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Polygamy's Surprising Feminist Roots

Globally, the prevailing form of polygamy is of one man with multiple wives – generally older men marrying younger wives. Social scientists have quantified that crime rates are higher in those cultures, with younger men having few prospects for family life. And it is no great shakes for young, often pre-pubescent girls forced into marriage by culture, economics, and tradition. Here in America, polygamy is associated with fundamentalist Mormons, Warren Jeffs’harem of underage girls, or HBO's "Big Love."

Absent from the conversation is the possibility that plural marriage could have deep feminist roots.  Radical utopians in the Victorian era and  progressive-era anarchists, and free-love era feminists  renounced traditional marriage. And today, communities of women are championing polyamory as an alternative lifestyle. Libby Copeland traces the pro-female historyof polyamory for Slate.

Virginia Prescott is the Gracie Award-winning host of Word of Mouth, Civics 101, The 10-Minute Writers Workshop podcasts, and the Writers on A New England Stage series on New Hampshire Public Radio. Prior to joining NHPR, she was editor, producer, and director for NPR programs On Point and Here & Now, and directed interactive media for New York Public Radio.
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