The Sexist Idea Behind ‘Enforced Monogamy’

Jordan Peterson has now expressed with feigned exasperation how totally unfair it is for anyone to believe that when he suggested “enforced monogamy” as a solution to the incel “problem” he meant enforced by the government. He says he only meant enforced by social pressure. David Ley, who is also a clinical psychologist, points out that this is still a horribly sexist position that reduces a woman’s sexual autonomy to a commodity.

Note, however, that all of these arguments are based on the treatment of sex with females, and reproduction, as economic commodities. Women have something which men desire, and perhaps even need, in order to reproduce. When female sexuality is treated as an economic resource, it does indeed support the notion that this resource may be utilized or controlled in utilitarian manner, to further social interests. Men who cannot mate or get a date, are viewed as inferior, broken and worthless.

In much of today’s world, however, far different than our history, female sexuality is not seen as property, to be sold through dowries or taken as a right of privilege. The #Metoo movement, amongst a long history of feminist reform, has placed control and “ownership” of female sexuality in the women themselves, rejecting the “rights” of powerful men to treat women as sexual objects. It has only been in a few societies in human past, where women held economic control or independence, and in those rare societies, women often also held control of their sexuality and mated with whom they chose.

Where Peterson and Hanson’s arguments fail, is that they are using data, research, evidence, and theories, based on our dark past, where women did not hold the right to choose what to do with their own sexuality. The history of socially- and religiously-enforced monogamy was one in which female sexuality was property, and marriage was based on economics. The reason that the Incel movement is angry at women, rather than society at large, is that these young men recognize that when women are given the right to choose, they are not choosing them…

Female control of their own sexuality is not dooming society to a wreckage of male violence. At least, not if men stop viewing female sexuality as an economic right they can win through social success. Most men do not view women with anger and resentment. Most men don’t view women as things to be won and mated with. Even the men who cannot date, due to their social inhibitions, more often feel sad and lonely (link is external), rather than violently angry. These negative reactions are predicted by personality traits such as psychopathy or low agreeableness, not by access to sex.

This is clearly true. The age-old traditions that Peterson wants so badly to return to always treated the sexuality of women as something controlled by men, not by themselves. One need only look at the Bible for confirmation. A woman who was not a virgin on her wedding day was, quite literally, stoned to death at the explicit command of God. It was a disgrace upon the family, which means upon the father, who owned his daughter, and especially her sexuality, until he gave her to her future husband, who owned and controlled it from that point forward. Adultery was also met by stoning, primarily because it was considered a form of theft — one man has taken the property of another, his wife’s sexuality.

And Peterson still hasn’t addressed the blatant contradiction in his own thinking. He rails against those who favor “equality of outcomes,” yet suddenly — and solely — when it comes to sex, he demands exactly the thing that he rails against. In every other facet of social life, he is all about defending hierarchies and the idea that some people are wealthier and more powerful because they are smarter, better, more disciplined, more charismatic, and so forth. He decorates his house with images of Soviet propaganda to remind him of the horrors of Marxism, but he is, in fact, a sexual Marxist — from each woman according to her ability to each man according to his need.

He apparently thinks this sudden contradiction is necessary to keep men who don’t have access to sex from going on killing sprees, so it’s justified. But precious few incels actually do go on killing sprees and what distinguishes the ones who do from the ones who don’t is that they are violent psychopaths, not merely sadsack losers.

And let me add one more thing: I’m not buying Peterson’s feigned exasperation for one second. He is forever claiming to be misunderstood, but he could have avoided this by adding one single word to his statement — “socially” enforced monogamy. That’s all it would have taken. He chose not to make that clear. And given some of his past statements, it’s hardly a stretch to think that he meant government-enforced monogamy. Like this one:

And really, why would he not support government enforcement of this? If he actually meant it when he said that this was necessary to prevent mass killings by incels, wouldn’t that also justify a government program and not just a social one? There is also, of course, the problem of how impossible it is to turn back the clock and go back to the 50s, his dream decade. Pick your analogy — the genie is out of the bottle, the toothpaste is out of the tube, the bell has already been rung. Women are not going to go back to being wholly owned subsidiaries of men, nor should they.

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