One Man, Many Wives, Big Problems

The social consequences of polygamy are bigger than you think

(Page 2 of 2)

True, in modern America some polygynous marriages would probably be offset by group marriages or chain marriages involving multiple husbands, but there is no way to know how large such an offset might be. And remember: Every unbalanced polygynous marriage, other things being equal, leaves some man bereft of the opportunity to marry, which is no small cost to that man.

The social dynamics of zero-sum marriage are ugly. In a polygamous world, boys could no longer grow up taking marriage for granted. Many would instead see marriage as a trophy in a sometimes brutal competition for wives. Losers would understandably burn with resentment, and most young men, even those who eventually won, would fear losing. Although much has been said about polygamy's inegalitarian implications for women who share a husband, the greater victims of inequality would be men who never become husbands.

By this point it should be obvious that polygamy is, structurally and socially, the opposite of same-sex marriage, not its equivalent. Same-sex marriage stabilizes individuals, couples, communities, and society by extending marriage to many who now lack it. Polygamy destabilizes individuals, couples, communities, and society by withdrawing marriage from many who now have it.

As the public focuses on a subject it has not confronted for generations, the hazards of polygamy are likely to sink in. In time, debating polygamy will remind us why our ancestors were right to abolish it. The question is whether the debate will reach its stride soon enough to prevent polygamy
from winning a lazy acquiescence that it in no way deserves.

*Author's note: My wording left some readers under the impression that the modern Mormon church may endorse or practice polygamy. It does not. I should have made clearer that I was referring to certain people who claim to be Mormons, not to the church or mainstream practice.

© Copyright 2006 National Journal

Jonathan Rauch is a senior writer and columnist for National Journal and a frequent contributor to Reason. The article was originally published by National Journal.

 

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  • Scarecrow||

    Anyone familiar with statistics even on a High School level will shake their heads over this pathetic attempt to use numbers to sway the ignorant...so sad to see this continue...get some real facts...

  • ||

    This is completely unrealistic.
    There are a few difficult legal issues with polygamy,mostly involving child custody and health insurance but the dubious claims listed here aren't among them. Additionally, the benefits of legalizing multiple marriage help to alleviate exactly the issues raised.
    The young girls forced into polygynous 'marriages' currently have no protection of law. The insularity of the religious communities that isolate these girls is justified from within by the lack of legality of their marriages. Should polygamy be legalized, these cults would have no excuse to hide the tangle of their relationships - and young girls would have the opportunity to become young women before marriage. These girls believe that they must lie, knowing that they are not married in the eyes of the law. Should the law change, they will have equal rights and protection, and their communities must become more open. It could not be prevented. Further, the author makes only vague reference to polyamory, yet this is a large and ever growing population who largely do practice equality of relationship. Discounting hundreds of thousands for the sake of demonizing a few thousand who would , in any case, benefit from the change of law seems more than a bit disingenuous. And those unmarried young men? They already, as the author points out, exist! It is the very legal isolation of their communities that permits this abuse and child abandonment to take place - often , the mothers of these young boys (who are usually in their early teens when kicked out) have no recourse to the law or to help their sons because they fear losing their other children should they complain!

  • ||

    I need to comment o the problems of polygamy and the solutons.Im from a polygamy home and have been having problem always.How can i overcome the problems in general.Thanks.

  • Russell Tanner||

    I wrote an article on Mormons and polygamy. You might want to check it out: http://www.mormonmisconception.....-polygamy.

  • دردشة عراقية||

    asfasf

  • ||

    I agree 100% with your article. Research has shown that married men have lower testosterone levels than single men, and are therefore less violent and less prone to engage in risk-seeking behaviors. Men with children are especially "docile", or rather civilized. Being around one's own offspring seems to drastically lower the testosterone levels of a father.

    However, the Western World no longer has any advantage over the polygamous or male-heavy East, considering that many men live as singles nowadays. Women have no economic incentive to get married; not only can they easily provide for themselves, they can even raise their children on their own. And if women get married, they exclusively marry up (which is known as hypergamy). Much unlike men, who are willing to marry far below their own social, economical or educational class.

    So naturally, there is a large number of males who will never find a partner, and if they do, chances are that they'll soon find themselves divorced (about two thirds of all divorces are filed by women). I'm willing to bet that there are nowadays more unattached males in Western countries such as the USA than in any Asian country, with the exception of Japan. In addition, Western nations show alarmingly low and in many cases negative birth rates.

    But of course it's utterly impossible to suggest the obvious solutions for this problem, which will eventually led to us being outbred and replaced by cultures with more traditional socio-cultural norms and values. We have managed to maneuver ourselves into a tiny corner surrounded by insurmountable walls of political correctness, and there is no ethically acceptable escape for us. We will simply have to accept the fact that we are doomed. We might as well legalize polygamy and wild orgies in the streets and go out with a bang like the Roman Empire.

  • شات عراقنا||

    thank you

  • صبايا العراق||

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