“A Mormon housewife should not work outside of the home. She should strive to keep a clean a spiritual home. She must be modest in all things. She must raise the children up in the Lord or else her family will not be eternal. She should support her husband in all things. She answers to her husband, but her husband answers to God. If she has an opinion different from her husband’s, she must submit to her husbands opinion. She must attend to her Calling in church. She may not hold the priesthood. She may not have a position that would have any authority over a man in Church.” Anonymous
“You have known intense religious pressure to conform your life and your life’s objectives to a predetermined pattern, one that does not necessarily take into consideration that which you want to pursue in your life, but one that is predictable and comfortable for others” – A Message to LDS Women
“My husband called me fat, lazy, opinionated…if I laughed, I was having too good of a time”
“I felt I was no more important than wall paper”
“I asked my husband if I could get a job. He said that I could not love him and the kids and work outside of the house”
“It was not easy getting a divorce. I had no skills. Running a home and serving Church callings are not marketable qualities.”
“The words I heard as I embarked upon my journey of self-discovery were slut, irresponsible, eternally lost.”
“But I was free from the shackles that tied me to the label of Mormon Housewife.”
These are all excepts from several interviews I conducted recently from women and the labels they use to identify with.
The “labels” all came with stories.
This is the “story” of many, which somehow repeatedly itself into a solitary voice of the Mormon housewife.
Although I wasn’t looking for a “Mormon” story, or even that of a housewife, it is interesting to see that this is the narrative that escaped.
And not that I believe it is the narrative of all.
Perhaps because I have many friends – from past through present, that are indeed Mormon housewives, I question the reality of the story these women painted.
However, I have looked at the lives of my Mormon Housewife friends and often wondered how the “perfection” of their families and unending smiles and perceived flawlessness of their marriages and roles as mothers could humanly possibly be a reality.
How is that a woman with six or seven children and a husband who is rarely around can be that inherently happy.
How is it that someone who has virtually no help yet the responsibility of parenting resting primarily on her shoulders never pass a word of frustration, exhaustion or even fear that is an intrinsic part of parenthood…or at least that of a stay-at-home mom in modern U.S. living?
I didn’t know. And have looked at several of my friend’s and their seamlessly orchestrated lives with a dollop of distance jealousy.
And this is a big one.
I’ve always wondered what happened behind closed doors.
And by closed doors, I mean – closed eyes.
How are these women feeling? Thinking? Breathing? Surviving?
The Mormon religion is a bit intriguing. It is quite public – yet, clouded in an odd shroud of secrecy.
Marriage rituals behind closed doors. Talk of random “under garmets” that only the Mormon elite are privy to….
And when there is an odd mix of “public” and “private” – I wonder.
I wonder what the fuck is really going on.
And not that I want to judge and/or pass judgement on Mormons as a whole…or even as unique individuals…something is fishy.
In a series of separate interview, women who do not know each other and come from different communities and represent a spectrum of ages all wove the same story.
That of submission, no control and a life that reflects little more than a shadow of a person.
After reading the transcripts, all I could think of was brainwashing.
Where is it that men, who are educated and acculturated in modern California culture can believe that they are inherently better than a woman.
How is it that a woman who is educated in a common system of education with access to literacy, technology and all the other benefits of an education can actually believe that their husband can determine if they were “having too good a time” for laughing.
I mean, I’m an educated person…and I “get” where these fucked up ideas come from. And I “get” how they are perpetuated.
And I “get” how millions of people come to get sucked into the truthfulness of them.
And I “get” the power of religion.
But, it is still fucked up.
And I guess the reason why I have such a hard time respecting any sort of organized bullshit (i.e. religion, political organization, etc.) is that when ideas of superiority, defamation, control, submission, conformity, predetermined roles and so forth come into play, clearly delineating opportunity or “being shackled” – I vomit a little bit in my mouth.
Organizations that are developed to bring people to a higher order of understanding need to actually create opportunity for critical thinking, freedom of ideas and expression and opportunity to exist.
Clearly, based on what I’m learning, this is absolutely NOT possible within the modern Mormon organization for women.
Which is why the women I know who are seemingly embracing their roles and their “shackles” do so with such gusto.
That is all they have.
And if push comes to shove and their marriages fail (which, they do – by the way), women are fucked.
As one interviewee mentioned, leading a Church group isn’t very marketable. And as a stay-at-home mom myself…I can absolutely promise that “mothering” isn’t a gig that will bring on much work.
So – then we have these women who already think they are going to Hell (or where ever the bad Mormons go) for failing their husbands and marriages, they are emotionally distraught like all abandoned women, have nothing to fall back on and are fucked.
Even their communities turn on them.
So -what are they to do?
The women I spoke to are still picking up the pieces.
And for some it has been a decade or more.
Piece by piece.
Shard by shard.
How is this happening in every community we walk across in the U.S. today?
This is the bullshit that happens in places like Iran….
Not on the U.S. beaches of California.
However, it is a reality that is lived by many and told by none.
I know very little of this little place in the world they call Mormonism.
And by no means do I think that all Mormons are bad or living a life that has them in “shackles”
But, I do think that there is a problem.
That gives me a headache every time I sit down and think about this.
And really…that is all I have to say about that.
There is a problem.
Perhaps an unspoken one.
It makes me uneasy and a bit disgusted.
And completely turned off by the religion.
And makes me look with a critical eye at other “openly hidden” religion.
It freaks me out.
And I know I can’t make generalizations.
And I don’t want to.
And that is definitely not my intent.
But, like I said.
This is a problem:
One that perhaps shouldn’t be swept under the rug any longer.