Polyamory in the News
. . . by Alan M.

February 26, 2009

Morning shock jocks do a stinker

The Lex and Terry Show
WJRR, Orlando

Read the last 200 posts here, and you might think almost nobody in the media ever really craps on us. Well, Joreth was channel-surfing on her car radio in central Florida this morning, and she sends this (reprinted with permission):

I hit a station right as a DJ said "don't tell anyone you're a polydactylidite or whatever," and that caught my attention. So I listened and, sure enough, it was a female polyamorous caller getting rudely insulted by a couple of morning DJs.

[Later] I went to the station's website and found a recording of this morning's show. I was appalled. Please, everyone, we need to inundate this radio station and these DJs with respectful, intelligent letters telling these assholes that this kind of behavior is not acceptable....

Basically, one of these guys... fancies himself a "life coach", or so he says in a segment right before this one. A woman called in, I think, to ask how to handle people who treat her rudely when they find out about her polyamory. I'm not entirely sure this was the question because she kept getting interrupted to be called names like whore.

She is married and has 3 kids by her husband. She has a live-in boyfriend and is pregnant by him. As far as I could tell, the situation is happy as she mentioned her two partners are friends. She started out saying that she was polyamorous, and when the DJs stumbled over the term and asked her, she explained that she was married and had a boyfriend. They responded:

"Oh, so you're a whore"

She giggled and tried to explain in between their insults the situation she found herself in. I have to admit that she was a much better sport than I would have been. Here are a selection of quotes from the show:

"You have no respect for either one of these guys"

"The more you talk, the goofier you look"

"The best thing you can do is shut your mouth about it and don't tell anyone you're a polyactyldite. If you don't want reactions, shut your face."

"Quit trying to sound intelligent, it's not working for you"

"You cocky stupid dumb bitch who thinks she's really cool but really isn't"

"You're stupid, basically. You're starved for attention, that's all you want is attention, you wanna act like you're something different and you're not. You're like every other lost chick who thinks she's sexy and you're not. I bet you're pale white, you're fat, you're disgusting"

She claimed that she didn't care that people gave her wierd looks, but she only wished they gave her the same amount of respect as a fellow human that she gave to them in spite of their differences. The DJ asked why. She stuttered a bit, clearly not expecting that anyone would disagree, that anyone would think it is acceptable to give differing levels of respect to different people. She countered by asking if the DJs approved of poor treatment of homosexuals or lesbians for their lifestyle choices. They responded:

"don't compare yourself to a homosexual or lesbian" and "you weren't born this way, you didn't make this choice at birth, you made that conscious decision"

I very sorely wanted to call in to explain that, much like straight men, poly people can be "born" that way and later "choose" to engage in relationships according to their nature, just as gay men are born gay but choose to engage in gay relationships.... We all choose our actions, but we do not necessarily choose our inclinations....

He finally stopped insulting her and just told her that it was all her fault, if she just stopped telling people she was poly, then people would stop insulting her. She made the mistake (IMO) of saying that it was habit for her because she's very involved in community awareness. So he ended the conversation with a last parting shot:

"See, I was right, you like the attention, otherwise known now as 'community awareness'"

The website, with a link to the audio recording, is http://wjrr.com/pages/lexandterry.html, and this particular exchange takes place approximately 41 minutes into the [February 26] show - but I think this might change every day, as I didn't see an archive link or any way to choose which show to listen to.

You can email them directly at theshow@lexandterry.com or you can call them at 866-977-Do Us (3687).

I strongly recommend copying the program director in on your correspondence, at programdirector@realrock1011.com and please post this warning and your own exchanges on any and all personal blogs, websites, etc. to spread the word. All names and other means of contact can be found on the station's Contact Us page at http://wjrr.com/pages/contact.html.

You know what to do....

A look at the show's porny homepage and it's clear that sexist shock-jockism is their stock in trade. ("No healthy sex allowed," comments Sparkler looking over my shoulder.) Me, if I found myself in that conversation, I'd have hung up on them on air. Useful tactic to remember.


February 20, 2009

Dear Prudence: The teens hate my triad!

More poly fun in a mainstream advice column. "Dear Prudence" (Emily Yoffe) appears weekly on Slate.com — this column appeared there yesterday — and is syndicated to newspapers in the following days.

Dear Prudie:

I am a female involved in a four-year-long polyamorous relationship with a married couple. We are all happy and love one another very much. They have invited me to move into their home, and I would like to. The problem is that their two teenage children are beyond angry with the relationship. Even though they are not losing anything as a result of the relationship, they blame me for breaking the family apart and are very rude to me and their parents as a result. We don't want to break up to appease their children, who will be out of the house and on their own soon enough. But I can't imagine putting myself in the middle of such an uncomfortable living situation. Any suggestions for getting these teens to learn to accept me and the relationship?

—Three Is Not a Crowd

Dear Three,

Teenagers are just impossible these days. Mom and Dad go out and get a perfectly nice girlfriend to share, and the kids totally destroy the great erotic vibe you've all got going with their insolent remarks like, "Ewww, gross!" and "Why can't you be normal like other parents and just get a divorce or something?" They sound like complete downers who don't even understand the stimulating couplings and triplings that could take place when they have their friends sleep over (before the friends' parents hear about this, and all of you end up explaining polyamory to social services). It's too bad these rotten kids don't understand that their parents' need to fulfill their sexual appetites takes precedence over providing them a stable home. But since the teenagers are doing nothing but making life unpleasant for your happy threesome, my only suggestion for you is to find a couple who had the good judgment not to have children and leave this family alone.


Begs for replies, no? You know what to do. Here's the original on Slate.com (scroll down), and here's where to google up other sites displaying the column. Have fun, but please, as Mama Hogswatch says, "Be a credit to your kink."

(P.S.: If you don't want to agree to onerous Terms Of Service when you register on a media network to comment, such as agreeing to receive spam, DJ Velveteen points out that www.BugMeNot.com provides anonymous, temporary logins to comment boards on many sites.)

Update! A boiling-mad discussion of Prudie's ignorance and bigoted assumptions is going on at the LiveJournal Polyamory community. Several people there have written letters to Prudence (prudence@slate.com) calling her out — and Prudence has written back to them! Two of her replies:

If three or 12 consenting adults want to spend their evenings wearing tutus and smearing each other with Gorgonzola cheese, in the most loving way possible, that's fine by me. It's when you throw children into the mix that I have a problem with threesomes. I don't care how loving the group is, you're not going to convince me that a husband and two wives or a wife and two husbands is in the children's interest.

And then, a little later,

I really don't understand the lifestyle, I'll admit, since I've gotten numerous letters like yours saying these threesomes are about love, not sex. So polyamory is about getting a nice roommate to split the rent and help with the groceries -- who knew?

As for single parents and live-in boyfriend or girlfriends -- I'm against that too. If you're not sure enough about your relationship to want to marry and have the new partner take on the real responsibilities of being a stepparent, I think it's best not to live together.

Sigh. Go for it.

Remember: we have swamped advice columnists in the past so heavily, and so persuasively, that they've actually gone back and publicly recanted. Case 1; Case 2.

Update, Dec. 29, 2009: Your letter-writing certainly got noticed and remembered. At the end of 2009, Prudie wrote a wrapup column on her "best and worst advice of the year." She devotes two long paragraphs to the unexpected "outpouring of condemnation I received for my sarcastic answer to the conundrum posed by the woman in a 'polyamorous' relationship with a couple."

Sure, I'd heard of threesomes before, but naive and sheltered as I am, I didn't realize there was a whole movement (is it run by a troika?) to go along with it. I know now, because many adherents denounced my narrow-minded, ill-informed response. I was told, "Polyamory is a real lifestyle choice, with serious emotional benefits, and is not about sex." And, "If you did a little research you would have discovered the differences between polyamory, polyfidelity, polygamy, swinging, open, and other nonmonogamous relationship styles."...

Nevertheless she still concludes, "I actually don't care if three or 12 people want to, say, smear each other with cashew butter each evening in the most loving, emotionally supportive way possible. I'm concerned about what happens when this 'lifestyle' involves kids."

Maybe it's time to ask her what exactly she's concerned about regarding the kids. If mom really is into cashew butter behind closed doors in the bedroom, what business is it of the children in any family?



February 19, 2009

New Book: One Big Happy Family

Rebecca Walker (yes that one — the estranged daughter of Alice Walker, the one Time called one of America's most influential young leaders circa 1995) has a new book being released today: One Big Happy Family: 18 Writers Talk About Polyamory, Open Adoption, Mixed Marriage, Househusbandry, Single Motherhood, and Other Realities of Truly Modern Love. The poly chapter is written by Jenny Block.

I find it interesting that of all the situations listed in the subtitle, Walker (or her publisher) apparently thought polyamory was the most arresting and put it first, even though it's probably the least common.

And it does warm my heart to see the word next to "One Big Happy Family" on a book cover that will be looking out at people from shelves everywhere.

Here's a review of the book in ColorsNW, "the premier diversity resource" of the Pacific Northwest.

And here's a review in the venerable lefty magazine In These Times, which has this to say about Jenny's chapter:

The anthology begins with what some may consider the book’s most radical piece, Jenny Block’s “And Then We Were Poly.” Instead of Block approaching her polyamorous lifestyle as one on the fringe, she normalizes her relationships with her husband and girlfriend by pointing out the many ways in which they mimic monogamous couplings, addressing the questions she has no doubt been asked numerous times: How did you decide to be polyamorous? Does your husband get jealous of your girlfriend? How do you explain your relationships to your daughter?

Block doesn’t get bogged down in the different types of poly arrangements, and she’s not proselytizing, either. She simply speaks her piece and lets the reader sort out the rest.

The need to give priority to open communication and honesty — with one’s self and others — is a recurring theme throughout the book....

Incidentally: Jenny's own book, Open: Love, Sex, and Life in an Open Marriage, which was published in hardback last June, comes out in paperback March 1st.

And the expanded second edition of The Ethical Slut is finally due out from Ten Speed Press in March or April.

Updates: Nice review in the Dallas Morning News (March 3, 2009). The book got panned in the Honolulu Weekly (February 25, 2009).

Listen to a radio interview with Rebecca Walker on New Hampshire Public Radio (March 12, 2009). She has nice things to say about Jenny's sensitivity to how her open marriage may eventually affect her young daughter's desire for family normalcy.

Another review.


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February 18, 2009

A happy poly quint on MSNBC.com

YourTango, MSNBC.com

More than 2,000 comments are burning up the board at MSNBC.com after it reprinted, on the Today Show site, a polyamory article from YourTango.com (the successor to the late Tango magazine). Although the title calls it "polygamy," the article is about a FMFMF polyamorous quint. They're living together, raising kids, and sound quite happy.

I have two husbands: A polygamist’s diary

By Kathleen Lewis

...I was first introduced to such alternative relationships in college when a female friend of mine and I knowingly decided to share the same boyfriend.

No, not a threesome, just going out with the same guy. It was partially a matter of convenience, and partially the fact that we were close friends.... As this was my first intimate relationship and it became polyamorous, it is hardly surprising that I ended up in a polygamist marriage....

[Alan and I] fell together like a couple of old shoes, somehow instantly comfortable with each other. We had similar opinions about plural relationships, and neither of us was averse to the idea. Around a year and a half after we were married, we met Eric. He and I were instantly attracted to each other and, as Alan had no objection, we began getting to know each other better. Over time, I found myself falling in love with Eric. Alan certainly wasn't blind to this, so we all got together to discuss it. This turned out to be one of the most important conversations of my life, and led to an increase in my family’s size.

...To avoid legal troubles, I remained legally married to Alan, and we all decided a larger house was in order when we met Leslie.

...Fast forward to today, and our family is now composed of Alan, Eric, Leslie, Amber, and myself, plus our children: Todd, Steve, Jennifer, Lisa, and Amber is currently pregnant.... We have two family meetings a week, one of which is for adults only, both of which can get lively and loud. We've had our arguments over money, people monopolizing other people's time, dealing with children's issues, and so forth — like any other family — but we just have more voices in the discussion.

As far as finances are concerned, Alan, Eric and Leslie all work, and Amber intends to go back to work after the baby is born. I kind of became the head Mom and housekeeper, and we all take turns at cooking except for Eric. (We all try to keep him out of the kitchen. We've decided we like the house, and we don't want him to burn it down.) We have main household accounts for bills and home improvements, and we all have our own personal accounts as well. Alan keeps all the books balanced, as he's best at it. Amber and I both receive a kind of salary for what we do around the house....

This lifestyle really isn't for everybody. We are all here because we love each other and we choose to be together.... Incidentally, for those who insist on knowing, we are all straight. This did not keep me from sleeping in Leslie's bed for a few nights and holding her as we cried after she had a miscarriage. We all love and support each other, and try to see that everyone's needs are met....

Read the whole article. (You can join the comments only if you register at MSNBC, which promises in the TOS to spam you among other things.)

This one's certainly getting lots of attention. And no, the Alan in the story isn't me.


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February 12, 2009

Valentine's Poly: "Gimme More"

Xtra (Toronto)

In Toronto's Xtra ("where queers conspire"), Christina Starr writes a long, personal article with interviews about queer poly life in the city, a photo of his/her own triad whooping it up on the pillows, lists of poly books and local resources, a one-page list of Poly 101 tips suitable for pinning on a bulletin board — and warnings from people who experienced the darker side.

Gimme More
By Christina Starr [Feb. 12, 2009]

Long before The Ethical Slut was even a twinkle in its authors’ eyes, I experienced my first temptation toward multiple sexual relationships.

I was sitting in the car of a handsome, playful guy I really wanted to do. But I already had a boyfriend, a serious one, who happened to be working overseas at the time. It wasn’t that I didn’t love him or didn’t want to be his girlfriend, but I also wanted to explore my desire for the guy sitting only a slim gearshift away from me.

He wanted to play too but was conflicted by my being “someone else’s girlfriend.” The phrase triggered an instinctual protest in me.

As a pretty green sexual being with almost no political analysis and certainly very little relationship experience, it nevertheless felt hugely unfair that I should “belong” to someone else and consequently have my sexual activity curtailed, especially at a time in life when every single hormone has its own personal megaphone....

In the queer community I’ve found many people... interested in exploring alternatives to the-one-and-only, happy-ever-after model. “People who practice nonmonogamy... don’t limit themselves to sharing affection, flirting, sex, connection, romance and love with just one person,” writes Tristan Taormino in her new book Opening Up: A Guide to Creating and Sustaining Open Relationships. “They believe strongly that you can have all these things with multiple people and do it in an ethical, responsible way.”

Taormino’s guide is a timely investigation into the nature of polyamorous relationships, a decade of trial and error beyond the groundbreaking The Ethical Slut....

...Polyamory [can] be a conscious, deliberate way to involve more people in your life, broaden your support network or create a larger family. These may be honourable pursuits, but unfortunately for those interested in realizing them monogamy still has a stranglehold on acceptable relationship practices in our culture. Many who try to live outside of that model tend to make it up as they go along, with inevitably mixed results.

“I’ve always lived nonmonogamously,” says Tania Szablowski, a mid-life trannybutch in a long-term committed relationship that includes parenting a three-year-old boy, “but until recently it’s rarely been well-negotiated.”

I could say the same thing....

“It can be a question of ideals versus the real world,” says Szablowski. “What you ideally want your relationships to be will look different in the real world. It’s important to be responsive and kind.”

...“Every time I’ve tried it it’s been a total fucking disaster,” admits Desiree, a confirmed monogamist. “Personally I’ve experienced some people’s nonmonogamy to be mostly about keeping an emotional distance, not getting too involved with one person.”

Marc shares a similar sentiment. “After many years of being nonmonogamous and promiscuous, both in and out of committed relationships, I found I couldn’t maintain emotional intimacy with any one person for any length of time. I didn’t know what love was anymore or how to keep it.”

Certainly for polyamory to work it has to be not only something you want, but something that’s negotiated well by all parties....

Read the whole article.

From the Poly 101 sidebar:

Communicate. That means not just talking well about yourself but listening well to your lover(s).

Know yourself. Know your triggers and vulnerabilities so that you can recognize them yourself and communicate them to your partner(s).

Take responsibility. Own your triggers and vulnerabilities and work to take responsibility for them....

Trust. Some poly people feel secure because they know their partner is there because they want to be, not because they have to. Trust that your partner(s) want to be with you, even when they're with someone else.

Make a contract. Whether you frame it in the front hall or put it in your sock drawer making a contract helps clarify desires and limits. It avoids assuming anybody knows what's okay and what's not....

Renegotiate. Relationships and people change. What worked last week or last year might be different now. Relationships can also flow from poly to monogamous and back again, depending what's needed.

Go slowly. If you're new to multiple relationships, don't do everything at once. It's also better to negotiate what it would look like before you're undoing your pants.

Join a group. Poly groups exist, online and in person, and can be a helpful source of support.

Meet your lovers' lovers. Meeting someone helps make them human and less threatening. It also helps to establish trust between you

Practice safer sex. When playing with multiple partners safer sex is a must. At risk is more than yourself and you may be playing with more people than you realize.

Have fun. New desire has a way of spreading itself around. Bring your happy hormones back to your existing relationship(s).


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February 9, 2009

Love, Sex, & Kink: "Three’s company"

West Ender (Vancouver)

In its Valentine's-week "Love, Sex, & Kink" issue, an urban weekly newspaper gives a good, basic, factual report on what poly is about, with its joys and its difficulties.

Another few thousand articles like this in the next ten years, and we'll be living in a different, better environment: one where most people at least know what polyamory is, and what poly relationships tend to look like, and that the folks doing it are not (necessarily) creeps but in fact are often unusually nice.

Moreover, each article like this surely comes as a life-changing revelation to some new handful of innately poly people — who've had no idea before that this is actually possible, or that communities already exist, very much this side of utopia, where they can go connect and learn.

Are polyamorists sexual deviants or the world’s most incurable romantics?

By Andrea Warner [Feb. 9, 2009]

...Other “kinks” have come and gone as the primary target of “polite” society’s moral outrage — homosexuality, orgies, swinging — and forged, in some people’s homes, an uneasy truce. Polyamory, then, might be the last taboo — possibly because many people can barely navigate the obstacles of one relationship, let alone several.

But, contrary to popular belief, people who engage in “poly” say they aren’t just in it for the sex — although that doesn’t hurt. True to their name, polyamorists have a whole lot of love to give (and take).

According to John Ince, co-owner of Vancouver sex shop The Art of Loving, poly people might just be the world’s biggest romantics. “Poly is really about relationships, an ongoing experience rather than a sexual connection,” he says. “I’ve done long-term monogamous relationships and long-term polyamorous relationships, and the poly ones are conducive to more intimacy... but it’s a lot of relational time. Time and work.”

Jillian Deri, a PhD candidate writing about polyamory and jealousy within the queer community, is also involved in poly relationships, and acknowledges the common misconceptions people have about it. “[People think] we’re just dating around until we find the right person,” she says, “or that we’re just promiscuous and can’t decide, or that we’re not committed. But, actually, poly people are usually more committed because they commit to more than one person.”

For Deri... “I believe we have this dichotomy between friends and lovers: only one lover and all the rest are friends. I find that having that boundary broken allows for more intimacy — a whole range of different ways to be with people.”

In a world where hate, rancour and loneliness permeate all aspects of society, one could say that polyamorists are, in their own way, forging a path where love is all around. For those looking to venture into the world of poly, Deri suggests honesty as your best tactic for success.... “Communication is the biggest key to making it work.”...

The Art of Loving hosts its first polyamory seminar, 'Polyamory: Loving More Than One', on Wednesday, March 18. Info: ArtOfLoving.ca

Read the whole article.

Update Feb. 12: Prompted by this article no doubt, the local "News Radio 1130" just aired a snappy little report. I happened to catch it live;— it was silly and dismissive. The promo on the station's website, by contrast, is informative and accurate.


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