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



January 3, 2023

Compersion, the polyam future, and some necessary dashes of cold water


A nonbinary couple kissing on a wooden walkway overlooking a lake
Getty
●  As 2022 neared its end, the BBC published Love and sex in 2022: The five biggest lessons of the year (Dec. 20). The lessons were:

–  "People are moving away from long-held binaries"
–  Some are trying to improve "the increasingly bleak world of dating"
–  Breaking up is harder in this economy
–  Bed death
–  and of course,


...Openness towards many kinds of non-traditional relationships has gained visibility, too. Ethical non-monogamy has been all over TikTok, often in the form of polyamorous relationships, in which more than two committed romantic and sexual partners cohabit. Then there are open relationships, which can look like anything from partners who hook up with other couples together, to those who have separate relationships with others outside their primary partnership. There are also poly people who prefer to live solo, embracing a ‘solo polyamorous’ lifestyle, through which they live alone but engage in multiple, committed relationships. Others to choose to cohabit with platonic partners, forming lasting relationships and even buying homes and planning futures with close friends rather than lovers. 


The whole long article is more interesting and thoughtful than I expected.
 

●  Women's Health is on a roll. What Is Compersion? Experts Share How It Can Help Polyamorous And Monogamous Relationships (Dec. 12). But some of it is out of tune. 


By Lexi Inks

...Generally, the community defines the concept as feeling happy that your partner is happy—even if with their other partners.


Actually, "compersion" means the happy glow specifically over your partner's romantic or sexual involvement with another partner — not them being happy about just anything. The word has been poly-specific ever since it was invented in a group meeting of the Kerista commune for that particular feeling they often felt happening in multi-relationships. Previously there was no word for it.


Obviously, no single solution can be a one-size-fix-all for every relationship, but compersion has become a widely accepted pathway to peace for people in relationships that fall under the non-monogamy umbrella.

...“Compersion is fairly new on the scene, so it might take some practice to find it in yourself, but let me assure you, it is in there somewhere,” says Dossie Easton, marriage and family therapist and co-author of The Ethical Slut. “A lot of us experience jealousy that we don't want, so compersion can offer a pathway to a better place.”

...Confronting the jealousy you or your partner might be feeling in your relationship can be a super emotionally-charged process, and might not end well if it’s not handled with care. With compersion, polyamorous people especially have found a way to simplify that process and help those who feel jealous take ownership of their own emotions.

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...Some non-monogamous folks consider compersion to be the antithesis of jealousy... “but I’m not a fan of that because you can definitely feel both at the same time,” explains certified sex educator Angel Kalafatis-Russell, MS, CSE. ...

...Easton recommends trying to foster good relationships with your metamours as a way to enhance feelings of compersion.

“That may be inviting someone out for a hike or a game of pool, or helping them move, or making chicken soup if they get sick. The point is to nurture a friendship that feels like family to all its members, while we acknowledge that we have a responsibility to support positive connections with our lovers' lovers,” she explains. Nurturing a positive connection with your metamours can help ease feelings of jealousy or insecurity in each of you.


All wonderful if it happens, or can be helped to happen. But finally the piece gets to this:


And even though you’re polyamorous, you don’t necessarily have to feel compersion all the time, [Michelle] Hy says. In fact, it’s totally possible to have a healthy and well-functioning poly dynamic without it. ...

What if I’m in a monogamous relationship?

...It’s okay—and healthy, in fact—for your partner to find fulfillment in [things] other than you.

“...You might want to think about the pleasure you feel witnessing someone you love enjoying a particularly wonderful flavor of ice cream, or a transcendent chocolate truffle. That might make it easier to notice your own feelings when you witness a lover's delight in something that isn't about you,” Easton shares. ... Putting the pressure on yourself or your S.O. to be each other’s everything is unfair, and can cause codependent or possessive behaviors....





Graphic of an unlocked padlock-heart
Getty













By Mark Travers

...Research by [NYU professor Dr. Zhana] Vrangalova... makes it clear that non-monogamy is not a fringe desire.... But is the desire to be sexually active outside of your primary relationship amoral? A better question, according to Vrangalova, is why these desires feel so natural.

Photo of Dr. Zhana Vrangalova, middle-age-looking woman
Zhana Vrangalova

Vrangalova explains that while the need for security and companionship is present in every human being, there is another desire in all of us ... for novelty, exploration, and experience-seeking. According to her, non-monogamy is a manifestation of this desire.

“There are evolutionary arguments to be made for both needs,” says Vrangalova. “Long-term relationships fill the need of security, trust, and stability, which is the most important basic need. However, that need is separate from experience-seeking. The reality is that humans have both of these needs.”

Our culture, Vrangalova warns, is currently too intolerant of what she calls ‘negotiated non-monogamy’ — which, for some couples, is a way to satisfy both needs.

“To start, we need to change the default assumption that we’re going to fall in love and never have outside sexual desires again,” says Vrangalova.

...Here are three pieces of advice she gives for couples who want to dabble in non-monogamy:

   – Talk about your sexual fantasies. The starting point for any couple should be to have an open and honest conversation about the things they desire sexually. Shame can chip away at the strongest of bonds. 

   – Go slow with non-monogamy. There are degrees of openness in any open relationship. ...

   – Put effort into your sex life. We need to invest energy into our sexual satisfaction. ... “It’s easier to maintain sexual desire than bring it back from the dead,” says Vranglova.

We are entering a time of greater honesty. It’s just a matter of time before the facade of monogamy falls. But don’t think of it as the end of long-term relationships.”



● Advice from the co-founder of Feeld: A Guide To Dating When Polyamorous (Bustle, Dec. 12).


Approaching it with curiosity can really transform the experience into a journey of self-discovery and growth.

Interview with Ana Kirova, by Lexi Inks

One form of ethical non-monogamy (ENM) is polyamory. ... “We have definitely witnessed increasing understanding and acceptance of ethical non-monogamy, and conversations surrounding the topic are increasingly common and continue to grow,” [Feeld CEO Ana] Kirova tells Bustle. ...

Bustle: If someone is new to non-monogamy/polyamory, how do you suggest they approach that topic with potential new partners?

Kirova: I would start by reading about different relationship structures to build some understanding and confidence on the topic. ... Using language that reflects your experience is always helpful: ‘I would like to’, ‘I feel,’ etc. are great ways to begin sharing your experience. Last but not least, be open-minded and curious about the conversations you are opening, and listen to your partner as well.

What are some examples of ways to open a conversation about polyamory when you're on a date with someone who might not be polyamorous?

...I can’t stress enough the importance of open and honest communication. Be clear when stating your desires and boundaries, and meet their questions with patience and honesty. ... Explain your position, why polyamory works for you, and how you came to this place.

...Above all, just as you expect to be met with patience and minimal judgment, honor your date by reacting to their feedback and concerns in the same way. ...

What advice would you give to someone who is new to polyamory and enters a pre-existing polycule via a new relationship?

It might seem like an obvious thing, but be curious, communicate a lot, and check in with yourself and your partners. ... Approaching a pre-existing polycule can be a wonderful journey of self-discovery. ...


●  Here's a hard-assed look at whether you should get into this thing at all: Polyamory Is Not for Most. Is It For You? (The Good Men Project, Dec. 16; reprinted from Medium.) Amid the hearts-and-flowers stories and advice, some hard-assedness is especially important for us to put out there now that poly enthusiasm is going mass-market.


A dozen young adults around a picnic table outdoors at night, with a guitar-like instrument
Valiant Made / Unsplash


















By Mona Lazar

...First, let’s decide what polyamory is not:

It’s not a space where everybody has sex with everybody else. ... It’s not a space where it’s ok to sleep with others without consent from your other partners. ... It’s not for commitment-phobes; you need to commit to a whole array of people.

Then, let’s see why most of the time it doesn’t work:

1. It’s used as a front for something else.

Let’s face it, the concept of polyamory is highly used and abused. A lot of people out there use it as nothing more than a label that says ‘I’m this cool modern guy who wants to sleep with everybody around and if you’re not ok with that, you’re not cool.”

...Here’s what is uncool: pretending you’re the cool girl or the cool wife who is ok with any sort of sexual activity just to please your partner.

2. It’s not for introverts. [As an introvert, I disagree –ed.]

The problem is in the name. Poly = several/ many/ much/ multi.

As an introvert, you hardly have enough mental space and energy for one more, let alone 7. Or 27.

Poly comes with a lot of meetings, a lot of schedules, a lot of things to do together with the whole extended family. Various people keep coming and going, there are strangers you keep meeting and friends who leave. Or they don’t leave, they stay as adjacent to the polycule, without being romantically or sexually involved with anyone anymore.

The bottom line, the group gets bigger and bigger. ...Which is no big deal for an extrovert. ... 

3. Unless it’s double-sided, it can be abusive.

It doesn’t happen in every case, but it does happen. A lot.

There are some [good] one-sided poly relationships out there. This means that one side of the couple is poly and the other is monogamous and they’re both ok with that.

More often than not, however, you have the monogamous side who fell hard for a poly [person] and is accepting him for who he is but doesn’t have their own needs met. ...

Also, things get more severe and downright abusive when the poly partner actively pushes polyamory as a way to coerce the other party into various religious or cult-like situations. Yes, it happens.

4. It’s a lot more work than anybody imagines.

If you don’t want extra work when you come back from work, poly is just not for you. Relationships are difficult even one-to-one. ...

5. Some poly concepts are not psychologically correct.

For example, the concept of egalitarian polyamory (not having a main partner, but all partners being equal) is humanly unattainable. The brain doesn’t work that way.... You prefer one of them. And it’s only natural.

It’s also not a big happy family. It’s a family, and all families come with a lot of work to make them functional and happy.


Actually, there are times when those two concepts are indeed psychologically correct:  1) While you're deep in NRE (new-relationship energy) with everyone and/or with polyam itself, and  2) When everything in the group is going swimmingly. Neither of those two states is stable or permanent. As with any long-term relationship or marriage, what matters is how well everyone does it after the new wears off and you're making the transition into a hopefully nice, warm ordinary.


Conclusion:

Can it work out for some? Absolutely.

One of my poly friends is part of a polycule that takes pride in mutual respect, common values, and a belief that love shouldn’t be limited by anything else but consent.

They make it work, but she agrees it takes a lot of work.

For her, it’s worth it because she just couldn’t imagine life any other way. She is poly down to her bones.

Can it work for everyone who takes a whack at it? Absolutely not. It works for very few. Because it’s logistically and psychologically difficult even when you are poly down to your bones.

But... just because it’s difficult doesn’t mean it’s unattainable. And if it fails, there’s always a place for you with most.


Even as an introvert I've never found poly that difficult. You avoid so many messes with careful (or lucky) partner selection. That, plus knowing the personal boundaries you need to set around yourself, and cultivating a mutual habit of easy, fearless communication.



Triad of three people with arms around each other, seen from the back
●  Another cautionary piece: Five Reasons Polyamory Might Not Be Right For You, and What to Consider Instead (Rebellious, "magazine for women," Jan. 1)


By Jera Brown

...In polyamorous circles, there can be an air of superiority over those who choose monogamy. A belief that polyamorous folks are somehow more enlightened for having escaped the trap of monogamy.

But this misses the point [of the poly-awareness movement], which is that how you do relationships should be a choice. To me, understanding that you have a choice is where any sort of “relationship enlightenment” starts.

So anyway, polyamory is great. But is it right for you? 

Four Reasons Polyamory Might Not Be Right For You:

1. You’re Just Trying To Save a Failing Relationship

In my experience, this is one of the most common reasons why couples open up their relationship. And it’s not a good idea.... [Exception:] In the past, I’ve encouraged folks in relationships with mismatched sex drives to consider non-monogamy. ... So what’s the difference?  Communication.

2. You’re Not Great at Articulating Boundaries/Needs And You’re Not Going to Start Now...
3. You’re Not Willing to Sit With Jealousy
4. You’re Primarily In it for the Sex
5. You’re Feeling Pressured Into It

If you’re convinced that polyamory might not be for you, here are some alternatives to consider.

1.  Swinging...
2. Monogamish...
3. Relationship Anarchy...
4. Deliberate Monogamy... [also called "conscious monogamy," as opposed to "default monogamy."]
5. Ambiamory...  It’s a relationship structure or identity which means people can find satisfaction in either monogamy or non-monogamy.  And it’s basically a nod to the reality that everything in life is fluid. ...


●  Speaking of not-for-most: An early goal in the polyamory movement was to make it a widespread social norm for couples, when a relationship starts becoming serious, to discuss whether they want to be open or closed — before getting in too deep to back out of a major incompatibility.

Right up there with the "Do you ever want kids?" question.

This would save so much misery and divorce from assuming "Everybody goes monogamous when they love someone!" and never talking about it. Or daring to.

Fourteen years ago, sitting in a discussion circle at a Loving More retreat in upstate New York listening to Diana Adams strategizing, I remember thinking that reversing such a deep, cultural talk-taboo in a country of 300 million people... well... good luck with that.

But now it's happening. Especially among the upcoming generation. Including couples explicitly committing to monogamy. The Gen Z term is "defining the relationship," as in (shyly offering with moo eyes) "Maybe it's time to define our relationship." 

One example of many: Monogamy Agreements Are a Thing — and Relationship Experts Think You Should Make One (InStyle, a big women's mag; Dec. 14). As the article says, monogamy-agreed couples may have very different unspoken ideas about what would go against their agreement.


Yes, even if you think you're on the same page about what constitutes cheating in your monogamous relationship.

Couple sitting together writing a monogamy agreement
Monogamy agreement in formation. (InStyle / Getty)


















By Dr. Jenn Mann

...Typically, couples who practice non-monogamy outline in detail what non-monogamous activities are considered OK in the coupledom. One of the strengths of these types of relationships is a tendency to talk through all of the possibilities of where things could go wrong and very clearly outline the boundaries. This is where monogamous couples have a lot to learn from their non-monogamous counterparts.

Now, more and more monogamous couples in long-term relationships or marriages are catching on, and choosing to create monogamy agreements. These agreements outline, in writing, how monogamy is defined in your particular relationship. By outlining different nuances and categories where things could go wrong, they are attempting to preemptively avoid cheating (however they define it) and keep the lines of communication open.

...  Putting your monogamous agreement in writing requires the two of you to have deep discussions, define what is monogamy to each of you, and get clarity on how the two of you will define it in your relationship. This type of high-level communication can help avoid problems in the future and strengthen the bond between the two of you.

...Not to mention, it could allow the two of you to enjoy certain behaviors that you might not have shared together without the clarity. For example, one couple I know is sexually exclusive but allow one another to flirt via text or messaging.
 
....In order to create a monogamy agreement, you need to sit down with your partner and have some serious conversations. ... What is most important about monogamy to each of you? Get specific about what exactly constitutes cheating and what might be grounds for a breakup? 

....Here are some categories to consider....
Sexual contact....
Social media...
Flirting...
Emotional intimacy...
Sexting...
Pornography...
Sex workers...
Masturbation....






...That night over wine and sushi in a booth at one of our favorite restaurants, I asked my boyfriend for an open relationship—and he agreed!

…Two weeks later, we were broken up. And I was…actually kind of relieved, TBH. I was forced to confront an uncomfortable truth, one I knew I’d been hiding from for a while: I didn’t actually want an open relationship. What I wanted was to be single.

...As consensual non-monogamy becomes increasingly visible, I think there’s a growing tendency to view open relationships as a panacea for any and all relationship problems, particularly when those problems involve a desire for sex outside of said relationships. ... 

...“Opening up to other sexual partners is a good alternative for couples who are relatively happy in their relationship overall, and the major reason for dissatisfaction comes from the monogamous nature of the relationship itself,” says [Dr. Zhana] Vrangalova.

That said, open relationships are very much not the free ticket to the Have Your Cake and Eat It Too buffet we sometimes fancy them. For one thing, the emotional energy and communication that goes into maintaining an open relationship is no joke. This means they need a rock-solid foundation to actually work. Introducing non-monogamy to a failing relationship in an attempt to salvage it is, frankly, unlikely to go well. Think of it as the modern version of having a baby to save your marriage. It may be a temporary distraction, but it’s probably going to do more harm than good in the long run.

...As I learned firsthand, however, it’s harder than it sounds to tell whether opening up is actually a healthy move that will strengthen your relationship, or a Band-Aid you’re slapping over issues you’d simply rather ignore. ...



Men's Health: What 'Polycule' Means in the World of Polyamory (Dec. 19). A  heart-warming educational piece, long.


By Suzannah Weiss

A polycule is a group of polyamorous people who join to create a family of sorts.


Well okay, if "family" can also mean "extended family," where some may have little to do with others but still feel they're in this thing together.

     
Four young adults happily chatting over a picnic in a city park
Igor Alecsander / Getty
...People in a polycule may all be dating one another, or some members of a polycule may only date one person within it. ... Some members of polycules will have a primary partner, which may be a live-in partner, a spouse, or someone they spend most of their time with. Other polycules may be less hierarchical, where all people are equally intertwined with one another and may even all live together.

...“Polycules may function like a family, where everyone gets together and enjoys each other's company, but not necessarily on a romantic level,” explains Rhiannon John, a sexologist at BedBible. “But other polycules may have less to do with each other, only meeting on certain occasions, like the birthday of a common partner.”

The one thing all polycules have in common, though, is that they sign on to the arrangement and respect one another’s boundaries. “A key aspect to practicing nonmonogamy is that all participants are aware of the relationships formed, and open discussion occurs to ensure everyone agrees to the terms of [their] relationships,” says Williams.

How do rules and boundaries work within polycules?...

How do I have a healthy polycule?

...“It's important to form some infrastructure for the members to check in with one another on a proactive basis,” DeRosa says. This may mean blocking out time each week for everyone to talk....

Many of the discussions that [Jon] Simons has to maintain healthy relationships with his partners, especially those he lives with, involve humdrum things like schedules, chores, and finances. “Not having these conversations can build up resentment,” he says. ...

Why do people form polycules?

...For some people, polycules provide a community that allows them to connect with the partners of someone they already know and love. “I like that everyone gets along, so then, I can spend time with multiple partners at once,” says [Leanne] Yau. “My partners can bond over their mutual appreciation of me.”

For Sallie, being in a polycule means more love and support, as well as sexual variety. “I can experience quite poor mental health, and having more people to support me helps enormously,” she says. “I don’t feel like I’m such a burden, and my partners can feel less isolated.”

Simons also enjoys having a support network of different people who meet different needs. ...“I’m a big proponent of chosen family, and polyamory is definitely one of the ways I achieve that.”



Six smiling young adults pressing together in a cityscapeale
●  Sociologist Elisabeth Sheff, in her blog The Polyamorists Next Door, considers some unromantic reasons why millennials and zoomers are taking so naturally to the concept: Polyamory as an Adaptive Strategy in an Unstable World (Dec. 28). "While CNM is in its third wave in the United States, having started with the anarchists of the 1880s and enjoyed a robust resurgence in the 1960s, its current wave is the most socially significant and widespread by far."

Some unsexy factors she proposes are that the rising generations expect a long life of unstable employment, frequent moves, and economic precariousness permanently.


Red bumpersticker reading "Monogamy? In this economy?"
SquidlyCo

They will have 12 jobs before they are 40 and then change careers yet again, live in five different cities by the time they turn 60 and still need to start a new job when they “retire.”... The majority of millennials and zoomers will almost certainly have lives of constant change. Why should their relationships be the only thing that takes one form and remains that way for the rest of their lives? Choosing a relationship style that flexes with their changing circumstances makes a lot of sense.... 


But here's another factor I've observed: People under 35 have spent more years living in group apartments and group houses than any other generation alive today. Because of the economy. Accordingly, as they've matured, I've seen them develop better roommate skills on average than we had. A fair amount of polycule group life simply boils down to good roommate skills.


Movie and TV list: Can somebody please make a really good one?? More than two dozen movies and TV shows with poly themes are posted by Reddit user u/halvoid, who briefly rates the 14 they've watched and asks readers to help fill out the list.

Does anyone know of a comprehensive list, limited to actual polyam relationships, with descriptions and reviews? Many people have started lists online, but I don't know of one that is even slightly complete and clearly defined (unburdened by clutter entries) and informative and maintained. If you know of one, or start one, I'll help publicize it!               

●  Last year Ken Haslam endowed a permanent annual $5,000 Relationship Diversity Research Fellowship through the Kinsey Institute for grad students and other researchers studying ethical non-monogamy. Last year's award went to Dr. Amy Moors of Chapman University. This year's recipient was just announced: Dr. Rhonda Balzarini of Texas State University. Press release.


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Meanwhile,

“This struggle will define in what world our children and grandchildren will live, and then their children and grandchildren. It will define whether it will be a democracy for Ukrainians and for Americans.

Volodymyr Zelensky to the U.S. Congress

Why have I been ending posts to this polyamory news site with Ukraine?

Because I've seen many good progressive movements die out because they failed to scan the wider world correctly and understand their position in it strategically.

We polyamorous people are a small, weird minority of social-rule breakers. Increasingly powerful people call us a threat to society — because by living successfully outside their worldview, we expose its incompleteness.

Our freedom to choose our relationship structures, and to speak up for ourselves about the truth of ourselves, is just one way we depend totally on a free and pluralistic society that respects people's dignity to create their own lives, to access facts, and to speak of what they know.

Russian cartoon character Masyanya proudly holding a Ukraine flag
The Russian family-cartoon series Masyanya
turned dissident. Watch. The cartoonist has fled.
Update: a brilliant sequel of turnabout, with a
coda of empathy in wartime. 
 
Such a society is only possible where people have power to govern themselves, combined with legal structures that are at least supposed to guarantee the rights of all.

People, communities, and societies who create their own lives, and who insist on the democratic structures and legal rights that enable them to do so safely, infuriate and terrify the authoritarians who are growing in power around the world and in our own United States.

Such rulers and would-be rulers seek to stamp out other people's freedom to choose their lives — by intimidation, repressive laws, inflammatory disinformation and public incitement, abusive police powers, or eventually, artillery and terror.

For what it's worth, this site has received more pagereads from Ukraine over the years (56,400) than from any other country in eastern Europe.

For now, you can donate to Ukraine relief through this list of vetted organizations or many others. We're giving to a big one, Razom, and to a little one, Pizza for Ukraine in Kharkiv, a project of an old friend of my wife (story).

But that is only the start. For those of us born since World War II, we unexpectedly find ourselves witnessing the most consequential war of our lifetimes. Because we have entered another time when calculating fascism, at home and abroad, is rising and sees freedom and liberalism and social tolerance as weak, degenerate, delusional  inviting easy pushovers. As Russia thought it saw in Ukraine.

The coming times are going to require hard things of us. We don't get to choose the time and place in history we find ourselves born into. We do get to choose how we respond to it. Buck up and be ready.

Need a little help bucking up? Play thisAnother version, on the streets of Kherson the night after its liberation November 11. More? Just some guys in Kharkiv (our Pizza for Ukraine town) helping to hold onto a free and open society, a shrinking thing in the world. The tossed grenade seems to have saved them. Maybe your granddad did this across a trench from Hitler's troops — for you, and for us, because a world fascist movement was successfully defeated that time, opening the way for the rest of the 2oth century. Although the outcome didn't look good for a couple of years there.

Remember, these people say they're doing it for us too. They are correct.  The global struggle between a free, open future and a fearful revival of the dark past that's shaping up, including in our own country, is still in its early stages. It's likely to get worse before it gets better. The outcome is again uncertain, and it will determine the 21st century and the handling of all its other problems.

----------------------------------

PS: Ukraine should not be idealized as the paragon of an open democratic society. For instance, see If Ukraine Wants To Stand for Liberty and Democracy, It Should Rethink Some of Its Wartime Policies. And it has quite the history of being run by corrupt oligarchs — until the Maidan Uprising of 2013, the Revolution of Dignity in 2014, and Zelensky's overwhelming election in 2019 as the anti-corruption candidate. So they're working on that. (More.)

Now, writes US war correspondent George Packer in The Atlantic (Sept. 7), 


Here was a country with a tragic history that had at last begun to build, with great effort, a better society. What made Ukraine different from any other country I had ever seen—certainly from my own—was its spirit of constant self-improvement, which included frank self-criticism. For example, there’s no cult of Volodymyr Zelensky in Ukraine—a number of Ukrainians told me that he had made mistakes, that they’d vote against him after the war was won. Maxim Prykupenko, a hospital director in Lviv, called Ukraine “a free country aspiring to be better all the time.” The Russians, he added, “are destroying a beautiful country for no logical reason to do it. Maybe they are destroying us just because we have a better life.”


They have a word there, with a deep history, for the horizontal, self-organized mutual get-it-done that grows from community social trusthromada. Learn that word. It's getting them through as well as they've been able. We polyfolks often dream of creating something like that community spirit in miniature, in our polycules and networks. Occasionally we succeed.

Social attitudes in Ukraine are generally traditional, but not bitterly so like often in the US; the ideal of modern European civil society is widely treasured, and social progressivism has room to thrive. Some 57,000 women volunteer in all roles in the armed forces, flooding traditionally male bastions, including as combat officers, platoon leadersartillery gunners, tankers, and snipers. LGBT folx in the armed forces openly wear symbols of LGBT pride on their uniforms, whereas in Russia it's a crime for even a civilian to show a rainbow pin or "say gay."

And in November, Russia made it a crime not just to speak for LGBT recognition, but to speak for "non-traditional sexual relations." Until recently Russia had a polyamory education and awareness movement.

Polyfolks are like one ten-thousandth of what's at stake globally. Ukraine must receive our support for as long as it takes. Speak up and demand it.

"Defenders of Bakhmut": painting of a woman soldier under fire in a trench holding up a Ukraine flag
"Defenders of Bakhmut," where Zelensky spoke to soldiers at the front line a day before he spoke to Congress. They gave him a battle flag that they signed, which he presented to Nancy Pelosi. Art by Natasha Le in Mikolaiv, who reinterprets traditional guardian angels as riot grrls for an upcoming generation.
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PS: A real-life version in Bakhmut; the artwork is more than fantasy.  (Jan. 3, 2023)


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