Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Dalliance parity

Oh, Dan. In what way is this - "Her marriage lasted 62 years, surviving Andrew’s long bout with alcoholism, as well as his discreet dalliances" - an example of ethical non-monogamy? Was she also allowed "discreet dalliances"? Divorce shouldn't be taken lightly, but until the era of dalliance parity arrives (which could well bring about more monogamy, with men realizing the deal allowing them but not their girlfriends/wives to stray is over), it's awfully important for women with less glamorously retrograde values to be able to extricate themselves from that sort of situation.


PG said...

I'm not sure English aristocracy is the place to sort these things out anyway, given that it's an intrinsically paternity-based system in which a woman oughtn't fool around at least until she's produced "an heir and a spare" that are indisputably her husband's. Chalk up another reason that maternal-line ancestry systems, like for Egyptian pharaohs or being Jewish, are so much more sensible.

Phoebe said...

Well, there's also that.

But what I keep coming back to, re: Savage and "monogamish," is that he completely misses why many women might not be so up on open relationships. It's not that women have less of a wandering eye, or are inherently prudish, but that historically, monogamy's been something expected far more often of women than of men. The default has often been thus, and my understanding of it is that it's a relatively new development in the history of social conservatism that men and women alike are expected to restrain themselves.

Savage has lots to say about women repressing bfs/husbands in this regard (esp. re: pornography) and is in principle in favor of gender-neutral openness, but doesn't ever quite address that heterosexual couples start from a not-so-gender-neutral place. If women are less keen on this, it's because they recognize that even to this day, "open" often enough means the man gets to do as he pleases (or, at least, to be forgiven for slipping up), while the woman is expected to remain 110% faithful. If we-as-a-society haven't reached a point where "open" has gender-neutral connotations, applications, then that's an awfully strong argument in favor of "closed," at least when it comes to generic advice.

PG said...

Isn't Savage just expressing the typical history/context "blindness" (as in the sense of people who advocate "color blind" policies in opposition to affirmative integration) of most libertarian preference, though? I suspect that his answer to you would parallel Chief Justice Roberts ("The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race"): "The way to stop the social expectation of women's fidelity is for women to stop being faithful."

Phoebe said...

I think you're attributing far too much intent to this stance. Not all cluelessness is libertarianism, and if Savage leans libertarian, I've never noticed him addressing this sort of concern. I think the Occam's razor interpretation would be that he's just not thinking too deeply about how "monogamish" changes when heterosexual couples are involved. He thinks through it enough to pick up on the fact that the presence of women stifles even the possibility of something like bathhouses (which he disapproves of for anyone), but never, to my knowledge, makes the leap to noticing that men feel entitled to more sex, more partners, and more forgiveness than women do; to thinking through why that is; and to deciding how he, Savage, might address that.