Monday, August 15, 2011

Another Columnist Asks Why Polygamy is Banned

Nelson Jones asked, “Should the state sanction or condone polygamous unions?”

He starts off by citing the Jeffs trial, but then gets more well-rounded in his approach…

More than 80 per cent of societies listed in the Ethnographic Atlas accepted polygamous unions. Of course, the balance of the sexes means that most marriages, most of the time, will be monogamous. But the concept that monogamy is the only natural or morally allowable type of union is a fairly recent and specifically Western one.

Various forms of polygamy have been around throughout all of human history.

The marriage/civil partnership system discriminates, more clearly than marriage alone, against those who prefer to live in non-couple relationships -- including polygamous Muslims, polygamous Mormons, polyandrous Tibetan Buddhists (if any such exist in this country) and polyamorous hippies.

There are people who don’t match any of those descriptions who are polygamous or polyamorous.

There seems little reason in logic for the current legal position.

There isn’t; not if we take the freedoms of consenting adults and the notions of equal treatment under the law seriously.

Why not recognise polygamous marriages, and indeed any other form of intimate union that people wish to enter into?

That’s a good question.

In a liberal society, it is no business of the state's how people conduct their private lives. Some object to polygamy out of the belief that it disadvantages women. But that is not necessarily the case. Some women may actively prefer to be part of a polygamous household, which can have distinct advantages (for example, sharing the burden of childcare) over the standard monogamous unit. As long as there is no coercion involved, the most serious downside may well be in the state's refusal to recognise polygamy and thus give all partners equal rights.

He’s obviously referring to polygyny when he writes of polygamy.

Responding to that, and to an angry comment by a woman who is against polygamy (or at least polygyny), Richard wrote…

The only experience I have of multiple relationships is a friend of mine who is in a polyamorous relationship consisting of three women.

Do please tell me how legal recognition of that relationship favours men?

If one wants to argue that polygyny favors men, that is one thing, even though there are women who sincerely and independently want that. But to argue against allowing women as well as men to marry the persons they want, regardless of gender, on the grounds of it somehow being bad for women, is ridiculous. We see this over and over, with someone asserting that a woman couldn’t possibly want the marriage they are being denied by law, when there are intelligent women capable of taking care of themselves who really do want the law to recognize their marriage, whether it is to one woman, or two men, or her own father.

An ADULT should be free to share love, sex, residence, and marriage with ANY consenting ADULTS. Consent is only possible with gender equality under the law, protection against domestic violence, and the freedoms to divorce or NOT marry at all.
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1 comment:

  1. A better question might be why do polyamorous individuals internalize the condemnation of society and the state? Why do they fret upon it when it is so easily avoided? Demanding acceptance from others betrays a lack of self acceptance without which no level of external validation will ever be enough.


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