General Question

kelly8906's avatar

Should men be allowed to have multiple wives?

Asked by kelly8906 (340points) May 13th, 2009

I have to write a persuasive paper on this topic. Being a woman, I don’t believe men should be allowed multiple wives. But are there countries that do allow this? And can anyone give me a few reasons why men should NOT be allowed to have multiple wives. I need some good reasons for the body paragraphs of my essay. Please help!

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42 Answers

ragingloli's avatar

Sure they should be allowed to. But for reasons of equality, a woman should also be allowed to have multiple husbands. Like a marriage with 4 husbands and 4 wifes. I see no problem with that, apart from most humans inability/refusal to share their partners with someone else, but legally, ethically or morally, there is no reason for it to not be allowed.

benjaminlevi's avatar

As long as they are willing to enter such an agreement and have their rights respected there is no real argument why they couldn’t do that.

ragingloli's avatar

Additionally, a good essay presents both sides of the coin and since you have already decided which side to support, you should find it easier to find arguments supporting your side and thus you should ask for arguments that run against your side.

dynamicduo's avatar

Men having multiple wives may make sorting out the inheritance more trickier, or more liable to claims from the other wives. Multiple wives also creates a different power dynamic in the relationship, and this has benefits (for raising children, more of a creche style) and detriments (power issues between the wives).

cyndyh's avatar

How would property division and child custody work in cases of divorce? If you can untangle that in a reasonable fashion then it should be allowed if all parties know what they’re getting into before hand.

hungryhungryhortence's avatar

Unless from a culture where they are familiar with the dynamics and hierarchies involved with multiple spouses and shared households, I don’t think just anyone should approach this, man or woman. I believe the average person has a hard enough time sorting through becoming spouse #1 or 2nd, 3rd, etc. after divorces.

Darwin's avatar

If men are allowed multiple wives, then women must be allowed multiple husbands. However, as others have said, untangling everything in case of divorce or inheritance can be a nightmare. Typically this sort of arrangement seems only to work where the multiple spouses are from the gender that is considered inferior in some way, or possibly even property, as in some Islamic states, ancient China, and the breakaway polygamous Mormon sects. In those cases men are considered the leaders and women are close to being chattel.

Overall, I would say it would be unlikely to work very well in our society where genders are legally and in many ways culturally equal.

wundayatta's avatar

If you’re going to have affairs anyway, why not bring it out in the open, and have multiple wives? If the people involved can handle it, then why not? It just acknowledges what is going on anyway. Instead of the pain and suffering from cheating and all that’s involved in that, people can be open about what’s going on, and deal with it as adults, with less rancor, and perhaps even cooperation.

That’s a start. You can take it from there.

basp's avatar

As long as they are all consenting adults and enter into the committment with full knowledge.
As for the problems if a divorce should occur….. That can be taken care if easily with signed agreements prior to any marriage. Currently couples get divorces that aren’t easy to sort out but that doesn’t mean we don’t allow them to marry in the first place.

oratio's avatar

They made a documentary “One Man, Six Wives and Twenty-Nine Children” about a man in Utah. It seems to be some people there practicing polygamy. They are Mormons.

I don’t know. If they are all consenting adults, why not. Though, the man Tom in the docu married and had children with both a mother and her daughter. Personally it feels just wrong. But they seem happy.

syz's avatar

Only if women can have multiple husbands.

tinyfaery's avatar

The government has no business in our relationships. Every adult human should be able to marry and/or fuck whomever they want.

amoreno06's avatar

well, i take it that you’ve decided to take the stance of NOT supporting multiple wives.
so to answer that, i would probably argue that husbands have enough of a challenge of keeping up with one wife not to mention children.
It would be chaos if men fathered children and didn’t have the means to support them.
another reason why men shouldn’t be able to have multiple wives would be because there would be half brothers/half sisters everywhere. the gene pool would suffer because you wouldn’t know if you’re related to someone or not.
keeping up with a family tree would be extremely difficult.

qualitycontrol's avatar

It was common in some African tribes to have multiple wives. I have no idea of this still exists. I believe it was because the more wives a man had, the more children he was able to produce. That being said, there is no reason for women to have multiple husbands. Also, wives were considered property so the more a man had, the more wealthy he was, the higher up in society he was.

Some reasons men should not be allowed to have multiple wives are: religion, it could confuse the children, it isn’t fair for chunky guys like me (who struggles to keep one), it would lead to fighting and an unpleasant lifestyle if it were introduced to a culture such as ours that isn’t accustomed to it, men also wouldn’t be able to support such a large family (unless the working age was lowered in this country)

ratboy's avatar

@tinyfaery: does that mean that you’re obligated to fuck whomsoever wishes to fuck you?

tinyfaery's avatar

Yep. That’s exactly what I said. ~

ratboy's avatar

Polygamous marriage ought to be an alternative to prison for nonviolent offenders.

Darwin's avatar

@tinyfaery – That sounds perilously close to rape. Perhaps something about mutual interest needs to be involved.

aprilsimnel's avatar

No fear, y’all, tildes (~) on Fluther denote sarcasm.

The main problem with multiple wives is that the most powerful men with the most resources will claim as many women as they can and that is no good. In the polygamous societies of the US/Canadian fundie Mormons, the 15 – 20-something young men from the “wrong” families are exiled from their communities, even if there are young women their age to date, because the powerful elders lay claim to those girls for themselves and their chosen male relatives. It’s very destabilizing.

I do not know if this problem is applicable in all polygamous societies, but the one I’m referencing has a fair amount of trouble with it.

toomuchcoffee911's avatar

Sorry if I’m repeating.

In some places the reason men were allowed to have more than one wife was so more babies could be born. With our population the way it is now, I don’t think it’s necessary.

Darwin's avatar

@aprilsimnel – This goes back to what I said, where having multiple spouses only succeeds at all where one gender is in essence property. Thus the powerful men “own” all the property (the women) which, as property, has little say in anything. The weaker men then must leave if they ever wish to “own” a wife.

oratio's avatar

Polygamy is illegal, but it’s not illegal to live together unmarried with as many women or men you want and have children with them. I don’t see the point of legislating against it. But what @aprilsimnel wrote sounds disturbing. ”...lay claim to those girls for themselves…” Doesn’t sound much like consent to me.

Supacase's avatar

@ragingloli A persuasive paper, by definition, can’t give equal and unbiased representation of both sides. The point is to make a case to persuade the reader to agree with you or at least understand your position. A good writer should be able to write a persuasive paper on a topic they do not agree with.

DrasticDreamer's avatar

aprilsimnel and Darwin bring up a very good point that could be a powerful focus in your paper. Younger men are thrown out of those societies so that the more powerful men can choose even more wives for themselves. Sometimes these boys are extremely young when kicked out and have no idea about the outside world. They are left to fend for themselves and do not have the faintest idea where to go for help.

These societies are found all over the world, including America.

Another negative aspect you can focus on is that women typically have no say in who they marry, at what age they marry, etc. Sometimes females marry relatives, and sometimes very young women marry a man who is old enough to be their father or even grandfather. While these societies are not strictly prohibited in the United States, child abuse laws still apply to them. If a 13-year-old marries a man old enough to be her father, she is obligated to have sex with him the second she has her period – you can see how this breaks the law.

(I’m taking cultural anthropology and there’s a lot of information about things like this.)

oratio's avatar

@DrasticDreamer Doesn’t federal law prohibit polygamy?

DrasticDreamer's avatar

Technically, yes. However, in places like Utah, it’s sometimes overlooked simply because it’s hard to prove that it’s happening. In cases where they think underage women are being married to much older men, however, the law takes a different view and tries to do something about it. Often times, it’s overlooked because many people in these societies lie about what actually does and doesn’t take place.

oratio's avatar

@DrasticDreamer Ok. Thanks. But they get married to several women? And they need to register as married? And those who register the marriage can’t see if they are married already? Feels like either the system works bad or that I am missing something.

DrasticDreamer's avatar

Yes, the men can marry as many women as they would like. Only one marriage would technically be realized by the state, but because these societies lead such an isolated existence, they marry multiple people in the name of their religion – Mormonism. There’s not really an efficient way that the state can keep up with them, so a lot of it is gotten away with, partly because it’s so hard to prove.

cyndyh's avatar

Often the second, third, fourth, etc. wives are not “registered” with anyone but the church. In northern Arizona and southern Utah a lot of these other wives were living off the state and the “husband” would show up to cash their welfare checks. It’s often child sexual abuse and fraud in multiple ways and not an actual marriage in any way we’d recognize.

oratio's avatar

Ok. Got it. I come from a different culture, so it’s a bit cloudy how it works in the US.

nebule's avatar

…of course they should… if they want to have their dicks chopped off at some point

benjaminlevi's avatar

But what people said about things like incest and rape of underage girls has nothing to do with whether or not polygamy should be legal. An elder forcing a thirteen year old girl to have sex with him will still be illegal regardless of the legality of having multiple spouces. Polygamy isn’t the crime.

wundayatta's avatar

@tinyfaery If the government has no business in human relationships, then what happens when a murder occurs? Or child beating? Or any other form of abuse that occurs between two humans? Is it the law of the jungle?

I suspect that you mean that the government has no business deciding which love relationships will be sanctioned. Although, even that is problematic in the case of child brides or any relationship with dramatically unequal power, such as in man-boy love.

Am I correct in interpreting your exhortation as a response to the way discrimination against gays and lesbians has been made part of the law? Or do you seriously think the government has no business in any human relationship?

DarkScribe's avatar

Of course they should. If they prefer a life of misery to one of contentment it is their business, no one else should become involved.

I know a number of Muslim men who have several wives – none of them are happy. They brag about how many kids they have. They don’t seem to appreciate when I say “And do you know how many of them are yours”?

Vinifera7's avatar

Personally, I think it sounds way kinkier for a wife to have multiple husbands.

phoenyx's avatar

polygyny (1 husband, multiple wives)
polyandry (1 wife, multiple husbands)
polyamory (multiple wives and husbands)

Strauss's avatar

Only if the women are allowed to have multiple husbands. And if there were also some codification into law about financial responsibility, child support, domestic ownership, etc.

wundayatta's avatar

I heard on the radio this evening that the new leader of South Africa has three wives. Three first ladies, they said. Well, that’s novel!

oratio's avatar

@daloon Yes. This is a country where the government tells you that having a proper diet, e.g. carrots, will cure HIV. I guess after Mandela, anything goes.

gtown's avatar

Yes, multiple wives are a common practice in the mid-east. I once worked with a friend who escaped from Afghanistan when Russia overthrew the existing ragime. Interesting culture… the mid-east. She told me the first wife rules the roost so to speak. Her husband could have had up to 7 wives, but since she was the first wife, any subsequent wife would have to follow instructions of first wife. I asked her if her husband had taken other wives, she told me no, they did not agree with that practice. The things she told me about her culture, you do not read about in books. Very interesting!!

I personally don’t agree with that lifestyle either.

xoxjessxox's avatar

No?! If you’re married to someone, that means you’re commited to them, and only them. If after making this commitment, you start grabbing other wives, then it kind of ruins the point of a marriage. But, I guess, as long as the women are allowed to too, then sure.

They’ve never heard of equality down there though, so that’s unlikely to ever happen.

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