Historically, from a human rights standpoint, polygamy has been associated with male domination and women being treated as little more than property. In his book The History of Human Marriage, Edward Westermarck equated monogamy with women’s rights and progressive societies:
When the feelings of women are held in due respect, monogamy will necessarily be the only recognized form of marriage. In no way does the progress of mankind show itself more clearly than in the increased acknowledgment of women’s rights, and the causes which, at lower stages of development, may make polygyny desired by women themselves, do not exist in highly civilized societies.
After studying polygamists in cultures around the world — from African tribes to Native Americans to Muslims to well-heeled Europeans — he concluded that humans naturally gravitate to monogamy and that even within polygamous relationships, monogamous trends occur:
Where polygyny occurs, it is modified, as a rule, in ways that tend toward monogamy: first through the higher position granted to one of the wives, generally the first married; secondly through the preference given by the husband to his favourite wife as regards sexual intercourse…It remains for us to note the true monogamous instinct, the absorbing passions for one, as a powerful obstacle for monogamy. “The sociable interest,” Professor Bain remarks, “is by its nature diffused: even the maternal feeling admits of plurality of objects; revenge does not desire but to have one victim; the love of domination needs many subjects; but the greatest intensity of love limits the regards to one.” The beloved person acquires, in the imagination of the lover, an immeasurable superiority over all others. “The beginnings of a special affection,” the same psychologist says, “turn upon a small difference of liking; but such differences are easily exaggerated; the feeling and the estimate acting and reacting till the distinction becomes altogether transcendent.”
Westermarck expresses what most of us know instinctively: women have a deep, abiding need for exclusive love. Despite 30+ years of feminist propaganda trying to convince us otherwise, we have a God-given desire for the security of a relationship with one man, for life. It’s why an estimated two billion people watched the wedding of Britain’s Prince William and his lovely bride Kate Middleton and the reason for the ubiquitous “chick flick.” Fairy tales sell — women still want the knight in shining armor and the happy ending.
It’s also the reason the Brown wives struggle with jealousy in their marriage. They fight against their natural inclinations when they share their husband and settle for a part-time lover and partner.