Posts Tagged ‘monogamy’


So goes the tagline of The Ashley Madison Agency, ‘the world’s premier discreet dating service’.

But really, what they mean don’t they, is life is long, so long. A marriage, a monogamous sexual relationship, can seem like it goes on forever and ever into the horizon of time. And one of the key reasons people have affairs is to break up the monotony, interrupt the never-ending trudge through life and love.


I only know about Ashley Madison, because more than one person has recently alerted me to the fact that there is someone with a profile on there, who goes by the name, Quiet Riot Girl. This means more than one person I know has a profile on Ashley Madison! I can assure you now that this QRG isn’t me. I wouldn’t go on a dating site specifically geared towards the concept of ‘having an affair’, and all the cliches that go along with that. Even the picture on the front page of the website is offputting, with its blurred image of a lusty lady in black lingerie, ravishing a handsome, topless man behind a standard issue hotel room door. This is old-fashioned adultery, Mills and Boon Style.  Not to mention the fact their ‘Affair Guarantee’  subscription costs a mind-boggling £250!! You could buy a session with a very accomplished sex worker for that. Or a stereo. Or a set of these …

This week I also saw a new book advertised, called Against Love, by Laura Kipnis. It defends ‘adultery’ against the impossible backdrop of the monogamous sexual relationship and deconstructs romantic love, particularly the kind which leads us into long term relationships (or LTRs as Internet Men like to call them).

‘Ever optimistic, heady with love’s utopianism’,  writes Kipnis, ‘most of us eventually pledge ourselves to unions that will, if successful, far outlast the desire that impelled them into being. The prevailing cultural wisdom is that even if sexual desire tends to be a short-lived phenomenon, nevertheless, that wonderful elixir “mature love” will kick in just in time to save the day, once desire flags’ . But she asks, is ‘cutting off other possibilities of romance and sexual attraction while there’s still some dim chance of attaining them in favor of the more muted pleasures of “mature love”  similar to voluntarily amputating a healthy limb?’

I don’t know if Against Love is any good but it would leave you a damn sight more change from £250 than the Ashley Madison Guaranteed Affair Package.

I have encountered many, many men looking for affairs, online. I have met some of them. I haven’t knowingly fucked any of them, though. Despite their cries of NO STRINGS ATTACHED and MUST BE DISCREET! and NOTHING SERIOUS! they have actually all put me off by being too needy, too conflicted, too fucked up. Some of them seem to think that if their partner found out they were contemplating fucking another woman (I suspect quite a few don’t actually put their money, or their dick, where their mouth is), the information would literally kill her.  In these cases I always hope that in fact she is doing the postman, and not giving a shit whether or not her fella discovers them at it on the dining room table, one night when he comes home from work. But that’s just me.

I met one such conflicted individual, a beautiful man with the deepest blue eyes I have ever seen, after performing webcam wanking for him a few times. It seemed we may aswell actually meet, after sharing something so, intimate (and for me that out of character, abstracted exhibitionism was surprisingly, sensuously intimate. He told me how amazing my cunt looked; nobody had told me that before). We went for a drink in the sunshine. I walked him back to his car. As I leaned against his strong, thick body, and started to feel a bulge in his trousers, as I caught my breath, just as I was about to let myself go, I spotted out of the corner of my eye, two tiny car seats in the back of his car. The ghosts of his children were watching and I could not go through with it (whatever ‘it’ was going to be).

I have also been ‘unfaithful’ myself. I wasn’t very discreet about it, though, because it was an act of calculated revenge, against a partner who was involved with someone else, a predator I was well aware of. I wanted my boyfriend to know and suffer like I was suffering, or what would be the point? All is fair in love and war. Looking back I regret being such a dickhead, and not trying to talk to my partner more frankly about the situation we found ourselves in. We might have been able to, I don’t know, have a more ‘open’ arrangement, instead of enacting some kind of Jackie Collins storyline. I also regret being a prize arsehole towards the guy I had the affair with. His very existence reminded me of my guilt, and I made it clear I resented him for that reminder, whilst fucking him all the same. But I don’t regret the actual sexual infidelity. The orgasms were too frequent and too delicious, the warmth and release of genuine mutually satisfying sex too real, for me to regret.

I am no fan of the myth of heterosexual monogamy. I cast no judgement on those who try, but fail to live within its chilly confines.  She who lives in a glass house, etc. But some men, when talking to me, as a potential ‘other woman’, come across so arrogant, so cocksure, as if their straying will boost their egos, score them some Man points, stick one to the bitch, that they rarely appeal to me. They also seem convinced that I am a certain type of woman, not the pure and therefore offensively unfulfilling type that lives with them (and not the type that would have any moral or ethical standards either). No, I am the Other, the desirable and at the same time undesirable, the deviant and therefore unloveable whore. So the last thing I want to do is have sex with them, not for free, anyway.

Suck a lie with a hole in it. Paranoia for lunch. Guilt, a sick, green tint… Carol Ann Duffy may be the Queen’s Official Poet Laureate, a respectable role indeed, penning odes to footballers’ injuries and hung parliaments, but she also knows a thing or two about Adultery  , and not, I believe, from the ‘innocent victim’s’ point of view either. Though it is worth remembering that so does David Beckham and his achilles, and so do many politicians, not to mention members of the royal family! If Prince Charles, gawky heir to the throne, couldn’t keep his trousers on, married to the beautiful, starry-eyed people’s princess, how were the rest of us mortals, tethered to much less incandescent beings, supposed to remain moral and upstanding?

TS Eliot was right. Life is very long. (Between the desire and the spasm, between the potency and the existence, between the essence and the event falls the shadow…)

It seems even longer, and harder to endure, when we turn it into a test of our virtues, or a punishment for our (or our lovers’) sins. Ashley Madison Agency is a lying, cheating dog, full of false  promises and cheap, empty hotel rooms. There are never any guarantees. Just all these sweet moments strung together: pearls on a princess’s necklace. Why turn them sour? Why pay for the privilege?

As Elizabeth Jennings has pleaded, so I echo her plea:  life’s a delight: each of us a joy, whether in or out of love. No-one should ever be used for use, was what I was thinking of.

Wayne Rooney has had reason to cry like a baby recently. I don’t want to regurgitate the stories that have been churning out of the media machine. We know they have been drawing on that age-old presentation of women as either the pure, procreating Madonna or as no-good low-down whores.

But I am interested to note that, in reactions to the media representation of this ‘story’,  whilst there has been plenty of outrage at this admittedly stereotyped, reductive and moralistic version of women’s sexualities, there has been very little comment on how the media has dealt with Rooney himself, with footballers who get caught with their trousers down, and with mens’ sexuality  in general.

Is the message that the men in these stories are not being judged in the same, negative terms as the women? Is the media treating Rooney and other footballers as  just doing what men do? Or does he deserve any vilification he gets, because after all he is a lying, cheating, adulterer? Is it implied that women don’t have affairs? That it is men who are unable to do anything but follow their cocks with no restraint?

Rooney was only seventeen when he started playing adult League football professionally. He had been on the Everton Youth team since he was ten.  He met Coleen at school and they have been together ever since.  Heterosexual monogamy is quite difficult for anyone to achieve, so for a young professional footballer, with access to so much disposable income, so much testosterone, so many nightclubs, so many ‘temptations’, I am not surprised he has had sexual experiences outside his marriage. If I was Coleen, I might have been tempted to experiment a little myself rather than only ever enjoying coital relations with babyface FOR MY WHOLE ENTIRE LIFE.

In my view, the implicit message of both the media presentation of this story, and its critiques, has been that ‘men cheat on their wives’ and this is a ‘bad thing’ but by its very commonplace and immoral nature, something not really worth questioning or trying to understand.

I think if we are going to find a villain of this piece, it is not Babyface at all. It is not even the myth of the man as adulterer and the woman as victim of adultery, or the madonna/whore dichotomy,  though both are very tiresome. The Big Bad Wolf in this story for me, is Normative Heterosexual Monogamy and the ridiculous, gendered, impossible expectations it places on us all.

When you came to after the operation, you looked just like a newborn baby. Your hair was plastered to your face with sweat, as if from the heroic exertion of pushing your way out of the womb fully grown. So what if the blue nylon hospital gown made an ill-fitting swaddling robe? Or if the drip by your side was pumping you with morphine, not milk? I wanted to hold you in my arms all the same as if I’d delivered you myself. Some midwife I would be, though – all I could do on this joyous occasion was to sit on the side of your bed and weep.
I thought that the Easter story was all about how Jesus suffered and died for our sins, so that we could go on being flawed mortals without too much hassle. He did the hard work for us, what with the cross, and the thorns and the dying and all. According to your precious Bible (Romans, 6): ‘as Christ is risen from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we also may walk in the newness of life’. But it didn’t work out like that for us. Anyway, noone asked Jesus what life is like the second time round; I’m betting it isn’t much fun. Nobody can erase what has gone before, not even the Messiah.

Ulcerative colitis is a bastard of a disease. I won’t go into too much medical detail here. To be honest, I can’t face going back over the definitions and diagnoses. Basically it involves the colon becoming infected and ulcerated so food can’t be digested properly. It comes in varying degrees of severity, and in your case almost the whole damn thing had to be taken out or else you would have died. The operation that saved your life also left you with a bit of your inside poking out, pink and tender – a lonely sea anenome washed up on the beach. The doctors put it into a bag and sent you home.

This was the moment where I was supposed to rise to the occasion; to be a devoted disciple. I think Mary Magdelene would have done a better job, but I was all you could find at the time. I wanted to run. To tell you I’m sorry but this wasn’t what I signed up for. That beautiful blue-eyed boy with the floppy fringe, the Bruce Springsteen collection and the love of Joyce, I want him back. Instead I bit my lip and tried to pretend it was all ok. Maybe there was something of the martyr in me after all. A martyr in a sulk. ‘It’s not fair!’ my inner teenager cried.
Inevitably our sex life suffered. We transformed ourselves overnight, from a pretty adventurous, amorous pair, into a Victorian married couple. Lights out, barely a word from either of us. The rustle of clothes coming off in the dark. The embarrassing elephant in the room that we didn’t speak of; we just heard it the slap of plastic against flesh and the slooshing of waste products inside. I think I used to hold my breath. I know I caught myself counting in my head: one, two, three, four… it never did last long before we turned over and went to sleep.

Sometimes life was kind of like how it used to be. We would drink endless cups of tea in the living room, or get pissed with your brother. I always had to shout to be heard over your voices and the wonderful but too loud music: Bonny Prince Billy, Nick Cave, Kraftwerk, The Fall. I’ve never met anyone before or since, that can hold forth on Derrida’s theory of difference, whilst simultaneously enjoying the might of ‘Leave The Capital’ or ‘Bengali in Platforms’ at full volume. But the night can’t last forever. In the end we had to make the long march upstairs to bed. Once you told me you were glad I was there, because nobody else would want you. What was I supposed to do with that? I locked it away in a box marked: ‘suppress’.

We broke up. But our relationship resurrected itself, only to die again, for good this time. I’m pretty sure Jesus is living for eternity as a single guy; I don’t know about you, or me for that matter, maybe this is our stint in the wilderness. I haven’t seen you for a few years and I don’t know how you are. When I bumped into your mate Ed at that folk festival a while back, he told me you’d had the ‘reversal’ procedure. I think that means you don’t need a colostomy bag anymore. This worries me a little, as you could get sick again, with your insides in instead of out. But there is a part of me that is purely curious, that wants to see what your body looks like now. Is it back to its former lithe glory I wonder, are you getting the girls and the boys like you used to? Show me, I want to see! Goes my inner five-year old.

You will of course have scars. But then so do I; it’s just you can’t see mine. They say that even after 2000 odd years, Jesus still has marks on his hands from where the nails went in.