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The potential for female homosocial relationships is found among the polygamous "sister- wives" of Milford Shipp.[5] His first wife, Ellis Reynolds Shipp, earned a medical degree at the Woman's Medical College of Pennsylvania in 1878.

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She theorizes that marrying brothers "deepened their intimacy, extending it in new directions, further complicating the intricate balance of emotional and material ties, and perhaps offering a symbolic consummation of their passion" for each other.[9] Interestingly, Mormon women had the unique ability to take this even one step further - by marrying the same man, and thus becoming sister-wives.At the same time I have uncovered some of the problematics of male homosociality - its power to arbitrarily defend or exile men accused of entering into erotic relationships with other men.During the early 1840's Mormon founder Joseph Smith deified heterosexuality when he introduced the doctrine of a Father and Mother in Heaven - a divine, actively heterosexual couple paradigmatic of earthly sexual relationships. Eugene Shoemaker recently posited: "the celestial abode of God is heterosexually formed".[2] Smith also eternalized heterosexuality by extended opposite-sex marriages (heterogamy) into "time and all eternity" and multiplied heterosexuality through polygamy. Van Wagoner explains that Smith's "emphasis on procreation became the basis for the Mormon concept of humanity's progress to divinity.These two women lived together for almost 40 years, and together presided over three of Mormonism's most significant institutions: the General Primary Association (for Mormon children), the Children's Friend (a magazine for young Mormons), and founding the Primary Children's Hospital.[13] Louie and May were fairly open about the romantic and passionate aspects of their relationship, as reported in their biographies published in several early issues of the LDS Children's Friend.According to their recent biographer, Felt and Anderson's relationship was a "symbiotic partnership with each compensating for the weaknesses and complementing the strengths of the other".For Rich, this Lesbianism easily encompasses many more forms of emotional "intensity between and among women, including the sharing of a rich inner life, the bonding against male tyranny, the giving and receiving of practical and political support."[4] This intense female bonding (or homosociality) was present in the parameters of Mormon polygamy.

While some critics see polygamy as a form of male tyranny over women, I find that many Mormon women subversively reconstructed polygamy as a means of escaping male domination on many other levels, in what I call heroic acts of Lesbian resistance.

He gave them important marital status and fathered their children.

Otherwise, "in polygamy the wives and children learned to fend for themselves".[7] Dr.

The unique arrangements of Mormon polygamous households provided a potential medium for Lesbian expression among women who could easily (albeit covertly) eroticize each other's bodies through the gaze of their shared husband.

Indeed at least one Mormon woman went so far as to request that her husband marry polygamously after she fell in love with another woman, so that the two women could openly live together.

All of Smith's...doctrinal innovations fell into place around this new teaching.