December 29, 2008

And What Was All The Fuss About?

It’s over! Christmas has come and gone and as John Lennon once asked, “And what have we done?” Really what?

The recession boogie man and fearful financial forecasts revealed a glaring deficiency in our Christmas celebrations. It is now so obvious that many people’s “reason for the season”, is as weak as the justification for the celebration itself.
Without money to spend or without the will to spend too much of it to create the usual showy display of Christmas magic, namely, perfectly painted homes, blinding lights, presents for every man jack, enough grog to open a bar and enough food to feed a small village, many householders were rather Scroogy this year. Those who tried to maintain the glitz are now gnashing their teeth in expectation of the credit card bill.

To add insult to injury, this year even Mother Nature seemed to revolt against the season with torrential rains during what is supposed to be our Petit Carem of clear blue skies with bright sunshine in the day and clear starlight nights with balmy breezes in the evening. Instead we had gloomy views, floods, landslides and a dank, humid and bothersome air all around us. The crime rate escalated during a season that celebrates the, “Prince of Peace”. The traffic had people feeling anything but, “Goodwill to all men,”, it was more of a, “Get outta meh blasted way!” vibe that not even a strong ponche a crème could have cured. Road fatalities reached natural disaster proportions.

Many were trying desperately to hold on to some kind of substantiation for the season. On the Gayelle Channel, there was a call-in segment with Conrad Paris on the true meaning of Christmas. He seemed rather depressed that for so many, the season had no spiritual significance. Then again, the spiritual foundation of the celebration has been hindered by the fact that almost everyone knows by now that Jesus Christ was not born on December 25th. Nowhere in the New Testament did Christ decree for his followers to observe his birthday, in fact the first Christians never celebrated Christmas. Everyone knows we are basically celebrating a “made-up” religious holiday.

Where did Christmas come from?

In the 4th century CE, Christianity was adopted by the Roman Empire but it was still a struggling sect as far as popularity went, bombarded on all sides by pagans throughout the empire. Most preferred their polytheistic spirituality and worshiped the Sun God, especially his re-birth during the Winter Solstice from December 21st. In the eastern territories of Rome, they too observed the birth of their Gods through the Goddess from Osirius to Mithras.

Yule logs, evergreen trees and mistletoe are all pagan in origin.

To the north in Germany, Gaul and Britannia, pagans and Druids danced around the fire during Winter Solstices, burned Yule logs, decorated evergreen trees. Mistletoe was used by Druid priests 200 years before the birth of Christ in their winter celebrations. They revered the plant since it had no roots yet remained green during the cold months of winter. The ancient Celtics believed mistletoe to have magical healing powers. Enemies who met under mistletoe would lay down their weapons and embrace. Scandanavians associated the plant with Frigga, their Goddess of love, and it may be from this that we derive the custom of kissing under the mistletoe although the pagans did a lot more than kissing under it, if you know what I mean. In Rome, the people observed Saturnalia which celebrated the rebirth of the Invinsible Sun-God and the God of cultivation Saturn. It too occurred around the Winter Solstice, the time of the longest night from which point the sun waxed in strength and the days began to get longer. December 25th was the high point of the celebration.

So here it was that all around the Christians, these merry pagans had engaging, exciting festivities full of dance, song and revelry. What did the Christians have to compete with it? Nothing. Christianity was supposed to be a very staid, unadorned, decidedly somber religion with just Christ on a cross, rejection of all materialism and pleasure in favor of heavenly reward after death. If you read the letters of the Apostle Paul, you can derive that he would be the greatest party pooper in history. In addition Christianity was an off-shoot of the Jewish tradition and Jews never celebrated births, not even of important figures. How a person died was of more significance than the date they were born. Still, despite this precedent, the early Christian church in Rome had to do something to be more appealing to the masses. They needed to market Christianity to pagans as a religion that was also celebratory and ritualistic.

The early Roman Catholic Church had to find a way to compete with the merriment and festivals of the pagans. Christianity was a very unadorned and staid religion by comparison and the pagans loved their celebrations, like Saturnalia, the observation of the rebirth of the Invincsible Sun (seen here) celebrated from December 21st to 25th.

That was how it came to pass that the early Roman Catholic church, hoping to win more pagan converts to Christianity, promised the pagans that they could continue to celebrate the Saturnalia as Christians. Of course, there is nothing intrinsically Christian about Saturnalia. To remedy this, these Christian leaders named Saturnalia’s concluding day, December 25th, to be Jesus’ birthday. In 529 A.D, five centuries after Jesus Christ, that Emperor Justinian made Christmas a civic holiday. Throughout the empire, from Asia Minor to the British Isles and Scandinavia, the pagans, now young Christian converts, melded their old traditions with that of this strange new religion which they were now obligated to follow under pain of death.
It was centuries later when the authorized Bible became available to the common people in England by the decree of King James the II in 1611 that people began to discover the pagan roots of Christmas. It would surprise many to know that one of the reforming sects to come out of Protestant England, the Puritans, outlawed Christmas as heathen and witchcraft. Early America was not the Christmas frenzied place it is now when the Puritans came over to colonize the North Eastern States, like Massachusetts. In fact, Christmas was only resurrected later on thanks to the arrival of Roman Catholics from Ireland, France, Spain and Portugal, along with the other Lutheran originated sects that still chose to overlook the decidedly non-Christian roots of the festival. If the Puritans held more sway, America would be quite different when it came to Christmas today.

I know some Christians who love Christmas to the bone and the shock of this historical truth makes them take great insult. Many who already know the truth simply choose to overlook it and concentrate on the warm, fuzzy feelings of the season, which revolve mainly around family, feasting and fun. However, as we have seen, when these become unavailable, because of financial constraints, there is little of any significance to fill the deep void. For some, the feeling of betrayal they feel when they learn that Christmas is a ripped-off, hodge-podge of other ancient cultures and their symbols, dates and spirituality and has absolutely nothing to do with Jesus’ birth, is similar to that heart crushing day when they found out that their parents were lying to them about Santa Claus.
Perhaps it is for this reason, more than anything else, that so many cannot find it in their heart anymore to continue with what they see as a religious charade. Perhaps it is why it is so hard to fight the commercialization and secularisaton of the season. If it truly was based on something real, there would be no way to justify making it politically correct, no matter who it offended. But how can you honestly get angry when the PC police change “Merry Christmas” to “Happy Holidays” when Christmas has nothing to do with Christ in the first place and the religious tradition was based on pagan plagiarism?

I am not Christian. I am an independent spiritual journey-maker. I had a wonderful, pleasurable Winter Solstice celebration on December 21st, full of spiritual ecstasy, deep reverential communing with my Divine Father, magical work, feasting and love-making. I can celebrate this season and do so with authenticity. While I admire and appreciate deeply what Jesus taught, what his work and sacrifice means to me and I agree with much of the Christian spiritual message, when it comes to observances, I’d rather follow what is true, original and organically meaningful. However, I respect everyone’s right to celebrate what they choose and rather than rib my Christian friends over this conundrum they face, I would like to help them recapture some kind of authentic value in what they are celebrating on December 25th, even if it is not the actual birthday of Jesus. After all, it should not be the job of anyone to try to convert anyone else away from their spiritual path but help them walk their path more truly in peace and happiness.

So what is the truth, the universal truth about the Divine being born? Why do so many religions have the dynamic of a male Divine Being being re-born through a female, every year? What is the significance of rebirth? Perhaps through understanding this truth and why it is so spiritually poignant can help struggling Christians appreciate their remake of the original.

It used to be that early Christians, before Roman influence, only concentrated on how Jesus lived, his message and the significance of his death. The later addition of his birth by the powerfully elected Roman Church created a wheel of life very similar to what pagans had. First, God is born through a female, whether a mortal woman or a Goddess or some combination of both. God reaches full power, creates, heals, inspires. God sacrifices his life for the good of mankind. God is reborn again. Repeat.

For the pagans, the Sun and the harvest was seen as a parallel of the God. The cutting down of the vine and the wheat coincided with the waning of the sun and represented the God being sacrificed for humankind’s sake. In our tropical climate here in Trinidad and Tobago, it may be hard to deeply feel the significance of the sun. We take it for granted. However, if you have ever experienced the bitter cold of winter, you know that it is vital to life. Its seeming cycle around the earth (actually it is the earth revolving around the sun) is like the cycle of life itself. For indigenous people’s who derive their spirituality from nature, the equation is very simple. Within this simplicity is a deeper truth. Like the sun, God brings us life. Change is the very essence of life and so a life-giving God must therefore undergo transformation. God’s death and rebirth every year or at least the celebration of it, is the recognition that God represents ultimate life and ultimate transformation. Through God’s transformation, we too can transform and grow and our transformation and growth is evidence that we too are alive in God.

For Christians, this transformation can be their decision to follow Christ and accept salvation through him. This is what is truly significant about his birth, whenever it happened. For those of us for whom salvation is not an issue, the Winter Solstice, is the celebration of our long year’s walk with God and the hope of a new dawn of yet another leg of our soul’s journey in the coming year. My growth as in infinite being, created by an even more Infinite God, is as assured as the sun that rises on that Winter Solstice dawn because I am bonded to a God that also grows, at light year speeds no less.

Winter Solstice celebration by modern day pagans and spiritual eclectics at Stonehenge.

So, okay, Christ was not born on December 25th but there can be no doubt that the messages of peace, joy, hope and generosity of heart and spirit are vital to our souls as individuals and as a community, Christian or not. If Scrooginess took hold because of low cash flow, criminal bombardment, empty materialism and over-sensitive secularism, remember this, at the heart of every tradition is a seed of truth somewhere. If you hold on to just that while the convoluted Christmas hurricane swirls around you, you will be safely rooted and ready to blossom after the chaos of the season settles.

All around the world, in almost every religious tradition, a Goddess or mortal woman gives birth to a God. There is a universal truth to be found in this.

Hope you had a Merry Christmas and/or blessed Yuletide! If you didn’t have one this year, may the one in 2009 be far more meaningful, for the right reasons.

November 26, 2008

Monogamy Part 2- Making The Dream Possible

Monogamy Requires Special Abilities

Not everyone has the body type, flexibility, physical stamina or emotional commitment to be an Olympic pairs figure skater, which involves putting the body into forced positions and the same goes for monogamy which is just as unnatural as figure skating.

Imagine if all your life, your parents, your religion and society told you that you had to be an Olympic pairs figure skater in order to be happy, accepted respected and spiritually sound. Regardless of your physical ability, availability of a place to train or freedom to learn, you were expected to just know how to perform triple flips, camel spins and contort your body while balancing on one narrow blade, while moving at breakneck speeds on slippery ice. You look at your parents and see that much like everyone else around they are also skating on ice but far below Olympic standards. They fall on their asses everyday, more times than you can count. Yet, they keep asserting, that somehow you are supposed to do this better than they did.

It just does not make sense! Neither does a lifetime of monogamy starting from your very first relationship.

Not everyone has the body type, flexibility, physical stamina or emotional commitment to be an Olympic pairs figure skater. It involves putting the body into forced positions and it is not something everyone can do naturally. If you read the first article, you will know that monogamy is just as unnatural as figure skating. It goes against our intrinsic nature. It can therefore only come from serious practice, true commitment and most of all, the temperament, emotional stability and stamina for the sacrifices involved. Forcing everyone to be monogamous has resulted in inarguable failure. Yet we fail to admit it and keep on falling on our asses. When will we learn?

Does this sound dismal to you? Cheer up. Just as there are a rare few with the natural potential for exquisitely graceful, effortless figure skating, there are those with pre-existing favourable qualities for monogamy like: a strong sense of your purpose in life, selflessness, humility, kindness, patience, the ability to forgive, a sense of humour, a sense of personal responsibility, self-esteem, the desire to learn and perfect yourself and the ability and/or desire to love another person unconditionally the way God loves you.

It is unfair to expect everyone to naturally perform a lifetime of triple axels with one person for life, especially if it is their very first time on the ice with their very first partner. Sometimes you need practice with several partners before finding the right one. The vast majority do not luck out and find the perfect partner on the first skate, not even your parents.

Not everyone is born with these qualities but just as some Olympic figure skaters can become very proficient and athletic through practice, these attributes can be learned. So never fear, even if you aren’t naturally blessed with a monogamous mentality you can make a commitment to it that comes from maturity and learning from your experiences. And that brings us to….

Monogamy Is Not For Novices

The most boasted about "virgin until marriage" shows that sometimes experience trumps religious morality when it comes to successful monogamy.

It is unfair to expect everyone to naturally perform a lifetime of triple axels with one person for life, especially if it is their very first time on the ice. Just as with figure skating, even those with the natural gift for monogamy also require individual experience. That’s right; you need to be a mature, well-lived, self-enlightened person to enjoy successful monogamy. In addition, you need practice with several partners before finding the right one. The vast majority do not luck out and find the perfect partner on the first skate, not even your parents. You need to first know who and what works best for you before you commit and that means availing yourself of the opportunity to a few intimate relationships. If you are really sharp about knowing thyself, all it takes is one just former relationship to teach you all about yourself, what quality of mate you deserve, what your deal makers and deal breakers are. Then based on this, you can make a more informed decision about whom you intend to train and skate with for life the second time around.

The Associated Press analyzed divorce statistics from the US Census Bureau. They found that Massachusetts had the lowest divorce rate in the U.S. at 2.4 per 1,000 population. Texas had the highest rate and the highest divorce rates are found in the "Bible Belt."

The fact that monogamy requires existing ability or learned ability is why I cannot support the “abstain till marriage” movement which results in young people marrying the first person they fall in love with, just to sanction their desire to take the relationship to the next sexual step. These engaged and under-aged couples are not getting married in the 1920s with social constraints and female subjugation to force them to stay together through unhappiness, unexpected self-discoveries, drastic changes in life goals, financial challenges, infidelity and disastrous incompatibility. In our day we are demanding more emotional, spiritual and sexual fulfilment in our relationships; women in particular are not as long suffering towards men as they used to be. As a result, current statistics on divorce and demographics show Evangelical sects (who push the abstinence before marriage with the most fervour) are having the highest rates of failed marriages.

The Associated Press analyzed divorce statistics from the US Census Bureau. They found that Massachusetts had the lowest divorce rate in the U.S. at 2.4 per 1,000 population. Texas had the highest rate and the highest divorce rates are found in the "Bible Belt."

According to the Boston Globe:
"The AP report stated that 'the divorce rates in these conservative states are roughly 50 percent above the national average of 4.2 per thousand people.' The 10 Southern states with some of the highest divorce rates were Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Texas. By comparison nine states in the Northeast were among those with the lowest divorce rates: Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Vermont."

One reason for the higher divorce rates in the Bible Belt may be the lower percentage of Roman Catholics in the South. But the study points overwhelmingly to culture not just religion. The fact is that:

1. Couples in the South enter their first marriages at a younger age.

2. Family incomes in the South are lower which puts a strain on relationships

3. Educational attainment is lower in the South: One in three Massachusetts residents have completed college. while only 23% of Texans have. College graduates marry later on and tend to acquire more life experiences and self-knowledge by that time.

Let's hope the Purity Ring Wearing Jonas Brothers do not make the mistake of marrying the first person they fall in love with way too young, like so many have done to regret later on.

To make matters worse, a large number of these young, inexperienced, couples were led to believe some unfortunate and simplistic lies:
1. That somehow marriage in of itself is some kind of magical, holy thing that will pave the way for them becoming one with their spouse
2. Their spouse will complete that missing half and everything they will ever need for their life’s happiness and personally fulfilment will be found in their marriage
3. Applying Paul’s (a man who never had a mate for life) opinions on marriage will automatically make everything ay okay, because everything in the bible is infallible and universally applicable.

Every day, thousands of couples around the world continue to say “I do” in front of friends and family without the slightest clue about what they are getting into. Most of them are not even good candidates for monogamy. Even those who are, do not even know themselves well enough to set the terms (coming up later) of their relationship. Some have all kinds of personal demons, hidden agendas, emotional deficiencies that cannot be solved in marriage but through individual therapy.

Some people just disqualify for monogamy: control freaks, the emotionally shallow, low self-esteem cases and those who simply just function best alone. I call them lone wolves.

I read a heart wrenching story of a young woman in Texas, raised in a strict Christian home. She and her boyfriend (they were each other’s firsts) wore their purity rings and abstained till they married at 21. After just two years, they had to divorce. On their honeymoon, sex was extremely awkward and unfulfilling for them both. She managed to get pregnant in their third month of marriage but sexual intimacy continued to be a challenge and he became more and more depressed and distant. Eventually he confessed to her that he was gay. She of course, had no idea (most gay men can easily fly under the radar) and was madly in love with him. He loved her too but he loved her as a friend. He thought the power of prayer and getting married to the only woman he felt close enough to, could change his orientation but he realised he was wrong. In the 1920s they would have probably stayed married and led a miserable life full of secrets and lies. If both these young people had been allowed to date at least one other person and have a longer period of self-discovery before such a big commitment and kids came into the picture, this could have been avoided. The divorce rate; currently at 65% in some states will hit 70% if this madness continues.

The fact of the matter is whether we realize it or not, we are now smarter than the myths. The first step in finding the balance is to be honest about what a committed relationship truly is and what the purpose of monogamy is.

What Is The Purpose Of Monogamy?

If you read the first article you know now that monogamy is not needed to build a successful civilization or raise children. A committed relationship between two consenting adults, is also not the culmination, the prize, the salvation or the happily ever of fairytales. A committed relationship is simply a safe, intimate forum you and your beloved have created to each work on your personal shit. That’s right! It is an exclusive support group of two! It is not a magical state of being! It does not all by itself create stability and happiness. It gives back to you only what you are willing to invest in it, no more, no less.

Yes, it is considerably less romantic, but all a monogamous relationship does is provide a safe forum for both of you to work out your shit. It is an exclusive support group of two, with hopefully some good sex thrown in.

Yeah, I know this sounds considerably less romantic but it is better you find this out today than experience the disappointment after the afterglow of the glamorous wedding, exotic honeymoon and first year of newlywed sex fades and you realize all you are left with is: your baggage, your partner’s baggage and your joint ability to deal with it and life’s challenges that come helter skelter at you. Remember that you do not need another person in your life to deal with your baggage. In fact, for most people I recommend that they do not pull anyone else into their quicksand of dysfunction. If you are fiercely independent, have trust issues, unhealthy addictions or do not even recognize your need to learn and grow and are simply looking for a happy ending, monogamy is not for you. If you are too weak to support your emotional growth and nurture yourself, monogamy is not for you because you have to be strong enough to share each other’s emotional load. The weak and needy end up becoming a parasitic burden in such arrangements. Others who disqualify for monogamy: control freaks, the emotionally shallow, low self-esteem cases and those who simply just function best alone. I call them lone wolves.

So before you make a lasting commitment ask yourself: Am I truly monogamy material? If you still want to commit, but you know you have problems with some of the pro- monogamy attributes, perhaps you should address these right now and let your beloved know before-hand that you are not ready. Still, think you are ready? Good! Before you commit….

Negotiate the terms of your monogamy!

Imagine some people spend more time negotiating over the price of a pound of plantains at the market than the deal-breakers and allowances within their relationship. Again, this is why monogamy is not for novices who believe in fairytales and religious oversimplification. If you and your spouse have some former experience and maturity, you can draw up a much more comprehensive and personalised monogamous contract based on everything you have learned and know works best for you. Some things you must discuss are:

What is considered cheating? For some couples, fantasizing about another is perfectly fine, even titillating. For others, this is a no-no. For some, their hubby could take a l’il wine on another person for Carnival, for others this is a no-no. I personally have no problem with my partner lusting over others. What I consider unacceptable is emotional intimacy with someone else on the same level we share. I find that even more offensive than sex.
What are the deal-breakers? Sex outside? Lying? Physical or sexual abuse? Drug addiction? Betrayal? Refusal to contribute financially? Change of religious or ethical values? You need to discuss your expectations and your limits to forgiveness, co-habitation and relationship status. Of course, keep in mind the longer a relationship goes on for, the deeper your investment and the more you find you are able to forgive.
Can past lovers and outside crushes be discussed without judgement? I recommend that they should be. It builds honesty and keeps you aware of what your partner is feeling, gives you insights into their personality and sexuality and perhaps what they may be needing from you.
What is the protocol if you are no longer in-love? Yes, it happens. The time comes when your love can turn more to Agape with no trace of Eros whatsoever. Some couples still remain together because the friendship and companionship is what is really important to them. Sometimes after a long winter a spring full of hot sex may return and they fall in love all over again. Sometimes it never does. You need to discuss what you will do in such a case. Some agree to stay together as friends and life- partners and seek sexual satisfaction outside with the blessing of their spouse by redefining their monogamy as “emotional and family monogamy” only. I have no idea what my partner and I will do but the most important thing in such a situation is HONESTY. My mate and I have agreed to tell each other when the flame goes out, BEFORE we look elsewhere.

Have you sat down with your beloved and worked out the terms of your monogamy yet? If not, do it today!

Monogamy Must Be Your Choice And Done For Your Benefit

No church, politician or parent can force monogamy on you or anyone else. They have never been successful at it anyway. If you are being faithful only because of what other people have said or out of fear of Divine punishment, your commitment will always be tinged with resentment and a feeling of being trapped. If you believe powerless unhappiness is somehow a virtue that your God will reward later on, I guess you can do like my grandmother and stay married to a man who did not hesitate to demonstrate for fifty years that he resented being married to her. All that did was create a loveless, abusive home in which my father and his siblings were raised to be dysfunctional adults with failed marriages and countless other self-esteem problems of their own.

If instead you believe that joy is a spiritual virtue and the Creator intended for you happiness and empowerment you will always be responsible for your own choices. Some people were just meant to be together but it takes a few mistakes before they find each other. I want you to have a successful monogamous relationship! I do not want you to be monogamous for monogamy’s sake! It does not contribute to you being a successful human being. Monogamy must not be done even for your partner’s sake but for your sake. That may sound selfish at first but when those difficult times and temptations arise, you will see the wisdom in it. Trust me.

The main purpose and motivator behind your commitment to be monogamous should always be:

“I want (Name) to intimately and exclusively share my process of growth while they intimately and exclusively share their process of growth with me. I choose to commit to grow together through making each-other happy and learning how to truly love each other like God loves us, unconditionally. I choose to do it for me. I do it because it aids me in becoming a better person. ”

Make no mistake monogamy means DEPRIVATION! Olympic pairs skater Rena Inoue may be tempted to eat donuts but she MUST deprive herself. She does this, not for her partner's sake, or America's sake or her coach's sake but because she WANTS to! She wants that gold medal! She wants all that training to pay off!

Only when this reason no longer applies does the monogamy end. This trumps all other reasons including, “Staying together for the kids” or staying together because, “Divorce is a sin,” The foundation of your monogamy, must be based on unconditional love and personal growth. If you are with someone who refuses to learn to love you unconditionally and/or you cannot love them unconditionally and being with them contributes zero to your growth as a person and in fact retards it, then you can leave with your head held high. When you both choose monogamy because it is what you both want for your own benefit, you are truly setting yourself up for success. Let us put this to the test, shall we?

When Monogamy Is Tested

Scenario: You are three years into your relationship and during a particularly rough time in your relationship, a co-worker enters your life. This person’s qualities literally blow your spouse out of the water! They make your beloved look like chicken feed and most of all; they are just as attracted to you as you are to them. It’s so intense, you being to wonder if you picked the right soul mate. What do you do?

Make no mistake, monogamy MEANS deprivation! Just like learning how to figure skate means giving up fatty foods and no longer having the luxury of sleeping late, when you choose monogamy, you are choosing to deprive yourself of other potentially wonderful new lovers and romantic experiences. And no, “Love for your spouse does not make everything just go away”. It just makes you feel torn and sad. When you confess to your life-partner that someone else has captured your eye and they feel insecure and hurt your heart breaks for them. By the way, if you have a healthy relationship, you should be able to do this without being punished or held in derision as sooner or later your spouse/partner will require the very same understanding of you.

Now if your only motivation to remain monogamous was religious guilt or loyalty to your spouse, you are standing on very shaky ground when faced with this tempting scenario. Religious guilt and fear of God is easier to overcome than most people think. If it wasn’t, you would not have so many confessing their sins every Sunday. As someone who grew up in a staunch evangelical sect, I cannot even begin to count the number of sexual indiscretions committed by the “God-fearing” in my congregation. You see, more often than not, when you find yourself in a situation with this superior crush, where it feels oh so right, I guarantee that some distant notion of Divine punishment in the after-life will be the furthest thing from your mind! You will always find a way to talk yourself into it and justify it, including, “God will forgive me, I am weak and a sinner”.

If the fear of God or hell was enough to stop sexual infidelity, you would not have so many god-fearing people having to confess anything so often. In the heat of the moment, the last thing people think about is some distant notion of Divine punishment.

Loyalty to your spouse/partner can also vary. The day your spouse seriously angers, disappoints or frustrates is the day you are wide open to cheating with this crush of yours. In the heat of your displeasure, you will not be particularly inclined to be loyal to your partner. You will not believe how much cheating (revenge fucking) happens this way. Some they feel they “deserve” to get some on the side when their partner lets them down.

On the other hand, if you are motivated by looking out for your best interests, your will is strong as like pairs figure skaters Rena Inoue and John Baldwin, the first and only figure skating pair team to land a throw triple axel. When they are in training for the Figure Skating World Championships, there is no way Rena is going to have a plate of donuts because as tempting as they smell, the scent of that gold medal and those endorsement deals with Nike are stronger. She deprives and punishes her body, not for America, not for her parents not even for her coach or her partner John, but for herself. Similarly, you can make the choice to deprive yourself of other potentially more wonderful lovers with far more confidence and no resentment if you are doing it for you. Of course, you have to believe you deserve that much! Again, that is why low self-esteem cases are not monogamy material. If you believe that you deserve a wonderful, safe, intimate space with your partner, where you can be loved unconditionally and grow with honest feedback and confidentiality, it trumps all, even a hot crush.

Isn’t preparing yourself for outside attraction paving the way to failure before you even begin? No. It is being honest and smart because the outside attraction WILL happen whether you plan for it or not.

But let’s imagine, the worst happened and Rena indulges in a donut and gains an extra two pounds. She knows the price she has to pay. Her partner, when he finds out and he will when he lifts her, knows the price as well. If you flirt, kiss or invest any emotion into this hot crush, the price will be hard to pay! You must know that. First, you have to confess your cheating and hope that your life-partner, will not quit you as a partner over a momentary sugar rush weakness and throw away the years of training you invested together. If they choose to still train with you, you have to submit to scrutiny and your partner’s hurt and betrayal. You must submit yourself to the required work-out to burn off those calories. You have to allow the long path to forgiveness and work twice as hard to regain their trust. In return, when your training partner sees you busting your ass and going the distance for them they cannot keep resenting you for one donut, even if you fail at the Championships.

If you gave in and had a bite of the donut, you HAVE to tell your skating partner and hope when they weigh the training and goals ahead and their own feelings, they are still willing to keep training with you.

If cheating was a deal-breaker in your initial negotiations but your infidelity was forgiven, you have just negotiated a new deal. If they continue to hold it against you, and keep punishing you and blaming you, they do not love you unconditionally, the old deal still applies and your contract is over. End it and move on. If you find cheating easy to do, you aren’t really giving your relationship 100% or the foundation is cracked or a deal in your relationship has been broken and you have not the guts to end it before moving on. There is also the chance that you simply are not monogamy material. Take your pick.

If you are giving your relationship your all, you simply do not have the energy to cheat. Honestly, you don't.

You ask: Isn’t preparing yourself for outside attraction paving the way to failure before you even begin? No. It is being honest. You see, the outside attraction WILL happen, whether you plan for it or not. But at least if you have discussed this eventuality before with your partner, that honesty and safety zone created is what will allow you to tell your partner,
“Honey, there is a woman at work who I find really attractive,” instead of keeping it a secret and letting it fester to the point where it becomes a big problem. In turn, your partner cannot get mad or upset at you because you both know it was bound to happen. She is now allowed to ask,
“Why do you find her so attractive?”That knowledge can prove to be extremely useful to someone who is keen on self-improvement through accepting every lesson life has to offer. I will tell you how later when we get to the benefits of monogamy.

If your relationship is healthy, you should be able to tell eachother about outside crushes freely. If you cannot deal with spells of discomfort over outside attractions and feeling inadequate and then learning toovercome it, monogamy is NOT for you.

I tell my hubby about all my crushes and visa versa. Most of the time, it is harmless and we laugh about it. On one occasion, my attraction to another person occurred during a very difficult time in our relationship. The qualities I longed for in my hubby, I saw in someone else and it appealed to me. Admitting that to my partner was hard and it was not well received. I never intended to pursue the object of my crush, no matter how compelling my feelings. Still, things were unpleasant between my hubby and me for quite some time. But spells of discomfort over potential lovers and feeling inadequate and then learning toovercome it is part and parcel of a healthy monogamous relationship. If you cannot handle that, monogamy is NOT for you.

When your monogamy is based on a commitment to learn about yourself and grow together with your beloved not only does it become an exclusive support group of two but you become extremely possessive and protective of it. Note I said, of IT, not of your mate. This brings us to the difference between unconditional love and ownership.

Successful Monogamy Is Based On Unconditional Love Not Ownership

When your relationship becomes a support group project over which you both rule and protect, you are able to hold on to your separate identities yet share a common goal. Remember you are not ONE as the simplistic, fluffy sentiments would have you believe. Nor does one person belong to the other. This loss of identity is often what scares many people away from monogamous relationships.

A man who stalks and harasses his ex-girlfriend (a common problem in Trinidad and Tobago) and ends up committing acts of violence or murder against her does not love that woman. He may argue differently but the fact of the matter is that his love is a childish, possessive, selfish dependency. She is MINE! Nobody else can have her! This kind of ownership does not respect the individuality of the person or desire their happiness. We all know the signs and the Dear Auntie Agony Letters:

Dear Aunty Agony,

Me and my girlfriend broke up two years ago and I really thought I moved on. Then I saw her with her new boyfriend and all the feelings I had came rushing back. I cannot stop thinking about her. I tried calling and e-mailing but after a while, she said she does not want to talk with me. I know she says she is happy but I am so much better for her than he is. Can’t she see I love her! Should I try to fight for her love or is it a lost cause?

Still in love.

If I were Aunty Agony, I would reply:

Still in love,
You are not in love with your girlfriend. You are in love with how she made you feel. You think that her only reason for living should be to keep on making you feel the way you want to feel. You do not truly wish for her happiness, peace of mind and her future. You only care about yourself. I suggest you learn what unconditional love is. It is loving someone whether they choose you or not. It is above all else, wanting their happiness and finding joy in their joy, even if initially it hurts to have your relationship with them change from lover to mere acquaintance. You have a lot of growing up and emotional maturity to gain. Best of luck and stop harassing her!

I read a true story of a couple in their nineties. They had been married for seventy years and after two world wars, the Great Depression, social changes, technological wonders, children, grandchildren and great grandchildren, the 95 year old wife told her 98 year old husband,
“Honey, I love you but I met a man in the retirement home and he makes me feel things I never imagined I could feel! I do not know what to do.”Do you know what her husband said?
“You have given me seventy years of love. What more could I ask of you? So go with my blessing and pursue your happiness darling. I will be here waiting for you no matter what.”

Perhaps it is the wisdom of old age and perhaps it takes that long to learn the meaning of unconditional love. I know if my hubby were to tell me they truly found the ONE and it is not me, I will be crushed. Actually, I would be pulverized. That would be the worse tabanca ever! Believe me, I will plunge into the spiral of anger, hurt, shame, resentment, cynicism and sadness and lose about 20lbs. But ultimately, as I heal and forgive myself and my hubby, I will remember how much I truly love them. I will realize that I still do love them whether they are with me or not. My main commitment was to love them unconditionally and that stands no matter what. Even if I cannot have their romantic love, their happiness and friendship will have to suffice. That my friends, is the difference between ownership and unconditional love! Still willing to take the monogamous route? Good! So let’s talk about the benefits!

Why Be Monogamous?

1. It not only shows you are brave it actually increases your bravery!

Three cheers for those of us who are not pathetic wussies who give up on learning how to do figure eights the moment we feel a little muscular pain. Three cheers for those of us who attempt a triple flip even if it might mean falling and busting open our knee! In the long run, we develop into stronger, skilful souls who can skate circles around those no-commitment cowards.

Three cheers for those of us brave enough to attempt what seems so scary to others. We wind up being superb athletes at life!

When I speak of no-commitment cowards I am not referring to the enlightened lone wolves among us. Who are these lone wolves? Well, they are individuals who are dealing with their demons and baggage, but choose to do it alone. Occasionally they choose to enjoy the pleasure of sexual encounters but they do not want relationships. As long as they are having safer-sex and are being honest with their partners, I really cannot judge them. I actually know of such a man. He is a well-educated, successful person spends a great deal of time working on his personal issues and exploring his purpose on earth. He just rather not subject anyone else (except his shrink) to his emotional baggage and knows he is not monogamy material and has even had a vasectomy (no chance of a woman trying to trap him into marriage) because he does not want kids. It took him just one disastrous marriage (once again, the values of prior experience to chart your next relationships and make the right choice) to come to this realisation.

He is honourable and does not lead “monogamous-seeking” women on. He tells them upfront, “I have no interest in marriage. I do not believe in it. I have no interest in fathering children with you either. So do not expect me to ever go steady with you. Even if we like each other very much, please know that there might be other women and since I am fair, I don’t expect you to be exclusive to me either. We are both adults here and we can just enjoy a good time. If that is not what you have in mind, say so now.”

Some people are just lone wolves. Once they are honest about it with themselves and their sexual partners, I cannot really judge them.

Most of the women he’s interacted with still remain friends with him, even when they have moved on and married and had families of their own. He has even been godfather to some of their kids. These women respect his honesty and he is a true gentleman and is very generous towards his sexual partners. He does not leave a trail of destruction in his wake. In fact many are better off for knowing him and even credit him with making them better women.

We monogamists see a relationship as a means to become better but for these flutterbys, a relationship is used to distract them from their demons. All they are interested in is the hazy euphoria of the first hot moments of the hunt, courting and exploratory exciting sex.

When I speak of no-commitment wussies I speak of are those who are needy, dysfunctional, immature and flit from partner to partner using a great deal of deception and taking zero responsibility for their actions. They are like patients who pretend to commit to a programme of psychoanalysis but only take the introductory sessions with the therapist and flee when things start to drill down into the core of their dysfunction. When forced to deal with their shit, they jump from couch to couch looking for a shrink who will tell them exactly what they want to hear.

We monogamists see a relationship as a means to become better but for these flutterbys, a relationship is used to distract them from their demons. All they are interested in is the hazy euphoria of the first hot moments of the hunt, courting and exploratory exciting sex. The moment that wears off and they are challenged to show understanding (their partner is not in the mood for sex) empathy (their partner wants them to be tolerant of a difficult situation) or self-reliance (their partner cannot bail them out of a situation) or trust (their ugliness starts to show) or forgiveness (their partner lets them down or they let their partner down) they run away.

Granted, many of these flutterbys do not know why they are this way. Some are in fact non-monogamous material. Since society says the only way to enjoy sexual intimacy respectably, is to be in a serious relationship, many unaware lone wolves are forced to enter serious commitments just to have sex. Others have the potential for monogamy but have a lot of issues to work on first and no guidance on how to do it effectively. Sadly before they get the chance to work on themselves, their irresponsibility eventually leads to unexpected pregnancy and they are now forced to commit whether they can or are ready to. I think right away of Sarah Palin’s daughter and future son-in-law. Most of these arrangements end in divorce and heartache and it is the children who suffer.

All my fellow monogamists, cheer with me, “We have cahones because we dare to stick around and be told like it is and face down our demons and beat them!”

2. It polishes you

After all, you are in a support group almost 24/7 and you are constantly challenged to think before you speak, be empathetic, be tolerant, swallow your pride and most important, forgive and accept forgiveness. Successful monogamy can refine a person to a high polish.

There is only so much enlightenment a lone wolf can achieve, alone.

My lone wolf friend may be a genius and ridiculously successful in the corporate world but he is a hard pill to swallow. Like Howard Hughes, another lone wolf, those same rough facets that give him his brilliance and edge in business also do not lend itself to a very kind, gentle, patient and understanding person. You can be the most enlightened hermit there is but in the end there is only so much you can do to perfect yourself, all by yourself. The greatest lesson your soul will ever learn is to love unconditionally and be loved in return.

Again my fellow monogamists CHEER! At least one person can stand to be around you for a long period of time.

3. It gives you a head start in the eternal race of soul perfection

Remember the crush I had that really hurt my hubby? It happened because of qualities I so longed for in my hubby that weren’t there. The object of my attraction possessed them in abundance. Well, I realized I could satisfy that void, not by cheating but by bringing those qualities out in myself.

What your partner lacks, forces you to develop self-sufficiency in those areas. People who flit from lover to lover in search of perfection never develop perfection in themselves. They always tend to be a bit emotionally retarded.

People get disappointed when they realize that whole “better half” thing is a big fat lie and they cannot say, Jerry McGuire style, “You complete me” to their partner. They get frustrated and dump their “incomplete” spouse and go looking for someone who will complete them. Well guess what? It does not exist! And you know what, thank goodness! For that would be the most boring, unchallenging relationship ever with absolutely nothing to learn.

What your partner lacks, forces you to develop self-sufficiency in those areas. People who flit from lover to lover in search of perfection never develop perfection in themselves. They always tend to be a bit emotionally retarded.

So once again my fellow monogamists, WE RULE! Cheer for yourselves again! Your successful monogamy puts you a few paces ahead in a long eternal race to enlightenment.

4. You have an intimate witness to your life

There is something to be said about knowing that other than God, there is one other person who knows almost everything there is to know about me. You see I am not 100% Jessie at work or among friends or in public but alone, in my baby’s arms I am 100% authentic, me. And I am loved anyway. If I were to die now, I can leave knowing one person really knew me and bore witness to my life, my struggles, and my triumphs. One person knows every birthmark, stretch mark and sexual proclivity. One person knows my lowest emotional low and highest emotional high. One person defends me with fierce loyalty and plots and schemes to make me blissfully happy. We are an army of two and made each other brave through our many misadventures. When I die, I leave behind an intimate witness to my life who can testify truthfully on my behalf.

One person can actually stand your company despite all your flaws and is an active and intimate witness to your life. That is precious indeed.

So there you have it! If done right, a monogamous relationship can provide a safe place where there is honest feedback, comfort, friendship, pleasure and appreciation while you work on yourself with help from your partner and visa versa. Hey, if monogamy isn’t for you, then it isn’t for you. Be a lone wolf but be an honourable, responsible lone wolf who, like the hermit on the mountain-top, still seeks self-improvement and self-mastery. Those of you who believe there is worth in monogamy, I applaud you and wish you every happiness. There are more benefits to be sure and I cannot wait to find out what those are. Give me and my hubby another eleven years or share yours on the comments page!

1. "Bible Belt Leads U.S. In Divorces," National Center for Policy Analysis, 1999-NOV-19, at:
2. "Bible belt has nation's worse divorce rate,", 1999-NOV-12.(Cache copy as of 2000-FEB-11. The page has since expired.) A similar report here

November 17, 2008

Monogamy Part 1- The Impossible Dream?

Some believe in monogamy so strongly, not just for themselves but for everyone else, that all arguments to the contrary, no matter how persuasive, historic and scientific, not even their own, their parents’, religions’ and society’s failure at keeping everyone monogamous will convince them otherwise. In this article, I will delve into the arguments against monogamy. In a follow-up article I will write a pro-monogamy article and about what I, a person in a successful monogamous relationship for eleven years has learned about commitment and why and how it works best and for whom. If you are a staunch advocate of monogamy you may not like what you are about to read. But read it anyway. If I, a monogamous person, can explore both sides, surely so can you.

Monogamy is an anomaly in nature

Modern biologists are now discovering after more thorough investigation, that more and more species, even those formally lauded for their “mate for life” commitment, like swans, are not actually monogamous. Genetic testing of several species believed to be monogamous has revealed that in many cases social monogamy (a pair bond) is not the same as sexual monogamy. It is becoming apparently clear that nature has little use for monogamy. But why?

Biologists are now discovering that not even swans, formally believed to mate for life, are strictly monogamous.

Simply put, monogamy is bad for natural diversity and species survival. Most biologists have known for a long time that the vast majority of males from a wide variety of species tend to be interested in sexual variety. The higher the intelligence of the species, the more promiscuous and complex the sexual behaviour, with dolphins, great apes and man ranking as the most sexually adventurous at the top of the heap.

Given the choice most men will easily go for more than one mate, even if not at the same time.

Males are sperm makers. Sperm are easy for their body to produce, readily abundant and expendable. Males do not have any further physical imposition after releasing them and that freedom from the constraints of pregnancy and childbirth only serves to liberate them to spread as much seed as possible. Human males peak sexually (19-25) earlier than females do (35-45). This affords them a jumpstart on genetic perpetuation. Studies reveal that men think about sex more often, are aroused more easily and though women also have as active a libido, longer more intense orgasms and eight times the erogenous surface area, men have more active pursuit of sexual release. As a result, given the choice, most men would rather have two women than one (although not necessarily at the same time), or better yet three or four.

Noted sociologist Camille Pagila once likened prostitution to a service industry, mopping up the overflow of male demand, which will always exceed female supply.

And what about the females of most species? Are we naturally more monogamous or have we just been socialized that way.

In a study of female sexual behaviour, women in committed relationships were blindfolded and asked to smell the t-shirts of different men and rate which ones they found appealing/arousing/stimulating. Women who were ovulating were more than likely to pick a shirt that did not belong to their husbands or boyfriends.

Well, much to the surprise of biologists, it turns out the gals are just as randy as the guys. But with us, it is all about quality and not just quantity. From barn swallows to gibbons to the lady who wore the scarlet letter in Hawthorn’s novel, we too have wandering eyes and hot blood in our veins. That may not surprise you. But what will is that our need to have more than one sexual option is also a biological fail-safe. Tim Jacobs, Professor of Physiology at Cardiff University, said: "Some studies have shown that during ovulation, there's a surge of oestrogen which increases a woman’s olfactory sensitivity.” And why would a woman need to have a better sense of smell during her monthly sexual peak? Why to sniff out a better potential mate!

In one study, women in committed relationships were asked to be blindfolded and smell the t-shirts of a number of men (who had worn it all day) and list which ones they found most appealing/arousing. Consistently, the women who were not ovulating picked their husband or boyfriend’s scent. However, those who were at their monthly sexual peak were twice as likely to pick another man’s scent and it was usually a man more rugged and physically imposing than their current mate, sometimes it would be a man they would not normally find attractive or consider as marriage material but was a better biological fit than their current partner. When blindfolded, age, race or social status did not matter. The only thing that did were the pheromones that communicated which male presented the best genetic option for them.

Our biological makeup is heedless of all social and religious expectations. Are you daunted by these scientific findings and the raw nature they expose within every single one of us, from pastor to jamette? Don’t be. You should be grateful males are compelled by biology to spread their seed and females are compelled to constantly sniff out the best mate, even if they are already attached. If you believe in a Creator, obviously, that is what It intended. If you don’t it is a fortunate evolutionary mechanism to help the human race survive. In fact, if we weren’t naturally promiscuous beings, our species would have probably died out a long time ago during our struggle to inhabit and conquer a planet filled with hostile environments, wild animals, biological threats, natural and man-made disasters.

Family and civilization are not dependent on monogamy

There is a true story of a Christian missionary who visited a Maori village in 19th century New Zealand and there was a feast in his honor. After the feast, the Maori chief called out, "A woman for the bishop!" The bishop took offense because of his restrictive religious and social views on casual sex. For the pagan, nature worshiping Maori on the other hand, the offer of a woman to a guest for his pleasure was not taboo. The obliging chief thought he must have not been generous enough and roared again, even louder: "Two women for the bishop then!"

Among many indigenous tribes, you will also find this rather pragmatic approach to sexuality. When you are just a small tribe against the elements of a vast jungle island, the last thing you want is people feeling squeamish about the processes of sexuality and reproduction that keep your numbers strong and your tribe happy and cohesive.

You see, for the Maori, polyarmory (loving many at the same time) was no big deal. Among many indigenous tribes, you will also find this rather pragmatic approach to sexuality. When you are just a small tribe against the elements of a vast jungle island, the last thing you want is people feeling squeamish about the processes of sexuality and reproduction that keep your numbers strong and your tribe happy and cohesive. That is why there is the Hudough Dance for the Navaho. During this festival, married members of the tribe are allowed to sleep with someone else and there must be no jealousy or possessiveness or reprisal the next morning. Before the countries of Europe were Christianized by the Roman Empire, couples lay under the stars while Beltane fires roared. During this pagan fertility rite, lovers copulated with anyone they wanted, whether their spouse or not. On the island of Mangaia of Cook, men and women receive sexual instruction at an early age and are expected to practice it on as many partners as they can. Marriage is merely an economic transaction or for family alliances.

The patriarchal namesake nuclear family is a recent construct. Where there has been long standing tradition of polyarmory and polygamy within a culture, family units may be different but strong and beneficial to children in their own way. Really, all a child needs is love, protection and a chance to learn how to be a valued member of the society.

In addition to polyarmory, there are also many culturally polygamous tribal societies. Polygamy was an accepted practice among early Hebrews. Who can forget Solomon with his 700 wives and 300 concubines. The Koran allows four wives and the Sephardic Jews still practice polygamy. Plural marriages have been commonplace among Native Americans, especially the Ojibway of northern Wisconsin, Mesquakia of Iowa and the Ho-chunk. Interestingly enough, in many of these tribes, a woman in a polygamous arrangement was not in a subordinate position because most tribes were not strictly patriarchal. The most common type of polygamy practiced by American Indians was sororal and filial polygamy, for example in certain indigenous tribes in Bolivia South America, married men may have sex with their wife and any of her sisters, in turn the wife in the relationship may enjoy her husband and any of his brothers. This is seen to strengthen tribal bonds. Among many tribes, if there was a shortage of females, a woman (she must takes lots of sassafras and ginseng) was allowed two husbands.

In some societies no word exists for, “bastard”. It is abandonment by the mothers that is seen as the only real travesty because in nature, that is truly the case.

But what about the children’s well-being?! Don’t children need one father and one mother in a monogamous relationship to thrive? Well, let us remember that the patriarchal namesake nuclear family is a recent construct. Where there has been long standing tradition of polyarmory and polygamy within a culture, family units may be different but strong and beneficial to children in their own way. Really, all a child needs is love, protection and a chance to learn how to be a valued member of the society. Children born to one of many wives in a Zulu village, among many brothers and sisters, several mothers, aunts and grandmothers fair just as well as a child raised by two parents, perhaps even better. If you have two parents and it turns out that neither is much good at parenting, then you are stuck with what you have. But imagine if you have an extended family and an entire village invested in your well-being, there is a better chance you will find at least find one adult who can truly mentor you.

Many of the great civilizations and nations throughout human history were built upon family units were not strictly monogamous. I am talking about empires lasting ages longer than our modern, post-colonial, western societies. Out of these great civilizations came astronomy, democracy, philosophy and medicine among other great inventions and feats of conquest proving that a stable and successful society does not necessarily require monogamy.

A large part of the concern for children stems from our own marginalization and discrimination of children born without a “father’s” name. This is patriarchal custom only. In some societies no word exists for, “bastard”. It is abandonment by the mothers that is seen as the only real travesty because in nature, that is truly the case. A baby lion, or bird abandoned by its mother will die and these indigenous tribes base their spiritual and social construct from what they observe in nature. So, for example, children who were conceived during the orgy of Belthane were considered sacred gifts of the God and Goddess and treated with special deference by the entire village. Ambiguous paternity was not a source of shame in these tribes as it is for our modern society because the mother was seen as the most important figure. The child took its mother’s name or her mate would happily welcome the offspring as his and the tribe would welcome the newborn with joy.

Many of the great civilizations and nations throughout human history were built upon family units were not strictly monogamous. I am talking about empires lasting ages longer than our modern, post-colonial, western societies. India, China and Japan in their golden ages, Eygpt, Babylon, Greece, Rome were cultures that separated the sexual/physical attraction from the domestic/social obligations of marriage and made social and religious allowances for extra-marital trysting without judgement. Out of these great civilizations came astronomy, democracy, philosophy and medicine among other great inventions and feats of conquest proving that a stable and successful society does not necessarily require monogamy.

We are terrible at monogamy, always have been, always will be

When we are truly honest with ourselves, we must admit that it is virtually impossible to maintain a strictly monogamous state of mind and body. Even couples married for fifty or more years will confess they have often fallen in love with another in their heart, some even pursued it and were later forgiven by their spouse. When this is made into a sin, it is even harder to cope with our inevitable nature. Imagine the pressure and guilt of those who adhere to certain religious standards, where even thinking about another person in a sexual way is equal to the act of adultery. So how do societies where monogamy is preferred socially and religiously even though human nature dictates otherwise find a way to allow both monogamous marriage and rampant sexual attraction to co-exist? Simple. Hypocrisy and female subjugation.

Historically such societies produce a duality where all that is needed is just an “appearance of respectable monogamy”. This duality can be seen in the extra-marital outlets for the libido that are allowed to exist with little to no challenge but only for men. Foremost among these are courtly love and prostitution. It would surprise many to know that in the middle-ages, the Church accepted alms from prostitutes. By accepting a prostitute’s money, the Church sanctioned the act that produced the money. But why would The Church support the institution of prostitution? Why did St. Augustine who led the Church’s sanction against all forms of sexuality outside of holy intent to conceive children, refuse to outlaw prostitution? Because the Church knew all too well that the elimination of prostitution would create a pressure cooker situation that would dismantle society were it to explode.

Not even St. Augustine would outlaw prostitution. A man’s daughter was valuable property that could secure a dowry or even business and political alliances if it was delivered “unspoiled” to the arranged husband. So better for a young man to visit a whore and then go to confession, than ruin a hymen and cause lasting upheaval.

Without prostitution, there was no way to safe-guard the virginity of the daughters from all those horny young men in the village. Remember a man’s daughter was valuable property that could secure a dowry or even business and political alliances if it was delivered “unspoiled” to the arranged husband. So better for a young man to visit a whore and then go to confession, than ruin a hymen and cause lasting upheaval. Prostitutes also helped ease the rigorous restrictions of marriage, many of which were loveless business arrangements. Arthur Schopenhauer once said, “There are 80,000 prostitutes in London alone and what are they, if not bloody sacrifices on the altar of monogamy?”

It is not just the prostitutes whose well being is sacrificed in man’s quest to condemn yet satisfy his own human nature at the same time. Even though both genders are biologically and emotionally prone to sexual attraction to multiple partners, in traditional patriarchal societies with sanctions against sexuality, only men were allowed any chance of fulfilling their sexual drive with little to no condemnation. For a long time women were expected to repress their urges and be long-suffering when the husband goes to his mistress or visits the brothel. Kings, dukes, soldiers would carry on affairs with the woman they loved but otherwise could not marry because they were already in an arranged marriage. Most of these affairs were done with the full knowledge of the clergy. Of course, if a married woman dared do the same, the public and religious scandal would liken her to a whore and a witch. If she was a Queen, she could be executed for committing treason against her King, even if he was a cheating dog.

If a man find a damsel that is a virgin, which is not betrothed, and lay hold on her, and lie with her, and they be found; Then the man that lay with her shall give unto the damsel's father fifty shekels of silver, and she shall be his wife; because he hath humbled her, he may not put her away all his days. -- Deuteronomy 22:28-29

How did you get us women to do this? Well, by using religious and social mandates which place a greater value on female chastity and female fidelity. The penalty for female infidelity or loss of virginity has always been harsher than for male infidelity and loss of virginity. Just read Exodus and Leviticus. Everything about a woman’s sexuality is unclean and a woman who is raped is treated with suspicion and must prove she screamed in order not to be stoned to death. If a man violates her, his only punishment is to be forced to marry her. He of course, under Hebrew law, which allows polygamy, can take another woman or concubines as the true love of his life if he so chooses. She loses no matter what. Even today, women often risk stalking, abuse, violence and death if they reject a male suitor let alone cheat on him, so that sense of “ownership” over a woman still lives on.

Even in societies that require us to give up our autonomy and become nothing more than property to be passed as “unspoiled” as possible, from father to husband who then becomes our lord and master, women still find options. In ancient Greece, many women actually volunteered to become temple prostitutes because being a wife in ancient Greece was like being in prison. In general Grecian philosophers with the exception of Plato, believed that women had strong emotions and weak minds and did not deserve freedom. A guardian or kyrios was appointed to them to monitor their behaviour. Grecian wives were not educated in anything but household duties and once their marriage was arranged, they were cloistered inside the home. Only servants were lower in rank and Grecian men treated their wives like nothing more than breeding machines.

On the other hand, if a woman became a prosititute or hetera, she was allowed to walk freely and go where she pleased and speak to whom she pleased. The chance she would find sexual fulfillment was also greater. She was educated in the sensual arts, learned to read and write and was also skilled in music, dance and poetry. The poor wives at home would faint if they could see their husbands in the presence of these women. Men who considered their wives too insipid for even casual conversation, would be engaged in banter with these heteras who could hold their own in a conversation about politics, art and philosphy. In fact some heteras were so accomplished, they were lauded for their wit, wisdom and even high ranking Grecian officials would give them an ear. They often became not just lovers but trusted companions to men. Some also could become so prosperous they could afford their own property in a culture where women were not allowed to own anything.

Thankfully in our modern western societies, women have fought long and hard for their own autonomy. We have more options for fulfillment other than subservient wife/mother, nun or whore. Today, when you think of monogamous marriage, it is not arranged just to make political and financial alliances between families, passing a woman on like property from father to husband. Couples have blended romance and love into marital duty where it traditionally was not mutually exclusive. It is now entered into freely by two people wanting to be soul mates and in most cases, the woman had an equal chance to become sexually experienced before making a permanent decision about a mate for life. Her virginity is not a more valued commodity than her husband’s and her sexuality is her own. Ideally, her own dreams and goals and sense of fulfillment have the same value as her husband’s. She is not property. Her fidelity is assured by her own promise, not social restrictions that limit her freedom and rights. Best of all, she expects the same of her husband (in most cases) and can divorce him if he does not live up to his promise to be faithful. In marriage, both are expected to be equal companions, friends, lovers and co-parents.

An improvement? Certainly! A monogamous success? No, not really. It is still a fact that the vast majority of men still cheat (several surveys put it at 75%) and woman are quickly catching up in the percentages now that we have the freedom to explore our sexual desires. If that is just actual physical cheating, those cheating in their heart with extra-marital crushes, lusting and fantasizing must be close to 100%

Even now that marriage is an equal partnership we just cannot stop our wandering eyes and hearts.

So is it hopeless?! Should we even bother to be monogamous? Well, yes but not for the reasons you think. Stay tuned and I will tell you why. Those who are cynically against monogamy may not like the follow-up article just as those totally for monogamy may have cringed reading this one. But personal opinions and social/religious indoctrination aside, I think everyone can benefit from looking at every side of the issue and most importantly taking an honest look at their own motivations in their relationships. Is it based on love or obligation? Is it loyalty or ownership? Asking these questions led me to a personal position on monogamy that was superior to the usual sanctimonious, dishonest or fairytale fluff I was taught and you’d expect to hear. In the next article I intend to share this brutally honest position with you.

Stay tuned.

November 10, 2008

When The Downtown Thugs Come Uptown

This was written in response to the shooting of a BP engineer at Crobar one Friday afternoon.

So, you are a hardworking professional relaxing in a popular after-work liming spot in Woodbrook on a Friday with your office buddies. You laughing, kicksing and old-talking the night away because to be honest, you had a hard week of bosses and clients pushing buttons you didn’t even know you had. Besides, it is moments like this with your friends that make the extra years you spent slaving away on that degree and/or working for peanuts while interning, seem worth it. You may not be a millionaire yet, but at least you could buy a “rounds” and reflect on life with the people who make you feel good.

You are among others like you, black, white, red, Indian and everything in between. Your watering hole of choice is not overly hoity toity i.e. no bouncers at the entrance weeding out potential thugs. As such, a colourful mélange of individuals feel comfortable there from the boss of your ad agency, to expat BP engineers to construction workers to your Rasta friend who makes jewelry. So you liming, when a bunch of young men stroll in, their body language proclaiming, “Ah reach, what you staring at?!”.

Now, you with your enlightened “all ah we is one” altruism take their posturing with good natured tolerance after all, who isn’t “gangsta chic” these days. But as the night progresses, alcohol levels increase, inhibition levels decrease, these young men become increasingly obnoxious, loud, foul-mouthed and not in that intelligent, creative way literate people spice up one or two sentences with a well-timed cuss word. What is more, the members of this gangsta crew seem to have a huge chip on their shoulder and want everyone to know it. They stare down patrons with intent and hostility. Their idea of playful flirting with the women gathered there, is open hungry staring, aggressive suggestions followed by insults if ignored. And most of the women at the watering hole, many of whom are career professionals, do ignore them. The crude, disrespectful and scary bad boy mating rituals might work on a street corner Passa Passa block party in Morvant, but among these set of women, in this setting, it just does not fly.

Of course, the gangsta patrons are not the most empathetic of socialisers. As far as they are concerned, they have money to flaunt and all must bow! After all, isn’t that what the rap, dance-hall and our corrupt political and social landscape says; money equals automatic respect. So who the hell these upptity women think they are, especially the ones who black just like them? All women should find them irresistible when they flash their gold-toothed, leering smile. Frustrated by the lack of attention and respect they start getting belligerent, seeking out the slightest opportunity to demonstrate their clout. Homophobic slurs start to fly as they refer to some of the men gathered there, most of whom are not even gay,just well spoken. People start to become uncomfortable all of a sudden, it becomes increasingly clear, these young men are not posing as gangtas, they are the real thing.

Now, I am not one to spit on ambition. Many an upstanding, successful person in this country started out as a good for nothing scamp back in the old days. But even our good old bad boys of the 1920s would clout these ruffians upside the head and tell them to have some decorum, values and treat the women with respect.

The money they throw around with bravado was ill-begotten and that glint in their eye is real anger, not just bad bwoy attitude. They behave the way they do, not because they are trying to “play bad” but because they are bad. They are not pretending to be crude, they actually have no social graces whatsoever. They live purely on greed, gratification, adrenaline and anger. Their fuse is short. These are not people who can excuse themselves or accept a simple, “Excuse me,” from another person who happens to mash their foot or spill a drink. They have been raised from infancy with no other emotional tools, self-disciplinary acumen or moral inculcation other than, “If you get me vex, ah go beat your ass”. Therefore, if anyone dares embarrasses, inconveniences, outsmarts, outshines or corrects them, they think is perfectly understandable to pull out a knife and stab them or if necessary, in the case of the ill-fated BP engineer, they leave to retrieve their gun and come back and shoot them and anyone else in the way.

Unless you are willing to forego your rootsiness and hang out at places that have imitation American sports bar, South Beach or Irish pub settings, bouncers, hostesses and charge $20.00 for a beer you will have to encounter these thugs. They have fat pockets full of drug money to spend. They want to hang out where you hang out. They want to prove they could pull women who are better than the desperate skettel baby mamas in their neighbourhood. They want to show, “Dey is man too,” to the suit and tie wearing former St. Mary’s, QRC, Naparima and Fatima boys.

Now, I am not one to spit on ambition. Many an upstanding, successful person in this country started out as a good for nothing scamp back in the old days. But even our good old bad boys of the 1920s would clout these ruffians upside the head and tell them to have some decorum, values and treat the women with respect.

My dear hard-working, tax-paying, law-abiding, trying –hard- to- keep- optimistic- about this- country- while- you-slip- from- middle- to- working- class, warriors, our after-work lime is coming to an end. Liming buddies, get your living rooms and galleries ready, because it will soon be our last safe bastion on a Friday evening, on our budget. The middle-class works the hardest, pays the most taxes and now even this simplest of our Trini pleasures; public liming, is being taken away by crime and our government’s incompetence. Soon only gun wielding thugs and the super rich who can hire bodyguards will be able to enjoy it. The bright side is perhaps it will prove to be the last straw that breaks our apathy.

October 21, 2008

Choose Well Sisters

If you’ve done biology at an advanced level or if you are an avid reader of National Geographic, or just like watching nature documentaries, you will no doubt know that there are many strange and wonderful things to be found in nature. Some of these anomalies include mammals that can lay eggs, gay dolphins and penguins, frogs, fish and shrimp that switch genders in one lifetime, male seahorses that give birth and flying snakes. But you will never find the female of any species spending her valuable time competing for the affections of the male. It is always the male who fights for the right to mate with the female. The female then selects which male she will allow the privilege of passing on his genes. In the natural world, the strong, smart, skilled and healthy males get to sire offspring, the runts get to piss off.

Nature has some wierd and wonderful things but you will never find the female of any species spending her valuable time competing for the affections of the male. The onus is on the males to look good, smell good and perform the tricks to win a mate

Even among the most small brained of vertebrates like birds, it is the male that must compete to attract the female by building a nest, showing off his ability to provide or putting on a colourful display for her. Males are the ones who pay attention to their appearance because it is always up to the male of the species to look and smell appealing for the female. Males always have the more colourful plumage (peacocks and birds of paradise), spectacular antlers (moose and reindeer) or luxurious manes (lions and baboons). In nature, females have no obligation to compete for a mate instead they are entrusted with the task of selecting the male with the BEST genes for the perpetuation the species. Females are responsible for natural selection. The female mountain goat will leap the steepest cliffs for miles upon miles while a bunch of males chase her. Only the strongest and most skillful male will stand a chance of ever siring any offspring with her, if he cannot keep up, too bad. Even the lowly female crab that would most likely end up in our callaloo dish knows the male crab must first dig a suitable home, decorate it and then defend it from predators and other males in order to stand any chance of getting it on with her. In nature, if a male has no quality, he gets no loving. It’s as simple as that. This is why is baffles me when women sacrifice their time, peace of mind, money and even their reproductive health for men who are complete morons. Are beasts smarter than us?

Don’t laugh. It’s a sad thing.

All the brothers still living at home with mama take heed, a male crab builds a home of his own first and then goes in search of a mate.

We, the most advanced primates on earth have surely gotten things back to front when two productive, attractive women are fighting each other over a good for nothing, zero child support paying, no steady job holding pipsqueak of a man. From Jerry Springer to a catfight in a nightclub, to the girlfriend who is always crying over problems with her locho man, this most unnatural phenomenon is rampant. Have we forgotten so easily the legend of a thousand ships launched for Helen of Troy or true stories of knights who jousted to the death over medieval princesses and that the tribesmen of the Masai killed lions and presented their livestock wealth to get a bride? Would you believe there was a time when the ministrations of a woman were so valuable that even soliciting a prostitute was a privilege to be enjoyed only by the noblest of men? Ages ago, even prostitutes could refuse a man’s attentions if he did not meet her standards. From the courtesans of the West to the geishas of the East, they were treated like royalty and lavished their pleasurable attentions only on men of class and distinction. Today, women are giving it all away to dimwitted, emotionally retarded, philandering fools for a box of fried chicken or nothing at all.

When a few stupid women lower their standards, we all suffer. Now even the most pathetic, lazy bum thinks he’s “God’s gift to us all”, resulting in all of us being accosted in our clean, presentable attire by some shabby looking malodorous man with no regard for our refined sense of smell and no respect for our person.

Demanding quality, responsibility, bravery, industry and sensitivity in a man does not make you less of a feminist. Do not for one second think that now that you have the degree, career and the emotional and spiritual tools to succeed that somehow, it is okay for men to drop the ball. They still have to come just as good as you do. When a few stupid women lower their standards, we all suffer. Now even the most pathetic, lazy bum thinks he’s “God’s gift to us all”, resulting in all of us being accosted in our clean, presentable attire by some shabby looking malodorous man with no regard for our refined sense of smell and no respect for our person. It’s our collective fault that every man thinks he is entitled to get “some” with zero effort. No one is asking our men to slay lions to prove their worth to us or to even live up to the nobility of the Lord of The Rings’ Aragorn or attractiveness and class of some Denzel Washington movie character. All we ask is that you just take regular baths wear deodorant and show some manner of caring, commitment, competence, class, cunnilingual capability and civic responsibility.

Painful first time, greater anatomical STD vulnerablity, genital discomforts and yeast infections from sex, the pressure of pregnancy, the ravaged body from childrearing, the potential health problems- We women risk far more to our person when we enter a sexual relationship. We have EVERY RIGHT to be picky.

So I know some of the brothers reading this will be like, “What the hell? What gives women the right to be so picky! It’s not like you are perfect either!” I agree. We aren’t perfect. In fact, we make loads of mistakes and some women really make me roll my eyes and feel sorry for my gender. However whether the woman is an Alicia Keys goddess, who rocks your world, pays her way, boosts your spirit and cares for you or a good for nothing skank, manipulative bitch who is in it for all she can get, is not the point. The point is that ALL women, risk more in a relationship and so we get to demand more. Don’t believe me? Then answer this:

Who has to endure pain to lose their virginity? Who requires more effort to feel pleasure during sex? Who bears the burden of childbearing with all its resulting pains and potential health problems? Who is more anatomically vulnerable to catch STDs? Who has to put up with everyday inconveniences like yeast and urinary tract infections from having sex? Who is more at risk of being violently abused if they leave? Who statistically earns less in the workplace? Which gender has to put up with being the one that is sexually assaulted every five minutes? Its US WOMEN! So why should we also have to settle for a mediocre mate?

It would be no nookie for these runts if they were out in the wild.

No female bird, crab or alligator ever has to settle for less than her ideal mate and neither should we!
It’s time we learn from our animal friends and reclaim the power nature entrusted to us. Like the Alpha female wolf, we have to start to give sexual consent to only to the Alpha Male and snarl and bite when the lesser mongrels come a-sniffing. If the Alpha Male is unavailable, which in our modern world means- the ambitious worker, able provider, involved father, intuitive lover and loyal friend, then we will settle for none….NEVER less. It’s a hard and cruel standard to follow. Prepare for loads of battery powered nights alone with a glass of wine. You will long for companionship, especially when other girlfriends and female relatives get married. But trust me on this, if you can hold out and not give your heart away to a loser under the mistaken impression you can nurture and change that poor soul, you will emerge from this younger and far more viable a human being, than the women who fell fast and hard and now regret it and cannot get out.

So say these resolutions with me-
1. Love and the human heart are unpredictable, but I will weigh my decisions more carefully and invest myself with more discrimination.
2. If I am attracted to a less than adequate man I will be as calculating and brutally honest about it as possible and take only what I am prepared to give. If that be just a one night stand, so be it.
3. I will STOP fighting over men. No female of any species fights over the male. It is the males who fight to mate with us. That is what all their extra testosterone and brawn are for.

When we make wooing too easy, we rob heterosexual men of their natural outlet for their testosterone and they end up finding other less positive outlets for their male aggression, including beating up on us. They become fat and lazy. Their natural hunting instincts will eventually make them leave their doormat mate who gave it all up easily at home and go chasing after a more exciting and harder won sexual conquest that makes him feel more like a man. They call it “Middle Age Crisis” but it is really, “I am bored shitless because this woman is NOT making me WORK FOR IT! I need to chase after something new!”

Our men should NEVER feel that they are done wooing us. Like male lions in a pride, in the prime of their lives, they must always be kept active and engaged in securing their position, keeping up their appearance and physique. They must always be aware we are desirable and wooable by rival males and even females. You must first assume that position of power and believe you deserve no less. Do not be afraid that men won’t meet your higher standards and you’ll end up alone. Have a little more faith in yourself and in men as well. Real men, the cream of the crop want the challenge! In their older feeble years, after they have proven their devotion and their testosterone is waning, that is the right time to nurture and make them comfortable and reward them with as much easy loving that they can stand.

I wish you all the best as you find your Alpha Male to be your mate for life.

Women are the selectors of the next generation of the human race. Family history is traced through the patriarchal name but genetic ancestry is always traced primarily through the female genetic line. Why? Our gender is the one entrusted with passing on the vital mitochondrial DNA in our XX chromosomes. We posses that extra piece of genetic code men do not have. How will your ancestral line be remembered? What caliber of man entered your grandmother’s gene pool? Your mother’s gene pool? What quality of man will enter yours? The survival of our human species depends on you. Choose well.