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The Urban Scientist

The Urban Scientist

A hip hop maven blogs on urban ecology, evolutionary biology & diversity in the sciences

Feministing Friday: Why Serial Monogamy is bad propaganda for women

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Feminsiting Friday is a series of posts dissecting hip-hop and pop culture for its sexist influences and/or portrayals on women and girls. Offering insight as an evolutionary biologist, I promise to be analytical, scathing, and downright snarky. I began the series at my previous blog, SouthernPlayalisticEvolutionMusic on the Southern Fried Science Network.

I still have some things to get off of my chest.

 

In a previous post about EPC (Extra-pair copulations) stirred up some conversations about serial monogamy in real life. Serial monogamy is actually very common among people, especially in our modern society. It goes a little somethng like this:

Boy and girl meet. They flirt. The date and decide they like each other. They decide to be a couple. They break-up. Repeat.

Let’s say you want to marry someone who’s right for you and by a certain period of time in your life. Playing by the serial monogamy rules you would date one person at time, give each a relationship serious go – say a year, then break up for what ever reason, take the time to learn and heal, and do it again. Even if you meet someone who may seem to be a better fit, you either have to let them them pass or end your existing relationship to find out more information. If you were to play the field you could date as many individuals as you like, for as long as you like. Honesty is encouraged, of course. For either strategy, you still have to be mindful of other people’s feelings (and STDs). Dating is not a consequence-free endeavor.

The point I’m making is that in life there are no guarantees that you will meet the right person in a certain amount of time. Heck, there’s no guarantee you’ll meet the right person, ever, but there is hope. And in an effort to hedge the odds in your favor, why wouldn’t you date as many great people as possible? Yet, more often than not young women tend to date serially, and young men do not. I'm a rather vocal objector to these dating and relationship customs. And frankly, I find the social support of serial monogamy sexist. Here are my reasons why.

1. It’s a way to moralize feminine sexual behavior. A woman who can boast no or few lovers is better regarded than a woman who can boast many lovers. Moreover, serial monogamy allows one to qualify the number of partners by attaching those lovers to a relationship. It’s a way to clarify her reputation. Simultaneously, boys and men are encouraged to play the field, sow their oats, and get as many notches on their belt as possible. Hip-hip idolizes male committmentphobia and villifies women for comparable behavior.

(NSFW)

NO where is this more enforced than the many ritual of Bachelor night. Grooms are publicly encouraged to have a last rut with the most provocative women they can be collectively procured by their buddies, many of whom are also married.

2. It’s a very successful way for a man to lock in a sexual partner. Entering a monogamous relationship is a sure way to secure a sexual partner is available to you. Particularly, if you are a manipulative man, or not very attractive, or even lazy, then getting booed up is your best bet to secure a woman. But remember, there is nothing that prevents either from engaging in EPCs or extra-pair copulations, also called cheating. Hip hop culture routinely encourages this behavior with boys and men: advice to men for managing your wifey or mainchick, sidechick, and/or jumpoff. Socially, men are allowed to have their cake and eat it, too.

And I'll own up t my own sexist prejudices on this. Most of the men I have met who seem to be interested in getting into a relationship very quickly or settling down at a very young age just struck me as sub-par on some level. Okay, there are some good guys out there who are gentlemen and want to get married, have a family and 'do it honest'. But for those men who had no 'moral clauses' they just came off as lame or needy.

My thought is, if it’s good for the goose….

We can’t simultaneously teach boys and girls different lessons about dating and sex. We can’t continue to set different expectations for men and women sexually and then wonder why we can’t have healthy adult relationships with each other. The playing field should be leveled. Women should enjoy dating and flirting as much as men and not feel guilty about it or not be given a hard time if she hasn't settled down 'by a certain time'.

I mean if you really want to get married to the right person by a certain time, then it really is better to date many people at a time. Dating only one person at a time (for an extended period of time) prevents you from meeting the one in a timely manner. You look up and you’re 25. You’re complaining about running out of time and realize you’ve only dated a handful of people. It’s then that you see the reality and your dates become high-powered job interviews. Not a good look.

You want someone to put a ring on it, then my advice is to field many candidates.

Which brings me to my ultimate reason why I think serial monogamy does women a disservice. It makes women into these pitiable creatures if we’re still unmarried by a certain age. I really, really hate it when someone asks why a beautiful woman, aged 35+, isn’t married. I hate it more when those same women whine about not being married. I'm so damn tired of these trite conversations about single professional black women or hear another cocktail party rehashing of Steve Harvey's commentary about Smart Professional Black Women being single I’m gonna scream.

See even in the questions and media coverage, the conversation is focused on what's wrong with women. Where is the outcry for unmarried black men? There isn’t any. That’s because the whole conversation is sexist.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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