Polyamory in the News
. . . by Alan M.

September 1, 2021

Bearding cultural conservatives in their lair: Polyam activist Leanne Yau runs rings on "the UK's Fox News." And other developments.

Leanne Yau, a.k.a. Poly Philia, is a high-profile blogger and content creator energetically doing consensual-nonmonogamy education and, in real life, peer support. She draws from her "life experience as a bisexual, autistic, Chinese, Gen Z, non-binary woman based in the UK." And, she's an Oxford Law graduate. Since launching her platforms nine months ago they've gained almost 160,000 followers.

Last Thursday she posted,

Poly Philia logo
I'm appearing on national television tomorrow.

On the British equivalent of Fox News.

GB News is running a segment from 4-6 pm UK time called "The Afternoon Agenda by Alex Philips" and tomorrow's question is "are humans monogamous?". ... Alex Philips is pretty sex-negative and conservative (for context, in a previous episode, she compared consensual porn to violent sexual assault). ... I hope I will be able to hold my own and portray the community in as positive a light as I possibly can.

Is it a bad idea? Probably.

But do I like a challenge? Absolutely.

She floored 'em. She had lots of discussion points and explanations waiting at the ready and let them rip high-speed. Hostess Alex Philips (of Brexit Party fame) didn't even really try to tangle but just let her go. For 11½ minutes!

From the transcript

...I personally wouldn’t say that ALL humans aren’t monogamous. But I do think that more humans have the capacity or desire to be non-monogamous than they would like to admit. But obviously, because monogamy is the standard for society -- like your previous guest said, it’s put on a pedestal -- and alternatives lifestyles like swinging and polyamory and open relationships are so demonised, a lot of people don’t feel that they can express their true desires. So, a lot of them resort to being either in miserable monogamous relationships, or they resort to cheating. And obviously, that’s not great in either situation.

And basically, I started my platform to offer an ethical alternative. To say that we can preserve things like commitment, trust, communication, honesty, all these important values in relationships, but also be honest with each other that monogamy might not be the only way to achieve those things. So I’m encouraging people to have open and honest conversations with their partners about their desires.

...Polyamory is one path you could go down, but there are many types of non-monogamy. Polyamory is specifically the practice of multiple romantic relationships, but there are many non-monogamous relationships that involve one primary, romantic relationship and then multiple secondary, casual or purely sexual relationships. 

...Commitment, the idea of commitment and love, to me, isn’t the promise not to have sex with or not to fall in love with anyone else. Although, I accept that for other people, it can involve that. But I think a lot of people rely on the structure of a relationship to prove commitment instead of actually doing the meaningful work with them, emotionally, to be attuned to their partner. Commitment to me is trusting and communicating with someone consistently, making promises and following through on them, it’s caring about someone’s wellbeing, it’s being invested in their joy and happiness, showing up for them in times of need, celebrating their achievements…a lot of these things. And none of that actually requires monogamy.

....I think that while monogamy is obviously a very valid relationship style, it is not the default. It should not be the default, and I think that other people should start recognising that.

...Non-monogamy has taught me so many new things. I’ve been able to explore things with other people and be able to bring them back to my partner and enrich our relationship in turn. I think that also, seeing my partner with other people makes me happy! I think that I’m really invested in my partner’s happiness and wellbeing, and because I know that I may not be able to fulfill all of their emotional needs, I’m happy that they are getting what they want and desire from someone else! ...

Wow. See how it's done, folks.

Although I would suggest more smiling and variety in facial expressiveness. Remember, to look good on TV you can't just "be yourself." You need to be an actor playing yourself.


In other news, 

●  Cosmopolitan just published an excellent, very basic Poly and ENM 101 worth passing to people who need it: What Is Ethical Non-Monogamy? (Aug. 31). Notably, it includes a section headed "What is the difference between ENM, polyamory, swinging, and an open relationship?". This may help to reduce the catastrophic miscommunications that happen on dates these days when people misuse the word "polyamory" to mean different things and but assume they're on the same wavelength. Oops.

The article is subheaded "For one thing, it's a relationship style becoming more popular than ever." That's the theme running through the rest of these items:

●  In Australia's Sydney Morning Herald and other papers of its chain: It takes three, baby: the rise of the throuple (Aug. 20)

By Madeleine Gray

These days, it’s difficult to capture the public imagination with something as simple as a kiss. ... A kiss between two people? Whatever. Between three? Colour me intrigued. Between chart-topping songstress Rita Ora, her boyfriend the Oscar-winning director Taika Waititi, and everyone’s favourite pansexual actress Tessa Thompson? I’ll bite. The internet gasps in delight.

...For Sydney-based sexuality and relationship coach Stephanie Rigg, a recent increase in visibility of the throuple (when all three people are intimately involved with each other, as in The Politician, say, or The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills) is “symptomatic of a growing willingness to question the status quo when it comes to love, sex and relationships. We’re seeing more and more people pause before falling into traditional ‘default’ arrangements and asking themselves, ‘What do I actually want out of this?’ People are realising they can create their own rules in the relationship realm.” ...

●  So many polyam plotlines are popping up in TV series that I've stopped keeping track. But very often, they seem to be handled by writers and actors who don't know what they're doing.

For instance, the Showtime series The L Word: Generation Q follows the fictional lives of a group of lesbian and bi women in Los Angeles. An AV Club reviewer writes, 'The L Word: Generation Q' bungles its polyamory storyline (Aug. 22)

By Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya

Generation Q has a poly problem. ... At some point between the last episode and this one [“Luck Be A Lady,” S2 E3], Alice agreed to open the relationship back up and let Nat explore polyamory. Instead of showing us that conversation—which could have touched on a lot of different aspects of polyamory/monogamy, jealousy, boundaries, and relationship structures—Generation Q just leaves it all unsaid and unseen.... Especially given how badly last episode bungled the conversation, with Nat throwing out casually biphobic remarks and Alice conflating polyamory with cheating... does Alice just not understand polyamory or do the writers not?

It’s like Generation Q wants to do a poly storyline without actually talking about polyamory. ... Generation Q doesn’t even come close to exploring what polyamory is or isn’t. And in fact, Nat and Alice are still barely talking to each other about it. ...

Meanwhile Neighbours, a long-running TV soap in Australia also airing a few weeks later in the UK, has been stirring buzz with a developing polyamory side-theme. In DigitalSpy, 'Neighbours' is attempting to normalise polyamory – but is the show's portrayal accurate? (Aug 26. Spoiler alert...)

By Emma Flint

...Despite there being a wait before the UK [audience] sees this threesome become official, the interest around the storyline is palpable.

Never one to shy away from embracing the rich tapestry of lifestyles, the decision to include polyamory isn't just a logical progression of the show, but a welcomed way of embracing inclusivity.

Nevertheless... questions about the accuracy of its polyamory portrayal are already being asked. ... The intricacies of this reveal have (mostly) been well received, and yet trepidation within the poly community still lurks.

The caution that some viewers are feeling comes from the element of persuasion seemingly involved with this development – both Levi and Amy aren't sure about taking this step, whereas Ned is all for it. Although it shows a discussion of options that are rarely seen, there's the issue that the two parties aren't as keen on the idea, yet still go ahead with it.

Levi, Ned, Amy

Partnered with this, you also have the uncertainty of why Ned is suggesting such a dynamic – does Ned genuinely think this relationship is right for them or is this about avoiding potential rejection?

Poly relationships aren't the black-and-white caricature that those outside of the community believe it is, they're valid experiences that have the same depth and complexities of monogamous relationships.

Unfortunately, many TV shows fail to translate this onto our screens, with most poly romances portrayed as confusing episodes of promiscuous fun. ...

To try to combat any stereotyping that may take place, Neighbours made sure to include its characters discussing the difference between thrupples (relationships with three people in them) and polyamory (desiring intimate relationships with more than one partner, but having the consent of all of them). By taking the time to explain this important distinction, the show is allowing its viewers to become familiar and more educated about what polyamory really is.

However, a brief discussion on the sofa about whether Amy, Ned, and Levi should give it a try isn't enough to truly set the groundwork for revolutionary inclusion. If Neighbours is to deliver accurate representation, then it needs to avoid opting for the all too easy conclusion of depicting polyamory as experimentation waiting to go wrong.

"TV shows often use poly as a salutary lesson, a weekly plot point, or a way to help characters strengthen their monogamous relationships," shares London-based polyamorous blogger Exhibit A.

"Someone will experiment with poly, it'll ultimately go wrong, and they'll realise that actually, they were happy with monogamy all along. That's annoying."...

If Neighbours is to really cement itself as being for diversity, then it needs to treat this developing storyline with the respect it deserves. Therefore, if Amy, Ned, and Levi ultimately fail as a relationship, there needs to be a nuance to the situation rather than relying on polyamory being the catalyst. ...

●  More bungling? Another poly-themed indie movie is in the news: ‘Mark, Mary & Some Other People’ Review: A Sexy Polyamory Rom-Com That Only Fulfills Half Its Promise (IndieWire, June 10).

By Kate Erbland

...Just a few months into her union with a man she’s crazy about, a freaked-out Mary has an idea: They will open up their marriage! Mark is not exactly thrilled about the idea, but Mary pulls the strings, so off they go. In the film’s press notes, [the filmmaker Hannah] Marks notes that she’s not a practitioner of “ethical non-monogamy,” nor does she ever expect to be, but she knows many people who are, leaving her eager to make a film about this world that can fit alongside other classic rom-coms. ... Marks’ lack of lived experience shows at every turn.

As Mark and Mary try on polyamory, their predicament also makes for a canny stand-in for all sorts of relationship pitfalls and problems. Their earliest experiences are bad, sexy, silly, funny, snappy, and weird, and Marks mines them for some very relatable emotions. That doesn’t do much for the polyamory aspect, which comes to feel like just another random problem thrown into the mix of an otherwise standard-issue relationship. Soon, the couple is engaging in a series of one-upmanships that mostly feel engineered to ruin their lives....

Variety's review: A Spry Rom-Com About Monogamy (Aug. 29)

By Nick Schager

...Having just committed to arm-tattoos of each other’s names in hearts, Mark isn’t eager to share his wife with others. Yet after setting basic ground rules designed to protect their bedrock union, they embark on a nightly barrage of carnal encounters. It’s no surprise that this scenario is headed for disaster, and that said calamity will come equipped with a twist, but Rosenfield and Law are such a likable duo — he clownish and earnest in equally uninhibited fashion, she brazen and fierce with an underlying sweetness — that the film remains amusing and spry even as it coasts along a path that will feel familiar to most rom-com fans, and especially to anyone who’s seen 1994’s “Threesome” or HBO’s documentary from earlier this year, “There Is No ‘I’ in Threesome.” ...

●  Good Trouble, now in its third season, is a hit TV series on the Freeform network about two young black women making a new life in LA. Just out from ABC radio news: Good Trouble's Zuri Adele talks polyamory and how her character has evolved (Sept. 1)

Zuri Adele
By now it’s no surprise to Good Trouble fans that Malika, played by the talented Zuri Adele, is on a journey of exploring her sexuality, namely polyamory. The topic is one that Adele told ABC Audio she was excited to learn about and credits the writers for helping tackle it respectively. 

“We have some great experts who are in the writer’s room and able to chime in and give a lot of insight on polyamorous practices and, you know, proper vocabulary,” she shared. “And, also just normalizing and humanizing and making sure that we’re not fetishizing or stigmatizing polyamory in any way.” ...

●  A Yahoo News story uses the Good Trouble plotline to look a little further, in Freeform’s ‘Good Trouble’ explores polyamory in Black relationships (by Kelsey Minor, Sept. 1)

...Outside of the realm of television there are thriving Black polyamorous communities. Houston Texas residents Devon and Danielle Stokes-White are the founders of Black Poly Nation, an organization of roughly 34,000 members. “Black Poly Nation is the largest organization of its kind that has ever existed,” according to Devon White. The Whites started the organization two years ago out of a need to belong to a community.

“When we were introduced to polyamory it was hard to find any sense of community especially in our area so that was one of the motivating factors for us going full steam in creating a community for other likeminded people,” Stokes-White added.

As a couple they are leaders in creating a space for other polyamorous people where they can explore and learn from one another. “We spend a lot of our time creating content for the Black polyamorous community,” said Devon White. They welcome the idea that shows in the mainstream are creating a space where representation and conversation around topics that are often considered taboo can be explored. “The community that we have built is really great because you have built-in friends who understand how you are feeling,” said Stokes-White.

●  And a warning story from GO Mag ("the cultural roadmap for [queer] city girls everywhere"): Am I Doing Polyamory Wrong Or Is It Just Not Right For Me?  (Feb. 2)

Jealousy in polyamory is a common concern. How your own unique heart navigates it may determine whether polyamory is a good choice for you. 

By Chelsey Burden

If you’re in a queer dating scene, you may have noticed that polyamory is becoming more popular. (I’m using polyamory as a catchall for any kind of consensual non-monogamy.)  While obviously monogamy is still dominant in mainstream society, some people report that in their subcultures, like say, certain queer dating scenes, the pendulum has swung and polyamory feels like not just an option but the new expectation. 

With that comes a lot of us navigating new territory, maybe asking questions we’ve never asked of ourselves before. What relationship style do I prefer? Is polyamory something everyone is capable of adapting to? Does struggling with polyamory mean I’m doing it wrong or that it just isn’t right for me? 

For some people, polyamory has helped them get in touch with and communicate what they need. For others, trying polyamory helped them learn that what they need is, well, monogamy. 

 Don't miss Polyamory in the News!
 SUBSCRIBE by a feed, or
 SUBSCRIBE by email


Labels: , , , , , , , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home