without

My fetishism of Mormons begins and ends with housewives and this idyllic view of a simple, purposeful lifestyle. In reality, I have no interest in being Mormon and a lot of what that now culturally entails. Like not cursing.

I love the word fuck. Seriously, I do. It’s great. I don’t love it for some deep philosophical reason, I just like how it feels in my mouth. There are…other words I do not like, but not for any meaningful or arguable reason.

Rather than saying things like hell and…other words, Mormons have taken on “shiz” and “heck.” Battlestar uses “frack.”

Farscape, an important part of my childhood, gave us “frell” and “dren.”

In the Farscape video, we hear “‘frell’…opened up a whole new world for us.”

Mormon Matters talks about why Mormons don’t swear.

  • Religious – because taking the Lord’s name in vain is specificially prohibited in the Bible; practicing Mormons avoid this one like the plague.
  • Sexual – presumably because our bodies are sacred; speaking lightly or debasingly of sex acts diminishes them.
  • Excretory – I suppose to some extent related to treating the body with respect; this seems like the least offensive to me unless directed at another person.  The words, I mean.

I would argue that hate speech is the worst of all since it is directed at another person in anger.  Of course, within each category, some words are considered more severe than others.  So you may think a very mild religious based word like “damn” or “hell” is okay, but would not even think to use the grand Mother of all American swear-words (in the sexual category).

This is just conjecture. While television shows abstain from swearing due to FCC regulations, Mormons seem to do it out of a sense of decency or perhaps even a form of modesty or denial. I think this is silly because, much like with television, we really know what they mean. They are not actually giving anything up.

I mean, seriously people, we all know that when Ellen Ty says “don’t frack with me, Bill” she means “don’t fuck with me, Bill.” When a BYU girl says “fetching heck” or “well, shiz” we all know what she means too.

It might just be my post modern tendencies, but I stopped viewing fuck as a sexual activity. Frack helps us see this, removing it from any sexy context and putting it into a purely expletive form. However, there are times when it is also a contextual replacement–not just an interjection. “Frack me” said in a sexy voice and “don’t crask with me” give frack the same meaning as fuck. Similarly, when heck so obviously stands in for Hell, it is functionally the same word.

It’s not just limited to these “forbidden words.” Caffeine is forbidden and Mountain Dew is the equivalent thrilling taboo of youthful alcohol consumption.

“Giving things up” is something we love to do to demonstrate dedication, suffer in solidarity, and make personal statements. Some vegetarians really like fake leather and fake fur. There are so many ways to approximate chametz and kitniot during Passover that people use. There are so many beautiful hijabi. I frequently think these make the wearers even more beautiful. I cannot conceive of how this adds to modesty. Unless it’s like a challenge: how can I be so beautiful and still be modest?

The real effort, the show of faith and solidarity and principal must come from the challenge to have things as much like the things people are giving up. Do you know how hard it is to make a delicious fluffy sponge cake during Passover? A vegan cheesecake? If you make that happen, you basically deserve the cake. You know what sort of suffering your ancestors went through in fleeing Egypt.

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Mormons

I wish I were a Mormon.

That’s my dirty little secret.

I was first fascinated by Mormons when I was in high school. I was on the subway and I saw some in the station. I didn’t know what they were. In Pgh, there was a Mormon who lived in our building. He would happily tell me everything I wanted to know about Mormonism. When I moved out to the cold house in the forgotten neighborhood, some Mormon girls came to our door. I’d never seen a girl on mission before. I gave them hot chocolate (because Mormons don’t drink coffee or tea!) and we talked. In Mongolia, I tried to hang out with the Mormons, but they wanted nothing to do with me because I was some American kid and they were there on mission.

Last year, I discovered Mormon housewife blogs. Mormon housewife blogs are amazing. Mormonism has a strong tradition of archiving, recording, and journaling, so blogging seems like a fairly natural extension of this. The blogs I have read paint a very specific picture of what life is like as a Mormon. They range from Stacie Lang’s stories of being young, with a small child and a husband in Arizona, to Stephanie Nielson, who is a little bit older and survived a plane crash with her husband. Most of these Mormon women are young, look how I wish I looked and dress how I wish I dressed. I’ve never been inside of an Anthropologie, but they all seem to love it. They eat lots of chocolate and candy. Most of them can’t cook. They spend their days making adorable crafts, taking all the peperoni on a pizza and cutting them into heart shapes for Valentine’s Day.

These women are pretty, their husbands handsome, their children adorable, their families close, and their lives, from a domestic perspective, seemingly perfect. They have community, culture, and a sense of purpose.

People like to point out to me that this is likely an act these women feel forced to put on. “They can’t really be that happy,” I’m told. “They’re just pretending because they think that’s how they’re supposed to be.” I like to think that, among the best of the Mormon housewife blogs, these women really are able to find some sense of joy from their lives and that this isn’t an act based on expectations. That’s what I want from them: some truth.

I don’t want the life they have. Yes, I want the community, culture, and sense of purpose that Mormons seem to have, but I know I can get that in other places where the fact I don’t believe in Jesus (as an idea) doesn’t matter. I like the escapism of it. Even though I want something different from them, I like the fantasy of it. The voyeuristic pleasure in knowing that there is this simple life that is what it is. That there can be joy in every day. The picture Mormons paint for us is not written by Arthur Miller: there is not some slow discovery of the discontent and horror underneath the seemingly happy exterior. The exterior is all there is.

I like looking at pictures of people being happy. I like hearing these simple stories about how it rained, so this woman took her daughter outside to play in it, and that that was enough.