Who Could Possibly Have Foreseen This?

Slate argues for polygamy as our next step toward the complete atomization of all moral discourse.

1. The post begins by mocking SSM opponents for predicting this. How *tiresome* of Christians to have been right!

2. This:

“The definition of marriage is plastic. Just like heterosexual marriage is no better or worse than homosexual marriage, marriage between two consenting adults is not inherently more or less “correct” than marriage among three (or four, or six) consenting adults.”

In the culture where consent is the sole criterion of the good, ideas eventually have consequences, and final consequence of reducing the Good to the individual will untethered from the common good will be the Triumph of the Will because the day has to come when somebody will say, “What’s so great about consent?” That’s not going to look like love when we get there.

  • James H, London

    Where are the trendies? Not awake yet? OK, I’ll fill in for ‘em:

    RACIST!
    HOMOPHOBE!
    ANTI-SEMITE!

    VERY NOT-NICE PERSON!

    Um, I’ve run out of pelvis-worshippers’ arguments.

    • TheRealAaron

      Polyphobe!

      (I haven’t heard that one yet, but I assume it’s a matter of time.)

      • http://chicagoboyz.net TMLutas

        You may want to google that. It’s a plastics product.

  • bob

    St. Anthony in the 4th century, saying 25: A day is coming when men will go mad, and when they see someone who is not mad they will attack him saying “you are mad, you are not like us”.

  • http://www.rosariesforlife.com Dave

    Hey, the more parents, the better, right? There’s just more love to go around. How can you be against more love? Bigot!

    This isn’t surprising at all. Actually, I’d consider that there are better arguments for polygamy than for SSM. Once you remove protection of children as the heart of marriage, there will be no end to the ridiculousness.

  • Pammy R

    I just read a secular site of news for our state that is contemplating homosexual “marriage”. The journalist owner of the site and all his comboxers poo-poohed the ridiculousness of the “slippery slope” argument and the idea that polygamy could be encouraged next.

    • Beccolina

      It’s hard to see the slope when you’re nearly at the bottom of it.

      • http://chicagoboyz.net TMLutas

        Oh no you don’t. It gets worse, much worse.

  • Dustin

    Man, what a frustrating article. As a feminist, it’s depressing to see how the rhetoric we used to deploy about “false consciousness” has been almost entirely set aside. The “choice feminism” cohort of the third-wavers is endlessly frustrating. Patriarchy exists, Ms. Keenan (he says, oddly, as if she were reading this when she certainly isn’t; still, it’s a useful rhetorical device.) The choices we make are never undertaken in an environment free of oft-unexamined systems of coercion and deep social influence. We don’t always truly believe the things we think we believe. We often submit, happily, or even collaborate eagerly in our own subordination. We are not discrete, atomized individuals exercising free will unimpeded by any external pressures. So many centuries of toxicity weigh upon us that we think the constraints are normal. Our choices are often not our own, but a kind of giving in to a cultural default.

    Polygyny is about as straightforward an example of women being treated as male property, to be amassed as so many sheep or cattle, as any culture has ever produced. For a woman to claim she chose it freely is rather solid proof of our unquestioned patriarchal assumptions about gender.

    • dpt

      Dustin- Exactly. Women will bear the brunt of the abuse and use that will be the result of polygyny.

      • SouthCoast

        Just for the record, in case anyone wants to bring it up, in cultures that practice polyandry as opposed to the more common polygyny, women are *NOT* empowered: they are chattels to several men (usually a group of brothers) rather than one. Further, polyandry occurs in societies, such as traditional Tibet (pace admirers of the Dalai Lama!), that routinely practice female infanticide, resulting in a shortage of marriageable females (get ready China!).

        • Dustin

          Yep. But please don’t think I implied otherwise. Polygyny was my example because that’s nearly always the form that polygamy takes. That women don’t fare any better under polyandry is a further sign of the patriarchal assumptions common to most cultures. Cultural forces will always exploit the biological distinction between the sexes to the advantage of men for as long as we cling to essentialist thinking about the sexes, as long as we insist that being a woman or a man only means one thing, can only take one form, and that our lives must be lived according to some ancient script that none of us wrote and have little choice but to perform.

          • http://irenist.blogspot.com/ Irenist

            Essentialist thinking is the opposite of nominalist thinking. The problem with nominalism is that unless humans have inherent, intrinsic dignity and worthy, then everyone and everything just becomes lumber for the sawmill of the lusts and greed of the powerful. There is no nominalist argument against, e.g., torture, or any other human rights violation, because unless “human” is a certain kind of being (e.g., a rational animal), it is incoherent to argue that the status of human should have any legal or ethical consequences. (Note on the usage of “lumber” above for metaphysics nerds: my contention is that if you take the morphe out of hylomorphism, we are all reduced to the status of mere hyle for the Nietzschean projects of the powerful.)

    • The Deuce

      Polygyny is about as straightforward an example of women being treated as male property, to be amassed as so many sheep or cattle, as any culture has ever produced. For a woman to claim she chose it freely is rather solid proof of our unquestioned patriarchal assumptions about gender.

      No, no, human nature is totally elastic, and we can redefine it however we wish at any time. These days, we’ve made it so that men and women are totally equal and the same, with no biologically-rooted psychological or physical differences between them whatsoever. Therefore, when we legalize polygamy, the result will be thousands of “strong, independent women” with harems of men, all enjoying voluntary, consequence-free love. I mean, that’s our intention, so it *has* to work out that way.

      • Dustin

        Human nature is one thing, culture is another. The interplay is tremendously complicated. But the point of feminism is to recognize that the distinctions between the sexes shouldn’t be used as an excuse to circumscribe our lives according to traditional modes of behavior that few people even bother to understand anymore, let alone question or dismantle. The problem is that patriarchy takes the sexual distinctions between us and uses it as an excuse to impose a hierarchical model on our society. Feminism interrogates culture and declares that it, unlike human nature, actually is quite elastic and has shifted so much and in so many directions throughout history that it’s absurd to treat it as if it were immutable. But feminism doesn’t claim that any kind of equality has yet been achieved or that the sexes aren’t different, but that our differences have been, and continue to be, exaggerated, and this distortion is why social memes like polygamy are inherently oppressive. The disparity, for instance, in reproductive capability, and the vulnerability that attaches to pregnancy, is treated not as a disparity to be overcome but a weakness to be exploited. Feminism doesn’t pretend this doesn’t matter. Rather, it fulminates against it, as do I.

        Don’t think I don’t see your snark. I just don’t think it’s funny and don’t care for the weird assumptions that underlie it.

        • http://irenist.blogspot.com/ Irenist

          The disparity, for instance, in reproductive capability, and the vulnerability that attaches to pregnancy, is treated not as a disparity to be overcome but a weakness to be exploited.

          Dustin, I agree with your concern that differences between men and women not be exploited by men, as they so often have been. However, I prefer a vision of fighting exploitation by honoring and empowering women and men as they essentially are, rather than homogenizing the sexes to remove the danger of exploitation.
          .
          I propose this analogy: speakers of minority languages are subject to exploitation when they can’t, e.g., read signs in the local dominant language. These speakers should be empowered (through instruction in the dominant language or through official bilingualism or whatever, depending on the situation), but it would be an act of further oppression to attempt to “protect” them by eradicating their language and forcing them all to speak exclusively the dominant language. Similarly, “protecting” women by economically or culturally pressuring them to turn into men (which is what proposals for post-patriarchal androgyny often seem to amount to in practice) is hardly a boon to women.

          • Dustin

            Irenist, I’d really like to engage with you, but, not being a philosophy major, I’m at a disadvantage when terms like “hylomorphism” are deployed. Wikipedia can help only a little. But I can at least clarify my terms: by “essentialism,” I refer to gender essentialism, an assertion that the categories of “man” and “woman” are fixed and have no attitudinal overlap. Qualities and traits are coded as inherently masculine or feminine, with masculine traits coded as as superior. This is where idiotic ideas like “real men don’t cry” come from, or the idea that fathers are inherently worse parents than mothers, because only women are capable of nurturing. I believe, rather, that qualities like strength, bravery, anger, empathy, shyness, confidence or anything that we stereotype as something inherently gendered are common to both genders. There should be more cultural room for exploring what it means to be a man or a woman than has traditionally been allowed. This doesn’t come even close to “pressuring women to be like men.” Rather, it leaves women alone to decide how to be human in a way that transcends a femininity that we code as something inferior, if that’s what they feel called to be. This is what we should accommodate. Instead, we tend to shame people who fall outside that.

            • http://irenist.blogspot.com/ Irenist

              I agree with almost all of this. I think that the categories of man and woman are fixed, but that they have TONS of attitudinal overlap, and that coding masculine traits as superior is wrong. Despite our terminological differences, I think we’re largely on the same side here.

            • Kate

              Dustin,

              If you can make it through the (very) philosophical language, you might appreciate JPII’s Theology of the Body. Despite the various ways it has been used and interpreted, it contains and very strong defense of this very assertion – that all of the virtues and vices are accessible to both men and women, without negating the maleness of one or the femaleness of the other. He takes it a bit further (again, philosophy, sometimes it makes your head hurt) by insisting that a trait exercised by a woman is practised in a ‘feminine mode’, and in a ‘masculine mode’ when practised by a man, so that men nurture *as men*, and women are courageous *as women*. Tricky to wrap the mind around what that means, except that it defies easy generalizations without hammering us all into some androgynous mold.

            • Beadgirl

              I’ve always felt this. I guess I’m an oddball, in that I do think men are men and women are women, but beyond biological and physical qualities, I can’t really find any difference. For example I cannot think of a single quality that men should have and women should not, and vice versa.

          • Dustin

            Or, more succinctly, I don’t believe that men and women are essentially different. Not that we aren’t, in fact, different, but that our differences don’t cleave us into separate categories of being, like dogs vs. cats. Men and women are, essentially, human, and I tend to think that our biological differences have led us to construct social expectations around them, reinforced these expectations with severe social consequences, and then treat the distinctions that arise within thse boundaries as if they were innate.

            • http://irenist.blogspot.com/ Irenist

              “Men and women are, essentially, human.”
              This I agree with completely. As an essentialist, I take “rational animal” to be the essence of any human, male or female. I think there are innate differences in psychological predisposition beyond the merely socially constructed (rooted in minor differences in hormones or neural architecture or whatever), but women and men are of equal worth in God’s eyes and should be in ours, too.

      • Dustin

        In my 11:04, I meant to say, “a disparity to be accomodated” rather than “overcome.”

        • http://irenist.blogspot.com/ Irenist

          Didn’t notice this clarification before. Perhaps we’re already largely in agreement.

  • http://pavelspoetry.com Pavel Chichikov

    When there are no rules, power makes the rules.

  • http://pavelspoetry.com Pavel Chichikov

    RARE BIRDS

    They found warblers, they found vireos
    They found kinglets in the trees –
    But what about us lubbers? say the cowbirds,
    Creepers and the chickadees?
    We are not remarkable, so rare
    To count and list but we too occupy the air

    Some future time when flying over streets
    Two warblers may observe two bipeds meet,
    Spread their tiny wings in their amaze:
    How rare it is to see a man these days

    Pavel
    April 13, 2013

  • http://losthunderlads.com acilius

    I confess to being amused by the image of a slippery slope leading from gender neutral marriage to polygamy. Who, prior to our own day, would have thought that marriage between two people of the same sex was a lesser evil that would lead to the greater evil of polygamy? That homosexuality might not seem so bad, but watch out, it can lead you into the company of people like Abraham, Jacob, David, and Solomon?

  • Kate

    Acilius, I see the irony, and I would actually suggest that polygamy does, in fact, qualify as marriage, while same-sex union does not. That said, Polygamous marriage is far from the ideal, and is prone to all kinds of abuses, as Dustin discusses above.

  • Beadgirl

    In addition to the points Dustin makes above, what struck me about this article is that Keenan seems to have put no thought at all into the logistical nightmares this will create legally. Family court proceedings are already a mess; trying to negotiate custody, child support and alimony, visitation, along with other rights and responsibilities in a polygamous marriage would be an order of magnitude worse.

  • Dale Price

    When you turn marriage into a matter of “letting people marry who they love” it seems churlish to make a fetish out of a number.


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X