Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Polyamory Advocacy's Chicken-and-Egg Problem

Today the Chicago Sun-Times printed it's article on polyamory, Wedded to Variety. As it happen's, Oscar winner Tilda Swinton's poly family has become newsworthy and is responsible for this newspaper's interest in an article on Chicago-area polyamorists. (Thanks, Tilda, for setting such a great example! We love you!)

CunningMinx of the Polyamory Weekly podcast, who lives in the Chicago area, and I were interviewed and are quoted. Also, we both sought at the journalist's urging a Chicago area married poly couple to be interviewed, but with no luck. This is often what we are asked for, presumably because this form of poly family is most analogous to a monogamous married couple. The other form we are often asked for that is even harder to supply is a triad, quad, or other group of cohabitating multiples. That's because so few of them actually exist, with very few of those being made up of people who are all comfortable with being out.

Understandably, journalists don't realize that it is often very difficult to meet these demands. We educate them about the realities of poly life and about people's fears of outing themselves, especially on their home turf. The journalist typically wants a local person or persons to give the article local context. Though Paige was insistent that she must have a married couple, apparently her editor relented and decided the article was worth running without that perspective - good for them.

As long as people have to be afraid to be out as polyamorous, there is going to continue to be a conflict between the needs of polyfolk and the needs of journalists and we activists who must work with them to find suitable interviewees - a real chicken-and-egg problem. The more reasonably fair press exposure we get, the more awareness will be raised, the less stigmatized we'll eventually be, and the safer it will be to be out as a polyamorist. Yet without suitable interviewees, getting the story out becomes more difficult. Hence the chicken-and-egg reference.

The good news is that this is yet again another newspaper article that is positive and not in the least disparaging.


Jenny B said...

I was so happy to see that article too! I'm not a Chicago resident, of course. But should anyone ask you for a poly married couple to interview in the future, please feel free to send them my way!

I hope all well!

Jenny Block
Author of "Open: Love, Sex, and Life in an Open Marriage"


Anita Wagner said...

Thanks so much, Jenny - I'll be in touch.