Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Polyphobic Religious Extremist News Sides with Gays Against Polyamory

I am a bit agog this morning, though probably shouldn't be. I came across the following (very poorly written) statement at Values Voter News, in their "Merry Christmas" piece - of course! Message: "Nuttin' but love from we Christians to some of you out there, but definitely not all of you!" So bloody Christian of this writer - and so typical. I hope there are Christians somewhere with the ethics to cringe at this.

Most homosexual activists believe (or at least when confronted with the concern that homosexual marriages would lead to polygamist and polyamory marriages they do) that boundary should exclude polygamists and polyamory. Traditional Marriage activist believe marriage should be limited to one man and one woman. Both put limits on marriage for non-discriminatory reasons or non bigotted reasons. Homosexual activists are no more discriminatory of polygamist as traditional marriage advocates are discriminatory of homosexuals. There are many other reason why the two have set boundaries to marriage then discrimination and bigotry.

I'll bet marriage equality leader and spokesman Evan Wolfson is so proud. He's said publicly pretty much what this columnist says before. The marriage equality movement's strategy of marginalizing polyamorists and exploiting the polyphobia of their enemies against polyamory has had the desired effect, in that even the religious extremists, who generally hate all of us, use that message to validate their own polyphobia. The stupid thing about this is that there is very little support amongst polyamorists for a poly right-to-marry effort. It's all about activism strategy, and it really sucks. As I've said before, polyamory and religious polygamy are being exploited in this fight and used as a political football. Yeah, guys, kick us some more why dontcha.

And yes, there, I said it, I used the word. Polyphobia. It obviously exists and is indeed alive and well. Even my own Unitarian Universalist national leadership has (unofficially) asked we polyamorists to moderate our words and visibility within UU community until the marriage equality fight is won. Not all my UU poly friends agree that this is discriminatory, but it sure feels like betrayal to me. Oh well, at least there's SOMETHING marriage equality proponents and opponents can agree on.


I do wish the religious nuts would get off that "only we have values" crap, though it's not bloody likely since it's their delusional PR strategy - see this post for more on that issue.

Once again, I'm given the opportunity to use this graphic - I'm sure it won't be the last.

Rant over.

Friday, December 26, 2008

The Afghan Polygamist Husband, the CIA and the Little Blue Pill

There's an interesting (and bemusing) story in the Washington Post this morning about an Afghan Muslim polygamist, age 60, who was having trouble keeping his four younger wives satisfied. What's a guy living in a primitive culture to do? (Well, we all know there are many ways to please a woman, but these are very traditional folks we're talking about here.)

Along came the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. It needed information on the Taliban. It's inducement turned out to be an answer to a good Muslim husband (and his wives') prayer, however brief.

I'm very happy for the wives. God knows they deserve all the happiness and pleasure they can manage to have. But I'm also disgusted that this primitive poly family's sex life has been improved but only very briefly by a war machine. Still, we all know that women are routinely abused and oppressed in probably the most patriarchal society still in existence, with the Taliban to blame for setting that standard. So, it seems to me that all we can do is hope that this practice serves the interests of gender equality and that it brings Afghan polygamous families peace and happiness. Nothing makes the day look brighter like a good roll in the sack and the intimately expressed love between beloveds. What the CIA really should do is work with Pfizer to figure out how to make Viagra more available to these families - four little blue pills can't be nearly enough. That and maybe a good urologist.

For more data on the plight of women in Afghanistan today, visit the Unifem Afghanistan website fact sheet.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Happy Holidays from Anita!

I heard Christmas sweaters are back in style, and I thought I'd send out a Christmas/Holiday greeting to all my friends and readers - hope you and yours are having a happy holiday season!

I don't write much about my personal life here normally, but I will share that despite being known as a staunch advocate for polyamorists everywhere, well, yes, I do have a mundane life that is one of my many facets. In that realm, my daughter is about to give birth any day to a son, so it is indeed a joyful time for our family.

I wish you the best of everything in 2009 - success and prosperity to be sure (regardless of the economic forecast). Most of all, I wish you and yours an abundance of love and pleasure and connection of the heart.

I hope to see you in 2009, perhaps at a conference somewhere - if we haven't met, please say hello. Here's to sexual and relationship freedom!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Rick Warren References Multiple Partners In Laundry List of What is "Natural" but Wrong

If you've seen the news in the last 24 hours you've heard that Barak Obama has picked Rev. Rick Warren to offer the invocation at his inauguration, to no small amount of consternation on behalf of GLBTs and others who are vigilantly watching Obama's every move for evidence of inclusiveness. Marriage equality advocates are particularly appalled, due to Warren's opposition to same-sex marriage.

Interestingly, the U.S. News and World Report website says that "Warren, author of the bestselling Purpose-Driven Life and pastor of the Saddleback Church in Orange County, Calif., has sought to distance himself from Christian right leaders who frame evangelical political concerns mostly around fighting abortion rights and gay rights. At the same time, Warren opposes gay marriage and gay civil unions and has said that he objects to the homosexual lifestyle."

From a rational point of view, if, as the Time Magazine cover states, Warren is the most powerful evangelical in the country, doesn't it make sense that he would be chosen for such an honor as someone who clearly has the support and esteem of a significant segment of the population? It's a much more sizeable segment than the segment that is made up of we GLBTs. I just have to wonder about how those who seek inclusion can seriously challenge Obama's willingness for being inclusive when they aren't being inclusive of the people Obama includes. Seems kind of hypocritical to me, but don't get me wrong, I'm very supportive of marriage equality. After all, asking Warren to give the inaugural invocation hardly means Obama is in Warren's pocket,and I think it would be a mistake to read too much into this decision.

Maybe it's time to really recognize what Obama means when he promises to be inclusive ... to be a uniter and not a divider, and to be EVERYONE's president. He seems very wise to me to take that approach, and by taking it, yes, occasionally an evangelical who opposes what many of us advocate for on behalf of sexual minority groups is going to show up on the radar.

And all that said, I still have my concerns about Rev. Warren, who specifically spoke about multi-partner marriage in remarks to be aired tonight. This morning the Today Show broadcast a piece of teaser footage of Ann Curry's Dateline NBC interview with Rick Warren to be broadcast this evening. Feisty Ann challenged Warren's position on homosexuality and same sex marriage (one man one woman marriage only, if homosexuality is hard wired it must be resisted ....).

Ann asked: "Many of these gay people want to be married because they want to create families, they want to adopt children, they want to create a family that isn't about multiple partners bur about one."

Warren responded, "For 5,000 years, every single culture and every single religion has defined marriage as a man and a woman, not just Christianity, Judiasm, Islam, Hinduism, Budhism ..... Why take that word [marriage]? I even have gay friends like Al Rantel at KABC who is opposed to using the word marriage for a gay relationship. Use another term. I am opposed to marriage being used for a relationship between a sister and a brother. ... For an older man and a baby girl. .... For one man and six wives or one wife and six husbands. God said in Genesis one a man and a woman shall cling to each other for life ....

Warren also recited a laundry list of things that are "natural" to humans but must be resisted as wrong. Unfortunately that clip hasn't been posted by NBC and I can't recall all of it, but he included things like fear and other human emotions that can be problematic. What I heard was him advocating for rejecting our very humanity in the name of self-control. Sounded like horseshit to me. Would love to have your comments if you get to see Dateline tonight.

Update - Sheraton and Starwood Censorship of Robyn Ochs Website Ends

Since I wrote this, bisexuality activist Robyn Ochs heard back from the Starwood Hotels who had taken under consideration her insistence that her website not be blocked by public computer in the Starwood chain (Sheraton, W, Westin, and many others). The issue is that the term "bisexual" was being screened out by the software they use which was created by "family-focused" interest groups to offer a "family friendly" hotel atmosphere.

As I've already said, in no way do I advocate for public computers being free of all blocking software - some material *isn't* appropriate for children - but I believe the users of such programs must act responsibly and, as apparently Starwood has done, at minimum make accommodation for non-sexually focused websites like Robyn's, so people using these computers and wishing to contact her, link to her, or find the valuable information she furnishes will be able to do so free of cencorship restrictions. Here's what Robyn has to say in response to Starwood's latest and then the details of Starwood's answer. Woohoo Robyn!

Robyn's update:

UN-censored (follow-up about Starwood Hotels blocking my website)

Dear All,

I received this response today from Starwood Hotels. Good news, I think.

I have a favor to ask of all of you. When you visit public libraries, hotels, cafes, etc., try going to my website. Please let me know if you find access blocked. Send me as much detail as you can (where, when, what message you received).

Warm regards to all,


Dear Ms. Ochs,

Upon further review by our IT team and Legal Department, we have concluded that your website will not be blocked by the filter. In return for lifting the restriction; we ask that you include this follow up on your website.

Ms. Ochs, thank you for allowing us the opportunity to better respond to our clientele. It is our sincere hope this act renews any lost faith with Starwood Hotels & Resorts and wishes you safe travels in the future.

Andrew Walker
Consumer Affairs Executive Division
Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc.


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Polyamory and Jealousy on wikiHow

How to Practise Polyamory

from wikiHow - The How to Manual That You Can Edit

I've just discovered wikiHow, a fascinating repository based on the Wikipedia model where you can find info and write articles on how to do just about anything. Articles include everything from how to create a wreathe to how to supress the gag reflex (hmmm - could come in handy, that), to, yes, how to practice polyamory and how to stop being jealous. Both of the latter two topics are fairly brief and straightforward. The jealousy article isn't presented in a poly context but nevertheless makes many important and accurate points. One must look elsewhere for more indepth treatments of these subjects, but wikiHow gives enough info to get one thinking in the right direction.

Next wikiHow article for me to review - how not to look like an American tourist (in anticipation of traveling to Europe in summer 2009).

Friday, December 12, 2008


Because they are following me on Blogger (which you can also do if desired - click link in the column on the left that says "Follow This Blog"), I just discovered the blog and website of a polyamorous quad in Tennessee that collectively goes by the name Quadfusion or Quadfused Clan, a/k/a Wounded Turtle, Gentle Dog, Bear Claw and Tiger Lily. So now I'm following them, too. Being a transplanted native Tennessean, and considering that Tennessee is still by and large a very conservative place where condemnation for such a life can be very harsh, I'm always intrigued when I discover polyamory growing and flourishing there.

Before reading a word of the blog, I encountered on the blog's home page this wonderful chalk-on-blackboard piece of prose about not caring about the physical attributes and life circumstances of those with whom I wish to connect, but instead the quality of their mind and heart. That's my approach to love and life as much as possible - my Unitarian Universalist principles support that approach, most certainly.

Kudos to Quadfusion - I plan to learn more and maybe even meet up with them some day when I'm visiting the place of my youth, if they are game. I'm met a few other poly Tennesseans over the past 12 years and will always look forward to meeting more of them.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

NCSF Rocks

The annual Folsom Street Fair in San Francisco is pretty much the granddaddy of the BDSM Leather Fetish celebrations. The National Coalition for Sexual Freedom just published the following letter from a very satisfied constituent, i.e. Demetri Moshoyannis, the Folsom Street Fair Executive Director. Helping out with incidents like this is what NCSF does best.

I spent a year as a member of the NCSF Board of Directors, and it was my pleasure to get to know and learn a thing or two from Leigha Flemming (Incident Response Coordinator who wears many other hats as well), founder and media maven Susan Wright, past board chair and loyal, long-time ultra-committed supporter Vivienne Kramer. Since that time the Institute for 21st Century Relationships, which I co-founded with my partner, Jim Fleckenstein, became NCSF's foundation, and now Jim and the NCSF folks are working together to make the US and world safer for people who engage in alternative forms of sexual and relationship expression.

So here's Mr. Moshoyannis's letter of thanks for NCSF's work in helping Folsom Street Fair field an onslaught of attacks from religious extremists who tried over and over to shut down the festival.

Kudos to NCSF!

Moshoyannis writes:

For over a year now, Folsom Street Events has been under attack by anti-gay and religious right groups from across the country. The attacks have been relentless. They have threatened our major sponsorships, picketed our events, called upon public officials to denounce us, and rallied their troops against our community. As a small organization with only two staff members, we do not have the capacity to stand up and respond to these continuing assaults.

We contacted the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom to access the Incident response program. Within hours, we spoke with a highly trained and knowledgeable media and PR consultant for support. In addition to her moral support, we received a meticulous training for our Board of Directors and staff, preparing us to better manage these attacks. Also, the program consultant was able to field all media inquiries - and serve as a positive voice for our community - during our events, so that we could focus on our production duties. We can't thank NCSF enough for their good work and for being there when we needed them.

Demetri Moshoyannis
Executive Director
Folsom Street Fair

Jada Pinkett Smith is SO one of us ... and so is Will

DC's local NBC affiliate's website has video today of interviews with Will Smith and Rosario Dawson on their new film, Seven Pounds. Both discuss Will's nervousness about shooting the steamy love scenes between the two of them.

Apparently this is the first really hot sex scene Will has done. Hard to believe, I know, but apparently true. The interviewer was shocked to hear that Will wanted Jada to be on the set and watching when the scene was shot - which Rosario says he kept putting off until the end of production.

Will says he was very nervous about being in bed with Rosario and her being naked. He didn't want to touch the wrong place or do the wrong thing, and there are all those production people looking on to add to the stress. Sounds like he didn't want rumours getting back to Jada, which seems strange since it's common knowledge that they have an open relationship, at least in theory. In fact, the following is a direct quote from Will:

'In our marriage vows, we didn't say "forsaking all others". We said, "You will never hear I did something afterwards". Because if that happens, the relationship is destroyed.'

Will's also been quoted in the past saying that they have an agreement that if they sexually desire someone, they talk about it and go from there. He has also said that Jada is the queen of his life, and that as along as she is happy and he doesn't do anything to hurt her or make her unhappy, then yes, sexual flings are an option.

At first his reluctance and nervousness on the set seems inconsistent with that admission, but I imagine the burden for public figures is much greater in terms of getting attention from the press about anything that remotely smells of infidelity. I can see why he'd not want any rumors to be flying about that might upset his and Jada's agreement and introduce doubt about their agreement to be transparent to each other when they fancy someone else.

Jada *was* on the set, and she told Will in front of Rosario and others that ...

...he was not to embarrass her (by wimping out) and that he "had to bring it ..."

That Jada is one cool lady! Rosario says there was lots of tongue, and that she could tell it was permitted, though Jada didn't say so specifically.

I hate to think that Hollywood actors actually have to negotiate every move with their realtime loves when they do love scenes with others, but jealousy knows no boundaries when left on its own to do what it will. But of course, most of the movie set sex scenes are carried out with somebody really hot, so I guess it makes sense that it has very real power to push buttons.

Friday, December 5, 2008

(No More) Call for Boycott - Sheraton and all Starwood Hotels

OTE: Since I first posted this article, there has been big news as to this situation. NO BOYCOTT is needed any longer. See here for details.


Robyn Ochs is a tireless, well-known activist for the rights of bisexuals, and she recently posted to Facebook the story of how a Sheraton hotel blocked access to her non-adult not-porn website because a blunt instrument, conservative-agenda-focused software blocking program blocks words like lesbian and bisexual as inappropriate content. Based on what Robyn has written, I'm joining with her in boycotting Sheraton and all Starwood Hotels until Robyn tells us the problem has been satisfactorily resolved. Note that the blocking in question is in place in the hotel's lobby internet facilities, not its in-room service.

Robyn wrote compellingly in response to the Sheraton hotel manager's BS response - the entire story is below. The current status of the matter is that the hotel manager has forwarded her email to the Consumer Affairs Executive Division of Starwood Hotels and Resorts for further consideration.

As a self-identified bisexual female, I say BOO SHERATON! BOO STARWOOD! In intend for none of it to have the pleasure of my company until this is resolved. Specific hotel brands to avoid are

- Meridien

- Four Points

- Westin

- The Luxury Collection

- Loft

- Sheraton

- Element

- St. Regis

- W Hotels


Robyn writes:

Dear All,

Here is my email to Starwood/Sheraton, the response I received from the hotel in Milwaukee that uses SiteCoach to block content in their hotel lobby Internet, and my own response to them:

MY FIRST EMAIL: I stayed in one of your hotels on October 7-8, 2008. When I went to my own website, www.robynochs.com, I was denied access, with the following message: The requested site could not be loaded. 451 The access to the address above is restricted. According to our harmful content database SiteCoach does not allow you to visit this page! An error has occurred while trying to open the page http://www.robynochs.com/ ." From what I now understand, SiteCoach is a right wing company that considers words like "lesbian" inappropriate content. Please tell me that you will stop using this service so that I can continue staying at Sheraton Hotels.

Robyn Ochs
Boston, MA


Dear Ms. Ochs,

Thank you for feedback regarding the Sheraton Link. This program has been met with much success since its launch by Starwood Hotels and Resorts.

I have fully reviewed your concerns over having your site and the Sheraton Link in the lobby. The company that installs and maintains the systems have promoted these systems to a kid friendly, family friendly environment. I am sure you can understand that there are several sites on the internet that are viewed as offensive by the general public and for that reason, programs have been developed to ensure that the majority of viewers are met with non-offensive material. Your site in particular isn’t what I would call “offensive” but certain words must have been picked up within the filter that restricted public access to your site; I sincerely apologize for any inconvenience.

Regrettably the system will not allow us to change the filters to allow your site to be viewed at the Sheraton Link. I appreciate your efforts to educate the public on your views and wish you continued success in doing so. We appreciate your loyalty to Starwood and hope this unfortunate scenario has not altered your opinion of an award winning company and hope to see you in our hotels in the near future.



Dear Peter,

I appreciate your attempt to "put lipstick on this pig" as well as your personal support of my work, but unfortunately there is a false logic underlying the use of a block that considers words like "lesbian" and "bisexual" offensive to the "general public." These words connote identities. There is nothing inherently offensive about them. And the "general public" that you seek not to offend includes many people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender, including many youth. In fact, much of my own work involves work with youth aged 14-21. When you add our families and friends to our numbers, we ARE the "general public" to which you refer. If someone else finds the words with which I describe my own identity offensive, that is their business. No one is being forced to visit sites that contain these words. Finally, your letter makes me wonder by what measurement has this program "met with much success"? I'm afraid that your company's use of SiteCoach IS sufficient reason for me to stop doing business with your hotel chain. I should also forewarn you that I will be publicizing this incident on Facebook and encouraging others to boycott Starwood/Sheraton hotels as well. I hope that your company will come to its senses and cease acting as censors.

Robyn Ochs (a.k.a. Jane Q. Public)

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Another Hired Non-Expert

Marriage and family therapist Dr. Dan Gottlieb recently discussed on NPR's Morning Edition the subject of non-monogamy in the context of findings in the General Social Survey that men and women of all ages are unfaithful. Brenda, the interviewer, references Jenny Block's book Open: Love, Sex and Life in an Open Marriage. Like clockwork, Gottlieb, yet another hired expert marriage and family therapist like Dr. Diana Kirschner whose lack of awareness on the subject of open marriage I comment on in this post, declares: "... a lot of younger couples when they do have these internet flirtations [believe] that it enhances the romantic and sexual relationship. Well, it does, in the short run, and it does in the moment." So he gets that variety in one's love life can be beneficial. But then he continues by saying "... in the 70s we tried open marriage and we tried swinging and all that stuff. Doesn't work, period. It can't work in the long run, being unfaithful, because ultimately relationships are about trust."

He's right - they absolutely are about trust. Where his arguments break down is where he fails to get that trust is not broken when monogamy is absent from the relationship agreement by mututal consent. Also, common wisdom from a variety of fronts says that we already know free love doesn't work because we tried it in the 1970s without success. I can see why some think that's proof enough, but what they don't know is that free love back in the day was fraught with problems because its practitioners lacked the relationship/communication skills and in most cases the integrity to conduct their relationships in ways that work for all involved. As I am fond of saying, polyamory and open marriage today, with their increased awareness of what works and what doesn't, are Free Love 2.0.

Newsflash: It's not the sex/love with others that damages a marrage, it is the violation of the promise *not* to enter into other sexually intimate relationships that is guaranteed to damage trust. Seems entirely feasible to me for a reasonably savvy therapist to intuit, but the ones I hear speak to the subject don't fulfill that hope.

We have so much work yet to do to educate these therapists as to the truth. Some of that can be accomplished with information campaigns, and some of it via peer-reviewed studies. Clearly, and understandably, even those therapists who are so highly regarded as to be hired to speak on radio and TV don't have experiences that demonstrate that it is entirely possible to maintain trust while conducting an open marriage or poly relationship. Not only is it possible, but I and my partner, T, are happily making it work, as are hundreds of other polyfolk I know.

I agree with Gottlieb, to a degree, when he goes on to say, "I think there is another factor, Brenda, with infidelity. There is ample research that we have fewer intimate friends. There is a longing for human contact, whether we are aware of it or not. As a result of our increased isolation, we have more and more expectations on our partner. They have to be our lover, our best friend, our soulmate, the one who understands us - it's not reasonable for one person. And when they don't meet all of those needs, we think there is something wrong in the marriage, we get angry and disappointed, and many go outside to try to get those needs met."

He's right, of course, that it is very difficult to be all things to one person. What he is implying is that developing emotionally (but not sexually) intimate friendships are the solution. I'm sure Gottlieb is a lovely and knowledgable man, and with a little more vision and understanding of the dynamics of successful open relationships, he may be a potential convert.