Thursday, March 15, 2012

Plural Marriages And Other Sleights of Hand

The treatment of polygamy in the popular media is weird. Big Love and all that. I have also seen people confuse polyamory with polygamy. They are mostly not the same because the latter assigns almost all power to the one single man in the relationship and because women in traditional polygamy are not allowed to have more than one partner.

Well, they don't even have one partner. They have a fractional share of one partner. Which brings me to the point made in the title of this post: We call the marriages of people like Warren Jeffs (and the Fundamentalist Church of the Latter-Day Saints he led) "plural marriages."

They are that only from the married man's point of view. From the married women's point of view they are fractional marriages. That they are not called that is pretty informative. It tells us whose point of view is applied here.

But it's not really a general men's point of view because one outcome of fractional marriages is the Lost Boys. If only a few men are to get all the women, then one must somehow get rid of the surplus boys. This means that many men in such sects would end up unmarried for life if there was no outside world for them to settle in.

So what do we get here? Plural marriages? Fractional marriages? Boys tossed onto the garbage heap? And which approach seems the favored one in the popular media?
This is the article which caused these musings.