Wednesday, June 29, 2016

MLM, Religion, and Feminism: synergy, or triple threat?

I was reading this article on Vox about multilevel marketing by Kate Shellnutt when I had an epiphany: MLM's rise to prominence matches rise of feminism to mainstream, and it is connected to religion.

Consider this... What do Christianity and Islam say about women working? Their view is that women should stay home and mind the house.
All three texts—the Old Testament, the New Testament, and the Qur’an—invariably stipulate women’s religious duty of submission to men. In this view, women are deemed subordinate to men, with their legitimate roles invariably exhausted inside the home.  (huffingtonpost 11/07/2014)
Consider this... Did you know that Mormons are into generosity and sharing? Did you know that Utah, home of the Mormons, is home to many of the largest MLM companies in the world? NuSkin, doTerra, USANA, and dozens / hundreds of smaller companies...In fact, five of the top 50 MLMs in the world are based in Utah.

This is no accident. According to Dr. Jon M. Taylor, a Mormon, and a former MLM participant, now MLM investigator, MLM is designed to emulate / co-opt the Mormon style of sharing / proselytizing.

When you combine all these points, the conclusion is simple: MLM is designed to

1) appeal to women who wish to earn income (and thus be less subservient to men)

2) allow women to stay home and do their more traditional homemaker roles (so men can't object to it too much, as it's "only part time")

3) appeal to women who wishes to socialize and share (which is why there's gajillion "party plan" MLMs selling everything from plastic containers to sex toys)

4) appeal to Mormon's style of "sharing" their faith and co-opt it

5) appeal to people of faith, who are more inclined to believe in something before effects can be demonstrated

Indeed, MLMs nowadays seem to be specifically designed for suburban moms who want a 2nd income, and they have faith (backed by desire, and religion) to dump all their effort, despite losses, into doing something they believe they love.

And they are out proselytising the virtues of MLM... based on these exact points.

Just the other day Regan Long, writing on Huffington Post, wrote the following in an article "The Brutal Truth About Those Pyramid Schemes"
Well here’s the short and simple truth that I have found not only from research and personal experience, but simply living it: this actually works. These so called “schemes” are actually creating opportunities for millions to begin their own businesses from home.
But consider the illogic of this statement... How can she say that it works (for everybody, as it's the "brutal truth"), when at best, she can only say it works "for her"?

Yet Ms. Long seems to be the EXACT demographic MLM is appealing to: working mom who found something she enjoyed doing.

To which I say... GOOD FOR HER!

But her conclusion is just a confused mess:
So the next time you’re scrolling through and considering the legitimacy of these posts that appear too good to be true, you may want to think twice. Their is no comparison to the hustle and work ethic of a mother trying to provide for her family. If it happens to be something that peeks (sic) your interest in something you’re already paying for from a chain or retail store, you just may want to give that small business owner a chance to prove you wrong.
TL;DR -- have faith in that the next MLM ad you run into is run by moms looking for a little extra $$$ instead of a scam.

To which I say... HUH?!  I have no problem with her genuinely trying to sell whatever she was trying to sell, but the posts online generally is NOT about selling the product (i.e. "Ask me how you can get your hands on this amazing product") but instead, about making money (i.e. "Ask me how to make $1000 a week within a month")

She may be an honest MLM seller, but that doesn't mean OTHER MLM sellers are as genuine as she is... or the company itself may be as honest as she is. Remember, there are THOUSANDS of MLMs out there, IN ADDITION to pyramid schemes (and product-based pyramid schemes) calling themselves MLMs. Some of them are stopped by FTC. Others collapsed under their own weight (any one remember "Wake Up Now"? No? Well, it's dead. ) or died via state action (YTB, any one?)

AND it gets really wacky when it started pulling in some OTHER vulnerable populations...

Such as minorities  (TelexFree scam concentrated on Brazilian Americans)

Students (Vemma concentrated on college kids, and for a while, high school kids)

And this "mind-over-matter" optimism... isn't that just another name for "faith"?

But instead of proselytizing for religion... Ms. Long is now proselytizing for capitalism and MLM... not with statistics and facts, but a pure "appeal to emotion".

That is NOT a good thing.

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1 comment:

  1. Thank you so much for posting this. You blog is giving me the information I need to help one of my relatives see the harm in one of these organizations.