Monday, July 27, 2009

The irony of monogamy

There is a very balanced and thoughtful essay on the irony of monogamy on today that is worth addressing. You can read the full article here.

The article asks the pointed question: how did we as a civilization come to idealize lifelong monogamy as the primary, if not only, form of loving relationship? How and why did this become our modern-day reality? Were we biologically predestined to be this way? Or are we the living in the shadow of historical accidents?

After much discussion about human biology and the patriarchal usurpation of goddess-based religion, the conclusion is that monogamy may have its roots in the control of female sexuality so that men could keep track of their lineage, thus historically linking monogamy with women's oppression throughout human history. And in a final huge ironic twist, the modern stereotype requires that women have to nail men down and make them commit to monogamy!

However, the article does conclude in a balanced way, saying that none of this means that monogamy, as such, in necessarily bad - only that these conclusions should give us pause for thought. The writer asserts that some people (maybe even a majority of people) are best-suited for some form of a monogamous lifestyle – whether it be life-long monogamy, or serial monogamy.

However, he also makes the point that people (especially women) might do well to seriously consider the roots of their own desire for monogamy and if they do, they might find that the best path for some people is some form of non-monogamy. Living as we do now, with the option of genetic paternity testing, it could be that the original motivation for the widespread social endorsement of monogamy as the "one true path" for a spiritually rewarding and socially fruitful life is now gone.