I wish I could say that I haven’t been at all interested in this ever evolving sex scandal involving General Petraeus, his biographer, his replacement, and a woman who apparently must be nicknamed “Sunshine” because that’s the only way I can imagine a man sending 20,000 pages worth of emails to her. I wish I could also say that I haven’t already spent 800 words on this topic earlier in the week.
I guess I could say each of these things, but they would be lies. I have followed this story since it first broke. And, as is the case with most high profile stories involving people you don’t know and situations that don’t really matter, the reactions to the story have been just as (if not more) interesting than the story itself. Of particular interest to me has been a particular theme with some of these reactions; a theme that pops up whenever a high profile case of infidelity hits the news cycle:
This is just more proof that monogamy is unnatural
Actually, this theme doesn’t even need a high profile story to escape mouths. You hear it when your barber is explaining why he needs new p*ssy the same way diabetics need insulin. You read it when a blogger is outlining why he’s loathe to commit to one woman. You see it when a basketball wife finds a way to rationalize how her husband has managed to have two two-month-old newborns from two separate women. You (well, I) even sometimes think it when wondering why being in love with one woman doesn’t stop the attraction (and sometimes even lust) for others.
And, on the most primal level, they’re right. Monogamy — or, rather, staying monogamous for years, decades — is not natural. With the exception of a few very codependent animals I’m too lazy to google, there’s no other species in the animal kingdom that even considers staying with one mate for the duration of your existence to be a viable option. Humans do, though, and I imagine that if lions and tigers could talk — and if these particular talking lions and tigers were somehow more interested in expressing their views about human sexual dynamics than eating humans — they’d tell us we’re stupid.
You know what else is unnatural, though? Hitting lettered buttons on a flat sheet of metal to send a mass message to hundreds of people you’ll never meet — a process better known as “blogging.” This morning, I also used an unnatural heating device (a microwave) to warm up some food that had been stored in an unnatural cooling device (a refrigerator) the night before, and I ate this food with unnaturally shaped pieces of metal (silverware). When purchasing this food yesterday, I traveled around in an unnatural moving device (a car), to a facility where food is unnaturally stored (a supermarket). And, while waiting in line to purchase this food, I quelled my natural urge to walk out of the store while beginning to eat the food.
What separates humans from the rest of the animal kingdom is the ability to reason, an ability that enables us to ignore our base instincts and (hopefully) make rationally “unnatural” decisions. We build “unnatural” things, use “unnatural” objects, and think “unnatural” thoughts because our nature has evolved, making things that may have been “unnatural” before “natural” because, well, we’re doing them, and us doing them makes them natural. For a human being, it is natural to advance past the unnatural, and one of these advancements is the concept of monogamy.
Now, whether you believe monogamy to be reasonable or not is (obviously) your decision. But, if you want to believe that you can’t practice it because it’s unnatural and you can’t bring yourself to do something that isn’t natural to you, why stop there? If fact, why are you even speaking to me? While communication is natural, language isn’t, and instead of saying actual words, you should just grunt. Sure, that’ll make you abnormal, but at least you won’t be unnatural.