I have a service that sends me information on new articles about polyamory. Today, I received one titled “Polyamory Rights” published on Rightwing News. I do not consider myself right wing by any stretch of the imagination; however, in the spirit of know your enemy I decided to read it. I had expected the article to be much more derogatory and backward than it turned out to be (I had never been to Rightwing News and my first impression from the ads on it, was that it would be filled with soapbox speeches). I found that author Mona Charen tried her best to stay neutral, but it unfortunately fell apart toward the end.
I am not here to critique Ms. Charen’s literary style though. I would like to discuss several of the concepts she brought up in her article:
1. Outrage that polyamorists and homosexuals are compared: looking at the nature vs. nurture debate.
For me, this debate is ridiculous. It is in our nature to be nurtured. Humans can not thrive as infants without being nurtured. Therefore the results of nurture are natural, if not always ideal. I can’t speak for all polyamorists: I am not monogamous because I do not believe that monogamy is a goal or of special significance for myself. In fact, I feel that monogamy in today’s alienated world is counterproductive in the long run.
2. The usage of the word ‘tolerate’ in conjunction with humanity.
I prefer the word accept. I accept that there are others out there who are not like me, and have the right to be who they are. Tolerating them, entitles me to feelings that they are somehow wrong, and my viewpoint superior. I do not feel that way.
3. No other adult arrangement with children is as successful than a heterosexual couple.
I think at this point Ms. Charen overstepped her bounds a bit. I believe she means to say that parents have the most influential impact on their children. The context is important here. I would assert that there are many people who grew up adjusted or damaged by their parents because of who they were, not because of the intimate partners they had. I grew up in a heterosexual home that was filled with juxtaposition, hypocrisy, and segregation. I was also exposed to families that followed other constructs. No one got it 100% right. They were all human parents, flawed and doing the best they could.
4. “It’s indisputable that traditional marriage was in crisis before the gay marriage movement began. The behavior of heterosexuals accomplished that. But as the Carey essay demonstrates, the gay marriage movement had done a different kind of damage by undermining our understanding of what marriage is.” (Charen)
I would disagree (surprisingly) here. I would say that the Romantic movement changed our perception of what marriage is. Marriage for most of human history was for political purposes. This is why Charen believes that heterosexual marriage is the cornerstone of civilization. Marriage was used to ensure that property stayed in the family, to make allegiances and to get the remaining children out of the house. It was rarely by choice or for the Romantic version of love. There is nothing wrong about choosing monogamy as your form of marriage. I feel there is something wrong about controlling the populace with religious or governmental controls surrounding personal choices between consenting adults.
I do not purport to have all the answers regarding relationships. I do know that there are many monogamous couples that report to be pleased with their situation. Could some of these individuals be open to polyamory if it were available to them without stigma?