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Polygamy 2006


Distributed by Films Media Group, PO Box 2053, Princeton, New Jersey 08543-2053; 800-257-5126
Produced by ABC News
Director n/a
DVD, color, 37 min.

Sr. High - Adult
Gender Studies, Parenting, Women's Studies

Date Entered: 07/13/2007

Reviewed by Gloria Maxwell, Reference Librarian, Penn Valley Community College, Kansas City, MO

This Primetime segment takes a hard look at the practice of polygamy in one community, Colorado City, Arizona, where the practice is actually protected and supported by the police, as well as the citizens. Everyone follows Warren Jeff, considered to be a prophet. Polygamy is the norm, and outsiders are considered evil. Women and girls, men and boys alike believe in him and are taught to follow him. Fathers choose older men for their young girls to marry, as promoted by Jeffs. Plural wives are taught to always obey their husbands and to be subordinate. Flora Jessup is an anti-polygamist activist who helps women escape from plural marriages. Escaping is just the start. Then come the worries about how to survive. Many such women end up returning, so deep is polygamy ingrained in them. Girls wear old fashioned clothing and they grow up knowing they will marry an older husband with other wives while in their teens and they will bear many children.

Another community in Centennial Park, Arizona, believes that polygamy is their constitutional right. One family lives in a 30,000 square foot multi million dollar mansion with three separate wings. “Sister wives” and career women share responsibilities of cooking and caring for all the children. Unwilling to give exact figures, it appears that there are fifteen wives and seventy-five children living in this massive home, with one husband. Everyone appears to be perfectly happy with this arrangement. They consider their lifestyle a “serious responsibility,” one that requires enormous effort to maintain. The man (whose identity was disguised) has disgust for monogamy and bachelorhood. They all consider this a lifestyle choice—and one that they totally support.

This news segment shows both sides and extremes of the polygamy issue. Supporters claim that isolation and jealousy are eliminated. Detractors mention the abuse—sexual and emotional—that accompany what they consider a vile practice.

Technical quality supports the presentation. This would be suitable for all collections that focus on women’s issues and family relationships. Recommended.