Monday, July 30, 2012

Pioneer Women

If you're in Utah, you celebrated Pioneer Day this past week. This holiday, celebrated both by the state and the LDS Church, marks the arrival of Brigham Young and the Mormons in the Salt Lake Valley.

And the week's festivities reminded me of something that one of our interview subjects argued...that Helen's ideas about romance and femininity represent a cultural shift away from the ideas about women just a generation before her. That, on the frontier, there was no room for dependence and childlikeness and flirtation. That pioneer women in Helen's mother's and grandmother's generation often needed to be hard-laborers in the fields and in the house, that they endured incredible privations complicated by high birth rates and isolation, that Mormon women were sometimes within polygamous relationships that demanded much and offered very little.

Helen's ideas about fascination then seem a conscious effort to escape the very demanding lives of the pioneer women who came before her. This is something we explore in the documentary.

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