Polyamory in the News
. . . by Alan M.

November 25, 2012

New book: poly activist Meg Barker's Rewriting the Rules

Meg Barker self-portrait.
Meg Barker is a lecturer in psychology at the UK's Open University, a sex-and-relationships therapist, a much-published researcher, co-editor of the journal Psychology & Sexuality, and for many years a poly-awareness activist. She's co-organizer of the UK's annual Polyday and the cartoonist for its website.

Barker has now brought out a deeply radical self-help book: Rewriting the Rules: An Integrative Guide to Love, Sex and Relationships (Routledge, September 2012). It's radical in that it guides readers to discern roots: to dig up unexamined social assumptions that govern your relationship life, look at them in the light, and decide which to keep and which to remake.

From the introduction:

This book takes various key aspects of relationships and, for each one, explores what the existing rules are and why they might not always work so well. It then considers people and groups who have stepped outside those existing rules and what they are doing, exploring what we might learn from such alternatives. However, it also explores the limitations of any new rules and how they can become problematic themselves if held too rigidly. Finally, it explores a third alternative to either grabbing onto existing rules or desperately seeking new ones. This involves staying in the uncertainty of not having clear rules and finding a way to go on which doesn't require grabbing hold of anything.

If that sounds a rather tall order, in reality it means that at least we try to notice when we are grasping onto rules and thus attempt to hold them more loosely.

To illustrate how even the most freethinking people unconsciously take unrealistic templates as their standards, she writes:

We have an image of a normal relationship in our heads in the same way that most people, when asked to draw a picture of a house, draw pretty much the same thing as one another. Try it for yourself.

In the same way that hardly anyone lives in anything that looks remotely like this picture [you just drew], so none of our relationships look much like our idea of 'normal'.

In nine chapters she leads the reader in examining and rewriting the rules of your self-identity; of who you should be attracted to and whom you can attract; of how love is to be done; of sex; of gender; the choice of monogamy or some form of polyamory; how conflicts are done; how breakups are done; and setting the meanings of commitment. She closes with a chapter of practical suggestions for rewriting your rules consciously. This is a deep, thoughtful book — not a quick read but something to take in bites and come back to again and again.

The book has been getting a fair amount of media notice. In the UK's Guardian newspaper for Nov. 9, 2012:

...[Barker] isn't suggesting that we junk monogamy, rather that we realise that long-term monogamous relationships as currently configured aren't so much fulfilments of love's young dream as disasters waiting to happen. In such circumstances, mere monogamy surely cannot bear so much weight.

Should we adjust our parameters? Should we pursue what relationship counselors call the poly grail? Does sex matter to the health of a long-term relationship? Is it OK to give it up?

"We increasingly look for lots of different things in one place – namely the monogamous relationship," says Barker. Why? "Because we have become more and more atomised, work has become more precarious, community bonds have weakened and there has been a decline in religion, so we hope to get everything from one other person."

...Barker... finds in monogamy's very indeterminate rules a space for confusion about what is permissible within a relationship. "One person may think it's all right to stay friends with an ex-partner. Another may think it's all right to flirt with or have sex with another person. Another may think it's OK to look at porn. What's important is communicating so you know what the other expects."

How important is sex in a long-term relationship? Barker says many of the couples who come to her seeking sex therapy expect that she will teach them how to have the great sex they had at the start of their relationship or have never previously enjoyed. "Sex is our whole idea of the barometer of a relationship's healthiness. So sex becomes this imperative. It needn't be."

...Is she saying it's OK not to have sex in a long-term relationship? "For some couples that may work, but not others. One possibility I address in the book is making a 'yes, no, maybe' list of all the sexual and physical practices that they are aware of, and whether they are interested in them. That may help."

Barker counsels periods of solitude in order to work out what you want from a relationship – or if you want out. "It's easy not to think critically about what's happening. It helps to create space to reflect on what you want."...

In another major UK newspaper, The Independent (Sept. 25, 2012):

...[Barker] says there are several differences in today's long-term committed relationships that underpin the need for change. "Number one is that people are living to be a lot older – so a long-term relationship is a much longer deal," she says. "And another thing that's changed is expectations: we require so much more from a relationship than people did in the past.

"There's been a huge growth in the recent past of this idea that you need one perfect relationship; that you will get everything from it – romance and children and financial stability and friendship and a great sex life. No other generation had such huge hopes invested in just one relationship and it is an enormous ask."

On the feminist website Cliterati (Sept. 12, 2012):

...Are all love relationships about two people? Are friendships and romances really that different? Is sex vital to a ‘healthy’ relationship? How important is it to be ‘normal’? Is there such a thing as ‘The One’? Is it realistic to promise that anything will last forever? All these questions are considered but, crucially, Meg doesn’t offer any set answers (cos that would kind of be going against the whole point, see?).

If you’re already in or considering some form of non-conventional relationship, whether non-monogamous, kinky, queer, asexual or otherwise, I would also strongly recommend this book. As Meg herself points out, people who challenge conventional rules can often make the mistake of grasping onto their own alternative ‘rulebooks’ as tightly as do those in the communities they left behind. This book tackles that, offering plenty of practical tips for working out what you really want and how you can make sense of that with the people in your life, without getting drawn into just another role that doesn’t really fit.

At the blogsite Sex Critical (Nov. 20, 2012):

In a particularly brilliant passage, Barker uses her experience of place and time to suggest analogously a different way of thinking about the value of maintaining constancy within relationships, and thereby to question the universal value of monogamy and life-time commitment:

I think about my own relationship with cities. When I moved out of London, for example, I found that London and I were much better together when we were in a long-distance relationship than when we rubbed up against each other every day.

Consider times of day: I used to have a relationship with the time between midnight and two in the morning: a loose, rumpled time of fuzzy edges, drunken camaraderie with strangers and greasy gutters. We broke up and I hardly ever see that time any more, but I do have a new relationship with the time between six and seven a.m.: it is a sharp, silvery grey, raw and empty time, but I am growing to love it.

Such passages are genuinely subversive in their at once light and suggestive, yet ideologically devastating, destabilization of the dogmas by which so many live — and suffer.

In the Wales Art Review (November 2012):

Barker then explores how in fact, there are continua in regard to how much sexual and/or physical contact a couple has, how close they are emotionally to one another and to others outside their relationship, how much they might disclose, what sort of boundaries they have, how much freedom people in relationships have, and so on. She writes that where problems may occur in relationships is that people assume that they are at the same place on the various continua, and then discover that they are not. It turns out that the assumptions they thought they shared were not shared at all.

At The Dinah Project (Oct. 10, 2012):

...The unrelenting order of each chapter got a bit tedious: what are the rules, why question the rules, alternative rules, and beyond the rules. Whereas this may be a good structure for a presentation, I found that it forced the author to state the obvious too many times.

Some chapters worked particularly well; the chapter on sex, the one on commitment and the conflict chapter were excellent, perhaps because she negotiates these tricky areas very skillfully and with a good deal of openness to their wide range of possibilities. In other chapters, such as gender and love, the result is simplifications of very complex issues which do not go beyond the superficial.

Here are links to many more reviews and notices, at the book's website.

Most of this is happening in Great Britain. Rewriting the Rules deserves more attention here in the US.

Here's Barker discussing the book on Tristan Taormino's "Sex Out Loud" podcast (Nov. 30, 2012) and on the Feminist Current podcast (Dec. 14, 2012).


Two years ago Barker co-produced another poly-related book, Understanding Non-Monogamies (edited by Meg Barker and Darren Langdridge; Routledge, 2010). This one is an academic collection of 25 papers and essays on styles of open relationships in various cultural contexts, poly culture in particular. The introduction, table of contents, and large bibliography are online (click "see inside").


Added December 2013: She does a TEDx talk, including the Repeating Crab Bucket phenomenon versus Embracing Uncertainty (12 minutes).


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November 21, 2012

Thanksgiving advice on bringing multiples home to the folks

Sierra Black, now a Huffington Post Women contributor, presents a timely article on bringing additional partners to the folks for family holidays (or not), and managing things once they're there.

Thanksgiving Advice: How To Bring Your Boyfriend Home For The Holidays -- When You're Polyamorous

One year, several years ago, I asked my mom if I could bring my then-boyfriend home for Thanksgiving. He didn't have local family to celebrate with and I thought it'd be nice to spend the day together.

"I think that would make me and your stepfather very uncomfortable," she said.

It's not that she didn't like my boyfriend. It's just that I'm happily married to someone else, and having my boyfriend and my husband both there for the holidays seemed like a bit much to her.

I decided not to push it. I went home for a family dinner with my husband and kids, and met up with my boyfriend at my place afterwards. We had dessert together, and it was lovely.

Did I do the right thing?...

Read on (Nov. 20, 2012). And join the comments there; they need help.

To my mind Black consistently combines good values, good sense, and good writing. Here are all her articles mentioned on this site (including this one; scroll down).


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November 18, 2012

"3 on a Bed,"
a heartfelt poly movie in India

The Times of India
The Telegraph India

The extraordinary revelation that three or more people can fall in love together, and that this can work successfully and joyfully, is something that practically no culture admits; the early Christians may have been an exception. Nevertheless, the phenomenon is cross-cultural. It is not limited to the Western world, where the recognition of poly possibilities has lately become a movement. Rather, it seems to be a potential rooted deep in human nature — though few people yet know it exists.

In India, the young filmmakers Rajdeep Paul and Sarmistha Maiti were struck by this revelation and made a short, deeply romantic movie exploring it. Last week they entered the movie in a prestigious Indian film festival, after several months of delay getting it past a government censorship board.

The following article about it appeared in the Times of India, which is reported to be the world's largest-circulation English newspaper:

Short film on 'polyamory' makes it to film fest

By Rupali Shukla, TNN

KOLKATA: It is a subject that would be considered taboo by some, scandalous by others and controversial by most. But IT professional turned filmmaker Rajdeep Paul isn't bothered. He is happy that '3 on a Bed' has finally been cleared by the censors and will be screened at Nandan III on Monday [Nov. 12] as part of the Kolkata [Calcutta] Film Festival.

The 32-minute film on polyamory revolves around the lives of three youngsters — Kapil, Padmini and Devdutt. Padmini loves both men, but instead of making a choice between the two, decides to live with both.

Kapil or Devdutt don't mind either. Instead of fighting over possession and hierarchy, they share their love equally between themselves driven by a simple idea of 'All love shared is good'.

The poster of the film is bold but then the theme is bolder still, as student films are expected to be. No wonder, it was caught up for months at the state censor board till being cleared for screening along with 20 others in the non-competitive students' short film category.

Paul and co-director Sarmistha Maiti, both... passed out from the Satyajit Ray Film and Television Institute (SRFTI) in March 2012, said the film is inspired by Girish Karnad's play 'Hayavadana'. which deals with the subject of polyamory, though in a slightly different way. In fact, the characters in the film have also been named after those in Karnad's play.

"Both Sarmistha and I could relate to the central theme behind Karnad's play. With so much of intermingling between both sexes, polyamorous relationships are not very uncommon in this generation and we are not hesitant to accept it," said Paul. whose film has been getting critical reviews on YouTube for its concept....

Polyamorous relationships believe in the acceptance of having more than one intimate relationship at a time with the knowledge and consent of everybody and sexual needs are secondary here, the director said....

Read the whole article (Nov. 9, 2012). The Times of India also listed "3 on a Bed" among 21 must-see films (in a subscription-only article).

The movie premiered last March 24th. A blogger who was at the opening wrote:

3 on a bed: India’s first polyamoric film

In a fully packed auditorium... I saw the première of Rajdeep Paul and Sarmistha Maiti’s 32-minutes short film ‘3 on a bed’. Produced by Satyajit Ray Film & Television Institute (SRFTI) and inspired by Girish Karnad’s Kannada play ‘Hayavadana’, this is said to be India’s first polyamoric film about a ménage-à-trois or a threesome of two men and a woman.

As the name suggests, the story revolves around three friends, Kapil, Debdutta and Padmini, all art college pass-outs, sharing their bodies, soul, food and a bed....

...While watching ‘3 on a bed’, I recalled an article published in popular Bengali news daily about the life-story of a business person; living at Garia in Kolkata; who is married to two women, who are sisters. He also has had children from his wives and they all are living together happily, under one roof. Perhaps, people may term this as an exceptional incidence of our society, but the truth is, it exists and relationship is successful.

The concept of this film raises the same issue; can this kind of love and sexual relationship exists in our society? If so, what shall be their terms? What should be the model of our social system?...

...As the film ends, it leaves the audience with a feel good feeling. When we see the three characters to unite again, it’s a strong message given by the director duo; yes, a new world is possible, what we all need to do is to love others selflessly.

As Debdutta replied in his interview, “It might be your dream; but you need a team to realize your dream”. I wish, the team of Rajdeep and Sarmistha will continue making films and keep sharing their dreams with us.

Read the whole post (March 26, 2012).

The Telegraph India interviewed the filmmakers (published March 29, 2012):

For 2 student filmmakers, 3 is not a crowd

...Rajdeep: ...I think from the relationship orientation angle, I am polyamoric. I came to know about polyamory on the Internet seven or eight years ago. Sarmistha and I have been working on projects from the second year... and this became a favourite topic for us. That’s where the idea for the film came from.

Sarmistha: Rajdeep came to know of the term ‘polyamory’ first. But I have always looked at love in this way, may be. It should not be bound by some kind of limitation. I believe in polyamory in faith. When we started working on this film, we checked the latest edition of The Penguin Dictionary of Sociology and this term was not there, but it has been there on the Internet for half a decade. Along with that there is another term called compassion [sic], equivalent to empathy, you are happy when your lover is happy or your friend is happy.

Rajdeep started researching whether there was a society or a commune where people lived like this. He came across many such individuals. We did not want to put forward something that was alien. We wanted to show what we are....

Rajdeep: We were trying to desexualise sex.... I tried to depict sex the way you would look at a tree or a mountain. I didn’t want to make it either boring or erotic. I wanted to make it adorable....

The feedback so far?

A 75-year-old man hugged me after the show. A simple middle-class engineer told me that this shupto ichhey (latent desire) is there in all of us. 'We cannot say it, but you all can!'

Rajdeep: My father loved it. He said there were tears in his eyes when he saw the last scene (where Kapil, Padmini and Debdutta kiss each other). That’s a great compliment!...

The movie's website.

Facebook page.

One of the trailers there (1:41):

A 24-second teaser clipped from the above has had 3,173,072 YouTube views.

Also from the movie's website:

"One" is on his own,
"Two" is about "Me" and "You"
But the joy of "Three"–
Is all in being "We"!


Meanwhile, elsewhere in the Indian press, The Hindu mentioned poly as if readers already know about it:

...In the latest art exhibition organised by the gallery, ‘The Alchemy of Dreams'... [the] youngest amongst the ensemble is Ujjwal Kumar, a 21-year-old budding painter and a cartoonist. Ujjwal's work is based on love, emotions and human relationships. “I have worked on a theme of polyamory or dual relationships in this exhibition,” explains Ujjwal....

Article (June 1, 2012).

Here are several earlier articles on poly in The Hindu and elsewhere.


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November 14, 2012

"Man Man Beaver"

After Showtime's Polyamory: Married and Dating, we wondered what Hollywood's next shot at a poly TV series would look like.

Here's the unexpected answer. It's pretty cringe-worthy, but funny:

Man Man Beaver is a cartoon series about a gay MMB group-married triad. It was created by Josh Sugarman and Brandon Yankowitz, the pair behind the movies Trophy Kids and the upcoming Dear Friends, With Love. They're introducing it only as a webcast, and with what I'd call beta-test production values for Episode 1, but they say they hope to sell it to a major cable network.

Official blurb:

Following California's legalization of gay marriage and, logically then, every conceivable sexual pairing and so-called perversion, a "couple" comprised of two gay men and a man-sized, talking beaver relocate into the state to finally live openly and take on idiocy and narrow-minded buffoonery each week...all while surviving the unique challenges of their married life. An animated satire series.

From the announcement press release:

Tom Arnold to join All Star Talent in 'Man Man Beaver;' Gay Marriage Was Never Like This Before

YaSu Media is proud to the announce that legendary comedian Tom Arnold headlines the all-star cast of "Man Man Beaver," as the voice of Beaver, an acerbic, politically active gay mammal fighting for the right to marry both of his biracial gay male companions.

“Man Man Beaver” is the World's first animated cartoon series following the adventures of a Polyamorous Beaver and his marriage to lovers Thomas and Julian, whose voices are portrayed by Sam Seder and Nathan Lee Graham respectively. The first episode is available for viewing at www.ManManBeaver.com.

Inspired by Rick Santorum's comment about gay marriage being one small step away from bestiality and polygamy, "Man Man Beaver" takes that step down the aisle as a political satire series about a Bi-racial Gay Couple and an angry and disorderly Beaver who seek to live in holy matrimony (yes, all three of them) and become entangled with the world of problems facing such a diverse union. In the pilot episode "I'm With The Black Guy", Beaver's lover Julian, who happens to be African American, runs against Mitt Romney in his next campaign: to be the mayor of the small town of Gay Street. Predictably, mayhem ensues.

Series preview (1:26):

And here's the 50-second intro that looks like it'll start each episode:

"Man Man Beaver" is the brainchild of Co-Creaters Josh Sugarman and Brandon Yankowitz of YaSu Media.... They are producing the series with an eye towards placement on a major cable network similar to the success of "Sanctuary" (SyFy), which started life as a groundbreaking web series.

"With a positive message, 'Man Man Beaver' tells us to stand up for our rights," said star Sam Seder. Seder is the producer and host of Majority Report and is a political comedian well-known from hosting four hit shows on Air America as well as being as a frequent guest host for Countdown with Keith Olbermann on MSNBC. Seder regularly appears as a pundit for CNN, CNBC, and MSNBC.

Nathan Lee Graham is an American cabaret artist, stage, television and film actor, singer, writer and director. His roles in feature films include Todd in "Zoolander", Frederick Montana in "Sweet Home Alabama" and Geoff in "Hitch".

A project with a purpose, "Man Man Beaver" is as much about supporting the struggle for equal rights across the nation as it is about being funny, fresh and subversive every single week.

Series Launch Date: November 6, 2012

Website: www.ManManBeaver.com.

Facebook fan page; check out behind the scenes.

Twitter: @ManManBeaver #ManManBeaver "Dam the Bigots with Man Man Beaver"

Justin Howard
Director of Publicity
Desert Grove Media


Creator/Executive Producer Josh Sugarman began writing for the screen while working as a young progressive political staffer in Boston, working alongside LGBT candidates and organizations like Mass Equality....

Creator/Executive Producer Brandon Yankowitz was born and raised in New York. He is a graduate of Brandeis University (B.A. Politics) and of New York Law School (J.D.). Brandon is a former model, a licensed attorney and is a member of the New York and New Jersey State Bars.... Brandon is the Co-Founder and Partner at the production company: YaSu Media, LLC, which develops and produces feature length and short format film content for traditional and new media distribution. His first series of films, made for the progressive organization http://www.TruthThroughAction.org which he co-founded and acts as the Director of Production, caused quite the controversy....

See the whole release (Nov. 8, 2012).

Episode 1 (13:38):

I give this maybe a 1-in-10 of getting on a "major cable network," but who knows. What do you think?


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November 11, 2012

"What the 2012 Election Means for Sexual Freedom"

My wife Sparkle Moose first met Kyrsten Sinema, the out bisexual state legislator who was just elected Arizona's newest congresswoman, when they both spoke at the 2009 American Humanist Association convention in Tempe, Arizona. Sinema, a pro-science rationalist Democrat, has squeaked out a victory against a Tea Partier to join the well over 100 openly gay candidates elected Tuesday at federal, state and local levels. She will be the first openly bi member of Congress.

Last week's election marked an unexpected sea change — not so much in Obama's continuance in office, or the only slightly changed numbers in Congress — but in the kinds of Democrats who won and Republicans who lost, and in the breakthrough ballot questions that passed, and in the kinds of voters (increasingly millennial-generation and nonwhite) who made it happen.

Sierra Black, whom you may remember leading her poly network's stellar appearance on ABC's "20-20" news program last April, writes at Huffington Post Gay Voices about what all this means for polys:

What the 2012 Election Means for Sexual Freedom

By Sierra Black

Congratulations to Kyrsten Sinema, the newly elected congresswoman from Arizona's 9th district. Sinema is the first openly bisexual person to be elected to office at a national level.

Congratulations are also due, of course, to Tammy Baldwin. The new Wisconsin senator is, as you have surely heard by now, the first openly gay or lesbian senator to be sent to Washington.

A huge thank you, as well, to the people of Maine, Maryland and Washington who all voted this week to grant marriage rights to their LGBT citizens. [Also, Minnesota voters rejected a state constitutional amendment against gay marriage, the first time that's happened too. —Ed.]

It's a good day to be queer in America. More than that, it's a good day to be human in America, as we're seeing fundamental rights expanded to more people.

The wins for the LGBT community at the ballot this year don't stop with the historic bullet points I just covered. The history being made by these women and the people who voted for them is real. But it points at something bigger: a changing landscape of social norms in which being gay or lesbian or bisexual isn't the most important feature of someone running for office.

That's good news for me. I don't have any plans to marry my girlfriend. We're both happily married to other people. We're not like the monogamous gay and lesbian couples Obama praised when he came out in favor of gay marriage on the campaign trail. We're on the polyamorous fringe no mainstream politician is ready to defend.

But I feel the world is a safer, friendlier place for me and mine as the march towards full civil rights for LGBT people advances. It's a better place for my daughters to grow up and discover who they want to be and who they want to love without facing bigotry and stigma for their choices.

...While I'm partying for Kyrsten and Tammy and all the couples newly allowed to marry, I'm also aware that the advances for queer rights in this election have made my sexual identity as a polyamorous woman more of a target. In the Washington Examiner, Gregory Kane takes explicit aim at polyamorous people and the transgender community.

"I'm all for gays and lesbians climbing aboard the equal rights train," he writes. "It's who they're bringing with them I have a problem with." [When Fairness Goes Too Far, Nov. 7, 2012.]

It seems clear he's trying to stir up fear and distrust, pointing to my family and community as the scary monsters in the closet who will be turned loose should voters allow same-sex couples to marry.

...Those of us who are polyamorous or transgender or otherwise outside the embrace of what the mainstream seems as normal aren't shadowy figures trying to ride the coattails of the gay and lesbian rights movement. We're allies and friends and in many cases queer people ourselves. We are faces of the movement for gender rights and sexual freedom, just as much as a monogamous gay couple is.

...As the center shifts towards a saner, more inclusive and humane take on gay rights, it makes all kinds of sexual orientations and identities more visible. If there's no longer one right way to do things, there's more room in the discussion for a plethora of right ways.

...I'm bracing myself for what comes next: the toxic response of a conservative machine that sees itself losing ground and will work to generate fear and hostility in an effort to stop progress.

I'm sure we'll see more articles like Kane's, attempting to divide those of us outside the box of traditional heteronormative relationships into "good" minorities and "bad" minorities [Kane himself is a member of the black minority. —Ed.], creating imaginary in-groups and out-groups.

We'll also see more days like this one, where the world is suddenly dramatically better for the many people whose desires and relationships don't fit the fairy tale model of romance. So let's celebrate today, and be ready for the long, slow work of change to come.


Read the whole article (Nov. 9, 2012).

And this long view comes from the website of the NBC-TV affiliate in Chicago:

Obama Is Now An Historic President

By Edward McClelland

By winning re-election on Tuesday, Barack Obama graduated from president to historic president — far beyond the fact of his being the first African-American to hold that office. Obama will turn out to be as important a figure to the 21st Century as Franklin D. Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan were to the 20th....

...But most importantly, Obama — the first president of non-European descent — has destroyed the Anglo-Saxon, Protestant assumptions on which American government has been based since 1776. This, more than anything, is why his opponents hate and fear him, and why Mitt Romney won a near-record percentage of the white vote. Obama embodies the multi-cultural America that will make whites a minority by 2050. The America of the cowboy, of the frontier, of the pioneer — that America is history. Obama’s coalition — black, Latino, Asian, Native American, union, liberal — is made up of cultures defined more by communal cooperation than rugged individualism. Obama’s America will be a more socialistic country than we’ve known — although, ironically, that will make us resemble modern-day England more than we would have if the Anglo-Saxon Romney had won. Predicts Michael Lind in Salon:

By the mid-21st century, an increasingly multiracial and mixed-race U.S. is likely to be far more “European” than today’s America — much less religious and far more secular, with a majority or plurality of all races born out of wedlock, and a much bigger middle-class welfare state, mostly for the elderly, financed by European methods, including a value-added tax. There will still be a right and a left in the United States of 2050. But the right will be calling for a VAT on marijuana of 15 percent instead of 18 percent. And the conservatives of tomorrow will insist, against progressive champions of polyamory, that the law should recognize only marriage between two individuals, not among three or more.

Read the whole article (Nov. 9, 2012). And the one in Salon: The Final Defeat of Backlash Politics (Nov. 9, 2012).

Also: At Modern Poly, here's Jessica Karels' post-election "Victories For Family Equality and Preparing For The Future":

We share common ground with advocates for same-sex marriage. While not all polyamorists seek marriage, we do share the desire to end discrimination based on family structure and relationship choice. Rather than continue to allow those who oppose equality to continue to divide us, we need to reach out and build bridges with our potential allies. To that end, Modern Poly is launching two great projects today....

...Read on.


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November 8, 2012

Poly in college newspapers:
latest roundup

The Orange (Univ. of Texas/ Austin)
The Daily Pennsylvanian (UPenn)
The Martlet (Univ. of Victoria)
Broad Recognition (Yale)
The Shorthorn (Univ. of Texas/ Arlington)

It's been snowing, and Sparkle Moose and I are glad we're done with door-to-door electioneering. We were a tiny part of the wins by Obama and the progressive candidates in our neck of the woods. In the last couple months we logged about 600 door-knocks and 500 phone calls between us, plus rally setup help, office food donating, and other such stuff. We're damn proud of it.

Back to polyamory in the news. It's past time for a roundup of the college newspaper articles that have come in, the most recent one yesterday.

At the University of Texas in Austin, the student magazine Orange profiles Robert McGarey — director of the Human Potential Center in Austin, board member of the Association for Humanistic Psychology, and sometime workshop leader at poly conferences. He's been living a poly life since before the word existed.

Love Knows No Bounds: A Polyamory Story

By Emily Morgan

Bob McGarey with Pam (left) and Lita.
At first glance, it seems as though it’s the end of December in Bob McGarey’s makeshift home-office in south Austin. Christmas decorations adorn the windows, walls and mantle place on this cold and rainy afternoon. A fully decorated tree sits cheerfully in the corner of the would-be formal sitting room, the presents long since opened from under its skirted trunk.

Among the tinsel-draped walls and Christmas-themed ringing telephone, McGarey, 60, sits comfortably, his legs crossed underneath a throw blanket printed with bald eagles, sipping out of a 52-ounce Texas-size travel mug. On the surface, McGarey and his home are reminiscent of a Norman Rockwell-like American spirit. His lifestyle, however, is anything but traditional.

Propped up in the center of the mantle place behind the wooden knick-knack decorations is a plaque that reads, “You have nothing to hide, nothing to prove and no self image to maintain.” These inspiring words seemingly act as a friendly reminder to the Phoenix transplant and his three girlfriends, or as he likes to call them, “sweeties.”

McGarey is polyamorous, a lifestyle that embraces the potential of cultivating intimate and committed relationships with more than one person. He and his three sweeties enjoy open relationships where exploring more than one love interest is not only accepted, but encouraged by each other. His partner of four years, Carol, is even legally married outside their relationship. His other partners, Pam and Lita, are also open to pursue other relationships outside of their more than decade-long commitments with McGarey....

McGarey jokes that he first realized his potential to love more than one person after a conversation with a family friend about his second-grade class. “He asked me if I had a girlfriend, and of course I responded, ‘Yes, I have 15 of them,’” McGarey laughs. “It just made perfect sense to me. Little did they know that this presaged something for the future.”

However, with the term polyamory officially un-coined until the early 1990s, McGarey had a rough time finding where he fit in....

...When it comes to people misunderstanding the mission and goal of polyamorous lifestyles, McGarey claims to have heard it all. “They think we’re all sex-crazed,” he says. “I’ve also heard people say, ‘If you’re going to have a relationship with another woman, at least have the decency to lie to your wife.’”

This justification by many makes McGarey question why we live in a world that condones deception while at the same time makes polys feel ridiculed for openly caring for and loving multiple partners. “It does a certain damage to your soul that’s unnecessary, and that upsets me,” McGarey says.

Part of the reason McGarey says he finds poly relationships so much more rewarding than others is the openness of love within the relationship among all partners, a term he refers to as “compersion.”

“I get to see the people I feel love toward, showing affection and love toward each other,” McGarey says when explaining the friendly, although platonic, relationship between his sweeties. “And to me, that’s the best part about polyamory.”

Although the poly lifestyle comes relatively easily to McGarey, “coming out” to his family was no walk in the park....

Read the whole article (Nov. 7, 2012).

In the University of Pennsylvania's Daily Pennsylvanian:

Poly what?

The Screwtinizer | In modern relationships, it takes three to tango

By Arielle Pardes

Samantha Fraser has been married for the past eight years. Six years ago, she started seeing other people and currently, she boasts two boyfriends and a girlfriend. Fraser isn’t divorced and she isn’t cheating on her partner. She is practicing polyamory.

Fraser is the author of the poly-centric blog Not Your Mother’s Playground and a forthcoming book of the same title. Of her romantic entanglements, Fraser explained that “it’s not like traditional marriage. Polyamory means ‘many loves’ — but it’s not like we’re looking at any sort of rule book.”

The definition of polyamory is somewhat contested: In one camp, people honor its academic roots in the gender and sexuality community as a term for wholly transparent and simultaneous romantic relationships. More recently, people have used it synonymously with phrases like “open relationships,” which are sometimes strictly about sex.

As Dossie Easton describes it, “Poly has come to mean any form of relationship with multiple partners.” Easton is the co-author of what is often regarded as “the poly Bible,” The Ethical Slut: A Guide to Infinite Sexual Possibilities.

“Infinite possibilities” describes polyamory at its core. Those who practice poly range from the lovestruck triad in Oliver Stone’s recent film “Savages” to full-on group marriage within an entire community of people.

Rising Wharton junior Derek Livermont was in a polyamorous relationship last summer, after he and his partner decided to branch out and date other people. He described the arrangement as the most “open and honest relationship” that he has ever been in. Still, the multiplicity of love that springs from polyamory is often met with resistance — both legal and social — which leaves polyamorous people out of mind when it comes to making social progress.

“[Polys] are not only at odds with the heterosexual and monogamous community, but also with an LGBT community that is quickly giving up some of its core beliefs of inclusion and acceptance in exchange for quick payoffs like marriage equality,” Livermont said. “We should find a form of marriage — or lack thereof, as a thought — that works for everyone.”...

Whole article (July 25, 2012).

In The Martlet at the University of Victoria in Canada:

Love Limited

By Kenzi Green
Imagine you’re with your boyfriend in your shared apartment. The two of you lie in bed post-heated-frantic-coitus, the sheets a tangled mess around your half-naked bodies. He gets up to re-dress as you prop yourself on one elbow and watch him yank on his pants. He heads into the bathroom, brushes his teeth, kisses you goodbye, and takes off for work.

Thirty minutes later your other partner gets home and tumbles into bed with you....

Cora Bilsker, a 24-year-old recent social work grad from the University of Victoria, sits on the mod-black couch of Teaopia in downtown Victoria. She crosses her left leg over her right and jiggles her ankle-booted foot. Her cropped strawberry shag hangs loosely around her full cheeks.

Sol Kauffman photo

“It’s basically friends with benefits with emotional connections,” she says, shrugging. She brushes a flyaway out of her eyes.

Four and a half years ago, Bilsker decided to throw off the boundaries of monogamy and opted for an alternative lifestyle. A lovestyle that she defines as “consensual, ethical, non-monogamy between adults”: polyamory.

...Bilsker currently has two relationships — one with her boyfriend of four and a half years, and one with her girlfriend of two years. Both of her partners are also in a relationship with each other, but that remains separate from their relationships with her. Their polyamory network spans close to twenty people, all interconnected through various romantic and sexual interactions....

...So how exactly does polyamory work? “Most people consider that poly involves an agreement of disclosure,” [Janet] Hardy explains. “That means not hiding things from your partner, and it’s determined by the individuals involved.”

Each relationship configuration differs from others and “there is no typical polyamorous relationship,” says Easton. “I think consent is the overriding agreement, and openness as desired.”

She explains that the amount of disclosure between partners varies from one relationship to the next. “It’s very rare to hear the term ‘rules,’ ” Hardy continues. “We talk about agreements instead that are based on your own desires.”

“It’s like build-your-own relationship,” agrees Bilsker. “You’re sitting down with your partner and writing your own contract.”...

Whole article (March 1, 2012). Part of it seems to predate the court ruling in British Columbia nearly a year ago that narrowed Canada's anti-polygamy law to leave unofficial poly setups outside its reach.

In The Shorthorn of the University of Texas at Arlington:

Don’t fit love into a heart-shaped box

By Troy Santana

...Yes I’m dating three women — and they all know about each other. Yes one of them is dating someone else and has been for quite some time. No, this isn’t polygamy, which has a religious context, and no, none of this sounds odd or bothers any of us. As a society, we love many people in many different ways: our parents, siblings, children and best friends. In the those different relationships, most people could agree there is no limit to how many you can love. Why then is it considered unnatural, unethical, reprehensible or even pathological to have more than one lover at a time? This practice of having multiple partners in loving relationships concurrently is known as polyamory, or a polyamorous relationship.

Shocked at my polyamorous status, most people’s initial question is: “How’s that work?” I say this: We are adults in a consensual and loving set of relationships. We all agree honesty, communication and mutual respect are the steadfast rules. Then some ask about sexually transmitted infections (STIs), jealousy and security. Statistically, the more people you are sexually involved with, the more likely you are to be exposed to an STI. But polyamorous relationships account for additional partners and increased levels of exposure. Would you rather be in a relationship with a partner whom you know is tested and practicing protected sex with another partner, or one where you believe your partner is monogamous when in fact he or she is venturing outside the relationship with someone unknown to you without rules or boundaries agreed upon by you?

Questions of jealousy and security are only as valid in these relationships as a monogamous one. Jealousy may very well happen. When it does, it can invoke deeply unsettling feelings, but it is an emotion — in most cases insecurity — and can be overcome.

“Security” covers a gamut of issues: How and where to live, who is responsible for making money and for paying bills and who takes care of children. Monogamous couples face these issues, too. Women are capable of providing monetarily for the family, and men are as equally able to keep a home. If anything, our non-traditional couplings allow for more diverse options of dealing with these questions....

While not for everyone, polyamory can and does work in the same way traditional ones do. It takes love, trust and a lot of communication. If people are diverse enough to build thousands of societies, speak hundreds of languages and continue to produce original art, perhaps “happily ever after” is more complicated than many of us ever ventured to guess....

Whole article (Feb. 13, 2012).

Going back a ways to when Newt Gingrich was riding high, Yale University's Broad Recognition ("a feminist magazine at Yale") ran this:

The Polyamory Community Responds to Gingrich’s Request for an ‘Open Marriage’

By Andrew Wagner

...The only other time I personally remember hearing about open marriages from the media is in an episode of Arrested Development. Tobias, a former psychiatrist, and his wife, Lindsey, are having marital troubles. Tobias mentions to Lindsey that he has advised some of his patients to try out open marriages in order to save their own relationships. “Well, did it work for those people?” asks Lindsey. Tobias responds, “No, it never does. I mean, these people somehow delude themselves into thinking it might — but it might work for us.”

...Legitimizing the very idea of polyamory has become a necessary first step. In a piece written for Salon, Sierra Black talks about her own, successful polyamorous lifestyle, asserting, “My marriage is open. It’s also happy and stable.” Black notes that polyamory isn’t for everyone, but explains the joys she and her husband personally get from it: “I get so much support from my lovers. No one else, not my friends, not my parents, no one, is as willing to deal with the messes and mishaps of parenting as my sweeties.” Polyamory is such a hidden taboo in our society that its sudden entrance into the mainstream necessitates explanation and defense from those who are polyamorous, such as Black.

...In essence, Black is trying to reclaim polyamory from the shady, shameful associations evoked by stories like Gingrich’s. Unlike Gingrich’s situation, Black’s open marriage is not a case of one partner urging or pressuring the other into transforming their relationship into an open one. Both Black and her husband wanted a polyamorous, open relationship with each other before they decided to get married. Her open marriage and many others just like it are formed because both partners mutually desire an open relationship, not because one partner is trying to accommodate another partner’s whims.

[Tristan] Taormino notes, however, that open marriages don’t always start in the “honest,” ideal way that Black describes. “Plenty of the couples that I talked to for my book came to a place of non-monogamy from cheating. I think it would be a mistake to dismiss this as Newt wanting to have his cake and eat it too,” says Taormino.

Gingrich’s open marriage came up at the recent South Carolina debate last Friday. Gingrich denied that he had ever asked Marianne for an open marriage (“The story is false!”) and received applause from the Republicans in the audience. Dan Savage notes in a piece he wrote for the New York Times that such a reaction shows that conservative voters are fine with Gingrich’s previous adultery, but not with an openly non-monogamous relationship. This, at first, seems incredibly hypocritical — what rationale could conservatives possibly have for tolerating a politician’s adulterous relationships, but not an open marriage?

Upon investigation, this isn’t quite so strange. Adultery, while a breach of the marriage contract, is still something of an affirmation of the basic rightness of the traditional institution of marriage.... As Amanda Marcotte writes, “There’s nothing nontraditional about what Gingrich was asking for, which is why the traditionalist voters didn’t hold it against him.” Adultery fits into our normative assumptions of the supremacy of the monogamous relationship. Open marriages challenge it.

Whole article (Jan 31, 2012).

Here are a few dozen more going back several years (including this post; scroll down). I've probably missed some; I doubt Google News catches all of them.


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