Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Tuesday Loves You, and You, and You, Too!

Thank you all kindly for the warm wishes. :)

@Casey, yeah, I was browsing Blogger that day and reckoned that might happen, so I say 'no punishment'; what can be expected? Though we should perhaps contact one another in the future, via Twitter or email or something, if the website isn't working. Just to be sure. Also, lol @ the Eragon movie. I'm not a fan of the books by any means, but good lord, at least they had a straight narrative. What the hell was the movie doing? Saphira just aged herself instantly and then they dallied around for a bit learning swordsmanship until they reached the Varden? There were arcs and things, and some towns they were meant to hit up. Honestly, nobody on that project was really trying. Except maybe Jeremy Irons, for some reason.

@Christina, I like the one yesterday; poetry about testicles FTW. Also, it was a good message. One I would have liked to have heard when I graduated.

Moving on, soap box time! I mentioned this when someone asked about something that ruffs our feathers, and I guess it's only fair I talk about it now. Polygamy, polyamory, and polyfidelity! Strange topic though it may seem, it is one that I have been interested in for a few years, and one that - after considering - I am amazed is still so widely regarded as 'wrong' and pretty much universally illegal. I'll start by defining a few of the above terms.

Polygamy is when one or both parties in a marriage are also married to somebody else. The classic example of this is what is often referred to as the Mormon household, somewhat inaccurately given modern Mormon practices, but nonetheless associated with them. One man, two or more wives. Of course, in a modern society, this could practically mean a woman has two or more husbands (or wives, herself, if she is bisexual), or both the man and the woman have additional spouses, not just exclusively a man with more than one wife. This is illegal just about everywhere, save a few countries that still define it as a man with two+ wives. Polyamory is basically the same thing, but without marriage. The 'base' couple may or may not be married, but none of the additional partners are married to the original pair. Finally, polyfidelity is basically the long term result of a menage a trois. Or more than three, theoretically. Everyone in that relationship is involved with one another, and more importantly, there are no lovers on the side for any participant. If there are three people in a mutual relationship who do have side relationships, then it is polyamory or polygamy.

Phew! There are other terms thrown about to define every odd possible combination of spouse, lovers, swingers, and menages, but they aren't really worth going into for the sake of this post. What we're discussing today is society's opinion on this. And, pretty widespread, the opinion is either "eww!" or "burn the witch!" It is regarded as unfaithful, at best. As though the relationship cannot be stable with additional partners, and it is only just above outright cheating (some see it as worse, like a form of cuckoldry). Others see it as perverse, damnable, and something worth jailing others for. And, as mentioned, marriages involving this are widely regarded as illegal. Sometimes even polyamory is, if the laws about extramarital 'affairs' are interpreted as such. Personally, I consider this fundamentally sick.

Relationships should, first and foremost, be built on trust and love. A polygamist who hides a second wife from the first in Baltimore, when he's off on "business trips", is a scumbag and a cheater. No question about that. A polygamist who sits his wife down and has a long conversation about the idea of having a second wife, his wife and his potential second meet and start a nice Tupperware party together, and inevitably his wife agrees to let be part of the family? He's just a guy who has two loving wives. And if the two wives get married themselves (let's be honest, by the time anyone considers legalizing polygamy, gay marriage will have long since been legal), then all the more power to them.

I won't even acknowledge religious arguments against polygamy because, yeah, separation of church and state. But I do have counterarguments for the main concerns. The first, jealousy. Any relationship has jealousy, but having your partner actually with another wo/man? That can be tough. I understand that; I, personally, would have a lot of difficulty coping with my fiance sleeping with another woman. But I am not polyamorous, and I won't judge people who can overcome those jealousy issues. Secondly, it devalues women. This, obviously, comes strictly from 'one man, two+ wives' polygamy. But that would exist, even if not the majority, in a nation that legalized polygamy. What could be done about it? What we're doing now. Women who are in a relationship where they are being ignored, neglected, and perhaps even abused? They can call the police, find a woman's shelter, or just get a divorce and go out on her own. There are always going to be cases of women in bad relationships, and the fact that there might be other women doesn't really change that unfortunate fact.

Legal issues. Two key ones. Divorce, and 'abusing the system'. Divorce is already a nightmare of custody battles and split funds. Imagine doing it between three or more people. Yeah, it would be a disaster. Child support? Does each partner have to pay it, or simply the ones who spawned the child? What if the mother never bothered to get a paternity test (if she has two husbands, why bother knowing which is the real father?), would you have to get that done? And what if some of the other partners adopted the child, legally, as often happens in second marriages of the non-polygamist sort. None of these are easy questions, but none of these are reasons to keep polygamy illegal. What if a gay couple gets a divorce and, while they were married, one of them was artificially inseminated and the other adopted the child at birth? The same issues of legality come into play, but I don't think anyone here would argue against gay marriage because of that. Similarly, 'abusing the system' is one that is pulled up for gay marriage a lot. If we legalize it, a couple of girls who are just close friends can get married for a tax deduction. That's been happening since marriage was conceived of; it's nothing new. Some have proposed a 'cap' on polygamy (three people, nine people, whatever), but once again, there is no easy answer.

It's definitely a lifestyle of the minority, and one that comes with its own unique set of baggage. But it isn't harming anybody outside of the relationship, and I certainly don't think it is a source of moral decay. It is a relationship that should be recognized by the state, just as any other between consenting adults, and keeping the people who participate in it living a life of secrecy, or else being brought into question by the law, is absurd.

Also - Embassytown, the new book by China MiƩville, came out today! It's a sci-fi book about genetically engineered linguists. Don't expect to see much of me this week, eh?

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