I keep seeing sooo many blogs ridiculing that clip of the women from the LDS-breakoff compound in Texas. They’re robots, they’re brainwashed, they’re as interesting as oatmeal, they’re frumpy, they’re ugly, they’re dressed like Laura Ingalls, they sound coached . . . it just goes on. Many people are demonizing these women, but most are simply laughing their asses off at them.
Well, I’m not. I can’t see anything the least bit comical in that interview. What I see, instead, are three women who have been raised to be gentle, soft-spoken, modest, and kind, thrust into the glare of the public spotlight days after their children were taken from them at gunpoint and the safe insular world that’s all they’ve ever known was torn apart. I see three women standing up to that pressure with incredible grace and strength, doing everything in their power, from breaking their culture’s rules of personal modesty to parroting lawyer-penned lines, to show the world that they’re not child-raping freaks so that they can just get their babies back. I see a fucking TRAGEDY here, and my heart goes out to them.
I do not agree with the practices of the Poly-Mormons. Hell, I just don’t like Mormonism. I also am not a fan of child-rape. But that isn’t what happened there, and nobody seems to understand that.
Picture the scene. You’re a girl, you’re fifteen, you’ve been getting visits from the cardinal for a couple of years now. You live in a culture where there is no independent role for women outside the home. Your parents come to you and say they’ve found a man they’d like you to marry, an older man who is stable and can provide for you and your children and who will treat you kindly. They never say the words, “you have to”, but they’re implied—after all, you’ve been raised to obedience.
You’re not at a Mormon compound in Texas—you’re a free-born American farmgirl born in the year 1835. Or an English noblewoman born in 1532, or a Russian peasant born in 1746. Basically, you’re any girl born anywhere in the world before the twentieth century.
In our modern culture we seem to equate “marriage to underaged girls” with “brutal rape of babies.” Not so. These “children” were probably quite a bit less traumatized by their wedding night than I was by losing my virginity against my will at roughly the same age. Hell, they’re less traumatized than their male counterparts, countless of whom are exiled and abandoned because with the old men marrying multiple young girls, they have no prospects of a wife and family and therefore no place in their culture. But that’s another beef, for another time.
I’m not trying to defend the practices of these “cults”, although I could, to an extent. I’m defending Nancy, Esther, and Marie from the demonization that is being heaped upon their bowed heads. These women were not knowingly commending their daughters into the hands of slavering, abusive child-rapists. They were marrying them off to provider-husbands, as their culture believed. They’re not Koreshians sending their ten-year-old daughters off to a “spiritual marriage” with a slimy cult leader, they’re simply doing what their mothers did, what their grandmothers did, what YOUR great-great-grandmother probably did. They are living the life to which they were born in the best manner possible, and now that life has been torn out from under them. Imagine what you’d feel like if suddenly THEY were the majority, and came storming into your home and confiscated your children because you’d been a horribly abusive monster for letting your 17-year-old daughter dress like a hooker. Myself, I’d be a pissed-off, fire-spitting, enraged dragon-lady. I would not have the strength to sit in front of a camera and quietly, gently, and smilingly defend my way of life. I’d make an ass out of myself, and where would that get me?
Again, I’m not saying that I believe the way these people live is “right”. I’m also not saying it’s “wrong”. It’s most certainly different, but not so much so in a historical context. I’m just saying that no matter the findings of abuse that may or may not come out of the investigation, there is no call to humiliate these women further with public ridicule. They have suffered more in the past few weeks than you or I, G-d willing, will ever suffer in our entire lifetimes. They are terrified, they are lost, and they are despairing. And yet they still have the strength to go on a television program where they knew they were going to be torn apart for their beliefs, and answer questions calmly, gently, and smilingly. They have comported themselves with more grace than I could ever hope to. That’s not “brainwashing”, folks, that’s fucking CLASS. I admire these women for that. And that’s all I’m going to say on the subject.