The Week: "What polyamory can teach us about the economics of family life"
The Week is a major mainstream weekly newsmagazine in print and online. Jeff Spross, the economics and business correspondent for TheWeek.com, posted this article a few hours ago.
What polyamory can teach us about the economics of family life
(Yeah, it's a dumb illustration, but that's what they used.)
Polyamory seems to be having a moment, thanks in large part to the looser sexual mores of the millennial generation. But Kaitlyn Mitchell at Mic.com recently dinged the trend for largely being the province of well-off white people.
The funny thing is, stable traditional marriages in recent decades have also become a hallmark of the well-off. While we tend to think of marriage and polyamory as diametric opposites, the ability to engage in either form of relationship is a privilege — one that requires economic stability and a certain amount of affluence to access.
Part of the problem Mitchell identifies is clearly about race: there's the overwhelming whiteness of polyamorist communities, the relative discomfort and “othering” non-white people face, and the tendency to exoticize or fetishize non-white women especially. But a big part of it is also about class: multiple studies show big majorities of polyamorists — at least two-thirds and often more — are employed in professional jobs and have at least a bachelor’s degree.
Buying tickets to events, throwing parties, or purchasing fetish wear — these are just a few of the costs of polyamory. And jobs for the lower classes don’t just pay poorly; they also often lack benefits, paid leave, and stable schedules. So people in those jobs have much less time or energy to devote to dates, to community events, and to nurturing multiple relationships....
The elitist tinge of many polyamory circles "disregards the costs of sexual health, pregnancy, money, and time that affect people without a built-in safety net," wrote Vivienne Chen, a journalist and sexuality activist, in 2014. "A polyamorous party can be starkly alienating for a working class, non-urban individual, especially if they’re also the only person of color in the room."
Ironically, almost the exact same type of class divide has opened up in good old-fashioned monogamous marriages. The collapse of marriage for the poor and working class over the last few decades — and the rise of divorce, single-parent homes, and general chaos in family structure — is well-documented at this point. But the marital class divide also occurs for roughly the same reasons as the polyamorist class divide....
...[Economic security] frees you up to take more risks in your emotional life, whether it’s the risk of pledging yourself to one human being for life, or the risk of sleeping around, or whatever else floats your boat.
Read the whole article (Feb. 10, 2015). I was a bit annoyed by his conflating polyamory with expensive kink parties and "sleeping around," and by that patriarchal graphic they used. Go join the comments. Update: There is no comment section. Sorry!