HuffPo's Cheatin' Heart -- More Anti-Monogamy Propaganda

Summer is approaching, and wedding season is kicking into high gear. And the Huffington Post is celebrating by declaring war on marriage (of the traditional variety, it has no problem with gay marriage), arguing that monogamy is impossible and that cheating is desirable.

The Huffington Post has developed an obsession with cheating, and has spurned the very concept of monogamy. Contributors “condemn the expectation of monogamy,” argue that “marriage forces love into a single, finite, unforgiving, inflexible model,” and complain that “monogamy is failing men.” 

HuffPo’s most recent celebration of infidelity was Eric Anderson’s May 19 piece “Is Cheating a Rational Choice?” Anderson is a sociologist whose stated desire is to “challenge homophobia, sexism, heterosexism, and monogamism in order to help improve standards of equality for everyone.”

Anderson’s piece dripped with indignation that open relationships and cheating were stigmatized. He declared “I condemn the expectation of monogamy,” lamenting: “Few, however, highlight the obvious answer to the dilemma of monogamy and cheating: sexually open relationships. Here, in an egalitarian manner, a couple reserves emotional fidelity, while structuring in rules for extra-dyadic, recreational sex.”

This wasn’t Anderson’s first HuffPo foray into pro-cheating territory. Vicki Larson conducted an uncritical interview with Anderson on Jan. 4, titled “Why Men Need to Cheat.” In that interview, Anderson argued that “monogamy is failing men” and claimed that “An undiscovered affair allows them [men] to keep their relationship and emotional intimacy, and even if they're busted it's a lot easier than admitting that they wanted to screw someone else in the first place.”

Larson, like Anderson, displayed a fondness for cheating. In her April 21 post “Why Men Should Take a Lesson from Women in Cheating,” Larson argued that men should take a lesson from women and cheat more discreetly: “So, just imagine how the Secret Service scandal might have played out if after the big booze fest, each man slipped off solo, hit up a hooker and quietly took her to his room (and paid her the asking price, obviously; you mean we're getting underpaid here, too?). No scandal, no disgrace, and his sweetheart at home would be none the wiser. Now, that's the way to cheat!”

Other HuffPo contributors unabashedly promoted cheating as a positive good. On May 10, Susan Shapiro Barash wrote “Why Women Cheat: How Women’s Infidelities Can Save Marriage,” and claimed that women’s affairs could actually save marriages: “Of the wives with whom I've spoken, close to half believe that the 'other man' can actually help them to stay in an unhappy or suboptimal marriage because they find their happiness with the lover.” 

To prove this dubious claim, Barash cited her own “study” of “nearly sixty” women engaging in extramarital affairs, derived from first-person accounts of cheating women. In other words, Barash’s research took as gospel the claims of a non-representative sample of cheating women. Her study ignores the inconvenient fact that infidelity is a leading cause of divorce.

Donna Flagg even argued in an April 17 post that marriage was on some level anti-human: “The problem is that marriage forces love into a singular, finite, unforgiving, inflexible model that allows no room for any other kind. There is one expectation imposing what you can feel and what you can't. Period. In some ways it prevents us from being human.”

The “cheating is good” and “monogamy is impossible” mentality seems to be part of the modus operandi of the Huffington Post. After all, HuffPo has become a billboard for cheating website Ashley Madison, and even created a divorce section before setting up its marriage section. Anderson, Larson, Barash and Flagg merely reflect the site’s pro-cheating stance.

The Huffington Post’s assault on monogamy exhibits the growing divide between two radically different, competing moral visions. The “progressive” vision argues that biology dictates infidelity, that monogamy is an unnatural and undesirable state, and that cheating is normal and even healthy for relationships.

The other, traditional vision argues that monogamy is possible with effort and mutual communication, that infidelity harms committed relationships, and that couples are happier and more fulfilled in exclusive, committed relationships than otherwise.  

The media has embraced the vision of monogamy as an unnatural chain – even supposedly mainstream news outlets have expressed similar disbelief about the feasibility of monogamous marriage. And the Huffington Post is leading this charge against fidelity.