Many felt disgust with former vice presidential candidate John Edwards for cheating on his terminally ill wife Elizabeth Edwards. In the process of his affair, Edwards fathered a child with his mistress, Rielle Hunter. Rielle is now one of the most hated women in America.
But according to evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins, men having mistresses is not what is immoral, but the rather the notion of monogamy (rooted in our evolved desire for faithfulness) is what is immoral.
I want to raise another question that interests me. Why are we so obsessed with monogamous fidelity in the first place?
The underlying presumption — that a human being has some kind of property rights over another human being’s body — is unspoken because it is assumed to be obvious. But with what justification?
In one of the most disgusting stories to hit the British newspapers last year, the wife of a well-known television personality, Chris Tarrant, hired a private detective to spy on him. The detective reported evidence of adultery and Tarrant’s wife divorced him, in unusually vicious style. But what shocked me was the way public opinion sided with Tarrant’s horrible wife. Far from despising, as I do, anybody who would stoop so low as to hire a detective for such a purpose, large numbers of people, including even Mr. Tarrant himself, seemed to think she was fully justified. Far from concluding, as I would, that he was well rid of her, he was covered with contrition and his unfortunate mistress was ejected, covered with odium. The explanation of all these anomalous behavior patterns is the ingrained assumption of the deep rightness and appropriateness of sexual jealousy. It is manifest all the way from Othello to the French “crime passionnel” law, down to the “love rat” language of tabloid newspapers.
From a Darwinian perspective, sexual jealousy is easily understood…. Sexual jealousy may in some Darwinian sense accord with nature, but “Nature, Mr. Allnutt, is what we are put in this world to rise above.”
Dawkins to all wives: rise above your evolved nature to feel betrayed when hubby has a mistress. You being jealous is immoral and selfish. Instead, rise above your jealousy and selfishness and be more altruistic by letting him have his fun.
Why should you deny your loved one the pleasure of sexual encounters with others, if he or she is that way inclined?
I, for one, feel drawn to the idea that there is something noble and virtuous in rising above nature in this way.
In the Bible, a virtuous woman is wise and does her husband good all his days. Dawkins now redefines what it means for a wife to do good for her husband. A good wife should let her man have a mistress if he so chooses.
And why don’t we all admire — as I increasingly do — those rare free spirits confident enough to rise above jealousy, stop fretting about who is “cheating on” whom,
And finally it might be OK if hubby publicly lies about the affair:
Bill Clinton was impeached not for sexual misconduct but for lying about it. But he was entitled to lie about his private life: one could even make a case that he had a positive duty to do so.
heatherdalgleish at Greta Christina’s Freethought Blog
who inspired me to post this article
HT: unnamed friends doing superior intelligence gathering