Tag Archives: polyandry

Polyamory: I Love You and You and You

In the poly world there is polyamory, polyfidelity, polyandry, polygyny and polygamy. Yesterday I talked about the last three. Mostly I talked about polygamy and its use in religion, or under that guise for older men to take women like chattels and often to abuse young girls.

Because of this, there are laws against polygamy. At one time there was probably as much if not more behind the morality of it than the fact that women were were being abused. And maybe in some areas, and some religions and in some economies it was necessary and worked well and everyone preferred it that way. I’m sure if you asked most FLDS members they would say they prefer it the way it is. And if there really were a surplus of women it means that they would have the security of a home and a protector. If a woman was not desirable for certain reasons in our society, there is a guarantee that she’d still find a mate in this polygamous setting. Most extreme religions or fundamental sects seem to hide a more sinister side and keeping women dressed in old fashions, at home, constantly pregnant, well…that’s close to my idea of hell.

But there is another side to polygamy. It’s more commonly called polyamory, loving more than one person, or polyfidelity, being faithful, or committed to more than one person. It’s common enough in North American society but still under the covers, so to speak.

Because of marriage laws, there is no multiple marriage and in many cases three or four people may all live together but none be married. In other scenarios there may be a married couple where one or both have another partner, girlfriend or boyfriend who doesn’t live with them, but in some cases may. It may be that several people date, but all live in their own places. The permutations are endless.

I have known a man who lived with two women. When they left him to form their own relationship, he ended up with two more women. I’ve known a married woman whose boyfriend moved in with them. I know three married couples, where the man from couple A is dating the woman from couple B and the man from couple B is dating the woman from couple C, and the man from couple C is dating the woman from couple A. The woman from couple C is now pregnant by the man from couple A plus has her own children with the man from couple A.

All three couples live separately in different cities. They maintain fairly good healthy relationships with their spouses as well as their other lover. It’s complex but everyone has a choice in all of the above mentioned relationships. No one is coerced and it’s much more honest and up front than cheating.

How successful are poly relationships? As successful as monogamous marriages. Which means, some work and some don’t. I don’t know if any stats have been done on such relationships because many people keep them secret, fearing reprisals from friends, families or jobs. There is still a strong conservative, Christian element to North American society and disapproval and misunderstanding keep most poly people quiet.

As far as I’m concerned, you can love whoever you want and as many as you want. As long as no one is hurt (no rape, abuse, coercion, etc.), and full knowledge and communication is used, then it’s no one else’s business. This is the other side of the coin to the widely used “polygamy.” Since polygamy means more than one marriage partner and in most cases there are laws against that, then trying to outlaw how many people a person can love and live with gets more nebulous. In the case of polyamorous relationships, religion is most often not a factor though a person’s spiritual or religious beliefs may include or not be against such relationships.

There is already legal discussion that to charge someone for polygamy would not work because they could claim it as part of their religious freedom or rigths. Charging someone for sexual or physical abuse is much more straightforward in the courts. Like I said, the poly world is complex but not all of it is injurious.

For another look, Donald Kingsbury once wrote an award winning, science fiction novel titled Courtship Rite. It’s now out of print but can still be found. It looks at a different world where the society practices ritual scarification and the ultimate perfect relationship is seven people. This ideal is rarely attained and everyone must date anyone being brought into the group marriage. A fascinating read.


Filed under Culture, family, life, news, people, relationships, religion, sex

Polygamy: I Do I Do I Do

Polygamy is defined as a person having multiple spouses but is most often referring to polygyny, a man with more than one wife. The even rarer polyandry is a woman with more than one husband.

Several polygamist communities have been in the news of late: El Dorado, Texas and Bountiful, BC. The Texan community fell afoul of the law and 400 children were removed but recently returned. Bountiful is under police scrutiny; the courts are debating charging them. Over and over again, the media talks about the polygamist marriages where men in their 40s seem to have many wives, some as young as 12 years of age.

It’s polygamy that gets mentioned most of all but really there are two other issues here. The first is that of child abuse and rape. The second, harder to prove if all those 14-year-old girls have hit the age of consent and marry a 45-year-old man, is that of coercion, subjugation and good ole fashioned brainwashing.

Let’s take a look at equality. If you google pictures of the El Dorado Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints sect, you’ll get many shots of women in frumpy Holly Hobby outfits all with the same peter pan collar, button-down demure front, and sleeves neatly buttoned at the wrist. Oh, and with a good ankle length cut. Although blue seems to be a favorite color, there was a woman in pink and one in purple, and even one in business brown. And the hair, ohmigod, the hair, all coiffed in the same sweep, no matter the shape of face or age. Can you say Stepford Wives, moreso than they ever were portrayed in the movie? Though I think there is something scarily in common with these fundamentalist sects and the The Stepford Wives.

But where are the men, you ask? Men? Well, yes, obviously there are fewer of them. After all, every man has several wives. You can probably blame the media for going for the more high profile pictures. After all, any pictures of the men (and there are very few) seem to have them in fairly standard jeans and shirts, even if they are buttoned at wrist and neck. But perhaps there are fewer men because, when the authorities raided the Texas compound, those ole guys went into hiding. And one has to wonder if this particular brand of polygamy is not just another word for pedophilia hiding under the guise of religion.

Bountiful’s pictures are not as…bountiful and there are the same pictures of women in outdated dresses (with running shoes, mind you) and yet some of women in modern dress. Winston Blackmore, the BC sect’s leader is shown with women in traditional dress and all those women and daughters in modern dress. Always, there are a lot of women, and girls. One has to start to wonder if the law of averages with both genders shows up in Bountiful, or if there are more girls born. After all, they’d be more of a benefit to such a man who needs at least three wives. You don’t want any mating wars with other vying males either.

So, why aren’t the women collecting several husbands? I’m sure the men could answer this. I’m sure the women could too, because they’ve probably been schooled since they were young on what they should or shouldn’t do and to “keep sweet,” as Bountiful’s motto goes.

Even though the FLDS sects are part of Mormonism, the larger body of Mormons these days do not follow polygamy, and most of the FLDS groups get around the law by actually only having one married wife and the rest as just secondary wives. And there are enough groups, religious or not that follow polygamy.

I always have a hard time with any group or faith that requires different things from men or women. Whether one gender must wear something or another gender is not allowed to do something, I get suspicious. It usually means there is some inclusion/exclusion based on gender that gets past all sorts of human rights because it is religion. And after all, whichever gender has the restrictions, they’re usually told it’s god’s will, so therefore it’s right. And the only thing that sticks in us as much as how family styles us is how we’re styled by religion.

There is another side to polygamy, and I’ll cover that tomorrow.


Many articles exist on the above. You just have to google one of the many tags to read up on it.


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