Originally Posted by constlady
If the law guardian of the children for whom I am currently legally responsible gets the impression from someone with a different definition of polyamory than I have that my lifestyle includes massive orgies or a constantly rotating cast of characters in and out of my life, I will be facing an uphill battle with the entire system in order to keep these kids safe.
It seems to me that the issue here isn't the definition. The issue is prejudices that are attached to the definition. If we start trying to make a definition for the purpose of preventing prejudice, we are actually enabling that prejudice and shifting it to other places.
Trying to tailor a definition to be more acceptable to mainstream society never really gets very far because it doesn't actually address the underlying prejudice it's trying to negate. This has been seen in the battle many gay people have already fought for more legal rights. None of these rights were gained by trying to create a definition of being gay that excludes the "less desirable" elements.
There are gay people who live in long term settled domestic relationships.
There are gay people who go clubbing and take a new person home every night.
None of these things have to do with the definition of being gay.
The fact that gay people have made advances with legal rights in society isn't because people decided to come up with a clear and concise definition that included one aspect but not the other in order to make it more acceptable to society. If the gay rights activists had tried that, none of the actual prejudices and myths that society holds about being gay would have been addressed and society would take longer to move forward into actual acceptance.
Similarly, there are poly people who live quiet domestic lives.
There are poly people who have a constantly rotating cast of characters in their lives.
There are poly people who have massive orgies.
None of these things have to do with the definition of poly.
Trying to add more to the definition than it actually is for the sake of clarity actually produces the opposite effect. Poly means loving more than one. Once we start to try to make a definition to be more specific for the sake of clarity, we're actually just trying to make sure the "wrong" things don't get lumped in with the "right" things in our definitions.
As a society, we're pretty comfortable with the fact that a monogamous relationship can mean marriage, dating, healthy relationships, toxic relationships, casual relationships, long term committed relationships and all sorts of variables in between. The reason we don't feel the need to be more specific about that definition is that there aren't as many prejudices attached to it.
The queer movement used to have a similar need to lend legitimacy to being queer. It wasn't achieved by trying to create a narrow definition that only contains the elements that are more acceptable to the views of society at the time. It's being achieved by dismantling the inherent myths and prejudices that people have towards the actual broader definitions.
My definition of poly is pretty clear. The only thing making it unclear is the prejudices people put to it. The only way to fix that is to address the prejudices and not cater to them.