It was bothering me today so I am adding this update to the whole Big Love thing.
I don't really like the idea of polygamy. While I can understand in the abstract the appeal--having a more community-type family, shared childcare, shared housework--I cannot imagine that playing out in real life. My marriage is about partnership and about a shared vision for our future as a family (despite his idiocy about MY TV WATCHING) and I just don't get how that works in a family with multiple wives. Perhaps I am selfish in nature. But I don't think you can be partners with more than one person.
I also understand that social implications of polygamy. That the institution seems to breed some things that are troublesome for all. Families that have more children than they can afford. Young men who are abandoned or driven away so that they are not competition for wives. Young women forced into marriages to men older than their fathers. These are big issues that cascade through a whole society and while I am sure that many polygamists don't do such things. They exist and that has to be acknowledged.
All of that aside I hate the conversations about polygamy. For me, there is something wrong about me being all in some one's business about how they want their family to operate. I think marriage is between two people. But if those two people want to have three additional adults in their marriage without a legal benefit and everyone is over eighteen and consenting? Well, even if I don't want to live that way and I don't want my kids to live that way I just don't like people interfering legally.
My husband has suggested that women are instrinsically exploited by this, that they cannot make this decision for themselves. And I have heard that repeated time and again by well meaning people. But FUCK. I hate that. Because it means that a woman cannot make a choice that you do not understand, she doesn't know what she is doing. It infantilizes her and I think that is more exploitive than anything else. Basically marriage gets reduced to this--that the man gets a women to have sex with and wait on him and the women are desperate for love and affection. It is 2006. Is that what we really think marriage is?
People have sex out of marriage all the time. Marriage is not a sexual transaction. And I think the whole men want sex and women want love crap needs to retire. I imagine that every person in the world has a different set of needs in a marriage and that those needs cannot be described wholly in one word like that. It demeans us all to speak in those terms. If this was about how we don't want men to have sex with so many women than why are we not OUTRAGED like this about affairs? This isn't 100% about sex.
Again, I don't like polygamy. And I don't think that this show or gay marriage or anything else changes that. But I really hate that the media and religious leaders and apparently J think that we are too stupid as a society to see that.