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

February 3, 2010

"What happens when poly becomes mainstream?"

Three more poly-in-the-media items have piled up in my queue. They drive home the immediacy of the question that Reid Mihalko — the keynote speaker at the upcoming Poly Living conference February 19-21 outside Philadelphia — plans to delve into on opening night:

"What happens when poly becomes mainstream?"

For the activists among us [writes Reid], progress for the poly movement has never been fast enough. For those who've been "poly for years," shows like Big Love and the occasional Oprah episode on open marriages reassure us that things are shifting. For the newly poly, posting "In an open relationship" on our Facebook profile reminds us that we are no longer the only stranger in a strange land...

No matter where you are on the poly spectrum of experience, what we all have in common is that polyamory has not yet become mainstream.... Has anyone thought about what happens when it does?

Reid will tell his experiences "bringing poly to Hollywood's world of reality television, and what he thinks is going to happen to us when polyamory becomes a household word — and what you can do today to help."

You can still register for the Poly Living conference, which will be full of other good stuff too. I'll see you there.

A while back, I remember that some people wanted to keep the whole polyamory concept a secret — to avoid notice and censure, and maybe to keep it from being sullied by the "wrong people." Sorry, the horse is long out of the barn. Our role now, I'm convinced, is to try to run fast enough just to keep the polyamory bandwagon steered in good directions as it gains momentum.

To that end, the Polyamory Leadership Network (PLN) will hold its third summit meeting the evening and day following Poly Living, in the same hotel. This event too is sponsored by Loving More. The meeting's purpose: to plan out, and recruit volunteers for, various poly-education and -awareness projects following up on last year's big meeting.

If you intend to come to the PLN summit and haven't signed up yet, please get a move on. I'll see you there too.


Oh yes, those three recent articles.

Two of them introduce polyamory, accurately, to readers who are assumed not to have heard of it. I predict that articles of this type (which have become increasingly common in the five years I've been doing this blog) will run their course in another five years or so, if you and I do our jobs and the publicity trend keeps increasing. Eventually, we may hope, everyone will have heard of polyamory; will know correctly what it means; and will know that it can work dazzlingly well for a certain minority of people — maybe — if they're willing to devote a lot of commitment, time, and relationship work to it — with no guarantees.

The third article is an advice column that assumes readers already know the concept. Of these sorts of articles, I think we'll be seeing more and more.

From a California journalism professor writing in the Santa Barbara Independent:

Bucking Monogamy

Free-Loving Dissidents Buck Puritanism and Practice Polyamory

By Starshine Roshell

...A covey of free-thinking, free-loving dissidents is bucking Puritanism, bucking monogamy, and, frankly, bucking anyone else who's game. They practice what they call "polyamory," or being openly — and therefore ethically — involved in multiple intimate relationships.

"Poly," as it's called for short, encompasses all sorts of consciousness-expanding configurations: from stick-straight to gay-as-the-day-is-long, from married couples with separate-but-not-secret lovers to a trio of adoring roommates who share more than the water bill. It's not polygamy and it's not "swinging." It's consensual non-monogamy with as much emphasis on love as on sex.

...Today's polyamorists aren't the first to reject the traditional one-on-one courtship and marriage model; surely, intriguing romantic arrangements have been made behind closed doors for centuries.

But spurred, perhaps, by recent nationwide debate about the definition of marriage, and united into regional groups via the Internet (there isn't currently an active group in Santa Barbara), their numbers appear to be growing....

For old-skool copulators like myself, the concept can be unsettling... especially when I hear about the poly guy who told Portland Monthly Magazine that his missus serves him and his girlfriends post-coital snacks. "There's nothing sexier than having your wife bring you food when you're in bed with another woman," he said with no apparent shame....

Read the whole article (Jan. 19, 2010) and leave a comment.

Next up, from a book author and Los Angeles Times book critic writing in the new online newspaper The Faster Times:

Polyamory, Honesty and Pie

By Amy Wallen

A few weeks ago, I drove north on Interstate 15 to a town ranked the most conservative in Southern California, just an hour outside San Diego.... I was on my way to visit Sherry, Greg and Bill, a polyamorous co-habitating triad. They are an example of why conservatives don’t want gay marriage to be legalized — then “anyone” can marry anyone, and next we’d have polygamists wanting to get married, and then who’s to say you can’t marry a porcupine if you choose to?

I was excited to have the opportunity to interview Sherry, Greg and Bill because they didn’t fit into the clichéd situation of two women and one man.... Maybe I envied Sherry a bit. She’s got it all. While Greg is a good breadwinner, he’s not so good around the house. That’s where Bill comes in: he likes to make chicken and rice dinners, bake pies and fix things....

We’ll get the basic questions out of the way first: Yes, Bill, Greg, and Sherry are all bisexual. No, they don’t all have sex at the same time, but they will all snuggle in bed together. Bill and Greg are affectionate with one another, but not necessarily sexually attracted to one another. They both have sex with Sherry.

...Bill, who’s from West Virginia, says that when he’s interested in a married woman, he likes to bake a pie and take it to the couple. Ah, the Southern polyamorous tradition....

...Bill, Sherry and Greg have been together for more than ten years, and they seem truly happy....

Read the whole article (Jan. 19, 2010) and leave a comment.

And lastly, an advice column that appeared in a couple of hip/progressive outlets in Canada:

Multiple partners, multiple questions, multiple solutions

Dear Sasha,

What do you do when you are a monogamous person in a long-term committed relationship with someone who is polyamorous and he falls in love with his lover?

I am a firm believer that you can only love one person and that’s the person you share your home and life with....

— Up the Creek

A: ...As Andrea Zanin, who conducts workshops on open relationships, points out, “[Up The Creek is] asserting a belief system that is fundamentally incompatible with polyamory — even though she’s using the term and seems to have willingly engaged in a relationship with someone who identifies as polyamorous. If that wasn’t okay with her, why is she with him in the first place?...”

If what you agreed upon was that your partner was only to have noncommittal sex outside of your relationship, a model known as partnered non-monogamy, then he has broken your agreement. But this is by no means uncommon. “Once you open up your relationship,” Tristan Taormino writes in Opening Up (Cleis), “there is always a risk, since the way people connect and the depths of emotions that arise cannot be predicted.” And as Zanin says, “The human heart doesn’t always pay attention to terminology or rules.”...

...Sounds like a hell of a lot of negotiation, self-reflection and attitude adjustment, doesn’t it? It is.

...“If she does want to try and work on this, I’d send her, or better yet the two of them, to a poly-friendly therapist who can help them untangle things a bit without automatically judging polyamory itself as the problem.”

Zanin recommends Philip Strapp at new-choices.ca. As for reading, Taormino’s book Opening Up and Wendy-O-Matik’s Redefining Our Relationships (Defiant Times) are good choices. As Zanin says of Wendy-O-Matik, “She has such an expansive and inspiring view of what love is and how to cultivate it everywhere in life.”

Read the whole thing in NOW Toronto (Jan. 30, 2010) or Rabble.ca (Feb. 1, 2010). Thanks to Alissa for the tip. She writes, "I love the fact that the questioner doesn't feel the need to explain/define 'polyamory'."


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Blogger Jessie said...

Also, a couple of other books which I personally own and have found extremely helpful are: "The Ethical Slut: A guide to Infinite Sexual Possibilities" by Dossie Easton and Catherine A. Liszt (the newer the edition, the clearer the understanding becomes), and "Polyamory: Roadmaps for the Clueless & Hopeful" by Anthony Ravenscroft. Both of these books may well be of use to "Up A Creek," so long as she still has an open mind.

February 04, 2010 4:51 PM  

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