Monday, March 06, 2006



Two people just had a big discussion about monogamy. Their respective positions are outlined below:

A: Monogamy is an unnatural state. Primates aren't monogamous. We wouldn't be here now if our ancestors were monogamous. People get married out of fear. Limiting yourself to one person puts you at a disadvantage.

B: Monogamy can be a symbiotic commitment that transcends the mundane. Complacency is not the effect of monogamy...on the contrary, it is often the cause for infidelity. Human consciousness enables people to rise above the level of primates and attain great spiritual depth by choosing monogamy.

What do you think?

It soundslike this is one of these self-fulfilling prophecy dealies, though I know which option I would prefer: choice 2. Of course the only way to verify this would be to scoop out your partner's brains and poke around, so I don't think that either of these is a perfect definition of monogomy...
Addendum to B: Not to say that infidelity is a positive attribute...

I choose B. I can understand A's viewpoint, but monogamy isn't necessarily unnatural or disadvantageous. From an economical standpoint, it seems like an odd choise, but we also have to remember that humans are jealous creatures. Polygamy might lead to distrust and chaos...or might force us to sacrifice our values and put us at the level of primates. I'm not very coherent today, but yeah...
Recently my ex-wife claimed that our dog was the only male in her life that hadn't left her. I had to point out that the dog was neutered & that there was a lock on the front gate. But never mind that...

Seriously, "The History of the World," by J.M. Roberts, points out this interesting fact: human beings are the only animal in which restriction of sexual attractiveness & receptivity to a period in which the female of the species is in heat has entirely disappeared. I think this makes consideration of sexual activity unique for us, even as opposed to primates, our closest cousins.

But monogamy is about more than just sex. We tend to forget that marriage, at most points of history & in most places on earth, has had little to do with love or sexual attraction. By & large marriage is an economic contract. It gives wealthy families a means of sustaining & proliferating their asssests & it gives poor families a partnership in subsistance. Childbearing is certainly key but is consistent with this broader economic agenda, as it establishes inheritance or provides additional labor. Divorce is usually a bad idea in any case because it works against the this economic logic.

That is different than trying to suggest that the relatively modern idea of sexual love as a basis for marriage is something that makes good sense or could be sustainable.
This is not a mere four hundred word question; but briefly: Monogamy is not a natural state but rather a discipline whether voluntary or societally imposed.

polygamy, bigamy, and prostitution etc. have always been with us for a reason.

Your second option dsplays some specious attitudes eg./ "Infidelity"
is only infidelity if the construct called 'fidelity' has been agreed
upon and engaged as a discipline. This discipline is often chosen because fear and insecurity and the societal norm of ownership and possession lead us to stake a chattel claim to another's affections, presence, and in worst- case-scenarios, their being and natural right to self determination.

The suggestion that the practise of monogamy might cause us, as humans,
to "rise above" other sentient beings, ("the level of the primates"), does not demonstrate our
"greater spiritual depth" but instead clearly illustrates the sick root attitude which has led us to impose global environmental degradation and species extinction.
Aren't most of us serial monogamists?
The word 'monogamy' means 'serial monogamy' according to the Oxford Dictionary, "state of being married to one person at a time". Those, who like geese have one partner for a lifetime are usually devotees of religious philosophy or human ethical constructs. This is OK, even occasionally laudable. Nevertheless it's no indication monogamous relationships are somehow instinctual activity.
being a poor single student having had no time for courting much less engagement and holy matrimonious conjugality it all seems like an attractive ball of coagulants...yet if i'm to trust the seeming candid and sincere comments of those with far greater experience whom i admire and whose judgement I trust by the scope of their accomplishments then it seems a narrow idea to decide upon exclusivity in those common cosmic relations at such a tender stage of study, unless the unification is driven by universal imperative, as has been the case in each of the trillions of extant histories of individual life on earth, and almost every form and variation of interface has blessings even in the wickedness of contrivedly perverse misalliance.
Monogamy was invented by men and is intended to be imposed on women, not on men. The purpose of monogamy is to insure that men know 'their' woman's offspring are their property, engendered from their sperm and carrying their genetic material. The purpose of polygamy is the same. The purpose of polyandry is to serve a woman's need to have the best results of exogamy (genetic mixing) and the best results of endogamy(a stable, nurturing, culturally compatible partner/protector during pregnancy and child-rearing). Monogamy does not serve women in either capacity. Between divorce rates, deadbeat dads, domestic violence perpetrated in the home, loss of civil rights in the married condition, and discriminatory differentials in salary for women in the workplace, all forms of marriage that are legal in most countries are nothing but a codified method of systematically robbing women of their labor, health, control over their own bodies and their sexual services, real property, personal property, and personal freedom. If some people experience symbiotic transcendence in a married state, bully for them. I doubt very much that marriage is the agent for that effect. They could achieve the same effect by being handcuffed together for life. Anyone who thinks humans as a species have risen above the level of primates has not noticed the annual rates of death due to war, murder, spousal abuse, and child abuse. They may have the illusion of being exalted above animality by virtue of their egos, but they have no more rational grounds for such a belief than they do for the Tooth Fairy.
I can't help forming deep emotional attachments to some people. I suppose that I would be a fan of monogamy, because I can only manage that amount of feeling for one person at a time. I'm sure it's also subconciously partly due to safety aspects of only attaching yourself to one male at a time when considering pregnancy and STDs. But I can't imagine attaching myself to one person for eternity.

If you commit to a relationship, then it should be obvious to you you that (if that's how you define relationships) there will be no infidelity. Outside a relationship situation and the deep emotional attachment it comes with, I suppose it's up to the individual how promiscuous they want to be.

If someone persuaded me to MARRY them, the depth of feeling I had for that individual would be such that I was happy in a completely monogamous state. That whole "love" thing is a bit beyond me at the moment though. Is that what they mean by "spiritual depth"?
Monogamy is a choice. I am a firm believer in the power of choice. When it comes to a mate, choose wisely.
Monogamous marriage evolves over the years into a center of caring and trust from which you can venture out into the cold, hard world with less apprehension of the consequences. This is a very important asset to have.
The bonobo primates are well above the human level in their capacity for using sexual encounters to defuse tensions between groups. When they encounter another troop, they send out their alpha females to have sex instead of their alpha males to have mortal combat. They are also above humans in their capacity to enjoy many kinds of sexual coupling and mutual grooming. They have cooperative and hedonistic values instead of harsh dominance behaviors. Pleasure and joy over misery and maleficence--show me a human society where that holds true!
well, if my hubby had the chance to bonk Anna Kornikova, i would tell him to "go for it"!
Some animals are monogamous.Some not.I guess being non monogamous is better to preserve the species.The more you try the more chances you have...
Our primate precursors inhabited a pack space, in which monogamy and polyamory had complementary roles. One might infer certain human proclivities from this. Alpha males, dominant, uncaring, sexed all comers, male, female, child, elder, everyone. Alpha wannabes conspired with certain peers & females to unseat the Old Guy, thus prefiguring monogamy in the conspiracy.
This state of "One does All" plus "Some couple up" is a steady state phenom in baboon packs today. But since we live 90 years, as opposed to baboon's 10 years, we have a later state unattained by the booners. Humans are, later on, innately monogamous. It helped to nurture a little thing called "culture", and, later.... "civilization".

Personally, I'd rather be a boon.

(Please don't tell me I already am).
ahora solo amo a mi amada!!! manana no se! hoy respeto para que me respeten!!
no me gusta ke nadie me este manosiando mi comida!! DO YOU ?
Monogamy is only good in a society where there is disease, and competition for nourishment.
My hubby and I only cheat together.
The concept of monogamy is a metaphor for the ideal of marriage – the smallest commitment two people can make to an idea or union bigger than themselves. The family is the cornerstone upon which civilization is built. It is a basic unit.
On the other hand, polygamous and/or poly-amorous unions can and do exist between loving and committed individuals.
I think it is a disservice to define an individual in terms of their sexual preference and an even bigger disservice to define a relationship in terms of sex, period.
Commitment to the family unit, however many may be included, is more important than the question of who is having sex with whom.
Monogamy of the body, well, okay. I am certainly a physically monogamous woman. Monogamy of the heart and mind ... Hm! That's something else.
I think there's a huge difference between monogamy because you want it, and monogamy because you think you have to have it. Too many people get married (or enter other monogamous relationships) with the thinking that their partner is worth the sacrifice of all other sexual (or romantic) encounters. I did this in my first marriage, and was miserable for the duration of it. I thought I would never marry again. My second marriage...or as I like to call it, my GOOD marriage...I entered into when I realized that to make a commitment to this man for life was no sacrifice at all. Well, I shouldn't say NO sacrifice, because there are little things I've had to give up. I'm no longer the queen of the thermostat and the remote, and frequently I eat things that I wouldn't have chosen on my own. It's a small price to pay for the knowledge that I have someone who loves me and is on my side, no matter what.

To person A I would say:

Primates aren't monogamous, but they also don't own property, use currency, read books, create art, bathe with soap and water, retire comfortably in their golden years, or make arguments against monogamy, for that matter. These things aren't natural to primates, and perhaps not to us either, but most of us value them. Unless you're willing to emulate apes all around, this argument is specious.

If you mean that our species would be extinct without the advantage of maximum possible breeding in the past, you may well be right. But look around you. We're in no danger of extinction now, in fact we seem to be facing overpopulation.

Yes, many people get married out of fear. Many people also get married for far better reasons. Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater.

I can't accept that limiting yourself to one person puts you at a disadvantage. The fact is that with every choice there are advantages and disadvantages. If that weren't true every decision would be easy. If you mean that it puts your at a disadvantage in terms of the survival of your genes then you may be correct, but you're also flattering yourself into believing there is something very special about your DNA. A species needs variety to survive, true, but with a thriving population of over 6 billion we have plenty of genetic diversity without the need for anyone to spread his seed far and wide.

And then I would suggest to person A that if he doesn't wish to be monogamous, then by all means, don't. But to rule it out as an option is as foolish as holding the belief that you must be monogamous whether or not you want to, and holding such a philosophy could cost him a great deal of happiness at some point in his life.
Monogamous relationships provide for long term advantages that cannot be had in short term or multi-relationships.
They can provide intensity. deepness, & devotion that nothing else can of the level that it can.
A person who does not want these things should stay away from monogamy. It requires total committal- which is why a transgression is one of the ultimate betrayals.
When I try to picture a completely non-monogamous world for humans, in almost every aspect it looks like a disaster.

It looks lonely, unsatisfying, unfufilling, & where would it leave children?

I think people need what it offers. It is bad choices that make monogomy not work. If thought, common sense, & a little research were put into choices, mistakes could be cut way down.
You can only ever be sure what you are doing. Don't torture yourselves about things you have no control over. Be true to yourself that is all.
Gibbons monkeys (like humans) form monogamous bonds. People pair up like this across time and continents and regardless of religious preference. This suggests more than merely cultural invention. It is simply false to say that marriage is an unnatural state, nor an invention or priviledge of homo sapiens. Both A and B are incorrect.
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