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Two is company, three is a crowd

September 30, 2010

Staff Opinion

Most Americans dream of graduating from college, getting a job, marrying the love of their life and then starting a family; but for a select group of Americans, the cycle doesn’t end there. There is an estimated 30,000 to 50,000 people in America that practice a polygamist lifestyle, according to a recent article entitled Polygamy in America on www.pri.org.

Most recently, TLC’s Sister Wives captures intricacies of polygamy. This lifestyle, intertwined in the Mormon religion, is represented by a one husband, multiple wives dynamic. Men and women practicing polygamy enter in this lifestyle in order to produce as many children as possible.  While this is one benefit of polygamy, there are many disturbing aspects of this practice, such as this practice being forced upon younger members of the polygamist community and the exclusion of women having multiple husbands.

It is a common practice in polygamist communities for the men that take minor females as one of their wives. And, often times in this practice, these rituals are forced on young women that could be less than 18 years old. They are often forced into a marriage where they are a ‘lesser’ wife. This aspect strips these young women of their right to choose their partner and also robs them of their own self-respect. Instead, these women are placed into a relationship hierarchy were they not only answer to their husband, but also the wives that were married to him before them.  This type of dynamic also makes these women more susceptible to abuse within these relationships.

Women born into these communities should be allowed to choose this lifestyle for themselves. This practice is a major life decision, and should be left up to the women that will be forced to live with it the remainder of their lives.

Along with being able to choose their lifestyle, women practicing polygamy should also be allowed to have multiple husbands. If the men are allowed to have multiple wives, then the same should be allowed for women choosing to practice polygamy. This lifestyle should not be a one-sided practice. Women should be allowed to have the option of multiple spouses as well as men.

Whether or not women choose to practice this option for themselves, is their choice, but the practice of polygamy should not exclude women from having multiple husbands.

If men and women want to enter into this type of community, then that choice should be left up to the men and women contemplating the decision. If a man thinks he can handle the intricacies of marriage with more than one woman, then more power to him. He is a brave soul. And, if a woman thinks she can juggle more than one man at a time, then God bless her.

The practice itself is not the problem. It is the negative side-effects and gender bias that forms as a result of this practice that is troubling.

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