Polygamy has hit the Canadian agenda in the weirdest ways. The weekend papers were full of questions and references to the issue, some of which arose out of the current investigation and debate over the situation in Bountiful, BC, the polygamy capital of Canada. Most of the commentary, however, centred on the principle that if same-sex marriage has Canada's collective approval then surely polygamy is next.
While this declarative statement isn't as ludicrous as the one often thrown out there by the right, i.e., if we countenance same-sex marriage, surely incest is next, it's at least as specious. Especially toxic was the Globe and Mail piece by Margaret Summerville, who's called an ethicist, even though that adjective is becoming more and more of a misnomer the more she rants.
In her article, she says same-sex marriage opens the door to polygamy, but she doesn't grasp some crucial points. The only connection between same-sex marriage and polygamy is that both don't look exactly like straight marriages. But same-sex marriage differs from straight marriage in only one way - the gender of the players who wed out of love and commitment. Queers want marriage rights because heterosexuals have those rights - end of story.
Polygamists want marriage rights because they want power, specifically over the women in their flock. Summerville doesn't seem to mind - ethically speaking - that polygamy is a male perogative in almost all cultures and that there aren't women pleading for the opportunity to have multiple partners within a single marriage context. This is no coincidence. It's just patriarchy in action.
Summerville also argues that recent court proceedings that consider designating three-parent arrangements as families open the door to polygamy, as if parenting is the same thing as sexual relationships. Message to Summerville - parenting is not the same as fucking.
The case involving three-parent families allows that a child with lesbian mothers and their male donor should be considered a legitimate family unit. The difference between such a family and polygamous arrangement is that in the same-sex situation, the family is not asking the courts to sanction a three way sexual arrangement or, more relevantly a situation in which one person gets multiple sexual partners. The case in question asks why three parents can't work to the benefit of the child.
Three, four, five, maybe more women on their hands and knees to one man works to the benefit of only one thing - male power.
Hope the faces of the folks at Ryerson, who gave Summerville an honorary award last June, are just getting redder and redder.