If Elissa could change anything, she wouldn’t have made that special meal for her ten brothers and sisters, and her three mothers. Trying to brighten the Polygamous house with flowers on the table had the catastrophic effect of drawing her step-father’s notice. Such domesticity told him the girl was ready to wed, ready to birth the babies that would populate her husband’s future planet. At fourteen, Elissa, threatened with damnation, had to submit to the Prophet’s command and marry her repulsive 19 year-old first cousin.
Abandoned by her parents to rape and abuse, Elissa survived four miscarriages and an attempted suicide. She fled the Mormon paradise and helped convict Fundamentalist Prophet, Warren Jeffs, as an accessory to rape. I would love to ask her what she thinks of the February 2010, National Geographic feature which claims:
“Members of the faith describe the life…as idyllic, one in which old-fashioned devotion and neighborly cooperation are emphasized and children are raised in a wholesome environment…Critics, on the other hand, see the FLDS as an isolated cult (of) rigid social control. To spend time in Hildale and Colorado City is to come away with a more nuanced view.”
“It would seem there’s another lure for women to stay: power. It makes sense when one begins to grasp that women are coveted to “multiply and replenish the earth,” while men are in extraordinary competition to be deemed worthy of marriage by the prophet. As a result, what has all the trappings of a patriarchal culture, actually has many elements of a matriarchal one.”
The girls of Mormon Polygamy are raised exclusively for marriage to men selected for them. They share their husbands with other women whose clothing and hairstyles are identical. At a moment’s notice, they can be involuntarily transferred to another husband, their children can be married off or expelled. Regardless of aptitude or preference, the girls have no opportunity for higher education or a profession. Only the grossest dereliction of objectivity could present this existence as a beneficial or enticing female power-structure. Where is the outcry against National Geographic for designating as “matriarchal,” a religious culture simply because women are the objects of male desire for children and multifarious sexual gratification.
According to Aristotle, the family is the basis of society, without which there is no stable order. All revolutions target the structure and integrity of the family. Today, the radicalized branches of most organized religions promote the “Mental Burqa,” an extremist, neo-pagan concept of the woman and her social significance. This vision considers women, not as individuals with autonomous significance or unique potential for contribution to society due to their specific talents and aptitudes. They are seen, rather, as contingent, interchangeable, biological functionaries, mindless generatives. They are feared as potential intruders in the “domain of men,” as sexual distractions and, in cases of “aberration,” as superior intellects threatening man’s right to governance.
The Evangelical patriarchy movement, many Traditionalist Catholics, the radicalized Muslims, and the Fundamentalist Mormons are all weaving the “Mental Burqa.” Pretending to counter Feminism, it is this error’s mirror version of the Marxist construct of gender struggle.
Presenting the FLDS as an unfamiliar but benign religion that women have the right to embrace sounds oh-so-diverse and post-Western. It costs the journalists nothing to craft this enlightened myth; though the price is dearly paid by the child victims of the American Taliban. National Geographic joins the ranks of irresponsible bards clamoring for religious freedom while enslaving thousands of women, women who do not, who never did have the ability to make an informed decision because of the moral, intellectual and physical coercion with which they were raised.
It is imperative that we fight the Fundamentalist Mormon version of “Sharia Law,” in spite of the religious disguise beneath which it conceals its true nature.