Monday, October 20, 2008

Something clever and insightful about polygamy part III

Last night I awoke in a cold sweat.  I had a terrifying dream that all my drafts were published unfinished, and that I got super famous before my blog make-over, and that I ran out of things to say on my blog.  I don't think that will ever happen because I've read a lot of comic books, gossip columns and Shakespeare--not to mention a little bit of scripture.  I've also watched a lot of t.v. and listened to a lot of pop music, so I think my bases are covered.  

But IF I ever do run out of things to say I decided I will start an Ask the Dummy column.  Or even better a Dare the Dummy column.  I'll pretend that people are actually emailing me and daring me to voice my opinions about wild and dangerous topics.  The first wild and dangerous topic I will pretend to cover will be polygamy.   

One of my readers, named my brother, told me that blogging probably isn't the venue to talk about polygamy because what can one say that's clever and insightful about polygamy?  Since I consider myself a David Blaine of sorts, I took this as a challenge.  

So ladies and gentleman, I will now attempt to say something clever and something insightful about polygamy.  I ask you to please remain seated with your seat belt securely fastened, keep your hands inside the car at all times and refrain from throwing rotten tomatoes at my comment box. 

(And hey did you notice I published this post right after Sunday ended so as not to incite any anger or stir up any marital discord on the sabbath?  You're welcome.)

Let me begin. With this subject. This perplexing, painful, pull-your-hair-out polygamy. Subject. Let me commence upon it. At once. Or very soon. Maybe after I have a Mountain Dew.

Ahh, that's better.  I always say, give me a mountain with nothing to do and I'll talk about anything.

So.   I had a major crisis over polygamy when I was single and reading the D&C. I was this close to jumping ship . . . bailing . . . bolting on the whole latter-day-saint deal.  That's why I don't read the D&C anymore.  (why are you still judging me when I've made it clear I'm a liar?) 

Then in the early days of my marriage I used to play this fun little quiz-your-lover-about-polygamy game! It went something like this:

So if you had 3 wives and we were having a video party (that's what we called it in my day) which wife would you sit by? Would you hold her hand? Would you share your popcorn with her? Would you? Would you? Would you? huh? huh? huh?

The thing that always got me is that he could never fully commit to who he would actually sit by. These games always ended with me stomping off to the bedroom in tears and withholding any favors from him until he promised he would only sit by me.

Can I just say this is why I love John Mayer so much. He just gets me! I mean, not only is my body a wonderland, but I also have major abandonment issues. Fathers, you really should be good to your daughters. And mothers, be good to your daughters too. Cause girls become lovers and turn into mothers and . . . so on and so on and so on. 

Too bad John Mayer wasn't a pop star when my father was raising me.  All he had to go on was The Beatles and Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.  

When John Mayer's prophecy came true and I went from being a lover to being a mother, it created a whole new dimension to the fun little quiz-your-lover-about-polygamy-cause-now-I'm-a-mother-and a-stretched-out-stressed-out-mother-at-that-and-I-know-you-wouldn't-be-sitting-by-me-at-the-video-party-so-stop-your-freakin'-lying game.

These games usually ended with my husband stomping off to the bedroom in tears and shouting Why would I want to be married to more than one . . . YOU!

I used to cry for those poor, trapped, stupid, trapped polygamous wives. They seemed so trapped and stupid and . . . polygamous. But then I started teaching an inter-disciplinary history class with this one gifted Mormon scholar who FORCED me to read a chapter in Kathleen Flake's Mormon's in America entitled "Mormon Women" and then talk to my class about polygamy. 

(This is the insightful part coming up right here):

So because you already know about my flaming feminism stage, can you imagine what a charge I got out of this quote by Brigham Young:

We believe that women are useful, not only to sweep houses, wash dishes, make beds and raise babies, but that they should stand behind the counter, study law or physics, or become good book-keepers and be able to do the business in any counting house, and all this to enlarge their sphere of usefulness for the benefit of society at large. In following these things they but answer to the design of their creation.

What?  No stupid or trapped?

And check this out.  Did you know that the early (stupid, trapped, polygamous) Mormon women were smart and strong and independent?  They were the first feminists, and even rubbed shoulders with Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton (who both made the A&E Biography's list of the top 100 most influential people over the past 1,000 years, btw).

Place your hand on your chin right now to keep it from hitting the floor because you're not going to believe these Mormon Dixie Chicks.

They were:

• Politically active, voting 50 years before women’s suffrage, holding positions in the senate, organizing rally’s and speaking out in defense of equal rights for women and for polygamy.

• Socially conscious, sustaining themselves and the community and contributing to many outside communities.

• Educated, often studying law and medicine in the East and then teaching classes to their communities and setting up hospital facilities.

• Spiritually active, exercising the priesthood. Though not officially granted it, they often performed miraculous healings.

• Professionally ambitious, publishing and independent bimonthly magazine proclaiming equality of the sexes and urging educational and professional advancement, all with church approval.  The subtitle of the magazine said "The Rights of Women of Zion and the Rights of Women of all Nations."

Is that incredible (and insightful) or what? 

Emma Smith said "we are going to do something extraordinary . . . we expect extraordinary occasions and pressing calls.  We shall search out the poor and suffering, and call on the rich for aid and, thus as far as possible, relieve the wants of all. 

Say what you will about polygamy, but about the Mormon women who were asked to practice it let me say this:  

 You go, girls!


Kristina P. said...

First, I am doing an Ask Kristina post today. I got nothing.

Second, I'm pretty sure John Mayer would love to be a polygamist. He's already a himbo, so it's the obvious next step.

And 3rd, I have been to a polygamist compound, in Utah with my job. I almost jumped ship right there, when I saw all the sexy outfits.

Emily Anne Leyland ( Art-n-Sewl) said...

Very insightful!!!Thanks!

When Daniel proposed, I wouldn't say yes until he promised that I would always be the only one...hahaha. He was still down on his knee when I made him swear. Ya think I worried about it? LOL

Now- I wouldn't mind some help around my shambles of a home.
OK- not really, but nice thought:)

Becky said...

I'm glad I'm not the only who badgers my husband with ridiculous, but oh-so important questions about the future of our marriage.

Rebecca Talley said...

Very . . . .insightful. I nejoyed your post--quite entertaining.

Lisa (Funny Farmer) said...

Okay this:

"When John Mayer's prophecy came true and I went from being a lover to being a mother, it created a whole new dimension to the fun little quiz-your-lover-about-polygamy-cause-now-I'm-a-mother-and a-stretched-out-stressed-out-mother-at-that-and-I-know-you-wouldn't-be-sitting-by-me-at-the-video-party-so-stop-your-freakin'-lying game.

These games usually ended with my husband stomping off to the bedroom in tears and shouting Why would I want to be married to more than one . . . YOU!"

Made me laugh so hard I was very very glad I had just used the ladies room. Oh. My. Goodness. Every mormon mommy has played this game at some point, and every one of us loses.

Abandonment and rejection issues aside, I can honestly say that there are some women that I wouldn't mind sharing my husband with. I mean, let's be honest - having a woman that I really truly love and get along with around the house to help with the daily grind would be a delight, and if I'm really really honest, I wouldn't even mind if my husband took his energy somewhere else oh about every other night. Or even two nights out of three.

But I'm also in a place in my relationship with my husband that I don't need him emotionally like I once did. I am way-hay more emotionally independent than I was, say even 12 or so years ago. Before then, the mere thought of polygamy made me want to swear like in the post above this one.

The Crash Test Dummy said...

Ha ha ha ha LISA, you so nailed it. If my post wasn't already sooooo long I would have added all that. But those are my sentiments exactly. hee hee So nice to be old.

No wonder we're BBFF's. (Not because we're old, but because . . . you know . . . we're tired. (fortune cookie tired, if you get my drift)

Lisa (Funny Farmer) said...

We're tired... in bed?!


The Crash Test Dummy said...

ARe you okay? Are you choking? ROTFLMAO is a dangerous sound. Should I call 911?

Lisa (Funny Farmer) said...

Yes, call 9-1-1 IN HAWAII and send them to my house in UTAH. Except you don't know where that is.


The Crash Test Dummy said...

Idiot? Ouch.

I HAVE long distance.


The Rogers Family said...

WOW! That was pretty brave and unexpected. That just begs the question, if the church considers it an eternal law, essential part of their past, and so many mormon women(from this blog anyway)seem to support it or at least somewhat indifferent, Why isn't the church fighting for the rights of the Warren Jeffs split off of the mormon church? You don't have to actually answer that. Maybe its more of a comment. Stephen

The Crash Test Dummy said...

RF (namely, my brother)

Because Warren Jeff's is gross!


Annie Valentine said...

I can stay cool about Obama, religion, feminism and ice cream, but polygamy? Jason knows that when the "which wife would you pick" game starts he had better jump ship pronto. I used to worry that I'd have to share him in Heaven with some other righteous single ckicks and felt like, what's the point of Heaven if I have to split my prize? Then I came to the realization that it will be a choice. I don't have to share him EVER.

And as much as I'd love having a girlfriend around, another wife would be cold and lonely at night in our house.

Heidi Ashworth said...

I grew up in a very LDS family, 7 girls and one boy. We are none of us supressed or marginalizied. None of us have run for senate either but I must say I have always been dumbfounded by anyone's ascertations that women in the church are not treated equally. I have not experienced that or felt that. Okay, on to read the clever stuff.

Jami said...

Those admirable ladies in our past had time to be useful in ways other than sex, housekeeping and childcare. They had 1/20th of a husband and more than likely less than that of his attention, love, and spermatozoa. If a wife managed to capture and incubate one of those teensy little s-critters into a baby, she had plenty of built in babysitters. So how many women does it take to keep a large house running. Certainly not twenty. Gives a woman a little slack in the free time department. For hymn-writing and medical school. But I would bet my stash of chocolate that if polygamy had not been suggested, rather than commanded, many a polygamous wife would have chosen more love and less free time.

Oh yeah and my husband'll be holding MY hand during the movie. Extra women get to live in a flimsy tube tent in the backyard. No movies for them.

*MARY* said...

POLYGAMY! AH! I can't bring myself to think about it. Maybe when I'm old like you and Lisa I'll be able to grasp the concept.

Pat said...

Ok, I don't know what happened becaue I totally posted earlier, but somehow it is not showing. And now Lisa said pretty much everything I said/was going to say. Good job Lisa, loved reading your fun back and forth with crash.
And the one thing I said is that these women actually had problems when polygamy ended. How to decide who gets to remain the wife. How hard is that.

Great post, which did cause me to LOL.

Debbie said...

We are of a different religious flavor so I never had to actually worry about polygamy. But I have had very similar conversations with my husband that ended with me wondering how close he came to killing me and being able to just start all over.

The Rogers Family said...

Finally a few posters with some back bone. The Bro

Natalie said...

Oooh- I like this subject. I got hooked on the concept of polygamy when I started watching (aka became addicted to) the show Big Love. I've ran through the list of pros & cons many times. I don't know if I could honestly share my hubby, but I would LOVE to divide up the workload. I think it would be neat to have everyone contribute based on their strengths & interests rather than me trying to wear a bazillion hats and rarely having time to do what I actually like. Just sayin'.

Lisa (Funny Farmer) said...

Backbone? And what exactly is that supposed to mean? Anyone who is reasonably okay with the idea has none, or vice versa?

The Crash Test Dummy said...

Natalie, I love that show too but we have byuh edited television so I only get to watch it when we go to hotels. I totally agree with you about the hats thing.

And Lisa, knowing my bro, I'm thinking it's the vice-versa.

Oops I mean vice versa that. The other way.

The Rogers Family said...

Sarah Pratt
Sarah Pratt insisted that the first wife "should be it, and resented her husband's affections toward his other wives. Being away from home on church assignment was a hallmark of dedication for Mormon males, and during the years 1839-68, Orson Pratt was absent from his home for a total of nearly eleven years. Thirteen children were born during this period. Death took many, and other hands than Orson's usually buried them.

Ultimately Pratt's preoccupation with church work and his habit of marrying much younger women dealt a fatal blow to his relationship with Sarah. After returning from England in early 1868, the fifty-seven-year-old man began courting a sixteen-year-old girl who would become his tenth wife on 28 December 1868. At fifty-one, Sarah could no longer bear children, and she had come to resent bitterly Pratt's relationships with women younger than their oldest daughter. In an 1877 interview she lashed out at him. "Here was my husband," she said, "gray headed, taking to his bed young girls in mockery of marriage. Of course there could be no joy for him in such an intercourse except the indulgence of his fanaticism and of something else, perhaps, which I hesitate to mention."

Sarah castigated polygamy as the "direst curse with which a people or a nation could be afflicted. It completely demoralizes good men, and makes bad men correspondingly worse. As for the women—well, God help them! First wives it renders desperate, or else heart-broken, mean-spirited creatures; and it almost unsexes some of the other women, but not all of them, for plural wives have their sorrows too."

You used a comment from Emma Smith to support polygamy but If you carefully do a comprehensive study of her and polygamy you will find she didn't like it or at least how Joseph used it. Which by the way was never taught to me as a mormon, that is that Joseph was into polygamy. I heard some stories of Brigham Young. The first 7 prophets were all polygamist. Bro

The Crash Test Dummy said...

Gee, thanks bro. Way to be a mood spoiler. ;) But I guess I asked for it. And you warned me. ;)

Yes, unfortunately there is the good, the bad, and the ugly and the corrupted and the corruptible and old men with gray beards like (fortune cookies) and YOUNG fortune cookies, for that matter. (Hate that about old men with gray beards!)

And you're right about Emma, she said that about relief society sisters in general, and I did slide that in at an awkward place hoping you wouldn't notice.

How about this one, Eliza R. Snow, wife to both Joseph Smith and Brigham Young considered the practice a "pure and holy principle, not only tending to individual purity and elevation of character, but also instrumental in producing a more perfect type of manhood mentally and physically."

The whole subject is alarmingly complex.

However, my point is just that WOW! How surprising that some women were able to rise above the complex challenges and contribute to the world in important ways. And the men allowed them to. Encouraged them to, for the most part. That surprised me. I had no idea that polygamous women were the first feminists. I respect that. I think polygamy in some cases was much different than it is today.

Love YA! :)

Oh, and duck, cause here come the rotten tomatoes. I can hear people undoing their seatbelts right now. ;)

The Rogers Family said...

Eliza, wow, you had to use her quote. Great early writer for the church. Some great juicy history from her emma and Joseph, but since the tomatoes are arriving I will bow out and wait to laugh at your next trip to Kmart or the beach. love ya sis. your bro

The Crash Test Dummy said...

oooh, I want to hear the juicy gossip. (In private).

Thanks for FINALLY commenting, bro. Don't make me write about polygamy again to motivate you. :)

Natalie said...

Wow. Orson Pratt was a PLAYER... Statutory rape, anyone?

Mariko said...

I'm pretty sure I'm blogstalking right now, but this is dang hilarious, so I have to reply...
I had a brief fascination (well, lasting fascination) with polygamy after I watched the first season of Big Love (I closed my eyes during all of the sex scenes, don't worry). I have always been totally mortified by the idea, but after I got sucked into the show I started seeing the benefits. A) there's always someone to help with the kids, and B) it's so nice to have someone to talk about marital issues with. I'm not saying I'm jumping on the bandwagon, but I'd like to look into multiple family situations. Just against the sharing husbands part. I want to keep mine to myself. Most days. Sometimes I worry about my supposed emotional independence however. I think I just switched my emotional needs onto my child.

Jami said...

I was feeling all ignored...right up until the award thingy. So please ignore all the pouty sniffing that you never heard; I'm better now.

The Crash Test Dummy said...

Jami, btw, I loved your comments on this post and thought of them many times last night, fyi, so quit your sniveling. (Is that a word? Did I use it correctly?)

Alyson (New England Living) said...

Ok, I totally made my husband swear off the celestial kingdom if it meant that he had to be a polygamist. I'm sticking to that! :-)

The Rogers Family said...

CTD, This is your other bro. I don't care about polygamy because I don't have to. I joke about it, but can't take it seriously. Out of sight out of mind.

I can only image that it would be devastating for anyone committed to a relationship. I say it like that because sex, and sharing usually come up as the negative. In our society where so many people have multiple sex partners with no commitment and seem to be just fine with it (not an expert or even an amature so I may be incorrect in my assumption), then the hurt and devastation must be caused by the intrusion on a commitment, and the feeling of being #1.

When my first child came (as much as I love, and loved him), it soon became apparent that I was sharing my wife. I was no longer #1. I was no longer the one sitting by her during the movie. Now that we are six kids stronger then the day we made our commitment, I enjoy saying hi to her in the hallway, and giving her the occasional slap on the butt.

Over the past 6 months, I have suggested to her on several occasions that perhaps polygamy should be the other way around, because I am overwhelmed trying to provide. A couple of strong healthy males to bring in some extra cash doesn't sound that bad right now.

So certainly each phase of our life may bring out different emotions and thoughts. In the end, I can only imagine spending those twilight moments of life with her. Those other guys will have completed their usefulness. Together we will look back on all the struggles, and all we have accomplished. Having anyone else in that future home video seems to ruin it all. -Eric

The Crash Test Dummy said...

Wow! Two bros in one post! This is unprecidented. And you guys thought I only had one bro.

Actually, I have 3 more, but they don't give me and my rambling the time of day. ;)

Thanks for commenting and I have to say . . . well said. I don't usually think of it that way.

I have to confess that this post actually incited some uncomfortable dialogue between my husband and I last night which was kind of along the lines of what you just blurted out. But also along the lines of what Steve, my other bro, said. (See why I didn't post this on Sunday!)

Is that vague enough for ya?

ha ha

See how I like to incite discussion, but I don't like to have discussion. ;)

The Crash Test Dummy said...

Okay one more comment because the mysterious Mariko has joined us and guess what, she probably wants to remain anonymous, but once you're on the CTD show, you become part of the story line.

That is my daughters English teacher! Aaaaahhhh!

How did you find me?

Do you even know it's me?

And does this mean my daughter gets an A in the class?

First, I can't believe you closed your eyes during the sex scenes. :)

Second, me too.

Third, me too!!

Fourth, ME TOO!!

We should talk like this more often. ;)