One Mormon Mommy's response to "Why I can't stop reading Mormon housewife blogs" by Emily Matchar

My brother in law sent me a really interesting article about "a young, atheist, feminist" who has a fetish with Mormon housewife blogs, blogs like this one perhaps?

Danny and I spent about an hour reading the article and some of the pages and pages of comments. A lot of the comments are worthless rants, but some had valid points.

I really wanted to read a Mormon mommy blogger's response to the article, but it was so new that I couldn't find anything in "the bloggernacle." Hehe. That, combined with an itching desire to respond to Ms. Emily Matchar (author of the post) are the main reasons I am up at 7:07 am instead of resting in my snuggly, comfy, warm bed, listening to the rain outside.

I'm just going to respond to her stuff paragraph by paragraph, since there's so much to say. I am, after all, one of the people she is talking about in the article.

- I have never met a Mormon Mommy (or anybody for that matter) whose house looks like an anthropologie catalog. (Besides, my sisters in law all agree that anthropologie is so over-the-top that you can really only do one piece from them per outfit/room, or it looks ridiculous. But that's just a style issue.) If you have children, either you constantly battle clutter from the waist down, or they spend their time locked in their room.
- I would not describe my LIFE as "doing fun craft projects," although I DO do them sometimes. I would probably describe my life as a constant stream of picking-up/putting-down/wiping liquid off children, with intermittent intervals of crafty projects, quilting, reading, blogging, etc.

- This paragraph is hilarious, but kind of infers that Mormon mommy bloggers are subtly trying to convert people to the LDS faith. The fact is, there's nothing "subtle" about it. We were asked to use our blogs as a tool for conversation about our faith years ago.

- Even though I happen to fit this category, she easily offends a dozen of my friends by saying that all Mormon mommy bloggers are "young stay-at-home-moms."

- I take issue with the use of the word "overeducated." It's a weird word choice. Education is a good thing, and Mormons (male and female) are encouraged to get as much of it as possible, and to continue being lifelong learners. It's a condescending word, has the undertone of, "I'm in an elite class of people who values education at the expense of happiness, and yes it's silly that it won't bring me a husband, children, house, or necessarily a job, but at least I belong to my special group of snobs, something that Mormon mommies could never enter." First off, who would? Second, riiiight. Because there are no Mormon mommies who get masters/multiple degrees and/or attend Ivy League schools...suuuuuuure...

- Do I have a "shiny, happy domestic" life? Hmm. That's not how I would describe it. Shiny infers perfection somehow, which it's not. Happy? That's a choice. I would say I'm happy most of the time. Domestic? Weirdly, I don't consider myself very "domestic", even though I guess technically most of my daytime activities involve cooking, cleaning, sewing, but mainly childcare. I guess it's because I know myself on a deeper level than my current occupation.

This is the best way that I have to describe my life: Danny and I are filmaholics. We use our Netflix account daily. We watch tons (and tons and tons) of movies, and we've noticed a common theme: happily married couples don't last very long in films. Their marriages either fall apart, or tragedy strikes, or somebody has to die. Because happy, calm, boring-from-the-outside marriages don't have enough conflict to build a story. So Danny and I get our dysfunction fix from watching films (and actually, the ones with really screwy spouses, we choose not to watch), not from real life. My life is exactly like the commenter described in P7: "they have lovely homes, picture-perfect kids [I think Jane and Dan are the cutest people in the world, but I'm biased], loving, super-attentive husbands, and things seem very normal and calm."

- Danny laughed at this, "Ottoman? That's for amateurs. You did an entire chair!"
- There was only one completely out of line comment in the whole piece, and that was "It's not as though we're sniffing around the dark side of the faith, a la "Big Love." Huh? Polygamy "a la Big Love" has nothing to do with modern Mormonism. And she describes herself as "overeducated"? Riiiiight.

- It sounds like Matchar is seeking a Utopian world without any problems. Newsflash lady, that doesn't exist.
- It's not weird, strange, fascinating, or subversive for moms to enjoy being a mom. Sheesh.

- I completely agree with one of the commenters who said that deep down, Matchar probably does want kids because she's a woman.

- Danny and I took issue to describing motherhood as "Easy."
- Does anybody else find it patronizing to say somebody else's life is "adorable and old-fashioned and comforting"?

- 13th Article of Faith

- "I want to arrange flowers all day too!" This comment made me roll my eyes. "Quit our jobs to bake brownies or sew kiddie Halloween costumes," is also such an obnoxious thing to say. I quit my job for much deeper, more meaningful reasons, (like, oh say, so that I could raise my own children?) not to bake fattening treats. Those things are just perks. It's like saying, "I took the office job because I liked how my name looked on their letterhead."
- I guess Mormon mommy blogs can be an "escapist fantasy", even for Mormon mommies themselves. But obviously, a blog does not show the depth and feeling of real life.

My own personal opinion is "feminism" never could have succeeded because the entire movement is a paradox; it says you can do it all, while simultaneously denouncing homemaking. Anyway, you CAN do it all, but not all at the same time. Just because I don't have a money-earning career at the moment does not mean that is how it will always be. Remember, Mormonism views life as longer than just our time here on earth. Heck, we have eternities to explore all the career options, why sacrifice our precious time at home when we can just do all that stuff later? Anyway, working moms do NOT get to experience all the same things as stay-home moms (just an observation, not a judgment). You really can't have it all all at once. Not possible. Not enough hours in the day.

- It's possible to be happy, love your home, and love your husband without having a "picture-perfect catalog" life. I am not perfect. My life is not perfect. My home does not look like a catalog (except maybe one from Ikea...hehe). But I love my home, my husband, my family, and my life.

- Happiness is not something that happens to someone. You have to choose to be happy. That said, choosing to be happy is not the only part of the happiness equation. You have to make right choices. It's kind of like how you show your faith through your works. If you are breaking commandments and making wrong choices, you can't feel happy. But it's not like poof, I keep the commandments, suddenly I'm happy. Just deciding, "Okay, I want to be happy. I have decided to be happy," is still an active choice that has to be made.

- Why not interview one of the zillions of Mormons for this part of the piece? Why go with an ex-Mormon to represent "Mormon mommies"?

- Why does anybody blog? It's not a Mormon phenomenon. Actually, a lot of my family kind of rolls their eyes at blogging.

- Danny thinks that the fact that Utah is "the state with the highest rate of prescription antidepressent use," is a reflection of how most LDS Utah residents do not turn to drugs and alcohol to self-medicate, something Matchar completely fails to see.

- It's sad that this lady thinks that motherhood is by default a "miserable, soul-destroying trap." If I were her spouse, I would be scared for our children.
- Danny and I smirked at her comment about not inviting the missionaries in. We both bet that someday, she probably will.


  1. I kind of thought the article was a glowing review of Mormon life, tempered slightly with the (true) observation that lots of Mormons feel a little pressured to be perfect. If anything, I thought it made postmodern "realism" look like an entirely failed and unnecessary venture.

  2. Both articles were fascinating. Being a former Mormon I can easily empathize with a lot of the views raised in both, and sometimes disagree with subtle details. Here's just a taste of the latter.

    I also didn't like that the Salon article made the comparison to Big Love. The author should have excluded it, or qualified it further. There are polygamists out there who refer to themselves as Mormon, even though mainstream Mormons distinguish themselves from those "Mormons". The truth is when people read a blog by somebody who purports to be "Mormon", they don't know whether they're a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, a polygamist, or what. Journalists should either drop the polygamy references, or give enough of the story so that people don't walk away thinking mainstream modern Mormonism supports polygamy in this life.

    Feminism is another ideology that's commonly misrepresented. Like the author of the Salon article, I don't see a movement of women embracing old-fashioned, crafty and productive endeavors as an indication that feminism has failed.

    Feminism appears to be a paradox because it's not a totally unified movement. There are many different approaches to feminism, and many of them conflict with others. For a period the dominant approach was rejecting things that are characteristically feminine, but there's a new wave of feminists who embrace their ability to choose exactly how feminine they want to be and in what ways. Yes, you're right; nobody can have it all at once, but you can be empowered to make informed decisions.

    Anyway, thanks for the good reads.

  3. Interesting. I'm going to need some time to write the response I want, which will probably be too long to post here. I'll put it on my Mormon soon-to-be-Mommy blog (haha).

    I will say that I thought your insights were very on point, Kate, and I agree with pretty much everything you said. I was very glad you and Jake brought up the issue with Big Love. And I laughed out loud when I read your awesomely cynical and entirely accurate description of the word "overeducated."

    And as usual, Danny's comments (esp. on pages 8 and 21) were hilarious and hit the nail on the head. How does he DO that??

    As an interesting side note, Mykle and I totally disagree about this article. He thinks the author is making fun of herself in a tongue-in-cheek kind of way, and says that you (and I) are misinterpreting the tone of the article. I think that as a written piece, the article consists only of words/phrasing and context, and that any "tone" you might pick up is a result of the combination of those factors with your own personal biases. I am a highly critical person who will observe, reflect and then make a judgment of what it is that I see and its meaning and worth as such. Mykle is an idealistic optimist who always gives people (and movies and books and shows, etc) the benefit of the doubt. It isn't that he doesn't want to offend anyone (he has no problem with that!); I think it stems from the fact that he is very pure in heart and always acts with good intent, and he assumes everyone else is the same way. This is why we are so balanced as a couple and agree on things so rarely.

    Anyway, in regards to the article, my main feeling about it is that this woman thinks she knows a whole lot more about Mormonism and motherhood than she actually does. (Obviously, since she is neither LDS nor a mom!) Her feelings are valid (I believe all feelings are) and I think she did a fair job of analysis considering her somewhat limited amount of information/experience.

    I also think she doesn't really understand the full implication and meaning behind her fascination with the blogs. I'm not saying that her unconscious is trying to tell her she wants to convert or become a homemaker; how would I know that??! I don't know what it means, but I don't think she does either, and it would be interesting to read a followup article discussing her personal introspection in that area. But that's just the shrink in me talking :)

    Jake, I was really quite fascinated to hear your thoughts! Thanks for that.

  4. I don't think we're misinterpreting it; this lady is snarky, sarcastic, condescending, patronizing, leftist, hypocritical. If you remember it's from that point of view, it's really a glowing review of Mormon mommy blogs.

    And amen to what you said about her thinking she knows more about Mormonism and motherhood. That's exactly how I felt after reading the article.

    But it sure was interesting.

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  6. One of my favourite parts of reading this blog article was the comments at the bottom that claimed the whole Mormon Mommy Blog thing was a massive conspiracy by the Mormon church to convert everyone, and any Mormon Mommy who didn't seem happy enough would be made to suddenly "disappear."


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