"What can top sliced bread?"
Never doubt the ability of a letter you write to make a difference. Three weeks ago, when the word "polyamory" made news as an entry in the Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary (see our item here), some uninformed newspaper columnists snarked about it to the effect that older words such as "cheater," "cad," etc., serve just as well.
Well, they heard from us. And one of them did an about-face, admitted guilt, and made our letters the subject of another column:
...A few weeks ago, I thought it was a good idea to take a potshot at polyamorism. A dozen e-mails and a few phone calls later, I realized a flip sentence halfway through a column on new words added to Webster's... was a bad idea indeed.
Some responses were penned by people channeling Dan Aykroyd's "Saturday Night Live" Point-Counterpoint character of the 1970s. The words varied, but the bottom line was always, "Jane, you ignorant slut."
A few missives were more delicate, since it wouldn't be right to attack someone so obviously feeble-minded, but they called for the same thing as the Aykroyd impersonators: my head on a platter, a retraction and a three-part series on the merits of multiple partners.
Polyamory may mean having more than one meaningful relationship at a time but there's no "cheating" involved, they said. The key words I'd failed to grasp were "mutual consent" and "open."
By the time reader Ken Kupstis' e-mail arrived six days after the column ran, I figured there wasn't much he could add to the argument.
Again, I was wrong. He made me laugh.
He repeated the mantra, polyamorists promote "a decent, fair, honest lifestyle where cheating is unnecessary," but he lobbed a little humor my way.
"Can we at least have our two cents and coin a word like 'moronogamy,' the state-sanctioned practice of swearing eternal love to one person, divorcing them, then swearing eternal love to another person, repeat as (un)necessary?"
Why not? There's wit and truth in his words.
Read the whole column (dated July 30, 2006).
And remember, when something is wrong, write.
Until we make our voices heard, loud and clear - uninformed, ignorant, and often jealous people will take potshots at us.
We are where the gay/lesbian movement was, fifty years ago. For the most part, gays/lesbians have achieved a measure of respect through the hard work they put in to earn it.
Respect: earned. Not automatically achieved.
Whenever we see something in the media which attacks polys - let your feeling be known.
Otherwise we'll be doormats forever.
Polyamorist, New Zealand
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