Noting that there are more women than men over the age of 60, and that women over age 60 often are widowed and may "subsist on inadequate diets and live in a state of sexual frustration," Utah physician Victor Kassel proposed a solution: allow men over age 60 to have more than one wife. In this way, many lonely, older women might once again have a husband, albeit one they're sharing
The Baytown Sun - Apr 19, 1966
In later remarks, Kassel complained that the publicity which his proposal received overemphasized the sexual aspects of his proposal. But to be fair to the media, he himself drew attention to some of the sexual benefits (for men) of polygyny:
Kassel said it is true an older man's problems with sex lie with boredom rather than impotency. "With three, four or five wives," Kassel said, "he wouldn't be bored any longer."
left: Idaho Daily Statesman - Sep 11, 1966; right: Fort Lauderdale News - Apr 16, 1966
One English wife offered the following response to Kassel's proposal:
Sunday Mirror - Apr 24, 1966
Some general remarks:
- I don't know why many news articles referred to him as "Victory Kassel". His name was Victor.
- The media frequently said he was promoting polygamy (multiple spouses), when he was actually, more specifically, advocating polygyny (multiple wives).
- One might assume that because Kassel lived in Salt Lake City and was promoting polygyny, that he was Mormon. He was actually Jewish, born in New York City.
- According to his obituary published in The Deseret News (Mar 11, 2005), he later admitted that his proposal was "tongue-in-cheek". I managed to find a reprint of his article and made a pdf copy of it. Parts of it do seem like he was trying to be intentionally outrageous, such as the passage below. But judge for yourself.
Many aged persons are uninterested in their appearance, change their undergarments infrequently, bathe inadequately, and seldom cleanse their external excretory organs. Polygyny offers to the woman someone for whom to compete. The man, on the other hand, is interested in being courted. Each person will do his or her best to upgrade appearances, each will be alert to the advantages gained by the competitor, and each will learn the tricks of becoming more attractive. The end result must be finer-appearing older citizens.
It can be argued that the jealousy aroused as the result of the competition would be carried to an extreme by the women and would disrupt the quiet, peaceful home. This may occur. But when there is a choice between uninterested, dowdy, foul-smelling hags and alert, interested, smartly dressed ladies, the selection is obvious.
Category: Elderly and Seniors | Marriage | 1960s