The author definitely brings up some good thinking points, but for all of her talk of "superiority" she has quite a bit of that kind of tone in a lot of her writing.
While living and practicing poly may be a privilege, actually feeling polyamorous is not. Regardless of this, I don't understand why it is important to her to make poly people accept this in order for her to feel comfortable using the label for herself. It doesn't really follow. Lots of things are privileges and I don't really know why she is stuck on this. In a sense, this almost seems to be a very "superior" tone from her because SHE gets it and SHE realizes what a privilege it is and the rest of us are just ignorant and self-absorbed.
(I will say that almost any time I hear someone calling someone else pretentious or superior, it quite more often than not belies their own feelings of superiority over whatever group they are calling out.)
While some people do appropriate concepts, I don't think this means that everyone who uses some of these words is just trying to be more "exotic" or "sacred" and may actually be interested in some of these concepts or open and willing to learn. This, again, seems to be our "superior" author fighting to defend the original and cultural notions of these words against all the faceless ignorant privileged white people that use the words. Language does change, sometimes for the better and sometimes for the worse, but beating someone over the head for it or looking down your nose at them isn't the way to educate people to use more "enlightened" word choices. In my experience, people often don't realize when they are saying something that may be hurtful, offensive, or naive in some way and giving them the benefit of the doubt tends to make them a lot more receptive to hearing what you have to say on the matter. I do realize that conscious and aware language choices are important when it comes to issues of culture and diversity, but it is hard to justify that when the author is taking the stereotypically naggy tone that people tend to make fun of and start throwing labels like "politically correct" at the speaker. As someone who tends to try to be conscious of these things, even I get triggered when I feel like someone is speaking down to me like an uneducated grub and this is exactly what the author is doing here. This "appropriation" occurs in many walks of life and again I don't see it as a really compelling reason to reject the label of poly. The author can label herself as she chooses, but I feel she is revealing far more about herself than the "poly community" she speaks of in her article.
As far as abuse and cheating go, I have never seen those behaviors validated on this website, in my local poly community, or in the books I've read on the subject. My experience with the "poly community" at large is limited, but I am willing to guess that so is the author's (which is quite ironic that she is so worried about labeling things the "right way", yet makes blanket statements about an entire group of people without considering that the problems she is experiencing might be specific to her area or website). I understand that she would get frustrated with people using poly as an excuse to cheat and be crappy (I do too), but someone who is truly poly doesn't need to stop calling themselves poly because someone else is using the word wrong, nor should they. That would be like every genuine sufferer of OCD or bipolar rejecting those labels because people tend to use them inappropriately all the time. It isn't necessary. Education about more accurate ways to use the labels is much more appropriate in my opinion (although I will always recognize the right of someone to label themselves as they choose, but some labels will foster a greater understanding of the concept you are trying to convey and if you use nonstandard labels you may set yourself up for misunderstanding). I can see how a poly setup may open doors for abuse that didn't previously exist, and I think that is definitely an important topic to consider adding to discussion about poly.
How the author defines "friend" and "lover" is and always has been free to be different from the poly person next door. This article seems less and less a real criticism of poly than it does a lot of finger-pointing and the author trying to distance herself from the concept of poly, while dragging every bad thing she can think of about it through the mud just to solidify that distance. So some poly people did things different from you. Boo-hoo. Put on your big kid pants and realize that you are allowed to do things different under poly. It is a pretty broad relationship style and people are free to do things the way they choose. If you want lines to demarcate friends and lovers, great! If you would rather let things be more fluid, awesome! The important part is consent and keeping all partners aboveboard and honest with each other. As long as everyone is happy, the triad or quad or network down the street doesn't have to fit YOUR version of poly. Don't get involved with them if you don't like it, but there is no need to say "If that is poly, then I'M not poly." You don't have to be guilty by association. If you find something distasteful, you don't have to live it or condone it in your own life.
While the abuse thing may be something to look out for, and it is definitely always a good thing to examine one's privilege, this article reads less as a mature criticism of issues in poly and more like a childish stab at a community the author didn't quite mesh with and a chance to parade her educated and diversity friendly self in contrast to it. I don't really see much point in looking down your nose at an entire group of people because you met a few you didn't like and your local or internet communities weren't exactly what you thought they would be.
Last edited by MusicalRose; 09-15-2012 at 04:07 PM.