Polygamy is a subject that has been talked about and debated for a very long time. In the U.S. Mormonism brought polygamy to the scene in the early 1800s, and it has been affecting people continuously since then.
The very nature of religious polygamy is one of a toxic imbalance of power. It’s a patriarchal hierarchy where men hold all the cards, make all the decisions, and women are little more than a commodity.
We all want to feel important, special, and significant.
I’ve heard the claims all my life: “Polygamous men love their wives!” But one thing I have come to understand is that there is a wide gap between loving someone and being in love with them – and we all want the latter.
Polygamists like to portray themselves as better than the dirty, filthy, vile, selfish “gentile” men who make the lazy choice of only having one wife. They claim that “Polygamy refines and purifies those who live it” – always with a caveat of the Great Big IF: “If you live it right.”
This all-important “rightness” is an elusive animal, indeed. In fact, so elusive that in all of my experience I’ve never seen it achieved. Not if you look deeper than the “Sunday-go-to-church” outward show that everyone becomes expert at. With the pasted on “Keep Sweet” smiles that grace the lips but don’t reach as far as the eyes or originate from a place of happiness or true contentment. The truth of that act is that they are living and performing a lie. You can’t “fake it til you make it.” You can try, but once again, the goal is impossible to reach.
I know that’s a pretty harsh summary, but judging from all my personal experience, along with the many books I’ve read, people I’ve spoken to, and some simple math, unfortunately it’s also a harsh truth.
Of course individual men could choose to incorporate some degree of equity into their homes, but let’s face it – we’re all human. We’re all looking for connection and polygamous men have choices. They have a variety of women to choose from, whereas those women are in competition for a piece of him. That’s a fact, and there are no two ways about it. There aren’t enough hours in the day or days in the week to truly provide what multiple women need, much less begin to address their “just wants.” And that doesn’t begin to address all the children that inevitably become part of the scenario.
There have been many books written by women who lived polygamy, and there are some consistent themes that run throughout – whether from the early 1800s or now. Each one just a facet of a multitude of connected stories. For every story that has been courageously told, there are many dozens that we will never hear.
I plan to review these books, one-by-one and give my take on them. (I will most likely be adding in how I relate to each one.)
There are many older books that are now out of copyright. As I find them I will be sharing them, chapter by chapter, and then providing a link to the formatted full book as a PDF document for download.
Wife no. 19 – Ann Eliza Young
Tell it All – Fanny Stenhouse
The Women of Mormonism – Compilation