Polyamory in the News
. . . by Alan M.

October 13, 2013

"Don't Follow the New 'Poly' Rules"


Kjeld Lindsted has written an article on PolicyMic that's now going around the polywebs. It seems to have stuck a nerve.

Have Multiple Lovers, But Don't Follow the New 'Poly' Rules

By Kjeld Lindsted

Polyamory's success in popular media is making it a national fetish.

The triad from Season 1 of
Showtime's Polyamory: Married & Dating
Polyamorous relationships — the practice of having multiple lovers — are all over the news.... In the last couple of years there has been an explosion of discussion around alternative relationship styles, and now that the gay marriage debate is all but over, at least legally, it seems that everyone is looking for the next sexual frontline. This is good news, and something I predicted a few months ago, but all the media attention does have an unfortunate, though not wholly unexpected, side effect: polynormativity.

While I didn’t coin the term (that credit goes to Andrea Zanin of Sex Geek), I’m happy to help spread the warning. "Polynormativity" refers to the general sense of what should constitute a normal poly relationship. According to Andrea, this normalized media version of polyamory generally includes four popular misconceptions about the movement:

● Poly relationships are built around a “couple”.
● Polyamory depends on hierarchy.
● Poly relationships require a lot of rules to work well.
● Polyamory is practiced by white, young, cute people and usually tracks the “one penis per party” theory of modern patriarchy.

While I’ll leave you in Andrea’s capable hands if you’re looking for more detail on each issue, I’d like to focus on the bigger problem that her article addresses, particularly because it’s this bigger picture that is at stake in the ongoing political/social debate about the future of sex.

The recent fervor in the LGBQA community over marriage rights aside, the entirety of the alternative sexuality movement has historically been about challenging the monogamy norm. It absolutely wasn’t about replacing that norm with another, equally restrictive, objective alternative. Instead, it was about choice. The freedom of each individual to pick for themselves the relationship/ romance/ sexuality style that works best for them....

It is this freedom that the polyamory movement really supports, and it is this freedom that is at stake if polynormativity takes too deep a root in our popular imagination....

If the polyamory movement is to accomplish anything, we... have to take the time to explain that polyamory is about options, not about rethinking monogamy by simply adding a side-car....

Read the whole article (Oct. 7, 2013).


And while we're on what can happen as poly becomes trendy, Simon Broussard recently wrote on Polytripod about crappy pseudo-poly Lines to Watch Out For:

..."What I'm doing is morally and ethically transparent. So what's your problem?"

"Your issues are your own weakness. Consider this a 'growth opportunity' for you."

"You're an adult. Figure out something to do. I'm going out tonight."

"Why are you blaming me - I told you I was going to sleep with him."

..."I decided to fluid bond with her over the weekend. Any questions?"

"Maybe I did promise to go with you to that family event this weekend. Still, she's in town, so I'm going to go with her."

..."My husband and I, we've decided ..."

...Selfishness. Dictating Terms. Guilt trips. Tantrums. Absolutes. Ultimatums.

You know, for a relationship style that supposedly promotes such lofty concepts as compersion and sacrifice, there's a whole lot of ... me ... that gets in the way.

...Certainly there's nothing wrong with being your own advocate and asking for what you want. But if what you want becomes the last word and you've left no recourse for your partner, then your will is forcibly imposed and the issue is closed. That's not healthy....

If you're practicing Polyamory, then you've an opportunity here to catch yourself in selfish moments and attempt to rise above it. Look carefully at what you're saying, or your potential action.... Become aware of yourself, your words, your feelings, and your actions, and how they might affect others you care about.

That means....

Read on (Oct. 6, 2013).




Anonymous Lydia said...

Great links this time!

October 13, 2013 3:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just what I need, a growing number of people who can take me aside and tell me they think I'm doing poly wrong. Like we don't have enough of those in the community already. :/

I guess that's just part of being out in the open, though - not only do you have to deal with judgment from the negative people, you also have to deal with "advice" from the supportive ones. But at least there's a chance that the number of supportive ones will grow, and that alone makes it worth it.

October 13, 2013 6:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Instead of looking at 'polynormativity' as a growing trend that is a problem, why not see the resulting questions as an opportunity to educate others? If nothing else, the media has now broken the ice on a topic that many who are now flaunting their 'poly' had hidden in the closet only a few years, or even months ago.

I choose to believe this is as much about perspective as anything else. It would be as easy to claim the article author is simply rejecting any attempt by society to understand their lifestyle as an attempt at labeling, with hints of a 'perfect world' complex.

I'd rather society try to tell me I'm doing something wrong and I have to fight for education and rights than have them dismiss my lifestyle out of hand, which is how it seems to have been working so far.

October 15, 2013 4:47 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I'm a poly rule breaker because when I started living openly almost 20 years ago, I didn't have any guide or model for how I wanted, no, NEEDED to live.

Frak those who butt their noses into my business and tell me I'm doin it wrong, whether mono OR poly. :)

November 18, 2013 2:59 PM  

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