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Balancing Bountiful

What I Learned about Feminism from my Polygamist Grandmothers

Mary Jayne Blackmore

A compelling memoir by the daughter of convicted polygamist Winston Blackmore explores a young woman’s journey from polygamy to feminism and independence.

As the daughter of Mormon leader Winston Blackmore, Mary Jayne Blackmore grew up within the closed-off polygamist community of Bountiful, BC. She spent her younger years riding ponies, raising pet lambs and playing in the hay in the Old Barn. Her family’s staunch Fundamentalist Mormon faith imposed fanatical doomsday preparation and carried an instilled fear of the world outside her community.

The church community split in 2002 when her father was revoked of his leadership position by Prophet Warren Jeffs. In 2017 Winston Blackmore was convicted of practicing polygamy further inciting the media sensationalism and worldwide criticism that had surrounded Bountiful for decades. Through the evolving and controversial narrative of her young adult life, Mary Jayne was forced to redefine her faith, family and womanhood for herself.

Today, through her work and her personal exploration of feminism, Mary Jayne is helping to heal an injured community, one that she watched turn from safe and loving to defensive and resentful. She is also building her own place in the world—as a teacher, mother, writer and educated woman—and she has managed to restore loving bonds with her family, including her father.

From a childhood in an idyllic but sheltered community to early adulthood in an arranged marriage, ensuing divorce, and eventual return to Bountiful, Balancing Bountiful is Mary Jayne’s journey of coming of age and coming to terms with her background as she strives to answer the question: What is the right kind of family, the right kind of woman and the right kind of feminist?