Gender And Power Roles: When Three Or More Is Company

2786 words - 12 pages

The saying goes, “two is company, but three is a crowd”. But, there are certain cases where three or more actually are company. Everyone in the world as a slightly different idea of what a marital relationship should and should not look like. These individual differences are based upon how that person feels each person’s role is supposed to be, what kind of person and/or how many people would be there to fill those roles. Culture is the basis that form ideas of what sex, gender, and power mean and the roles associated with in different communities. Cultures can be based around a religion, time period, geographical area, or group of people. Types of relationships can be based on ...view middle of the document...

History of Polygamy and Polyandry in the United States
Chinese Immigrants
In the late-nineteenth century to the early-twentieth century Chinese Immigrant men were at a surplus; “when there are more men than women, we have a high sex ratio and when there are fewer men than women, we have a low sex ratio (Wilson, 2002). To balance the scale “some societies have developed a way to deal with this oversupply”, this is common in “cultures where men were regularly engaged in war, raiding, and dangerous occupations” (Wilson, 2002). During this time women were restricted access to America in high volumes. To give a better understanding, “the sex ratio of Chinese in America was roughly twenty men to one woman. This ratio declined to fourteen to one in the early twentieth century” (Ling, 2000). Since men were not allowed to bring their wives overseas, the solution was to take a second wife in the US.
It was not uncommon at the time to find a houseful of men and one woman. “The scarcity of women also resulted in the sharing of women” in order to keep the scales balanced (Ling, 2000). Women often value being financially stable within a relationship structure in order to raise a family. In a culture where they believed “only a male heir could secure a family's name to be passed down, keep its fortune intact, and have its social and economic status in the community unchallenged” it was very important for a man to have a son (Ling, 2000). The wealthiest of men could afford to take care of more than one women, and so they did to insure their heirs in a place with limited or no family. Of course, having many wives also gave “a man a taste of sexual variety, a chance to ensure for himself a large number of progeny, and a reputation for status and power” (Wilson, 2002). It was a symbol of luxury that most men could not afford in a high sex ration environment.

Mormon Community
The Church of the Latter Day Saints, the Mormon religion, was founded by Joseph Smith and used to incorporate polygamy. The community believed that plural wifery would bring one closer to good and would insure a place for them in heaven with their families. During the same time period as the Chinese immigration, “tensions with religious outsiders and the US government over the practice of polygamy had led to a stand-off” with the Mormon community “in the late 1880s” (Hoyt & Patterson, 2011). This lead to a government movement that resulted in multiple laws put in affect in order to persuade the community to stop practicing polygamy.
“In 1890, the Mormon prophet Wilford Woodruff made an official declaration that Mormons were abandoning the practice of polygamy” (Hoyt & Patterson, 2011). He “issued a manifesto accepting the federal prohibition of polygamy and encouraged fellow Mormons to refrain from contracting any further polygamous marriages” (Song, 2005). Though that did not abolish this relationship structures, “the practice continued underground for a time and it ultimately took...

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