"Don't Follow the New 'Poly' Rules"
Kjeld Lindsted has written an article on PolicyMic that's now going around the polywebs. It seems to have stuck a nerve.
Have Multiple Lovers, But Don't Follow the New 'Poly' Rules
By Kjeld Lindsted
Polyamory's success in popular media is making it a national fetish.
Polyamorous relationships — the practice of having multiple lovers — are all over the news.... In the last couple of years there has been an explosion of discussion around alternative relationship styles, and now that the gay marriage debate is all but over, at least legally, it seems that everyone is looking for the next sexual frontline. This is good news, and something I predicted a few months ago, but all the media attention does have an unfortunate, though not wholly unexpected, side effect: polynormativity.
The triad from Season 1 of
Showtime's Polyamory: Married & Dating
While I didn’t coin the term (that credit goes to Andrea Zanin of Sex Geek), I’m happy to help spread the warning. "Polynormativity" refers to the general sense of what should constitute a normal poly relationship. According to Andrea, this normalized media version of polyamory generally includes four popular misconceptions about the movement:
● Poly relationships are built around a “couple”.
● Polyamory depends on hierarchy.
● Poly relationships require a lot of rules to work well.
● Polyamory is practiced by white, young, cute people and usually tracks the “one penis per party” theory of modern patriarchy.
While I’ll leave you in Andrea’s capable hands if you’re looking for more detail on each issue, I’d like to focus on the bigger problem that her article addresses, particularly because it’s this bigger picture that is at stake in the ongoing political/social debate about the future of sex.
The recent fervor in the LGBQA community over marriage rights aside, the entirety of the alternative sexuality movement has historically been about challenging the monogamy norm. It absolutely wasn’t about replacing that norm with another, equally restrictive, objective alternative. Instead, it was about choice. The freedom of each individual to pick for themselves the relationship/ romance/ sexuality style that works best for them....
It is this freedom that the polyamory movement really supports, and it is this freedom that is at stake if polynormativity takes too deep a root in our popular imagination....
If the polyamory movement is to accomplish anything, we... have to take the time to explain that polyamory is about options, not about rethinking monogamy by simply adding a side-car....
Read the whole article (Oct. 7, 2013).
And while we're on what can happen as poly becomes trendy, Simon Broussard recently wrote on Polytripod about crappy pseudo-poly Lines to Watch Out For:
..."What I'm doing is morally and ethically transparent. So what's your problem?"
"Your issues are your own weakness. Consider this a 'growth opportunity' for you."
"You're an adult. Figure out something to do. I'm going out tonight."
"Why are you blaming me - I told you I was going to sleep with him."
..."I decided to fluid bond with her over the weekend. Any questions?"
"Maybe I did promise to go with you to that family event this weekend. Still, she's in town, so I'm going to go with her."
..."My husband and I, we've decided ..."
...Selfishness. Dictating Terms. Guilt trips. Tantrums. Absolutes. Ultimatums.
You know, for a relationship style that supposedly promotes such lofty concepts as compersion and sacrifice, there's a whole lot of ... me ... that gets in the way.
...Certainly there's nothing wrong with being your own advocate and asking for what you want. But if what you want becomes the last word and you've left no recourse for your partner, then your will is forcibly imposed and the issue is closed. That's not healthy....
If you're practicing Polyamory, then you've an opportunity here to catch yourself in selfish moments and attempt to rise above it. Look carefully at what you're saying, or your potential action.... Become aware of yourself, your words, your feelings, and your actions, and how they might affect others you care about.
Read on (Oct. 6, 2013).
Labels: Poly 101