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Your Approval?
Who Asked You?

by rock oakeson

Well, folks, we were again graced with the installment of the semi-annual world conference of the Mormon church in October. I remember watching the opening session of the previous April’s conference, and was reminded of how manipulative those characters can be. The elderly Mr. Gordon Hinckley, who serves as President of this non-prophet organization, got up and spoke words camouflaged with obligatory gratitude to the Salt Lake Olympics Committee for a job well done. What was much more subtle, however, was how he gave his—and therefore God’s—approval of how SLOC had handled things during the world’s three-week stay here.

We’ve all had experiences with manipulative people who attempt to remain above everyone else by disapproving of what they do. But I would like to suggest that the nastier and more ruthless manipulators go about it in an opposite way. Approvers, more than disapprovers, tacitly look like they are in the supervisory position. People might easily cast off another’s disapproval by realizing that his/her input is neither informed nor sought after. But people are more willing to give their power away to somebody who condones what they do. This control technique used by manipulators is what I call “nasty approval.” It immediately puts the approver in a superior place and, at the same time, hides a multitude of sins such as avoidance, denial, or merely how s/he really feels. Most nasty approval is nothing more than a raging reaction formation—one which the manipulator uses to his/her own advantage.

After a century and a half of disapproving of black people holding their priesthood, the Mormon church felt like they were losing control. So in 1978 they began approving. Now the control is back—so much so that even black people of the caliber of Gladys Knight are joining the church as if there never had been anything questionable about doing so. As more and more people begin accepting themselves and coming out of the gay closet, it will be very interesting to observe the Mormons as they begin losing control over their anti-homosexual stance. Mark my words (and you heard it here first!): the day will come when homosexual and bisexual men and women are suddenly approved. The Mormon President will have no choice but to “receive a revelation” about homosexuals similar to the one allowing blacks full membership in their church. All of the anti-gay rhetoric, just as all of the past anti-black rhetoric, will be explained away or denied. This may seem ridiculous to those of us who are informed and have good memories, but to a bunch of sheeple who take at face value whatever their leadership decides to pick and choose for them (especially when it comes to suppressed history and revised doctrines), beggars can’t be choosers. With constant manipulation by nasty approval, all is well in Zion.

How do I know this? Well, I was given quite an education in abnormal psychology by an abnormal friend of mine named Martha Casey. MC and I grew up together before she eventually moved to Kansas City with her henpecked husband and two enabled children. The phrase “control issues” doesn’t begin to cut it in describing her personality disorder. But one thing I began to notice about her: when no other technique worked, she could always be found approving of what the unmanipulatable said or did. I saw the pattern. She would side with whomever she wanted to control—no matter their stance or behavior.

MC has never accepted me, especially since in 1987 I both came out of the closet AND left the Mormon church of our upbringing. Before 1987 she would attempt to appear superior or control me by either trying to line me up with all her female friends and relatives, or by asking me if I had done my home teaching or temple work for the month. But when I left the worlds of Mormonism and “appearing straight,” she had no weapons any more. So true to her pattern, she began approving of everything I am doing (to my face, at least).

One summer afternoon, several years ago, a married couple we know held a barbecue at their home in West Jordan. MC and I grew up with this couple and attended their wedding. They now had children the same age as MC’s, and waited until MC and her family were in town before we all got together to enjoy this summer gathering. Completely out and proud, I brought a date to the affair. Everybody in attendance was thrilled to meet Jeff, and as most of the people there shared his enthusiasm for sports, they all got along famously. But MC was just a little too excited to meet him.

“Have you met Rock’s date?” MC would ask, even after everybody had met and chatted with Jeff for several minutes. “Isn’t he wonderful! I am so glad Rocky has finally found somebody to share his life with.” Jeff was only my date; nobody had said that we were interested in a long-term relationship.

“I think Jeff will do nicely, don’t you? They certainly have my blessing.” It was as if MC had to be the first one to say such a thing—just in case my date and I were to hit it off after all. Her inappropriateness didn’t matter to her. She simply wanted to be the first. She wanted the prestige. The ascendancy. The image. The control. I think if you were to look up the word “narcissism” in the dictionary, you would see Martha Casey’s picture there.

She just couldn’t stop talking about Jeff and me. And whenever I brought up any subjects dealing with my childhood or my past successes and achievements, she just had to jump in and somehow take credit for them all.

“You betcha. When Rocky was 19 and a piano soloist with the Mormon Youth Symphony on nationwide television, I was in the audience. I was cheering him on the entire time. He needed support and I gave it to him. An artist would be nothing without his fans. And you know what they say: behind every successful man is a supportive woman. I am proud that I was that woman for him!”

What the hell!?!? Needless to say, it only got worse, until Jeff and I couldn’t take it any more. After the meal, and then saying our goodbyes, MC had to meet me on the front doorstep before we left. She motioned for Jeff to get into my car, then spoke privately with me. “I just want to say that I think Jeff is wonderful. I certainly approve” (there is that word finally) “and want you to know that no matter what other people say” (nobody else was saying anything!) “I am and always will be on your side. Don’t ever forget that you have my blessing and support. Go in peace with the assurance that I am behind everything you have done and ever will do!”

Nasty approval. Just creepy. This is how this type of personality disorder attempts to appear that they can take credit for things they have nothing to do with. Personality disorders can exist in both separate persons and in groups; in both individuals and organizations. And to both categories I have this to say: Martha Casey (and Mr. Hinckley); you who have spent your entire lifetime (or since 1830) mistaking activity for accomplishment; you mediocrities who can only look good by taking credit for other people’s successes (and by covering up your own failures and unrighteous histories of sin and bloodshed); you who have built everything you have on other people’s sweat and tears (literally, as well as their time, talents and money—lots of money); you give me and other successes like me your permission and your approval. Gosh. But I didn’t ask for either. Both are meaningless to humans of real ability and achievement.

Thanks, but no thanks.

The greatest hits of Wild Utah is available in book form. Click on the Utah or Bust image for the link.
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