The scene: a Courtroom.

Dramatis Personae: Prosecution, which will seek to show that monogamy is an unnatural state for humans to experience; Defense, which will seek to show that monogamy is required for social stability; the Crowd, which will unthinkingly accept whatever it’s told by purported authority figures; and the Jury which will reach a final verdict.

Act One: Prosecution’s Opening Remarks

Prosecution: “Ladies and Gentlemen of the Jury, M’lord, and all those watching in the Gallery, my purpose here today is to prove beyond all reasonable doubt that monogamy is an impossible ideal for which the human species is in no way evolved to endure and which in and of itself creates uncountable harms.”

“To support my case I shall be presenting evidence from Biology and Evolutionary Psychology, as well as citing case studies from Behavioral Biology. I shall be using Facts and Reason, which I readily admit are weak creatures compared to the Unthinking Bias, Emotional Manipulation, and Simple-Minded Bluster that I am sure my right honorable colleague the Defense will rely on for the bulk of his argument.”

Defense: “M’lord, I really must object to the Prosecution revealing my strategy before I do.”

Judge: “Objection over-ruled.”

Prosecution: “Thank you, M’lord. Now, if I may continue. Although I recognize that my reliance on empirical evidence and solid reasoning will set me at a disadvantage, I firmly believe that our only hope as a species is to pursue truth rather than acquiesce in mere belief. I can only hope that the Ladies and Gentlemen of the Jury take their duty to hear, assess, and deliberate seriously, although I recognize that this may be a vain hope given the realities of human nature.”

“Beginning with biology, what do we see? We are a member of the primate group, and studies have proven beyond all doubt that there is a clear correlation in primates between testicle size and sexual promiscuity. Chimpanzees, both male and female, are extremely promiscuous and in consequence male chimps have huge testicles relative to their body mass. Conversely gorillas society revolves around the harem in which a single dominant male breeds with many females. Gorilla testicles are therefore tiny compared with body mass.”

“So what does the size of human testicles tell us, you may well ask? The answer: the size of human testicles clearly shows that we are stuck in the middle, not entirely promiscuous but by no means monogamous either. Nature has played a cruel trick on our species, M’lord, and it is essential that we acknowledge this unfortunate fact.”

Defense: “M’lord, the Prosecution is relying on Science and Empirical Evidence to make his point. We all know that human society is founded on the assertions contained within one or more holy texts and therefore reality is irrelevant to this case.”

Judge: “You will have your turn to present your arguments in due course. Please sit down. Objection over-ruled.”

Prosecution: “Thank you once again, M’lord. Moving now to human behavior, we see clearly that fundamental adaptations such as jealousy, mate guarding, and sperm competition likewise point to the fact that for our species monogamy is an ideal from which we regularly and predictably fall short. Were it not so, these behaviors would not be manifest in our emotional and physiological repertoires.”

“Furthermore there is no shortage of studies showing the deleterious effects resulting from members of our species attempting to perform extended periods of monogamy. The human suffering is literally incalculable.”

“Lastly I point to several DNA studies that have shown how, around the world, approximately ten percent of children are not genetically related to the man who believes he is their father. This indicates a certain matrimonial flexibility on behalf of a significant percentage of human females, given the slender probability of conception resulting from any single act of sexual intercourse.”

“Monogamy is thus not only infeasible in theory but proven to be infeasible in practice. It runs contrary to our very nature.”

“M’lord, Ladies and Gentlemen of the Jury, this concludes my opening remarks.”

Act Two: Defense’s Rebuttal

Judge: “The Defense will now rise to present its case.”

Defense: “Thank you, M’lord. Ladies and Gentlemen of the Jury, my right honorable friend the Prosecution has attempted to use facts and reason to sway you. I shall now demonstrate beyond all doubt that what you must believe is in fact the very opposite and that monogamy is not only the natural condition for our species but also the only condition under which social harmony may be maintained.”

“We know society needs rules lest chaos ensue. And one of those fundamental rules is the rule of monogamy. What sort of society would we have if people went around doing whatever they wanted with whoever they wanted? The unhappiness that derives from a life of monogamy ensures that people apply their unused energies and frustration to productive and fruitful tasks. Our corporations rely on monogamy to ensure their bland cubicles are filled with people attempting to achieve happiness by means of material acquisition. Our psychiatrists and therapists rely on monogamy to provide a steady supply of miserable clients willing to pay exorbitant hourly charges. This is why our holy books all insist that monogamy is the only acceptable condition for humankind. Except when they don’t, but for the purposes of my argument we shall ignore this inconvenient aberration.”

“To further my case I shall now reluctantly adopt, for a limited time only, the strategy of my Learned Colleague the Prosecution and use empirical evidence and reason.”

“We have ample evidence of the fact that in societies where wealthy and powerful men are permitted to have more than one wife, the shortage of available females for younger hormone-raddled men results in levels of violence far exceeding our Western norms, godforsaken places such as Texas notwithstanding. From this it is clear that no matter how much individual misery monogamy may cause, it yields a less violent society and therefore must be defended to the last gonad.”

“Moving back once more to emotional persuasion, we must all agree that every decent right-minded person sees monogamy is the only ethical choice for our species. Were monogamy not enforced by means of social and legal sanctions, all the attractive people would be able to enjoy each other while the rest of us, the vast flabby indolent majority, would sit watching enviously from the sidelines. What sort of a world would it be, Ladies and Gentlemen of the Jury, if those blessed with fine physiques and attractive faces and interesting well-rounded personalities were permitted to benefit from these traits? You may rightly shudder as you contemplate the horror of such a situation, were it allowed to transpire.”

“Indeed, we find this notion so repellent that our very language has reduced the complexities of human intimacy to a single metaphor: that of the children’s board game. We do not like those who cheat at Monopoly and we do not like those who cheat in the game of relationships. Our heedless use of the word cheat frees us from concern over deeper and more profound issues and this is surely for the benefit of us all.”

“I want to point out another very important benefit of monogamy: one always knows who to blame, who to resent, and who to find unbearably irritating. In a world of polygamy, polyandry, and polyamory, how would any of us know where to direct our unresolved issues and resentments? We would be forced to learn to communicate better, know ourselves more adequately, and make conscious choices about our behaviors. You may well shudder in terror and recoil at the thought of such a world. It is from such horrors than monogamy saves us.”

“In closing, therefore, I am confident that having heard the arguments and studiously ignored all the facts, you will come to the only conclusion possible: that monogamy is the natural state of humankind.”

Act Three: The Jury Decides

Judge: “Ladies and Gentlemen of the Jury, you have heard the Prosecution’s case that monogamy is not the natural condition of humankind and you have heard the Defense’s contention that to the contrary it is the only state we may admit. Have you considered these arguments carefully?

Jury Foreperson: “We have, your Honor.”

Judge: “And have you come to a unanimous verdict?”

Jury Foreperson: “No, your Honor.”

Judge: “I see. Very well then, have you come to a majority verdict?”

Jury Foreperson: “Yes, your Honor. We have.”

Judge: “Please inform the Court of your verdict.”

Jury Foreperson: “Well, your Honor, eight of us think that monogamy is a good idea. We don’t think sex matters all that much, and no one has any right to expect happiness. All in all, we think that doing our best and trying not to mind about the endless tedium is the way to go. But four of us disagree and they’re currently having a great time back in the Jury room. They said they hope to be finished, at least for a while, in about three more hours.”

Judge: “I see. Thank you for your service, your diligence, and your verdict. This Court is now in abeyance. For myself, I think I really ought to check in on the four absent Jurors, just to make sure everyone is properly accounted for…”

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store