Poly for young South African women
Last November Zama Nkosi, a female writer for South Africa's edition of Cosmopolitan (the country's "number one young women's magazine"), approached South Africa's small but vigorous poly community seeking folks to interview. She promised people that they could check their quotes before the article was printed. On that basis several talked to her. They found her nice and professional. They never heard back. The March issue just appeared on newsstands with the poly article flagged on the cover ("POLYAMORY EXPOSED"). Inside, the subjects were surprised to find the article appearing under a different byline: Dr. J. Eugene Botha, a TV and film documentarian.
Despite this inauspicious start, they're pretty happy with how the article came out.
Polyamory: Would You?
Being in more than one openly declared loving, committed relationship is a growing trend around the world and in South Africa. But could it work for you? By Eugene Botha
...Christel Breedt, 28, a restaurant manager in Cape Town, and her 31-year-old husband Arno, are two of a growing number of local polyamorists. She says fear of rejection by friends, family, and society are what stops the polyamorous community from coming out. Still, she and Arno say they can count five poly couples among their personal friends.
In a country where polygamy which involves multiple marriages is legal under African traditional law, multiple relationships are appealing to people of all races. 'People who are open to poly are generally open-minded. It's not race specific,' [therapist Suzanne] Patterson says. 'I've met polys of all races and the common thread is that they are all open to alternative lifestyles.'
The Poly Payoff
'Various aspects of our personalities are shared with different partners,' says Christel. "It's very fulfilling to be able to have different romantic experiences without having to 'break up' with a person you already care for.'
...The freedom that polyamory allows both sexes makes it very attractive to women in particular, says Christel. 'In the past a man with many partners was "experienced" and a multi-partnered women was a "slut." Polyamory allows women freedom of sexual expression that previously only men had,' she says....
In a country where the adult HIV infection rate is 30 times that in the U.S., safer sex is an especially pressing issue:
'I ask my partners to have blood tests for HIV, syphilis, gonorrhea, and chlamydia," says Melanie. 'I also insist on condoms, femidoms and gloves (should someone have a cut on a hand), and dental dams for oral sex with a woman. I can't police my partners but I can choose to trust them and make sure I stick to my guns as far as physical protection goes.'
The story closes on a high note:
'A person who is serious about poly understands that managing two or more loving relationships has to have a higher level of commitment, not lower,' says Patterson. Christel agrees. 'Polyamory is hard work. Having more than one girlfriend means having to remember two birthdays rather than one, having to comfort twice as many people when they cry, having to answer twice as many e-mails and arrange twice as many dinner dates and special outings.' But this also means 'twice as many people to let you cry on their shoulder, twice as many chances to have sex, twice as many arms to fall asleep in and twice as many deep conversations in the moonlight.'
The article includes a polyspeak vocabulary and weblinks. It's not online, but here are scanned pages: page 1, page 2.
Comments one of the people in the story, "Great article mostly painting poly in a positive light, except for one small part which questions the possibility of loving more than one person equally at the same time. As far as I'm aware, poly never advocated that!... We are all individual and different, hence it's impossible to love two people in exactly the same way."
Another: "They quoted me quite extensively, but I was frustrated that some of the points I had put more emphasis on were overlooked.... Not a bad result in the end though, given that they could only fit so much into a two-pager."
Any lessons here? Maybe (1) don't assume that something like Cosmo will treat you with professional journalism standards, (2) get promises in writing, (3) the result may come out fine anyway.
Incidentally, on the magazine's website is a previous article (undated) with a new word for "monogamish": "Dare You Flirt with Flexogamy?" Including this bit:
Don't get them wrong: they're not free-love freaks without boundaries. 'We're not polyamorists,' insists Simon in fact, every couple in a similar arrangement we spoke to insisted the same. 'Polyamory means you want to be in love with lots of people, but we're monogamous in love,' he continues. They have a very long and specific list of guidelines they abide by....
Googling suggests that "flexogamy" was introduced by Cosmo in 2006 and has failed to take hold anywhere else.
Labels: South Africa