Conference on the Future of Monogamy and Nonmonogamy


Monogamy as a Feature of Western Identity: Occidentalism vs Orientalism

Ahmad Fayad

There is a continuing debate regarding why people within the "modern western world" are so fiercely defensive of the principle of monogamy, even those who do not personally practice it, do not live up to its ideals, nor even particularly enjoy it.  One theory that may help us understand the source of such impassioned and emotional defensiveness of monogamy is the possibility  that the ideal of monogamy is one component of the constructed concept of a "western" identity - a discernable group of people who are distinct from and (supposedly) superior to all other cultural groups - most particularly "oriental" people of the Middle East, Western Asia, and Africa. It may be that, at least at some level, a perception exists that to abandon the fierce defense of the ideal of monogamy  is perceived as a being tantamount to abandoning the claim that Western people as somehow unique, special, and superior to all others, and doing so is emotionally unacceptable to a large segment of the contemporary Western population.