Friday, September 18, 2015

Fractional Husbands. On How To Define Polygyny.

This post is from the imaginary series of what weird stuff Echidne's mind latched onto when it was supposed to do real work, and has to do with the way polygyny is traditionally defined:  One man with more than one wife, ranging from two to some very large number.

But suppose we flip that around, without changing the truth value of the definition at all:  One woman with a fraction of a husband, the size of the fraction depending on how many women have to share him.

Isn't that fun?  The first definition of polygyny sounds like a potentially good thing for the lucky husband*:  lots of sexual variation, lots of opportunity to make the wives compete with each other for attention, lots of power.

The second definition (mine) shows why polygyny may not be a good thing for any woman who would prefer at least one whole husband. 

All that is simplified.  But the basic nature of polygyny is that the women are expected to share, and not only the one husband, but also his resources, including any inheritance he might one day leave behind.  And all the children must compete for the one man's attention.

Then there is the traditional division of power in polygyny:  The lion's share of it goes to the husband.  But even if that aspect was fixed the general sharing problem would remain.

*But not for all those heterosexual men who won't find even one wife because someone else is taking more than one.  That's a real problem, given the fairly equal sex ratios at birth, at least in the absence of enough warfare to kill lots of men.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

The GOP Debate I Didn't Watch

I didn't watch last night's debate because
a) life is short,
b) I can watch pretend-wrestling done by more skilled people elsewhere and
c) it's too early to be drawn into giving fluffy style points for how the (suicidal?) dives of various wannabe candidates might look.

So my comments here are based on a few things others have written about the debate.

For the political geeks the debate was about the Republican power structure trying to get rid of Donald Trump's popularity surge.  But Manly Billionaires Who Know Nothing have always been dear to the heart of many American voters.  (If that guy made so much money (after having inherited a load of it), surely he must be capable of steering the still-most-powerful country in the world?  Just look at Atlantic City today!  And all his wives looked like fashion models!  He clearly lurves women and will be great for women's rights.  That autism comment?  Who cares!  The guy is a plain talker who calls it as he sees it.)

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Speech Codes, Trigger Warnings And Universities. Or The Coddling of the American Mind.

Even the president chipped in on the question of trigger warnings in US college courses:

It’s not just sometimes folks who are mad that colleges are too liberal that have a problem. Sometimes there are folks on college campuses who are liberal, and maybe even agree with me on a bunch of issues, who sometimes aren’t listening to the other side, and that’s a problem too. I’ve heard some college campuses where they don’t want to have a guest speaker who is too conservative or they don’t want to read a book if it has language that is offensive to African-Americans or somehow sends a demeaning signal towards women. I gotta tell you, I don’t agree with that either. I don’t agree that you, when you become students at colleges, have to be coddled and protected from different points of view. I think you should be able to — anybody who comes to speak to you and you disagree with, you should have an argument with ‘em. But you shouldn’t silence them by saying, "You can’t come because I'm too sensitive to hear what you have to say." That’s not the way we learn either.

Bolds are mine.

This topic has gotten wider attention, with The Coddling of the American Mind article in the Atlantic Monthly by Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt,  though feminists such as Jill Filipovic, Roxane Gay and Jessica Valenti have all written about the possible negative consequences of trigger warnings and such in college courses, as this recent article by Marcie Bianco points out.

So what do I think about this all?