July 21, 2021

Polyamory in the news all over

Many goings-on worldwide:

●  Marriage Is Going to Look Different After the Pandemic, says a long article in the major women's fashion magazine InStyle (May 20). They don't, however, provide a lot of support for that bold claim.  

The pandemic exposed the pitfalls of traditional marriage, and some couples [sic] are turning to polyamory to meet their needs. 

...Post-pandemic, ethical non-monogamy could be getting a long-overdue pop-culture rebrand. ... The past year of quarantine has only accelerated this mainstreaming of non-monogamy. ...

...It would seem, then, that polyamory is a modern solution for a modern world, a world in which we're conditioned to believe that our partners should be our everything — not just our lovers, but our co-parents, best friends, travel buddies, therapists, intellectual equals, and more. Acting on attraction outside of monogamous relationships, [Dr. Tammy Nelson] continues, "will be seen as more normal, more reasonable, more legit."...

Not that "turning to polyamory to meet your needs" as a couple has a great track record or reputation in the community. In the UK's Independent, ‘It put us in a pressure cooker’ (July 1): "From shifting into polyamory to rediscovering solace in a home base, lockdown has been a sink or swim period for some couples." From one newly opening couple: "He reacted defensively at first, but eventually came around, and we agreed that we’d decide on alternate partners together, and be completely open, always.” Tl;dr: It didn't work.

●  More on South Africa's national polyandry proposalwhich if enacted (in 2023 or 2024) would legalize and recognize group marriages regardless of gender — not just traditional male-centered polygamy, which is legal there already. Polyamory, polyandry remain hot topics as discussion on new marriage proposals wraps up (The Cape Argus, Cape Town, July 6):

By Mwangi Githahu

...Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsolaledi has said the main purpose of the hotly debated green paper on marriage was to start a national dialogue.

Aaron Motsolaledi

Wrapping up public comment on the issue at a national colloquium on the marriage policy, Motsoaledi said: “Since we gazetted it on May 4, the green paper has sparked a lot of debate causing most of us to confront long-standing beliefs, sometimes in an uncomfortable manner.”

...“The proposed marriage policy must aim to eradicate all forms of discrimination, and uphold the constitutional obligations in pursuit of equality in various communities that have been sidelined or prejudiced,” said Motsoaledi.

The department will now start the process of consolidating all the proposals received from citizens into a white paper which sets out proposals for legislative changes.

...He said that South Africa needs a new marriage policy based on three of the pillars of its Constitution, equality, non-discrimination and human dignity was “incontestible”. ... 

By Pumza Fihlani
BBC News, Johannesburg

A proposal by the South African government to legalise polyandry — when a woman has more than one husband at the same time — has led to howls of protest from conservative quarters.

This does not surprise Professor Collis Machoko, a renowned academic on the topic.

The objections are "about control," he told the BBC. "African societies are not ready for true equality. We don't know what to do with women we cannot control." ...

Prof Machoko researched polyandry in his country of birth — neighbouring Zimbabwe. He spoke to 20 women and 45 co-husbands who practised it, even though such marriages are socially taboo and not legally recognised.

"Polyandry, because it is shunned by parts of society, has been forced underground. The secrecy is similar to the one found in freemasons," he said.

"When confronted by somebody whom they do not trust or do not know, they even deny that such a marriage exists. All this is because of fear of reprisals and persecution."

...Prof Machoko said polyandry was once practised in Kenya, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Nigeria, and it is still practised in Gabon, where the law allows it.

"With the arrival of Christianity and colonisation the role of the woman became diminished. They were no longer equal. Marriage became one of the tools used to establish hierarchy." ...

Elsewhere around the world,  

●  Russia will not outlaw discussion of polyamory after all. In March a proposal to do so was mentioned in world news. But Olga Kvi writes to us from Russia (May 18),

Thank you for your website! It was a great pleasure for me to find a place I could read the news about polyamory from different parts of our world.
1)  On the first days of March 2021, [at] a round table discussion organized by a deputy of our State Duma [parliament], it was suggested to ban “the polyamorous propaganda” and some other things. [See Moscow Times, March 5: Russia’s Ruling Party Campaigns to Ban 'Propaganda' of Polyamory, Bisexuality – Reports]. Polyamorous people from Russia had a lot of fear, but some days later our State Duma told it was a personal opinion of this deputy and no more.
2)  On 24-28 of March we had a book fair where it was possible to find books about polyamory. The books are in Russian and from Russian authors. Some polyamorous people in Russia didn’t like them (in their opinion these books have some controversial pages), but it is a great progress for polyamory in our country.

Meanwhile, also from Russia: Russia Beyond is a state-sponsored public-relations paper in English and other languages for foreigners. It bubbled with enthusiasm presenting this: There is polygamy in Russia, and here is how it works (June 15). Talk of gender-neutral polyamory may seem to threaten the state, but authorities were happy to spotlight this:

There are over a dozen Russian-speaking communities on VKontakte and Instagram dedicated to polygamous marriages. There, men and women discuss and promote the ideas of group relationships, and look for second and third wives to join their families. Interestingly, ads for additional wives are posted not only by men, but also by their ‘first’ wives.

...The bulk of the group are Orthodox Russians. They believe that polygamy is an ancient Slavic custom that should be observed to this day. ...

● From Ireland: Polyamory in Ireland, it’s not “having your cake and eating it” (April 29). "Reducing the mystery and stigma around polyamory. We hear from Psychotherapist Ruth Crean, who facilitates polyamory support groups in Ireland. It’s about “Multiple loving relationships but openly and consensually between all parties." Six-minute radio interview. Listen here:

And a roundup of items closer to home:

●  Forbes covers two academic items recently out: Love And Sex With Many: Research On The Health And Wellness Of Consensual Non-Monogamy (July 13). One is a new survey of relationship satisfaction in CNM vs. monogamy. The other reviews the poly lives of some famous figures in the arts and sciences of the late 19th and early 20th centuries: 

 Forbes's takeaway from the first:

In the rated measures of satisfaction in sex and love, people in CNM relationships generally outscored people in monogamous relationships. Perhaps not incidentally, people practicing CNM reported using positive problem-solving with their intimate partners, while those practicing monogamy more often reported that they emotionally withdraw from conflict with their relationship partner.

Here's the paper itself: The Vices and Virtues of Consensual Non-Monogamy: A Relational Dimension Investigation by Thomas R. Brooks, Jennifer Shaw, Stephen Reysen, and Tracy B. Henley, in Psychology and Sexuality (online Mar. 28, 2021).

 The other paper Forbes describes is "Storming then Performing": Historical Non-Monogamy and Metamour Collaboration by Brian M. Watson and Sarah Stein Lubrano, in Archives of Sexual Behavior (online May 24, 2021). It recognizes the key fact that polyamory, as opposed to other consensual non-monogamy, can be defined by the significance of metamour relations. From the paper's abstract:

We present the results of an investigation into the biographies, letters, and archives of approximately 50 well-known figures in Western intellectual and artistic history in the post-Enlightenment era. In this article, in the interest of space, we have limited our remarks to the biographies and partners of Virginia Woolf, Frida Kahlo, Max Weber, Edna St. Vincent Millay, William Moulton Marston, Erwin Schrodinger, and Victor Hugo.

While some of these non-monogamous relationships are well known, some of the evidence of their existence has been ignored, misrecognized, or intentionally obscured. The results of this survey demonstrate that contemporary patterns of non-monogamies are deeply rooted in historical precedence. 

●  More research: The title of a recent study from Canada is “It’s a Little Bit Tricky”: Results from the POLYamorous Childbearing and Birth Experiences Study (POLYBABES) by Samantha Landry, Erika Arseneau & Elizabeth K. Darling, Archives of Sexual Behavior (online June 1, 2021). From the abstract:

...Four primary themes were identified: deliberately planning families, more is more, presenting polyamory, and living in a mononormative world. ... By exploring the pregnancy and birth experiences of polyamorous families and focusing on participant voices, this research adds to the limited research on polyamorous families and contributes to the process of breaking down stigma associated with alternative family structures.

● The Dallas Observer, the city's large, thriving alternative weekly paper, presented Conscious Throupling: Poly People Give Tips on Making It Work (May 11)

Martin Meyer/ Getty
By Alex Gonzalez

...Kam was in a relationship with a woman for eight years before a mutual friend of his and his then-girlfriend's expressed interest in having a more “active role” within their dynamic. He describes the experience as “liberating” and says there was never a lack of “sexually charged energy.”

Although he admits they could’ve done better when splitting their time fairly.

“Honestly, we didn’t do a great job of [managing time], and I think that’s why there were a lot of trust issues that developed,” Kam says. “I'm not quite sure if we accepted the fact that we were all in a relationship together. Expectations weren't defined as far as how much time they needed for themselves.”

...Certainly, the idea of having three pairs of hands in the home sounds ideal for household chores, which Kam says came naturally. ...

While the idea of polyamory relationships may seem appealing as a way to share expenses, Kam says that most of their time was spent talking with each other or going “out and about.”

...While some throuples choose to focus on the individual pairings within the three-person dynamic, Kam says all three of them spent most of their time together. He says he enjoyed the non-sexual side of the relationship, and there was less pressure “to be everything to one person.”

When two parties got into an argument or had a disagreement, Kam says having someone to offer objectivity helped alleviate tensions.

“If all of your eggs are in one basket, sometimes the lows and the downs can feel really low and down,” Kam says, “because you're giving everything to this particular relationship. With three people in a relationship, there tends to be one person who can meditate, or at least reflect in a more credible way, what's being said.”

...“Living in a place with three people is a big undertaking,” Kam says. “You have to set those norms based upon everybody's preferences. And no secrets. Secrets will kill you.”

●  In the Advocate, "the oldest and largest LGBT publication in the United States," 21 Tips for Opening Up Your Relationship (May 26). Good, thoughtful advice for anyone.

●  5 Myths About Polyamorous Relationships You Should Stop Believing In, from the women's life and fashion mag Femina (July 15). The myths still circulate and continue to need you activists to take them apart when you see them; this article is a pretty good model.

They Have Commitment Issues
It’s Just A Phase!
It’s All About Sex
It is Synonymous to Cheating
There Is No Happy Ending

●  At PopSugar, Being Black and Polyamorous: Love as Liberation (May 14).

By Safiya Osei

...Receiving so much love and care from Black people (specifically gender-oppressed Black people; read: not men) opened my mind and heart to the joys one can get from Black love. ... Here I want to share the way that I currently practice polyamory. 

...I was dating someone I met while studying abroad in Ghana. ... It was through that experience that I found out that I had the capacity to love multiple people very deeply at the same time. When I was in Ghana, many of the Black people in my study-abroad program were also queer and went to small liberal arts schools in New England that had done a lot of damage to us mentally and emotionally. Being Black and queer on a predominately white campus is never ideal when you want to be held by someone who knows exactly what it means to grow up as a Black person in the United States on top of your other intersecting identities. Getting to be in a community with so many beautiful and insightful beings, as we all experienced Ghana together, helped settle in my mind that love can be found in so many places, not just whomever you happen to be romantically dating at the time. ...

...Being Black in the US is such a unique experience that Black people globally don't always get until they come here and live it themselves. ... The resilience and knowledge passed down through generations has kept us alive this long, so who am I to deny the security I feel in the arms of another Black person?

...Polyamory isn't for everyone, but whenever I see Black people I love and care for being happy, building bonds, and being in community with each other, my heart is full from the joy that a deep and meaningful love like that radiates. ...

●  In Newsweek, 'I've Had Three Long-Term Polyamorous Relationships' (May 23). Author Gillian Myhill is building audience for her Bare Dating site in the works. 

The author
By Gillian Myhill

...I met the couple for drinks and we hit it off immediately; there was very clear chemistry straight away. ... But the chemistry was just as emotional as it was sexual. When I say I felt completely whole, a lot of that comes from the emotional side; it comes from feeling like I was being heard and felt. The connection between the three of us was wonderful and I saw them again and again.

...All three of us, myself and the couple, had a moment where we understood the relationship was more serious. I think that happens a lot at around the three-month point.

We always thought it would run its course after a little while, but we ended up being together for three and a half years. It was great and incredibly intense. ... Within the relationship, sometimes I would sleep with just the wife and sometimes just the husband, but mostly it was all three of us. And there was never any jealousy. The word polyamory comes from the Greek word for "many" and Latin word for "love" and I believe you're meant to feel safe and secure within that arrangement of many loves. ...

But with polyamory, like with any relationship.... / Unsplash
●  Lastly: Want a thoughtful model reply for well-meaning unicorn-hunting newbies? You really ought to have one on tap, and IMO you couldn't do better than to model yours on this, from reddit user jsulliv1.

That person helps make the whole reddit/r/polyfamilies subreddit look good. Which is, by and large, a known haven for kind, thoughtful people amid the larger wilds of reddit. With exceptions of course; it has 22,000 members. There's also reddit/r/polyamory, also a generally nice place but a little less intimate with 212,000 members.

Also to keep on tap to share out: To Unicorn Hunters, from an Ex-Unicorn by Jesse Dagger. Who also recommends, for greater length and depth, So Someone Called You a Unicorn Hunter by David Noble.

That's all for now! Coming next: How to get on that volunteer international committee for a new and better polyamory flag. 

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