Male sexual possessiveness is enforced in the sexual contract. In this way, combined with male socialization, men feel entitled to full access to and use of women’s bodies as property whether for reproductive/domestic or purely sexual purposes. This leads to claims like,”Men need sex more than women,” or “Women should provide sex to their men,” and so on. One man even created a spreadsheet of all the excuses his wife gave him. Anyone who objects to the spreadsheet itself needs to realize it is just a documented form of the shit women commonly have to put up with in association with men – namely, sexual harassment.
It is interesting to note that polygamy is now rebranded as “polyamory” and in turn, polyamory is seen as a revolutionary and liberating thing, especially in the sex-positive community which overlaps with kinksters, trans/queer people, and porn users. This erases the oppressive agent which is male, since both monogamy and polyamory are means to control women. Even polyamory can be used to exploit women as a reserve of labor for emotionally immature, irresponsible or commitment-phobic men. To wit:
“Polyamory is a way that heterosexual men can “hedge”, or invest, in various women, to the degree that they want to, and benefit from the returns until the investment is no longer worthwhile. There are many things that can make the investment become less worthwhile -when women start to ask for something in return, or demand more emotional, social, or sexual accountability, or transparency, or care activity. The polyamorous hedge then becomes a shield against accountability, and a guarantee that there is other attention to exploit without having to really offer anything back. Should the return gain fail on one relationship, or should you be asked to be accountable for your actions with that woman, or invest more by caring more, you have created other relationships to fall back on and reap gains from. Hedging is utterly objectifying, exploitative, and violent.”
The above is what I think illustrates the appeal of polyamory to men and why they are so enthusiastic about it. Coincidentally, the lack of accountability is one of the same reasons given for why men use prostituted women – they “just want sex” and a variety of sexual partners without the risk of rejection or conditions from women.
As for the whole faithfulness thing, it’s been a given for a long time under monogamy, too, it was women who were supposed to be faithful, while men could go out and fuck as many women as they wanted to – the idea being that it was women who were supposed to care and be accountable to their partner. Especially since marriage has historically been about procreation and continuing the paternal line, with the burden of childrearing put on the women’s shoulders. And then we wonder why so many marriages are doomed to failure and some partners encourage polyamory as a way of having multiple sex partners without having to give up the privileges or benefits of being married.
There’s nothing I have against polyamory in and of itself, or on an individual basis. It sounds great in theory and in ideal practice. But in context – do you know of anywhere that allows women to have multiple husbands or partners, especially where polygamy is also allowed? I don’t.
Now that we’ve got polyamory out of the way, let’s talk more about male sexual possessiveness. Specifically, in regards to the sex industry.
There are a number of men who object to their mothers, sisters, daughters, wives or girlfriends doing porn or being a sex worker. Yes, deep down partly it is because they know the sex industry is harmful. But on another level it is about claiming sexual ownership over women in competition with other men, women still being another thing to get and keep a hold on: “My women won’t be in the sex industry! I don’t want a woman who takes dick for a living!” even as they jerk off to or use women who do that very thing. It says much more about the men than it does about the women since they are really showing compartmentalization of “good” vs. “bad” types of women. Even if they say they “love” women, they confirm their prejudice that women in the sex industry deserve to be there for their use, because they “chose” to be there. However, treating women with benevolent instead of hostile sexism is not a reward; it still comes with a price, even if it’s not always a physically violent one. Emotional and sexual abuse (including sexual harassment), and economic and emotional dependency are no less harmful when in the context of marriage or a relationship than in the sex industry.
In fact, a few feminist theories exist which state that men who jerk off to porn, use prostituted women, or engage in threesomes (the other partner being male) are using the woman’s body as a prop so the men can relate to each other. While not always about “homophobes are really closeted gays” (a tired cliche that erases straight homophobia) it is still about male bonding on an emotional, sexual level. Both men are “conquering” the woman, they are competing with one another to see who can degrade her the most. A few men even admit that they see it as a way in which they most able to feel solidarity with other men. The fact that men who jerk off to women in porn are also the ones that sexually harass them is another form of male bonding and affirmation of male supremacy and masculinity.
“The homoeroticism of group rape was pointed out in one of the first scholarly treatments of group rape, by Blanchard (1959), who commented that “the idea of ‘sharing the girl among us fellows,’ congregating around a common sexual object, and being sexually stimulated together as a group certainly have their homosexual implications” (p. 259). Similarly, in her ethnographic study of fraternity culture, Sanday (1990) commented on the obvious homoeroticism in the widespread practice of “pulling train”: “A group of men watch each other having sex with a woman who may be unconscious. One might well ask why the woman is even necessary for the sexual acts these men stage for one another” (p. 12).Sanday goes further in describing the preoccupation with homosexuality, and playing out of homosexual feelings, that she observed in fraternity culture. For example, in a common ritual known as the “circle dance,” the “brothers” circle around, arm in arm and sometimes naked, going faster and faster until they lose control and fall down atop each other; brothers periodically step into the middle of the circle and mime sexual and/or lewd acts, including homosexual intercourse. Similarly, she found the brothers to be preoccupied with oral sex, which one fraternity man acknowledged as containing “more homoerotic potential” than heterosexual intercourse (p. 123).The reframing of a homoerotic activity as a demonstration of heterosexuality is doubly ironic in that men who do not participate are accused of being gay. Indeed, one way men in hypermasculine environments reassure themselves of their heterosexuality — and masculinity — is through constant antigay banter and harassment. In recent years, fraternities have sported slogans such as “Drink Beer, Kill Queers” and “Club Faggots, Not Seals” on T-shirts, on rubber stamps for partygoers’ hands, and on their buses (Nardi & Bolton, 1991, p. 355; National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, 1992, p. 20).Some rape scholars (e.g., Groth & Birnbaum, 1979; O’Sullivan, 1991) dispute the notion that group rape is homoerotic, saying it is less about sexual desire than about power, domination, and male bonding. Indeed, for many men the experience is strikingly nonerotic; men often do not ejaculate, and they frequently use objects in place of penises (O’Sullivan, 1991). In these contexts, like in some acts of individual rape, the penis is used as a symbol of male power, to conquer, degrade, and feminize.Rather than being a homoerotic experience, the [group] rape may be experienced by participants as a dramatic contest in which one’s peers evaluate one’s sexual, or masculine, prowess.”
With the homoerotic implications above, I’m reminded of the homophobic idea that the bottom is the one considered to be gay, and in some tribes oral sex is an act which affirms masculinity by imbibing sperm as the “male essence” (women are used for reproduction); additionally, ancient Greece where an older soldier was paired up with a younger one, preferably also lovers to ensure morale in battle (also not homosexuality but usually rape and pedophilia). It was about dominating other males by virtue of the dominator’s higher status in class or age. The same author goes on to state:
“Although antigay violence is nonerotic, it remains a public dramatization of sexuality. Whereas group rape is ostensibly an enactment of heterosexuality, in that the actors perform sexually with females, gaybashers are proclaiming their sexuality in contradistinction to homosexuality. Thus, the two forms of violence are opposite sides of the same coin — the public enactment of heterosexual masculinity. This explains why one rarely encounters misogyny or heterosexism in the absence of the other.”
And really, while it has been an advertising tactic to get men to empathize if they consider the women in the sex industry as possibly being their mothers, sisters, daughters, wives or girlfriends – why should they have to? It is just another way of confirming women’s worth only in relation to men and hence the privileges they gain by having intimate association with them. I’d say “also their human dignity” but this is supposed – women are objectified as a class. Creating subclasses of “less worthy” women reinforces that hierarchy and divides women against each other. It prevents them from seeing that no matter what, they are still below men in that hierarchy.