Love Should Be Multiplied, Not Divided
The recent popularity of HBO’s series about polygamists in the Fundamentalist Mormon Church has spawned a TLC reality show. Again, Wal-Mart has corrupted me into buying immoral DVDs with a ridiculous price of $13 for the entire first season of Sister Wives. Why, why, why do I feel compelled to watch such trash? Well, it seemed like a kind of interesting sociological experiment for $13 and also seemed like a series that might be full of fodder for a feminist dissection.
The problem is that these people are so wholesome and loving and sane that it’s just impossible to have a bitch fest on them. I can’t do it. The lifestyle isn’t for me. I see the appeal, and not just from a reproductive standpoint. Obviously, a man with more than one wife can produce more children than, say, the opposite scenario. But the appealing thing is having more than just two adults to share household duties and obligations with. Hillary said it takes a village, and these people are their own village.
In the beginning we meet Kody Brown and his three wives, Meri, Janelle, and Christine. We meet their thirteen children. We get to see old pictures and hear the courtship stories of all three women. This isn’t some compound where boys are abused and girls are married off to old men at the age of 12. All three wives were adults who made the decision to enter a plural marriage.
The first wife, Meri, knew that she would not be the only wife when she married Kody. In fact, she seems to be the jolly matchmaker. Janelle jokes that Meri is in mergers and acquisitions, and no one gets to Kody without first bonding with Meri.
Janelle works outside the home, and Meri works and attends college. All three women say that they just want to raise healthy and happy, productive members of society. If the children choose not to engage in polygamy or to leave the faith of their upbringing, that will be okay as long as they are making their own choices. Above all, they want their children to have the freedom to choose for themselves. Janelle even lectures her girls that they will be finishing college before they get married.
I’d like to denounce these people for their “perverted” lifestyle, but it’s just not the case. Everyone’s needs are being met. Sure, the women experience some jealousy, especially when Kody brings on a fourth wife, Robin. But all four of these wives have a loving and considerate husband. A lot of other women would give up 100% of their one shitty husband to trade for 25% of a good one. And I realize that it’s a reality series. How ideal their domestic bliss seems probably has more to do with the editors than it has to do with “reality.” But these women seem significantly happier than Kate Gosselin, even after she dumped Jon.
Like I said, it’s not for me. I wouldn’t endorse the lifestyle or the religion. However, this is America. As long as the adults involved are consenting and no one is being abused or coerced, the children are well provided for, and the welfare system isn’t being abused…then what business is it of ours?