So, have you heard about the Mormon moms on TikTok who got caught up in a swinging scandal? I swear this is not a setup for a joke. There is no punchline coming. Unfortunately.
Let me start by saying if I had to make a list of things I am absolutely, in no way an expert on, at the top of the list you’d find:
Why am I writing about this, then, you ask? Because I love pop culture trainwrecks and this definitely is one!
Some Background on the Mormon Mom TikTok Drama (For Context)
Apparently, there are groups of content creators who get together and make TikTok videos. I’m sure there are terms for this, but, see above (I know very little about TikTok.) My familiarity with this system comes from previous internet histrionics related to a bunch of teenage influencers who were possibly involved with something called Hype House? IDK, my post-baby brain decided this brief teenage turmoil was no longer allowed to take up space clearly needed for other things. Anyway, back to the point.
There is a group of young, Utah-based, hot moms who are Mormons and who create content together using #MomTok.
They’re all extremely pretty, in shape, decent dancers, and have cute husbands. They look like they all belong to THAT sorority (you know the one, I’m sure.) If they have 2 or 7 kids, they still look flawless. They’ve caused some controversy based on some Mormon jokes they made (about the priesthood?) I have absolutely no idea what the jokes mean but some people were offended.
So, what’s the big deal?
Last week, the leader of the crew of #MomTok crew, a mom named Taylor Frankie Paul, announced that she and her husband, Tate Paul, are getting a divorce. Seems like not that big of a deal, right? People get divorced all the time, right? Wrong. All hell broke loose.
Reddit went wild with cheating speculations (initially accusing the husband, Tate, of cheating on his wife, Taylor.) Then, members of the #MomTok crew all started unfollowing each other and liking shady comments about each other all over social media.
Finally, Taylor went LIVE on TikTok and dropped the bomb. She and all of her friends were involved in “soft swinging.” Soft swinging, as I understand it, is everything but going all the way. All soft swinging was consensual, but then, as rumor has it, Taylor and one of the husbands broke the rules and took things too far in private. They confessed their transgression to the whole group, blew up their marriages, and caused the complete combustion of the entire friend/influencer group.
After Taylor’s TikTok live video, other members of the group made public posts and live videos of their own trying to distance themselves from the scandal and the couple at the center of this trainwreck. Here are my top 3 takeaways from this Mormon mom TikTok drama:
1. If you post about your life publicly, it’s hard to keep anything private.
Listen, I share a lot of personal information on social media and in podcasts. However, I’m not doing anything in my private life that could blow up my family or any of my friends’ families. If I were, I’d probably opt to keep my life as private as possible.
Sure, lots of us want our fifteen minutes of fame. These Mormon #MomTok ladies seem to have found fame on TikTok simply by being hot Mormon moms. The thing is, once you open the door, even just a crack, and begin to let strangers into your life, it’s hard to get the door to close again, even when you want it to.
2. I really should learn more about other faiths.
I’m going to be completely honest, until about a year ago, I thought Mormons were just really strict Christians with an extremist sect that was into polygamy. I thought The Book of Mormon was just a Broadway Musical, something with a Monty Python-esque vibe. I had no idea that the actual Book of Mormon is a religious document dictated to Joseph Smith (born in Vermont) by the Angel Moroni using a stone to translate while his face was in a hat. (I’m not sure which actually sounds more ridiculous, come to think of it.)
Since then, I’ve watched Real Housewive of Salt Lake City (which, honestly, did little to straighten out my confusion.) I’ve read Educated by Tara Westover and her mother’s follow-up book, Educating. And I’ve read Under the Banner of Heaven. I’m currently waiting for the final episode of that series to drop, though I’m not sure it will clear up much either.
Because of my research, I know that Mormons…
- Don’t drink caffeine
- Don’t drink alcohol (still really confused about this one based on Real Housewives of Salt Lake City and this current Mormon #MomTok drama)
- Only have sex with the intention to procreate (sex while pregnant is a no-no)
- Have a really dicey past as far as treatment of Black people goes (and that’s putting it super generously)
- The LDS (The more mainstream branch of Mormonism, called The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints) do not support polygamy but some FLDS (The Fundamentalist Church of Latter-Day Saints) do
I feel like I should know more. I’m kind of embarrassed by my lack of knowledge. Feel free to fill me in. I’m always up for learning new things.
3. Soft Swinging is a thing, who knew?
Honestly, the description of soft swinging sounds like every drunk high school party I ever attended.
Here’s how the Mormon #MomTok crew soft swings. They all get drunk together in a room and make out with each other’s spouses. I guess, maybe they do more than make out, but they are always in the same room together and never go “all the way.” It is acceptable for the ladies to make out with each other but the guys never do this.
Honestly, the idea that they never foresaw that soft swinging could cause an issue in any of their marriages or in their friendships seems like the most naive part of all.
I love internet drama as much as (if not more) than the next bored housewife. This one, though, almost makes me feel sad. Many of these families falling apart over this mess have young children, ya know?
I wonder what these Mormon adults experienced during their teen years? If they’d had the opportunity to let loose a bit before marriage, could this have been avoided? I feel like this behavior isn’t too odd for single people in their early twenties, but in my experience, they’re in college, not married with multiple children.
The Mormon mom TikTok drama will probably blow over before you know it. In the meantime, I’ll be on Reddit reading all about it so you don’t have to. I’m also going to be covering this on my podcast, Tell Me More: A Deep Dive on… The episode will come out on Tuesday, June 7, and you can subscribe here.
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Thanks for the overview of this situation. I was raised Mormon (although I’m not actively practicing now). I apologize for the antagonistic comment left above by a condescending TBM (“True Believing Mormon”).
I didn’t interpret your attempt to understand the ridiculous nature of this situation as “making fun of Mormons.” But, one thing to be aware of… TBM’s tend to have a rather severe victim complex… so anything you say can and will be held against you (because Mormons are the only real victims). For example, this means that rather than admit that the church has badly treated people of color – TBM’s will twist any comment about the Priesthood ban on black members as being defamatory against white church leaders. (It’s a crazy game of mental gymnastics, I know – but TBM’s are expert at it).
Anywayyyy… I had never heard of this ridiculous soft swinging issue until this morning – at which point I did a deep dive into who and what this involved (just like you apparently.) Your assumption that a bunch of attractive mid-20’s socialites are actually just living fantasies they never indulged in as college students is right on. The Mormon church is so prescriptive about sexual practice and behavior that if they’ve lived the religion “correctly,” Mormon couples never have any sexual relationship prior to marriage. Also, Mormons tend to get married quite young. (You’ll notice Taylor Paul is 28 and has 2 kids. She’s probably been married for 5-6 years.) In many ways, this is good. Mormon couples don’t have to worry about prior sexual abuse or sexual trauma with former partners and STDs are minimal in Mormon marriages. However, the flip side is, when boredom sets in (as it inevitably does), some people may look back with some regret on the experiences they didn’t have when they were single. If you are young and attractive (like these people), there may be those who attempt to act out some of those fantasies in a controlled situation. I believe that is the case here.
However, a few things to clarify:
1. Most Mormons aren’t involved in stuff like this and find it ridiculous
2. Most Mormons are actually really normal (boring). We don’t wear weird clothes or have multiple spouses. You probably know a few and don’t realize it bc we integrate into society pretty normally. We go to college, have normal jobs, and attend our kids’ sports on the weekend.
3. Mormons are only allowed to be married to one person and total fidelity is expected.
4. Mormons enjoy sex and do not believe it is for procreation only. We use birth control and plan our families like anyone else. There is no prohibition on sex during pregnancy (there may have been in the past – but it isn’t a thing now.)
5. Mormons can drink caffeine (soda shops are proliferous in Utah)
6. Mormons are not supposed to drink coffee (but many do).
7. Mormons are not supposed to drink alcohol.
8. The Real Housewives of SLC are not Mormon. Many used to be, but none of them are active members now and they do not follow Mormon rules. This is why they drink, etc.
9. Under the Banner of Heaven is painfully erroneous. I actually looked forward to that series hoping it would shed some light on the underbelly of Mormon history. But it’s pretty far off what actual Mormons think and live like. (We don’t say, “Heavenly Father” every fifth word. But we do say “gosh” a lot.) Some aspects are pretty close, but a lot of it is very dated and/or represents an extremely dogmatic Mormon lifestyle.
10. Joseph Smith claimed to have received the gold plates from an Angel named Moroni. He claimed that he translated those plates into what is known as the Book of Mormon. The BoM is a history of indigenous people in the Americas who Christ appeared to after He was crucified.
11. However, JS did not actually read the plates, he placed a “seer stone” he had found at the bottom of a well into a black hat, placed his face on the hat to block out light, and then recited out loud what he saw on the rock. The plates, meanwhile, sat on a desk or table next to where JS was translating. Another person (Oliver Cowdery/Sidney Rigdon) wrote down what JS said. (Yes, this is the actual church history account. It’s actually that crazy). Just FYI, the Angel Moroni wasn’t involved in the translation process.
So, that’s an overview of Mormon history and current culture. This soft swinging thing blows my mind though… who is that stupid?! I’m sure this stuff is happening in many communities – both Mormon and not — but I don’t think it represents the “norm” in any stretch of the imagination.
Thanks for your analysis!
🙂 Kacey in Utah
Beautifully written! Thank you!
Wow. As a member of this church, I am sad that these are your only examples to learn about our religion. None of these people/shows/books are following the gospel as it is meant to be. I guarantee you know actual faithful “Mormons” without realizing it and they are just normal people in your community. Visit comeuntochrist.org if you want to learn what we are actually all about. You wouldn’t write an article painting Catholics or Jews with a broad brush based on “celebrities” acting badly. But somehow it’s ok to make fun of Mormons…