Is Polygamy Progressive?
As a preface, let me point out that this post has nothing to do with Mormonism, which I’ve posted about lately. Mainstream Mormons long ago denounced polygamy. Although Fundamentalist Mormons still practice it, they are entirely separate from regular Mormon church.
What this post is about is whether polygamy is consistent with progressive ideals.
This came up yesterday when I was talking with a couple other progressive guys (both straight) about gay marriage. They mentioned the right to gay marriage in the same breath as polygamy — under the assumption that I agreed that these were basically the same thing.
But polygamous relationships and gay relationships aren’t the same.
Perhaps the main problem that I have with polygamy is that it seems to only be a practice in paternalistic cultures — where only men are allowed to have several wives. I’ve yet to ever see an example of a polygamous society where the women are the only ones allowed to have polygamous relationships. In fact, I’m not sure I can think of any example of a polygamous society where women have same right to have other partners as men.
So, it’s not so much that I oppose polygamy, per se, but historically (and presently) it has presented itself in ways that generally have hurt women. Perhaps there are isolated examples to the contrary. But
this is the general rule.
And on a practical level, polygamy just doesn’t seem to work. Because it’s hard enough for two people to work out a complex relationship, let alone three or four or five people. Unless, of course, one of those
people is the boss. Which is basically what happens, so I’ve noticed, in polygamous cultures that are paternalistic; the man is in charge. When that happens — when one person is in charge of the others in the relationship — then at least the relationship probably can stay together. But I still think it only works for the man.
What do ya’ll think?
Also — what about polyamorous relationships? Which are generally thought to be non-exclusive, non-marital, and (usually) bisexual/ bi-flexible.
In my opinion, that’s the difference between polyamorous relationships and polygomous relationships: polygomous relationships tend not to be bisexual/bi-flexible, they tend to be oriented at marriage, and the tend to be exclusive — no sex outside of the polygamous marriage.
The idea that polygamous relationships aren’t bisexual/bi-flexible begs the question, are polygamous relationships inherently controlled by one person? I think so. If there’s no bisexuality involved, it’s either going to be one man having a marriage/relationship with several women or one woman having a marriage/relationship with several men — but either way, there’s that one person in the middle.