NY Mag featured an op-ed by “feminist” Michael Sonmore on July 16 that I hope, on some level, is a piece of satire. Mr. Sonmore’s “What Open Marriage Taught One Man About Feminism” is one of the saddest things I’ve read in years.

The author, a stay-at-home dad, says in his first paragraph:

“She’ll come home in the middle of the night, crawl into bed beside me, and tell me all about how she and Paulo had sex. I won’t explode with anger or seethe with resentment. I’ll tell her it’s a hot story and I’m glad she had fun. It’s hot because she’s excited, and I’m glad because I’m a feminist.”

If Mr. Sonmore’s understanding of modern feminism is correct, then modern feminism is a recipe for disaster.

As a Catholic man, I have vowed before God to give myself — 100 percent — in mind, body, and soul to my wife. She has done the same and we have become one unit. My responsibility is to love her with every fiber of my being, which demands that I always look out for her long-term interests. If I allowed my wife to objectify another human being and turn him into a living sex toy, then I would not be looking out for her spiritual health. If she allowed me to treat female coworkers as masturbatory slot machines, then there is no doubt my spirit would cry out in sorrow.

The author continues:

She didn’t present it as an issue of feminism to me, but after much soul-searching about why the idea of my wife having sex with other men bothered me I came to a few conclusions: Monogamy meant I controlled her sexual expression, and, not to get all women’s-studies major about it, patriarchal oppression essentially boils down to a man’s fear that a woman with sexual agency is a woman he can’t control.

Here again we find a man who doesn’t understand that marriage is not about “oppression” or “control” of one party over another, but a team effort to fully realize one’s mental, physical, and (most importantly) spiritual potential. The proper exercise of authority and control saves lives — and souls. I want my wife to demand that I strive for the kind of happiness that is only attained when one achieves mastery over his or her basest instincts. She expects the same from me.

It gets worse for Mr. Sonmore:

For my wife, the choice between honoring our vows and fulfilling her desires was a false choice, another trap. She knew how deep our love was, and knew that her wanting a variety of sexual experiences as we traveled through life together would not diminish or disrupt that love. It took me about six months — many long, intense conversations, and an ocean of red wine — before I knew it, too.

When my wife told me she wanted to open our marriage and take other lovers, she wasn’t rejecting me, she was embracing herself. When I understood that, I finally became a feminist.

Does a reader laugh or cry that it took the author “an ocean of red wine” to “know” his wife was right? His spirit cried out in protest; instead of listening, he poured an ocean of red wine down his throat to try and shut it up. And yet it still cries out to him, even if he can’t read between the lines of his own op-ed.

Would it be “patriarchal oppression” for a man with two children to forbid his wife from playing Russian Roulette? Of course not. Likewise, it takes a serious amount of self-delusion to believe that prohibiting the sexual equivalent of Russian Roulette is “oppression.”

Speaking of sexual Russian Roulette:

I never forget that my wife is a whole person unto herself, a complete and dynamic individual, and though we are together, we’re not one.

There are of course moments of jealousy, resentment, and insecurity. Recently, my wife went on a date and fell asleep at his apartment. I hadn’t heard from her since 10 p.m., she still wasn’t home at 6 a.m. My texts went unanswered and my calls went to voicemail. A tight knot of dread lodged in my stomach as I imagined all kinds of dire scenarios and realized that I not only didn’t know where she was, I had no idea whom she was with. I pictured myself going to the police saying, “I think she’s in Red Hook with a guy named Ryan. I don’t know his last name, but I think he’s a graphic designer? I’m not sure there’s actually a word for the unique blend of acute terror and unforgivable shame I felt that morning imagining that I’d lost my wife to Ryan, the maybe graphic designer.”

“We’re not one.” Again, that is where Mr. Sonmore is very wrong. If he or his wife realized and respected how spiritually entwined they are, then he would ironically never be put in a place where “a tight knot of dread” formed in his stomach.

Mr. Sonmore imagined himself saying to the cops, “I think she’s … with a guy named Ryan,” although he could have just as easily said “I think she’s with a man … named Jason Voorhees.”

How does Dear old Dad explain it to the kids when mom leaves the family for another man, mom contracts weird diseases, mom becomes pregnant with another man’s child, or mom winds up dead inside another man’s freezer? These are questions the happily married Catholic man will never have to ponder, and he is better for it.

When a male feminist has a wife who sleeps around and doesn't come home at night, he thinks that fear that she accidentally ended up with Jason Voorhees is a good thing. That fear means he isn't
When a male feminist has a wife who sleeps around and doesn’t come home at night, he thinks the fear that she accidentally ended up with Jason Voorhees is a good thing. That fear means he isn’t “controlling” his wife. That fear means he isn’t a part of the “patriarchal oppression” machine.  That fear somehow means his wife truly loves him. Sad.

And then there is this:

I don’t want her to fall in love with anyone else, and every time she goes on a date, I confront the possibility that she might. It happened at the beginning: The first person she dated after we opened up fell hard in love with her, and my wife, overwhelmed by his ardor, tried to love him back. Watching it happen, I was confused, angry, and terrified that she wanted to leave me.

Imagine a marriage where confusion, anger, and terror were always looming over your head at night. It would not be heavenly — it would be hell.

There is a reason why Catholics pray, “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” That is because evil exists, and the surest way to find yourself in a confusing, anger-filled terror-tunnel of your own making is to have a marriage where giving into all forms of sexual temptation is defined as “freedom.”

If you get a chance, then pray for Mr. Sonmore and his wife. They need it.

Related: Clueless sociologists writing on marriage should read the Bible — or watch Pacific Rim


  1. I also hope this is satire.

    A true marriage is a bond built on love and trust. How can he trust her. How can he know for sure that the kids are even his?

    1. I scanned the web page multiple times for a “satire” tag and could not find one. If I were the editor for NY Mag and this guy submitted his op-ed, I’d send it back and tell him to see a marriage counselor as soon as possible.

    2. “Never underestimate feminists’ infinite capacity for deception. Feminism is like a gigantic Ziggurat of Hatred built entirely of lies.”

      Tell us how you really feel. 🙂

  2. Thank you for your sane words. I too read that article and it was just heart wrenching in it’s foolishness. I wanted to write a parody about it, but it was already a parody and just too sad for satire.

    On the bright side, such articles remind me of how blessed I am to have a good marriage. And also how important it is and how wonderful men are when they stand up for what is right, instead of sitting there like plate of soggy pasta, so open minded their brains fall out.

    1. I read this piece the other day and I kept cringing the whole way through. It really is sad. You have this stay-out-home dad who probably just wants to keep his family together so bad that he will twist himself into all sorts of intellectual knots to make it happen: Fear is Joy. Anger is Love. Confusion is Clarity.

      I really do feel bad for this guy.

      I had a conversation with my wife a few months ago about men, authority in a relationship, etc. As I said, my own marriage is very much a team effort, but at the same time I think a woman likes to know that her husband can take charge of a situation at a moment’s notice. A man doesn’t need to run his household like General Patton, but I think it’s understood that there needs to be that kind of energy inside him in case the situation demands it.

      I think you’re “soggy pasta” line basically conveys the same point. A man can be quiet and restrained in his day-to-day demeanor, but he must have an inner strength that is clearly “man” or he will struggle to retain respect.

  3. It sounds more like “friends with benefits” (for the wife, anyway) than a marriage.

    Marriage is a formal contract between the involved parties. And it is a commitment. An open marriage is an oxymoron, and defeats the purpose of getting married in the first place.

    1. This line was rather odd:

      For my wife, the choice between honoring our vows and fulfilling her desires was a false choice, another trap.

      If that’s the way his wife feels, then marriage isn’t for her. It’s sort of like saying, “I bought this house, but I’m really kind of annoyed that it has all these walls and a door and windows and a roof. Why can’t I just live on an empty plot of land and call it a house? Yes, I will be exposed to the elements and be miserable for most of my life, but at least I can call it my house.”

    2. I’ve finally reached the stage where I’m allowing other people to read the book I’ve been working on over the past year and change. Slowly, but surely… Anyway, your comment describes the message of quite a few chapters that I’ve written. 🙂

  4. Marriage is a great thing if done right, you become a team. If you truly love each other you would be faithful to them, this open marriage view actually makes me angry. They treat marriage like a unwanted commitment, maybe they should not be married?
    I hate our current ethical slide…this article actually makes me mad.

    1. Here’s another story for you, Truth: ‘Adultery site Ashley Madison hacked, user data leaked’:

      Hackers have stolen and leaked the personal details of users of Ashley Madison—a site that hooks up people who want to have affairs.

      A group or individual known as The Impact Team claimed to be behind the attack and that it had data on all of Ashley Madison’s 37 million users and its partner sites, Cougar Life and Established Men, all owned by Canada’s Avid Life Media (ALM).

      That site has 37 million people on it. That’s crazy. I’m sure they’re not very happy about having all their personal data out there. When you dance with devil, you’re going to get hurt.

    2. I do not feel one bit sorry for them, what respect does a person have for who they care about when they do things like that?

      This type of mindset is one of the few things that really gets my blood boiling.

    3. I can understand when people make sad and embarrassing choices in their youth. I get that. I made my share of mistakes growing up… At some point, however, it becomes necessary to look in the mirror and ask “What am I doing?” and become a better person. How does a person’s marriage go from a place where they are happy and joyous to one where registering for an adultery website is even considered a valid “solution”? It’s a very sad situation.

  5. Everything about this article screams that it was written by a woman. “Not to get all women’s-studies major on you,” red wine, “patriarchal oppression,” the idea that fidelity of both parties is about controlling the woman — there’s just no way this was written by a man. No way. Sorry “transsexuals,” there’s a huge difference between an effeminate man and a masculine woman. This is not an effeminate man, it’s a woman.

    My guess is it was a submission to them, either under someone’s husband’s name, or they just don’t care that it was a woman who wrote it because that’s how they want men to think so they’re fine with straight-up lying.

    1. Interesting theory, Eidolon. You may be on to something. It would certainly answer the question “How can any self-respecting man write something like this?”. 🙂

  6. Well, at least now I have an example to point to whenever I need to define “beta male.” This Sonmore guy is like the equivalent of an abused girlfriend that just takes it–except instead of physical abuse, it’s just repeated cheating. I almost pity him, but I’m also amazed that someone could be such a spineless jellyfish and try to convince himself that his wife’s behavior is acceptable. It’s such a massive betrayal of trust and commitment.

    I once knew this guy who freaked out when his then-girlfriend was going to visit an old boyfriend while on vacation. She insisted they were just friends and that nothing would happen. Well… nothing did happen, but the guy freaked anyway and threw around phrases like “she’s emotionally cheating on me.” (For the full effect of that line, try to imagine the whiniest voice you can think of.) The guy broke up with her… and then hooked up with someone else about a week later. Gee, what a coincidence, huh? Sounds like Mrs. Sonmore (or whatever she calls herself, because taking a man’s last name may be another form of male domination or something to the women’s studies crowd) is of the same mold–not happy at all in the current relationship. Only difference is, she’s clearly not interested in actually ending the relationship. Heck, from her perspective, why should she? She got a spineless sucker willing to enable her disgusting and dangerous behavior (as well as share any financial burdens), and a divorce court might not look too kindly on someone that sleeps around.

    “If you get a chance, then pray for Mr. Sonmore and his wife. They need it.”

    No thank you, my friend. Wifey sounds like a horrid piece of work. And any sap that not only supports such behavior but tells the world about it in a “Trust me, guys, this is awesome” kinda way is obviously a basket-case. What those two need is therapy and divorce attorneys. I’ll save my prayers for their kids.

    1. I pray so that the morally blind may see, and that the morally deaf may hear — because we all have blind spots…and we’re all a little hard of hearing at times. 😉 Regardless, you can never go wrong by praying for children. Thank you.

  7. Every once and a while you refer to an article that truly gives me a “wtf” moment; and this is one of those times. His realization should be that his wife is very selfish, not that he’s a feminist. Who would put a significant other, that they supposedly love, thru that?!?!

    1. This is the kind of op-ed that passes for “enlightened” thinking at NY Mag and other websites friendly to “feminist” men. These are their thought leaders. Heh. Like I said, I searched quite a bit for some sort of “satire” tag hidden on the page…but no luck. The editors of this magazine want us to seriously consider this author’s definition of marriage.

  8. This reminds me of a tale I was told sometime back when a pair of long-term friends took a shower together while one of the friends was in a long-term relationship. They did break up for a time, but ultimately got back together recently, and she’s maintained her friendship with the bloke she took a shower with! I don’t see how people have a high tolerance for this kind of bizzare “non-commital commitment”, unless they have very low standards of their own self-esteem and think “I don’t deserve this girl, if you love it, set it free”, but they seem to be of the opinion that if you set it free, it comes back like a boomerang!

  9. Ohhhhh man…that was tough to read. Speaking of making a person feel confused, angry and terrified!

    1. I wonder how long it will be until this author is finally revealed. Will it be a woman? That seems very plausible. My wife agrees with that theory.

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