Polygamy's Latter Day Toll–a dialogue
More polygamy stuff.
In my comments, Elder T. Wanker asked some specific questions concerning polygamy and the impact it has on Mormon women today. Once again, I add the disclaimer that I cannot speak for every woman, only myself. And we know how much baggage concerning sexuality and Mormonism I still tote; with that in mind, I’ll post his questions and attempt to address them as best I can. I do this not only because he’s my favorite contrarian, but because the questions are insightful enough to spawn a whole other post. Thanks, TW.
“I enjoyed your female side of the analysis on how it can play out today. It made me think of a few more questions that might have a bearing on your “red pill” taking young, Mormon housewife —
1. Does it create resentful feelings towards sex with her husband?
2. Does he get thrown in (with all the religious baggage he is toting around) in with the Male polygamous God — Especially if some of the evolutionary attributes described in your post are present?
3. Does it impact her ability to enjoy sex?
4. Does the generic Mormon female equate sexuality and spirituality?
5. Or is it opposite, sex and spirituality become completely antithetical because of her abhorrence of the polygamy doctrine?
I wondered about the first question, and I realized that I really can’t fully remember what it was like to be a young Mormon housewife. I can’t go back and re-create that “brain” and mindset, but I can conjecture pretty well, I think, based on how I feel now.
If polygamy were brought to the forefront of a marriage, as opposed to it staying in the background like the upper echelons of the Church like it to be, I think that polygamy would absolutely impact sex between a married couple. As a woman, I would feel a diminished connection with my husband. Knowing that he was only “all mine” for this Earthly time alone would dampen (and not in a good way) my feelings about the marriage and sex as a whole. As a woman, again, I need to feel special, and I also need the safety and security of knowing that he is there for me and only me–I am his primary relationship. The fact that his tender nature would be divided up between me and another (or other) woman would be difficult and discomfiting, to say the very least. If we don’t feel safe, valued and special, we don’t enjoy sex. Period.
But this is me now. Remembering as best I can what my mindset was like as a Mormon woman, I didn’t have polygamy in my conscious mind; I had the fact that I was sealed for Time and all Eternity, and that my marriage was sanctioned by God. That is what’s in my consciousness, and like so many other issues, the rest can be tucked away in a closet to only be examined under severe duress or life event that forces the examination.
Mormons are taught to take on faith what they don’t understand or what doesn’t make sense. And if they find scripture supporting it, all the better, their own feelings be damned. Intuition can easily be overrode if there is a blueprint of what is absolutely ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ instilled in us, and we follow the blueprint closely. This creates the disintegration of spirit and psyche, and the psyche will win every time if the opposing principals are cloaked in religion to match the conditioning (blueprint).
Now, I know for a fact that I was very pissed at the Mormon God concerning polygamy. Didn’t he understand his daughters? Hadn’t He created us to want only one partner? So why would He instate something (via flaming sword) that was so contrary to our natures, and so analogous to men’s natures? I felt unloved, diminished and betrayed.
And all of this played nicely into the all-male leadership and founding of the Church in general. Only ‘worthy’ men could have the Priesthood. Biologically, any woman can have a child. As a woman, it undermined my feelings of self worth, thus reinforcing my dependence on the Church for my identity and worth/value. Once again, our bodies are what makes us special. And what is said when a woman has a child (in every culture, not just Mormon)? In regards to the father, the saying goes “She gave him a son (daughter)”. Even what is biologically ours defers back to men.
I don’t know if the generic Mormon female equates spirituality and sexuality; I know that the conditioning of ‘sex is bad’ doesn’t just disappear on her wedding day when she is all of a sudden supposed to open her mind, heart and legs to her new husband and it’s all supposed to feel ‘okay’ because they are married. It doesn’t just go away, this connection of shame and sex. It takes a long time for a person to disconnect neural-links that have been set up in the brain. Many people aren’t aware that their beliefs are physiologically encoded in their brain. One would have to be very aware and learned in the skills of neuroplasticity to unravel their conditioning in one sitting. Toss in our cultural beliefs and societal views on female sexuality, not to mention the archetypal Prostitute and Virgin Mother within women’s psyches colliding in the mix, and you’ve got yourself a breeding ground for neuroses and confusion.
So if a woman has shame still attached to sex and she is having sex like a racehorse because she just got married, what is the impact of that on her psyche? Once again, conditioning vs. intuition vs conscious mind–and they are all saying different things. The result is spiritual disintegration. No wonder Mormon women are some of the most prolific anti-depressant users. No wonder they have so many babies; that’s the one role that makes sense. Our biology takes over and we finally get to act with integrity. We get to go back to being the Virgin Mother in our psyches, the role we adopted during our conditioning as an unmarried woman. And when we finally have the child, we can’t have sex for 6 weeks or so, protecting that sacred cavern from whence our new-found life’s purpose and meaning has emerged.
After the baby is born, so many women once again, go against what is intuitively right and go with what our society and culture tells them to do. In some “primitive” (huh don’t even get me started on THAT anthropological conundrum) cultures, when a woman gives birth, the entire community/village keeps her in a lodge or dwelling, and all she does is lay and rest, feed her new baby and spend time with him. Meals are brought in, her other children and cared for, and her whole job is to nurture and be with her new baby. At the end of the bleeding time, she is brought down to a river or stream and ritually washed and bathed, reintroducing her back into her former life.
With the impossible high standards of Mormon–and our whole society’s–ideals, I see women now with babies no more than two weeks old, walking around, shopping at Costco. I can see the giant pads resting between their legs; nature’s way of telling us we are to rest after giving birth. But they ignore it, I ignored it, because we must press on, we must endure. “Think of the poor pioneer women who gave birth on the trail and kept walking.” My mom actually told me this while brushing my hair roughly as I cried.
I can’t speak to the scope of all of the implications polygamy has on all women in Mormondom. I just know how I feel, how I see it and the impact it had on me, and still has, to some extent. The Church had to give women childbirth as their ‘gift’–they had to spin something we naturally do as a ‘blessing’ so that it would bring about equanimity and equality in regards to men having the gift of the Priesthood. It is the worst example of after-thought; like a man coming home from work on his anniversary to a home-made dinner and wife in lingerie, and him giving her lotion from the hotel he stayed at on a business trip. It is an insult. And I am shocked at how many women buy it, hook, line and sinker. And to top it all off, they don’t even get their husband, to whom they ‘gave’ sons and daughters, to themselves in the afterlife.