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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.

MORCAPS Sun 11-Nov-12 11:21:01

I do sometimes think that a large group of women caring for the children with adult males coming and going [snurk] would work better.

I like other women and the happiest times in my life have been when I have had a group solid group of women around me and we all look after the children collectively. This has happened a few times in my expat life. Husbands come and go with work so you form close bonds with the other wives as they are more constant.

I wouldn't want to share my husband though, so it is tricky.

Also wouldn't want anybody forced into the setup if they wanted to do it differently.

Cailleach Sun 11-Nov-12 11:30:45

Polygamy is not a good idea as it causes a shortage of available wives.

Boys and girls are born in roughly equal quantities, so if follows that if you start giving more than wife to particular men and one man somewhere is going without.

When a whole society is doing this, and not just the head honcho at the top, you have a huge pool of angry and restless and potentially violent young men. Basically, women will become luxury items because this artificial scarcity means like anything else that is rare, they will be exchangeable for a high price (dowries) so the temptation to commoditise them will be immense (especially true in poorer countries.)

As for the women themselves, they will be locked up in the house as the risk of them being kidnapped is so great (Middle East esp, India and China increasingly, although this is due to female infanticide not polygamy in the latter two cases...) and severe restrictions will be placed on their social behaviour.

Like any 'luxury goods', they will be hoarded by said head honchos as visible proof of the honcho's wealth and status, as mentioned above. This means that only an increasingly tiny minority of wealthy men will be able to marry at all and so pass on their genes.

In most human societies wealth concentrates itself in the hands of just a few families. In female-limited societies, this means only certain families will manage to reproduce as only they can afford to purchase breeding stock for their sons.

Leaving aside what other abnormal stress responses all this will cause in society (resentment and violence against women being the main one) what this does to the male side of the gene pool doesn't bear thinking about...don't forget, humanity has a tiny gene pool compared to most other mammals and we cannot afford to do anything to reduce it still further.

The way the polygamous Middle East / North African Arab/ Arabised societies used to get round this was by kidnapping African, Hindu and European women for the slave trade. East European women were particularly targeted during the Ottoman Empire, for instance.

Polgyamy is a great social evil and I am amazed people still don't understand this.

MORCAPS Sun 11-Nov-12 11:35:29

Yeah, I was thinking more along the lines of being free to shag whoever took your fancy without any laws of marriage or ownership.

I don't think would work in the real world though.

Marzipanface Sun 11-Nov-12 11:38:29

Bigamy is a crime
Polygamy is the practice of having more than one partner.

I would be more than happy to have more than one husband!


Good post.

I think polygamy is generally a reflection of a culture where women are seen more as trophies / possessions rather than people in their own right.

Cailleach Yeah, you do know that women can be polygamous too? Throughout your whole post you didn't mention women having more than one husband, only men having more than one wife. Given that fact, I think most of your post can be written off as unsubstantiated nonsense, really.

Personally, I think it's no-one else's business what consenting adults choose to do - so I have absolutely no issues with polygamy.


Most polygamous cultures (rather than individual lifestyle choices) tend to be polygynous rather than polyandrous.

I think a distinction needs to be made by a woman choosing to have a polygynous or polyandrous lifestyle and a culture where the possession of a number of wives is seen as a status symbol.

There are very few polyandrous cultures and rather more polygynous ones.

IvanaHumpalotCountDracula Sun 11-Nov-12 12:01:49

Cailleach is correct about the privileged and surplus males. This is happening today within the separatist (polygamous) Mormons in the states. Young men are excluded from the community/religion on flimsy basis to cover the lack of available women. Exclusion or lack of wives is also used for social control of the men.

I had an interesting conversation a couple of years ago with a Morrocan taxi driver. The current (I think) king has banned multiple wives. There are restrictive exemptions but you have to apply for a special license to have a second wife. This has led to a massive increase in divorce - no second wife for the man means divorce for the first wife. There is little (no state) support for first wives or their dependents. I visited a couple of argon oil projects which were staffed entirely by divorced first wives.

I have no problem in principle with polygamy - I think it should swing both ways (men and women as multiple partners) with stringent protection for partners and dependants. Secular fair laws which reflect current thinking rather than religious ideas.

Procrasstinator Sun 11-Nov-12 12:17:21

My dh is from a polygamous culture; his dad had 4 wives, so dh has 26 brothers/sisters ( he thinks!) I imagine that there would be genetic problems to be considered? Nearly everyone we meet in his home town/area is related in some way.

CogitoErgoSometimes Sun 11-Nov-12 12:18:40

Didn't polygamy generally emerge in religious communities (thinking especially of Mormons and Muslims) because there was a surplus of women and they were deemed not to be respectable as well as vulnerable unless they 'belonged' to a man? Then again, the Mormon founder Joseph Smith is rumoured to have fully embraced the idea of polygamy at about the same time as he was fully embracing his serving girl Fanny Ager....

fuzzywuzzy Sun 11-Nov-12 15:40:40

Polygamy predates Islam & I presume the Mormon religion, the prophets of the old testaments had many wives King David had a lot of wives 7 and some accounts add more. Abraham had at least two I think etc

Places like Bhutan & Tibet have Polyandry it's to prevent land being broken up as men marry different wives and want to sell off land or split away from their families as land is a scarce & the chief means of income. I vaguely remember reading about an account where one of three brothers fell in love the other brothers agreed to divorce their current wife and marry the younger brothers lover. Then it was her responsibility to ensure she had a child with each to prevent accusations of favouritism.

We don't really need laws allowing multiple concurrent relationships, people practice it, it's a social norm surely till one settles down?

Procrasstinator Sun 11-Nov-12 15:41:52

my dh culture is not based on religion

I tried to find that mildly amusing fridge magnet type poem along the lines of 'having a man who can cook, a man who is good in bed, a man who can clean', etc and finishes with the line.... above all never let these men meet each other! but I couldn't.... sums this up for me grin

McChristmasPants2012 Sun 11-Nov-12 17:49:05

I think it is possible to love 2 people at the same time. When pregnant with my 2nd child I wondered how could I love another baby as much as I live DC1. But love is not split it multiples.

It would take a lot of give and take and compromise if a marriage of 3+ is going to work.

Myself I couldn't share my husband, I would be far to jealous of another women having my husband attention in an emotional and sexual way.

lljkk Sun 11-Nov-12 18:59:41

You could have polyandrists married to polygamists married to more polyandrists married to more polygamists.

But you don't need contracts of marriage for all that, you could just have people being very promiscuous begetting children with multiple partners who beget & cohabit with multiples.

Oh wait, we already have that in half the council estates. sad

And considering the social chaos these habits evidently cause, not sure that the state should sanction such relationships with special privileges. If individual religions want to allow it to happen, fine.

nightlurker Mon 12-Nov-12 03:13:38

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

StuntGirl Mon 12-Nov-12 03:38:27

I don't agree with it personally. In every poly relationship I've ever known everyone has claimed to be totally ok with it and not at all bothered about sharing and totally organised with the reality one person has always been seen as 'lesser', and two of them have had a more serious/traditional relationship with someone else occasionally on the side. I have never known any of these relationships end well. (I've never been involved in one of these relationships by the way!)

I'm sure there are some people who could make a poly relationship work but I think they are very much in the minority.

AnnaKissed Mon 12-Nov-12 05:35:51

I read an interesting book written by one of Osama bin laden's wives. It's an insight into the practice if you are interested OP. She appeared to be happy with the situation, calling the other wives "her sister wives" and they were company for each other because he was away a lot. The children played together and they all live in a huge house together with a floor each etc. The other wives became family and in Saudi Arabia where family is pretty much all you have, she seemed to value that. As she was the first wife, she had some say in if and when he could marry other women.

However she did come across as very oppressed in general.

nooka Mon 12-Nov-12 06:10:13

For a really good account of the impact of polygamy, this judgement of the balance between state intervention/individual freedom is very interesting reading. Essentially it concludes that polygamy is almost always expressed as polygyny and very rarely as polyandry, and that it is highly associated with harm.

Certainly the polygamous communities in BC appear to be really oppressive, selling off girls in their early teens to the powerful men and throwing surplus young men out.

blueemerald Mon 12-Nov-12 07:43:40

A friend of mine started seeing a polyamorous guy. He was 110% certain of his lifestyle, he'd been conducting his relationships as such for 6-7 years (we're 26). He was seeing my friend and another woman, who had another boyfriend. (He was also adamant that sex/dating without the knowledge is cheating in polyamorous relationships too!) 6 weeks later he is "in love" with my friend, had dumped the other woman and wants to be with her and just her forever.

cory Mon 12-Nov-12 10:07:21

The only culture I know of that practised polyandry was Tibet and there iirc it was the specialised situation of a woman also marrying her husband's brothers so that they would step in and provide for her in the event of his death; it was never about a woman marrying any second man that took her fancy.

As other posters have mentioned, most polygynous societies have tended to be very hierarchical, with important men who get multiple wives and lesser men who get none. Marriages themselves also tend to be hierarchical with a head wife having more power and the other wives ranking lower. It is very difficult to see how it would work in a society where man and wife are seen as (at least nominally) equal and where the chance for everybody to have their sexual needs met is seen as desirable.

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.

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 10:27:16

marriage is a legal recognition of an exclusive relationship

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

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