"Does Monogamy Matter?" And queering the state
Another voice speaks up for fearless self-creation of gay relationship styles — this time at "Australia’s #1 Youth News and Entertainment site," which claims to be read by 400,000 "hyper-connected urban millennials" (though only about 1% of them have read this story according to the stats). Australia is having its own debate about legalizing gay marriage, in which opponents are wielding the "polygamy is next" cudgel and some gays are trying to show how monogamous they are. Of course, as among everyone, some are and some aren't.
Does monogamy matter?
By Senthorun Raj
“The time has come to think about queering the state.”
In a seminal essay written in 1994, queer theorist Lisa Duggan argued that what was needed in gay and lesbian politics was not aspiring to meet the liberal demands of the “same,” but to transform the ways in which sexual minorities could have their relationships valued and recognised. For Duggan, a “queer” project is committed to challenging oppressive sexual norms (i.e. homophobia), while refusing to have the terms of “proper” intimacy dictated by the state.
So why bring this up now?
With the push towards marriage equality (of which I have written extensively in support of), there has been a troubling tendency to consider marriage as the most virtuous institution of intimacy.
Moreover, the arrival of Monogamous Gay Australia (MGA) has generated significant debate about the role of monogamy in the domain of coupledom. As MGA note on their Facebook page:
“Monogamous Gay Australia (MGA) is a not-for-profit, support group for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender individuals that celebrates and promotes monogamous, loving and faithful gay relationships. We encourage singles to take a stand, beyond one night and hold out for the one. We support new couples in getting to know each other before intimacy.”
Let’s begin by asking a couple of questions. Are “loving”, “faithful” and “monogamous” synonymous terms? Who is “the one”? How do you differentiate between “knowing” someone and being “intimate” with them?
...Intimacy is a slippery thing. We can have profound emotional attachments to people we do not want to sleep with. We can have amazing sexual experiences with those we do not wish to be in a relationship with. Our intended one-night stand can end up being our life partner. Distinguishing between sexual, platonic, emotional, and romantic intimacies in the pursuit of “getting to know” someone can be a futile exercise.
So how do we decide what form of intimacy to “hold out” on and when? Additionally, echoing the work of cultural theorist Lauren Berlant, what “love plot” do we subscribe to when mapping our intimate encounters?... We said “no” to compulsory heterosexuality. Curiously, then, why do we now want to say “yes” to compulsory monogamy?
...Monogamy is neither better nor worse than any other relationship arrangement. Whether you want one spouse for life, practice polyamory, or remain single, the ethics of intimacy cannot be measured in quantitative terms. You only need to see the appalling instances of sexual violence in various romanticised “traditional” relationships to see why there is no inherent virtue in any one sort of intimate practice. What matters, more importantly, is the way ethics is practiced in the relationship(s) you are involved in....
Read the whole article (Jan. 22, 2013).