The show ‘Sister wives’ fascinates me. I started watching the show when it first came out because, to be honest, I found Polygamy incredibly confronting. The idea that a religion views marriage differently depending on if you are a male or female really pushed my buttons due to the inequality I saw it to be. Also I kept imagining myself in the wives position, watching my partner form an intimate relationship with someone else, not just right under my nose, but with my approval. I tried to imagine waving goodnight to my partner as they walked into someone else’s room for a night of intimacy- and i’ll be honest, it made me feel all kinds of weird.
What I love about sister wives though, is the fact that it offers a different view. I do not have to like polygamy for me. I do not have to think that it is the true way to live life. I do however have to respect that some people do believe that this is the way to live, and truly feel fulfilled living this lifestyle, and I do have to remember that this is o.k (because if you believe common attitudes- anything that deviates too far from catholic/protestant law is generally NOT o.k.).
After the initial airing of the show, legal action was taken against the Brown family, and they had to move to a state that would allow them to live in freedom. In my mind this is wrong, and I suppose it is why I am writing this post, to show my support for this family.
Thinking about the way the Browns were targeted made me wonder, would the issues in Utah with Warren Jeffs gotten so bad had have the world permitted the polygamous lifestyle? Insisting that “these people” keep their “abnormal” religion to themselves and encouraging segregation, only stood to further isolate the victims from the outside world, and the people that could free them from the child marriages. From what I understand (and I have read a lot about this case) initially the law turned a blind eye to this sect, taking a “as long as I don’t have to see it, I don’t care what happens approach” until the increasing numbers of runaway members became undeniable. I think had have Warren Jeff’s been able to keep his members from leaving nothing would have ever been done. That scares me.
In an episode of Sister Wives, some of the Brown children assisted a charity that supports people that flea such sects and during the interview scenes the following statement made by Kody Brown, the patriarch, really resonated with me: ‘If there is abuse or if there is evil, I don’t want them turning a blind eye to it, I want them to understand it so that they can oppose it.’ (Sisterwives Season 3, episode 16).
In order to be able to identify the difference between lifestyles that genuinely are a gross violation of human rights (forcing young girls to wed) as opposed to people simply choosing to live an alternate lifestyle, we need to be able to understand what is happening. Ask questions, have conversations, and not simply write something off because it leaves us feeling a wee bit uncomfortable.
I commend the Brown family for putting their lives on show. I am not going to pretend they don’t have their own agenda, and are being completely altruistic, but I also think that they have chosen a somewhat more difficult life for themselves in order to promote positive change. It would be wonderful if more people were life that.
If polygamy- or any lifestyle for that matter- makes you uncomfortable, I urge you to learn about it before making a decision. Research the different religions that allow it, and the people that practice it.
I also urge you to communicate, have conversations with people who do practice religions/lifestyles that differ from your own. Ask the questions, but also keep an open mind. Understand that true normality is variety, that we will all make different decisions on how we do or don’t practice religions, and that true love, acceptance and kindness to all should never be conditional.