From Academic Kids

Note also that unlike some other species, Homo sapiens is not "automatically" monogamous, and the existence of a legally monogamous relationship (marriage) is no guarantee of a monogamous one in fact. Some societies have formally or semiformally recognized that married persons may have other sexual partners outside of the marriage relationship, while in societies that do not condone this practice it is nevertheless not unusual.

Homo sapiens isn't at all monogamous. It is naturally polygynous and a lot of anthropological and biological evidence supports it. --Taw

The anthropological and biological data supports what the researchers want it to support. Some humans are inclined toward monogamy, while others are inclined toward polygamy, even asexuality. To take statistics indicating a high incidence of extra-pair copulation or any other such data and apply them to the whole of mankind is to discount all those who deviate from that norm. The nature of a sapient species is not so easily defined. More succinctly, H. sapiens is not monogamous, but neither is it polygamous. -- MLS

This sentence apparently means "sexual partner" rather than "spouse":

The practice of restricting contact to a single spouse for a limited period of time, then ending that relationship before beginning another (though in practice there may be a brief overlapping time-period) is refered to a "serial monogamy."

Since monogamy is a term that applies to sexual relationships in the animal kingdom (wolves, swans, etc.) in general, and only in a specific context to marriage, I'm of the opinion that the article should begin with the biological and then give the social example. Biology has been around longer (arguably) ;-)

Not only that, but in the dating world, the word "monogamy" gets used all the time to refer to a relationship in which both parties, though unmarried, have an exclusive arrangement and thus agree not to see anyone else. -- Egern
Also, doesn't the gamy part refer to sex or reproduction, and not necessarily marriage?
this is a usage question and cannot be answered by an appeal to etymology. Nor is there one correct or best usage. How people use the term depends on why they are using the terms.
When people use "monogamy" to compare and contrast different human societies, they are generally interested in social variation; therefore they compare and contrast different marriage practices. Conceptually, "monogamy" means the custom of having only one spouse at a time, and is contrasted to polygamy (multiple spouses). In this context, monogamy has nothing to do with sexual fidelity or sexual practices; there are many societies anthropologists and sociologists characterize as monogamous yet where many people have multiple sexual partners.
When people use "monogamy" to compare and contrast different animal species (including human beings), on the other hand, they are not intersted in cultural institutions (obviously, many other ansimal species do not have culture, as anthropologists define it); rather, they are comparing and contrasting mating practices.
obviously one can use the term monagamy in either sense when talking about people. But bno one usage should be priviliged, it all depends on what point you are trying to make in what context. -- SR

Does the external link to The Virtues of Promiscuity really belong in the monogamy article? It's interesting enough, but why is it here? Wouldn't it be a better fit elsewhere? -- Tlotoxl

Changed the statement on homo sapiens not being naturally monogamous. Using the term "natural" creates a surprisingly large number of philosophical assumptions. Better to bypass that statement and just state the fact that legal monogamy is no guarantee of sexual monogamy.

Roadrunner 04:52, 31 May 2004 (UTC)


Academic Kids Menu

  • Art and Cultures
    • Art (
    • Architecture (
    • Cultures (
    • Music (
    • Musical Instruments (
  • Biographies (
  • Clipart (
  • Geography (
    • Countries of the World (
    • Maps (
    • Flags (
    • Continents (
  • History (
    • Ancient Civilizations (
    • Industrial Revolution (
    • Middle Ages (
    • Prehistory (
    • Renaissance (
    • Timelines (
    • United States (
    • Wars (
    • World History (
  • Human Body (
  • Mathematics (
  • Reference (
  • Science (
    • Animals (
    • Aviation (
    • Dinosaurs (
    • Earth (
    • Inventions (
    • Physical Science (
    • Plants (
    • Scientists (
  • Social Studies (
    • Anthropology (
    • Economics (
    • Government (
    • Religion (
    • Holidays (
  • Space and Astronomy
    • Solar System (
    • Planets (
  • Sports (
  • Timelines (
  • Weather (
  • US States (


  • Home Page (
  • Contact Us (

  • Clip Art (
Personal tools