I was doing some research on polyamory on YouTube for an upcoming post, and came across this video by Jordan Peterson: “Why Polyamory Is Bad For You And Society”. I thought I would take some time to respond to this information and how, as a polyamorous person, it affected me.
To be honest, I did not know who Jordan Peterson was before watching this video. I was actually surprised to find out he was a fellow Canadian, not because Canadians are implicitly advocates of personal freedoms, but simply because I had not heard of him as a public figure. Before we continue, you may wish to watch the video I’m talking about:
The major points covered in the video are:
- Society is less violent when there is a one man/one woman construct because some men will take all the women, and therefore men who do not have women will “get up to no good”.
- Women who are sharing one man will not get to have a “full relationship” with the man and therefore will be dissatisfied.
- Engaging in non-committal polyamory is equated to changing sex into a casual act and divorcing it from emotion, in which he alludes the individual is acting like a psychopath.
- Stable monogamy is the best solution and is the minimum requirement for children.
As you can imagine, I had issue with not only the content of this video, but also the myopic scope of the understanding of the subject matter. I believe that one of the issues polyamorous people face is the lack of understanding in the monogamous community (that are vocal against polyamory). Casual sex and/or comparisons to polygamy really highlight this fundamental misunderstanding.
Point 1 – I’m not 100% certain what age or civilization Mr. Peterson is referring to that functions less violently due to monogamy. Monogamy as practiced through Christian colonialists have led to civilizations that foster cultural destruction and the most violent of wars (WWI for example?).
Point 2 – Beyond the fact that I don’t believe a woman needs a man to have a fulfilling life, I also believe that women can have fulfilling relationships with other women. Mr. Peterson does simply his arguments by promoting a heteronormative worldview in his comments that excludes not only many practitioners of polyamory, but also gay and lesbian relationships.
Point 3 – There are many reasons to believe that sex can not be a casual act. The idea that one MUST be reduced as a person precludes the possibility that two individuals could both be on the same page of what the act means. The only possibility for reduction of one’s self, would be if their expectations of how they were to be treated would not be met. For two individuals engaging in a mutually agreed upon activity, with the same understanding of what it means, can not reduce each other as people.
Point 4 – I agree that stable relationships are beneficial for children. Do I think that monogamy is the only vehicle to get there? No. The idea that children can only find individuals they can count on to foster their intellectual and emotional growth seems to promote an idea that monogamous heterosexual couples always provide the best environment for children. I’ll let the anecdotal evidence speak for itself on that one.
My reaction to Mr. Peterson’s video is really rooted in my own feeling of invisibility when he describes the type of relationships that are polyamorous (though he really seems to be describing polygamy). He describes one form of polyamory that he believes to be “bad”, but only in a way that is similar to a person telling me that pants are bad because short shorts are running society. I don’t want to change Mr. Peterson’s stance on polyamory. I would suggest that educating oneself on the broad nature of the word before condemning the entire group based on a possible outcome. My six and a half year stable polyamorous relationship has weathered the storm that many heterosexual monogamous relationships have not.