Saturday, January 16, 2010

The (Anti) Monogamy Post, Part II

Well now, it has come to my attention that this blog has become entirely too top-heavy with respect to the men-as-cheaters cliché so common among women. It's incumbent on me, therefor, to advance my anti-monogamy musings of last spring by explaining why this particular lament is not completely due to the dastardly nature of men themselves but more on social structures lamentably created -- 'tis true -- by penile-bearing creatures. Katchita, you will say, whatever can that tortured sentence be on about?! Well, dear readers, after struggling with this issue for years, I've decided it comes down to a simple question of bioanthropology.

Anti-Monogamy Theorem 1: Men have one and only one job: to impregnate as many women as possible.
Corollary to Theorem 1: Men must be constantly cruising and at the ready, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

It's their nature, my dears; they really can't help themselves. I'll continue:

Anti-Monogamy Theorem 2:
Women have one and only one job: to effectively raise their offspring, which they accomplish by obtaining as many protectors as possible.
Corollary to Theorem 2: Women must be sexually receptive to multiple men, either simultaneously, and/or in relatively close temporal succession.

It's our nature, darlings; we really can't help ourselves. My conclusion, then? That the most evolutionarily adapted among us, the ones best equipped to pass on our genes, are, if you'll pardon my language, simply going to fuck around. And the more we fuck around, the more we produce fuckers-around, and on and on it goes.

Well now, you may (perhaps) stipulate to my argument, but of course there's the more insidious problem of those societal constructs to which I was just alluding, now isn't there? And that's where the problem for women (or at least women like me) really comes in. Because those of us who've decided monogamy is not only anthropologically unrealistic, but who have, in addition, attempted to be open about and true to our beliefs, do, I'm afraid suffer. On a regular basis. Because what is more threatening to basic social constructs than a group of thoughtful, mouthy women who say, wait a minute, I'm not interested in participating in your tired old models? More on this later, my dears, but for now I'm girding my loins for another skirmish in the anti-monogamy battle.


ian in hamburg said...

Looking forward to more. Are you a fan of roissy in dc then?
Your theory is great as a theory, but in practise falls flat. Suppose all this screwing around produces the children it's supposed to?
Children need stable homes with sensible parents who love each other as role models and who set boundaries so that the kids will in turn know how to set them for themselves. Sounds out-dated, old-fashioned and out of place for today's lifestyle, but it's true. Ever notice that whenever you meet someone burdened with issues there's a childhood story of abandonment in the form of abuse, neglect, multiple partners or even quite simply divorce?

Anonymous said...

I would say that Katchyta's theory, which is clearly based on the old biological mutation/evolutionary mechanism, needs a new dynamic to explain the complexity of her main conclusion.

I would postulate that, rather than producing more offspring in the classical evolutionary paradigm (which I have no intention to do) the "fucking around" dynamic is actually fueling the new evolution - one focused on complex intellectual and emotional development.

The classic stable family setting serves as a great escape from any profound intellectual or emotional development, having become it's own glorious sunset, one from which there is no new dawn.

just my two cents

Anonymous said...

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Katchita said...

Lots to think about, thanks to your comments. Not least of which is how this might be influencing college students, hmmmm. Now then, I've observed that anti-monogamists seem amazingly reticent to reproduce (it may have something to do with consciously examining and rejecting those societal norms and models). Anonymous, perhaps you'd agree?

What I was alluding to with my survival-of-the-fittest argument is that it's the cheaters who tend to have the children (as do non-cheaters, of course). I would never deny that children need and deserve good homes, but cheating doesn't necessarily go hand-in-hand with poor parenting. Indeed, I argue that there are good evolutionary reasons for cheating (to expand the gene pool of one's offspring and, for women, to bring more resources into one's family circle).

I continue to maintain that fucking around is alive and well in human evolutionary development. But the cheaters are the ones best positioned to pass on their particular behaviors. As much as I may dislike it, I don't see that changing any time soon.

Anonymous said...

The "college student" is Chinese blog spam.

Anonymous said...

Non-monogamy is about one thing–sex. And sex is good. And sex with different people–either concurrently or over the course of a lifetime–is good too. Sex is so good that some people are addicted to it. Sex makes people do crazy things and it makes people feel amazing things. I love it just as much as anyone else, but there is more to life than sex.

I am pretty sure that the words on your deathbed won’t be “I wish I had had more sex with more people.” Maybe if you are a pervert, or if you didn’t get much action in your life, you would say that, but most people wouldn’t. Most people would say that they would have spent more time with their families, or that they wished they had worked less. They want more time with their wives, or they regret not pursuing a dream. Unless someone is being a smartass on his deathbed, he’s not going to even think about sex when his number’s up.

I lived in San Francisco. Non-monogamy (or polyamory as it is called there) is a big topic in the city. Out there, everybody’s doing it. And if everyone is doing it there, then it’s probably already in or coming to a town near you.

Here’s the definition of monogamy:

1 archaic : the practice of marrying only once during a lifetime 2 : the state or custom of being married to one person at a time 3 : the condition or practice of having a single mate during a period of time

Notice anything? Right off the bat, Webster’s is linking monogamy to marriage, and they should, because monogamy comes from monos (alone, single) + gamos (marriage). Monogamy used to be about being with one person forever, and now it’s been updated to mean the state or “custom” of being married to one person at a time. The logical opposite of monogamy is polygamy, being married to more than one person at a time, and not very many people (publicly) support that.

So, then, what threatens monogamy? Certainly divorce, but what causes divorce? Lots of things, but the thing that I am concerned with most is–you guessed it–sex. More than anything else, sex with other people seems to violate the contract of marriage, and, in turn, monogamy. Sure, people still associate monogamy with marriage, but most people nowadays associate monogamy (or open relationships) with sex. And the majority of people also throw in love. If you love someone, you don’t have sex with someone else. If you are married, you don’t have sex with someone else. If you are monogamous, you don’t have sex with someone else. So, bottom line–love, sex, and marriage are all implicated in monogamy.

Look, I’m old-fashioned; I’m okay with it and not hiding it at all. I want the lifetime partner, “the one,” the soul mate. I want the house. I want the dogs. I want the kids. If I had a white picket fence–well as long as it doesn’t enclose a yard in the suburbs, I would smile every time I looked out my window.

But I am not an idiot. I am not waiting for the knight in shining armor to save me so we can ride off into the sunset and live happily ever after. I know marriage takes work. It takes mind numbing, backbreaking work. Marriage is only a few words. It’s a promise that you won’t go anywhere, and you can’t. No matter what happens, you have to stick around. Well, that’s what it means to me.

Maybe not everyone is as old fashioned as me, and maybe there are many people who don’t want to get married, but I bet every person in the world who was offered a chance at true love would take it in a heartbeat and never let go. So why have some people given up on the possibility of being with one person forever, or at least at a time? Do we really believe monogamy is dead? Or impossible? Or is there something else going on here?....

Anonymous said...

....Our culture believes in love. Sure, people are getting divorced left and right, but we still believe in love. Love is in our stories, and our dreams. Love is in song and prose, in our poetry and art. It makes people feel more intense feelings than anything else does in this world, barring the feeling when you lose someone. But whenever you lose someone, the reason you hurt so much is because you loved him. Love is still the reason. Love is the reason for reasons.

A lot of people try and fail at open relationships, just like they do in monogamous relationships. Some succeed. I hear stories all the time. One couple has been together ten years, and open in the last three years. Some couples break up and get back together over and over again. I know a woman who has two kids with her partner, and gets her “night out” every two weeks so she can hook up. I know a couple where the woman is permitted to sleep with other women, not men, just because they see that as something totally unrelated to their marriage. I know another woman who is in a relationship of over ten years, who talks longingly about the time her and her partner had their husband living with them. Apparently, they took him home one night, and he didn’t leave for two years. The three of them slept in a king size bed together.

But no matter what I hear, I still don’t see that any of them are actually happier than couples in monogamous relationships. And I don’t see them staying together longer than their monogamous counterparts. And even if a true-love-non-monogamy thing was possible, why would we even want it? If we see and believe the connection between sex and emotions and love, why would we want to toss it around so casually?

Again, love, people. We are obsessed with it. It’s everywhere, all the time. Everyone wants it. Love is beautiful, all we need is love, (insert the millions of sayings about love here), love is a much splendored thing. Not even death can stop true love, Wesley says in the classic and hilarious The Princess Bride. Death can only delay it. It is the only reason Wesley lives, and the only reason he is brought back from the dead. Love transcends everything. Even the Christians agree–God is love.

So, to sum up so far. Sex=emotions=love=beauty=the only reason=transcendence. But that line started with sex, and though sex can make you feel hella transcendent, it isn’t transcendence itself. If love is protected and respected for the amazing and beautiful thing it is, then we need to honor that, and doing Susie in the bathroom at the nightclub with Donna at home watching CSI is not honoring love. It is belittling it. It is diminishing it. It’s not cool....

Anonymous said...

....But there are firm believers in open relationships. They say it keeps things fresh. They say it is realistic. They say it is honest and practical. They say they don’t believe in monogamy, and as long as you are honest with your partner, open relationships work. They say a million different things, but just about all of them say this: being non-monogamous is what keeps them together. This implies that without the joy of screwing other people, they would not be together. Basically, they are saying that they would leave each other if they couldn’t have sex with other people. If staying together is marriage=love, then how could having sex with other people truly contribute to its sanctity?

Oh Amy, when I was getting dirty with Trish the other night, I couldn’t help but think of our two-year anniversary party. Oh Julia, when you were at Scott’s party giving Paul a doozy last weekend, I was just home thinking how great thing are going between us. Baby, when I was fooling around with Carla the other night, she started sighing just like you! Darling! I love you so much. Please use a condom, I am not so sure that I didn’t catch Rob’s Herpes. Sorry I’m so tired, Sweetie, that three-way last night really wore me out. We’ll talk about the vacation tomorrow.

How does this honor love and commitment to each other? If your life is dotted with random sexual partners while building a solid relationship, then what is your relationship really about? Is it precious? Is it fulfilling? Is it beautiful? Is it real?

What makes a relationship something that people want to hold onto? What makes it special? Intimacy with your partner? Shared goals? Sex? I think the thing that makes a relationship special is that you are with the person you love. It’s special because it is two people doing something together that they are not doing with anyone else. That’s what marriage is, and the reason we outlaw polygamy is to preserve the sanctity (specialness) of marriage (love and sex).

Why would you want to preserve something that isn’t special and beautiful anyway?

Anonymous said...

....Maybe I just don’t get it. Maybe because I am the way I am, and have a hard time separating sex from emotion (love), I can’t possibly see the awesomeness of open relationships. And certainly, I want people to do what they want to do. I would never judge others for being non-monogamous, I just won’t date them.

I just feel–and it’s a gut feeling–that there’s something larger going on beneath the surface. It’s just a hunch, but I really think that it’s not monogamy that people don’t believe in. People who are into open relationships will tell you that they don’t believe in having sex with one person and that same person forever. But I don’t believe it. I think they don’t really believe in love, and I think they force themselves to deal with the thought of the person they love having sex with other people because they think that’s the only way to really hold onto their love.

I think what motivates people is often fear of loss or getting hurt, so they dumb down their relationships in order to protect themselves against pain. But people who do all they can to avoid pain, and I am often guilty of that myself, never truly get all the great feelings because they are constantly worried about the bad feelings. Pain and loss exist to make happiness and love feel even better.

If you don’t believe in “the one,” can you at least respect the one you are with right now enough to not sleep with everyone else? If non-monogamy is practical and “saves” relationships, then why do they break up just as often as monogamous couples do? If you are probably going to break up anyway, then why not at least have something special along the way? There is nothing you can do to avoid pain, so why not truly value joy while you have it?

Again, from The Princess Bride, “Life is pain, Highness. Anyone who says differently is selling something.” And as for me, when it comes to the monogamy/anti-monogamy battle the Colours I raise on the battlefield as a rallying point are those of love.

Katchita said...

I'll throw in a musical quote of my own: "What's love got to do, got to do with it (do doo, do do doo)?" Seriously, though, love is nothing more than a set of stimulatory neurotransmitters produced during sex that serve to facilitate pair-bonding and thus the successful raising of offspring.

Anonymous said...

Love is something that you and I must have. We must have it because our spirit feeds upon it. We must have it because without it we become faint and weak. Without love our self-esteem weakens. Without it our courage fails. Without love we can no longer look confidently at the world. We turn inward and begin to ...feed upon our own personalities and little by little we destroy ourselves. With love we are creative. With love we march tirelessly. With love and with love alone we are able to sacrifice for others. ~ Chief Dan George