Something Really New (But also kind of old)

Posted: March 1, 2010 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , ,

So my mom asked me the other day whether I’d read the Washington Post article advocating that black women date outside their race. Of course, not everyone was thrilled with the idea that the magic solution to the problem (real or imagined) of black women’s shortage of marriageable partners comes in an off-pink package that tans poorly. See @sistertoldja’s feelings on the matter here.

My mother being every bit as ignorant as me, but smarter, says “How come people just don’t do polygamy?” As a Ph.D in sociology, she was able to follow up the comment with some reasonably articulated statements as to why it might work too. And it got me to thinking…Why not polygamy? so let’s look at the Pros and Cons


1. Duh. Numbers: If we start at the basis that there are more marriageable black women than Black men, irrespective of height, status, wealth, etc, then even if every black man in America married a black woman, there would still be black women left out. Thus, we’re not talking about women being damned to singlehood because they’re too loud, or too fat, too intimidating, or any other manner of blame we heap on black women to remind them their romantic woes are all their fault. it’s just an unfortunate case of a numbers mismatch. The solution: Those black men that could take a second wife should.

2. The kids. Everyone knows kids thrive in a two-parent household. imgine how well they’d do with three or four. No more worrying about whether little Javarus gets picked up from soccer practice or if anyone can help Keisha with her economics homework. Chances are, someone’s schedule will open up.And with the ability to marry one’s multiple baby mamas, we could end the sniping and negativity that sometimes accompanies “baby mama drama.” They’re wives now.

3. Money! We all know how much people save by doubling up on expenses. Think about it. It’s a lot cheaper for a whole mess of folks to live in one house than it is for everyone to have their own contemporary two-bedroom condo in a trendy neighborhood undergoing “urban renewal.” Couple that with Costco memberships, being able to borrow clothes, and there’s so much wealth-building ability, it’s be unreal.

4. Guys would go for it When you hear men talk about the reasons they don’t want to get married, a lot of it stems from this fear that thye’re going to choose the wrong person. Well, what if you could rectify that potential mistake without a costly and painful divorce. I mean, let’s consider old buddy from Oracle:

Yeah, that guy. Let’s face it, this dude had no interest in a monogamous marriage. But it wasn’t like he was out running the streets whoring it up either, as far as we know. He just wasn’t a one woman man. Clearly, he could afford two wives, and effectively, he basically had two wives. So why turn this into some big scandal where everyone’s pockets and feelings get hurt. Why not just take Ya’vaughnie (such an unfortunate name) and make her his second wife? Who loses in that scenario? No one!


1. Logistics Everybody knows, if you get two women in the same room and leave, 30 minutes later one is crying and the other is holding a knife. OK, maybe that’s a bit stereotypical, but still, women being competitive, things could go South real fast in this situation

2. Christianity A lot of y’all New Testament folks gonna dig up some passage or other bout how it’s supposed to be one man and woman, ya, ya , ya. Just saying, them folks who look a whole lot like you and lived in warmer climates somewhat South of Europe who DIDN’t Enslave your monkey ass in the name of Jesus thought different.

3. You ain’t fina do that shit. Let’s face it, people have egos. Especially these days. And people’s expectations for what a monogamous marriage will be like are already so unrealistically rosy that to tell a woman she’s going to have to share a man isn’t gonna get you too far. even if she’s already sharing a man.

4. Y’all equal now and shit. Polygamy at its core relies on a fairly patriarchal system to work. It’s hard enough keeping a housewife happy and in line when you’re bringing home the bacon. I imagine it’d be well nigh like herding cats if you have three women in the house who don’t need you to provide shelter and buffalo meat. Hell, depending on the ownership structure of the house, they may own more of the roof than you do. Polygamy works real well for lions because they have a pretty clear delineation of responsibilities. Lady lions hunt Gazelles and provide food for the family unit and man lion protects she-lion from bigger meaner animals and other he-lions. Real simple. Everykitty stays in their lane. But with our gender roles pretty much up for grabs these days, this isn’t really going to work for the upwardly mobile professional female.

In any case, I think it’s a fine idea for those who want to pursue it. I realize that may be a small segment of the population, but hey, some dude had to be the first to say “I’m fina rock these tight ass jeans and it’s not gonna look gay”

  1. FAIL! lol Nah, I don’t think polygamy is a bad idea, I’m just way too possessive for that. I need more attention than my husband could give me if there were ‘others’ involved. And didn’t the dude in Big Love bring his 3rd wife home all unannounced an unapproved? No thanks!

  2. No. No. HELL NO.

    I think the few dudes who bring up the “why we can’t just be polygamous tho?” arguement really just want non-monogamy. As in, they may want zero to 1 serious partners and then the freedom to sleep with others. Many of us fall short trying to be a partner to one, how can it be expected that one is a partner to two? Adulterous relationships work for sometime when the primary/legal spouse is living in the dark, but rarely would anyone want to know they were sharing.

    Having had a very close view of a fella with multiple families, I will testify that it is not good and we should strike this idea from the record, your honor.

  3. Rochelle says:

    This post strikes me as cynical…I’m not trying to cast shade on anyone who chooses this lifestyle, but I do feel that if a man or woman wants a monogamous, committed relationship then he/she should not settle for less. 😦

  4. More And Again says:

    So, in a society where we can’t get a significant amount of Black men to marry ONE Black woman, now we’re to expect them to marry a few?

    Not to mention, a lot of the men who are married can JUST take care of their household. The majority of Black men aren’t balling out of control to be able to support two. So, the women are going to be the ones picking up the slack? Sounds like all of this is just to make a man’s life easier, not a woman’s. And, I guess time, love, and attention are out of the question since now it has to be split (and god-forbid there are kids who need their share of time, love, and attention from their dad too). This really sounds like men trying to have their cake and eat it too.

    What irks me the most every time someone brings up polygamy, it’s woman sharing their men. But, if the shoe were on the other foot, men would not be sharing their wives. No way, no how.

    Sorry, but if I have to choose between marrying one man who will be committed to me and love me (who isn’t Black), or being married to a Black man who wants more than one wife, just to be able to say I’m with someone, I guess I’ll be marrying the non-Black man. I’m not that desperate to be married to a Black man that I’ll share my Black spouse just to be married to one.

  5. Schones Feuer says:

    I love how you randomly included Christianity in that list. It made me LOL. Mormons, who are Christians, practiced poly lifestyles for decades -and in some areas still do.

    • They’re “sort of Christians” In terms of people who would argue against polygamy for religious reasons, I’m thinking more about Baptists, protestants, and Catholics, and such.

  6. ChellBellz says:

    Oh wow. I guess since I never had an issue dating a white man or any man that isn’t African American I can’t even muster up the though of sharing a black husband because there is a shortage.

    By the way “More And Again” In some countries there are woman who marry many just for the simple fact that they need help tending to crops. Nobody sheds light on that for various reasons but its out there. It’s also a thrid world country but you know how this nation is when it comes to teaching history haha.

    • More And Again says:

      Well, I’m aware that in other countries polygamy is a-ok. Let’s keep in mind that, in many of those countries, women’s rights are a joke. So, I’m definitely not trying to model my life after theirs.

  7. mzahmad says:

    I will share an unpopular view via a conversation between my mother and i. having been raised muslim i have seen polygamy all of my life, unfortunately its usually a failure amongst young couples, mainly shiftless men who barely have a pot to piss in and window to throw it out of out, convincing very young women that they need a husband.

    Polygamy is becoming more popular with older women however, women who have everything but a husband, and really just want some emotional security with intimacy and someone to be with sometimes.

    My mother says that would be perfect for someone like me who doesn’t really need a man every day, and truthfully were it not for the shame and humiliation associated with “man sharing” she might be right.

  8. Tunde says:

    i’m gonna have to say no on this one son. i have enough headaches trying to deal with the emotions and issues of one woman. i’m not putting myself in an early grave trying to manage more than one. i’m good on that. if women have a shortage on partners then that’s their problem. better get in where you can fit in. if that means looking outside of your race for a partner, then so be it. i got mines, you better get yours.

  9. smartpiggy says:

    Hmm. If polyandry were acceptable in the U.S., I bet a lot of women would not disagree with this post. But then again, maybe they would, since either arrangement is less about morals and more about consolidation of power. And who doesn’t itch to be top-dog e’ry now & again?
    That being said, the use of biblical guidance in support of or against multi-spousal relationships might be a bit of a non-sequitor. I.e. those who lived in “warmer climates and didn’t enslave us” were from agragrian societies where consolidation of power in one (wo)man made sense. And you can’t really use an argument against something when that something really isn’t applicable in the first place. Maybe the better way for us “New Testament” folks to use Scripture is to say that the Bible demands monogamous marriage IN SPITE of the accepted practice of polygamy/polyandry of way back when and the current use of it by some of our more, um, rural counterparts these days.

  10. Anna says:

    I read an article about polygamy that brought up an interesting point: polygamy is usually very bad for men. You had way more unmarried men in cultures that practiced polygamy – if you weren’t one of the richest men in your village you had little chance of getting a wife. Most women would rather be the 10th wife of a rich man than the 1st wife of a poor man.

    • Melissa says:

      I agree.
      In civilizations where polygamy was the norm, men weren’t allowed to take more wives/women than they could afford. And bear in mind that this will lead to many more children than one wife would as well.
      That’s why whenever men try to bring up polygamy, I know that what they really want is a harem, not a few wives. They’re thinking about the sexual gratification and not the responsibility and obligations that having control over a household so large entails.
      I saw a special on National Geographic about a man with 7 “wives” (only one was legal, the other 6 had religious ceremonies but not licenses). They live on a farm and have 15 children between them all and the husband has to provide for ALL of them because the women don’t work outside of the farm. Imagine the men you encounter or are friends with taking on something like that and then get back to me about “polygamy”. Lol.

  11. Wow. This was such an articulate argument it made me think for a bit. I don’t want to share a man, but this piece really got me thinking about how some women are okay with being side pieces…and maybe the eventual fall out comes from other ppl’s expectation that a woman should want a man of her very own.

    I’m going to agree with some of the other posters and say that ppl won’t do it because it’s generally disapproved of. I think the side piece deal women have with men shows they would that some women would rather have some part of a man than none at all. Like you said, times long past have shown it is doable, and cults (bad example, but still true) and Mormans show that there could still be a place for it in modern times.

    Still, with our society being as individualistic and as accustomed to immediate gratification as it is, the polygamy idea is no dice. I can already see the fallout multiple women making demands on one man’s time can be, and I have no doubt there would be a hierarchy….

  12. Amber says:

    For the record, the tight ass jeans still look gay.

  13. The culture in which monogamy thrives is different, I honestly don’t see it working in the States but I have seen it work quite often. There is the patriachal focus but it is increasingly working with women who have good jobs, the university degree, investments of her own who clearly seems to have a lot gping on for her. The best case scenario is that the first wife and the husband have discussed this and are open to it. There are often cases of the wife looking for the second wife herself because she knows what he likes. What makes it work is the dynamic and relationship between the women, if they get along and are ble to integrate the children then it works. If they are mature to sort out whatever issues they have between themselves without involving the husband, agree on the major issues then the biggest issues are solved. You get to have me time, time off from the kids once n a while, quality time with your husband and if he’s not with you you know where he is.
    The thing is an increasing number of guys just go ahead and have the second family which may or not have the same benefits as the first family. Thing is the women always find out. The second one always knows and plays her position the first is the one who has had the church wedding and may most likely leave or decide to tun a blind eye because she likes the perks of being a Mrs.
    The one thing that always brings them together is the funeral. Virtually everytime a well known individual or politician dies the other wife and children come out.
    Honestly I have thought about it and my best fried and I joke that we could do it and share the man stress/drama lol

  14. Egypt says:

    How could being with white men be something new? I don’t get it. White men have been with black women for centuries. whether consenual or not. So how is it being new? I don’t want a white man. I prefer a brotha. But black men are so brainwashed nowadays what’s a sister to do? If I can’t get a black man, then I still prefer a man of color.

  15. Fallible Sage says:

    Great Post. Watching “Big Love” squashed any opportunity for that seed to take root, but to anyone else who’s willing and able I say more power.

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