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Old 03-13-2017, 09:52 PM
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Ravenscroft Ravenscroft is offline
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Default Relationship Anarchy

This stuff has been on my mind for some time. Clearly, I'm failing to comprehend.

Far as I can determine, the term Relationship Anarchy has been around since like 2010. Every time I see someone claiming to the term, though, it seems like they're talking about yet something else.

Before proceeding, I will admit that I am leery of Proper Nouns, as they so often indicate a dogmatic belief, replete with errors. While I call myself libertarian & socialist, I do not agree with many people who claim to be Libertarian or Socialist.

IME, making it a Proper Name means that thinking has stopped, replaced entirely by proscriptions -- what I call a NO orientation, where you're told at every turn what you aren't allowed to do, think, feel, discuss, ponder, read, etc.

Trying to graft anarchism to a NO orientation seems impossible, requiring either that (like many dogmas) a great amount of hypocrisy be brought in, or that the actual "anarchy" content be greatly diluted.

So while it makes sense to me for someone to follow some form of relational anarchism, to me it seems that it's better off avoiding dogmatism, & a beginning would be to cease capitalizing.

I keep wanting to write relational anarchism rather than relationship anarchy. Wouldn't that be a better term? How many people who apply the RA term to themselves have ever considered the clear difference between anarchy & anarchism?

I doubt that RA is "a movement," as often claimed. Mostly, fans of RA seem to speak almost entirely amongst themselves & within safe, welcoming groups. I looked up Social movement. Charles Tilly says that a movement is "a series of contentious performances, displays and campaigns by which ordinary people make collective claims on others" as "a major vehicle for ordinary people's participation in public politics."

Per Tilly's description of the three major elements in any given social movement, I can't see where RA has presented itself as "a sustained, organized public effort making collective claims of target authorities" or presented any "processions, vigils, rallies, demonstrations, petition drives, statements to and in public media, and pamphleteering" or "participants' concerted public representation of worthiness, unity, numbers, and commitments on the part of themselves and/or their constituencies."

Sidney Tarrow says social movements present "collective challenges by people with common purposes and solidarity in sustained interactions with elites, opponents and authorities."

I'm not seeing much of that from RA.
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Old 03-13-2017, 10:33 PM
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And there's also a strange elitism about RA.

I've taken pains for decades to deflate the notion that polyamory has some sort of moral superiority -- I'm a functionalist, after all, & believe that "better" is demonstrated in operation & outcome. And therefore I happily deny any faintest notion that choosing to "go poly" instantly makes one a superior being.

Apparently, RAs know they're better than all that. As a Marie Crosswell states,
Quote:
A polyamorous person can be and often is just as much a sex supremacist or a romance supremacist as a monogamous person. That means, just like the vast majority of monogamists, a poly person can make their romantic and/or sexual relationships superior to their nonsexual/nonromantic relationships, solely on the basis of sex and romance. A polyamorous person can and often does separate romantic-sexual relationships from their friendships by restricting intimacy and certain behaviors to their romantic-sexual relationships.
https://goodmenproject.com/gender-se...-basics-jvinc/

Yep, that's right: if you'd rather be with someone you love &/or have wild animal-noises sex, than with people who don't fit those categories, YOU ARE A BAD PERSON.

Remember how I said that (IMO) proper nouns raise a flag that a dogmatic NO orientation is in the area? The very next Crosswell paragraph reads like so --
Quote:
A relationship anarchist does not assign special value to a relationship because it includes sex. A relationship anarchist does not assign special value to a relationship because it includes romance, if they even acknowledge romance as a distinct emotion or set of behaviors in the first place. A relationship anarchist begins from a place of assuming total freedom and flexibility as the one in charge of their personal relationships and decides on a case by case basis what they want each relationship to look like. They may have sex with more than one person, they may be celibate their whole lives, they may live with someone they aren’t having sex with, they may live alone no matter what, they may raise a child with one sexual partner or multiple sexual partners, they may raise a child with a nonsexual partner, they may have highly physical/sensual relationships with multiple people simultaneously (some or all of whom are not sexually and/or romantically involved with them), etc. Relationship anarchists recognize that no behavior is inherently romantic, and the only behavior that is inherently sexual is actual genital sex. What determines the nature of a given act is the individual’s feelings behind it.
This self-congratulation totally overlooks one substantial problem: there is no Standards Committee. There's nobody to ensure that any self-proclaimed RA is doing anything to live the philosophy.

I've seen RA-waving screeds from people who are married &/or monogamous, who happily refer to their "partner" & even sometimes one that's "primary."

More & more, as I read what RAs have to say, the underlying theme seems to be "I can have all the friends I want, Mom!!"

And far from being at all radical, RA looks increasingly like an extension of Open Marriage, which has NOTHING to do with extramarital sex (much less nonmonogamy) but rather was intended to confront reflexive couple-front behavior, where everyone expected that "a couple" needed to be always acting as one being, sharing every interest, having the same friends, doing everything together, proverbially joined atthe hip -- equality & egalitarianism practiced insanely.

...much as still does reappear when people try to drag that old baggage into nonmonogamy. I say it's nutty to expect to treat two people "exactly the same" unless the interwaction is so utterly superfifial that it could be generically applied to just about anyone.

How often we hear about dyads trying to shoehorn "their third" into a 50/50 relationship -- without diluting the 50/50! -- maintaining the couple front yet magically expanding it to fit three, & can ONLY sleep in one bed or ONLY have sex with everyone present. "They are slaves to the concept of the couple-front. If one doesn't go, thenthe other doesn't go either."

Sure, polyamorists are far from perfect. There's plenty of Romantic & Monogamist nonsense clogging things up. That's inarguable.

But I strongly doubt that RA is any particularly more smart, wise, or holy.

And I figure that many people claiming to RA are in fact unwilling to examine their own pet prejudices, & glad to use the banner as subterfuge.

Last edited by Ravenscroft; 03-13-2017 at 10:39 PM.
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Old 03-14-2017, 12:21 AM
MeeraReed MeeraReed is offline
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The thing I like best about RA is that it makes a lot of poly people post whiny rants about how nobody who claims to be RA is really practicing RA, and what is the point of RA anyway, isn't it just everyone saying they have friends, and don't they know what political anarchy really is, etc.

Heard it all before.
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Old 03-14-2017, 01:19 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MeeraReed View Post
The thing I like best about RA is that it makes a lot of poly people post whiny rants about how nobody who claims to be RA is really practicing RA, and what is the point of RA anyway, isn't it just everyone saying they have friends, and don't they know what political anarchy really is, etc.

Heard it all before.
It is one of the fun things about liking the ideas surrounding RA and not finding the concept precious. I get to laugh while watching people pull out their hair expressing how much it irritates them.
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Old 03-14-2017, 04:57 AM
JaneQSmythe JaneQSmythe is offline
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Always reminds me of Prof. de la Paz
in Heinlein's "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress":

"A rational anarchist believes that concepts such as "state" and "society" and "government" have no existence save as physically exemplified in the acts of self-responsible individuals. He believes that it is impossible to shift blame, share blame, distribute blame. . . as blame, guilt, responsibility are matters taking place inside human beings singly and nowhere else. But being rational, he knows that not all individuals hold his evaluations, so he tries to live perfectly in an imperfect world. . . aware that his effort will be less than perfect yet undismayed by self-knowledge of self-failure."

SO, "A relational anarchist believes that concepts such as "love" and "relationship" and "commitment" have no existence save as physically exemplified in the acts of individuals. She believes that "relationships" are defined solely by the relations of the two people involved in such relationship and it is impossible to pre-define the roles in relationships before they exist as "relationships" take place between two individuals and nowhere else. But, being rational, she accepts that those individuals are shaped by the societal rules of their culture and therefore will be shaped by those cultural conventions."

PS. I may or may not be a Relational Anarchist. I believe that whatever relationships I find myself within are OK, and that I alone define the importance or relative importance of my relationships. I may value my relationship with my platonic girlfriend over sexual relationships with people that I share less commonality with. For me sex is an axis of intimacy but not the only, or most important, one. Sometimes physical intimacy and emotional intimacy and intellectual intimacy overlap - and sometimes they don't.

PPS. So, the long and the short of it is - if I find a label, like "polyamory", that seems to fit what I am doing, then I will adopt it. If I find that most people using that label are not using it the same way that I would, then I reject that label; it's not like I am going to change what I am practicing just so I can fit your label
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Last edited by JaneQSmythe; 03-14-2017 at 05:11 AM.
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Old 03-14-2017, 07:08 AM
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To me, the concept of defining every relationship you have individually, regardless of whether it is sexual, romantic, platonic, whatever, is just...life.

When I first heard the term, I saw, in my mind, a person who just went around starting and ending relationships willy nilly, leaving piles of broken people wondering what happened. After reading a little bit, probably not enough, it doesn't seem like a "thing" at all. It just sounds kinda cool.

I do agree with the line that it is unrealistic that every relationship is going to be equal, unless a person either doesn't come in contact with many people, or the relationships are shallow. Is it just that RA people call all relationships relationships, or don't see anything as a relationship, or...what?

Personally, I don't like labels much.
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Old 03-14-2017, 04:55 PM
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So I have two mental meanings for the word "relationship."

There is -relationship- which broadly means any ongoing interaction I have with another human being, or even the manner in which two objects are positioned thus and so, and therefore have a relationship in space and time to one another. A broad strokes meaning.

Then there is -"Relationship"- the whole, I am your person, you are my person, we have an ongoing expectation to time and energy prioritization and sexual access and so on. Words like girlfriend coming into play there.

"yes she likes you, but does she LIKE YOU, LIKE YOU?"

And for me...wanting freedom to matter, lots of exit clauses and loopholes, the reserved right to change my mind and evolve, and I want to be able to be somewhat fluid in relationships...unless I choose not to be! Like, I'm pretty casual, except when I'm totally not. I have, with some inner reluctance, accepted some rules and structure from Zen. The reluctance is a matter of sheer life-principle, and the reason I went with his wishes and accepted certain prohibitions on my sexual freedom and polyness, were because I asked myself, "How much do I really need or want to do that, anyways?" Right now, the answer is...no, I'm good, don't need to do that. ("That" being certain sex things with other men.) But I insisted on telling him that if the day ever came where I needed to go back that direction, I needed to ask for his understanding and feel safe to be honest about it.

And I will NOT under any circumstances, be expected to curtail my friendships and even my flirtations, with other men. If I say I won't have sex with them, then my partner needs to trust that I mean that.

But more to the point when I changed things with the quad, I think my comfort level with it and what I was trying to achieve there, was kind of RA flavored thinking. It was like well...we're acting more like friends...the sex thing is fading out of this anyways...can I just rip off these labels that seem to be making me feel tense, and call it something different?

The structure didn't matter that much to me. At that time, I didn't actually want those relationships to end, just change. From "girlfriend Relationship" to "friends with some benefits relationships." Easy groovy let's still have good times, just maybe not every weekend ok? But to them? It was seen as A BREAKUP and a Bad Thing. Feelings were hurt.

They clearly were not seeing the whole thing in as um...RA-ish...a light as I was, which is ironic since the couple at least considers themselves to be actual Anarchists. So...

But when somebody says they practice Relationship Anarchy, first off, I'll ask what it means to them. About the only assumption I'm going to make is that they don't practice hierarchy. If they say they have a Primary, then I would in fact be like...so that's not really RA as I know it....what am I missing here?

But otherwise, I'm not the relationship police and I really don't care what words people use, if those words help them to be happy with whatever they are doing...
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Old 03-14-2017, 08:02 PM
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And here I thought RA was in reaction to a whole bunch of snotty poly people telling other folks they are "doing it wrong".
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Old 03-14-2017, 10:05 PM
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Maybe we're all relational anarchists ... to a certain extent.
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Old 03-14-2017, 10:18 PM
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I would argue that a married couple who intend to find "their third" with a whole lot of couple front/privilege stuff going on and rules and stuff...maybe not RA so much. Nor many of the polyships I've seen where, say, a secondary was there to fulfill specific needs and roles with the understanding that the primary couple always comes first.

I think that in an RA situation there would be freedom for it to not matter who is "primary" that energies and investments could ebb and flow, people could rise and fall in prominence with one another, not only with disregard to roles and rules, but even in disregard as to relationship status.

In my brain (and mind, I am willing to be wrong here, this has just been the way it was explained to me!)

Solo is the opposite of escalator, and RA is one possible opposite of hierarchy. Although somewhere in there also should be a discussion of egalitarian poly which isn't either one. Dictating for certain that everyone WILL be equal is not allowing for the chaos of anarchy, but it's also not doing the ranking of hierarchy either.

???
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