In this reflective essay, I will summarize what I have learned from last week’s lecture and tutorial, which is about disturbing monogamy and adultery. In last week’s lecture, the definition of adultery and the cultural and social issue of it were examined. In tutorial, we discussed the questions brought up by our own regarding to Laura Kipnis and Stevi Jackson and Sue Scot’s work. Since my tutorial questions were raised based on Kipnis’ work, my reflection will also focus on her work.
Kipnis in her work relates monogamy to social relation and pointed out that most people have high possibility to cheat on their spouse. From my perspective, Kipnis believes that marriage is against love. When she relates monogamy as a social relation to Capitalism, when she thinks that marriage is like the martial panopticon, when she believes marriage labors people. She makes us to think that monogamy functions as an institution to keep post-industrial society running. However, the most powerful point Kipnis made is that infidelity and adultery will occur in most monogamy relationships.
What comes to my concern is that is adultery an inevitable by-product of an untenable institution of lifelong monogamy? Kipnis believes that marriage needs work. However, she also believes that a happy state of marriage is people do need to work to maintain. After all, people in a monogamy relationship no longer motivated by desire and forced to be faithful to their spouse is the same as labor themselves. As we discussed in tutorial, once people’s desire cannot be satisfied in a monogamy relationship, they tend to seek for other ways to achieve. However, adultery is a risk-taking behavior, it is an act of cultural rebellion, it is viewed as civil disobedience. Most often, people would not choose to take risks and rather stay in their comfort zone.
Another thing I have learned from the tutorial is that we can perceive Kipnis’ point that marriage labors people from different perspective. In post-industrial society, Kipnis thinks that marriage has become an institution to control people, people need to work in the workplace, when they are off work they still need to work with their marriage. This point of view successfully makes us to questioning marriage. Is marriage an institution full of defects? I personally think this is a very negative view on marriage. It is proposed in tutorial that people who put more efforts to a relationship, they will cherish it much more. And also, they are less likely to get involved in adultery because they know they have contributed so much to the relationship, and will not abandon it that easily.
Before I do the reading, my first think of adultery is cheating and unfaithful marriage. However, I have a broader and deeper understanding to adultery after study it. I think we should give new definition to adultery, since infidelity in today does not have to include sexual activity. What comes to my concern is if people cheated on their spouses by involving in a virtual relationship or conducting virtual sexual activity, can we still call it adultery? I think the answer is positive.