05 September 2008

Why Guilt is Optional

I accidentally typed "Why Guild is Optional." However, going to Quilt Guild is not optional because it is my one guaranteed time per month to get out of the house and not be interrupted by small children for two whole hours.

Guilt, as opposed to Guild, is totally optional. I just finished reading the book Escape, by Carolyn Jessop, who experienced all those horrible things less than thirty miles away from my home town, while I was busy going to school and living in a happy home with good parents and no abuse. I see Polygamist women and children almost every time I go to Walmart. I used to serve at a restaurant, and I got fantastic tips from groups of Polygamist men and non-tips from groups of women. I could feel guilty about all the uncharitable thoughts I had about the stingy women and the way they tip and coif and dress. But what good would that do?

Guilt is optional because it inhibits action. Rather than beat ourselves up about the world's suffering, we need to just do something about the problems we see. So my question is: What should we do about Polygamy? From what I can see most of the abusive and horrible ones who used to live here have gone off to Texas, so they are not really in my circle of immediate influence anymore. Alex and I have been discussing this because he read the book, too. He thinks legalizing Polygamy would help because if the marriages were on the books they couldn't do it to little girls anymore. I think they would just not get marriage licenses. We also want to go put a sign with our phone number by the side of the road so any woman can call us if she wants out. We're just thinking it would get torn down too quickly.

I definitely respect their right to practice their religion even if I don't agree with them. My grievances are as follows:

-If women want a way out, they should be allowed. Police sending them back to the abusers really ticks me off.

-No one should be assigned to marry someone he or she doesn't want to marry. I think it is okay to arrange marriages if both parties are accepting of the spouse and practice. Arranged marriages have a lower divorce rate, but the whole young girl-old man-terror-borderline rape thing really gets my goat.

-Education absolutely needs to be required to at least a high school level. Even home schooling needs some sort of assessment and accountability out there.

-There were many more as I read, but I better not neglect my kids anymore. (Even though guilt is optional. Ha ha.)

So what should we do? Guilt is optional. Action is not. Please discuss.


Gina said...

I wanted to read that book, it sounds so fascinating- but not in a good way. Now I'll definitely check it out. I'm one of those feel-guilty- then-do-nothing types. Sorry. I don't think legalizing would help, but I think more education would.

melbert said...

I read Stolen Innocence by Elissa Wall and I found it a good read that seemed honest and fair, I would recommend it as another insight into both the good and the very bad of the FLDS. What I wouldn't recommend is the book by Carolyn Western. It has a really long title that includes "in the world of Warren Jeffs". The woman is an English professor at Dixie, but I got very hung up on her poor punctuation and limited vocabulary! I also have a hard time believing the stories she relayed are in fact from escaped polygamist women.

Amy said...

I think that legalizing polygamy is a very interesting idea. There is another group of polygamists out by Colorado City that are very anti-Warren Jeffs and they (men and women alike) are quite happy in their lifestyle. The wives are all relatively close to the same ages and are friends. They see it as a great chance to have people help you raising your kids. I still am not sure how I feel about having to share my husband, but maybe that is not a huge issue, or the benefits outweigh that negative aspect, I am not sure. What I do know is that without the abuses to women, young women especially, I do not care if others practice polygamy. I guess I am someone who takes the approach of I don't care if you do it as long as you don't expect me to do it or agree with it. I definitely think that a woman should have a choice to leave the situation if she does not like it.

Hey It's Di said...

I agree with all your grievances about polygamy. It would be great to see changes in laws that would force them to be accountable so that some of these practices wouldn't continue.

amy said...

jen, this is a really tough, distressing issue for me, too. sexual assault is such a big problem in utah and, since the law mandates that a person must be 18 years old to consent, period, any girl "married" before that age is a victim of rape according to the law, and according to me. if the perpetrator is a relative then, by george, the victim can add incest to her list of grievances.

sometimes i think that smothering the real meaning in a situation behind euphamistic politically-sanctioned semantics allows folks to continue turning blind eyes. if we acknowledged that the 'husbands' would be mroe accurately called 'perpetrators' and the 'wives' 'victims' i think we would be off to a better start.

incidentally, i think legalizing seems like a pretty good idea. as with the (laughable) war on drugs, i think that shoving polygamous abuse into a closet creates far more trouble than it solves. these topics bring out my inner libertarian.

Anonymous said...

I read the book, and I didn't exactly enjoy the experience for obvious reasons, but I've had time to digest all the information and form some opinions.

Legalizing polygamy brings up a very good question: if it's not legal now, how in the world do all these communities get away with it?! We know they're there, already, and we know what they're doing!

Silly question, I know. But I had to ask. What good would it do to put all those people in jail? Brings to mind a little history...

In the meantime, I appreciate everyone's comments. I have to admit, I haven't thought about the reality of such a solution. It's certainly something to think about.