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Power Over Lives

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Power Over Lives


I woke up today thinking about Gloria Steinem. Weird, I know, but it had to be in response to a dream I had about Warren Jeffs performing plural marriages. Marriages of young women to old men. Marriages of young women to young men. Marriages, even, of his own daughters to men of his choosing. I think of my own husband who made his prospective sons-in-law run a gauntlet of challenges before he would consent to give his daughters' hands in marriage. Why would Jeffs so avidly arrange and marry, marry, marry people?

I know that some of it has to do with religious beliefs. But a lot of it has to do with power. In the course of a speech Gloria Steinem gave at A Woman's Place Bookstore in Salt Lake City while promoting her book, Moving Beyond Words, she talked about the penchant of patriarchal religions to commandeer the female body, even to the extent of replicating female reproductive organs in the architecture of cathedrals. She talked about appropriating souls by requiring that they be "born again." And she maintained that no greater power exists that the ability to take over people's bodies and regulate their sexual activity, hence their ability to bring life into the world-life attached to the power that arranged and sanctified the union. Seen from Gloria Steinem's perspective, I suspect Warren Jeffs was growing his own, using people's lives and their bodies to create his own following.

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