Since coming back to the US I hav ebeen surprised at how much I haven't wanted to watch TV. In Kenya we would pop in a DVD of a television series and spend several episodes steeped int he entertainment of our home nation. Now with all manner of media readily available I am surprised at how many nights that screen stays black. One thing I have always strived for is to not watch television just because it's there. Not to watch some harmful drivel just because I have nothing more creative to do.
Some such drivel that I have allowed to drip into my mind was the TLC show Sister Wives, a reality show about a man and his four wives. Why of all the quality programming available would I chose this train wreck?
At dinner we started we talking about it. And we kept coming back to it over and over again. Miriam and I mostly drove the conversation. We were both equally disturbed and fascinated by this show.
I can't speak for Miriam but I know that not only is polygamy disturbing to the western female mind for the reasons of jealousy and the sheer grossness of sharing your husband with another woman but I think that polygamy strikes at fear in the core of every woman's heart. That no matter what we are or how strong our marriage that we are never enough. That in a culture where a woman like Sandra Bullock or Elin Woods cannot keep the fascination of her husband how can a plainer woman ever expect to survive? When music videos show faceless and flawless females off as commodities to be trading, what is to keep our husband's from finding the next best thing? When we become old and tired from bearing their children and men are touted as having insatiable sexual appetites how can one normal woman expect to satisfy him?
Even though we may be four years in or forty years into a healthy marriage there is that insecure piece in a woman's soul that doubts that we are ever enough. That if given the opportunity our husband's woudl go find another skinnier, prettier, less-complicated woman. That the true love we think we have is a fallacy and it all boils down to physical attraction.
At one point in the show the new wife turns to the camera and sighs and says that Kody, the husband, is her 'soul mate.' I threw up a bit in my mouth and thought, 'and hers, and hers, and hers?'
I read the 19th Wife about a year ago. I would read a few chapters look over at my husband and ask some inane and completely insecure question, and he would respond that polygamy does not interest him in the slightest. He seems mostly scared by the drama it would cause. But that's not what I wanted to hear, I wanted to hear that I am enough and that he would never want someone else. That he is indeed in love with me, my soul and my personhood. So I kept pressing until I got the answer I wanted.
The show has done that to me again. I turn to him and tentatively dance around the question until I can say, 'So, no, you wouldn't ever want to do that? It is not the desire of every man's heart to have multiple women at his beck and call?' I'm pretty sure he never wants me to watch this show again...
I know that polygamy has served it's place in certain cultures by protecting women. In places where women are nothing if they are not defined in relation to a man. Being a second wife is better than not being a wife. But in America, we don't need that. I don't need definition through a man. I make my own definition. So every time I watch these women or read about them I know what I would do, I would leave. After he ripped my heart out I would go. I would take my baby and go. I just can't understand why they don't.