Friday, October 30, 2009

What is this, "hate on monogamy" week?

A number of articles have come out this week about monogamy, and the verdict seems to be "don't bother." Why? "It's not natural." Oh, and it's annoying and cumbersome for men, apparently.

I'm a monogamist. I'm also of the mind that whatever goes on in your bedroom (assuming adults and consent are involved) is none of my business. Whatever it is might not be for me, but if it's for you, why would I care? Monogamy is what feels right to me, and I get that it doesn't feel right to some people. Perfectly fine.

But Jason Whitlock of Fox Sports suggests in this column that not only is monogamy not natural (implication: something is wrong with it and those who practice it), it also hinders men and their careers (no mention of how it affects women, good or bad). He says "A heterosexual man's happiness is directly tied to his visitation privileges with PG [Pussy Galore]. Man is most happy when he is free to experience her pleasure in her varied forms, textures and styles of dress." He even blames gender equality for men's infidelity (stay in the house you damn attractive women, or else I simply must cheat on my spouse!) and goes on to say men who are "moderately famous" and making a certain salary should be allowed to cheat without consequences (no idea why he limits this to only some men). No mention from him if women, any women, should be "allowed" the same.

This is not only a tad bit insensitive to women involved in
monogamous relationships, and, well, to women in general, but what a horribly offensive way to describe men. This article can really be summed up in one sentence: "Men like pussy, so shut up and let them have it already." I strongly dislike when anyone sums up men in such simple terms. Sure, there are some men who might appear to be like that, and I'm guessing some men actually are like that. But not all men are, and just because Whitlock's favorite ESPN sports analyst, Steve Phillips, got fired for having an affair with an assistant doesn't make it permissible to whittle men down to simple sex creatures who absolutely have no self control. (Let's not forget that women cheat, too, even if Whitlock overlooks that fact.)

The "it's not natural" argument against monogamy is an old one, given all the time as an excuse for people who are cheating or want to. I don't know if it's "natural" or not, nor do I really care, because I do know it's possible. For me, it feels natural. So when I hear that it's not, I normally roll my eyes and move on, because here's the thing: If monogamy isn't natural for you, don't be in a monogamous relationship. Find like-minded partners and go for it. Do whatever you want, just be honest to all those involved. Don't partner up or get married and commit yourself to another person who believes you're going to be monogamous and then cheat. In other words, be an adult. Thinking about cheating? Talk to your partner/spouse. Or break up or get divorced, whatever. You have options, and the options include honesty.

It's beyond me as to why Whitlock never even hints at the concept of not entering into monogamous relationship if it's not for you, and instead says monogamy has to go. (By the way, I do understand that circumstances and relationships change; I'm not in any way saying you should be with one person your entire life, unless that's what you want and it works out for you. I just believe you should be honest with yourself and your partner(s) about what you want, able to trust them, and give them reason to trust you.)

Then there's this blog post by Dan Savage, "Monogamy isn't realistic." I've been reading and listening to Savage on and off for years now, but apparently not enough to know exactly how much he hates and belittles monogamists and the concept of monogamy. I have to say, this column kind of surprised me, and not in a good way. I am an avid supporter of everyone's right to marriage (or to not marry, whatever), gay or straight. It's something I passionately believe in. To see him say "[monogamy] is an unnatural lifestyle, and it's definitely a choice I wouldn't make," (again, unnatural = implying something is wrong with it) and "It's sad that monogamists can only defend their unnatural lifestyle choices by tearing down those of us who are in healthy, natural non-monogamous relationships," is, frankly, weird and confusing. After all the years he has spent advocating for gay rights (and other causes), he finds it OK to attack a different form of a relationship than the one he's in? Is he being sarcastic for the sake of it, or does he really believe this and think talking about monogamy and those who practice it in this manner is perfectly fine? I honestly don't get it.

Because those articles aren't enough, CNN also got into the mix; their story is what prompted Savage's column. Their article asks if monogamy is realistic, and tries to show both sides of the argument (to sum up: it's not natural, Americans are too uptight about it, but it's OK to want to be and to actually be monogamous). Even Psychology Today weighs in, with "The mysteries of pair bonding."

Where is all this coming from? Just because a few famous people got caught cheating on spouses? And because they did, monogamy is to blame, not the people who cheated? Uh-uh. You are responsible for your actions, you and you alone. An "outdated" idea didn't make anyone cheat on their spouses, so let's quit labeling monogamy as some unreasonable way to be in a relationship. Certainly don't go around saying "gender equality made me cheat," because not only is it a stupid excuse, but people have been cheating long before "gender equality" came around.

A couple more things: There's an interesting interview on AlterNet with Lauren Rosewarne, the author of "Cheating on the Sisterhood: Infidelity and Feminism." This aspect of cheating isn't discussed often -- at least not that I see -- and the interview is a good read, particularly after reading all that crap above.

Also, because I mentioned Steve Phillips and his affair, this Deadspin article needs to be looked at. The girl he had the affair with, as the title of the article suggests, is getting the "Lewinsky treatment." Because the girl isn't a size-zero super model, she's been called ... well, the article lists what she's been called better than I could. I've run into numerous comments on the Internet lambasting this girl, and Phillips for sleeping with her, just because the people commenting don't find her attractive. Never one thought given to the idea that maybe he finds her attractive, or that there's something else about her he's drawn to. Nope, just a chorus of "ewww's."


Allyssa said...

Seriously! You took the words right out of my mouth. The points about Dan Savage are especially interesting and true.

Funny that all this is happening around the same time as Britney Spear's "3" video release (a song about threesomes). Coincidence? Haha.

I'm in a monogamous relationship currently - I don't know if it'll be that way forever, but I do know I accept people's personal choices about their relationships as just that - their CHOICE. It's really sad to hear someone like Savage put down a type of relationship he doesn't agree with. As if there are no flaws in some people's non-monogamous relationships?

Grr! This just makes me angry. It's ridiculous. Thank you for saying what needed to be said about it though =]

Gloria said...

I completely believe that people have a right to their own choices, but...

The word infidelity literally means to be not faithful. I think it's hard to maintain trust when you feel like your partner's commitment to you can be weakened or lost at any time when the relationship is not monogamous. That kind of risk is fine if that involves just two people, but it can be devastating when there are children involved and a family is torn apart. I thought Dan Savage has children?

Admin said...

Ahh, Savage is just having a hissy fit over constantly being judged as a freak by people in monogamous relationships. Those of us in open, polyamorous relationships are always under attack by the monogamy police because of our lifestyle and tend to sometimes flip the script about what is considered normal. Openly polyamorous couples face the comments from monogamists that we shouldn't marry, we shouldn't have children, we shouldn't adopt, etc and that's why he is being sarcastic and tongue in cheek to those who are in his type of lifestyle.

I personally think that monogamy is natural for some people, and not for others. But what's most important more than anything for people who do not consider themselves to be monogamous is being honest about it with your partner as you mentioned. And people in polyamorous relationships like Savage have a code of honesty and choose to be in such a relationship, not like the cheater bastards who lie to their partners and do it behind their back. Monogamy is not for me, but I also most definitely do NOT support anyone who goes behind their partners back and/or is with a partner who really doesn't truly accept the lifestyle.


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