Spreading poly awareness in Latin America (updated)
El Ciudadano (Chile)
Radio Tandil (Argentina)
El País (Uruguay)
How well does the poly movement, built and shaped mostly in the U.S., carry over into different cultures?
The idea is certainly enticing and as we know too well, it practically begs for misperception and misuse to rationalize bad behavior among people who don't get it.
So, could it turn into another piece of American cultural imperialism, wreaking havoc in cultures that don't handle it well? Call me paranoid, but I'm always expecting unintended consequences....
In Latin America, at least, the core concepts and values are getting communicated to at least some audiences very accurately, judging by media coverage there.
In Colombia, the weekly magazine Revista Semana published a long article that went up on its website last weekend. Translated:
Love one another
TRENDS -- The belief that it's possible to love two people at once is the basis of poliamor, a growing trend in several countries. In the United States it already has over half a million followers. [That number, BTW, is lifted from last month's Newsweek online article. I've yet to learn where the Newsweek writer got it.] Terisa Green is a 41-year-old filmmaker and actress who started a relationship with Scott 12 years ago. Then Scott met Larry and invited him to join the couple....
According to the Polyamory Society, a nonprofit organization based in Washington, United States [which actually seems to exist only as someone's website], "Polyamory is a nonpossessive, honest, responsible and ethical philosophy and practice that emphasizes consciously choosing how many partners one wishes to be involved with." The website Poliamoría.com defines it as intimate relationships between several people at once, with each of those involved giving full consent to what is happening.
Although love among several people is not something many do these days, since the late-60s boom touted by the free-love hippies, the topic has been formalized and some have defined polyamory as the new romanticism. On Facebook there are 136 groups registered with this word, and there are movements in countries with strong Catholic influences such as Spain and Mexico.
Unlike swinging, where the relationship is based solely on sexual satisfaction, polyamory is based on deeper emotional commitments....
...Polyamory covers a wide range of relationship forms: some people are married and live with another without all sleeping together; others have occasional outside partners whom the other member of the couple may not see but knows about the relationship's existence. There are also groups where all members have sex at once, and others where sex is restricted to specific members of the group.
Criticisms of this model have not been lacking.... For Ernesto Martín, an expert in clinical family psychology at the Universidad de la Sabana, "Blurring love between several people can be ambiguous, and what happens is that it gets confused with feelings such as custom or friendship." Others think that having more than one partner decreases love.
However, for Yves-Alexandre Thalmann, psychologist and author of the book Las Virtudes del Poliamor, "Love cannot be conceived as a quantity, but as a quality of being human. A mother who has several children does not love one more than another." So too thinks Janet Hardy, coauthor of the book The Ethical Slut: A Practical Guide to Polyamory. She compares love to "a muscle that the more you use, the stronger and more flexible it becomes." To Nancy Prada, a philosopher with a master's degree in gender, love is not a cake to be divided into several pieces; she says that on the contrary, what we have is an "expansion of the capacity to love."
Nancy Prada is perhaps the person who has done the most to spread polyamory in this country, through her blog Sexo de Sofía [on the site of the Colombian newspaper El Tiempo]. More than two years ago she decided to explore different forms of relationship. She currently has a relationship with someone she met in Europe. "I was unhappy in monogamous relationships and decided to seek other alternatives. In addition, I had an academic preoccupation to explore the issue."
According to Juan Luis Álvarez-Gayou, director of the Mexican Institute of Sexology, the interesting thing with this type of phenomenon is that it puts the crisis in the current couple-model out on the table. "Monogamy has a reason that's economic in nature," he says. "There is the concern to create a home, have children, and ensure a legacy. But the emancipation of women has allowed them to decide on their romantic relationships, to propose more equitable unions, where the woman no longer depends on the man."...
Psychologist and sexologist José Manuel González believes that it's still early to catalog polyamory as the ideal model. "This is not to say that one model is better than another. The interesting thing is that there is a new option, that the idea of marriage is evolving and is attacking the culture of machismo."...
Read the whole article (Aug. 15, 2009).
In Chile, meanwhile, a blogger for Santiago's lefty El Ciudadano ("The Citizen") muses at poetic length on poly's wider personal and political meanings:
Points for considering Polyamory in our lives
By Diana Neri Marina Arriaga
...Surely this is a unique opportunity, to love and live in the honesty of non-monogamy a clear alternative to the emotional conflicts of couples living in a realm that has absorbed the heterosexist fruits of marriage with implications for family and everything that comprises the institution of love.
...Love is not just appropriate to the private sphere.... Are we able to start a complex process of redefining our cultural schemes, deconstructing and questioning each item that we carry in the controversial concept of human nature?
...If we look at the various possibilities and probabilities and start rethinking the way we love, we would, for example, address the social fallacies that create a trap for our fears....
...if I've translated that right. She includes a poem by Borges. Read the whole article.
Update August 24: Another one just popped up. In Argentina, Radio Tandil (LU22, 1140 on the AM dial) just posted a glowing article on its website, though with an incendiary headline:
Polyamory threatens to extinguish monogamy and the infidelity taboo
By Brenda Focas
A movement born in the United States and spreading to several countries is increasingly militant about this way of life. In Argentina it is still sheltering in Internet forums, but it's proudly claiming honesty, respect and love involving more than one relationship with the consent of the parties involved. It members say that monogamy is hypocritical or an [unrealistic] ideal, and in many cases, that polyamory has helped them strengthen their couple relationships.
"I am poliamorosa. My husband and I believe you can have more than one romantic relationship at a time, with love and honesty among all. We do not want casual sex, or groups, or swinging," says Juliet. She calls herself adept at this practice, based on assumptions that today could be thought of as almost existential: love, fidelity (with established commitments), honesty and respect toward each of the members. The point, ultimately, is to maintain a lasting, loving relationship with several people simultaneously, with full knowledge and consent of everyone involved.
In Argentina, although there are no activist groups as in the U.S., Britain or Spain, many people take it as a way of life, compared to what they consider the "hypocrisy" of monogamy.
..."For me it is much easier to live my day to day life with the freedom to form relationships, and to share everything with my husband. The last time I was with a woman his eyes shone, and it felt good for him to talk to me of that special moment," says Marina naturally....
...The poliamantes even tend to raise children as a community, to learn the values of free love, and they often belong to the financial elite or artistic, cultural or intellectual vanguard....
The article goes on to quote several approving academics and authors. Read the whole article.
Update August 27: And another, this time in El Argentino (Buenos Aires). This one is a Spanish translation of the July 29th Newsweek online article. You can read it here (Aug. 26, 2009). As of this moment there are no comments yet! Be the first.
Update September 7: Some tongue-in-cheek commentary from El País in Montevideo, Uruguay, which apparently ran the article that was reprinted at Radio Tandil:
The rise of polyamory
In the United States, Great Britain, Germany and Spain there exist today increasing year by year for the last twenty groups of highly evolved people disposed to eliminate from the marital dictionary two words that only serve, in their conviction, to destabilize the relationship between marriage partners, as well as practitioners of concubinage: hypocrisy and infidelity....
Here's the whole article (Sept. 9, 2009).
Here are all my entries tagged Latin America. There must be many more items I've missed. Links, anyone?