Saturday, September 19, 2020

[wuhzdyvr] Modern wealthy polygamy and poor polyandry

The story goes, in ancient China, polygamy was permitted, so wealthy men took many wives.  This resulted in a shortage of women among the poor, so, among the poor, women took many husbands (polyandry).  (What was the experience of polyandry like among the poor in ancient China?)

The incentives and asymmetric social structures encouraging women to seek wealthy husbands still exists in modern American society (and likely elsewhere).  Despite polygamy being officially illegal, we hypothesize wealthy men often have informal arrangements with multiple women.  (Perhaps formal arrangements as well.)  Therefore, we expect to see the same shortage of women among the poor as ancient China did.  Then, are informal polyandrous arrangements also happening in modern society as a consequence?

Perhaps no: instead, the shortage of women might be fueling incel anger and might be the driving force behind its (disorganized) political movement.  (Is this shortage of women the reason why dating sites need to create huge numbers of fake profiles of women?  Ashley Madison's fake profiles were backed by chatbots.)

Perhaps yes, hiding in plain sight.  With arranged marriages now being uncommon, people typically will date multiple people over their lifetime.  Even if relationships are one at a time (serial monogamy), if the rate of or time interval between "having a partner" differs between men and women, then, from a population standpoint, it could look the same as polyandry: a smaller number of women (having a greater rate of partners) joins with a larger number of men (having a lower rate of partners).  (Inspired by hook-up culture.)

We can imagine testing this hypothesis of "differing rates" between genders, but there are difficulties: "Having a girlfriend/boyfriend" is sometimes nebulous: Has the relationship started?  Has it ended?  Perhaps measure the rate of having sex, because sex is more concrete, though even that is often nebulous: was it sex?  And sex means very different things to different people: the end all be all of human existence, or just a means to an end.

Consider instead analyzing "A is being romantically satisfied by B" as what we really care about.  We evaluate romantic satisfaction from the point of view of the person being satisfied, not the person doing the satisfying.  It could be, and probably often is, asymmetric (not commutative), not mutually satisfying.  This seems tricky to analyze.  Is counting the number of A for each B and vice versa the right way to go?  What do we do about situations in which B is an attractive entertainer and has many A fans?  Is it a real relationship or just in your mind?  Isn't everything always just in our minds (Plato's Cave)?

Assuming the forces that might be causing a shortage of women or might be causing other social effects are real, how can the magnitude of the forces or their effects be quantified, in order to compare them across time or geographically?

Previously, other speculation around wealthy men taking multiple partners.

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