What’s the Latest Development?
A pair of anthropologists have recently argued that cultures in which women take more than one husband have been more common in human history than previously thought. Called polyandrous relationships, scholars in the Midwest have found that many regions across the globe have had social systems that support women taking two or more men as committed sexual partners. “Recognizing that at least half these groups are hunter-gatherer societies, the authors conclude that, if those groups are similar to our ancestors—as we may reasonably suspect—then ‘it is probable that polyandry has a deep human history.'”
What’s the Big Idea?
According to the scholars, polyandrous relationships were more common in societies with gender imbalances, i.e. ones with significantly more men than women. So could polyandry be the future for countries like China and India where gender imbalances currently exist and may even grow? Unlikely, say researchers. In addition to having gender imbalances, polyandrous societies are typically highly egalitarian and not subject to the kinds of regional and centralized governments found in modern nation-states. Instead, men will have to find other ways to occupy their time, such as the priesthood, wars and far-flung adventures.
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