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Why the Lost History of Multiple Marriages Matters

The theme for this years con is silenced voices. Today we’re looking at the history of multiple marriages and why it matters.


The long history of multiple marriages and more-than-two relationships has been unwritten.

Ask just about anyone in America and they will tell you that monogamy is ‘natural’ and that it is the ‘normal’ type of relationship. Yet, historically polygamy was more common than monogamy. By most colloquial measures of “natural” and “normal,” polygamy is the world wide historical norm. Counting social polygamy as well as legal polygamy makes exclusive monogamy a distinct minority.

Much like historical versions of monogamous marriage, historical versions of polygamy aren’t likely to be appealing to most people in the English speaking world today. But that doesn’t mean they don’t matter.

Modern types of multi-linking didn’t just spring out of the ground like Athena from Zeus’ head. Our relationship practices evolved from The Oneida Community, the Black Panthers and many other groups and communities that came before us. And they were shaped by what came before them. But this history, our history, has been lost to us.

Some of the many silenced voices we want to be heard.

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