As the weather gets warmer, we as sexually active mammals get a bit more…rowdy, let’s say. Many of us look for new sexual partners, many look for new life partners, and it’s all around the warmer months. The basis for this may go back to simple evolutionary biology/evolutionary psychology, wherein a large amount of our mammalian kin tend to have “mating seasons” at particular times of the year. For a lot of you basic motherfuckers out there, though, we’re skipping “mating season” and going straight to debating season.
That’s right, folks! Hold on to someone else’s genitals, we’re going after people who get themselves in to stupid relationship arguments by attacking two of the larger camps: monogamy and polyamory!
First, let’s establish some…scholarly?…basis for monogamy. Aside from my knee-jerk reaction of “hurrdurr religion ‘n’ morals,” there is still a slim evolutionary/behavioral basis for monogamy. As briefly outlined and summarized in an article for The Guardian, Christopher Opie at University College London has argued before the National Academy of Sciences that a large amount of monogamous primate behavior may have stemmed from the idea of “mate guarding” and preventing infanticide. This is to say that a would-be sire (“father”) felt the need to hang around to make sure his mate wasn’t fucked by anyone else and that his own kids weren’t killed so she could “conveniently” gestate and care for someone else’s kids instead. Doctor Dieter Lukas and his colleague, Tim Clutton-Brock, loosely support this thought as well. They posit that as mammalian herds (primates, in this case) spread out and split off more and more, fertile females became something of a hot ticket. Thus, males would seek them out and compete for their pus- uh, affection. Again, infanticide often reared its ugly head, as “unfit” offspring were constantly under threat by other suitors – or even their own sires – and had to be protected, along with their mother.
So, what’s a benefit of hoarding the “good” females and making sure that only certain primate bloodlines survived? Well, our friend Dr. Opie returns and posits that due to such monogamous practices, “this could be how humans were able to push through a ceiling in terms of brain size.” With protective, hunting males bringing mates and their offspring steady supplies of energy- (calorie-)-rich meat, brain development may have sped up significantly – thanks glucose! “But what about vegans?” Well, that’s a whole other discussion, really, but fuck vegans. Just my two cents, at least.
So what’s the take-away without getting in to morality? Monogamy helped bloodlines grow strong – to a point – and may have made the homo line a hell of a lot more developed than we could have been otherwise. Neat.
Now, what does polyamory bring to the table, then? Well, from a biological and evolutionary standpoint, not a whole lot, at least not on the surface. The only “real” take-away we have is that by having multiple mates, there’s a higher chance of a successful coupling (or multiple couplings), thus assuring a bloodline lives on. It can also help guard against infanticide in its own way as well, as seen in some lower primate societies. To steal a meme format, “can’t kill the kid if you don’t know if it’s yours or not.” For this reason, females often sought out more than one mate, solely to increase their own retinues of protectors and providers. Smart, ladies. Smart.
Biologically speaking, while propagating with several different mates may seem favorable for a spread of a species, spreading and protecting a bloodline is made much easier by dedicated, protected couplings. It’s “established” well enough in primates and other mammals to this end, and frankly, it’s probably why a lot of us are as we are. Biology is only half of the bigger picture, though, and it’s time to delve in to anthropology, wherein…well…it doesn’t look good for monogamy. At all.
If you’re thinking “Wow, Spooder, you sure do cite The Guardian a lot,” you’re absolutely right. Let’s head back there for another article which brings up what to me seems like a very good question: why do we view monogamy in the light that we do? It’s a little more than the evolutionary outline, but you could probably see me hint at where I’m headed with this: early calls for monogamy saw women and children as property to hoard and flaunt. As outlined by Christopher Ryan and Calcilda Jethá, “the standard narrative of heterosexual interaction boils down to prostitution: a woman exchanges her sexual services for access to resources … Darwin says your mother’s a whore. Simple as that.”
Well, Ok, it’s not really that simple, but it may be close. The drive to mate and claim strong bloodlines may have become deeply ingrained in a large amount of our (primarily European and Middle Eastern) ancestors. “Blood must be strong,” right? Well, no. Probably not in that way, you weird wife-hoarding goat-fucker. In this case, we actually want “strong” bloodlines to consist of several different gene patterns. Otherwise, we wind up with…well…the British royal family. Fucking your own offspring? Bad idea, Billy Joe-Bob.
We’ve found a lot of anthropologic evidence pointing at “fierce egalitarianism,” part of which including the thought that the offspring of one pairing is the responsibility of the whole tribe/clan/society. Does “it takes a village to raise a child” ring a bell to anyone in the audience? Tribes in the Amazon take this a bit further, albeit in a genetically flawed way. They believe that if a woman lies with many men, all of their “seed” mingles in to the resulting child. Prrrrobably not, but “baby daddy” makes way for “child of the people,” so now there’s no bickering over whose line is stronger. The whole tribe is, duh.
Therein becomes a pretty strong sociological argument for polyamory, in my opinion. If everyone’s raising the kids, they’re pretty damn protected, now aren’t they? Women are no longer “breeding stock,” men are no longer “competing suitors,” and children are no longer “lines” to “preserve.” Everyone has become a person with their own damn intrinsic worth. There’s less jealousy, less possessiveness, less competition. Isn’t that something most of us “civilized” folks would like?
Fuck your bickering. Fuck your moral, theological, and anecdotal arguments of which is “right” and which is “wrong.” They both have their benefits in the development of our species, and frankly, you have no say in someone’s romantic and sexual life unless you are part of it. Calm the fuck down. Sip your Starbucks. Figure out ways to get back at your parents for giving you such a stupid fucking name. Get on with your life. Both are effective, both are subjective, and both are only the business of the people directly involved.