Sunday, March 12, 2006

Polyamory, Polygamy and Gay Marriage

Predictable as clockwork, the right wing is up in arms over HBO's new show on polygamy. Atrios lampoons the right's obsession with this particular form of sexual deviancy (isn't it all forms of sexual "deviancy" that they decry? I've never seen such obsession with sex as has enveloped the right win over the last decade...) and says,
Consider what motivates someone to write "polyamory has much greater potential appeal, and poses a much deeper danger to the American family." I have no idea if "polyamory has much greater potential appeal" or, if it does, why it "poses a much deeper danger to the American family" than does polygamy.

I'm glad I don't live in Kurtz's brain.


Meanwhile, McJoan frontpages on DailyKos (the site is down as I write this) that she doesn't even know what "polyamory" is.

Actually, what Kurtz (in the Heart of Darkness of his soul) is saying is pretty obvious--and obvious to anyone who understands both the right wing and the difference between polygamy and polyamory.

"Polyamory" is otherwise known as "free love". It's the notion that people can have open relationships and sex with multiple partners; in some cases, polyamory involves retained loyalty to a single person in spite of the open relationship, and in other cases it does not.

"Polygamy" is much more structured and refers to the literal marriage of multiple people: "polygyny" is the marriage of one man to several women (much more common), while "polyandry" is the marriage of one woman to several men (much less common).

It is actually high predictable--and totally understandable--that wingers like Kurtz would view Polyamory as a greater moral evil than Polygamy. Polygamy, in their minds, while still perverse, carries loyalties, fidelities and the sanctity of matrimony. In many ways, polygamy is a fundamentalist institution (as it is in Utah), and is only progressively applied (if that is even possible) in rare instances.

Polyamory, on the other hand, with its notions of free love and the discard of traditional fidelity and matrimony, strikes utter fear into the heart of a conservative (and I'm no fan of it myself--I just find it unworkable, given the fundamental ways that human beings are wired).

What I find particularly striking, however, is that this wingnut stance against Polyamory in favor of Polygamy is directly at odds with their views on Gay Marriage.

After all, if the sanction of the state, fidelity, and matrimony make polygamy more acceptable (or less outrageous) in the eyes of Bush, Rove, and Dobson, shouldn't they wish to apply the same standard to homosexuals? Shouldn't they view gays living together faithfully and loyally with the sanction of the state as preferable to the free love parade that they imagine to go on throughout West Hollywood and Castro District?

I'm not sure yet whether pundits like Kurtz are simply intellectually obtuse on this issue, or intellectually dishonest. But I suspect that it's a heavy case of dishonesty, with some misogyny and homophobia thrown in to boot.

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