Getting Married eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 213 pages of information about Getting Married.

Experience shews that women do not object to polygyny when it is customary:  on the contrary, they are its most ardent supporters.  The reason is obvious.  The question, as it presents itself in practice to a woman, is whether it is better to have, say, a whole share in a tenth-rate man or a tenth share in a first-rate man.  Substitute the word Income for the word Man, and you will have the question as it presents itself economically to the dependent woman.  The woman whose instincts are maternal, who desires superior children more than anything else, never hesitates.  She would take a thousandth share, if necessary, in a husband who was a man in a thousand, rather than have some comparatively weedy weakling all to herself.  It is the comparatively weedy weakling, left mateless by polygyny, who objects.  Thus, it was not the women of Salt Lake City nor even of America who attacked Mormon polygyny.  It was the men.  And very naturally.  On the other hand, women object to polyandry, because polyandry enables the best women to monopolize all the men, just as polygyny enables the best men to monopolize all the women.  That is why all our ordinary men and women are unanimous in defence of monogamy, the men because it excludes polygyny, and the women because it excludes polyandry.  The women, left to themselves, would tolerate polygyny.  The men, left to themselves, would tolerate polyandry.  But polygyny would condemn a great many men, and polyandry a great many women, to the celibacy of neglect.  Hence the resistance any attempt to establish unlimited polygyny always provokes, not from the best people, but from the mediocrities and the inferiors.  If we could get rid of our inferiors and screw up our average quality until mediocrity ceased to be a reproach, thus making every man reasonably eligible as a father and every woman reasonably desirable as a mother, polygyny and polyandry would immediately fall into sincere disrepute, because monogamy is so much more convenient and economical that nobody would want to share a husband or a wife if he (or she) could have a sufficiently good one all to himself (or herself).  Thus it appears that it is the scarcity of husbands or wives of high quality that leads woman to polygyny and men to polyandry, and that if this scarcity were cured, monogamy, in the sense of having only one husband or wife at a time (facilities for changing are another matter), would be found satisfactory.


It may now be asked why the polygynist nations have not gravitated to monogamy, like the latter-day saints of Salt Lake City.  The answer is not far to seek:  their polygyny is limited.  By the Mohammedan law a man cannot marry more than four wives; and by the unwritten law of necessity no man can keep more wives than he can afford; so that a man with four wives must be quite as exceptional in Asia as a man with a carriage-and-pair or a motor car is in Europe,

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Getting Married from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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