Sunday, October 23, 2011

Rhetorical Analysis: The New Domestic Trend

Very often in the LDS religion, one will hear stories of how people not of that faith are truly affected by the “light” that the Mormon people seem to have.  Some would debate whether that “light” is genuine at all, seeing as they hold other beliefs and do not want to give the religion (or members) so much credit.  Despite those indifferences, however, Emily Matchar's "Why I can’t stop reading Mormon housewife blogs" effectively advocates the reading of Mormon blogs to people who may or may not have similar backgrounds or interests to those of the LDS (Mormon) religion. She integrates use of perspective, heavy use of figurative language, and the relationship between logic and emotion in order for the reader to not only feel enamored with, but also reason out the benefits of reading blogs that support a domestic lifestyle. 

Emily Matchar employs her point of view, in addition to several other’s perspectives, to get a variety of backgrounds that are unified through the “Mormon mommy blogs.”  She refers back to her own firm beliefs/non-beliefs in order to depict the grand contrast of living circumstances of her own life to the women’s blogs she reads.  “Their lives are nothing like mine,” She begins, “I’m your standard-issue late-20-something childless overeducated atheist feminist — yet I’m completely obsessed with their blogs.”  Matchar’s use of perspective helps the reader more fully understand that it is not a requirement to be of the same faith to appreciate the same standards, since Mormon women are so often seen marrying young and having large families—and, are obviously not atheist.  She does not only expound on her own perspective, though, which increases her validity.  She gives examples of other people who have also been enlightened by the messages portrayed in Mormon writing.  Matchar refers to Holbrook (the author of the popular blog Nat the Fat Rat) who says, “Most of my readers are non-LDS women in their late 20s and early 30s, college educated, many earning secondary degrees on the postgraduate level, and a comment I often get is, ‘You are making me want kids, and I’ve never wanted kids!’”  Matchar not only employs her own atheist perspective, she uses the perspective of a member of the LDS religion; and by using Holbrook’s quote, Matchar actually captures several “non-LDS women in their late 20s and early 30s” perspectives, making Matchar’s argument more credible. This second form of perspective helps the reader to feel more comfortable with what is being presented.  The reader is more able to relate and see how the effects of just a simple blog post could make someone who has never so much as glanced at a child with the desire to one day have some, to an avid and attentive person with a wish to know the bond that the blogs present of a mother-child relationship. However, Matchar does not stop there.  She goes on to give another key perspective to her theme: her husband, “a former Saint.”  With information that she receives from her husband on the LDS church, the reader is able to get all the viewpoints that are necessary to believe in what she saying.  The reader is more likely to believe Matchar with the employment of her husband’s character because he has the inside scoop; he has been to the church meetings, participated in LDS programs, and knows the teachings.  Therefore, Emily Matchar has employed the feminist atheist, the faithful Latter-day Saint, the non-LDS women, and “a former Saint” equaling out to one very persuasive literary piece. However, Emily Matchar needs a little bit more than a few different perspectives to effectively convince others of the capability of uniting polar opposite backgrounds to one firm set of simple and sweet truths. 

Of course, Emily Matchar chooses to best extenuate her points through use of figurative language to further convey and distinguish the differences between her and the blogs that she reads.  One of Matchar’s best techniques is her voice in her post.  The somewhat mocking and skeptical tone that comes out every so often such as, “I certainly have no illusions about what life as a Mormon would be like” and, “The bloggers I read may be as happy with their lot as they seem. Or not,” develops Emily Matchar’s character and makes her appear as a real person rather than some unknown entity.  In addition, the use of heavy sarcasm in her tone that comes out in reference to the picture-perfect lives of Mormon women helps the audience understand that despite the picturesque lifestyle portrayed by the Mormon mommies, it is important to know that those mothers have problems just like everyone else. Matchar states, “You’d be a fool to compare your real self to someone else’s carefully arranged surface self.”  This skilled author continues to prove her case through using very well-thought out diction.  She begins one paragraph of her post saying that she “cringes” as she uses the word “uplifting” to describe the feeling she gets from reading Mormon mommy blogs.  It is also evident that Matchar would be using very specific diction in her post since she specifically made a comment on the use of diction in the Mormon Blogger’s posts.  “But as you page through their blog archives, you notice certain ‘tells.’ They’re super-young (like, four-kids-at-29 young). They mention relatives in Utah…” shows that Matchar is very aware of the Mormon Blogger’s use of wording in their blogs, so the audience of her blog can only assume that Matchar would be very conscious of her own wording.  For example, Emily states, “…I do think women of my generation are looking to the past in an effort to create fulfilling, happy domestic lives, since the modern world doesn’t offer much of a road map.” This one sentence is filled with a great sense of word choice.  Matchar does not say “this generation of women blah blah blah,” she says, “women of my generation,” which ultimately lets the reader know that Matchar, as a feminist, is included in the group of women looking for a “fulfilling” life, and that Mormon Blogs are definitely creating a type of world for women to do that. In contrast, however, she states, “And don’t even get me started on the Mommy Blogs, which make parenthood seem like a vale of judgment and anxiety, full of words like ‘guilt’ and ‘chaos’ and ‘BPA-free’ and ‘episiotomy.’ Read enough of these, and you’ll be ready to remove your own ovaries with a butter knife.”  She makes this bold statement in order to shock the audience.  Of course she does not mean the sentence literally, but she is trying to get the point across that Mommy Blogs by other people other than Mormons tend to be depressing and stressful.  When Matchar states, "... you'll be ready to remove your own ovaries with a butter knife," she simply means that after reading those depressing blogs, the idea of having children  will seem like a nightmare.  her crude manner of putting that sentence also makes it more abrupt for the audience to read, making them ultimately reject the idea of reading the non-Mormon Mommy blogs; thus, fulfilling the goal of Emily Matchar in supporting the reading of Mormon blogs. This crude, yet humor-fulfilling example of sarcasm invokes a sense of urgency in the reader.  By reading that bit of irony, they are ultimately filled with a desire to only read Mormon mommy blogs by the harsh contrast Matchar uses to the other blogs that compare; however, Matchar must tie logic and emotion together before the knot is set for the reader.   

The most important aspect of Matchar’s article, “Why I can’t stop Reading Mormon Housewife Blogs,” is the fact that it unites the ideas of Logic with Emotion.  Several times, Matchar states how perfect the lives of the Mormon women look, when organized and planned, then placed on an online journal.  However, Matchar is wise by calling in all the details of why their lives look so great. “The bloggers I read may be as happy with their lot as they seem. Or not. While some Mormon women prosper under the cultural norms for wife- and mother-dom, others chafe. Utah is, after all, the state with the highest rate of prescription antidepressant use….” The fact that the author calls in facts that should be looked at, she still does not let those completely clash with the housewife blogs.  Matchar simply calls reality into the picture, which is a good thing.  She takes that information and adds it to the formula of why she finds the blogs she reads to be so interesting, and continues by saying, “…the basic messages expressed in these blogs — family is wonderful, life is meant to be enjoyed, celebrate the small things — are still lovely. And if they help women like me envision a life in which marriage and motherhood could potentially be something other than a miserable, soul-destroying trap, I say, ‘Right on.’” The fact of the matter is that Emily Matchar gives the reader the real picture.  Yes, LDS Women do not have perfect lives; in fact, a lot of them could be considered fakers of happiness, but it is the emotions that Emily expresses about how she feels when she reads those articles that truly persuade her readers to follow her example.  Matchar invokes several feelings within her readers.  At one point, they will be laughing because she states something a bit sketchy, at other points she may make others upset with her tendency to be so reluctant towards the actual LDS church. In the end, the audience cannot help but feel at unity with Matchar when she says, “And if [the basic messages expressed in these blogs] help women like me… I say, ‘Right on,’” because it is obvious that despite her differences, she has truly found something of worth and value to her life through the messages of simple blogs by religious women.

Emily Matchar’s argument for supporting domestic Mormon messages could be seen as subtle in "Why I can’t stop reading Mormon housewife blogs," but there is something to be noted in an article that can use persuasion without directly calling others to follow the trend.  She employs several effective examples of rhetoric through irony, perspective, and the relationship of logic and feelings in order to spark the interest of the reader.  Perhaps it is through subtle messages and accounts of personal experience that are most inviting to believe in—especially when the author asks nothing in return.

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