Sunday, November 14, 2010

Brother Husbands

Well... I mean, why not?

The success of TLC's Sister Wives has brought more polyamorous ideas to the mainstream. If you haven't seen it, this is a reality television show featuring a fundamentalist LDS guy with multiple wives and 16 kids living in Utah, and by the end the first season he'd taken on his fourth wife.

The show is kind of interesting because it does address complicated relationship problems in the form of group discussions. All of the parties are fairly open and well-spoken so that the conversation doesn't get dragged down by spirituality or dogma.

Instead, it paints a pretty compelling story of a bunch of poly-types committed to their lifestyle, open about their feelings, talking about what makes them happy, and just trying to make it in the world. It's fairly honest and includes a lot of on-screen processing by the family.

Now, I realize that a few readers out there already chomping-at-the-bit, eager to remind me that polygyny (one guy, multiple female partners) isn't polyamory and that anything that glorifies religious polygyny isn't commendable at all. Okay, point taken. Regardless, the show does put a positive spin on pluralism that seems to have reached mass-appeal, and I'm all about pluralism of any form being put forward for the public's consumption.

Besides, given the show's success, we're probably just a few seasons away from a polyamorous lifestyle reality show and that would give the public a model for contrasting polyamory and polygyny.

In particular, as the nature of their relationship would dictate and I'd hope that conversation would go, I think one thing that disturbs me about the husband is his complete distain for his wives having male relationships outside of him. It's one-penis-policy-extremism: he's viscerally offended by the idea and is just disgusted at the thought. "Ugh! My wives would be whoring!" Yet he seems to have no problems explaining nightly marital rotations to the camera. He's totally fine with sister wives. What throws him for a loop are brother husbands.

Brother husbands. PF and I have talked about what that'd look like, where she'd bring on more male partners. Myself, I don't have a problem with it and it seems only fair to transfer "ownership" away from the man to the woman in the course of the language. Why shouldn't a woman have her lot of men? Why can't matriarchy have its day? Perhaps the commanding nature of this language would shift the perception from "whoring" to something more constructive like "leading" or "fulfilling"?

Although I'd be first to admit it's mostly a power thing for me (hey, I dig powerful, confident women), this isn't a subby thing, group sex thing, or a homo-erotic thing, brother husbands. It's just a recognition of the fact that she's got multiples and is living out her own life to the fullest ... like the husband in Sister Wives. What's wrong with that? I say: bring on the husbands, brother!

Guys? Could you live with the Brother Husband thing? Women? Do you want Brother Husbands or does the idea just rub you the wrong way? What do you think of pluralism like this in the media?

s1m0n

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