Column: “The Language of Monogamy”

This column is an ongoing project. I welcome submissions from everyone and anyone. The space can be used for written texts and artistic creations on the subject of language and relationships, particularly compulsory monogamy. Written submissions can be up to 250 words and artistic creations sent in .jpg format to Past columns can be viewed at

Authors and artists may discuss and present their personal experience(s) with compulsory monogamy or take a stab at developing new words and phrases to improve our colloquial language around and about relationships. Your submission may be published under your name, a pseudonym, or anonymously.

In the absence of submissions this week, I provide another short piece.

It was only at the beginning of my 20s that I realized something was missing from my health and sexual education. I had received the anatomical lessons in high school and experienced first-hand the pleasures and perils of young romance.

Through peers, parents, and media I passively adopted the sexual and social mores of the day.

In the middle of the first decade of the 21st century, we perhaps heard a low rumbling. By the end of the decade something had bubbled to the surface.

It now makes its presence felt through various means. This column is one of them.

I mean the development and somewhat normal use of two phrases: compulsory monogamy and non-monogamy.

Had I heard either of these during my upbringing – early childhood or young adulthood – hours of misunderstandings, grief, and heartbreaks could have been avoided (or at least lessened or better understood). Growing up, I knew of no alternative to compulsory monogamy (cheating or an affair is not an alternative but is, in fact, part and parcel of many monogamous relationships).

In this column my aim is to stress the importance of shifting language to better suit our practices, experiences, and needs.

My personal experience with my lack of appropriate language inhibited romantic expressions in my earlier years.

The philosopher Charles Taylor writes that our discovery of new language is one of the most wonderful parts of being human; with each new word we become more adept at understanding ourselves and social relations.

Language is a toolbox for ethical behaviour.

In many ways, then, I’m envious of the younger generation. I wish I grew up with their tools. Fingers crossed for the changes to primary and high school health and sexual education.

About Troy Bordun 61 Articles
I’m a recent graduate of the Cultural Studies PhD program. My research includes contemporary film, film theory, and the history of moving-image pornography. In addition to writing for Arthur, this semester I’m teaching in the Cultural Studies department (Intro to Integrated Arts) and Continuing Education (Writing Short Film Scripts). I also work at the Trend (come say hi!), among other small jobs as they come up.