Polyamory in the News
. . . by Alan M.

January 29, 2024

January's wave of poly in the news keeps rolling on

Colorful graphic of three toothbrushes in a cup on a bathroom sink
A throuple's cuddly toothbrushes as portrayed in the Wall Street Journal

The sudden wave of fascination with polyamory and ENM in major media continues, as if some sort of tipping point happened early in January. But what?

Dan Savage offers an answer in his Savage Love column this week:

Polyamory is having a moment. The New York Times, The New Yorker, New York Magazine, and The New York Post have all run big stories about polyamorous relationships in the last two weeks. Hell, even the ladies on The View are arguing about it.

The talk about polyamory has suddenly gotten so loud that some conservatives — not usually the kind of people prone to conspiratorial thinking (cough cough) — are convinced it’s a plot. “The memo has gone out,” The Daily Wire’s Matt Walsh posted on Twitter last week. “This is the next frontier in the war on the nuclear family!”

No memo went out, Matt, it was something far more banal. A book that came out: More: A Memoir of Open Marriage by Brooklyn-based writer Molly Roden Winter. There were press releases, not memos, and thanks to a big marketing push — a big and very successful marketing push (congrats to the PR team at Penguin Random House!) — polyamory is suddenly everywhere.

Okay, that's part of the story. But much of this media wave mentions More only briefly or not at all. The reason the book is a thing (open-marriage memoirs are not new or unusual) is because of its timing. Random House spotted an accelerating trend and snapped up the book after a number of less savvy publishers gave it a pass (Roden Winter was an unknown; this book is her first). Random House invested in a publicity blitz to ride the wave, not create it.

So let's give credit where due. The current wave was indeed deliberately pushed into being — very slowly for a couple of decades when it would barely budge, then faster in the last 10 or 15 years, and now in a runaway process — by the persistent, passionate efforts of many of you readers.

You labored for a vision: to spread knowledge of our powerful, if counter-intuitive, idea and discovery: that harmonous, mutually supportive multi-intimacy is even possible, is actually happening, and can be dazzlingly grand — for some minority of people who are born to it and/or learn from the painfully evolved community wisdom about what works and doesn't. The ghosts of the late Robert H. Rimmer, Deborah Anapol, Father Robert T. Francoeur, Morning Glory Zell, the evangelizing Keristans in the streets and computer shops of San Francisco, and thousands of other bygone love visionaries known and unknown, are offering you a big hug from beyond.

Another factor: What really gets a trend rolling is the meta-trend of people saying it's a trend. This sets up runaway positive feedback, every marketing agent's dream.

However, any positive-feedback system — whether in physics, electronics, biology, ecology, or human affairs — always becomes self-limiting and turns around. In the real world, no exponential can continue to infinity. That's why any self-reinforcing news trend will eventually stop and reverse itself as "Meh, old news."

So ride this spate of fascination with us while it lasts, and do your bit to push it in the direction of good values. If you and your partners have a polyamory story to tell, media of all kinds right now are eager to grab it up.

And others of us will benefit. A Facebook commenter said of that New York Magazine cover story with the polyamorous cats, "I just came out about being poly to a friend of mine. Turns out she had just read this, and it made the process so much easier." 

But don't dawdle. Once normalized, we'll be old hat.


In the last few days:

●  The Wall Street Journal has followed up on its piece from last week that complained poly and ENM seekers are overwhelming monogamous people on dating apps. Four days later, the WSJ ran a longer article, Polyamory: Lots of Sex, Even More Scheduling (online and in print). "Open relationships are having a moment. Who has time for this?" (Jan. 22)

By Elizabeth Bernstein

...Pursuing multiple romantic, emotional or sexual relationships, with the permission of all involved—known as consensual non-monogamy—is increasingly out in the open, as adherents tout what they see as the benefits, such as more opportunities for emotional support and connection as well as sex. 

There are challenges, too, from the mundane—calendars—to the existential. First, there’s dating, just when you thought you’d put that hell behind you. ... The scheduling could make a military planner sweat. More relationships mean more drama, from in-laws to breakups. Not to mention the lack of sleep.

I know what you’re thinking: Who has time for this?

 Triad teethbreesh. (Andrea Mongia)

...Most of the time when people talk about consensual non-monogamy they take one of two extreme perspectives, says Justin Lehmiller, a social psychologist and research fellow at the Kinsey Institute who studies sexual behavior. They say it will never work and that it is morally wrong. Or they claim that it is a morally superior, more evolved way of being. The truth is somewhere in between, he says. 

One soon-to-be-published analysis of 26 studies found no differences in relationship satisfaction, sexual satisfaction, commitment or relationship length between those who practice consensual non-monogamy and those who are monogamous, says Amy Moors, an assistant professor of psychology at Chapman University and research fellow at the Kinsey Institute, who is lead author on the study.

People tend to be more committed to their primary partners in terms of building a life together, and they have more sex and more sexual satisfaction with their secondary ones, says Rhonda Balzarini, an assistant professor of psychology at Texas State University and research fellow at the Kinsey Institute, who has conducted research on this.

Asked by researchers about the downsides of pursuing multiple relationships, people described challenges such as the stigma, lack of legal recognition, communication and time-management issues.

...[Kitty] Chambliss, of the shared Valentine’s dinner, has been married for 18 years and with her boyfriend, whom she considers a full life partner, for eight. The three of them live together in Alexandria, Va. 
A relationship coach who specializes in consensual non-monogamy, Chambliss, 54, says she enjoys traveling and discussing business with her husband; with her boyfriend, she talks philosophy and takes trips to the beach.

She says that she’s had arguments with her partners about miscommunications over scheduling. (A color-coded shared online calendar saved the day.) And there have been tough talks about deal breakers and insecurity. But Chambliss says the connection and sense of family far outweigh the challenges.

As for sleeping arrangements, Chambliss sometimes sleeps with her husband and sometimes spends the night with her boyfriend in his room.

“If I am sick of them both, I sleep in the guest room,” she says.

●  Here's more from the Guardian, a world-class liberal newspaper based in the UK with editions in the US, EU, Australia, and elsewhere. The story is by an overworked mom who envies her friends in a triad: Non-monogamous relationships seem to be on the rise. Is that surprising? (Jan. 22).

We want our partners to help clean, cook, parent, and remind us to go to the gym. It’s a lot to ask of one person – what if there were more than one?

By Mandy Len Catron

Our identical twins had been home from the hospital for just over a month when I saw a Facebook post from my friend Niko. He was also having a baby – but instead of doing it with two parents, he was doing it with three: himself (papa), his partner (mama), and her other partner (dada). In addition to having a mom and two dads, a fourth adult would also be living with the family – as the baby’s “bonus adult”.

I wasn’t surprised by this unusual arrangement; Niko has been openly non-monogamous since I met him years earlier. I was excited for him and his growing family, but I also felt a sharp mix of envy and despair.

I stared down at the tiny person on my lap as he slowly (so slowly) drained a bottle. Then over at the one on my partner Mark’s lap. And then at the bowl of cereal going soggy by the breast pump. My mom had just flown home and we were officially on our own for the first time as a family of four. I’d never been so hungry or so exhausted.

“Can you imagine?” I said to Mark. “If we had four adults here right now? If someone could make lunch and someone else could help with the laundry?”

Mark laughed. “Yeah, we’d probably shower more than once every three or four days.”

...When I saw that a recent study in the UK found that a third of heterosexual men were open to having more than one spouse or long-term partner, along with 11% of women, my first thought was: well, duh.

...I long for a network of care that is more durable and flexible than the nuclear family alone can provide.

My friend Niko’s baby is now over a year old. When I called to hear how things were going in their family, Niko was happy to chat about it. “Having [a third] parent and an additional close caring adult in your household is exactly as good as it sounds,” he said. ... More people means more negotiation, but it also means more sleep, more flexibility, more support.

...In the media, non-monogamy is often framed as either part of an exciting sexual revolution or a moral failure, but for Niko it’s really a way of thinking about the world. Stepping outside the norms of marriage and the nuclear family has made it possible for him to find broader possibilities for care and community.

“I spend a lot of time with my co-parents where we’re all covered in poop and very tired,” he said. “And what prepares you for that isn’t an abundance of romance.” Instead it’s a hard-won sense of solidarity – solidarity that comes from letting go of the assumption that one person can and should meet all of your needs.

●  And the Guardian wants more material. It asks readers, Tell us: Share your experience of ethical non-monogamy (Jan. 16) "From when and how you first experimented with it, to how it is or isn’t working out, we want to hear your experiences with ENM: the good, the bad and the funny." 

●  Ten days later the Guardian ran a selection from the massive early response: ‘Humans are messy’: readers share their experiences with ethical non-monogamy (online Jan. 26) 

‘It has totally transformed our sex life’: Readers share their experiences of ethical
non-monogamy, from open relationships to polyamory and polycules. (Alamy)

Ethical non-monogamy (ENM) isn’t for everyone. From the 271 readers who wrote in to share their experiences, that was the most popular piece of advice. ...

...As with any good relationship, readers who have experience with ENM say self-awareness and communication are key to keeping things harmonious. Couples in particular should proceed with caution, as opening things up can create more problems than it solves. “Your relationship has to be rock solid,” one reader put it, while many others warned that introducing new partners is no panacea for a failing marriage.

From open relationships to polyamory, polycules and relationship anarchy, readers below share recipes for success and some cautionary tales about opening one’s heart (and bed) to more than one person at a time.

Eight people's stories follow. Their experiences were good, bad, and mixed:

‘There is a lot to let go of when you start exploring’

‘Initially I had lots of short-term partners but it got tiring’

‘It isn’t something that piques curiosity as much any more’

‘Apart from some poorly behaved men, it has been a great experience’

‘Your relationship has to be rock solid’

‘STDs aren’t something to take lightly’

‘We’ve done a lot of learning and built a shared map’

‘I existed more for them than who I was as a person’

●   The UK's Independent has middle-of-the-road politics and a reputation for accuracy and quality journalism. It just came through with this: Are you ready for polyamory? The quirks and characteristics needed to make it work (Jan. 26). It's an unusually on-target Poly 101, worth bookmarking to pass on.

As non-monogamy becomes a viral topic this month, Olivia Petter delves into what it takes to make a success of dating multiple partners

Just a few years ago, the question of opening up a relationship was mostly asked in hushed tones. ... Fast-forward to 2024, however, and these kinds of conversations have morphed into kitchen table chitchat.

Polyamory seems to be everywhere. From splashy headlines and viral TikTok clips to teen dramas and dating app profiles, ethical non-monogamy... is very much the subject du jour.
...“I felt like there were no stories from the mainstream about it, and I felt very closeted,” [Molly Roden] Winter told The New York Times in a now-viral profile. “It often feels like mothers are not supposed to be sexual beings.”

...But as knowledge around the practice increases, so does confusion for those not in the know. What does it actually mean to open up a relationship? What kind of person do you need to be in order for it to work? What kind of relationship do you need to have with yourself and your primary partner? And how on earth do people make the time?

The trouble is that the lack of understanding around polyamory can be off-putting for those who might be curious about trying it. Hence we wind up relying on tired cultural stereotypes to fill in the blanks – think Nip/Tuck and Vicky Cristina Barcelona – but not all poly people are excessively horny, hairy Europeans that look like Javier Bardem. In fact, the majority are regular, conventional citizens who happen to live slightly less conventional love lives. And we could all learn a lot from them, say the practice’s advocates – regardless of whether or not we’re interested in dipping our toes into polyamory’s infinitely deep waters.

“Polyamory and other forms of non-monogamy require excellent interpersonal skills, and a willingness to sit with uncomfortable emotions,” explains Annie Undone, non-monogamous peer supporter and writer. “There will be times when someone is jealous, or upset (just like in monogamous relationships) and it’s essential to learn, as I say, that ‘big feelings are OK, bad behaviour is not’. You’ll need self-soothing and coping skills.”

The skills a person needs in order to excel at polyamory overlap those that one needs to excel at monogamy: clear communication, boundaries, the ability to be flexible, and emotional intelligence. “One thing I ask people when they are seeking multiple relationships is, ‘Do you know what one healthy relationship looks like?’” adds Undone. “If not, you may want to consider whether you are ready to approach more than one.”

Among the uninitiated, there is also a degree of skepticism surrounding polyamory. How do you know if you want to open up a relationship, or if you simply want to end the one you’re currently in because you’re attracted to someone else? Do you want a poly relationship, or do you just want to cheat on your partner because you’re unhappy? If these are the sorts of questions you’re asking, then polyamory might not be for you. ...

It may sound obvious, but basic organisational skills are also key given the logistical task of dividing your time between multiple partners. “Love is infinite but time and energy are very much finite and if you are unwilling to manage your own time and energy, your relationships will not thrive and nor will you as an individual,” says polyamory educator Laura Boyle. “A willingness to question norms of how relationships ‘must’ go or ‘how things are’ in romance is also essential. This is why people often find folks who seem a little ‘counter-culture’ in polyamory; they’re used to questioning other norms so questioning them in this sense is natural.”

Even though we’re making leaps and bounds in terms of how unconventional relationship styles are viewed, it’s important to remember, too, that there is still a significant amount of societal taboo attached to polyamory. Subsequently, you need to go into it with a strong sense of self.

“You really need to be quite assertive and know what it is you want and don’t want in order to not lose yourself in multiple relationships,” adds Leanna Yau, who runs the educational blog Poly Philia. “A lot of people think you need to be extroverted but I think you just need to know how to express yourself and have a healthy degree of curiosity and a sense of adventure.”...

There are some people, however, that should steer clear of polyamory, particularly given how much its success relies on solid communication and a strong sense of self-worth. “Polyamory does press on a lot of people’s attachment wounds from childhood,” says Ro Moëd, who runs an educational account – entitled @unapolyetically – on Instagram.

“In monogamy, people can feel that they are someone’s whole world, their entire universe, and they can come to rely on this dynamic to feel safe. If a person has severe attachment wounds and doesn’t feel capable of facing them yet, polyamory will probably be intensely triggering for them.”

In order to have a successful poly relationship, you need to be entirely emotionally literate when it comes to how you navigate your relationships – and only certain people are going to be able to do that in practice. ... “Whether it’s insecurities or confidence issues, it will shine a light on that. This usually results in one of two things: the person/people working through that and finding a positive outcome, or the breakdown of a relationship.”

...In short, venturing into polyamory might not be easy and will require a significant amount of unlearning the social conditioning....

The whole article. The quality of Poly 101s in mainstream media has been improving.   

●  A writer for Metro UK reassures a reader that, well... does this actually need saying now? The poly movement has been mostly women-led for 40 years and is majorly feminist, but... My girlfriend wants to be polyamorous — is it anti-feminist if I don’t want to share? (Jan. 23)

By Alice Giddings

...Even if you’ve never explored a form of non-monogamy, you probably know someone who has.

...But, in a society that is more sex positive than ever, are those who prefer to practice monogamy at risk of being labelled antiquated or, worse, misogynistic?

Mark* who has been in a monogamous relationship with his girlfriend for eight months, posed this very question on Reddit.

...Mark also has no desire to sleep with anyone but his girlfriend, however he was branded ‘toxic for limiting [his] partner’s sexual liberation’ when it came to experimenting with other men and women.

He said that he’s also been branded a sex-negative person by some in his friendship circle.

...But is rejecting polyamory really anti-feminist? Clinical sexologist and therapist Ness Cooper tells Metro.co.uk that labelling someone in this way is problematic.

Ness says: ‘Calling a monogamous relationship misogynistic isn’t helpful. What needs to be addressed are the ideas around monogamy and where these have originated from for each individual in the relationship. ...

‘There are different ways to experience monogamy and it’s not always influenced by male dominance and patriarchy. ...

"For some couples, polyamory could be explored by both parties
or one party could choose to remain monogamous."
(Getty Images/Cavan Images RF)

●  Time magazine follows its essay by Roden Winter last week ("How I Love My Open Marriage") with this report on a new survey: How American Singles Really Feel About Consensual Non-Monogamy (Jan.  24)

By Cady Lang

Nearly one third of singles in America have had a consensually non-monogamous relationship, but many singles are still committed to the concept of traditional sexual monogamy.

According to the 2024 Match Singles in America report, which released on Wednesday, while 31% of singles in America have explored consensual non-monogamy (also known as ethical non-monogamy), 49% of singles say that traditional sexual monogamy is still their "ideal sexual relationship." Of the one third of singles who had tried consensual non-monogamy, respondents reported participating in polyamory... open relationships... swinging... and being monogamish....

Though consensual non-monogamy has long existed, it's enjoying a moment of popularity in the mainstream, and showing up in pop culture with television shows, books, and media focusing on its facets. Anthropologist Helen Fisher, Match’s Chief Science Advisor, who helped co-lead the study, said that though this moment is an exciting development for consensual non-monogamy, it's hardly new. ...

..."I do think that the rise of consensual non-monogamy is part of a much larger cultural sweep, back to life as it was a million years ago where [hunter-gatherer] women and men could express their sexuality without having their heads chopped off as was the case in [later] farming cultures," she says.

According to Fisher, this shift has led to singles of today being more creative and willing to think outside of conventions when it comes to their needs, desires and relationships—and she says that will have a positive outcome.

"What's interesting about the consensual non-monogamy is not the non-monogamy," she says. "What is is the fact is that it's consensual, and that it is being normalized. I can only think that that is part of a huge societal blossoming of self-expression."...

●  You knew the New York Post would do this for its own follow-on: Here are the 3 zodiac signs best suited for polyamory (Jan. 25). It's interspersed with stock pix of happy-looking triads and quads. 

●  Slate's Dear Prudence advice column reruns an item it dug up from 2011 (Jan. 25):

I am a widower in my mid-50s.... My wife died 10 years ago, and three years ago I moved into a new house. I hit it off very quickly with my next door neighbors “Jack” and “Diane,” a married couple in their late 30s with a now-7-year-old son. Our relationship soon became sexual and we are a three-member “couple.” Their son, whom I love dearly, has his own bedroom at my house and calls me “Uncle.” The problem is my youngest son recently lost his job, is in terrible financial straits, and has asked if he, his wife, and two young children can move in with me!...

I haven’t told any of my children about my unconventional relationship. My wife and I had a happy marriage, and we raised our children in a normal, loving home. Yet when I met the couple I am with, everything seemed to flow so naturally that I didn’t give it a second thought until now. ...

●  The UK's Daily Mail: My husband and I are polyamorous -- I want another woman to join our relationship and be my son's second mom (Jan. 24). I hope any prospective third they find is well versed about unicorn situations and holds firm in negotiating her interests.

●  Business Insider runs a series called Splitting the Difference, "which examines the financial lives of couples." And now throuples: I'm poly and live with my husband and boyfriend. We make $155,000 combined and can finally buy a house. (Jan. 29. Reprinted at Yahoo Finance.)

Polyfamily of a woman and two men living together and buying a house
Jennifer, Ty and Daniel

By Jennifer Martin

I'm a millennial, which means I, like so many in my generation, have had a rough time financially. I'm facing student loans, high inflation, and stagnant wages. ...

While other people my age may be sacrificing dreams of homeownership, children, and a career they love, one trick up my sleeve has helped me more than anything: polyamory.

My husband, Daniel, and I agreed to try polyamory in December 2015. We'd married in 2008 and had two children by 2013. It was certainly an adjustment from our conservative upbringing. For the first few years we tended to date other people who were also in primary relationships with other people. We didn't think we'd live with future partners.

But when I met Ty in 2018, my perspective began to change. The five of us became very close-knit, like a family.

...At the beginning of 2020, after much planning and discussion, we decided to all rent a house and move in together. Finances were a big reason.

She goes into much detail about their financial arrangements all around. Worth reading by any poly group living together, especially if permanently bonded with children. 

...Polyamory has been life-saving to me financially, especially as someone who's married and had kids young. Until a third person was contributing to my family's budget, I never dreamed of being able to own a house. With three incomes, it's easier to get by.

Sharing your resources among loved ones, whether you're romantic or not, might seem scary, but it's a great way to support each other.

I'm reminded of the bumper sticker:

Many more versions

●  KQED radio in San Francisco, a leading NPR station, just put up a podcast of a 55-minute Forum show: Ethical Non-Monogamy Veers (Slightly) Toward the Mainstream (Jan. 22). Its two guests are new stars: Allison P. Davis, the lead writer for New York Magazine's current cover-story package (with that quad of cats) and Christopher Gleason, author of the recent book American Poly: A History. Many bright, articulate listeners from polyfamilies call in.

●  Another public-radio podcast, this one from WNYC in New York: A Look Inside a Polycule, on the John Lehrer Show (Jan. 24; 15 minutes). "Anya Kamenetz brings us into the story of a modern-day polycule as documented in The Cut [New York mag], while listeners share how they're practicing polyamory in their homes in 2024." 

●  And another, from "The Connection" on WHYY in Philadelphia: A Memoir of Open Marriage (Jan. 26; 50 minutes). The guests are Molly Roden Winter and her husband Stewart Winter.

Honestly, listening to this one, I don't sense that the Open couple are very interesting people or doing anything so interesting. This is an isolated, inward-centered open marriage; no sign of community, nothing larger. I'm reminded of what Jennifer Wilson recently wrote in The New Yorker, in her piece How Did Polyamory Become So Popular?:

I want more for polyamory than More. As ethical non-monogamy becomes the stuff of Park Slope marriages and luxury perfume ads, it’s worth remembering that revolutions don’t fail; they get co-opted.... Ultimately, Roden Winter’s memoir represents a very specific, arguably very American version... the extension of abundance culture to all corners of the bedroom, but nowhere beyond.  

You may soon hear any of these shows on your local public radio.
●  The religious right also notices what's happening. One example at FocusPress: Polyamory, Front and Center (Jan. 22)

By Brad Harrub

...Fast forward just four months when New York magazine has a cover story on polyamory, explaining how it works.

In fact, they offer a practical guide to polyamory, answering many of the questions people might have about open relationships. This along with articles in the Wall Street Journal and other major publications reveals a combined effort to normalize this form of immorality.

For a culture that is determined to shun God and all that He stands for, a lifelong heterosexual marriage is no longer something to be celebrated. After all, marriage between a man and a woman was instituted by God (see Genesis 2:21-25). Satan is doing everything in his power to destroy traditional marriage. Please understand he is not content to simply plant transgenderism into school curriculum and walk away. He is actively fighting to shred God’s original plan for marriage and the family.

PS: Poly Living convention, February 9-11.  It's not too late to register and get a room at Poly Living, coming up in Philadelphia in less than two weeks. Details.


And still...

“History is coming at us fast right now.
 The geopolitical snow globe has been well and truly shaken.”
– Dominic Nichols, UK

Here again is why I've been ending posts to this polyamory news site with Ukraine: I've seen many progressive movements die out because they failed to scan the wider world accurately 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 of their worldview, we expose its incompleteness.

Late night in Kiev on a piece of good news
Our freedom to choose our relationship structures, and to speak up for ourselves about the truth of ourselves, is just one way we depend 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.

Such a society is possible only where people have power to govern themselves, combined with legal structures that are at least supposed to guarantee the rights of all.

Innovative 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. Now with direct mutual support.

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, abuse of police power, or eventually, artillery.

For what it's worth, Polyamory in the News received more pagereads from pre-invasion Ukraine over the years (56,400) than from any other country in eastern Europe.

You can donate to Ukraine relief through this updated list of vetted organizations (Nov. 2023) or elsewhere. We're giving to a big one, Razom, and to a little informal one, Pizza for Ukraine in Kharkiv, the project of an old friend of my wife.

But that is only the start. For those of us born since World War II, this is the most consequential war of our lifetime. 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 whole world is watching what we will do about it.

The coming times may require hard things of us. We don't get to choose the time and place in history we are born into. We do get to choose how we respond to it. 

Need a little help bucking up? Take perspective. Play thisAnother version. More? Some people on the eastern front helping to hold onto an open society, a shrinking thing in the world. Maybe your granddad did this across a trench from Hitler's troops — for you, and us, because a world fascist movement was successfully defeated that time, opening the way for the rest of the 20th century.

But the outcome didn't look good for a couple of years there, either. Popular history remembers the 1945 victory over the Nazis and the joyous homecoming. Less remembered are the defeats and grim outlook from 1941 through early 1943.

Remember, these people say they are 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 — leading to 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. And they're also stamping hard on the old culture of everyday, petty corruption.  More.  More; "Ukraine shows that real development happens when people believe they have an ownership stake in their own societies."

Now, writes US war correspondent George Packer in The Atlantic, 

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 been getting them through  to the extent 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 tend traditional, rooted in a thousand years of the Orthodox Church. But not bitterly so like often in the US; in the last generation the ideal of modern European civil society has become widely treasured, and social progressivism has room to thrive. The status of women is fast advancing, especially post-invasion (pre-invasion article). More than 43,000 women volunteer in the armed forces, flooding traditionally male bastions — including as combat officers, artillery gunners, tankers, battlefield medics, and snipers. (Intimidating video: "Thus the Witch has Spoken".)
Ukraine's LGBT military unicorn emblem
Ukraine's LGBT military unicorn.
The thorns and barbed wire
represent old restrictions
now being cut away. 
Some LGBT folx in the armed forces display symbols of LGBT pride on their uniforms, with official approval, whereas in Russia it's a prison-worthy crime for even a civilian to show a rainbow pin or "say gay." A report on Ukraine's LGBT+ and feminist acceptance revolutionsAnotherAnotherAnother. War changes things.

And in December 2022, Russia made it a crime not just to speak for LGBT recognition, but to speak for "non-traditional sexual relations." Pre-invasion, Russia had a visible polyamory education and awareness movement.

Polyfolks are like one ten-thousandth of what's at stake globally. Ukraine must have our full material backing for as long as it takes them to win their security, freedom, and future. Speak up for it.

A Russian writer grieves: "My country has fallen out of time."

Ukrainian women soldiers in dense undergrowth
Women defenders in a trench in the Donetsk region

PPS:  US authoritarians (such as Sen. Ted Cruz) are saying that allowing women in front-line roles is a woke plot to weaken America's armed forces. Ukraine puts that shit to bed. Do you have a relative who talks like that? Send them this video link to Vidma, who commands a mortar platoon, recounting the story of one of their battles near Bakhmut.

Update January 2024: More than a year later Vidma is still alive, still directing the mortar unit (now from muddy trenches), and posting TikToks (this one's from scary minutes exposed in the open; sunrise caught four of them out of cover). She flaunts her sense of humor after nearly two years of this. A young girl who looks high-school age has joined them in a support role. Their lives, and their promising society, depend on us. 

And again, that is just a fraction. Says Maine's independent Senator Angus King, “Whenever people write to my office” asking why we are supporting Ukraine, “I answer, Google Sudetenland, 1938.”  “We could have stopped a murderous dictator who was bent on geographic expansion…at a relatively low cost. The result of not doing so was 55 million deaths.”" 


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