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Otherwise, "in polygamy the wives and children learned to fend for themselves".[7] Dr.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.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."[6] Milford Shipp was almost entirely uninvolved in the lives of his wives.

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Unity is strength."[8] Given that her husband only nominally participated in the lives of these women, I believe this quote must be interpreted in the context of Rich's Lesbian continuum.

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." That these women not only shared a husband, but also surnames, lives, hopes, education, political views, economic status, child-rearing, etc., indicates a depth of homosocial and homophilic intercourse typifying the "Lesbian" relationships (in Adrienne Rich's definition) of Victorian Mormonism.

But Lizzie's new responsibilities of bearing and raising children evidently proved too great a strain for her and Louie's relationship.

Five years later Louie Felt fell in love with "another beautiful Latter-day Saint girl" named Lizzie Liddell, and again Joseph obligingly married her for Louie's sake.

polygamy), Mormons disavowed other sexual perversities (such as sodomy) - especially if by doing so persecution could be deflected from themselves onto others.

In feminist Adrienne Rich's ground-breaking 1980 essay "Compulsory Heterosexuality and Lesbian Existence" she describes her theory of a "lesbian continuum" on which she believes all women exist, whether they identify themselves as Lesbian or not.For centuries, the biblical characters David and Jonathan have been classic signifiers of male-male desire and homoeroticism, because in the Hebrew scriptures, it was written in 2 Samuel that upon Jonathan's death in battle, David lamented, "very pleasant hast thou been unto me: thy love to me was wonderful, passing the love of women."[15] That these two women were described as "David and Jonathan" simultaneoulsy masculinizes them and firmly encodes their love for each other in a homoerotic context.(See David-Edward Desmond's gravestone for another Mormon reference to this homoerotic scripture.) While polygamy was instigated by Mormon men (but subsequently appropriated by their wives as a powerful source for homosociality), the women themselves created structures and discourses of sorority which allowed Lesbian expression.In doing so, it became apparent to me that Mormon women found that the intensity of female homosociality[1] 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.She theorizes that marrying brothers "deepened their intimacy, extending it in new directions, further complicating the intricate balance of emotional and material ties, and perhaps offering a symbolic consummation of their passion" for each other.[9] Interestingly, Mormon women had the unique ability to take this even one step further - by marrying the same man, and thus becoming sister-wives.

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