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Yenisel Rodriguez Perez: I have lived in Cuba my entire life, except for several months in 2013 when I was in Miami with my father. Despite the 90 miles that separate Havana and Miami, I find profound reasons in both for political and community activism. My encounter with socio-cultural anthropology eight years ago prepared me for a commitment of love for cultural diversity.

On Cuba’s Monogamy Cult

May 5, 2015 |

Yenisel Rodriguez Perez

Photo: Juan Suarez

Photo: Juan Suarez

HAVANA TIMES — Why are Cuban sexologists so afraid of polygamy? They ascribe infinite possibilities to monogamous relationships, as though sexual desire could in fact be fully satisfied within the limits of traditional, conjugal fidelity.

I ask myself such questions when I watch the sexology segment on the Cuban TV program Hola Habana (“Hello Havana”).

There, a charismatic sexologist remains mired in a subtle but persistent form of moralism. She validates the wide spectrum of “licit” sexualities, but, at root, she does not manage to adopt an inclusive and coherent discourse, one that accepts the experiences of those who seek an open relationship based on agreements between the two partners, for instance.

The sexologist’s advice resembles a medical prescription, a form of treatment aimed at curing us or avoiding a profound and lasting polygamic deviation. It is as though she is assuring us we can enjoy the erotic carnival all the more if we fit a chastity belt around us.

That is how boring and castrating speaking of sexuality can be when we remain within the framework of diagnoses and conflict resolution.

To date, the Cuban academy has neglected the alternatives that can be offered by different forms of polyamory (such as an open relationship) in terms of confronting the loss of sexual desire, the boredom of conjugal routines or to deconstruct possessive attitudes.

These forms could enrich Cuba’s erotic panorama, oxygenate a traditional imaginary that has become exhausted from reusing and recycling monogamous referents that are no longer very attractive.

Monogamy keeps us constrained to a narrow framework, which we break out of many a time in selfish ways.

Polyamory, it’s true, has many challenges ahead of it, such as overcoming the oppressive and castrating logic of traditional monogamy and avoiding the recreation of superficial and fetishistic attitudes that end up legitimating a hypocritical and opportunistic sexuality.

This, the thorniest issue in the debate surrounding contemporary sexuality, is the point Cuban sexology should focus on or at least include it as an important item on its agenda, assume it free of mediation, euphemisms and minced words.

In the meantime, I choose not to live under false hopes. As this market post-authoritarianism the regime works so hard to disguise becomes installed, moralistic and nationalistic governments, typical of societies that endured real socialism, will continue to reign.

Education, including sexual education, will continue to revolve around the most backward of Catholic and paternalistic ethics.

The loving body and sexual desire will have to live in the shadows and anonymity for a very long time.

Even the sexual freedoms that a neoliberal and consumerist future may promote will not work as realities inaccessible to traditional monogamy, nor would they make it temporarily collapse into a conspiratorial and confidential desire.

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  • Carlyle MacDuff

    I don’t know whether you know the species Yenisel, but rabbits live according to your idea of sexual mores. Successful monogamous relationships are based on a lot more than sexual relations – perhaps that is what makes homo sapiens different from lagomorpha (rabbits).
    The UK was the source of the following tale:
    Two married spiritualists (a religion that believes in re-incarnation and uses people recognised as mediums to get in touch with the after life) ) had a happy life and then the old man died.
    After some time had elapsed the old widow thought that she had better get in touch with her late husband. She dressed in her Sunday best and went to the house of a medium. The medium invited her in, closed the curtains and turned off the lights so that they were sitting in an almost totally dark room. The medium then went into a trance. After a few minutes she emitted a few groans but then a voice spoke. To the astonishment of the widow it was her husband – after over forty five years of marriage she knew every intonation of his voice.
    In her surprise she asked the first question that came to her mind:
    “How are you dear?”
    “Very well, thoroughly enjoying myself” came the reply.
    “Well what do you do all day?” she responded.
    “Well, I waken in the morning and make love, then have breakfast. After breakfast I go for exercise out in the countryside, then make love and have lunch. After taking a rest I usually make love in the afternoon and have supper”
    By this time the widow was both shocked and irritated so she snapped:
    “Then I suppose you go to bed because you are exhausted?”
    “Oh no dear, I usually make love again and then go to bed about 10 oclock.”
    Thoroughly disgusted the widow snapped:
    “Well I didn’t think it would be like that in hell.”
    “Oh no dear.” came the reply: “I am a rabbit in Kent!”
    Kent is a rural English county south of London.
    So I guess Yenisel that the best you can do is become a spiritualist and hope to be resurrected as a rabbit!