When hearing of polygamy and polygyny, we may first think of an interpretation of religion or the illegality of the union . However, we tend to neglect the culture and psychology of the polygamist lifestyle as it is their true ‘norm’ in family marriage. According to the film seen in class, having more than one wife or husband is not just the interpretation of a religious doctrine, but also an evolving standard that more than one partner can support a relationship. The following post is my own analysis of polygamist/polygynist marriages and whether this lifestyle is the new progressive movement in marriage.
With several friends from Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and other countries in the Gulf region, I have learned that polygamy is a part of the lifestyle denoted by the Quran. Although not all Muslims practice this form of marriage, it shares a common patriarchal lifestyle to some divisions of Mormonism and other doctrines outside the religions of Abraham. Conversations with friends from polygamist families have taught me that the family can have a normal development. But the traditional ideology is more of the intertwined relationship of their Islamic doctrine and their national culture. The Islamic Gulf states value the preservation of these traditions and therefore, polygamy continues to be a traditional but accepted norm for marriage.
Families choosing polygamy have found a common interpretation in their varying religious doctrines regarding the orientation of a proper family. One may argue that it is the same for monogamist couples, our own religious doctrines have shaped our perception of marriage. This I find true, but the difference is the dispersion of power within the household. Traditionally, even monogamist couples lived in a patriarchal system, and this mindset has a long way to progress to reach equality. However, it has progressed, and the roles of women in the household have shifted from subservient to equal or even the ‘power of the purse’.
Today, polygamists and polyginists find acceptance of their lifestyle either through religious and cultural affiliations or through their personal perspective of the lifestyle that meets their tastes. Some may believe that this can be a progressive view of marriage. But with more people, like in any team, comes more dispersion of power and more need for one leader. If there is a union of more than two, there will be an imbalance of power structure and the decision making in the household. Inequality is many steps backward in my perception of marriage. Polygamy and polygyny cannot equally distribute power and influence in the household; and so this ideology will remain a narrow minded traditionalist ideology.