Woman Testifies Against Warren Jeffs

When I was first posted to Hill AFB, Utah fifteen years ago, I heard all the jokes about the relative position of women in the closest thing the USA has to a theocratic state; that women had fled Utah and gone to Iran, seeking political and sexual freedom. And then I got there, and met a large assortment of confident, outspoken and very independent women; of course, it could have been that all the women who were firmly under the thumb of an oppressive patriarchal establishment were all at home and barely allowed to go out grocery-shopping, and I would never have met them at all. Eventually I realized that Utah and Texas women had certain similarities. There was always the subtle but remorseless pressure to conform to the traditional feminine stereotypes. Women conformed completely and followed the path tradition laid out for them… or they rebelled totally. There wasn’t much of a middle ground.

I’d always thought that both the rebels – those feminists with a small “f” , and the traditional Mormon women were both pretty much privately conflicted about polygamy. Small “f” feminists were pretty much into sorting out your life and relationships into whatever arrangement worked for you, and it was no one else’s business. And even though polygamy had been practiced widely in the founding decades… and still was, among certain communities, it no longer had approval of the official LDS establishment. Besides most women, devout or otherwise feeling kinda icky about sharing their husband, there were some other noted bad effects on a polygamous community.

Being that the numbers of men to women are approximately equal, a man who takes more than one women as a wife means that for every additional wife, there will be another man who will not have a chance at marriage… and secondly, every female in the community must be in the marriage pool. This has the real-world effect of boys being exiled from the community to reduce competition among males for brides, and of pressing marriage upon younger and younger girls, once the women of age are married off. There are even reports of families being broken up, with husbands being exiled from the community and their wives made to marry others; the ultimate reduction of human beings to a sort of commodity. And that may be the biggest crime committed by Warren Jeffs and his cultists.

“Sgt. Mom” is a freelance writer and retired Air Force NCO who blogs at www.sgtstryker.com, and lives in San Antonio.

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