Women for Polygamy

What can polygamy on the outskirts of Russia tell us about the effects of the financial crisis in less remote locales? A lot — or so says Cambridge anthropologist Caroline Humphrey: “In the 1990’s, Russia and central Asia experienced huge economic change: what a bank was, how your career was going, what you could expect from life, everything changed overnight. And of course it had a huge impact on people’s lives, from family life to politics, and polygamy is part of that whole scene. So far, we haven’t had such dramatic change in the west, but you never know.” Humphrey, who studies communities on the edges of the former Soviet Union, found that many men and women advocate polygamy for economic reasons. Men are in short supply and life on the rural farms many women live on is difficult. “Women say that the legalization of polygamy would be a godsend: it would give them rights to a man’s financial and physical support, legitimacy for their children, and rights to state benefits,” Humphrey told the Guardian. (HT: Marginal Revolution) [%comments]

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  1. David Chowes, New York City says:

    Marx and other economists have pointed out the many implications capital structures have on many social institutions,

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  2. Eric M. Jones says:

    I have almost forgotten why the government or anyone else cares a wit about the marriage issue. Is it factory workers and army draftees?

    Age of consent…. that’s it. Let people do whatever is they want. You want to marry your goat? Go ahead. Some of the goats I have met are better than people.

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  3. AaronS says:

    Oddly enough, neither the Old Testatment nor the New condemn polygamy. Even in the New Testament, only those who wished to be elders or bishops were admonished to be “the husband of one wife” (which, oddly enough, made both Jesus and the Apostle Paul ineligible to serve!).

    In the West, we have an ingrained resistance to polygamy. But even as a conservative Christian, I can see that polygamy, in and of itself, could be a valuable thing. I consider all the single mothers who are struggling to raise children without a father and in poor economic conditions. Mix this young woman with a quality couple and a different dynamic takes over. You may reach a critical mass. Suddenly day care is not an issue, more hands are available to do keep up the house, there is greater safety for all, perhaps.

    Unfortunately, most men would probably look at polygamy just as a way to have a threesome (which is not, I understand, how polygamy works), or for another sexual partner. The sexual aspect seems distasteful…until us men realize that that is PRECISELY the reason we married our wives in the first place! Yes, I loved being a friend to my wife and so forth, but I had plenty of friends–and I didn’t want to marry any of them! No, being a Christian, I knew that it was wrong to have sex without being married…so I married (Paul said “it’s better to marry than burn”).

    In America/the West, all these arguments mean nothing. Few women are going to “share” their husband with some newcomer who may or may not take over the starring role. But for all the horror stories of polygamous groups, I have also heard of women/wives acting almost like sisters (in the Mormon faith–since others didn’t permit it).

    Very simply, in it’s IDEAL form, polygamy could be a good thing that could be beneficial for all involved, I imagine (at least from the inside, since outsiders would surely look down on it). The problem is that it would likely be rare indeed to have an ideal situation. Family and sexual politics would likely lead to problems…which is why, perhaps, that polygamy is usually practiced only in insulated religious communties around America.

    As the Bible says again, “All things are lawful, but not all things are expedient.” It might not be a sin to have two wives, but it’s likely deadly to do so…at least if you know my wife!

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  4. econobiker says:

    Pooling of economic resources would be a good reason to advocate for polygamy but as AaronS above said too many people are morally against this.

    It also is forgotten that many recent immigrants from Africa practice polygamy albeit in a low key fashion. Often the father will get citizenship for himself and his minor children, Then the children are able to get their multple mothers, who are wives to the man, immigrated…

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  5. Terry says:

    Only if I get to have more than one husband.

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  6. SVS says:

    @AaronS Fantastic!!!

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  7. Rich Wilson says:

    Why does everyone assume polygamy is one man with multiple wives? Would there not be situations where one woman with many husbands would be equally advantageous? Perhaps in countries where men outnumber women?

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  8. Mike C says:

    Why not just match all these extra women up with all the extra men in China? Arbitrage would seem to be the solution from an economics standpoint.

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