Elusive Wapiti has a post up this week about the dangers of polygamy for men. Although some men will cheer on polygamists (including our modern promiscuous types) as being particularly “manly men”, a society-wide habit of such behavior is actually to the detriment of the majority of men. We can see this by looking at what polygamist societies actually look like, including our own informal one:
- Rampant ephebophilia. Hey, that sounds great! Except it isn’t, unless you’re the one having sex with her. In polygamous societies, men who have daughters are pressured into giving their daughters up early for sex, or the girls are simply taken without their permission. This means that the daughter’s and grandchildren’s health is compromised, their education is compromised, and the ensuing youth-cult means that their societal worth (and family status) declines at a breakneck speed. Early childbearing is associated with poverty for a reason.
- Impoverished widows. The general pattern is that the older the man gets, the younger his brides get, and fathers have to suffer their 14 year-old daughters getting shagged by 70-year-old men. Once the old codger dies, the young wife is left to scramble for the economic scraps left behind from his other wives. Or she could just throw herself on the funeral pyre, and do her daddy proud.
- The death of romantic love. Very young brides are more likely to be maltreated and unloved because their much-older mates often cannot relate to them as anything other than sex objects or house pets, once the honeymoon is over. Because each wife knows that she will likely be replaced once he’s tired of her, she has less interest in sacrificing for her husband’s sake. This leads to a harsh, pump-n-dump culture among men, which limits their ability to experience the full range of their emotions as they sink into machismo. The entire sex ends up emotionally-stunted — the unmarried because they have no one to love at all and are estranged from their fathers, and the married because they have so many wives that they fail to bond deeply with any one of them.
- Men are demonized by other men. Young men are stymied in their romantic interests, and are often “sent off” or “killed off” to prevent cuckoldry. Rather than raise and train their sons, polygamists pick a favorite or two, and toss the rest out to isolate them from all of the women in the house. Some just toss them all out. On the upside, polygamously-married men tend to live longer than monogamously-married men. Unmarried men, as we know, don’t matter.
- Involuntary celibacy. Unmated men are seen as society’s worst enemy, so they are left to their own sexual devices, which leaves them unproductive, disinterested in the fate of the wider society, and more prone to the anti-social behavior which shortens their lives. Women, as well, are often sexually frustrated because the few sexually active men are often too busy to attend to them.
- Low fertility. Male infertility (both natural and contraceptive) is a reproductive risk that is greatly exacerbated by polygamy. The more women one man has, the more women are impacted by his infertility. Also, women ovulate in synch when they interact closely, so the chances of impregnating one is rather low, as he’s probably not having sex with all of them every day (if he did, he’d eventually start shooting blanks, anyway). That is one reason why, the more women a man has sex with, the fewer children each woman will have, even if he isn’t using contraception. A man with five wives and 1.5 children each (typical rate for polygamists), is not more reproductively successful than one with one wife and eight children, and he’s had to take care of all of those squabbling wives.
- Inbreeding. As we’ve seen with the sperm-donor fiasco, limiting the number of biological fathers increases the chance of accidental inbreeding among the next generation. This is already the case in highly-promiscuous societies, but we seem determined to take this to the next level now.
- Poor child-raising. The women in polygamous societies are all busy bonding with each other, fighting over their mate, and crying alone in their rooms, which leaves children unattended. Polygamous families tend to be poor and a drain on welfare systems, and the children tend to be uneducated and malnourished. The men largely ignore their children, of course, just as they tend to ignore their wives.