It’s been awhile hasn’t it. There’s a thick layer of dust on all the similes and the metaphors are all rusty. Well there’s nothing a little literary elbow grease can’t clean up. I’ll just check to make sure the arena is empty… uh oh, there’s already a meme in there. And it looks ORNERY! Clean up will have to wait, grab some of those used adverbs and follow me because it’s Derby time!
First Dance Kit
Your young person’s first school dance can be an important event, one fraught with a lot of sexist baggage certainly but also a place where lifelong memories can be made. And we should be grateful that the Mormon who provided us with the delightful First Dance Kit featured below at least is allowed to go to a dance without the intervention of Kevin Bacon. And the chipper, oh so white girl attitude of the prose certainly communicates that this person wants young girls to haver a Moroni Approved good time. But this meme wouldn’t have been sent to the Derby if there weren’t problems, and boy howdy are there problems.
Get ready for the dance. Paint your nails, wear a little lip gloss and don’t forget to brush your teeth!
Not a terrible start I suppose. First dances are rites of passage into probational adulthood, a chance to try on more mature modes of interaction with our peers. And dressing up, adding makeup, a pretty dress etc. is a big part of the appeal. Although considering what’s to follow, I wouldn’t spring for the fancy lip gloss.
Don’t forget what the approved dress standards are when choosing your outfit. You don’t want the embarrassment of being asked to go home and change. And you don’t want the guy dancing with you to feel uncomfortable because of the questionable outfit that you somehow justified.
That’s right young ladies. It’s important to remember that authority figures have the right to police your wardrobe choices. Avoid embarrassment by conforming to their puritanical modesty standards. And remember who is important here… the boy you’ll be dancing with. Have we established thoroughly that it will be a boy? It will be a boy, just accept that. Also accept that you, the girl, will be responsible for his comfort. Keep this in mind when his hands start drifting into the Neutral Zone, you wouldn’t want to embarrass him by making a scene?
Go with a friend but don’t be joined at the hip. No guy is going to interrupt the highly intense conversation that you seem to be having with your girlfriend every time he walks by you.
It’s okay to have friends, but remember they will be less important as you grow into an adult. Especially less important than the man you will someday marry who is hopefully in this gymnasium tonight! This will help you get used to the idea that his wants and needs supersede yours.
Never say “NO” to a guy who had the courage to walk over and ask you to dance in the first place. (a song lasts approximately 3 minutes, it’s not THAT bad)
I got no jokes for this one, that there is straight up preparing young women for sexual assault. Which is kind of a problem young Mormon women attending church run colleges like Brigham Young University have to look forward to. I recommend this article from Pacific Standard, For College Age Mormons, Sexual Violence is a Religious Problem, for an in depth and sober appraisal of how everything we’re discussing here creates an environment where women are treated as responsible for sexual violence that they suffer. (CN: Graphic Descriptions of Sexual Assault)
This fucked up instruction to give the sweaty handed little hormone factories in your high school a pop songs worth of attention by default is just the shit cherry on top of this shit sundae.
You can always say no ladies. Everybody gets to say no.
Know your standards (For the Strength of Youth)
For the Strength of Youth is essentially the owners manual for Mormon youth. Inside you will find detailed instructions from the church elders on how young Mormons are expected to comport themselves. The “Music and Dancing” has germane advice for our debutantes to be…
From Strength of Youth:
Choose carefully the music you listen to. Pay attention to how you feel when you are listening. Some music can carry evil and destructive messages. Do not listen to music that encourages immorality or glorifies violence through its lyrics, beat, or intensity. Do not listen to music that uses vulgar or offensive language or promotes evil practices. Such music can dull your spiritual sensitivity.
Dancing can be fun and can provide an opportunity to meet new people. However, it too can be misused. When dancing, avoid full body contact with your partner. Do not use positions or moves that are suggestive of sexual or violent behavior or are otherwise inappropriate.
Attend only those dances where dress, grooming, lighting, lyrics, music, and entertainment contribute to a wholesome atmosphere where the Spirit may be present.
I am now imagining the Mormon version of Footloose where the parents are apoplectic about the lighting interfering with a wholesome atmosphere.
Don’t forget your dance card! Remember who you are and have fun!
“A dance card or programme du bal is used by a woman to record the names of the gentlemen with whom she intends to dance each successive dance at a formal ball.”
I’m sure the author of these guidelines is using the more colloquial form of this expression, but after reading through the Standards for Youth I’m less certain of that assertion. Mormons are some pretty straight laced fuckers, I wouldn’t put it past them to issue a checklist of pimply faced youth for the gals to work their way through.
To sum up, Mormons have some really fucked up rules and customs about sex and gender roles and cutesy little checklists like this are part of young Mormon women internalizing the explicit contempt their church holds for their gender. Getting the victims to take the responsibility for their own victimization is Abuser 101. And lets be totally clear, plenty of regular old Americans look at this list and nod their head sagely. If ideas like this were just the doctrine of a fringe cult it would be alarming, but Evangelicals can be even scarier.
I promised some good news, and there is some. This little bit of virality originated on a young Mormon girls blog in 2011, and according to this Reddit thread the original author was found. She was quite embarrassed to have ever shared such drivel and had the post removed. So a win for the good folks. Yay!
Well it’s nice to be back in the arena. I’m gonna finish cleaning up this place. Someone left the obscene gerunds out to rust! If you have seen a meme out there in the wild that you think needs a good thrashing, drop a link in the comments or drop an email. I’m @LouDoench on Twitter. See ya around.
Featured Image Credit: Demolition Derby 2008 Fairview Utah, Eric Ward, Flickr