When I watched Sister Wives on TLC, the reality show that follows a Mormon polygamist family, I saw four women (the wives) brainwashed into an oppressive system, and a man trying to make some easy money to support his large family.
But if I still felt that way, there wouldn’t be a very interesting arc to this post.
Now that I’ve read their book, Becoming Sister Wives, written in the form of alternating essays by Kody Brown and his wives, Meri, Janelle, Christine and Robyn, I see their family very differently. I wouldn’t choose to live this way — and I’d be pretty concerned if a friend or relative chose to, based on what I think they’d be giving up. But I don’t think that families like the Browns should be illegal or discriminated against.
While I still think Kody is an arrogant jerk*, I don’t think those four women are being oppressed or exploited, and I think their kids are actually growing up in a healthy family. Sure, maybe if the parents had been raised in a different culture, their beliefs and choices now would be different. But the same can be said for any of us. The Browns aren’t hurting themselves or their children any more than other conservative religious parents might “hurt” their children by teaching that most kinds of sex (the most fun ones) are sinful. In an interview, Janelle even impressively predicted that, statistically, at least one of their sixteen kids is gay.Read more