Polyamory in the News!
. . . by Alan M.



October 21, 2018

Oberon Zell, co-creator of the word, on polyamory today – and being hated on in the NYC community



Oberon Zell-Ravenheart is a legendary figure from the beginnings of the modern poly movement. In 1961 as a college freshman, he discovered science-fiction author Robert Heinlein's new Stranger in a Strange Land and became the book's foremost evangelist, helping it to become a "bible for multi-love believers" by the late 1960s. In the 60s and 70s he helped advance and popularize Neo-Paganism with his Church of All Worlds, inspired in part by Stranger. And he became a practicing wizard.

His life partner Morning Glory Zell-Ravenheart is especially known for inventing the word polyamory. In a kitchen-table discussion at the home of Deborah Anapol and Paul Glassco in Mill Valley, California, around 1988, the four of them were trying to come up with a succinct word for their community's deep belief in, as Morning Glory defined it, "having more than one sexual loving relationship at the same time, with the full knowledge and consent of all partners involved." "Polyamory" was what they settled on. Morning Glory first published the term poly-amorous in the Beltane (Spring) 1990 issue of the Church of All Worlds magazine Green Egg, and Oberon says they published polyamory in a glossary leaflet at a convention soon after. If you wonder why the early poly movement was so full of Pagans, Scadians, and science fiction fans as it started to take off, their influence is why.

Well into his 70s now, Oberon is currently on a "Walkabout" around the Americas, visiting friends, lovers, pagans, and poly groups and looking for his next life direction. His belief in magical thinking — literally, via ritual magic — does not seem to have had much practical result; after many failed ventures he has been impoverished for years and has been living by his wits and the generosity of friends and lovers.

Earlier this month he was in New York, where he met with local poly organizers — who apparently chastized him about current identity-politics orthodoxies (he's an old white male) — and he gave an interview to the new website Polyquality, which is produced by longtime poly organizer Leon Feingold with help from Sarah Taub.

Some long excerpts:


A Conversation with Oberon Zell-Ravenheart

Posted October 5, 2018

Oberon Zell-Ravenheart... visited New York City this week for the first time in years, and was gracious enough to sit down and answer some questions....

PQ: What brings you from California to New York and what are your plans while here?

OZ: I have a number of wonderful sweet lovers around the country, and I’m currently on Walkabout to visit and spend time with them all. While here I plan on attending the Poly Drinks and Thinks at Retro this upcoming Monday, and enjoying conversations and food with whomever shows up to join us, after which I admit I am quite curious about Poly Cocktails and would like to take a look.

...PQ: I read Robert A. Heinlein’s Stranger in a Strange Land in middle school, and I identify it (along with The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, in college) as the most important book I’d ever read in my formative years, guiding me both with respect to ethical non-monogamy, and many more aspects of my personality. To what extent did the book shape your vision for polyamory and Church of All Worlds?

OZ: SISL was a HUGE influence on all of us! I (and a number of reviewers of the time) considered it to be the most significant influence on the entire sexual revolution of the ‘60s, as well as the real-life CAW which gave rise to the entire modern Pagan movement. Heinlein’s definition of Love as “that condition in which another person’s happiness is essential to your own” became our fundamental concept, and a core of what today is called compersion. And the poly relationship dynamic described in the book became our model for our own relationships, which we eventually labeled “polyamory.” SISL was kinda our “Bible,” and everyone who came into our lives was expected to read it, if they hadn’t already (unsurprisingly, nearly all had)....

The actual experiences [of group marriage] vastly exceeded all expectations and visualizations. We found we could do and be so much more as a group family than we ever could without each other. Even though we are now geographically dispersed since MG’s death, we’re still very close in our love; and our kids, now grown with kids of their own, still consider themselves dear brothers and sisters.

PQ: I’ve always wanted to ask this question: why “polyamory” and not “polyphilia” (Greek) or “multiamory” (Roman)?

OZ: That’s the exact conversation MG and I had that led to the term. Many people had been trying to come up with terms to describe such relationships that preferably didn’t have the root “gamy” (marriage) in them. Terms such as “polyfidelity,” “responsible non-monogamy,” “panfidelity,” “omnigamy,” etc., were being tossed around in the many articles of the time. “Polyphilia” sounds like a disease, or worse, an affliction, like pedophilia. “Multiamory” just sounded awkward. But “Polyamory” sounded perfect and self-explanatory, so that’s what she went with....

-------------------------

PQ: How has polyamory changed since you and your family first started practicing it?

OZ: There are actually two main answers I have to this question, one positive and one negative. The first revolves around evolution of word usage as relates to identity, perspective, and definitions. Please keep in mind that MG wrote her 1990 “Bouquet of Lovers” article as a request from our third partner, Diane, who was editing Green Egg at the time. They’d been discussing someone who was claiming to be in an “open relationship” (the best term we had at that point), and being sneaky and dishonest about it. MG said, “Well, he’s just not following the rules!” And Diane said, “You’re always referring to these unwritten ‘rules.’ How about you write an article on them for GE?” So she did.

But at that time, MG was writing from the perspective of a couple looking to open their relationship (or marriage; the most common term was “open marriage”) to include other lovers. So those were the “rules” she wrote up, on how to do that successfully to the positive benefit of all. So a core element was that of commitment priority, so as not to jeopardize the relationship between the initial couple. Hence reference to “primary,” “secondary,” etc. relationships.

Diane, MG and I (and later MG’s previous husband, Gary, who married Diane to join our new family) felt our Triad was entirely stable, and we all knew where we stood in it. But insofar as MG was advising other couples on how to open their relationships, the element of priorities was crucial for the security of all. ... However, as time went on, we realized that often the secondary partners in such relationships were not happy about being relegated to second place. ...

As to the negative change I referenced, there seems to be less of the innocent Hippie/Pagan love and exuberant idealism that so characterized the early glory days of the ‘80s-‘90s. ... Some of our biggest challenges within the polyamory community have taken place quite recently; it’s been challenging maintaining clarity of the definition with people who keep wanting to change it to something else in order to fit their own reinterpretations of value, ethics, and history. The movement seems to have gotten more politicized, and downright meaner. We are now seeing poly people using their public platforms to be judgmental, disrespectful, and exclusive, ironically the opposite of what we always stood for as cultural groundbreakers in the United States.

PQ: I understand you had a surprising experience along those lines recently....

OZ: This week, for the first time, I experienced what I can only describe as unmitigated hostility coming from certain vocal poly folks, who seemed to despise me for my role in launching the movement they apparently think of as theirs alone. It left me just stunned. I’d never encountered such a hostile reception in the communities I’ve founded and been involved in, all my life. I’ve attended countless Poly and Pagan gatherings around the country and in Australia, often as a guest of honor, and I’ve always received a warm welcome as a founding Elder. But in this scenario, I was rudely and ignorantly accused of being a colonizer, a racist, and worse, by people I’d never met, based exclusively on my being a white cisgender male who was credited alongside others in my peer group with the development and popularity of modern polyamory, and their assumptions about what that meant. Anyone who did any research – or engaged in civil conversation – would learn that MG (who was part Chocktaw for whatever that is worth) and I were avid students of cultural anthropology (I have a degree in it), and were always particularly interested in learning all we could about sex and marriage relationships in other cultures, as we ourselves had always been naturally poly long before we coined terms for it. ... As far as we knew, there simply hadn’t been any other name for exactly what we’d come up with, and certainly none we could find in English.

Polyamory was just our term we came up with for precisely how MG and I and our community lived. ... But these angry people were not only insisting that MG didn’t even coin these terms, but that they were invented long ago by some unidentified non-white people! (As if all white people were always monogamous – they’d presumably never heard of the ancient Greeks, Sumerians, Celts, Vikings, etc.) Nonmonogamous relationships have existed in every human culture.... A major point of both Paganism and Polyamory is that they are INclusive of all people who wish to identify with them, regardless of any other attributes, such as skin color, etc. Ancient Pagan peoples were of all places and colors.… We all lived in tribal villages and communities, and shared far more in common than our differences.

PQ: Sounds like you walked into a firestorm you weren’t expecting. Welcome to New York?

OZ: Certainly I had no idea what I was stepping into when I just blithely and innocently accepted an offer to attend a poly party, exactly the sort of thing I’ve been doing all across the country (and in Guatemala) for the past 4 months.... The saddest thing to me is that a movement that started out being all about love – expansive love, “Loving More” – has now degenerated into a campaign of hate, directed particularly towards its very founders. ... I acknowledge that because of my status as a white, cis, male Elder, there very well may have been situations in my orbits where racism existed and I was unaware, or a power dynamic was in place that I didn’t see. I by no means am trying to take away or denigrate anyone else’s experiences or emotions. ...

PQ: So let’s focus instead on the positives. What have been your best memories since you first identified as polyamorous?

OZ: Group sex would have to be high on that list for me! Many sweet and delightful threesomes, and a few wondrous orgies. I always say the biggest problem with monogamy is that nobody gets to sleep in the middle. Our wonderful group marriage families, and all living together, working on family projects, raising our kids together, presenting at festivals and polycons, going on camping trips and other adventures, such as the International New Age Trade Show in Denver every Summer Solstice, etc. Especially when the whole Ravenheart clan all lived together in a beautiful and spacious eco-house on 94 acres near to Wavy Gravy’s Hog Farm in Laytonville, CA. ...Creating amazing rituals for our community, including reviving the ancient Eleusinian Mysteries; developing Mythic Images as a family business, and sculpting statues to produce and market. Our group handfastings (marriages). 20 years of this! Enough beautiful memories for several lifetimes!

PQ: How have YOU changed – other than years going by – since you first identified as polyamorous?

MG and OZ
OZ: ...Not a lot, other than growing older (which is far better than the alternative!). But I haven’t really slowed down much. I’m still quite sexually active, with a number of enthusiastic sweet lovers around the country, ranging in age from 38 to 77, who all know of each other, though not all have met in person. Polyamory has been one of the best things in my life, running neck-and-neck with Paganism and Magick. I cannot imagine how I could have gotten through the death of my beloved lifemate, Morning Glory, without my other lovers giving me a reason to go on. ...

PQ: What is the most important message you have to share, whether people are new to poly or consider themselves veteran poly people?

OZ: Remember, it’s all about the Love. Be impeccable in your open honesty with each other, and with yourselves. Not everyone is cut out for polyamory, and that’s OK. I think the most common default relationship dynamic for most people is probably serial monamory, not polyamory. Be honest with yourself: is this really who you are? Can you handle your lovers having other lovers? Being poly means no cheating, no deception. And no jealousy. If you can’t handle that, don’t claim to be poly! But if you truly are polyamorous at heart and by nature, don’t try to mate with someone who isn’t. That will just result in everyone getting hurt. ...

Also, never make [unrealistic] rules, such as “It’s OK to have sex with other people, but you’re not allowed to fall in love with them.” This is the major reason many poly agreements fail.

PQ: What is next for you?

OZ: I identify with no home; everything I own is in storage in Santa Rosa, except what I brought with me in my car for my Walkabout. Ultimately, I’m searching for a new (and hopefully final) home, and someone to share it with. Where that search will take me, and with whom, is still open. This could be a long journey, and since my lovers are so widely scattered, I will want to keep visiting with them from time to time, which will mean many trips away from whatever home base I may eventually settle into. I have cast my life (and my fate) upon the winds. ...


Read the whole interview.

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October 19, 2018

In Russian state-controlled media: "How polyamory is breaking the rules of love and sex"


Russia Beyond's original logo. Rossiyskaya Gazeta is the
Russian government's official newspaper of record.
 
At first I thought Russia Beyond might be an independent or semi-underground outlet, considering the topic. But no, it's part of the same state-owned and -run conglomerate as Russia Today and many other Putin-controlled media. It's published in 14 languages to improve Russia's image in Eastern Europe and around the world.

So does this mean that discussion of polyamory is officially okay in Russia's current climate — unlike sympathetic gay reporting, which can get you criminal charges or a visit from state-approved thugs? And what is the Russian poly scene actually like? I'd love to hear an informed opinion.

From the English edition:


No more excuses: How polyamory is breaking the rules of love and sex

By Yekaterina Sinelschikova

Society is not ready to accept the polyamorous view on love: the right to have a relationship with multiple people, without the torment from pangs of guilt. Some people, however, think that society’s view on the issue will begin to change. Russia Beyond’s correspondents met with Muscovites who identify as polyamorous.

...It was a small, smoky room in a jazz bar in the center of Moscow: a basement without a sign, between a grocery store and a coffee shop. You can only get to it through the [closet] in the corridor of a tavern. Instead of coats and hangers, there was a passage inside. Six people were inside the room gathered around a table. It was tea time and a single domino was on the table.

“We're not expecting anyone else. The rest are tired after the orgy and will not be coming,” a man with a red beard and a pipe says on top of everyone’s laughter.

All of them are in relationships (or know that they could be in a relationship) with several partners, and each of the partners know about the existence of the others.

He calls himself Tur, like they called the primeval wild bull, which by the 17th century was entirely extinct. There are four other girls in the room, as well as Ian, a non-binary transgender, which means he doesn't consider himself a woman or a man. Everyone shares a single way of life, one philosophy, one modern view of love, which is unaccepted by most of society. All of them are in relationships (or know that they could be in a relationship) with several partners, and each of the partners know about the existence of the others.

"We are polyamorous. In a nutshell, it's ethical non-monogamy," Tur says. “But that’s only if you explain it in the simplest of terms.”

Once upon a time, 41-year-old Tur had a wife. ... Now he still owns the theater, but without his wife. He also builds and sells homes, advises and consults on real estate, builds historic ships like Drakkar or Ushkui, and takes them through northern routes. One of his girlfriends is sitting next to him with her head on his shoulder. She introduced herself as Fox. She wears a spacious t-shirt that does not fit, and on her thin hands she wears multi-colored trinkets made of of beads. She is 18 years old. ... Fox has two girlfriends, two boyfriends and Tur, who lives with her most of the time.

---------------------

This is Ian, a 21 year old designer. He has a rough voice, short, stiff hair on his head and a loose tank top that exposes thick black hair under his arms.

When his family didn't accept him as transgender, he ran away from home. He chose a new name for himself, which has the old Irish meaning of "God is gracious,” and the Hebrew meaning of “Gift of God” (“gift from God”). He has a boyfriend and so far he is in a relationship only with him. But that’s for now.

---------------------

In the turbulent 1990s, a common euphemism amongst students and nonconformists read as follows: "to do friendship," says Tur. You were friends with someone, and suddenly you wanted to have sex with them. But you did not stop being friends. You did not become a couple. You did not become husband and wife. And no one thought that was bad. It was accepted.

For 40 years Tur witnessed how this “acceptance” changed. And despite the fact that the polyamorous community is now keeping a low profile, and most don't want to show off, Tur thinks it's temporary.

"People are afraid or don’t want to notice that the norm is changing,” said Tur. “But some of them are brave enough to say it out loud."


Read the whole article. It's currently one of the six most popular on the site.

Other stories there push some edges a bit, such as a feature on Stalin airbrushing historical figures out of photographs, while others echo the clumsy foreign outreach of old Soviet days: "Why is Russia’s S-400 Triumph Air Defense System So Popular Abroad?" "Why do Russians use tractors on aircraft carriers?" (that's not a joke; a tractor is used in cleaning the deck.) "Inspired by Russia’s greatest commander, Suvorov shortbread cookies are a blast".

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October 12, 2018

"Many Love" poly author is in today's New York Times, on the eve of her wedding


Illustration by Sophie Lucido Johnson, from Many Love

Sophie Lucido Johnson, whose sweet, self-illustrated poly memoir Many Love came out this summer, is getting married tomorrow. And she tells the tale in the Style section of the New York Times  — online today, and in the 10/14 Sunday print edition. Excerpts:


Talking to My Fiancé About My New Girlfriend

After enjoying an open relationship, a couple decides to tie the knot. Just one question: Why must marriage require sexual fidelity for life?

By Sophie Lucido Johnson

Luke came to my front door in New Orleans on a sunny day several years ago with a sparsely decorated cassette tape and said, “I made this for you.” I could tell this was a move he had used with other women, but I had to hand it to him: It was a good one. ... I was charmed that Luke liked music and was obstinately analog about it. ...

-------------------------

...Two years later, we moved from New Orleans to Chicago and rented a one-bedroom apartment. ... But I never wanted to give up dating other people, and neither did Luke. In Chicago, we maintained our Tinder accounts and would lie side-by-side in bed swiping right, occasionally showing off our respective matches.

Polyamory wasn’t something my parents easily understood. My grandparents told me they felt “truly worried” for me. But nothing about our arrangement ever felt unusual. ... Before Luke, I had spent almost a decade building and prioritizing a close platonic friendship with my roommate, and she never minded that I went on dates with other people. Why should it be different with someone I slept with?

...Sometimes I got jealous; sometimes Luke did. We talked about our jealousy at length and afterward felt closer. Three years into our relationship, we kept dating other people, but we noticed that the jealousy just kind of stopped. In the spring, Luke filled our living room with yellow daisies and we got engaged.

The next winter, at a party, I met Kat.

She wore a skintight black dress with see-through keyholes on the sides. I couldn’t stop staring. She was the most beautiful woman I had ever seen in real life.

She was there with her boyfriend, Brendan, who was visiting from Portland, Oregon, and they were also polyamorous. I liked Kat and I liked her boyfriend ... finally Luke told me I should ask her out.

I decided I would ask her out by writing her an actual letter and sending it. The letter had a long list of possible dates and times when we might hang out, and I drew cats on the front of it to indicate how whimsical and carefree I was. ...

--------------------------

People ask me why I’m getting married, considering my open approach to sexual fidelity. ... I’m getting married because I want to promise, in front of my friends and family, that I am going to love Luke forever. I want to assure him that if he can’t pay his rent, or when someone he loves gets sick, or if his car breaks down in an ice storm and he’s stranded on the highway, that he can call me and I’ll be there for him no matter what. ... More than anything, I want Luke to know that I will tell him the truth, and that when the truth is painful I will stop what I’m doing and tend to him until he feels better.

But I am not going to promise him that our love won’t change, and neither will he promise that to me. The fact that love absolutely will change is one of my favorite things about love. Rather, as the love changes, I hope Luke and I will be able to hold each other with compassion; that we will stay curious and empathetic.

One night, after a December evening out, Kat walked me to the train station. Under the overpass, she pulled me toward her and kissed me in a small, sweet way that threw my stomach into knots. ... Talking with the love of my life about falling for Kat has been an incredible gift. Luke pets my hair and lets me wax poetic in a way that most of my friends can only tolerate for so long. And it goes both ways; I root for him when he goes on dates. Kat says she talks to her boyfriend about me, too.

Right before Christmas, Luke and I went to Portland (my family lives there; we always head over for the holidays) and met up with Kat and Brendan. We all went on a date together. After it was over, Luke and I lay awake in my childhood bed, laughing about how sweet and strange and beautiful our lives were turning out. ...

I know not everyone wants to love this way. I understand fear of loss, and I understand wanting to hold something still when it’s good. Ultimately, this particular shape makes sense to me: love as a blob that can’t be pinned down, as something alive, an animal that ventures from person to person but finds places to call home.


Read the whole article (online October 12, 2018; in the print edition October 14). More about the book.


● More from the author: an excerpt from the book published by Refinery29, How Friendship Can Be Just As Intimate As A Relationship (June 27, 2018). In part:


...We agreed to float a little ways down the river, using our forearms to keep ourselves gently tethered to the ground. We reached a place where the water was deep, but a red maple had fallen across its narrow width. We both grabbed hold of the tree so we could stay in one place, tumbling like wind socks in the current.

By the time we fixed ourselves to the tree, Hannah and I had already spent three hours talking nonstop. The conversation rolled forward unpredictably. There were no lulls or awkward pauses; the things we wanted to say turned up without announcement, and then we broke off into other topics altogether.

Women are especially good at this, psychiatrists Jean Baker Miller and Irene Pierce Stiver point out: they engage in “connective” conversations — conversations that are uniquely healing, and, unfortunately, critically absent in public discourse. According to Miller and Stiver, connectivity occurs when both people are equally invested and share the emotional weight of the conversation’s experience. "Connection in this sense does not depend upon whether the feelings are happy or sad or something else; it means having feelings with another person, aside from the specific nature of the feelings."

Conversation with Hannah was long and easy because we were not seeking solutions to our problems. In discussing the pleasures and pains of our daily lives, we constructed reality together. ...

Sometimes I don’t need a solution nearly as much as I need to be told that whatever crazy thing I’m feeling — terrified of going to sleep at night; palpably angry that my local bagel shop has run out of poppy-seed bagels; in love, unconditionally, with people who can’t love me back — is an okay thing to feel. I’m constantly amazed at the ways in which our world believes that uncomfortable feelings are abnormal and should be avoided or fixed at all costs. Hannah never tries to fix my problems; she sits with me in their shadows, engaging with the darkness.


That was then. . .

"Design for the wedding Go-Cups!"

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October 11, 2018

"Polyamory, unicorns, demisexuality: Five takes on monogamy and its alternatives"

A show on Australia's ABC public radio network called The People vs ("where the people debate the ethics of one thorny issue") did a one-hour "The People vs Monogamy" on September 30th. (Listen or download here.) Then yesterday the network posted a web article with extended quotes from the five folks profiled.

It's all less edgy than the title, but it models acceptance of diversity for its mainstream audience. Excerpts:


Is monogamy outdated? We asked five different people. (Pixabay: Gisela Merkuur)

 
Polyamory, unicorns, demisexuality: Five takes on monogamy and its alternatives

By Sue Daniel and Georgia Power

...It seems open relationships are having a moment. ... "The People vs" asked a panel of five people the question: Is monogamy simply outdated?

'Monogamy does not come naturally'

[Dan] Savage says, "One of the problems with monogamy is the unrealistic expectations that we attach to it.

"We conflate monogamous behaviour, successfully executed over five decades, with the sincerity of someone's commitment, with love. A relationship can be sexually exclusive, [but also] abusive, where both parties treat each other with contempt."

Savage has as "an evangelical mission" to reframe monogamy so couples understand that while they may struggle with infidelity, they can also survive it. ...

'It's called demisexual'

Erielle Sudario, from western Sydney, [says], "I have my own views on sex and basically I want to do it with someone I really trust, with someone I'm close with. I'm pretty sure there's a term for it, it's called demisexual or demi-romanticism, and I identify with that aspect of the asexual spectrum."

People who are demisexual/demi-romanticist need to feel a strong emotional connection before feeling sexual attraction. ...

'Hey, maybe this isn't for me'

Stephen Holden... would like to see more open discussion about how difficult it can be to challenge the cultural norm of monogamy. ... He says its taken him more than 50 years to realise that maybe, it's not for him.

..."I'm a little bothered at how difficult it is for people to explore, discuss and to be honest about the fact that 'hey maybe this isn't for me'. I would love to see people more open to that."

Mind meld? Monogamous for life

Peter McCarthy married his high school sweetheart Toria, and they have been together for 40 years. If anything happened to her, he doubts he could ever marry again. ... He references the third mind, a concept where life partners begin to think and feel as one.

'The worst problem is deception'

Columnist, author and dating expert Kerri Sackville [says] "The worst problem is deception, and whether you choose to be in a monogamous relationship or in an open or polyamorous relationship and workshop or talk through your challenges, that's going to be the best option."


The whole article (October 10, 2018).

And here are two more items from Australia since my last batch of them:

● In Melbourne's city magazine The Weekly Review, Three’s not a crowd: The rise of polyamory (May 30, 2018)


(No information or credit)


By Kirsten Robb

When Diane Cameron told people she was polyamorous ten years ago, she always got the same reaction.

“When I used to say, ‘I’m poly’, I’d get a lifted eyebrow and I’d have to explain it,” the life coach says. “But nowadays, I get a shrug or a ‘me too’. I don’t have to spend a half hour explaining to someone I’m not morally corrupt or full of STIs”.

To the monogamous heterosexuals amongst us, it might seem like non-monogamy is suddenly in vogue. If you use dating apps, you might be surprised by the amount of people listing “poly” or “non-monog” in their profile. You may have even seen articles in the newspaper, or Netflix programs with polyamorous plotlines.

But has there actually been a rise in non-monogamous relationships, or is there just a cultural shift in the way we talk about it?

“Polyamory is nothing new,” says Cameron, a relationship coach specialising in polyamorous relationships. “I think what’s new, is the fact we can talk about it a bit more and the fact that the glorious internet gives us the ability to meet like minded people.” ...

(More white-duvet feet, now with nail polish!)

 
...“It does require you to do a lot of work and be really vulnerable,” Alex* says. “It requires you doing a lot of introspection about why you’re having certain feelings and be honest about them.”

But jealousy, secrets, or even that uncomfortable feeling you get when your partner is getting close to someone else – these feelings aren’t specific to non-monogamous relationships. In fact, many in the poly world say that having to operate in a way that acknowledges those feelings actually minimises harm.

“This is just a way for getting through those situations that have always existed, with the largest amount of respect and love for the people around you,” says Alex. “We’re not trying to create a new way of living [Ahem, oh yes, some of us are! –Ed.], it’s a way to talk about it and hurt people less.”



● The Murdochs' News Corp. publications ran this just before the last Sexpo Melbourne: Bradford and Angela Atom are teaching Australians how to be in successful open relationships (Nov. 17, 2017)


A BISEXUAL married couple had done the “normal” married thing. It didn’t work out. This is why they turned to being swingers.

By Vanessa Brown

WHEN Angela and Bradford met for the first time and subsequently started dating, there was a big condition for their relationship to work.

It had to be open.

...Mr and Mrs Atom, from Raleigh in North Carolina, are both bisexual and have been married for three and a half years, moved to Australia after Bradford received a job opportunity too good to pass up.

Both working in the science field, the international move allowed the pair to have a clean slate and be completely open about their relationship from the get go.

“When we moved, we got a free pass to restart everything. When we arrived, we made it a point to be open and honest with everyone about our relationship. ...

The pair, who now live in Sydney and run adult sexual education classes in addition to their full time jobs, said every open relationship was different — but they tend to see other couples together.

“It’s a fun experience, but the key to any successful open relationship is a strong basis of communication and trust,” Mr Atom said. ... This is much more than just sex. ...

...Mr and Mrs Atom saw a gap in adult sexual education market, and made the decision 18 months ago to launch By the Bi — which teaches couples and singles everything they’ve wanted to know about sex, but haven’t felt confident or comfortable enough to ask.

“A lot of people in the 25 to 50 year old age group get their sexual education from porn,” Mr Atom said. “That’s like getting life information from an Avengers movie. ...”


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September 29, 2018

"Polyamory in the context of capitalist culture"


"All polyamory participants talk as if they are living in a social vacuum, unaffected by the wider social order, writes Sydney Peiris."

It's only a letter to the editor — following the Guardian's publishing of All you need is loves: the truth about polyamory four days ago — but I think it's worth attention. This elephant is frequently in the room.


Polyamory in the context of capitalist culture

Alexandra, Mike and Laura are in a polyamorous relationship and featured in Sirin Kale’s G2 article. Photograph: Linda Nylind for the Guardian   

 
In your article (‘There’s so much joy in being poly’, G2, 25 September) one person declares: “What I love about polyamory is that I’m my own person and no one owns me. I don’t own any of you, either. We’re all free.” It seems to me this represents the vision of the human in capitalist culture: the unfettered, autonomous, rational, economic man. All polyamory participants talk about their feelings as if they are living in a social vacuum, unaffected by the wider social order in which they live. Kathleen Lynch, the Irish educationist, argues that our education system too enshrines the rational autonomous subject. Instead she advocates education for nurturing affective relationships and the recognition that we are profoundly dependent and interdependent on others for much of life. Relationships, whether monogamy or poly, are vitiated by the values currently celebrated in capitalist culture: narcissism and hedonism.

Sydney Peiris
Wolverhampton


The letter (Sept. 29, 2018).

The title of the original article, of course, is a takeoff on the Beatles' "All You Need Is Love." I'm with Abbie Hoffman, who said, "But it is not. And this is basically the flaw in Beatle politics. All you need is justice." 1

------------------------------------------------

1 The Cambridge Companion to the Beatles, p. 239.

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September 26, 2018

Oh man, do the tabloids still
love us to death


They're called the red-tops.
So that Polyamory in the News won't be all British tabloids all the time, I've been holding them back. Time to let the dam burst.

Most of these 15 new articles are quite similar: smiling young committed polyfamilies, all white (though one is all genderqueer) — presented with super-long headlines, one-sentence paragraphs, and an undercurrent of "Look at these happy weirdos! You won't BELIEVE how they make it work!" And tons of pics.

Occasionally the subjects of the story manage to transcend the trashy medium, no small feat. Here's one of my favorites. And say what you will, most of these stories could help your tabloid-reading relatives see you and yours in a better light. Or at least see that you're doing a trendy thing, which in tabloid world really matters.

The agencies that supply these stories and pictures to the British tabs often recruit their subjects in the US. I hear they pay well. Nondisclosure agreements keep people pretty mum, so I don't know the going rate. Just assume that their first offer is a lowball to see if you'll fall for it.

Short excerpts from sometimes long stories:

● In the Daily Mail, from California: ‘Our relationship has no rules’: Man in an open 'throuple' with his two girlfriends reveals they sleep together AND with other women – and are planning to marry and start a family (September 21, 2018):



Jimmy Silva, 31, Chacha Va Voom, 29, and Summer Pelltier, 25, all from California, have been in a throuple since 2012 and have plans to get married and have children.

Since they met the trio have been inseparable and are in love, but decided to keep their relationship open, agreeing that it is alright for them to collectively date other girls as a triad, as long as they are honest with each other and all three give the green light.

'Our relationship has no rules with each other. We always love, make out, hold hands, we try to put no limits. We all have sex together and we enjoy it more when it's all three of us,' Jimmy said.

...'We have gone to other states like in Utah where all three of us were holding hands and a lady at the market kind of shrugged her shoulders, but that was probably the worst reaction we've received.

'Don't get in a triad just because it's the new thing to do or you think that it's a cool idea. When you find someone that makes you feel happy and you and your partner feels the same way then it's a green light and you should go for it.

'Stay honest with each other, it's the only way a triad relationship can work. Honesty and respect is the only way.' ...



● From Arizona, in the Daily Mail, a unicorn-hunting couple strikes gold: We're a 'throuple'! Married couple invites another woman to join the relationship and become a second 'mama' to their children after meeting on Instagram (Sept. 17).



A couple who have been together for 10 years and share two children have revealed how they invited another woman to join their relationship after meeting on Instagram, and hope to expand their family with her.

Kori Baker, 27, and Stephen Pape, 28, from Phoenix, Arizona met their girlfriend, photographer, Katarina Kearns, 26, when the two women bonded over their love for yoga and photography.

The throuple - who describe themselves as a 'tribe' - consider the relationship they formed last November to be like any monogamous one and have sex, go on dates and trips away together.

...Kori and Stephen gave Katarina a promise ring just before Christmas to symbolise their love for her, while their children Hadlee and Payson love the additional attention they receive from their new 'mama' Katarina.

And Katarina hopes to have children with the pair despite her own parents not approving of her joining the open-minded couple.

'Polyamory means dating more than one person at one time. In our case, we are a closed triad, some choose to have an open relationship, but we do not. So, the three of us is dating each other equally,' explained Kori.

'It means an abundance of love but also communication and understanding. Opening up to things like desires, fantasies, needs, issues, and concerns within the tribe or one person themselves, we are all here for each other.

'Everyone brings something to our tribe.'



● Again from California in the Daily Mail: Women in a polyamorous ‘throuple’ reveal they want their man to get them BOTH pregnant at the same time to avoid jealousy (Aug. 10).



Lindsay Schoepf, 27, from Glendora, California, is in a relationship with married couple Brittney, 26, and Terry Stroup, 28, and the trio recently announced they are planning a 'commitment ceremony' to make their unconventional relationship official.

Speaking via video link on ITV's Good Morning Britain on Friday, they explained how they were navigating starting a family in a three-way relationship.

...The throuple said communication was incredibly important between them and when quizzed by presenter Ranvir Singh about jealousy, insisted there is none.

...The triad are planning to cement their three-way relationship with a commitment ceremony similar to a marriage - and they plan to raise their future children together as part of their 'new-nuclear' family. ...


The Daily Mail put up a video of them.


● From parts unknown, in the often dumber, nastier Daily Star: Polyamorous throuple reveal ALL about unconventional love life and marriage plans (Sept. 4).



Charlotte Gary, 25, has been in a happy relationship with Gabriel Baxter, 29, since 2013.

But three years into their partnership, the Florida-based couple decided to invite Amberly Worrell, 29, into their romantic arrangement.

As feelings between the trio have blossomed, they have spoken about their experiences to raise awareness about polyamory.

While the threesome have the support of their family and friends, they warn that the lifestyle isn’t for everyone.

...Charlotte: "I met Amberly when I was in middle school, but we didn't become really good friends until I was out of high school dating one of her friends.

"Gabriel and I met through the same friend at the time she was walking home in the rain. Gabriel stopped to help her and that's when I saw him – I think I fell in love with both of them or knew I was going to be with them both the day I met them.

...Amberly added: "Most people assume that Charlotte and I are sisters because of our red hair, so often times, they're surprised or shocked.

"Once they realise that we are all together, they tell Gabby how lucky he is.”

Thankfully, the polyamorous lovers have more support from their family and friends.

Amberly explained: “My family just wants me to be unequivocally happy.

...Charlotte added: "My family fully accepts our relationship. My mum and dad just want us all to love and be happy. I know a lot of people do not agree with our lifestyle, but I don't really care how others view us because it's our life to live.”



● Also in the Daily Star: I'm in a hot threesome relationship – we eat sleep and love together (Sept. 26).



All three of us eat, sleep and love together.

Our bed is enormous and our life is amazing. We met three years ago in Ibiza.

...When the season was over she offered us the dream lifeline.

She suggested we both go and live with her in her sumptuous apartment rent-free.

We leapt at the chance and have been the Three Amigos ever since.

...The only fly in the ointment, however, is having to deal with my boyfriend’s family.

The problem is that he refuses to be open and honest with them about our set-up.

They live locally and are prone to popping round with gifts of food and drink. ...



● From Columbus, Ohio, in the Mirror: Polyamorous couple share bed with TWO 'wives' and raise their eight children to call all three women "mum" (July 16).



Elizabeth Lowe, 30, and husband James, 38, were married for five years before inviting Ashley Lowe and Audrie Lowe, both 22, into their marriage.

The four of them - whose children are aged between one and eight - share a king-sized bed and have a rotation in bed so everyone gets a turn sleeping next to each other.

Elizabeth said the relationship feels "completely natural", but it has left her mum furious and led to them being shunned by their church.

But the mum, from Columbus, Ohio in the US, said she wouldn't change a thing about her love life, adding: "My two wives, husband and I are happier than ever.

"We don't care what society thinks, because we love each other dearly."

..."It wasn't until we went on a family camping trip in February 2015 when Ashley told us she wanted to join our relationship.

"We told her we loved her too. That day, we bought a king-sized bed so that we had plenty of space at night.

"We slept together for the first time. Being intimate with three other people felt completely natural."

The quad soon labelled themselves as in a polyfidelity relationship where all members are considered equal partners and there's a mutual agreement to not allow any sexual activity with people outside of the group.

Their kids - Joanna, eight, Julia, seven, Jenna, six, Jane, four, Juniper, three, Jennifer, two, Johnathon, two, and Jaia, one - all call Elizabeth, Audrie and Ashley "mum".

Elizabeth said: "It was a beautiful experience for me and Audrie to be pregnant together and we were able to help each other.

"Our kids love having three mummies, they understand the difference between their biological mother and the other ladies.

..."I believe that everyone has a soulmate and I'm lucky enough to have found three."


The story originally appeared four days earlier in the Daily Mail with the headline EXCLUSIVE: Husband and wife who are in a polyamorous relationship with a married lesbian couple reveal how the foursome all sleeps in the same bed - and are raising their eight kids to call all three women 'mom' (July 12).

They also appeared in The Sun under the headline POLY QUAD. Polyamorous parents share a king-sized bed with their TWO girlfriends – and all four take turns having sex with each other (July 13).


● From Florida, in The Sun: THREESY DOES IT. Mum reveals she’s in a polyamorous relationship with her two husbands – but they save threesomes for ‘special occasions’ (July 26).



Carrie Jamison, 42, from Florida, has been in a relationship with Chris Jamison, 43, and Kyle Jamison, 48, for eight years – despite concerns from relatives.

Carrie, a housewife, who has been married to first husband Kyle, an engineer, since 2005, insists their unconventional situation is normal.

...In August 2011, Carrie’s friend Chris, a fire safety officer, revealed that he had feelings for her.

Carrie says: “We’d known each other since we were 12 years old. His marriage had just fallen apart and he was coming round our house three days a week.

“I had always found Chris attractive and when he confessed his feelings for me I realised that I felt the same way.

“We told Kyle how we felt but I wanted him to know that I still loved him.

“Kyle told Chris that as we all got along so well, that he should join our relationship.

“I was shocked, but it made sense. When researching, I discovered that we were feeling polyamory.”

...“Kids at school sometimes made comments about our relationship to the twins, but they just shrugged it off and defended us.

“The first night snuggled in bed between my two men, I was so happy. My life felt complete.”

...“People always stare at us in the street when the three of us hold hands and give us dirty looks.

...“My aunt is an ordained minister and we had two of our close friends there as witnesses. I wore a white dress and we all exchanged rings. I said ‘I do’ to my two husbands.”



● From Australia, in the Daily Star: ‘I moved my new girlfriend in with my husband’ Woman opens up about unusual relationship (July 13).



...The Australian couple were on holiday in South Africa when Gabby spotted Nadine – who was their private chef in an up-market resort.

...That evening they spent a passionate night together and their lives have been different ever since.

So how does Simon feel about his wife sleeping with another woman?

“I actually encouraged it. I could see the connection between them and told Gabby she needed to explore that.

“My faith in our bond is concrete and I trust her implicitly.

After a year of long-distance romance, Nadine moved to Australia and has been living with the couple for a few months.

Simon added: “In fact, it enhances us because I feel from Gabby a very real sense of gratitude that I can embrace this.

“Restricting a relationship is easy. But allowing for this kind of expansion is very difficult. There’s the fear of change and the unknown.” ...



● From the American South, in the indefatigable Daily Mail, Polyamorous trio who are engaged to each other and sleep in the same king size bed reveal there's NO jealousy in their relationship and insist it's not all about sex (May 30).


– Nic Chandler, 27, from Tennessee was born male but identifies gender neutral.
– Met Rachel Kouris, 26, a transgender woman, on a dating site.
– Then met Xander, a transgender man, through work and he joined them as trio.
– Trio share same king size bed and insist their relationship is very conventional.

...'We bonded over having similar interests and both being trans. We hung out more and more and he just blended in seamlessly,' said Nic.

'My big worry would be how he'd get on with Rachel, but they clicked right away.

'I have been in polyamorous relationships before, where the other two preferred each other, which was the first time I think I had reservations about them. But this hasn't been an issue with us. Xander fits in perfectly.

Around six months ago, the trio entered into an official relationship and now all live together.

Despite making their romance official in March 2018, when Xander, who works in retail, proposed at a cosplay dressing up event in Michigan, it is acceptable for them all to have other lovers.


...'We have a normal relationship. We'll argue over Netflix or what to have for dinner just like anybody else - the only difference is there's one extra person to do it with.'

...'The other two also have veto abilities, which they haven't used yet, but sometimes we all have down days and might not necessarily want to see our partner going off with someone else.

...Now, Nic is speaking out to dispel common myths around polyamory, saying that the trio have never experienced any negativity for their relationship.

The 27-year-old continued: 'I'm out to all my friends and people my age – millennials and those from Gen Z – are very liberal and accepting anyway.

'Where we live, in the south of America, doesn't have a great reputation for the way it deals with "otherness", but a lot of the time, it gets brought up around people who already know, so it isn't an issue.'


They also appeared in Metro UK with the headline Transgender polyamorous trio are engaged and share a king size bed (May 30).


● From Finland, in the Daily Mail again: Woman, 32, who became polyamorous after a DECADE of marriage reveals she now alternates between living with her husband and boyfriend – and insists the men are FRIENDS (Aug. 16).



...Over time, Sarra felt a romantic connection to Jani and she soon told both men that she wanted to be polyandrous - which refers to a woman having two male partners - with them both.

Although the men were both taken aback by the announcement and the concept of being polyamorous, they have learned to live with their newfound lifestyle since and have found it works for them.

'Being married to two guys isn't legal in Finland, so I'm legally married to Ville, and in 2020 I will have a Pagan/Viking ceremony with Jani called handfasting. It's kind of like a wedding but the priest is our friend.

'We don't all live together yet, but we hope to soon. We do own a café together though. ...



● Yet more Daily Mail, this time from Russia: Woman who is in a polyamorous ‘throuple’ with her former religion teacher and another woman reveals why she could NEVER go back to monogamy (June 28).


For most girlfriends, sharing their partner is a complete no-go, but for Serafima Eriklintseva, 24, she actively encourages it.

She first met boyfriend Ivan Lebedev, 30, at school, but the pair didn't get together until after she left.

Serafima then met her girlfriend Apollinaria Mayslik-Mertsalova, 21, while at summer camp and the threesome became a throuple three years ago.

The loved-up trio, who live in Moscow, Russia, now try and spend as much time together when they're not working or studying.

Serafima said: 'We consider ourselves a family and say we're husband and wives. ... I don't think family means sharing the same blood as another, family are those who stay with you throughout your life.'


A video of them (click through):




The Sun: Polyamorous ‘throuple’ have sex as a threesome… and now they want to get married and have children together (June 20).


Natalie Fink, 22, from Freiburg, in Germany, and first boyfriend Yannick Gwarys, 22, decided to start dating other people in 2016 - shortly before meeting Michael Flamm, 22.

The ‘Throuple’ often share a bed and have threesomes, but the boys insist they’re heterosexual.

Natalie and Yannick met at college and were friends for many years before they fell in love in 2014.

But after watching a documentary on the German artist Max Ernst, who lived in a polyamorous relationship, they decided a monogamous life wasn’t for them and the two started talking about dating others.

Natalie says: “I know some people will think we’re weird but they shouldn’t judge us until they’ve tried it. We’re all very happy and love each other very much. We get the best of all worlds this way.”


...Natalie: "Our sex is not like a pornographic threesome, we’re about love, emotions, and respect. We decided against primary and secondary roles in this relationship because we wanted everybody to be equal, we just improvise. Sometimes it might be just the two of us in bed.”

Natalie says the three spend many nights sleeping alone and in their own rooms – which they agreed on for space – but often sleep together in her bed. However, she admits she spends more nights with Yannick.

...Their families were devastated by the relationship at first, but eventually they accepted it.

Natalie says: “The world around us has a problem with our relationship, but we feel happy and strong.” ...



● A cute-kids heartwarmer in the Mirror and the Daily Mail: Adorable sons of polyamorous family desperate for a baby sister have BEST reaction to mum's pregnancy reveal (June 12).


Courtney Cantano, 27, from Huntington Beach, California, US, recorded a video as she told her sons how to read a positive pregnancy test confirming that another sibling on the way.

Watch the video

Sons Dario and Anthony, eight and three, looked ecstatic after hearing one of their mums was expecting a new addition to their polyamorous family, during the treasured moment in January.

...The family will be expecting their first child together in October.

This will be the first child for Courtney, with the partners Michelle and Matthew having two boys of their own prior to becoming a 'thruple.'

Courtney: "Both boys really easily transitioned into a polyamorous family, they call me 'purple mum' and Michelle 'blue mum' because of the colours of our hair. ...



● The Sun: OUR V-SOME. ‘I watch my girlfriend having sex with other people but she won’t let me join in’ – inside the UK’s polyamorous relationships (Aug. 28).


WATCHING your partner have sex with someone else is most people's worst nightmare.

But for a growing number of people in the UK, it's a part of everyday life - as they live in polyamorous communities, meaning they have sex and fall in love with several people at once. ...




● And if you cringe at even the upbeat tabloid coverage, consider how bad it can get. Again from the Daily Mail: 'I've received a lot of hatred': Meet the Australian soldier, 36, who swapped the battlefield to live with his wife, fiancée AND two 'sex slaves' in a country town. TW: bondage and apparently consensual (??) 24/7 master-slave kink (Aug. 14).


...Mr Davis, who has given himself the title of 'patriarchal overlord', requires the four women to wear collars, ask permission to use the bathroom, and call him 'master'.


Eager to get out of Sydney, Mr Davis constructed a dungeon, called House of Cadifor.

...Aged between 19 and 27, the women are also in different types of relationships with one another and participate in sex parties at their home.

'Good morning Master, your owned property Slave 808497061 has missed you, and is here presented ready and waiting to serve you,' Mr Davis's wife Charlotte said while in a submissive pose in front of him....

'[People] think I must be some kind of abusive oppressor, a misogynist, manipulator, or even a monster,' he said.

'But the truth is, I'm just a guy who loves both freedom and commitment, and who was lucky enough to find some incredible women to love, and who love me back.'

Mr Davis describes himself as a 'rope performer, fetish photographer, BDSM writer, kink educator, lifestyle dominant and consent advocate'.


This story also appeared in the New Zealand Herald, as Soldier who swapped battlefield to live with wife, fiancée and 'sex slaves' (Aug. 15).

------------------------------------

Many of the British tabs share stories with their competitors in the UK and syndicate them worldwide, including to the New York Post. I don't try anymore to track who published first or where they go, nor is this list complete since my last roundup just four months ago.

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September 25, 2018

"All you need is loves: the truth about polyamory"

The Guardian —a major progressive daily paper based in the UK but circulated worldwide — has run feature stories on polyamory for many years, and today it's out with another. I presume this means the topic is a click bringer. The story bobbles a couple of definitions (can you spot them?) but it's basically on-target and quite positive. It gets my Show Your Parents tag.

Following the main article, four people tell of their personal experiences.


‘There’s so much joy in being poly’: (l-r) Laura, Alex and Mike, who are in a ‘polycule’ along with William (not pictured). Photograph: Linda Nylind for the Guardian

 
More and more young people are abandoning monogamy in favour of open relationships. But is it really that easy to turn your back on jealousy? And what about all the admin?

By Sirin Kale

Alex Sanson is nervous. She is hosting a dinner party this Friday, and wants it to go well, because her lovers are coming – all of them. “Cooking for one person you fancy is hard enough, but three of them is even more stressful!” says Sanson, who has brown hair, an open, friendly face and a bookish air.

...Dinner-party jitters aside, things are going swimmingly for Sanson, who works in marketing. “There’s so much joy in being poly,” she says. “It’s lovely not to burden one person with all your stuff. You just spread it all out.”

Polyamory, also known as consensual non-monogamy, seems to be growing in popularity among young people, though with no definitive figures it’s hard to know how much of this is a matter of increased visibility. It comes in many shapes and forms, from open relationships (where in layperson’s terms you “cheat” on your partner, but they are aware and do not mind, and do the same to you), to solo polyamory, where you identify as polyamorous, but are not currently in multiple relationships. But all those involved reject monogamy as stifling, or oppressive, or simply not to their taste.

“It’s not as complicated as people make it sound,” Sanson insists. If you are unsure whether polyamory might suit you, try this simple thought experiment: does the thought of your partner in the first flushes of romantic ardour with another person fill you with contentment, lust, indifference, or murderous rage? If it’s the last one, best to swerve polyamory. (There’s a term for the warm feeling polyamorous people experience when seeing their partners with someone else: compersion.)

...“The thing I’ve always disliked about monogamy and marriage,” Sanson adds, “is the idea of owning another person and them being your other half or somehow completing you, like you weren’t complete before you met them. What I love about polyamory is that I’m my own person and no one owns me. I don’t own any of you, either. We’re all free.”

Polyamory is having a cultural moment right now, with celebrities such as Will Smith and Jada Pinkett-Smith speaking about being non-monogamous, and the BBC drama Wanderlust depicting a middle-class couple as they open up their relationship.

...“Things are changing rapidly,” says Janet Hardy, the co-author of the polyamory handbook The Ethical Slut. “More people are getting the idea that it’s possible to be happy and healthy without being monogamous. What I’m seeing among young people is that they don’t have the same need to self-define by what they like to do in bed, or in relationships, like my generation did. Everything’s out on a big buffet, and they try a little of everything.”

Polyamorous people reject the end game of romantic monogamy, and disdain so-called “relationship escalators”.... Still, being polyamorous isn’t just a carefree romp. It requires you to unpick the messy yarn of human emotion, and that most familiar knot of all: jealousy. Perhaps the biggest myth of all about polyamorous people is that they don’t feel jealousy. “Jealousy is a part of human nature,” says 27-year-old William Jeffrey, a member of Sanson’s polycule. “You still feel it. But I’ve found with every jealousy I’ve ever had while being polyamorous, I’ve been able to trace the jealousy back to an insecurity about myself. When I figure out what the insecurity is, I can overcome it.”

...Is jealousy only ever the result of insecurity? “I’d say that’s too simplistic a view,” says Hardy. “I don’t think there’s one emotion you can call jealousy. I think jealousy is an umbrella we put over all of the emotions we find difficult that we want to quell by changing someone else’s behaviour.” In her introduction-to-polyamory workshops, Hardy asks participants to write a thank-you note to their jealousy. “It exists for a reason. Jealousy tries to protect you from something.”

...The polyamorous people I interview effortlessly manage packed schedules. Jeffrey, for instance, will meet once a week to play a Buffy the Vampire Slayer role-playing game with Scoins and the fourth member of their polycule, Laura Nevo. He also has a weekly date night with his live-in partner, as well as seeing Sanson and Nevo once a week.

While shows such as Wanderlust depict polyamory as a tumescent bonk-fest, in reality polyamorous people spend most of their time doing the deeply unsexy business of talking about their feelings. Sanson credits polyamory with giving her more emotional self-awareness. “Polyamory has allowed me to be more introspective, think about the motives behind what I’m doing, identify emotions more accurately and be explicit about how I’m feeling about things.”

...And monogamous people can learn from polyamory. Twenty-three-year-old Aliyah, who uses they/them pronouns, was polyamorous, but is currently in a monogamous relationship. They credit polyamory with giving them a healthier outlook on monogamy. “The way I was taught monogamy wasn’t healthy,” Aliyah says. “I’d have this constant paranoia of being cheated on.”

Polyamory made them better at monogamy. “I learned that monogamy doesn’t have to be as strict as we conceptualise it growing up,” they explain. “Before I felt that deep love should only be reserved for romantic connections. But being polyamorous taught me I have so much love for my friends, and that doesn’t have to be explored in a sexual context.”

As polyamory becomes more visible, it won’t be seen as such a tear in our social fabric, but as an ordinary and unremarkable thing. ...


Read the whole article (Sept. 15, 2018). It's also in today's print edition, under the title "The Rise and Rise of Polyamory," with a promo box at the top of the front page:



● Here are three previous articles that appeared in the Guardian this year:

'What were her knickers like?': the truth about trying an open relationship (September 8).

My son is trans and polyamorous – here's what I learned from him (February 9).

Discovering my true sexual self’: why I embraced polyamory (January 20).

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September 23, 2018

"Untrue": New pop-anthro book reclaims women's non-monogamous desires


Wednesday Martin's new book Untrue got a lot of media notice this past week. The title has two meanings. It's about female infidelity, yes; Martin assembles evidence that women have always cheated and engaged in other forms of non-monogamy — or wanted to — just as much as men. And, she denounces as untrue the whole patriarchy-inspired mythology of women's weak, demure, second-tier sexuality. The book is subtitled "Why Nearly Everything We Believe About Women, Lust and Infidelity Is Wrong and How the New Science Can Set Us Free."

Martin is a pop-anthropology writer with previous books about stepmothers and rich mothers. Now she seems to be picking up where Sex at Dawn (2010) left off: focusing on modern women rather than the ancient multipartnering roots of the human race as a whole.

● First, Bustle published an early summary of what the book is all about: 'Untrue' By Wednesday Martin Will Challenge What You Think About Women & Sex (April 16, 2018):


...When it comes to women and sexuality, stereotypes are presented as truth more often than the actual truth. Women are confronted with a combination of poor sex education and the societal effects of slut shaming, and all of that has a real impact on the way individual women experience sex and lust and love. ...Martin deconstructs many of the false beliefs that have negatively affected the way women's sexuality is viewed — including the deeply entrenched notions that women are the more naturally monogamous sex or that women's sex drives are shrinking violets compared to men's.

...This book turns everything we think we know about women and sex completely on its head, essentially undressing the falsehoods of female sexuality to reveal what lies beneath the layers of distortion women operate under. ...


● Early this month Martin published a 4,000-word excerpt from the book in Psychology Today: A Natural History of Female Infidelity  It appears in the print issue (September 2018 issue) and online (September 4):


"Untrue" women threaten modern notions of coupledom and propriety. But new research suggests that polyandry is far from novel or unnatural in human history, and may even suggest a path into the future.

By Wednesday Martin Ph.D.

Wednesday Martin
"So here's something kind of interesting. My wife has two husbands."

Tim is a good friend and trusted confidante whom I see whenever he is in town. He is several years older than I am, dark-haired and fit, calm and positive, generous and centered. ... They had great chemistry, and one date led to another and another. Lily was direct and honest, more than any woman he'd ever been with, but she was also a great compartmentalizer. Tim was smitten.

A few weeks before their wedding, Lily told Tim, in effect, that whatever his dreams were, he should follow them, and that he had freedom to do as he wished. "She said to me then and has always said, 'Whatever it is that is a dream for you, you will be able to pursue your dreams if you're married to me. ..." It never occurred to Tim to offer anything less, once she opened the discussion. In their marriage vows, they removed "forsake all others."

Their understanding, Tim explained, was explicit, and its bedrock was the agreement that their relationship had priority. "If she ever asked me to stop seeing someone, I would, in a second," he said. Lily never asked. Tim never asked Lily, either.


So, hierarchical with a veto provision (despite Lily's grand statement above) and bordering on a don't-ask-don't tell. But after 10 years it became clear to Rick that Lily was getting really serious with someone else.


...Over time, Tim learned that Rick was everything Tim was not—big and strapping, a physical laborer who also loved to cook. After several months, the two men met. Tim was relieved that he did not dislike Rick. Many years later, when Tim was back at work and his career was booming, Rick moved into Lily and Tim's second home, where he became caretaker, chef, and a kind of "uncle" to their kids.

Tim has long had relationships with other women but says that what has kept his marriage going is a sense that he and Lily are allies. And he says the most important thing is that in their first conversation when things got difficult, "there was no feinting, no dodging, no machismo on my part. There wasn't room for it." There had been a learning curve to their open relationship, he says, but "she's my friend, and she's a protector of me and of our marriage."

While Lily occasionally fools around with other men—she particularly enjoys being pursued by younger guys—she has remained committed to her marriage for more than 25 years, and to her boyfriend for a decade and a half. ...

Illustration by Eddie Guy
Their arrangement may strike others as unnatural, a departure from traditional values, or even a corruption of how things are supposed to be between men and women. But we would be wrong to think of Tim and Lily as aberrant. Their strategy is informed by and consistent with the flexible social and sexual strategies that helped Homo sapiens flourish. In the words of the late anthropologist Marjorie Shostak, who famously studied the !Kung, hunter-gatherers of the Kalahari Desert, gender inequality is an aberration in the long calendar of human history. So is dyadic monogamy for life, and many of our gendered assumptions about sex.

...This momentous change was put into motion 10,000 to 12,000 years ago in the Jordan Valley, where hunter-gatherers began to domesticate plants, increasingly depending on food they grew rather than food they foraged. This was a watershed moment—the rise of agriculture. ...

...And the shift changed everything between the sexes. Multiple mating had established and continually reinforced social bonds, so there were low levels of conflict. Enhanced cooperation meant all were more likely to look after one another and their young, thus improving each individual's reproductive fitness—the odds that their offspring would go on to produce offspring. There's ample supporting evidence of this theory in historical documents about aboriginal peoples everywhere from North America to the South Pacific, as well as among present-day hunter-gatherers and foragers, many of whom raise their young cooperatively and whose mating patterns are less strictly monogamous than our own.

...As sociologist Rae Blumberg has pointed out, it is only for less than 3 percent of Homo sapiens history that women have been transformed from competent, relatively autonomous primary producers into secondary producers who are, in some circumstances, fundamentally dependent. ...

...Couples like Tim and Lily go against the grain of modern coupling, but they are also paving a way forward. Their open relationship has kept them together over the long term, and provided practical benefits—another pair of hands to help in the home, another set of watchful eyes to keep the kids safe, another driver. Their arrangement also provides Lily variety and novelty, which experts increasingly tell us are necessary not just for a man's sexual satisfaction but for a woman's too. ...


Read the whole article.


● A long and not very flattering profile of the author appeared in the New York Times: Wednesday Martin Dares to Call Her New Book ‘Untrue’ (online Sept. 15).


An Rong Xu / New York Times


After a scoffed-at but successful pop ethnography of Park Avenue, she turns to the topic of infidelity.

By Ruth La Ferla

Looking improbably dainty in a white summer frock, Wednesday Martin stepped to the front of a glass-enclosed room in Sag Harbor, N.Y., wielding a mandrake-like piece of pink plastic. “This is your clitoris,” she told her mostly female listeners.

In a childlike singsong, she went on to inform them that the seat of female pleasure is not the size of a button, as has long been supposed, but closer to a full-grown zucchini.

...Legs crossed, arms self-protectively pressed to their chests, they were rapt as Ms. Martin, chirpily reassuring, sought to address that eternal, and eternally vexing, question: Just what is it women want?

It’s not intimacy, she suggested. Wasn’t it time, after all, to ditch that hoary, male-perpetuated chestnut about women deriving sexual pleasure from gazing moistly into their partners’ eyes? Is not the female libido equal to, if not more robust, than the male’s?

...Aware that her scholarly reputation is in question, Ms. Martin, 52, this time around carefully cites a roster of prominent social anthropologists and female primatologists to bolster her argument that women are not and never have been naturally monogamous. ...

Ms. Martin conducted more than 30 interviews with eminent social scientists, psychologists and primatologists. She cites, among others, the primatologist Sarah Blaffer Hrdy, who studied female langurs mating sequentially with as many males as possible to ensure the safety of their offspring.

The sociologist Alicia Walker also makes an appearance, arguing that many women deliberately pursue extramarital affairs; so does Lisa Diamond, who has written about female sexual fluidity; and Amy Parish, known for her studies of bonobos, a hypersexual, female-dominant species closely related to chimpanzees.

Even buttressed by such academic bona fides, Ms. Martin allowed a flicker of uncertainty about how “Untrue” will be received when it is released on Sept. 18.

“People assume that if you’re writing about female infidelity, that there’s something wrong,” she said. “They hang on to this idea that women who write about sex are doing it for attention. That they are exhibitionists, that they’re pathological, that they must have questionable motives.”


Newsweek: 5 Things You Didn’t Know About Female Sexuality, From Wednesday Martin’s ‘Untrue’ (Sept. 14). The article's five headings are,


1. The gender gap is closing between husbands and wives who cheat.
2. Young women are just as sexually adventurous as young men—maybe more.
3. Long-term relationships may negatively affect female desire more than male.
4. More men are on affair-finding websites, but more women use them to meet up for sex.
5. Women, like men, get erections.


Time magazine's website presents another excerpt from the book, about the time she attended a seminar on ethical nonmonogamy for marriage counselors: Here's How a Therapist Coaches Couples Who Decide to Have Sex With Other People (Sept. 17)


Getty
“Working with Non-Monogamous Couples” was held at a nondescript family services center in a nowhere neighborhood in Manhattan. ...I knew I would be surrounded by therapists who were there for certification credits and to learn from an expert in their field about the best approaches to issues that were likely to come up in their work. I also knew a little bit about consensual non-monogamy: I knew that it was for people who didn’t want to be monogamous, and who didn’t want to lie about it.

As I checked in with Michael Moran, one of the program’s organizers, he described a recent uptick in his practice and in general of heterosexual couples seeking solutions to their monogamy quandaries. “It’s pretty incredible that people commit for life, that they get married, without even discussing the issue of sexual exclusivity,” I offered by way of chitchat, realizing as I said it that my husband and I had committed for life, and that we got married, without even discussing the issue of sexual exclusivity. Monogamy and marriage, for straight people in much of the U.S., go together like a horse and carriage. Or they used to. Or maybe not. ...

Featured speaker Mark Kaupp, a licensed marital and family therapist, defined consensual non-monogamy for us.... Kaupp instructed us to break into groups of three or four [and] put a slide up on the projector. There were four bullet points, each ending in a question mark.

What would it be like to watch your partner/spouse have sex with someone else . . . and see them really enjoying it?
What feelings would come up?
What meanings would you make from their enjoying the sex?
What if they fell in love?

I turned back toward my group. We stared at one another in silence. ...

One of my group members and I decided that if we watched our partner having sex with someone else and really enjoying it, we might feel jealous, turned on, hurt, angry, curious, excited, gutted and more. We might derive meanings from it, including: I am not good enough; he/she is bored with me; something is wrong with me or our relationship; being with someone new is exciting and that’s no reflection on me. If our partner fell in love with this other person, we might feel confused, sad, threatened and devastated. I added that I might also feel homicidal.

...Kaupp quickly got to work puncturing our sense of what, exactly, might help us feel in charge of the imaginary situation we were confronting....

“I very rarely see that rules create security in these situations. How can we possibly anticipate all the possibilities? It’s an attempt to control, but it might make people feel more out of control,” he said. He told us that in his work with couples practicing CNM, he kept the focus on their attachment bond and let them come up with the rules without getting too involved in that himself. In his experience, he said, the rules might change or even fade out in time if the relationship security is sufficiently strong. “My job is to help people who have decided not to be monogamous keep turning back to each other if they feel insecure or flooded with fear. That way a negative becomes a positive. What might weaken or sink a relationship strengthens it.”

Kaupp then told us there are three primary types of [consensual] non-monogamy, and while they might overlap, their practitioners belonged to quite different tribes. There are people in “open relationships,” arrangements in which the couple agrees to see others but might not want to talk about it, or even know.

Meanwhile, swingers are committed to having sex with others, both individually and as a couple. They talk with each other about what they are doing, they do things with others together and sometimes separately, and they might go to conventions, cruises or sex clubs...,

Then there are the polyamorous, or poly, people. Polyamory is the practice of having multiple romantic, sexual and/or intimate partners with all the partners’ full consent, Kaupp explained. Those who practice polyamory believe they can love more than one person and be in more than one relationship simultaneously. Sometimes those who practice it have verbal or written contracts — drawn up by lawyers and therapists who specialize in such matters — to keep things clear and fair. And polyamory requires conversation, ground rules and plenty of disclosing and “checking in.”

To state the obvious, non-monogamy is exercising a pull on us because monogamy isn’t working for everyone. ... In fact, it turns out that when it comes to our sexual selves, women have been sold a bill of goods. In matters of sex, women are not the tamer, more demure or reticent sex. We are not the sex that longs for or is more easily resigned to partnership, to sameness, to familiarity. Nor are we goody-goodies relative to men when it comes to fidelity, after all.


● She also wrote a guest column for Hollywood Reporter: Time's Up for the Great Sexual Awakening in Hollywood (Sept. 15)


There is something big happening right now, an earthquake of sorts, that will shake up our world and our beliefs about men, women and sex. I... call it The Great Correction.

...Arguably, The Great Correction is just getting going. Much of it is happening in Hollywood, which has recently been convulsed by the reversals of power by both #MeToo and the undoing of the film-TV hierarchy, which undergirded all the town's cultural logic until yesterday, when prestige streaming kicked it to the curb. On the tails of those two massive shake-ups, there's more to come. The establishment is officially on notice. ...


● Another excerpt from the book, on Flavorwire: ‘Untrue’ Challenges Dated Thinking on Female Sexuality (Sept. 19)


...But perhaps most surprisingly, the majority of women in [researcher Alicia] Walker’s sample reported that they were otherwise happily partnered or married, and that these affairs were a way for them to remain in their primary relationships. They were not looking for an exit strategy or a new husband. They did not seek emotional connection or companionship. They wanted a solution to a dilemma: they felt unable or were unwilling to end their sexless or sexually unsatisfying partnerships or marriages, but they also wanted great sex. ...


More.

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