Newsweek fallout? Jenny Block on AOL
The Newsweek online article two days ago the one that billed polyamory on the magazine's home page as "America's Next Romantic Revolution" continues to set things in motion. Buckets of commentaries are happening all over the place. The right-wing blogosphere is up in arms against Newsweek for printing the story, not to mention us for existing. Momlogic was moved to repost its interview with Loving More's Robyn Trask from a year ago about her life, partners, and children.
Jenny Block (author of "Open: Love, Sex and Life in an Open Marriage") just wrote, "An interview with me went up on AOL.com Health a week or two ago, and then all of a sudden they put it on their homepage and my inbox is suddenly flooded!" Excerpts:
Love, Sex and Parenting in an Open Relationship
By MARY KEARL
AOL Health: Why do you think monogamy isn't for you?
Jenny Block: The simplest, light-hearted answer is what my father always says, which is that I'm a lot. I'm just a lot. I have a number of different jobs, I have lots of different hobbies, I always have a lot of different friends that are all very different. So in some ways it would be really, kind of crazy for me to just pick one person. I tried. I figured everybody else does it. How special am I? Am I such a rarity that I need more than one person? But [now] I don't think I'm a rarity. I think I'm just about as typical as it gets in the needing more than one person part. It's the honesty part that I think makes [my husband and me] unusual.
AOL Health: You had several monogamous relationships before your marriage turned into an eventual open relationship. Can you explain how you progressed toward this?
Block: ...I finally approached the subject with him. I said, "I've done a bunch of reading and a bunch of research and we're really not that strange. People have open relationships. People opt to have other partners." My very sweet husband said, "Theoretically you could do that, but there are feelings and emotions and realities of life." We went back and forth for probably a year at that point. [We asked ourselves] "Does this really work? Are they these crazy people who are not like us, so it would never work?" We had this do-or-die moment. We invited my friend [Lizbeth] to join us [in a threesome] and it worked and she hung around for about six months and the three of us dated. We all kept looking at each other saying, "Is this weird? Should this be weird? Is it weird that it's not weird?" It's kind of like going to summer camp for me. I used to go to summer camp every year and everybody got along....
AOL Health: You have a daughter who is 10 years old. How much of the nuances of your marriage does she understand?
Block: I don't know. We answer all of her questions and we don't lie to her. My girlfriend is still my best friend, so it's not like she wouldn't be around. She has asked me some very pointed questions, which makes me think she's putting the pieces together. One day she asked me if three people can get married. She asked me if I love Jemma [my girlfriend] as much as I love Daddy. She said to me in the middle of dinner, "I'm really lucky because some people only have one parent and I have three." I said, "Why, do you consider all of us parents?" She said, "Sometimes Jemma makes me dinner and sometimes she picks me up from school. When Daddy cooks dinner, he says to set four places at the table. So we're a family." Kids see the truth and the happy family. That's what they see. If they see screaming and yelling and you keep saying, "No, Mommy loves Daddy," I don't think they buy it.
AOL Health: At some point are you going to tell her more about the details?
Block: Definitely. She keeps asking me when she's going to be old enough to read the book. I don't even know yet. I'm going to ask some writer friends who also have memoir pieces [what they've done]. When she asks about it and starts showing more curiosity about it and I think she's at an age when she can piece it all together, I think yes. I think it'd be kind of crazy to try to hide it.
AOL Health: Do you think she'll feel like you were lying to her?
Block: I don't think so. We told her that the book is about marriage, and about how grownups choose to love each other and some people don't agree with what Mommy says in the book. We say, "It's about grownup things and that when you're ready to talk about it, we'll talk about it." She gets the kid thing, grownup thing. She gets that stuff.
AOL Health: Have you raised her to be aware of alternative marriages and relationships?
Block: Yeah, definitely. I think that's the other thing. We have friends who are gay and lesbian. We talk about adopted families and extended families. We talk all the time about how people can choose to love who they want. Now the law doesn't always recognize those choices and she knows that too. She'll ask us questions, like we have friends who are a lesbian couple who were over one day and they were talking about other parents at the school and Emily asked, "Why do they not want [their children] to play with your daughter?" And I said, "Some people have a problem with two women being married." Her child response was, "That's just stupid." I said "Right, exactly." It's really that simple....
Read the whole long brassy interview. (It's a three-part article and the navigation may be tricky; here's all the text in one piece.)
And join the 1,000-plus comments pouring in below the interview. Remember, be polite and respectful, and represent us well; "be a credit to your kink."
Update, August 15: Jenny writes,
When AOL put their interview with me on their homepage, I received such wonderful replies, with personal stories, kind words, and questions. Because I can't answer each email personally (I wish I could...) I have partnered with yourtango.com to respond to as many of your insights and inquiries as I can. I hope you'll stop by to read my blogs and to share your own thoughts and ideas. Looking forward to seeing you there!