Friday, December 19, 2008

The Final Word

This is what I find awesome about this.

1. Most comments come from "ex-Mormons" who are glad they got out of the "cult." There is a lot of personal hurt and bitterness there. I sincerely hurt for that. I know it hurts. Most of my family have chosen different paths that don't include the Church - and of course I love them and respect them and who they are. They are better than a lot of "members" I know. They are the kindest people in the world. It's not about being Mormon or not being Mormon.

This post isn't about non-member acceptance.

2. If I must repeat the point - it's not the sex - it's the label Mormon Mom's in conjunction with standards and principles the church is against - one of those being modesty, propriety, and morality. It's like putting "Peace" on a war crime roster or "Freedom" on a picture depicting slavery. It. Doesn't. Make. Sense. You all seem to think I'm "condemning" these women for the bare shoulders and cleavage. No. I'm not condemning them. Not at all! Rather, I AM frustrated that they would say "I'm A MORMON Mom" when what they did isn't an accurate depiction of Mormon Motherhood. Then there are others who are going to the extreme of "Oh well if she doesn't think that this calendar is appropriate she must be jealous, depressed, or submissive." Bwahahahah! Oh if you only knew me. My brother would laugh at the idea that I'm a submissive girl. In fact "fem-nazi" was a favored term of his.

This post is not about "sex is evil." Or "religion makes you ignorant." That's always a personal favorite of mine, "I'm too smart...I'm too free for standards!"

3. Yes. True. I was angry and frustrated. Yes, true, I should've taken some deep breaths. BUT, as previously stated, my opinion is the same. It's not right I freaked out - BUT my words stand. Lesson learned: talk calmly of things that upset you. Noted.

However, this post is not about perfection - anyones.

4. Yep. It is about personal choice. You made it - and you have people who will disagree with it. I guess we're all in the same boat there, eh? I think it's wrong, other's think it's okay. Well, agree to disagree, right? I just can't wrap my head around the "I'm Mormon but only some of the time" idea.

This post IS about black and white...because soon...there really won't be any gray. No more fence sitting. No more living in and of the world. And this is very VERY much my personal opinion - but really - you've gotta choose who you will serve. Who's standards are more important? What do you REALLY believe is right, and what do you really believe is wrong? Yes, black and white.

5. I'm still not here to sooth your personal bitter arguments with the Church. THOUGH - if it DOES make you feel better to rant about it - I hope you feel like you got a fair shot. I posted everything (mostly - there were a few I didn't think very - oh - constructive) - so I hope that counts.

Though - this post isn't about your personal vendetta.

6. Alot of comments were pointing out hypocrisies they see everyday associated with the Church...or rather..some of its members. Do you realize that we are on the same side? I mean - I agree!! I don't think anyone who carries the mantle of a religion or creed and then acts in the completely opposite way is in any way right. I know I've done it! And I know I wasn't right! So yes, I agree, (especially that "living in Utah Valley" commenter), there's a "culture" aspect that has been propagated by the religion that just doesn't seem to fit. This calendar is most emphatically added to that list.

Then again, this post isn't about stereotypes...at least it wasn't for me. Everyone seemed to turn it into that though. It morphed into "Judgemental!!! Old-fashioned!! (which is apparently a social taboo) Self-Righteous!!! Close-Minded!! Oh and my favorite "YOU MUST BE UGLY AND SINGLE!"" Ha - well I am single. ;) Everyone - I just found it hypocritical and degrading. Plain as that.

WELL! Thanks for the comments, thoughts, and discussions. I've definitely learned a great deal (one being to post more calmly...though again...opinion is the same), and I hope you all feel like you got your words out. No one has still explained the logic of how this calendar still falls in line with LDS standards and teachings...oh...that's probably because it doesn't. But I've heard a lot of "justifications" and grappling for "understanding." I still don't see how it's okay to represent an entire religious faction without including the standards it sets. It's a mockery of them. I guess that's it...that's why it sparked such a fire in me...I felt it was mocking true and right standards. Suggesting that "Oh yes yes we PREACH that...but come come...that's so old fashioned. I want to be liberated (which apparently is synonymous with sex) and no Church is going to tell ME I can't", just doesn't seem to fall in line with real belief to me. AND - don't take me wrong - I do not think that if you're not perfect you don't really believe - no no no - cause that really is ridiculous. What I mean is - if you are blatantly making decisions that you KNOW are against any organization you belong to, and then reveling in it without any sort of remorse - then doesn't it make you wonder if you really believe any of it?

Anyway - this calendar is degrading. It's degrading because it's hypocritical. It goes against the Mormon Church, yet they put the label "Mormon" on it. That isn't right. Black and White.

14 comments:

BradJ said...

Go get 'em girl. I agree with you 100%. As I've read the comments of your critics (mostly disaffected members of the church) I'm reminded of the words of Elder Neal Maxwell when he mused, "Why is it that those who leave the church, can't leave the church alone?"

Andrea Jolene said...

I was reminded of that too Brad. Thanks for the support.

Misty said...

Well said Andrea. I am behind you all the way! I do know you, and I do know that you're one of the LEAST judgmental people I know-one of the most open to all types!
This has nothing to do with judging what a person does with his/her life. This has to do with the label these women are using to advertise themselves! As you said "I AM frustrated that they would say 'I'm A MORMON Mom' when what they did isn't an accurate depiction of Mormon Motherhood."

Kristin May said...

Andrea. I like you. I always have. I'm glad you opened the can of worms... I mean somebody's gotta set those things free. Sister stand strong.

Steve M. said...

From one active Mormon to another...

I don't think it's one church member's prerogative to judge whether another church member deserves to be called "Mormon." The fact is, all of us believe in and comply with "official" standards to one degree or another. Not everyone does (or is entirely consistent in doing) their home teaching, family history, food storage, scripture reading, temple work, cub scouting, homemaking, and so on. In other words, all of us are cafeteria Mormons to one degree or another.

While you may disagree with the behavior of fellow church members, it doesn't make sense to deny them the privilege of self-identifying as Mormon, unless you yourself are willing to give up that title yourself. I'm sure that if any one of us thought long enough, we could each find something deficient in our own religious practice. If that justifies revocation of the title "Mormon," then there would be very few Mormons.

When you say that what these women are doing is not "an accurate depiction of Mormon Motherhood," that only begs the question, What is a Mormon mother? Is there really a single definition? In truth, your definition only describes your own attitude toward, and merely one version of, Mormon motherhood. Perhaps Mormon mothers are more diverse in their beliefs and inhibitions than we generally appreciate.

I think it is healthy to question our preconceived notions about motherhood, gender roles, sexuality, and propriety. I think we, as Mormons, handle such topics as eroticism in an especially juvenile and unfortunate manner. Setting aside the artistic value of the Mormon Muffins calendar and the morality of its participants, it may have an inherent social value, inasmuch as it provokes us to question our own prejudices.

heidikins said...

This is YOUR blog, you don't have to censor your frustrations on YOUR BLOG.

I totally agree with you here, and I think it's important that you have stated your opinion and stuck to your guns on this one.

xox

Andrea Jolene said...

Steve

It wasn't about judging. It was about representation. This is poor representation.

It wasn't about "you should be perfect", it was about "this isn't right because it goes against standards set by the Church yet - they are labeling themselves as REPRESENTING a group in the church."

Lastly - I agree that Mormon Motherhood is incredibly diverse and shouldn't fit in a box. I can't define what Mormon Mother is - because it IS different. But, I can tell you what a Mormon Mother ISN'T - and there's a calendar out there that shows exactly that. And no one denied those women the choice of participating. And honestly I don't think that should be "denied" them. What I'm saying is "this is how it goes against what they are seemingly "representing" and THAT is wrong. It is.

Man... I feel like a broken record.

T Susie said...

Everyone practices their religion in the way that makes sense to them. We all pick and choose what commandments we keep, and how we keep them. Take keeping the Sabbath day holy. I personally hold that working, or causing others to work is innapropriate. However, I was in a singles ward that ordered pizza for break the fast-they paid for it the day before so it was ok in their mind. These women are honoring what is important to them. It appears that for them, embracing their sexuality AND their mormonism is important. As far as whether or not it is degrading is a personal decision.

I don't think that gray will go away, in fact I think we are seeing more and more shades of gray. For example, the church no longer says having the feelings of same sex attraction is against the moral prinicipals of the church-they now say that people cannot act upon them. Why? I think because the leaders of the church realized it is a far more difficult situation than they originally understood. In fact, in the Miracle of Forgivness, it says that masturbation causes homosexuality. In a recent conference address (I can find it if you need me to), one of the leaders sayd that 'we don't know what causes it'.

I understand that you feel ownsership in the sense of "someone is making a bad name for MY religion", but everyone has their agency to practice it differently. I still think at the end of the day God will be less concerned about how we dressed, etc and more concerned about what we did to each one another's suffereng.

Kellen said...

I think the point is being missed. I'm an active member, and it dismays me when the church is looked at as a "country club for the good." In reality, it should be as inclusive a place as possible. People shouldn't be shunned from church for smelling like cigarettes, not taking the sacrament, not attending regularly, nothing. Regardless of what anyone does, we should open our arms to them, not cut them off, or openly disparage them in a public forum.

The fact is, regardless of if they fit your particular view of a "Mormon Mom," these women are indeed Mormon moms. Let them keep that title, who are we to say that they shouldn't be allowed to be representative.

I personally won't be buying the calendar, as I have a Mormon mom of my own to look at, and I don't even necessarily agree with the idea of a mormon themed pin-up ish calendar. But BYU's volleyball players look more provocative than these women.

Regardless, we should be as inclusive as possible. That's what I'm sure Christ would do. And you can't say that blogs are personal. If you want your blog to be personal, you should make it private or write it in a journal. When something pops up on Google, it is a public forum.

If I were you, I'd just delete the posts and all the comments and act like it didn't happen, but that probably won't happen because then the traffic to your blog would probably fall off pretty fast.

Anonymous said...

Somebody above quoted Neal Maxwell, who said, Elder Neal "Why is it that those who leave the church, can't leave the church alone?"

I was a convert to Mormonism from a Christian background when I was 19. I left, by my request to have my name removed, about 19 years later. During that time I was sometimes very active, sometimes less active, and at times was very vocal as an apologist and defender, especially during the earliest days of the internet before the World-Wide-Web was invented.

It was my reading and studying during that time that brought me to the conclusion that Mormonism is not true. Most of what I studied was actual church history, not "anti-Mormon" material.

In the last decade I have, mostly, ignored Mormons and Mormonism because there is little impact on my life from members or the organization itself. I have, at times, spoken to missionaries and have asked them some of the really problematic historical questions and have not only never gotten an answer (not surprising, they are kids after all) but have found that they didn't have a clue about the actual teachings of leaders as little as twenty or thirty years ago. I have also spoken to members who had questions and have pointed them toward sources that would help them see what the organization would prefer not be known and have generally provided support and information to help them figure out what they need to do.

Personally, I don't much care about Mormonism as a church or culture. HOWEVER, I do care about people. And when I stumble across someone who has questions and who is either being made to feel guilty and threatened for asking or who feels all alone and confused, I try and give some help. Along the same lines, I have provided an ear and some suggestions for those in a bad job situation, or a bad (or abusive) relationship or some other life situation that was causing them hurt. Helping those who are hurting is the issue, and the place that intersects with Mormonism is because I have personal knowledge to help - I don't have a lot of knowledge to help someone who wants to leave Scientology or the JWs, for example.

Over the last ten years I have, at times, been involved in some on-line resources for those who are questioning or who would like to leave. This is not an obsession or even a hobby, it is an occasional involvement based on available time. For example, for the last several months I have been traveling a lot, and had down time in airports, hotels and such and have had time to be involved on one such board. I am going to be leaving my job to go back to school, and will have little or no time to be involved in the near future...

As for a focus on Mormonism and the Church itself... like I said above, on a day-to-day basis it has little impact on my life. BUT, I read the paper and magazines and on-line news, and when there are Mormon-related stories I often (but not always) read them - Mormonism was a part of my life for just under 2 decades, after all. I followed with some interest the Prop 8 campaign and the aftermath, and did some research on the claims the Yes on 8 groups, including the Mormon Church, were making in the issue. Mostly, I found their positions to be... less than honest when I did the due diligence. I would have followed the issue in any case, as it had national ramifications, but the Mormon angle really caught my interest because it was so visible and because of the history of Mormon polygamy.

Your blog, and the entry about the Mormon Moms calendar was pointed to me by a friend, and I have followed the discussion with some minor interest and even posted in response. I have found the posts on both sides to be interesting and in some cases amusing and in other cases a bit sad.

In the grand scheme of my life, Mormonism gets maybe one-tenth of one-percent of my attention. Those who want to leave Mormonism and don't know how and are hurting get more attention, when I cross paths with them.

I hope this helps clarify the question above, at least in one personal case.

PD Marshall

Andrea Jolene said...

Hi Anonymous,

Good thing you don't care about any of this or what Mormonism is. Cause...it kinda seems like you are having a hard time ignoring...as indicative of you essay length response.

Thanks for your thoughts!

Sapphire Sting said...

Imagine, if you will, a calendar featuring The Women of PETA (you know, the ones who are famous for those "I'd rather go naked than wear fur" ads). The calendar holds a dozen images of women modeling thick fur coats - February has a lovely Mink, for example - and they tell interviewers that they represent "The other side of PETA" While from the point of view of the typical American consumer, there's nothing wrong with a it, but imagine the reaction from PETA or its members/supporters.

Any self-respecting organization, or a self-respecting member of such an organization, has the right to speak out against people who are openly acting in opposition to what the group stands for while identifying themselves as being affiliated with that group. It is akin to a soldier in a war killing his fellow troop members because he "wants to show the other side of the troop."

Anonymous said...

Andrea,

Let me begin by saying that as an active member I can understand your perspective and respect it. I do not necessarily disagree with your opinions - or the fact that you expressed them.

I am surprised, however, by your lack of acceptance. This calendar aside, your blog displays on other instances(not always religious) a tendency to harshly judge and categorize people.

It is my understanding that our Church is not for perfect people, but for imperfect people striving to be better. Steve M stated this above very well. I am sure that you have also made mistakes. Probably less public than this calendar. But it would not be right of anyone else, especially someone you have never met, to say you do not deserve to be called a Mormon - even for simpler mistakes. To defend your comments on the basis of not being judgmental but due to poor representation is semantics. You are still judging. You do not have to accept what those women did as right, nor do you have to own or look at their calendar, but to comment on who they are as women is unfair and also wrong. We all judge unfairly. But I find it interesting that your responding comments even still categorize and devalue others.

You are obviously someone who loves the Church and what it stands for, as do I. Just consider that your judging of others also displays a negative light on members of the Church.

Food for thought.

LDS Sister

Andrea Jolene said...

Hey Anonymous/LDS Sister,

I appreciate your thoughts very much. Thanks for the perspective. you had some great words.

However, I would like to clarify that I never said "these women are going to burn in hell." That's passing judgement. And I first, don't think they are going to burn in hell but more importantly, I don't feel I can pass judgement on their standing with God or anything of the sort. What I said is this - please do not take a name of an organization (in this instance the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints) that teaches certain moral and modest principles, and then create something and plaster it on a public forum that goes very clearly against those teachings. That's why I was annoyed. That's why I think it's wrong. As far as these women's personal ideas of what they think is right and wrong - well clearly they've made those ideals public with their calendar - what I'm saying is the same thing they are DOING. They showed what they think is "okay" and I'm saying "no this isn't okay BECAUSE you are presuming to represent a facet of "Mormon" lifestyle in the completely opposite way." It. Doesn't. Make. Sense. Just because I say I feel something is wrong - doesn't mean I'm not "tolerant." I don't have to drink to not care that other folks do it. But I can care that someone is misrepresenting something incredibly important to me and lumping me in with them. You can accept without participation. Tolerance isn't about agreeing - it's about agreeing to disagree. I've not read one comment on here (save yours and a few others) that seem to respect my thoughts while additionally adding comments of their own. My beliefs have not been respected either by those who claim to be "tolerant and accepting." And truthfully - why is "tolerance and acceptance" synonomous with sexual expression and alaternativelifestyle choices yet discounts anything else? Shouldn't my "old fashioned traditions and religious beliefs" merit tolerance and acceptance too? Shouldn't an organization be able to civially and lawfully express their opinions and rally for causes they believe in under the same banner as "tolerance and acceptance" of differences in opinion? Martin Luther King Jr was the champion of what is deemed "civil disobedience." Even though he knew segregation and racism were wrong and needed to change - he didn't send white powedered envelopes to scare people or threaten to burn down houses of worship or call people ugly, fat, and judgemental because he disagreed with something. He agreed to peacabley and aggressively disagree. He put his thoughts into peaceable actions and strong words - and look at the strides he made.

Sigh.

Regardless of your thoughts on this matter - I think we all need a lesson on what tolerance REALLY is. I disagree with this calendar lastly and finally because it's a hypocritical representation of a religious organization that teaches values and principles that are not only misrepresented under the name in which this calendar propses it does, in fact, represent but because it, in point of fact, goes AGAINST those principles and ideals the title of this calendar pretends to represent. The women in the calendar have yet to tell me how the basic principles and ideals of a church they profess to be a part of are represented in this calendar. This represents personal inhabitions, a perspective of a "culture" and not a belief system, and importantly freedom to choose. They've used their agency as I've used mine to speak out against it - and neither of us can assume it will fall quietly into the night. They HAD to expect people would be upset - that they'd stand up and say "No this isn't right and here's why" - and then we both have the responsiblity to accept others opinions and leave the ULTIMATE judging up to God. Like i said - I've never told any of these women "you are going to burn in hell" I just wanted to know how this is a representation of an organizatino that TEACHES certain ideals - and then has those ideals so blatently and PUBLICALLY mocked WITHOUT remorse in something like this calednar. There's a difference between imperfect members (like all of us) striving to do what's right and making mistakes - and members who do something like this, KNOWING it's not right, and not caring one wit. That's the difference. Mistakes that beget remorse and trying again next time - and mistakes that are a blatant mockery of those ideals withouth remorse. I speak out against this because it says MORMON MUFFINS as a representation of Mormon Women! I would not, in comparison, speak out against a Sports Illustrated swim suit calander because THAT'S what it is. THAT is an accurate representation of what that organization represents. No. This is about hypocrasy and gross misrepresentation. That is NOT a representation of Mormon mothers. Not to me. Not at all.