Monday, February 17, 2014

(Author's note: This is not the usual post you might see here on The Mother Load, but it's important enough to me that I wanted to share. This post is a response to a blog post I read today, warning parents away from the movie "Frozen". The post is linked below. Feel free to read and come to your own conclusions.)

I don't know Kathryn Skaggs personally. Perhaps she is as even keeled and kind and normal as the next gal. Unfortunately, I would never know it from her blog, A Well-Behaved Mormon Woman, which is often an exercise in self-righteous, hyper-Conservative, black and white scrupulosity.

Kathryn Skaggs has a large Mormon following and holds court on the internet as a leader for many looking for like-minded responses to the movements in society which may frighten them. She has been interviewed by the press as the voice of more Conservative Mormon women, providing quotes in opposition to Mormon progressives and feminists. She uses the word "we" far too often in discussing how Mormon women think and feel about issues, to the point that people outside the Mormon faith might mistakenly identify her as an official spokesperson on Mormon matters.

Kathryn Skaggs does not speak for me.

Kathryn Skaggs does not speak for Mormon women as a group.

With Skaggs's recent blog post decrying the Disney film "Frozen" as a cleverly constructed liberal indoctrination piece created to advance the gay agenda in the United States, I'm hard pressed to figure out who she could ever be speaking for at all. Certainly not thoughtful, level-headed people who believe teaching kindness and self-actualization to children is a net positive.

In her blog post on "Frozen", Skaggs spends a lot of time talking about the dangers of the media and the movie itself, using fear, shame, and othering as rhetorical methods to "challenge" readers who might have missed the evil gay undertones because they thought they were just enjoying an animated musical with their kids.

While admitting that her conclusions will seem like a pretty far reach to most people (including the vast majority of friends and family members who disagreed with her), she plows forward with her argument, dropping bits of panic and terror in nearly every paragraph. You guys! The gays! They're in your HOUSE! They're COMING FOR YOUR CHILDREN!

Of course, her post includes the requisite disclaimer that she harbors no ill will toward gay people and has no wish to force her personal religious beliefs onto them (while invoking at the same time the force of law to do just that). Surrounded by the vitriol of the rest of her post, these words represent nothing more than the usual paving stones of good intentions followed by harmful action.

Ms. Skaggs waits until she's three quarters of the way through her blog post to actually support the previous fear-mongering and explain why she thinks "Frozen" is "so gay." It's clear only that she thinks the entire story symbolizes a gay person's journey out of the closet and into freedom and that she believes "Let it Go" is an anthem written to underscore that symbolism, and she makes it clear why she thinks those things.

What she fails to clarify is why I should think those things.

Art, done well, is evocative and interactive. No two people staring into the face of the Mona Lisa will walk away having had the same impressions or experiences. True art makes us think, feel, and grow, and true art reveals much more about the participant viewing it than it does about its creator.

I watched "Frozen" and saw myself in Elsa. I saw a very real and current journey played out in her feelings of captivity and repression and subsequent freedom and empowerment. "Let it Go" has become my anthem for the year. Funnily enough, contrary to what Ms. Skaggs might think, I am not a closeted lesbian who has finally decided to come out.

How can that be, when (despite any evidence to back her up) Kathryn Skaggs KNOWS that the people who wrote the story and songs did so with the homosexual agenda and gay marriage in mind? I think the answer to that says much more about Kathryn Skaggs than anyone else. She is afraid of the progress being made in society and that fear has caused her to see in "Frozen" what she fears.

As a lover of art, I have no wish to diminish Skaggs's experience of "Frozen". That is hers. However, she crosses a line when she presumes to tell Christian families why they are raising their kids wrong, why they have erred in allowing their children to watch "Frozen" without also pointing out and refuting the gay themes she sees there.

Her shame and fear-based tactics to convince parents that a great evil has been allowed into their homes, based only on her own, admittedly non-mainstream interpretation of this film represent a new low for her blog. She is scaring good parents into feeling they've done something sinful and that their children's very salvation will be at stake if they don't right their unintended wrong.

A final word about "Let it Go": Skaggs makes a point about the lyrics of the song promoting rebellion and disobedience among children, and many will likely agree with that interpretation, especially considering the words, "No right, no wrong, no rules for me," are included. However, the song itself cannot be judged within a vacuum. Set within the story of "Frozen" in which Elsa has lived under harmful, damaging, soul-killing rules set by her parents (and in opposition to the recommendations that were given them), breaking free of those negative rules does not constitute the type of rebellion Skaggs speaks of.

It's also important to note that this song is sung at the very beginning of Elsa's transformation, not at the conclusion of it. Elsa is only half free in her isolation and must learn hard lessons before becoming truly free of her past. In learning to accept herself AND live in society as the queen (a title that likely comes with many rules she will now willingly embrace), she finds the happiness she has always wanted because she gets to live authentically and have a relationship with her sister again.

Rules are not righteous simply because they are rules, and shrugging off societal restrictions that hinder our progress or the happiness of all is not automatically sinful. Our country has a long tradition of imposing harmful rules on others and then moving past those because courageous people chose to speak up and fight the system. Being well-behaved within an oppressive culture often simply perpetuates further harm on others.

There may come a day when the makers of "Frozen" reveal they wrote the movie and music just as you say they did, in an attempt to foster understanding and kindness toward the gay community and to send a message to gay people that it's okay to be who they are.  The difference between you and I is that I see that as a good thing.  In case you didn't realize it, Kathryn Skaggs, gay teens are attempting and succeeding at suicide at alarming rates...because they don't know how to make sense of who they are within a culture that demonizes them. If gay teens and adults watch "Frozen" and find a message of hope and love, good on the makers of "Frozen." If the family members of those people watch "Frozen" and learn to relate to their gay relatives and begin to treat them more inclusively, good on the makers of "Frozen."

Because if those people read your blog, they're going to need inoculation from your divisive, shame-based views.

(Check out these other thoughtful and well written responses below.)
http://www.jeffjsnider.com/archives/the-many-interpretations-of-frozen/
http://sethadamsmith.com/2014/02/18/hidden-messages-in-frozen/
http://www.feministmormonhousewives.org/2014/02/other-agendas-frozen-is-subtly-forcing-into-your-childs-brain/ 
http://doubledoubleedge.blogspot.com/2014/02/the-wrong-lens.html?m=1

40 comments:

jennie ostermiller said...

Beautifully said! Thank you.

Teresa Peschke said...

Love this so so much!! Thank you!!

MommaH said...

Agree!! I read Skaggs blog and commented. I don't think she will let my comment be posted, though. It was not mean, but I certainly didn't agree with her.

Anonymous said...

Exactly! Well said. Why can't people hear themselves and their absence of sense? I do imagine that the original blogger does in fact believe that she doesn't hate gays. ugh.

Mindy said...

If "Let it Go" was so bad than why is everyone posting the youtube link to Alex Boye singing his rendition with an African interpretation??

Anonymous said...

Very well written response from an educated, level-headed, and open minded individual. I'm happy to read this!

Dafni said...

So perfect and lovely. I was dumb-struck after reading her post.... I've never visited her before because even the name is revolting to me, but that post cemented me never returning. Thank you so much for this.

Anonymous said...

Perfect! Best response I have seen! Thank you!

Neal

Liza said...

I can't remember who said it, I think it may have been Mae West, but "Well behaved women rarely make history". Thank you for standing up and saying what I couldn't quite put into words.

Jenn Peterson said...

Is that what Disney was aiming for? My answer is: Who the hell cares? Frozen advocates gay marriage just as much as Lion King teaches children to lie to their parents, or that Snow White teaches me it's ok to live alone with a seven men. I take Disney movies at face value, and I plan to keep it that way.

Kelly Gibson said...

BRAVO!!!

Anonymous said...

I'm sure my comment will not influence you to change your views, but for what it's worth I am LDS and I do just want to tell you that there is absolutely no evidence that children with two gay parents turn out any "worse" than children with two straight ones. In fact, research has shown that children with gay parents actually may be better-adjusted overall. In addition to this of course it seems obvious that two loving parents in a stable relationship is going to be better for the child than single parents, or, heaven forbid, abusive ones. If a happy, well-adjusted set of parents want to adopt a child in need of a home, it is the opposite of Christlike love to try to prevent it.

The true face of evil is hatred, zealotry and prejudice masquerading as righteousness. Haven't you heard of the Pharisees?

Here's some links to studies. If you do some research you would find that any study that finds negative outcomes for children with same-sex parents as opposed to straight ones was conducted with poor methodology and an agenda contrary to reality.
http://williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu/research/parenting/goldberg-smith-jpf-jul-2013/
http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2013/03/18/peds.2013-0377
http://www.achess.org.au/
http://www.nydailynews.com/life-style/health/children-same-sex-parents-healthier-study-article-1.1365963

Sarah Clark said...

To the above, I appreciate your links. I already agree with you about same sex parenting. As a student of psychology/counseling and a future therapist, I've read many studies about this, so you'll find no argument here.

Was your comment possibly meant for the "Well-behaved Mormon Woman" post that my post is responding to rather than my blog post here?

Terri Reid said...

Excellent blog - thank you!

robcanman said...

Thanks for being a voice of sanity and compassion. I read Kathryn Skaggs' post and left a comment which I'm sure she will not approve for publication. It's comforting to know there are kind, loving, level-headed people out here. Thank you.

Busy Mom said...

Your post was very refreshing to read after I read what the "Well-Behaved" Mormon Woman wrote. I was appalled and saddened to read her words and I am ashamed of her self-righteous attitude. I hope to never meet the woman, people like her are one of the reasons that I find myself further and further away from the Mormon religion I was raised in.

Erin Page said...

Thank you so much for this! As a Utah Mormon woman, I do not appreciate the light Ms. Skaggs shines on us. She DOES NOT speak for us, yes acts like she does. And it's frustrating to see that there are people out there that think the world is out to stomp on our beliefs. And I appreciate that you mentioned teen suicide rates. I work in the medical field and it is so disheartening to see how many teens we get a week in the ER for attempted suicide, all suffering from some sort of struggle ie. anxiety, depression, fear of what parent will think of them, whatever it may be. Where is the Christlike love?! Christ would not ostracize anyone...so why are we?! I'm so glad there are more people out there willing to say "not all Mormons are haters!"

Greg Hamblin said...

I'd say it's pretty obvious that her views are extreme. That's how you get traction nowadays, anyway. Be extreme so that others can look at you and feel enlightened by comparison.

Unknown said...

Thanks for a great response to Well-Behaved Mormon Woman. I think she writes her column to vent publicly against her daughter . . . who is lesbian (and mormon and married to a man). The daughter has an interesting site, you in the "about" section talks about coming out publicly in the ward she grew up in, so I'm guessing that's WBMW's ward. Apparently Kathleen let her daughter watch too much Disney growing up!

http://mormonsandgaysforefront.com/

Unknown said...

Thanks for a great response to Well-Behaved Mormon Woman. I think much of her angst comes her own lesbian daughter (I'm not outing anyone, the daughter has a website where she explains herself). The daughter is mormon, married (to a man), and gay. You can read her story in the "about" section of her site. I'm guessing her mom writes WBMW in order to publicly push her position.

http://mormonsandgaysforefront.com/

Anonymous said...

This article was great! I know everybody has their own interpretations of movies, but it bothers me that somebody sees this very well created, kid-loveable movie as a work of "poisoning" innocent children's mind's. Thank you for writing a great defense for "Frozen"

Heidi Trimble said...

Beautiful. There Is Common Sense Out There!

abbey said...

Thank you. I read the post by Skaggs and it upset me in so many ways, the first being that as a person who was raised Mormon (don't currently practice for various reasons, but hold similar values). I was offended by her audacity at assuming that she can speak for all mormon women/parents. second, it was just a plain ignorant post. I appreciate your reaction because it was not accusatory. thank you for putting this side out there.

Catherine said...

Thank you so much for this post. I read Skaggs post and was so embarrassed and ashamed that there are people out there that are going to read that and believe that that is what "we" as Mormon women believe. She is not my voice and she does not speak for me either. I've been formulating a response to her all day (not that she is allowing anyone to comment unless they agree with her), and I really appreciate what you said and how you said it. Beautiful! Thank you!!!

Anonymous said...

Thank you. Just thank you.

Amanda said...

I have stewed over Kathyrn Skaggs' post all day, trying to find the right words to express my utter disbelief over her candy coated bigotry. You nailed it. Thank you.

sallgood said...

Thank you! I'm sad to think Skaggs thinks she represents me in any way. I'm for marriage equality, and my hope is that our church will catch up. Christ like love is for everyone, not just a private club of self-righteous people. We can do better.

Memory Keeper said...

I had never heard of Ms. Skaggs... she certainly does not talk for me,I'm perfectly capable of doing that myself. My thoughts about gays &/or straights 'sleeping together' outside of church-sanctioned marriage is clear to me. That does not mean I "judge" anyone's choices. I go to movies to be entertained; I don't care about alleged hidden messages.

Marybeth said...

This woman gives the LDS church a bad name. I'm a teenager in the LDS church. I express my faith on my blog as well, but this is taking it too far. This is so wrong that she would try to corrupt the minds of people into turning Disney into the bad guy. Just because Disney supports gays doesn't mean you have to bash them for it. And that's not even what frozens about! Everyone in frozen is straight. STRAIGHT. People like you are the reason members of the gay community don't accept our church. You should be ashamed.

Anonymous said...

http://www.livinginlilliput.com/2014/02/chill-out-about-frozen-my-humble.html?m=1
Another awesome response to the woman that calls herself a Mormon. People are stupid. The real issue is we are giving this Kathryn woman the attention and page views that you know she wanted! Good post.

Anonymous said...

I found this post from another website. So very well-written. I did read the blog post you refer to here and I was appalled at somebody being so close minded. Holy cow! She must be miserable.

CarryOnSUD said...

thank you

Anonymous said...

Thank you for taking a stand against the fake-nice attitude toward gay people. The whole "I'm not against gays, I just think they are sinful and shouldn't have rights" thing drives me crazy. I live in Utah, and I hear this all the time as the Mormons around me attempt to legislate their anti-gay attitudes. I wish more Mormons would call out this dishonesty. There is no "love the sinner" in taking away people's rights.

catani said...

I haven't yet read Skaggs' blog post, but I did read this post a while ago on another website: Frozen and Queer Storytelling.

Interestingly enough, this is written from a gay person's perspective.

I really have no opinion on the matter because I haven't seen Frozen yet, but people certainly are talking about it!

Asmith said...

Anonymous, you just did what Skaggs did. You grouped Mormons into one lump sum, and in a negative manner. Though I agree that she doesn't speak for all Mormons and that every person should have their own take on the movie, "we" as members of the LDS religion are not anti-gay....As you say. Do we believe that lifestyle is contrary to the Lord's teachings, yes. But we have always been counseled to live everyone. You can love a person and not agree with their lifestyle. It's that way no matter what lifestyle a person chooses. We have always been told to have outstretched arms to everyone. I have family members that are gay, and I love them the same as others even though I disagree with that aspect of their lives. But that is their choice and it is not my place to judge, just ton love. Just like every human on this earth....no one is perfect, neither are those of the LDS faith. Everyone errors and some judge or even try to speak for everyone else. This does not mean that they are the majority or even that it is what the LDS religion is about.

Anna K. said...

THANK YOU for this explanation. I completely disagreed with the "Well Behaved Mormon Woman" and I had a pit in my stomach after reading her article. I can't stand being religiously associated with people like that! I agree with you. Even if the song was promoting a gay agenda, it would be a good thing. I never want my children to feel the need to hide who they are! LOVING other is one of the greatest commandments! To me that was the main point of this movie.

Anonymous said...

Asmith, thank you for providing such a great example of "nice" being prized over "kind." You are unhappy me for telling the truth, just because the truth happens to be "negative?" It's not my job to be positive about a church that has *officially* worked against the rights of gay people, whether soliciting donations for the Prop 8 campaign in California or attaching its names to amicus briefs against gay marriage in court cases. That is anti-gay. You can also call it "defense of traditional marriage," and try to sugar coat it by claiming to love gay people, but they still are anti-gay actions that attempt to deny rights and acknowledgement of gay families. There is no way around that.

I don't believe *all* Mormons pile on to these injuries individually. Many of my LDS friends disagree with the church's actions against same-sex marriage. But the Mormons around me who DO advocate injury to gay people (in the form of rights deprivation) invariably try to soften the hostility of their position with a disclaimer about how much they love gay people, as if that somehow makes the actions less injurious. It's total doublespeak.

Anonymous said...

I am neither gay nor LDS and certainly not a woman but I admire your ability to rise above the convention of ignorance about gender issues and particularly to understand homophobia when you see it--and it was certainly present in abundance in the article you reviewed--Stay true to your compass--Gary

JRH said...

Fantastic article! As an English Mormon i find articles like the one you have written about utterly disturbing to the point of being hillarious. More people like you are needed in America to counter the weird scaremongering bigotry (we have it in England too of course but it usually tends to the less extream)
I do hate sentences that begin 'i have nothing againsed gay people but...' followed by very homophobic comments. Well behave mormon women certainly does no speak for me either.
xx

Ann Mullen said...

Sarah, I read what that crazy lady wrote and I wanted to comment and say, "What?????" There is something really wrong with her. I wonder what she makes of C.S.Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia where there really are Christian messages in subtexts.

I have been LDS since 1981 and I guess I have been sheltered from that kind of crazy. She so is not speaking for me. How dare she say she is?

I wouldn't even presume to speak for all LDS members or that I know LDS doctrine well enough to speak for everyone.

Actually, as you know I am somewhat of a rebel. At my ward here, I have not been given a teaching calling in the 8 years I've been here. But I still get to talk in classes and speak up for people who are too afraid to share (probably because they have met with people like the non-anti-anti gay lady).

Thanks for opening my eyes. Next time just send me an apple. :)