Technology with attitude

The Case Against Polygamy


I suppose I could have posted this in the comments section of Justin’s post about polygamy, but it’s rather long. Besides, Justin gave me posting privileges and what better way to use them than to question his reasoning?

Justin asks: “what’s so bad about polygamy?� Well, here’s the answer:

The problem with polygamy is that it is very likely to be an exploitative relationship where one person in the relationship (almost always the man) lords over the other members (almost always the women). It may sound very open and tolerant to think all members of a polygamous marriage would be 100% willing and not at all disadvantaged, but that’s pretty much ignoring that the history of polygamy is tied fairly directly into the subjugation of women.

Furthermore, allowing polygamy would lead to a fairly radical reordering of society in a way gay marriage simply wouldn’t. Gay marriage is still a traditional marriage, albeit between two people of the same sex. But it’s still about two people in a consensual relationship. Even now, without gay marriage, many gay couples are living together in committed, healthy relationships. So, in many ways, gay marriage is just making official something that already exists.

But legalized polygamy could lead to the structures of family and society being radically realigned. And anyone who thinks that realignment wouldn’t favor men (even in our happy, open society) is forgetting basic biology. A man can father many children and so would have use for many wives. A woman can only have one child at a time and thus needs only one husband. Thus in a polygamous culture, it is the men who have the power.

I am sure there are a few hippy-dippy polygamous relationships out there where everyone involved is loved and treated as an equal. But that is simply not the natural state of polygamy and those rare examples are no reason for us to even consider legalizing the act.

Gay marriage is fine by me but polygamy is horrid idea.

Those of us arguing for gay marriage would do ourselves a great disservice if we start seriously considering the legalization of polygamy. That’s what the social conservative want us to do�take that one step too far. If we start thinking polygamy is acceptable, it would give the social conservatives some very real ammunition to label us as anti-family and more than a little-bit crazy.