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Polygamy will most likely always remain stigmatized in America

Polygamy will most likely always remain stigmatized in America

Polygamy will most likely always remain stigmatized in America
November 07
12:45 2019

Polygamy is a dirty word for many Americans, even though it’s been practiced for many centuries and is still practiced to this day in some countries.

According to Psychology Today, genetic studies have proven that monogamy began to edge out polygamy in human populations only 10,000 years ago. So what makes polygamy such a stigma in American society today and will it always remain a stigma in America?

The second answer is harder to deduce, but polygamy is stigmatized because it goes against the idea of a nuclear family, which is defined as a basic social unit that consists of a husband, wife and their dependent children.

Out of the six types of family structures, the nuclear family unit is seen as the most favorable in mainstream culture. The term “nuclear family” was used a lot during the 1950s which is commonly noted as the “Golden Age of America” because the economy was in a boom.

In this structure, the male figure was the bread winner and the woman raised the children. There are a few problems with this term, as only 60 percent of children during this period were raised in a setting like this.

It’s important to note that gender roles and expectations have changed since the ’50s and so has the term.

Unfortunately, there was a period when it wasn’t even conceivable that a same-sex couple could be considered a nuclear family until society began to shift its views on homosexuality.

Can the same be said about a polygamous family being considered part of the standard unit? By its definition, a polygamous family cannot because there are multiple spouses as opposed to the traditional two. By the very definition alone, it’s a non-traditional family.

This kind of family structure is common among some African tribes where they ultimately make it work to their benefit. A man who takes up multiple wives signals to others his social status. For women, they enjoy the company of the other spouses to lessen the burden of housecleaning and keeping up with children. All parties benefit by producing several children who can go on to marry outside of their community and forge economic or political alliances.

There might be a stigma against polygamy also because not enough people are educated on the subject and only go by what they’re told. Since polygamy is illegal in all 50 states, it makes the average American feel that if polygamy is illegal, then it must be bad.

But it wouldn’t be fair to say that there hasn’t been representation for polygamy in the past.

HBO aired a show several years ago called “Big Love” which detailed the life of a polygamous Mormon family in Utah. Likewise, TLC aired “Sister Wives” which showed a real-life polygamous family trying to live in a monogamous society.

Sadly, none of these shows have created more of an understanding towards the polygamist lifestyle and there is a lot of discrimination towards those who practice it.

An article by CBS attempts to combat misconceptions of polygamy where they tackle the stereotype of one person having sex with their spouses all at once. Though there are exceptions, most of the time spouses share intimacy with that one person individually and at different times.

However, much like monogamous relationships, polygamous relationships aren’t just built on sex. They involve trust, honesty and respect. If they were built on sex alone, the relationship would crumble like any other.

The article also goes into detail of how people in polygamous relationships face discrimination. People have lost their jobs when their employer finds out their marital status and the lack of legal protection for those who do face discrimination. According to CBS, polygamous families aren’t allowed to share finances or the custody of the children.

There are plenty of valid arguments for the case of polygamy.

The term “love is love” can be applied for those in non-traditional marriages so long as it’s between two consenting adults.  I am personally in favor of monogamy because I feel it shows a level of dedication for two people to commit to each other that I feel is deeper than what polygamous relationships can provide for me.

Though I find beauty in monogamy, I feel discrimination of any kind towards polygamous families is condemnable. With the rapid change of values, we must be open-minded to challenge the idea of traditional families and be open to accept lifestyles different from our own.

I find it hard to believe that polygamy will ever be fully accepted in our society because of the legalities and religious sanctity behind marriage. Only time can tell if I’m wrong but as of now, there is no major push to legalize polygamy in any state and I feel that proves that polygamy will always be unfortunately stigmatized in America.

Featured Illustration: Jeselle Farias

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Adrian Maldonado

Adrian Maldonado

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