Last week on Sister Wives, Valerie Darger stated that the Browns’ live in “blissful confusion.” On this weeks’ episode it’s apparent that they also live in “blissful misinformation and naiveté.”
In the opening scene Kody and Christine are talking to their oldest daughter, Aspyn, who along with Logan and Madison, are going to go and assist an organization called “Holding Out Help.” They will be working with a few teens that are leaving the Kingston group, and FLDS group. Kody and Christine ask their daughter if she feels comfortable defending her position, that polygamy is not abuse. Of course she gives the standard, misinformed and naiveté, response. She states that, “it’s not the fault of polygamy that they had a difficult life, it was like, the leaders.” We’re not even five minutes in and I recoil and shake my head in disbelief.
What does this say for those of us who grew up in independent polygamous groups? In my world, there was no leader, no church, no gathering. I lived mainstream, went to public schools, dressed normal, had “gentile” friends, and so on, and so on. My childhood, I must say, was probably better than many non-polyg kids’. However, as an adult female I can look back and see and feel just how abusive polygamy is to women.
Polygamy by its very nature is a patriarchal religion. Patriarchal means that men are in charge of women. They are not considered equal, and in most polygamous situations their minds, needs and desires are not considered at all.
I would like to say that it’s just Aspyn’s age and lack of experience that prompts her comments, but after watching the rest of the show it’s apparent that her father and mothers are just as naive, indoctrinated, and quite misinformed.
What is Christine afraid of?
Christine made quite a few comments that really surprised me. Sometimes I forget, having been out of it for so long, just how that control of thought process is ingrained into polygamous children. I was shocked to hear that she feels threatened by getting outside help for emotional problems. It is o.k. for her to use a bunch of Prozac for her depression, but not o.k. to talk to a trained professional that might really be able to help her work through some issues and learn some coping skills. So much for this family being so “normal, so mainstream, so just like every other family in America.” Oh I understand, seeking help could be the catalyst for a woman leaving. “What if, God forbid, she helped me get out?” Christine states. How terrible would that be!?! What is it you’re truly afraid of Christine? That your life is dysfunctional and that you really need some help? Whether you stay or go…. you need some help. A catalyst such as a therapist or psychiatrist only shortens the time it takes before you leave. If you don’t physically leave with your body while honoring your soul’s sincere desire, your mind is gone and you will continually cave in, numb out, and feign bliss to keep from going completely mad.
How disappointing and sad it is that your daughters are being trained right back into the same patriarchal, dysfunctional bliss.
Kody states that “It’s not plural marriage that’s bad for them… it’s um…. that women aren’t treated fairly in it.” How are women to be treated “fairly” in a system that is designed to put men in charge? As fair and equitable as a man thinks he is, it will just never be. “If there’s 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,” Kody states as his children head off to Utah to work with Holding Out Help. Perhaps the first place he needs to start to uncover the abuse is within his own family. I think a big problem here is that the Browns’, and most polygamists, don’t view the culture as a whole. Each individual group is so quick to discount another group as soon as they realize that something bad is going on in that group. They all claim to be one “happy” culture until the abuses become public knowledge. They refuse to see the common thread of abuse that runs through all polygamous groups and all families.
I truly felt sorry for Madison. It was obvious that she felt deeply sad about the experiences the other teens had, and was very conflicted about defending a lifestyle that she does not plan to live. It’s a difficult place to be in. I understand. For many years, and to this day, I feel conflicted because my family is one of the more “normal” polygamous families. However, it doesn’t stop me from seeing the big dysfunctional picture.
I know when my sisters are unhappy, and when they’re stuffing, numbing, and checking out to survive it.
Overall I think the teens did a great job of working together and seeing life from others’ perspectives. I was touched when I saw Tonia from Holding Out Help with tears in her eyes. I can’t imagine the amount of abuse and dysfunction that she must see and hear about on a regular basis. Kollene, who left the Kingston group, was very outspoken and truthful. I loved her comments! For her young age, I she sees through all that bull. Although she softened some and enjoyed her time with the Browns, I think she will be able to continue to see the dysfunction in the lifestyle, no matter how great it appears on the surface.
I laughed when Kody stated that he is being judged by Warren Jeff’s deeds. I get where he was going with that, but laughed right out loud! Kody, you have your own reality show. People judge you based on YOU! Be a different person and you’ll be judged differently.
I’m not sure what Christine was trying to say at the end. I watched it three times to try and make heads or tails of it. I think she was trying so hard to defend the lifestyle, to convince people that it’s not the religion that’s the problem, but the people that live it. Overall, it sounded like a stuffy, numbed out, naive, misunderstood comment. I was pretty outraged that she cried and acted as if these terrible acts by other men surprised her. But she, like everyone else around her, plug their ears, close their eyes, and deny that horrible abuse goes on all around them. Robin commented on that very fact. Do the Browns care, that in a sense, they too may be encouraging their daughters to enter into one of those pathetic situations?
Well, all in all, it seemed the Browns’ were pretty happy and all was well, but next week some of the truth comes out when Christine tells Kody that they’re failing as a family! I guess last night’s episode was just a hoax to make everyone think they’re “a normal polygamous family.” Wink, wink!
by Janalee Royal