Mainstream pundit confuses poly and cheating
A howler popped up this morning in the major newsmagazine The Week online. A senior contributor wrote about the reported rise of polyamory, and opined that it will never catch on because 90% of Americans still disapprove of cheating on your spouse. Sigh.
Is monogamy on the way out?
Polyamorists believe their time has come. But the fact is that Americans continue to see infidelity as an evil.
By Damon Linker
When the fight for gay marriage began to gain traction back in the early years of the last decade, social conservative critics usually went beyond denying that marriage could be redefined to include same-sex couples. Many of them argued that homosexuals were much less inclined than heterosexuals to valorize the ideal of monogamy. Allowing gays and lesbians to marry would therefore introduce a polyamorous option into the institution, and adultery would come to be viewed as an acceptable option for all marriages.
A spate of recent articles explicitly making the case for polyamory would seem to vindicate those conservative predictions and worries.
The latest example appeared a few days ago in The New Republic (reprinted from the New Statesman)....
...There's just one problem: There is not one shred of evidence to support that prediction.
Consider: In a poll conducted just last year, Gallup found that 91 percent of Americans disapprove of marital infidelity.
That's right. In a highly sexualized age awash in technological temptations and dominated by a nonjudgmental sexual ethic that increasingly encourages men and women to do whatever feels good, nine out of 10 Americans judge cheating to be wrong....
What to make of the disjunct between what our principles would seem to permit or encourage and what we clearly believe to be right and wrong?
One possibility is that people's attitudes haven't caught up to the implications of their moral ideals. Once they do, the rate of disapproval will fall far and fast.
I suppose it could happen. But since there's currently no evidence for it — not even a modest downward trend — buying into the theory would seem to be ill-advised.
That's why I prefer another explanation — not of why Americans disapprove so strongly of adultery, but of why advocates of polyamory, no less than their social conservative antagonists, get the trend lines wrong.
Those who promote polyamory often end up making a very basic error in moral reasoning by presuming that one can extrapolate moral ideals from people's behavior. If people cheat and are increasingly tempted to cheat, their professed attachment to the principle of monogamy must be (as Wilby puts it) "pretend."...
Read the whole article (Aug. 6, 2014).
I got right on and posted one of the first comments:
If someone gets to be a "senior correspondent" for a serious journal like The Week, you'd think he would at least spend a minute checking Google or Wikipedia before making a fool of himself in public.
Polyamory is not about cheating, fer chrissakes. It's all about *not* cheating -- sharing love all around with openness, mutual concern for everyone's well-being, honesty, and respect. My experience is that if you polled polyfolks on their opinions of cheaters, you'd get an even higher disapproval rate than the 90% of the general public.
Others are piling in. Go add your own.
This is the third article about poly in The Week this year. The first two were better.