Tuesday, October 18, 2011


Which is more perplexing, engaging in formal modes of man sharing (e.g. being a "sister wife" in a polygamous family) or engaging in informal modes of man sharing (e.g. have a boyfriend/partner/"baby daddy"/ etc. that one shares with one or more other women)? 

I had a conversation once with Dr. Redd, the director of the Women's Center at NU about man sharing.  She was particularly concerned about the experiences of young Black women on college campuses who typically outnumber Black male students by 2 (sometimes 3) to one.  Her experience with young women who thought sharing a man was better than no man at all during a life stage that is biologically geared toward establishing intimate relationships always stayed with me.

That conversation and tv shows like Big Love and the new TLC reality show Sister Wives make me wonder, which do I find more problematic.  

That last statement sounded a little judgmental and I don't mean it to.  Many religions and cultures practice plural marriage, from traditional African religions (including, but not limited to Islam) to modern day fundamental Mormons, many people choose to be members of polygamous families.  I don't believe anyone should be forced into that lifestyle, but I don't believe it should be illegal.  I also recognize that life is complicated and every couple, young or old may not be in the position - emotionally, financially, or psychologically - to marry.  Both of those asides, aside my personal perspective is that a marriage between two people is the best atmosphere to raise a family in, but I was raised in a Black Christian family in the Midwest, and had I been raised in a different cultural context, I might very well hold different beliefs.

The primary reason I disagree with plural marriage as its carried out in most societies is that it doesn't go both ways.  It's built on the same philosophy that I find difficult to accept in Christian marriages of all sorts, mainly that men are to rule and women are to submit, mind you my acceptance is not necessary for this to be "true".  Many of the major Biblical characters had multiple wives, there's no where in the Bible to my knowledge where it says only have one wife OR one husband.  

I disagree with informal man sharing on the other hand because of the lack of stability.  When its sharing a married man, there's obvious immorality, if he wanted to marry you, he would get a divorce and do so.  When its sharing an unmarried man, its the lack of formal responsibility and obligation that bothers me.  Relationships are hard work and kids are forever.  If you never have to move beyond the honeymoon phase with any partner then I think you miss out on growth and your children miss out on witnessing what its like to be in a partnership.  At least in plural marriages you theoretically have a formal agreement to attempt balance, love, faithfulness among a finite group of people.    

I want to think more on the question, but for my handful of readers, I ask, what do you think?


Avi said...

Man sharing is a good one...I went "ouch" a few times but the issues you bring up begs for more reflection. What I admire is that you realise that some of these habits and lifestyles are based on our experiences.

Tina said...

Yeah, I definitely agree it needs more reflection. Thanks for reading!