Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Thoughts on a Poly Paper

A G+ friend posted this article, and asked my opinion on it. I found my little soapbox and the energy to climb on it for a little while, and I thought I would share the results with you. Life has been hectic here, the reinstatement of coverage means I am running back and forth, making, breaking (stupid flares!) and arranging appointments.


The following has only been edited to remove social niceties and make more sense as a blog post. The meaning, if you can find any, has remained intact!

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The poly article from the UK can be found here.


Hi! Sorry it took awhile to get to this, but I wanted to give it some solid attention. Thanks for asking me what I think, here! I am going to make some notes as I go, so I do not forget anything.

Interesting that the author assumes that while thoughts regarding sexuality get attention in poly relationships, that issues regarding class, education, race, gender, religion and other issues do not. I would argue that all those issues get the same, if not more attention as they do in a monogamous relationship. But a lot of the ins and outs of relationships in general are like that, included in the basics of all intimate partnerings but not often touched upon in poly specific materials.

I started to feel odd and left out by the author, fitting only a few of the list of presumed identities being thrust upon me by assumption, you know? The thing about poly families is that they continue to identify with the communities they already know and embrace, whether that be the LGBT/QUILTBAG communities or a group held together by racial ties or religious affiliation... You do not stop being what and who you are just because you discover that your ability to romantically love is qualitative rather than quantitative.

Something I thought the author ignored is that most literature available on the mass market on sexual differences starts by coming from largely middle class white men and rarely women. The first literature I saw about folks that are trans was about folks that were white, gay and white, pervy and white, intersexual and white... Since that is still the narrative that is most accepted by the people that hold the keys to the mass market, that is what we largely get. The Internet was the same at first, but now anyone that can access the 'net can write about their experiences. And maybe even get taken seriously.


After reading more, I think that perhaps I was initially too harsh on the author of this work. They are criticizing the existing material for obvious failings when it comes to addressing issues important to everyone outside of the “standard human” or even “standard USian” type: racial justice, actually economic opportunity equality, gender issues… Now, on the other hand, had these white (really, we are still using “European stock?” 1895 called and wants that term back!), middle class, mostly male, mostly college educated, mostly Christian, mostly Western folks tried to include issues of which they had no real familiarity - we would have pilloried them for speaking for other folks. 

Rather, we need to make room for those voices, I think, to speak to their own truth. What they could have done was include voices with experiences vastly different from their own, and they are responsible for not doing just that.

I think the truth is that we come to polyamory on our own, out in whatever world we live in, and some are able to act on that because we have more societal freedom, and some are free to act on that because they are already so despised, so disregarded that one more “sin” does not matter. Maybe there are a lot more of us out there, unable to do so much as a Google search free of fear of being discovered, rapidly unemployed and ostracized or even physically hurt or killed. It is true that “family focused” jerks like Rick Santorum have started using poly families as their new big scary thought for the USian public, and folks are not ready to take that kind of bigotry seriously because we are all seen as a kind of outlier, by desire or by sentence.

I think that the author was brave, taking a little understood and derided part of her life and using it for a professional paper. Kudos to her! And it is a good read, with solid information. By being a woman writing about polyamory, she is contributing a work that is not as “mainstream” as some of the authors she sites. One thing I have noticed about various movements is that they purchase mainstream acceptance by being represented by mainstream bodies. These white, middle-classed, college educated men putting out poly works will help gain mainstream acceptance. I would like us to be a solid community accepting of all comers first, but it rarely seems to happen that way.

(Thanks for giving me a heads up! I liked the piece, and feel honored that you asked for my take. I hope you do not regret it now! - my personal note to the person asking for my opinion. I explained that I might use my side of the conversation as a blog post and the idea was met happily.)


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I hope that you, dear Reader, do not regret how you spent your time just now. If you have thoughts about my thoughts about this paper, please feel free to discuss them below. I do respond to comments and I like getting them (for the most part, the Blogger filters help a lot with unwanted spam!).