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Polygamy in Primetime
Media, Gender, and Politics in Mormon Fundamentalism
Janet Bennion

Available only as an ebook.

Brandeis Series on Gender, Culture, Religion, and Law

2012 • 376 pp. 6 illus. 6 x 9"
Women's Studies / Marriage & Family Law / Mormans

$7.99 Ebook, 978-1-61168-296-0

Check your ebook retailer or local library for ebook availability.

“Polygamy in Primetime responds to [polygamy’s] new visibility [in the media] with an overview of the subject that, despite occasional academic language, will appeal to general readers seeking more details than the soap operatics of “Big Love” can provide.”—Seven Days (Burlington, VT)

A provocative look at the costs and benefits of polygamy among western fundamentalist Mormon women

Recently, polygamy has become a “primetime” phenomenon. Television shows like Big Love and Sister Wives demonstrate the “progressive” side of polygamy, while horror stories from victims of abusive marriages offer less upbeat experiences among the adherents of the fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS Church).

Bennion, herself a product of Mormon polygamy, seeks to dispel the myths and misinformation that surround this topic. This study, based on seventeen years of ethnographic research among the Allred Group (Apostolic United Brethren) and on an analysis of recent blog journal entries written by a range of polygamous women, examines the variety and complexity of contemporary Mormon fundamentalist life in the Intermountain West.

Although Bennion highlights problems associated with polygamy, including evidence that some forms are at high risk for father-child incest, she challenges the media-driven depiction of plural marriage as uniformly abusive and harmful to women. She shows how polygamist families can provide both economic security and social sustenance for some women, and how the authority of the husband can be undermined by the stresses of providing for multiple wives and children. Going beyond the media’s obsession with the sexual aspects of polygamous marriage, Bennion offers a rich description of familial, social, and legal contexts. Throughout, she makes the case for legalizing polygamy in order to allow greater visibility and regulation of the practice.

Click here for TABLE OF CONTENTS

Reviews / Endorsements

"Bennion sets the stage for a more detailed analysis of those shows, and media coverage more generally, by embarking on a rich discussion of Mormon theology, history, and belief around the practice of polygamy. . . . Bennion's research offers insight into the myriad ways polygamy is practiced, and her discussion makes artful use of the large body of literature on polygamy." 
Nova Religio

"This work is at its core a nuanced and careful consideration of a significant and contentious subject. Bennion successfully complicates lived sexual difference beyond novelty and decanters sexuality as primary identity marker in Mormon fundamentalist families. Polygamy in Primetime offers a rich and careful history and ethnography of marginalized, frequently misunderstood religious minority communities, and as such will be of interest to scholars of gender and sexuality, American religions, American cultural studies, minority religions, new religious movements, and Mormonism.” 
Mormon Studies Review

“Janet Bennion is a superb ethnographer. She is the first to cover lesbianism among Mormons, and her overview of media’s (usually hysterical) portrayal of polygamy is splendid.”—Philip L. Kilbride, Department of Anthropology, Bryn Mawr College

“An essential book, scholarly as well as practical, that presents the largely unheard voices of actual members of polygamist families. Bennion is a pioneer in this area of research.”—Alean Al-Krenawi, professor and dean, School of Social Work, Memorial University of Newfoundland and Ben-Gurion University of the Negev

JANET BENNION is a professor of anthropology and sociology at Lyndon State College. Her most recent book is Desert Patriarchy: Mormon and Mennonite Communities in the Chihuahua Valley.

Thu, 14 Mar 2019 13:08:18 -0500