But first off, let's clarify some terms. Many people (including that movie) think "polygamy" as "a family with one husband and more than one wives". That's inaccurate; the social construction of male superiority should be held responsible for this fallacy. Polygamy is a gender neutral term. It means marriage to more than one spouse simultaneously (more on the epistome here). So, when a man has two or more wives, we call that polygyny. If a woman has two or more husbands that's polyandry. The movie Berbagi Suami is a story (three stories, actually) about polygyny (you with HBO, think about Big Love).
University of Michigan's Ted Bergstrom has an interesting paper on polyginy. Borrowing an approach used by evolutionary biologists, he concludes:
A society that allows polygamy and stable property rights will usually have positive bride prices and some polygynous marriages. In such a society, bride prices will go not to the bride, but to her male relatives and all women be allocated the same amount of resources by their husbands. The greater the amount of material resources available per woman in the society, the higher will be bride prices and the greater the amount of resources allocated to each woman. However, in societies with sufficiently low amounts of resources per woman, instead of positive bride prices there will be dowries, which unlike bridewealth, are paid directly to the newly married couple. In such a society dowries will be of approximately the same size as the inheritance of males who marry.In plain words, Bergstrom is saying that polygyny is likely to increase the "value" of women. Isn't that a good thing, ladies?
Here's more on the debate with econ points of view: Gary Becker (women better off in polyginous society), Tyler Cowen (polygamy makes children worse off), Alex Tabarrok (polygyny good for working women), David Friedman (polygyny good for women, polyandry good for men), Tim Harford (it's just a math), and Robert Frank (the victims of polygyny are men, not women).
So, now. Where do I stand on this polygamy thing? I don't disagree with it. Hm, will I do it? No. Why? Because I don't believe I can be equally fair and just to the wives. I, for one, don't like to be ill-treated. And it's always two-way direction.