The Campaign For Equal Wives

Since young men are tamed by marriage (the women citing their own moral superiority, but it could just as well be due to the fulfilment of male biological ambition), the growing imbalance between the number of women and men who marry has been called a serious threat to our social stability. How much more severe must social instability have been in the past, when the variance was even more extreme than our current 15% or so. Polygamy is only advisable when there is an acute shortage of males or when turbulent youngsters with no stake in the social order can be sent somewhere far away. Human history could be written from the point of view of the problem of what to do about non-reproducing and dissatisfied males. It has recently been noted that the breakaway Mormon churches that practice polygamy have taken to excommunicating their male children on trumped-up charges and expelling them into the secular world, so that the eldership face less competition for the nubile women. Polygamous tribal societies were probably no more idyllic, however delightful the climate and fruit of the tropical island.

When reproductive economics deny young men sexual partners, whether by a surplus of males, by harem-holding by the rich, or by the combination of late marriage with harsh policing of extra-marital sex, the excluded males have two basic responses: rape and rigorism. That is, various kinds of long-term or short-term abduction of partners, with or without the assistance of the kin or other social groups; or else the dynamic of “sour grapes” clothed in the language of religious fanaticism. This was true of medieval Christendom, and it is true in the modern Muslim world, with its vast youth cohort and horrendous unemployment.

The Mazdakiyya were egalitarian revolutionaries in Sassanid Iran. They were accused by the enemies of sharing women, which probably concealed their advocacy, against the harem-holders, of every man’s right to have his own wife. In other words they may have been against the accumulation by some men of property, goods and women. The same most probably applies to the various “heretical” movements of the Christian Middle Ages; because we are used to the religious cult leaders of our own day, we neglect to consider the possibility that the heretics wanted to perform a kind of sexual dethesaurisation and put women back into circulation in the reproductive economy.

The old satirical magazine Punch was subtitled “The London Charivari”, but who now knows this word? It was the name of a pitiless form of generational warfare: when a young woman married a rich elderly man, the poor young bachelors of the town vented their dissatisfaction at the loss of a potential partner to an old fogey by harassment of the bridegroom or even gang-rape of the bride.

Monogamy may have been invented by whatever imperial polygamist first observed that all his predecessors had been murdered by their own soldiers so that they could share out the women of the harem. This wise despot saved his neck by enacting that henceforth, every guardsman should have his own wife. The social idea may then have spread downwards from the praetorian guard to the rest of society. Civilisation, therefore, may be an agreement between men not to kill one another over women, but instead to make an orderly distribution. Or an agreement between inferior males to gang up on the alphas and force a more equitable allocation of women – a Campaign for Equal Mates. Moreover, Tacitus thought that the Germans prevailed over the Romans because they were a monogamous society that could direct all their aggression outwards.

The history of these interactions between government and monogamy, between economic concentration, military mobilisation and the breeding franchise, has yet to be written.

Posted on June 3, 2009 at 13:14 by Hugo Grinebiter · Permalink
In: AGAINST NATURE, "Love" Contra Social Stability

3 Responses

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  1. Written by Kathleen Weber
    on June 3, 2009 at 21:54

    Large Harems existed in the times of Matriarchy, in the main, and value, in wives, was measured, in part, by their
    proficiency in warfare. (Campbell)

    Patriarchy and the feminization of women began with the rape of the Sabine women and their marital enslavement. A man might have as many women and children as he liked, but only one wife of his social class.

    Monogamy became a Christian standard when Justinian declared himself Christian and wanted Christian beliefs
    standardized, among them the practice of Polygamy.
    Brother and Cousin are the same word in Aramaic, the language of Galilee, indicating the practice of sororal
    polygamy. Polygamy allowed sisters to live together,
    cousins, then, often had the same father and different mothers.

    As late as 1890, nearly every Indigenous American tribe
    practiced polygamy. The Indian Boarding schools were an
    attempt to eliminate polygamy and other Indigenous beliefs.
    African tribes also practiced polygamy as did Sunni Muslims
    and other Muslims before the Shiites.

    The reason Polygamy, when practiced for religious reasons,
    ought to be legal has to do with Freedom of Religion and Belief and the Separation of Church and State as the Supreme Court found in it’s ruling on the Smith Act which
    allowed Polygamy and marriage at puberty in some instances
    among Mormon Polygamists (this was not common according to Carole Jessop).

    My Great-grandmother’s marriage was arranged because her
    would-be husband wanted a Danish wife. Her father said that he would not stand in the way, so long as his daughter was
    Eighteen and knew her own mind.

    How this became more common in the time of Rulon Jessop among the FLDS, I really don’t know. My grandfather shared
    a hospital room with Rulon for two weeks. I asked him what
    Rulon was like and he said he was as good a man as one was
    likely to come across.

    Mormons moved to Canada in order to find a remote place where they could freely practice their religion. So the current debate has to do with Mormon Polygamists, not usually LDS, who are 5th generation Canadians.

    Can it really, then, be Un-Canadian? Freedom of Religion is
    the foundation of the American Constitution as well as what
    makes a Canadian Canadian.

    I don’t really understand your argument but will read it a few more times and see if I can make sense of it.

  2. Written by Kathleen Weber
    on June 3, 2009 at 21:59


    Marriage outside of the group but within the religion, tribe,
    culture etc. has always been common, bringing women and their
    sisters or best friends into the marriage. It is older than
    history or pre-history.

  3. Written by dwasifar
    on June 4, 2009 at 06:51

    “Patriarchy and the feminization of women began with the rape of the Sabine women…”

    And before that, women were not female?

    That must have been damn confusing. Hell, it confuses me right now.

    Regarding the presence or absence of words that distinguish family relationships in Aramaic, that by itself is poor evidence for a claim that no such distinctions were observed. In English, we have the words “house” and “home.” In French, the same word is used for both. Do you think this means the French can’t tell the difference between the two? Shakespeare used “cousin” very loosely by modern standards, to describe several different family relationships; do you think this meant that in his time they didn’t know the difference?

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