Here’s an important distinction: open, casual sex keeps you from getting elected. Deep dark sneaky secret sex gets you on the front page of the New York Times.
Prostitutes cost Eliot Spitzer the governorship of New York, not to mention 80 large. The next NY governor, David Paterson, confessed his own infidelities right after he was sworn in. Next up? Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick. South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford’s soul mate was his Argentine mistress. Oh, yeah, and then there was Bill.
[Editors Note: gekko and I again take up a conversation in four long acts much as Shaw described Major Barbara as a discussion in three long acts. Before you read this article, please go read Poly Pliability for our starting point.]
Polygamy comes from the Greek poly- meaning many plus -gamos which indicates a “strong smell of fox urine.” It is a marriage in which a spouse of either sex may have more than one mate at the same time. Probably because at least one of them smells a little off.
Polygyny also comes from the Greek poly- plus gune from which we derive woman or other female medical terms. It is the state or practice of having more than one wife or female mate at a time. Monogyny is practice of having single mate although that term, too, usually implies marriage.
Polyandry comes from the Greek poly- as well plus andr- which seems to have meant man but is also the root for automaton (android) as well as a popular phone.
“Many robots” makes more sense than “many phones” although the robots can’t really offer meaningful conversation.
You have already figured out that Polyamory comes from the Greek poly- with the amory tacked on from the Latin amor. No, it didn’t come from a National Guard Armory although battles have indeed been fought over it.
Polyamory is a made-up word for a real — and historical — cultural phenomenon. By all accounts, Thomas Jefferson had a long, continuous relationship with Sally Hemmings. And Jeanne-Antoinette Poisson and her king kept company for 20 years but didn’t they sleep together for 15 of them. They were in many ways partners in politics, in war, and in the arts. Madame de Pompadour remained at Louis XV’s side for 20 years until her death at age 43.
It is a lifestyle choice with as much dignity and commitment as traditional monogamous marriage is supposed to have, the lovely gekko writes.
I suspect most Americans would disagree. SWMBO does. According to polls, about 80% of Americans say that extramarital sexual relations are always wrong. That’s up from the early 70s (right after the “Free Love 60s”), when about 70% of people said the same thing.
Except that something between 3% and half of married men and a third of married women cheat. 50% percent of first marriages, 67% of second and 74% of third marriages end in divorce, according to the Forest Institute. They can’t all be upset about the pound cake.
So is polyamory cheating or is it something else?
Polyamory, however, is not really merely wife swapping, gekko adds.
So Henny Youngman (“Take my wife. Please.”) was neither swinging nor polyamorous?
“I’ve been in love with the same woman for 49 years,” he said. “If my wife every finds out, she’ll kill me!”
That, in a nutshell, is the rub. Stay tuned.