Kick the poly shaming out the door
That Psychology Today roundup of 2018's top consensual non-monogamy research results included a finding by Heath Schechinger and colleagues that uneducated therapists often misunderstand and shame their poly clients, wasting their time and money at best and causing harm at worst.
As Schechinger put it, the participants in their study "repeatedly mentioned how harmful their therapists' lack of education about CNM and judgmental attitudes were. Over half of our participants indicated that their therapist held judgmental or pathologizing views of consensual non-monogamy, and one-fifth of our participants reported that their therapist lacked the basic knowledge of consensual non-monogamy issues necessary to be effective."
See more about the new organized professional response to this problem here, including Schechinger's petition to support relationship diversity issues in therapy.
But of course the problem is much wider. It's getting a little better every year, as polyamory and other forms of ethical non-monogamy become more widely discussed and understood. But still....
● It's worse when you internalize it, even if you know better. So it was heartening to see this from Anna Pulley, sex advice columnist for the mainstream Chicago Tribune's arts & entertainment weekly RedEye.
Ask Anna: How do I get over my internalized polyamory shame?
I'm a poly, queer woman. Though my partners and I are happy, how do I get over internalized shame about being poly — that I’m “greedy” and “irresponsible”? —Anon.
I’ve always found the idea of greediness in polyamory especially interesting, because it’s so counter-intuitive. For starters, poly people by definition know how to share. This is the opposite of, say, monogamy, which is based on ideas of possession, ownership and, in legal terms, a means to consolidate wealth by creating paternal heirs.
Imagine if we said having more than one friend was greedy? Imagine if we said single folks who date multiple people at a time (an extremely common practice) were greedy, or even serial monogamists....
We’ve internalized the message that anything that deviates from that norm is bad, weird, wrong and even immoral. You’ve got a double dose of “deviance” as a queer person and a poly person.
How do you let go of those harmful messages and beliefs? By telling yourself a better story, over and over, as many times as it takes. The narratives we tell ourselves impact our actions, our behaviors and our quality of life. Instead of saying, “I’m greedy,” you could instead say, “I have an abundance of love in my life.” ... Another strategy is to find a tribe of like-minded, poly individuals (whom you are not currently dating) to share with and vent to....
Read the whole column (December 3, 2018).
● This stuff can have larger societal effects not anticipated by any participant, says Anne Shark on Medium:
How Anti-Poly Advice Feeds Rape Culture
By Anne Shark
Safe because we wouldn’t hear all the ugly questions that might emerge from our unconscious programming, questions like “why can’t you just appreciate what you have?” or “who do you think you are, sleeping around, letting guys take advantage of you?”
After experiencing more than one sexual violation since starting my poly journey, it’s hard to not wonder why the hell I would put myself in that situation… just as, after being mugged, assaulted or raped while walking home late at night, a woman might ask herself why she was out walking alone late at night. ...
These are both examples of rape culture. The question: why would you walk around late at night? being placed on a woman who was assaulted blames the woman. Why would you be polyamorous? is the same thing, when the question comes after a story about sexual assault that happened during a date.
I shared such a story at a reading which a friend and I curated on the topic of Power. ... I was disappointed that none of the questions we posed to the audience such as “what is the difference between power and empowerment?” and “What is empowerment to you?” — combined with my reading about sexual consent — didn’t lead to a discussion about sex.
Joe Gardner / Unsplash
Only one person spoke on this topic. In response to “What is empowerment to you?” she said, “For me, my sexuality is empowering.” I was impressed by her openness. Perhaps not coincidentally, she was the only other poly woman in the room....
If we don’t know how to talk about sex, the abuse of male privilege and power remains hidden behind closed doors, women doubting their experiences or feeling too frightened, uncomfortable or embarrassed to voice them.
...Through sharing these stories more openly, talking about these subtleties, we can 1. Get a better understanding of what is wrong and 2. Empower ourselves to put our finger on what is wrong, band together and find solutions. ...
Dissing polyamory isn’t going to fix the problem, and in fact, my experience with poly people is that they are much more comfortable and open about talking about these issues. We’ve already acknowledged that sexuality is part of our identity. ...
Read the whole article (January 4, 2019).
● A recent discussion thread on reddit/r/polyamory: Poly Shame Shocker (December 2018):
I’ve had an epiphany. I’m more terrified of coming out as poly than I did coming out queer. ... I seem to have a mild sense of shame, or concern something is wrong with me, for believing something the majority does not, which comes as a shock because I believe that I usually make decisions free from caring what others think, yet here I am keeping my mouth shut about partners I love because of fear. ...
● And to close on a happier note — here's comedian No Fun Gaby Dunn, bi & poly writer and YouTuber, on Ash Hardell's channel talking about skittish bis doing the respectability-politics thing regarding those slutty polyfolks. We begin with the show in progress: