Harem-seeking men use legalization of gay marriage to pursue legal right to hoard women

Nathan Collier poses with his wives Christine and Vicki.
Nathan Collier poses with his wives Christine and Vicki.

I just can’t take it. Gay marriage becomes the law of the land in the U.S., we all rejoice, and now we have Montana jackass, Nathan Collier, storming the Yellowstone County Courthouse for a second marriage license so that he may become a legal bigamist, crediting Chief Justice John Roberts’ dissent in Obergefell v. Hodges as opening the door to the possibility of this marital windfall. Well, give the man some Golden Grizzly Ale and a dozen Rocky Mountain oysters! And he’s not alone — others are queued up behind him, sights set on the Supreme Court, excited to increase the number of sammiches and sexytimes coming their way.

It’s time for your daily dose of WTF. Why, why, why must one disgusting douchebag attempt to surround himself with an orbiting throng of female satellites? TLC gives us five seasons, soon to be six, of Sister Wives, and I am screaming at the TV as I scroll past it, “Where are the Brother Husbands?! Give me Brother Husbands!”

Our culture is in free fall. Just tie me to a tree and let passers-by shoot me with arrows.

Thanks for letting me vent. I am pulling myself together. Let’s consider the issue intellectually. First of all, a little terminology lesson. Polygamy is a genderless catch-all word for something that is actually quite gendered. The word for men who have multiple wives is polygyny, and the word for women who have multiple husbands is unicorn polyandry. To give you an idea of how rare it is for a woman to round up a gaggle of willing men who will fawn all over her and provide her with round-the-clock stud service as a team, we can look at this cool research called the Ethnographic Atlas. It was published by George P. Murdock in 29 installments from 1962 to 1980. As of the last edition in 1980, there were 1,231 societies listed — past and contemporary — from all five inhabited continents. Murdock compiled all kinds of descriptive information on those societies, systematically coding and organizing multitudinous pieces of information for the purpose of comparative research.

Polygamy was one of the areas Murdock documented. Maybe pour yourself a shot of whiskey as I lay some data on you. Of the 1,231 societies listed in the 1980 Ethnographic Atlas, 186 were monogamous; 453 had occasional polygyny; 588 had more frequent polygyny; and four had polyandry. FOUR! Shall we now discuss patriarchy? Let’s!

Plural marriage of the polygynous variety is patriarchy on crack. It is obviously associated with status and hierarchies where, as with elephant seals on the beaches of the Aleutian Islands, males herd up females, leaving lower-status males without mates and more prone to frustration and violence — violence which is naturally directed at females in the form of beatings, rapes, and many other atrocities. You see this in modern-day societies where polygyny flourishes, and it’s not much different than how things play out in countries that favor boys and, due to femicide, now have an enormous gender imbalance that leaves too many men without options for sex, marriage, and raising a family. Monogamy is more common today than it used to be because it is widely recognized that with monogamy comes greater gender equality. Notice I did not say it comes with gender equality—I said greater gender equality. Even in societies that outlaw polygamy, patriarchy still maintains a stranglehold on women, but if you look at countries with rampant polygyny, such as Iraq and Nigeria, you see even more illiberal, unequal, unhealthy societies with extremely high rates of very violent abuse of women.

Polygyny is bad for women for other reasons, too. It places them in competition with the other wives, to whom they do not always feel sisterly, and reduces their worth to how favored they are by the man. Suddenly it’s all about who’ll be the most adventurous in bed or who makes the best hoagies.

I’m not saying, nor do I think, that if the Supreme Court were to make polygamy legal, America would suddenly become like Saudi Arabia. It would probably just be fringe outliers (and the followers of some pro-polygamy religions) who start stockpiling marriage licenses. But what do I know? Perhaps we’d sink like a stone to the lowest patriarchal denominator. What is so vomitocious is that life would imitate art. There would be very few polyandrous marriages, and most would be polygynous, just like almost every example we read about in books of fiction or in the actual news.

I’m looking at you, Nathan Collier. You, sir, make me sick. Fuck you. And the horse you rode in on. And your stupid black cowboy hat. And your little black string tie.

Lori Day is an educational psychologist, consultant and parenting coach with Lori Day Consulting in Newburyport, MA. She is the author of Her Next Chapter: How Mother-Daughter Book Clubs Can Help Girls Navigate Malicious Media, Risky Relationships, Girl Gossip, and So Much More, and speaks on the topic of raising confident girls in a disempowering marketing and media culture. You can connect with Lori on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest.

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  • Oh, please, no, not the horse! Chances are it’s a gelding, anyway. Which might be a real option for the dude in the silly hat and even sillier string tie. Maybe what we need is a hit squad… and some nice sharp straight razors…. and if they can’t behave like civilized people… geld’em!

  • “…males herd up females, leaving lower-status males without mates and more prone to frustration and violence — violence which is naturally directed at females in the form of beatings, rapes, and many other atrocities.”

    As unfair as it is for ruling class men to hoard wives, I would not want to assume that men without sexual partners are automatically going to be violent. To the extent that single men are violent it is because the culture encourages it (along with a sense of entitlement towards women) and not simply because they are single.

    “I’m not saying, nor do I think, that if the Supreme Court were to make polygamy legal, America would suddenly become like Saudi Arabia. It would probably just be fringe outliers (and the followers of some pro-polygamy religions) who start stockpiling marriage licenses. But what do I know?”

    Many sexist practices started out as “fringe outlier” practices before becoming mainstream including leg hair removal, high heel shoes and pornography consumption. Most recently this is occuring with BDSM and breast implants. These practices were originally associated with the sex industry rather than with conservative religion, but I do not think extreme reactionaries will be the only ones jumping for joy if the government makes it legal to accumulate wives. Sex-crazed liberals (mostly men) are going to want a piece of the action too.

    Unofficial polygamy is already a major part of the BDSM scene (necessitated by the fact that submissives outnumber dominants, but also celebrated as “sexually subversive” and misleadingly referred to as “polyamory”, though I am no fan of that either.) My local liberal feminist organisation condemns “anti-multiple” thinking and knowing liberals that could easily be reference to some pornographic sex act I would rather not think about.Pornography already features groups of people having sex (not an example of polygamy on its own, but likely to inspire the desire for it.)

    More generally, I am worried that once some sexually subversive vanguard starts practicing polygamy (or polyamory for that matter) openly, be it a liberal or a conservative group, people who were previously satisfied in monogamous relationships would suddenly feel dissatisfied. People tend to measure their own satisfaction in life by comparing themselves to others. If your neighbours have a second car, you are going to tend to want a second car too and if your neighbours all have second wives, well you can see where this is going. Basically we will have another “keeping up with the Joneses” scenario. More competition, more greed, more treating people like commodities and more male entitlement, an all around bad situation.

    It could be worse though. We could be encouraging men to accumulate self-proclaimed female slaves who behave in a subordinate manner 24/7 and are regularly tied up and whipped until they bleed and …. oh wait, our culture is starting to encourage that. “Sex-negative” feminists need to unite and take action against this, starting with the more extreme harmful behaviours, including pornography, prostitution, BDSM and extreme beauty practices (e.g. breast implants.) I would give discussions of polygamy, promiscuity and mild beauty practices a lower priority, which is not to say that we should not have such discussions, but I would not make opposing them the centre of the feminist movement. I am happy to unite with people who endorse such things so long as they condemn the more extreme practices. Hopefully we would be able to express our disagreements with each other without it leading to anger and contempt.

  • IAN CAMERON

    I think you’ve only got one side of the story. See http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2014/12/23/mincome-in-dauphin-manitoba_n_6335682.html?ir=Canada+Alberta. This is the story of a small Canadian town that brought in a guaranteed income for every adult. This meant that women who left their husbands would have an income afterwards. You can read what some women did in reaction to this support. There are reasons why a women might share a man with another woman, that have to do with what the other choices are. Monogamy is also a reason why some women are trapped in violent abusive relationships. Some guys are such jerks their fair share of the available women is zero.

    • C.K. Egbert

      “Fair share of women”? I hate to break it to you, but women are actual human beings and not resources to be distributed among men.

      Men really aren’t very adept at concealing the fact that they think of women as mere objects for them to consume.

  • Ellesar

    The older reasons for polygyny were more women than men, due to war, and the natural imbalance as boy babies are weaker (in those days of course it was extremely common for babies to die). The former is one of the many reasons I am opposed to marriage. It was unthinkable for a woman not to be married, her sexuality and potential for childbearing HAD to be controlled. Also, let’s not forget many of those were not women, they were, and still are girls, who haven’t even reached puberty.

  • keshmeshi

    The men who are lining up for legalized polygamy are in for a long wait. On a Constitutional basis, there’s really nothing the government can or should do to impede polygamists from shacking up with as many “spouses” as they want. Besides it being a matter of privacy, you can also make a case for non-illegal polygamy based on the First Amendment, particularly protections for religious practices. But getting the government to extend civil marriage to multiple partners is another story, and the people who equate same-sex marriage with polygamy (either the conservatives who try to use this as a reason to oppose marriage equality or actual polygamists chomping at the bit) don’t know what the hell they’re talking about. Extending marriage to same-sex couples requires a minor change in existing law. Extending marriage to multiple partners requires a considerable rewriting of existing law.

    Currently, when two people enter into a marriage, they are married to each other, and, when they seek to separate, the marriage contract is completely dissolved. So, let’s say polygamists get a shot at this. If one man enters into a marriage with four women, does this mean all five people are married to each other? That certainly wouldn’t sit right with FLDS Mormons or polygynous Muslims. And what happens if one person wants out of this arrangement? Is there a way to let one person out without dissolving the entire marriage? How does that happen? How will the law be changed to allow that to happen? How will marital assets be split among five people?

    Also, frequently, a child born into a marriage comprising two people is automatically the legal child of both spouses, regardless of the child’s actual bioparents (this works out well for parents who needed donated gametes, but doesn’t work out so well for cuckolded husbands). Does this mean, in a marriage of five people, that any child born into that marriage is legally the child of all five adults? How will custody be decided if the marriage dissolves?

    These are just a few considerations off the top of my head, and I am by no means a family law expert. Polygamy only works legally and socially in a patriarchal society where women have zero rights. If we are to adapt it to modern life, established marriage law will have to be completely rewritten to accommodate it, and I don’t see SCOTUS being up for that.

  • Red

    I respectfully disagree with the frustrated-low-ranking-elephant-seal theory of sexual violence. A person can be frustrated and still not be a disgusting predatory scumbag. Sexual violence is about domination and destruction, not about being treated like the 99-pound weakling at the beach. No one is ever “driven to it.” There’s always a choice not to be a piece of slime.

    Otherwise, I think it’s important to highlight how exploitative polygamy can be, so thanks for that.