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Argument: Polygamous marriages are typically hierarchical and undemocratic

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Reasons to agree

  1. Stanley Kurtz. "Polygamy Versus Democracy. You can't have both." The Weekly Standard. June 5th, 2006 - "Yet the weakening or even disappearance of extended kinship groups from family life in the West poses a problem. If families aren't going to be held together by collective honor, mutual obligation, and shared economic interest, how will they cohere? The answer is love. Exclusive affection for a unique individual is the structural foundation on which Western families are built. In polygamous societies, where marriages are arranged and wives and children live collectively, too much individualized love (for spouses or children) endangers group solidarity. Yet in a democratic society, individualized love is praised and cultivated as the foundation of family stability. So take your pick. You can have a love-based democratic culture of monogamy, or an authority-based hierarchical culture of polygamy. But--as the Reynolds Court knew--you can't have both."
  2. "Should Polygamy Be Legal?--Posner's Comment". The Becker-Posner Blog. October 22, 2006 - "Household goverance under polygamy is bound to be more hierarchical than in monogamous marriage, because the household is larger and the ties of affection weaker; as a result, "agency costs" are higher and so the principal (the husband, as head of the household) has to devise and implement means of supervision that would be unnecessary in a monogamous household. (An additional factor is that women in a polygamous household have a greater incentive to commit adultery since they have less frequent sex with, and affection for, their husband, so the husband has to watch them more carefully to prevent their straying.) This managerial responsibility deflects the husband from more socially productive activities."
  3. Steve Sailer. "The Problem with Polygamy". United Press International. January 17, 2002 - "I've been following accounts of polygamous societies ever since I saw an article in the early 1980s about a Kenyan man with 150 wives. It set the template for every first-hand description of polygamy that I've read since. The reporter diligently interviewed the youngest wife, who thought polygamy was terrific since it allowed her to marry the richest, handsomest, and most respected man in her village. He also quoted the oldest wife, who was nostalgic for the days when she didn't have to share her husband with this army of younger wives. Nonetheless, she appreciated her status as her husband's chief of staff. She had 10 senior wives reporting to her, who each oversaw the work of about 14 junior wives as they toiled in their husband's fields. The husband, not surprisingly, thought industrial-scale polygamy was an all-around great idea and recommended that all men should marry multiple wives.
  4. Anti-polygamists would argue, with some justice, that feelings of gender equality are impossible in a family where, simply to prevent anarchy, the man must organize his wives like a military unit with himself as the commanding general."
  5. Andrea Sachs. "Polygamy Survivor Carolyn Jessop". Time. Oct. 24, 2007 - "There was tremendous competition between the wives, wasn't there? Oh, tremendous. We were all required to live in the same home, and there's just a lot of dominance that goes on about who has the right to rule. And, of course, the woman who has the most favor with her husband is going to rule over the other wives and their kids."
  6. Steve Sailer. "The Problem with Polygamy". United Press International. January 17, 2002 - "[...]she appreciated her status as her husband's chief of staff. She had 10 senior wives reporting to her, who each oversaw the work of about 14 junior wives as they toiled in their husband's fields. The husband, not surprisingly, thought industrial-scale polygamy was an all-around great idea and recommended that all men should marry multiple wives.
  7. Anti-polygamists would argue, with some justice, that feelings of gender equality are impossible in a family where, simply to prevent anarchy, the man must organize his wives like a military unit with himself as the commanding general."

Reasons to disagree

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