Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Putting Polygamy in Context

In my last blog entry, I spoke at some length about polygamy as a legitimate form of marriage, and as one that wasn't inherently evil. I have since come across another blogger who has written on the same subject: Nano Muse.

Nano Muse's blog entry on "Polygamous Marriage and Women" is excellent for its emphasis of the degree to which sexism in society (as opposed to the structure of the marriage) determines the way women will be treated within their marriages. The fact that women were treated as second-class citizens in Western society (the bastion of monogamous marriage) until relatively recently makes that evident.

Another point in favor of Nano Muse's blog entry is that it reveals that the social aspect of polygamy is potentially positive. In those cases where polygamy works, it often does so because the relationships between co-wives or sister wives (as they are called in some American communities) constitute an important support system. I actually encountered an enlightening paragraph about the importance of such a support system on another blog, the Ms. Magazine Blog.

In response to an article written by Jessica Mack, "One Feminist Asks, 'Is Polygamy Inherently Bad for Women?'" one reader by the name of Christine wrote: A few years ago, I was in Kenya for work. I had the opportunity to travel with one of my Kenyan colleagues to her father's home in a semi-rural area. Her father was in his 60s and was polygamous. While traveling there, my colleague told me the past few months had been very difficult at her father's house because his "first wife" had died. I said her father must be devastated and she responded that, yes, he was, but it was his second wife who was the most devastated. Seeing that I was baffled, she explained that the two wives were best friends and were each other's most important support system. The death of the first wife left the second wife with a devastating emotional hole and doubled work load overnight. I had never thought about the support system some women get from polygamy.

This response by Christine struck a chord with me because, even though I didn't mention it in my previous blog entry, that important support system is one of the most striking things about polygamy as I have witnessed it in my friends' families. I am glad to have come across Christine's response because it humanizes the co-wife  relationship in a way that few articles I have read do.

 This work is licensed to Rose Kahendi under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 Unported License

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