Post # 1
First off, let me say that this is no way to bash or degrade those that choose the path of polygamy for religious purposes or any other purpose so be sure to leave out any snarky comments. I am hoping this is can become a true discussion without involving any religious beliefs. I know we all have our views on whether it is morally wrong or not but this is to see if it can physically work for everyone involved.
I heard this on the Steve Harvey radio show this morning. One of his loyal listeners from South Africa had mentioned that their president has 20 kids and 5 wives. So their hot topic was, if it was legalized, can polygamy really work? Later I will share some of the listeners views. They may surprise you. By the way, this stemmed from Steve Harvey making a comment that AA men would not want multiple wives for many reasons. Unfortunately, I missed that part of the show, so I did not get to hear the reasons.
If the US legalized polygamy, do you personally think it can work?
I am interested in your opinions. Who has the advantage? Disadvantage? Can the roles be reversed where the woman has multiple husbands? Would this lead to men sticking around and taking care of their multiple wives and children?
Post # 3
It could never work for me personally, and while I am not a fan of it, I suppose it may be ideal for some families. It’s clearly a cultural thing, because no matter how many Dateline specials I watch, I just can’t wrap my head around being okay with sharing my husband.
I tend to be more of a live and let live person, but I’m going to be the first to admit that this is one of my bias areas. I’m sure not all kids resulting from polygamous marriages are abused or even unhappy, but it’s honestly one of my only uncomfortable topics. I can’t stop seeing it as invented by a man who just wanted to brainwash women into thinking if they complained about him taking more wives they’d be less happy or rewarded in the afterlife. (I know it was found in other religions, too, but can’t remember if it was cultural or religious there?)
I’m looking forward to seeing others’ answers on this, as it is something I have not had any firsthand experience with, and am not personally familiar with beyond tv documentaries and Big Love.
Post # 4
I would never ever participate in such a relationship, but I don’t think it’s my place to dictate to others what kinds of relationships they can participate in. As long as it is equal and women are allowed to have multiple husbands as well, then I don’t see how I can oppose it. The thing that is most disturbing to me about polygamy now is the way the children are so often raised in completely closed communities and the kids (usually the girls) have very little choice about whether that is the type of relationship they want for themselves or not, it’s just forced upon them. Maybe if it was legalized, these communities would not be so closed off and these kids would end up having more control over their own marriage choices because they would be exposed to all the options.
Post # 5
I think its a crock of crap, how can anyone feel that its ok to have multiple partners? its disgusting and obviously made up my a selfish man who didn’t want to commit to one woman so he made people believe that it was ok. Fromw hat I know about it, it seems that the majority of polygamists are men. Hope that wasn’t snarky, because that is definitely how I feel. I agree with greenleaf, maybe if they legalized it the children wouldn’t feel trapped in an existence they want no part of and be able to live a normal life as they see fit.
Post # 6
While I get that it’s how some cultures are, I don’t think it’d really work in America. We are a lot more selfish than most cultures and we no like to share our significant others.
But, I will say that polygamy has been around for thousands of years. I wouldn’t go so far as to say polygamy is for selfish men who don’t want to committ. That’s just how some cultures are and how some cultures foster survival. The whole “The king gets to sleep with as many women as he wants” sort of thing. I don’t agree with it, I don’t want it, but I understand it’s been around for awhile and it works in other cultures, typically I think those that are not as developed? I think it just showed up in the same way men in the 1500’s were expected to have mistresses and have illigitimate children or men in the old days of China (like ming dynasty type era) had concubines for sleeping with. The concubines became part of the women’s community. They weren’t liked, but they had a place and it was expected.
Some cultures are just different but I can’t personally get on board with it. If polygamy is legalized in America, I don’t think enough people would be on board. Those kids would be made fun of and I think it’d be an exclusive little community and it’d be too shut off from the real world. I don’t like communities like this in general, though.
But, the only main difference I see between having multiple wives and having mistresses when your married are, well, the wives are legal. It’s all “bad” in my eyes though.
And how in the world can one man provide support in America for multiple wives AND tons of kids? I see it becoming more of a “wife you work for me and bring home money” kind of thing
Post # 7
I think it works if a person is from a cultural background where it is normative. Most North Americans come have very different cultural assumptions about the importance of two people entering into a relationship ‘to the exclusion of all others,’ but not everyone has this foundational belief.
As to the advantages – I guess since many polygamous families have very ‘traditional’ views about gender roles, having many wives means that women can share household/child rearing duties, and may even have fewer worries about the double burden (ie. one wife can work outside of the home while another works inside the home without worrying about suitable childcare). I suppose children who grow up with multiple siblings and parents living under one roof might also have strong family ties (although the same could be said of any family really). And of course, for people who are part of polygamous relationships for religious reasons, the belief that plural marriage is a necessary prerequisite for salvation/heaven probably overrides all other concerns. I don’t pretend to understand this belief at all, and it really bothers me that women might be put into the situation of having to agree to plural marriage or lose their eternal salvation, for some people, this is their belief system.
I personally would never ever be comfortable with this kind of marriage, and as a feminist I have very strong reservations about assumptions made about women within this conception of marriage and family. However, it absolutely does happen in North America (not just FLDS on compounds or in Colorado City – ‘normal looking’ polygamous families live all over the place, and I know an imam who used to perform marriages for Muslim men who wanted more than one wife). And therefore, because it happens, I think society needs to have a discussion about the merits and demerits of polygamy because it is a reality which is not going away.
Post # 8
Realistically, it’s not for me. But the idea of someone doing all of the cooking and cleaning and making a living so that I could be a stay at home mother sounds pretty appealing. (I could make those demands since I have senority, right? lol)
Thankfully Fiance is very much a 1-gal kind of guy, and I am a 1-guy kind of gal.
Post # 9
I saw an interesting argument about this subject once that said the problem wasn’t the three, it was the two, by which they meant that sharing your partner with someone else is the hard part that doesn’t come naturally. We are jealous creatures by nature, I think, which is why so much polygamy comes down to men getting lots of wives but not having to share them with each other or another man. Which is not happening in cultures where they respect women as equals.
From another perspective, I have seen African polygamy work both very well and very badly. In a traditional village, it can mean that the women live together in a compound and share the (massive amounts of) work, share the raising of children, the overhead costs are lowered, and the man’s (overly domineering imo) attention is split among them. But this only works if you accept fairly strict gender roles and a certain lifestyle. Otoh, for middle-class men in the city, it can mean two or three households splitting one man’s income and semi-single mothers carrying the load of child-rearing basically alone.
So yeah, in the modern Western world most of us want to live in? Not a good idea, I think.
Post # 10
You know, I was thinking….technically most religious groups value “their” religious beliefs above those of the states. So in their mind, if they are married by some priest or religious person of their religion, then they think they ARE legally married. They may live together, have kids, etc. They probably do not care if their marriage is recognized by the united states. They have obligations bigger than the state to take care of their spouses and children.
Not that they get healthcare or anything, but maybe they do not care because of their religious bleiefs
Post # 11
It’s worked for thousands of years. I’m sure if we all had a different outlook, it would work just fine here.
The “problem” is expectations. Marriage is not just a partnership for economic well-being and raising children in our culture. Here, we expect companionship, love, fidelity, emotional support, etc. Our expectations aren’t well built for the essentially patriarchal and group mentality polygamy requires.
Post # 12
I think the issue is that ever since the women’s movement gained momentum (and that really didn’t happen until the late 80’s/early 90’s) most people polled said that the purpose of marriage was to create and raise children. As the womens’ movement progresses, ideas have shifted, and now the majority of those polled say the purpose of marriage is a spiritual fullfillment of each other. (If I had better google priveleges at work I could bring up the study on this…) If the purpose of your marriage is merely to make babies, polygamy works and works well. You aren’t jealous or possessive of your partner because his work was done once you got pregnant. I think that the ideas about what exactly a marriage is are what cause people to think polygamy is good/bad. And I don’t want to judge others, because there are monogomous relationships that are pretty crappy, so saying that a relationship is bad just because one man/woman shares multiple partners, I think, is a little closed-minded.
Post # 13
In theory, I support freedom of choice. In practice, polygamy usually means under-age brides and brides forced into marriages. Also, societies overrun with single, unattached men are typically not ideal. I struggle with this one.
On the other hand, *I* could totally use a wife!
Post # 14
@ alicia… when I’m doing laundry after 12 hours of work, I think the same thing….
Post # 15
monitajb said it really well.
Also, there is still some question as to why humans force themselves into one-one marriage partnerships. I have not studied it well enough to go in-depth here, but some people think that we have socialized ourselves into thinking this is the optimal setting for families/couples/life, when it may not really matter/be counterintuitive from an evolutionary perspective. Again, I really need to read more on this so I don’t think I could elaborate much more; I just thought it was something interesting to consider.
Post # 16
- Wedding: May 2011 - Bartram's Garden
I personally think that as long as everyone involved is of age and willing, and that nobody is being abused, taken advantage of, or hurt, then adults should be allowed to do whatever the heck they want.