Gawker has just linked to Yasmin Nair’s interesting provocation “Your Sex Is Not Radical.” I’m happy more people will read Yasmin’s piece, as she’s a great writer that everyone should be reading, and that piece is her in fine form. In particular, it demonstrates her absolute refusal to trod a well-worn ideological path. Some have interpreted that piece as a critique of me, because I am named in its first paragraph. But in fact I quite agree with Yasmin. I don’t think that polygamy is radical. Indeed, in my piece for Playboy debunking anti-polygamy arguments, I said
in many ways polygamy is a conservative venture. But just like I must insist on the equality of women in the capitalist workplace, even while I recognize that the workplace is a site of alienation, exploitation and destruction, I have to insist that the conservative structure of marriage must apply equally to all loving relationships.
In similar terms, some people reacted to my Observer piece yesterday by asking if I really think infidelity is a left-wing virtue. To which I reply, of course not; but then, I never said it was. I do believe, however, that the kind of communal shaming of naughty sex-havers for having sex outside of marriage, waged by strangers to both partners in those marriages, is inherently reactionary.
I don’t think legalized polygamy is radical, and I certainly don’t think it will tear down the state/capital/patriarchy. I just think it’s a good idea. Likewise, I don’t think adultery is radical, and never claimed so. I do think the notion that we should all be anti-adultery police is deeply retrograde.