Polygamy is defined as a person having multiple spouses but is most often referring to polygyny, a man with more than one wife. The even rarer polyandry is a woman with more than one husband.
Several polygamist communities have been in the news of late: El Dorado, Texas and Bountiful, BC. The Texan community fell afoul of the law and 400 children were removed but recently returned. Bountiful is under police scrutiny; the courts are debating charging them. Over and over again, the media talks about the polygamist marriages where men in their 40s seem to have many wives, some as young as 12 years of age.
It’s polygamy that gets mentioned most of all but really there are two other issues here. The first is that of child abuse and rape. The second, harder to prove if all those 14-year-old girls have hit the age of consent and marry a 45-year-old man, is that of coercion, subjugation and good ole fashioned brainwashing.
Let’s take a look at equality. If you google pictures of the El Dorado Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints sect, you’ll get many shots of women in frumpy Holly Hobby outfits all with the same peter pan collar, button-down demure front, and sleeves neatly buttoned at the wrist. Oh, and with a good ankle length cut. Although blue seems to be a favorite color, there was a woman in pink and one in purple, and even one in business brown. And the hair, ohmigod, the hair, all coiffed in the same sweep, no matter the shape of face or age. Can you say Stepford Wives, moreso than they ever were portrayed in the movie? Though I think there is something scarily in common with these fundamentalist sects and the The Stepford Wives.
But where are the men, you ask? Men? Well, yes, obviously there are fewer of them. After all, every man has several wives. You can probably blame the media for going for the more high profile pictures. After all, any pictures of the men (and there are very few) seem to have them in fairly standard jeans and shirts, even if they are buttoned at wrist and neck. But perhaps there are fewer men because, when the authorities raided the Texas compound, those ole guys went into hiding. And one has to wonder if this particular brand of polygamy is not just another word for pedophilia hiding under the guise of religion.
Bountiful’s pictures are not as…bountiful and there are the same pictures of women in outdated dresses (with running shoes, mind you) and yet some of women in modern dress. Winston Blackmore, the BC sect’s leader is shown with women in traditional dress and all those women and daughters in modern dress. Always, there are a lot of women, and girls. One has to start to wonder if the law of averages with both genders shows up in Bountiful, or if there are more girls born. After all, they’d be more of a benefit to such a man who needs at least three wives. You don’t want any mating wars with other vying males either.
So, why aren’t the women collecting several husbands? I’m sure the men could answer this. I’m sure the women could too, because they’ve probably been schooled since they were young on what they should or shouldn’t do and to “keep sweet,” as Bountiful’s motto goes.
Even though the FLDS sects are part of Mormonism, the larger body of Mormons these days do not follow polygamy, and most of the FLDS groups get around the law by actually only having one married wife and the rest as just secondary wives. And there are enough groups, religious or not that follow polygamy.
I always have a hard time with any group or faith that requires different things from men or women. Whether one gender must wear something or another gender is not allowed to do something, I get suspicious. It usually means there is some inclusion/exclusion based on gender that gets past all sorts of human rights because it is religion. And after all, whichever gender has the restrictions, they’re usually told it’s god’s will, so therefore it’s right. And the only thing that sticks in us as much as how family styles us is how we’re styled by religion.
There is another side to polygamy, and I’ll cover that tomorrow.
Many articles exist on the above. You just have to google one of the many tags to read up on it.