"For Lovers and Fighters"
I thought I'd leave this essay here to see if it generates a discussion. The author examines polyamory from a queer, trans, and anti-capitalist point of view. I enjoyed it -- the overall tone is very positive, seeing poly as a natural expression of escape from the oppressive expectations that surround us in our culture, but it also points out some of the potential problems that can emerge.
Bits I especially liked:
"One of my goals in thinking about redefining the way we view relationships is to try to treat the people I date more like I treat my friends—try to be respectful and thoughtful and hav boundaries and reasonable expectations—and to try to treat my friends more like my dates—to give them special attention, honor my commitments to them, be consistent, and invest deeply in our futures together."
"A lot of the things I’m writing here go to the basic notion of what we think loving other people is about. Is it about possessing them, finding security in them, having all our needs met by them, being able to treat them in any way and still having them stick around? I hope not. What I hope that love is—whether platonic, romantic, familial, or communal—is the sincere wish that another person have what they need to be whole and develop themselves to their best capacity for joy or whatever fulfillment they’re seeking."
"I’ve been disturbed to see dynamics emerge where people create the new poly norm and then hate themselves if they cannot live up to it. If they are not perfect at being non-jealous, non-threatened, and totally delighted by their partners’ exploits immediately then they have somehow failed."
I really like that, AnnabelMore. I wish I'd known anyone who could articulate that well when I was so much younger. I had all those places within me, but without knowing how to name them, having no clue how to question them, my life came out weird. Lord knows, I haven't taken the well-traveled road. At my twenty year high school reunion there were only two people sufficiently non-mainstream enough for me to find commonality and interest.
Hard to read, with that green background and several kerning troubles.
I'm glad you quoted the bits you liked, it made me want to go read it. :)
I went straight to reading the article, and I was actually going to bring this bit back but you'd done it already
Like the fact that when you're monogamous and in NRE it is not acceptable to have any less consideration for your friends; so when you're poly, it is not acceptable for friends or existing partner(s). And if I'm planning to go somewhere with husband and a friend, both of them will obviously be involved in the decision making; just as if I have plans with two partners, both of them will be giving their opinions. And as I am an autonomous person, I may well phone with a friend and make plans to travel to meet her for a week and then tell my husband about it; just as I may well phone with my girlfriend and make plans to travel to meet her and then inform my husband.
The reason I take those kind of examples is because sometimes dynamics are more problematic in those kinds of situations. Like when the existing partner is completely disregarded when new and shiny comes along. Or there is an existing couple, and one or both of them get involved with a third person, but even decisions about things all three plan to do together get made by the original couple (and there's not often any intention to do that but it simply "happens"). And going down the road of "asking permission" whenever meeting a lover for coffee/sex/whatever... I do think that is also problematic. I don't mean that there can't be any agreements/rules, those may well work. But at least for me that kind of loss of autonomy would be 20 steps too far. I.e. I would want my partners to communicate their feelings and wishes to me, and I will tell them whether they are ones I can agree to or negotiate a compromise, and after that I will expect them to trust in my judgement without me having to clear every case separately.
I also liked very much the writing about gender, and particularly these bits speak to me
"A part of this is about beginning to feel new resistant threads of queer sex in new ways—seeing your body in new ways and feeling like you can do more things with it and then decide what those things mean to you."
"For people who are experimenting with gender how they think about or express their own gender, wanting to have different kinds of sex with different kinds of people can be a significant part of that learning process."
"For couples where one person is beginning to identify as trans, it can mean recognizing that the two members of the couple can have sexual orientation identifications that don’t necessarily depend on the gender of the other partner—like a couple where the non-trans woman identifies as a lesbian and a femme and her trans boyfriend identifies as a fag. For some people, too, this has encouraged them to open their relationships so that both members can get the experimentation they want, allowing them to keep being together in ways that work for them and that they really love."
I haven't written much here about my own gender, but I identify somewhat more as trans than a woman (but do not consider myself a man in any way), and there have been changes to sexuality that feel linked to that. For me, these weren't the reasons for originally opening my relationship with Alec, but they have had an impact in that openness has become much more important. I don't think I could ever again be monogamous, neither sexually nor romantically. And I did feel quite unbalanced when I was having sex regularly only with a straight man, whereas now I feel I can enjoy that in a different way since I also have a female partner. I feel more balanced, not only because of the genders involved but also because with the persons in questions, very different sexual power dynamics feel natural.
"How do I recognize the inadequacy of the romance myth while acknowledging its deep roots in my emotional life? How do I balance my intellectual understandings with my deep-seated emotional habits/expectations?"
the writer doesn't connect this to gender, but for me these kind of questions about intellectual understandings and socialised emotional and sexual understandings are even more prevalent in that context.
Wow, loads of thoughts, thank you for linking! :)
Thanks for posting this; it's given me a lot to think about, and expressed some feelings I'd been having more clearly than I was able to, even to myself.
Thanks for that. :D I really really like it. Loads to think about in it.
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