Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Among The Self-Righteous

Living in Utah means that one often has to deal with self-righteous people.  It also means dealing with lots and lots of subtle (and sometimes not-so-subtle) sexism.  I was stunned when I moved to Scotland and found how differently I was treated as a woman there as opposed to here.  When I returned home, I promised myself to stand up to and point out those who perpetuate both these evils -- and this has occasionally made people angry over the past few years.
One of the things that has touched off some folks was the creation of the character of Zane in Becoming Brigid.  Zane is a self-righteous, sexist control freak who functions as one of the main antagonists in the novel.  I have worked and worked and worked to get his character "just right."  And this has caused problems with a few beta readers and others who heard about the character.  I've been told by various women that "no one is really like that" and that "men in Utah don't act that way."  Well, obviously there are plenty of men in Utah who don't act like self-righteous, sexist jerks (and there are plenty of women who do and don't; it's not just a guy thing), but it is not at all rare for a guy to act like my fictional Zane, and last Valentine's Day gave us a mini-news event that surprised a lot of people in the US -- but probably not too many people from Utah.  The fact is that everyone in Utah really knows someone like Zane.  In fact, I'd like to think that the anonymous jerk in this news article was actually Zane.  :)  It's exactly something he would do.  (And to all those who tell me that Zane is "unbelievable" in the future, I will reference them to this little event.)

Anonymous note criticizing woman’s attire goes viral

A note given to a female student at BYU on Valentine’s Day has received a massive amount of attention throughout the United States and beyond.
Brittany Molina, a BYU junior majoring in accounting, received a note from a male student in the Tanner Building while waiting to attend a meeting. Contrary to her first guess, it was not a love letter. The note said her outfit had a negative effect on other people and she needed to consider the Honor Code each day while dressing.
Molina said although she did not want the story to get out nationally, she still thinks it is good for people to know this kind of thing does happen at BYU.  She said she has received many online messages from other female students at BYU who had similar experiences.
"I don't think it's right for boys to call out girls in front of people or in a rude manner, because it isn't going to do much," Molina said.

My sUpER sKetCh outfit. He's going to bear his testimony next week about how he stood up for truth and justice.
A university spokesperson said over the phone the university has chosen not to comment on this matter.
Here's another post about  the "virtuous Valentine enforcer."

Compare the preceding "real life" event with a scene with Zane's confronting Pepper in Becoming Brigid:

“I don’t like clothes with bare shoulders,” he told me, not budging from the doorway.  It was like he was trying to force me to stay inside.

He was acting even worse now than he had when he was hanging up the flyers.  
The hairs on the back of my neck rose up, and I could feel blood flowing to my face.  Over my dead body was Zane going to force me to change clothes.
I put my hands on my hips and narrowed my eyes at him.  “Well, good, because this’d look terrible on you,” I told him.  “But since I’m the one wearing it, it’s nothing you have to worry about.”
Geez, what was his problem?  Did he actually think he couldn’t control his lust-hormones when he saw naked shoulders?  He certainly hadn’t given me the impression he was drooling over me.  

Unrealistic? I never thought so, and I REALLY don't think so now.  My icky, controlling character Zane could just be a guy from BYU and fit right in.  :)


  1. How horrible! My neighbor's daughter is headed off to BYU next year....I hope she doesn't encounter guys like that, not sure her self esteem could take it. Good for this young lady to point out the sexism and the self-righteousness of this male student.

  2. I can't believe that some people honestly think Zane's character is not believable. I know TOO many guys like that. Good for you for standing up for yourself (and other women.) I feel like a hermit with my current life so thankfully I don't experience much of this bigotry.

  3. Thank goodness guys aren't like that here. At least I don't think they are.

    I remember overhearing a teen rant about some woman breastfeeding the mall. The ironic thing was the teen was showing way more nipple than the mother (who was showing nothing).

  4. There are so many Zane's out there and the way you've written him is spot on.

    Keep on standing firm.