F- The Patriarchy. Literally?

Screw the patriarchy. Literally?

Screw the patriarchy. Literally?

A married, non-monogamous friend of mine says I should be non-monogamous, too.

Because exclusive relationships were instituted to dominate women’s sexuality.

I’ve heard this line before. But not from someone who could personally benefit from it.

From his email:

This piece might light you up. I think you’ll like his main conclusion, that men have no right to dominate women’s sexuality.

He copied — and partially underlined — this excerpt:

We all have closets we have to come out of. Right? And when we do come out of those closets, we’ll recognize that our fight is not with each other, our fight is with an outdated, Victorian sense of human sexuality that conflates desire with property rights.

Hmmm, patriarchy can actually emerge in contrary forms. Like 1) or 2) below:

  1. A woman/wife who has sex outside of a monogamous relationship is a slut, and should be punished. Because “He” owns “Her.” But he can be non-monogamous since no one owns him.
  2. Women should be non-monogamous, whether they want to or not — or they are prudes and not feminist! (A notion that conveniently benefits the guy making this claim, and sounds more manipulative than feminist.)

Commitment = Property rights?

The idea that commitment is about ownership makes sense in some circumstances. Like when people want to have sex or relationships outside their primary partner, but are told they can’t. And certainly where there is a double standard:The man may do what he wants, but the woman may not.

But other times, a couple simply wants to devote themselves to each other.

While spreading sexual energy far and wide excites many, it depletes others. In fact, some need deeply connected, soulmate sex to be interested. And then there are those in between.

I don’t think that anyone should be pressed into behaving in ways that are not joyful to them because they fear being labeled either a “prude” or a “slut” or — in an attempt to manipulate a woman into doing what a man wants — “unfeminist.”

F*ck the patriarchy, literally

There’s (controversial) evidence that some people are naturally more monogamous than others — both men and women. I know a few open-minded people who tried non-monogamy and gave it up because they found it unpalatable.

I do suspect that a sex-shaming society plays a role in dampening desire. But why do something that’s boring (at best!) just to get revenge on that culture?

Really? To fight the patriarchy I must f*ck every guy I see?

Whether I want to or not?

That sounds like patriarchy to me.

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About BroadBlogs

I have a Ph.D. from UCLA in sociology (emphasis: gender, social psych). I currently teach sociology and women's studies at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, CA. I have also lectured at San Jose State. And I have blogged for Feminispire, Ms. Magazine, The Good Men Project and Daily Kos. Also been picked up by The Alternet.

Posted on September 2, 2015, in feminism, relationships, sex and sexuality, women and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 36 Comments.

  1. Part of the problem here is the conflation of monogamy, polyamory, fidelity and patriarchy.

    1. Words like ‘slut’ and ‘prude’, the whole sexual double standard, women as possessions, are all negative aspects of the patriarchy and not strictly relevant to questions of polyamory and monogamy. After all, there are patriarchal cultures that embrace polygamy.

    2. Fidelity is all about trust. Fidelity applies just as much within non-monogamous relationships as it does within monogamous relationships. Refusing to step outside the boundaries of an existing relationship has far more to do with fidelity than ‘prudery’.

    3. I suspect most ‘prudery’ – specifically with respect to entering a polyamorous relationship – is the perfectly reasonably fear that it will not be possible to maintain multiple relationships. I suspect most people would enjoy the idea of having multiple lovers, but the practicalities of it deter most people too.

    4. Monogamy: This is primarily about security. The knowledge that you are the most important person in your partner’s life, and that you can rely on their complete attention and full support.

    Ultimately, most people are just too jealous to accept the idea of their lovers being with other people. But there are also people whose needs cannot be satisfied by a single person, and who will seek other partners – with or without sex, romance and/or permission…

    • Well thanks for sorting it all out.

      About three quarters of the population appears to be more monogamously inclined and about one quarter appears to be nonmonogamously inclined. It is really hard for people to accurately understand what’s going on in other people’s minds when other people’s minds are so foreign to their own.

      I’m not interested in telling nonmonogamous people why they are the way they are. I would probably be wrong, anyway. But I’m sure that plenty of people could come up with plenty of unflattering theories. And I must say that the theory you came up with as to why people would want to be monogamous is both unflattering and unrelatable. I just think we should stop judging one another.

      By the way, one of the people I know who tried not monogamy and found it unpalatable remains married to a polyamorous man. She’s not trying to get him to be monogamous. She just doesn’t like non-monogamy, herself. So your theory is clearly completely wrong with regard to her.

      I just don’t appreciate this guy’s attempt at manipulation.

      • I wasn’t trying to sort it all out, but you were mixing it up rather. And I’m confused by your reply. Nothing I said contradicts your friend’s choices. And nothing was judgemental. People begin polyamorous relationships for a hundred different and valid reasons.

        As for my own reasons for monogamy: I’m uncomfortable with the idea of sleeping with anyone I don’t love, and while I could love more than one person at a time the politics of polyamory is a headache I don’t wish to explore.

        It may not be flattering, but for many people jealousy and insecurity play major roles in romantic relationships. A large part of monogamy is about banishing the competition. Or in the case of patriarchy and polygamy: it’s fine if the women compete, but there’s only one man.

      • You didn’t seem to get that I was saying that patriarchy can take either a monogamous or nonmonogamous form, so you didn’t really need to sort out things that I wasn’t conflating.

        And the reason you gave for why people would be interested in monogamy doesn’t fit my experience at all. And seemed a bit reductionist and insulting even.

      • Of course reductionist, but why is that necessarily wrong? And I’m sorry if it seemed insulting; that certainly wasn’t intended. I have been careful to say ‘many’ and ‘most’ throughout, and will cheerfully accept that I have very little direct personal experience.

      • My experience is more like what I wrote in the post: needing a really strong sense of love and connection and focusing all of it on one person which really intensifies it. It’s that, not the sense of security that you were talking about, Although that’s nice too.

      • I am naturally monogamous. While other people might turn me on, the thought of having sex with them just makes me tired. I wasn’t aware that my monogamy was a security blanket kind of thing. To me, people who want to be non-monogamous baffle me, but I wouldn’t dream of trying to convince them that their non-monogamy was some kind of security blanket.

  2. It’s amazing how the facts can be twisted to support any position at all. I remember in the 70s how some guys, if they learned you were taking the pill, felt it was some kind of a personal invitation! Ack!

  3. I remember seeing a screenshot on Tumblr about a guy using freethenipple as a way to pressure a woman into sending a topless photo. He was saying that it was misogynistic of her to not want to send a topless photo.
    I agree that women should have the right to go topless when a man can, should be able to have as much sex as a man can without being judged, but they should also be able to NOT do these things, if they don’t want to.

    • Yes, exactly.

      Annoying when someone uses feminism to try to manipulate a woman. The irony!

      • Hey, I have another question for you. Why do you think most romance novel consumers are female? Apparently the romance novel industry is even larger than the porn industry (!!!) and most consumers are female.

        However, we do have the fact that otherwise, research shows men to be just as romantic as women, albeit more likely to pursue nonromantic sex.

        So do you have any insight on why women are the main consumers of romance novels?

      • Another question: there’s some research that shows that, unsurprisingly, lesbians orgasm more frequently than straight women. But it also shows that bisexuals (both men and women) orgasm LESS often than their straight AND gay counterparts. Why do you think that is?

      • I don’t know but here’s a guess: bisexuals face more prejudiced than straight or gays and prejudice can be repressive. And while lesbians face more prejudice than straight women I guess that understanding women’s bodies and other factors that make for generally better relationships among lesbians versus straights would make up for that?

      • I thought about it a bit, & I think it could have to do with the fact that bisexual people (especially bisexual women) are shown to have much higher rates of depressive/etc disorders, which is definitely correlated with the rates of oppression they endure. Depression does often tend to result in sexual dysfunction.

        By the way, I came across a study recently that you might be interested in. It talks about the cues that cause women to desire sex.
        http://homepage.psy.utexas.edu/homepage/group/mestonlab/publications/cues_desire.pdf
        Honestly, the graphs are kinda hard for me to understand.
        What do you think? Lol

      • Makes sense. And thanks for the link. I’ll take a look at it.

        I’ll add that I have a book by Meston and Buss. Meston’s research is great. I have some issues with the overlay of evolutionary psychology that Buss adds. I’ve written some articles critical of evolutionary psychology. My concerns our that it is conservative — maintains the status quo by insisting “it’s in our genes.” And it is that it’s reductionist. Even Charles Darwin, himself, questioned the notion that sexual selection adequately explained human behavior. People are guided by much more than instinctive cues toward reproductive fitness. (And alter can be more important than these cues — for instance obesity is valued in some cultures even though it is not healthy, and anorexic Victoria’s Secret Angels are found highly attracted by many men.) Men and women, alike, are attracted to people who are smart, charming, emotionally intelligent, fun, warmhearted, high status and who share our interests.

        UC Davis anthropology professor, Sarah Hrdy, says that sociobiologists only came to their “women are less sex-driven and more monogamous” theory because the field arose inside a Victorian atmosphere. Had this school arisen a few hundred years earlier, when women were thought more lustful than men, the theory would look far different.

      • I agree. Evolutionary psychology is so annoying, especially when it’s used to justify sex-shaming women.

        Did you take a look at the link? (If you haven’t, that’s fine! I don’t mean to pressure or rush you. I just figured you might find it interesting. Plus I’m having a little bit of trouble comprehending it, lol. I’m not good with comprehending numbers.)

      • This is one of the problems I was mentioning earlier where you get a mismatch between the writer and the audience — if the audience expands beyond quantitative psychology, in this case. Then you don’t “get” the statistics or the jargon.

        My field is qualitative sociology so all I can say is that quantitative psychology is not equivalent to the hard sciences. That means that all you need to do is look at the chart and get a broad sense of the numbers and the fact that the replicated study found similar numbers, suggesting validity. But keeping in mind that this study is based on peoples answers which aren’t perfect.

        So what this study suggests is that the most important cues for creating sexual desire in a woman are feeling a sense of love and security with your partner and feeling that your partner is supportive of you. And then heighten the moment with an erotic film.

        I should add that they also found that this works for women whose sexual desire isn’t dysfunctional. In their 2006 study they cited about 1/3 dysfunctional. I’ve seen more recent studies — several replicated studies — finding just less than half, so you will have to deal with the underlying problem for those women, first.

  4. I agree, anything used to manipulate women in the name of fighting patriarchy- is more patriarchy and women blaming. monogomy/non-monogomy are choices and can be enlivening and disempowering or the opposite of both depending on how it is used or chosen/forced upon.

  5. I had to look that word up.

    • Patriarchy? It’s like sexism. And women and men are both hurt by it. Women because they are kept more disempowered and lower status. Men because they are expected to bottle up their emotions, and there is constant pressure to achieve high status. And they can’t depend on others too easily. And it hurts women’s sexuality when women are sexually repressed, Which in turn hurts men. Just to give us a few quick examples.

  6. Really? To fight the patriarchy I must f*ck every guy I see?

    Whether I want to or not?

    That sounds like patriarchy to me.

    You nailed it!

  7. Interesting view on these slanted approaches with regard to the Dichotomy Male-Female ..
    Just an interesting case, worth highlighting here, in line with your post!
    ->Indian woman sentenced to rape for brother’s actions speaks out http://dailym.ai/1UnFzq2
    Thanks for sharing and best wishes to you, dear Georgia. Aquileana 😀

    • Thanks for sending the link. I’ve been thinking of writing about that case but have been too busy, so have been drawing for my catalog lately. Unless there’s something pretty easy to write. But I’m planning to write something on moral relativity, and will include the story. It’ll probably show up in some other posts, as well.

  8. No matter what your stance is on the subject, one thing this blog fails to mention is the dangers of having multiple partners. Being non-monogamous welcomes all types of horrible diseases and unwanted pregnancies. No thank you!
    Also, I don’t agree with the concept that being committed to someone means they own you. It simply means, I love this person and this person only and want to show them my loyalty and respect. Key elements of a healthy relationship. I think that being non-monogamous to show equality is just ridiculous.

  9. I believe that when you are in a relationship one person does not own the other but you have to have a certain amount of loyalty when you truly care for one another. I had a friend who was seeing this guy who happened to be non-monogamous and while she said it was a good think because they were not ‘bound’ to only each other there were things about it that did bother her. You can be in a relationship and be exclusive if one another are okay with it but there aren’t many instances where it works out for the better. If this is how woman want to show they aren’t being ruled by men then by all means be in a non-exclusive relationship, however it can come back in a worse way if you are not careful and set boundaries because humans have a tendency to do what they want without respecting others (but not always).

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