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

November 29, 2019

Friday Polynews Roundup — RuPaul, Mel B., Jidenna, Medical News Today, and a contrarian conservative says we're fine.

It's time again for Friday Polynews Roundup! — as maybe you take a break from cleaning up the Thanksgiving wreckage and munching the leftovers.

● We start with a serious big-think piece by a conservative-ish public intellectual, who takes a contrarian stand against "some of my conservative followers."

Geoffrey Miller is a widely published evolutionary biologist and psychology professor at the University of New Mexico. He's also in a successful open marriage.

Quillette is an intellectual online magazine that calls itself "a platform for free thought. We respect ideas, even dangerous ones." Often that means they vent an intellectual's grievance about people attending to people with grievances; think "anti-PC." In such circles, treating poly seriously is not the PC thing to do... so is that why they published this?

Polyamory Is Growing — And We Need To Get Serious About It

We need to talk about polyamory. It’s the biggest sexual revolution since the 1960s. It’s surprisingly common among Millennials and Gen Z. It’s often misunderstood and stigmatized by mainstream monogamist culture. Some people think polyamory is the best way to integrate sexual freedom, honesty, openness, and commitment. Others think it’s an existential threat to Western Civilization.

We should take existential risks seriously. Global thermonuclear war, genetically engineered bioweapons, and artificial general intelligence could exterminate our species. But whenever I tweet about polyamory, my conservative followers react as if polyamory is a fourth existential threat. Any threat to monogamy is, they think, a threat to love, marriage, family, culture, reason, nation, and gene pool. Are they right?

tl;dr: No. But we just skipped about 2,500 words of interesting argumentation.

At the end,

Polyamory is coming. We could continue to ignore it. We could continue confusing libertarian polyamory with oppressive patriarchal polygamy. We could continue conflating ethical non-monogamy with unethical hook-up culture. We could misconstrue poly as an existential threat to Western Civilization....

But maybe we should be smarter about how we handle polyamory. Polyamory, at best, offers a new ethical vision of sexual relationships that prioritizes radical honesty, sexual sovereignty, freedom of association, and social networking. Poly is, admittedly, an experiment. Polyamory would not have been possible before the invention of contraception, condoms, STI testing, the evolutionary psychology insights needed to manage sexual jealousy, and the Google Calendar app to manage dates.

Too much there to begin to take apart; let's just say world cultural history did not begin in 1960. Then,

Polyamory Needs Your Guidance

Here’s the thing: polyamory’s potential as a social experiment is being squandered by many current polyamorists — many of whom belong to the radical Left politically. Widespread, sustainable poly may not be possible without some wise and sympathetic guidance from conservatives, centrists, libertarians, Christians, and other good folks who may think, at first glance, that poly seems insane or evil.

Umm, OK boomer. But he presents his case:

Poly needs libertarians who can explore how freedom of choice, freedom of association, and the non-aggression principle can extend into the realm of sexual relationships. Poly needs “TradLife” pronatalists willing to find common ground with the communitarian child-rearing favored by many poly families. Poly needs Christian ethicists who can imagine a more romantic interpretation of “Love they neighbor as thyself” (Matthew 22: 39). Poly needs centrists who recognize that poly relationships are powerful ways to build bridges across partisan divides.

Polyamory is going mainstream, like it or not. You already have poly neighbors and coworkers, whether you know it or not. Many of your own kids are likely to end up in poly relationships. Many of you might end up in poly relationships, sooner or later.

This won’t be a personal or national catastrophe. It won’t be an existential threat to Western Civilization. But if we don’t figure out how to integrate polyamory with our best traditions of commitment, marriage, parenting, and family values, there will be a culture war about sexuality that makes the 1960s look like the calm before a category 5 hurricane.

Take a breath, guy.

Read the whole article, and mark it for your conservative friends. (Dated Oct. 29, 2019. I missed it when it came out; thanks to Dennis F. for passing me the link.)

A technical criticism: Throughout, Miller uses "polyamory" to mean all consensual non-monogamy (CNM). Even though he explains up front that that's what he's going to do, it will still cause confusion.

● Moving on to that part about CNM spreading all over, here are items from the last few days. In UC Berkeley's Daily Californian (one of the country's best student newspapers): The more, the merrier? (Nov. 26)

By Aidan Bassett

Love is inherently tough. Anyone who says otherwise is lying.

To add to the innate challenge, we’ve always had social strictures on love.... And among the most difficult norms to defy is monogamy. So if your instincts carry you outside social convention — as mine have — you must work all the more diligently for love to succeed.

...When I was 15, I was increasingly falling for the girl with whom I’d first have sex, who I’ll call “Ava,” and I was also involved with an older girl with whom Ava and I were both smitten. Over the course of my relationship with Ava, I would fall again for an ex-girlfriend of mine, “Diana,” but ultimately leave Ava for another girl I loved, “Joan.” ... I was what is often called a “serial dater.”

Though all of these high school relationships were monogamous, each ruptured when that monogamy became untenable. ... I invariably failed the people I loved. Few things still call up greater shame and remorse than recalling how I mishandled the ends of my relationships.

...Like many people, my [early] impression of polyamory was some caricature of 1967’s Summer of Love: hedonist libertinism void of commitment. ...

Now I think polyamory isn’t right for me, but for other reasons. I’ve lost my teenage prejudice against open relationships, but I’m now better versed in the titanic project of polyamory, the considerable work that goes into not just one serious emotional commitment, but many. In some ways, true polyamory is for people who, far from hating it, actually love commitment, for polyamory requires the same effort and attention in each partnership. ...

Polyamory also exemplifies how love and relationships lie on continua, a notion we have slowly come to acknowledge for gender and will hopefully soon realize applies to almost every human experience. ...

...My conclusion has been simple: As with all relationships, honesty, candor and clear expectations are the secret ingredients; all else is frills. ... The roots of the word “polyamory” mean “many loves,” and sure, perhaps the more, the merrier — but only for people who’ve mastered the labor of love.

● On Yahoo Sports: Mel B wants 'multiple partners' to serve different needs (Nov. 26):

Mel B. during "A Brutally Honest Evening With Mel B" in support of Women's Aid.

Mel [Best,] the 44-year-old ‘Spice Girls’ singer, who’s been married twice before, spoke of her ideal relationship situation on her podcast, ‘Truth Flirts’.

...“I would like to think that there's one person that could encompass everything but two marriages later, three kids later, I'm thinking is there ever that one person that just has everything?”

...Best reasoned that it would have to depends on the individuals in question – but agreed this style of relationship was “possible.” ... “If you can find people who are like-minded who are going to go, ‘Oh I’m open to this,’ then I think in our day and age it’s possible.”

...While Mel B did not label her theory, it’s often termed polyamory ... quite literally a relationship approach which involves intimate, romantic relationships with multiple partners – with everyone consenting. ... The alternative relationship style is increasingly recognised among high-profile Gen Z-ers....

● On The Breakfast Club, a daily black radio program ("the world’s most dangerous morning show") airing on many urban stations: Jidenna Talks About Polyamorous Relationship! (Nov. 26). Jidenna is a famous rapper, singer, songwriter and record producer.

● More celebrity news going around: RuPaul Gets Candid About Open Marriage, Calls Monogamy a 'Hoax' (Nov. 27). "I wouldn’t want to put restraints on the person I love the most on this planet."

That piece is one of many spinoff stories from Vanity Fair's holiday-issue cover story, RuPaul: The Philosopher Queen (online Nov. 20). "As drag’s greatest living ambassador, the performer born RuPaul Andre Charles has spent decades bringing the art form out of the nightclub and into our living rooms. With a new, scripted show on the way and another evolution under his belt, he’s moving beyond the limits of reality TV."

● A review in Broadway World: Song and Spoken Word Make 'POLY QUEER LOVE BALLAD' a Touching Tale of Love and Romance (Nov. 29)

By Isabella Perrone

What happens when a monogamous lesbian songwriter and a polyamorous bisexual poet fall in love? Boundaries are set, broken, upheld, muddled, and re-established over and over again in a story that reflects the complications of modern dating and romantic relationships.

Poly Queer Love Ballad makes its Toronto premiere after a successful run at the Vancouver Fringe Festival, under director Julie McIsaac. ...

As the sole characters to appear onstage, musician Gabbie (Sara Vickruck) and poet Nina (Anais West) struggle to figure out how best to navigate their relationship. It's a classic meet-cute; the pair are performing at the same open mic night during Pride and are instantly drawn to one another. It seems like a perfect match until the inevitable dropping of the other shoe - Nina is polyamorous and cannot change to suit Gabbie's need for a monogamous relationship. Despite their differing beliefs, the two decide to undertake the challenge their relationship presents, and it's the challenge that fulfills the role of antagonist.

● And to round things out, a big one I didn't catch at the time: in Medical News Today, a long feature article titled Polyamory: Beyond the confines of monogamous love (July 26, 2019). Medical News Today is an authoritative, professionally fact-checked publication and web resource for doctors and the public. With 70 million visits a month, it ranks as the third most visited health site in the US.

(One of several generic happy-people pix in the article)

Monogamy is still very much the norm in today's societies, but different types of romantic relationships are gaining ground. [We spoke] to some polyamorous people and asked: What is fact and what is fiction about polyamorous relationships?

...One form of nonmonogamous practice that has been attracting attention in the media is polyamory. ... Is it a dream come true, a way of "having your cake and eating it, too".... Or, is being in a polyamorous relationship really not that different from being in any other kind of relationship?

...Polyamorous relationships can take various forms. They can be hierarchical, with one partner being the "primary" partner, or nonhierarchical, in which all partners have equal standing. Moreover, a person could be in separate relationships with different partners or in a relationship in which all or several partners are also romantically engaged with each other.

...Christian Klesse, Ph.D., a researcher and lecturer at Manchester Metropolitan University in the United Kingdom, specializes in sexualities. [He writes,] "Love is central to the discourses on polyamory, [which] is clearly revealed in the etymological roots of the term."

...The polyamorous people who spoke with us also agreed on another issue: the main misconception that non-polyamorous individuals tend to have.... Polyamory is not just about having more sex, and it is not a creative form of cheating on one's partner.

"Many people mistake polyamorous relationships for open relationships," Jim told us. ... Sex can be part of the deal, but it is not usually the focus. ...

Although people who practice polyamory may not have any magical superpowers, sometimes it may seem as if they do. Healthy polyamorous relationships are based on good time management skills and great communication, according to the people who spoke to MNT.

For one, the partners in a polyamorous relationship have to be great at explaining what their expectations, needs, and limits are and at checking in emotionally with their partners at every step of the way.

Different types of polyamorous relationships, therefore, come with different sets of rules, depending on the needs of the romantic partners.

...Ella also noted that, early on in her life as a polyamorous partner, she had to learn to fully understand where any negative emotions, such as jealousy, might come from. ...

...Despite these challenges, there seems to be an overarching sentiment that polyamory is worth the effort, purely for the amount of love and support that goes around among the partners.

"I'm living my best life," Ella told us.

Whew. A few years back, some of us in the Polyamory Leadership Network considered producing a brochure for doctors and other care-givers and getting it mass-distributed to them. The pricing came out ridiculous, so that was the end of that. Now here it's being done for us, more or less the way we'd want, for free!

If you succeed in getting a bandwagon rolling, and manage to keep steering it well as it bounds downslope, it can do much of your heavy work for you.

P.S.: Did you notice that at least half the people in these stories happen to be black? Mostly that's a coincidence this week, but people of color are indeed becoming more fearless about defending ethical non-monogamy — and its deep history of helping build extended chosen family in the face of hard conditions. See my collection of items a few days ago riffing on a much-noted Medium article: "Polyamory Can Be Liberating For People Of Colour, Until Racism Gets In The Way" (Nov. 25).

That's it for now. If you're in the neighborhood, maybe we'll see you this evening at Leftover Pie Party?




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