We are all polygamists

Mar 292006
Authors: Kate Dzintars

Are polygamists really sex fiends hiding under a veil of religion, or are they just living an alternative but acceptable lifestyle?

HBO’s new series about a fictional family of polygamists debuted March 12. Bill Paxton stars in “Big Love” as Bill Henrickson, a man juggling three wives, seven children, a growing business and an old-school father-in-law.

The New York Times gathered five women who currently are or once were in a polygamist relationship to watch “Big Love” and gain their perspectives on it. The women worried that the show Hollywood-izes polygamy and may undermine the dangers of it by ignoring issues of domestic abuse and pedophilia.

Obviously, any abusive relationship should end, but if people are open, honest and respectful, a polygamist set-up could work.

The stereotype of a polygamist that comes to my mind is a religious and commanding bearded man with a household of obedient, soft-spoken wives living in a baby factory. But that is all it is – a stereotype.

Speaking on MSNBC’s “The Situation with Tucker Carlson” in February, Elizabeth Joseph, a woman who shares her husband with seven other wives, said this arrangement is “the ultimate feminist lifestyle”. She said she and the other wives liked to keep their husband on his toes and gang up on him in good fun.

She was able to have a large family and a career at the same time because she and the other wives shared responsibilities of housework and child rearing. If it takes a village to raise a child, you might as well have the whole thing under one roof, right?

In a way, we are all polygamists or at least polyamorous. Think about how many relationships you have had in your life and how many you have now. I’m betting it is more than one.

People are multi-faceted. Every individual human being is a unique combination of traits. We need multiple relationships to fulfill our different needs and wants.

If I want to go have a rowdy good time in the mountains, I rely on my roommate Andrew. If I want to have a serious talk, I call my mom. Different needs, different people.

Really, what is the difference between polygamy and serial monogamy? The driving forces behind them are the same. When one person isn’t working out, move on to the next one. Polygamists only have relationship ADD; they just move back and forth between partners faster than monogamists do.

So, is polygamy an outdated religious practice, an outlet for sex fiends or an acceptable way of life? Who knows? To each his own. Humans just need to find what works best for them and respect their loved ones – however many that may be.

Kate Dzintars is the associate managing editor for design at the Collegian. She can be reached at design@colostate.edu.

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