Monday, April 4, 2011

Polygyny Kills Kittens

The Wall Street Journal ran something from antiequality Brown University political science professor Rose McDermott. You may remember her from the Canadian poly trial. After writing that polygamy has been widespread in human history and is becoming increasingly common, she goes on to write that she thinks it is harmful, as polygyny in particular, but it is mostly correlation about what happens in certain cultures and subcultures; her piece does not establish causation. In other words, there are communities where some things are more likely, including polygyny. This does not mean that polygyny causes the bad things.

According to the information I have helped to collect in the Womanstats database, women in polygynous communities get married younger, have more children, have higher rates of HIV infection than men, sustain more domestic violence, succumb to more female genital mutilation and sex trafficking, and are more likely to die in childbirth. Their life expectancy is also shorter than that of their monogamous sisters. In addition, their children, both boys and girls, are less likely to receive both primary and secondary education.

Does anyone believe that the women in, say, any given FLDS community, are contracting HIV? Or experience female genital mutilation?

I’m sure the professor is not suggesting we impose laws that would raise a minimum age for women to marry, or restrict a woman’s reproductive rights.

One way we can reduce domestic violence in polygynous families is to bring them out of the shadows. Let’s also improve health care to extend life and so that fewer women die in childbirth. Let’s improve educational opportunities. And let’s stop denying the right to marry.

This is at least partly because polygynist cultures need to create and sustain an underclass of unmarried and undereducated men, since in order to sustain a system where a few men possess all the women, roughly half of boys must leave the community before adulthood.

I support full marriage equality, which allows for polyandry and group marriages, not just polygyny.

When small numbers of men control large numbers of women, the remaining men are likely to be willing to take greater risks and engage in more violence, possibly including terrorism, in order to increase their own wealth and status in hopes of gaining access to women.

So marrying a woman is controlling her, even if she freely chooses to enter the marriage, and can freely leave that marriage? And there she goes with the disparaging of unmarried men again. So marriage apparently means controlling women, which is bad, and controlling men, which is good?

Again, blame abusers for abuse, not the freedom to marry. An adult should be free to marry any consenting adults. Or not marry at all. An adult should not be told she can not marry the person she loves by some outsider.
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