NB Commentary: Let me preface my commentary with these words, yes, my commentary is biased, yes, it may have even been a little bit emotional, and yes, I may have been a little curt if not with a tinge of anger, but sometimes when someone gets on YouTube and provides “disinformation” as if they are an expert on a subject they are talking about… well it just rubs me. It is a particular rub for me in this case as this is a subject that I have explored, studied, understood it pros and cons across cultures, etc. So, jump into this opinion piece with that in mind. Nana is on a roll in this one.
To the narrator of this video, first of all, I do not know where you are getting your facts about the so-called down side of polygamy (polygyny = one man, many wives) and I feel that if you have statistics then you should present them.
Secondly, I am offended by your gross generalization of the so-called backwards African societies that practice polygamy. I am also offended that you think that women are so petty that they have no clue of what it means to build a nation, or that building a nation means having many children. These women are not that naive that they don’t realize that nation building will take a long time with just one wife. To these people polygamy is not a matter of how much sex a man can have but how many children a man can help to produce and quite frankly getting pregnant does not require a lot of sex. It is the Western world with its suppression of the naked body that brought down shame on the indigenous people who were quite comfortable with their style of dress. Sexual implications based on what someone had on was not as overt as it has become in western hypocritically puritanical cultures.
If you want to point out backwardness of polygamous societies, then what about Saudi Arabia, The United Arab republic, Qatar, Sudan, Iran, India and others. These are predominately Islamic societies where Polygamy is practiced and they have booming cultures, technology and educational systems. None of which are “backwards” as you would define it.
I find your statement about African societies where polygamy occurs, and defined by you as backwards, to be quite disingenuous and falling way short of any valid study, survey or actual living in these cultures that you call backwards. The fact that you omit the ancient history of African Cultures, the Songhai Empire, the Mali Empire, the Great Kings and Queens who came out of Africa during ancient times and from a culture where polygamy was the norm shows the limit of your knowledge on this topic.
You fail to mention the impact of the European hypocritical influence on indigenous African culture and the imposition of hypocritical Western ideologies upon the African experience. You even fail to mention the irony of these so called Christians whose early prophets were all polygamous.
Your protestations are ill-founded even to this day when you do not understand the mechanism of the customs and culture of the society where polygamy is intrinsic to it. The in-fighting that you speak of hardly had to do with who was married to whom, and particularly, since natural selection had more women than men being in the world, then it is most advantageous for the women to be absorbed into a household or family unit, rather than having them left out.
And what if the wife is barren through no fault of her own, should her husband go with out having a progeny because his only wife cannot bare him children?
In strong societies where polygamy is the norm, many customs support it and encourage the family unit to work as a whole. The women and children are seen as resources and they help to build the community, take care of the children, teach and pass on the customs. The women are as industrious as the men and have markets, stores, farms and trading that increases the wealth of the family unit and community.
When many of the wars and strife were started, believe me, it was not over woman and who had the best looking women or pick of the crop. It was over resources, land, politics and hegemony. It was the male desire to fight and conquer his competition which quite frankly, was not another woman but what her husband had. Wars are socio-economical-political ventures that take place between warring tribes all over the planet. And it is modern society with its monogamy that has had the absolute worse wars of aggression against each other while you, and many others, consider Western society civilized.
I find your entire video disingenuous, insulting, linear in its presentation, and absent of the true facts and/or understanding of indigenous cultures and the how and why they participate in polygamy.
If you believe it is not a viable option for Western men and women, I have to agree because the culture is not designed to support that type of marital relationship. Western cultures are selfish, self-centered, narcissistic and pathological. They have abandoned the extended family for the nuclear one and have isolated themselves through individualism and personal ownership, thus creating a cesspool of fear, insecurity, paranoia, co-dependency and toxic relationships which according to the latest statistics, leads to 50% of marriages end in divorce.
There are a vast array of issues, concepts, nuances of indigenous cultures that you have blatantly ignored, therefore your conclusions, based on YOUR FACTS, can only be skewed and distorted. Western cultures create laws and regulations to manage their societies thus forcing people into unnatural relationship roles that sour, end, and foster mental health issues for all involved.
You do have the right to your opinion, but I think that if you are going to take on a subject such as polygamy, you either need to do better research or refrain from stating that cultures who practice it are backwards because that is patently incorrect, Sir.
ADDENDUM: The most ironic thing of all is that those countries that prohibit multiple spouses will punish the participants with jail time, a fine or both. That is to say, that it is criminal to have more than one spouse in some countries. How is that even a criminal offense? Who are you hurting when all parties agree? Civilization at its finest.
In most of the following examples, polygamy only refers to polygyny. Except when polyandry is explicitly stated, either all kinds of polygamy are forbidden, or the only allowed form of polygamy is polygyny.
Mayotte: Considered to be de facto illegal since a referendum sponsored by France in March 2009, forcing the island to comply with the French laws.However, pre-existing Muslim marriages are currently still valid.
Benin: Benin recognized polygamous marriages until 2004 when they were constitutionally outlawed. However, pre-existing marriages are currently still valid in Benin.
Burkina Faso: Both Muslims and non-Muslims can join in polygamous unions under Burkina Faso law.
Côte d’Ivoire: Akin to the situation in Benin, polygamy and such marriages were outlawed, though previous marriages are still recognized.
Gabon: Both men and women can join in polygamous unions with the other gender under Gabonese law, although in practice only men do.
Ghana: Illegal under civil law, but recognized under customary law and Sharia law.
Nigeria: Recognized in all northern sharia states, federal law recognizes polygamous unions under customary law.
The Bill Cosby rape allegations really started getting to me right around the time Philadelphia magazine’s Victor Fiorillo announced he was writing a theater piece about them. As a theater critic, I found myself one step deeper insidethe widening circle of accusations. But it wasn’t just that. I was raped in high school, or, more accurately, during the summer between my freshman and sophomore years.
With each new woman who stepped forward to accuse Cosby, with Rolling Stone’s UVA story falling to pieces and potentially damaging the credibility of a new generation of victims, my own story felt perpetually pressed against my throat,forcing its way out. Though more than 20 women have now come forward, when my husband, an attorney with an almost unfailingly steady moral compass, watched a CNN special with me about the case, he said, “I didn’t know what to believe until I saw their faces and heard them speak.” I was shocked. To me, from the first, their accounts held ironclad key words and themes. I knew implicitly why regular women held back for decades, even when reporting the incident wouldn’t result in bringing down any institutions, academic or cultural. I knew I was obligated to tell my story, one that also went unreported.
A high-school sleepover
The night I was raped, a friend whose parents were out of town hosted a sleepover. It wasn’t much as far as high school parties go — just a few girls, even fewer guys, and later, someone’s older brother and his friend, both men in their mid-20s. There was white wine, which we drank, and much discussion of the older brother, whom the girls all liked, but who wasn’t really my type — bulldog body, cheesy mustache, slicked-back hair, his friend a shorter, stockier version pulled from the same mold.
Still, I was enough of an alpha girl to feel flattered when the older brother asked me to go upstairs with him, and insecure enough to follow. He led me into a bedroom, and whatever I imagined, a makeout session, some conversation, dissipated when he asked what I was waiting for, and roughly told me to get on the bed. Again, I did what he asked. Though it wasn’t my first time, I was disgusted, not with him, a grown man who should have known better, but with myself, for letting it happen, for being so needy, so slutty.
Afterward, I told my friends I felt sick and went to bed. I awoke to find a man on top of me. The room was dark, and, confused, I asked if it was the older brother. He answered, “Yeah, that’s who it is. Go back to sleep.” It wasn’t; it was his friend. I didn’t fight back, because if my own friends hadn’t protected me, hadn’t told him to leave me alone, what was the point? Instead, I waited for it to end, and when it did, he left and again, I listened; I went back to sleep.
What could they do?
In the morning, furious, I asked my friends why they let him come upstairs. They said they didn’t know what was happening, but even if they did, what could they have done? These were men; we were girls. We let them in and flirted with them and got what we deserved. I called my mother to pick me up. Later, rumors spread throughout our school about what I did that night. I told some of the girls I was talking to a lawyer about pressing charges, but I wasn’t. I just wanted them to know that what happened was wrong.
I got on with my life, and the decades slid past. Occasionally, some news story or Facebook post would trigger my memories, and I’d be right back in that room, waiting for it to end, but mostly, I shoved them away. Except now, the memories shoved back. I frightened my teen daughter with warnings about serial killers, drugged drinks at parties, and the importance of traveling in groups. I indoctrinated my teen son about rape culture and the necessity of stepping forward if he saw intoxicated friends or strangers at a party and the situation didn’t look or feel right. It was all good advice, but delivered with a shrill sense of panic. My internal struggles were leaking into my parenting, and for the first time, I told my husband of 20 years what happened, in detail.
Saying nothing then . . .
I didn’t report my rape when it happened 30 years ago, and here’s why: I was embarrassed. The rapist was connected to friends. I was certain my own friends knew what was happening, and no one stopped it. I was so young. I didn’t know his last name. I didn’t want my friend to get in trouble for hosting the party. Within the course of that year, both of my grandmothers passed away, my parents separated, and a classmate who was there that evening was killed in a car crash. I was dealing with enough. I thought I brought it on myself. I thought it would be expensive and difficult. I was afraid my dad and brother might try to settle the issue on their own. I wanted to forget it happened. I thought I was fine.
A few years ago, I visited a therapist and mentioned the incident in a cavalier manner. “But,” she said, “you know that was rape.”
“Yeah, I know,” I answered, “but I’m fine. I’m over it.” I’m not.
If I was unwilling to report the nobody who raped me, when I had a supportive family, access to an attorney, witnesses, proof, and people who could find him, why would anyone imagine that these women, with their own lives and struggles, would report Bill Cosby at the height of his powers? Sometimes it takes a while to gain back that inner fortitude. Sometimes it takes 30 years.
. . . but now?
I’m now faced with a dilemma. Learning there are five years left on the statute of limitations is a gift because it puts power I never knew I had squarely into my hands. Recently, my daughter and I watched an episode of The Sopranos in which Dr. Melfi, Tony’s therapist, holds onto the knowledge that if she wanted, she could ask Tony to do away with her rapist at any time. Just owning that knowledge was enough power for her. My daughter couldn’t understand why she didn’t use it, but I could.
The night after learning I could still press charges, I lay in bed, thrilled and terrified. I kept second-guessing my age at the time, until I remembered a box in our basement that held all my old diaries. I rummaged around until I found an electric blue one decorated with hearts and song lyrics and boyfriends’ names. Sure enough, there was a dated entry referring specifically to the men involved and what they did.
“Well, anyway,” I concluded, “that happened.” Even then, in my own diary, I tried to erase it away, and yet it remains all these years later, tangible evidence that rape refuses to disappear, no matter how hard you try to suppress it. Khaled Hosseini wrote in The Kite Runner, “The past claws its way out. Looking back now, I realize I have been peeking into that deserted alley for the last 26 years.”
Where is he now?
Still, I wonder if the man who raped me cleaned up his act. Maybe he has a wife and children and a job, and I feel protective of them, even as I try to protect myself. Statutory sexual assault is a second-degree felony and can carry with it a ten-year sentence. Maybe I should leave him alone and assume karma had its way with him. After all, he didn’t seem to be headed for greatness. And then I read the statistics: nine out of ten campus rapes are committed by serial rapists. My circumstances were different, but I wonder if I’m his only victim, who else he attacked after I didn’t report him, or if he’s still attacking.
I still don’t know what I’ll do with this new information, but I’m grateful to the brave women who came forward en masse to hold Bill Cosby accountable for his alleged crimes. I know why they waited so long and why they stopped waiting, and I also know that if it weren’t for their strength, I might never have found mine.