I wonder how this would go over in, say, Iran.
I’ve come up with a hot new idea. It’ll boost the marriage rate, combat child poverty, and, very likely, promote no-cost family planning among the poor – all without any new burden on taxpayers. It’s polyandry – think “Sister Wives” turned “Brother Husbands” — and it was inspired by Barbara Ehrenreich, the acerbic author best known for her 2001 book, Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America.
At a launch event on Wednesday for the new Shriver Report, A Woman’s Nation Pushes Back from the Brink, Ehrenreich, who took jobs as a waitress, nursing-home aide, hotel housekeeper, Wal-Mart associate and maid for a house-cleaning service to learn first-hand about poverty, shared a fresh new perspective on the just-say-yes-to-the-dress solution.
“When you say to women, to get out of poverty you should get married, my question to them is how many men you have to marry,” she said. “Marrying a 10-dollar-an-hour man gets you nowhere, so you’d really have to marry three or four.”
The audience broke out in laughter. But I think we should take Ehrenreich seriously. We have to face reality. If low-wage men don’t present women with much of a good deal, why not double, or triple, or quadruple them up? Pool resources, boost household income, and promote family values at the same time?
I realize this is a little hard to envision. Polyandry — the practice of a woman taking more than one husband at a time — has traditionally been considered (by majority-male anthropologists) an all-but-impossible aberration. More recent research, however, has found more than 75 societies world-wide in which women take multiple husbands, an article by Alice Dregger revealed in the Atlantic last year. Polyandry, it turns out, can be an efficient way of dealing with tough times, and constrained resources.