Polyamory in the News
. . . by Alan M.

September 30, 2014

"5 Lessons Monogamous Families can Learn from Polyamorists"

Psychology Today blogs

Here's a new article by Elisabeth Sheff, author of The Polyamorists Next Door and the forthcoming Stories from the Polycule:

5 Lessons Monogamous Families can Learn from Polyamorists

Because polyamorous relationships can be intense and complicated, the people who engage in them over the long term put a lot of time, effort, and thought into developing strategies to help their relationships last and survive hardship. While polyamory itself is certainly not for everyone, these strategies can be useful for people in all sorts of relationships. Divorced parents and others in blended families will find them especially relevant.

1. Communicate Honestly

...Even when communicating about difficult things that feel less positive, polys use the strategies of telling the truth and being willing to tolerate the conflict in order to work through the problem as tools to sustain their relationships over time.

2. Don’t Leave Too Soon....

3. Don’t Stay Too Long....

...People can choose to view their relationships as good for what worked for whatever period of time that was, and then [it was] time to move on when they no longer met the needs of the people involved. In other words, the end can just be an end, or even transition to a new kind of relationship.

4. Be Flexible, Allow for Change....

...If the ways in which the relationship has been going so far are not working, then trying something else can be quite effective. This can mean shifting expectations and letting go of former patterns, which can be both invigorating and frightening....

5. De-Emphasize Sexuality

...The end of sex does not have to mean end of relationship. Remaining friends is a real choice, and especially important when people have had children together....

Read the whole article (Sept. 29, 2014).

P. S.: Sheff and her new publishers (the Thorntree Press folks) are still seeking your polyfamily's true stories — long or short, text or art — for Stories from the Polycule. The deadline for submissions is October 15. More info.

Her previous article at the Psychology Today site was Seven Forms of Non-Monogamy.


September 26, 2014

Define your own marriage, says book The New 'I Do'

The growth of poly is just a small piece of a larger, longer trend toward determining one's own life and relationships, Barry Smiler has argued. That in turn is part of the centuries-long trend toward increased personal agency that defined the growth of the modern Western world. People who picked up the free mass-transit newspaper Metro yesterday on their way to work saw an example.

The paper (distributed in many cities) had an item about a book just out, The New "I Do": Reshaping Marriage for Skeptics, Realists and Rebels, by Vicki Larson and Susan Pease Gadoua. They urge couples to discuss and choose how to structure their marriages, rather than accept the standard assumptions about what marriage is.

This is exactly the mindset that upsets marriage traditionalists, even though the authors discuss a hyper-traditionalist contract as one option.

What if there was an alternative to the way most Americans define the way couples behave within a marriage?

After all, throughout history, the word “marriage” has been filled with implied meanings, while many couples never discuss what being married means to them before tying the knot....

The Partnership Marriage

...The authors liken a partnership marriage to two old friends who decide to get married because they enjoy each other’s company and because they simply want to be married.

Covenant Marriage

Legal in three states, covenant marriages require couples to undergo premarital counseling before tying the knot and usually only allow divorce under limited circumstances (like domestic violence and abandonment) or after a long separation. Both say the chapter was hard to write. “I get very upset at this trend to make divorce harder,” says Larson. “But the people who chose [covenant marriages] went into it with open eyes.”

Open Marriage

“When we think of nonmonogamy, we think of cheating,” says Larson. “But that’s not necessarily true.” She points out that one of the couples profiled in the book has a very successful open marriage. “Here is this couple and they have this happy, healthy relationship — and they are non-monogamous.”...

Read the whole (short) article (Sept. 25, 2014). The other four marriage models the book discusses are the "starter marriage," living separately, marrying in order to parent, and for financial security.

Larson has put up an article of her own at Huffington Post Divorce:

The Conversation All Would-Be Cheaters Should Have

...Married women looking to get some action from others are forgetting, or perhaps just ignoring, an important reality about infidelity -- it often ends marriages, painfully. Which is sad because, according to one study, 56 percent of cheating men and 34 percent of cheating women considered their marriage "happy" or "very happy."

So why risk it? ...when all you have to do is sit your husband down and say, "Honey, I think we are both aware that neither of us is enjoying sex all that much lately. Actually, we haven't enjoyed it for a long time. What do you think about opening up our marriage?"

After the shock -- or maybe relief -- you might actually be able to have the first honest discussion about monogamy you've ever had as a couple.

...Somewhere between 4.3 percent to 10.5 percent of all relationships identify as open, which can be anything from couples "in the lifestyle," to the occasional threesome to poly arrangements.

All the couples that decided to experiment with non-monogamy told us they were happy they did it, even though, yes, they sometimes struggled with jealousy, managing schedules and setting boundaries. Not only did it bring them closer, but they also were proud that they broke from the norm and forged a new path. It was "a badge of courage" they said....

The whole article (Aug. 22, 2014). This is the flip side to my last post, about a case of poly that made a poor marriage worse.

Gadoua posted an article of her own at HuffPost Weddings: Why It Might Be Good That Those Who Marry Are Getting More 'Self' Centered:

Putting the task of finding yourself before finding a mate generally makes you a happier and more balanced person. When you are happier and more balanced, you make a better partner. That's healthy.

...It's good news that the culture is trending toward questioning whether marriage is worth it and trying other lifestyle options on for size. That means there's a new consciousness about marriage that has been sorely lacking for several generations now.

The book's Facebook page. An interview with the authors.

Update: An excerpt from the book's open-marriage chapter is adapted for the Huffington Post.


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September 24, 2014

"Polyamory Was Just a Distraction From My Failing Marriage"


It's a poly cliche: "Marriage in trouble? Add more people," followed by eyeroll. Here's a story that helps the cliche along, just up this afternoon in xoJane, a peppy online women's magazine.

Polyamory Was Just a Distraction From My Failing Marriage

It is much easier to ignore the hard work to be done in a marriage when you have someone else who can make you feel good.

By Kate S.

I have spent just over a year living and loving as someone who identified as polyamorous. After 14 years with the same man and nine years of marriage, I asked my partner if we could open up our relationship and I could date my best friend.

"It’ll strengthen us," I said. "It’ll fulfill desires we don’t meet for each other," I pleaded. "I love you and I love him, the human heart can experience boundless love and dedication to more than one person," I persisted.

I was full of crap.

At the time, and for months afterward, I truly felt that being poly would strengthen our communication, make us more honest and adventurous, and teach our children that love knows no bounds. What being poly really did was highlight how far apart we had grown, and how different our needs were.

...My husband and I did not just go wrong at practicing polyamory. We went wrong at being married; at identifying what we wanted as people and integrating that into a strong partnership. And how could we possibly work on healthy interdependence when we both had other new and exciting things to turn to?

Other poly people will tell you they keep the health of their relationship a primary goal, but I still contend that it is much easier to ignore the hard work to be done in a marriage when you have someone else who can make you feel good. I have come to realize that sustaining a long-term relationship with just one person is so time-and-energy-consuming that it's difficult to divide your attention from it. And if you want to turn your attention away from your initial relationship, maybe you don’t want to be there in the first place.

For me, this realization came about when my boyfriend started dating outside of his marriage and our relationship. I begged him not to, telling him me and the wife were plenty and why did he need more? I was jealous of women he was interested in and the first time he did physically interact with someone, I did not take it well.

...“Mom, why did you call him ‘sweetie,’ don’t you love Daddy?” Knife to the heart there, kiddo.

I had already run into so much prejudice and judgment as a polyamorous person that it was difficult to picture putting my children through that as they got older. I lost friends when they found out we were poly. I alienated family members. Most people view monogamy as the "right way" to stay connected and committed to someone. Would my children have to tell a schoolmate that is wrong? That what Mom and Dad do instead is perfectly acceptable and right? I don’t think the world is ready for that. Since poly is a choice, not an orientation like sexuality, I choose to protect my children from the judgment of society.

So now, I’m a monogamous woman and mother who’s about to get divorced and is sort of dating someone who is also about to get divorced after a trip to poly land. We still struggle with our relationship style and our future. It’s not ideal, but it’s a hell of a lot better than being poly.

Read the whole article (Sept. 24, 2014).


September 20, 2014

The New Yorker on Wonder Woman's utopian feminist poly roots

Made plastic. (New Yorker / Grant Cornett)
The New Yorker is known for deep journalism on out-of-the-way topics. Now that Wonder Women is about to make her first (and still only partial) debut into the movies, writer Jill Lepore digs into her real-life origins deeper than I've seen before.

You may know that Wonder Woman was created (in 1941) by William Moulton Marston, part of a lifelong FFM poly triad, to promote his vision that powerful, liberated women would save humanity. He modeled her partly on his two partners and also, it turns out, on the aunt of one of them: birth-control pioneer Margaret Sanger. His grand ideas about open love and the liberating power of bondage were even more radical back in those days. They may be part of why Wonder Woman has had such an awkward and disjointed history, and conflicting character treatments, ever since Marston's death in 1947.

The Last Amazon

Wonder Woman returns.

By Jill Lepore

...A press release explained, “ ‘Wonder Woman’ was conceived by Dr. Marston to set up a standard among children and young people of strong, free, courageous womanhood; to combat the idea that women are inferior to men, and to inspire girls to self-confidence and achievement in athletics, occupations and professions monopolized by men” — because “the only hope for civilization is the greater freedom, development and equality of women in all fields of human activity.” Marston put it this way: “Frankly, Wonder Woman is psychological propaganda for the new type of woman who should, I believe, rule the world.”

...To the consternation of Wonder Woman fans, there has never been a Wonder Woman film. This is about to change. Last December, Warner Bros. announced that Wonder Woman would have a role in an upcoming Superman-and-Batman film, and that, in a three-movie deal, Gal Gadot, a lithe Israeli model, had signed on to play the part. There followed a flurry of comments about her anatomical insufficiency for the role.... One critic tweeted this suggestion for a title: “BATMAN VS. SUPERMAN WITH ALSO SOME WONDER WOMAN IN THERE SO SIT DOWN LADIES WE’RE TREATING YOU FINE: THE MOVIE.” Warner Bros. has yet to dispel this impression....

The much cited difficulties regarding putting Wonder Woman on film... aren’t chiefly about Wonder Woman, or comic books, or superheroes, or movies. They’re about politics. Superman owes a debt to science fiction, Batman to the hardboiled detective. Wonder Woman’s debt is to feminism. She’s the missing link in a chain of events that begins with the woman-suffrage campaigns of the nineteen-tens and ends with the troubled place of feminism a century later. Wonder Woman is so hard to put on film because the fight for women’s rights has gone so badly....

Wonder Woman’s origin story comes straight out of feminist utopian fiction. In the nineteenth century, suffragists, following the work of anthropologists, believed that something like the Amazons of Greek myth had once existed, a matriarchy that predated the rise of patriarchy. “The period of woman’s supremacy lasted through many centuries,” Elizabeth Cady Stanton wrote in 1891. In the nineteen-tens, this idea became a staple of feminist thought. The word “feminism,” hardly ever used in the United States before 1910, was everywhere by 1913....

In 1917, when motion pictures were still a novelty and the United States had only just entered the First World War, Sanger starred in a silent film called “Birth Control”; it was banned. A century of warfare, feminism, and cinema later, superhero movies — adaptations and updates of mid-twentieth-century comic books whose plots revolve around anxieties about mad scientists, organized crime, tyrannical super-states, alien invaders, misunderstood mutants, and world-ending weapons — are the super-blockbusters of the last superpower left standing. No one knows how Wonder Woman will fare onscreen: there’s hardly ever been a big-budget superhero movie starring a female superhero. But more of the mystery lies in the fact that Wonder Woman’s origins have been, for so long, so unknown. It isn’t only that Wonder Woman’s backstory is taken from feminist utopian fiction. It’s that, in creating Wonder Woman, William Moulton Marston was profoundly influenced by early-twentieth-century suffragists, feminists, and birth-control advocates and that, shockingly, Wonder Woman was inspired by Margaret Sanger, who, hidden from the world, was a member of Marston’s family.

Marston with Elizabeth Holloway (seated) and Olive Byrne.
...In 1926, Olive Byrne, then twenty-two, moved in with Marston and Holloway; they lived as a threesome, “with love making for all,” as Holloway later said. Olive Byrne is the mother of two of Marston’s four children; the children had three parents. “Both Mommies and poor old Dad” is how Marston put it.

Holloway said that Marston, Holloway, and Byrne’s living arrangements began as an idea: “A new way of living has to exist in the minds of men before it can be realized in actual form.” It had something to do with Sanger’s “Woman and the New Race.” Holloway tried to explain what she’d taken away from reading it: “The new race will have a far greater love capacity than the current one and I mean physical love as well as other forms.” And it had something to do with what Havelock Ellis, a British doctor who was one of Margaret Sanger’s lovers, called “the erotic rights of women.” Ellis argued that the evolution of marriage as an institution had resulted in the prohibiting of female sexual pleasure, which was derided as wanton and abnormal. Erotic equality, he insisted in 1918, was no less important than political equality, if more difficult to achieve. “The right to joy cannot be claimed in the same way as one claims the right to put a voting paper in a ballot box,” he wrote. “That is why the erotic rights of women have been the last of all to be attained.”

But there was more to it. For Holloway, the arrangement solved what, in the era of the New Woman, was known as the “woman’s dilemma”: hardly a magazine was sold, in those years, that didn’t feature an article that asked, “Can a Woman Run a Home and a Job, Too?”...

Read the whole fascinating article, nearly 8,000 words (issue date Sept. 22, 2014).

Past Wonder Woman post, with links to other articles and old WW comics.

Update Sept. 25: The October issue of The Smithsonian, a glossy history magazine published by the Smithsonian Institution, has an article by the same author, Jill Lepore: The Surprising Origin Story of Wonder Woman. The intro says Lepore is a Harvard history professor whose "new book, The Secret History of Wonder Woman, comes out this month." (Book cover at right.)

Lepore's Smithsonian article has such a superficial and sensational tone compared to her one in The New Yorker that I wonder whether editors had a very heavy hand in one of them or both.



September 18, 2014

Video: poly in Sydney, Australia

I'm noting this documentary video by a journalism student in Sydney, Australia, because at some point it took off, with 39,000 views so far. It's 28 minutes long and pretty good. By Simon Anderson. Enjoy.

Some more videos.


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September 17, 2014

Eve and Franklin's response to "Jealous of What?"

Salon / Peopleimages via iStock
Remember "Jealous of What? Solving polyamory’s jealousy problem" in Salon a couple months ago? A social-science researcher in a successful, long-term MFM triad argued that we need to shed the "individualism" of mainstream culture for poly to be secure and jealousy-free. It was controversial — a lot of people criticized her for an attitude of superiority and the howler that jealousy came into the human condition only with capitalism. I noted that Franklin Veaux and Eve Rickert were preparing a response article for Salon and we could "expect a humdinger." Individual autonomy is at the core of their book More Than Two.

Now Eve just wrote, "So, Salon sat on our response for two months before we finally pulled it from their consideration and ran it on our own blog. You can read it here.


Emotional outsourcing: Why structural approaches to jealousy management fail

Anger is cruel and fury overwhelming, but who can stand before jealousy?
—Proverbs 27:4

Elizabeth Stern has hit the polyamory jackpot. She has two loving, secure partners who are highly compatible not just with her, but with each other. The two loves of her life like each other, share interests, and are actively supportive of each other’s relationship with her. And none of the trio has ever felt jealous.

...Like someone who’s never suffered depression giving advice to someone who has, or someone who’s never encountered economic hardship critiquing the moral shortcomings of the poor, Stern looks to her own happiness and tries to decide what she’s doing right and others are doing wrong — because obviously, if everyone else would just do what she’s doing, they’d be as happy as she is. Like many people with unchecked privilege, she scoffs at those who must actually work at the things that come to her naturally....

...Jealousy is often the fear of being replaced. It starts in us so young because it is, arguably, the first and purest expression of the ego. We cannot outsource the taming of our own egos; we cannot export the job of facing our own insecurity. Jealousy is not a one-size-fits-all problem, so a mass-produced, one-size-fits-all solution won’t succeed.

Stern’s conclusions about the roots of jealousy are naive, because she believes that since she and her partners have never experienced jealousy, it means they never will. They’re arrogant, because she believes that her single four-year polyfidelitous relationship with two men can serve as a model for all poly relationships.

But her assertions are also dangerous... because often people feel jealous when no one is doing anything wrong. Treating jealousy as a purely social issue (and we’ve seen it done) can lead to an endless circle of judgment, recrimination and accusation. It’s the ultimate in outsourcing: the outsourcing of emotional responsibility. True jealousy management involves listening to the jealousy to find out what it’s trying to tell you, and communicating with your partners (and metamours) to discover whether there is truth behind your fears — and if not, to get the reassurance you need....

But Stern’s conclusion is dangerous for another, more insidious reason....

Read their whole piece (Sept. 16, 2014).



September 16, 2014

Brazilian baby registered with three parents

BBC Latin America

Remember the judge in Brazil who granted a three-person certificate of civil union two years ago? Now a different judge has registered a baby to three parents:

Brazilian baby registered with three parents

For the first time in Brazil, a judge in southern Rio Grande do Sul state has permitted a baby to be registered with two mothers and a father.

The judge said the baby's biological parents and the mother's female partner had requested the baby's birth certificate be changed.

The women married two months ago and the father was a male friend.

The judge, Rafael Pagnon Cunha, said his decision would open up legal precedents all over Brazil.

The two women had been in a four-year relationship before the birth and had asked their male friend to help them have a child.

He had agreed, but had asked in return to be recognised as the father of the baby girl, who was born on 27 August.

Judge Cunha said that all three parents had been involved during the pregnancy in the preparations for the arrival of the child.

"Being a father and a mother is above all about taking care and fulfilling tasks. I feel sure that for this child the possibility of happiness will be very great," the judge said.

The baby's birth certificate bears the name of two mothers, a father and six grandparents.

Original article (Sept. 13, 2014).

It's unclear whether they're a poly family or, as often happens, the male friend of the two married women (Brazil recognized same-sex marriage in 2013) merely served as the sperm donor and pledges to help them raise the child. Sounds like a family either way.

That previous story from Brazil blew up worldwide because of the BBC, and now this one is going around the world too.


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September 15, 2014

"When your boyfriend loses his lover"


Passionate poly writer Louisa Leontiades got a piece published in Salon yesterday. It's her first appearance there.

When your boyfriend loses his lover

We've been in an open relationship for years now. But some things aren't taught in the polyamory manuals.

I sit with him. His head is bowed, and he looks tired and sad. If tears could leak out of his eyes, they would. But my boyfriend has been trained not to cry, although I’m not privy to what he does when he’s alone, listening to his favorite love songs. It’s heartbreaking when someone who is so optimistic, so full of boundless positivity and who brings such joy to lives through his music is in a pit of numbed nothingness. But it’s not my heartbreak I’m concerned with, it’s his.

In an open relationship, you have experiences that are a rarity in other people’s lives. You welcome jealousy as a teacher. You challenge what a relationship really means.... But there are some situations the polyamorous literature rarely covers. What to do when your boyfriend is grieving the loss of his lover?

Of course, I’m projecting about his heartbreak, as I always do. He’s a “coper,” one of the reasons I love him. When we met, I told him about my baggage, and he said, “Don’t worry, darling, I can handle heavy.”...

...He speaks of her. Of memories. Of what ifs. Of his confusion. I try my best not to think guiltily about my own lover, my other significant other, sleeping in the bedroom. This heartbreak is his alone.

But I miss her, too. We are still friends, supposedly. And yet everything has changed. She’s not coming over every other day. Her laughter doesn’t sound in the kitchen anymore....

Read on (Sept. 14, 2014).


September 13, 2014

"A Counselor's First Experience Working with a Poly Family"

A therapist writes about a professional-growth experience, at the website of the (mostly kink-oriented) National Coalition for Sexual Freedom. Excerpts:

Guest blog: A Counselor's First Experience Working with a Poly Family

By Eric Jett, NCC, LPC

...During the first intake, we had gone over the typical counseling questions and discussed the importance of family counseling that we [would] start after a couple of individual sessions between me and their son. Mom and Dad were extremely cordial about the process, extremely concerned about their son, and you could see their investment in helping him grow and survive this situation; yet something was still off. There was something mom and dad were holding back....

...The parents asked me was what I was required to report to the state about child abuse.... My direct approach was to ask “Do you believe your son has been physical, sexually, or emotionally abused in some way?” The mom and dad instantly went to denying any occurrence of abuse, and I admittedly told them I was a little confused about their concern on the child abuse reporting laws for our state.

Dads’ response was, “We are polyamorous.”... For the remainder of the hour, we talked about their amazing family which included six adults, who their son and other 3 children got to refer to as parents. Mom and dad’s greatest fear was that as a professional, this would be reportable....

[In] our next family session all 6 adults attended, and it became very apparent to me as a counselor the opportunities we had to work really as an amazing support structure for this teen and help him through this difficult time of his life.

This [was] my beginning experience working with poly families, which I have continued over the past several years.... However as a counselor it was an important learning experience to remind me of the fear and concern which can often be with individuals because of societal expectations.... This family had lived as a family unit, with their ups and downs like every relationship, for over 20 years before stepping into my office.

...I worked with the family for over a year and during that course of time they educated me on not only their family but resources, books, articles, and even polyamorous meetups in the area with other families and individuals interested in relationships.

...I have been pleased and amazed to be able to present this particular client case to colleagues [who are] in the beginning struggle with the idea of working with a poly family, and often I see skewed views of what this means for the family and children. However, after we talk about and demonstrate the work we were able to do in family therapy and how the family having multiple parents actually strengthened my work with the teen, colleagues often leave with a changed view....

See his whole article (Aug. 30, 2014).


● Remember, if you need to educate a therapist about poly (on their time, not yours), you can point them to the NCSF's 36-page booklet What Psychology Professionals Should Know About Polyamory.

● Here's a one-page version at GoodTherapy.org (last updated May 2014).

● If you're looking for a poly-aware therapist or coach, one place you can start is at Tristan Taormino's Open List, organized by state and internationally, on the website of her book Opening Up. It also links to other lists. If you're a professional who should be on this list, it tells at the bottom how to get on.

● Check the NCSF's famous Kink-Aware Professionals (KAP) directory, which also includes doctors, lawyers, and others.

● And the long-running Poly Friendly Professionals directory at polychromatic.com is finally back up again (after being down due to a corrupted data file).


On the subject of therapists, last February the Washington Blade (“the newspaper of record for the LGBT community”) interviewed Tamara Pincus, a DC bi and poly awareness activist and community organizer:

Queery: Tamara Pincus

By Joey DiGuglielmo

Tamara Pincus has been out as bi since she was a teen. It took her many more years, though, to embrace her polyamorous side.

She and husband Eric have been married 11 years but she’s also had relationships with women. She also has a partner named James she’s been with two years. Eric has another partner as well.

Pincus, 37, was born in Seattle but grew up in Massachusetts and New York. She’s in private practice as a psychotherapist and sex therapist (tamarapincus.com) and also leads a monthly poly discussion group at the D.C. Center. It usually meets on the third Thursday of each month....

She says the LGBT movement should be open to less “heteronormativity.”

“I understand why the gay marriage movement has tried to make it look like we’re all just like you with two very normal looking white men with this happy little family, but we also need to be accepting of people who are different too,” she says. “You silence a lot of voices when you say, ‘We’re all just like you.’”

Pincus has two sons, ages 5 and 7 and lives in Alexandria. She enjoys board games and spending time with her family in her free time.

How long have you been out and who was the hardest person to tell?

I came out as bi at 16 and as poly three years ago. The hardest people to tell were definitely parents of my kids’ friends, one of whom ran into my husband when he was on a date with someone else. It hasn’t really been hard to tell people I’m bi....

And from there it turns unserious. Read the whole article (Feb. 26, 2014).

Here's an earlier, less frivolous interview with Pincus at HuffPost Women:

The Polyamorist On The Couch: Q&A With Tamara Pincus On What Therapists Should Know About Big Love

...Currently, there is not a lot out there for social workers about polyamory. A lot of them have never heard of it or think that it only happens when a couple is not doing well but not ready to break up. They don't understand the concept of poly identity and why people choose polyamory aside from a desire to have sex with more than one person.

This can lead to marginalization. A lot of poly clients in therapy don't come out to their therapists which means they don't work on a lot of the issues that come up. Also often when they do come out they feel judged by their therapists or misunderstood.

Often even the most well-meaning therapists will not understand polyamory so clients will end up spending their time educating their therapists which is not a service they should necessarily have to pay for....

The whole interview (Dec. 12, 2013).


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September 8, 2014

"Consensual non-monogamy a way of life for Edmonton polyamorists"

Edmonton Journal (Canada)

This nice little profile, in a leading newspaper of Canada's conservative prairie provinces, describes the local poly community. The story is currently the most-read item on the paper's website. The public comments so far are mostly polite and worth reading, and our representatives are doing a fine job.

Consensual non-monogamy a way of life for Edmonton polyamorists

Alyson Sildra, of Polyamory Edmonton
Alyson Sildra, founder of Polyamory Edmonton. (Photo: John Lucas, Edmonton Journal)

By Fiona Buchanan

An unusual Edmonton group is seeking to raise awareness about their unique formula for blissful romance. Polyamory Edmonton is a group of people that practise consensual, non-monogamous relationships. They are in the process of becoming a non-profit organization and want to educate Edmontonians about their unconventional take on romantic partnerships.

Founder Alyson Sidra, who is married and dating outside that relationship, gives a crash course on polyamory and explains why it can be a recipe for relationship success.

What is polyamory?

If someone identifies as polyamorous, they are open to having more than one romantic partner with the openness, consent and honesty of everyone involved. There wouldn’t be any cheating or anything secretive. Everyone knows who the other is dating or involved with.

...Polyamorous relationships must be tough to manage with so many people involved. Is it tricky?

It can be. We jokingly say that poly people can be very adept at scheduling. Other than that, most poly relationships have very similar issues to monogamous ones, just with more than one person.

Some people might say that romantic love doesn’t work when it is not exclusively between two people. How do you view it?

In my marriage, it felt comfortable for us to open up to love and to date other people without it feeling at all threatening or making our own relationship insecure. In fact, in a lot of ways, it tended to make it stronger. There’s a lot of communication involved.

You are not born with a certain amount of it and it definitely doesn’t get depleted the more people you have in your life. People view romantic love as something very different, but the love that you have for family and friends and children, it multiplies. For polyamorous people, so does romantic love. I think most poly people would agree that their capacity for love is just part of who they are....

Read on (Sept. 7, 2014), and leave a comment.

The story was reprinted the next day in Canada's National Post, under the headline Edmonton polyamory group seeking non-profit status, wants to extol the benefits of multiple romantic partners.



September 6, 2014

Dedeker Winston, the poly character on Fox's "Utopia" reality series

The initial cast of Fox's Utopia

Heads up; the thing we feared would happen is gonna happen, starting tomorrow (Sunday Sept. 7) at 8 p.m. Eastern. But it could be interesting, because it turns out we have a would-be heroine in the fight. Can she outsmart the fight being rigged?

Earlier this summer, casting directors for a new Fox reality show came poking around the polywebs looking for someone to fill a precisely defined role. Wrote one:

I'm casting a documentary series on a major TV network that will air in the fall featuring 15 Americans from all different walks of life coming together to form a new society. They are still looking for the last cast member and this is who they would like:

1. A single woman in her 20s who is polyamorous.

2. They would like a woman who can break down the negative stereotypes about women and polyamory (for example: "a man who sleep with many is a stud, a woman is considered a slut").

3. There is compensation for being on the show.

4. This is a major network show with a lot of credibility and they are looking for the right person to fit this description, not an actress.

Another casting agent working the same assignment wrote,

Fox is specifically interested in a woman who strongly believes in plural marriage or celestial marriage and wants a platform to help dispel the misconceptions and educate our viewers on it.

In the Polyamory Leadership Network discussion that sprung up, the consensus was that Fox was designing Utopia to turn into Lord of the Flies — the purpose of a reality show is drama, not boring harmony — and that the rules of the setup would pit the characters against each other like rats in a shaken cage. Said Sarah Taub of the Network for a New Culture (with long experience building actual intentional community), "It’s hard enough for people with a shared vision and good community skills (communication, boundaries, emotional management skills, curiosity about others, functional group decision-making processes, etc.) to create a successful intentional community. With 15 random people, chosen by the producers for maximum drama … this show should be called “Hell” or “No Exit”, not “Utopia.” "

Dedeker Winston of Fox's UtopiaI floated the idea, only half jokingly, that someone with the right specs could apply for the slot, get accepted, stall signing as long as possible, then drop out just before camera time so the hot-polyamorist role would go unfilled.

Didn't happen. Instead they found Dedeker Winston, at right: a 26-year-old belly dancer and nude model from LA with the looks, body, and camera presence to drive prime-time ratings. But we may have lucked out — she seems to be smart, confident, articulate, and she really gets poly. Her smarts show pretty well in this interview with Cosmopolitan that just appeared (with that photo), but we see her more clearly on her own Multiamory podcast that she and two partners have begun producing, below:

Dedeker Winston and partners in the Multiamory podcast

Episode 1 of their podcast, the only one up so far, is damn good: Five Myths about Polyamory. It's 41 minutes long. Their summary of it:

Dedeker Winston and Multiamory.com website partners
In our very first episode of the Multiamory podcast we decided to compile a list of the five biggest and most common myths that we come across when talking to people about polyamory. In addition to busting these myths we discuss some personal stories about being poly and drop some hints about upcoming episodes.

The 5 myths:

1. Polyamory is just about sex.

2. If you found "the one" you wouldn't need to be polyamorous.

3. Polyamory is a way of avoiding all the hard work of a committed relationship.

4. Polyamory is only for people who don't get jealous.

5. One gender or group has an easier time being polyamorous. (Men, women, singles, couples, etc)

Thanks so much for checking us out. We hope you enjoy it!

Multiamory was created by Dedeker Winston, Emily Matlack, and Jase Lindgren

On their Multiamory site, she says that she is

"a strong advocate for polyamory and progressive thinking. She believes everyone should be able to live proudly and practically in alternative lifestyles, and is a public example and role-model for this way of living. You can see her on Fox's new show Utopia, where she is hoping to spread awareness of polyamory."

Here she tells more about her fit to the role in the show, and about her poly life and poly-awareness goals:


When I found out what they were looking for — it described me 100% to a T. They wanted someone who was polyamorous, someone who wanted to create a new society, who wanted to be a voice for kind of the next sexual revolution and the next emotional liberation, and that's completely my m.o. I couldn't not contact them, basically, when I saw that.

Here is a clip from a Utopia camera of her lounging in a hammock on the compound with two other cast members and explaining what poly means to her:

Her hashtag is #PolyandProud.


Fox is telling the public that Utopia is completely unscripted, that the 130 hidden and unhidden cameras merely observe, and that no production crew is onsite at any time.

Well, maybe not really. The show is a copy of the successful Dutch Utopia series that's being run by the same rules in the Netherlands, and I found something interesting. A person who claims to have been in on the Dutch Utopia told how the directors did the cage-rattling:

In the Dutch version, there is a room with a microphone where they can push a button and talk to the people 'behind the scenes', who are not on the terrain themselves. The viewers however don't get to see/hear these conversations. Originally this was [described as being] intended for when the participants really needed help (they can ask for a consult with a psychologist for example). But as the show progressed, it became clear that there was much more 'steering' going on in some situations than they wanted people to believe.

People are often called to this room, for all kinds of reasons (for example when [someone is] trying to cut down a tree that isn't allowed, or discussing things they don't want the viewers to know). Other times people come out of the room and start certain conversations or take certain actions (in order to continue some 'storyline' for example).

Hence it sometimes is unclear whether or not certain actions or ideas or what not are coming from the participants themselves or not. And having a room in which conversations take place that are not recorded/shown does not help that situation.

I hope Dedeker understood what she was walking into, and the rules she will have to work under (including, no doubt, a terrifying nondisclosure contract). When she is called into The Room, I hope she uses all her wits with the cage-shakers and can be strong with her "No." Even if it means getting vanished from the show and perhaps losing her accumulated pay. I admire her drive to represent us well, but it'll take all the smarts and character she can muster.


Here's the show's official site, including its profile of Dedeker with a video clip. Definitely prime time.

The show is getting heaps of advance publicity this weekend. For instance at Entertainment Weekly: Fox's 'Utopia' cast already naked, weird -- and drawing 1 million views (online views that is).

TV Guide: 6 Reasons Fox's Utopia Could Be Amazing (Or a Total Disaster).

From an article at Cinema Blend:

Fox's New Reality Show Utopia Already Seems Like A Disaster

Fox’s latest reality series, Utopia, hasn’t even premiered yet, but it’s already proven to have a slew of problems. On Tuesday, a 25-year-old contestant going by the name Hex had to be taken to the hospital due to a severe case of dehydration.... The news comes just days after fellow contestant Andrea Cox was kicked off the show due to sneaking in a smartphone and researching the other contestants....

Honestly, Fox has invested a lot in Utopia. Stars have been signed on to the show for 52 weeks of hard living in the wilderness, and casting is ongoing just in case there are cell phone or health issues (also, cast members can totally be kicked off the series). It’s only Day 5 of the drama and it’s looking like Fox might have more problems to navigate than the network may have expected. If you are interested in seeing Utopia turn into a disaster, you can tune in when the show premieres....

A bit of the show's official transcript from Day 8:

8:21 p.m. - Red confronts Amanda because The Utopia State of Freedom (aka Red and Dave) felt cheated that she only returned four bananas to them after they gave her six. She explains that her four large bananas equals the six tiny bananas they had originally given to her. Things escalate. Because of course they do.

8:22 p.m. - Amanda tells Dave [a black ex-con] he has an attitude. As you could imagine, this does not sit well. Dave rants about not caring about “any of y’all n******” in Utopia. Amanda walks away and moves to the main house, where she sighs to Mike, “This is not prison.” Meanwhile, Dave hisses that Amanda’s attitude will get her man hurt one day.

Get out the popcorn for tomorrow night. (It's a 2-hour opener. After that the show continues on Tuesdays and Fridays.)

Dedeker kisses Emily, Jase, and her other boyfriend goodbye as she ships out for a year on the Utopia compound.


Update Sunday night: Yup, the show was a dramafest. In the first three days in Utopia, we mostly see hotheads and ditzheads, a fight and a drunken near-assault on women, a well-meaning Pentecostal pastor out to convert and baptize everyone, heaps of shouting and, let's say, low emotional intelligence.... and complete cluelessness about managing their situation.

Dedeker had no part in any of the abundant craziness. So, she got practically no camera time in the two hours of the opening show. Except we do see that she is one of the skinny-dipping women.

The Los Angeles Times reports that the show had 4.6 million viewers, which it calls a "decent" kickoff. [later revised to 5.5 million]. Update: The show lost nearly half its audience from Episode 1 to 2, report various TV sites; one notes that the show will be canceled if ratings fall short of requirements. "Watching an adult throw a violent temper-tantrum and smash cans of food because he doesn’t get his way is a waste of the format. Everything about the show is top-notch, from the concept to the execution; only the casting has failed.... The decision to cast people for conflict instead of a genuine interest in forming a new society did turn some viewers off."

Writes Willa Paskin on Slate: "Through the first two episodes, five of the eight men assembled have violent physical outbursts. The female cast members avoid the trap of being portrayed as catty and vicious; as a result, they are granted no personalities at all, just a penchant for swimming naked."

Ratings declined further for Episode 3.

A New York Observer blogger's recap of Episode 1. Of Episode 2. Episode 3.


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