The Great American Controversy Over Underage Marriage [Part A]

in news •  last year

Introduction

The topic of underage marriage surfaces now and then in the press and in the media here in the United States of America. Some of you who are reading my article may be old enough to remember the controversy that surrounded the release of the movie titled Pretty Baby starring Brooke Shields, Susan Sarandon, Barbara Steele and Keith Carradine back in 1978. The movie is about a young girl living with her mother in a bordello in New Orleans, Louisiana in the early part of the twentieth century; and when she is 12 years old, a man in his thirties marries her to rescue her from a life of ill repute.  Another movie some of you may have seen is the classic 1938 film titled Child Bride in which a female schoolteacher goes back to her hometown in the sticks to educate young girls and to stop a 12-year-old girl from marrying a significantly older man.  When I think of underage marriage or what some people choose to call “child marriage,” what immediately comes to mind are three different groups throughout the world, which are the Muslims, the Latter Day Saints fundamentalists, and the Irish Travellers.

The topic of underage marriage can get touchy at times. Take the example of the Middle East. News reports are always surfacing in the press and in the media about Muslim parents forcing their very young daughters into unwanted marriages with men old enough to be these girls’ grandfathers or sometimes even great-grandfathers in countries like Yemen and Algeria. I recall having read a story in the Reader’s Digest magazine about a child marriage that took place in an Islamic village in the Sahara Desert of Northern Africa, when I was 14 years old. The girl who had gotten married was 10 years old. At the time that I had read that story, I never really put much thought into it inasmuch as I was not much older than that child bride. Kids were becoming sexually active at younger ages back then than they had done so back when my parents were adolescents. Therefore, it never really crossed my mind that perhaps that girl might not have wanted to be in that marriage. Moreover, it was not until after I was an adult that I found out that in many of these Islamic nations, boys as young as 12 years old were drafted into the military and were even made to walk into a minefield so that the adult male soldiers could determine where the explosive mines were planted in the ground. It does not sound like a good deal for a youngster of either gender to grow up in those places. I once came across a news story on television about a teenage boy who was possibly facing severe punishment in Afghanistan for running off with some old man’s 15-year-old wife. Therefore, it is apparent that adult male Muslims do everything they can to curtail any chances that a male adolescent boy will interfere with their efforts to enter into a marriage with a young girl.    

Prominent news programs like 20/20, 60 Minutes, and Dateline: NBC periodically cover stories about religious cult leaders like Warren Jeffs of the Latter Days Saints faith illegally marrying girls as young as their preteens and forcing them into a life of polygamy. There was even an HBO series so many years ago called Big Love that constantly touched upon this subject. The debate over freedom of religion may come into play in these situations whenever the criminal justice system gets involved. Young boys in their early-to-mid teens in these polygamous communities get the raw end of the deal when their fathers take them into the city and dump them off at a street corner to fend for themselves when they are 13 years old. Then they become easy prey for whatever maniac or sexual deviant that comes along and zeroes in on them. Their fathers banish them from their communities to eliminate any competition that adult male LDS’rs may encounter from them, whenever they pursue marriages with the adolescent girls in their vicinity. 

On the other hand, the press and the media do hardly any coverage on this one group known as the Irish Travellers, because the public seldom ever hears anything negative about them. The last time that I saw a news documentary about the Irish Travellers on television, a news reporter interviewed a female Irish Traveller who told him that it was quite common for a girl to get married as young as 12 years old to a man noticeably older than her. They have engaged in this practice of early marriage for centuries, and nobody within their own circles have complained about it as far as I know. The irony of this fact is that these people come from a country (Ireland) that has the highest statutory age of consent of any nation in Europe. The statutory age of consent in Ireland is 17 years old, which is higher than even what it is in the United Kingdom and the Netherlands.

I deduce that likely adult male Irish Travellers are marrying girls as young as 12 years old in their ethnic circles inasmuch as these men mostly die an untimely death. I read somewhere on the Internet that the average lifespan for a male Irish Traveller was 39 years old. I went to a YouTube channel that Irish Travellers owned, and I inquired about why it was that their men died so young; but the only answer that this one female Irish Traveller was able to give me was that she believed that it was because of the booze and the hard work. It appears that Irish Travellers engage in this practice of adult men marrying adolescent girls as young as 12 years old, because they fear extinction and encouraging girls to start families at an early age is their way of keeping their people from dying off altogether. When Irish Traveller men marry these young girls, they are very protective of them and act as their legal guardians.

In any event, I have come across no stories in the press or in the media about adult male Irish Travellers abusing adolescent Irish Travellers in any manner. As far as I know, no female Irish Traveller has complained about being trapped in an abusive marriage from the age of twelve. I vaguely recall a story about the late Janet Reno challenging this marital practice of theirs and attempting to bring some kind of Federal criminal case against them back when she was still the United States Attorney General. However, as far back as I can recall, her efforts to present her legal challenges against this marital practice were ultimately unsuccessful, and she ultimately failed in her quest to stop these marriages from happening. These people continue on with this marital practice to this very day as it is in their culture to do so. If it works for them, I have no problem with it; and as I conveyed previously, I do not believe that there is a one-size-fits-all formula for everyone regarding what is the right age to get married. If adult female Irish Travellers were to come forward and protest this practice, then, of course, that would be a different story altogether. However, they haven’t. At least not as far as I know.

It appears that adult male Irish Travellers and adolescent male Irish Travellers have a great amount of respect for one another, and, therefore, there is no concern among adult male Irish Travellers that their adolescent wives will cheat on them with the teenage boys in their communities. Perhaps the male adolescent Irish Travellers have been indoctrinated to live by the principle to do unto others as they would do unto them. It is difficult to pinpoint how this honor system between male adult Irish Travellers and male adolescent Irish Travellers continues to exist. Once when I was having a discussion with another YouTuber regarding the Irish Travellers, she asked me one interesting question. She asked me that if female Irish Travellers were getting married as young as 12 years old inasmuch as male Irish Travellers had a short lifespan and the Irish Travellers did not wish to go extinct, then why couldn’t they marry boys their own age or close to their own age? I responded to her that I believed that it was because most adolescent boys were financially incapable of taking care of girls their own age in a marriage.

Some of you may know about the uproar that took place about 3 or 4 years ago when the Russian child model Kristina Pimenova was named as the most beautiful girl in the world. People were disturbed from hearing this statement, because, after all, the little girl was only 8 years old at the time. However, the American people’s shock did not end there and was even compounded after it came out in the press and the media that this child model had received letters from strangers proposing marriage to her. Many of these strangers were adult men. In my opinion, this little girl’s parents would never have allowed any of these lunatics to get near her.

Our nation has gone through massive scares in the past dating back to when we were still a British colony. These massive scares have actually led to serious tragedies in our society. First, it was the Salem witch trials back in the 1600s and the 1700s that led to the unjust execution of innocent women falsely accused of witchcraft. That is, these women were burned at the stake. Then along came the Red Scare in the 1950s when former Congressman Joseph McCarthy was wrongfully placing innocent people on a list of suspected Soviet sympathizers, which destroyed the lives of too many people in that they were subsequently unable to secure employment or even housing. Afterwards, came the Pedophile Panic, which has spanned from the 1980s all the way up to the present. Dr. Judith Levine warned us about such hysteria in her book titled Harmful to Minors; the Perils of Protecting Children from Sex. Now here in the twenty-first century, certain activists are needlessly attempting to cause a forced child marriage scare throughout our nation; and they are meddling into people’s personal and private lives where they really have no business doing so. These activities of theirs could threaten the rights of individuals and jeopardize our nation’s future. These activists are mostly fanatical femi-nazis, and they are simultaneously launching an anti-man campaign that is based upon hatred and fear.

No matter what opinion any of us may have about underage marriage, it never hurts for us to educate ourselves on this topic and take all the pros and cons into consideration before jumping to conclusions. I am not oblivious to the fact that there are underage marriages out there that are toxic and should never be allowed in the first place. However, before we allow ourselves to be taken in and fooled by all the propaganda out there regarding forced child marriages, we should also keep our minds open to the fact that many underage marriages can and do work out. The YouTube video below provides impartial information regarding underage marriage. Moreover, there is a major difference between forced child marriage and voluntary teenage marriage.

An Impartial Perspective Of Underage Marriage

Lately I have come across a boatload of information on the Internet regarding an organization named Unchained At Last that operates out of New Jersey. When I first read about them, they seemed to me like a well-meaning group of women who were merely trying to rescue girls and young women from abusive marriages that were either arranged or forced. However, after I researched further into the activities of this same organization, I soon realized that they were deceptive in their practices in that these individuals were nothing more than just a misandristic bastion of social justice warriors looking to meddle where they don’t belong. This organization is aggressively attempting to outlaw any marriage involving anyone below the age of 18 anywhere here in the United States of America. Some of you may believe that this is a noble objective on their part. However, after you get through reading my article from beginning to end, you might see this whole issue from a much different perspective.

I noticed that Unchained At Last had a YouTube channel that featured a series of videos showcasing their efforts to outlaw all underage marriages everywhere in the United States of America and establish 18 years old as the minimum age to get married under any circumstances. What I found so interesting was that the founder and executive director of this organization, Fraidy Reiss, was 19 years old back when she had been forced into an unwanted marriage with a man whom she did not love. Therefore, it became a mystery to me on why she was so dead set on eliminating any form of underage marriage here in our country, because, after all, she was above the legal age of majority herself when she got married. She and her colleagues spread propaganda wherever they can to mislead the public that that every marriage that involves a party under the age of 18 is a form of state-sanctioned involuntary servitude or even child abuse, when, in reality, their beliefs in this respect could not be any further from the truth.

Now, I am not mindless why state jurisdictions across our nation have legal safeguards in place to protect underage girls from falling into abusive marriages. However, there are still circumstances that warrant a young girl’s right to enter into a marriage before her eighteenth birthday, and abolishing underage marriage altogether would cause more harm than good to these young ladies across the country and to our society as a whole. I’m not saying that we as Americans have to encourage underage marriage here in our country. However, it does not mean that we cannot exercise a certain degree of tolerance to underage marriage where such tolerance is due and fully warranted. In any event, we all need to beware of misinformation that Unchained At Last and other similar groups of fanatical femi-nazis and social justice warriors who support their efforts are feeding the public at large. These people know what makes the American people tick, and they know how to play on the fears and tap into the insecurities of individuals who are ignorant on this issue inasmuch as these individuals have not been afforded the opportunity to see it from a bird’s eye view rather than through a tunnel-vision perspective that these organizations offer them. The reason that I refer to some of these women as fanatical femi-nazis is because their political activities are aimed at waging a war on men and have nothing to do with the true feminism that Gloria Steinem gave birth to in the 1960s. Gloria Steinem is an intellectual feminist, and there is a very big difference between intellectual feminists and fanatical femi-nazis. 

Also, before anyone reading this article demonizes me, allow me to describe a situation that greatly disturbed me and shows that I am not much different than most of you in terms of how I feel on this topic. When I once saw a video on YouTube that revealed that Nigeria had the youngest grandmother in the entire world, who became a grandmother at the age of 14, inasmuch as both the grandmother and her daughter had married and had given birth at the age of 7, I became extremely appalled. However, I do not believe that our nation will ever allow for a 7-year-old girl to get married. I am opposed to child marriage per se, if one is referring to a small child who has not even begun to approach his or her teenage years. I am just as anti-pedophile as most of you out there are who are reading my article. The YouTube video below gives an accurate account of the dangers of children being wedded as young as 4 years of age. 

The Bare Facts About Forced Child Marriage

Nevertheless, our society should not confuse voluntary underage marriage with actual forced child marriage. There is a colossal difference between a girl getting married at 15 or 16 years old on her own volition here in our country and a little girl no older than 7 years old being forced into a toxic marriage with an elderly man in a predominantly Islamic nation like Nigeria or Yemen.

Back in the 1990s, I once saw this one edition of 60 Minutes on television that had originally been filmed in the early 1980s about a 10-year-old girl who had legally married a man in his forties somewhere in the southwestern part of the United States of America. I believe that this girl and her family lived in Arizona, and I believe that they were Mormons; but don’t hold me to it, because it has been a while since I last saw that one story on television. The 10-year-old girl and her forty-something-year-old husband both insisted that they were very much in love with each other. When I first began watching this television show, it greatly disturbed me. However, what was so interesting to me was that the husband did not impress upon me as some demented sexual misfit like Jack McClellan or Phillip Greaves.  This man did sound sincere from his heart whenever he spoke about how he felt about this young girl whom he had just married back then. What appeared most unusual to me is that the young girl’s parents had signed the legal paperwork for her to marry this man. Then again, I would not doubt that they had a long, long talk with him before they decided to do so. Like many of you, I still continued to have my fair share of skepticisms regarding the integrity of this same marriage.

There was eventually a follow-up news story about this same married couple towards the late 1990s, and, by then, the young girl was 27 years old and her husband was in his sixties. When this couple was interviewed, the wife smiled and said that so many people had thought that their marriage would not have lasted the test of time and that some people had even condemned their marriage as an abomination when it first came into existence. However, despite the disapproval they had initially gotten from the public at large back in the early 1980s, they appeared to be happily married after 17 years. What was so interesting about the interview was that the couple had revealed that they had not consummated their marriage until the wife was 16 years of age. I guess that it would be safe for me to deduce that if the husband was willing to wait six years after he married his wife to consummate their marriage, then he truly must have loved her or at least cared about her. Nevertheless, I am still from the school of thought that if a girl still has her baby teeth, then she is likely not ready to take that long walk down the aisle to the altar that will change her life forever from that point on in time. I would have to say that this particular above-described couple was the exception, not the rule, regarding child marriage, although I can understand why such a story would raise eyebrows everywhere in the country after it first hit the television airways in the early 1980s. However, at the same time, I do not believe that American society should confuse voluntary teenage marriage with forced child marriage. 

[Article Continued In Part B]

This article is copyright-protected. 

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Okay, ladies and gentlemen. I caught a typographical error here in Part A of my article titled "The Great American Controversy Over Underage Marriage."

In the last paragraph of this segment, I typed: "I would have to say that this particular above-described couple was the exception, not the rule, regarding child marriage, although I can understand why such a story would raise eyebrows everywhere in the country after it first hit the television airways in the early 1980s."

I really meant to type: "I would have to say that this particular above-described couple was the exception, not the rule, regarding child marriage, although I can understand why such a story would raise eyebrows everywhere in the country after it first hit the television airwaves in the early 1980s."

I apologize for any confusion that this typographical error may have caused. When Steemit finally does away with the 7-day time limit to edit and correct an article, I think we can all pop open a bottle of champagne. :)

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Time to pop open that bottle now @epiccenterdefacto :)

BTW, you don't seem to have mentioned the practice of child marriages in India, amongst the Hindus mainly. It is outlawed of course, and even when it happens at very early ages, the children often live separately until a little older. However, it is a fact!
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Child_marriage_in_India
What a subject you have spoken at length on - over the course of all these posts. I have only skim read this, and would need much more time to delve inside!

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Barge? Yeah, I focus more on the subject of teenage marriage here in the United States of America in my article above. What I have noticed is that some of the activists who are trying to impose a solid marriageable age of 18 years old across my nation through proposed legislation have been unfairly comparing teenage marriages here in our nation with child marriages in Islamic nations. Because Islamic nations are, for the most part, patriarchies, I feel that these people are comparing oranges and apples. And, yes, I get it that some people are uneasy about adolescent girls marrying husbands older than what would be conventional in American society for girls that age to date; but because I have met many couples that fit this description here in my country who are very happy together and have been so for decades, I become very suspicious as for the authenticity of any so-called statistical information that people like Fraidy Reiss and Jeanne Smoot diffuse to the public in support of their efforts. If there are to be any changes in the marriage laws in the manner that these people like Fraidy Reiss and Jeanne Smoot want, I believe that it should not be state legislators who decide upon it but rather voters who do so in the form of propositions, questions or measures on the November state ballots. I know that they will not take it down that avenue, however, because they know that there will be a lot of people opposed to their efforts. California already gave them a significant amount of pushback.