Claiming your armchair
Wether in need of examples to bolster the fight for same-sex marriage or boost one's spirits in the face of disillusioning high-profile failures of monogamous marriage, one need only look to Judith Stacey.
The sociology professor at New York University is something of an expert on alternatives, having spent more than a decade studying everything from "monogamish" arrangements among gay men in California to polygamy in South Africa to nonmonogamous, matriarchal households in southwest China.
[. . .]
She isn't recommending a break from tradition for everyone and, while she may have utopist leanings, she doesn't actually expect Americans to suddenly reject amorous restriction in favor of free love. She just wants people to be a little more honest, with themselves and their partners, about what they want and need -- regardless of whether that's a "Big Love"-esque arrangement or strict sexual exclusivity. In that sense, she falls right in line with Dan Savage who preached about the same ideal of romantic truthfulness in a much-talked-about piece in last weekend's New York Times Magazine. (Tracy Clark-Flory, “Scouring the globe for sex advice,” Salon, 9 July 2011)
There is no way that Judith Stacey was going to look at other "cultures" and find anything actually mostly sickly. No matter what she found there, you know all she would allow herself to see was variation we can learn from. This is not a person who is going to learn much from experience because experience is under the control of her expectations -- or rather more precisely, of her INTENTIONS. She is not an armchair anthropologist/sociologist, but something worse: someone whose truths suffer not from not actually being there, but from mostly being there to entrench her a more comfortable claim to her armchair.
Other "cultures" essentially are now mostly spiritual places in which liberal anthropologists draw mana to inflate their own privilege and deflect the masses. You are there to collect a predictable resource. It's not about learning, science, but recharging and sacred rite.
I think at this point, most of us actually sense this -- even many liberals who go along with her. What she offers are "truths" that can be expected to irritate monogamy-worshipping mundanes -- you can hear their shreaks while you soberly lay out your arguments; ostensibly blunt truths that ACTUALLY SEEM, that MOSTLY SCREAM transcendent ideals rather than fact. Grounded in to-the-earth anthropology, but the point is to make one feel afloat and removed. "Yes, these conclusions are actually completely untethered to reality; but since they give such ground for authority, we are nevertheless ably existing amidst them. Alas, not so with you, my friend. And note, if we catch sight of you, know that we know we possess the art to abstract you out or to obliterate you within a quick massing of your ignorances and prejudices."
@_bigguns, @Patrick McEvoy-Halston
And your excerpt regarding her "fact-free exposition" - I almost pulled that one myself. Great minds think alike! Or sane ones.
Speaking of examples from the animal kingdom, a good friend of mine studied physical anthropology in the 80's. She told me how in the late 80's, all of a sudden, all of the animals became gay. In other words, the Leftists began to use zoology to support the gay agenda. "Oh, look, two male bonobos are fucking, that must mean that we are all gay!"
Patrick McEvoy-Halston: You nailed it.
Salon has become a parody of itself. This is a very strange phenomenon, but I now come to Salon Letters for the same reason that I used to come to Salon - for stimulating conversation, and new and interesting ideas, and insights. None of that comes from Salon staff anymore. Instead, Salon staff writes the stupidest, most insane bullshit this side of Lenin, and the readers contribute interesting, insightful, stimulating conversation. It's like sitting at a table with world-class chefs at McDonalds, poring over McRib sandwiches and Big Macs. Oh, how these burgers could be so much better! (An expert)