Monday, December 13, 2010

Same Old Arguments Against Freedom to Marry

Professor Joseph Henrich of the University of British Columbia testified that polygamy is natural, but that it is harmful. Say what?

Prof. Henrich's testimony pointed to numerous studies indicating that societies that abandon polygamy do better.

What is meant by “do better?”

“There's a lot of research increasingly showing that amongst modern, westernized democracies, societies that are more equal … have a whole bunch of better social outcomes,” Prof. Henrich said.

I want full marriage equality, not polygyny only. How could full marriage equality decrease equality? He’s assuming that everyone will be polygynous.

Prof. Henrich said humans and other primates are genetically predisposed to favour polygamy – specifically, the form of polygamy in which one man has multiple wives.

Indeed, he said monogamy is a relatively recent phenomenon for humans, tracing its history back to ancient Greece and Rome, which in turn influenced Christianity and eventually spread into Europe.

The rise of monogamy led to a different kind of evolution: cultural evolution. Societies that became monogamous, he said, became more advanced and prospered, while those that remained polygamous did not.

There are many “monogamous” societies that I can think of today that are some of the poorest in the world. So many factors go into whether or not a society “prospers” that I wonder if a definite connection can be made?

When men have multiple wives, they require younger women to meet the demand. Prof. Henrich said that leads to teenage brides, with young girls marrying much older men.

It’s called “age of consent.” Problem solved.

That also creates a pool of men, usually of lower economic and social status, with no one left to marry. Those men are more likely to commit crimes, including rape and murder, and abuse drugs and alcohol, Prof. Henrich said.

Yeah, just the other day I heard from a friend who was like, “Dude, if I was still unmarried, I’d be out killing other people. But since I have a wife, I guess I won’t.” I’ve heard this crap before. So what this professor is implying is that a young woman who is an adult should not have the freedom to marry some wealthy middle-aged guy who already has a wife, she should have to marry someone with criminal tendencies, and her love will keep him from raping and murdering. I think someone’s been in the ivory tower too long. He’s assuming these second and third wives would want to marry someone with a criminal bent and that the men would want to marry these women. And he’s assuming that no women would have multiple husbands.

Maybe he has it backwards. Maybe the kind of men who engage in criminal activities are less likely to attract and keep a wife? Say, what are the crime rates in those polygynous countries, anyway? I seem to recall they aren't very high.

Because of the competition for wives, he said, men are more likely to exert control over women, leading to increases in domestic violence and abuse.

That makes no sense. Higher demand means more value, right? Especially when a wife can go find another husband. The fact that the other husband is already married may not be a hindrance, meaning she has more options.

And children suffer in polygamous societies. Prof. Henrich said men are less likely to invest time and resources in child rearing because they father so many children and are constantly focused on finding new wives.

How is this as bad as fathers whose time is divided over children from multiple girlfriends? The answer: It isn't, because with the freedom to marry, the children of polygynous men will have legally married parents.

Full marriage equality will mean more marriage. If marriage is a good thing, what is the problem?
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  1. "It isn'tm" should read "It isn't"

  2. I need you as my editor! Actually, you missed one in this post that I corrected. Seriously, thanks for all of your help!


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