News on new TV show “Sister Wives”

Dear Network,

The two articles cited above are from news media in Utah reporting that the new television show “Sister Wives” is under investigation.

Thank you, to all, including Info-Secte, who continue to fill my email box with the news of this show.  I have chosen to send out Shelley Fralic’s article in the Vancouver Sun because she gives us a good overview of the show.

A woman I work with said quietly to me, “What! Are they going to start shoving polygamy down our throats now?”  My cohort also expressed her worry for the four children of the fourth wife, Robyn.  Step-children are particularly at risk for abuse.  Many of us where I work are retired from other careers.  This woman shows incite that she once worked in the social field.

Please review paragraph five closely.  Who else keeps calendar charts for conjugal visits?  Who else has said in interviews, “I don’t have my own space.”

I don’t think I would use the word “fascinating” to describe any show about polygamy.  “Fascinating” means “having great attraction or charm.” (The Oxford Paperback Dictionary, 1988)  My description would be “absolutely disgusting.”

In the news clip from KSL cited above:

“Christine Brown, Kody Brown’s third wife, told KSL, “We’re not living this lifestyle out of disrespect for the law in any way. We’re law-abiding citizens. We’re doing this just out of our faith.”

“We are not members of the LDS Church,” she added. “They banned polygamy a long time ago, and we actually need to make that certain to protect the Church and to let people know that that’s not part of their belief.””

Very personal note:  Yes, Christine, the LDS Church believes in polygamy.  It doesn’t practice polygamy.  They have never rescinded Section 132, Doctrine & Covenants.  When a Mormon woman goes through the temple ceremony to become a wife for time and all eternity to her husband (priesthood head), her given name is taken away from her.  She is given only a first name.  The name that was given to me was Edna.  This is the name my husband was to use to call me from the grave in the first resurrection.  Does anyone understand what I am saying here?  My soul could not even be resurrected without a man.  My expressed role was to go to the celestial kingdom with my husband and accept a harem of wives for him so he could have sex with them forever.  The juxtaposition that caused for me in my young mind is indescribable.  The missionaries told my family expressly, “Oh, we don’t do that anymore” when asked about the practice of polygamy.  That is a lie.

It was only when I studied Dr. Robert Lifton’s rules of mind control (brainwashing) some twenty years later in a sociology course at the University of Alberta that I was able to start seeing clearly what had happened to me.  Fearing for my soul and my very salvation, I finally summed up the courage to divorce and get away from Mormonism.

I was not in my right mind when I joined the “family dream” of Mormonism with other members of my family when I was so young.  Any woman in her right mind would not consent to be a member of a harem of women (even if it is in heaven!)

My peace of mind was shattered when I found out (Oct. 2003) that polygamy exists and breeds like fleas, bleeding our social systems, causing untold social harm.  That the crime of polygamy is practiced with impunity. I started this campaign; and, as long as I have breath in my body, I will oppose polygamy.

How could we?  How could we just stand by and let it happen?  Someone has to say NO!

By the way, my name is Nancy.

Nancy Mereska, President
Stop Polygamy in Canada

Polygamy Violates Human Rights

Thank you, Shelley, for a very good review of a show I will never watch.

From: Info-Secte []
Sent: Tuesday, September 28, 2010 6:37 AM
To: ‘Info-Secte’
Subject: I do, I do, I do: When one wife is not enough

I do, I do, I do: When one wife is not enough

New reality TV show Sister Wives provides compelling insight into the unsettling subject of polygamy

By Shelley Fralic, Vancouver Sun

September 28, 2010

It is only minutes into Sister Wives, the new TLC reality show about a polygamist family, when you figure out what’s in it for Kody Brown.

Kody has been a polygamist his entire adult life, and while it’s not legal in Utah where he lives (or anywhere else in the U.S. or Canada), he was born into the culture, inculcated by his polygamist father and the Mormon community in which he was raised.

And so, 20 years ago, Kody married Meri and then Janelle a few years after that and then Christine a few years after that.

Like most fundamental church-based beliefs, polygamy is a man’s world and it’s clear from the Sunday night premiere of the seven-part Sister Wives that what’s in it for Kody, who is a charming youthful man with much energy and rock-star hair, is that life is a smorgasbord of interesting if compliant women, with Kody as some kind of working-class American gigolo representing the main course.

He earnestly tells viewers in the first episode that he’s doing the show because he wants to “come out of the closet” and stop hiding his lifestyle from the world, and then goes on to walk us through his life, through his home’s three separate apartments, with their separate kitchens and bedrooms, and he chats about keeping a calendar to chart his rotating conjugal services and admits he often gets confused about what door he’s walking through, joking that “I don’t have my own space.”

The show is at once compelling and unsettling, partly because for Kody and his wives, and their 12 (soon to be 13) children, life does seem rather normal. They kiss and hug and fight and bicker. They complain about chores and go to the mall and worry about the future.

The kids seem bright and content, and it’s clear from the first episode that theirs is a loving home where everyone pitches in, from cooking to child care.

It is perhaps this puzzling dichotomy of polygamy, and the fact that many sister wives practise it willingly while others, clearly, do not, that has turned plural marriage into a new pop culture business, as Hollywood capitalizes on our curiosity.

Sister Wives is the real-life version of the HBO hit Big Love, a scripted tale of a man with several wives. On the big screen, actress Katherine Heigl is about to star in a movie based on the story of Carolyn Jessop, who escaped a polygamist sect. If it all has a ripped-from-the-headlines feel that’s because the subject has been much in the news in recent years with a number of high-profile court cases, from Bountiful in B.C. to Utah polygamist prophet Warren Jeffs, who was charged in 2006 with incest and sexual contact with minors and jailed in 2007 following a conviction for rape.

Sister Wives is many things, but mostly it’s fascinating, and a surprising eye-opener for those who have opinions, if not knowledge, about the troubling issues around polygamy.

If Kody seems the big winner in the lifestyle, his wives will tell you they are no less happy with the arrangement. Meri and Christine were raised in polygamist families, while Janelle, though a Mormon, was not. They are smart and articulate, offering no apologies about why they willingly, as young adult women, chose to be sister wives. Plural marriage works for them, they say, and if they seem at times like some kind of Stepford version of a polygamy ad campaign, all pretty and polished, there is a twisted logic listening to them talk about their upbringing, about their roles (Christine is the stay-at-home mom while Meri and Janelle work outside the home, as does advertising salesman Kody), about who has sex with Kody (all of them, but not together because “we don’t do weird”), about jealousy and child-rearing and fears and finances and what they know is criticism in wider society.

In USA Today, Janelle put it this way: “The women in our family chose this life, often over the option to pursue traditional monogamous relationships. We are very happy, and our children are extremely well adjusted. We have raised our children talking about choice and consequence in a very real fashion and emphasize personal choice in their lives. We emphasize education for our children and do not condone underage or arranged marriages.”

The premiere episode also focused on Kody’s announcement that he is not only “courting” another woman, 16 years after his last marriage, but is thinking of asking her to join the family. Robyn, of course, eventually becomes wife No. 4, after much emotional discussion among the sister wives, and brings her four children to the Brown fold, boosting the size of the family to 21.

“Love,” says Kody, in explaining the family expansion, “should be multiplied, not divided.”

Sister Wives is at once compelling and repellent, and as the family works its way through their on-air exhortations, we await the discussion on how receptive Kody might be to his wives taking on a few brother-husbands.


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