Germany: Giant nude puppy pile on newsmagazine cover, re the West's poly future
Focus magazine devoted its May 22nd cover story to the future of sex and relationships in the Western world, and polyamory is the theme from which the entire article flows. For nine pages. However, I think there's less here than meets the eye.
What meets the eye on the cover is the most beautiful all-nude puppy pile I've ever seen. The article itself begins with a wider shot. Note the toddler and mom at left. No, this is not an actual poly pod; the caption says it's a performance-art exhibit in a museum's Rubens Hall.
The cover headline is, "How Shall I Love — and If I Shall, How Many? Why emotions, sex, and our relationships are going to change." (Warning, I don't read German, I puzzle at it with Google Language Tools and Babel Fish. If I've screwed up anywhere tell me.)
Focus is supposed to be what passes for a conservative magazine over there, at least on economic issues. It claims to have a high-end, information-savvy audience.
How shall I love and if I shall, how many?
By Focus editor Carin Pawlak and reporter Andreas Wenderoth
Several partners at the same time. Potency into old age. The end of romance, but of egoism too. And men could be the losers of tomorrow. Futurists and scientists describe how emotions, sex and relationships are going to change.
Silvio Wirth and Mara Fricke love three-dimensionally. They love polyamorously — in which you have multiple partners, for head, heart and body. In 2030 Wirth, a psychologist, will be 60 and Fricke, an art therapist, will be 56. And maybe they will smile a bit about the fact that they had already anticipated the future in 2010.
They live as a family with their daughter in Belzig, Brandenburg. In addition to practicing tantra they are teaching that partnerships can be boundless. They have several secondary affairs, open and "with the consent or approval of all parties." They are both happy with this agreement. "Even if there are painful moments in which we grow, we want to."
Can we imagine a future of multi-dimensional love? And so, also, a future of other emotions in 3-D, as it were? For philosopher and writer Sven Hillenkamp, the lifestyle of Silvio Wirth and Mara Fricke is a realistic possibility in the world of 2030. "Networks of people living polyamorously are renewing the idea of open relationship," he says. "These people believe that they can do both long-term: be in a partnership and have unlimited possibilities."
...These developments, however, only make visible by exaggeration — like works of art — how society as a whole is changing....
And from there the article ranges off into dark and sophisticated ruminations on the end of romantic love, Brave New World dystopias, the aging and shrinking of the German population, the disintegration of the family, a future of singles living alone with polyamorous love for their many electronic gadgets; trial marriages and drug-enhanced sexed-up old people "who will drink wine not from South Africa but from Schleswig-Holstein, where, thanks to climate change, flowering vineyards will cover the landscape," as they slip away from reality into big-screen virtual-reality 3-D.
And on it goes seeming to me like a big, disappointing exercise in literary thumbsucking — we're such big thinkers, we're jaded and funny and depressed and that makes us important. But it's all in German so what do I know. Comments, please?
Read the whole thing. Or, since the magazine is multinational, try reading it in Portuguese! (flip the pages with your mouse).
Coming back down to reality, here is a more focused introductory article in the Austrian newspaper Oberösterreichische Nachrichten:
Happiness is more love
In times of globalization, enhanced communication is changing our lives — and love. Unusual forms of relationship are increasingly being tried. This is about polyamory, the ability to love several people at the same time.
In German cities the theme of polyamorous love is more and more in vogue.
"More and more people believe that serial monogamy may not be the optimal way to happiness," says Wolf Schneider, editor of a magazine with a focus on esoteric Tantra. "These people do not have to hide their affairs. When you fall in love, you do not have to dispose of a person as an Ex. You are looking for loyalty and adventure at the same time — deep, lasting love and commitment, without having to build a prison for each other."
..."Polyamory is a major challenge to the individual," says Schneider.... Jealousy is the biggest hurdle, according to polyamorous lovers in real life. Ideally, the principal partner of a jealous person should treat them carefully, acceptingly, and concomitantly, similar to how one deals with the grief of a friend who has lost a loved one, or the fear of a child afraid to learn to swim. Such an attitude and willingness to meet with intense feelings is itself often a learning process. Therefore, lack of jealousy is seen as less important than willingness to face it....
Read the whole article (Aug. 8, 2009).
In one of Germany's major daily newspapers:
What is Polyamory? "Currently the situation is complex"
Philip Schiebler, 24, and his girlfriend Inci, 23, have a polyamorous relationship. Actually, only Philip has several girlfriends. Inci is "monoamorous" because she so far hasn't fallen in love with another man. Sounds complicated? It is; nevertheless it works....
See the original in Süddeutsche Zeitung, Munich (Jan. 12, 2010). To read past the first paragraph you have to pay 2 euros.
The spiritual/ New Age German magazine Connection devoted an entire issue to polyamory (issue number 85). The cover shows a lady holding three flowers for three guys with the headline:
I love you all!
The trend toward polyamory. And the eternal question is: solo, mono or poly — which makes for the happiest?
You can read some of the issue online or buy it for 9 euros.
An interview with Silvio Wirth appeared in the trashy, huge-circulation tabloid Bild, August 25, 2009 (full of NSFW soft-core porn ads). Wirth guesses in the interview that there are 10,000 polys in Germany. With the article is a lively video of the newspaper collecting person-on-the-street reactions to the topic.
This is a huge improvement over the last time we heard from Bild, when it reacted (or pretended to) with shocked moralistic horror.
Here is a lovely German TV show portraying Juliette Siegfried and her happy triad family with a toddler.
News.de published an interview with writer and lawyer Regula Heinzelmann, who "explains how multiple simultaneous relationships are feasible, and one's responsibility to partners, and logistical problems":
Fifteen years ago you published a book about polygamy [Die neuen Paare: Anleitung zur Polygamie / The New Couples: Instructions for Polygamy]. Have things changed since then?
Heinzelmann: Not really. I practice and I support this way of life today. At that time I called it polygamy, but now there is the word polyamory. I find it better. At that time the youth were extremely against it. The reason was that their parents, in part due to infidelity, divorced often, which unfortunately also happens today. Young people saw avoiding other relationships as better. Women also were critical. Men less so, because polyamorous relationships are much more difficult for men than for women....
Read the whole article (March 11, 2009). It also includes a video clip of editorial commentary.
Here's an article in the Electronic Journal of Human Sexuality: Friend hoppers, pleasure activism, the Schlampagne and the Octopus: Non-monogamous activism in the German lesbian-feminist subculture.
From the abstract: "Based on interviews with six activists, this article sketches four different approaches to activism around non-monogamous relationship concepts in the German lesbian-feminist subculture in the past thirty years." (Aug. 2, 2009).
"Schlampagne?" Well, a group of people made a documentary film. From the film's website (scroll down there for English):
In 2007 the first ”Ferien in Schlampenau”, which roughly translates to “Vacations in Slut Meadow”, took place in Germany, becoming since then an annual feminist summer camp for women who challenge the concept of monogamy as the sole accepted relationship model. (Watch ad.)
...In this DIY, no-budget film, voice is given to four participants in Schlampenau and they speak about polyamory, the camp itself, feminism, queer identities and their dreams for the future.
And I'm sure that's just a sample.
Here are some German resources:
Important German poly site: www.polyamorie.de, which includes a list of further German media coverage and an extensive book list in German and other languages.
"Polyamory on the Internet" page on the website of the German magazine Connection; loads of German links.
Vienna Poly People site, with German links.
OBHD (Offene Beziehung Heidelberg), with list of links.
Can't skip ZEGG (Zentrum für Experimentelle Gesellschaftsgestaltung), though it's not explicitly poly.