to wonder why bigamy/polygamy is illegal?

(72 Posts)
YouBloodyWolf Sun 11-Nov-12 09:09:31

WTF has it got to do with the State? Granted, it'd make inheritance and taxation a bit messier but that's hardly a reason. Granted it's probably a throwback to more churchy times, but it never even seems to be up for debate.

I'm not polygamous, don't even know if I'd want to be, but it seems a bit unreasonable to me.

nightlurker Tue 13-Nov-12 16:26:09

I think the reason why marriage is supported by the government is to reduce the number of partners a person has and help ensure that children are raised by their biological parents, if possible. There are very clear benefits to society that come from monogamy.

foreverondiet Tue 13-Nov-12 16:12:14

re: man with 117 wifes - surely another problem with this is that lots of his children are going to end up marrying each other and high risk of congenital defects?

FreckledLeopard Tue 13-Nov-12 16:08:39

Not sure about polygamy and bigamy, but if you take a step back from the notion of marriage, the idea of monogomy is something that is culturally accepted but in reality, does not reflect the true state of affairs between monogomous couples. A recent survey showed that over 50% of men and women have affairs at some stage during their marriages/relationships. Given that monogomy is something that doesn't appear to work very well, then perhaps more thought should be given to polygamy etc?

Assets/children/inheritance etc aside - it ought to be possible to live a lifestyle that allowed multiple partnerships regardless of gender. If a woman wanted more than one lover, fair enough, and vice versa.

Did anyone read the recent Guardian artice on this subject?

grimbletart Tue 13-Nov-12 16:06:58

Indeed LeBFG (I have a scientific background so am well aware). It was tongue in cheek. Should have put a grin. But it means it is massive fuck up that leads to ownership and subjugation of females, fighting among males and alpha males leaving the rest in the lurch.

By the same token I think it is fuck up by nature that women aren't born with zip fasteners on their abdomen. I'll put a grin here in case anyone takes me seriously.

freetoanyhome Tue 13-Nov-12 15:59:53

wouldnt bother me if it was legalised, after all, affairs go on all the time. Maybe make it legal and make sure men pay for the kids they sire.

nightlurker Tue 13-Nov-12 15:51:11

Even in cases where birth rates favor males greatly over females, there is polygamy (such as with lions).

LeBFG Tue 13-Nov-12 15:45:42

Other mammals have polygamous mating systems, or engage in polygamy (gorillas) at least some of the time. They also have even sex ratios, so I'm afraid you can't argue it from 'natural' principles gribletart.

grimbletart Tue 13-Nov-12 15:25:00

Why does nature provide an equal number (roughly) of males and females if polygamy (which is normally polygyny rather than polyandry) was natural?

DontmindifIdo Tue 13-Nov-12 15:08:58

Also, if you legalise it, how to you limit the number of combinations?

So, if you had it working both ways, you could have a husbandA who has wives 1 and 2, however what if wife 2 decides she wants another hubandB - you would have 4 people in a legal commitment, but would wife 1 and husband A need to be in agreement before wife 2 took husband B? Or could wife 2 legally just bring another person into the family without needing permission of the others? What if husband A was happy with it, but wife 1 who had agreed to sharing her DH, not agreed to another man in the family? If huband A died, how would his estate be devided up? How many combinations could you have? Could husband B take another wife (wife3) who is in a relationship with the same husband as wife2 but not wife 1, how would you work out what was fair? Would all the people in the arrangment have to "marry" the new person joining to prove they all agreed to this addition to the family?

People can have complicated relationships, but marriage is a legal commitment that links two people, the only way this could work is to break the link between a marriage and a legal commitment, and then what would be the point of anythng other than a religous ceremony for marriage?

LessMissAbs Tue 13-Nov-12 12:40:02

Does it extend to husbands too? I mean, are you arguing that all people, regardless of gender, should have no good reason not to have more than one husband?

Actually, if you think about it from that viewpoint, it becomes less of a good idea. More than one husband would be a hassle. Far better to have a husband for security, and a few boyfriends/toyboys. Which is actually what happens a lot of the time in Western society anyway.

Problem solved.

EldritchCleavage Tue 13-Nov-12 12:37:31

no idea re the anthropolgy of Ghana. I assume tribal, wives, quasi wives, concubines. Give a one of the villages you are over all chief of, a goat, and take your pick of virgins

Yep, Ghana is all about buying virgins with goats. Please.

It is very irritating to read it put in those kinds of terms. Polygamy in Ghana works in different ways in different areas, and is not universally accepted or uncontroversial nowadays by any means. Don't assume women like it, they often put up with it, particularly in rural areas, for lack of alternatives. Women with money/education/good family support are unlikely to accept polygamous husbands.

It's not much different from families here where the parents are unmarried, father comes and goes, has children with other women (which doesn't tend to work out so well for the women and children here either). Except not so much scope for throwing around the word tribal and references to goats.

pigletmania Tue 13-Nov-12 10:16:47

I think it's to protect families an prevent incest.

CrackerJackShack Tue 13-Nov-12 08:28:17

What they argue in the ME is that while birth rates are roughly 50/50, boys have a higher rate of death. So in most countries in the world there are more women of marriageable age, than their are men, so it is men's duty to marry these spinsters.

nightlurker Tue 13-Nov-12 05:39:36

Just want to be sure that it is mentioned that those groups green mentions are very small breakoffs from the mainstream Mormon (LDS) faith. The LDS faith forbids polygamy, teaches that men and women are to be equal partners, and that men and women should strive to get as much education as possible.

TellyRotsYourBrain Mon 12-Nov-12 19:17:02

What a stupid question. YABU

LeBFG Mon 12-Nov-12 19:13:06

Actually, I think the argument around low status males and lack of women is a good reason not to promote bigamy in a country i.e. because it would lead to social unrest.

I'm not yet sure why polygamy per se is seen a social taboo. I suppose there's such a thing as open relationships and even open marriages. It's not obvious to me why women would be oppressed in these sorts of relationships. Although, as some other posters have attested to, this does appear to go on in some parts of the country.

GreenEggsAndNichts Mon 12-Nov-12 18:34:35

I've not read the entire thread, so I apologise if this has already been said:

We can talk about equality, but let's just assume that most of these marriages would involve one man with multiple wives. It's just the way these things tend to happen (see, uncle in Ghana grin with 100 wives). It's rare to hear of a woman with multiple husbands.

So you have a community which allows a man to have 10 wives. great. What happens to the other men? I will tell you. There are small towns in the US where Mormons have the majority, the town council is all Mormon, etc, so everyone accepts that the older men take the young girls as wives. They have a lot of children. The boys of those children? Get driven to nearby states and dumped as soon as they are old enough to fend for themselves. A link to get you started if you think I'm making it up.

This isn't even taking into consideration that obviously, the female children are discouraged from education beyond the basics of keeping a house and making life lovely for men.

Why does this matter to society? I don't think these practices should be legal. Leave the females to think this is their lot in life, and send the weaker (poorer?) males off to have no mate at all. It's not right.

I realise I am quoting some extreme cases, but these are situations which have sprung from generations of ingrained, accepted polygamy. If consenting adults want to engage in it, fine. But most societies which engage in it seem to have prohibitions placed on the females and I wouldn't want to see that acceptable here.

CrunchyFrog Mon 12-Nov-12 18:16:13

I had a great-something grandfather who had 4 goes at bigamy. Never divorced any of them (I suppose none of the subsequent 3 were legal anyway.)

To me, it's the ultimate extension of patriarchy, and it's horrible.

nooka Mon 12-Nov-12 18:14:27

Fundamentally because polygamous societies are great for the top men, and pretty shit for everyone else.

LeBFG Mon 12-Nov-12 11:36:24

Edgar, your arguments are around the existing legalities, which make no provision for polygamous relationships/marriages. OP wants to discuss why this should be the case (at least, that's how I understand her post).

EdgarAllanPond Mon 12-Nov-12 10:50:38

polygamists/ bigamists will have made false declarations in order to marry more than one person.

LeBFG Mon 12-Nov-12 10:47:22

Polygamy tends to evolve in socities with scattered resources, thus explaining why a lot of desert societies choose polygamy. One male dominates the resource and the women join up with him rather than starving with the other resource-poor males. In primate species with more harem mating, male balls are smaller. In humans, men have larger balls (there is more competition between men) indicating the prevalence for pair bonding. Estimated extra-pair mating rates are about 30% however (from sketchy memory), so we're far from exclusive, til death-do-we-part types!

Our society deems pair bonds are more valuable than multiple bonds, particularly wrt bringing up children. In the interests of promoting these 'stable' values, the legal side of polygamy, bigamy, is illegal. I agree with this.

DappyHays Mon 12-Nov-12 10:27:16

marriage is a legal recognition of an exclusive relationship

People who have extra-marital affairs should therefore be arrested too grin

EdgarAllanPond Mon 12-Nov-12 10:23:57

marriage is the point at which you rcognise your relationship in law.

that's why bigamy/ polygamy is unlawful - marriage is a legal recognition of an exclusive relationship.

DappyHays Mon 12-Nov-12 10:20:47

This thread is reminding me of a woman who lived across the road from us as kids. She had 2 partners, all 3 of them living under the same roof. Not sure if she was married to any of the two. There were a couple of kids. They all seemed happy. Plenty of gossipy neighbours trying to figure out what was what over the road, but no-one knew because the lady in question didn't ever discuss it rightly so with them.

Don't ask me how everyone knew that one of the guys wasn't just a brother or friend, but they did.

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