The Meat Market and Mormon Mommy Bloggers (WARNING THIS IS LONG)

Monday, February 11, 2013

In my Mass Communication and Society class I was terribly bored and I started browsing through my old Freshman Writing papers. I came across these two and I had to share. Enjoy. I own all of these things. Take them and I'll dislike you. (Just kidding, I know you are all too wonderful to do such a thing.) P.S. I got A's on both of these. Eee!

This is College, Not a Meat Market
            I am fresh meat. Oh, excuse me; I’m a freshman.  But really, I am that piece of filet mignon that you wish you had when you are stuck eating ground beef seasoned with a taco packet all by your lonesome in your dorm. What I am trying to say is, the day I moved into BYU was the day that I felt like I had just been placed in the meat market a.k.a. the dating life. I have fresh (no pun intended) thoughts and opinions on this particular social aspect of college. Although this may not be my area of expertise, I have been on dates. I understand that they treat it a lot differently here than they do back home, and I have something to say about it. Dating in college is not a meat market, it is a time to meet new people, make friends, and have some fun away from class studies without “commitment” written all over it. People should start thinking differently and open their minds about dating here at BYU. If dating is treated like a meat market, meaningful relationships will be tainted, dates will become a measurement of self-worth, and many girls will feel that marriage and education are mutually exclusive.  
            When meeting new people we should consider creating a foundation of friendship. We should make time for friendships. We keep in touch with some of the friends we meet in college for the rest of our lives. Socializing will be at the tip of our fingers, and we will have someone to actually talk to or hang out with on weekends. When one meaningful friendship forms, we can build many others, which is better than having a lot of acquaintances or just one special someone. We begin to trust the friends we have made and build even more friendships. As a freshman, I have been trying to make friends here with boys and girls. Naturally, it has been easier for me to get to know the girls here. On the other hand, though, there has always been a certain barrier when I meet a new boy. I feel like immediately the judgments begin on both sides. Do I look cute today? His hair is nice. I like his smile. Can I see us together? I believe that this is natural when meeting new people, but it is when we actually take all of these thoughts and judgments into consideration when the problems occur. For heaven’s sake, I just met the person and I’m already thinking about raising their children!
 There are so many problems with this picture. Basing friendships off of how attracted you are to someone is unhealthy. Yes, being attracted to someone is okay, but just because someone is good looking doesn’t mean his or her personality or mannerisms are appealing. Just because a piece of meat looks absolutely scrumptious, there could be worms and disease on the inside, or it may not have been cooked thoroughly. This is why we need to focus on being friends. We need to choose the right friends that will lift us up, instead of choosing “the one” for us right away. Doing so can create emotional instability and unnecessary worry. It should not be like purchasing meat at the store. Knowing what we like in friends and knowing what is good for us will make things better than just grabbing the nicest cut of beef we see and want at the moment. Being a good friend and having good friends will make us happier, and we will develop more socially. I believe that we should remember these things especially when meeting people of the opposite gender.
            Meeting new people also increases the chances for dating. However, dating is not a matter of self worth. There are some freshman girls who are constantly on the lookout for a date. They think that if they do not go on a date every Friday night that it’s the end of the world. If they are unable to get the best cut of beef or be the best cut, endless amounts of tears are shed and self-esteem drops. I am here to say that this should not be the case. I am proud to say that there are other freshman girls who don’t mind spending Friday nights with friends, with roommates watching princess movies, alone, or doing homework. That is perfectly fine. The number of dates you go on should not affect your self-esteem no matter if the amount is large or small. As new students at BYU, we should be confident with our abilities to socialize, meet new people, and build lasting friendships, rather than focus on finding that special someone.
Oftentimes, when dating is mentioned in classroom discussion, church, and daily conversation, jokes and snide comments are made towards freshman girls and their tendencies to hunt for loads of dates and the “ring before spring.” I would like to make a comment on these jokes and remarks made towards freshmen girls. I know not all of these remarks are said with malice or contempt, but they still concern me. Before I came to BYU, every person I talked to made a comment on how they expected a wedding invite by the end of the first month I was here. Now I know they meant well, but did it ever occur to them that I, like many other girls at BYU, want to gain an education? Underneath their jokes, are they saying that my reasons for coming to BYU should be to get married right away? If I don’t get married as a freshman, have I failed as a student? Have I failed as a woman? If I do get married while attending BYU, have I become another statistic––the butt of a joke? The answer is no. Not all of us aspire for the “ring by spring”. Not all of us care about gaining the “filet mignon” status. I would like to stress that as a freshman it is important to focus on an education and getting the most out of the college experience. This includes a social life without the underlying “meat market mentality.” If you find the person of your dreams while attending school, this does not mean that your education is sunk. Marriage does not mean the end of education. This goes both ways. Yes, I want an education, but I still want to date. Getting an education shouldn’t ruin my chances of marriage, and if I don’t get married in college I am not a doomed soul.
In conclusion, I would like to acknowledge that dating and marriage are good things, but minds must be opened and thoughts should be changed. I can see why people joke about dating and marriage. It is a big deal. You don’t get married unless you date. It is our eternal salvation that we are talking about here. However, I believe that freshmen should not throw themselves into the dating frenzy. There is plenty of time to test the waters. Do not look at it as selecting a cut of meat. Instead, view it as a process that requires time. Sometimes you have to dig deeper, work a little harder, and look for the diamond in the rough. When you find that diamond, you will be grateful for the time and effort you put into your search. We are not pieces of meat, displayed on a rack, waiting to be chosen by some random passerby. People who think otherwise should understand that we are individuals who have distinct personalities and we all have goals. Some may want to be selected, but others, like me, would rather take our time in this refining process.

AND I got into the blogging world. Thank you Emily Matchar for your excellent commentary on some of the most beautiful people on the internet.

A Mommy Mormon Blog Addiction
Imagery, Diction, Overstatement, and Tone in Matchar’s “Why I Can’t Stop Reading Mormon Housewife Blogs”
By Dani Ruiz 
            Imagine an over-educated and over-worked, feminist PhD candidate stuffed in a tiny cubicle, surrounded by every dictionary and encyclopedia known to man. She nervously looks around her. Her fellow over-worked and over-educated colleagues bustle around her. She looks back at the computer screen; her fingers strum the keyboard. With one more nervous look back, she inhales and rapidly types the URL. She holds her breath until she hits the “enter” key. A sigh of relief escapes her lips as a brightly colored page, with pictures of vintage crafts and beautiful children pops up on the screen. She wipes the sweat from her brow and begins her daily vacation into the world of Mormon mommy blogging.  In Emily Matchar’s article “Why I Can’t Stop Reading Mormon Housewife Blogs,” Matchar uses imagery, diction, overstatement, and tone to explain her fascination with the Mormon mommy blogging community, and to show that women like her can enjoy them too, despite busy lives and long workdays. Despite her personal beliefs and ideas, Matchar effectively creates a connection between the readers and the mommy bloggers. Through her writing she develops an illusion that women can find an escape when reading the blogs. The overworked women she is writing to can enjoy a simpler, fantasy life without being a part of it.
From the very beginning of her article, Matchar uses diction as imagery to hook her audience and build curiosity in her readers.  She describes the subjects of her article as “hipster mommy bloggers” with “Zooey Deschanel haircuts,” “closets full of vintage dresses,” and children that look like “Baby Gap models”(135). Matchar uses these exaggerated images to paint a vivid and colorful picture of women who seem to be living perfect lives. Her audience visualizes each of these images and becomes intrigued to learn more about these unusually fortunate women.  Along with describing the women’s lovely hair, clothes, and children, Matchar also describes each of these women’s abilities to be the perfect homemaker. With homes that come right out of an “Anthropologie catalog,” dinner parties that are “whimsical” and handsome husbands, these women are everything a girl wants to be (135). The reader begins to wonder how they can be so well rounded and blessed. The images evoke a sense of wanting to be like these women. Such visions of perfection push the reader to learn how to become like these women. They too begin to want celebrity haircuts and dazzling homes just from these descriptions.
            Matchar’s word choice also persuades the reader to relate with the Mormon housewife bloggers and Matchar herself as a writer.  She uses positive words concerning the “faith and belief” of the young bloggers (135). Faith and belief are positive words because faith and beliefs are found in a majority of people. Her audience of over-educated and possibly non-religious women is more likely to respect faith and beliefs than a religion as a whole. Using simpler terms make it easier for the reader to accept the beliefs and lifestyles of the bloggers. On the other hand, using the word “religion” can be a stumbling block for the reader because of the seriousness and commitment that come along with being a part of a religion. It is also good that Matchar didn’t use the word “religion”, because she is talking to an audience that is like her. Matchar calls herself an atheist; therefore, her audience would consist of some atheists. A religious escape would not appeal to atheists, but something based on beliefs and faith would draw in anyone with beliefs of their own.
  Matchar also uses terms to describe the lifestyles of the bloggers that would not be used to describe her. She calls the lifestyles of the bloggers “uplifting, fun, easy and joyful.” They lack “cynicism” and are “relaxed” (137). Prior, to saying these things about the bloggers, Matchar explains that such things make her cringe, and that her life is packed with stress. By saying that she enjoys these uplifting blogs and the idea of a simpler lifestyle, Matchar draws in her audience even more. She also says that she and her other PhD candidate friends “procrastinate for hours” reading each blog (136). Using the word procrastinate shows the impact these blogs have on her. The blogs are making a woman, who would not be one to procrastinate, procrastinate and take a break from her busy life.  If she can enjoy these blogs any other woman who works just as hard as she does can enjoy them too, despite religious or cultural differences.
            Next Matchar’s use of overstatement actually makes the Mormon housewife lifestyle seem more preferable than others because of the feeling of escape it emulates. She also exaggerates about herself.  Matchar calls herself a “standard-issue late-20-something childless overeducated atheist feminist” (136).  By doing so, Matchar sets herself up as a woman who would be the last person to enjoy reading about “marriage and child rearing” women who live seemingly “perfect” lives that appear to be “completely unproblematic” (136). Matchar makes herself to be as opposite as possible from the Mormon mommy bloggers, because it shows her audience that despite their major differences she still finds an escape in something that is on the opposite spectrum of her life.  This major contrast would seem to create a distance between the two groups of women, but they actually bring them together. As one of Matchar’s friends said, “I’m just jealous. I want to arrange flowers all day too!” (137) This is said with sarcasm, but because of heavy workload and everyday problems, the blogs become a lovely “escapist fantasy, a way to imagine a sweeter, simpler life.” (137) The overstatement that Mormon housewives are happier and live sweeter lives attracts Matchar’s audience, because they know that no one’s life is perfect, but the lives portrayed on the blogs seem that way so it makes their own lives just a bit simpler and sweeter.
            By using diction and overstatement, Matchar creates a positively satirical tone.  Throughout the whole article Matchar praises the beauty of the lifestyle of the Mormon bloggers, but she frequently mentions that she would never want to be a part of the religion. The satirical tone of the article makes it enjoyable to read.  She pokes fun at herself by saying she is a “closet non-Mormon reader of Mormon mommy blogs.” (136) Such a statement makes closet non-Mormon readers seem like a large community.  The article becomes a lifestyle confession that Matchar is proudly making. The connotation of “closet” is that she was hiding or perhaps ashamed to be so entertained by such domesticity, but now she wants to share her habit with others. Though whimsical and adorable, other Mormons actually poke fun at the Mormon blogs.  In a blog, “Seriously so Blessed”, the Mormon mentality of “ putting on a happy face” is poked fun at, using more exaggeration. (138) It is like they are saying that Mormons never have a bad day in their lives and that everyone who is unhappy should live vicariously through them. Mentioning that Mormons laugh at their own happy-go-lucky mentality tells the reader that Mormons don’t consider themselves better than anyone. They just want to share their happiness and lives with others. By commenting on the Mormon mommy bloggers own sarcastic attitudes toward themselves, Matchar builds her own sarcasm. This attitude of sarcasm shows the difference of both worlds, but it makes the collision between the two easier and more comfortable. It shows that the Mormon mommy bloggers don’t take themselves too seriously and that they are not aliens, but actually humans who laugh at themselves, and are not too different from Matchar’s audience.
On the other hand, a satirical tone is used to describe the new generation of mommy bloggers. Not Mormon mommy bloggers­­­­­­–– just mommy bloggers. Matchar describes the blogs as something that would make anyone want to “cut out their own ovaries with a butter knife” (136). Such heavy overstatement also sets the satire by creating a major contrast between the mommy blogs and the Mormon mommy blogs. No woman would really cut out her ovaries with a butter knife; this just shows the truly ridiculous side of the mommy blogs. The imagery makes fun of the extremes on both sides of the spectrum, but it also puts into perspective which lifestyle blog would be more pleasant to follow. Although highly fanciful and sugarcoated the “champion scrap bookers and journal keepers” are far more appealing than the “stressed out and divorced baby boomers” (137, 138). Such exaggerated sarcasm really persuades the reader to think about the logic of Matchar’s obsession. A positive satire is far more attractive than a negative one.
            Through Matchar’s effective use of diction, overstatement, and tone, she is able to draw her audience of women like herself, to understand her love for the blogs she follows. She persuades the audience to understand that despite religious, cultural, and personality differences, the worlds of over-worked and over-educated women can coexist, at least virtually and psychologically, with the fancy free lives of Mormon moms that make the married mother life seem like a dream. Her writing puts a positive spin and educates her readers about the lives, which were once obscure, of the housewife bloggers. She proves that it is possible to find a fantasy getaway in something that is different and find great uplifting things from those differences, even if it means finding an escape in vintage grosgrain ribbon, and owl earrings made with buttons. What Matchar is saying is, sit back and relax, it’s only a blog, it’s not like you’re going to turn into a cupcake baking sugary housewife. Cute crafts and vintage dresses sound so much better than encyclopedias and tedious workdays anyway.
That's all folks. Hope you enjoyed my amateur writing skills. Stay golden.

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