04-24-2006, 12:01 PM
Sunday, April 23, 2006
The heavens forbid,
But that our loves and comforts
Even as our days do grow.
- Shakespeare, Othello
AND what better way to increase our loves and comforts but with the loves and comforts of many wives?
So now you're going to deem me immoral, amoral and chauvinistic. Imagine, promoting the idea of men having more than one wife, when in fact they often complain how one wife gives so much trouble. Well, happily I can say that the idea is certainly not mine, as polygamy, or the acquisition of multiple wives, is as old as time itself.
It has been practised throughout history by people of many nations and religions, large and small. It is recorded in the Bible, where many great men had countless wives at their beck and call, plus numerous mistresses to boot. The more the merrier, and if Kings David or Solomon could speak right now, they'd both say, "Hail polygamy, it's good to be the king."
In this modern day, polygamy is still practised by some, even in the great United States, as many religious groups and sects live the life they love, and love the wives they live with. Wonderful sects, wonderful sects. It is a pure and honest expression of a man's love for his wives. Meanwhile, the rest of society lives under the veil of hypocrisy, as men take vows with one wife but keep another on the side. True, she may stake no legal claim, but she is his other wife nonetheless.
There is this new series on HBO called Big Love, that explores this very same phenomenon - that of polygamy, that of a man with his three wives and how they interact and co-exist amicably and with civility. It is honest. There goes that word again, but honestly, it is almost every man's dream, to be able to have three wives out in the open, with no jealousy or problems. "Man, multiple wives is the way to go, all of the pleasure, none of the guilt, that's civilised living."
In parts of Africa men are still allowed to have many wives, as long as they can afford them. Each wife knows her place and the pecking order is maintained. In Big Love, even though it's far from the 'dark continent', the principle remains the same and the wives are as loyal and devoted to their husband as their African counterparts.
They know where he is at all times, as he is always at the first, second or third wife's house. How many wives in our neck of the woods can purport to know where their husbands are at any given time? In polygamy there is no need for dishonesty, as all the parties know what the deal is, what the arrangement is, and they know exactly what they were getting into. Again, how many so-called wives of monogamy can say that, as they go into a marital agreement but end up getting less than they bargained for?
There is no visible fine print.
The benefits of polygamy are many, with the first being sex, yes, sex - that all-important ingredient of any successful marriage. In monogamy, sex wanes, even slightly, although many lie and say that it isn't so.
But in polygamy it is heightened and here's why. Whether you like to hear it or not, people crave sexual variety, and it's not gender-related either, as women also fall into this category. Some are shackled by so-called morality, however, while others don't venture because of fear. But take those away and we would all sleep with whomever, whenever we wanted to. For this reason, people have affairs, as the need for sexual variety beckons.
With polygamy, this hunger and thirst are satisfied as the man has a choice of different wives whenever he pleases. "Let's see, Monday is for Betty, Wednesday for Barbara and Saturday for Liz." All the wives know their schedule and fit right in, or if he wants to keep it even more spontaneous and real, he has no schedule, but just pops in and spends the night with whichever wife strikes his fancy.
A life of permanent booty calls. Hail polygamy. This actually happens on the series Big Love, as many times the husband just rushes through the front door and ravishes his wife of the day right there on the living room floor. How many wives of monogamy can admit to that experience?
Because of this heightened sexuality, the marriages are kept fresh, alive, spontaneous, and honest. There's that word again, honest. With polygamy there is no need for deception, no need for lies, no need for nagging. Ah, nagging, the bane of marriages, the weapon of wives, the albatross of husbands. One would think that with three or more wives, the mathematical permutation of nagging would increase proportionally.
One wife nags tenfold, ergo four wives will nag fortyfold. But not so, and that is the beauty of polygamy, for with multiple wives, the very reason for nagging is taken away. No more is there a need to ask, "So where yu was, who yu was with, what's her name, are you sleeping with her?" That is the domain of the so-called sole wife, she who is insecure and needs to have and to hold her husband close to her bosom when she feels like it. Note, when she feels like it.
Hail polygamy, for there is no sexual blackmail that single wives are famous for. With polygamy, if, heaven forbid, one wife decides to withhold her sexual favours, all the husband has to do is visit any of the others.
This leads to a happy, contented husband who may even forgive that errant wife her misdeeds. In fact, she would think twice before trying that stunt again, as she knows that if he doesn't eat at her home he always has another pot to eat from. Just think of it, a world with no mistresses, no guile, no guilt, no lying about coming home late, no tears. The phrase, cheating husband would be stricken from our vocabulary.
But there are also negatives to polygamy, a downside, although the pros may very well outweigh the cons. First of all, it can be an expensive undertaking, as each wife and indeed each household will have to be maintained equally. You can't very well have one wife living in a decent upscale apartment, while the others exist in squalor.
Therefore each house has to be financed equally. That's three more rents or mortgages from one man, not an easy task. That's why polygamy is usually reserved for the privileged among us, the kings of old, the tribal chiefs, the affluent. But at least it will be out in the open, unlike the victims of monogamy who have to hide their financial statements as they cloister away their mistress in a hidden apartment, hoping that the wife never finds out.
Also with polygamy, the man has to be virile, as each wife is expecting her pound of, or should I say, pounding of flesh. There can be no sexual fatigue or inequality on his part, or big love will quickly turn to big crosses. Imagine one wife getting more than the others, or him not being able to perform at all? But truth be told, with the variety offered up to him, just like a boxer who gets many prize fights, he will be kept in peak condition, always sharp, at the top of his game and won't need much stimulation.
Then there will be children, for each household will have many, and he will have to be a good father to them all, helping with homework and stuff. But come to think of it, that scenario occurs in so-called monogamous society with men having separate families complete with children, albeit sequestered away in some secret suburb.
Still, I say, hail polygamy, and even though many of you ladies may be fuming as you disagree with me, almost every man I know would vote for it. Plus if you really gave it serious thought, you may even agree for the above reasons, no lying, no deception, no suspicion, and you would always know where he is. Hail polygamy, but don't you ladies even dare think about taking multiple husbands, it's just not natural. More time.
05-02-2006, 09:16 AM
So what's your opinion on this?
05-02-2006, 12:10 PM
I'm not stupid so I'm not going to act like I have a solid understanding of it all yet! I can share some thoughts with you though:
i understand it in its historical context, as an economic mechanism, as a social and cultural mechanism that can serve a very important purpose.
In America? In MY present-day context? I can honestly say I feel it unnecessary. BUT... as far as reasons for it... i do wonder about men and committment. For some reason it feels like my peers and myself have been raised in a culture that always makes you want better and more. That of course applies to a women. Not saying that that drive makes you want a bunch of women at one time so I cant say that it totally relates to polygamy, but it does spark a skeptical feeling that the person you are with might not be the best available person in the whole world. So the idea of the soul mate becomes kind of unrealistic in our society, if anything because we have such a close picture or imaginative picture of the world -- you know, it's much smaller in our minds. Like getting bride in Ghana or China might not be that unrealistic nowadays.
so as women what do ya'll think about that? -- is it the nature of men that we are unsatisfied? and always looking for something better as far as a woman? or is that just a cop out of a man who has no willpower and discipline?
05-08-2006, 05:34 PM
Sex, lust, fantasy and the truth about men
The Sunday Times May 07, 2006
Sex, lust, fantasy and the truth about men
Sean Thomas’s candid memoir about his sexual adventures does women a service — by revealing what it is to be a 21st-century man, writes India Knight
A few months ago a proof copy of Sean Thomas’s new book, Millions of Women are Waiting to Meet You, landed on my doormat. I flicked through it over breakfast. A few pages in, I cancelled my entire working day to read it in one go. I had just come to this bit about his first sexual experience as a child: “The first thing I had an orgasm over was the cleaning woman . . . I am weird, terminally peculiar.”
The book is ostensibly about that revolutionary and now ubiquitous phenomenon of online dating, but it is also a sexual memoir, a deft first-person account of 42-year-old Thomas’s entire sex life, warts and all. Thomas loses himself in online porn for days on end: “This is compelling stuff. So compelling I think I’m going to do exactly the same tomorrow. And maybe the day after that I’ll do the same. And the week after that. Indeed the next time I do this, I might stay up for 24 hours at a stretch; after all, who needs sleep when there are people having live group sex in Ontario?”
He is fairly brutal in his assessments of the women he meets: “Her life seems slightly tragic and she appears to be a little mixed-up, but she’s got a Pulitzer prize-winning bottom.” His opinions about women and sex generally verge on the outré: “To this day I find short skirts and gingham dresses very exciting. I also like girls with bare legs.” And he is alarmingly frank on the question of not having sex for a while: “Once, during my schlep across the Sinai of celibacy, I caught myself looking at a ‘naked’ mannequin in a shop window. With lust.”
All of this makes his book compulsive; it is eye-poppingly candid about both sexual successes and crushing failures (Thomas is not of the delusional “I’m so hot it hurts” school), and it is also very funny, even if the laughter is often of the horrified variety. Here, for instance, describing a date who is having difficulty understanding Queen, The Musical:
“The woman is a moron. She is a cretin. She is, I fear, emblematic; in other words, she is crystallising a question that has been locked in the attic of my mind for some time. Just why are so many women so thick?”
I doubt my laughter would be appalled if I were a man — I’d probably be whooping with recognition. But I suppose I find all this rather grim because I am a woman who likes to imagine that men are evolved, sensitive creatures who don’t have sex on the brain 24 hours a day; and I am horrified because I also recognise that Thomas is a kind of Everyman, and that a lot of what he says about women — or rather about what men think about women — is probably true, particularly the bit about sex on the brain or about the way men judge women instantly (of yet another date, who doesn’t look much like her online picture and who puts this down to changing her hairstyle: “I felt like replying: and your dress size? And your beard-shaving regime?”)
His book won’t delight the sisterhood but as a portrait of modern masculinity in a time of crisis, it is hard to fault.
If I were a man, I’d be delighted that someone has finally had the courage to say, “This is how we are. You don’t have to like it, but it’s true and we’re okay with it.” As a woman, I am agog: reading Thomas’s book is like rootling around the brain of some random nice-seeming bloke: it’s fascinating, startling and not entirely comfortable. “I have often found that the most successful, affluent and dominant women (in terms of career) often turn out to be the most feminine and yielding when they get the chance.”
The book is also oddly moving. Thomas writes from the heart as well as from the groin and, crucially, his voice is likable.
So I’m sitting in a London club waiting for him, thinking how weird it is that I know so much about his intimate life. I know, for instance, that if — God forbid — this were a date that we had arranged on the internet, I would be automatically disqualified on grounds of my height, because he likes only short girls (“I prefer short girls. I just do. Short, petite, feminine, sit-on-my-lap girls”).
I know he likes spanking and mild bondage. I know how many threesomes he’s had. I know he’s spent so much time looking at internet porn that he eventually had to wean himself off, like an addict — and I know that when he confesses to this, which he jauntily does, he is speaking for millions of men, one of whom may be living in your house. Of women’s online profiles when they do internet dating, I know that Thomas believes that “curvy” means “ tubby”, “cuddly” means “huge”, “a cat lover” means “desperate for kids” and “scatty” means “bonkers”. Not PC, indeed, but probably true.
I start by asking him what possessed him to be quite so candid. For writers of confessional journalism — Thomas has written a great deal of it, as well as three novels — the trick has always been to conceal as much as you appear to be giving away. Was he concerned about exposing himself so fearlessly? “Um . . . slightly. I wanted to be as truthful as it’s possible to be.” (There is one glaring omission in Thomas’s ultra-honest book: he makes no mention of the fact that he was acquitted of date rape in 1988. “I thought very hard about whether to include that. But I’d written about it ad nauseam and I thought it would really unbalance the book, like putting a brick on a silver tea-tray.”)
Aside from this considered omission, Thomas is not shy about chronicling the minutiae of his sex life. “I read The Sexual Life of Catherine M a couple of years ago and thought it was a very impressive book. I was inspired by it.” But it was written by a woman, I say: explicit sex is a subject on which male writers of non-fiction have traditionally been quite coy (unlike their novelist counterparts). “We’re getting less coy. There’s been a huge change in male sensibility over the past 30 years. And there’s feminism: women have required more emotional input from men and that’s a good thing.”
But feminism assumes that men might become tamed, doesn’t it, or at least gentler, more attuned, less crazily macho? Thomas laughs: “Yes. But we don’t. Some men become kind of neutered, that’s true, but not many. They do exist. I’ve met . . . two. And women don’t fancy them, so what’s the point? I think men have twigged onto that. And then there’s been the influence of lad magazines. I was on both FHM and Maxim when they were launched and worked on them for 10 years. They’re often accused of coarsening the culture, but one of the good things they did was encourage men to open up. You tell stories and jokes in the pub about your sex life — why keep them to the pub? My male friends talk to each other about sex and relationships in a way that my father (the novelist DM Thomas) would never do.”
Are men becoming more tender, and if so how does that reconcile with the fact that I found so much in the book shockingly full-on? “It’s how men are,” he says. “A woman today told me she’d enjoyed the book, but then she said, ‘Is that really how men think?’ I didn’t have the heart to tell her the truth, which is that yes, in my experience, it is. They might not necessarily share these particular thoughts with the women they know, but we all present a persona to the world.”
We move on to internet porn. In his book Thomas is at first an enthusiastic frequenter of the more baroque sites, and makes the point that the internet has allowed people to be almost unimaginably specific with regard to their sexual fetishes. Whereas a man might have thought “I quite like the idea of lesbianism” 10 years ago, he can now, by going online, narrow his preference down, and then down again, to the point where he can say: “What I especially like are lesbians performing dentistry.”
Is this helpful? “It’s quite dangerous. It becomes obsessive. These things can genuinely lie dormant in your mind for your whole life. You come across lesbian dentistry, and you end up thinking ‘that’s strangely erotic’. And then you Google some more, and there it is, and suddenly you’ve got a serious hobby on the go.
“And men are designed by evolution to be almost insatiable. So it’s a dangerous combination — insatiability and the enormousness of the net. The happy thing is that there is probably a saturation point — you just get full up, in my case after about a couple of weeks. My friends have had similar experiences — they’ve known they were out of control and they’ve had to come offline or block their own access to certain websites, go cold turkey.”
Is the ubiquity of explicit sex on the net a good thing? “Probably not. We’re not equipped to withstand this amount of porn and sexual imagery. I rarely take a puritanical view of things, but I’m suspicious now of the internet.”
Is he concerned about what such images do to men’s idea of “normal” women? “Men always objectify women as bodies. That’s what they do. They’ve always been visual and they always will be.” Do men who look at a lot of porn find women’s sexual performances boringly ploddy? “Men are easily pleased sexually. As long as they get their rocks off, they’re happy. And there’s an argument for saying that you can indulge in your more unusual desires on the net — I mean, it’s going to be pretty hard to organise a lesbian dentistry scenario in your house.”
As well as exhausting himself with online porn, Thomas spent some time in internet sex chatrooms, going by the magnificent moniker “Marmaduke Skewes”. They get boring after a couple of hours, he says, although he mentions a married friend who had an entire online affair, “from the first flirtation in a chatroom to serious cybersex. He was discovered in flagrante by his wife.” Does this constitute infidelity? “It’s a new kind of infidelity. It’s damaging to proper relationships.”
Was Thomas tempted to try anything else? Did he go dogging? “No,” he laughs. But was he tempted? “Yes, because it sounds so weird. Like the place in Baker Street Tube station where you go and look up the skirts of knickerless women.”
The ironic thing about all of this — about the detailed carnal reminiscences, about the intimate, sometimes crushing descriptions of all the women he met online and of his exes — “I had this one girlfriend who was a very successful thirtysomething TV executive . . . She liked nothing better than ironing shirts” — is that Thomas did, in fact, meet The One on the internet. Shoulder-deep in sex, he found true love.
Claire is 30 and expecting their first child at the end of the month. What does she think of the book in which she features? “She’s very nervous. I think me writing it was tough for her. I’d been honest about my past with her before I started writing, but I think what was difficult for her was the fact that I was talking about other women I’d loved. That’s difficult. She got a little bit upset. But she knows I’m a writer, so . . . And I’d never have met Claire if I hadn’t been on the internet. Never. Our lives would not have overlapped. We had no social connections, we were unlikely to meet in a bar — there’d be a million-to-one chance. That’s what’s amazing — you meet people you would never normally meet.”
I ask Thomas if he misses his time online — his flirting and his messaging and his setting up of promising dates with complete strangers, all of which must get addictive. Yes, he misses it sometimes. And does Claire worry whenever he goes online now that the book is done and there is no longer the “research” excuse? “Maybe slightly, yes, but it’s done jokily. You do get addicted to the out-of-the-blue messages that arrive from people who’ve spotted you online. They’re interested in you and they’re e-mailing you (Thomas’s profile is still up on a couple of sites). Claire was still doing it too — not e-mailing people, but just looking. So then we both logged off.”
Is there an element, I ask, of being tormented that there are, as his book points out, still “millions of women” dying to meet him out there? After all, Thomas was immersed in this world for months on end on a daily basis. “You have to stop yourself, as you do in life. You get a partner and you might think ‘perhaps I could get somebody a little bit nicer’, but then eventually you realise that it’s cleverer to stay with what you have. You think, ‘ This person isn’t perfect, but then neither am I’. You teach yourself to stop looking. Falling in love helps.”
To me, this strange modern mixture of porn and chatrooms and actively wanting to fall in love (“Men have biological clocks, too,” Thomas says) sums up the way many men are today: they’re laddish, for want of a better word, but also intelligent and more emotionally literate than their appetite for laddishness might suggest. They are happy to speak about their emotional literacy, but have become concerned about voicing their more traditionally blokey passions. It is this reticence that creates a gap and makes them so alien-seeming to many women.
Thomas has, I think, done his generation of men a service by telling it like it is, not just on the subjects of pornography and sex, but by mapping out a guide to men’s emotional landscape, and in doing so telling men that being themselves is okay. They will thank him for articulating what they think but are too scared to voice. Women should thank him too — not just for the timely lesson in social anthropology, but also for giving them a genuine insight into what it means to be a man in 2006. If you’ve ever wondered why the date you thought you’d got on with wonderfully never called, you need to read this book.
Oh, and for those thinking of emulating Thomas, he particularly recommends datingdirect.com.
Copyright 2006 Times Newspapers Ltd.
10-05-2006, 11:02 AM
so... what's YOUR opinion shell?!
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