realitybites (13041)

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Journal of realitybites (13041)

Monday September 10, 07

Let's hear it for the boys!

04:32 AM

Lately, in my writings, I may have appeared to be hyper-focused on women's issues. While I do regard myself to be a feminist, I am in no way a radical separatist. I adore men. I love the way they look, the deep sounds of their voices, their courage, their strength... and many more things. I love my husband Alan; and I love my son.

The last thing I would want is for anyone's son to suffer. Boys need love, kindness, gentleness, encouragement, and protection from harm. I cannot think of many things worse than a young boy being tossed out onto the street to fend for himself before he is ready. Or worse still, expulsion from an entire community simply for being the wrong gender--simply for being male.

Think this doesn't happen? We hear stories all the time about the infanticide that occurs in rigid patriarchal cultures such as China and India. Rarely do we hear about situations where being male is a major handicap; where having a son is a liability.

Yesterday, in the New York Times, there was an article about the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, whose members reside in a town called Colorado City, just below the southern border of Utah, in the state of Arizona. While they regard themselves as Mormons, they are not in any way connected to the official Latter-day Saints, who live in Salt Lake City and other parts of Utah.

The Fundamentals LDS's are the ones we hear about in the news. They are the polygamists, trailer trash, in-breeders, home schoolers, misfits, zealots, misogynists (that word again, sorry)... all these things come to mind when we think of this sect. We picture old men with three or more wives and broods of children, all sharing a small house or trailer--perhaps even living on the dole. We think about the poor women who are subjugated by their religion and forced to share a husband with two or more other women. We feel sorry for the young girls who are married off at fourteen to much older men. Basically we envision female oppression. Rarely do we see men as victims in this situation. We think, oh wow, three wives--cool. Well, I'm sure some of us might fancy having more than one spouse. But the reality is that polygamy--as practiced in this group, requires a man to have three or more wives in order to reach salvation. Being that this is a closed group of about 6,000 members, who marry and reproduce within the ranks, they have a mathematical dilemma. If by nature, their offspring are about fifty percent male and fifty percent female, when it comes to marriage only twenty five percent of the boys will be able to select a wife from the group. All women will be able to have a husband. So in order to have plural marriage, you need fewer men. And this group found a way to solve this problem: (from the Times' article) "Over the last six years, hundreds of teenage boys have been expelled or felt compelled to leave the polygamous settlement that straddles Colorado City, Ariz., and Hildale, Utah."

"Disobedience is usually the reason given for expulsion, but former sect members and state legal officials say the exodus of males — the expulsion of girls is rarer — also remedies a huge imbalance in the marriage market. Members of the sect believe that to reach eternal salvation, men are supposed to have at least three wives."

"Andrew Chatwin, 39, the uncle who took Woodrow in, left the sect 10 years ago. He explained how the expulsions usually happen: “The leaders tell the parents they must stop this kid who is disobeying the faith and Warren Jeffs. So the parents kick him out because otherwise the father could have his wives and whole family taken away.”

"In April, six banished teenagers who brought what became known as the lost boys suit against church leaders agreed to a settlement in which $250,000 will be used to promote education and emergency support for expelled youths. The money will be raised through selling some of the church’s large property holdings, now in receivership because church officials never appeared in court to defend against this lawsuit and others. The court-appointed agent now controlling the properties also gave each of the plaintiffs three acres of church land."

Reading this article shed light on a hidden side of this system. I had no clue that boys were being discarded by their communities like trash is discarded in the bin. Polygamy is a flawed system that can't work unless there are many more females in a society. And this doesn't occur unless there are wars that kill off the male members. Muslim communities in the Middle East solve this problem by regarding men as expendable--think suicide bombers. In order for polygamy to work there as well, they need to get rid of a copious number of their young males.

Boys need protection too. I think this article confirms the notion that discrimination against one group in a society inevitably hurts everyone in the long run.

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