Hey guys, in this week’s article, we were lucky enough to get a guest writer: Danielle Barkes, a biological scientist who specialises in science and relationships. A fan of what we do here at Necronomicox, she was nice enough to give us some words on Monogamy and science!
No one can deny that attitudes of monogamy today exist partly because of Puritan teachings, as well as scriptural doctrine. Though many people may not subscribe to Christian thinking, they still subconsciously wrestle with religious dogma that has been passed from generation to generation. These teachings still continue to influence court systems, media perceptions and local community standards. We don’t know exactly where “good and evil” come from, but we know what is good and what is bad—because society always tells us so.
We always hear that monogamy is “good.” We hear that sex with multiple partners is bad or at least “dangerous.” We hear that sex with someone other than your wife or husband is wrong or unethical. Even if you live your life freely when you’re young, you are soon pressured to straighten up your lifestyle when you hit your 30s, you know, for the “good of the children.”
Where does all of this moral philosophizing come from? Indeed, what is the difference between a sexual encounter between husband and wife and a “platonic” dance or hug between opposite sex friends? Most people really don’t know—they just know that having sex with someone other than your monogamous partner is “wrong.” They usually base their conclusions on the majority opinion, which is still heavily influenced by religion, even years after the separation of church and state was made official.
Interestingly, the idea of moral monogamy clashes with the view of science. Scientists have long theorized that men are naturally “hunters”, and have a subconscious desire to “spread their seed” to as many women as possible. Whereas women were once considered to be the “homebuilder” of the relationship, recent studies have suggested that society and upbringing play a greater part in determining a woman’s fidelity than biological instinct. As far as biology is concerned, women could be just as willing to cheat as men, if not for society-ingrained “responsibilities.”
Science also suggests that man and womankind, however egocentric they are with their “consciousness” and “intelligence”, are not that much different than other mammals—at least not when it comes to monogamy. Scientists have speculated in recent years, that there are three types of monogamy in mammals: social monogamy, sexual monogamy, and genetic monogamy. Social monogamy implies an arrangement of convenience, which may or may not include sexual fidelity. Scientists have observed that not all monogamous animals are sexually faithful to one another, even if they live together. Some tests have even cited observations of female primates mating with “extra-pair” male partners.
Sexual monogamy is the category most “moral” human beings fit into, as it is based on a prevalent society view that monogamy must equal sexual fidelity or “faithfulness.” Genetic monogamy has also been observed, which describes monogamous mammal living that seems to be derived on genetic makeup; this strongly implies that these types of mammals (unlike human beings) are not even tempted by the thought of an extramarital partner.
The separation of these three definitions of monogamy is important to understanding human behaviour. Just as with other animals, humans are capable of social monogamy (trying to live up to marriage) or sexual monogamy (faithful for their entire lives). Upbringing is an important factor in determining how a full-grown man or woman views sex. You also have to consider the deviation of “serial monogamy”, which is characterized by a series of “exclusive” sexual relationships that always seem to end with a break up; hence the three-time divorcee.
The point of this article is not to pass judgment on any type of person, moral philosophy or pattern of thinking. Rather, it is to stress the importance of tolerance. We all hold different views of sexuality, monogamy and fidelity. Indeed, some human beings are very different “animals”, mentally and emotionally speaking, and have different approaches to dating and married life. So from one mammal to another, live and let live.
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