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Sunday, March 10, 2013

Talking about polygamy with Michelle

The Servant, 36X40, oil on canvas

This week I fasted with my pals from Americans Against the Abuses of Polygamy. Our fast took the form of unrelieved beans and water, because sources inside the FLDS have said that this is what the kids of that community are living on. The children are doing religious penance for their leader’s continued stay in a Texas prison cell, courtesy of his conviction on two felony counts of child sexual assault.

Talking about Polygamy with Michelle,
oil sketch on canvas, 24X30
By Friday, I was in a mental fog that made painting difficult. So when Michelle arrived for our semiweekly work session, I was quite ready to say “Sod it; let’s just talk.” So we did, and I painted.

People often assume my objection to polygamy is religiously-based, but in fact it’s primarily a feminist position. Polygamy is antithetical to women’s rights; for that matter, it’s antithetical to human rights. There’s never been a healthy democracy that has allowed it, and the benighted societies which have practiced it have also exhibited a sad tendency to tyranny and to dispose of their surplus males by sending them off to fight endless wars.

It seems to me that, worldwide, women’s rights have achieved a sort of high-water mark and are now sliding backward. Gender-selective abortion means that many women never even take first breaths. Child marriage imperils their youth. And something like a third of the world’s population live in countries where polygamy is legal.

Of course, we live in a nation of apologists who insist that my attitude is some sort of cultural imperialism, but I like living in a nation where women have the same civil and economic rights as do men, and that’s the future I want for my children.

An oil sketch from 2003 on this subject. I still like it.
These are easy enough issues to write about, but how does one paint them? I’ve spent more than ten years working on a series of paintings about abuse. They’re interesting; they may even be good, but on some level I understand that they’re also finished. So it made sense to just sit and talk Friday, and wonder where we will go next.


Boots said...

Let all the womanhood of the country stand united for them. There is a power in combined enlightened sentiment and sympathy before which every form of injustice and cruelty must finally go down.
~Harriet Beecher Stowe on Polygamy in America, 1874

Boots said...
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