Log in

No account? Create an account
entries friends calendar profile Elf Sternberg's Pendorwright Projects Previous Previous Next Next
Regnerus wasn't attacking sodomy. He was attacking polyamory. - Elf M. Sternberg
Regnerus wasn't attacking sodomy. He was attacking polyamory.
It's unlikely that the gay press wants to talk about this (with one very healthy exception), but yesterday the usual suspects (all good people, really) spun anti-gay activist Mark Regnerus's speech at the Catholic University of Steubenville as "Mark Regnerus: Same-sex marriage will grant straight men 'permission to stray', anal sex," with a big focus on the sodomy part.

But that's not what Regnerus is saying at all. Here's the central paragraph of his argument:
If gay marriage is perceived as legitimate by heterosexual women, it will eventually embolden boyfriends everywhere, and not a few husbands, to press for what men have always historically wanted but were rarely allowed: sexual novelty in the form of permission to stray without jeapordizing their primary relationship. The discussion of openness in straight marriages will become more common, just as the practice of heterosexual anal sex got a big boost from the normalization of gay men's sexual behavior both in contemporary porn and the American imagination. It may be spun as empowering for women, but it sure won't, it doesn't feel that way.
Regnerus is claiming, without evidence, that anal sex would never have become a part of the modern popular imagination, even in hardcore porn, if it hadn't been for gay men. Somehow, porn actors and actresses would have completely ignored the back door if gay men hadn't forced them to look closely at it. But his claim is that this has already happened; that it's too late to turn back the clock on this issue. So what he is he really worried about?

Consensual non-monogamy. The real, last, homosexualization of the American sexual psyche. Dan Savage, in his brilliant conversation with Andrew Sullivan last year at the New York Public Library, said much the same thing: "Where straight people are now is where gay people were twenty years ago. We call them fuckbuddies; you call them friends with benefits. We call it tricking, you call it a hookup. This whole move to the big city and spend your 20s fucking a lot of people and figuring out who you are before you settle down, gay people invented that."

Gay people have spent the last ten years figuring out how to be married, how to enjoy the promise of lifetime partnership, mutual companionship, and all the support and joy that comes from having someone who is your best friend, your biggest fan, and not feel locked into the sexual straightjacket that society imposes as the price for all the rest. Polyamorous folks have adopted the language gays invented, for the most part, because it's the language that works.

This is Regnerus's greatest fear: the normalization of consensual non-monogamy. That as the twin terrors of uncontrollable reproduction and sexually transmitted infection slowly fall back with the advance of the biological sciences, that the homosexualization of our culture will proceed to the place where I, personally, have sorta expected it to go: toward a world where relationships are based not entirely on falling back into tradition and habit, but are based on the actual wants and needs of the participants, deliberately chosen and consciously enjoyed.

Tags: , ,
Current Mood: amused amused
Current Music: Leonard Cohen, Bird on a Wire

Leave a comment