General Purpose: To inform
Specific Purpose: To inform my audience about the history of monogamy
Thesis: Monogamy is a modern phenomenon that humans have socially constructed in “recent” years.
a. Attention Getter:
- i. Does anybody here believe in soulmates – that there is only one person out there in this world who is able to get you in the way that no one else can? Think back to some of your favourite classical fairy tales: Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Snow White – where the princess always finds her one true love amidst the chaotic life that she leads. Again, the emphasis is placed on the word ‘one’. Finding the ‘one’, marrying the ‘one’, and living your happily ever after with the ‘one’. Has ‘one’ always been the case? What if I told you that being romantically involved with ‘one’ has never been the norm until recently?
- i. This practice of monogamy is a modern phenomenon that humans have socially constructed in “recent” years.
c. Credibility Statement:
- i. Having watched many romantic movies and drama series, I became curious about the whole ideology of monogamy and how it pushed polygamy right out the window of social norms.
d. Relevancy Statement:
- i. I will first talk about what monogamy really is.
- ii. I will then move on to discuss the history behind monogamy and its counterpart, polygamy.
a. Main Point 1: What exactly is monogamy? Is it simply a commitment you make to a partner or is it more than meets the eye?
- i. Sub-point 1: Monogamy is a traditional ideal in various parts of the world where romantic partners promise to maintain an exclusive relationship with each other.
- 1. In many societies around the world, this also meant two partners staying sexually committed to each other without engaging in any sexual activities with anyone else.
- 2. It is an ideal that we have been raised with ever since we were young. This is evident in the relationships you observe in real life, in movies, television shows, and even, books.
- 3. With the prevalent nature of monogamy in our lives, it is inevitable that we would grow up to follow such an ideal to lead our lives.
- ii. Sub-point 2: However, it needs to be noted that monogamy is not a synonym for ‘true love’ and ‘marriage’.
- 1. Here’s how the relationship with the three factors work: love is a feeling and monogamy is a rule which may then be transformed into a binding legal contract between two partners known as marriage.
- 2. You can be married to your partner and not practice monogamy (consensually or otherwise) and you can practice monogamy without getting married to your partner.
- 3. It goes the same way for love – you can practice monogamy even if you don’t love your partner and you can love your partner without practising monogamy.
- iii. Sub-point 3: Monogamy is unnatural (but we’ve somehow made it normal).
- 1. Monogamy is today’s social standard but in reality, the practice of such an ideal is not perfect. As humans, we are inherently bad at many things and one of those things happens to be committing to monogamy because the idea of it does not come naturally to us.
- 2. Take a look at the number of divorces and the number of infidelity cases that occur every year – for instance, Reach Counselling Centre reported that a total of 193 couples was affected by extra-marital affairs in 2018, which made up 40 percent of its total counselling cases.
- 3. With cheating and infidelity come feelings of hurt and betrayal but that does not always stop people from becoming unfaithful to the commitment that they have made. Monogamy is difficult to uphold but if it is not for you, it might be time to explore other alternatives such as polygamy which has been going on for years before monogamy became a social norm.
- Now that you’ve learnt about what monogamy is all about, you might be wondering how this whole ideology came about and why it has trounced polygamy to be a ‘thing of the past’.
b. Main Point 2: Monogamy dates back to over a thousand years ago but polygamy has a richer history way earlier than any of us can imagine.
- i. Sub-point 1: As romantic as the thought might be, humans weren’t always monogamous.
- 1. Back when our ancestors had to hunt and gather to survive, men who were considered to be exceptional hunters were perceived to be better husbands and had multiple partners and children. Women, on the other hand, would expand their family by mating with different men.
- ii. Sub-point 2: When did polygamy deteriorate and monogamy rise?
- 1. One of the main theories researchers have come up with about the abolishment of polygamy is that sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) played a significant role. When societies grew larger, so did the prevalence of STDs within the population. As such, there was a pressure placed upon humans to stay monogamous and prevent themselves from engaging in sexual activities with many other partners.
- 2. Another analysis implied that ancestors who practised monogamy do so because of they lived far and separate from one another. As such, it became difficult for men to monopolise multiple partners. The only solution was to pick one partner and stick with her.
- 3. Today, monogamy is prevalent because some countries’ law requires partners to stay committed or they would face consequences. In Singapore, infidelity and adultery can be leveraged as a legitimate reason to file for divorce – if a partner is proven to be unfaithful, it will be considered as grounds for ‘irretrievable breakdown of marriage’. In other countries and states, you may be jailed or fined for doing so. As such, there are several reasons (involving one’s country’s law) why people would stick to monogamy and avoid polygamy.
- iii. Sub-point 3: What do monogamy and polygamy mean today?
- 1. We have been continuously taught through media and schools that monogamy is the ideology that we should follow. As a result, people who do not practice monogamy are often judged and seen as ‘wrongdoers’.
- 2. However, as of recent years, consensual polygamy has grown to become of interest for many people (albeit still a controversial topic for some). Many believe that with communication and trust, they will be able to work something out with multiple partners. Why hide your partners if everyone is okay with it? That is not to say that polygamy solves the entirety of problems that monogamy faces.
- 3. Again, although monogamy may not be as ‘natural’ as we perceive it to be, it can still be a viable ideology for us to live by. Some of us are not okay with the idea of consensual nonmonogamy and that is perfectly fine. There have been numerous couples who manage to commit to monogamy and live their best lives.
It is important to understand about the history behind the romantic idealistic relationships that the media and society have pushed on us.
a. Review of Main Points:
- i. Today, I have discussed with you about what monogamy is and the practice behind it. It is not about finding your soulmate nor getting married to the one you love, but rather, about the commitment and promise you make to one partner.
- ii. I have also talked about the history and prevalence of monogamy and its counterpart, polygamy.
b. Closing Statement:
- i. Understanding what you want and need in a relationship is very important – you should not hit yourself if your thoughts have wandered to wanting more than 1 romantic partner. It’s completely natural. Monogamy? Well, that isn’t but if it appeals to you, you should work hard to keep up with that commitment.