20 August, 2009

Because I feel like writing again.

I just made some cookie dough. They didn't make the transition to actual cookies, because I liked the dough so much, and by the time the dough was completely ready I had lost the will to bake. I ate about half of it with Dave and Pamela and froze the rest.

This cookie dough was the best I've ever made. My Ghirardelli Opus, if you will. This was my Melon Collie and the Infinite Sadness of baking--I may never bother making cookie dough again, because any follow-up would be both pointless and embarrassing (I hope you're listening, Billy Corgan). Seriously, if Jesus made cookie dough, it would have tasted like this. It was the greatest cookie dough ever to make contact with any mortal's lips.

Seriously, it was pretty good.

I have been thinking a lot lately about stereotypes. Specifically, humankind's tendency to demonize some groups of people and unrealistically idealize others. I fall into both of these categories obviously, as seen below.

Ways in Which I am Ideal:

Woman
Mormon (By some ... certainly by many espousing said religion)
College student
White
Buxom (Man, I love that word)

Ways in Which I am a Demon:

Jew
Catholic
Liberal
Feminist
Vegetarian
Writer
Dog person (Meaning that I prefer dogs to cats, not that I am half human, half dog)

I think demonizing anyone is stupid. It pisses me off when people make negative assumptions about what kind of person I am just because I fall into certain demographics. Just because I am a vegetarian does not mean that I am virulently anti-dairy, for example. However, I have noticed lately that the unhealthy idealizations we make about others can be just as harmful, if not more so.

Here is an example.

When I was 19 I went in to my first day at a new job. I had mentioned to my boss during my interview that I went to BYU, but since we were in Seattle I had no idea if she knew what that meant. When I walked in that morning, my new boss looked at me and my outfit (I honestly have no memory of what I was wearing), then turned to her husband and said, "I thought Mormons were supposed to dress modest."

And I said inside myself, "Damn."

For the rest of the time I worked there, I felt awful every time the Church came up in conversation. Even though in this case I definitely deserved it, that combination of my bad choices and someone else's preconceived notion of how I should act cut off at the pass what could have been a pretty interesting conversation.

Anyway, a more recent and crucial example that has been on my mind lately is the way a lot of Christians talk about women. Most men in the LDS Church in particular often sing the praises of femaledom to the point where it borders on the ridiculous, to the point where I feel that simply because I am a woman, I should be naturally endowed with all good traits and be of the disposition that would naturally shun all evil. I am not like this, which is unfortunate, but, as I am inclined to believe, pretty normal.

I saw a book in Borders in the LDS section yesterday entitled "All Mothers go to Heaven." What in the world? I recognize that I'm in no place to judge who goes to Heaven and who doesn't but that line CAN'T be right. I know of plenty of mothers who are less than ideal. My mother was decidedly human, and though I hear of some people who sing only the celestial virtues of their mothers, something tells me they are probably suffering from selective memory.

Along the same train of thought, I ran into an acquaintance of mine last week who just had a baby. We sat on her front lawn for a minute and she told me about her thought processes since she had become a mother: that she often found herself bored, resenting how much time parenthood sucked from her life, shocked at how different even going to the grocery store had become, and--this is the key--feeling insanely guilty for feeling this way. All her life she had been told that mothers are selfless, mothers give always and don't resent it even for a minute, then suddenly it's not her bishop waxing poetic about a distant demographic anymore. It's her. And nothing is going the way she assumed it would.

I may be going out on a limb here, but I feel the unrealistic stereotypes the LDS Church often perpetuates about women did more harm than good in this case.

I have been in several relationships in which my partner treated me poorly or otherwise did not deserve me (Not be a narcissist, but in this case it was true). I actually remember at some point realizing that those boys weren't up to snuff, but because I had also heard so many times that in any relationship, the woman is better than the man, I honestly figured that my being unsatisfied in that way was normal.

As my dear friend Ekitzel would say, no bueno.

Now, I am not saying that LDS men should speak ill about women. That's bogus too. But it is possible to praise without setting unreachable parameters. Observe:

Tonight I made some cookie dough, because I was hungry and chocolate chip cookies sounded good. I found the cookie dough extremely satisfying. It may have been the best cookie dough I have ever made, with the possible exception of the chocolate chip cookie dough I used to make in Hungary, in which I used chunks of Milka bar in lieu of chocolate chips. However, THIS cookie dough used organic sugar and flour, cage-free eggs, and lots of vanilla. It was truly exceptional, and I felt happy while I ate it.

How much better is that? Honest, heartfelt, and nobody gets hurt.

3 comments:

Ashley said...

Isn't there a line in an Alain Morriesette song about how, "Don't build me up, this pedestal is high and I'm afraid of heights"...? That popped into mind while I was reading this.

I really understand about Mother's Guilt. Or Wife's Guilt. This morning, Kendra woke up at 5:30 cried about every half an hour until it was time for us to get up and I was sooooo bitter. I was actually almost angry with both of them because I wasn't getting any sleep. I felt bad for it, repented in my heart and realized--dude, that's totally normal and doesn't make me a bad person.

Kinda like when the hands came off of my head after being set apart as a missionary--I still had crushes and thought about TV shows and non-Christy songs...but that didn't make me a bad missionary, it made me NORMAL. I wish someone would have told me that beforehand, just like with the Mother's Guilt thing...

And I totally wish I could have tasted that cookie dough.

TheMoncurs said...

You are so lucky to be buxom.

mathistown said...

I like this. Jaron and I had a long talk last night, while walking Badger, about how unfortunate it is that women feel the need to justify whatever course they take. If we choose career, we are left excusing ourselves even if we have a family too. If we choose to stay home with children, we must excuse ourselves for not being more ambitious or goal oriented.

And no one really considers that each of us should have an individual, unique path to walk, and that excuses should not be necessary since the right thing for one of us is not the right thing for another.

Sad, isn't it?

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