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  #21  
Old 12-17-2013, 09:22 PM
opalescent opalescent is offline
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As an aside, I wouldn't categorize the Mosuo as being polyamorous.

They define and organize family very differently The married couple is not the foundation of the society. Instead the maternal line - a mother, her children, her brothers and sisters, her sister's children -forms the basic family unit. There is no marriage as we understand it. How the Mosuo structure romantic/sexual relationships springs out of that fundamental difference.

I would argue that our concepts of monogamy and polyamory are based on the married couple being the foundation of Western 'family'. Without that basis, I would argue that the Mosuo are not 'non-monogamous' as we understand it. Mosuo woman could have just one lover at a time, or her entire life. But that does not make her monogamous - it just means she has one lover at that point. Being non-monogamous requires the idea that sexuality 'should be' confined within a couple if only to disagree with it. After all non-monogamy is basically 'not monogamous'. It is defined by what it is not. Mosuo culture doesn't have that expectation.
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  #22  
Old 12-17-2013, 10:50 PM
InsaneMystic InsaneMystic is offline
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Originally Posted by kdt26417 View Post
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In 1999, [I think it was Morning Glory] Zell-Ravenheart [the apparent originator of the word] was asked by the editor of the Oxford English Dictionary to provide a definition of the term (which the dictionary had not yet recognized; the words "polyamory, -ous, and -ist" were added to the OED in 2006). On their website, the Ravenhearts [Morning Glory and Oberon] shared their submission to the OED, which follows:

Quote:
'The practice, state or ability of having more than one sexual loving relationship at the same time, with the full knowledge and consent of all partners involved.'
I find that definition sadly lacking, focused way too much on sex. Having, or even wanting to have, sex with anybody is not a requirement to be polyamorous.

While we're at the OED... it's fascinating how the definitions for polyamory differ between OED American English and OED British and World English. The former is far more spot on, IMO (and doesn't even mention sex at all), whereas the latter effectively makes swinging more or less synonymous with, or at least one specific form of, polyamory.
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  #23  
Old 12-17-2013, 11:09 PM
london london is offline
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You see, I've heard monogamous people say they have several loving relationships but only one romantic relationship at a time. I hear poly people say that some people subscribe to a definition of polyamory that excludes the more casual or sexually focused relationships they have. I've heard asexual people say that the focus on sex in the definition of romantic invalidates their amorous relationships, which are very much romantic and/or could involve any or all of the things a traditional, heterosexual, monogamous couple share. Especially when you consider they barely have sex either!

That's why I prefer saying polyamory is a relationship style that permits multiple romantic relationships simultaneously with the consent and knowledge of all involved. People can decide for themselves if their relationships are what would be commonly referred to as a romantic union, and whether they construct their relationships in a way that permits more than one romantic relationship at a time.

Last edited by london; 12-17-2013 at 11:13 PM.
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  #24  
Old 12-18-2013, 02:39 AM
alexi alexi is offline
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I meant 'evolved' in the sense of the economic advantages enjoyed by the Mosuo besides several layers of moral support by the system employed by them.

Polyamorous relationships are constrained by finances as there is a possibility of single parentage just as married couples are prone to. In that way marriage has only 'opened' up and no more.

Also one has to be particularly conscious of having children at all which is not the case with the Mosuo atleast technically because of the support system.
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  #25  
Old 12-18-2013, 03:01 AM
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kdt26417 kdt26417 is offline
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I think one could adopt "a Mosuo manner" of handling kids and lineage, without changing the structure (such as it is) of polyamory itself. For instance, in more than one polyamorous home the adults pretty much share all the children and raise them as if each child were the offspring of every adult. Of course, to do this you kind of need the consent of the children, which is a whole other kettle of fish.

Re (from opalescent):
Quote:
"As an aside, I wouldn't categorize the Mosuo as being polyamorous."
Yes I had occasion to re-think my previous statement. "Walking marriage" is rather NSA/FWB/one-night-stand-ish, and as such doesn't necessarily fall under the polyamory definition. Hmmm, are we then proposing to replace polyamory with walking marriage? Just curious.

Re:
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"I would argue that the Mosuo are not 'non-monogamous' as we understand it."
Agreed.

Re: the definition of poly ... will vary as widely as the number of people asked. I'd personally lean towards, "The ability, inclination, and/or state of being in a romantic arrangement involving three or more adults, with the full knowledge and consent of all adults involved." This is based on five-going-on-six years of participating on poly forums. During that time, I've heard of variants as diverse as, "The ability to love any number of persons or things." But the majority of people I've conversed with seem to lean towards the "romantic (not necessarily sexual)/adults/knowledge/consent" definition.

I only refer to Wiktionary and Wikipedia as a starting point. I think the definition of polyamory has evolved, is evolving, and is far from universally agreed upon. It really takes time and experience to get a feel for where the word is generally at. (What is with me today and closing sentences with prepositions. I don't know.)
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Last edited by kdt26417; 12-18-2013 at 11:34 AM.
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  #26  
Old 12-18-2013, 05:46 AM
Eponine Eponine is offline
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Originally Posted by kdt26417 View Post
"Walking marriage" is rather NSA/FWB/one-night-stand-ish, and as such doesn't necessarily fall under the polyamory definition.
Not necessarily. The guy must leave the girl's house before dawn, but that doesn't mean it's a one time thing without emotional connection. The relationship can be long-lasting, but they just don't live together.

As for how much "walking marriage" resembles polyamory, I've heard/read different things from different sources. According to some, Mosuo people are pretty close to poly, i.e. they can have multiple consensual relationships, and they don't even have "jealousy" in their vocabulary (I think that's from Sex at Dawn). According to others, they still mostly have serial monogamous relationships, despite a relatively open and free system.
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  #27  
Old 12-18-2013, 11:44 AM
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That makes sense.
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  #28  
Old 12-19-2013, 01:08 AM
alexi alexi is offline
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When a person stays with his/her mother, uncles and aunts, siblings and cousins, nephews and nieces there is tremendous moral, emotional and economic support that is hard to get in any other system. Coupled with this if he/she can with full freedom choose to have partners from members of similar other families, in whatever style be it casual or one-night-stands, FWB, swinging or polyamorous relationships - all being complementary, do not really matter or need to be slotted in a particular lifestyle.

Moreover one does not have to bother about pregnancy because of the strong support system; the family too grows and maybe with the best possible genes. Also, as there is no division of property, the families grow economically. As families have relatives and partners in all other families there is a life of maximum co-operation, selflessness, sense of belonging and concern for all.

Is this not an egalitarian and evolved society - the dream of all social reformers?

Last edited by alexi; 12-19-2013 at 01:59 AM.
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  #29  
Old 12-19-2013, 03:12 AM
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Re:
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"When a person stays with his/her mother, uncles and aunts, siblings and cousins, nephews and nieces there is tremendous moral, emotional and economic support that is hard to get in any other system."
I suppose that's true. Bleah, but most of my blood relatives are deeply steeped in the Mormon church and that atmosphere just wouldn't sit well with me. Nor would living in the heart of Utah. My two companions have similar issues. Brother-Husband has a heavily religious (especially Catholic) family members, and our Lady Hinge has very conservative folks. As for other relatives, there is a sister who nags other people all the time about how they should live their lives, and another sister with an obnoxious husband and two obnoxious kids. Not to mention many of these family members are spread far and wide across the country.

I think what the Mosuo have going for them is that they all live in close proximity with one another, have a simple farm life and haven't traveled widely so as to develop a taste for other parts of the world. In Western society, we largely get to travel around and choose the locality that suits our personality the best. One does give up the economic support of one's blood relatives when moving far away, but for some of us the trade-off is worth it. And there's the problem of how many of one's blood relatives would be accepting of one's non-monogamous life choices. My companions and I have few such relatives that would be accepting.

Heck there's also the problem of how controlling Brother-Husband's parents (especially his father) are, and how smothering my stepmother is. We kind of need to put a lot of distance between ourselves and them, just to stay sane.

But I'm not blind to the benefits of living near family (something I greatly missed while living in Michigan and New Mexico). So, I now live near my brother, his wife, her folks, her daughter, and her daughter's boyfriend. If we were in need of help I know we could count on them; and best of all, they are accepting of us just as we are.

Close friends can be like family too, but I admit I left 99% of all close friends behind me when I left the town of my birth. Back then it was a simple farm community, but now it's a vast, crowded suburb. All the quiet wild places are gone, replaced by busy streets and oversized houses. I no longer feel at home there. Feeling at home is something you can't put a price on.

It would be hard to transform all of Western society to look like the pastoral idyll that we see in Mosuo culture. We'd have to go back in time, and you can't turn back the clock. We need some kind of system that caters to the immense complexities of modern life. No longer can people take for granted what their mothers, uncles, aunts, siblings, cousins, nephews, and nieces tell them. We are no longer products of our ancestry; we have much independence, and the price of independence is sometimes loneliness. For those to whom that's a problem, a simpler, family-enshrouded life is needed, or at least a more intimate connection with the physical community that surrounds them. For my part, I consider myself content enough with the life that I have.

Re:
Quote:
"Is this not an egalitarian and evolved society -- the dream of all social reformers?"
Ah but you see I am not a social reformer. Oh I'd like to see polyamory (etc.) gain widespread acceptance, but I don't lose any sleep over it. I am content to make small contributions here and there, to be in my own way the change that I wish to see in the world. It is enough for me to live polyamorously and show that it can be done without fuss or drama. I don't need to show people that small-scale agriculture (and freedom from permanent birth control) is the only way to go. I like the city (and modern amenities) as well (though I don't like how it's encroached upon my childhood memories).

But I suspect that even among social reformers you will find a wide range of desired surroundings. Some will be glad to go back in time, while others will remember how the good old days were also the bad old days (where things like polyamory were not accepted). And few (at least on this forum) will happily part with their computers ...
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  #30  
Old 12-19-2013, 04:12 AM
alexi alexi is offline
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Kdt I get your point. Maybe we need to start a new culture, afresh; with a better version of the Mosuo where both men and women are equal in importance and play complementary roles as Mother Nature intended.They can evolve their own rules, even local currency and voting system etc., as it suits them and through consensus.

A starting point could be couples and singles can team up together to be a big family. Their offspring can be the regular family members - siblings, cousins, uncles, aunts, nephews and nieces in a big family. And several families together can form a community.
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