Sex Without Rules? Hardly.

Sex Without Rules
by Veronica Hayes

Polyamory is best defined as

Polyamory (or poly for short) is the practice of having multiple, honest, loving relationships at the same time. Unlike affairs, poly relationships are intended to be honest and consensual. The range of polyamorous relationships is large and ranges from somewhat casual to extremely committed (including group marriage) situations.

Unlike the image of free love in the 1960s, the polyamory community understands that creating multiple strong relationships is a difficult task and requires some thought and care. And unlike the image of swinging, polyamory tends to focus on relationships and love, instead of focusing primarily on additional sexual outlets.

Essentially, Veronica Hayes uses 3 webpages and 7 minutes of our lives to share with us one sentence and 5 seconds worth of information. Mainly that, while she likes the concept of polyamory she can’t enjoy it due to the socialization of living in a society obsessed with monogamy; she couldn’t overcome those feelings and tendencies most intensified by monogamous culture, jealousy and its twin, insecurity.

Hayes is not a bad writer. Quite good, actually. I enjoyed her piece from a literary standpoint. She spends so much longer than necessary to communicate this to the reader for two reasons. First, she, like most everyone that analyzes polyamory from the context of US-style monogamy, can’t bring herself to be critical enough about the right thing, monogamy. Most critics of polyamory perform a ritual of creating nightmare scenarios of emotional, psychological and mental abuse of younger women by older men. The second thing she does makes it a much scarier hit piece on polyamory than the usual fare in that she takes the time to paint a Utopian polyamorous picture of what it could be, using frankness and honesty to generate an aura of authenticity (she succeeds in this way) and subsequently blowing the whole thing up with the dynamite of the cold, harsh reality and inevitability of jealous monogamy which is juxtaposed against Utopia and framed as our natural reality.

Though engaging prose, this, like other critiques of polyamory find their ideological base 500 years in the past before the Scientific Revolution. When emotion based opinion and decision making were the rule and no one had yet heard of the Scientific Method was hundreds of years away still. Since the Enlightenment we have adopted, what I think is the correct position of viewing critiques of other lifestyles from within a religious framework as suspect. What is religion but a set of common beliefs and practices generally held by a group of people? The culture of monogamy is a religion. And critiques from that religious quarter, as with others, should be considered contextually, which is where just about every critique of polyamory falls short.

How can Hayes, or anyone critical of polyamory expect to be taken seriously without full disclosure about a basic point of monogamy, this society’s religion of choice.

Intense Jealousy – While not inherent to monogamy, the monogamous culture of the US nurtures and cultivates jealousy in a number of ways. Judeo-Christianity gives lip service to jealousy being bad but brags about its God being jealous himself. Also, as Hayes makes clear to us in her article,

I’ve rarely felt more aroused by Ryan than I was by this now-you-see-it-now you-don’t flicker of jealousy, which ultimately proved even more intoxicating than his lingual talents.

that while polyamory looks at jealousy as an opportunity to discover and understand an insecurity or weakness, within the culture of monogamy intense and deep jealousy is one of the highest expressions of love. Not to miss the psychic significance of jealousy’s role as an expression of love Hayes writes that her lover’s moment of jealousy excited her even more than her first and only oral orgasmic experience!

Is it possible that it is this facet of monogamous culture, this creepy celebration of jealousy, and not the myriad charges against polyamory that is the real culprit here?

Sex without rules? That could be a manifestation of polyamory. But it’s also a close description of serial monogamy. Sex need not be the focal point of monogamy anymore than it be the assumed center of a monogamous pairing. Is sex without rules or sex generally, really the problem here? Are the lies, deceit and distrust associated with many sexual scenarios the fault of polyamory or of the attempt to force our natural inclinations into a rigid and unnatural social order?

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