Sunday, July 27, 2008

Yesterday's Globe and Mail books section rails against open relationships, courtesy of Elizabeth Nickson's review of Jenny Block's Open. Of polyamoury:

It would have sounded like excellent stuff to me in my 20s. Certainly, I was way into polyandry before I did something, what was it, oh yeah, grew up.

It's funny, because last time I checked "Oh, grow up" wasn't exactly the most rational, adult argument. I'm not even going to get into the infantalizing, paternalistic agism at that statement's heart.

Anyway, she goes on to say a number of really silly things, dismissing the book as having no value and, in places, using dripping sarcasm in place of analysis. She gives us flashes of her own ideological blinders, as in:

There isn't intimacy of any sort that I would recognize, either, because no one seems anything but busy, competent and shallow.


I read recently that the most refined pleasure is found in performing our duty, and for that reason alone, I suspect traditional marriage will survive the assaults of Block and her polyamorous comrades. One holds pity for those who succumb.

In an other bit of the review -- a commonly held belief that always makes me chuckle -- Nickson argues that in the advent of gays ruining marriage, poly and open relationships are the wolfs at the door. In a way, I hope that's true. Folks who have utilized their newfound sexual freedoms should be fighting for the decriminalization of polygamy (and sex work, bathhouses, rough sex, BDSM porn...) as analogous.

I also never really understood the sentiment about marriages as the "millennia-old institution upon which human civilization is built."

A) Our concept of marriage is quite new -- probably less than three hundred years, and by some metrics (equality within the marriage; the right for a woman to withhold consent to sex; property rights at dissolution) is only a generation old.

B) What about the other institutions by which our civilization was built: autocracy, serfdom, misogyny, racism, slaves, wars, genocide, ecological ravaging. Are they worth keeping around just because they're old?

Anyway, this kind of drive-by smear of sexually open relationships drives me nuts.