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

July 9, 2008

This just in! New York goes wild for polyamory! (says Russian TV)

TV-Novosti (Moscow)

In my boyhood bedroom I had a shortwave radio that picked up, through the antenna I rigged in the treetops, the jolly-sounding lunacy about America that passed for news on Radio Moscow. I got a flashback to those Soviet broadcasts when I read the following news report from the "Russia Today" program on TV-Novosti. The exaggerations from grains of truth, the made-up facts, the same hearty tone of amazement ending with, of course, moral superiority and predictions of ruin, all with an undercurrent of envy.... Here's the whole thing (July 8, 2008):

Sex in the City: Big apple’s big temptation

In New York, traditional relationships are becoming less and less fashionable. Having several boyfriends or girlfriends is something of a lifestyle choice for many. However, critics say it just shows a lack of responsibility.

You don’t need to go far to see that New York is celebrating sexual freedom. Polyamory — literally meaning “multiple love” — or consensual non-monogamy — is becoming extremely popular here.

A growing number of people are enjoying more than one serious relationship, in which all sides involved agree to have two or more long-term partners.

Thousands of people came out onto the streets of New York to celebrate their choice, and it seems that the number of people who are happy to be open about their sexuality is only growing.

Diana is a polyamorous bisexual divorce lawyer and child custody attorney.

“I’ve decided in my life to focus on having relationships with just two people. I have a boyfriend and a girlfriend because I am bisexual — and that fulfills me much more than if I was in a monogamous relationship for the rest of my life with a man,” she says.

New York’s polyamorous society is one of the largest in the world. It is incredibly fast-growing. The number of people who consider themselves poly is already in the millions.

“In 2000 if you googled polyamory, there were 6,000 hits, and now if you google it, it’s about 3 million,” says Birgitta Philippides, New York’s polyamorous community leader.

Reid, a sex and relationships educator, says relationships are like music. He believes if everyone in the world was polyamorous the world would be a much happier place.

“It doesn’t matter so much if you play classical music, jazz or rock-n-roll. It’s that you’re getting to play the music that really makes you happy. There’d be less hate, less war. If you have five relationships, who has time to declare war on anyone?” he says.

However, psychologists say polyamory may initially seem like a great idea, but problems always arise sooner or later.

“There is usually a primary partner and then there are secondary and beyond. The rules are usually established with the primary partner, and as I said, they don’t usually last,” says psychologist Jonathan Alpert.

Moreover, freedom of sexuality also has the number of people who fall victim to STDs sky-rocketing.

Here's the text on the original site. Watch the TV report in English. (May require Internet Explorer or a Firefox plug-in.)

What's wrong here? The video footage is actually of New York's enormous Pride Parade, with campy gays hamming for the camera. The poly group in the parade numbered a dozen or two, not "thousands." (In fact New York City may have fewer self-identified polys than it has West African immigrants secretly practicing traditional polygamy.) "Extremely popular"? We can only wish. "The number of people who consider themselves poly is already in the millions"? Pulled from thin air; no one knows this number despite many attempts to estimate it. (My own best guess is somewhat over 100,000 in the U.S. as of 2008.)

Some STDs are indeed "sky-rocketing." But the report failed to mention that the self-identified poly community polices itself pretty vigorously about safer-sex practices, and about getting tested regularly, at least in my experience. Open communication — and gossip! — in a sexually active group creates real social pressure for safety-conscious behavior.

The quotes from Diana and Birgitte do sound like them, but I wouldn't trust the whole-world-should-be-poly bit attributed to Reid. In my hearing, Reid has always said poly is right for some people and monogamy is right for others. Perhaps he said openness to poly should be universal, and the distinction got dropped for convenience, but what's he gonna do, sue the Russian government?

It is the government talking, or it might as well be, even though TV-Novosti is officially an "Autonomous Nonprofit Organization." The Russian government under Vladimir Putin (and his designated successor Dmitry Medvedev) has been re-Sovietizing all Russian media and silencing the reporters it can't buy off — sometimes with bullets, poison, and fake suicides, say critics.


Still, Russia has some large if embattled alternative communities. What's going on poly-wise?

If you go to Google Preferences, set your Interface Language to Russian, and search for the word полиамория ("polyamoria") — and also for the less common forms полиамории ("polyamoryy") and полиамурность ("polyamurnost") — you'll get somewhat more than 1,000 hits. Including the ru_poly LiveJournal community and a translation of some of Franklin Veaux's much-referenced pages. But search for the words in the Russian news ("Новости"), and you get nothing.

Can someone who knows the Russian poly scene give a report?

P.S.: To reset your Google Interface Language back to English: go to the Google homepage, choose "Настройки" (Preferences) in the tiny type to the right of the search box, choose "английском" (In English) from the drop-down list at top, and hit the "Сохранить настройки" (Save Preferences) button at top right.

If you don't read по-русски, you can still take a whack at it with Google Language Tools. Ain't technology wonderful?

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Blogger A said...

Thank you, very interesting. I was surprised to see that there was an LJ community. At least most Russians living in the US that I know don't have an idea of "poliamornost'" (first time I hear the word). However, there is such a thing as open marriage for the average Russian... my parents' generation is relatively big on that. The basic attitude is live and let live. Yet it is typically in semi-secrecy -- spouses don't want to know what goes on, who the person is, etc. And there isn't the same emphasis on an ethical, non-harmful approach as with poly... just a recognition that monogamy doesn't always work.

July 09, 2008 10:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Russian 'official' media is a piece of crap, sorry. I never see TV news and many of my freands does so.

Do you ask only about media situation or about russian polyamory situation in general?

I'm a main translator of Franklin Veaux pages (not intro page only) with his permission. Living near Moscow, working in Free Software company..

July 10, 2008 1:18 AM  
Blogger Alan said...

Dear toshische,

I was asking about the Russian polyamory situation in general. Especially, can you post the best links that Russian-speaking polys should know about?

Thanks for writing!


July 11, 2008 8:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is really interesting. A lot of early Soviet Communist thinkers were really big on non-monogamy and sexual liberation for women, and in fact I think some of their writings informed some of the subcultures within the 60's and 70's "free love" movement. For example, check out the works of Alexandra Kollontai, particularly "Love of Worker Bees."

Clearly, though, this attitude did not really infiltrate the core of mainstream Russian culture, and if the levels of domestic abuse in Russia are any indication, the society is far from egalitarian enough to allow for much healthy polyamory, closeted or otherwise.

July 12, 2008 11:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The general situation has to different parts: polyamory in exact sense and consensual non-monogamy in general.

Polyamory There is widly known concept in Russia. There is russian translation of "The Ethical Slut" book, there is some online resources, Lj community.. Some active members of this community not live in Russia now.

Consensual non-monogamy Is some subcultures consensual non-monogamy has relatively wide spread. It's difficult tell about situation in general, because this groups is disconnected.

For example, about of half of my friends practice some froms of consensual non-monogamy (from "don't ask, don't tell" to polyginy family with children and about 10 years together). Some of them never heard word "polyamory" or knows about this concept, but not linking it to themself. Some of them some years ago have live in commune and now, living in more common families, save close friendship (with benefits, as i know ;).

But most people here are strong mono or declare self so (I sometimes hear: "why you don't simple cheat like all around"). People i tell above are drop in the sea..

Official media constantly talking about family values, traditions and birth-rate...

July 16, 2008 3:59 AM  

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