I want you to get out and make it work
Thompson, Carlyle Marsden, Gordon Ray Church, and all the other bright souls who did not survive Mormonism's homophobia. And to those of us who have survived, that we might bear witness In doing so, it became apparent to me that Mormon women found that the intensity of female homosociality  available in Mormon structures created a vital space in which they could explore passionate, romantic relationships with each other.
At the same time I have uncovered some of the problematics of male homosociality - its power to arbitrarily defend or exile men accused of entering into erotic relationships with other men. During the early 's Mormon founder Joseph Smith deified heterosexuality when he introduced the doctrine of a Father and Mother in Heaven - a divine, actively heterosexual couple paradigmatic of earthly sexual relationships.
As Mormon bishop T. Eugene Shoemaker recently posited: Van Wagoner explains that Smith's "emphasis on procreation became the basis for the Mormon concept of humanity's progress to divinity.
Smith explained that God was an exalted [heterosexual] man and that mortal existence was a testing ground for men to begin to progress toward exalted godhood. Salvation became a family affair revolving around a husband whose plural wives and children were sealed to him for eternity under the 'new and everlasting covenant'.
This separatism, which the sexual deviance of polygamy created, was a highly effective means for the Mormons to gain social and political power amongst their own members.
However, while practicing their own sexual perversion i. This continuum is "a range - through each woman's life and throughout history - of woman-identified experience, not simply the fact that a woman has had or consciously desired genital sexual experience with another woman".
For Rich, this Lesbianism easily encompasses many more forms of emotional "intensity between and among women, including the sharing of a rich inner life, the bonding against male tyranny, the giving and receiving of practical and political support.
While some critics see polygamy as a form of male tyranny over women, I find that many Mormon women subversively reconstructed polygamy as a means of escaping male domination on many other levels, in what I call heroic acts of Lesbian resistance.
The potential for female homosocial relationships is found among the polygamous "sister- wives" of Milford Shipp. This was possible only because her sister-wives cared for her three children in Utah while she was studying back east, pooling their resources to pay her tuition.
Her sister-wives also wrote her encouraging letters, while she described those of her husband as "harsh", "bitter and sharp".
Shipp returned to Salt Lake City, she set up a thriving medical practice and made enough money to send her other sister-wives through medical college or midwifery training. Indeed, her biographer claims that her sister-wives' "role in ensuring Ellis's professional advancement stands as a moving testimony to the close relationships possible among Mormon plural wives.
He gave them important marital status and fathered their children. Otherwise, "in polygamy the wives and children learned to fend for themselves".
Shipp recorded in her private journal, "How beautiful to contemplate the picture of a family where each one works for the interest, advancement, and well-being of all.
Even more to the point is Ellis' statement, also from her journal, about "how pure and heavenly is the relationship of sisters in the holy order of polygamy. Despite the fact that Joseph Smith deified, eternalized, and pluralized heterosexuality through polygamy and temple ritual, early Mormon women found that their bodies, sensuality, and desires were neither tamed nor contained by obedience to the institution of polygamy.
I believe that many women found creative, unique, and intensely meaningful ways to confess and express their desire for other women.HILLARY MANN LEVERETT Hillary Mann Leverett is CEO of STRATEGA, a political risk consultancy that focuses on international energy and financial markets.
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In after being caught in the chaotic center of the "commie-queer" baiting scandal at Smith College and dubbed by the press as one of “the porn professors”, Joel Dorius could only find work teaching in Europe, far removed from the media scandal in the U.S.
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