“Beyond Monogamy: Polyamory and the Future of Polyqueer Sexualities” by Mimi Schippers— Sexual Normalcy?

beyond monogamy

Schippers, Mimi. “Beyond Monogamy: Polyamory and the Future of Polyqueer Sexualities”, (Intersections), NYU Press, 2016.

Sexual Normalcy?

Amos Lassen

Mimi Schippers explores compulsory monogamy as a central feature of sexual normalcy. She argues that compulsory monogamy promotes the monogamous couple as the only legitimate, natural, or desirable relationship and in this way, monogamy supports and legitimizes gender, race, and sexual inequalities. She investigates sexual interactions and relationship forms that include more than just two people, be that polyamory, threesomes, and the ‘down-low,’ by exploring the queer, feminist, and anti-racist potential of non-dyadic sex and relationships. She sets out to give us an intense and serious look at the intersections of society and sexuality by taking us on a journey through these various kinds of sexual relationships. We are to keep in mind that the key word here is sexual. She further looks at why there is such a strong cultural taboo against certain kinds of sexual relationships and what we learn about how society regards gender and sexuality. She examines the “racialized and gendered backdrop against which heterosexuality and monogamy play out in contemporary US culture” and the impacts of non-monogamies on it. In doing so she exposes how hetero-masculinity and mono-normativity are socially constructed and are nowhere near being inevitable.

Schippers blames feminist sexuality scholars for failing to theorize compulsory monogamy as a regime of normalcy that enforces gendered, raced, and classed inequalities thereby showing the importance of expanding how we understand sexual and romantic relationships.

There are several problems that I encountered reading Schippers. First of all this is not a book written for the layman and this knocks out a large percentage of the reading population. As an academic myself, I feel that I can say that. What is really missing here is the concept and practice off bisexuality. Schippers also does not have knowledge or experience with the gay community and it is obvious that she does not want to know about gay and lesbian relationships. The tone with which she writes emphasizes how judgmental she is. I was stunned to read her criticism of a relationship between one man and two women. She claims that the two women engaged in bisexuality only to satisfy the single male and that what they did together was faked.

If you really want to read about this topic this book is a poor place to begin. There is really nothing new here and everything in it is how Schippers alone sees it and how she sees things is narrow.


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