I want to be clear at the outset: I am not in favor of child abuse, rape, statutory rape, forced marriage, polygamy, incest, or brainwashing. I do think something needs to be done when young teenaged girls are essentially enslaved by their community.
But every so often, something in the rhetoric around the recent events in Texas makes me twitch.
"Sect members less mature than outsiders, psychiatrist testifies."
Well, less mature how? I wish I could trust the court-appointed psychiatrist that he's evaluating the "thought patterns" of ten-year-olds, but how can he help comparing them to the ten-year-olds he typically encounters? Take a ten-year-old who wears platform shoes and sparkly nail polish, sasses back like Hannah Montana, got to level 37 on Sonic and Mario Olympics yesterday, and always orders the bubblegum chai at Starbucks after school. Does she seem more mature than the ten-year-old who dresses like Holly Hobbie, plays hopscotch and tag with her siblings, makes clothes for her favorite doll, and helps her mother get dinner?
About the constant references to the long, flowing, pioneer-style, prairie dresses: why does this seem to rattle everyone so much? A long dress can be a very handy garment. Cool in the summer, warm in winter. With an apron, proper bathing, and the right underwear, you can wear it a few times before washing, and cut down on laundry. It's pretty. Relatively comfortable. Modest. Do I want my wardrobe dictated by a group of men who control my life? No. Is that what's happening there? We don't know. Is it worse than having my wardrobe dictated by a magazine or a department store?
I understand the impulse to resist the dominant culture. We have friends who think we should do it more, and friends who think we should do it less. There are no video games in our house. A recent experiment in watching Disney Channel shows has not had promising results so far, and the study may be canceled because of danger to the participants.
Yes, this is counter-cultural on a very small scale; but we also espouse a faith that many people find offensive. Because we follow its precepts, are we "less mature and less capable of making [our] own decisions"?
And will the state come for our children next?