Faculty of Social and Human Sciences (UNL) Conference System, 1st Non-Monogamies and Contemporary Intimacies Conference

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Compulsory Monogamy and the Polyamorous Existence
Leehee Rothschild

##manager.scheduler.building##: B Tower
##manager.scheduler.room##: T11
Date: 2015-09-25 02:30 PM – 04:00 PM
Last modified: 2015-08-07


In her article, "Compulsory Heterosexuality and the Lesbian Existence", Adrianne Rich speaks of heterosexuality as a social and political institution. She further argues that this institution has been used for the oppression and suppression of women throughout history. In my presentation I suggest a similar view of monogamy. In an interdisciplinary analysis, bringing together the history of materialism, law, religion, biology, and culture, I review how monogamy became a social institution. I then examine how monogamy was forced on women, while men, for the most part, remained free of its confines.

The presentation will also describe the role monogamy plays in shaping and defining heteronormative relationships. While heterosexuality binds women to men in general, monogamy binds women to specific men. In the same way that heterosexuality is used to set apart good women from perverse ones, monogamy serves to define all women who transgress its boundaries as loose. Thus, in the same ways in which compulsory heterosexuality results in the dependency of women on men - physically, economically and emotionally – monogamy makes women dependent on specific men.

I conclude by exploring a non-monogamous alternative, namely polyamory, from a queer and feminist perspective and see how it challenges the heteronormative discourse on relationships. I propose that polyamory offers more than just the possibility of participating in multiple relationships, but also the potential for a new way to understand and think about relationships.