"In Mainstream Media, Polyamory is Getting Attention"
In Mainstream Media, Polyamory is Getting Attention
By Erica Thomas
Mainstream media appears to suddenly have an appetite for polyamory.... In recent years, I’ve been surprised to find stories about happy people in non-monogamous, non-dyad relationships popping up pretty frequently in major newspapers, magazines, and on news sites.
Our culture’s ideas about what’s a “conventional” relationship has been expanding for decades in many ways.... As part of that shift, non-monogamy appears to have entered the public sphere as something we can casually discuss over breakfast. Suddenly polyamory trend pieces are everywhere....
...After reading through dozens of stories about non-monogamy published in the past few years, I found that three basic stories kept being repeated. I’ll refer to these three groupings as the Comfortable Distance story, the Personal Profile, and the Slippery Slope.
A 2009 Newsweek article exemplifies the “comfortable distance” framing of what they refer to as “the phenomenon.” The article by Jessica Bennett asks whether polyamory is “the next sexual revolution” and lays out a fairly neutral description of non-monogamous relationships for the uninitiated. But it sets off non-monogamy as something that most people would find bizarre....
...[Sierra] Black’s essay nicely illustrates the personal profile. Many of the most complicated and humanist portrayals of non-monogamous relationships are done as interviews or profiles of an actual person who is trying some version of non-monogamy. These are typically compassionate, intimate stories....
...The political right has been identifying non-monogamous relationships as part of a slippery slope that starts with marriage equality and leads not only to polyamory but to polygamy, child abuse, incest, and the right to marry anything.... Even within the slippery slope articles, some are more judicious in their approach than others.
It does seem that non-monogamy is becoming mainstream enough to discuss openly now. It helps that more people in open relationships are coming out and speaking up about their experiences. As coverage increases, reports on non-monogamy seem to be moving to a more positive place — one that dispels myths by encouraging polyamorous people at the center of the stories speak for themselves....
Erica Thomas is an artist, writer, filmmaker, project manager, and feminist (among other things) based in Portland, OR.
Read the whole 2,000-word article (April 9, 2014).
Previous poly articles in Bitch, including several advice columns by Megan Carpentier, "Ms. Opinionated."