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  #21  
Old 08-05-2018, 03:24 PM
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River River is offline
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Earlier in this thread there was some talk on the question "How long has polyamory been around?" (Not just the word, but the thing the word names.)

I just found a few words on that topic worth sharing:

Quote:
Polyamory is a new idea (?)

Polyamory as a social movement is relatively new, but polyamory as a practice has been around for a very long time indeed, even though the word “polyamory” has not. Conscious, ethical, deliberate non-monogamy is hardly a modern ideal; it’s been around for as long as we have been civilized animals.
Source: https://www.morethantwo.com/polymyths.html

Of course, here Franklin Veaux has made an assertion without an explanation or an offering of evidence to back up this assertion. But it seems a reasonable assertion to make. Perhaps one or several of us could ask him to explain his assertion further and offer any evidence he knows about. (?)
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  #22  
Old 08-05-2018, 11:36 PM
opalescent opalescent is offline
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Veaux, like a lot of people, confuse the broader category of non-monogamy with polyamory. Polyamory is a type of ethical non-monogamy - as are swinging and open relationships. Now, non-monogamy is as ancient as homo sapiens (and maybe even before we were around). But ETHICAL non-monogamy requires a degree of egalitarian behavior and assumptions that simply did not exist in huge swaths of world history.

If someone cannot consent, it is unethical to be in a relationship with them. That is a statement that would be ridiculous to much of human history. Slaveowners did not concern themselves with the consent of their slaves. The 'consent of the governed' in the US really only meant white men with a certain amount of wealth (usually landowners) for quite some time.

I suppose one could say that ethical non-monogamy has been around a long time in that people were enmeshed in the ethics of their time and culture and someone was likely non-monogamous and maybe behaved ethically according to their, status, race, gender, in a particular time, place, and culture. But that seems a poor argument to me. Thomas Jefferson seems to have treated Sally Hemings, with who he had several children, relatively well by the standards of the time. He eventually freed their surviving children. And given that she was a slave owned by Jefferson, she could not consent. She could only cope as best she could. There is some indirect evidence that they had some love or affection between them. But we will never know exactly what Sally Hemings thought of Jefferson or her connection with him because she was not a legal person at all but property for most of her life. They are not an example of polyamory or ethical non-monogamy because she had no ability to truly say no or yes.

It is relatively new form because, generally on a broad level, women could not consent to non-monogamy. They were outright property, like slaves, or so constrained by laws and custom, they did not have to power to decide basic life decisions, like if they married, who they married, if they had children, if they raised those children, etc. Women have to be (mostly) treated as legal adults and full citizens in order for polyamory to be broadly possible. Many, perhaps most, men have always had access to non-monogamous ways of behaving. Monogamy was for women only really. It is quite recent, within the past three centuries, that men were expected to be monogamous too. (That horrible 'boys will be boys' trope is a survivor of this old attitude.)

Polyamory is a creation of a particular time and place, like any other social creation, that of the 20th and 21st century West and specifically with strong feminist, LGBTQA, pagan and 'geek' elements.
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Old 08-06-2018, 02:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by opalescent View Post
Veaux, like a lot of people, confuse the broader category of non-monogamy with polyamory. Polyamory is a type of ethical non-monogamy - as are swinging and open relationships. Now, non-monogamy is as ancient as homo sapiens (and maybe even before we were around). But ETHICAL non-monogamy requires a degree of egalitarian behavior and assumptions that simply did not exist in huge swaths of world history.

If someone cannot consent, it is unethical to be in a relationship with them. That is a statement that would be ridiculous to much of human history. Slaveowners did not concern themselves with the consent of their slaves. The 'consent of the governed' in the US really only meant white men with a certain amount of wealth (usually landowners) for quite some time.

I suppose one could say that ethical non-monogamy has been around a long time in that people were enmeshed in the ethics of their time and culture and someone was likely non-monogamous and maybe behaved ethically according to their, status, race, gender, in a particular time, place, and culture. But that seems a poor argument to me. Thomas Jefferson seems to have treated Sally Hemings, with who he had several children, relatively well by the standards of the time. He eventually freed their surviving children. And given that she was a slave owned by Jefferson, she could not consent. She could only cope as best she could. There is some indirect evidence that they had some love or affection between them. But we will never know exactly what Sally Hemings thought of Jefferson or her connection with him because she was not a legal person at all but property for most of her life. They are not an example of polyamory or ethical non-monogamy because she had no ability to truly say no or yes.

It is relatively new form because, generally on a broad level, women could not consent to non-monogamy. They were outright property, like slaves, or so constrained by laws and custom, they did not have to power to decide basic life decisions, like if they married, who they married, if they had children, if they raised those children, etc. Women have to be (mostly) treated as legal adults and full citizens in order for polyamory to be broadly possible. Many, perhaps most, men have always had access to non-monogamous ways of behaving. Monogamy was for women only really. It is quite recent, within the past three centuries, that men were expected to be monogamous too. (That horrible 'boys will be boys' trope is a survivor of this old attitude.)

Polyamory is a creation of a particular time and place, like any other social creation, that of the 20th and 21st century West and specifically with strong feminist, LGBTQA, pagan and 'geek' elements.
I think you're basically right, Opalescent. You may even be completely correct. If there have been any counter-examples, they most likely would have been outside of Civilization, because Civilization, East and West or otherwise, has always embodied non-egalitarian, patriarchal and hierarchical cultural structures. Polyamory, as you say, is rooted in a cultural milieu of egalitarianism, feminism (or gender equality), personal liberty, etc..., which hasn't existed in Civilization -- except in subcultural enclaves recently. It doesn't even exist in the mainstream of the modern world much, though some degree and kinds of it are present in the contemporary mainstream.

Something like polyamory might have existed in certain non-civilizational cultures in the long ago. I don't know. Not all people have been "civilized," and not all non-civilized peoples have been hierarchical or patriarchal. I wonder what cultural anthropologists would have to say on this question. Hmm...
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  #24  
Old 08-06-2018, 09:18 PM
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Magdlyn Magdlyn is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by River View Post
I think you're basically right, Opalescent. You may even be completely correct. If there have been any counter-examples, they most likely would have been outside of Civilization, because Civilization, East and West or otherwise, has always embodied non-egalitarian, patriarchal and hierarchical cultural structures. Polyamory, as you say, is rooted in a cultural milieu of egalitarianism, feminism (or gender equality), personal liberty, etc..., which hasn't existed in Civilization -- except in subcultural enclaves recently. It doesn't even exist in the mainstream of the modern world much, though some degree and kinds of it are present in the contemporary mainstream.

Something like polyamory might have existed in certain non-civilizational cultures in the long ago. I don't know. Not all people have been "civilized," and not all non-civilized peoples have been hierarchical or patriarchal. I wonder what cultural anthropologists would have to say on this question. Hmm...

There is a lot of evidence from prehistorical times that women goddesses were extremely powerful and much more important than gods. Going by cave paintings and sculptures (idols) found.

It stands to reason that women had much more sexual freedom in prehistorical times, when the act of intercourse was not understood to be related to childbearing, and the idea of "owning" anything valuable, as an individual, was rather rare. Everything belonged to your tribe and to the goddess. No men wanted to determine which baby was "theirs" biologically, so didn't seek to control women's sexuality or fertility.

If you've read any French literature, you'll see that monogamy was merely given lip service. It was a given that both genders would have lovers. This was particularly apparent in France, but occurred in other countries as well.

Also, we could discuss the fact of the existence of highly paid and powerful courtesans, who could choose their lovers and be kept by them, and then "cheat" on them, or change them at will. "Loose women" lived by different rules than the marrying kind.

Also, men and women who opted out of marriage and entered monasteries or nunneries had their own rules of coupling.
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