“Polygamy is a luxury of the cave-people, and monogamy is an existential responsibility of the civilized society.” - Abhijit Naskar
“Monogamy is faith in the faithless.” - Virginia Allison
Personally, I’d go with Virginia. I’m sure a lot of you would. That’s not even a question.
The real question here is whether monogamy is something we choose only because it’s what we’ve been nurtured into believing is right. As opposed to polygamy which seems to be more philandery. Is it though?
In an intellectually stimulating article on Salon, David P. Barash wrote, “when people of either gender act on their polygamous inclinations while living in a monogamous tradition, they are being unfaithful to their sociocultural commitment, but not to their biology.”
According to a study led by one certain Dr. Alfred Kinsey and his team of sex researchers, it was made the following observation.
“Most males can immediately understand why most males want extramarital coitus. Although many of them refrain from engaging in such activity because they consider it morally unacceptable or socially undesirable, even such abstinent individuals can usually understand that sexual variety, new situations, and new partners might provide satisfactions which are no longer found in coitus which has been confined for some period of years to a single sexual partner… On the other hand, many females find it difficult to understand why any male who is happily married should want to have coitus with any female other than his wife.”
Speaking as a woman in a modern Indian society, we grew up dreaming of marrying our one true love and spending the rest of our lives with them. All through our dating years, too, we’ve been streamlined into believing that it’s about just this one person. Almost all Hollywood and Bollywood movies reiterate the same.
But, then again, every so often, we’ll come across what I’ll deem as a ‘glitch in the matrix’ - a society that is inherently polygamous; religious sects that promote more than one marital spouse. And you wonder how that society lives. But the truth is those societies seem to thrive. Biologists have pointed out, time and again, that men are hardwired to gallivant sexually. Science will go to the extent of citing the ‘health benefits of polygamy”.
...And a lot more!
And that leaves you wondering because it has been ingrained into our system that monogamy is legitimate while polygamy isn’t. Yet, every now and then, a claim arises stating how polygamy is the real way to be. The frequently cited examples include almost all species of the animal kingdom. But, there, too, you have those that mate for life - lobsters and wolves, for instance.
So, where does that leave us? If monogamy was man-made, so was polygamy.
This isn’t a debate about marriage, mind you. That is a whole other debate altogether and I’ll save that for a later date. Today, it’s about being sexually exclusive, or having an open relationship, both of which are just as good, as long as that’s what you want. The problem really does come in when it’s just one of you. A study is said to have found that affairs among committed partners are estimated in 50%-80% of relationships. Is that why people cheat, then? Do I just slump back down in my chair the next time I’m worried he might find someone else because studies say so? And if that doesn’t help dissuade me, maybe the fact that 84.6 percent are classified as polygamous, 15.1 percent as monogamous, and 0.3 percent as polyandrous, should.
Think about it...
What if you’re monogamous and he isn’t? Or vice versa? Do you part ways? How do you find middle ground? How do you deal with a world that is increasingly - for reasons, both external and internal - polygamous and unattached, when all you long for is attachment for the long haul?
I once met a man who never committed to any woman. And I was introduced to one of the many women he was involved with, who wanted more than anything for him to commit to her. That was a lost battle from the start. Should she have never started the relationship, or given up on him after realising it was never going to work out in her favour?
Maybe, as monogamous creatures, we’re looking for love in a majorly polygamous setting. And those with a polygamous heart don’t really worry because they welcome everyone with open arms. It’s a difficult time we live in when one half of us is dead set on being lobsters; while the others are in transition to being bunnies.
“This sex difference in the desire for new mates doesn’t mean that men aren’t interested in long-term, committed sexual relationships; on the contrary, most men strive for such relationships and value them deeply. But it does mean that even when he is involved in such a relationship, the average man will regard opportunities to mate with new partners as being more compelling than would the average woman. And the strength of this temptation will generally be proportional to his social status, because the higher his status, the more women will be attracted to him (again, for basic evolutionary reasons), and the more opportunities he will have.”
Source: Darwin to Eternity, “Evolutionary moral psychology” by Michael Price, Ph.D. “The Real Reason Men Cause More Sex Scandals Than Women”, published on June 20, 2011 by Michael E. Price, Ph.D. in From Darwin to Eternity.
It’s quite a tussle - lobsters versus bunnies. And we’re already outnumbered by the rate at which the bunnies procreate. Maybe the likes of Cleopatra and Hugh Hefner were really on to something… For one, they certainly seemed happier. Are we then stepping into a polygamous world in the coming future? Or will it just end in doom?
Maybe that’s one way the apocalypse could go - between the singularly committed and the free folk. Question, then is… are we, the monogamous folk, not free?
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