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Should Adultery be Illegal


What is same-sex adultery? ... Latin: adulterium (from ad alter) meaning 'different. ... Under ancient Hindu law adultery couldn't dissolve the marriage act. ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Should Adultery be Illegal

Should Adultery be Illegal?
  • Alaina Cominskie
  • Colleen DuBrey
  • Jenna Eagle
  • Claire Fultz
  • Cordt Withum

What is Adultery?
  • The definition of adultery used in church and
  • - Sexual intercourse by a married person with
    someone other than ones spouse.
  • What is same-sex adultery?
  • - When a married man or woman has sex with a
    member of the same-sex.
  • Does this definition apply to same-sex adultery?
  • - Not necessarily.
  • - Sexual intercourse is defined as
    heterosexual intercourse involving penetration
    of the womans vagina by the mans penis.
  • - Therefore, some states have expanded their
    definition of adultery to include sodomy and
    homosexual relations.

Cultural Derivatives of Adultery
  • The term adultery has been derived from many
    different cultures.
  • - American to adulterate is defined as to
    despoil, dilute, poison, pollute, or
  • - Latin adulterium (from ad alter) meaning
  • - French advoultre and avoutire meaning move
    away quickly or jump away from.
  • - English adultus meaning grown.

  • Adultery seems to be universal
  • Attitudes toward adultery vary widely between
  • Under ancient Hindu law adultery couldnt
    dissolve the marriage act.
  • In modern Hindu code however, adultery can be
    grounds for divorce.

How is adultery viewed in other cultures?
  • On the subject of sex and adultery, the Europeans
    have been laughing at us for centuries.
  • - When de Tocqueville toured America 150 years
    ago, he concluded "Although the travelers who
    have visited North America differ on many points,
    they all agree in remarking that morals are far
    more strict there than elsewhere."

How is adultery viewed in other cultures?
  • Take a second to recall the Clinton and
    Lewinsky upheaval
  • The French, especially, were falling to the
    ground with laughter because of how this episode
    was handled by Americans.
  • - Recall in 1996, when Prime Minister Francois
    Mitterand died. At his funeral, in the front
    row, were his widow, Danielle, and his longtime
    mistress, Anne Pingeot, and their daughter,
    Mazarine Pingeot.

Our Definition of Adultery
  • Taking into account heterosexuals, homosexuals,
    and cross-cultures, our group defines adultery
  • -Sexual relations by a married person with
    someone other than ones spouse which then breaks
    the conscious agreement of matrimony.
  • Sexual intercourse ? Sexual relations
  • Sexual relations are not limited to sexual
    intercourse and includes all direct contact
    intended for arousal outside of matrimony.
  • Matrimony includes legal marriages as well as
    common-law marriages.
  • - But does not include engaged, cohabiting, or
    simply dating couples.

How prevalent is adultery?
  • Half of all marriages end in divorce.
  • Out of that 50, half end because of adultery.
  • Therefore, you have a 63 chance that either you
    or your spouse will commit adultery.
  • The Kinsey report in 1948 and 1953 reported that
    50 of males and 26 of females had engaged in
    extramarital affairs
  • More current research shows that 21 of males and
    11 of females report having had extramarital
    affairs, giving you a 30 chance that one or both
    of you will have an affair.

Adultery Historically
  • Adultery is not new, has been occurring for
  • Past cultures each developed their own way of
    viewing it.
  • These ranged from acceptance to death.
  • Some of these ideas have transcended time while
    others have been rejected.

Ancient Egypt
  • There were different customs among nobility,
    common people, and slaves. Nobility had a wide
    range of marital customs and practically all
    sexual behaviors including adultery were either
    accepted or condemned depending on the time
    period and the ruling class. This was similar
    with the common people, only there was a more
    strict regime in marriage, and a variety of
    punishments for those who broke the laws. What
    was acceptable among slaves and concubines was
    dependent upon their owners. Although Egypt has
    similarities to other civilizations, they also
    had unique sexual imagery and customs.

  • In India, there is a caste system, in which
    people are born into a hierarchical caste or
    class of people. Castes are fixed and only
    through marriage can one change castes. Within
    different castes, different sexual customs are
    tolerated. India, as a whole, has various sexual
    'behaviors' such as adultery
  • Males are not punished for adultery in India

  • Ch'in Dynasty - 221 BC to 24 AD
  • Sex was only for procreation and to provide a
    sacred family line.
  • Men were allowed to see concubines and there was
    an entire set of Confucianist rules for
    concubines, such as grooming rules.
  • A man's concubine was not allowed to stay in bed
    after the sex act if his wife was not present
  • Interestingly, if the concubine was age 50, the
    man was supposed to have sex with his concubine
    every five days.
  • During this time period, there were many sadistic
    relationship among the Ch'in dynasty families and
    many incestuous relationships between close kin
    members of the dynasty

Greek Society
  • Wives constantly had to compete sexually for
    their own husbands with prostitutes and slaves in
    their own homes.
  • There was a lot of violence against women.
  • Some wives were killed by their husbands.
  • Often women were forced into marriage at a young
    age, these wives tended to die more frequently
    (except in Sparta, where marriage age was 18).
  • Young girls were taught that dying in childbirth
    was martyrdom.

  • The Husband would not sleep with his new bride on
    the wedding night, but would arrange to sleep
    with another woman.
  • The Roman state wanted fertility among mothers
  • Widows were not allowed to remarry
  • Husbands went out of their way to keep their own
    wives locked up like slaves, they deprived their
    wives of a life outside of the home

  • The legal age for marriage in Ancient Rome for a
    woman was age 12, whether she had reached puberty
    or not
  • Virginity was highly valued upon marriage
  • Roman men were allowed to engage in adultery, but
    their wives were not.
  • Female sexuality was entirely defined in their
    patriarchal value sex with wives for legitimate
    children and procreation of mans children, sex
    with prostitutes, concubines and slaves for a
    mans sexual leisure.

Adultery Cross-Culturally
  • Adultery is viewed very differently not only
    across time but also across cultures.

The Extremes
  • Adultery and Hammurabis code
  • If a mans wife committed adultery it was up to
    the husband on whether or not to take action.
  • Punishment for adultery was death by drowning.
  • These standards were not applied to men.
  • According to the Torah adultery is an act against
    G-d, and is therefore punished by death.

Adultery Cross-Culturally
  • In the Mosaic Law, adultery is carnal intercourse
    of a wife with a man who was not her lawful
  • Intercourse of a married man with a single woman
    did not constitute adultery, but fornication.

Adultery Cross-Culturally
  • Western Societies
  • In western Europe and North America, adultery was
    traditionally grounds for divorce.
  • Western notions of egalitarianism and modern
    expectations of mutual emotional support in
    marriage, resulted in unprecedented pressure for
    equal marital rights for women in traditional
    African and Southeast Asian societies.
  • In many eastern European countries, adultery does
    not in itself constitute a ground for divorce
  • No-fault divorces are now permitted in United
  • Reduced importance of adultery as an element in
    divorce proceedings in most American states.

Adultery Cross-Culturally
  • In ancient Grecian and Roman law, female spouses
    could be killed for adultery.
  • Men were not severely punished, if punished at
  • No such thing as the crime of adultery on the
    part of a husband towards his wife and Roman
    husband often took advantage of his legal
  • Jewish, Islamic, and Christian traditions did not
    view adultery equally between the genders.

Adultery Cross-Culturally
  • Islamic law, or Shari'ah, men and women equally
  • death by stoning
  • (Arabic zina' properly, any extramarital sexual
  • In some parts of Africa seducer is punished with
    the loss of one or both hands.
  • The seducer is seen as one who has perpetrated a
    robbery upon the husband.
  • Adulterous wife is made to endure bodily

Adultery Cross-Culturally
  • Traditional Senufo and Bambara tribes of West
    Africa kill the adulterous female spouse and her
  • Among the Kaka in Cameroon a man may have sexual
    relations with the wives of certain relatives
    without consequence.
  • Wife lending has long been a part of Eskimo
  • Nonincestuous extramarital relations are
    permitted by many South Sea island cultures
  • Among certain Pueblo Indian societies adultery is
    tolerated if kept secret.

Adultery Laws
  • Twenty-Six States still have anti-adultery laws
    on the books
  • Punishment varies greatly among the states
  • Can be a misdemeanor or a felony
  • Adultery is still a felony in Mass., Michigan,
    Oklahoma, and Idaho.
  • Laws vary considerably
  • Some define adultery as intercourse outside
    marriage, others include living with someone
    else, to lewdly and lasciviously associating
    with someone other than ones spouse.
  • Laws Have Changed Significantly

Adultery Laws
  • In 1948 ONLY Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, and
    Tennessee did NOT have adultery laws.
  • Of those with adultery laws, only 5 had
    punishments that did not include possible jail
  • Most states also had punishments for fornication
    and seduction.
  • All states but Vermont, New Hampshire, and DC had
    Sodomy laws.

Adultery Laws
  • Who is Punished?
  • All but seven states punish BOTH people.
  • Colorado, Georgia, Nebraska, North Dakota, and
    Utah only punish the married person.
  • In DC and Michigan when a married man sleeps with
    an unmarried woman, only the man is guilty, but
    when a married woman sleeps with an unmarried
    man, they are both guilty.

Adultery Laws
  • Adultery is illegal and still prosecuted in the
  • Last year the Air Force alone prosecuted 67
    soldiers for Adultery
  • Have a double standard High ranking male
    officers can get away with it but low ranking
    males and female officers can not.
  • Prosecute ambiguously on purpose. Visits to
    prostitutes are not reasons for court-martial,
    but long-term affairs and affairs between
    soldiers are considered dangerous and deserving
    of punishment (Foer, 2005).

Adultery Laws
  • Adultery as a breach of contract
  • Marriage is a contract and adultery violates that
  • Traditional marriages do not have a written
  • Only very recently are people actually creating
    marriage contracts and prenuptial agreements
    that have stipulations about adultery.
  • These are civil contracts and are not regulated
    by the law

Adultery and Faith
  • Catholic Church does not recognize divorce they
    only recognize annulments which mean the marriage
    was never valid.
  • If someone has gotten a divorce and remarried,
    they are committing adultery in the eyes of the
  • Last year the church started granting annulments
    because of adultery for the first time citing
    that if the partner had known the adultery would
    take place they wouldnt have married the person
    in the first place.
  • This has serious consequences for children of
    these marriages when the church claims the
    marriage was not legitimate.

Monogamy-One marriage
  • Biological or Social Construct

Forms of Sexuality
  • Humans are biologically programmed to enjoy
    sexual interactions
  • Asexual
  • Lifelong Monogamy
  • Serial Monogamy
  • Polygamy

Biological Argument
  • Monogamy is very unnatural in the animal world
  • In the past, 95 of birds were thought to be
    monogamist but more recent research has proven
  • The Prairie Vole

Insel and Youngs Vole experiment
  • Prairie Voles are lifelong monogamist.
  • Meadow Voles are Polygamist
  • Burrow differences
  • Vasopressin Receptors in brain synapses
  • Meadow Voles can be monogamist
  • No research has proved applicable to primates or

Social Construct Polygamy Argument
  • Child rearing much easier in large group
    (economically and emotionally)
  • Commune- social power of a group

Social Construct Monogamy Argument
  • Provides profound affection between partners that
    is an invaluable sanctuary from societal
    pressures (McMurtry 1974)
  • Provides loving environment for child rearing
    (McMurtry 1974)
  • Communal Diseases, STDs and AIDs are biological
    punishment for opposing the norm

Monogamy as a Social Construct
  • Child rearing is only a fraction of marriage span
  • Marriage is a societal pressure that separates
    power of group
  • Stops large groups with similar ideas from
    obtaining societal power.
  • Marriage promotes economic support to social
  • Communal diseases, STDs and AIDs can be
    contracted by monogamous persons

Monogamy as a Social ConstructPrivate Property
  • Marriage vows and taking husbands surname
  • Control of lineage and inheritance
  • Sexual control over spouse
  • Breaking of contract (adultery) requires monetary

Final Arguments
  • If monogamy is the biological norm and polygamy
    is biological fluke then through evolution
    polygamy would disappear
  • If monogamy was natural then there would be no
    need for its rigorous cultural prescriptions by
    everything from severe criminal law to ubiquitous
    housing regulations (McMurtry 1974).

Should Adultery Be Illegal?NO
  • Humans have not been proven to be monogamous
  • There is overwhelming evidence that monogamy and
    marriage are social constructs
  • In a diverse society adultery should not be a
    crime because it is viewed very differently
  • Therefore, adultery is a moral issue and should
    not be a law punishable by the state.

  • Decrow, K. (1997). Our cheatin' hearts America's
    sexual hang-ups. Retrieved February 21, 2005
    from the World Wide Web http//
  • Kinsey Institute, The (1996). Data from Alfred
    Kinseys studies. Retrieved February 28, 2005
    from the World Wide Web http//
  • Fisher, H.E. (1992). Anatomy of love The natural
    history of monogamy, adultery, and divorce. New
    York W.W. Norton Company
  • Lawson, A. (1988). Adultery An analysis of love
    and betrayal. Boston Harper Collins Publishers