June 11, 2006

Polygamist Slang, &c.

The Primer was compiled by the Utah State Attorney General as a resource for state agency personnel who deal with polygamist groups and individuals. It details the known polygamist groups in and around Utah and Arizona and provides background on the particulars of their beliefs, culture, practices, and terminology.

Most of my family's been Mormon for generations, and I have polygamist ancestors along many branches of my family tree, but in the modern Mormon culture, polygamy has been treated almost entirely as a long-past historical oddity. People who practice it today are not considered to have any relationship or relevance at all to the LDS Church, even though they often see things otherwise. And even though their culture and beliefs are almost always a derivative of mainstream Mormonism.

The result is, I have never heard or seen any of this stuff--except for one word, "polyg"--even if some of the religious terminology is familar, it usually means something different [and it's different between and even within contemporary polygamist communities.

Anyway, here is some polygamy-related slang:

  • Bleeding the Beast: An expression used by some fundamentalists as a rationale for accepting assistance (i.e., financial grants, WIC, TANF, food stamps, housing, medical assistance, etc.) from governmental agencies that may otherwise not be trusted. Occasionally, the same term may be used to justify abuse or exploitation of such systems. Within certain groups it is taught that “bleeding the beast” will assist God in destroying the “evil” U.S. government and is considered a righteous endeavor.
  • Creekers: Members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (FLDS) who live in Colorado City, AZ, and Hildale, UT are often called “Creekers.” The nickname “Creekers” began when this area was called Short Creek.
  • “Keep Sweet”: An admonition to be compliant and pleasant despite the circumstances.
  • Plyg (or Polyg): A highly offensive and demeaning term for those who practice polygamy. Care providers should be aware that this term is never acceptable and would hinder efforts to provide help.
  • Poofers: A slang term for girls who suddenly disappear from their community in order to take part in an arranged marriage. The girls are either kept hidden or moved to another state or country. This is most often used by the FLDS Church.
  • Second Ward or 2nd Warder: A derogatory slang term for families who left Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Arizona in the 1980’s to start their own community in Centennial Park. However, members of the Centennial Park community do not like this term because it suggests an association between the two groups. Members of the FLDS church in Hildale/Colorado City are also called “First-Warders.” [congregations in the mainstream LDS church are also called 'wards,' btw. -g.o]

    The Primer — Helping Victims of Domestic Violence and Child Abuse in Polygamous Communities [pdf, attorneygeneral.utah.gov via deseret news]

    etc. | posted by greg at June 11, 2006 8:06 PM