Tuesday, June 1, 2010
A controversial online dating service has provoked the latest nationwide furore, when two nights ago the following advertisement was screened for the first time on Australian television:
AshleyMadison.com has already stirred commotion in the Unites States, having one of their provocative ads rejected for a time slot in last year’s official Super Bowl program. The website (assisting over five and a half million users to date) pledges to unite married men and women for discreet, extramarital affairs, shoving down our throats a hoard of miserable statistics, openly condemning the “myth of monogamy” and allegedly shredding apart families, and crumbling away the sacred institution of marriage. Now there is little doubt that one will go without Ashley Madison to pursue forbidden liaisons and indulge in illicit intimacies outside of their marriages. There is little doubt also that many people will suffer no qualms about taking the opportunity to cash in on the pain and devastation of others. What is disturbing is not that there is a service that provides an open route to adultery, but rather that there is one that openly encourages it.
Most of us can identify with the tremendous hurt inflicted by infidelity, the same way we can equally understand the often staggering temptations of straying. Monogamy may not be embedded in our DNA, but it certainly is embedded in the constructions of our morality, and the establishment of Western society. The value of monogamy of course varies in different cultures where, for example, the alleged affairs of French first lady Carla Bruni-Sarkozy met with little more than the apathetic shrug of the shoulders from French citizens. In comparison to the excessive coverage on Bill Clinton, Mel Gibson and Tiger Woods’ extramarital rendezvous, it remains clear that according to Western constructs, the strength of modern families and marriages depend largely upon the faithfulness between committed couples.
Given the overwhelming statistics, there are many of us who reject the notion of monogamy, and based on very understandable grounds. What is rather unsettling is that while certain set values remain firmly intact, people are condoning dishonesty, disrespect and potential destruction to the lives of those we’re supposed to love. To me, it seems simple enough. If one’s partner has a certain expectation, regardless of whether it may be a product of constructed discourses of normative relationships, the honourable options are either to adhere, or to leave.