Laura Stone (stoney321) wrote,
Laura Stone

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"Mahana, you ugly." and other life lessons I was taught.

I watched a movie last night that reminded me of a church lesson I had beaten into my head: "I am an 8 cow wife." Anyone know what I'm talking about here? For those not familiar, it's the Legend of Johnny Lingo, a film BYU produced in 1969, based on a short story from the early 60s. Given the culture of women at the time, it's offensive but is to be expected for the times (I'll tell the story under the cut). What is really crazy is that this was re-produced in 2004, and is still the most beloved LDS movie of all time, even more than Saturday's Warrior, which is my personal favorite because it's a birth-control musical, lol. NO, REALLY.

The story is this: on a Polynesian island, women are "bought" from their families with livestock, a so-so looking wife would fetch 2 or 3 cows, an extraordinary beauty would get upwards of 5 cows. (Are you now wondering how many cows you are worth? No? You wouldn't make a good Mormon, then. Hee.) Mahana is ugly, plain, thin, and OLD. I mean, guys, she's like 19. (No, really. That's in the story.)

Mahana's dad can't stand her because she's shy and walks hunched over and it couldn't be because her dad says she's worthless and a burden, right? Oh, wait, that's not the point of this tale. So Johnny Lingo, the greatest trader of Samoa, or where ever, is passing through, ready to give up some bovine for some lady lovin'. Who will he take? How much will he offer? Mahana's dad is told to trade her off for anything, high ball Lingo with 3 cows so he'll get talked down to 1. Heaven forbid they end up trading chickens, the pennies of the Polynesian world, you know what I'm saying? How embarrassing!

Well, long story short, (and the movie is 30 minutes long) Lingo offers 8 cows! For Mahana! Everyone is scandalized. This is blowing their tiny third-world view point! Ah, but Mahana hears that she is worth 8 cows, and emerges from her hut and OH MY GOD SHE IS PRETTY. Guys? [Get a tissue.] Guys? Because she knew that someone valued her, it made her beautiful. Once she knew her worth (in the monetary form of cattle) she was able to stand up, not be such a sour puss, and magically become attractive to everyone else.

I was taught to be an 8 cow wife, to know that I WAS an 8 cow wife. Sometimes it was a lesson to teach me how to find a mate (the more important aspect of an LDS teen's life) or to teach me that I had worth, because GOD (or Heavenly Father, as Mormons call him) saw my worth. O....kay.

Now, I get the warm and fuzzy feelings that people like to glean from this story, but as far as I'm concerned, this is a HORRIBLE tale. One, her father never gets taught a lesson about treating his only child like a piece of crap. "Mahana, you ugly." Before Johnny Lingo shows up the dad threatens Mahana, "Do you want me to cover you in bruises so Johnny Lingo can see what a disobedient wife you would make?" MAYBE THIS IS WHY I AM UGLY, DAD. Maybe lay off the beating stick and mean talk, I'm just saying.

The village doesn't learn that maybe they shouldn't continue to judge women by their looks as a determining factor of their worth, they all just realize that Mahana is pretty, ergo, worthy, in the end. Yay? And let's also not gloss over that men are BUYING WOMEN. And this, again, is a beloved MODERN story in my old religion.

Also, the racist and misogynist crap that is continually perpetuated from this story is just disturbing to me. There are LDS women TODAY that are advertising themselves as an 8 Cow Wife to find the right man.

You can watch it here.

And just maybe I don't want to be worth any cows. I want to be worth Orcas! I AM A TWELVE ORCA WIFE, let it be known. Ha ha ha.

A reminder: Orcas are the bullies of the ocean. They're the Mean Girls of the Sea!

Oh, and this just reminded me of the story of the Hot Guy in Class that asked the "crippled" [the word they use] girl in a wheelchair to the Big Dance, and she can't believe it, because how could anyone in a wheelchair expect to do something normal, and it ended up being the best day of her life because someone paid attention to her. Once. WOW THIS CRAP IS SO BAD. (That story, and my commentary on it, is in my book, btw. *G*)
Tags: mormons, oh my heck!, wtf no seriously wtf?
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