Yesterday we mentioned that “the cast of the The Learning Channel’s reality show Sister Wives plans on filing a federal lawsuit challenging Utah’s law against polygamy. One commenter criticized us for only mentioning a man with multiple wives rather than addressing gay and female-centric arrangements. So we got lesbian Queerty contributor Romaine Hall on the case.
I’m not a regular Sister Wives viewer, but I’ve seen my fair share of Big Love and Nightline specials, so I feel like I have an OK grasp on polygamy – as much as an outsider can have. Since I’m a lesbian, the idea of being some dude’s third wife is only as horrendous as being some dude’s only wife. But for the sake of feminism, I am interested in considering polygamy from a different angle: What if I wanted to have a harem of husbands?
Obviously Mormons haven’t considered this side of polygamy, but if the Sister Wives lawsuit has any leg to stand on, it will have to be non-gender specific. This means a gal could have as many husbands as she wants. In my opinion, the dynamic would be much different than one where a guy is the head of the house and the women share. If the woman were the one being “shared,” she’d be the dictator. She’d say “OK, dude 1, you have to give me a child this year. Dude 2, you just concentrate on bringing home the bacon. Dude 3, sit there and look cute. You’re the newest, so obviously you’re just a vanity pick.”
But I wonder if a woman in this position would receive more respect than one who is merely one wife of several. Women in polygamist relationships are often seen as weak-willed, or like they must believe they aren’t “woman enough” for their husband, as he obviously needs several to be fulfilled. If you’re a woman who needs several men, that would make you the strong and worthy one, wouldn’t it? And that might be enough for some ladies to start a collection of males.
It would also stand to reason that a home with one wife, multiple husbands would be well-off. Since men make more money, and a woman at the helm would probably be one that doesn’t sit on her ass all day, I can only imagine their household would be higher class than one made of Suzy Homemakers. There might even be less mouths to feed, as one woman can’t pop out as many babies as quickly as three can. (Unless she’s one of those octomom types, in which case she desperately needs more than one pair of adult hands around the house.)
In terms of the actual relationships, there would have to be some major sacrificing of pride. I’m no expert on men, but women have been beaten down and told they are less than for so long, I understand why some real life sister wives exist; why women don’t say “Are you fucking kidding me?” and hightail it out of Utah and live a much more selfish and salacious life elsewhere. But men aren’t typically raised to feel like they’re just going to have to deal with the consequences of being not as good because of their genitals, and so their competitive bravados could make a relationship with one wife, many husbands less functional and more murderous.
Now this is based on a bunch of gender stereotypes, I know, but this polygamy legalization idea really begs the question if it is for the benefit of men only. Lesbians sure as hell don’t want any part of this – we’d just go to a separatist commune and live off the land if we needed our own personal fan club. We already kind of have sister wives within our own friendship circles, as so frequently we associate with exes, exes of friends, exes of exes. Although I bet the household would manage their money better and meals potlucks would happen on the daily.
When it comes to gay men, they already seem to have a good grasp on the idea of multiple partners. I know a partnerships that seem to works where two men (a husband and a boyfriend) share one guy. How do they do it? The boyfriend lives across the street and the husband is kind of passive. For these kinds of polygamous relationships to work, there has to be sacrifice, and I’m not sure gays or lesbians are willing to give up any more than we already do as second class citizens. And as a gay woman? Forget about it.