Ross Douthat faces off with Dan Savage in a Bloggingheads debate on the role of monogamy in marriage and, parenthetically, the effect of widespread gay marriage on sexual exclusivity.
Before I comment on the specifics, let me recommend the entire debate as well worth the watch. I would add the caveat that even if we take Dan’s protestations of concern for marital stability as being made in good faith, I should note that not all advocates of gay marriage share that concern. Dan’s may be the public face that the gay community likes to show to mainstream audiences, but other homosexuals are more forthcoming about the hope that extending marriage to gays will undermine the social “privilege” of marriage in general.
That said, I was particularly struck with this exchange:
Dan is a fag, but he makes a point not unfamiliar to this corner of the blogosphere: the history of marital dissolution is mostly the story of female emancipation. Ross, as a mainstream so-con, really doesn’t want to go there for regrettable if understandable reasons. But he makes the forceful rebuttal that Dan’s proposed alternative – that standards of monogamy be subject to ongoing negotiation – inevitably benefits the stronger half of the relationship at the expense of the weaker half. Prior to 40 years ago, the stronger half was almost always the husband; thus, our culture yet carries around in its collective memory the image of the philandering Don Draper. Our society’s ongoing effort to elevate the status of women at the expense of men makes this image increasingly anachronistic.
Given the differences between the preferences of men for polygamy and women for hypergamy, Dan is naïve in believing that greater egalitarianism strengthens marriage, and it is cold comfort to a man getting screwed over in family court to know that somewhere, a woman is also getting screwed over.