Some touchy subjects here, I only read the first few lines and was like “whoa!”. I’m not sure how i feel about these things. I think now, three years later, that gendre roles are not so easily defined. People, men and women, come in all kinds of forms. Anywhooo…enjoy.
31 March 2005
If the Shoe Fits
Women are more suited for monogamy and marriage because they are naturally more inclined to develop emotional attachments to their lovers. Men on the other hand, we find it hard to view monogamy and marriage in anything other than honest, virtuous, and sometimes boring lights. Our own person aspirations toward complete honesty with regards to our sex-lives vary from man to man. However, I do not think any honest man or woman would deny that men are perhaps the more promiscuous of the two sexes. That being said, in accordance with the utilitarian theory that “acts are right if they bring about the greatest possible balance of intrinsic good over intrinsic evil for everyone concerned; otherwise they are wrong”, I believe the institution of marriage should be forgotten as a social norm because it is not equally beneficial to both parties involved (Regan 15) . While women are given exactly what they want, men are placed in a very uncomfortable position. Women often say that men are dogs because we will hump pretty much anything that moves. To the accused men, fornication is often unavoidable because of their inherent and natural sex drive. Monogamy, to them, is unnatural because men are biologically wired to spread their seeds. Nonetheless, these same fornicating men would not hesitate to admit that their infidelity does cause feelings of sincere guilt and regret. But are men feeling bad about breaking their word to a girlfriend or wife, or are they feeling bad because of more selfish reasons? For instance, they could feel scared because if their partner found out they would undoubtedly lose their partner; or they have tarnished their own self-image by going against their word, thus diminishing their own trust in themselves and their convictions. The truth is that most males probably think of these consequences first and the feelings of their female counterparts second. That is not to say that all men do this, or that men are naturally selfish; the point is that any person, whether male or female, naturally and instinctively think of their own well being before considering that of the other.
I have a friend who used to boast about never being unfaithful to a girlfriend. His initial stance on this subject was that ‘cheating’ was an immoral act because it defiles a sacred bond between lovers. He witnessed first hand the emotional and psychological damage caused by infidelity within his home. He saw what it could to a mother and her family and he vowed never to be an accomplice to inflicting that pain. Earlier this year, when he somewhat willingly cheated on his present girlfriend, he told me that his confidence in himself, in love, and in the institution of marriage was shattered. He saw how easy it was for infidelity to take place, and he began to project his own guilt onto his girlfriend; constantly accusing her of his own transgression. In return she blasted him with accusations of her own as if she had called his bluff. Ashamed of himself, he adamantly denied any wrong-doing. Although he is still with the same girl, and has yet to reveal the truth to her – though she has her suspicions – he often relates to me his regret for having betrayed a girl to whom he plans to one day be married to. He says that their bond will never be the same because of his secret trespass against her trust. I secretly laughed at him because I noticed the dramatic change in his attitude from when the act of infidelity was committed up until the present date. At first he could only think about getting caught, and losing a relationship that had become convenient to him. Months later, he began to contemplate her feelings, and in his outrospection he realized the wrongness of his behavior. My friend would claim that he one day marrying that ‘woman’ – as he now calls her, having gained a newly adopted respect for her – is an undeniable fact. From what I see happening with all my friends, it is an undeniable fact that he will either cheat on her again or catch her cheating on him. With that being established for the time being as a fact, it would be safe to surmise that marriage can not work if it is forced to be constrained by the rule of monogamy. A successful marriage is one that can forgive any infidelity and work towards the point when both are too old and only still attractive to each other. And to be honest, that is not a bad thing: to have someone fixated as a life companion so that you will never be lonely. I myself find the need for such a deep dependency on another human being to be a sign of weakness; though I am still searching for that one woman who will force me to make an exception. A contradiction in rational thought to say the least, believing simultaneously that marriage is good and bad is proof enough that it should either be reformed or forgotten all together. I would have to agree with Russell Vannoy when he says “that one should be a secure person, one who does not need to be loved in order to feel self-acceptance and self-respect” (148). I do not think that love and marriage can work without two secure individuals; and secure individuals are found few and far in between.
Marriage creates a bond that is the wildest roller coaster anyone could ever hope to survive under the guise of that enigmatic label of ‘true love’. Marriage, like any endeavor had its pros and cons. Allowing the pros to outweigh the significance of the cons is the essential key to a fruitful marriage. But just as one blemish on an individuals record can tarnish his reputation, so do the negatives in a relationship garner more attention than the positive. This is of course because of the natural human reactions to the emotions on either end of the spectrum; anger, fear, and hate are contrasted with acceptance, happiness, and love. As stated before, a thriving marriage would have to ‘rise above’ the negative effects of negative emotion.
I have often wondered how my friend could have become such a poster-boy for all the men out there who are actually faithful to their partners. He believed in power of love and the sanctity of any relationship whether it was premarital or marital. Remembering the words of Socrates, “the unexamined life is not worth living”, I find myself thinking that out of all the things Socrates thought a man should examine in his life, morality would be high on that list. But then I would have to examine the morals I am adopting for myself in terms of where they came from. My views of how marriage should be were created by the different discourses I was exposed to. As a youth I was exposed to the idealized depictions of marriage found in fairy-tales, comic books, and fantasy epics; as I am sure many children were. At the same time I saw how my parent’s marriage was unfolding and made a conscious choice to one day have the ideal portrayal become my own reality. To do this I would have to mimic the heroes of the fictional world and make all their virtues my own, while distancing myself from the ways of the villains and antagonists by condemning their sins. So I adopted basic principles to later discover they were deep rooted in established philosophy. For example, virtues like the Kantian precept, “Always treat humanity, whether in your own person or that of another, as and end and never as a means only” became words to live by (Vannoy 146). By that same philosophy, if I were to ever enter into a relationship, especially marriage, it would be essentially wrong for me to use “another in a sexual encounter as a mere means for [my] own selfish pleasures” (Vannoy 146). In other words, sex without love or sex without the one I love would be undeniably wrong.
Today, I ask myself if I set my sights too high with vows of being completely good and not at all evil. I also ask myself if the representations of good and evil as I knew them were accurate or even reliable. Could something as anciently taboo as adultery really be an evil act? In the eyes of a Christian, Jewish, or Muslim God, it most certainly is. However, these religions are man-made, and being a man I can only assume that I was created equal to those responsible for creating these religions. Therefore, my guesses about good and evil are as good as theirs; though I suppose that is a question of personal faith in highly scandalized, heavily hypocritical, outdated, and therefore irrelevant doctrines. Nonetheless, and because of the social milieu that seems to hang over western civilization, many like my friend adhere to the rules of popular dogma.
As a man with a certain degree of self-respect and self proclaimed nobility, I believe that a man’s word is and can be his only bond to any acquaintance, man or woman. The wrath of God aside, I would have to agree with Richard Wasserstrom’s view that “what makes adultery seriously wrong is that it involves the breaking of an important promise…that [the parties involved] will abstain from sexual relationships with third persons” (Wasserstrom 176). Within the confines of a marriage, monogamy has traditionally been the cornerstone. However, because men and women are not equally suited for such an undertaking, the institution should be done away with or at least rethought – the latter being highly unlikely due to orthodoxy in the church.
In short, because monogamy isn’t natural, does not mean it is not a worth-while enterprise. Promiscuity is in human nature but so is murder; therefore right or wrong is left up to the individual and their personal values. The fear of the church of course – a fear which has validity – is that if left to its own devices, humanity will drown in its own adeptness for doing evil. To prevent absolute chaos, some rules are needed. Some have proposed the idea that “such things as homosexuality, prostitution, and adultery ought to be made illegal” because they are immoral (Wasserstrom 175). Homosexuality and prostitution aside, adultery, because of the pain it can inflict and the guilt is causes, is irrefutably immoral. But does that mean it should be regulated by law? In conclusion, I believe it is only safe to say that marriage and monogamy, like any choice, should be left up to the individuals involved; excluding both the church and the law.
Regan, Tom. Matters of Life and Death: New Introductory Essays in Moral Philosophy. 3rd Ed. McGraw-Hill Inc.: New York, 1993.
Vannoy, Russell. “Sex without Love”. Philosophy of Sex and Love: A Reader. Robert
Trevas et al. (Eds). Pearson Education, 1996.
Wasserstrom, Richard A., “Is Adultery Immoral?” Today’s Moral Problems. MacMilllan,