Intro to Women's Studies 2010

etsu: 2011-2014

I <3 <3 <3 Polygamy

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In today’s society, a monogamous relationship between a man and a woman is the ‘norm’. But that’s not the only type of marriage that exists, or ends happily ever after for that matter. We discussed Polygamy, Polyandry and Polyamory in class along with the pros and cons of each. Polygamy is generally one man who has multiple wives and has a family with each wife. The husband is legally married to one of the wives and each one after that is married by the church. To someone who doesn’t know much about it, they’d think that the husband is having the time of his life since he can have all the wives that he wants. People stereotype polygamist relationships because it has a bad connotation with the media. People assume young girls are forced into unwanted relationships with older men. Though that might be the case in some circumstances, the families shown in the video we watched in class repeatedly said that it was their choice, they wanted to be there. Both of the families shown in the video lived in the same home with the other wives and all their children. It seemed important for them to have a strong family bond and they wanted to raise their children together. Since they had grown up in a polygamist community, this was normal for them to live this way. For one wife, it was a struggle to connect with the other two because she wasn’t used to living that type of lifestyle, but in the end she ended up returning home to live with her husband and the other two wives because she wanted to have a stronger family bond and raise her children with the others.

Polyandry is extremely uncommon in America, so I was really unaware of what it was. It seems like a bizarre concept, one woman with multiple husbands, but in the village from the TED talks video it seemed like it worked out for them. It isn’t like a woman chooses whatever man she wants to be her husband, she marries a man and his brothers. It works for them because in Tibet, a lot of what they do involves the land and agriculture, and there isn’t a lot of usable land to split up between families, so one family has their land to work. Also, the husbands aren’t all present at once, they’re out supporting the family. The speaker from the video says that they’re very flexible with the idea of family and marriage. For example, if later on in life they feel that the polygamist marriage isn’t working, they can split off into monogamous relationships without the fear or worry of being judged by the people in their community. It also isn’t required to enter into a polyandrous relationship if the person doesn’t feel like that type of marriage is suitable for their life.

Polyamory is a semi new approach towards relationships. To me, it’s a bit odd and for people who don’t think they can commit to just one person for the rest of their life. In a polyamorous relationship, you’re free to have as many partners (male, female, or both) as you want. It’s like a big happy family, sort of. 

To me, these three different types of relationships show that there are more than one way to make a relationship work. Some might require more energy and effort put into them, but it’s all about your preference. 

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