LAST week, Dr. Herbert Mugarura argued that man is naturally polygamous. Today, he explores the debatable argument that women benefit more under polygamy
When the flair and novelty of a new wife fades, many husbands succumb to the temptation to cheat, desert their wives, cohabit with anoth
When the flair and novelty of a new wife fades, many husbands succumb to the temptation to cheat, desert their wives, cohabit with another woman or, especially in Western societies, divorce and remarry. Thus, we have serial polygamists (that is; marriage- divorce, marriage-divorce and so on even up to 20 times), shadow monogamy (married to one woman but having and supporting one or many mistresses), and promiscuity (an unmarried man having a number of mistresses).
Monogamy has for long protected men by allowing them to â€œplay aroundâ€ without responsibility, but recent legal abortion and easy birth control methods have opened the door of illicit sex to women and lured them into the so-called sexual revolution.
Polygamy may be criticised but it actually forces men to face up to their responsibility to protect and provide for their women and children.
A forced monogamy is responsible for surplus of women that may lead to prostitution, hatred and quarrels, to intense jealousy in women, and mere physical relationships without the required intimacy and related evils as diseases, abortion, illegitimate children, adultery, and withcraft.
Polygamy takes account of an excess of women to men which occurs in most areas. Monogamy forces them to become lovers of married men, be prostitutes, go with single or married men and possibly end up becoming single mothers. It is a choice of eternal chastity on one hand and loneliness, childlessness and mutual support on the other.
Let us do some arithmetic. Imagine that there are 120 women for 100 men in a country. In monogamy, 20 women must stay single (or be lovers or prostitutes or snatch other womenâ€™s husbands). The probability of a woman getting a husband is 100/120 or 0.83. If polygamy exists and no woman likes it, it causes no problem. If polygamy exists and 10 women like it and 110 do not like it, 10 women get married to five men, 95 women to 95 men and only 15 women must stay single (or become prostitutes) and the probability of women not liking polygamy to get a husband is 95/110 = 0.863 bigger than under monogamy.
Women benefit most
Polygamy can help those women who want to be in a monogamous marriage. If everybody is better off with polygamy, who will be interested in prohibiting it? Who gets hurt if polygamy is allowed? Obviously not the women who are forced to be single! Not single mothers! Not prostitutes and obviously not the deserted women! The admission of polygamy amounts to giving women another choice. In the end, the more women choose polygamy, the more there is a surplus of men and the number of women in monogamous marriages increases.
In monogamy, any woman could also be single, a prostitute, a divorcee, or a mistress. In legal polygamy, she would be second wife. More rich men than poor men will be polygamous, so more men (for monogamous marriages) will be left for those women who dislike polygamy, but fewer rich men.
So, the admission of polygamy hurts those women who want to catch a big fortune since they have to share resources with their husbandâ€™s other wives. But there is even more than frustrated fortune-catchers: Since in each society few men can be polygamous because there is normally only a small excess of women, when polygamy is allowed, there are men who cannot find an extra woman, so they â€œimportâ€ her from other social classes, races and countries, so that social classes, races and nations start to melt and wealth to be redistributed.
In case of social inequality of wealth or considerable social differentiation, the poor or low-class people may have to be satisfied with one wife even though there may be an excess of women. Men opt for monogamous marriages owing to the difficulty of paying bride price or maintaining several wives. Such a difficulty would certainly be a great obstacle to polygamy in modem civilisation, where so many men cannot afford to maintain even a single wife.
The present society seems to permit free sex between consenting adults and this has given rise to an abundance of irresponsible sexual relationships, â€˜fatherlessâ€™ children, â€˜singleâ€™ teenage mothers; all becoming a burden on the countryâ€™s welfare system.
The ideals of monogamous relationships are seldom met. There seems to be lots of unfaithful and conscienceless men who have made a mockery of it.
Whereas the woman who has given herself to a man clings for this reason all the more firmly to him, the man wishes to go on in search of fresh sexual experiences. A woman is generally much more particular than a man in giving her love, while the normal man tends to be attracted to coitus by nearly every more or less young and healthy woman. A woman is more sexually focused and it is rare for her to experience sexual desire for several men at once. Even the prostitute has her special fancy man.
In a way, a womanâ€™s monogamous nature plays well into the polygamous argument of man. It is said that womanâ€™s natural jealousy is not at a manâ€™s loving another but at his forsaking her or the future threat of this. And polygamy takes care of this concern.
Do women benefit more from polygamy?