Hundreds of thousands of people across the world tune in to Polygamy USA, Sister Wives, Our America-Modern Polygamy amongst other documentaries depicting the daily life of individuals belonging to a polygamist union. For us onlookers, we are simply curious; some of us might watch in dismay but for those being filmed, they are tired of living in secrecy and are hopeful of inspiring tolerance. Let me say, this lifestyle takes nothing short of selflessness, courage and understanding, however I can’t help but see through a seeming façade these women pageant for the cameras which appears to be in an ill-fated attempt to convince only themselves that they are truly happy.
I am in no way making a gross generalization on all polygamist unions. Instead, I wish only to express MY own opinions formulated after watching interviews with couples. I must admit, I am rather intrigued by them. As many other females, I cannot see myself sharing a husband with several other women, neither do I believe that courting is a concept that should not be undertaken and my husband will appear to me in a dream. Still, this is a choice they made, which brings me to my point really. In a society where adults are allowed to express themselves freely, whether through religion, speech or moral beliefs, allowed to choose partners, same sex or otherwise, why not the ability to choose polygamy? Does the government have the right to dictate what is really a way of life? With everything else once deemed taboo, legislation and tolerance has morphed with changing times. Why then should polygamy in Western Society remain illegal?
There are two ways to look at it, there are those whom will assume this way of life for religious reasons and others that are unhappy with one partner. The ones that are more popular and are primarily featured in documentaries are those who belong to fundamentalist Mormon churches and believe this way of life will bring them closer to God. Without going into the intricate details of how they choose their wives and husbands and how they choose to expand their family, let’s look at what is most pertinent to any family unit-the kids. We ask that they are fed, clothed, housed, loved, protected, granted education and stability and all the other rights of children that you can find on the books. From all I have observed, this seems to be the case, so then what is the problem really?
I could go on and on about the despair I see in these women’s faces and the psychological impact this must have on them but that would be pointless, for as long as they are responsible adults, not being held against their will and are equipped to make informed decisions on their own, the government really has no right to intrude. In fact, one woman interviewed by an ABC reporter for a Modern Polygamy piece even stated that this is ‘their version of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness’.
Now let’s look at our second reason for considering this lifestyle; this is often featured in documentaries about polyamoury or the subject in bitter divorce battles. Let’s think about it, from a purely practical standpoint, NBCNews research expert Tom W. Smith, director of the General Social Survey for the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago conducted the highly respected study “American Sexual Behaviour,” a poll of 10,000 people over two decades. The study found that 22 percent of married men and 15 percent of married women have cheated at least once — similar to the results from the MSNBC.com/iVillage survey. The bottom line, men cheat, now lets delve further. Cheating men could be doing so as a result of being unhappy with their current spouse right? well not so according to http://www.womenshealthmag.com, ” studies show that some men have more of a physiological propensity than others to pull a Tiger. Swedish researchers found that the fewer receptors for vasopressin (a neurotransmitter associated with feelings of attachment and a need to protect a partner) a man has in his brain, the more likely he is to seek sexual variety and to be disloyal. In addition, the more testosterone a male receives in utero, the higher his likelihood of infidelity, says psychiatrist Daniel G. Amen, M.D., a brain-imaging specialist and the author of Change Your Brain, Change Your Body”. Dailymail.com, a UK based website, has also cited a study conducted by sociologist Eric Anderson, stating that men who cheat gives them the best of both worlds and most of them who do still want to stay with their partner – they just want to have more sex on the side.
Now you can choose to reject or accept these findings, I personally believe that there is still hope for a happy healthy monogamous relationship, however, for those whom, like Eric Anderson, believe in variety, then they should be free to indulge to their hearts content. Now lets look at the alternative, man wishes to ‘explore’ further however he feels ‘bonded’ by the ‘restraints’ of a monogamous relationship, the result? unfaithful husbands, broken families, a heartbroken wife, not to mention the psychological scarring of children trapped in the middle of a bitter divorce.
There is no easy way to address this topic really, I suppose I can understand why the government has chosen to take the stance that is has, afterall, just across the road from polygamists interviewed in Centennial Park are those members of the FLDS church where followers of the imprisoned cult leader Warrn Jeffs reside. But on the other hand, take a look at the numerous accusations that have surfaced about the pedophilic behavior of catholic priests, conducting unconscionable acts behind their vale. Has anyone ever said let’s make Catholicism illegal? no, we instead try to uproot those that have committed these heinous acts and begin the healing process for those who have suffered.
A lot to stomach for people that are completely against polygamist unions and maintain strong Christian principles. We can always argue that the sanctity of the family unit as watered down as it has become must be preserved, if only to a smaller extent, however we must also recognize and appreciate that families come in several forms. Plural families experience similar problems as many other monogamous families…they love and care like any other parent, they hurt and show compassion in the same way. Love knows no boundaries and does not come with a prescribed guideline on the composition of a happy household. My point, this should be a personal choice. And there you have it, my two cents.