On monogamy

Our society has a strong prejudice toward the monogamous married relationship. Events since the 1960s haven't changed it that much, either: while sex before marriage is pretty much accepted now, it is still believed that one should be 'faithful' (monogamous) to one's current partner; and the current movement toward gay 'marriage' is based on extending this ideal to homosexual persons, not on changing it. It is probably fair to say that the majority of all Americans today, even if they were being completely honest, would say that 'cheating' is wrong, and likely this applies as much or more to men as to women. It's not unreasonable to ask why this is so, and especially from the perspective of men's rights, as the double standard considering 'cheating' by men worse than that by women is now notorious.

Now when I discuss people's sexual behavior I wish to refer implicitly to certain groups of people, and I'd like for once to state what those are. First, I exclude homosexual males; they have very much different sexual ethics, on average, than the rest of us - whether they should is another question, but they do in our world. Second, I include strictly only adults below a certain age at which sex becomes relatively less important, or not at all. For women the menopause is the obvious age to use; for men, about 60 is probably natural, while some men seem to lose interest earlier than that, they are presumably suffering the corrosive effects of monogamy. Finally, anyone having extremely low sex drive for other reasons, or clearly abnormal sexual behavior due to obvious situational factors, etc, is excluded. I insist then that these not be used as counter-examples. I would also like to cite my previous essay 'The feminist capitalist complex' ( http://groups.google.com/group/soc.men/msg/b36719c4704edc61 ) which asked whether we should live in 'households' (I assume I don't have to define that), with its obvious connection to monogamous marriage.

I don't think anyone can maintain that strict monogamy is natural, at least for men. If a man in a long-term marriage hasn't had an affair, he's probably been in a situation where he was tempted to make a decision that would lead to one. Why men would remain monogamous, of course, does not have a single answer, though we may surmise the two basic causes to be fear of the wife finding out (and what she might do then) and a belief that it is immoral, which was traditionally considered religious but now seems to be explained in a secular fashion most of the time. On the other hand, extreme promiscuity is arguably deviant, also; for we can see through much of our history that men that could afford it had mistresses rather than relying on prostitutes for their sexual needs, and today again married men that cheat are most likely to have affairs that last some length of time. Put another way, people of both sexes are likely to seek emotional relationships to go along with the sex and we can fairly say that those that don't (and such promiscuity obviously demands lack of that connection) are pathological in some way.

Let me talk about 'polyamory', which some may have heard is a new word that many people are applying to consensual non-monogamy. I object to the word and to the movement, and feel that identifying it with men's natural polygamous tendencies is very wrong, and further that no one in the men's movement ought to support it. The word 'polyamory' has a Greek prefix with a Latin root, but that itself doesn't make it unacceptable: so do 'television' and 'automobile'. No, what should make it unacceptable are its connotations. First, why do we need a name for something that natural to us? It is clearly to set it up as though a sexual orientation, or a minority practice like S&M. The comparisons of course are ridiculous: one can be a homosexual or a heterosexual, but not a 'polyamorist'; and while it is possible to practise polyamory, it is not because one has a special affinity for the act. They've taken a truth that applies to everyone and made it out to apply to a small minority. Nor does the polyamory movement appear to support men's desires at all - rather, it seems to be entirely female-centered. Everything I have seen from the poly people was written by a woman or by a man that behaves clearly subserviently to his wife. I have seen them excuse just about any sort of behavior by a woman, but attack any attempt by a man to engage in any sexual behavior without the full prior consent of his wife. This may not be the view or every single polyamory supporter, but it definitely is the main thrust. I should add that this is one thing that polyamory and 'swinging' do share.

Men's natural polygamous behavior has nothing to do with seeking consent from one's woman; not that we wish to hurt her, but we simply see it as a legitimate exercise of our freedom. The more egalitarian form of this practice sees the same freedom extended to women (at least if no children result); this would be one sort of 'open marriage', a kind that would really be equal (as opposed to the polyamorist or swinging female-dominated sorts). Continuing in this vein, we come to the 'group marriage', which is naturally like a conventional marriage, but with more than 2 partners. The polyamory movement wishes to claim this, but in practice only when it is the woman's idea (hence their rejection of all traditional polygamy and keeping of mistresses). Their is a difference between such marriages where all partners are expected to remain sexually faithful to the marriage (which they call 'polyfidelity') and those which are 'open'; the ambiguity between these is another reason not to use the word 'polyamory'. The fact that there are apparently so few group marriages, and they seem to not last very long, is no doubt to be largely attributed to the lack of the social support that monogamous marriages have and not necessarily to inherent instability. And here, finally, I will mention children; truly raising children is the main purpose of marriage (even if many have no children) and the only real non-religious justification of the concept. While the traditional concept fully acknowledged the reproductive role in sexual relationships, it is not an exaggeration to say that the polyamorists virtually exclude children, which doubtless contributes to that instability.

So, should it be legitimate to raise children in a 'group marriage'? I think it obviously should. If two parents are better than one (something is which everyone agrees), then three or more should be even better. The presence of any additional adults mitigates women's natural tyrannical tendencies, to everyone's benefit. And let me interject that it's really important that the parents love each other, an adversarial relationship between them really can't be hidden from the children, and poisons the atmosphere; I would say indeed (based on personal experience) that this in general is more important to children than any material things they may have during childhood, which fade, while psychological influence does not. There is no reason why this or any other decent form of non-monogamy should be hidden from the children, either; children are not necessarily exposed to sex any more in such a situation than in a traditional marriage, so that moral argument doesn't work. Now, of course, I must modify that statement by saying that there social prejudice against it, which may be an unfortunate motive for keeping it secret, and especially that CPS may employ it as a weapon to remove children, which only further points out the essential bad nature of CPS, a point I have made over and over (see, for example, http://groups.google.com/group/alt.support.child-protective-services/browse_thread/thread/2696ebd1ada3638/03f02c52ed9d177f?q=tyranny&lnk=ol& ), and is even more unfortunate a motive. This is most disturbing because of the current acceptance of gay marriages with children, which compared to heterosexual non-monogamy are even more non-traditional and unnatural (since two men or two women can not naturally produce children); this disparity is entrenched because the gay liberation movement has become part of political correctness and their pretence to be the same as traditional marriage with the genders interchangeable.

(I suppose I need to add that I am not advocating 'group marriage' or non-monogamy, or even saying they are a good idea, only permissible.)

So is monogamy a good thing? I don't think I could answer 'yes' or 'no' with conviction, for there are reasons to believe both. The precise fact that it is so traditional indicates that it can't be that bad, but to some extent the traditional preference is a kind of hypocrisy, and I am convinced hypocrisy is never a good thing.

This is an essay created by Andrew Usher. Please do not edit it; but only comment in discussion.

Also see the original Usenet thread in which this was posted:

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