Women of principle : female networking in contemporary Mormon polygyny
Summary: It is notorious that the early Mormons practiced polygyny, or plural marriage, and that they were forced to renounce this custom as a condition for Utah's statehood. Even today, some defiant groups of "fundamentalist" Mormons continue to live in illicit polygynous marriages. This book offers an in-depth study of the female experience in one Mormon polygynous community, the Apostolic United Brethren. Characteristically, women in such rigid and patriarchal religious groups are portrayed as the oppressed, powerless victims of male domination. Janet Bennion shows, however, that the reality is far more complex. Bennion concludes that membership in this particular patriarchal community is actually advantageous to women and disadvantageous to men. She buttresses her controversial argument with narratives from the lives of women now living in the group - narratives that clearly reveal why many mainstream Mormon women are viewing polygyny as a viable alternative to the difficulties of single motherhood, "spinsterhood," poverty, and emotional deprivation. This provocative study of a fascinating yet little-studied religious community will be of great interest to students and scholars of religious, Mormon, and gender studies, as well as to anthropologists and Mormons in general.