Friday, April 18, 2008

I'm all for religious freedom

...but this is just enough of this. I have a hard time being able to form an opinion on the state of women in certain religions because I'm coming from a white Catholic perspective and so there are a lot of things that are not normal to me. But usually I see the value in these things and learn to accept them.

For some reason, fundamentalist Mormons who engage in polygamy have never been one that I've been able to accept. One of my favorite shows, Big Love, took a long time for me to get into because it involved the idea of plural marriage (which is the PC term for polygamy). I'm even watching a history of the Mormon faith that was produced by PBS's Frontline. Yet I still don't get it. I now get that Big Love is more than just that (and it's a different take on it as well) but I still find myself begging the female characters to take off and do what they want. Yet they never do.

So throughout this whole Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints situation in Texas I have found myself somewhat unnaturally and uncomfortably on the side of the government agents trying to get the women and children out of there. The stories started--especially about the one girl who alerted authorities to her marriage at the age of 15--and I've watched in somewhat sad amazement as hundreds of women and children dressed as pilgrims left the Texas compound in droves.

And I still can't help but believe that the women went back because they feel compelled to--not out of a sense of faith or religious belief, but out of a brainwashed and disturbing form of group consciousness. Now the children are engaged in a custody battle that is factually scattered, legally tense and politically poised for disaster. Some of the girls have been pregnant at ages as young as 13. THIRTEEN. And it's not that they engaged in intercourse out of their own experimentation or free will, because I'd be a lot cooler with that, but they were taken advantage of by a system that told them they had to--a system run by older men. The whole thing just reeks of abuse of the mental, physical and sexual kinds and it's scary that this happens en masse in America these days. It's one thing when you hear about children having babies after becoming sexually active at a young age on their own, but it's quite another to have a system by which girls (and yes, they are still girls) are given away (and yes, they are given away) to older men (and yes, they are older men) as some sort of prize to redeem (and by redeem I mean marry and exploit). It's the kind of thing that drags the hardcore radical feminist out of me and angers her to the core.

Religion is a hard thing for me. I'm still trying to find a path of my own. But I can tell you this, religion that comes at the cost of the innocence of youth is no good religion at all.

1 Comment:

MarilynJean said...

And just look at their clothes! That's a sin in and of itself. Ugh.


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