No, Mo'Nique objects, her open marriage is not "a pass to cheat."
Remember Mo'Nique? The Oscar-winning actress and comedian has enthused about her happy open marriage to Sidney Hicks for at least eight years, most recently in the last couple weeks.
It started with an interview at TrueExclusives.com November 17 that had a catchy subject line. From the transcript:
...On the secret to having a long-lasting marriage:
“Honesty. That’s it. When I hear men say ‘I don’t tell my wife everything, you crazy?’ and I hear women say ‘I ain’t telling my husband that, you crazy?’ So you mean you trust somebody else other than the person you lay with every night, you slept with, you cried with, you make love to. So I think those long lasting things is simply honesty and communication. It’s gotta be your best friend.”
On having a “free pass to cheat” in a relationship:
“The person that you stood up and you said ‘for better, for worse, sickness and in health, richer or poorer,’ you took those vows in front of the universe. If you don’t live by them, then maybe you shouldn’t have taken them. And when you say ‘a pass to cheat’… see when you’re with your best friend and you say to your best friend ‘I’m having these feelings about this person, sexually and I wanna share it with you’.. when you’re best friends, you can have those open and honest conversations.
Often times people cheat because of something they’re not getting. But when you have open and honest dialogue and you say we’re just human beings and all these people on the face of the earth, do you think my eyes won’t ever say ‘he’s fine’ or ‘she’s attractive’. Now if you wanna go further with it, let’s be honest enough to have those conversations. What is it about that person that you find that you wanna sleep with? Because they may give you something that I’m simply not willing to do. And if that’s the case, how can I be mad? Because I’m not gon’ do it. Should I deprive you of not having it? That’s when the relationship is real real.
See how she knocks down that "cheat" language?
|Husband and wife. (HelloBeautiful / Rodrogo Vaz / Getty)|
Nevertheless, when TheGrio.com picked up the story the next day, it titled its piece Mo’Nique defends giving husband ‘free passes’ to cheat.
That same day the New York Daily News headlined an article Mo'Nique doesn't mind giving her husband 'a pass to cheat', which again makes it look like her quote.
She did a followup interview with Periscope to clarify. As presented in Us magazine:
Mo’Nique Clarifies Open Marriage to Sidney Hicks: “It Was My Idea”
The Oscar-winning actress, 47, said her words about her nine-year marriage to husband Sidney Hicks had been misconstrued, and gave fans her side of the story.
...“Originally it was my idea because at the time when Sid and I got together 10 years ago — now keep in mind this was my best friend since I was 14 — but when we first got together I was still stuck in being famous and a celebrity and being a star, and I felt like I could have whatever I want. So I was still in an insecure place of, ‘I can have that, I can have that, I can have that.’ And because I was dealing with my best friend, my best friend said, ‘If that’s what you think you need, as your best friend, I don’t want to stand in the way of it.’”
Mo’Nique took offense to critics claiming her husband was forcing her to make these rules so he could cheat.
“It makes me laugh when people put it all off on my husband as if it was something he was doing,” she said.
...She went on to further clarify her comments about a “pass” to cheat, saying, “We don’t give each other passes to cheat, because when you cheat, you lie, when you lie, you steal.”
The stand-up comic also revealed that she and her husband have a radio show called Mo’Nique and Sidney’s Open Relationship premiering on New Year’s Day, where they can talk about the secrets to the success of their marriage. [Update: It's actually a podcast scheduled to start January 11th.]
“Open means we’re open-minded to the world,” she clarified. “That’s what we’re open to. We are open to being honest to each other all the way through.”
The whole article (Nov. 20).
Lots more recent coverage in the entertainment press.
The entertainment world's fixation on cheating prompted polyactivist and alt-relationship therapist Jay Blevins to dissect this misuse of language with an article at The Good Men Project:
Men, Mo’Nique and Polyamory vs. Cheating: The Times They are a Changin’
When Mo’Nique discussed the need communicate openly with her husband, her words were publicly twisted. Consent, compassion and communication are traits the media are unable to grasp.
...What she actually talked about was the importance of being able to have the trust and connection to be completely honest with your partner. To be able to admit when you have an attraction for another person.
She not only talked about being able to acknowledge those feelings, but also, as the person hearing them, being compassionate enough to treat them gently and to learn from them.
She not only talked about being able to acknowledge those feelings, but also, as the person hearing them, being compassionate enough to treat them gently and to learn from them. To find out what it is that makes your partner attracted to someone else. Is there something they aren’t getting out of your relationship that is important to them?
Instead of being about fear, anxiety and insecurity she describes a relationship that is based in love, trust, commitment, honesty, compassion and consent. As part of that she acknowledges that if she loves her partner and there is something important to her partner that they aren’t getting from her, then she wouldn’t want to deny her partner.
That was in response to the interviewer’s use of the term “free pass to cheat.”... Because frankly, she isn’t talking about cheating. Cheating is about breaking rules, breaking vows, breaking trust.... Apparently The Grio isn’t paying much attention to the world around them. Because more and more people are exploring and embracing the concept of ethical non-monogamy....
Blevins goes on to expound the precepts of ethical non-monogamy and lists misconceptions about it. Read his whole article (Nov. 23). For the record, he objected to the stock patriarchal polygamy illustration that The Good Men Project stuck on top.
Update, Jan. 18, 2016: Their new podcast, Mo'Nique & Sidney's Open Relationship, has gone live. Essence magazine tells about its first episode: Mo’Nique Sets The Record Straight On Her Open Marriage In New Podcast: ‘It Was My Idea’ (Jan. 16, 2016).