Perfection Press Sanitizing

One of the aspects of the religio-social culture of the prevailing faith where I live is an emphasis on perfection, particularly as it applies to women and their appearance and to their families. There’s a definite pressure on women to be the perfect wife and have the perfect family with the perfect number of children (5).

This obviously takes a toll on women, seeing as women, especially married women, in Utah have a higher percentage of use of anti-depressants than in any other state, and a third of all women in Utah suffer depression, more than twice the rate for men.

I’ve been walking for my exercise for the nearly thirty years I’ve lived in Cedar City, and I always see women, particularly younger women, usually jogging, often pushing strollers, at all hours. I see a few men, but I’d estimate that there are ten women for every man I see, and almost all the men I see appear to be around my age. The women also appear to have more gym memberships.

This need to present a façade of perfection permeates everything. Even death. Utah also has one of the highest rates of teen suicide, but that never gets much press. When a teenager dies in Utah, and no cause of death is listed, there’s a high probability that it was suicide.

Last week, in the neighboring community of Enoch, the owner of a local insurance agency killed his wife, his mother-in-law, his five children, and then committed suicide, and all the news stories mentioned how wonderful a family they had been, and what a tragedy it was. Except, everything clearly wasn’t that wonderful. Under questioning, the Enoch police chief mentioned that there had been three calls over the past several years about “domestic disturbances,” but that there had been no charges. It also turned out that the wife had filed for divorce and that her husband had been served divorce papers just a few days before the shooting. Most of these details either didn’t appear in the local press or were buried.

This is scarcely new. Several years ago, two teenage males were killed in a stabbing incident here in Cedar City. The only news released was that the deaths occurred, and that the matter was “resolved.” More than a few cases of embezzlement have been hushed up as well as other incidents, and those are only the ones I know about.

But everything is perfect here in Deseret.

11 thoughts on “Perfection Press Sanitizing”

  1. KevinJ says:

    Great setting for a dystopian novel. (Or has that been done…?)

    1. David says:

      Stepford Wives comes to mind.

  2. Tim says:

    I was taught at school that the perfect number in the Bible was 7. I wonder when that changed in Utah.

    1. A generation or so ago, it was seven. When exactly it changed I have no idea, but those of the prevailing faith deny there is such a number — except the number of families with five children seems too regular and prevalent for mere coincidence or chance.

  3. Grey says:

    It’s nearly always the man. Killing their children as an extension of their wife (rage), or as an extension of themselves and thus part of their failure (depression).

  4. R. Hamilton says:

    Compliance to the point of illusion as a last resort has a cost.

    Noncompliance to the point of chaos has a cost.

    And yes, men are usually more violent (blame evolution, the child raisers and cave maintainers weren’t usually the hunters).

    Still, I think I’d choose some number of people snapping under the pressure to be perfect over some number of people just running wild because that’s all they know or care. People are subject to behavioral entropy unless they constantly strive to be better, and if they can’t take the pressure, that’s just another Darwin Award.

    Presumably IF the guys aren’t just emotionally freeloading, there are also comforts in the socially authoritarian realm.

    1. RRCRea says:

      Except “Man the Hunter/Woman the Gatherer” is pretty much been debunked by people who actually study remnant Foraging populations and by archaeologists from multiple continents. Woman hunted, made art, etc. So… stop looking for a reason in biology that just isn’t there. Cultural norms allow males to be more violent.

      1. Derek says:

        While I don’t buy into Hamilton’s evolutionary psychology bit there, most studies tend to show that testosterone does seem to play a role in aggressive behavior.

        1. R. Hamilton says:

          Whether it’s hunting or tribal warfare, more often than not, the men had more survival related reasons to engage in violence than the women did. Ultimately men are more expendable; give or take genetic diversity (and economics/support, given that with limited means, providing for a child is difficult enough for two parents, let alone one) one man and a few hundred women could provide an entire next generation for a community, while the reverse is clearly not possible.

          Granted that there are all manner of excuses made for men’s violent or misogynistic or other objectionable behavior; and I have no problem with a nice violent death sentence for any violent crime anyone is properly convicted of, with no exceptions for excuses. No matter WHAT someone’s tendencies may be, they and they alone are responsible for controlling their conduct; and IMO if they chose to impair their control or judgement, that’s not an excuse either – execute drunk drivers that kill too, please.

          Nevertheless, it’s unreasonable to suppose that all differences can be blamed on culture. There are doubtless reasons far older than ANY existing culture for most differences, although cultures may tend to exacerbate (or rarely, mitigate) differences. And given that truly old reasons are deeper than any modern idea of equality, one can hardly expect that a generation or two of wishful thinking will make all the problems go away. The nature of problems with our own nature is that we AND our offspring will be fighting against our worst tendencies (or unfortunately, giving into them) for the foreseeable future; the alternative (reproduction only by license, or genetic engineering to make everyone good little equal socialists) being even more dystopian.

          1. Wren Jackson says:

            Or women had more reason to not risk.

            Look at celtic tribes, for instance. Women were considered the more capable warriors, the educators of the next generation, the teachers, the ones responsible for ensuring the men COULD fight and knew how to. As far as I can tell the only reason they never traditionally went to war was purely because it was a riskier proposition for the continuation of the bloodline (Since most celtic lines are matriarchal).

            Women have always been more capable than anyone ever gives credit for. Makes it hilarious when people push that issue for insist we have to take a certain role.

          2. Roberta Maghouin says:

            “one man and a few hundred women could provide an entire next generation for a community,”

            Which would become genetically unsustainable in very short order unless 100% of that generation left the community or brought in outside partners.

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