Robyn Trask on the Steve Douglas Show (and thoughts on women poly leaders)
As a result of being profiled in her local newspaper, Loving More director/editor Robyn Trask got invited onto the nationally syndicated Steve Douglas radio show for a one-hour interview and call-in (Nov. 13, 2006). She was her usual articulate, voluble, insightful self. You can listen to the show (22-megabyte .mp3 file). Some interesting bits:
"In our national database that we have here at the magazine, we have 13,000 people, and that probably only represents a very small portion of the polyamorous community."
"Our hope is to reach out to and educate as many people as we can about choices in relationship, no matter what those choices are.... My relationships are certainly healthier [than before embracing polyamory nine years ago]. I say that because I have more intimacy and more honesty in my relationships. I can be more authentic and more real. I can be honest that yeah, I'm attracted to somebody, I can speak about that, I don't have to hide it or pretend that it's not happening."
"We [Loving More magazine] had a survey a few years ago, and one third of the community identified as Christian" in some form.
"We're very afraid of jealousy in our culture. Instead of running away from jealousy, in this community we have a tendency to face it to look at it, and see what is it about. Is it about the relationship? Is it about insecurity in myself? And what can I do to resolve the problem? Rather than run away from it, or blame...."
With jealousy "It's not a matter of getting rid of it. Rather than 'getting rid of it,' you 'move through it.' For me, it's a process of looking at what it's telling me about myself. Jealousy is like any other pain. When we feel a physical pain it's telling us there's something wrong our hand is burning and we need to move it. Jealousy may tell us there's a problem in the relationship, or we're feeling insecure in a relationship and need to talk to the person, and say, 'Here's what's going on for me.' It may be that we just need to speak about our feelings and be heard. And then again it may be like for me, about seven or eight years ago, I really didn't like the person I had become, because I wasn't being authentic and honest about who I was to myself, or living my life the way I felt from my heart and that was where the jealousy was coming from that I didn't like myself. And I went on a whole quest to learn to love myself again."
"More men are open to the idea [of polyamory] in the beginning. More women handle the dynamics and the emotional part of it better."
After hearing from such a good spokeswoman, that last comment about men and women brings to mind a big shift in poly sociology that's happened in the last 40 years. I'm certainly not the first to point it out.
When the modern era of multipartnering emerged in the counterculture of the 1960s and 1970s, it was pretty much led by men. Think of Oberon (Tim) Zell, founder of the Church of All Worlds; Bro Jud (John Presmont), founder and leader of the groundbreaking Kerista commune (to which we all owe a debt); and any number of other counterculture gurus. The two key writers in creating the movement were very male: science-fiction author Robert A. Heinlein (no counterculturalist!) and Robert H. Rimmer (The Harrad Experiment, Proposition 31, etc.). We can't skip admit it Hugh Hefner and the Playboy Philosophy. The free love of that era sometimes had male-entitlement overtones that put women off. In fact, female reaction against it played a key role in the birth of modern feminism, which gestated in the counterculture around 1969-70.
By contrast, today's polyamory movement, which got going in the 1980s and 1990s, has been a remarkably female enterprise. A good majority of its creators, leaders, authors, and spokespeople were and are women.
Think of Deborah Anapol (Love Without Limits); Loving More founder and powerhouse Ryam Nearing and her successors Mary Wolf and Robyn Trask; Dossie Easton and "Catherine A. Liszt"/Janet Hardy (The Ethical Slut); Wendy-o Matik (Redefining Our Relationships), Celeste West (Lesbian Polyfidelity); Morning Glory Zell, creator or popularizer of the word "polyamorous"; Jennifer Wesp, creator of the original alt.polyamory usenet newsgroup; Janet Kira Lessin, Polyfamilies Yahoo group founder Noel and her successor Julie; Polyamory Weekly podcaster cunning minx; Northwest poly event organizer Theresa Brennan; Anita Wagner; Unitarian-Universalist poly leaders Jasmine Walston and Valerie White; academics Elizabeth F. Emens, Elisabeth Sheff, Serena Anderlini-D'Onofrio, Geri D. Weitzman, Joy Davidson, Elaine (Cascade Spring) Cook, Leanna Wolfe, Meg Barker, Barbara M. Foster; and on and on. (Apologies to folks I missed.)
Male poly leaders have certainly accomplished a great deal, but there are fewer of them.
Any theories why?