Today in my Anthropology 150 class, the Professor was talking about various marriage customs around the world. There’s your good old monogamy (the ostensible custom of choice for most of the Western world, also my personal favorite), and various forms of polygamy, from polygyny (one man married to more than one woman ala harems) to polyandry (one woman married to more than one man). There can be different benefits to the different kinds of marriage, like having more workers to carry on subsistence farming in the case of polygyny. In fact, this kind of polygamy is so popular that when we say the word “polygamy,” everyone assumes that we’re talking polygyny. But there are benefits to polyandry too, and it is the norm in some parts of the world. In Tibet, where land is incredibly scarce and birth rates must be kept down to ensure survival, often one woman will marry all of the brothers from a family, ensuring that the family land will be inherited intact instead of split up between the brothers. While to us the idea of one woman being married to more than one man seems sorta perverted, the kind of thing guys write letters to Playboy about, for these Tibetans, it’s a simple matter of sensible economics.
The class was a little boring, and my mind started to wander. I started thinking, if I were to be married to more than one guy, who would I marry? It was purely theoretical, so I considered all the guys I know, even the ones who are already taken. Most of the guys from dancing were immediately dismissed. Joe was definitely on the list, and Justin, a theology grad student who’s been showing up on my radar lately (he told me the most awesomely geeky joke the other day). I considered Trey , and then crossed him off. For one thing, I can’t imagine him living in the same house with Joe and Justin, much less sharing a wife with them. For another, I still don’t want to have to care in any way what Trey does or doesn’t do. As a friend, he’s fun. As one of my primary relationships, he would make my life miserable. Then I thought of Rudy, the smoothest Lindy Hopper I’ve ever danced with. He parties a little too much, and drinks more than is perhaps healthy, but he’s been happily linked with his girl through some major ups and downs for a couple of years now. And he likes to think about things. And he’s got a lot more maturity under his belt than most of the guys I know. I think I could get along with him just fine. And he would definitely be fun to dance with!
So, you know, just in case the world is suddenly transformed into the sort of place where polyandry makes sense, and if the Catholic Church would suddenly decide that this was a good idea, and if they were all suddenly available, Joe, Justin and Rudy are mine. Dibs!