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Thread: Polygamy vs having multiple girlfriends

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    Senior Member excreationist's Avatar
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    Polygamy vs having multiple girlfriends

    I assume that the non-believers here are ok with a man having multiple girlfriends at once. But should polygamy be illegal or not? It seems the ancient Greeks and Romans were against monogamy though
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polygamy_in_Christianity
    "...Polygyny is found in the Old Testament and over 40 important figures had more than one wife..."

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    Sapere aude Politesse's Avatar
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    Polygamy, in my country, was only outlawed as part of a larger part of a larger program of anti-Mormon persecution, and it routinely puts polygynous immigrant families in a bad situation that protects the women involved not at all. I would absolutely be in favor of full decriminalization.

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    Super Moderator Bronzeage's Avatar
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    In any culture where polygamy is a long standing tradition, it's still quite rare. Only the top wealth level men have more than one wife. The rest of the population have conventional one wife households. Kinship by marriage is probably the oldest form of inter-family alliances. It's not difficult to see that the man who controls more resources will have other family groups who want to form alliances, and limiting yourself to one wife would block a lot of lucrative opportunities. On the other hand, the guy with four sheep has to make do with whatever family will let him have a daughter. He knows better than to ask for a second. It's a pretty stable system. Everybody knows their place and raising one's status by marrying up is one of the few options.

    When modern societies adopt polygamy, it's usually because a shortage of young men and an over supply of women of all ages. Polygamy seems a reasonable solution, even though implicit in this is the idea that women cannot control resources for themselves. They have to be under the roof of a man. Also implicit is the idea that a woman has little say over whose wife she becomes. Seriously, why would an 18 year old(or younger) woman want to go be the third wife of a 60 year old man, and his first and second wife. It's a short term solution which quickly outlives its purpose, when balance returns to the marriage age young men.

    Once again, marriage becomes a way to form economic family alliances with powerful men. What is observed is, wealthy men with marriage age daughters trade them with similar men. The young men of the culture are caught in a bind. If they want to marry, they have curry favor with the guys who have control of the young women. The rebellious teen age boy not only cannot get a wife, he can't even get a date. By the third generation, it's become a modern feudal society, where everyone owes their livelihood to someone who has more wealth and power, except in this case, they're all old men.

    The result is a lot of young men desert the culture. This is inevitable when more liberal but monogamous societies are withing walking distance.

    Marriage, as it exists today is a special form of legally sanctioned corporation, where the principle stockholders are expected to have sex with each other. The law defines the aspects of the corporation and the responsibilities of the two stockholders. If a child of the marriage is not properly clothed and fed, the government looks first at the names on the marriage license. There are many more such things. Now that women have all the legal rights as any man, it's reasonable to ask if monogamous legal marriage has any relevance at all.

    There's nothing to prevent a man from legally marrying one woman and then bringing home as many common law wives as he can manage. In a society where women have all the legal rights as a man, this may be as difficult as it sounds.

    As for the question about multiple girlfriends, how does that work? I've been in relationships which were exclusive to a certain degree, for the past 50 years. One thing I learned at an early age, I could have two girlfriends, only as long as neither of them knew the other existed. I think multiple girlfriends violates some law of physics, or maybe one of those rare man made elements which are created in an atom smasher and exists only for a few milliseconds.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bronzeage View Post
    In any culture where polygamy is a long standing tradition, it's still quite rare. Only the top wealth level men have more than one wife. The rest of the population have conventional one wife households. Kinship by marriage is probably the oldest form of inter-family alliances. It's not difficult to see that the man who controls more resources will have other family groups who want to form alliances, and limiting yourself to one wife would block a lot of lucrative opportunities. On the other hand, the guy with four sheep has to make do with whatever family will let him have a daughter. He knows better than to ask for a second. It's a pretty stable system. Everybody knows their place and raising one's status by marrying up is one of the few options.

    When modern societies adopt polygamy, it's usually because a shortage of young men and an over supply of women of all ages. Polygamy seems a reasonable solution, even though implicit in this is the idea that women cannot control resources for themselves. They have to be under the roof of a man. Also implicit is the idea that a woman has little say over whose wife she becomes. Seriously, why would an 18 year old(or younger) woman want to go be the third wife of a 60 year old man, and his first and second wife. It's a short term solution which quickly outlives its purpose, when balance returns to the marriage age young men.

    Once again, marriage becomes a way to form economic family alliances with powerful men. What is observed is, wealthy men with marriage age daughters trade them with similar men. The young men of the culture are caught in a bind. If they want to marry, they have curry favor with the guys who have control of the young women. The rebellious teen age boy not only cannot get a wife, he can't even get a date. By the third generation, it's become a modern feudal society, where everyone owes their livelihood to someone who has more wealth and power, except in this case, they're all old men.

    The result is a lot of young men desert the culture. This is inevitable when more liberal but monogamous societies are withing walking distance.

    Marriage, as it exists today is a special form of legally sanctioned corporation, where the principle stockholders are expected to have sex with each other. The law defines the aspects of the corporation and the responsibilities of the two stockholders. If a child of the marriage is not properly clothed and fed, the government looks first at the names on the marriage license. There are many more such things. Now that women have all the legal rights as any man, it's reasonable to ask if monogamous legal marriage has any relevance at all.

    There's nothing to prevent a man from legally marrying one woman and then bringing home as many common law wives as he can manage. In a society where women have all the legal rights as a man, this may be as difficult as it sounds.

    As for the question about multiple girlfriends, how does that work? I've been in relationships which were exclusive to a certain degree, for the past 50 years. One thing I learned at an early age, I could have two girlfriends, only as long as neither of them knew the other existed. I think multiple girlfriends violates some law of physics, or maybe one of those rare man made elements which are created in an atom smasher and exists only for a few milliseconds.
    This is a good post, but I'd also add that polygamy can work in a woman's favor.

    Culturally, keeping multiple wives seems strange to a monogamous society, but to these polygamous societies this is just how it works. And given that polygamy opens the opportunity for more women to marry men with money.

    In a monogamous society there is a one-to-one relationship between husband and wife. A multi-millionaire husband can only spread his resources to one family, which creates a scarcity of wealthy and skilled men. This means that only the most sought-after-women have access to the most sought-after men. The losers here are wealthy men, and the less sought-after-women.

    Whereas in a polygamous society the less sought after women have greater access to wealth and resources, and aren't forced to marry poorer men. The losers are poor men, and sought after women, who have to share their resources.

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    Super Moderator Bronzeage's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rousseau View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Bronzeage View Post
    In any culture where polygamy is a long standing tradition, it's still quite rare. Only the top wealth level men have more than one wife. The rest of the population have conventional one wife households. Kinship by marriage is probably the oldest form of inter-family alliances. It's not difficult to see that the man who controls more resources will have other family groups who want to form alliances, and limiting yourself to one wife would block a lot of lucrative opportunities. On the other hand, the guy with four sheep has to make do with whatever family will let him have a daughter. He knows better than to ask for a second. It's a pretty stable system. Everybody knows their place and raising one's status by marrying up is one of the few options.

    When modern societies adopt polygamy, it's usually because a shortage of young men and an over supply of women of all ages. Polygamy seems a reasonable solution, even though implicit in this is the idea that women cannot control resources for themselves. They have to be under the roof of a man. Also implicit is the idea that a woman has little say over whose wife she becomes. Seriously, why would an 18 year old(or younger) woman want to go be the third wife of a 60 year old man, and his first and second wife. It's a short term solution which quickly outlives its purpose, when balance returns to the marriage age young men.

    Once again, marriage becomes a way to form economic family alliances with powerful men. What is observed is, wealthy men with marriage age daughters trade them with similar men. The young men of the culture are caught in a bind. If they want to marry, they have curry favor with the guys who have control of the young women. The rebellious teen age boy not only cannot get a wife, he can't even get a date. By the third generation, it's become a modern feudal society, where everyone owes their livelihood to someone who has more wealth and power, except in this case, they're all old men.

    The result is a lot of young men desert the culture. This is inevitable when more liberal but monogamous societies are withing walking distance.

    Marriage, as it exists today is a special form of legally sanctioned corporation, where the principle stockholders are expected to have sex with each other. The law defines the aspects of the corporation and the responsibilities of the two stockholders. If a child of the marriage is not properly clothed and fed, the government looks first at the names on the marriage license. There are many more such things. Now that women have all the legal rights as any man, it's reasonable to ask if monogamous legal marriage has any relevance at all.

    There's nothing to prevent a man from legally marrying one woman and then bringing home as many common law wives as he can manage. In a society where women have all the legal rights as a man, this may be as difficult as it sounds.

    As for the question about multiple girlfriends, how does that work? I've been in relationships which were exclusive to a certain degree, for the past 50 years. One thing I learned at an early age, I could have two girlfriends, only as long as neither of them knew the other existed. I think multiple girlfriends violates some law of physics, or maybe one of those rare man made elements which are created in an atom smasher and exists only for a few milliseconds.
    This is a good post, but I'd also add that polygamy can work in a woman's favor.

    Culturally, keeping multiple wives seems strange to a monogamous society, but to these polygamous societies this is just how it works. And given that polygamy opens the opportunity for more women to marry men with money.

    In a monogamous society there is a one-to-one relationship between husband and wife. A multi-millionaire husband can only spread his resources to one family, which creates a scarcity of wealthy and skilled men. This means that only the most sought-after-women have access to the most sought-after men. The losers here are wealthy men, and the less sought-after-women.

    Whereas in a polygamous society the less sought after women have greater access to wealth and resources, and aren't forced to marry poorer men. The losers are poor men, and sought after women, who have to share their resources.
    Polygamy really doesn't fit into the modern Western "marry for love" marriage model. That is the basic problem when proposing legalization of polygamy in modern societies. Even though a small percentage of women may have a higher standard of living, the concept of wealthy men having multiple wives, just because they can, is dependent upon a woman having little autonomy and trading the control of her father's family for being under control of her husband.

    "Any port in a storm" is born of desperation and you're still in a storm.

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    Veteran Member Treedbear's Avatar
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    In an enlightened forum such as this I don't understand why polygany is assumed to mean one man can marry multiple women and exclude the possibility that one woman might want to marry multiple men. And what if multiple men want to marry multiple women? It's not really an issue of two people marrying each other, but of one person marrying into a group. The issue to me is about which rights, responsibilities, and privileges marriage provides and how multi-partnership relationships adapt. Marriage involves commitments because of things like children, bank accounts, and mortgages, not to mention custodial care relationships. How many people would be allowed in any one marriage, and would two or more groups be allowed to combine into one marriage? You see it quickly spirals out of control.

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    Sapere aude Politesse's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Treedbear View Post
    In an enlightened forum such as this I don't understand why polygany is assumed to mean one man can marry multiple women and exclude the possibility that one woman might want to marry multiple men.
    Polyandry is not as common as polygyny, but it does occur in many cultures. Speaking for my own stated opinion above, I certainly meant that all forms of culturally prescribed marital customs should be acknowledged and embraced by the law, polyandry included.

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    Veteran Member Treedbear's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Politesse View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Treedbear View Post
    In an enlightened forum such as this I don't understand why polygany is assumed to mean one man can marry multiple women and exclude the possibility that one woman might want to marry multiple men.
    Polyandry is not as common as polygyny, but it does occur in many cultures. Speaking for my own stated opinion above, I certainly meant that all forms of culturally prescribed marital customs should be acknowledged and embraced by the law, polyandry included.
    My mistake. But these days of equal rights for men and women, if polygamy is legalized then polyandry would need to be also. Is there a word for multiple men and multiple women in the same marriage? Need I mention marriages of just men and just women?

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    Shrunken Member WAB's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Politesse View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Treedbear View Post
    In an enlightened forum such as this I don't understand why polygany is assumed to mean one man can marry multiple women and exclude the possibility that one woman might want to marry multiple men.
    Polyandry is not as common as polygyny, but it does occur in many cultures. Speaking for my own stated opinion above, I certainly meant that all forms of culturally prescribed marital customs should be acknowledged and embraced by the law, polyandry included.
    The Toda people, of southern India, practiced polyandry, but have since abandoned it. My avatar is a Toda woman and her baby.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toda_people
    If you want to get laid, go to college. If you want an education, go to a library. - Frank Zappa

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    Sapere aude Politesse's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Treedbear View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Politesse View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Treedbear View Post
    In an enlightened forum such as this I don't understand why polygany is assumed to mean one man can marry multiple women and exclude the possibility that one woman might want to marry multiple men.
    Polyandry is not as common as polygyny, but it does occur in many cultures. Speaking for my own stated opinion above, I certainly meant that all forms of culturally prescribed marital customs should be acknowledged and embraced by the law, polyandry included.
    My mistake. But these days of equal rights for men and women, if polygamy is legalized then polyandry would need to be also. Is there a word for multiple men and multiple women in the same marriage? Need I mention marriages of just men and just women?
    Those arrangements are called group marriages, and have been historically quite rare. If you think of marriage in terms of its role in defining inheritance, you can see where a common bias might form against it. One context in which group marriages have sometimes flourished are eschatological religious movements- if you think the world is about to end group unity might eclipse concern about the passage of land holdings, and there are several historical examples of this happening.

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