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"Motivations" section: logic cleanup[edit]

This makes no sense: "A higher prevalence of infectious disease is associated with polygyny which may be due to a higher prevalence of infectious diseases" -- needs a logic tweak. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 09:20, 2 June 2013 (UTC)


This article is in need of a significant amount of cleanup. There are significant problems with: Layout, Flow, Grammar/Spelling, Point of View, and unreferenced assertions.

Layout: Certain sections should be merged so that information is not extensively repeated. One example might be the "Advantages/Disadvantages" section. Certain sections should be merged because there is not enough information to warrant a subsection. The layout needs to be adjusted to reflect the fact that this is a single article and not a collection of smaller articles.

Flow Grammar and Spelling: Much of this article has extremely poor flow. That means that many sentences don’t work well together either because of content, grammar or other problems. Sections with poor flow need to be rewritten to improve flow.

Grammar and Spelling outside of the flow problems exist. There are dozens of corrections which need to be made. Look out for subject and verb agreement and tense failure.

Those editing for whom English is a second language please be as carful as you can with your grammar. Your contributions are extremely welcome as you provide a more diverse perspective. Native English speakers will correct problems as they are seen, but if you can get editing help before adding editing, fewer corrections will be necessary. Feel free to post edits in this discussion page for help with wording and grammar.

POV: Before editing please make sure you are aware of policies on Wikipedia:Neutral point of view. If some of your edits have been removed, look at the comments left by the other editors and consider that it may have been because of a POV failure.

Unreferenced assertions: Before editing please make sure you are aware of policies on Wikipedia:Verifiability. If some of your edits have been removed, look at the comments left by the other editors and consider that it may have been because of an assertion which is not verifiable.

Andy 23:17, 7 May 2006 (UTC)

Andy, isn't it ironic that in your paragraph on grammar and spelling you make 3 mistakes a few words apart?! "Sentence" has no "i", "don't" takes an apostrophy and "together" needs no "a". I haven't reviewed it very closely nor extensively either, but couldn't help noticing,

Jelpy 07:21, 14 October 2006 (UTC)

I was coauthor on an article in the journal Ethnology that has an extensive literature review and discusses co-wife conflict. The argument was that co-wife conflict is ubiquitous except in four circumstances: 1) When the community is threatened by an external source, the women tend to band together; 2) In sororal polygyny co-wives get along better because the sister-wives have an established hierarchy from childhood; 3) Social Security marriages, such as the levirate, occur when an elderly woman enters into a marriage as co-wife for legal and economic purposes, but does not become romantically involved with the husband; and 4)when the wives are removed from one another in different towns, obviously there cannot be conflict. We noted that conflict between co-wives tends to increase in an urban setting, all else being equal. The citation for the article is: 2005. Jankowiak, William, Monika Sudakov, and Benjamin Wilreker, "Co-Wife Conflict and Co-operation", Ethnology 44(1):81-98.

I bring this up because this wiki entry needs references, and there are close to a hundred in this article, from seventy different societies. I'm new to editing Wikipedia, so please forgive me if I created this note in the wrong place.

--Bwilreker (talk) 19:15, 17 April 2008 (UTC)

Etymology of polygyny[edit]

I changed the etymology to reflect the Ancient Greek from which this is derived, though I believe it is a relatively recent neologism. I Googled it in Greek and nothing came up, although πολυγαμία returned 446 hits! --Jpbrenna 04:32, 22 May 2005 (UTC)

It depends upon your definition of new. OED lists its first reference as 1780. Nereocystis 17:09, 25 August 2005 (UTC)

I don't know ancient Greek , but I always thought the gyny bit meant woman, not wife?

IceDragon64 19:20, 24 July 2007 (UTC)


I'd like sources for the statement that humans "are expected to" live one male and three females, based only on the relatively low sexual dimorphism of humans. This part does not seem to keep a neutral POV. And saying that "However, the prevalence of polygamy in human societies combined with the biological evidence suggests that it may be the most prevalent primitive form." is to stretch it quite a bit. As far as I know, polygamy is practiced only by a minority of the members of any given society. It might even be more of a status symbol. To be sure, chimps and proto humans might well have been polygynous, but is this applicable to Homo sapiens? Shandolad 07:53, 30 March 2006 (UTC)

I agree, this section needs some drastic improvement. Some of the biological information is very questionable. For example, sexual dimorphism is NOT a result of polygamy.
Also, many citations are needed :
  • for the statement that polygamy is the most "hey wat you doin out there?" widespread mating system (90% of birds are monogamous for example)
  • for the link between delayed maturity in males and polygamy
  • for the information about hormones (mating systems can be explained as much by ecological constraints that endocrine systems, if not more)
  • and indeed for the information relevant to human beings. We must be careful to differentiate human and animal behaviour here, they belong to different fields of study.
Besides, this article is about polygyny, the article about polygamy is here. This mention of polygamy is very confusing.
Maybe a complete rewrite of the section should be considered. --IronChris | (talk) 00:48, 21 April 2006 (UTC)

References please[edit]

This article needs more references. Many things are said, but few are accompained by scientific or verifiable references. I'm adding a verify template. Shandolad 08:00, 30 March 2006 (UTC)

Polygyny vs. polygamy[edit]

when I read this article, I'm very confused. It uses the words "polygyny" and "polygamy" interchangeably! They are not the same thing, in fact there is an article on polygamy. Information on polygyny should be here, and information on polygamy should be in the appropriate article. There shouldn't be much (if any) overlap. IronChris | (talk) 16:50, 28 April 2006 (UTC)

I'm completely confused as well. At no point am I given a distinction between the two terms, and the article itself seems to interchange the two. Dr Garry 10:57, 16 May 2006 (UTC)

As Am I. Is there a way to either link both of them or create a new section that distinguishes both outright? There are a good many people that are confused, and with both pages for polygamy and polygyny being completely separate (yet exactly the same), and with no mention of one another except for the interchanging of the spelling, it's going to create even more confusion. Mattygabe 23:49, 13 November 2006 (UTC)


I wrote what I know, observed & read about the situation in greater China region. You can expand the content for other regions in the world. But please do not delete my sentences or paragraphs like what someone did. Thanks a lot. Xaaan5 15:02, 4 May 2006 (UTC)

If you are referring to edits made by me User:Catskul please refer to the clean up section I just added to the top of this page. Your contributions are much appreciated, but please watch that the edits you make are NPOV and not advocacy. If you have any questions please feel free to post them here or in my user discussion page.
Andy 23:20, 7 May 2006 (UTC)


In the section titled human polygyny appears this line.

However, it was not accepted in ancient Greece or Rome, and was banned in in mainstream Christianity in 1890 as a result of laws passed concerning Mormon polygyny.

I am not sure what the author was trying to accomplish here but it greatly misrepresents the facts. Mainstream Christianity has forbidden polygyny since before 1890. Most Christians question how much Mormonism can be considered as a part of Christianity. Mormon law does not hold any weight in catholic, presbyterian, baptist, pentecostal, ad nauseum groups. There is alot of focus on Mormonism that seems to equate it with Christianity. The section needs to be rewritten to clearly distinguish mainstream Christianity and mormonism. 03:51, 7 May 2006 (UTC) Rick

I'm sorry that Rick is so filled with hatred that he can not, or will not inform himself. The old argument that Mormons are not Christians is simply false. If you are interested in becoming informed, rather than continuing to make blind accusations, I suggest you start at By the way, the name of the church is: The Church of JESUS CHRIST of Latter-Day Saints. They believe in and follow the teachings of Jesus Christ. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:22, 14 January 2010 (UTC)

In the section titled "Polygyny in Context: Christianity", there was a sentence which I've preserved here.

"Historically, polygynous groups have been persecuted, some to near extinction such as the Anabaptists, the forerunners of the Baptists, Mennonites and Amish, and native North Americans"

I have deleted the reference to Anabaptists: "such as the Anabaptists, the forerunners of the Baptists, Mennonites and Amish, and native North Americans"

Perhaps the original author was thinking of the Anabaptists who rebelled at Muenster (see the Wikipedia article on the Muenster Rebellion). They *were* polygamous, and were also willing to use violence. However, the original wording implies that polygyny has been a defining characteristic of the groups who identify themselves as anabaptist, and this is not the case.

Oh, I see I mistook the wording to include native North Americans as one of those groups for whom Anabaptists were forerunners, but really they were meant to be a separate example. I'll restore that wording as I really have no knowledge about polygyny among native North Americans.

Paulmr 19:24, 30 September 2007 (UTC)

Polygamy in the New Testament?[edit]

I changed "Christian Old Testament" to "Biblical Old Testament". (Flash---Early Hebrews were not Christian) I want to delete New Testaent mention altogether; does NT say anything about monogamy/polygamy? Anybody know? —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs) .

There are at least 2 references to polygyny in the New Testament.

One is well known, though not for this in particular.

It is the parable of the Ten Virgins who are to marry one single bridegroom. The sentence construction clearly talks, not about each virgin to marry her own bridegroom, but all for one (and one for all :-D). ALL the references to the "fiancé" are ALLWAYS in the singular form, whereas references to the virgins are always in plural. I could quote from verse one of Matthiew chapter 25, however it would be lengthy. You can read it from the beginning for yourselves; verses 1, 5 and 6 quotes "bridegroom" (twice), "cometh" and "him", all in singular form. Most notably from verse 10, quoting KJV Bible Matthiew 25:10 "And while they [plural; refering to the virgins] went to buy, the bridegroom [singular] came: and they [plural; refering to the virgins] that were [plural] ready went in with him [singular] to the marriage [singular]: and the door was shut." Verse 11 goes on: "Afterward came also the other virgins [plural], saying Lord, Lord [singular] open to us" and verse 12 reads: "But he [singular] answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not." Comments in brackets [] are, you understand it well I suppose, by me to clearly illustrate my point at every part of the sentences.

Also note that in other languages were conjugation forms differ between singular and plural, of course the verbs also show a singular or plural form, respectively for the bridegroom or the virgins. Modern English makes no difference in conjugation form between "he came" and "they came"; the conjugated form of the verb remains the same in plural or singular.

This clearly refers, my friends, to a polygynic marriage, taking place at the time of the New Testament.

Also the New Testament clearly condemns adultery in many books and chapters, but nowhere in the New Testament one can find talks, quotes or discussions about denouncing polygamy or polygyny.

Jelpy 08:20, 14 October 2006 (UTC)


Careful, now. The above mentioned marriage only appeared in a parable, that is, a fiction that Jesus used for teaching. The degree to which the circumstances of parables, allegories and turns of phrase used by Christ can be drawn out beyond the literal lesson that always follows it is actually quite limited. Take, for example the famous expression that the Day of Judgement "shall come like a thief in the night." Jesus does not mean God (who comes in judgement) is actually a sinful thief, but simply means to emphasise the suddeness of the coming of judgement, admonishing the faithful to be ever ready, the same point that Christ tried to make with the bridegroom parable.

Now, if you want to play grammar, tenses and direct admonishments from the New Testament, I have a couple of passages which clearly contradict the practice of polygny.

Fist, Matthew 19:4-6, where Christ chooses to respond to the pharisees question on divorce by saying: "Have you not read that the creator, in the beginning, made 'the man and the woman?'" [Note the SPECIFIC emphasis on the singular, made by Christ. I find it is useful to use translations into languages other than English, such as French or Latin where the gender articles are explicit. I am here working with a French translation.] He then proclaims that the husband is to "cleave to his wife, and the two become one SINGLE body." Again, this seems to preclude and detachment or forming of new bodies with others. Chrsit, in his own person, by direct command, consecrates the sacrement of monogamous marriage.

Second, Paul's Epistle to the Ephesians 5:25 commands that Husbands must "each love his wife, like Christ has loved the Church." Again, singular. And again, no need for the twisting of metaphores.

There are your direct, unambiguous New Testament passages condemning multiple wives. There can be no quibbling on the language of Christ in Christianity. Incidentally, that is the main reason why Mormons are NOT generally accepted as Christians, even in the broadest sense, by other denominations. Mormons turn to Holy texts other than the cannonized Bible of Hebrew and Christian teachings.

Now, early on, the article as it stands makes the absurd and unsubstantiated claim that there is an economical logic to polygamy which is beneficial to society.

First, the argument that polygamy has evolutionary benifits would have been lost on any culture pre 1700s, where early rationalist theories of evolution surfaced [i.e. Diderot, in "D'Alembert's Dream."] This argument ought to be properly situated in a section on evolutionary biology in a more general article on relationships and attractions.

Second, the argument that too many men would often die in war and labour for monogamy to work is outright wrong. Disease was a far more prevailent killer than war over the long term. Indeed, even with gunpowder thrown into the mix, in European Civilization, a soldier's life expectancy was never far worse than the average. Then there is the problem of childbirth itself which, until the past century, had an excellent chance of killing the mother, whittling down the femal population

The idea that polygamy was anything other than an economy of patriarchy is downright silly. In all economies, wealth and with it power gravitates to individuals with charisma and leadership qualities who take control of factions or elements of the civilization. In poorer patriarchal societies (they tend to be patriarchial because of the influence of brute force on social politics), expansive polygamy was one system for women who had nowhere else to turn. The Christian and later secularist modern response is that social liberality ought to take the place of women having to put themselves in this position. Modern polygamous relationships in first world societies tend to be religious in nature, and so obviously fall outside of any consideration of exchange or economic survival, and are strictly speaking a question of genuine faith, love and, sometimes, social politics and coersion based upon the above mentioned values.

jfjlegge 19:16, June 18, 2007 (University of King's College)

I would like to point out that both verses you listed there do NOT condemn it. They only speak of monogamous marriage and why it should not be broken after it is formed. Polygamy (depending on how you define it) is not breaking that marriage. While the New Testament does not directly condone it it also does not condemn it either. The reason Mormon's are not accepted, I agree, is the fact that they use other additional add-on books to the bible (in the same way I consider some Roman Catholics to be not Christian as well for their addition to the bible). I am a protestant christian. I am NOT a mormon. But, I say that faithful, equal, one man, multiple women, polygamy is okay, by the fact that it is not condemned by the bible. I also might add that I agree with your two paragraphs before your last paragraph, those items should be removed from the article. I also might say I am strongly against the common views that view any man in a polygamy marriage a monster of some sort and that he abuses his wives. As someone else stated, if a single black man rapes a white woman why should you make it so that all black men cannot marry white women. Ergzay (talk) 08:50, 6 December 2007 (UTC)

Gonna be damn hard for you to hold onto a relationship with a woman in any Western country in general,MR. Ergazy,and any educated woman in particular. I say that you are one big @#$$%%^^, old son. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 02:03, 5 November 2012 (UTC)

I'd like to say that the places where the Messiah speaks about 10 virgins for one bridegroom cannot be compared to "He will come like a thief in the night" because one is a metaphor and another a simile (sp) so the meanings are different. The Messiah would not use something he considered to be a sin as a parable. The thief phrase is NOT a parable and is not the same. There is no where in the Gospels where the Messiah uses sin to explain a situation. That would be an oxymoron; sin cannot dwell where God is. Rivka (talk) 03:55, 27 February 2008 (UTC)

Original Research[edit]

This article looks like a single country original research project; no sources, lots of opinions very POV - major need of rework.Bridesmill 01:30, 8 July 2006 (UTC)

I find much of the entire article to be biased in directions uncomfortably close to eugenics. It is not the articles place to make academic comments on genetic quality, especially when no sources are cited. In fact I find much of the reproving tone of this article objectionable. Its purpose is to document, not comment or advise. While I'm here, there are also many grammatical errors and typos strewn throughout.


To what extent can this article focus on extra-marital & covert affairs etc? IMHO, this may apply under the socbio definition (eek), but not under the anthro definition....Bridesmill 04:19, 9 July 2006 (UTC)

Modern polygamy[edit]

Unless citations are found for the stuff about chinese and filipino marriages, I thing they should be removed. AAlso, this whole article is a freakin mess. I'd be willing to do some re-writing, but if I do what is the likelyhood that the original authors will revert the changes?? -- 04:30, 11 July 2006 (UTC)

At this stage, the contributors who have been adding the 'unusual' stuff are all anonymous and do not seem to be interested in engaging in discussion. No revert wars have taken place where yuncited material was removed after unanswered requests for citation/verification; but because these users remain anonymous and not interested in discussing, I could see the potential for this page eventually being protected from anonymous edits. Getting an account may thus not be a bad idea SFriendly.gif I look forward to this article improving as well, and would be willing to assist in working toward this.Bridesmill 12:06, 11 July 2006 (UTC)

I am concerned about the accuracy of this statement: "It is expected, if monogamy is emplaced long enough, that genetic drift will seriously damage a huge percentage of the population. This can be seen clearly in Amish societies where lack of new bloodlines and forced monogamy has seriously compromised their populations." I have studied genetics and I fail to see how monogamy will affect genetic drift. If anything polygyny would increase the number of offspring in the next generation that share at least one parent therefore in a small population it could actually speed up "inbreeding." Any adverse affects on the genetics of Amish societies are likely a result of small isolated polulations and not monogamy. -Timothy W


In order to keep this reasonably sane, can we adhere to anthro view of 'wives' except in sociobiology section where we can adress view which includes all 'partners'?Bridesmill 00:54, 13 July 2006 (UTC)

(McDonis) I suggest that this entire article be re-written. It seems the author or authors are not limiting themselves to the subject but are wanting to discuss other areas of multiple marriage. Also some of the view points are definately not neutral towards the subject. I would be willing to re-write the article, however I thought I would suggest this here before I go and re-write the whole thing.

Bdean1963 (Urarina), and myself also looking at a major rewrite, in particular to put focus back onto real meanin, and to ensure anthro & 'socbio' aspects are clearly in diffrent sections. Your participation would be greatly appreciated.Bridesmill 13:24, 17 July 2006 (UTC)

I'm all in favor of a complete revision that is well-referenced with scientific studies. I was actually trying to get a project started to eventually improve all articles about close relationships to meet the criteria for good articles. This article was on the list. I'm a psychologist, though, so I'll step back and let you all have at it. Kelly 14:09, 17 July 2006 (UTC)

I took a stab at rewriting the beginning and will add some anthropological and cross-cultural references, but didnt get past Figure 1 (a tabulation of data from one of my publications). Although I dont have much time to devote to this, I can help the rewrite from time to time and I joined the close relations task group on the talk page. I think a balanced anthropological view will be of help to shake things out and qualify statments, especially as I can bring in a reference solid NPOV comparative data and point out the subtleties in definitions in certain contexts. --Douglas R. White 06:40, 15 August 2006 (UTC)

Ok, as promised I put some Standard Cross-Cultural Sample: Polygyny articles with research findings through a url in paragraph 1, but I will leave others now to extract what is useful from them. --Douglas R. White 18:00, 15 August 2006 (UTC)

It seems we have some "politicians" editing this article. They have removed items several time under the guise of clean-up or quality improvement. I think these efforts are just the opposite. Obviously, this is a sensitive topic to some people, especially in relation to current events, but it is time to stop messing around with the article. I do agree that a major re-write might be in order, and perhaps some items need to be in different articles. Stepp-Wulf 02:32, 6 September 2006 (UTC).

I think the article is a mess. I'm not saying it should be identical to polyamory or polygamy but it should have a close correlation than it does. I think it needs to be re-written form scratch, and then the few good things incorporated into the new article. Atom 02:45, 6 September 2006 (UTC)


Unsourced and unverified. *who* suggested this? Also Chinese under 15 literacy is 90+%. There isn't widespread malnutrition in China.

China still has large numbers of malnourished children and illiterate citizens. It has been suggested that allowing richer men to legally sire more children through polygyny could potentially raise the standard of living for future children. However, it simply generates new children on a higher economic tier and makes the standard of living for children *appear* to improve on a broken-line graph. This is in theory true but in fact fallacious, because nothing is done to improve the economic standard of living for existing children.

Roadrunner 10:45, 3 November 2006 (UTC)

Mess, unverified claims, POV probs[edit]

I dived right in because there's not been any discussion on here for the last six monhts so: I've outright deleted a few paragraphs (pasted below in case anyone wants to salvage them). They were full of unverified/uncited claims and some issues with non-neutral POV made it too much work to re-write and they were damaging to the article to leave them.

Rearranged the structure putting Animal Polygyny at the bottom of the page and cleaning up some other structural things. It looks a bit more logical now.

There is an awful lot of rubbish on there and confusion over polygyny and polygamy is going to take some working through. Is anyone intersted in working more on this?

Gazzelle 00:39, 16 March 2007 (UTC)

Paragraphs i deleted - pasted here in case anyone wants to salvage:

==Trends and future of polygyny in Greater China==

The cross-border polygyny phenomenon between Hong Kong, Taiwan and the People's Republic of China are likely to continue for some time.

Some of the perceived advantages of polygyny can be considered a potential solution to some of China's problems. If it is assumed that men will have extra-marital sex despite deterrents, polygyny can be seen as a way to help reduce the use of prostitutes and to minimize the risk of sexual diseases and AIDS.[citation needed] Some argue that using polygyny to avoid the effort spent maintaining monogamy could be spent more wisely, and thus make society more productive.


There have been discussions about re-legalizing polygamy due to the imbalance of male: female ratio.

- I think wiki policy is for references to have sources in the language of the wiki (not sure though!)
==Partible maternity==

In polyandry, a child is considered to have more than one father. Here, a child is considered to have more than one mother. The Chinese family first had the child having up to four mothers or more, in the modern polygyny where only one wife but one or more mistresses are present, an illegitimate child from the husband is to consider having two mothers: the legal wife who is the "big mother" (in Chinese tradition) being the first wife or sometimes referered to as stepmother and his/her biological mother.

I tagged this article about the POV. There are a lot of unverified and uncited claims in the beginning of the article typically relating polygamy to illiteracy and undeveloped nations. Though I'm sure there is a correlation, I doubt that illiteracy leads to polygamy. I removed a mention of that from the article. I did not get through a lot of the rest of the article but it seemed fairly biased and un-encyclopedic. JonKush (talk) 21:15, 4 June 2013 (UTC)


Why is there a chart depicting human polygyny in the animal section? 19:06, 1 June 2007 (UTC)

Merger proposal[edit]

There are currently 8 articles on polygamy: Group marriage, Polyfidelity, Polygamy, Plural marriage, Polygyny, Polyandry, Fraternal polyandry, Sororal polygyny, I think we could merge at least the last two. Brinerustle 01:17, 12 September 2007 (UTC)

Since there were no objections I merged the last two--BirgitteSB 19:02, 4 October 2007 (UTC)

And now ... POLYGYMY? (Yes, with an M and no A!)[edit]

I kid you not. The article contains this line:

The term polygymy comes from neo-Greek: πολύ poly "many" + γυνή game "wives".

Oy. I think it's supposed to be "polygamy", but given the level of confusion already manifest in this article, my confidence is not 100%. MrRK (talk) 22:58, 4 April 2008 (UTC)

Animal habits, deleted material[edit]

I am moving the animal mating habits to the discussion page. It seems like animal mating habits are a different topic. I wonder if the objectdive is demean those civilizations that practice polygyny? Here is the deleted items:

"Monogamy is rare among mammals; only 3% of species are monogamous [citation needed]. Monogamy is more common among primates: about 15% of species[citation needed]. About 19% of human societies sampled for diversity (figure 1) are strictly monogamous, but the data on human polygyny suggest that in most societies most marriages are monogamous even though the majority of societies permit polygyny. Polyandry is very rare among mammals and humans [1].

Surely this paragraph could be improved: "Several species such as the wood mouse Apodemus sylvaticus possess a polygamous social order" Several?! As it says below it is the most common mating system for invertabrates. And an example other than a door mouse would illustrate the point more clearly.


Chimpanzees have a multi-male social organization, meaning that groups include several males and several females. Within chimp groups there appear to be several variations on mating patterns: The typical pattern is for several related males to dominate the group. This dominant fraternity shares sexual access to females and prevents other males from mating. A different pattern is for one male and one female to establish a kind of relationship, then when the female enters estrus, she and the male split off from the group for several weeks, when they have sex repeatedly in secluded parts of the forest. These “consortships” are temporary arrangements, sometimes between male and female friends and sometimes males coerce females into consortships. Males involved in consortships may or may not be part of the dominant male coalition. The frequency of consortships varies from one chimp group to the next, hinting at the kind of mating variation we see in humans. Sometimes a single dominant male chimp can monopolize sexual access to females and the group may be effectively polygynous for a time.
Polygyny will reduce the effective population size of a given closed population[citation needed].

The sociobiology of polygyny[edit]

Amongst vertebrates, especially so with mammals, polygyny is the most common mating system. The likelihood that a species' evolution has been driven by polygyny can be determined by the presence of the following characteristics:
  • Sexual dimorphism, where (in comparison with females) males are:
    • more colourful
    • larger
    • more aggressive
    • better equipped for fighting
  • Uniparental care of the young (with fathers contributing less than mothers to the care of offspring, or in some species contributing nothing at all)
  • Delayed sexual maturity among males (relative to females of the same species, or to males of related species with different mating systems)
Some species show facultative polygamy, where males mate with multiple females only when resource conditions are favourable. Recent research on voles has identified the genetic difference that predisposes one species to polygyny and another closely related species to pair bonding [2] The brain hormone mechanisms through which this very slight genetic difference acts have also been identified; they involve the response to vasopressin and oxytocin [3].

Scientific studies[edit]

Tim Clutton-Brock and Kavita Isvaran at the University of Cambridge in England, compared about 20 monogamous and polygynous vertebrate species, found the more polygynous a species was, the more likely their males were to age faster and die earlier than females.[1]"

This really looks like another article. Thoughts? --Storm Rider (talk) 10:28, 11 May 2008 (UTC)

Polygyny in the Hebrew Bible: King Solomon[edit]

In the article, the remark was made that King Solomon's downfall was because of his practice of polygyny. This is untrue. King Solomon broke two of Torah's laws -- he married foreign women and he multiplied wives unto himself. To have hundreds of wives doesn't allow you to properly focus on your job as King and as people's father and husband. That's too many wives so he was already distracted. Then to marry foreign women on top of that? They convinced him to worship their gods and his heart was turned away from Hashem. That is the nature of that particular man in polygyny. It did not happen to Abraham or Moses when they took other wives. So I don't think it should be in there... If no one disputes, I will take it out. I'll wait a while to see if anyone replies...Rivka (talk) 01:36, 26 May 2009 (UTC)

Krishna and his consorts and Pandava[edit]

Mentioning Krishna and his consorts without the reason behind does not make much sense for the reader. He had found those women, mostly princesses from different states, in captivity of Narakasura (the demon from hell), the son of Earth. There was no way anyone was going to accept these women in their families, even their paternal families, just like "once you go black, you never come back." So he had no choice, but to keep them with himself in his own state, and to make sure that they were treated with respect and had good life. He ensured them a respectable social status by declaring them as his wives.

It was an exception, and it has never been used as an acceptable social standard. The only reason was to ensure that one had a heir to his throne, and that's the same reason for Pandava to marry two women.

Even today, divorce on grounds of impotence is permitted. In old days, a woman did not have any place in society, but her husband's house. Thus divorcing her would have been worse than her living with her husband and his second wife.

Keeping all these points in view, it was actually not Polygyny but a social necessity, unlike Brigham's with fifty-seven wives with no purpose but a lowly sexual gratification in name of religion. Lbharti (talk) 16:24, 29 July 2011 (UTC)


The newly installed Islamist governemnt has announced that polygamy will be legal. Should ne added. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:15, 24 October 2011 (UTC)

Are there any sources/articles that can confirm this?Meatsgains (talk) 23:32, 24 October 2011 (UTC)

Where are: Criticisms? Cultures who abandoned? Relation to feminism? NPOV problem[edit]

There is a glaring lack of discussion of historical criticism of polygyny, of historical debate, and of societies who abandoned the practice. I see some such discussion in Polygamy in North America, but that article is linked only in an infobox at the bottom of the page. I'm going to make a wild guess and say that there has been some forceful criticism of polygyny over the years, e.g. among Enlightenment thinkers. There are those who regard it as a human rights violation. I realize that these topics are probably covered in other articles, but this article should at minimum link to these (in the article body, not just an infobox) and summarize criticism(s) in at least a sentence.

Some examples of recent criticism:

This is a massive NPOV problem and I'm tagging the article as such. regards, Middle 8 (talk) 08:16, 30 November 2011 (UTC)

Go ahead and improve the article, I have no problem with your criticism, just don't swap one POV for another and keep it consistent with WP general guidelines. No one else has the time to fix it. I'll keep an eye on things and see how it looks. Montanabw(talk) 23:27, 30 November 2011 (UTC)
I'm not the guy to fix it; we need editors who know the subject area and can handle sourcing, WP:WEIGHT etc. Hopefully the tag will work as intended and attract such editors. regards, Middle 8 (talk) 02:43, 1 December 2011 (UTC)


I am writing a proposal to edit the Motivations section for my gender economics class at the University of Utah. I would like to edit the motivations section to include more of an economic scope as to why polygyny is used. I have done research and found information about rural Africa and how polygyny has been used as an economic advantage. However I would also like to include the consequences of polygyny on the well being of women and children, and the prevalence of HIV/AIDS among those women and children involved in polygyny. This topic needs to be added to Wikipedia because Wikipedia does not yet have substantial information or an existing entry on the role of polygyny on the economy and how polygyny affects the economy of rural African communities. I have found information on polygamy and the different types that are practiced. There are also existing entries on how prevalent polygamy is around the world. While the basic information and history of polygamy is available on Wikipedia the information I would like to go over is not available on Wikipedia yet. The economics of polygamy is different because it goes into detail how the family structure of polygamy has a strategic advantage in rural developing farming communities. This information proves to be important because overtime polygamy has played an important role on how economies develop in rural Africa. I plan to have many links to other Wikipedia entries seeing that this is a topic that has many unfamiliar topics that readers may need to be educated on as well. The topic I have chosen to add to Wikipedia is relevant because it will explain why polygyny is used in rural Africa and developing economies and how it can be beneficial and strategic to those who choose to develop economically through the use of polygyny. I would also like to add the consequences and constraints of having multiple wives. I also would like to include interventive and affluent polygyny in sub-Saharan Africa as motivations for practicing polygyny. I would like any feedback I can get specifically organizational techniques. Schmitt.ginny (talk) 02:20, 20 March 2012 (UTC)

Peer Review[edit]

In the #2 section (economics of polygamy) I would recommend copy editting for weasel words and implicit POV. The "nobody seems to doubt", is especially un-neutral. I would just reword a lot of the sentences to make it more descriptive. It seems to implicitly support a feminist perspective (this is a broad trend that can be difficult to remove). In 2.1, 2.2 and 4.1 there is no thesis sentence, adding a summarizing sentence will greatly enhance readability. In 2.3, we can't editorialize (like the academics we cite), phrases like "no doubt" in the first sentence is not appropriate for wikipedia etc. I'm confused on what "making reference" means exactly in the 4.3 section. Other than that, just minor copy editing for easier readability. Thekappen (talk) 06:32, 24 April 2012 (UTC)

Peer Response[edit]

Thanks for the feedback I have changed some of the wording errors noted above. I appreciate all of the work done to help improve the article contribution. (talk) 03:16, 25 April 2012 (UTC)

Peer Review[edit]

Really interesting article. From class I think the suggestions we gave were edited, like the grammar, the reorginization of the paragraphs and addition information. I think this article worked out and the new portion is relly solid. Bryner2 (talk) 16:03, 26 April 2012 (UTC)

Time dimension and tense[edit]

The opening sentence "Polygyny in Africa is widespread and is closely related to economic conditions" needs specification of time. "In late 20th century polygyny was... and was closely..." or, if it is ongoing, then something like "In early 21st century, polygamy in Africa continues to be practiced in regions where there is..." The claim for it being "widespread" needs to be supported with reference to a statistical source (such as "In country x, y% of marriages are/were estimated to be polygamous in <provide year>."). But the only source in the first few paragraphs is Boserup (1970), whose writing on polygamy is based on research from the 1940s-1960s. So, using the past tense is warranted. Also, start some sentences with "As discussed by Boserup (1970), based on historical data,...." and then add the reference at the end of the sentence. Give a read through to the entire article (economics of polygamy section) applying these changes in discussing an author's research, using the appropriate tense, and providing the year of study. Also, Boserup's book title refers to "Woman's" not "Women's."BerikG (talk) 05:16, 27 April 2012 (UTC)BerikG

I edited the "Critics" section. BerikG (talk) 05:27, 27 April 2012 (UTC)BerikG

Thanks for providing the list[edit]

I'm glad this section has a complete list of all the countries that allow polygyny. It provides a "whose who" of countries where as a woman, you'd NEVER want to live. Or even visit.

Delete material on animals[edit]

The Lead defines the article as about human behavior. There is a nod to biological reasons for polygyny, but the discussion of animals is totally unneeded and extraneous. This is not about sexual behavior among animals and humans. I am deleting the animal discussion.Parkwells (talk) 15:47, 14 October 2013 (UTC)


It's not illegal in europe to have several sexual partners, or to make children to several women, what's not possible is to marry several women as those countries only recognize civilian weddings. (talk) 21:52, 20 April 2014 (UTC)

Hong Kong[edit]

I think the case of Hong Kong is that if you have more than one wives at the time of the Marriage Act passes you can keep them (grandfathering). Perhaps updating the section may or may not be necessary. Thieh (talk) 22:52, 8 July 2014 (UTC)

  1. ^ Why Males Die Before Females