Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Yesterday, also known as "Polygamy Day"

Seriously, I had like four conversations or instances with random people yesterday about polygamy. It began at lunch. Granted, I was at lunch with representatives from five francophone African countries (Niger, Gabon, Cote d'Ivoire, Congo, and Chad, to be exact) and they asked me about marriage in the U.S. Whether or not we can get married wherever and by whomever we want. The concept of getting married in a garden or on the beach was really weird to them. They also wanted to know if men could be married to more than one woman at a time. Not legally, I said, at least that I know of. Actually (and I didn't say this) most of us find it a bit creepy to tell you the truth.

But then they started talking about the tribal societies in their countries. And how women have very few rights if they are unmarried, and how illegitimate children in their countries have no rights at all, even as adults. So in some ways, because there are other greater issues in the society, polygamous marriage is a bit of quick fix. I still am unclear how this works because it seems to me like there would always be a shortfall of women to go around for all of the men if each guy gets two or three wives.

So then last night I was flipping channels and saw a special on "Inside Polygamy" on A&E. So I thought, why not? And it was exactly what I thought it would be: women with long, bad eighties hair and long dresses, passels of kiddos trailing behind them, all talking about how great their common husband was. I think the whole system is complete crap, and I can't even believe that it still happens. But part of me feels really sorry for them, because even if I haven't personally experienced marriage, I least know that they are being cheated out of something, forced to share their family with other women.

But then, this only seems true when love is a factor. C, who used to work with me and as such was fairly heavily featured in other posts, also lived in Mali, and once told me that if she was in an arranged marriage, she would prefer that the guy also had other wives. That way, at least you would have friends. And you wouldn't have to deal with the husband all the time. The whole thing is a bit weird to think about, if you ask me, yet for some reason it keeps coming up in conversations. So I'm thinking about it. The concept that is, not becoming someone's third wife.

No comments: