You say fidelity, I say private property

I posted a brief note about Jezebel last night, particularly regarding the heteronormative nature of most comments in this post (about monogamy). Then I revisited the thread this morning and read a few more comments and, needless to say, they were all along the same line with many posters expressing how they would never, ever accept infidelity. Lots of disguised Christian values thrown in for good measure. Of course those are not called by that name, after all, most people commenting there self identify as feminist, liberal and secular. However, this strong preference for monogamy and the corresponding agitation caused by the mere thought of infidelity is strongly Christian (ok, to be more specific, rooted in Abrahamic traditions, not just Christian). What bothers me are the unexamined consequences of some statements, namely:

– “I would never accept cheating. It would be an immediate deal breaker. I would immediately end the relationship”. What I find amusing in this kind of statement is that most of the people going for such declarations probably have never been in long term relationships where they have invested more than half their lives. It’s an adolescent and rather immature way of looking at the dynamics of long term partnerships and how they really work (in the real world, not in a computer screen).

– Then, there’s the set of comments that irk me the most. The moral condemnations. The ones who call “the other woman” a homewrecker, the ones who dictate that the cheater is “scum”, that “they” (the commenter) would never engage in such behavior knowingly because “they” have morals (the implication being that whoever does engage in such behavior obviously doesn’t). And here’s what, at the bottom line bothers me the most: slut shaming to begin with. And then, the notion of “possession”, this very Christian idea of “ownership” of one’s partner. There is this underlying tone of “this person’s genitals and mind are mine! they belong to me and not even the person to whom the genitals are appended to has the right to autonomy over them”. Some people take it even further and not just declare possession over their partner’s genitals, they state that, to them, even “emotional cheating” would be unacceptable, somehow implying an ownership over their partner’s psyche/mind/ soul as well.

– Also “cheating is breaking a promise”. Here’s where I start to hyperventilate. This so called “promise” is the basis for the entire patriarchy and it is deeply rooted in religion. As a matter of fact, it is the essence of traditional marriage ceremonies. This “promise” that all of these supposedly feminist commenters are so keen on defending heatedly is actually the very system of oppression they are (supposedly) against.

Now, I understand some people might prefer monogamy or “traditional relationships”. However, here’s what I do not understand: 1) jealousy turned into blanket statements that somehow attempt to legitimize heteronormative, patriarchal models of partnership/ companionship 2) unexamined staunch defense of “people as property” and actually perpetuating models of ownership that only seek to oppress (I need to think about this further, but the patriarchy is a capitalist system based on private property). 3) as I said above, the slut shaming, but also, the “it’s the lying!” mantra repeated ad nauseam. I would challenge it just to examine how many times the person doing the pearl clutching over the “immoral deception” actually lie and deceive on any given day. 4) the implication that the only kind of acceptable “love” is one that is strongly tied to a sense of possession and complete disclosure and transparency, completely negating and denying a partner’s autonomy over their bodies, life choices and privacy (i.e. “if you loved me, there would be no secrets between us”).

It seems that, for many self identified feminists, the self analysis, questioning and examination of models of sexual relationship end as soon as they overlap with their sense of private property and ownership.

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