Monogamy versus Polygamy
Nobody ever said marriage was easy. Marriage is a vow to remain honest, true, and faithful, and a promise to always love and cherish the chosen one. In many cultures worldwide, young girls dream of the day that her knight in shining armor will come to her, sweep her off her feet, and propose marriage in a rush of romance. This dream of love is instilled in cultural values and beliefs that affect the child throughout his or her upbringing, which result in her expectation of her one-and-only.
There are, however, cultures in which young girls have a different expectation for the moment that marriage will come for her. Rather than a dream of love, acceptance of an understanding of a woman’s role in a marriage is the focus in the minds and beings of young girls from the very beginning of life. These girls do not understand the notion of faithfulness or exclusivity because it is not their trained way of life. In some cultures, a wife is but one of her husband’s many wives, a role she must share with numerous other women.
Different systems of culture create different systems of marriage, whereas some cultures value the power of a two-person marriage, some see marriage as the more, the merrier. A thorough understanding of the rationale for each view is necessary to effectively compare and contrast the two-lifestyle choices.
“By the power invested in me, I now pronounce you husband and wife.” These words are frequently repeated throughout the world in order to officially seal the bonds of matrimony throughout a variety of cultures. The idea of a man and a woman marrying each other for an eternity is the idea of monogamy.
Webster Dictionary Online provides three different definitions for the word monogamy. First, a historical definition of the word defined it as “the practice of marrying only once during a lifetime.” This first definition does not mesh well with today’s society, which is rampant with divorce and separation. A more accurate definition for modern society is within the second and third definitions: “the state or custom of being married to one person at a time” or “the condition or practice of having a single mate during a period of time.” (www.m-w.com, 2005) Demographics
Demographically, monogamy is widespread and rather clustered. Interestingly, the globe is divided into “regions” of monogamy. “Western and Oriental cultures form a monogamous axis that spans the northern hemisphere (Orientals are far more monogamous than Westerners are), but a large part of the remaining world practices polygamy.” (Tucker, 1993, p. 37) On a global level, monogamy is most often found above the equator, and polygamy is most often found below the equator. Role of Women versus the Role of Men
The roles of men and women in monogamous relationships are typically traditional roles that have created and decided the path of our society. The women’s suffrage movements and successes of the twentieth century have caused a slight deviation from the Western society’s norm; however, the expectations for each gender role do remain strong as indicators of good parenting and partnership.
In traditional Western monogamous relationships, a male takes a leadership role in the family. His role is one of provider and protector. The man’s main function is to provide monetary essentials for the support of the family in order to have shelter, food, and other life essentials. In addition to being the main provider, the man is responsible for his share of child rearing. In fact, studies have shown that “monogamy is better adapted [than polygamy] to the task of rearing offspring. This is particularly true where living conditions are harsh or where the offspring go through a long period of early dependency. Two parents had better handle the task than one. Quite literally, a species adopts monogamy ‘for the sake of the children’ (Tucker, 1993, p. 32).
Women traditionally play the role...
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