Originally Posted by Tonberry
I read an article on Franklin Veaux's blog recently that touched on this. The definition given was something along the lines of "a hierarchical relationship is a relationship in which at least one partner has more say over their partners' relationship than they do".
Let me find the blog and link to it. It was very interesting.
Here you go. The definition actually was: A poly hierarchy exists when at least one person holds more power over a partner's other relationships than is held by the people within those relationships.
This particular blog post is a good example of why people should be careful about what they read on the internet.
This attempt at a definition of "Poly Hierarchy" is a good example of a small committee of people who have decided to create a specific label of shit to smear on others
. Pretty much no one on the committee to create this definition had have never done hierarchy's in their relationship. And Franklin himself has admitted on more than one occasion to be distrustful of married couples in poly. It is based on personal observations by people who can't or don't want to understand what they're seeing, and I believe is very much subject to their observational biases. (Aren't we all)
I have quite a few bones to pick with this definition...and it's mostly because it takes a couple words that are frequently used, poly
, and hierarchy
and puts them together in a conflagration of very slanted examples of petty and hurtful behaviors.
First, hierarchy as per actual definitions has to do with rankings or categorizations. Not necessarily power as the blog posts insinuates. So already, the "definition" is forming an agenda.
Second, the very specific brand of power based and asymmetrical hierarchy assumed are not unique in any way to "poly"...so using "poly" as the adjective is entirely off-side. These types of relationships exist in open-relationships, swingers, polygamous, and even plain-ol monogamous marriages as well.
If anything, a better adjective already in common use would be "patriarchal"...with the slight divergence than it's not always the male who has the power in these relationships anymore. It is however the cultural basis for the institution of marriage in western society...so there's a reason that much of this will sound familiar to people who have seen married people.
of using a definition like this ever
...will be that any poly that might use hierarchy to describe their relationship will automatically have a boatload of toxic judgement and baggage foisted upon them. So poly's that happen to be married (since they're obviously hierarchical, or so the assumptions start), can be pre-tried, judged and executed for all the listed sins listed on this definition or the other oft foisted "secondary bill of rights". But if it's on Franklin's site, then it must be ok to hang someone for crimes they haven't committed ...even if they haven't even had a second partner yet...or the chance to behave better or worse than "expected".
And this is my major issue with this definition...it's basically positioned to become a label
, or even a slur
, for people who have had the lucky happenstance to have been poly their entire lives, to cast aspersions and shame on the significant swath of poly's who have come into it from a more conventional monogamous background, and doubly so if they're married.
Specifically, where poly folks who have lived for years or decades in monogamous relationships start to open up, they frequently fall back to certain hierarchical structures. If someone has been raised, socialized, and accepted the institution of patriarchal marriage for a few decades, these are familiar concepts and tools that they know how to use, and there's some comfort and skill with using them as they try to navigate some unfamiliar and uncomfortable changes.
Now yes, sometimes these tools a little clumsy for poly. Sometimes it doesn't matter how skillful you may be with a hammer...it's still going to make a mess when driving screws instead of nails. Going from mono-to-poly doesn't happen overnight for many people. But they deserve the chance to participate in the community, learn what new tools are possible, see examples of poly and find what flavour of poly suites their taste
They do NOT
deserve to be judged and alienated out of the community before they arrive by being labeled as pariahs with this kind of self-sucking lollipop "definition"
by a bunch of people who've never actually walked the same path, and have no business judging them for it.