Former Brazilian footballer Ronaldinho is reportedly all set to marry his two fiancés at the same time as per an article in The Sun. It is said that the two women have been living 'harmoniously' with the footballer since December last year, at his £5million Rio de Janeiro mansion. While one can dismiss this as a kooky celebrity behaviour, it has rekindled the debate on polygamy. An occurrence seldom seen these days, but is polygamy morally acceptable in the modern era? How do us common folks, who don’t have mansions to play hide and seek, approach the concept?
It isn’t just a partner that you share.
Polygamy may seem outdated, but it is not an unheard practice. Still prevalent in many Asian and African countries, we all have heard tales of kings, noblemen and commoners who helmed families with numerous wives and the resultant multitudinous progenies. Such living arrangements often lead to bloodshed, when it came to the matters of the throne or property. With time as we traded spacious homes to matchbox-like flats and the theory of "the more hands to earn, the better" with "the lesser mouths to feed the better", polygamy lost its sheen. Women realised how this practice hindering their liberation. Hence as centuries passed men and women accepted that it was better to fight the battle of matrimony on a single front.
Marrying multiple partners seems like a foolish decision in modern context, when monogamous matrimony itself is losing its steam.
Even if we humour ourselves for a second and try to understand polygamy. Partners of polygamous men do not just share a husband. They share their lives. Trips to supermarket or dentist’s appointments are not quick decisions here, as they involve family discussions more tedious than a parliament session. These wives do not get the luxury of avoiding each other, courtesy a £5million mansion.
Those who have lived in joint families can understand this shared existence to an extent. The matter here is way beyond sex or who will get to sleep in the master bedroom. It is a complex state of existence, where your relationship with your husband is prone to be affected by his relationship with the other partner/s.
Misogyny changes the perspective completely
When we see polygamy in the context of the culture of misogyny, it becomes harder to shrug it off as a lifestyle choice. Polygamy ceases to be about equal partnership here. It is about one man controlling the lives of many women. In a society which considers man to be the superior partner in a marriage, polygamy is more about male entitlement to “acquire” women they like in the name of marriage.
Bring home another womb, if the first one fails to bear you a son. Marry another body if one doesn’t satisfy your urges anymore. What happens to the wives who run out of favours with their husbands in such cases?
It is impossible to put patriarchy and women empowerment in one sentence; as it is impossible to associate polygamy with women’s liberation in the present scenario. So, while Ronaldinho’s decision may appear to be like a score to some, the misogyny associated with this practice in most parts of the world, makes it impossible for us to root for it.
Photo Credit : Twitter
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Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is a writer with the SheThePeople team, in the Opinions section. The views expressed are the author’s own.