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Links mentioned in this podcast:
- Read the text of the post here.
- Buy the reading guide here.
- In Sacred Loneliness: The Plural Wives of Joseph Smith by Todd Compton (Salt Lake City: Signature Books)
- Mormon Midwife, The 1846–1888 Diaries of Patty Bartlett Sessions
Thank you for sharing this. I am also a descendant of Patty through Perregrin, and I am one of 23 of her descendants living here in Australia. Her diary is truly inspiring. She was a true Saint, business woman, philanthropist, humanitarian, healer as well as a true feminist.
You know, I don’t find these stories inspiring at all….and I’ll tell you why. This was a woman who chose to live in absolute misery for YEARS, heartbroken, lonely and “endured to the end”. I would not wish that life on any human. She bred and bred and bred, lied to her mother in law and her husband about her arm instead of telling the truth…and people applaud her and think she is “strong” for doing so. That’s rubbish to me. This feeds into the idea that women have to put up with crap their whole lives and then lie about how much it hurts.
From what I’ve read of her, I don’t think I’d say she chose to live in misery. Yes, she hated living in polygamy, but that doesn’t mean her whole life was miserable. I think there’s quite a bit of evidence in her journals that she was happy and fulfilled. I find the inspiration in her midwifery, her plum orchard, and her ability to support herself and her family during hard times, and her powerful blessings given to others.
She found happiness where she could, inside a miserable life. And I applaud that. My poor Mormon women heritage.
I agree that this is not inspiring. This poor woman. Has anyone here hated their marriage?i mean really hated it. I have. And it makes every aspect of your life miserable. This only perpetuates the ideal that women must put up with what they are told they have to, no matter how miserable it makes them. This is awful, and perpetuating abuse. It needs to stop for women everywhere to develop a sense of worth. Our happiness and health is worth it. End of story. This woman is not a hero, she is a victim.
That poor woman. Polygamy seems like church-approved adultery, when you think about it from the woman’s point of view. For a man to find other wives, he must date while married while each ‘wife’ must pine for the same guy. The Peacemaker pamphlet is what opened the door towards mistreatment of women – http://www.olivercowdery.com/smithhome/1840s/1842Udny.htm
I agree Rachel. It makes me sick to hear these stories raised up and told to young women in the church. Obey, endure, and look at a pretty flower during the day for your brief reprieve before the misery returns when you see your husband deep throating your new sister wife. I refuse to glamorize polygamy.
“My poor Mormon women heritage.” Indeed. “Poor”…all the women in my life still are.
polygamy……another name for women and children in slavery. Like all slavery, it’s done in the name of God. I despise slavery. Even more I despise people who use slavery for their own gain. I hope there’s a special place in hell for them. That would include Joseph smith and brigham young.
I completely agree with the comments critical of this woman. I don’t see her as a victim at all, but as a very powerful and heroic figure. Yes, these were clearly some horrible abuses of plural marriage, and her life was difficult in many ways. But her strength, forgiveness, generosity, talents, intellect, energy, etc. are incredibly inspiring. She was not a victim because she was handed a difficult life. She was a hero because she rose above it and did not let it embitter her. Someone commented on her lying about her arm. I think she did that out of charity for her mother-in-law who may have already felt like an imposition. I am so impressed and inspired by this women, even from this short introduction to her.
I meant to say that I disagree with the critical comments.
Thank you for your comment, Xena. I find the story about her lying about her elbow apalling as well. Why did she feel the need to lie in the first place? You have to wonder about what motivated her in that situation. Maybe it wasn’t this Christian strength people believe it to be but rather fear of reprisal if she complained about doing her “duty“. And even if she wasn’t afraid, I don’t think it’s a sign of strength to hide your pain from others. And the way she cared for the men who abused and betrayed her and even the offspring they created with other women? That’s sick. I have to stop short of judging the woman herself, because I can only imagine what is women went through. But I do not want this woman’s actions to be held up as an example of what I want my daughters to be. If my son-in-law ran off with some younger girl and then came dragging ass back home begging for a second chance, I would want my daughter to tell him to go pound sand. I certainly wouldn’t want her to take in any of his illegitimate children, and I don’t think God expects women to behave that way in these situations.
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