Five Wives Who Share One Man; This Week, Supported by His Five Wives and 29 Children, a Man Went on Trial for Polygamy. His Family Treats Him like a Deity and There Is a Daily Rota for the Women to Sleep with Him. but Can This Bizarre Lifestyle Make Any of Them Happy?
Chalmers, Sarah, Daily Mail (London)
Byline: SARAH CHALMERS
THE doors of Room 201 swing open at Provo District Court to reveal what must surely be one of the unlikeliest Lotharios of modern time - the balding, bespectacled figure of Tom Green.
Oblivious to his physical shortcomings, in an ill-fitting suit which fails to disguise his ample girth, the 52-year-old surveys the scene with short, darting movements of his gimlet-like eyes.
In an instant, a gaggle of women and children in pioneer dress, who moments earlier had been languishing like extras on the set of Little House On The Prairie, rush to dance attendance on the Svengali.
As they fuss giddily around the man who is husband to five of them, father to 29, he turns abruptly away, puffs out his chest and addresses the gathered news media.
As the public face of polygamy, Tom Green does not disappoint his audience.
This week he has made history as the first man tried for plural marriage in half a century.
The felony carries a possible 25-year jail term.
If acquitted, he will be hailed a hero. If convicted, he will become a martyr to the estimated 30,000 practising polygamists in Utah.
The case has thrust this bizarre family and its antiquated lifestyle onto the international stage, and brought untold embarrassment to Utah's capital, Salt Lake City, just months before it is due to host the 2002 Winter Olympics.
And the question every freethinking man and woman is asking, is how on earth does he get away with it? What, after all, could any modern woman gain from sharing her husband with four others?
On first impressions Linda, 28, Shirley, 30, LeeAnn, 25, Carri, 25, and Hannah, 24, seem happy and contented. Their children, too numerous to name here, are clean, clothed, fed, educated and well-mannered.
LINDA, wife No1, says: 'Monogamy would be so boring. I'm free not to have to tend to my husband's needs all the time, because I know someone else will.'
Her sister-wife Shirley (wife No 2) interjects with an equally unromantic: 'This is a liberating way for women to live. We all share everything, so I can leave my children with other mothers instead of faceless babysitters.
'I practise it for religious reasons but I like the life so much I'd be in a plural marriage even if the scriptures did not advocate it.' But scratch beneath the surface and a less wholesome picture emerges. One that is hard to believe still exists in the most advanced country in the world, at the dawn of the 21st century.
For the 'liberating' lifestyle is not the emancipated existence most modern women enjoy in a civilised world.
Instead, it revolves around teenage marriage, male domination, financial dependence, and almost constant childbirth, which renders the participants little realistic hope of ever breaking away from the family unit.
Four hours southwest of Salt Lake City, in the middle of the desert, and a two-hour drive from the nearest grocery store, is where Tom Green has chosen to make the family home.
And it is here, in a row of dilapidated trailers, that the quintet of Identikit spouses toil: child-rearing, cooking, cleaning and sewing.
By night, they take it in turns to sleep with their shared husband - usually in his bedroom, where each has a drawer in his bureau containing their personal lingerie. Their turn is dictated by a rota pinned on the kitchen wall.
None of the marital partners uses contraception, relying instead on the rhythm method.
Children are conceived in 'batches', so each will have playmates his or her own age.
There are currently five batches, A, B, C, D and E, who work together on chores and schooling, which usually takes place on the homestead. Batch F is under way, with four of the five wives pregnant.
Occasionally, one wife will be chosen to accompany Green into Salt Lake City for the twice-monthly shopping trips. …