Monogamy’s police

31 Jan


Wandering eyes


I saw an advertisement on television the other day in which a man, thinking himself unobserved,  is “caught” by his wife looking longingly at a young woman. The wife’s face assumes an expression of furious exasperation, of the kind that infers the intense frustration of one who knows they have little control over such situations, that is, the male randomly desiring gaze, yet will not, ever, give up seeking that control.

When the husband realises he’s been “caught” he cringes with guilt, averts his gaze, then attempts to placate his aggravated wife with a shrug intended to convey his both his apology, and his helplessness in the face of his nature.

What I immediately saw in this small scenario was a deeply embedded heterosexual cultural belief that it is wrong for men to look at women other than their partners with admiration or any form of desire, and it is the female partner’s job to police his gaze and wrangle him back under control.

Frankly, I’m sick to death of this infantilising by women of men. They are such children they must be micro managed and surveilled by their female partners to the point where looking at another woman is a cause for her anger and his guilt? Are even children subjected to such an intensity of repressive surveillance?

Haven’t we got anything better to do? I mean, really. Haven’t we? We must be mummy-wives for our entire lives?

According to the advertising industry, which one imagines has its finger on the majority pulse, yes we must.

I’m not sure about how this works in reverse. There is a prevalent myth that women are not as visually sexually stimulated as are men, so our gaze is not as inclined to wander. However, I would vigorously contest that myth. I think women are very capable of experiencing and enjoying visual stimulation, but we aren’t supposed to be. It’s another of those culturally imposed gendered beliefs that are attributed to biology, the “nature” of things, essentialism: men get turned on by looking, women don’t. It’s elephant shit. I speak with the authority of personal experience. So instead of watching who he’s watching, get some visual pleasure of your own.

Apart from all that, the idea of being constantly watched by a partner when we’re out and about, just to see who I’m looking at so I can be brought under control is, quite frankly, absolutely creepy.

We are rightly infuriated when women are blamed for being raped because of what we wear, where we go, whether we’re drunk or sober. Rape is the rapist’s responsibility, not ours. Yet at the same time, women are encouraged in monogamous heterosexual culture to believe we have sole responsibility for controlling the male gaze and what that gaze might lead to, because he can’t be trusted to do it himself. Apparently many of us accept this responsibility and in the acceptance, enable the man-child, not the man.

If heterosexual monogamy needs this much policing by women, it’s a failed project.  Struth, any relationship with policing at its core is a failed project, isn’t it?

I can’t remember what that ad I saw was for. I can only remember the ludicrous content. So epic fail in that project too,  advertisers.





19 Responses to “Monogamy’s police”

  1. helvityni January 31, 2015 at 8:31 am #

    Things are going to change, Jennifer. I saw Janet Hardy on The Drum last night , she’s written a book about Polyamory, I can’t wait to be polyamorous…

    I have always noticed and been drawn to take another look at anything beautiful, attractive, whatever it is, a man, woman, baby, house, ,painting, flower, building…a dog even…

    When walking about the town, hubby might comment on the cleavage of a young woman, whilst I might take note of her nice hair-cut…he does not notice the good-looking, charming(?) young men, I always do, sometimes even the older ones, they might have few wrinkles, but they are the ones, who ARE charming… 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • Jennifer Wilson January 31, 2015 at 8:35 am #

      Oh, Helvi, I hope you’re right, because things are dismal as they are. I can’t wait to be polyamorous either, challenging as it will be….and to be forbidden to look at beauty, well, nothing is worth that fate

      I see Janet Hardy has written a book titled “The Ethical Slut” Rarely have I envied a title so much!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Elisabeth January 31, 2015 at 8:56 am #

    The trouble with polyamory – much as I,too, might like the idea – is that someone always winds up having to bear the weight of the jealousy that gets stirred up on one side or the other. But at least it’s good if we can recognise that jealousy is not gender based, it’s human and can be provoked, denied or tolerated.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jennifer Wilson January 31, 2015 at 9:08 am #

      Yes, well I have this theory about jealousy and monogamy about which I intend to write…!


      • Michaela Tschudi January 31, 2015 at 11:46 am #

        Looking forward to reading about your theory.

        You wrote “instead of watching who he’s watching, get some visual pleasure of your own”. Hear hear. Life’s too short to deny ourselves that pleasure.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Jennifer Wilson January 31, 2015 at 2:40 pm #

          And this is why we understand each other so well – the shortness of life, the pleasure to be shared. Bad girls, lol.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Michaela Tschudi January 31, 2015 at 3:11 pm #

            Indeed. We should have prosecco for lunch and dinner, followed by a spa with mountain views each evening. 🍸🍸🍸

            Liked by 1 person

  3. paul walter January 31, 2015 at 9:52 am #

    This is punchy, an exploration written by an adult, of sensitive issues that wouldn’t get much attention or sympathy from certain pockets of both the male and female populations and would be included for thought also by thinking gay people.

    There seems much out of balance in society as to sexuality.
    I wonder at men who cant understand women and never get to see enjoymernt on their partners faces. I wonder at women who reach forty never having climaxed and then discover to their amazement that they can “enjoy”, in the multiple.

    . Jennifer’s comments re “womens policing” probably derive of an intuition within many women of being cheated. Being denied themselves, through a sort of wall of silence that they seem to have to crash through to achieve a right balance and fulfillment in bed means
    some will “police”, if they are denied access to fulfilment themselves.

    Elisabeth provides another perfect contextual balance with her comment, that validates the thread starter definitionally. The feelings involved are complex, intense and counterproductive situations revolving around conflict can arise.

    Im past sixty now. For about most of my adult life Ive seen sex matters as a sort of “permanent becoming”.. things change, yet nothing changes, perhaps because intense, perhaps overwhelming or disempowering emotions have people backing away in discouragement when the delicate balance needed for people to be comfortable with each other is somehow transgressed, at a moment, precluding enjoyment, leaving a sense of thwarted discouragement and embarrassment.


    • Jennifer Wilson January 31, 2015 at 2:43 pm #

      PW, we are practically destroyed by the chains of ideology and morality, hung about our tiny bodies from our birth. It’s a miracle any of us ever enjoy anything.


  4. Di Pearton January 31, 2015 at 10:30 am #

    BRILLIANT!! Thank you 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. doug quixote January 31, 2015 at 6:37 pm #

    My mother reported to me that my grandfather (born 1870) often said “If a man can’t look he might as well be dead!” She approved of that quote. When my aunt said to her “Doesn’t a man look nice in a suit?” my mother’s reply was “Doesn’t a man look nice!”


    Liked by 1 person

    • Jennifer Wilson January 31, 2015 at 8:09 pm #

      I see you come from a long line of healthy people DQ 🙂


      • doug quixote January 31, 2015 at 10:18 pm #

        Yes, one owes a lot to choosing one’s ancestors well!

        I should note that the grandfather in question was on my father’s side of the family, not my mother’s. I think they got on well, though she was 42 years younger than him. There were a number of very interesting people in the extended family tree.


  6. Michael Barnett January 31, 2015 at 11:55 pm #

    A mature relationship should be capable of each partner being able to confidently remark on the appeal of others. I believe it is a sign of insecurity when one or both partners get jealous of the other ‘window shopping’.

    I know the sexual dynamics are different in same-sex relationships, and even jealousies etc do occur in same-sex relationships, but speaking from personal experience, I believe it strengthens a relationship when both partners in the relationship can share their enjoyment of others and in fact makes it a healthier relationship.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jennifer Wilson February 1, 2015 at 8:13 am #

      I agree with you about the sharing of enjoyment. Hard as it can sometimes be, for mine it is usually the opening of doors rather than the closing that deepens intimacy.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Toni Blackmore February 1, 2015 at 7:08 pm #

    Ugh! Note to oglers and ogler wranglers:
    If your affect can be interpreted as “longing” you’re crossing lines you’re probably too self involved and stupid to even know exist. The subject of your longings almost certainly feels repulsed by your intrusive, unlooked-for reverie. Yik! Have some respect asshat. And your wife? What in the living fxck makes her think there’s any dignity in enduring life with someone who’s clearly as bad a match as you? Wifey needs to grow a spine and some self respect, get some politics, and leave.


  8. Mindy February 9, 2015 at 1:32 pm #

    It is fun to nudge himself and whisper “sprung!” when I catch him looking. More often than not his reply is “can you blame me?”. He does have good taste in nice looking ladies. I don’t see anything wrong in admiring someone with a nice shape, as long as you don’t do it in a way which makes them feel uncomfortable. The human form is beautiful. I don’t have an issue with him looking, and he often points out nice looking young men for me to ogle. Although sometimes he is way off the mark.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jennifer Wilson February 9, 2015 at 8:44 pm #

      The human form is indeed beautiful, and I would hate to be made to feel guilty about looking ar it.


    • Michael Barnett February 9, 2015 at 10:36 pm #

      A delightful arrangement, and lovely that he keeps an eye out for guys for you. Perhaps give him a hand to refine his skills?


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