Polyamory, bisexuality and maybe even some atheism

Things I Don’t Get October 10, 2011

When discussing polyamory, be it on a forum, mailing list or the comments following an article in the MSM on the subject, someone inevitably brings up the ‘well I suppose it’s ok for men but women would have a hard time with it.’ The reasons given for said ‘hard time’ are generally along the lines of:

a) women don’t like sex as much as men and so having two or more men to ‘satisfy’ is difficult for the poor little darlings


b)men are horndogs but women like fidelity and get ragingly jealous (extra points for the ‘hell hath no fury’ line) so the idea of their men having other partners would drive women out of their minds

I’ve never understood that particular (set of) argument(s). I mean, let’s talk basic genital biology for a second. Men need a helluva lot more time to recover from orgasm than women do. Now, there’s lots of individual variation, but technically speaking, I can totally see how a woman could have sex with two men consecutively, but I have a harder time seeing how a man would manage to get it up without a break (or ‘medical’ intervention). Even allowing for an extremely short refractory period, superb health and preternatural horniness, and all of them coinciding, we’d still be talking about a very small number of men.

And let’s be clear here. In these conversations,  sex is usually assumed as men wanting to stick their penises into women. Personally, I think sex encompasses far more than that, but I have yet to come across someone concern trolling about, for instance, all those poor women who struggle to satisfy their male partners’ need for cunnilingus all day, every day. Something tells me that the oft-lamented female distaste for sex – if it exists at all – may have more to do with men being rubbish at it than women not liking it. I mean, I love chocolate cake, but if you screw up the recipe,  I won’t want to eat it, you know?

As for b), I’d like to point to the societal imperative placed on both men and women to mark their territory when it comes to sexual partners. For women, the competition is meant to be more passive – we have to be more attractive/alluring than the competition in the hope that our men will continue to choose us over them. For men, the competition is meant to be – and can become – much more active and aggressive. Take this ad, for example:

Yes, it’s very silly, but that silliness speaks to how normal we find it for men to be violent towards other men when competing for a woman’s affections. (Note also that nobody asked the woman in question who she would prefer. Her job is to stand there, look pretty and be the prize.)

This doesn’t mean that jealousy doesn’t happen between women by any means. It just means that people constructing women as exclusively jealous are basically just talking out of their asses. People get jealous. Some people get extremely jealous, and some only mildly, if at all, and all of them are normal. Besides which, jealousy isn’t some sort of permanent, inescapable state. If you’re a mature adult, odds are you can figure your shit out and deal with it successfully, or at the very least try to.

So not only is b) yet another example of the gender essentialism that plagues our societies but it also infantilises women by implying that they can’t act like adults and deal with their jealousy, should they encounter it in the first place.

But of course, these people don’t mean any harm. They’re just looking out for us poor females because gosh we’re so silly to think we can keep up with the manly men and their manliness.



4 Responses to “Things I Don’t Get”

  1. Fruit Taster Says:

    I’d agree with you that these views are rooted in overly traditional views of male-female dynamics.

    I’d go even further and say that it could be argued that these views were only ever true on a level of publicly available information, but that if you could have looked at actually went on privately, you’d find that polyamory and multiple partners was probably as common as it is today. It just was not fashionable then, whereas with the sexual revolution and openness of today, it is becoming part of the culture.

    Maybe my view is skewed by the small sample of the people I know and the blogs that I read, but in my experience there are more women dabbling in polyamory then there are men. That would make sense to me, if it turned out to be true, because women are stronger or more diverse emotionally than men are.

    Oh, and how funny it is when you say “sex is usually assumed as men wanting to stick their penises into women”. That sounds so unfulfilling. 🙂

  2. Araliya Says:

    Hello Fruit Taster! It’s been a while. 🙂

    “if you could have looked at actually went on privately, you’d find that polyamory and multiple partners was probably as common as it is today”

    Yup, I agree. My mother was raised with the idea that men cheat. It wasn’t a good thing and it wasn’t talked about, but it was one of those things that women just had to tolerate because they had no say in the matter. (And I think this expectation feeds into the ‘it’s ok for men because that’s just how they are’ argument above.)

    Women cheating was less of a thing, though it did happen, of course. I assume that pre-birth control, the threat of pregnancy was a deterrent for many women.

    My only quibble is that I wouldn’t necessarily label any of that polyamory, though I’m certain that some of it was done with both partners’ consent and not just their resentful knowledge/expectation.

    You’re also probably right about the ratios of women to men in modern polyamory, particularly if we consider how women dominate the visible, activist end of things. Most of the poly organizations that I know of in several countries are either headed by women or were started by women, and membership is also quite female heavy. Which, you know, is just fine by me 😉

    • Fruit Taster Says:

      It’s been a while… because you’ve been posting erratically. Yes I am giving you a hard time just because I can. But I’m still listening and I still love whenever you share your thoughtful thoughts about relationships.

      My wife reminded me of this quote by Betty White, about the expression that “growing balls” is silly because balls are so sensitive. Growing vaginas would be more like it, and your post demonstrates that.

      • Araliya Says:

        Yes, yes. I’ve been erratic. Life gets lifey at me every now and then.
        And someone sent me that Betty White quote just the other day. ‘strue!

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