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Monogamy Envy
Why do supposedly brave reconsiderations of a cherished notion sound so trite?


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It’ll be a few years before someone realizes this is a Troubling Sign, that women are still being forced by society — possibly through mind-control beams emanating from the phallus of the Washington Monument — to believe that they need to have spawn to be complete, but for now, yay! Yet there’s something rather odd in the author’s construction. If you think buying a car is necessary to drive long distances, earlier this month it was reported that more people are choosing to lease unicycles. Of course women can get pregnant without a man; of course lifelong commitment isn’t needed to start a family. But is it possible to suggest that children benefit from a stable two-parent relationship and that this arrangement has certain emotional and financial advantages? Or does that, too, get you fired from Mozilla?

I’m obviously not suggesting that we treat life like one big Club 18-30’s holiday with a new lover for every change of bed linen. Life would be anarchical, board meetings would be in danger of turning into orgies, and women would have the Child Maintenance Association saved to speed dial.

Ha ha! Whew: I thought the author’s call for the End of Monogamy was an explicit demand for anarchical workplace sex fests, so that’s a relief. As for women having Child Maintenance Association on speed dial, this assumes that women would always be dunning men for resources, and I do believe that’s a sexist assumption and hence worthy of a week in the Twitter Stocks, pelted with mushy tomatoes. No? Guess not. Still, she has a point about women trying to get child-care money out of men; some guys go through life like a perpetually ignited Roman Candle of Insemination, drifting from relationship to relationship without caring what burdens they leave behind.

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If only there were an institution that compelled them to focus and shoulder responsibilities. But that would be jarring their carefree days with expectations and commitments.

After our daughter was born, my wife had a good long leave, then plunged back into the corporate world. I was a stay-at-home dad until our daughter went to kindergarten, and even after that I made sure to meet the bus when it trundled up the block at one. The best years of my life. To this day I make sure I’m home doing something in the kitchen, just like my mom, when daughter returns from school. Daughter will be away in college for two years before 4:24 on the clock doesn’t mean the sound of the back door and a warm familiar emotion: She’s home.

Perhaps I would have been more personally fulfilled if I’d moved out ten years ago and had four transient relationships punctuated with periods of solitude where I drank from the carton without caring, but I doubt it, in the same sense that I doubt that sawing off my right hand would have made my left hand much more clever. Perhaps my daughter would have adjusted to a parade of Uncles and learned that men are just comets that enter your orbit and leave with ease, but I’m glad she has constancy.

The article ends:

It is time to modernize the rules and expectations. That means casting away the fairytale . . . 

Note: The only people who ever talk about these fairytales are the people who insist other people believe in them.

 . . . and facing up to the fact that a life partner — should we choose to have one — fulfills only one corner of our emotional, romantic and sexual needs. The belief that we can find one person to meet all of them is one which is very likely to be considered radical in the future.

Well, if it’s radical, then it’s good, right? Once monogamy is dead, perhaps the people who spend their time demanding the end of social conventions they have no desire to observe will turn around and insist that everyone’s doing it wrong and point to some birds who mate for life as proof humans are doing it wrong.

Anyway: This concludes our examination of a vegan’s review of Ruth’s Chris Steak House.

— James Lileks is a columnist for National Review Online.



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