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-   -   Rejecting the label (http://www.polyamory.com/forum/showthread.php?t=28709)

dingedheart 09-15-2012 02:41 AM

Rejecting the label
 
I ran across this article today and it seem to touch on several topics that get discussed here quite frequently. http://boldlygo.co/?p=205 ....Time management, veto power, abuse, enlightenment, poly superiority, appropriation, etc.

Does the author have some valid points? ....do these conditions exist in the community at large ?


I liked the privilege part. :) it makes sense to me however I never thought of it that way. And My experiences have been so different that it was very interesting to hear the back and forth mental gymnastics that can occur in large tribes regarding abuse of a partner.

Tonberry 09-15-2012 04:08 AM

Big + for the Star Trek references.
Now, is having relationships a privilege? Sure is. Is being in a situation when you can afford to open yourself to romance rather than work on day to day survival? Sure is. But having TV or a car are privileges too (for the record, I don't have access to either). So is having a computer or the Internet (I have access to both).

In the Western world, many things we take for granted are privileges, from being able to eat every day to owning more than one outfit. Very few people have all the privileges, very few have none.
Some is down to luck, some is down to choice.

When living on little money (I've been on welfare for a while), you learn very fast about choices. I haven't bought clothes in years, so my current (and unique) pair of pants has 3 buttonholes next to one another, as I create a new one every time I lose enough weight that my jeans get loose.

But being unemployed and on welfare also means I would have time to have many relationships, if I wanted to. And it seems to me live-in polyamory is a better economic model, since you pull in the resources of more people together in a single household.

Otherwise, I do agree my experience has mostly been with white polys. I think it's easier to be out if you're not already discriminated against for other stuff, though.

Ultimately, because I see polyamory as an orientation, I don't see it as a privilege. Being able to practice it, yes, that's a privilege. Being polyamorous? Not really. In many places over the world, it might mean that you'll need to keep that shut and stick to the one spouse you're allowed to have while being miserable for not being able to be with the other person(s) you love. Which, you know, is better than nothing for sure, but sucks as far as "privileges" go.

EDIT: finished reading the post, so below are my comments on the other points:

- About the abuse:
I would have thought that more people meant more potential for someone to notice the abuse, and therefore that the abusers would avoid that kind of arrangement (after all one important part of abuse is isolating your victim, and if they're polyamorous, they have many other people to run to if you hurt them, and many people to confirm to them that it's wrong, people to be witness and prevent gaslighting, etc).
However I do see the point that was made about peer pressure. If the other partners are fine, then I should suck it up. I guess it can happen. I can't say I've noticed that people say things about letting your partner treat others unfairly because it's not your relationship, though. What your partner does with others (partners, friends, family) is going to affect how you view them and as a result whether you want to stay with them. I don't see why it should be different for polyamory.
As for vetoes, I've always seen them as a "no reason asked, no reason given" kind of thing, when you just say no. I assume that when you have legitimate concerns about a person and brings them up to your partner, it hardly counts as a veto.

- About poly as an orientation:
Funny that I talked about it earlier in my post. I think it being an orientation is no excuse for bad conduct, but I do certainly believe it's an orientation. But just like being a gay man and being forced into straight relationships doesn't exclude molesting other men, being polyamorous never has and never will excuse cheating. Hell, I can't go to a poly forum or other place of discussion without constantly hearing "cheating isn't poly" or "he's cheating, so he's not poly".
Personally, I think you can be poly AND a cheater. I think using poly as an excuse to cheat is wrong, but I also think that dismissing anyone who cheats as "not poly" so that the poly label stays "pure" is wrong too. Whether the person is poly or not is independent from whether or not they're an asshole. I might have more sympathy for them is they are polyamorous and never realised they had the option to be true to themselves, but I'll also remember that when I was placed in that situation, I talked to my husband about it, I didn't cheat behind his back, and I knew there was a chance he would leave him, or tell me he wasn't okay with it, in which case I would have left.
(Sadly he told me he was fine with it even though it wasn't, which was probably the worse response possible. Would have saved us a few years if he had been honest about it, but hindsight is 20/20 I guess).
So yeah, if you're in a relationship and you fall in love with someone else, the moral options are repressing it or talking with your partner (at the end of which discussion you can open your relationship or end it, or I guess go the repressing route but with your spouse aware of it). Cheating and lying isn't going to be ethical. Hell I came clean to my husband to make sure I wouldn't cheat, because the idea I might do that someday along the line was killing me.
You can cheat and then come back from it and become a decent person, but you have to take responsibility for the cheating first.

LovingRadiance 09-15-2012 07:01 AM

Definitely agree that relationships are a privilege and having time for more than one is certainly a privilege.
I believe being polyamorous and living poly are two different things. Much like Tonberry said-I believe I am inherently polyamorous-and bisexual. But, being poly and bi doesn't mean I am living poly or bi.

Ironically for us-one of the benefits of poly is that it allows us financial stability and security we wouldn't have otherwise-because we do live together in the same home, sharing all of our expenses. So, while I comprehend the argument being made regarding that-it's not relevant to us personally. But, I do know other people who it is very pertinent to.

I don't personally know any "nonwhite" polys who are out; almost all of the poly's I know are lgbt. I think probably because most of them I've met through lgbt groups maybe? In fact, its been specifically noted that my two straight guys are the only two straight guys in our poly circles. LOL! Neither of whom asked for, desired or in any way thought of being poly until I pressed it.

Regarding the abuse-I haven't personally encountered the ideology of not having the right to have any say so regarding your partners partners. Maybe because that would SO NOT FUCKING WORK for me or in my world? I have heard of others with that attitude-but my experience is that generally they are childless "daters" who don't prefer live in partners. That isn't to say that is the "norm"-just what I have encountered.
I do know one V that has a much much much more lenient attitude about metamours than we do-and even they have a say so...

I certainly can see how abuse could be fostered with those attitudes-but those attitudes aren't part of our lifestyle. We very much have agreed that we all concur on new partners-or they aren't new partners. Period. It annoys some people who just want to play-but we have kids at home and play isn't a PRIVILEGE we have in our lives (in that manner). So-they can search elsewhere.


I concur with Tonberry on veto-I understand that to be "no options-I said no period" and we don't buy into THAT-but we do believe that its imperative for everyone's two cents to be taken into consideration and decisions to be made "from the collective" to use a star trek reference. LOL! Not individually made-because every decision impacts all of us-therefore, we should all get to chime in on it.

I concur completely regarding the writers issues with the fact that many polys are DOING the same behavior as swingers-just calling it love. I also have clear lines between acquaintance, friend and lover and similar experiences regarding the amount of time I can handle being around them. Because its draining.

The PRIMARY reason I don't jump out and say "I'm poly" in public atmospheres, is because it gets taken to mean I'm available to have sex when in fact, I am not.

Before I will consider someone a potential partner, they are going to spend AT LEAST a year getting to know me, probably closer to 3-4 years. That's just a reality for ME. I don't desire or tolerate sex with people I don't ALREADY have a close, emotional bond to and I don't create close emotional bonds easily. So, it takes A LOT OF TIME and committed effort before someone is getting in the sack with me.

That has been something the "poly community" as they say, has looked down on me for. Suggesting that I'm sex-negative. In fact, I'm not-I am totally ok with ANYONE HAVING SEX WITH ANY OTHER WILLING PARTNER WHENEVER the HELL THEY WANT TO. But-I don't have sex unless I desire it (reaction from having experienced rape) and I don't ever desire it before there is a deep emotional connection.
Shrug.

Scott 09-15-2012 08:25 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by dingedheart (Post 154800)
I ran across this article today and it seem to touch on several topics that get discussed here quite frequently. http://boldlygo.co/?p=205 ....Time management, veto power, abuse, enlightenment, poly superiority, appropriation, etc.

Does the author have some valid points? ....do these conditions exist in the community at large ?

I'd definitely say yes to your first question. I think your second question is more of a blanket statement and so would have to say 'not exactly'. I think my favourite paragraph from the article came near the beginning:

****
Most of the people Iíve had contact with in the polyamory community have been economically privileged, most of them donít have kids, some of them donít have jobs or subsist by borrowing or, for lack of a better term, mooching off of the people that they date. (To clarify, this does not mean people who live off of benefits, unemployment or any other government assistance. But, specifically, to people who are class privileged because of who they date and choose to subsist off of their partnerís monetary wealth.) I wonder, as I try and take relationship advice from these people, if their experience is really so applicable to mine. Being an immigrant, I donít have the benefit of social supports a lot of people do. I donít have parents who can bail me out. And I will never feel comfortable with relying on my partners to provide for me economically and am lucky to be in a place where I donít need to. Yet, most poly people refuse to acknowledge their privileges in this context or they give relationship advice or talk about polyamory as if this is all a given when it isnít. And it gives people unrealistic expectations.
****

That one really rang a bell with me, particularly the very first line:
"Most of the people Iíve had contact with in the polyamory community have been economically privileged, most of them donít have kids,"

She correctly said "most". I know some poly people who aren't economically privileged (in many senses I'd fit here) and I know some who have kids. However, I haven't seen any poly people who are both economically disadvantaged -and- who have kids. And as to myself, I may identify as poly, but I've never actually dated 2 women at the same time in the physical world (the online world is nice but it's not exactly the same thing). While I've received some vague, rather lukewarm objections to this assertion in the past, I've personally found that in general, this type of thing requires that a guy has to have a decent amount of income; enough to be able to make a decent contribution to his partners wellbeing; whether it's regarlarly sharing decent meals (in house or at a restaurant), accommodation, or something of this nature.

Scott 09-15-2012 08:30 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Tonberry (Post 154807)
Ultimately, because I see polyamory as an orientation, I don't see it as a privilege. Being able to practice it, yes, that's a privilege. Being polyamorous? Not really. In many places over the world, it might mean that you'll need to keep that shut and stick to the one spouse you're allowed to have while being miserable for not being able to be with the other person(s) you love. Which, you know, is better than nothing for sure, but sucks as far as "privileges" go.

I agree. If you follow that 'miserable' path far enough, you'll see that it can lead to cheating. That's one particular path I don't think I'll ever personally follow, but I can understand the temptation of it if you're with someone who sustains you financially but not emotionally while someone else can sustain you emotionally but not financially.

Tonberry 09-15-2012 09:09 AM

I forgot to comment on the people who say they're polyamorous, when they mean they're open, or want casual relationships. I too find it annoying, especially since there are so many words for that already and they really don't need to use this one, which clearly has "love" in it.
I only encountered that attitude recently though, relatively speaking. My first experiences with poly folks were long-term established families. Most of my experience has been, really.

I also totally understand not wanting to call yourself something because of how you keep hearing it used. If most people who call themselves something are people you don't want to associate yourself with, you might not want to call yourself that. I understand it for things like a political position or a philosophical one, but since I see poly as an orientation, well that's what I am, and people giving it a bad name can't change that. I can only trust that people I choose to open up to will know me enough not to imagine things that don't sound like me at all, or that at least they will give me a chance to prove them wrong if they assume them.

Just like others, I tend to want strong emotional connections before I'll consider a relationship and sex. I did have an experience with a friend with benefits, but even that was after years of knowing and trusting each other. And really I should just call him a friend, we had a sexual experience once, it doesn't redefine our friendship or change it much, and neither of us is interested in doing it again (nor does either of us regret it).
The idea that poly = easy IS annoying, but I find people think similarly of many things that apply to women and sexuality. As soon as you start talking about your preferences, if you are a woman, it seems it means you're insatiable and will have sex with anyone. Kinky? Then people will assume you're not monogamous. Poly? People will assume you're into casual sex. Etc, etc.

dingedheart 09-15-2012 11:45 AM

As far as the topic of privilege goes I was thinking of it in it's broadest sense....any or all romantic relationships. I think thats a good way to frame things then work backward from there.


The star trek stuff caught my eye too. For a couple seconds I was looking for Jedi stuff to appear then relized I had the wrong movie or tv show.

Scott 09-15-2012 12:02 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Tonberry (Post 154868)
I forgot to comment on the people who say they're polyamorous, when they mean they're open, or want casual relationships. I too find it annoying, especially since there are so many words for that already and they really don't need to use this one, which clearly has "love" in it.
I only encountered that attitude recently though, relatively speaking. My first experiences with poly folks were long-term established families. Most of my experience has been, really.

I also totally understand not wanting to call yourself something because of how you keep hearing it used. If most people who call themselves something are people you don't want to associate yourself with, you might not want to call yourself that. I understand it for things like a political position or a philosophical one, but since I see poly as an orientation, well that's what I am, and people giving it a bad name can't change that. I can only trust that people I choose to open up to will know me enough not to imagine things that don't sound like me at all, or that at least they will give me a chance to prove them wrong if they assume them.

Just like others, I tend to want strong emotional connections before I'll consider a relationship and sex. I did have an experience with a friend with benefits, but even that was after years of knowing and trusting each other. And really I should just call him a friend, we had a sexual experience once, it doesn't redefine our friendship or change it much, and neither of us is interested in doing it again (nor does either of us regret it).
The idea that poly = easy IS annoying, but I find people think similarly of many things that apply to women and sexuality. As soon as you start talking about your preferences, if you are a woman, it seems it means you're insatiable and will have sex with anyone. Kinky? Then people will assume you're not monogamous. Poly? People will assume you're into casual sex. Etc, etc.

Good points Tom. Another point, concerning the article in the OP; she says she defines herself as non monogamous, so the kinky thing would be fine for her, but I'm not sure she's given much thought to just how broad a term non monogamous is. For one thing, it would include swingers, and from what she said, she liked the term polyamorous -precisely- because it tended to demand a love component in the relationships. She then goes on about how some in the poly community people define love differently then her, but to me that simply sounds like she should identify as a more 'serious'/emotionally inclined subset of polyamory, instead of making do with what I think is the far broader category of non monogamy. I'd put myself in that same subset myself.

BrigidsDaughter 09-15-2012 12:15 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Scott (Post 154860)
However, I haven't seen any poly people who are both economically disadvantaged -and- who have kids.

Well they do exist! Runic Wolf, Wendigo, and I have been economically disadvantaged for years, though this year seems to be a turning point as all 3 of us have gotten full time jobs and Wendigo's wife, Pretty Lady (a struggling author) has been approached with a book deal.

Runic Wolf and I spent half of this year on public assistance, which saved us from having to move our son and cat into my mother in law's spare bedroom. Wendigo and Pretty Lady weren't quite so lucky 2 years ago when their house became unsafe to live in. They live out in the country on a family plot of land with 2 houses, so while they had a place to go, it meant moving themselves and their teenaged son into a 3 bedroom house already occupied by Pretty Lady's sister and her 2 teenagers. Wendigo has also been out of work for a few years, though Runic Wolf was just able to get him into his company.

You can't believe how good it felt to not have to be able to afford my son's school supplies on our own this year; to not have to borrow money from family or put his name on the free back pack list (which does little good to a middle schooler when the supplies included are crayons and the like). And it feels pretty damn good to get to see Wendigo everyday and know that he's just a tiny bit less stressed out himself.

Scott 09-15-2012 01:06 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by BrigidsDaughter (Post 154923)
Well they do exist! Runic Wolf, Wendigo, and I have been economically disadvantaged for years, though this year seems to be a turning point as all 3 of us have gotten full time jobs and Wendigo's wife, Pretty Lady (a struggling author) has been approached with a book deal.

Cool :-). Actually if you think about it, if you actually -live- with more then one of your partners, it could be more economically feasible then if you only had one partner.

Quote:

Originally Posted by BrigidsDaughter (Post 154923)
Runic Wolf and I spent half of this year on public assistance, which saved us from having to move our son and cat into my mother in law's spare bedroom. Wendigo and Pretty Lady weren't quite so lucky 2 years ago when their house became unsafe to live in. They live out in the country on a family plot of land with 2 houses, so while they had a place to go, it meant moving themselves and their teenaged son into a 3 bedroom house already occupied by Pretty Lady's sister and her 2 teenagers. Wendigo has also been out of work for a few years, though Runic Wolf was just able to get him into his company.

Cool :-).

Quote:

Originally Posted by BrigidsDaughter (Post 154923)
You can't believe how good it felt to not have to be able to afford my son's school supplies on our own this year; to not have to borrow money from family or put his name on the free back pack list (which does little good to a middle schooler when the supplies included are crayons and the like). And it feels pretty damn good to get to see Wendigo everyday and know that he's just a tiny bit less stressed out himself.

Definitely sounds good. I really would like to see the day that I myself have my own kids... but I definitely wouldn't want any now because of my economic situation. Well, I'm taking an accounting course and my mother has a retreat that she's working on in Mexico, so hopefully I'll be able to get that employment thing going in the not too distant future.


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