The trailer for the new season of “Sister Wives” has been released, and it appears that Discovery Channel and Warner Brothers are supporting the illegal activity of polygamy by pimping another TLC season of polygamy.
As survivors, we know the realities of polygamy. The issues are much deeper and more complex than simple personality clashes. What isn’t shown in “Sister Wives” is how the patriarchal system of polygamy includes religion, rituals, culture, businesses, and laws that often protect it. The show downplays the risks of polygamy and does not give a voice to victims or survivors.
Discovery Channel purports to mitigate modern slavery risks, yet TLC is airing two polygamy shows. Neither of which includes women taking additional husbands. (If that isn’t a sign of gender inequality, what is?)
Polygamy is an institution known historically for enslaving women in marriage. Men are bestowed with power and control over their wives. In various cultures, men are allowed to take additional wives, but they must rely on forms of coercion and manipulation to acquire them and keep them from leaving.
The courting phase in polygamy often includes using women to actively recruit other wives, then a spiritual or legal marriage (ritual) is performed, and consummation (undue physical and psychological influence). The polygamist has ultimate authority throughout. He can show preferential treatment, ignore wives who displease him, use various means to keep them in line, and dispense with family members who do not benefit him.
The new trailer for “Sister Wives” is a good example of how the institution of polygamy controls everyone: First wife (who helped recruit wives to find favor with her husband) is now invested in keeping women entrapped to justify her past involvement; the last sister-wife bumped up to first-place not wanting to destroy previous relationships (too little, too late); the second wife going along with polygamy to keep the peace; the third wife fighting for autonomy and equality, and the polygamist husband believing he is the real victim while shaming and minimizing the real victims.
Extreme inequality and coercion should never be a source of entertainment.
How do these privileged men – including programming executives and producers sleep at night? Sister Wives Season Trailer
Polygamy.org: Letter to Discovery Channel
Polygamy.org: Cancel TLC “Sister Wives”