Wednesday, November 12, 2008

On monogamy

Okay. I'm keeping an old promise here. And it's my pleasure. Monogamy and people is one of the most exciting philosophical issues I can think of. Sit down and make yourself comfortable, this is going to be a long article. You seated? Mmmmkay, let's go then.

Some animals are monogamous, and some are not. Some birdies live together till death (or a cat) do them part. Other species, such as cats, don’t give a rat’s ass and mate whenever they feel the need, with whoever is around. Needless to say, that’s the evolutionary successful strategy, as sexual diversity prevents inbreeding. But then again, swans and the like are still on this earth, so there must be something right about monogamy too.

But now for humans. Humans have a very ambiguous attitude towards monogamy. They do practice it, well most of them do, but they are hardly consistent. And I know why. Let’s first state the obvious: people cubs are awfully weak creatures. It takes them more than a year to even learn to walk. Well, more or less, wiggle would be a more appropriate description. What kind of evolutionary strategy is that? More than a year of immobility! I had a litter of eleven at my first birthday.

Hmmmm, well, that may not be a very good example, but you get my point, right? It takes humans a full cat’s life to even become an independent being. That’s where the human male comes in. I mean, raising a litter in, say, 8 weeks is easy. A female will have no trouble doing that on her own, right? But 18 years is a different cup-a-tea. A woman needs a day off every now and then. And protection for her helpless cubs. So, human females need the human male to stay around. And that requires monogamy, since human males can not stay around at two families at the same time.

Now that we have explained why humans are monogamous, let’s see why they deviate from their evolutionary successful behavior. Here’s why. The evolutionary successful behavior does not require the male (or the female) to be around all of the time. As long as a human does not have two full families, it’s okay. And then you guys invented birth control. With birth control, humans can lead the family life of a swan, and have the sex life of a cat at the same time. Or even that of a rabbit for that matter. And that’s where it all comes together. Humans are monogamous because they have to and inconsistent because they can.

It's just a matter of logic.

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