I’ve been reading the 335-page legal decision upholding Canada’s laws against polygamy, and boy is it juicy.

Before I dive into it, I want readers to understand why I am covering this topic: this evolutionary perspective doesn’t just inform how we eat, how we run, or how we sleep.  It informs things as fundamental as how we date, how we marry, and how we organize society.  Now back to the case at hand.

Here is the evolutionary portion of the decision, which is well worth reading in full.  Two evolutionary psychologists testified in the proceedings, describing typical outcomes that can be expected from polygynous mating arrangements. Recall that polygyny means one male and multiple females (and is vastly, vastly more common in human history than polandry, which means one woman and multiple men).

Dr. Henrich explains the cold mathematics of polygyny:

This illustration reveals the underlying arithmetic that can result in a pool of low-status unmarried men. Imagine a society of 40 adults, 20 males and 20 females … Suppose those 20 males vary from the unemployed high-school drop outs to CEOs, or billionaires … Let’s assume that the twelve men with the highest status marry 12 of the 20 women in monogamous marriages. Then, the top five men (25% of the population) all take a second wife, and the top two (10%) take a third wife. Finally, the top guy takes a fourth wife. This means that of all marriages, 58% are monogamous. Only men in the to 10% of status or wealth married more than two women. The most wives anyone has is four.

The degree of polygynous marriage is not extreme in cross-cultural perspective … but it creates a pool of unmarried men equal to 40% of the male population who are incentivized to take substantial risks so they can eventually participate in the mating and marriage market. This pattern is consistent with what we would expect from an evolutionary approach to humans, and with what is known empirically about male strategies. The evidence outlined below shows that the creation of this pool will likely have a number of outcomes. 

(Readers may remember my post on increasing (sexual) inequality.)

Why does this matter?  Here are the four sections of his testimony, focusing on polygyny’s effects on men, children, women, and society (admittedly speculative).

One more note before going into this testimony: I don’t know Dr. Henrich, I haven’t read his other work, and I don’t know his reputation.  He is in the Department of Psychology at the University of British Columbia.  Here’s his academic homepage.  Judge for yourself.

1. Polygyny’s Creation of a Pool of Unmarried Low-Status Men

Marriage civilizes men:

Dr. Henrich begins with an ample body of research that shows marriage makes men much less likely to commit crimes such as murder, robbery and rape. One such study showed that marriage reduced a man’s likelihood of committing a crime by 35%. This study was particularly compelling as it did not simply compare the criminality of married and unmarried men, but used longitudinal data to track boys from a reform school from age 17 to 70. In this study, crime rates not only decreased when those men were married, but increased when they divorced or were widowed. Other studies are consistent in showing the association between monogamous marriage and decreased male criminality.

He cites studies (not listed in the decision) that examine the relationship between crime and 1) the degree of polygyny across countries, 2) the percentage of unmarried males, and 3) sex ratio of males to females in countries like China, as a result of their one-child policy and a desire to have sons and abort / kill daughters.

2. Polygyny’s Effects on Male Parental Investment

Men in polygynous societies aren’t very good fathers:

Another major predicted consequence of widespread polygyny is decreased male parental investment. The underlying theory is that since married men would remain perennially in the marriage market, high-status men could choose to invest their resources in acquiring more wives rather than investing in their children. Similarly, the pool of unmarried men would be forced to invest their resources in attempting to improve their status so as to improve their chances of finding a bride.

As support for this proposition, Dr. Henrich relied on findings from 19th century census data from Mormon polygynous communities and from contemporary studies of African societies.

The study of historical Mormon polygynous communities showed that the children of poorer men (from the bottom 16% of wealth in that community) had higher survival rates than those of the richest men in the community (from the top 2%). The poor men had an average of 6.9 children survive until age 15. For the rich men, despite having more total offspring than the poor men and having over 10 times the wealth, only 5.5 children survived until age 15 on average. Dr. Henrich concludes that this data supports the idea “that in polygynous systems poor, but married, men will have no choice but to invest in their offspring while rich, high-status men will invest in getting more wives” (at 47).

The patterns observed in recent studies of polygamous African societies are similar. The seven studies of this nature cited by Dr. Henrich reported that â€œchildren of polygynous families are at increased risk of diminished nutritional status, poor health outcomes, and mortality” (at 47). One study found that amongst the Dogon of Mali, even though per capita resources were equivalent between monogamous and polygamous households, children under age 10 in polygynous households were 7 to 11 times more likely to die.

3. Polygyny, Age of marriage, the Age Gap, and Gender Equality

Allegedly, when the competition for brides go up, men try to secure brides at younger ages.  Male kin learn the value of their female relatives, start treating them like an economic resource, and exert control of women’s reproductive lives.

Competition drives men to use whatever connections, advantages, and alliances they have in order to obtain wives, including striking financial and reciprocal bargains with the fathers of daughters (this is the very common practice of brideprice). Once girls and young women become wives, older husbands (and brothers) will strive to “protect” their young wives from other males (to guarantee paternity of any offspring), and in the process dampen women’s freedoms and exacerbate inequality.

4. More Speculative Predictions

Did monogamy lead to long term economic growth and greater democracy?

Dr. Henrich also predicted additional consequences of polygyny that he acknowledged were more speculative and could not be as thoroughly supported by empirical evidence.

One such prediction is that imposing monogamy may have the effect of increasing per capita GDP. Studies applying a theoretical economic model to the data from highly polygynous states showed that when monogamy is imposed “the fertility rate goes down, the age gap goes down, saving rates go up, bride prices disappear, and GDP per capita goes way up” (at 32). This model was based on the assumptions that men and women care about both having children and “consuming”, that men are capable of reproducing during much more of their life than women, and that men tend to prefer younger women. In this model, when a ban on polygyny prevents men from investing in obtaining further wives, they instead save and invest in production and consumption.

As noted earlier in the historical review of monogamy and polygamy, Dr. Henrich also speculates that the spread of monogamy may have helped create the conditions for the emergence of democracy and political equality. Anthropological research demonstrates a strong statistical linkage between democratic institutions and monogamy. The theory is that imposed monogamy may eventually lead to democracy by dissipating the pool of unmarried men that rulers harness in wars of aggression, and by imposing a basic principle of equality among men; the king and the peasant become alike in only being able to have one wife.

Fascinating stuff.  There seem to be some good reasons why polgamy is a bad idea.  I’m convinced.

Why is this important?

Well, in some circles, marriage is viewed as antiquated or quaint or tainted with religion or staid or defended irrationally.  But we would be wise to examine long-standing traditions and see if there might not have been some reason for their continued existence.  We are entering a brave new world of sexual dynamics, which will inevitably be a mixed bag of outcomes — some good, some bad.  And the most important social dynamic will not be what happens to gay marriage, but what happens to monogamy under the onslaught of modernity.


38 Responses to “Good reasons why polygamy is a bad idea”

  1. Anonymous says:

    If women are allowed non-monogamy also, then all these risks are averted… Rather than focussing on getting more wives, the rich man can occassionally hook-up with some women who are other men’s wives. And then go back to his one or two wives and the couple of children they have. (In the modern world, most educated women with access to birth cotnrol can choose how many children they have and they usually choose one or two.)

     

     

  2. anung97 says:

    Hi John, this is a thought provoking post from you. It seems to me polyginy exists in both modern, western societies such as the US and more traditional (medieval?) societies such as Saudi Arabia. The only difference is over there in Saudi the polyginy is legalised/formalised in their law, whereas in modern societies in theory there is no polyginy, but in practice high-value males can change partners very frequently.

    So Saudi Arabia is a formal polyginy society whereas the US is an informal polyginy society. Of course all of this fits in with general male reproduction strategy, which is to have as many offspring by as many women as possible while denying rival males access to those women. In Saudi Arabia this is achieved by marrying as many of those women. In the US this is achieved by being famous/rich/sexy/etc thus making majority of women attracted to him and abandoning rival males who are less famous/rich/sexy etc. With the decline of marriage this method makes the US into an informal polyginy society.

    • Anonymous says:

       low-status unmarried man John posts about how bad is polygamy because no one want sex with him / marry him :D

    • Coxygru says:

       "With the decline of marriage this method makes the US into an informal polyginy society." 

      No, it doesn’t John.  First, the spelling is "polygyny". Second, while the rich and famous may get around and enjoy lots of juicy opportunities, they aren’t snatching up multiple partners in what might be called informal marriages.

  3. Mary says:

    these recent posts of yours regarding evolutionary sexual practices have lead me to desire a post on birth control from you.  I would be very intrigued by your views and findings on this topic. 

  4. Big Marty says:

     Glad to see you’ve finally hit repuberty John. Its about time those BS liberals called called on their hypocrisy. Speaking of those freedom-hating liberals, I’m sure you will enjoy this clip of them being arrested like the terrorists they are:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zhDQkSqii-E

  5. AlphaBeta says:

    We do not have to live this way….

     

    Paleo/Wild living is not about mimicking every aspect of our ancestral lives — it is about doing the best we can to live in accordance with our bodies physiological design in today’s environment.

     

    The craving for sugar, for instance, comes about because of our history — the need for naturally occurring but rare sweet fruits etc — but is just about fatal in today’s world of abundant fruits and processed sugars.

     

    Polygamy IS paleo living — that is that. But so is eating as much sugar or fat as you can get your hands on. The difference is that now we can get our hands on more than is healthy for us.

     

    If we were preparing to populate a new planet and had a ship that could carry only the last 200 people on earth to save our species; would we send 100 of each sex? No. We would send about 50 men and 150 women. That would give the species a significantly better jump.

     

    If we were starting a religion and wanted it to propagate well we would allow the best of our men — the strongest, smartest and wealthiest — to marry the best of our women. This means the propagation of BOTH the best of our genes and the best of our memes (as relates it relates to wealth creation, for instance.)

     

    But today, this is not such a good idea. Sure, the PURELY alpha among us (men) are more than likely to have multiple partners (whether or not we are married) and the more alpha we are (the better we can provide) the more accepting our partners might be about this (think of the wives of Ali, Kennedy and Clinton for instance). But for the rest of the planet, the imbalance created by polygamy poses its own problems.

     

    One thing that our socialist Canadian brethren left out of their laws and their justifications are the impact on social welfare and the draconian way they treat fathers in family court. Society with Polygamy is often BETTER for women because the most successful men can afford to openly support many of them.) Instead, we have created laws to prevent this which has created a much bigger problem…. what happens to single women and children displaced by polygamy laws?

     

    The government has to support them. And how has the Canadian government (and many others) dealt with this — draconian alimony and child support laws that give women the balance of power. And now, the Alpha males STILL have to support multiple wives, even after they move on.

     

    In the traditional (and still often functional) polygamous situation (see France for more details) a man will happily continue to support his wife and girlfriends or, where permissible, other wives.

     

    Polygamy is GOOD for:

     

    1) Alpha Men

    2) Pragmatic Women

    3) Growing a new population

     

    Polygamy is BAD for:

     

    1) Other men

    2) Many women

    3) Maintaining the peace in a stable population (to many single men)

     

    Just some rambling thoughts from a wish-he-was-alpha dude….

  6. Lori says:

     In the polygamous cultures and groups I can think of, women are subject to strict rules; perhaps the elephant in the room is that sharing an older man with a bunch of other women isn’t a very satisfying situation for the woman. 

    Ayaan Hirsi Ali gives her perspective of growing up in a polygamous family in the book Nomad. According to her, wives with a common husband tend to be rivals of one another.

  7. PJ says:

     Well as a woman, I find the sector related to the increased objectification — by which I mean, less human status, more consumer-good status — of women to of course be a problem.

    However, I am capable of agreeing with all these points and still disagreeing with the decision, for a reason that oddly, you — and the judge — seem to be completely ignoring:

    Context.

    All these theories about the value of women as commodity, the higher risk effect of men, the lesser productivity of men, all come from a relatively self-enclosed culture ENTIRELY this way.

    In Canada and the USA at least, a change of culture (perhaps unless you are muslim) is nothing more than a greyhound ticket or a hitchhike away. If my neighbor has six wives, my other neighbor is not deprived of women, sex, or civilization, because we live in a larger culture filled with every other kind of relationship as well. In fact, maybe restrictions of religions into that would drive people out of the religion. What people always ignore about Utah Mormons is that these people became polygamists out of necessity, no matter what it evolved/devolved to, people and transportation were not much option back then, but in the modern day, their men could go anywhere and marry anyone they want. 

    Personally, I think voting to keep polygamy illegal is invoking a straw-man argument of a sort that equates to voting chocolate illegal because "if everybody ate only chocolate all the time it would be really destructive to {insert long list of things here for sure}." Well everybody doesn’t eat it all the time in a big-world semi-free society filled with people who eat anything they want. That doesn’t mean that moral oppressives should be leveraging their OMG-What-If-Everyone fears onto the individual freedoms of the populace. 

    PJ

     

    • Chris says:

      In one community, there are 10 men and 10 women.  In a neighboring community, there are 10 men and 10 women.  In the first community, 1 of the men marries 6 women and 4 of the men marry 1 woman each.  No women left and 5 single men.  These five men get greyhound tickets to the second community.  Now there are 15 men and 10 women in the second community.  Problem solved?  Only if the second community has hyper-dominant women and submissive men or prostitutes.  On a large scale, is the likelihood very good that polyandry and prostitution are going to balance out polygyny?  I doubt it.  You would probably see a large influx of men into urban areas, where they would ultimately not find satisfaction.  I think this is what has happened in China, which has a similar problem.

    • PJ says:

       P.S. I should also add: that many of the problems endemic to this are less a result merely of multiple mate marriage, than they are a problem of other areas of culture. Also I think some of it’s reaching a bit and for more reason than just the "these things only apply to fully self-enclosed cultures" I noticed above. Since your blog does not allow paragraph breaks apparently I’ll have to use slashes. / One of the primary studies used to justify criminality in unmarried men was based on tracking boys from a reform school. Compound variables much? Yes marriage probably does reduce crime in people already prone to it, but that doesn’t mean every man is prone to it, sheesh. Also, I’m willing to bet you could do the same study on reform school women and find that married women are less likely to be criminals than men. In a competitive market most women will be married while in strict monogamy many more will be spinsters, lesbians, nuns, etc. One could equally make the argument that reducing female crime weighs against increasing male crime, which is already reduced when studying all-population vs. just already prone to it people. /  Then there is the father’s involvement. "It might be less in polygamy." Well it might be less in fathers with 8 kids instead of 2, also, in fact most of the time I’m pretty sure that’s a given, with exceptions, simply due to the laws of physics, sleep, making a living, and available time that has to be shared among children. Obviously, polygamists have a lot more children. But we aren’t outlawing having more than 4 children because they might not get enough of dad’s attention, I notice. / Also, I’m a single mom with a 15 year old which has had no father involvement despite extensive efforts on my part to arrange it totally free of any support, and I know tons of single moms, a huge issue today. The statistics make very clear that children esp. men of single mothers are, statistically speaking, vastly worse off. But we aren’t outlawing single mothers because of that. I believe a child of polygamy is likely no worse off than a child of a single exhausted working mom or a child of a family with 7+ kids. / Then there is the issue of brideprice, control, etc. This is a cultural human rights problem not a polygamy problem. It is in the same category as issues like the legality of prostitution. The reality is that women have never been allowed to profit off themselves, but men are allowed to profit off them as property. This is a legitimate injustice to women but the injustice is not because of polygamy, that merely takes advantage of the social inequality; it’s because of cultures that are immature and undeveloped in this area. Dealing with that problem is something that should be done completely separately from the issue of whether having a legal commitment to more than one human being is allowed. / Lastly, the economic growth argument — well you can’t beat modern men of single moms in the stats for screwing up your economic output number.  And again as noted above, all of these elements are dependent on a "self-enclosed culture" being this way. So, if you live in many parts of Africa or the arabic countries, you’re screwed for all the reasons noted. But if you live in Canada or the USA, then it is a huge stress to impose restriction upon people solely because of the fear of what happens "in a cultural setting completely unlike what we have." — PJ

       

       

  8. Mr. Sunshine says:

    I lived for a year in a tribal village in West Africa and can verify that all of the points John lists are valid.  Powerful men with several wives; lots of guys with no wives; some with one wife.  Regarding women’s status, however, it’s not all bad for them because they can gang up on an abusive husband.

  9. Jason says:

     I hate when this topic comes up in Paleo/Primal/Hunter Gatherer arenas because, quite frankly, it is fucking stupid. 

     

    Listen, it is as simple as this, living primally does not mean we have to live like a neanderthal! You are not going to give up on modern medicine, cars, airplanes, modern luxurious boats (looking at you, Andrew), bikes, clothing or computers just because we didn’t have them 10,000 years ago. 

    We’ve moved on. Society has moved on. Just because something was the societal norm 10,000 years ago doesn’t mean it was right, doesn’t mean we should re-adopt it and certainly doesn’t mean we should blindly think we evolved to be that way. 

     

    Perhaps it is time we get back to human sacrifices or killing babies born with deformities? 

     

    You don’t like marriage? don’t get married. you like sleeping around? fine, whatever. Are you gay? GREAT! Have fun with it. But this pissing and moaning about monogamy makes the ENTIRE PALEO COMMUNITY LOOK LIKE A BUNCH OF IDIOTS that the mainstream cannot take seriously. Please, PLEASE stop dragging the entire community down with this. 

    • melissa says:

       Um, John, Andrew, and I were all interested in evolutionary psychology before we were interested in paleo. Notice John doesn’t even mention paleo in the post. Is he not allowed to blog about evolutionary psychology? 

      • John says:

        Indeed, one might say that the paleo movement is making evolutinonary psychology look silly — and already has, in fact, with respected academics like John Hawks.

  10. Ben says:

    This discussion is very interesting yet deeply unsettling for me. This is one of the few times I read actual arguments against polygamy/polyamory, most of which I tend to agree with. Yet I am strongly in favor of polyamory, because, well, I feel like I could love more than one person at a time, and I could share my girlfriend with other people, IF it makes her happier. Jealosy is something to be overcome, imho.

    And now I don’t know how to deal with the cognitive dissonance.

    • Cromulent says:

      I’d think that perhaps jealousy has some adaptive benefit sometime or we wouldn’t have it.

    • Lori says:

       I don’t know of any civilian law in the US, currently enforced, that prohibits a married man from fathering children with other women and providing for their support. But getting that to work out, especially without a legal or social framework, would be another story. For instance, what if your wife/GF gave birth to a child that wasn’t yours? 

      It isn’t surprising that in family situations, focusing time, effort and resources produces better outcomes than scattering them. Success in many areas comes from concentrating efforts on a few important things, and closing the door on the rest.

    • Chris says:

      You can have your polyamory without polygamy.  In fact, polygamy and polyamory are probably just as incompatible as monogamy and polyamory.  You don’t see a lot of wife swapping in polygamous Muslim countries, right?

  11. melissa says:

     Societies have solved these issues in the past by castrating low-status men and using them as slaves in their harems. Having a celibate priesthood/monestraties could also be seen as an outlet. 

    Either way, I think low-status men are going to be a problem for societies whether they have polygamy or not. In the US we imprison several million of them. Miraculously, women marry some of these men while they are imprisoned, signs of how desparate women are. Polygamy might have issues, but if you were a woman, would YOU want to be married to a low-status man? 

    • John says:

      certainly not! I mentioned it below, but it’s worth noting that monogamy also restricts men’s ideal sexual strategy, which is to sleep around much more. So I think it’s fair to say that monogamy imposes restrictions on both sex’s sexual strategies.

      • Gender studies major says:

        Who the hell ever proved having multiple partners was "men’s ideal sexual strategy"??? That has never been unequivocally proven.  It is still hotly debated, more to pardon modern men’s (and women’s) cheating habits than an actual explanation.  It is also partly because men are seen as "studs" if they sleep around, rather than women, who need to battle the "whore" dilemma.

         

        I WHOLEHEARTEDLY AGREE WITH THE FIRST COMMENTER ON THIS POST.  I hate when primal people get upset over monogamy.  That’s how we evolved, for better or for worse, and maybe we are evolving out of it.  My main beef (get it? that’s primal) with you, John, when you cover  these topics, is that while I give you full credit for attempting to fully examine an argument, you have absolutely no background in gender studies.  Some of the things you say are just so much more complicated than how you portray them, and as someone who DID study gender studies, it bothers the crap out of me.

         

        You clearly love doing research, which is fantastic, so if I may suggest something to make your future gender/sexuality posts more well-rounded: instead of only reading "scientific" articles on gender/sexuality (which generally have a biology bias, which is based in a largely male-dominated scientific community and seriously I’m not kidding it makes a REALLY BIG DIFFERENCE who does the research), start reading modern blogs and articles that cover more of the sociological side of things.  Sociology, if paired with evolution/biology, would give you a much more balanced approach to your writing.

        And please, please, start reading articles written by women AND men if you are going to write about topics that are about gender/sexuality.  You’d be surprised at how much of a difference it makes.

        • melissa says:

           Monogamy is NOT how we evolved. There is no way to prove that and there are plenty of physiological adaptations humans have that suggest non-monogamy. Honestly, biologically it seems humans are well adapted to a multi-male multi-female system. 

          Maybe science would have more female views if women chose to study science instead of non-science like gender studies? Either way, it’s not just men who have these viewpoints, though it’s a convenient way to demonize them. 

           

          • John says:

            The whole point of science is that you can replicate results and arrive at the same conclusions based on evidence. It has nothing to do with whether the person doing the science is male or female, white, black, short, tall, blond, brunette, blue-eyed, web-toed, or colorblind.

          • Gender studies major says:

            To melissa: I didn’t mean that we evolved to monogamy before, I mean that that is how we live NOW, so we "evolved" (as in, culturally evolved, specifically in US/Canada) to it. Additionally, as an fyi since you didn’t seem to be familiar with it, gender studies is bascially focused sociology.  It is not a "hard science," but a "social science" (like economics or psychology).

             

            To John: Scientists are people, too.  What they study is absolutely influenced by who they are.  And "science," for better or for worse, is of course influenced by society and politics.  Examples: homosexuality being classified as a psychiatric disorder in the DSM for a very long time, because as a society we were more homophobic.  AIDS only being taken seriously once we realized it wasn’t just a "gay disease" or a "poor people’s" disease.  There are many more throughout our human medical/research history, but those were the first two that came to mind.

  12. Andrew says:

     Another way to look at state enforced monogamy is that women are artificially coerced to mate with low-status males, rather than those they would choose in a "free" mating market. I’m not sure that can be categorically referred to as "good".

    • JohnF says:

      The market is already HUGELY distorted by wealth transfers, welfare and a ton of easy adminstrative jobs well suited for women (which I doubt would exist to even a tenth of the extent in laissez faire economy). If transactions between men and women were completely voluntary on all levels, women choosing a fun man, or spending their twenties "dating around", over snagging a economically productive man would face a real risk of starving to death or living in poverty (or being unable to afford schooling or healthcare for her children).

      Currently we almost have de facto polygyny while all men are responsible for all children through the tax bill. So presumably there’s a significant number of men whose productivity would have been enough to score a wife in either a dog eat dog society or a slutshaming 50:s analogue who now go without. Since the women they would have married now can benefit from their productivity without reprocicating with sex, while still having sex and children with more attractive men. Those men are further restricted by regulation of more mercenary sexual transactions such as importing a wife from a third world country or prostitution. Frankly, I think the current system is enormously biased towards women (and high status men) compared to a dating market completely based on voluntary transactions.

       

    • John says:

      It’s worth noting that monogamy also restricts men’s ideal sexual strategy, which is to sleep around much more. So I think it’s fair to say that monogamy imposes restrictions on both sex’s sexual strategies.

      • Andrew says:

        Also true, and I suspect there are arguments to be made about the difference in degree. Geoffrey Miller provides an interesting analysis of how the interests of high-mate-value males and low-mate-value females can be aligned to each other while also contrary to the interests of high-mate-value females and low-mate-value males. He uses prostitution as his example, but the argument is somewhat analogous to monogamy.

    • melissa says:

      And women have been furtively resisting this. In older days mainly through cuckoldry. These days through having affairs with married or taken men, or simply using sperm from high-status males to father their children. 

    • John says:

      totally valid, though in my wildest dreams, I can’t imagine going back to a society where people are forced to get married if they don’t want to.

      • Andrew says:

        Agreed. But you can’t separate legal marriage from the functional concept of monogamy without all of your other arguments falling apart. Translation: If you enforce monogamy for legally married people while there are a bunch of non-monogamous legally unmarried people, the ‘solution’ to low-status males having no access to sex/reproduction is effectively negated.

         

        If, as it seems, the court is seeking to enforce cultural mores to effect the desired societal oucomes, then we kinda have to equate monogamy and marriage for the sake of conversation. So… when I say women are ‘coerced’, it’s not necessarily that they’re forced into marriage, but are subjected to legal and/or cultural pressures (including, but not limited to, stigmatization).

        • John says:

          On your point about de facto polygyny negating legal monogamy, you’re right — lots of single polygnysts running around has a similar effect. On your second point, I would simply add then men are also stigamtized from sleeping with multiple partners or having “an affair”. It cuts both ways.

  13. joe says:

    Thought-provoking series of posts, John.

    Going through this one helped me recognize a big difference between polygyny and gay marriage: Allowing polygyny reduces the number of available women, whereas it seems less likely that gays would marry a member of the opposite sex if they aren’t allowed to marry their preferred.

     

    • Nathan says:

      Excellent discussion. However, I believe that all participants have missed the forest for the trees, so to speak. The greatest value for society necessitates the greatest amount of liberty. Closed societies, in terms of liberty, quickly lose many cultural advantages. The discussion of whether we adapted to polygamy, the value status of males/females, etc is academically interesting, but moot when disussed in the context of societal benefit. Any system that restricts the natural right of free association will of necessity be a detriment to society. I know I’m getting into this discussion late, but I just found this blog. I like it, good work.

  14. Joh says:

    Who says you need to be married to engage in polygamy? They going to make it law that you can only date one woman at a time? Governments today reach too far into peoples private lives. I truly hope one day we find the courage to put an end to it.

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