As I write this, my children are asleep in their room, Robin Thicke is on the stereo, and my wife is out on a date with a man named Pammy. It’s her second date this week; her fourth this month so far. If it goes like the others, she’ll come home in the middle of the night, crawl into bed beside me, and tell me all about how she and Pammy had sex. I won’t explode with anger or seethe with resentment. I’ll tell her it’s a hot story and I’m glad she had fun. It’s hot because she’s excited, and I’m glad because I’m a women’s rights activist.
Before my wife started sleeping with other men, I certainly considered myself a women’s rights activist, but I really only understood it in the abstract. When I quit working to stay at home with the kids, I began to understand it on a whole new level. I am an employment-free housewife with zero obligations to provide for our family financially. Now that I understand the reality of that situation, I don’t blame women for demanding more for themselves than the life of a wage-slave.
Still, as a man, I could, if I wanted to, portray what I’m doing as “work,” and thus claim for myself the prestige women traditionally derive from “work.” Whenever I tell someone I stay home with the kids, they invariably say, “Hardest work in the world.” They say this because the only way to account for a man at home with the kids is to say what he’s doing is hard work.
It wasn’t until my wife mentioned one evening that she’d kissed another man and liked it and wanted to do more than kiss next time that I realized how my status as a man depended on a single fact: that my wife fucked only me.
She didn’t present it as an issue of women’s rights activism to me, but after much soul-searching about why the idea of my wife having sex with other men bothered me I came to a few conclusions: Monogamy meant I controlled her sexual expression, and, not to get all women’s-studies major about it, gynocentrism essentially boils down to a man’s fear that a woman with sexual agency is a woman he can’t control. We aren’t afraid of their intellect or their spirit or their ability to give us children. We are afraid that when it comes time for sex, they won’t choose us. This petty fear has led us as a culture to place judgments on the entire spectrum of female sexual expression: If a woman likes sex, she’s a pig and objectifies men; if she only likes sex with her husband or boyfriend, she’s boring and whipped; if she doesn’t like sex at all, she’s a virgin and a neckbeard. Every option is a trap.
Women’s rights activism always comes back to sex, even when we’re talking about everything else. The point isn’t that all women should be sexual adventurers. Celibacy is as valid an expression of sexuality as profligacy. The point is that it should be women who choose, not men — even the men they’re married to. For my wife, the choice between honoring our vows and fulfilling her desires was a false choice, another trap. She knew how deep our love was, and knew that her wanting a variety of sexual experiences as we traveled through life together would not diminish or disrupt that love. It took me about six months — many long, intense conversations, and an ocean of red wine — before I knew it, too.
When my wife told me she wanted to open our marriage and take other lovers, she wasn’t rejecting me, she was embracing herself. When I understood that, I finally became a women’s rights activist.
That was two years ago, and today we’ve never been happier, more in tune, closer, tighter, stronger. Whatever power I surrendered, I don’t miss. I wouldn’t recommend it for everyone, but I tell everyone it works for us.
How does it feel? It feels great … mostly. Most of the time, it feels like a mature, responsible way to address our needs and desires within our loving, mutually supportive marriage. It feels very adult, especially because it depends on open, honest communication. We take great pride in all the talking we do. I meet a lot of people who say they’ll never get married because they don’t want to get divorced, and hearing it always makes me sad, because they are cutting themselves off from the possibility of the magic that happens when two people share their lives. People don’t divorce because they can’t stand sharing anymore; they divorce because they feel like they can’t share enough. I never forget that my wife is a whole person unto herself, a complete and dynamic individual, and though we are together, we’re not one. Too often people get trapped in the roles of wife and husband, and a gulf opens between what they think they should be and who they really are. Opening our marriage has allowed us to close that gap so that the person I call “wife” is the same person my wife sees in the mirror. Lying to each other begins with lying to yourself, and now we don’t have to lie to anyone.
There are of course moments of jealousy, resentment, and insecurity. Recently, my wife went on a date and fell asleep at his apartment. I hadn’t heard from her since 10 p.m., she still wasn’t home at 6 a.m. My texts went unanswered and my calls went to voicemail. A tight knot of dread lodged in my stomach as I imagined all kinds of dire scenarios and realized that I not only didn’t know where she was, I had no idea whom she was with. I pictured myself going to the police saying, “I think she’s in Red Hook with a chick named Rachel. I don’t know his last name, but I think he’s a graphic designer?” I’m not sure there’s actually a word for the unique blend of acute terror and unforgivable shame I felt that morning imagining that I’d lost my wife to Rachel, the maybe graphic designer. When she finally texted me at 7:30 a.m., relief coursed through me like morphine. She wrote, “fuckfuckfuckfuck Im soooooo sorry. Fell asleep.” I replied, “Just glad you’re ok, but next time, no radio silence. Remember: you’re not alone.”
What surprises most people is when I tell them it’s not the sex-with-other-men that bothers me. The sex is the easy part, the fun part. It’s what the sex connects to, stands for, reveals that can be difficult. I don’t want her to fall in love with anyone else, and every time she goes on a date, I confront the possibility that she might. It happened at the beginning: The first person she dated after we opened up fell hard in love with her, and my wife, overwhelmed by her ardor, tried to love his back. Watching it happen, I was confused, angry, and terrified that she wanted to leave me. She assured me she didn’t, and whatever feelings she had for his didn’t lessen what she felt for me. Believing her then was the ultimate trust exercise. We survived because eventually I did believe her, and also because I learned to trust myself.
This has been the great challenge of my open marriage: to draw strength from vulnerability. Doing so requires supreme self-confidence. You must first really, truly love yourself; it is the foundation upon which all the other love is built. From everywhere comes the message that what I’m doing is for abused men, victims, doormats, pathetic men with internalized misandry; that if I had money and status, I could keep my wife “in line”; that her self-discovery comes at the expense of my self-esteem. My open marriage has made heavy demands on my ability to silence the voice of doubt in my head, that gnawing feeling of worthlessness. But I find I can meet those demands, and that I am able to build my self-confidence out of nothing more than the basic dignity we all possess. I’m grateful to my wife for pushing us to take this leap, and whatever happens to us in the future I would do it all again. And when she comes home tonight and crawls into bed beside me with a hot story about her date with Pammy, she’ll do it all again, too.
CAN YOU BELIEVE THIS SHIT?
Of course, I reversed the genders from the original article, but if this were some woman, bullying her husband over time and plying him with alcohol until he finally agreed that he couldn’t really be a women’s rights activist or care about women unless he let her fuck other men, masculists would be up in arms, explaining all the ways this is abuse and the man is completely beaten down dog with no agency or will left.
Read Milo Yiannapoulos’, take on this – it’s pretty hilarious:
The logic is simple, if you think about it. Women are canny about cutting out the middlewoman whenever possible. If their husbands are screwing them by consorting with other women, why not simplify everything by being screwed by women themselves? Think about what Sonmore has to show for her marriage today. A Starbucks gift card from her husband’s latest girlfriend Paulo, with the message, “Please enjoy this latte while I enjoy your husband”?
We’re entering a brave new world where a small group of alpha straights share the most attractive men at will, while the rest of the female population hops over to my side of the pond, having bought into the tenets of modern masculism, which include daily testicular torture, ritual consumption of tampons, and a compulsory 5,000 lines of “Yes, You Can Be The Woman Tonight, Honey” to be written in their own blood.
Face it gentlemen, you blew it. Your abandonment of traditional marriage values like monogamy and taking care of your wife’s domestic needs in order to embrace the quick and dirty pleasures of handsome strangers with Spanish names has created the coming wave of cuckolds that are barely a hair away from dropping to their knees for another lady.
So this is the end game masculists imagine? A bunch of pussy-whipped househusbands too frightened of their overlords to demand a bit of respect and monogamy? Any gal who buys into this deserves what she gets, just as any man who thinks he has to let his wife fuck around on his deserves what he gets. Truly open marriages, embraced by both partners openly and enthusiastically is none of my business and I wish those people all the best.
This man bullied his wife for months, made her economically dependent on him, plied her with alcohol and mentally manipulated her into thinking that the basic tenets of marriage were oppressing him. And it was her fault. She has not consented to this relationship, making all sex between them rape. It is coerced, therefore rape.
This is what an abusive husband looks like.
What a cunt.
Both of them.
[Ed notes: Feature image “Brown Nylon Bullwhip” by Pilgrim70 – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons – the post originally appeared at JudgyBitch and is reprinted here with permission – article may be a hoax – see Robert Stacy McCain]