Some people ask if early marriage is mandated for FLDS teens? The obvious answer is "no," since only some of the girls aged 12 to 16 are married. Many are allowed to reach the ripe old age of 18 before being "assigned." So why do some marry young, while others don't?
We can look in a couple of directions. I tend to look to my own family for information, since my father took his wives under similar priesthood leadership, before the FLDS and AUB became separate entities. He married two fifteen year-olds. The first, Aunt "Rachel" worried her father with her inclination toward sensuality. Rachel's mother had died giving birth, and although his plural wives looked after her, her father may have worried that if she didn't get married, she'd get "in trouble." My father married her as requested, but didn't consummate the relationship until she was older.
The second woman had been the mothers' favored babysitter, and she made it clear to her father that she wanted to come into Dr. Allred's family. But she probably didn't expect to marry him until she was older. My father had been sentenced to prison for illegal cohabitation, so they married the night before he sentence began. She had no warning, was dressed in her nightgown, hair braided for bed, feet dusty from the coal bin where she'd propped her feet while doing her math homework at the kitchen table. Her father married them in my father's doctor's office, with no one else present-it was to be kept a secret even from her mother. My father forgot to kiss her after the ceremony, and she had to remind him. They didn't consummate the marriage until after he'd served his sentence and then some, since conditions of his parole precluded his being with his plural wives.
We can also look at the experience of Elissa Wall, whose nightmare marriage at the age of fourteen to her cousin Allen Steed is the focal point of her book, Stolen Innocence. Elissa gave her priesthood leaders big headaches. Like her brothers and her sister, Teressa, Elissa objected to religious leaders breaking up her parents' marriage. Elissa asked too many questions. She showed subtle signs of rebellion. And because she was so deeply bonded to her mother, she interfered in her mother's second marriage, to Colorado City Bishop, Fred Jessop. "Fred didn't like Elissa for some reason," Teressa told me. "He wanted to get her out of the house." He also wanted to reward Elissa's cousin, Allen Steed, for being a loyal follower. So he talked Warren Jeffs into assigning Elissa to Allen-against her initial pleas and her subsequent refusal. In the final analysis, Elissa was forced to marry Allen as the outcome of a power struggle between a teenaged girl and the head of the FLDS community.
I suspect that girls are assigned to marry young because they are precocious-intellectually or emotionally or sexually. But that doesn't mean it's justifiable. Gifted teens sometimes start college when they're fourteen or fifteen, but that doesn't mean they're ready to attend frat parties. Precocity doesn't equal readiness for adult life. Right?
#ReadWithMC Reviews 'The Vibrant Years'
"If you're in need of a warm hug in book form—this is your book!"
By Brooke Knappenberger
The Must-Watch Comedy Movies Finally Coming Out This Year
Come on, Barbie, let's go party!
By Quinci LeGardye
Spring 2023's Shoe Trends Balance Practicality and Fashion-Forward Flair
Spoiler alert: See-through footwear makes an appearance.
By Emma Childs
35 Ways Women Still Aren't Equal to Men
If anyone tries to tell you otherwise, show them these statistics.
By Brooke Knappenberger
EMILY's List President Laphonza Butler Has Big Plans for the Organization
Under Butler's leadership, the largest resource for women in politics aims to expand Black political power and become more accessible for candidates across the nation.
By Rachel Epstein
Want to Fight for Abortion Rights in Texas? Raise Your Voice to State Legislators
Emily Cain, executive director of EMILY's List and and former Minority Leader in Maine, says that to stop the assault on reproductive rights, we need to start demanding more from our state legislatures.
By Emily Cain
Your Abortion Questions, Answered
Here, MC debunks common abortion myths you may be increasingly hearing since Texas' near-total abortion ban went into effect.
By Rachel Epstein
The Future of Afghan Women and Girls Depends on What We Do Next
Between the U.S. occupation and the Taliban, supporting resettlement for Afghan women and vulnerable individuals is long overdue.
By Rona Akbari
How to Help Afghanistan Refugees and Those Who Need Aid
With the situation rapidly evolving, organizations are desperate for help.
By Katherine J Igoe
It’s Time to Give Domestic Workers the Protections They Deserve
The National Domestic Workers Bill of Rights, reintroduced today, would establish a new set of standards for the people who work in our homes and take a vital step towards racial and gender equity.
By Ai-jen Poo
The Biden Administration Announced It Will Remove the Hyde Amendment
The pledge was just one of many gender equity commitments made by the administration, including the creation of the first U.S. National Action Plan on Gender-Based Violence.
By Megan DiTrolio