Why Is It Monogamy The 'appropriate' Form Of Relationships In Western Societies?

2495 words - 10 pages

SCY2031 MAJOR ESSAYName: Ellen Kwan Oi LingStudent ID: 19341482Topic chosen: 2Why is it that Western societies focus so much on monogamy as the 'appropriate' form that relationships should take? Why is there so much cultural anxiety about multiple relationships/non-monogamy and infidelity? Discuss with reference to sociological debates about both opposite-sex and same-sex intimate relationships.Recently, a television programme called 'Cheaters' has been broadcast on Channel Seven every Sunday night. It is a reality show that allows you to view actual true stories documenting the pain of a spouse or lover caused by infidelity. By confronting infidelity and the breach of trust, it helps to expose potential or present problems in a relationship and it comforts the person who is being cheated by empowering them. Audience watching this programme will most likely show their sympathy to the injured parties. This reality television programme illustrates public's perception on infidelity is negative and even unacceptable to some of the people. Infidelity brings non-monogamous relationships. People tend to feel pathetic to the primary partners who tolerate the infidelity acts of their partners. Those who defend their rights to have open partnerships or form "multipartner relationships" (Pallotta-Chiarolli, 1995) are constructed as foolish or immature. However, what makes the public perceive non-monogamy and infidelity as such an immoral behaviour? Why monogamy is regarded as the social norm of relationships? In this essay, it will look into the reasons why monogamy is quite often portrayed as the ideal type of relationship in Western society and examine various social forces that help to reinforce the idea. Besides, this essay will contribute itself to the reasons why non-monogamous relationships have negative stigma attached to it. These will be discussed based on both heterosexual relationships and same-sex relationships as heterosexual couples are believed to be more able to conform to the monogamous relationship structure of society than the homosexual and bisexual ones and in this essay, it will look into this matter and explain why these make such differences.In more than three-fourths of the world's cultures, adult males are permitted and usually encouraged to take two or more wives - in other words, to contract polygamous marriages. (Lee, 1979) This practice can still be found in some Islamic and Muslim countries such as Saudi Arabia and Malaysia while it has already been restricted in most of other countries. Throughout the past few decades, monogamous relationship has taken place and become the ideal type of relationship in many Western societies. Monogamy, which means the marriage of one man to one woman, has been the standard arrangement for adult living. (Broderick, 1979) One of the fundamental reasons that caused this change is the rise of the statue of women. In the past, women have a very low social status and were considered to be...

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