Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Polygamy? Polyandry? Ha, ha!

BC Liberties Association, what are you thinking? I want to laugh at your application to the court to consider (more or less) legalizing Polygamy. But I can’t. The matter is too serious. Especially for young women born into fundamentalist religions. And for the rest of us, too. The very idea of young women being legally married off as second, third ,or fourth wives to old men or middle aged men, because their religion demands it, is sob story material. How can parents do this to their young daughters? No young girl wants to be married off in these circumstances. It’s unnatural. Youth calls to youth. Sadly, mothers don’t have much to say about this unnatural reversal of biological order. Their religion binds them to male rule. Fathers in Bountiful and polygamous inclined Muslim communities more or less trade their daughters or other young female relatives off in marriage as multiple wives to other favored men and in return, receive, or their other male relatives receive, a like compliment. Tit for tat. However, I think CBC Radio (On the Island) inadvertently (or perhaps by design) pointed out a flaw in this practice of extreme male privilege.

Yesterday (Nov. 23) the producers of CBC On the Island interviewed a woman who said she lived with two men. She favors the legalization of polygamy because that would open the door to polyandry (one woman with two or more husbands) and she would like to be legally married to both of her men. Well, again, tit for tat. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander. Or vice versa. Surely a Charter Challenge would also rule in favor of allowing equal opportunity for ever younger legal partners for women, too. And in these dire economic times a well-heeled older woman could easily attract a couple of younger men for husbands. And she could legally list them both as dependents on her income tax returns. Polygamist would also benefit hugely through income tax. Many Canadian Muslims are very wealthy. They would save huge amounts of money if they could claim their multiple wives legally. Ditto for the Bountiful men.

My research tells me that Polygamy is practiced where there is a desire for more children (besides the sex part) and as a result populations expand. Polyandry is usually practiced where there are scarce resources. Polyandry restricts the expansion of the population. It’s a math thing. One woman can only have so many children regardless how many husbands she has while one male theoretically can have a hundred or more with multiple wives. Now, it’s true Canada needs a bump up in population. But is Muslim polygamy the answer? Give me break. I could be wrong, but I don’t think the burden of populating Canada more densely should rest almost entirely on the shoulders of Muslim men (and Muslim women, too, of course) even if we pay them in generous income tax exemptions and other economic goodies.

But the potentially stickiest flaw in this scenario? Children get born. While Muslim men are smug sure of their paternity (the punishment for women straying is severe) the women in Polyandry marriages (even older women have babies these days) in case of divorce, would have to resort to medical tests to determine which of her husbands is the biological father. And if she is legally married to both, would this even matter? And you think visitation privileges are a nightmare now? Can you even imagine?

It’s true the Muslim community is rapidly gaining power and prestige in Canada, but in spite of the near passage of Sharia Law in Ontario last year (it was the work of Muslim women themselves who defeated it) the Muslim community cannot dictate to Canadians what our laws should be. Too bad when immigrating to Canada some of the men have such trouble trying to bring multiple wives into a country that allows only one. Too bad these men feel they are discriminated against in this county because they can’t legally have multiple wives. We are Canadians here. For God’s sake let’s stand up and act like it. Shame on you, BC Civil Liberties Association.


  1. Nicely said, Betty. The concern for me involves only the children. If grown adults want to have multiple affairs within or without their marriage I could care less, but where does one draw the lines between religious freedoms and the protection of young adults and children?

    No, no. Slippery slope.

  2. Nowhere is it written that the definition of polygamy includes gross age differences, statutory rape, or forced arranged marriages. For you to assume so is extremely prejudiced and ethnocentric. The legalization of polygamy does not include legalization of any of those things, and people in situations such as Bountiful could still be convicted based on laws against statutory rape, nonconsensual union, and abuse. Despite the fact that such atrocities sometimes occur within polygamist families, they are not inherent. There is nothing inherently abusive about having multiple consensual partners. There is just as much possibility of abuse in monogamous marriages. In fact, it happens all the time. And why would you assume that polyandry would primarily mean older women marrying very young men? And, so long as everyone is of legal age and the whole thing is consensual, why would that matter, aside from the fact that it offends your delicate sensibilities? As for the family, it is hard to be the sole caregiver or sole breadwinner, many stuggling families could benefit from an extra hand with the kids or an extra salary. And I don't see how having more adults to love and care for the kids could be detrimental. I'd rather my kids have two fathers or two mothers than none at all. If the children are subject to ridicule for being part of such a family, the fault lies not with the family but with society for being so judgemental and prejudiced. There is only one problem I can possiblyimagine coming from legalization of polygamy, and that is the chance that it will be attempted by people who are not emotionally ready or capable of handling it. Then it could end badly. But then, monogamous marriages are ending badly every day on an overwhelming scale.