The Inconvenient Truth About Monogamy
Do you think monogamy was put in practice to benefit women? Think again.
In 2017 I was shooting an episode of the Grapevine where the topic of discussion was gold diggers. I attempted to explain the subtle ways our romantic customs center male desire, often at the expense of female agency.
That’s when I said it, before a room of cheering women, and slack-jawed men.
“The truth about monogamy is — monogamy is the way that we can ensure that average Joes get to get married too!”
In my defense, I was neither praising polygamy nor slamming—well — broke men. I threw it in as an aside.
I thought this was common knowledge. In my mind, I was merely mentioning a historical fact; but in reality, I was stepping on a cultural land mine.
Not only did the clip, later dubbed “monogamy is for broke men,” instantly go viral, but it provoked a fusillade of attacks from men for which I was totally unprepared. The harassment was so intense, I feared for my safety, and for years, every time the video reemerged, sparking a small brush fire on my timeline, I cringed. Sure, I gained thousands of new followers practically overnight, but the minute-long clip, extracted from an hour-long conversation, had been mercilessly taken out of context. I became a poster child for polygamy, and a ballbuster for (broke) men — neither of which was entirely true.
Years later, I am still trying to make sense of the ordeal, contemplating why, for some men, the truth about monogamy strikes a nerve.
Polygyny, when one man marries multiples wives, has long been associated with wealth and power. Most ancient patriarchal societies were mildly polygynous, meaning that while some men, typically the wealthy elite, had multiple wives, most were generally monogamous. As these early agrarian societies, however, became increasingly more complex and socioeconomically stratified, the practice of polygyny expanded, creating a notable scarcity of brides among lower-ranking men.
The truth is, polygyny intensifies economic inequality among men. It also creates a reserve of young, sexually frustrated men who, when faced with…