Polyamory in the News
. . . by Alan M.

February 26, 2018

More controversy over the poly feet under the white duvet

I've been running this website for 12½ years, you're reading post number 1,427, and of all of them, my post about Carrie Jenkins' takedown of the poly-feet-under-the-white-duvet trope ranks as the 6th most read.1 Clearly she hit a nerve.

The nerve jerked awake again earlier this month when the BBC and the Open Photo Project, which showcases people in open relationships, stepped on it with this:

Note the first Feet of Color we've ever seen in one of these.

The picture headlined the BBC's slideshow of Open Photo Project photos following the BBC Scotland documentary Love Unlimited: Polyamory in Scotland. Erika Kapin, who runs the Open Photo Project, felt obliged to publish a response:

BBC video feet image & response from the polyamorous community

...There has been some criticism in social media within the polyamorous community about the leading image the BBC selected for this video. ...

As many people who are involved with polyamory know, a photo of multiple pairs of feet under a bedspread is one of the main “go-to” images mainstream media choose as a photo for their articles about polyamory. As far as I have ever seen, the feet featured in these photos are always the feet of people with white skin. A quick google image search on “polyamory” yields thin, white, young people in 98% of the images.

I have been talking with a Chrissy Holman and Kevin Patterson, some leaders of local polyamorous communities, about working with them to create some stock photo options that are more diverse. That way these articles would at least have the option to be more inclusive of people of color and other demographics that are not included in most stock (specifically polyamorous) imagery.

The photo leading the BBC video was taken intentionally as a first step to create a more diverse stock photo option for articles about polyamory. We started with the multiple feet in a bed photo specifically because it is such a cliche photo in stock images relating to non-monogamy. The difference is that we included 3 pairs of feet from black folks and one pair of tattooed feet.

There were critical comments about this photo from several polyamory groups which seem to be for two reasons: The first comes from concern that multiple feet-in-a-bed photo implies group sex and that in this sex-negative culture, that will perpetuate the mainstream stigma that polyamory is all about the sex. The second reason is that people are just tired of seeing that photo because they think it’s been overdone.

To the people who are tired of the seeing the multiple feet shot, I would suggest that you may be missing the point. When you see this as just another feet shot, are you noticing that these are a diverse sets of feet? I realize that variations of this shot have been done and that is kind of the point. ...

To those who are concerned that the feet in the bed photo over-sexualizes polyamory and that is not a narrative you want the media to portray: I get your concerns. ... As a queer polyamorous woman, I understand the sex negativity that exists in our culture. This is a huge part of why I created The Open Photo Project. My goal is to share the beauty, mundanity and complexity of non-monogamous people’s lives. If you look at the images and stories in The Open Photo Project, you will find images of people feeding their kids, going grocery shopping, taking a nap, eating food, doing laundry, playing video games. You will hear their words about metamours, raising children, communicating about jealousy, coming out to parents, living with a physical disability, being a POC in the polyamorous community, raising kids as a single parent, and more. To see that one photo and judge the entire project is perpetuating the oversexualization of non-monogamy is just inaccurate. ...

Her whole statement (Feb. 16, 2018).

● Meanwhile, Kimchi Cuddles illustrates what might have really been going on with three of those stock-agency photos. Click the graphic in the link, then hover and click the right-side arrow to advance.

Here's one of them:

P.S.: Update on Cosmo UK's "Polyamory Diaries." Remember that trainwreck of a couple who, laden with monocentric baggage, opened their marriage against the husband's wishes and he's chronicling it for Cosmopolitan UK?

The third monthly installment is out and things are looking up for him, after he ditched Tinder for OKCupid and finally landed what turned out to be a one-night stand. Now that he has evened the "score" with his wife he's gone from feeling wretched to bemused, if whiplashed, and he's no longer talking "overdose of prescription sleeping pills." And, he and his wife are a little more interested in each other. "I’ve had sex with someone else and my wife’s delighted" (Feb. 23).


1. Okay, here are the five most-read posts beating number 6.

Television is clearly powerful. My top two posts are where-are-they-now followups to Showtime's Polyamory: Married and Dating reality series, both published months after the final second season ended in 2013. The series must be having a successful afterlife; the pageviews are still piling up as fast as ever. Number 1, number 2.

Number 5 was also about television: TLC's airing of a one-hour pilot for a poly series that never happened, Brother Husbands. And number 3 is about a celebrity, Amanda Palmer, whose open marriage was exaggerated in the public mind.

Washington Post story holds the number 4 spot, perhaps because of its evocative headline "To Be Young and Polyamorous in the Age of OkCupid" — and the adorably cuddlesome photo.




Anonymous TAFL said...

Re: The Open Photo Project. We are not clickbait. The feet photos--without regard to the colors of skin on the feet or tattoos or anything else--treat us as clickbait. They immediately paint us with negative connotations. If you wish to help the cause, first, do no harm--stop with the feet photos.

I find the notion that offering up the clickbait will somehow lead folks to explore everything else with an open mind (or that exploration will open their minds) naive, at best, and likely disingenuous. Simply changing the window dressing on the marginalization of polyfolk isn't going to help--changing from the supposed bedroom window to a kitchen window will do far more to help and won't add to the hurt.

February 28, 2018 3:37 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home