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Joy Behar: Gays Take Monogamy Less Seriously Than Straights


Folks are talking about a recent episode of The View in which Joy Behar basically says that gays take monogamy less seriously than straights, and an act of infidelity is less likely to lead to the break-up of a relationship.

Writes Jeremy Hooper at Good as You: "It's astounding that anyone, especially a progressive from New York City's media world, would still have such an uninformed opinion about gay relationships as a whole. Regardless of one's personal views on monogamy, it's downright weird to hear gay couples put in this "other" category that is monolithically one thing. Especially in a world where one can't shake a Tiger without hitting ten straight Jon & Kates!"

Dan Savage, whose conversation with Behar on HLN led to the remarks, says Joy's right: "Gay male couples generally don't view monogamy as the defining characteristic of a loving, committed relationship. Studies of male couples in long-term relationships have found that most gay male couples do allow for some "outside sexual contact," as they say, contacts that I wouldn't characterize as "affairs" or "cheating." If there are no lies, if there is no betrayal, if neither partner is doing anything that violates the commitment he made to the other, then no one cheated and no one was cheated on. Which is not to say that there aren't monogamous gay couples out there."

There are more facets to the argument than that, so watch the whole segment. What do you think?

Watch it, AFTER THE JUMP...

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  1. David in KC: Since I'm quoted in this article, let me say that I in no way have those views on non-monogamy. I could not be less value neutral about this subject. Yes, I'm monogamous and married, which works for me. But I would never push that on anyone! And if you have been subjected to those kind of comments, I find that deplorable (just as the "mimicking breeders" anti-monogamy rhetoric is).

    Not sure how this turned into me being "monogamy or else!" My sole point in commenting on Joy was that I found her words too oversimplified/generalized, as well as potentially dangerous. It felt like she was putting us in an "other" category that certainly doesn't fit my life, or the lives of many others that I know. No category is a monolith, and I felt that hers tipped a little too much toward a sweeping generalization.

    But she, a longtime ally, very fully acknowledged that this was her opinion and that she might be wrong. So that's what I did: gave my two cents. Not in opposition to monogamy or in opposition to Dan (with whom I've discussed this) -- just in some sense of pushback to one certain TV quip. Fortunately, Joy says hundreds more every day that I find spot-on.

    Posted by: Jeremy | Jan 27, 2010 5:34:09 PM

  2. I definitely think it is a man/woman thing. I saw a guy on the Today show the other morning basically warning women that men are going to cheat or at least want to, so get over it or figure out how you are going to deal with it. Pretty shocking for straight middle-American morning TV.

    Posted by: Adam | Jan 27, 2010 5:40:18 PM

  3. I think Dan Savage is probably talking out of his own experience and Jeremy Hooper is talking out of his own experience. Possibly they both think their own experience should define "gay" for everyone else.

    Posted by: Dave Rattigan | Jan 27, 2010 6:01:08 PM

  4. Dave Rattigan: I don't *at all* think my experiences should define "gay." Not even close.

    Posted by: Jeremy | Jan 27, 2010 6:07:10 PM

  5. Gay men are still MEN.

    Posted by: jaragon | Jan 27, 2010 6:07:51 PM

  6. I admit I didn't read your entire post, Jeremy, but I toned down my initial reaction with "possibly" accordingly. ;)

    Posted by: Dave Rattigan | Jan 27, 2010 6:10:57 PM

  7. Hmmmm wonder where she got the idea that gays are not monogamous? Maybe it's all the cruise sites, bathhouses, park-bathroom sex, and general embarrassing conduct by gays. I am at times ashamed to be gay. When are we as a 'community' going to start talking about our accurate stereotype portrayal?

    Posted by: JESUS | Jan 27, 2010 6:14:29 PM

  8. Doesn't it all depend on what is really meant by monogamy. generally speaking gay men can indulge in and understand the desire for sex for reasons of pure uncomplicated lust and release. Completely seperate from sex as part of a relationship and intimacy. Gay men are more likely to tolerate their partner 'copping off with a gorgeous hunk' in a completely impersonal 'cruisy' way because it doesn't infringe at all on their personal monogamous love relationship. It's not a betrayal, it's not 'infidelity' They know that it's just sex.

    By and large women really do not have the same impersonal attitudes to sex to seperate from intimacy and heterosexual men will not expect their women to either.

    Posted by: Den | Jan 27, 2010 6:27:02 PM

  9. I think she's absolutely right, and it's not a gay/straight thing, but a man/woman thing. Men are just wired differently. Can we (men) be monogamous? Yes, but we're not wired to be so.

    Posted by: Dback | Jan 27, 2010 7:08:26 PM

  10. I would really appreciate a more open dialogue about this issue.

    I've been with my partner for 12 years, since I was in my senior year in high school. We have been almost entirely monogamous, but have brought in friends for thirds on very rare occasions... really only two different people at different times.

    Because of the length and stability of our relationship, I feel a great deal of pressure from society--both from our gay friends and from our straight friends--who see us as the model of a long term couple. I realize that no one asked me to nail myself onto the cross like this, but the reality is that it gets lonely. I love my partner and have no intention of leaving him or cheating on him, ever. But I also am a bit sad when I see how much fun all of my friends (and I mean, ALL) have by being able to explore more than one side of their sexual personality.

    I have no real sense of how many people are like us or how many people are not. Some people would not consider us monogamous (since technically, we've had some rare transgressions) but I mostly do, since that's basically how we behave in our default state 99.9% of the time.

    This is getting a bit off topic, but this seems like a dark secret that even gay society doesn't like to talk about. It feels very lonely because telling any friends about this situation or about my concerns around it is almost like coming out--like admitting that we're somehow failing at something I don't really feel like we're failing at.

    Posted by: Jason | Jan 27, 2010 7:33:31 PM

  11. If Elizabeth had said this, "the community" would be lynching her. Why are we giving Joy a pass?

    Posted by: Eric | Jan 27, 2010 7:41:16 PM

  12. ok, there's nothing wrong with monogamy, and nothing wrong with mutually-agreeable non-monogamy. Sheesh. There are plenty of non-monogamous straight relationships (I was in one for many years), but I'd go out on a limb to say that boys are more likely to be ok with that than girls. Thus, with gay relationships having twice as many boys as straight ones ... well, you get the point.

    I don't think anyone's trying to make any style of relationship "wrong." To each their own ... and I would hope gay folk, of all people, would adhere to that philosophy.

    It didn't seem to me that Joy was stating any of this as fact. She presented it as something she heard and opened it up for discussion. Great.

    Posted by: Zlick | Jan 27, 2010 7:46:51 PM

  13. How are statements that gays take monogamy less seriously than straights not constitute systemic discrimination and generalization of a group of people. These viewpoints are indicative of the hidden societal norms that lead people to believe that gays as a whole are prone to promiscuity moreso than straight people. People that believe these stereotypes allow for discrimination to occur by conceding to the majority group's negative classification of a minority class. This just shows how hard it is for us to argue for marriage equality when the majority of Americans can without so much as giving it a second thought as agree to these points of view.

    Posted by: Touchydpad | Jan 27, 2010 7:57:08 PM

  14. I dream of "outside sexual contact" with Dan Savage at least once a day.

    TANK: really like reading your comments.

    Posted by: MarkDC | Jan 27, 2010 8:08:32 PM

  15. I'll echo the comments of ZLICK and others.

    I was pleased that the 4 women (even Elizabeth!) had a reasonably adult and non-sensationalistic discussion of monogamy with few easy judgments thrown around. Sure, generalizations were made, but compared to the generalizations that are often made about us (see: Uganda, right-wing zealots etc.) these generalizations weren't far off base or intended to belittle.

    I think it's safe to say that men are less into monogamy than women, and that straight men would be more apt to stray from monogamy if they could do so as easily as gay men. And there are exceptions--everyone needs to define normal for themselves.

    From my own relationship experience, honesty is the key component. I don't mind a guy who wants to have sex with others, but I hate lying cheaters. Gay men have been more open about monogamy vs. non-monogamy in relationships in part because no one expected us to be monogamous until recently. It will be interesting to see if and how that changes as more gay couples are allowed to marry. A 20-something gay person today has a different lens to look thru than a 20-something did 10 or 20 years ago.

    As for our alleged sluttiness hurting our chances for marriage equality. Well, straight couples don't have much to get on their moral high horses about. They have every right to define the rules and boundaries of their relationships, and so should we.

    Posted by: Ernie | Jan 27, 2010 8:18:20 PM

  16. Joy Behar and Dan Savage aren't pro-polyamory. They're both Libras, which means they're both indecisive and non-committal as hell! Date one, and you'll understand. Savage rants incessantly on his podcast about this issue just to disguise his absolute fear that he has made the wrong decision.

    Posted by: FLS | Jan 27, 2010 8:55:10 PM

  17. It's always funny to me when someone tells the truth and the PC crowd gets all twisted into a knot.

    Posted by: DEREK WASHINGTON | Jan 27, 2010 9:28:14 PM

  18. But Elizabeth didn't say it, Joy did. She's a friend of teh ghey.

    I'm a little alarmed at the lack of comprehension skills on display here. Joy was clearly saying that gays don't fetishize monogamy the way straight folks tend to do. She was NOT saying we don't take our commitments seriously.

    Posted by: Scott | Jan 27, 2010 10:35:58 PM

  19. What's ludicrous is the view that straight people, particularly those who have the right to "marry" that we do not, are not in fact frequently serial cheaters. Tiger Woods, anyone? As though The Straight, married or not, are not promiscuous and kinky and everything else. It's a stupid and false assumption that it's just The Gay that is inherrently nonmonogomous.

    Posted by: So Left I'm Right | Jan 28, 2010 12:19:07 AM

  20. Monogamists view a relationship as a joint venture in which the partners agree to form a new entity together.

    Non-monogamists view a relationship as a strategic alliance in which the partners agree to cooperatively pursue a set of common goals while maintaining sexual independence.

    The former chooses a partner on the basis of how he views relationships, whereas the latter chooses a relationship on the basis of how he views his partner.

    One who does not hold that his partner is worth controlling his impulses, denying his immediate pleasure, or for reserving his intimacy does not hold him or relationships in much esteem.

    Posted by: bbg372 | Jan 28, 2010 12:42:11 AM

  21. @BBG372: "One who does not hold that his partner is worth controlling his impulses, denying his immediate pleasure, or for reserving his intimacy does not hold him or relationships in much esteem."

    But that whole controlling impulses/denying pleasure/reserving intimacy thing comes from religious BS.
    What if I don't WANT my husband to control his impulses, but love him so much that I want him to do whatever makes him happy?
    And I'm not so insecure that I need him to "reserve his intimacy" to prove that I'm NUMBER ONE.
    Intimacy takes many forms. Having sex with someone from outside our relationship does NOT compromise our "intimacy". I dare say it helps it. The fact that he is confident enough in himself and our bond that he doesn't try to control me in order to soothe his insecurities makes him extremely sexy, attractive, and desirable.
    16 years together and going strong. By far the best, least stressful, happiest relationship I've ever had.
    Every gay male couple we know who have lasted 10 years or longer (and some as long as 40) have some sort of "open" arrangement.

    Posted by: Happily Married | Jan 28, 2010 1:54:21 AM

  22. Denying Pleasure??? What kind of way is that to live? If my husband got killed in an earthquake tomorrow, I can assure you it would not be comforting to think of how many times he denied himself pleasure over the last year. I would much rather think "I am so glad he got to hook up with that Australian Lifeguard he met when we were on the cruise ship. He really enjoyed that and life is too short. Good for him."

    Posted by: Happily Married | Jan 28, 2010 2:05:11 AM

  23. Funny how if Hasselbeck would've said this, it might've made for a scandalous cover story in USA Today, but since Behar said it, people agree. I agree and I'm a gay Republican--go figure.

    Posted by: brt374 | Jan 28, 2010 2:38:19 AM

  24. If we're going to generalize, monogamy is a gender issue, not one of orientation. Regardless of whether you believe it's inborn or inculcated, throughout history and across cultures, women are far more likely than men to regard monogamy as symbolic of commitment. Historically, men's interest in monogamy has largely been about how to inflict it on others, as an expression of dominance.

    The LGBTQ issue here is not that gay men are often uninterested in monogamy, it's that we're disinterested parties in the war between the sexes. In fact, our relationships pose other, unique challenges to which straight people are generally oblivious.

    Posted by: Bryan | Jan 28, 2010 3:38:26 AM

  25. She's right, on balance. And we need to stop trying to win things by turning away from the truth (not that we should headline this). Still, if monogamy were a requirement for marriage, many heterosexual traditional marriages would founder as well. Marriage is about rights, responsibilities and duties; it has [not recently] legally equated to monogamy.

    Hey perhaps she's a Muslim! :)

    Posted by: Terry Miller | Jan 28, 2010 11:26:14 AM

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