Sunday, January 25, 2009

Is Polygamy "wrong"?

"Moonaroo" has an interesting series of posts surrounding the raid last year of the Yearning For Zion Ranch/FLDS, and the forcible removal of 400+ children on allegations of child abuse, which were later dismissed by the Texas Supreme Court.

  Her posts, in order, are here, here, and here.  That last one is  Larry King Interview with some women from the FLDS which set off all sort of warning bells for me.

 Moonaroo was apparently inundated with comments many of which were rather rude, and the great majority of which were from guys.  She's looking to hear what the gals think.

  Her posts raised an interesting question for me:  Is polygamy "wrong"?  "Wrong" is of course a shockingly loaded term.  But I mean ... is it inherently less ideal than monogamy? Is it inherently more dangerous and/or degrading to women than monogamy? Do the answers to these questions change based on culture/time?  Why or why not?  Etc.

 For myself I wouldn't want to be married to more than one woman.  I love Megan, and she rocks, and I'm totally happy with her, AND sometimes it takes a great deal of concentration and commitment on my part to be a good husband to her (and no doubt vice versa).   But I definitely don't have enough concentration and committment to do that with two people, even if I wanted to, which I don't.

  But maybe some guys *do* have enough concentration and committment?  Or maybe in some cultures that are less individualistic (there's a loaded term) marriage in *general* is easier?  Or maybe ....

  There--I'm sure I've opened at least a couple of cans of worms, and no doubt garnered a great deal of trouble for myself by doing so. =)  Your thoughts?


The Pharisee said...

My thought would be that someone else's polygamy is none of our business.

brooke said...

yep - i agree with the pharisee - i can't judge what the FLDS are doing. are the women happy? are the men? that's my opinion. i believe that the government has been completely and utterly out of line when it comes to the FLDS. i live in LDS land, i've been (was) LDS for 1.5 years, and i think that some of their practices could easily be construed as unhealthy for women in the faith. but - they are the best neighbors i've ever had, and i consider myself very very lucky to count a few LDS families my dearest friends here.

The Pharisee said...

Even if the women are "unhappy," I'm afraid that it would amount to the height of arrogance on my part to step in and "save" those women in their unhappiness. They're going to have to do it themselves.

MPB said...

I do not think it is anyone's business to force adult men and women to separate, divorce, or otherwise abandon each other when they are choosing to create families and maintain those families together. Why is it my business or anyone else's business to tell my neighbor who to love, who to have children with, or how to arrange their family? Besides, those who practice "polygamy" generally do not obtain more than one marriage license (if they obtain one at all). So if they are not actually legally married but are living with each other (cohabiting), then the state is considering them "married" ONLY for the sake of prosecution, but in no other way are they considered married. They can't obtain any legal recognition, or legal benefits of marriage, neither do they try to obtain it either by fraud or by misrepresentation. They merely have decided to create families together with the knowledge of all parties (rather than cheat or sneak behind each other's backs).

Joe said...

No, that is a pile of BS. No woman wants to be the second, third, fourth wife of a man. Nobody should be put into that position, it is right that the state should protect women from this form of slavery.

Who you have sex with is your problem. When you codify it with the effect that young women become your property, that becomes a serious issue for society.

The Pharisee said...


Let's take the FLDS' YFZ ranch for instance. There was no welfare fraud, there was less teen pregancy than in society at large, and there were less broken bones than at society at large, and they rarely came out to say "hi!"

How is this a problem for the rest of us?

Nath said...

I am with Joe, as well as a fervent advocate of polyandry.

Benjamin Ady said...


Seems like a bit of a leap for you to say "no woman wants ________" when you're not a women. I mean even if you *were* a woman, it's hard to get our heads around what others' want, beyond relatively simple things like Maslow's hierarchy. BICBW.

Nath--why such an advocate of polyandry? Or were you joking?

Benjamin Ady said...

by the way, in my experience comments like "that's a load of BS" and "riiiiiiiiight" don't indicate the sort of tone which is ultimately going to lead to any sort of useful conversation or anything else super useful. What if we assume we have something to learn from the other, and try to exercise genuine (unafraid) curiosity? Just a thought =)

Nath said...

Benjamin: I was jesting. Don't get me wrong: I love the idea of free love in theory... but I would never advocate a practice which is potentially harmful to others.
I believe that in the Quran, polygamy is presented as a way of supporting widows, originally: If a man dies, it becomes his brother's responsibility to support his late brother's wife and children.
Just like not eating pork, it makes sense to me, in a historical and anthropological context.
Nowadays... not so much. Women (at least in the US--I am no longer refering to Muslim societies) have access to jobs, health care, welfare, regardless of their married status.
So polygamy becomes culturally accepted rather than anthropologically necessary.
I also seem to remember that to Mormons, women are lesser creatures... They don't get a planet like men do when they die, do they?...
As for their role of perfect servitude while on earth... I don't feel so warm towards such principles leading to women's acceptance of commonly serving one man.
It just seems gratuitously unbalanced. I don't see the sociological need for polygamy here, and in the case of Mormons, it absolutely comes with a philosophy of demeening women in their own eyes, the eyes or their peers, the eyes of their husband, and the eyes of God.
As a woman myself, I have trouble swallowing that pill. (I want the planet, too!)