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Old 02-14-2010, 06:19 PM
Ceoli Ceoli is offline
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Default Interesting take on Political Correctness

I came across this Salon article covering an American poll about gays and lesbians serving in the military. It turns out poll results are very different when you say "homosexual" rather than "gay" or "lesbian".

http://www.salon.com/mwt/broadsheet/...ual/index.html

Given all the issues that have been brought up with the word "polyamory" and given that polyamory is really a proto-term that is only just now beginning to enter public consciousness, I thought this would be interesting food for thought. Since it's still a new term to many people, I wonder if it's a term we should allow to be co-opted in such a way that it ends up only referring to negative and pejorative stereotypes rather than what it actually means.

The last paragraph of the article:

Quote:
So, you know how activists are always insisting that word choice matters, and some words carry a lot of extra baggage even if you don't mean anything by them, and their use has a real cultural impact, even if you don't notice it? And how whenever they do that, they're widely dismissed as free speech-hating P.C. whiners who need to get a life? Yeah. Turns out they might be onto something.
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Old 02-14-2010, 06:54 PM
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I remember back in the days when I was more conservative, feeling uncomfortable with any word that had "sex" in it. I felt dirty just saying it. (SO not a problem anymore!! ) So I can see how this makes a big difference. When the term homosexual was new to me I would end up with a (at the time) disturbing mental picture of some hot guy-on-guy action, whereas the word gay or lesbian just evoked a fully-clothed, less affectionate version of the image.

Like, the word polygamy makes me think of male dominance and religious cults, whereas polyamory makes me think of a family of equal partners. Hopefully the public will develop a similar sense. If not, we'll have to get a new word!

Last edited by classycaveman; 02-14-2010 at 06:58 PM.
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Old 02-14-2010, 07:23 PM
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Originally Posted by Ceoli View Post
Given all the issues that have been brought up with the word "polyamory" and given that polyamory is really a proto-term that is only just now beginning to enter public consciousness, I thought this would be interesting food for thought. Since it's still a new term to many people, I wonder if it's a term we should allow to be co-opted in such a way that it ends up only referring to negative and pejorative stereotypes rather than what it actually means.

The last paragraph of the article:
I totally agree with you. I read that article and find my own response to the words gay and lesbian as opposed to homosexual to be quite different. The word homosexual is not a word I prefer. My daughter identifies as a lesbian but I prefer to refer to her orientations as "gay" because I even find the word lesbian somewhat tarnished by the inaccurate concept of raging feminists and man haters.

The word poly has already been tarnished in my eyes and as I have stated many times before I won't use it to explain my relationship to people who are in traditional circles because of the immediate negative assumptions they made about the people in my life when researching the word. I also do not associate with the word poly-fi anymore as that does not accurately describe my relationship. I now describe my relationship as a multi partner open relationship.

When I first joined this forum I was quite proud to use the word polyamorous because it almost had an enlightened appeal to me. That is no longer the case as I find myself increasingly discouraged by the relationship turmoil I see around me "in real life" and the almost cultish need to "group" people based on a criteria of activities for those who wish to belong. There is a hugely artificial structuring around me that is no different than the idea of "traditional society" other than people want to stand out. I hate the idea of community leaders who seem to think people need guidance in achieving what they want or who insist on shaping a community. I wish I had a dollar for every time I hear a word that starts with "meta" or "poly"...I'd be rich!


Sorry for the rant Ceoli (I'm seriously getting poly saturated/sex positive saturated/shitty wireless service saturated).....I think I made some sense at first
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Last edited by MonoVCPHG; 02-14-2010 at 08:35 PM.
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Old 02-14-2010, 08:51 PM
Ceoli Ceoli is offline
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I suppose it's important to me to "untarnish" the word as much as possible because that tarnish is made of stereotyping and assumptions.

Since polyamory does seem to be a word that is now entering the public awareness, I'd rather do what I can to make that word work for us rather than against us.
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Old 02-14-2010, 09:48 PM
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Originally Posted by MonoVCPHG View Post
...I now describe my relationship as a multi partner open relationship.
I like this term, it's very clean and positive. But there's still a problem, and I'm not sure if any term we could come up with would combat it:

A while back I read an article about breast-feeding literature, and the fact that even though breastfeeding was shown to have a lot of benefits over not breastfeeding including better mother-child bonding, immune system benefits, higher IQ for the child later in life... women were still choosing not to breastfeed. (I'm not 100% sure that those are all benefits of breastfeeding, it was a while since I read the article, but they were something like that.) The reason, they realized, was that they were framing breastfeeding as the option and not breastfeeding as the accepted norm, and more new mothers were opting for the accepted norm. So there's been some effort to reframe things, by saying that not breast-feeding results in poorer bonding, less immune response, lower IQ... (again, don't quote me.) and therby portraying it as a less desirable option, and breastfeeding as the norm.

It would be ideal to have a term that could do this. Rather than having one that explains how we are different from the norm, find one that makes poly a norm.

I'm not sure I explained that very well... Any thoughts?

Last edited by classycaveman; 02-14-2010 at 10:05 PM.
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Old 02-15-2010, 02:39 AM
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I suppose it's important to me to "untarnish" the word as much as possible because that tarnish is made of stereotyping and assumptions.
I think that's going to be a tough thing to do when even polyamorists can't agree on what the word means....

But I very much applaud the objective and the sentiment.
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Last edited by CielDuMatin; 02-15-2010 at 02:41 AM.
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Old 02-15-2010, 02:48 AM
Ceoli Ceoli is offline
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I think that's going to be a tough thing to do when even polyamorists can't agree on what the word means....
As I've said in other threads, I don't think there's as much disagreement about the term as it seems. I think people have differing ideas of what qualifies as a loving relationship, not on the idea that polyamory is multiple consensual loving relationships. It's just about agreeing to the definition, not to what the practice of the definition looks like, since that's going to be wide and varied.

We already have implicit agreements about that in monogamy, because it's been in the public consciousness for so long. I see no reason why we can't at least agree to a basic term in other ways.
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Old 02-15-2010, 06:44 AM
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I have seen some of this with "nonbeliever" vs "atheist." A lot of people see "atheist" as harsher and more definitive than "nonbeliever" even though they both essentially the same. (I guess you can be a nonbeliever who does religious stuff but doesn't believe in it.)

I am seeing dispute between "bisexual", "pansexual" and "omnisexual" lately. This is based on some negative views of bisexuality which is associated with being more sluttish. In addition, the other words imply a gender blind appproach to sexuality.

I remember when "negro" was a polite word. I never liked "African American" since it could apply to people from Egypt and it implied a dual citizenship.

There are a lot of subtle nuances when we pick labels. I think it is very natural for each label or category to morph over time and for people to want to change the name to keep the idea fresh.
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Old 02-15-2010, 02:48 PM
GroundedSpirit GroundedSpirit is offline
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Interesting post Ceoli !
Interestingly enough I was (trying) to have a very similar conversation with someone else regarding religion vs spirituality and claiming a label as belonging to any particular religion for pretty much the same reason.
I'm not sure yet whether my point sunk home or not and maybe this will help.
So far - it seems to me - that the term polyamory is still somewhat untarnished. It would be really interesting to have a better feel though for truly what the general public's reaction is.
I've always been afraid of the easy connection to 'polygamy' which is seriously tarnished and I think that if 'polyamory' has survived this far without a lot of damage, it's simply because the two root terms are quite blatantly self explanatory.
But it seems it will be prudent to think about this long term and keep a close eye on how it's manipulated by the mass media.
Someone in another thread (maybe Religion-I forget who) was mentioning something about how poly folk may now be in the gunsights of the religious/conservative extremists.
For just these reasons I've always been an advocate of flying below the radar for as long as possible until sufficient momentum has built up to become almost unassailable. Poly so far has seemed to follow that - if not by intention then by accident. But this CAN change as new people start to drift in with less knowledge and experience in such matters.
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Old 02-16-2010, 02:03 PM
Ceoli Ceoli is offline
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Originally Posted by GroundedSpirit View Post
So far - it seems to me - that the term polyamory is still somewhat untarnished. It would be really interesting to have a better feel though for truly what the general public's reaction is.
I've always been afraid of the easy connection to 'polygamy' which is seriously tarnished and I think that if 'polyamory' has survived this far without a lot of damage, it's simply because the two root terms are quite blatantly self explanatory.
I would disagree with this. I think the reason polyamory has survived this long is because people just haven't become aware of the term. That can be evidenced with the fact that a lot of people will jump to the term polygamy when talking about any multi-person relationship.


Quote:
Originally Posted by GroundedSpirit View Post
Someone in another thread (maybe Religion-I forget who) was mentioning something about how poly folk may now be in the gunsights of the religious/conservative extremists.
For just these reasons I've always been an advocate of flying below the radar for as long as possible until sufficient momentum has built up to become almost unassailable.
I'm not sure exactly what you mean by "flying below the radar" but I'll have a gander at one thing about such thinking that I think isn't useful. Many of the reasons why the progressive movements have been struggling here in the US are because most of these conversations are controlled by the fundamentalist religious right. When people start making decisions about how to exist based on how NOT to stay in the crosshairs of the fundamentalists, they have implicitly allowed the fundamentalists to define what is "right" and "normal". I'd rather not hand such control over to them and I would rather directly engage such attacks in order to show their uselessness. I think the GBLT movement suffered from flying under the radar too much and have noticed that progress has only been made with direct engagement. And public consciousness is shifting from such things.

I think that's a great deal of the reason why healthcare has failed here and why despite the fact that more than half of this country is liberal, the conservatives still manage to define far too much of what the US is.
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