Four, gay, straight, same difference. In making his case, Srivastava references the opinions of three experts – all of them male and gay, including Anderson – and claims that what works for male-male couples holds true for heterosexuals. And thereby sidesteps the glaring fact that straight couples carry enormous cultural expectations about marriage and gender.
In a blistering critique of Anderson’s males-only research methodology, Guardian’s Catherine Hakim notes that most of the straight subjects in his males-only study “certainly did not want their partner to have the same privilege.” Hence their preference for old-fashioned infidelity which allows a man to exercise his age-old prerogative while safeguarding his woman’s chastity. A heterosexual male’s desire for variety hardly makes a compelling case for a truly open relationship. And a relationship that involves two men doesn’t tell you much about the equation when a woman is involved.
Five, kids don’t matter. As Hakim notes: “In effect, Anderson is promoting the gay sexual credo as equally valid for heterosexuals, most of whom will have children sooner or later… He has no idea whether this could work for everyone, for married people, for women with lively young children who are too tired for sex even with their spouse.”
Srivastava too brushes past the issue of children as one of the “potentially thorny issues” that he claims will “recede” once you make the leap. But children need a stable and predictable home. When male philanderers roamed far and wide, it was the job of the woman to ensure the same. Even in these more enlightened times, all couples, gay or straight, become more “conservative” once they have kids.
The reality is that there is no “right” or “wrong” when it comes to our sex life — it is what it is. Society offers us a menu of choices, limited by its norms and conventions; each offering an imperfect solution to our contradictory impulse to bond and to stray. And we choose what works (most of the time) for us. It is absurd to uphold one option over others – because it is more moral, ‘natural’, healthy etc – be it infidelity, open relationships or monogamy.
We want what we want (or think we want) – and we deal with our desires in our own fashion, sometimes well, sometimes not. Sex is messy, unpredictable, complicated and deeply personal. Kinda like life. And, sorry, we can never have it all.