Joanne Hanks used to be a Mormon as well as one of many wives serving her husband. But she got the hell out of that lifestyle. (Hallelujah!) She tells her story in a new book called “It’s Not About the Sex” My Ass.
The first chapter (with possibly NSFW depictions) is below, as is your chance to win a free copy of the book!
Unbuttoning my blouse, I stepped into the bedroom. I heard him moan with anticipation.
I dropped my blouse to the floor. Then my bra. He moaned again, louder this time.
I slipped under the covers.
The sound of the bedsprings was a rhythmic song of passion, building to a crescendo as if to shake the plaster from the walls. Harder, stronger, louder, with each thrust of his massive frame, he gasped and moaned with unrestrained pleasure. Then, no longer able to contain himself, he let out a scream of ecstasy and relief. It exploded against the thinly insulated bedroom ceiling. Right below where I had crawled into my bed.
It was a passionate scene, but I wasn’t in it, you see. I was alone in my bedroom. The sounds I heard were coming from the bedroom below, where my husband was having sex with Judith, my “sister-wife.”
It was one thing for him to have sex with another wife in my house. After all, he had my permission. But did he have to do it there, right under the room where I was trying to sleep, where I was trying to ignore the whole thing, where I was trying to pretend that it didn’t shred my heart anew each time, where I was trying to pretend that I believed it was God’s will, where I was trying to pretend that it didn’t bug me that at just 17 my sister-wife was a full 16 years younger with way bigger boobs, and did he have to scream loud enough for God, angels, all the neighbors, any spacecraft that might be passing by the planet — and me — to hear it whether or not we wanted to?
I had to do something. Something mature. Something befitting the righteous, meek, and humble Handmaid of the Lord that I strived to be. Something dignified, that wouldn’t cause the Holy Ghost to flee our home. After all, I sure as hell didn’t want to be burned at the coming of Jesus. It was bad enough feeling burned at the cumming of my husband.
I desperately sought inspiration for the right way to handle this delicate situation.
Inspiration struck. I marched to the center of the room and stomped on the floor.
From — if you’ll pardon the expression — the mounting crescendo in the room beneath my feet, I could tell that my one meager stomp had had no effect. In a moment like this, I would need to call upon all that I had learned throughout my life and my marriage about effective interpersonal communication with my spouse. In other words, I was going to have to stomp lots of times and lots louder. STOMP STOMP STOMP STOMP STOMP, went my foot. It ached for weeks.
The subtlety of my approach paid off, as evidenced by the fact that now all I heard was crickets.
A moment later there was another sound. It came from the stairs. I counted seven clomps. There were 14 steps, which meant he was taking them two at a time. A moment after that he appeared red-faced in my bedroom doorway, his long-armed, long-legged magic underwear with the special marks twisted hurriedly on.
He apologized. They hadn’t meant to distress me.
I am an artist. I paint murals and landscapes. People admire how my mind conjures up pictures and directs my hands to reproduce them on canvas. It’s a skill I’m lucky to have. The problem is, the vivid movie screen inside my head has no OFF switch. When my mind cooks up a picture I’d rather not see, I am powerless to remove it or even look away. So with every moan, bed creak, and shake of the wall, my mind added brushstrokes in vivid detail to a non-erasable mental picture of the four of them — my husband, my sister-wife, and her enormous boobs — going at it. I might as well have been right there watching.
I felt rage, but also guilt. Like I was some sort of voyeur.
I knew the score when I agreed to polygamy. We repeatedly told ourselves and emphatically preached to all who would listen that polygamy was a commandment from God.
“It’s not about the sex,” we constantly lectured the morbidly curious. It was about building God’s kingdom on earth. It was about saving desperate single women from unworthy men who could give them no kingdom in the hereafter. We were fulfilling a higher calling.
I felt bad. I knew that I should have kept quiet and not disturbed their privacy.
But what about my privacy?
The New and Everlasting Covenant of Marriage, as we in The True and Living Church of Jesus Christ of Saints of the Last Days called it — as did the mainstream Mormon Church — was God’s higher law. If you wanted to go to heaven, you had to be a polygamist. Yet all the same, there were times when the higher law struck me as a bit kinky.
During moments of doubt, I knew I was blowing it in the worthy handmaid department. In the Old Testament, Jacob’s wives never showed jealousy toward one another. Oh wait, yes they did. But in the early days of the Mormon Church, Joseph Smith’s and Brigham Young’s wives didn’t get jealous. Oh wait, yes they did.
No matter. We were The Elect. I could do better. I would do better.
If you sense in me a house divided, you are not wrong. I gloried in an inner conviction that we were following God’s true plan. But inside I ached, because what God demanded of me was awful and it cut deep. How I thought a worthy handmaid should feel and how I really felt were constantly fighting it out within. More often the first, but sometimes the second, prevailed.
I tried to draw strength from my husband’s certainty. He knew — knew — that we were on the Lord’s path. He told me that the Spirit manifested to him the rightness of our course by lifting his heart. And, I surmised but didn’t say, from time to time by lifting his other part.
He returned to my sister-wife’s room — it was still her night with him — and I spent another sleepless night on my own. Using my fist to pound a spot for my head into my pillow, I muttered to no one in particular, “It’s not about the sex, my ass.”
The next day, the three of us wordlessly relocated my sister-wife to a bedroom at the other end of the house.
Here’s a question for all of you: Have you ever escaped from a bad situation? (It doesn’t have to be as serious a situation as the one in the book!)
Leave your responses below! If you live in the U.S. and you’d like to win a copy of the book, just include the word “prophecy” at the end of your comment and I’ll contact the winner next week