Monogamy can be referred to as the act of getting married to one man or woman, or we can say a marriage in which only one spouse at a time is present; the situation is known as Monogamy. Whereas, Polygamy can be referred to as the situation in which a person has more than one spouse, under which usually are men having more than one wife. It is further defined as three various aspects; one of them having more than one husband at the same time, the second is having more than one wife at a time, and the last one is having more than one couple getting married at the same time. Polygamy is not a legal standard in many of the states in America and other countries and hence is not granted as per license. These two are different kinds of marriages, under which the commitment and responsibility of one spouse to another is interdependent (Zeitzen, 2008, p.1).
In the late times of the 1970s, there was a large influx of refugee movements from the Southeast Asian countries to America who could not get back to their countries. There was no choice for these refugees as they were prosecuted in their own homelands. They were following a hierarchical clan structure. As they were strongly opposing communism and had no location, they were actively recruited by the United States. There was a strong belief in the hierarchical family and the structure within the family that resulted in imbalances as there were less equality and fewer people available in the same family structures. The people were either killed during the war, and their females were widows, so they preferred movement towards cultural polygamy as a survival means. Right from those times, polygamy and polygamy concepts are evolved (Zeitzen, 2008, p.174). The respective study will analyze the culture of polygamy, its practice, society’s view about it, and why it is not considered a good act of life.
Family and polygamy
Starting with the positive side of the trend of polygamy, certain positive attributes and positive aspects can be viewed in such kind of marriage, especially if we see them from the perspective of polygamy for the family. Polygamy can be referred to as a tool for helping hand and double-check in the families. It can be considered a positive thing, in some areas, as this provides the children and the house with the observing eye of more than one female, making it a perfect place for their man (Buunk, Park, Zurriaga, Klavina, & Massar, 2008). However, in my eyes, the trend itself is none less than a curse for most females in the world. Through polygamy, the children of one mother are kept under observation of others, too, making the original mother insecure of their children and getting jealous in this regard (Altman, 1996, p. 434).
Jealousy and insecurity are sound in human nature. When the guardianship and the ownership of commodities and children in one family are overlapped, the chances of jealousy and insecurity among the wives are very high. Another disadvantage in my eyes in sharing one husband with several other women is that the balance and peace of a family are disrupted in this regard. Permission to get married to more than one woman provides the man a license to get a younger and more beautiful wife when he thinks his wife is getting older and is not satisfying his demands. This creates a sense of negligence and insecurity in the previous wife, and the expectation of indifferent behavior from her must be ensured in this regard (Altman, 1996, p.431).
One more great disadvantage in this form of marriage is that it leaves the parenting imbalanced. The focus of the parents, especially the father, to the children equally and closely is often neglected because of being indulged in so many functioning when the focus is diverted. In families, having more than one mother is often dangerous for men as the children get confused and face partiality from the mothers, thus hindering their mental growth. Chances of incest and child sexual abuse in families, among such cases, are often witnessed (Altman, 1996, p. 431).
Polygamy in families is practiced, and some religions allow this too. Still, one main aspect that must beconsideredn while practicing polygamy is that justice and equality are observed very closely. If all the wives are not treated equally and provided the same rights and money or love, this will create tensions in the family. A disturbed or imbalanced family might not affect the man, but the children are affected the most in this case. Such children often witness more family violence, marital conflict, and other family disputes in their childhood and practice the same in their future with their families, leaving a negative impact on their psychological growth. Polygamy might be good for the balance of the society or make the single girls become part of the Families, but such kind of marriage is not good for a balanced family and balanced home (Altman, 1996, p. 432).
In families, it is not at all possible that the relationship of husbands with all the wives is the same and at an equal level; hence the factor of inequality and injustice takes place in this situation. This inequality and injustice are automatically related to the fact that the children whose mothers face difficulties in relationship with their husbands have to suffer discrimination and negligence too automatically, hence proving polygamy as not a healthy practice for families and children.
The world is divided into certain groups, a few are ethnic groups, and a few are religious groups. Some groups have taken the form of nations and own states, and some live solely in certain groups worldwide, having no defined territory of their own. The groups are divided based on their thoughts, opinions, beliefs, and religion. Hence the differences in their thought about certain aspects of life do exist. Here the practice of polygamy and the view of certain groups of the world about the certain practice will be discussed below. The first group discussed practicing polygamy is Christianity, which is also regarded as that religious group of the international world, which actually introduced and legalized the practice of polygamy through its religion (Badawi, 1976, p.2).
Christians consider the practice of polygamy to be part of their religious book, Bible, and they say that they are allowed by their religion to get married to more than one woman. Marriage is even the license for them to marry another woman, and no one can stop them from this according to their belief. The practice of getting married to more than one woman is straightforward and convenient for the Christians, leaving these people to follow a series or a pattern of marriages, and they do not remain static and loyal to one woman. Polygamy leaves the marital relationship between the people to go beyond the line of loyalty, and love is also absent in most polygamy marriages.
Mormons are the second largest group that practices polygamy. They come under the category of the Christians as they are members of the LDS church (church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints), but the main Christian group does not consider the Mormon fundamentalist to be real Christians (Gordon, 2002, p.11). Mormons were said to be the followers of polygamy, and they were the ones who really practiced polygamy openly in Utah. But the United States of America was threatened by the practice, which made Mormons avoid advocating polygamy marriages in an open manner (Badawi, 1976, p.6).
Polygamy is also allowed in Islamic religious groups and the Zulus religious group, thus allowing the people to marry more than one woman. But the Islamic group of society allows this only when the man or we can say the husband can provide justice to all his wives. The phenomenon of justice is imposed in the permission of the religion, and it is clearly stated that if justice cannot prevail, then the following monogamy is more than enough. It has to make sure that justice is at every level, not only financially but also in care and love. The aspect of equality and justice is much emphasized in the Islamic group, imposing an allegation or a condition to a certain form of marriage. And my point of argument is that practicing justice in this regard is not at all an easy thing (Badawi, 1976, p.3-4).
There are also present certain groups in the international world that look forward to finishing certain practices from society and do not support polygamy at all. These groups might be ethnic groups, governmental organizations, or non-governmental organizations like, for example, ‘Tapestry against polygamy,’ ‘polygamy.org,’ etc. In short, many different kinds of groups exist in the world, some are in favor of polygamy, and some are totally against polygamy, showing resistance to such marriages and considering it illegal (Anonymous, n.d. ).
Social Point of View
People think very differently about polygamy, and this aspect is regarded as acceptable or legal for some people, and some consider it illegal or unacceptable. Society is divided into certain categories, leaving them to think differently about a certain aspect of life. Therefore the perceptions and acceptance of polygamy are also different for different people. People of Canada and the United States of America are totally against the concept of polygamy (Zeitzen, 2008, p. 30).
The trend in Hindu society is that polygamy is not accepted under the Hindu Marriage Act, and Hindu people are not allowed to have more than one wife. At the same time, the Muslims in India are allowed to practice polygamy, as they are allowed under their religious law to marry four women at one time (Zeitzen, 2008, p.165). Polygamy is accepted by many people in the world, and Christianity, Islam, Judaism, African, Zulus, etc., do not prohibit polygamy. The women belonging to these societies are also satisfied and happy with their men having more than one wife. Hence polygamy has been accepted by many societies. Still, a fact does lie in those societies that the marriage is nothing but a pact or a contract for economic prosperity and child possession but love and care are seldom found (Oduyoye & Kanyoro, 2005, p.116).
Polygamy leads to a marital relationship where love is rarely found, leaving the people to be so busy to show loyalty, love, and affection to all wives equally. Leaving the above-mentioned societies of the world many regions, do not like polygamy, and they are not in favor of polygamy. People consider polygamy as male dominance and a tool used by the male group of society to satisfy their sexual desires. Society considers polygamy an indication of female suppression, as possessing more than one woman will automatically lower the value of their wives and ultimately degrade them.
Female society is very much against polygamy. They do not like to share their husbands with other women. Very few women would agree to have no complaint if their husbands nary other women. This is because of their born nature and the chances of jealousy that arise in them to see another woman, sharing her things and her family (Mernissi, 1987, p. 47). Ownership of some other person in their life is not liked by most of the female society, and they see polygamy as their humiliation, hence considering it to be something that must be illegal. The same fact is presented by the United States of America and Canada. They do not consider polygamy legal, and this action in American society is charged with punishment under its law (Glendon, 1989, p. 52).
People in American society do not like the action of polygamy, and many of them often consider it to be an excuse to fulfill sexual desires. Through polygamy, society thinks that women are degraded, and their rights are snatched from them. Because polygamy leads to a disturbed family, usually, many societies do not approve of polygamy, stating that this leaves a negative effect on the family. They witness family conflicts and other instability in their immediate relationships, which then is practiced by them in their future life (Buss, 2000, p.34).
Since the reaction and the perspective of people and different groups of society are different towards the act of polygamy, the phenomenon is still confusing for most of the people in the world to see if this must be considered ethical or not. But the fact that it has more disadvantages than disadvantages, and it is not easy to maintain such kind of marital relationship, it must not be practiced until unless equality and no discrimination is guaranteed. It reflects the male dominant society and therefore leaves women neglected and degraded in society. It is not at all easy to manage the justice and equality in polygamy, and this is that act of society that might not be considered illegal for few people but is surely affecting the image and value of women at one hand and leaving the children to witness psychological issues at another end, because of inability to manage more than one wife with justice and peace.
Altman, I. (1996). Polygamous families in contemporary society: Cambridge University Press.
Anonymous. (n.d. ). Anti-Polygamy Websites. Retrieved 18, December 2014, from http://www.polygamy-faq.com/antipolygamy.php
Badawi, G. A. (1976). Polygamy in Islamic law: Muslim Students’ Association.
Buss, D. M. (2000). The dangerous passion: Why jealousy is as necessary as love and sex: Simon and Schuster.
Buunk, A. P., Park, J. H., Zurriaga, R., Klavina, L., & Massar, K. (2008). Height predicts jealousy differently for men and women. Evolution and Human Behavior, 29(2), 133-139.
Glendon, M. A. (1989). The transformation of family law: State, law, and family in the United States and Western Europe: University of Chicago Press.
Gordon, S. B. (2002). The Mormon Question: Polygamy and constitutional conflict in nineteenth-century America: Univ of North Carolina Press.
Mernissi, F. (1987). Beyond the veil: Male-female dynamics in modern Muslim society (Vol. 423): Indiana University Press.
Oduyoye, M. A., & Kanyoro, M. R. (2005). The will to arise: women, tradition, and the church in Africa: Wipf and Stock Publishers.
Zeitzen, M. K. (2008). Polygamy: A cross-cultural analysis: Berg.