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

June 2, 2017

Three polyfolks tend our message on PBS TV

Last Tuesday the news show Chicago Tonight on WTTW, the city's PBS TV station, featured a thoughtful, 11-minute (!) interview with three fine spokespeople: Chicago Polyamory Connection co-founder Caroline Kearns and poly-friendly therapists Rami Henrich and Jennifer Rafacz. This comes after the first-ever Chicago Non-Monogamy Conference three weeks ago.

It wins my "Show Your Parents" tag.

Caroline Kearns says, "I thought it went fine -- very limited time, was able to get a very basic sum-up of poly in without it being sensationalized. Overall, I feel pretty good about it."

That New York Times Magazine cover story three weeks ago was what prompted the show. Tim of Chicago Polyamory Connection writes, "The PBS station reached out to Rami first, saying that they wanted to do a small-panel segment after [that] article came out. She's pretty visibly poly in Chicago as a part of Lifeworks. Rami asked if any of us at the CPC would want to join her in the panel, and Caroline reached out."

Continues Tim, "The reaction in the local community was really enthusiastic. We also saw a big spike in web traffic at polychicago.com after the segment aired. I wonder if we'll have a bunch of new people at Poly Cocktail night in two weeks."


Here's the segment's webpage at the TV station, including the video and a longer text interview with Henrich and Kearns (May 30, 2017). This extended interview goes into topics that weren't aired on TV.

For instance, the part below caught my eye — what with the ugly history of an abuse/consent crisis in Chicago's BDSM world, which spread to split apart Chicago's poly community a few years back. Kearns was part of the rebuilding from that, with a firm foundation now of consent awareness and an ethic of community enforcement. Did someone tip off the TV host?

Host: When a community is marginalized and its members are afraid to seek help, it can make it easier for predatory people to operate within those communities. [The BDSM crisis in a nutshell.] Do you find that to be the case in the poly community?

Caroline Kearns: Poly ends up being very empowering to women, and that can counteract a lot of that behavior. Being open and transparent is always going to help mitigate abusive behavior, as well as having a strong community. But the immediate reaction I got to talking to people about poly was “of course men would want to sleep with you, and all they’re going to want is to sleep with other women” – the thought is that it’s all about the male partners exhibiting predatory behavior. [That thinking] is based on a lot of outdated assumptions that men are always the most sexual member of a heterosexual couple, or that sexual desire is inherently difficult to control and monitor, or sex is sinful and will always lead to corrupt behavior.

But in the reality of the bubble of the polyamory community, women tend to hold equal power and (often) more options than the men do. The women are sought after, they’re respected, they’re feminist, sure of themselves, committed to a culture of consent, able to identify predatory behavior, empowered to voice accusations of assault, and supportive of one another in more transparent polyamory communities.

Of course people of all genders have to be careful, just like anyone would if they go to a bar on Saturday night or meet strangers on Tinder or OKCupid. ... Polyamory is so much about communication, honesty, and being open — the moment I see someone trying to be dishonest or cagey or like they are hiding something from a partner, huge red flags go off and I run in the opposite direction.


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