My book of the year is Eric Anderson’s The Monogamy Gap: Men, Love, and the Reality of Cheating (OUP, 2012). According to Anderson, moral and cultural expectations of strict monogamy are psychologically unrealistic, pervasively and deeply harmful, and (ironically enough) destructive of good relationships. He argues that the phenomenon of widespread “cheating” is the corollary of a system that is incompatible with human psychology and appears ridiculous when viewed from outside its assumptions. Far more research is needed, as the author acknowledges, but meanwhile he presents a lucid and persuasive, if incomplete, case against the ideology of strict monogamy.
Speaking of strict, my strictly philosophy book of the year will be announced in a forthcoming issue of The Philosophers' Magazine. If you don't subscribe, you should do so.
As for fiction, I read some great material by Alison Goodman, Margo Lanagan, and many others. I'm one of the judges of the Norma K. Hemming Award, so I'm expecting to read a lot of high quality fantasy, science fiction, and horror over the next few months. Doubtless I'll be blogging about some of it.
Sounds intriguing, Russell. From the title, it sounds as though he may be claiming that monogamy is somehow unnatural/particularly difficult for men. Is that right?
If so, this seems a less radical claim that I hoped he may be making, which was that our culture's obsession with monogamy (erroneously referred to as 'faithfulness') may be harmful to women - and probably children (insofar as unhappy/separated parents affect them)- too.
Hi Colin. That's precisely what my book is about. Not only that monogamy is unnatural (nothing new there) but that it hinders emotional relationships, causes a great deal of guilt, and ultimately leads to worse relationships. Lots of other fun stuff too! I'm not sure what the Hellfire Club is (from an episode of the Simpson's perhaps) but stoked to have my book selected.
Professor Eric Anderson
I won't be reading the site, but glad to take comments EricAndersonPhD@aol.com
Then Eric, you have just got yourself another buyer! :-)
Good to hear from you, Eric. (But no, nothing to do with The Simpsons.)
What did you think of Gail Dines' work Pornland?
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