At the very end of ABC’s “The View” on Thursday, they turned for advice on infidelity to MTV star/gay activist/sex columnist Dan Savage. (He's in favor of "sexual adventure.") When Savage explained how he and his partner Terry Miller are not exactly monogamous, Barbara Walters jumped in to wonder about the etiquette of this process: What does Savage say to Miller after an infidelity? [See video below. MP3 audio here.]
Walters wasn’t posing as anti-infidelity, considering her tattling about her Edward Brooke affair, but more as a Miss Manners of misbehavior. Savage quipped: “When I’m cheating on my partner, he’s cheating on me at the same time -- at the other end of the same guy.” In the midst of the furor of shock, laughter, and applause, Savage added: “It’s not cheating when everyone agrees!”
New co-host Jenny McCarthy announced her “Kiss & Tell With Jenny” series, starting with Savage. “When producers asked me what kind of series I wanted to do, I said anything having to do with relationships -- dating, love, marriage, sex divorce, so today I'm kicking off 'Kiss & Tell' with one of the biggest relationship deal breakers, cheating.”
“I know you’re one of the biggest gay activists in the country,” she began with Savage. “But one of the comments you made, made me go ‘What?’ Which is, you believe monogamy in long-term relationships is unrealistic. Why do you say that?” Savage said “the research” is on his side, and cheating is inevitable (or half-inevitable?)
SAVAGE: The evidence is in: 60 percent of men, 40 percent of women cheat in those relationships eventually. So it's not that monogamy isn't an ideal or goal that people should strive for. I don't think people should break your monogamous commitments. But we should ask ourselves going into that kind of relationship – serious, committed – what will we do when the inevitable happens, and you or me cheat? Are we going to be the Clintons, and our marriage is going to survive this, or are we going to be the Sanfords and divorce?
McCARTHY: You’re saying make a deal before you get into a relationship?
SAVAGE: Discuss the near-inevitability that there will be an infidelity.
McCARTHY: I’d be so out of there in two seconds!
McCarthy then turned the subject of Savage and his partner Terry Miller, and how their "marriage" must not be monogamous, considering his viewpoint. Savage explained he’s coined the term “monogamish – we’re much more monogamous than not, but there’s an allowance for some sexual adventure, variety.” That sounds like how the Clintons might try to describe their marriage, too.
"Pro-sex" activists like Savage often try an "everybody does it" ethic to erode a culture of fidelity and devotion. Unselfishness is anathema, and "adventure" is king. If "everybody does it," then who can condemn it?
This led to Barbara's question. After that furor died down, When McCarthy suggested her gay male friends aren’t monogamous, Savage put on his research hat again and insisted lesbians are the most monogamous, and quipped again: “Clearly the problem with monogamy is not gay men, but men. If you think monogamy is definitional for marriage, if you think monogamy is the most important thing in a relationship, marry a girl.”