The FLDS trace their roots back to the Brigham Young era in the 19th century. Despite being in the Victorian era, the women of early Utah were surprisingly outspoken, had their own women’s organization, pushed for the right to vote, taught self-sufficiency, and encouraged education and trades. In the FLDS today, especially since the 1970s, the role of women in their society has become a role entirely focused on pleasing their husband and having children. Girls are taught from an early age to prepare themselves for plural marriage when they will be placed in a marriage arranged by the prophet. After marriage, women must conquer their feelings, work together with their sister wives to please their husband, and to raise their children for the prophet to use as he wishes. They love their children but are always subject to the whims of their husbands and the prophet.
Recently, an FLDS women, Maggie Jessop, from the YFZ Ranch, wrote into the Salt Lake Tribune. She sarcastically wrote that the world thinks “that I belong to an uneducated, underprivileged, information-deprived, brainless, spineless, poor, picked-on, dependent, misled class of women identified as ‘brain-washed.’”
Well, let’s turn to Warren Jeff’s teachings to the FLDS girls and women to discover what they have been taught by their recent prophets.
1. Your whole purpose is to have children. “When you get married and have children, your whole purpose is to have children for the Lord to use.” (WSJ 1/2/96)
2. You belong to the prophet. “The reality of our family is that all our children belong to the prophet. You ladies do also.” (WSJ 4/3/98)
3. You must live plural marriage. “The purpose for entering into plural marriage is so that a man can raise up more children to the Lord. In heaven, there is no monogamy – no man with just one wife. . . . The only way she can be married is to be married to a man who has more than one wife.” (WSJ 1/10/96)
4. You must obey your husband. Adam and Eve’s fall in the Garden of Eden cursed them. “The curse placed on Women was that when they had children, they would suffer nearly to death. The blessing on the woman was – and the only way she could ever be happy was – that she would let her husband, a faithful man, rule over her. That was the only way back to Heavenly Father for the woman.” “The woman is to obey her husband as he obeys the prophet.” (WSJ 11/8/95)
5. You must please your husband. "Knowing you're pleasing your husband, your head, brings you a heaven." (WSF 4/3/98)
6. Do not tell the husband what to do. “The wife is not supposed to command the husband.” (11/28/95)
7. Do your housework. "A mother has the responsibility for the housework and for children. You should start long before the baby is born." (WSJ 12/97)
8. Do not have girlfriends. "Do not hold on to your friendships with other girls, because then you will fall short of your eternal blessings. If you hold on to friendship with your girlfriends you will not love your sister wives. Your sister wives must be your best friends because they are part of your husband. Your preparation for this is in your father's home. A girl learns to love all her mothers. And you must love every mother and call them 'Mother.'” (WSJ 11/97)
9. Teach your children. "If the mother does not teach her child properly in those first few years the sins of the children will be on the head of the mother, not the father." (WSJ 11/97)
10. Teach your children to do what father wants. "It is the mother's duty to teach the children that everything in the home belongs to father, and that all that you are doing in the home is to build up father. (Mothers) say, ‘This is what father wants,’ and she is always turning the children to those over her." (12/97)
11. Avoid socializing. "Brigham Young names one weakness in women....When they get married they are always wanting to party, or go visiting, attend socials, do everything except the training of their children, and that is why so many children have struggles and fail, because the mother attends to everything but this duty of working with the children. (WSJ 12/97)
To make this system work, it is essential to prepare and train young girls to accept and look forward to this way of life. When FLDS girls are ready to marry, they "turn themselves in" to the prophet, to arrange a "celestial marriage." Warren Jeffs taught FLDS girls:
1. Pray to be prepared for marriage. "I hope you understand that very often a girl is given to a husband after her own likeness. You should be praying that you will be prepared and that you will be given to a husband who will prove faithful to the end."
2. Your assigned marriage will be a test of faith. "Your testimony will be tested by how you get married. If you exert your faith and obedience so the Lord can speak through the Prophet on your behalf, that will give you an anchor to your soul, that whatever you go through in that new family you know you are doing the will of God in overcoming the dross within." (WSJ 4/3/98)
3. Conquer you feelings – keep sweet. "Ladies, suppose you marry a man with another wife or wives. The family is already used to their doing things a certain way and then you come in. You have to come in as a little child and be humble and submissive, and learn the ways of that husband and that family. If a sister-wife speaks up and says, ‘Husband, she doesn't know this or that’, or says to the wife herself, ‘This is how WE do it,’ and maybe they won't be so pleasant....that's because their own feelings aren't right in themselves, and then there might rise in you certain emotions. You thought people would treat you kind and suddenly here's a hard word, or an insinuation. You're just learning to get close to that man you don't know very well, and that is why you must have the fight of faith. You have to have the fight of faith! The surety that you have is that you know your marriage is appointed of God through the Prophet. That gives the anchor to your soul. It is God's will. He will help you and you will conquer your feelings.” (WSJ 4/3/98)
4. Do not socialize with boys. “Don't go that sad road, young ladies. Don't be wooed and tricked by the cute and cool and cunning boys or men that try to get you to like them. I have been instructed that any young man who will not leave our girls alone is to be sent away and not allowed to be among us, even before they destroy the girl.” “Don't date secretly with boys, you're just tricking yourself, ladies. You want a husband who is close to the prophet. A girl who wants eternal life will want this kind of man. You must be a family in heaven, you can't get there alone, so don't play around with your eternal salvation, turn to the prophet who can read the hearts of the men. The prophet will lead you to a man who will exalt you, and when temptation comes into your mind you must pray to the Prophet." (WSJ 11/97)
Starting in the 1970s, the FLDS women discovered the book, “Facinating Womanhood” that taught that that subservience and helplessness is the real secret for a women to be attractive. That book by Helen B. Andelin, published in 1965, was used as a joke material by comedian Roseanne during the 1980s, but is still taken seriously by the FLDS. Karen Barlow taught a course in the FLDS school using this book as a text book. She said, "You can't change your husband...only...yourself''
The course taught girls to “be skilled in the feminine arts of the household, caring for children, handling money wisely and doing more than is required. Get out of the leadership role. Stop giving him suggestions. If you obey your husband, even if you disagree, things will turn out all right. Adapt to the conditions your husband provides for you, and don't have preconceived ideas about what you want or plan for your children.”
FLDS women are told over and over to “keep sweet.” To them, it means: Swallow pride, swallow emotions. Suffer silently regardless of what concerns you might have. Don’t show any emotion, don’t rock the boat, don’t make any trouble, don’t ask questions, don’t criticize, don’t find fault. Girls should accept the polygamist lifestyle and the men's wishes without complaint. Don't flinch when you're told to do something that doesn't quite feel right. Just be nice, don't complain because complaining disturbs the spirit of God.