Polyamory.com Forum  

Go Back   Polyamory.com Forum > Polyamory > General Poly Discussions

Notices

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 01-03-2010, 10:11 PM
CielDuMatin's Avatar
CielDuMatin CielDuMatin is offline
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: Upstate New York, USA
Posts: 1,467
Default My poly isn't your poly - so what?

As on so many other discussion boards, the whole definition thing seems to come up with amazing regularity. Whether it is discussion of the differences between polyamory and swinging, what love is, and so on and so forth.

I really don't want to open up those discussions again - there are threads for that if that discussion is still necessary, but I think that it might be a good idea to look at why we care and how we might want to deal with it on a community like this one....

I think there are specific circumstances where defining a term has relevance - examples of those would include when trying to cater for a particular group, and trying to understand what the needs of that group are, or when trying to be more public about a concept - having a clarity helps people think about it. But outside of that... (and here's my point...)

When it comes to me and what matters to me - I really don't mind what definition you use, or even if you choose not to define it rigidly or not - I haven't met many people at all where I could say that my poly is their poly, and that is perfectly fine to me - I don't have to be the same as them or think the same as them in order to communicate with them, become friends with them and like them and respect them as people.

Even among poly folk saying "I'm poly" doesn't mean a lot and, if you want people to have an accurate picture of your relationship style, you need to explain a lot more. In my opinion there's nothing wrong with that.

When I interact with people on this and other fora, since I am not trying to define this community or do anything that involves public acceptance of the term in general, I feel that it is perfectly OK to refer to things as "that's not the way I do it" - but that's all it is - it's not a value judgment on the other person's way. Maybe sometimes we could try to defuse a potential situation like this with a little more care in how we express our differing opinions and make it a little more obvious that we respect the other person's right to think differently and to have a differently-structured relationship. This would include using words that don't sound like sweeping generalizations or could be interpreted as "this is the way to do it".

As this nebulous community I feel that it is vital that we try to open our minds and treat those of a differing opinion with respect - they got where they are through their learnings, and life experiences, and I feel that we need to respect that, whether we would personally do it the same way or not.

Everybody comes to this forum with their experiences, and some of those experiences contain trigger words that will set off a chain of emotional reactions to what we write. Expecting everyone to "check their baggage at the door", or similar things, is easier said than done and not realistic. I'd like to think that we could be a little more sensitive to that.

This isn't specific to this forum or to any specific members, by the way - I have seen similar things in most poly communities.

I would appreciate hearing your views on this.

Edit to add: I guess the additional question I would like to know is why do you care what the "global" definition is?
__________________

"Listen, or your tongue will make you deaf." - Native American Proverb

Last edited by CielDuMatin; 01-03-2010 at 10:18 PM.
Reply With Quote
  #2  
Old 01-03-2010, 10:25 PM
Ariakas Ariakas is offline
Moderator
 
Join Date: Dec 2009
Posts: 2,872
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by CielDuMatin View Post


Edit to add: I guess the additional question I would like to know is why do you care what the "global" definition is?
Personally, I don't care, I have never cared much for what people around me think of what I do or how I do it, and I care even less about labels. I have gone through life as a conservative geeky headbanging jock. The people who I care are really the only opinions I put any merit on. As a consummate debater, I enjoy debating fine points at times, and it is in fact how ALL of my friendships developed, but if they have an opinion, and want to try and push my into a label, they likely won't get to far into my circle of friends

That said, maybe people argue so vehemently for a global standard so that is can be recognized outside people who aren't poly. If the definition is vague and misunderstood, explaining it to people outside the community, and thereby getting public acceptance, would be almost impossible. That is the only reason I can see to lock the definition down into a nice tidy box.

Last edited by Ariakas; 01-03-2010 at 10:27 PM.
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 01-03-2010, 10:52 PM
constlady constlady is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2009
Posts: 63
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ariakas View Post
That said, maybe people argue so vehemently for a global standard so that is can be recognized outside people who aren't poly. If the definition is vague and misunderstood, explaining it to people outside the community, and thereby getting public acceptance, would be almost impossible. That is the only reason I can see to lock the definition down into a nice tidy box.
And for those of us with quite real concerns about the potential repercussions of not being adequately understood, this is the key.

I live in the smallest, most rural county in New York State.
It's a definite red streak politically and that conservatism runs through the judicial system.

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 won't matter that their mother is an incarcerated addict - that's an understood disease, the system is used to dealing with that.
It won't matter that their father is a convicted felon and has also been found guilty of neglect previously - that again is a known enemy.
But let it get out that their grandmother is *gasp* polysomething and immediately red flags will be raised.

So these discussions on finding a definition, on being able to present to mainstream society a non-threatening picture that clarifies who I am and how I love have a very serious and very real potential to impact not only my life but the lives of four young children.

Personally, I don't wish to define how anyone lives their polylife, just as I don't want mine defined. But the reality for those of us who live under the threat of persecution is that there does need to be some sort of basic definition, not only for the outsiders to understand but for those within the community to rally around to remove that threat.
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old 01-04-2010, 01:22 AM
LovingRadiance's Avatar
LovingRadiance LovingRadiance is offline
Moderator
 
Join Date: Sep 2009
Posts: 5,510
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by constlady View Post
And for those of us with quite real concerns about the potential repercussions of not being adequately understood, this is the key.

I live in the smallest, most rural county in New York State.
It's a definite red streak politically and that conservatism runs through the judicial system.

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 won't matter that their mother is an incarcerated addict - that's an understood disease, the system is used to dealing with that.
It won't matter that their father is a convicted felon and has also been found guilty of neglect previously - that again is a known enemy.
But let it get out that their grandmother is *gasp* polysomething and immediately red flags will be raised.

So these discussions on finding a definition, on being able to present to mainstream society a non-threatening picture that clarifies who I am and how I love have a very serious and very real potential to impact not only my life but the lives of four young children.

Personally, I don't wish to define how anyone lives their polylife, just as I don't want mine defined. But the reality for those of us who live under the threat of persecution is that there does need to be some sort of basic definition, not only for the outsiders to understand but for those within the community to rally around to remove that threat.
This! Any minute now 3 of GG's family members will be stopping by. His family is bound and determined that we are all "living in sin" and that we will drag our children down with us. They have already pushed for court battles to remove our youngest child from our home.

Additionally our second oldest-his mother and grandmother have also tried to remove him from our home (tried for 10 years).

It's very important in a legal sense that we educate the general population that there can be a CHILDFRIENDLY poly-lifestyle.

I don't give a damn how ANYONE practices their life. But when we can't define certain things-we put the innocent lives in the balance because the unknown causes fear and that fear causes condemnation and judgement and unnecessary and irrelevant legal actions that hurt our children.
__________________
"Love As Thou Wilt"
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 01-04-2010, 01:26 AM
CielDuMatin's Avatar
CielDuMatin CielDuMatin is offline
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: Upstate New York, USA
Posts: 1,467
Default

LR (and constlady and anyone else): If work was done on a generally-accepted definition of poly for the legal rights issues surrounding families, what, in your opinion, is "child-friendly" enough to make it safe for you to still be poly and to have this issue become a non-issue? Or would any definition be good enough?
__________________

"Listen, or your tongue will make you deaf." - Native American Proverb

Last edited by CielDuMatin; 01-04-2010 at 01:33 AM.
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old 01-04-2010, 01:33 AM
LovingRadiance's Avatar
LovingRadiance LovingRadiance is offline
Moderator
 
Join Date: Sep 2009
Posts: 5,510
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by CielDuMatin View Post
LR (and constlady and anyone else): If work was done on a generally-accepted definitions of poly for the legal rights issues surrounding families, what, in your opinion, is "child-friendly" enough to make it safe for you to still be poly and to have this issue become a non-issue? Or would any definition be good enough?
This is a complicated question...

Because what I would find "child-friendly" isn't what the LAW already defines as a child-friendly environment.

I've had multiple short term lovers.... and fuck buddies and fwb and raised my daughter well-but I can tell you right now-that had her father and I gone to court-I would have lost her over that detail and sadly-her life would have been destroyed because he was unable to be a responsible father.

Without a HUGE overhaul of current laws-there isn't much way to include those within a definition AND show the courts that the dynamic is a child-friendly environment.

Furthermore-each state in the US (not to mention any given country) has different laws on the books of what is or what is not acceptable in a "family dynamic" in regards to being a child-friendly environment.


Soooooo-that said,

for me the bottom line in raising children is that they need stability, security and safety. So TO ME if a child has a stable environment (where all those extra "for the moment" lovers don't come and go) and the security that all people within the environment (lovers, friends, family whatever) are willing to do whatever is necessary to ensure the child's security and safety.
There are no dangerous situations being created for the child then that wold be good to me.

BUT-how do you define and ensure that? It's ultimately impossible.
I think the argument is pretty much pointless to a large degree-because it's impossible.

I have already decided that defining myself as poly is too risky for my kids. I will tell someone I am in a long term loving relationship with my husband of 11 years and boyfriend of 17 years. But I won't any longer name it-because the risk is too high that the word I choose will lead to conclusions that simply aren't true or correct in my situation.

I think many others have found the same true for them.
__________________
"Love As Thou Wilt"
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old 01-04-2010, 05:43 AM
StitchwitchD StitchwitchD is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Posts: 77
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by CielDuMatin View Post
LR (and constlady and anyone else): If work was done on a generally-accepted definition of poly for the legal rights issues surrounding families, what, in your opinion, is "child-friendly" enough to make it safe for you to still be poly and to have this issue become a non-issue? Or would any definition be good enough?
I worry about this, because I'm trying to get custody of my kids, and my ex has tried to use his suspicions about my sex life against me in court to show that I was an unfit mother- but it was a non-issue at that point because he couldn't prove anything and my lawyer said that as long as I wasn't doing anything illegal (pedophilia, necrophilia, bestiality) and I wasn't doing anything inappropriate in front of the kids, no one cared.

The issue in my case is more that the court wants me to show I can stand on my own 2 feet and live in my own apartment- which is a pretty quiet and lonely place when my kids aren't there, and it really doesn't require any work to keep a place clean with just one adult living there. So, if I was in a monogamous relationship, I'd have the same issue with the court wanting me to prove that I can be a SINGLE mother and live alone and not rely on anyone or have them rely on me....which seems a bit unreasonable, every single mom I've known has needed a healthy support network.

I have friends who are foster parents who are adopting a teenager, and there were some issues about them having a single mom living in their basement, the agency was worried that their household wasn't stable, that people would be coming and going from her life- in the most stable home she's ever been in.
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old 01-04-2010, 05:17 PM
jasminegld jasminegld is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2009
Posts: 81
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by CielDuMatin View Post
If work was done on a generally-accepted definition of poly for the legal rights issues surrounding families, what, in your opinion, is "child-friendly" enough to make it safe for you to still be poly and to have this issue become a non-issue? Or would any definition be good enough?
UUs for Polyamory Awareness defines polyamory as the philosophy and practice of loving or relating intimately to more than one other person at a time with honesty and integrity.

UUPA's definition includes both philosphy and practice, to be inclusive of people who identify as poly but don't currently have multiple partners.

UUPA's definition includes "relating intimately" to be inclusive of people for whom the term "loving" is problematical, such as people in the gray area between polyamory and swinging. If they choose to call themselves poly, that's fine. If they don't, that's fine.

The definition doesn't specifically state "between adults," because teenagers can have poly dating relationships with other teenagers, and 17 year-olds can have poly dating relationships with 18 year olds. Substituting "age-appropriate" doesn't solve it, because we have no consensus on what constitutes "age-appropropriate" age differences among consenting and legal adults. So it becomes entirely too complicated to address all of that in a brief defition that a person can actually remember.

The "honesty and integrity" phrase is intended to cover "adults don't abuse children," as well as "people don't abuse people."
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Old 01-04-2010, 01:28 AM
crisare's Avatar
crisare crisare is offline
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2009
Posts: 172
Default

Yes. I live in the Baptist, conservative, South. If there is a red state, mine glows with an unholy red light. And I'm only partially joking.

I don't have children myself, but all of my partners have had children. It would be nice to know that someday people wouldn't automatically assume that we were all being irresponsible and endangering their children by choosing to have multiple, committed relationships.

And the only way that will happen is to take the fear out of the word by clearly defining it.
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Old 01-06-2010, 04:46 AM
ImaginaryIllusion's Avatar
ImaginaryIllusion ImaginaryIllusion is offline
Moderator
 
Join Date: May 2009
Location: Canada
Posts: 1,973
Default Irrational Parents Pt2

Now…the extension of the comment which was read into the original comment…and what I think it actually means:

While we’re on the subject of what non-parents may or may not know about parents and kids…it’s not entirely unlike teachers and students. Everyone thinks they’re an expert, since generally everyone has been a kid with a parent…just as almost everyone has been a student with a teacher.
I’ve been told by my friends who have since become teachers that it’s quite a different reality being a teacher...including that of Parent/Teacher days where they get to meet several ‘experts’ who will pontificate at the teachers about how they should be doing their job.

This is very similar I think to how parents feel when continuously challenged to justify themselves to those who aren’t parents.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ceoli View Post
Quote:
When someone with no children lectures me on my decision making-that to me is belittling. They are assuming that they know what is best in my situation, despite having no experience in my situation.

Further that to someone who doesn't even KNOW me OR my children-and it comes across as highly arrogant and presumptive.
I apologize if speaking of the effect that your decisions have on others is lecturing. I don't think anyone was speaking about questioning that what you're doing is best for your children.
Ceoli…I chose this specifically because I do think you understand how it can come across...and that it’s probably not the intention.

I also know you realize the other extension of this though…as I alluded to above, the experience of being a parent is an experience unique to individuals...and those who have not had that experience will not have the same perspective. I’ve seen you say as much.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ceoli View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by LovingRadiance View Post
I can comprehend intellectually the way it feels to have my leg amputated, but unless my leg is ACTUALLY amputated-it's only conceptual.
While it's GOOD for me to work on conceptual understanding of things I don't personally experience, it's unfair to those truly suffering the experience and somewhat egotistical for me to tell someone I DO understand what they experience if I in fact haven't ever been through their situation.
EVEN if I have been through having my leg amputated, I STILL don't know exactly what THEY are going through-because I am not them. I don't have their mind, their life experience etc and therefore I don't feel exactly what they feel.
I specifically said earlier in this thread that I certainly cannot understand the EXPERIENCE of having a child. I was speaking to the issues that surround having a child and the presumption that any of us who are looking at this from outside are ignorant of such issues.
This last part is the only clincher. Nothing in my post said anything about you or anyone else being ignorant of the issues surrounding care. Between own family, siblings, exposure to children, social work, friends with kids, teaching, there’s a myriad of ways to get experience with kids, know the issues, see family drama in action, even be a part of it.

Non-parents and their perspective can in fact be very valuable, benefiting from not being as myopic or clouded by affections and instinct as parents might be. Regardless of what they know about parenting, they’re still experts with many years experience of being kids…and might remember what it was like better than the parents...but still with the communication abilities of an adult, which kids sometimes lack. Sometimes it can simply be similar to the perspective an observer may have from outside the NRE of two new lovers. As I said, parents can be a little irrational about their kids…and non-parents can sometimes provide a moderating force to balance that. Mothers being a force of nature, the only thing to say about that is that sometimes it needs to be approached very delicately lest the bear comes out from hibernation.

Along those lines, if it sometimes feels that parents react badly to the suggestion that they should make decisions more like you, or that they don’t think you understand, some of that may be a result of a not so delicate approach...but in a few places like this thread, I think some of it comes from a place of envy. Just like some people grow up and get into the working world and long to be back in school again sometimes, so do some parents sometimes long to be able to make decisions for only themselves. To be able to enjoy a former life they might only vaguely remember where there was no responsibility, no babysitters, no minivan, or clothes covered in dried up pabulum.

It’s not that non-parents don’t have something to contribute…and I would never assume that they have nothing to contribute just because they aren’t a parent. I had plenty of good ideas before I was a parent that are still good ideas after too. However, having been a non-parent, while I believe it’s possible, it’s few and far between the individuals who are not parents who would truly understand the full mindset, and decision making of those who are…and that can exist across time as well. The mind as a non-parent may be very different than a few short months later when they become a parent, and that one is different again than the mind after another couple years or raising a child.

Ceoli...I know you in particular should understand this…which is why I also dug out this nugget...
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ceoli View Post
The facilitator responded with this powerful question: "Who do you think understands the experiences and challenges of being a person of color in white privileged society? You or the people who have lived it all their lives?"
This is simply one of the most brilliant things I’ve ever heard or read. It speaks to something I think is just a plain truth.

In this particular context of addressing non-parents (and I would gladly remodel this for dozens of contexts…it’s that versatile), I would simply paraphrase it to say, who do you think understands the experiences and challenges of being a parent? You, or those who have time-in as parents?
__________________
“People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it.” - Chinese Proverb

-Imaginary Illusion

How did I get here & Where am I going?
Reply With Quote
Reply

Tags
acceptance, children, community, differences, disrespect, kids, prejudice, respect, rights

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT. The time now is 08:13 PM.