Gordon Pearson responds to Mark McCormack.
After sharing Mark’s article with my friends on Facebook, I got into a lengthy ‘discussion’ with a female friend of mine. She and I discussed the points of the article and debated the point Mark was trying to make. For a while, I simply didn’t realize we were arguing about completely different things, being that our male and female brains were viewing the subject from entirely different angles. She was arguing against cheating; I was arguing for open relationships. In the end, we found that our views were very similar, but our focus was very different.
We agreed that “consenting adults should be able to have whatever type of relationship works best for them … open, monogamous, multiple partners, etc.” But she insisted that the article “supports sexist, negative societal attitudes.” Basically, she felt that the author supports cheating, or more specifically, male cheating.
I don’t think he is supporting sexism, I think he is using men as a reference point (seeing as he is a man and it’s from his point of view). He did not say that only men should be free to have sex with multiple partners. (I went back and re-read to see if I missed something along those lines.) That, to me, would mean that women should be allowed the opportunity to have multiple partners, if they so choose, without being judged. (I agree with equal opportunity, lol.)
Because of this, I first need to dispute the title of the article Mark McCormack wrote. I argue against cheating, but I support open relationships (if a couple chooses that). Which isn’t me screaming, “I want an open relationship.” I don’t know if I could even handle an open relationship. But, I think that option comes down to the relationship you have with your partner. I’ve known people who love each other very much but both view sex as something that doesn’t need to stay between the two of them.
The article wasn’t really about the subject to which it opened up my thought patterns, but it certainly was thought-provoking. Everyone wants intimacy at some point. The problem lies in what each of us designate as intimate. I feel there are various forms of intimacy. We can be intimate with friends considering the thoughts and feelings we share with them, and we can be intimate with lovers considering the emotions and experiences we share.
So, are all forms of sex intimate? Are passionate sex and romantic sex meant to be valued on the same scale? Can we hold them in a different regard? If kissing in different ways can mean different things, can having sex in different ways be equally viewed as having different meanings that shouldn’t be judged indiscreetly?
I don’t believe men “require” multiple sex partners; it’s a matter that they “desire’ multiple sex partners, even if only subconsciously. It’s more of a desire for men to think they can have another woman. I think the movie Hall Pass did a good job of providing an example of that. Therein a therapist explained to the two wives that men need to learn “how good they have it” by trying to go out and get another woman, only to learn they really don’t have what it takes and then come crawling back. The problem was that the men found that they could have other women, but still chose to come back to their wives instead. I think this would result in a split among men, not all would come back without “scoring.” But also in that movie, one of the wives took the opportunity to sleep with another man and regretted it.
I would agree with Mark that as love grows, (sometimes) sex becomes less frequent. I agree with this due to personal experience and observations of friends’ relationships. My friend said it best, “People often have other demands on their time and attention, which take precedence for at least a little while (children, careers, financial responsibilities, caring for aging parents, etc.).” But Mark does not address the fact that sexual activity is often replaced with other rewarding activities. Even without each of the reasons she stated above (the most common), frequency diminished. Still, I think it would make sense to say that in many instances, sex is replaced with other types of intimacy, other hobbies, or activities that they can both be passionate about and enjoy and use to strengthen their bond.
For the purposes of an article, I can understand why the author would generalize a statement such as “the sexual need of men and women are inherently different.” In most speaking terms, he’s addressing the societal view of men vs. women. Society portrays men as sex-crazed women chasers. An accepted view is one in which women are portrayed as sexually conservative and/or prude, it is often unacceptable for a woman to have multiple partners. (A “nice” double standard, huh?) Another societal standard to use as a point of reference would be to assume that a man is less of a man for not having multiple partners before getting married, and then in turn calling a woman any number of insults for having multiple partners prior to getting married. Accepted standards are just the reference point of the argument.
The needs of any individual vary for as many people you question. I think it would be impossible to say that any two people have exactly the same desires or expectations from any relationship. But we seek out people who have reasonably similar desires. I know men who are less sexually active simply due to a lack of desire or libido; they may simply just be satisfied with occasional sex with their partner. On that same note, I know several women who have an incredible sexual appetite; some wish they could seek more outside their relationships, while others simply “take care of it” themselves. These examples are against the portrayed societal norm. However, they are probably equally as likely as any other example.
The excuses he made for cheating were a very poor argument. You cannot love someone if you cheat on them! Love is tantamount on respect. If you cheat, you do not respect your partner. If you do not respect them, you cannot possibly love them.
To me, his article was just a proposition of a possible upcoming, acceptable counterculture, the acceptance of people who do not heed the “norm.” People who wish to be able to have a lasting emotional relationship with one individual, while not being judged for continuing to have sexual encounters outside of their romantic relationship. Younger generations are already allowing themselves to be single longer and hold less criticism for people who have regular “hook-ups.”