood where the mom was coming from, even if she came off as quite sanctimonious.
You know, the one thing that I really came away with is that I’m sort of glad I didn’t have kids. I wanted them, but raising kids is so complicated. Even without the FYI blog post, there was an article about how overweight kids are having “fat letters” sent home. Childhood obesity is no doubt a big problem, but shaming people is rarely the way to get them to reform. And there are just so many reasons why people get fat. Could be a simple issue of too many calories, not enough exercise. Could be because the kid is lonely and eats to soothe emotional pain. Could be because the kid is being bullied or abused by other kids, their parents, or someone else.
I just don’t see how sending home a letter about the kid’s BMI is the school’s role. Unless the school’s staff is going to help the parents do something about the problem, I don’t see why they are more qualified to “diagnose” obesity more than a medical professional is. Medical professionals also have the added ability to determine how obesity is affecting the children in question. Moreover, kids whose parents don’t care aren’t likely to care if they get a letter, though the kid probably will.
Of course, if the school sent home a letter about my BMI, my parents would have been embarrassed and would have taken it out on me. I remember being in 9th grade and weighing about 115 pounds. I was weighed in front of everyone and the coach made some comment about how I must have had a big lunch. I was humiliated, even though now I realize that I was nowhere near fat at that point of my life. I would love to be that weight today. Maybe after I’ve been dead a few months…
I got a lot of “fat shaming” from my parents even when I wasn’t overweight and struggled with fucked up eating habits for years. I’ve reached a point at which I don’t care as much as I used to, but the memories still hurt… and probably had a lot to do with why I was so old when I finally had a real relationship with a man. Fortunately for me, he turned out to be a great guy who treats me like gold. It could have easily gone the other way, though.
Anyway, I guess the point of this post is that there are an awful lot of people self-righteously sticking their noses where they don’t belong. Mrs. Hall’s open letter may have resonated with a lot of people, but she probably should have addressed boys and girls, not just girls. And she should have practiced her own counsel. And the fat shaming asshats are not doing anything but making childhood more miserable with their letters home. Adolescents are vulnerable, especially when it comes to matters pertaining to their self image. Eating disorders are serious problems that can wreak havoc on those who have them and those who love them.
Childhood obesity is a problem. Teen sex, especially when it leads to consequences like pregnancy or diseases, is a problem. Something does need to be done about these issues. I just don’t think shaming is the way to go about it. Growing up is tough enough.
This morning, I got a private message from someone who read my recent rant about pro-life men who make me want to hurl. I was surprised to get that message. As of this morning, that particular rant only has four views. However, it does have two likes, which is somewhat unusual for my blog. My posts, by and large, don’t get “likes” very often. 😉
The person who wrote to me indicated that she felt my post was “poignant”. I thought that was an interesting observation. Maybe it does seem poignant, though, that a middle-aged woman who has always had the right to choose would be so disgusted by men with “pro-life” attitudes. Very soon, the risk of pregnancy for me, personally, will no longer exist at all. So, if Roe v. Wade does get overturned, it won’t matter too much for me, at least not in terms of whether or not I would be forced to bear children. If the United States turned into an actual Gilead, as depicted in Margaret Atwood’s book, The Handmaid’s Tale, I would either be a wife or a “Martha”. Or maybe I’d just be a “working stiff” who wears grey. The bottom line is, my actual purpose– according to some men– will soon cease to exist. But, you know, even when I was still young, a lot of men didn’t think I was fulfilling my “purpose”. They probably felt like a vagina was wasted on me.
As I was reposting the two book reviews I added this morning, I watched the latest episode of Fundie Fridays on YouTube. The host, Jen, had a guest named Mickey Atkins on the show. Mickey is a social worker, like I would have been if I hadn’t become an “overeducated housewife”. The two of them were discussing Lori Alexander, aka “The Transformed Wife”. Lori Alexander, for those who don’t know, is a very controversial figure on social media. She believes that women’s sole purposes for being is to make babies and be housewives. I don’t generally pay a lot of attention to Lori’s posts, because I disagree with almost everything she says or writes, and I generally don’t think it’s productive to pay attention to her dumb comments. However, sometimes, when she says or writes something that is especially offensive, I will take note of it. I do casually follow Fundie Fridays, as well. I don’t watch it every week, but I do watch often enough. So, even though I think The Transformed Wife shouldn’t have a platform, I decided to listen to Jen and Mickey talk about her this morning as I multi-tasked.
Listening to this video led me to look up things I have written about Lori Alexander. In the process of doing that, I ran across some old posts on my original blog about related subjects. It occurred to me, as I was reading, that men who “concern troll, and “fat shame” women, are a whole lot like the pro-life men who make me want to hurl. They REALLY have a lot in common. And, I also realized, that whether or not they know it, a lot of pro-life men and fat shaming men are probably motivated by the same thing… the desire to have sex with, and ultimately control, women. I think a lot of men are, deep down, offended by women who don’t do what society expects of them.
A lot of men think it’s a woman’s duty to be pretty, friendly, agreeable, and sweet. They think it’s her role to be willing to have sex with them– and only them. She is to turn them on and, when she gets pregnant, be willing to have their babies. This doesn’t necessarily mean that the man will feel like he needs to stick around and help raise the babies. It’s only that to be “good”, a woman is to be attractive and appealing. A smart woman with an opinion– especially if he doesn’t think she’s attractive– is offensive to a lot of men. And women who get pregnant, and then decide to reject the pregnancy, are repulsive to certain men.
Notice that I specified “certain men”. Not all men are like this. My husband, Bill, is not like this at all. He’s a kind, supportive, loving man who doesn’t mind that I’m overweight, opinionated, and often unlikable to other people. Bill loves me for who I am, not what I look like, and not just for my sex parts. I realize that I am extremely lucky, too. I don’t know how I got so lucky, but I did. My husband is an absolute gem.
But I know from my past life, and even incidences from my current life, that not all women are nearly as lucky as I have been. Every once in awhile, I run into a guy who seems determined to remind me of what they think should be my place. I see them do it to other women, too. They firmly believe that women are here to entertain them, satisfy them, attract them, and serve them. They aren’t here to be someone in and of themselves.
So how did I come to this conclusion? It started with a post I wrote on my original blog about a group called “Overweight Haters, Ltd.” Back in 2015, a woman named Kara Florish was riding on The Tube in London when a middle-aged male stranger placed a business card on her lap.
The man quickly got off at the next stop and disappeared in the crowd, leaving Kara sitting there, stunned. Kara posted on Twitter, commenting:
“I am not upset myself. I am smaller than the national average and not exactly obese, but this is hateful and cowardly and could potentially upset people struggling with confidence and eating disorders. Please tweet and share this if you are also outraged. Plus – to the person who wrote this card, go back to school, you can’t spell ‘beautiful’.”
I didn’t actually write about this incident until several years later. Florish wasn’t the only one who got a card from this vile group. In another article from The Guardian from 2015, it was reported that another commuter, a man named Sean Thomas Knox, witnessed a woman getting one of the cards. According to the article:
“Young man just got on train at Oxford Circus, gave printed card saying YOU’RE FAT to overweight girl. He jumped off. She read it, [and] cried.
“Am 99.9% sure this wasn’t staged. She didn’t even realise I was watching at first. Her stunned, desolate reaction was very real. Then tears.”
Knox described the man who handed over the card as a “hipster.. smartly, trendily dressed” with a beard. “Perhaps it was a piece of conceptual art,” he tweeted
“It lasted a few seconds, but the card in that photo [Florish’s] is the same card I saw, in the girl’s hand. And her shock was real.”
I’ve seen a lot of comments fat shaming men leave for women online, too. They often couch their opinions as “concern” for women’s health. But, when it really comes down to it, I think men are less concerned about health as they are their own sex drives. A lot of them seem to think it’s a woman’s duty to be pretty for them, so they will want to have sex with them. And then, once they have sex, if the woman gets pregnant, she should want to have the baby. To not have the baby is to reject the man. A lot of pro-life men simply can’t deal with that kind of rejection. It’s a terrible assault on their egos. Notice, too, that a lot of pro-life men– especially those who are religious– also pressure women to be pleasing to them and pretty, but not sexy or, heaven forbid, slutty. Slutty women end up as handmaids, you know… or they work at Jezebel’s. 😉
Think I’m way off base on this? Consider something that happened to me back in February 2018. I read an article about a woman who had given birth to a baby girl she named Parker. The woman then left the newborn infant outside in the cold. Parker later died. Her mother was arrested and charged with murder, which was eventually reduced to a conviction of manslaughter. She was sentenced to nine years in prison.
For some reason, a man decided that the comment section was a good place to rail against abortion, even though this story had NOTHING to do with abortion. He pointed out that had the mom aborted Parker, people would be applauding her choice. A lot of women responded to him, including yours truly. I dared to tell him that I didn’t think men really needed to chime in on this issue, since it’s never their lives or health on the line when someone gets pregnant. A few days later, I got a private message from someone who was looking for advice on apartments in Alsace. After I responded to the PM, I noticed I had another one from a “stranger” named Jason. Jason wrote this to me:
Interesting that Jason, who is presumably “pro-life”, doesn’t realize that I used to be someone’s developing fetus. And yet, he felt the need to invite me to commit suicide. Sadly, when I complained about this to Facebook, they said there was “nothing they could do about it.” However, I’ve been “on restriction” all month for writing a comment that referred to “dumb Americans”. Go figure.
Now, I’m not going to tell you that I enjoy being referred to as a “cunt”. It’s not a nice word. And no, I don’t like it when people call me “fat”, because I know that’s basically akin to “ugly” in some people’s opinions. Nobody likes to be insulted. On the other hand, I am already married to a wonderful guy who doesn’t think I’m a “fat cunt”, and would be devastated if I died. But this comment did make me realize that Jason must be very, very frustrated by women who aren’t afraid to speak their minds, and would happily deny men, both access to their cunts, and respect for their views. You see, my guess is that Jason isn’t gay. He probably really enjoys having sex with women. And a lot of women have probably denied him sex. At the same time, he’s presumably here because some woman had sex and got pregnant. He probably passed through his mother’s “cunt” when he was born. So he actually owes everything to a cunt, doesn’t he? But he thinks that as a man, he should have power over women. A woman who tells him and his make brethren to STFU is very threatening and offensive. So he calls me a vile word and advises me to kill myself. Makes a lot of sense, right?
As a woman, I have been sexually harassed by men, even though I don’t think I’m conventionally “beautiful”. It started on the playground when I was a little girl, when little boys would try to make me give them some “sugar” (I grew up in the South in the early 80s, and that was a euphemism for kissing). It continued as I got older, when bigger boys would grab me and try to touch me or kiss me, and when the neighborhood pervert, who referred to himself as “The Home of the Whopper”, showed me pornography. Then, it continued when boys would make comments about my body– negative or positive– or try to humiliate me with cruel jokes and pranks. In college, I remember meeting a guy at a party, and within a couple of hours, he was trying to stick his tongue down my throat. I was shocked and horrified, and I asked him to stop. He then proceeded to treat me like I had given him blue balls or something.
I got harassed when I lived in Armenia by men who exposed themselves to me. It happened three times that I can remember. I was lucky. I knew a woman who was harassed and violently assaulted. She had to go into the hospital. On a trip to Turkey, a man felt my legs as I tried on shoes that I desperately needed. Another man grabbed my breast when I was trying to find a bathroom. Not two hours later, when I was changing clothes, a different man came into the dressing room, called me “sexy”, and asked me to come with him. The female friend who was traveling with me was also harassed, although she wore men’s shoes and had shaved her head. The trip, which was mostly amazing, culminated when we got stuck on the border with Georgia and the customs manager propositioned me. And no, I wasn’t looking sexy. I had on shorts, a t-shirt, and wore no makeup. He still wanted to have sex with me… and, of course, that was ALL he wanted. He thought I would give it to him, because I’m an American woman, and women from the USA are supposedly “loose”. I was a virgin at the time.
A couple of years later, when I was back in the States, I worked at a country club. One of the members, a guy named J.J., was notorious for hitting on all of the women who worked at the club. It didn’t matter if the female he was targeting was a minor who was still in high school, or if it was the matronly dining room manager who was in her 60s. None of us were spared his attentions. One day, he followed me into the linen closet, which unfortunately was in the men’s locker room. Thinking the locker room was empty, I had gone in there to get tablecloths and napkins. He cornered me, and tried to paw at my breasts and kiss me. It was absolutely appalling, and yes, I said “No”.
And… I have also been fat shamed by men. It started with comments from my father, who would tell me that no man would find me attractive (he also didn’t like my outspoken personality and vulgar language). He would touch me and tell me I had “fat” I needed to lose. Sometimes, he called me names, like “hog”, or referred to me as “retarded”. As I got older, some men would body shame me. It happened a lot in Armenia. I would get stopped by strangers on the street trying to sell me Herbalife, or they would flat out tell me I was “fat”. But it also happened in the United States, or on vacations. Regular readers of my blog might remember when I wrote about the man on SeaDream I who was surprised by my pretty singing voice and said to Bill, “Now I can see why you’d love her.” He made similarly disgusting comments about women, revealing the attitude that he felt like it was a woman’s duty to be beautiful and available to him. And if she wasn’t those things, he could call her a “fat cow” (he literally referred to his late wife in this way– she had just died of breast cancer).
Some men, especially in the military community, are very offended by smart, opinionated women, especially if they’re considered “fat” or not pretty enough. I’ve gotten tons of shit over the name of this blog by men in the military community, as well as some rather clueless women. One time, a military man commented on a blog post I wrote that was shared on Facebook. He wrote, “Ugh. I hope she at least has children.” WTF, guy? I responded that I didn’t have children, and I would be very happy to tell him why I didn’t, if he really wanted to know the gory details.
Frankly, I think it’s probably a burden to be really attractive to men. I remember another incident, back when I was in my late 20s and thinner and prettier than I am now. I was at a bar, and one of my co-workers, who was slim and pretty, was dancing to music. We were friends, but hadn’t come to the bar together. A guy tapped me on the shoulder. I turned to look at him, and he asked me if my co-worker was with anyone. Obviously, he’d spotted her and wanted to meet her, presumably because she was very attractive. But instead of asking her, he approached me, the less threatening “fat friend”. I think I told him that we hadn’t come together and if he wanted to talk to her, he should man up and talk to her. I’m not her “fat friend”, there to help some guy score.
Lori Alexander, who thinks that women need to stay home and pump out babies for their husbands, also fat shames women. She says that it’s a woman’s duty to be pleasing to her man. And if her man thinks she’s too fat, she needs to do something about it. And she needs to let him have sex with her, no matter what… even if it happens while she’s trying to sleep or isn’t feeling well. In that sense, I guess she’s in agreement with famously pro-life mom, Michelle Duggar, who told her daughter, Jill, to be “joyfully available” to her new husband, Derick. The year after the public heard about this advice, the news came out that Jill was one of four of the Duggar daughters who were molested by their eldest brother, Josh. We all know where Josh is right now. Mr. “Pro-Life” father of seven is currently sitting in a jail cell, awaiting sentencing for receiving and possessing images of child sexual abuse… and some of the female children being abused were in diapers!
So yeah… I think guys who would like to deny women the right to bodily autonomy are, by and large, not interested in protecting babies. A lot of those guys wouldn’t bother to stick around if a woman got pregnant out of wedlock, and they certainly don’t want more of their paychecks going to providing social welfare safety nets. These guys– Josh Duggar especially– use women for their own gratification and then condemn them as “sluts”. They are repulsed by women they see as sloppy and out of control, whether the lack of control is regarding food or sex. And so, if you pay close attention, you see that a lot of fat shamers and pro-life males respond to women in very similar ways. They have a LOT in common!
I think, deep down, most of these pro-life, hyper-religious, fat shaming guys are obsessed with sex, and controlling women. They hate that a woman has the power to do something they can’t do, and a lot of them are offended when a woman has the nerve to have a vagina, but doesn’t do enough to be attractive. Or, worse, she’s attractive, but denies him access to her vagina. Or she gives him access, but then doesn’t want to accept the grand gift of his sperm, which created a developing fetus. Remember… the vast majority of us owe our lives to a woman and her vagina.
I’ll leave you with one last anecdote. A couple of days ago, I read a Facebook post about the 1987 film, Dirty Dancing, which was released when I was 15 years old. A lot of people forget that the reason why “Baby” has to learn to “dirty dance” is because Johnny Castle’s partner got “knocked up” by Robby, the asshole waiter. She had an illegal abortion, which made her very sick. The poster pointed out that the film was a reminder of what could be at stake if women in the United States lose access to abortion. One male commenter wrote this:
What is the script was flipped? What if Robby was a loving caring father that wanted the baby, but Penny knew that if she had the baby, her life would change, and she didn’t want that? Robby would have no legal say in it, and would be forced to see his child killed. Not all guys are douchebags. And not all women are angels. If a person, male or female, doesn’t think they can handle being a parent, then don’t take the risk of it happening.
Naturally, I had to respond. I didn’t even address the fact that this dude used the term “douchebag”, which is, in and of itself, a very offensive and sexist pejorative. Who uses douchebags? It’s not men who use them; it’s women. And, in fact, we aren’t repelled by “douchebags” so much as what comes from using them– the residual nasty smelling stuff from a woman’s private area. It’s the “waste” that is repellant. Personally, I consider the term “douchebag” to be akin to calling a woman a “cunt”, but since that was the term the guy used, I went with it in my response to this hypothetical “loving, caring father” who would be “crushed” that his child would be killed by heartless Penny.
If you don’t understand that it wouldn’t be Robby’s health or life on the line, and you think another personshould be compelled to stay pregnant for someone else’s sake, then yes, you ARE a “douchebag” (not that I would use that term). Guys who want to be fathers should find women who want to have babies with them.
I haven’t seen a doctor since 2010. One of the main reasons I don’t visit doctors is because I once had a very traumatic and unnecessarily physically painful and humiliating experience with one. I did see doctors a few times after the traumatic experience, but as I’ve gotten older, it’s gotten even harder to make the phone call for an appointment. I know very well that this isn’t the greatest policy for promoting my personal longevity. I could definitely use a check up. However, for many reasons, visiting medical people causes me a great deal of stress. One of the main reasons it’s stressful is because of that goddamned scale, and my long history with eating disorders. No, I don’t mean the obvious ones that might put a person in the hospital. There are actually a lot of eating disorders out there, and most don’t get diagnosed. But they do exist, and I’ve struggled with them for years. I have less of a problem with them now, mainly because I have a very loving and understanding husband who doesn’t body shame me. I would be lying, though, if I said those problems have gone away entirely. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think about it.
I know I usually have less of a problem going to see a doctor if I know I won’t have to be weighed. For instance, in 1999, I had facial cellulitis that almost put me in the hospital. I had to see an ear, nose, and throat doctor for treatment. He was a great doctor, but one thing that I especially liked about him was that he didn’t force me to get on a scale. He simply looked at the mess on my face and prescribed antibiotics. The family practice doctor who sent me to the ENT guy was kind of an all knower, but he actually reassured me that my weight wasn’t that bad. At that time, it wasn’t that bad, since I was waiting tables and lost a lot of pounds because of that. However, I was never so sick, so often, as I was in those days.
Although I know weight is an important measure for some health issues, I think it’s pretty cool that someone has realized how absolutely mortifying getting on the scale is for some people. The above cards were offered at Element Primary Care in Omaha, Nebraska. A 30 year old woman named Dani Donovan, who is an attention deficit/hyperactivity advocate and suffers from binge eating disorder, happened to see the cards at the office. Donovan reportedly avoids going to see physicians because of the stress of being weighed. She happened to find a practice where, apparently, the staff recognizes this issue, and how it prevents people from seeking care. According to the WaPo article:
“I didn’t even know that saying ‘no’ to being weighed was a thing you could do,” said Donovan, 30, an attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder advocate who has a binge-eating disorder and often avoided doctor’s appointments because being weighed was so stressful. The card led to a good conversation with her doctor, Donovan said, that helped build trust and make her feel empowered.
These cards were developed in 2019 by a Los Angeles area eating disorder coach named Ginny Jones. Jones is a survivor of several eating disorders, including anorexia and bulimia. Jones came up with the cards after many experiences she had when visiting physicians. A lot of them would praise her for losing weight, even when it was noted in her records that she has had eating disorders. She now offers the cards for sale on her Web site. When Jones was contacted for a statement about her cards, she said:
“I wish I could say I was surprised by the ‘controversy’ around the cards. I created them to address weight stigma, and it’s basically fatphobia to jump to conclusions and say blanketly that asking not to be weighed is unhealthy.”
Personally, I think these cards are great, although I can’t imagine presenting one to any of the military doctors I’ve seen in my lifetime. But then, again, I haven’t been to see a doctor in about 12 years. My blood pressure shoots up whenever I’m in a military healthcare facility, and they usually take one look at me and assume I have any number of health issues just by my appearance. I have found that a lot of doctors aren’t good listeners, either. That is especially true with military providers, in my experience.
In 2007, before we moved to Germany the first time, I actually wore an ambulatory blood pressure monitor for 24 hours to prove that I didn’t have hypertension, because my blood pressure readings were so high in the office. As soon as I stepped out of the military hospital, my blood pressure was completely normal and stayed that way. I came back to the office the next day with a bruised arm and documentation in my file that I have white coat hypertension. That may no longer be true today, given my family history, but the way the providers acted during that last visit put me off of going back, even though the person I saw was actually very kind to me when I told her what had happened to me at the hands of an Air Force gynecologist back in the 1990s.
The Air Force gyno I saw back then gave me my very first (of two in my entire lifetime) gynecological exams. It was so painful and distressing that I left her office traumatized and horrified, and actually felt violated on the level of sexual assault. Besides really hurting me with her instruments and not apologizing for the pain she caused me, this doctor also fat shamed me and predicted that when I went to Armenia, I would gain tons of weight. In the 90s, I was dealing with eating disorders more acutely than I do today. Today, I seem to have replaced eating issues with drinking issues. Again… not healthy, and I probably should see a doctor, but I just can’t bring myself to do it. Even having these cards probably wouldn’t get me into the office, although I do think they would help, if I found a kind and understanding physician who was sensitive to these issues.
According to the Washington Post article, as well as my own anecdotal experience, there are a lot of physicians who have a bias against obesity. They seem to take obese patients less seriously, especially if they’re women. The article reports, “one piece published in the British Medical Journal found that weight stigma actually led to increased mortality and other chronic diseases and ‘most ironically, (weight stigma) actually begets heightened risk of obesity.'” There have been a number of articles about how the medical community tends to focus on weight, even when a medical issue is clearly not related to the patient’s weight. Like, for instance, someone comes in with a broken arm and gets told that weight loss would benefit them. There’s no doubt, weight loss would be beneficial, but that’s not why the person came in to see the doctor. In that sense, I can see how these cards could be useful. If you’re going to see the doctor for a specific issue that has nothing to do with obesity, perhaps it wouldn’t be a bad thing to skip the scale, at least for that visit.
Of course, some physicians will never be onboard with avoiding weigh-ins. In the WaPo article, a physician named “Umbereen S. Nehal, a former chief medical officer for Community Healthcare Network in New York and a board-certified pediatrician,” reported that she strongly believes patients must “be weighed every time, regardless of when they were last weighed or why they are in the doctor’s office.” The doctor claims to be have sympathy for patients like Donovan, but she’s not convinced that avoiding the scale will improve healthcare outcomes. She says, “Is the hypothesis that somebody who is obese, let’s say, if we don’t weigh them, fatphobia will go away? Those visual cues will not go away. So my beef with this is that it disrupts processes in the system for efficient data collection and that data are used for a variety of things.”
My answer to Dr. Nehal is that a lot of people avoid the doctor entirely because of this issue. She may be getting more data when she weighs patients at every visit, but a lot of people won’t even come see her because of the mortifying prospect of being weighed, the psychological stresses that come from that experience, as well as the potential humiliation that comes from a fat shaming doctor. Seriously… if you’re feeling fine, and you don’t want to deal with the discomfort of being weighed, how likely are you to schedule screenings? Is that the outcome Dr. Nehal wants? For people not to come in to see her at all? Then she won’t get ANY data, and the person will show up in the emergency room instead. And that will not only lead to poorer healthcare outcomes, but it will also lead to much higher medical bills.
Another doctor who was quoted in the article, Fatima Cody Stanford, an internist who specializes in obesity medicine, also insists that weight is an important measure. She notes that U.S. medical schools do a terrible job teaching students about weight, and that many people don’t visit their doctors very often. Stanford says she would tweak the card to something that says:
“I’m happy to get weighed but please do not provide any negative or derogatory comments associated with my weight.”
That way, the doctor gets their data, and the patient doesn’t have to deal with fat shaming. I would add, though, that in my case, it would not be true that I am “happy to get weighed”. I hate being weighed every time. It causes me a lot of distress, and that’s why I avoid doctors unless I’m about to croak. So I think Dr. Stanford might want to rethink that wording, although I appreciate that she recognizes how upsetting being weighed is for some patients.
I looked at Element Primary Care’s Web site, and it appears that their approach to care is different on many levels. For instance, I notice they offer telemedicine appointments, focus on keeping their practice small, and it appears that instead of using a traditional insurance model, they provide care for a monthly fee. This eliminates co-pays and insurance deductibles, and allows patients to access care when they need it. The direct primary care membership plan can be combined with a high deductible/less expensive insurance plan which would cover hospital care or other unforeseen care needs that still use the traditional insurance model. I have heard of a growing number physicians’ practices eschewing traditional insurance coverage, which allows them to be able to make medical decisions that don’t have to go through third parties at insurance companies. I think it’s a great idea, although it will probably take some time for it to catch on nationwide. Change can be slow, but I do think overhauling our health insurance model could be a game changer for a lot of people.
At Element Primary Care, about half of the patients decline to be weighed, but some will weigh themselves at home and report their weight that way. Or, if they have a condition that requires their weight to be monitored, the patient can turn backwards on the scale, which is how many eating disorder patients get treated. That way, they don’t have to know that number, and it won’t affect their psyche. The cards allow the patients to advocate for themselves and be more of team member in their healthcare. It may also make them feel “safer” from judgment and humiliation. Personally, I don’t weigh myself at all anymore, and when I have gone to see the doctor, I don’t let them tell me how much I weigh. I know from personal experience that knowing the number can lead to distress.
While it may not always be medically appropriate to skip stepping on the scale, I like the fact that some healthcare professionals are noticing and addressing this issue. And I think it’s amazing that some people are empowering themselves by presenting these cards, although I would not be surprised if some people get lectured by their doctors for not being weighed. I would like to see less lectures from doctors as a general rule. People need to take ownership for their own health, and physicians need to stop seeing patients as people who need to be given orders or lectures about taking care of themselves. Especially if they are competent adults.
Anyway… I probably won’t be going to see a doctor anytime soon, and in fact, I hope I don’t live to be super old. I think it’s overrated. But I definitely think the cards are kind of cool, even if I’m sure they don’t always go over too well with more traditional physicians. I know that if I had given one to my ex psychiatrist, for instance, he probably would have laughed me out of his office. And he never weighed me once– but he did fat shame me quite a few times before I told him to stop. He also gave me a prescription for Topamax off label, hoping it would slim me down. Is it any wonder why I hate seeing doctors?
Yesterday, I wrote a post about the 1989 LDS production, Saturday’s Warrior, which I inadvertently stumbled across on Wednesday afternoon. That post generated a lot of discussion, and a surprising amount of interest among the more religiously experienced of my friends. I realized that in writing that long post, there were some things that I never got around to writing about yesterday. Part of the reason I never got around to completing my thoughts is that my initial post was pretty long and I simply ran out of “gas”. Another reason is that I wasn’t quite ready to explore it twenty-four hours ago. Again, I only discovered this “masterpiece” two days ago. There’s a lot to unpack.
So, even though I have another topic on my mind, I’m going to write a little bit more about my thoughts on Saturday’s Warrior. Some people may wonder why I would devote two posts to a LDS cultural relic that doesn’t even affect me personally. Remember, I grew up Protestant, and wasn’t introduced to Mormons until I was a young adult. Watching Saturday’s Warrior as a child didn’t “scar” me. However, after posting about this on Facebook and RfM, I realize that it affected a lot of people. Some of those people are friends I’ve never met, and some of them have been “scarred” by Saturday’s Warrior. Even if it’s just because they watched it yesterday at my prompting!
The concept of the “sweet spirit”…
One idea that I was introduced to, when I first started hanging out with ex Mormons, was the idea of the “sweet spirit”. What is a sweet spirit, you ask? A sweet spirit is a euphemism for a young woman who has a “nice personality” and not much else to offer. At least on the surface, anyway. One thing I noticed about Saturday’s Warrior, and didn’t really care for, were the digs about physical appearance. I realize that this emphasis on physical attractiveness is a thing for most everybody, especially when we’re growing.
In Mormonism, physical appearance seems to be especially important, as I think it is in other strict “culty” belief systems. I’ve noticed it among the fundies, too, in spite of their insistence that they focus on a person’s “countenance”. The girls are expected to be beautiful and thin, so they can attract a mate and have the best life. But I’ve known a lot of beautiful people who haven’t had the happiest lives. Why do we focus so much on appearance and image? It’s definitely not the best indicator of who will be happy and fulfilled.
In Saturday’s Warrior, the concept of the “sweet spirit” is mentioned in the first moments of the video. As the show begins, we’re introduced to the couple, Julie and Tod, who are in the pre-mortal existence, waiting to be born and live on Earth, where they expect they will one day meet and be a couple. We are to believe that Julie and Tod were together before, and are an “eternal couple”, yet Julie is still worried that Tod won’t find her on Earth after they’re born. Or worse, he’ll find her unattractive. Here’s the dialogue that opens their connection:
Julie: “Of course I can’t blame you for being excited… all the experience a physical body will bring… new friends and… girls.” [looking worried] “Oh, you’ll probably be EXTREMELY good looking and they’ll flock around you by the dozens!”
Tod: “Oh Julie, I can hardly wait!”
Julie: “Oh, on the other hand, I’ll probably be very PLAIN!”
Tod: “It’s enough to make you want to CRY and SING and SHOUT all at once! Hey! Somebody out there! I’m COMING!”
Julie: “Ohhh!” [turns and sobs]
Tod: “Hey, what’s the matter?”
Julie: “All you can think about is getting down to those physical bodies!”
Julie: “Oh, and GIRLS, and don’t try to hide it, Tod, you can hardly wait!”
Tod: “I can’t?”
Julie: [very upset and insecure] “Oh, so you ADMIT IT!!” [defeated] “Go on, then. Have your wild FLING on Earth! Just as long as YOU’RE happy.”
Tod: [grasping Julie’s shoulders and consoling] “Julie… how can you say such things, after all we’ve promised?”
Julie: [turning with hair flip] “What good are promises in a world where EVERYTHING will be forgotten? Even if by some miracle we DO meet? What chance is there that you could possibly recognize me?”
Tod: “Hey, how long have we known each other?”
Julie: [slightly calmer] “Forever…”
Tod: “And loved each other?”
Julie: [smiles] “Forever…”
Tod: “Do you think we’re just going to forget all of that?”
Julie: [dreamy] “Yes… [suddenly horrified] I mean NO! I mean, I don’t KNOW what I mean!”
Tod: [embracing Julie in a hug] “Julie, I LOVE you, and if I have to search the WHOLE world over, I’ll FIND you…”
Julie: [turns away, upset]
Tod: [insistently grabbing her] “And as for not recognizing each other, why, that’s like saying that the sun, and the moon, and the stars will never recognize their GLORY!” [excitedly using hand gestures] “The truth and beauty and virtue will never recognize their OWN!”
Julie: [horrified] “But what if I’m UGLY?!”
Tod: [deadpans] “Ugly?”
Julie: “I knew it! I knew it!”
Tod: [comforting] “I’m just kidding, Julie… if you were the strangest looking girl on Earth, I’d still love you.”
Julie: “Oh Tod…”
The mushy dialogue continues, with Tod reassuring Julie that her looks won’t be important to him when they finally meet. But then we’re reminded that they will forget everything that happened in the pre-existence, and, well we all know what happens when young, shallow people get together. They tend to be attracted to physical appearance. As all of this is going on, we have to suspend disbelief, as the characters talk about what it will be like to have physical bodies, when they clearly already HAVE physical bodies in the pre-mortal existence. 😉 Tod and Julie share a loving duet, and then we’re introduced to Julie’s brothers and sisters. It doesn’t take long before the concept of the “sweet spirit” comes up again.
The brothers and sisters happily talk about what it will be like when the twins, Pam and Jimmy, are born to their parents. One of the sisters proposes they all be born at once– seven up-lets! But a little brother asks, “Do you wanna kill mama in one shot?” It’s funny to realize that in 2022, there have actually been some women who have given birth to seven or eight children at one time. That was an inconceivable thought in 1989, but the miracles of modern medicine have made it possible today.
And then one of the other brothers introduces Jimmy, who does his Donny Osmond schtick. He talks about what he feared.
Jimmy: “Well naturally, I had lots of fears. But one that really had me scared is that I would have, uh, such animal magnetism, such charisma, that no one would notice my sweet spirit.”
Everyone groans, and then twin sister Pam is asked about her thoughts.
Pam: “Well, of course being a girl, my number one fear is that I would have nothing BUT a sweet spirit.”
The kids all say “no” in horrified tones.
Pam: [twirling] “But with beauty or without, as long as I can dance my way through life, that’s all that MATTERS!”
Pam turns out to be very pretty; she looks like Marie Osmond. But she winds up in a wheelchair, so there will be no dancing in her life, and having a physical disability might make her less of a “catch” to some of the shallower people in the world. She later sings a dreadful song called “Daddy’s Nose”, which shows the whole family dancing with huge, fake, beak-like noses. I read that in 2014, they changed the title to “Daddy’s Genes”. I’m not sure if that makes it better. Maybe they changed it because it’s so easy to get plastic surgery these days. Below are the lyrics:
All my friends told me take advantage of your face Other people so endowed have really gone some place So I dreamed of Hollywood till it occurred to me Someone beat me to the punch named Jimmy Durante
A nose is a nose like a rose is a rose As everybody knows But may we propose that the rosiest nose Is a one that plainly shows You ain’t got a nose less it touches your toes And it grows every time that it blows Wouldn’t be so bad if it’d stayed with ol’ dad But we’ve all got daddy’s nose
Riverdale as you know has had a lot of quaking Scientific tests were made to find out why the shaking They finally zeroed in to find the cause of all our woes We only have an earthquake when daddy blows his nose
A nose is a nose like a rose is a rose As everybody knows But may we propose that the rosiest nose Is a one that plainly shows It a rack for your clothes a plow when it snows Or use it for a garden hose Wouldn’t be so bad if it’d stayed with ol’ dad But we’ve all got daddy’s nose Mom’s even got it Yes we’ve all got daddy’s nose He really blew it Yes we’ve all got daddy’s nose
There are other parts of the show that emphasize how important looks are. For instance, the missionary, Wally Kessler, has a companion named Harold Green who is overweight. I swear, these two must have been the inspiration for Elder Price and Elder Cunningham in The Book of Mormon Musical. Harold isn’t even that fat. He just looks a little plainer and more slovenly next to Wally, who looks like one of the Osmond Brothers.
Toward the end of the show, Harold and Wally are teaching Tod the gospel. He’s an artist, who is always in the park drawing. Tod, then not LDS, had talked to Jimmy, drawing him as he could be, rather than as he was. Later, as Wally and Harold lament that they haven’t baptized anyone, they notice Tod drawing again. They take a chance– prompted by the spirit, no doubt– and there’s a montage showing how they converted Tod, making him a “better” version of himself by introducing him to the “one true church”. At one point, Wally shows Harold a film, which is handily broadcast on Harold’s stomach. Harold, like many good Mormons of the time, was wearing a white dress shirt, and his size makes it easy for his belly to serve as a screen. The message is, he’s too fat, and that makes him laughable, and less lovable, even though he redeems himself and Wally later.
And the character Julie is shown looking in the mirror, primping and admiring herself. She had been devastated that Wally went off on his mission, since she thinks he’s the one for her. But then she meets another guy named Peter and sends Wally a “dear John” letter. Harold, the overweight missionary companion, tells Wally that maybe it’s for the best, but Wally says, “What would you know about love or the pain I’m going through?” as Harold sheepishly moves away. “And to think I trusted her!”
Wally is distraught about losing Julie, so Elder Green gives him a pep talk, and looks like a fool in the process. He’s comic relief.
Then Tod and Julie sing about being the perfect people they were meant to be. There’s lots of mushy gushing, again focusing on the whole “prince and princess” romantic love, which as we all know, only exists in fairytales. Look at the British royal family! But it’s promoted in this show like it’s something that can happen if only you have the right religious beliefs.
As I was watching and re-watching this video, it occurred to me that while this show is kind of silly and entertaining, and it obviously takes some cues from some of the popular sitcoms of the 1980s, like Growing Pains and Family Ties, the overall impression I got is that, overall, Mormonism is kind of silly. One really has to overcome cognitive dissonance to buy into some of the concepts that are presented in this show. Now, before anyone comes at me, please understand that I know that Saturday’s Warrior isn’t all there is to Mormonism. It’s simply meant to be entertaining. But if you watch it, not having been raised with some of the concepts that are conveyed in this production, you might come away with some impressions that aren’t all that favorable.
I know, for instance, that physical attraction is very important to young people. I know that young people are especially aware of their looks, and that so-called “sweet spirits” might not have the best luck in attracting romantic partners. And, of course, in this production, the partners have to be of the opposite sex, since Mormons aren’t exactly supportive of couples who aren’t heterosexual. But we hear the girls worrying about not being pretty enough. And we see one of the guys being made into the fool because he’s fat.
Kudos to actor D.L. (David) Walker for pulling off the comic relief in his turn as Elder Green. He was a good sport. I see on IMDB that he’s had a lot of roles over the years. He might even be the best known of all of the actors on this program. I guess he did get the last laugh, after all. Not everyone can be a leading man, but plenty of people can be character actors, especially if there’s something unique or interesting about them. I get that message after looking up D.L. Walker on IMDB, but I wouldn’t get it if I just watched Saturday’s Warrior, which is a show that has been shown to so many LDS youngsters. In that show, Walker’s character is made to be the unattractive fool who “can’t know about love”, even though a thinking person would know that’s not necessarily true. In fact, while everyone else in this production seems to have pretty light resumes on IMDB, the “fat guy” with personality appears to have enjoyed a pretty good show biz career. He’s also been married three times. I guess he’s needed a couple of tries to find the woman he was destined to be with since the pre-existence.
One of my Facebook friends, who did attend the LDS church for a few years as a young woman, nicely summed things up. We were discussing the message of this movie, which she didn’t see when she was an active churchgoer. She wrote:
You have to have been indoctrinated. It’s for Mormons. Don’t have non-Mormon friends, don’t smoke cigarettes, don’t experience life; just stay in our dumb cult and make more Mormons. If you want to do anything else, you are very bad and will surely be unhappy. Being a total weirdo is fun! P.S. We’re not weird.
Yes… I think she’s absolutely right. To a lot of us who aren’t from a heavily Mormon area, this does come off as pretty weird. And, at least to me, it comes off as superficial, childish, and silly. I know, for instance, that there are millions of people in the world. Many, but not all, believe in a God of some sort. But to watch this movie, and listen to the opening dialogues, you come away with the idea that only the best people end up in Utah, where they will be raised LDS, and spend their lives searching for the perfect heterosexual, white mate, and their beliefs will be Mormon styled Christian. They are predestined to have a certain number of children, and their decisions in life will lead to exactly what the Mormon God intended them to be.
If you think about it, it’s kind of a lazy way to go through life. It’s as if there’s a blueprint for reaching the highest level of Heaven. Follow the steps toward righteousness, and someday, you’ll be in the Celestial Kingdom, which to me, seems like it would be a very boring place. After all, most everyone would be white, Mormon, and worried so very much about their looks before they get born again, and then spend their lives looking for the same people they knew in another life. I may need to stop and ponder that a bit.
If you assume that there’s a big plan, and God has made a plan for every single being on Earth, even if they aren’t members of the LDS church, it seems even more far fetched. But Mormons are often advised to “doubt their doubts” and “put any troubling thoughts on the shelf.” Hell, there’s even a brilliant song about that concept in the Book of Mormon Musical, which again, I think, took some inspiration from Saturday’s Warrior.
Actually, when I think about all of the stories I’ve read over the years about the damage caused by “denying” thoughts and feelings, the song “Turn It Off” really seems sad to me. How many terrible marriages happened because people denied their feelings? How many people suppressed their feelings of sadness and anger, only to have it turn into catastrophic depression and anxiety years later? How many people have actually killed themselves because they couldn’t bring themselves to deal with their truths? This isn’t just a Mormon thing, though. It’s something that many people go through in life. They feel pressured to quash their thoughts and feelings and just believe, no matter how ridiculous, upsetting, or profoundly unbelievable something is. I think it wastes a lot of time and energy, and I think strict, culty belief systems, like Mormonism, make that phenomenon even worse than it has to be.
I know a lot of people love being Mormon. Or, so they will insist if you ask them, or if they’re missionaries. But I know, having hung out on RfM for so many years, that if you don’t fit the profile in that group, it really can be hell. There’s a real emphasis on looking happy and presenting the right image. Look at the Lori Vallow Daybell and Chad Daybell case. I recently wrote a review of The Doomsday Mother, a book about that tragedy, in which a lot of people died, mainly over illusions, delusions, and image… not to mention mental illness. I also watched a Dateline episode about that case.
I couldn’t help but notice Lori Vallow Daybell’s emphasis on looks. She entered beauty pageants, for instance. One of her friends was interviewed, and I couldn’t help but notice that her friend was extremely well groomed and even looked like perhaps she’d had some plastic surgery. She definitely had coiffed hair and wore a lot of makeup. Yes, that would be expected of someone on television, but I got the sense that this was a normal thing for Lori and her friends, all of whom were very much into Mormonism. Lori has been married five times. So much for finding “the one”.
I think if I had been raised Mormon, I probably would have been considered a (not so) “sweet spirit”. I know that people have thought of me that way even outside of an image conscious organization like Mormonism. Growing up, watching my sisters, cousins, and friends date a lot, while I spent weekends alone, was hard for me. And yet, I don’t think I would have enjoyed the pressures that come from being really “pretty” and desirable to men. Years beyond adolescence, I realize that there’s a lot more to me that the exterior. Those who get to know me eventually find that out. Some people like it. Many others don’t, but the ones who like it are almost always excellent people. Also, as most people find out, I’m not actually a very “sweet” person. I can be grumpy, opinionated, and temperamental. I think I’m basically kind, deep down– but sweet, I definitely ain’t. And I am not good at faking it. Many of the people who do end up liking me have told me they like me because I’m not fake. But not everyone appreciates “au natural” me, and most people don’t take the time to consider why I am the way I am. They have enough of their own shit to figure out. 😉
Maybe it’s better that I’m not extremely well liked or admired. It takes a lot of pressure off, and I don’t have to waste my time with fake people. Because seriously… have you ever considered what a burden it is to be really physically attractive to others? You’re always attracting people who are likewise attractive, and more than a few of them turn out to be boring, entitled, and narcissistic. If you’re a nice person, you’re always turning down people who find you attractive and interesting, but perhaps you don’t have the same feelings for them. And maybe you’ll even attract sociopaths, who only look good on the surface, but deep down they’re creeps. I think of guys like Scott Peterson, who, no doubt, had plenty of women who wanted to date him. Laci Peterson may have seemed lucky when they married, but it turns out she was not lucky at all. Same goes for anyone who thought Lori Vallow Daybell was a hottie.
Anyway… I guess it’s not a bad thing that I watched Saturday’s Warrior. It did teach me some things, although maybe not what the creators had wanted to teach. I guess I’m just grateful that I’m not burdened by that kind of a belief system. I would imagine that it adds a lot of unnecessary stress and strife to life, and life is hard enough as it is. Having to worry about the exterior so much, as I follow the many rules of a very demanding religion, is not very appealing. And while the idea of a close and loving family is lovely, there is a downside to having that kind of a family. For one thing, that kind of connection makes it harder to go out and live life on one’s own terms.
I told my mother the other day that I didn’t know when, or even if, I would move back to the States. She sounded slightly sad, since she will be 84 years old this year, and she probably wonders if we’ll ever see each other again in person. But we have never had a very close relationship, and I am not close to my sisters. If I did live closer to home, I doubt we’d be any closer. And it would be easier to be caught up in conflicts and manipulations, too. I know this from personal experience. So, while I would like to be closer to family other than Bill, I also realize that not being closer is kind of a blessing in some ways. There are certainly fewer fights and petty dramas to contend with. I don’t have the time or the energy for that anymore. I’ve realized that eventually, we all mostly end up alone… or we are the ones who die first. Who wants to spend life worrying about not being a “sweet spirit”?
So I guess it’s time to end this post and get on with my Friday. I hope this post offers food for thought.
The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this.