Why Patriarchal Polygamy is NOT a Matter of Consenting Adults
Tomorrow, January 17, 2013 at 3:00 in the afternoon, you might be able to catch a glimpse of a few celebrities on the courthouse steps in Salt Lake City, Utah. You might see me there too. I’ll be the woman in red flanked by multiple husbands in matching frumpy white shirts, thanking God that I live in America, the land of the free.
One of my husbands hopes to ask Kody Brown, star of the television show “Sister Wives,” if he would like to join our family and become a “brother husband” in the coolest, most creative family in Las Vegas. As a brother husband, he will have to fit into my rotating sex schedule, of course. His voice will join the chorus of frantic men who yell SHOTGUN! every time we have to pile in the car. He’ll be assigned to cook on Thursdays, do laundry for 43 people on Saturdays and during the week, from 7 am to 5 pm, he’ll be responsible for dressing, feeding, homeschooling and entertaining 31 sticky-faced, tattling children who are the offspring of his sexual rivals. If each child moves just one crayon or toy out of place per hour for eight hours, at the end of the day, Kody will have to pick up 248 doodads – so he has to stay on top of the kids every minute. If he gets too frustrated when these kids (who are not even his) refuse to listen, he might get impatient, go against the family rules, and resort to spanking to teach obedience. That would be wrong, but…
Obedience is everything.
Kody might be too overwhelmed to snake the glob of gummy worms out of the toilet, hang with his fellow patriarchs, memorize D&C 132 (the polygamy revelation) or accomplish anything that builds his manly esteem, but when the cameras come around, he will probably explain, with tears in his eyes, what a joy it is to know he is doing God’s will and serving others. The other brother husbands can be trusted to swoon to the media over how liberating it is to have built-in childcare.
When my husbands get jealous of each other, I punish them by giving their sex night away. I usually give it to my favorite husband (who they resent because he is my first husband, aka the King Bee), but the lesser husbands are not allowed to whine. No way. If they do, I will punish them again, maybe by making them a slave to the King Bee for the next 6 months. Sometimes I have to publicly humiliate them or play mind games. I wish I didn’t have to do this, but squashing negative feelings is the only way to keep positivity in the house. I have to be obeyed.
My husbands are free to leave me of course. But if they do, they believe they will be tormented by the “buffetings of Satan” until they die, and then will burn in hell. They are reminded about this every Sunday, and they get examples of the horror that befell the husbands who ran away, so it is deeply ingrained in them that leaving is not worth it in the eternal scheme of things. Imagining the “buffetings of Satan” causes children to have nightmares and grown men to shake in their boots. Since Kody had to have deep convictions to even become a plural husband, he would know he has to endure to the end. After a lifetime of decisions and sacrifices made to prove his worthiness to God, why would he leave and throw it all away now? His brainwashed brain would not even consider it.
Brainwashing Impairs Free Will
Dr. Kathleen Taylor, in her book, Brainwashing – The Science of Thought Control, states that neuroscience “shows that brainwashed individuals have more rigid pathways in their deep convictions, and that rigidity can make it unlikely that the individual will rethink situations or be able to later reorganize these pathways. The neuronal behaviors of brainwashed people behave so differently, critical thinking is nearly impossible.”
This leaves me in great shape! I can have one husband rub peppermint oil on my feet while another massages my shoulders with cocoa butter while another one serenades me with a few Michael Buble covers and two other husbands work like a team making apple pies in the kitchen. I get to sleep with a different husband every night, and since this will be a special night for him, he will perform his very, very best to please me. He’ll shower me with superhuman affection, compliment my matronly body as if I’m an 18-year old with no stretch marks or cellulite, and humble me with detailed descriptions of his vast respect for me as a woman of God. He would rather have 10% of a godly woman like me, than 100% of a worldly woman like Taylor Swift any day. His goal is to become my favorite husband. He knows I want my husbands to be unselfish, so he’ll suppress his natural physical needs for bonded personal intimacy and he’ll even publicly state in front of cameras that he would gladly welcome another husband into the family if it was what God thought was best.
And as the head of the family, I get to decide what God thinks is best!
Life can’t get any better than this!
My husbands know they are bound to me forever and they know that I am the one who will determine where they will spend eternity, so that gives me a lot of power. And it causes their brains to find a way to be okay with their abuse.
And it is abuse.
The Evidence, The Evidence
Let me start by reminding you that Canada is not run by Mitt Romney. Canada legalized same-sex marriage in 2004, and they legalized prostitution in 2012, but when citizens and lawmakers sought to overturn the ban on polygamy, after reviewing the most comprehensive judicial record on polygamy ever produced in the history of the world, Chief Justice Bauman declared that there was too much harm to individuals and society as a whole to justify legalizing polygamy.
In his decision, Chief Justice Bauman outlined some of the harms:
- Women in polygamous relationships are at an elevated risk of physical and psychological harm.
- They face higher rates of domestic violence and abuse, including sexual abuse.
- Competition for material and emotional access to a shared husband can lead to fractious co-wife relationships.
- These factors contribute to the higher rates of depressive disorders and other mental health issues that women in polygamous relationships face.
- They have more children, are more likely to die in childbirth and live shorter lives than their monogamous counterparts.
- They tend to have less autonomy and report higher rates of marital dissatisfaction and lower levels of self-esteem.
- They also fare worse economically, as resources may be inequitably divided or simply insufficient. [Decision, Item 8]
Regarding Harms to Children
- Children in polygamous families face higher infant mortality, even controlling for economic status and other relevant variables.
- They tend to suffer more emotional, behavioral and physical problems, as well as lower educational achievement than children in monogamous families.
- These outcomes are likely the result of higher levels of conflict, emotional stress and tension in polygamous families.
- In particular, rivalry and jealousy among co-wives can cause significant emotional problems for their children.
- The inability of fathers to give sufficient affection and disciplinary attention to all of their children can further reduce children’s emotional security.
- Children are also at enhanced risk of psychological and physical abuse and neglect. [Decision, Item 9]
Supreme Court of British Columbia
Section 293 of the Criminal Code of Canada, 2011 BCSC 1588
For a more exhaustive list of documented harms, please visit
The verdict was in.
Polygamy was inherently harmful, and it was fueled by the imbalance of power, manipulation and psychological abuse.
Polygamy could never again be compared to gay marriage as just another example of consenting adults.
Gay marriage is based on love and equality. The partners choose each other, and if a partner wants to leave, there are no eternal consequences.
It is almost impossible to leave polygamy when you are brainwashed to believe it’s God’s will. Neuroscientist and brainwashing expert Kathleen Taylor writes, “A devout believer in God does not hold this conviction in isolation from all his other beliefs; rather, it provides the emotional bedrock for much of his existence. Such beliefs can be extremely hard to change. Changing a strong belief is like cutting one of the main supporting strands: the entire structure of the (neuronal) web may be changed or even destroyed.”
Leaving the system you have been brainwashed to believe is such a traumatic event, it can create psychosis. To make it out alive, you must first navigate your way through a tunnel of terror when the entire worldview upon which your brain is structured is shattered into a thousand pieces of disconnected chaos, held together only by throbbing strands of fear. It would be like running for your life to get away from a crazed madman with a chainsaw, when you hit a wall, so you scramble to climb it, then realize it happens to be the Berlin Wall and 40 soldiers aim their guns at you. And you hear them cock.
I should know. I was once brainwashed to believe that polygamy was God-ordained. I bought into all the benefits of the lifestyle you can read on any pro-polygamy web site. Enter a righteous, charming man of God with experience in polygamy who was represented to be a prophet. He wanted me for a wife. He beguiled me. No sooner had I taken the step of faith, that I found myself entrapped by the mind games of a psychopath. When he delivered God’s word through revelation, I was mandated by God to financially support him and his new wife-to-be for the rest of my life. To do otherwise would mean all the sacrifices I had ever made to spend my eternity in the presence of God with my children, would now be in vain. I tried a million times to see beyond the wall. Like a desperate hunter, I stalked the information beast seeking a truth that would enable me to break free from my slavery and my suffering without sending me to hell. I asked him and his fiancee over and over if they were deceiving me, but without flinching, they reassured me it was all absolutely true every single time. My brain throbbed with stress trying to make sense of things, but I couldn’t see the truth. I really did try. I did. My convictions in a false reality were just too much of a tar baby for the truth to set me free. When I took a step towards freedom, my brain just shut down.
Blank. I tried to engage my critical thinking, but I couldn’t get it to kickstart. The truth was like the memory of a death in the family that my mind had to block out. My brain, exhausted from the confusion, pummeled with false information and excruciating psychological punishments from the psychopath prophet who wanted to own my soul, could take no more. It gave me only one way to survive: just do what I was told, endure the suffering, and hope for a better hereafter. I felt like a slave, but I thought I was free. Kathleen Taylor, in Brainwashing, describes the similarity between brainwashing and torture in that they both seek to dominate the victim. “Successful brainwashing leaves victims unaware of their new-found slavery; they still regard themselves as free, responsible agents. Unless their brainwashing becomes a matter of public knowledge, society will make the same judgment,” writes Taylor.
Coercion is not Consent
Polygamy is not a matter of consenting adults. The imbalance of power in patriarchal polygamy is so staggering, consent to the lifestyle is less valid than a judge who uses his power and influence to threaten to imprison a woman for life if she doesn’t choose to have sex with him “of her own free will.” In law, undue influence involves one person taking advantage of a position of power over another person. It is where free will to bargain is not possible.
I thought I chose my lifestyle. I thought I was a consenting adult. But I wasn’t. I was a true believer, and my prophet husband knew this, and he knew that the threat of eternal damnation was more powerful than a gun to my head. So when I did what he wanted, I acted not out of consent, but out of coercion. Loyola Law Professor Kathleen Kim, in her paper The Coercion of Trafficked Workers explains that coercion serves to “invalidate any consent that may have been given and to render impermissible any actions derived from the consent.” I had learned to be submissive, and to believe it was my own choice when I was carrying out someone else’s desires. And I almost trained myself to be happy with it.
And so do the women of polygamy.
Now that I get this, I have learned how to manipulate my husbands, for their own good, of course. They no longer complain when I mistreat them. In fact, they smile as if they are supportive when I kiss and fawn over my newest husband in front of them, even though I know they are dying inside. I’m proud when they set such a good example for our sons. This way, if Sister Smith, a righteous 57-year old woman of God wants my 18-year old son as a husband, even if it shatters his lifelong dream of going to MIT where he was overjoyed to be accepted into the computer science program, he will give up his own desires for the will of God. He will agree to be bound to her, and only her, forever, even though she can keep bringing home new men.
And so can I. The young men can always say no, but if I ask it and they believe I speak for God, in the end they will consent because it is God’s will. I love God!
That’s why you will find me on the courthouse steps, dressed in red, surrounded by my wonderful, supportive husbands who will all be advocating for the decriminalization of the polygamy lifestyle. And they will be smiling, because they know it is God’s will.
When it comes to enslaving people for my own advantage and getting away with it legally, God is the power tool in my back pocket.
DISCLAIMER: Obviously, I don’t really have multiple husbands, I was just trying to make a point. I have nothing against Kody Brown personally, and would love to have the sister wives come to our studio for a fun visit and some very mild but well-deserved sinning, like a cup of tea, a makeover and a stunning photo shoot. I apologize for disrespecting anyone’s religion. But women deserve to treated with equality and respect, and legalizing patriarchal polygamy is not the answer. Just sayin’.
For more information about why polygamy is not a matter of consenting adults, read
Selective Amnesia: What We Must Forget in Order To Justify the Legalization or Decriminalization of Patriarchal Polygamy