Feb 27 2006

Dad’s Yer Uncle!

In a world of stiletto racing, mass rapes, abortion banning, Miss America, sex slavery, honor killings, “sexy” Olympic ice skaters, antenna strippers et al, the difficulty faced by the spinster aunt, who works without the benefit of the editorial staff she so richly deserves, is sometimes one of prioritization. For instance, where on the blame-o-meter does one put the case of the small-time Utah judge who got the boot for having three wives?

On the one hand, the spinster aunt takes a dim view of government interference in private domestic arrangements.

But on the other hand, this godbag muthafucka judge Steed is claiming, on the basis of “religious freedom,” the right to a fucking harem. Of three sisters. While serving in an official government capacity.

To which I say, big whoop. A moment’s reflection reveals that it’s actually standard procedure for government officials to be vile, law-breaking sexist pigs who should all be in prison. The only reason they took out this Steed guy is that he deviates somewhat sensationally in one or three minor details from the usual Christian-approved doctrine of piggery. The Christian-approved doctrine of piggery states that a guy can oppress all the women he wants, but can only marry them one at a time (which noble doctrine is democratically motivated; it prevents the richer, more charismatic dudes from hoarding all the pussy). So in the end, for purposes of patriarchy-blaming, Judge Steed is just another excuse to complain about plural marriage. Not that I need one.

These days it’s very trendy to use religion and/or pursuit of orgasm as a justification for whatever kind of patriarchal horror—from whipping your loving leather-clad wife to bombing Baghdad—gives you the biggest yippie. Old Steed here has apparently been using both.

The religion used by the priapic judge to justify his icky fetish for sister-booty is based on the delusions of Joseph Smith, a nutjob with 33 wives who claimed God contacted him through a talking hat.

Now, it’s no secret that God is a chatty motherfucker. He’s always yakking at pious priests and mullahs about ways in which they might more efficiently oppress the downtrodden; the pious priests and mullahs then translate the mumbojumbo into the local dialect for the unwashed masses in whatever way best preserves their own personal power. But in the Church of Latter Day Saints the Holy Dude is a veritable motormouthical windbag. He simply cannot put a sock in it. Misogynist edicts gush forth like blood from a sacrificed virgin. “Polygamy,” quoth God, “is a divine principle leading to the highest degree of glory. I command women to accept polygamy under threat of damnation and destruction!” Any old Mormon fella can hear these talking points straight from the Horse’s mouth; all he has to do is have a “vision.”

So did God tell Judge Steed to enslave three sisters and rape them until they had 36 kids? That’s one explanation.

Another is that he’s a fucking delusional asshole.

Polygamy—or, more precisely, polygyny, since it’s against even fake religious law for a lowly female to collect her own harem—is nasty. This isn’t because there’s anything inherently immoral about having more than one sex partner. It’s not even because we’ve been socialized to experience a visceral creepy-crawlie at the thought of 36 kids whose father is also their uncle. Polygamy is nasty because it is the ultimate fulfillment and natural conclusion of patriarchy’s hideous premise: that women are subhuman incubator-cunts. Steed’s three sister wives must have averaged a pussy-shredding twelve kids apiece. The plural wife is among the universe’s most degraded creatures.

Polygamy is practiced in the enlightened US of A pretty exclusively by thousands of misogynist pseudo-mormon godbag psychopath cultists who wield absolute control over their women. They acquire them at swap meets, and then isolate them in secret colonies away from the public eye, rape them, force them to bear children, marry them off as teenagers to other abusers, and, one surmises, lavish upon them all the usual humiliations one expects of men who own women: mind control, shame, dependency, lack of education. Tapestry Against Polygamy, an advocacy group made up of plural marriage escapees, publishes a list of common “danger signs” associated with the practice. Among them: sex on demand, arranged marriages, the admonishment that women accept abuse as “correction from the Lord,” and spousal speeches prefaced with “The Lord has told me.”

Here’s Tapestry’s take on the whole plural marriage deal:

Today’s polygamist subculture is rife with abuse, fueled by power, control and greed. Mental, emotional and religious abuse are prevalent within Mormon polygamy. Boys are ruthlessly cast out in order to create an artificial imbalance of women to men. Girls, deprived of education, are trapped in a web of underage marriage, statutory rape, incest, child-slave labor, trafficking of minors into different countries for sex, arranged marriages, marriages to close relatives, secrecy and isolation.

This is Ultimate Patriarchy, and it couldn’t flourish without the ostensible complicity of brainwashed women. Plural wifery is often fiercely, though poorly, defended by such deluded dingbats as Utah attorney Elizabeth Joseph, one of a harem of seven, who reveals that she hasn’t the faintest idea what “feminist” means when she describes polygamy as “the ultimate feminist lifestyle.” In her jarring and insipid essay, the sum total of polygamy’s benefits are a) since [her master] has a lot of wives, he is “a very skilled husband” who has “never [had to eat] a TV dinner,” and b) she gets to have nice friendships with the other concubines.

Neither could Ultimate Patriarchy flourish without government and church turning a blind eye to the rampant abuse within this cult. Utah only banned plural marriage in the first place (in1890) as a condition of statehood, and although the Mormon church supposedly excommunicates violators, the belief that harems are next to godliness persists. One Utah extendo-family of polygamists is reportedly worth in excess of $170 million (a figure some call “laughably low”). Which can buy a lot of blind eyes.

Note that the tendency to turn blind eyes toward the abuse of women is a recurring theme in the history of human “civilization.”

Interestingly, Mormon fundamentalists believe that the US government is evil and should be destroyed. So what was this Steed guy doing in as a judge in the first place?


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  1. Josef K

    Joseph’s essay is sad, because it’s so clear what the really good bits of polygamy are: not having sole responsibility for childcare, not having sole responsibility for fulfilling some whining man-child’s every whim, having a network of women around you who actually co-operate… in other words, she doesn’t really want polygamy, she wants a patriarchy-free world.

    It reminds me of the countless conversations I’ve had with people who swear blind they’ve eaten snails or frogs’ legs and loved it. “There’s nothing gross about it at all!” When you press them on the subject, it ALWAYS turns out that what they love is the garlic butter, and the nasty slimy texture of the snails or the frogs is something they put up with.

    Just have the butter. Smear it on bread. Eat it on its own. Melt it and drink it. But don’t tell everybody that you love slugs and snails and puppy-dogs’ tails. You fucking well don’t. You just love the butter and you’re too dim to imagine a world with just the butter.

  2. Finn

    (For the record, Josef K, I love the snails and I’ve had frog legs batter fried and loved that too. Butter optional, I’m afraid.)

    This polygamist thing reminds me that HBO is putting some eggs in that basket with their upcoming series Big Love.

    From their site:

    “He has three wives who willingly share him between their three adjoining houses, but Bill Henrickson is about to find out just how challenging life as a modern-day polygamist can be. Don’t miss the bold new series that Time magazine says “may prove to be… the
    next cool thing on TV.” Starring Bill Paxton, Jeanne Tripplehorn, Chloë Sevigny, Ginnifer Goodwin and Harry Dean Stanton. Airing Sundays at 10pm beginning March 12th, immediately following Season Six of The Sopranos®. Check out the online schedule for listings.”

    Will Big Love make polygamy as popular as gangsterism post-Sopranos?

    Who’s to Blame?

  3. Twisty

    “… just how challenging life as a modern-day polygamist can be”? That’s it! To characterize this barbarism as love (of any dimension) represents a new low, even for TV.

  4. norbizness

    In answer to your last question, bringing it down from the inside (makes secret signal used by grifters in The Sting).

  5. Josef K

    Finn, maybe you just love the batter! Have you ever really eaten frogs or snails completely unadorned?

  6. Twisty

    You know, Josef K, a lot of foods are inedbly gross until some chefly genius works’em over. Agreed, a raw snail has little epicurean appeal, but so does a raw chicken.

  7. Finn

    I don’t eat much of anything completely unadorned. Ick.

    You’re not one of those ‘raw veggies only’ dudes are ya?

    I blame McDonald’s.

  8. Finn

    “To characterize this barbarism as love (of any dimension) represents a new low, even for TV.”

    I predict that this show will only illuminate further the inherant wierdness that is the modern institution of marriage. You know, Desperate Housewives times 4…

    Again, I Blame God.

  9. laughingmuse

    I am SO TIRED of right-wing, patriarchy-lovin’, woman-hating wingnuts using the “hey man, don’t oppress my freedom! It’s my religion/ penis/ pursuit of happiness! Maaaaan!” line.

    I really, really am. It’s like the whole “protecting a woman’s relationship with her fetus” thing. Hornswaggle the reading masses to believe that it’s really about personal freedom, when it’s really about making one person’s view or whims paramount over another’s. The system is still working hard at keeping women second-class, sex class peons, they’re just using whinier arguments now about their personal beliefs and freedoms.


  10. Josef K

    I’m a vegetarian, but I must admit to finding a raw chicken marginally less gross than a raw snail. Perhaps because I’m phobic about slugs, and snails are kind of slugs with mobile homes.

    My patriarchy-blaming point was that a lot of women seem willing to swallow some seriously bitter pills because they can’t see an alternative. In the world of cookery, I’m all for covering EVERYTHING in batter and/or cheese and/or garlic butter.

  11. Hazel

    Ooh, I love your blog!

  12. AndiF

    Josef, to expand on your non-food and definitely patriarchy-blaming point, these women have everything they need to establish a matriarchy except for the two things they have that they don’t need: 1) one husband, and 2) submission to the patriarchial power structure.

  13. Hattie

    That’s some horrible stuff you are bringing to light here, Twisty.Can you imagine the results of all that inbreeding? I hateMormons or Mormonism and always stay away from them and their works. Don’t expect to see me in Utah. If you haven’t read Krackaur’s “Under the Banner of Heaven,” do so.
    You know the old joke? When Brigham Young looked down into the Salt Lake Valley, he said, “Oh, shit!” But his followers thought he had said, “This is it,” and that’s why they settled there. Dumb then and dumb now.
    Mormons give me the creeps.

  14. Josef K

    AndiF, yes! Precisely!

    Hattie, I’ve heard stories of eyeless, limbless babies being killed at birth, but I haven’t seen this with my own eyes. Apparently they resemble giant tomatoes. I don’t know how much garlic butter you’d need for one of those.

  15. CafeSiren

    “He has three wives who willingly share him between their three adjoining houses…”

    Believe it or not, this seems to make polygamy even worse than it is. Note that these women do not live in the happy collective household described by pro-polygamists. Of course not. Because that might imply that a “women’s society” (even one run as a subculture of a patriarchal household) might be possible. But what this series is selling is a situation in which this man is essentially “married” to three single women (single mothers? dunno) who he visits occasionally. I’ll bet anyone out there 20 yankee dollars that, by episode three, these women are intriguing against each other.

  16. Nymphalidae

    I don’t care how you bring ’em, just Bringham Young? Mormon jokes are the best.

  17. Mandos

    I hateMormons or Mormonism and always stay away from them and their works.

    I dunno. I know at least a couple of Mormons on a particular other discussion board I frequent, and both of them (father and daughter) seem very well-adjusted people. Certainly they haven’t pamphleteered the board. Not polygamists, but the daughter is one of a gazillion, and plans to be mother of a gazillion, now that she’s finished college—but they apparently have many family members who aren’t into that sort of thing, and they seem perfectly OK with it, and are quite tolerant about what other people on the board think.

    Being a member of a minority and a frequently-pilloried one to boot, I tend to be a little sensitive about minority lifestyles/identities/beliefs, even if they aren’t mine—I certainly have no intention of having a gazillion children.

  18. Ron Sullivan

    Josef K, I’m with you on the snails, though on frogs’ legs, not so much. It would be efficient for me to eat snails as well as frogs’ legs — I’m in Cailfornia, where bullfrogs (who have the biggest, meatiest legs) are an invasive species and putting whole other frog and fish and amphibian species in danger of extinction. Really. I even own a semi-antique frog gig. If Joe’d cook ’em, I’d eat ’em. I suppose if I had to take a marriage vow, that would be the one I’d be cheerfullest about.

    Snails, though — also an invasive exotic, the Italian species they breed for eating in France was imported here by some shortsighted SOB — snails are one of very few things I can’t bring myself to consider eating. I figure that it’s my occasional problem with post-nasal drip, which makes eating snails redundant.

    And that metaphor, by the way, is brilliant. A tip o’ the hat to you!

    Have you noticed that most of the reasons women give for liking polygyny center on not actually liking their husbands’ company, in or out of bed?

  19. Violet

    Instead of this bogus-ass series, HBO should just show “Raise the Red Lantern” every week.

  20. hedonist

    http://www.topix.net/religion/flds if you can stomach it, here is the recent polygamy news:

    – dramatic rise in birth defects in polygamous community

    – head of FLDS (Fundamentalist Church of Latter Day Saints) is on the lam, and on FBI’s most wanted list for child molestation

    – polygamist sect taking root in – surprise! – Texas!

    – school in polygamous community being taken over by state

    The good news is that states are starting to prosecute polygamists to protect minors, since girls in the FLDS are “married” well before the age of consent. They are also charging the FLDS with fraud, money-laundering, etc.
    So, if these guys are caught, prosecuted and jailed, it will most likely be for fraud or having sex with a minor (or minors), rather than for the crime of bigamy.

    Well, whatever works.

    These news items are very, very recent. Isn’t it “interesting” that now that a few high-profile polygamists are going to jail or losing their jobs, all of a sudden there’s a new HBO series portraying polygamy in a positive light? A handsome, considerate wealthy man and his polyamourous relationships with his beautiful, liberated consenting-adult wives. Riiiiiiiiiiight.

  21. binky

    Most of the items on the danger signs list could apply to any abusive relationship, multiple or not.

  22. susanjune

    This dolt hails from Hildale which is on the northern Utah/Arizona border. The twin town on the Arizona side is called Colorado City and there has been much in the media here in Arizona about under-aged girls being married off to horrible old men and young boys being cast on the street to remove the competion for females. One of the worst things I have read about this place is the horrible sometimes fatal and always terribly disabling, genetic disease that has been passed down from the two original godbags who started the community a hundred years ago, apparently effecting hundreds of kids. So not only are these poor girls and women forced to marry close relatives, they are forced to give birth to horribly deformed children and then faced with watching them suffer while doing the exhausing work of caring for a disabled child or children. The whole thing is revolting on so many levels. Here is article about it all if you can bare to read it. (http://www.phoenixnewtimes.com/Issues/2005-12-29/news/feature.html)

  23. susanjune

    Whoops I guess if I wanted to link this I leave out the brackets. Sorry new to this. http://www.phoenixnewtimes.com/Issues/2005-12-29/news/feature.html

  24. jami

    feminism can best attack this by figuring out why 1/8 of an old pig is good enough for some young women. do these women like sex so little? why? and why is it so hard for them to make friends that they have to marry their desired friend’s husband?

    better educations might solve the friend-making problem. and getting the message that sex isn’t dirty and yucky to finally penetrate utah would solve the disliking sex problem.

    that should be easy.

  25. LMYC

    friendships with the other concubines.

    Which leads me to the next question — why not trash the asshole and stay shacked up with the other women? One fewer shithead to clean up after, and you get orgasms.

    But hey, there I go being LOGICAL again …

  26. LMYC

    do these women like sex
    so little?

    Considering that 1/8 of an old pig is pretty disgusting, I’d want to minimize it if that were my only picture of what heterosexual sex is like. Fuck, I’m minimizing it right now, and I don’t have to worry about polygyny.

    the way most of those guys are in bed, if I were stuck as one of those women and had no way out, I’d love anything that would keep him out of my bed permanently. These women must have been suicidal when Viagra was invented.

  27. Cass

    On top of all the other horrors catalogued here, its worth noting that child molestation and incest (apart from the marriages, I mean) run rampant in these communities. As for Mormonism itself, I find pretty much in agreement with M. Twain, who termed it “perhaps the most spectacular example of religious hucksterism and buffoonery in the entire sorry history of the world”. (Though needless to say, there’d be lots of other candidates for that honor…)

  28. kommishoner

    polygamous communities are scary, for several reasons that have more to do with the sexism of the guys running them than how many wives they have. the part that bugs me about all the brouhaha is that the media seem to be unable to portray the problems of these communities without dumping the blame on the openness of the relationships. polyamory is a far cry from polygamy, but the “poly” of both seems to make the negative aspects of polygamy to apply roundly to all open relationships, no matter how caring, mutual, and well-communicated and well-balanced. that sucks.

  29. Hattie

    That’s OK. Smile and bear it. As a smug little Mormon Stepfordette once told my sister in law: Only Mormons are truly happy people.

  30. tisha

    LMYC, I was so excited to link to what I thought was your new blog, only to be disappointed (LOL)

  31. aldahlia

    You haven’t really felt the chilling finger of Plural-wife Loving patriarchy until you’ve actually been to one of the secret colonies.

    If you’re ever in need of a stomach pump, but don’t have insurance for it, go to Colorado City, AZ, and chucking won’t be a problem. Just know that the “Sheriff” will follow from the city limit to city limit. And, that everyone will be dressed in “Little House on the Prairie” gear… and cheap Wal-Mart sneakers. And, that they don’t take kindly to folks that don’t take kindly.

  32. RJ

    Ok–first of all, tiny frogs’ legs the size of your thumb, deep fried (without batter) for about 5 seconds in peanut oil that has been raised to a temperature approximating the surface of the sun by in an indonesian hole-in-the-wall restaurant are sweet, succulent and addictive. Bet you can’t eat just one.

    On the polygamists, however, yuck. I did a lot of reading about the FLDS group who moved into Texas. Their leader (Warren Jeffs) is a seriously creepy motherfucker. His dad was “Prophet” before him, and by all accounts he at least tried to maintain the illusion of Benevolent Patriarch. Jeffs is a megalomaniac, doing whatever it takes to bring his followers under his control.

    The creepiest thing is that until the Utah/Arizona governments cracked down on him enough that he pulled up stakes and moved to Texas (thanks a bunch–our reputation for backwardsness wasn’t strong enough, I guess) he didn’t just rule over a shitload of people in a walled compound, David Koresh-style: he ruled over an enture fucking *town.* I mean school, police, stores, businesses, everything was under his direct control. Like some freaky combination of Jim Jones and Boss Hogg. Don’t get me started.

    And yeah, I second the recommendation to read Krakauer’s Under the Banner of Heaven.

  33. CafeSiren

    In the course of my work, I sometimes end up looking at polygamy in ancient Hebrew society. Biblical stories (not historicially “factual,” but certainly a window onto cultural mores) do show elements of both female solidarity, and senior women “managing” the junior women. But when it comes down to who gets the last word, it’s always the men.

    Now, patriarchy in the age of the Patriarchs should be no surprise to anyone. But what boggles the mind is that pro-polygamists (as it appears to be practiced among such communities today) completely ignore the fact that women’s agency is so very strictly limited. I’ve read that women within these communities see themselves as part of a loving sisterhood, and their joint husband appears to fade into the background in such discussions. But when the responsibility/privlige of making important life decisions is stripped from women, then that’s patriarchy, pure and simple.

    I’m willing to concede that polyamory (including but not limited to polygamy) might work for some (though I can’t go for it myself), but when one sex in the partnership is inherently more equal than the other, then that’s a bunch of crap.

  34. zz

    “Only Mormons are truly happy people.”

    Well, Hattie, having lived in Utah most of my life and coming from a family of a whole passel of Mormons, I’ll guarantee not every Mormon, or even most of them, have that attitude. Most of them spend their lives balancing the impossible and just trying to be the best people they can. I guess I understand where Mandos is coming from. I get tired of being demonized because I’m a lesbian so it hurts to see others demonized, too.

  35. westlin

    I agree with the numerous statements that polygamy is creepy. BUT, not all Mormons are polygamists, or even oppressed. Be careful when painting with such a broad brush.

    AND, I find it interesting that on one of the application forms for US residency they ask if you intend to enter in to a polygamous relationship while in the United States (they also ask you if you committed any war crimes during WWII).

  36. Adrienne

    I believe that they have a saying for the young girls in those communities, keep-sweet. If some old geezer is huffing and puffing on top of her, grunting, she must not make a sound. If she’s having a child, she must not make a sound. If she’s being beaten, she must not make a sound. They teach their daughters from infancy that they are not allowed to speak.

  37. Sam

    This is unsupported by any evidence I’ve personally seen, but I have a friend who works against human trafficking in the US who swears the Mormons largely control prostitution in Nevada. She says the Mormons have an incredible amount of money and legitimacy in the most powerful governing circles and they reap massive rewards from prostitution in Nevada, even stepping in to forcibly settle disputes between rival gangs when their violence becomes apparent enough to potentially scare off tourist moneybags.

    In her words, “There’s nothing that goes down in Nevada that the Mormons don’t have some hand in some way.”

  38. Finn

    “a semi-antique frog gig. If Joe’d cook ‘em, I’d eat ‘em.7”

    I’ve never done anything all that fancy with frog legs. A ziploc with flour, salt, pepper, maybe some spice or other. Then, fry them in your fav oil.

    Be prepared. They do kick. Some sort of nervous response to the heat, evidently.

  39. tisha

    http://www.childbrides.org/action.html here’s some more news . . . looks like the crackdown on the taking of child brides started ’round 2003 (?) and we’re finally starting to see some progress. Canada is considering adopting U.S. methods.

    Articles in chronological order, meaning, the most recent ones are at the bottom of the page.

  40. Emily

    You can hear more of Elizabeth Joseph’s views on polygamy on a recent This American Life episode, entitled “I Enjoy Being a Girl – Sort Of.” Unfortunately I can’t post a direct link to it, but if you go to http://www.thisamericanlife.org and search the site for “polygamy,” it comes right up. The resigned tone with which Joseph describes the extraordinary lengths to which she and her husband’s other wives go to accommodate their husband’s ego and his supposed needs — instead of asserting themselves and saying no to him head-on — is chilling. The tone is very similar to the one in which I have heard other women of my mom’s age (early fifties) describe dealing with their husbands. Polygamy seems to take the avoidance and accommodation strategy of dealing with conflict to extreme.

    This is my first time posting – I am a recent convert to Twisty Faster. Thank you for some excellent reading!

  41. Ms Kate

    I remember chatting with a libertarian friend about the polygamy charade/arguement when gay marriage was legalized here.

    We both agreed that:

    1) Utahssholes would never go for the legalization, because they would have to prove that their wives were of legal age and entering into the legal covenant of their own free will.

    2) The poly housholders we had known would never go for it either, since it would be a legal intrusion in their free-will arrangements.

    3) because of 1), actually legalizing polygamy and requiring the written consent of prior spouses might actually not be a bad idea!

    Traditionally, polygamy is a sucessful strategy for keeping women and children alive in marginal circumstances – like, the middle of a desert. In the extreme patriarchy of larger society in the US in the 1860s, it is little wonder why women went west for it. Unfortunately, this pedarasty and inbreeding is nothing but a sick perversion.

  42. Hattie

    I certainly know people from Mormon families who are just fine, but none of them are practicing Mormons any more.

  43. Bucky

    As a former mormon, I thought I’d clear a few things up. Most polygamists in Utah are members of the Fundamentalist LDS church, which split off of the more commonly known LDS church after Joseph Smith, the founder of both, died. The LDS church is more mainstream, but J. Smith and later leaders practiced polygamy, and it is still written in their doctrine. There have been various reasons spouted as for why it was started, the most sound being that it is a side-product of the belief in becoming eventually like God. Each person (read male) will rule over their own kingdom. Having multiple wives and a bunch of kids was just a way to enlarge their kingdom.

    Currently the LDS church is trying to become less sexist by claiming that even though the male presides over the house and has all institutional power (old teachings), males and females are still equal in decision-making power (new teachings). Right.

    Sorry Twisty, I know this blog is for advanced feminists, but as a fledgling fem. I still can’t quit you, you’re too darn freaking(mormon cuss-words) hilarious.

  44. nm

    Twisty, you said:
    Polygamy—or, more precisely, polygyny, since it’s against even fake religious law for a lowly female to collect her own harem—is nasty.

    There are a couple of places in the world where polyandry (one woman, two or more husbands) is the norm. One is Nepal; the other is (or used to be, I don’t know about these days) the Arctic. As in the Mormon fundie polygyny you’re rightfully trashing, the extra spouses tend to be relatives–in this case, brothers or first cousins–of the first husband. But they’re adults when they marry, which must make a huge difference. A (male) cousin of mine, who spent a lot of time in Nepal, says he was very struck with how happy the women in the polygamous marriages seem to be. His impression was that if any of the husbands mistreated the wife, the others would give him what for.

    The difference would seem to be age and openness. And free choice.

  45. HStar

    Ms. Kate-I’ve heard that argument about polygamy before. That it’s a way of helping out women and children. But I don’t really buy it. Why can’t the few men alive and present help to take care of the women and children without marrying them/engaging in sexual relations with them? Can’t a community accomplish the same things polygamy does? While maintaining dignity for the women involved?

  46. LMYC

    You know what I love about this shit? The way that “reg’lar guys” will view it. They all think it’s great. They love it — they think they’d be the fat old bastard with twenty-three teenagers in his bed.

    They don’t even SEE the hundreds of young boys thrown onto the streets, nor do they realize that that’s much more likely to be their fate. In that society, the dominant male is the ONLY one who fucks anything.

    For every one pride lion, there are several bachelor lions roaming the plain outside of anything approaching lion society. That’s what you’d be, mister “hey, I t’ink polygyny looks sorta cool hyuk hyuk hyuk.” You’d get NUTHIN.

    They simply do not think. I love it that these societies are considered some sort of male-fantasy paradise when it results in dozens of young male teenagers being turned onto the streets and abandoned the second their dicks start getting a little too active for the flaccid old bastards’ comfort.

    Nothing is worse for MEN than patriarchy. But as lnog as they’re all too fucking stupid to realize it, we keep playing the game. And we’ll KEEP playing it, until the heat death of the universe — because if they were smart enough to wise up, they would have done it by now.

  47. firefly

    A&E had a good two hour special on this subject. Among the sad things is that in-breeding led to birth defects, but it was against their “religion” to correct the birth defects because they were an “act of god” They told of one case where a little girl had two club feet which could have been corrected but her godbag father wouldn’t allow it so she will go through life crippled. The Utah Republican politician they interviewed was sickening, smiling all the time while he said they couldn’t go after these abusers because there weren’t enough prisons. (The Utah Dem politician was well informed and concerned.)

  48. kathy a

    what was steed doing as a judge, anyway? well, not sure how he got in, but he wasn’t exactly a shining star of the legal profession — it was a part-time gig, no legal training required. his other job is driving trucks.

  49. Mandos

    I certainly know people from Mormon families who are just fine, but none of them are practicing Mormons any more.

    Hmm, the people I know are practising Mormons, but not all their family is. We have different experiences, I guess. They seemed 100% well-adjusted and are proud of their lifestyle but don’t seem to think it’s for everyone, or at least know that they shouldn’t be obnoxious about it.

  50. RJ

    They don’t even SEE the hundreds of young boys thrown onto the streets, nor do they realize that that’s much more likely to be their fate. In that society, the dominant male is the ONLY one who fucks anything

    [I posted the following to the Feministe discussion, but I thought people here might be interested]

    The fate of boys in the FLDS is simple math. Warren Jeffs teaches that each man must have at least three wives to get into heaven. Just to make that even mathematically possible, you have to eliminate two out of three males. So the story that you hear over and over again is some 12 or 13 year-old boy found wandering on the side of the highway in the middle of nowhere. He was accused of some heinous offense like showing his forearms or watching TV, summarily excomunicated, driven to the highway and dumped like an unwanted dog. Their parents won’t even talk to them on the phone because they know they’ll get excommunicated, too.

    They have absolutely no fucking idea how to survive in modern society, they’re absolutely terrified because they’ve gone from a very tightly-knit and pathologically controlling family atmosphere to being a 12 year-old on their own in Salt Lake City or somesuch. They’ve been told their entire lives that Satan walks freely everywhere outside their community (and some of them have literally never been outside the community) and they know that they’re now doomed to burn in the literal, eternal hell they’ve believed in fervently their entire lives. They often end up as prostitutes.

    Jeffs also pulls this shit with adult men–-you fail to show enough respect, balk at letting some 73 year-old lech marry your 12 year-old daughter (Jeffs approves all marriages, and arranges many of them), or even look like you might be a threat to his power, and elders show up at your house the next day, tell you that you’ve been excommunicated, your wives and children have been “re-assigned” (seriously–that’s their word for it) to another man, and you have 12 hours to get the fuck out of town.

    None of this is to say that the boys and men have it anywhere nearly as bad as the girls and women. They still come out way ahead-–fer fuck’s sake, at least they get out of the abuse factory. But I know waaay too much about this shit so I thought I’d share a piece that might not be common knowlege and could shed a little light on this particular sector of the Patriarchotron.

  51. LMYC

    RJ, the whole thing is sickening. It’s galling how males will scream bloody murder when girls start edging out boys in college entrance exams, but when grown men dump unwanted young boys like inconvenient trash, you hear nary a peep.

    Seems that if you can’t affix the blame for a boy’s misery on a handy female scapegoat, the boys can just go right the hell on bleeding. As long as it’s a man destroying the kid, it’s okay.

    That’s as much as most men care about the suffering of other men — and I think most men, deep down inside, know it. Which is why they freak out when their wives adn girlfriends reject them, no matter how well-justified the rejection is. They know that, left to the tender mercies of their fellow males, they’d starve on the goddamned streets.

    If men learned how to give a shit for one another, really care, we’d all be much better off. They’d stop expecting us to do all their boo-boo-kissing for one.

    This all really highlights the fundamental goal of the patriarchy — to crap on women. So what if a few teenaged male kids get dumped on the streets? As long as the wimminfolk get shit on, the chief goal of the patriarchy is achieved. Patriarchy is not pro-male. It’s not pro-ANYTHING. It’s only and entirely anti-woman.

  52. Betsy

    There’s a very good financial reason for Fundamentalist Mormon polygamy. Each household of (legally single) woman children can get welfare and/or food stamps, housing vouchers, etc. Men who “marry” multiple women (off the books, so the law continues to treat the women and children as eligible for programs) can game this to their financial advantage, believe it or not.

    This was the subject of a documentary film several years ago. I saw it in my “Women, Work, Family, and the Law” class in law school. I don’t remember the other details about the film.

  53. Betsy

    I meant “woman and children,” of course, not “woman children,” although it is quite a Freudian slip.

  54. Elinor

    Oh yes. We’re dealing with this stuff in Canada right now. American girls being trafficked across the border — I think to take advantage of Canada’s lower age of consent.

    IIRC, when Winston Blackmore, the leader of the Bountiful, BC FLDS group was interviewed, he didn’t understand why people had a problem with his behaviour. He wondered whether the rest of the world is just squeamish about sex.

    Yes, be it known that Winston Blackmore is part of the sex-positive movement.

    Here’s a transcript of a CBC program about it: http://www.rickross.com/reference/polygamy/polygamy135.html

    RJ, I knew this was done to boys in the FLDS community, but I had no idea that it was done to them so incredibly young. That is heartbreaking.

    Polygamy.com is just funny. I always assumed it was just some random male nutbar with an ax to grind — is it more than that?

  55. Holly

    Having been raised Mormon and been so thoroughly anxious to make sense of its utter grossness and stupidity that I would volunteer to spend a year and a half of my life converting the benighted heathen of Asia to Mormonism, I feel confident in confirming Twisty’s characterization of Joseph Smith as “a nutjob who claimed God contacted him through a talking hat.”

    That’s the unvarnished truth. And I have polygamists in every branch of my family tree. When I was little I would go to these whopping family reunions involving all the descendents of a guy who fled to Mexico so he could keep all seven of his wives–there were diagrams so you could figure out which of the wives provided the old polygamist with the sprog that became your special ancestor.

    Steed, Big Love, and the sicko towns on the Arizona-Utah border gross me out. Mormons frequently complain that they are “misunderstood,” but it’s good to read a report like Twisty’s, which shows how thoroughly she grasps just what is going on in the sickest offshots of an initially sick concept of human relationships, women and ethics. Mainstream Mormons might not be polygamists, but there is no question as to how the religion they subscribe to is responsible for horrible abuses against all women of any age and very young boys (RJ is dead right about the statements about what happens to young men kicked out of the FLDS communities).

    Blame them all, I say. Blame every last one of those gross godbags.

  56. Mister Nice Guy

    You know, a pride of lions isn’t really a harem — it’s a female household with one male admitted inside, and a bunch of spare males circling, waiting to replace him when he screws up.

    I wonder if some polygynist households are like that, too. Certainly the “patriarch” in that case would never, ever admit it.

    Oh, well, it’s an amusing thought anyway.

  57. Grace

    Absolutely agree that this is the sickest and most twisted thing imaginable. But polygamy does have one advantage: as the rejoinder to the idiotic godbag (a word I use advisedly, despite having a degree in theology) argument that “ONE MAN and ONE WOMAN is the ONLY thing EVER called marriage in ALL OF HISTORY!!”

    Yeah, right. Read the book of Genesis.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2006/02/19/opinion/19coontz.html?ex=1141275600&en=b84a62d573263ff8&ei=5070 (click on the quiz link at the bottom)

    The most prevalent marriage arrangement in human society has been – guess what – polygamy. Doesn’t make it right, or other than sick in modern Utah, but is a strong argument against one talking point of the anti-queer-rights nutjobs.

  58. Les

    The thing about different models of relationships is there are examples where it’s all wrong wrong wrong and examples where it works out. You can find horrible, patriarchial, monogamal (it is so a word, I just made it up) weddings in which an old man becomes the owner of a younger women. And you can find mongamal weddings where both partners are approaching equality. You can even find weddings with age differences and attempts at equality. There are those who argue that all of marriage is horrible and tarred because of it’s history and the occasional throwback. And there are those who argue that marriage is a handy way to arrange finances, child custody and establish certain rights when the relationship ends, either through death or divorce.

    Similarly, while there are horrible examples of polygamy, it does not necessary follow that every example is wrong. There are very happy polly households around the San Francisco area which try for equality.

    The problem with fundamentalist polygamy in Utah is not that it’s polygamy but that

    1. Man thinks he’s ruler of the universe
    2. Women are oppressed
    3. Some brides are underage

    It is not impossible to conceive of a group arrangement in which the man (or men) felt equal, the women were not oppressed and they’re old enough to consent. (and all the women were bisexual.) As somebody pointed out earlier, legalizing this is a good idea because it ads regulation to protect underage brides.

    As a vegetarian, I have a desire to eat the snails I find in my garden when I get back to Cali. Everybody here in France swears they’re great and they’re a non-native species and I’m killing them anyway . . . so why not eat them?

  59. Chris Clarke

    As a vegetarian, I have a desire to eat the snails I find in my garden when I get back to Cali. Everybody here in France swears they’re great and they’re a non-native species and I’m killing them anyway . . . so why not eat them?

    No more disgusting than clams, I say, and less so than raw oysters, and the second-best meal I ever had in my life was one raw oyster. But Les, you gotta catch ’em and feed ’em on cornmeal or some other such neutral food for a week or two to make sure they don’t have snail poison or poison oak or Twinkies in their guts when you cook them.

    I once had plans to raise garden snails on blue corn meal and then sell them at inflated prices to the Berkeley foodpolloi, but I think the historical moment in which that would have been possible has passed.

  60. Elinor

    As somebody pointed out earlier, legalizing this is a good idea because it ads regulation to protect underage brides.

    You know, I’m skeptical about that argument when it comes up regarding prostitution, because legalization (unlike decriminalization, which I do support) so frequently seems to impose further restrictions on the women involved rather than the men.

    What exactly about this (polygamous) behaviour is criminal that we would want to see legalized? Bigamy (which FLDS people don’t always commit)? I think I’m missing a piece of the story here.

  61. Sam

    nm, I utterly refute your characterization of Nepalese women with several husbands being about women’s free choice and to their advantage. No personal offense intended, but men like your cousin have always looked at women enslaved in marriages and seen “free choice” and “happiness” where there was neither.

    I’ve been collecting information for an article on prostitution as genocide of the world’s indigenous women. The evil and common practice of genocidal rapes are better known today than fifteen years ago but despite knowing about Comfort Women, Bosnia, Darfur, and explosions of military-related prostitution everywhere since forever, the international community hasn’t yet connected the dots on racially-motivated genocide and the prostitution of minority women.

    From the excellent Satya Magazine

    “Basically, I used to be a journalist. I was traveling in Nepal and I came across loads of villages that didn’t have women ages 14 to 45. So I began to ask, where are the girls? Some of the men smiled sheepishly and some would simply answer, ‘Don’t you know they are in Bombay?’ I came to find out that there was this whole sex trade: starting with the parent who was really poor, then on to the procurer, an uncle or a family friend who would pay the parent something like $30. There is the middle man in a packed city, the border guard who takes a payoff, the agent who takes the girls across the border to the people who then transport them to Bombay and on to the brothel madame, who buys the girls for $50 to $100. Then there are the landlords who own the brothels, the money-lenders and then finally the customers. This chain, literally a food chain with a never-ending supply, was making a fortune. The girls are as young as seven.”

  62. Kate

    I read this last night and didn’t post because I was reading a link on the latest news on the efforts to stop these people. THen I got damned sick of looking at the computer or thinking about godbags making babies with their children.

    Some have posted here in a rather snarky way about why those women don’t ‘just leave’.

    I am so damn tired of other women poking at women who are trapped by extreme abuse and patriarchy and cannot get out on their own.

    I almost delved into anecdote, but I don’t need to. The fact is that the patriarchy has defined when it is acceptable to help a women obtain her freedom; when she sports visible signs of physical abuse.

    Otherwise, since a woman’s a dog anyway, so what if you put her down on a regular basis, nothing wrong with reminding a woman from childhood that she’s just a stupid bitch right? Because us women all have to find ourselves on our own right? That’s the way we did it and damn it, they will have to also.

    So what if she’s been told all her life that she has no rights, no life, no identity other than serving a man and producing babies? So what if she’s witnessed abuse and knows to tow the line to protect herself and her children as best as she can. So what if she’s never driven a car in her life, never held a job, never been out of the compound, knows she’s inferior to the standard of other women on the ‘outside’ and might be shunned and laughed at. So what if she’s been told the people outside are evil and scary and she has no references to think otherwise? So what eh?

    Because the patriarchy has taught us women that certain signs exist to signal when its ok for us to step in and offer assistance, or deem them worthy of government support, or private funded support. So what. They are just dumbass women up there in the desert, what’s that got to do with us?

    Until then, well she’s cooperating with the system and obviously she likes it, right? We have no business to interfere, we need to turn out backs on our community and our people because that is what the patriarchy has taught us women, don’t ask questions, don’t step out of bounds, don’t follow your gut and take action.

    Damn it all to hell!

    Put your money or action where your mouth is and start a fund, send some money to help the people who are fighting this. Go and help. Offer your support. Question people and don’t just sit there and assume that women like being breed-bags, beaten, raped and living in poverty and subservience all their lives.

    They are women and are entitled to what we strive for and enjoy. And as feminists we are damn well responsible to not turn a blind eye or pass off emotional abuse and control as trivial and work against our and our people’s growth.

    And for fuck’s sake, we certainly don’t serve our interests or our cause well if we finally give in to the patriarchy by rationalizing that these women and any other women who are obviously oppressed by ignorance, poverty, emotional abuse, familial control or all the other ever present molds of the patriarchy like it that way and we have no power to make a difference.

    We diminish the movement and co-opt to them when we do this. And we deny the actual power we do have.

    That’s all before my fucking head explodes.

  63. Kat

    Kate, thanks for that. You’re absolutely right.

  64. nm

    Sam, I claim no expertise on the question. If you’ve got data that show missing women in polyandrous communities, I’ll accept your evidence, and I’ll curse and blame the patriarchy right along with you.

    All I know is what I reported, anecdotes from a travelling cousin. I know that he didn’t observe that women were missing. I’m not going to vouch for his powers of observation, since he is a guy and might not be too observant about women–though he did observe enough to remark on what he took to be their happiness.

    I did a quick google of “polyandry nepal” and the first item to come up, http://www.case.edu/affil/tibet/booksAndPapers/fraternal.html , shows age pyramids that indicate that the women were there in the same numbers as men. Other items seem to bear you out, but have no data to back them up. I’d like to see that data (actually, I’d hate to see it, since I had a little fantasy of one place where society seemed to work out for men and women both, but I prefer to have the facts even if they do show that my fantasy is baseless).

    Any idea of where I should look for some numbers on all this?


  65. Sam

    The academic paper you cite is 30 years old. Trafficking for prostitution has grown exponentially since then as pornography fools users into thinking prostitution is just like what happens in highly staged and highly edited pornography videos.

    For modern info there’s the Ruchira Gupta documentary mentioned in the Satya article for starters, and the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women has collected information about trafficking Nepalese girls and women into India.


  66. Pony

    Captive Daughters: Dedicated to Ending Sex Trafficking

    Also see Mira Nair’s websites.

  67. cinder

    Kate, I really appreciated your comment. Thanks for saying that.

  68. J Crowley

    I’m not quite sure I agree with the assessment of polyamory. I’ll admit that in most cases, guys are pigs who just want an additional set of moist holes in which to stick their penises. But it’s almost always inaccurate to make broad, all-encompassing judgments about things.

    Sure, the typical variety of polyamory (particularly the “Christian” variety) is all about “I’s gonna get me a buncha pussy!”, but it’s, I’ve been told, a common realization for most intelligent people that one can love more than one other person without loving any of them in a decreased capacity.

    This is the true spirit of the philosophy and ideal of polyamory. It’s not necessarily about sex–it’s about love.

    I’m naturally a monogamous person, but I’ve been having discussions about the idea of polyamory of late. When the subject was brought up by my girlfriend last summer, we had a debate over its merits. I didn’t quite understand the concept, and she was trying to explain it to me, and get me to keep an open mind about it. She enjoys being the devil’s advocate a lot, and can’t stand it when I reject something arbitrarily without really fully understanding the other side.

    I’ve been working to keep an open mind about the subject, but I didn’t really understand it until recently. Though I never really acted on them, I ended up developing feelings for this friend of hers. It wasn’t a sexual feeling (though there was definitely sexual attraction), it was more that affectionate feeling where you want to do nice things and make someone else feel good and loved. Y’know… love. And it didn’t interfere at all with the feelings I already had for my girlfriend. (Who didn’t really mind these feelings, by the way, since she’d been an advocate of the concept from the beginning.) It wasn’t a trade-off of affection or anything.

    Again, I never acted on the feelings, but it was really confusing to have them, given that I was reluctant to accept the idea when we’d had the conversation about it last summer. They kind of swarmed into the room and overturned the table where I kept all the things I thought I knew about emotions and about myself all nicely polished and sorted.

    So it’s not just about “oooh, cunts, and women are just things to put my penis in, and I own them”, and not every instance is the same. I’ll admit that most of the cases involve something along those lines, but to dismiss the entire concept as such is to completely overlook the emotions that are involved in the situations where it’s actually about affection and caring.

  69. Kerlyssa

    Gods, it’s spreading. Get the hedge clippers.

  70. hedonistic

    GAH! Off-topic ALERT!

    Maybe Twisty should add an “I’m done with reading about your corny spanky-spank/polywhatever lifestyle so knock it off already” advisory to her FAQ.

    I wonder if the Spamulator can be programmed to catch all comments containing BDSM terminology? (laughs)

  71. Twisty

    “I wonder if the Spamulator can be programmed to catch all comments containing BDSM terminology? (laughs)”

    Done and done.

  72. nm

    Sam, thanks for the link.

    And Twisty, thanks for indulging us in this sort of off-topic side conversation.

  73. AdamB

    I think that guy’s a pig. While I don’t have an issue with the concept of polygamy (and I do include one woman having multiple husbands, ore mroe than one of both husbands and wives, etc), the fact is that until our society has matured a whole lot, very few people are going to be emotionally capable of handing the complexity of multiple marriages in a reasonable fashion. And this guy is far from reasonable.

  74. firefalluk

    My religion, I suddenly realise, requires me to capture, torture, and sacrifice all Mormon “polygamists”. When will the state repeal those vicious anti-sacrifice laws that oppress me and steal my religious freedom?

  75. Kate

    Twisty, I loved you before, but now I want to come to Austin, track you down and cook you a whole wheelbarrow full of tacos. I was raised LDS as a kid and once I was out of my parents house, I hightailed it out of the church as fast as I could. No one who has not been LDS can ever really understand how thoroughly the theology of that religion demeans women, how it makes you question your own worth as a human being, how they pound into your brain over and over again that you are worth absolutely nothing unless you have lots and lots of babies and sacrifice every bit of your health and your dreams and your soul to raise those babies, not to mention serving your husband as a ‘helpmeet’.

    This stuff all bothered me even as a little kid. It was only when I was an adult though that I realized I could just walk away. Walk away I did, and it was like being born all over again.

    The LDS church is fucking insidious. Sure, some of the believers are quite nice and credit their religion for that. But even flowers sometimes sprout from bullshit. Most of the time, though, it just stinks and makes a mess.

  76. Sure, the typical variety of polyamory (particularly the “Christian” variety) is all about “I’s gonna get me a buncha pussy!”

    See, the neat thing about polyamory, as opposed to polygamy, is that it’s not male-only. “Whoop, I’ma get me a bunch of pussy!” doesn’t last long when you realize the pussy in question isn’t all yours.

    Guys who see themselves as the center of a harem don’t tend to last long in polyamory.

  77. Hi everybody. New registrant, lurking for weeks here at my new favorite blog. Have introduced one of my sisters-in-law to Twisty delights. (She’s married to my brother, NOT a co-wife.) I Blame the Patriarchy _is_ a source of much delight, and dismay too….

    I registered because of the spam problem, knowing I’d want to start yakking away eventually. Damn spam.

    Here’s my first post, motivated because I have GMail open in another tab, and the link at the top of the page is for Mormon Marriage Retreat. Creepy! Is Gmail scanning for context across tabs, or is Mormonism suddenly everywhere?

    Mormonism–in fact, religion–is pretty creepy, and it’s fair to say religion’s been responsible for a lot of evil. However, I’m moved to point out that Orson Scott Card, a writer I enjoy, is Mormon.

    Yay, I get to push the Blame button.

  78. I am waiting, with bated breath, for one of these women to snap and go on a killing rampage. Please oh please.

    Unfortunately, I don’t think legalizing polygamy would actually force these twits to be accountable for what they’re doing — as someone else pointed out above, they actually prefer not having legal marriages because they can collect all the welfare money for their single mothers. There’s no reason to assume they’d marry all their wives legally if they could, since the only thing that really counts is “sealing.”

    Finally: Kate, I love you. Thank you for reminding us all that we can’t make assumptions about what people think and feel just because they don’t behave in the manner we think we would behave in a similar situation.

  79. Jonathan

    I feel like vomiting.

    NPR released a story today that the Texas appeals court is overthrowing the case of child abuse against FLDS.

    The sexual abuse of young kids in FLDS (as evidenced by dozens of abused pregnant young girls) was so obvious that the even the awful appeals court had to concede that abuse had occurred. But they countered by saying it wasn’t “significant”. The court ruled that a culture that sanctifies child rape is not a danger to young girls!

    Of the judges that heard this case, 100% of the male judges voted for FLDS, and 100% of the female judges voted against FLDS and for the child welfare advocates.

    As for the 16-year-old girl made the desperate call to police which started this case in the first place? They can’t find her, so the state is now calling her call for help a “hoax”. Apparently Texas has also redefined the killing of a teenage girl and the dumping of her body from a crime of “murder” to a simple “hoax”.

    The patriarchy is fighting hard to make sure that pedophiles continue to have a free hand to rape and murder as many girls as they want, when the pedophiles shouldn’t even be alive!


  1. Incest is a family value at Pandagon

    […] Of course, Utah has always been known for harboring those on the cutting edge of pure patriarchy, as Twisty notes in this first class post on the evils of polygamy and why it’s not about religious freedom but women’s rights, particularly the right not to be sold like cattle to your father’s friends when you’re a teenager. Polygamy is illegal in Utah, but for reasons that I can somewhat understand, it’s hard to prosecute. Nonetheless, it might be easier to find a decent enforcement strategy if the practice of keeping harems of minor girls was viewed as a human rights violation instead of a minor embarrassment perpetrated by a goofy religious cult. […]

  2. The Wednesday Assortment at I Blame The Patriarchy

    […] Trackbacks titled by WordPress can sometimes provide a cheap laugh, the way they append the blog name to the post title. Take this one which showed up today on the polygamy post from the other day: Incest is a family value at Pandagon. It’s like fortune cookie fortunes. “Now is the time to make circles with mints, do not haste any longer—IN BED!” […]

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    […] The first of the posts to which I’ll be offering a rebuttal is called Dad’s Yer Uncle. The subject is a Utah judge having multiple wives, and how polyamory is all a tool of men, and is about ownership of women. This post also makes mention of the subject of the second post I’ll address: BDSM. But I’ll save everything I have to say on that for later. […]

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