Tuesday, September 08, 2009

The new feminist frontier?

Feministing is one of the most popular feminist websites. It gets 500,000 hits a month and its founder, Jessica Valenti, was invited to meet Bill Clinton as a prominent liberal blogger. Jessica Valenti tours American campuses, such as Georgetown University, giving lectures on women's issues.

So what's the cutting edge feminist thought at this popular, influential site? One of the most recent articles was about getting your mother to accept that you are in a polygamous relationship. A woman wrote in seeking advice for this problem:

I'm currently in a relationship with a man I love dearly, and I have been for nearly 3 years. It's going well, he's marvelous, we get on great. There's just one thing - this is a polyamorous relationship. He also has another girlfriend, who he's been with for a long time. That in itself isn't a problem. I knew about her before I entered into the relationship and I've never had a problem with polyamory, it suits me fine ... The problem is in explaining this to my parents ... I want to convey that this relationship is every bit as committed as a monogamous one and just as loving. How do you go about explaining this kind of thing with no knowledge of the response you'll get? What if the response is negative? Please help.


The advice from feministing:

Answer their questions with patience. I also caution that words like polyamory may not work for the first conversation. Keep it simple. "Mom, I know you keep asking me about the woman who says she is in a relationship with Jack. They are in a relationship. I've always known about it ..."

If she denigrates the relationship, I would point out ways that he has been great in the past. When he has been at family functions, when he has helped your family, how happy you are together.

And then, and this may be the most difficult part, let it go. It will take time for your mother to understand and accept this (just ask the majority of queer folks who eventually have accepting parents). Keep answering their questions, but also set boundaries. If either of them are rude to your boyfriend or questions his love for you, you can call a stop to that. Your relationship and partner deserves respect.

This is the last and most important part - prove them wrong by actions. Show them that for all of their preconceived notions of what a "real" relationship is, you and your man are happy and love each other. It takes time, but this will be the greatest convincer of all.


Granted, this is not exactly polygamy as there is no formalised marriage and it's a little more open-ended than traditional polygamy. But it's still an effort to normalise a man living together with two or more women. It clearly opens the door for an acceptance of polygamy as found in non-Western cultures.

This illustrates a point that conservatives have made for some time. If you believe that a family is any group of people who love each other and live together, then logically you are committed to accepting polygamy. The modern view of family is therefore likely to lead in the long run to the acceptance of polygamy as a social norm.

It also hints at the real preferences of the more serious feminists. The sexuality of men and women operates at different levels. At one level, male sexuality is naturally promiscuous and female sexuality is hypergamous (meaning that women have an instinct to be with the most dominant male). If human nature only operated at this level then monogamy would be exceptionally rare.

But there are other drives and impulses within human nature. We do experience a higher form of love in which we seek our "complement" in a close, faithful relationship with someone of the opposite sex. It is this which leads on to the traditional Western form of marriage and family life.

I wonder if there are serious feminists who have rejected the traditional family as patriarchal (or as an impediment to female autonomy) and who therefore seek to "liberate" female sexuality - which really means liberating the female instinct to hypergamy.

The family form which corresponds best to hypergamy is, of course, polygamy - as this gives the most women access to the small number of socially dominant men.

So will more feminists come out in support of polygamy? We'll have to see - but I'm guessing the answer will be yes.

28 comments:

  1. what man would want more than one woman? I have a mate who regularly has two girlfriends at the same time and he is one of the most stressed people i know. That said these girls dont actually know about each other.

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  2. "It also hints at the real preferences of the more serious feminists. The sexuality of men and women operates at different levels. At one level, male sexuality is naturally promiscuous and female sexuality is hypergamous (meaning that women have an instinct to be with the most dominant male)."

    An excellent point, Mark!

    I think it also demonstrates that feminism isn't really about women's rights. Surely, to be consistent, they ought to be going on about inequality, power imbalance, and misogyny. But, instead, feminism in this case seems to be merely the justification for women to do whatever they want without any sort of accountability or responsibility. Unassailable freedom, regardless of morality or rationality!

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  3. Mark Richardson says:

    The sexuality of men and women operates at different levels. At one level, male sexuality is naturally promiscuous and female sexuality is hypergamous (meaning that women have an instinct to be with the most dominant male).

    Brilliantly put. Post-modern liberalism is completely ignorant of anthropology. Or at least indifferent to it, so long as Christian form of monogamy is scuttled, anything goes!

    Of course we already have a splendid example of high-status male practising polygamy with a multitude of thoroughly modern sexually liberated females: Hugh Hefner at the Playboy Mansion.

    And yes, as Westieboy put it, what male wouldn't given half the chance, grab at the opportunity to have such a ball. Plenty of nubile women out there ready to oblige him, even in his geezerdom.

    Tough luck for the guys who miss out on mating opportunities because one guy can afford to run a harem of beautiful women.

    Polygamy is to women as plutocracy is to wealth.

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  4. how them that for all of their preconceived notions of what a "real" relationship is

    Note how the post-modern deconstruction just slips in: words have no meaning or can be morphed to mean everything and anything.

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  5. “Of course we already have a splendid example of high-status male practicing polygamy with a multitude of thoroughly modern sexually liberated females: Hugh Hefner at the Playboy Mansion.”

    Good point “jack strocchi” I always wondered why polygamy is shunned while Hugh Hefner is praised and admired in the main stream. Isn’t the only difference marriage and opting out to have children? I also think it’s strange that in 1847 the South in America supported slavery, but thought polygamy to be an abominable sin. I am no supporter of polygamy, I’m just pointing out the hypocrisies.

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  6. The irony is that such alternative relationship theories have been tested in the past. They fail, always and without exception. Such is the liberal war on reality: previous experience, even the history of liberal experimentation, is simply forgotten.

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  7. This illustrates a principle I've observed from way, way, back: the more explicitly a woman identifies as "feminist", the higher the probability that she's willing to take guff from men that no "traditional" woman would tolerate. Over the years I've met quite a few of these women in real life, and almost without exception they are transparently self-deluding. The odds that her statement that polygyny (oh, excuse me, "polyamory", lol) "suits me fine" comes anywhere near reflecting truth or self-knowledge are very, very low. Let's check back in five years and see how "empowered" Wavering in Worcester is feeling. At present I'd bet the fretting about mom's disapproval is a diversion.

    The "unleashing hypergamous tendencies" is neat and plausible, but I'm curious if a systematic study of women in these relations would confirm or refute what I've observed in real life - that women in these sorts of relationships, while by no means physically unattractive, are sorely lacking in what I'll call "healthy female vanity" - the secure belief that they're worth something as women - and that the men, far from being desirable "alphas" or even just feckless but testosterone-stoked "bad boys", tend toward the wet weasel-boy end of the spectrum.

    At any rate, the letter is yet another illustration of how the liberal vacuum make people stupid and dishonest.

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  8. What I find the most amazing is how anyone could possibly rely on anything that comes out of the mouth of a feminist as well as rely on your future via commentary from a site that only promotes male-hate and division..

    It's akin to attending a butchery course to train as a surgeon..

    Give me a break..

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  9. Anonymous said:"I also think it’s strange that in 1847 the South in America supported slavery, but thought polygamy to be an abominable sin. I am no supporter of polygamy, I’m just pointing out the hypocrisies."

    This isn't hypocrisy. Slavery was supposed to a benevolent institution, and in the Christian society of the Old South polygamy was clearly against the laws of God whereas slavery was not (necessarily). I won't go on (as this is a post about feminism, not slavery), but slaveholders were quite different to the way Yankee historians and the media have portrayed.

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  10. I'm a man. Should I ask Feministing for advice on how to convince my wife to accept another hot woman into our relationship?

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  11. So the ultimate patriarchal wet dream has become acceptable to feminists as a form of female sexual liberation. Amazing.

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  12. “This isn't hypocrisy. Slavery was supposed to a benevolent institution, and in the Christian society of the Old South polygamy was clearly against the laws of God whereas slavery was not (necessarily).”

    Your statement only strengthens my argument on hypocrisy. Like I said, “Polygamy is shunned while Hugh Hefner is praised and admired in the main stream. Isn’t the only difference marriage and opting out to have children?” Is “Old Hat” saying that because slavery was supposed to be a benevolent institution (back then) it is not hypocritical? Are you suggesting that their ignorance (Church doctrine) nullifies their hypocrisy? So following your logic, Hugh Hefner would not be a hypocrite today if he were to say that polygamy is an abomination?

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  13. I don't think slavery can be regarded as an attempt at benevolence. Nor an attempt at monogamy as the number of mixed race children would show.

    I'm surprised the feminists supported this woman's post. I would have thought polygamy to be the ultimate expression of patriarchy. But then again anything that isn't "traditional" is heartily welcomed. Perhaps if it was a true ménage a trios and the woman was able to fully explore her sexuality there would be no hint of taint?

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  14. Mark, not sure if you're aware but Patrick Fagan's "striking speech" at the World Congress of Families in Amsterdam last month is now online.

    Patrick F. Fagan is Senior Fellow and Director of the Center for Research on Marriage and Religion at the Family Research Council.

    Monogamy Culture v Polyamory Culture

    http://downloads.frc.org/EF/EF09H36.pdf


    I found it via http://stephenbaskerville.blogspot.com/

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  15. "Is “Old Hat” saying that because slavery was supposed to be a benevolent institution (back then) it is not hypocritical? Are you suggesting that their ignorance (Church doctrine) nullifies their hypocrisy? So following your logic, Hugh Hefner would not be a hypocrite today if he were to say that polygamy is an abomination?"

    No, Anonymous, what I'm saying is that the behaviour of slaveholders was consistent with their stated beliefs. Therefore, they were not hypocrites. Whether their behaviour was moral or not is another matter entirely, but they did not proclaim slavery to be evil and then enslave people or say polygamy was wrong and then have multiple wives - that is hypocrisy! As for Hugh Hefner, I don't know much about him (whereas I do know a lot about the Old South), but as long as his lifestyle conforms to his stated moral or amoral or immoral 'principles', then he isn't a hypocrite.

    Furthermore, following Church doctrine is not ignorance. To do so in the Catholic Church requires one to be very well-informed, and this doctrine is based on thousands of years of intense study by some of the world's greatest minds. Most slaveholders were Protestant, of course, but this doesn't change the fact that they were often well-educated, thoughtful people who firmly believed that slavery (not to be confused with the slave trade) was for the good of all society. (They usually referred to their slaves as their black family and cared for them in the way you'd expect of 'poor cousins'.) Believe it or not, some slaves thought so too, especially when they travelled up north and saw what it was like when they didn't have a master to take care of them when sick, unemployed, or ill. And don't confuse slavery with racism - there were black slaveholders too!

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  16. OLD HAT, I guess I’m using the WORD hypocrite in an unorthodox way. However in C.S. Lewis book “Mere Christianity” he argues that Christians burned “witches” because they really believed that they could do these horrible things. And if you thought this was true also, then it is probably a good idea (moral) to dispose of these horrible witches? Therefore Christians were justified by their IGNORANCE to burn these women. So I agree with you that the Christian witch burners were not hypocrites. I guess the point I was trying to make is how can someone passionately embrace an immoral ideal on one hand and on the other hand despise another? That would be like keeping the Sabbath Day Holly but its ok to steal. OLD HAT, I know you are only recalling the past, but it sure sounds like you personally believe “now” that slavery is OK? Slavery good for all society? So as long as someone is indoctrinated to believe they enjoy being a slave then it’s the best for society? I demur!

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  17. 'OLD HAT, I know you are only recalling the past, but it sure sounds like you personally believe “now” that slavery is OK? Slavery good for all society?'

    Anonymous, this is unfair, and takes you well beyond what Old Hat is actually saying (and, I believe, even implying).

    'So as long as someone is indoctrinated to believe they enjoy being a slave then it’s the best for society? I demur!'

    This is a loaded statement. On what gorunds do you claim that the joys of a slave are any less real than the joys of anyone else? Because someone is telling them it is so? Carefull, Anonymous. this complete denial of human agency is a presumption on your part, and could even be construed (incorrectly I am sure, but understandably) as racist.

    What do you make of the case of slaves who were adventurous and independant enough to leave their masters only to return? Surely, they could not have been so 'indoctrinated'? And yet the benefits were - at the level of the individual - clearly real.

    Joseph

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  18. Rohan Swee,

    I know a superannuated couple, typical of the soixante-huitard class. The woman is strongly feminist, but sits passively while her husband, now in his autumn years, passes judgement on the physical appearance of other females. He makes very unkind remarks along the lines of - apologies for the offensive language - 'fat b**ch', and thinks nothing of commenting on bodily parts, and discussing sex. It is completely inappropriate given his age.

    The progressive experiment in the overthrow of the old sexual codes, has been at its most pernicious in England. Former psychiatrist and prison doctor, Theodore Dalrymple has written eloquently of this country's moral decline. The sexual revolution sort to give women freedom, however, liberated women, in my neck of the woods, are thin on the ground, and are non-existant in fact. Despite my wish for many years to settle down and have a family, I've not done so - men of the middle-class liberal left make lousy life partners.


    I am a highly-traditional conservative, but cannot state this fact publicly. This sounds extreme, but all the organs of the state of this once great country are permeated with cultural marxists. To express certain opinions, such as speaking in favour of the monogamous married heterosexual couple, and promoting the family unit as a vital cog in the machinery of a stable society means social death here in good ol' England, Mother of Parliaments, home of the Magna Carta and the Bill of Rights.

    Mark,

    I've been a long-time reader of this blog and must say that it's absolutely fantastic.

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  19. Anonymous, I'm no proponent of slavery, but I nevertheless take issue with your depiction of slaveholders as ignorant and your assumption that I'm justifying their behaviour on the grounds of their ignorance. While education may steer people away from immorality at times, it can equally steer them towards it too. It all depends on the society in question. And while I wouldn't go so far as to call slaveholders indoctrinated, I certainly would hesitate to condemn them for something they believed was good, just as I would hesitate to condemn a medieval man for treating his womenfolk in a way that would now be considered extremely repressive. As for slaves, they were not indoctrinated as a rule and were quite capable of deciding for themselves whether slavery was right or wrong. I think it should also be mentioned that many slaveholders were reluctantly so, believing it the lesser of two evils, and supportive of gradual emancipation that wouldn't ruin everyone's lives. (They were certainly right about this - the post-War South was a pretty awful place for everyone, black or white.)

    You ask "how can someone passionately embrace an immoral ideal on one hand and on the other hand despise another?" What I'm saying is that to slaveholders it was not an immoral ideal, and even the ones who were not in favour of any sort of emancipation had very coherent and persuasive reasoning behind their stance. You may disagree with it, as I do ultimately, but it is unfair to label them as hypocritical or ignorant. The very fact that you jump to this conclusion shows your indoctrination, your politically correct assumptions, and how effective societal constructs are. I wouldn't be too quick to condemn....

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  20. “The very fact that you jump to this conclusion shows your indoctrination, your politically correct assumptions, and how effective societal constructs are. I wouldn't be too quick to condemn....”

    In a weird way your last statement is what I wanted to bring up in the first place.

    OLD HAT, with your logic, it is completely justifiable and moral for someone to kill a human because God, prophet or priest told them? Or they really believe they were doing the right thing. And they felt good about it after they killed the person. However, we can’t read this persons mind; we don’t know if they have been indoctrinated? So we can’t as you say OLD HAT, “Jump to this conclusion”.

    Right now there are people out there strapping bombs on them and going out (in the name of their God) and blowing up innocent people. But of course as you say OLD HAT, “. I wouldn't be too quick to condemn”. But having said that OLD HAT, everything you have said as a come back I agree 100%. Everything you have brought up about slavery I already know, and let’s get this straight, I am not condemning the masters slaves! I’m only pointing out your logic justifies people strapping bombs on them. But in a weird way I really believe they are justified and those people can not be condemned or judged because I do not know what they are thinking. HOWEVER, I believe it is my responsibility to stop them. So who is right? We I guess he who has the biggest weapon wins.

    So to end this conversation, I agree I should have never used the words hypocrite and indoctrinate, because I have no device to extract their thoughts. And I should have used the word interesting. I stand corrected on that point.

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  21. OLD HAT, as I think about it more it’s not a matter of how they got to their belief or way of life that I am arguing, but the ideology itself. I can see now that I was very misleading when I used the words hypocrite and indoctrinate. Because this would make my argument centered on the how and why they believe what they do. But of course this is not the point I was trying to make. In the end all I was trying to say is “If you practice this or teach that, then maybe you should look into why you practice this or believe that other thing” Basically we have come a long ways from believing the world was flat.

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  22. "OLD HAT, with your logic, it is completely justifiable and moral for someone to kill a human because God, prophet or priest told them? Or they really believe they were doing the right thing."

    No, Anonymous, it isn't. What I'm saying is that I don't believe you should apply laws/morals from the present onto people in the past. It's like prosecuting someone for something they did ten years ago with a law enacted yesterday. And my reasoning certainly does not justify terrorism. I agree that it is interesting how people can believe they're right when they're so off-track, but it is unfair to extract my comment about people in the past and place it on people in the present. Not only that, but I don't think it's fair to compare slavery with mass murder either. For all that, when a child straps on a bomb after being brainwashed by his elders, I don't think that child is completely morally culpable, but he is nevertheless legally culpable and should be stopped with the full force of law.

    You say that what you were trying to say was "If you practice this or teach that, then maybe you should look into why you practice this or believe that other thing”. Agreed, but slaveholders did look into the issue of slavery. They often did so very deeply and prayerfully. They were not ignorant, and this analysis didn't change their minds. Sadly, I'm not sure that terrorists looking into why and what they believe would stop terrorism either.

    But, going back to the original post, I think we largely agree. If you refer to my first comment, you'll see that I note the inconsistency of feminists - perhaps that's a hypocrisy we can agree upon.

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  23. OLD HAT, I agree with most of what you have said, but I think it is interesting that morals have changed and evolved throughout history. This of course is not to be confused with mores. You said, “Agreed, but slaveholders did look into the issue of slavery. They often did so very deeply and prayerfully. They were not ignorant, and this analysis didn't change their minds.” But this is not true, (change their minds) seeing that today in America slavery in any form is immoral. We have changed our minds, (deeply and prayerfully) but very slowly and methodically. For example, if we were to look at a tree for one day we would suppose that it was not growing, but if fact it is if we did a time laps for 1 year. As far as comparing killing to slavery I’m not interested in the magnitude of the immoral act, I was just using killing to get your attention. But don’t get me wrong, I believe in priorities, like the founding father were on the issue of slavery.

    I think we should always check our belief windows and I am grateful that you pointed out my misuse of words. I hope I can better articulate one day like you OLD HAT.

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  24. "The progressive experiment in the overthrow of the old sexual codes, has been at its most pernicious in England."

    Ive been there, Ive seen it.

    I now understand why hundreds of thousands of native born British, most of them from indigenous rather than migrant backgrounds, are leave old Blighty every year.

    Who wants to live in a state that sliding towards totalitarianism?

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  25. Polygamy would also free one wife to be "Career Woman" while another wife takes on the mothering role. The more "traditional" wife could be a servant of the feminist and her child, though her role would be cloaked in cant about empowerment.

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  26. "As for slaves, they were not indoctrinated as a rule and were quite capable of deciding for themselves whether slavery was right or wrong"

    Your an idiot. Slaves were very very heavily indoctrinated and trained early on. You need to break a man the same way you tame a horse to make him into a slave. It doesn't just happen automagically. Slaves were also very cruelly treaten. You don't really understand the slaveholder mentality. Sure slave owners made all sorts of excuses for what they did and said all sorts of colorful things. But in the end they very well aware of the cruel and very cynical reality of what they were doing. Appearence is one thing, reality is another. You get fooled easily by appearances and what people say. You are incredibly naive.

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