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

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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Anonymous Jack said...

Interesting thing about these is they *all* get the concept basically right.

November 09, 2012 5:05 PM  

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