Thursday, August 27, 2009

Camilla of The Daily Loaf on Jealousy and Polyamory

As many people know, I am a frequent presenter at poly and alternative sexuality conferences on managing jealousy in polyamorous relationships. I'm always interested in hearing others' perspectives on the subject, and today the online publication Creative Loafing has published a very good column on the subject. (I am also flattered to be mentioned as a resource.)

I also love the graphic they've added. No, it doesn't always look like this - but we do have our blissful moments!

From the article, here's a great example of a wise strategy for sorting out one's own feelings when jealousy is making itself felt. Kudos to Camilla (and thanks for the props!)

Now, I sometimes hold off on talking to the lover in question until I can answer two questions:

a) What am I actually pissy about?

b) Why am I pissy about this?

Once I can answer those two questions, I’m more likely to communicate my feelings better. That’s not to say that answering those two questions results in smooth sailing. Mr. Chaotic is still jealous/envious of the amount of time The Puppy gets to see me. The Puppy and I are still prone to mistranslating the other’s concerns as jealousy. We’re just better at dealing with it now than we were years before.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Polyamorous Misanthrope - "I Thought We Were POLY"

To all of you out there who are still learning about boundary setting, what expectations are appropriate and what are not, check out The Polyamorous Misanthrope/Goddess of Java's latest blog post, very good advice.  She has a gift for sorting out the subtleties of such situations.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Monogamy Men to Fight Dominant Culture

Monogamy Men to Fight Dominant Culture

Former Reagan-era appointee Patrick Fagan said in Amsterdam that two competing cultures of sexual morality are contending for the surrounding society. It is time for monogamy men to fight for what is right.

From Spero News by Austin Ruse dated today, August 20, 2009

Patrick Fagan, family scholar at the Family Research Council, told the
World Congress of Families last week in Amsterdam that there are two competing cultures of sexual morality and that both have a profound effect on culture and public policy. Fagan called one culture “monogamous” and the other “polymorphous” and he warned that one is “snatching” children from the other.

Fagan told the audience that “the culture of the traditional family is now in intense competition with a very different culture. The defining difference between the two is the sexual ideal embraced [by each].” He described an “elegance in the simplicity of the ideals behind the two cultures: monogamy and polymorphous serial polygamy, or ‘polyamory' for short.“
You can read the rest of the article at the link above. I am aghast at the lengths to which we are being demonized, and by a highly-visible, ostensibly intelligent, well-educated man who evenso obviously knows nothing about polyamory. He credits (or discredits) us with infinitely more power than we as a community or movement desire or will likely ever actually have. And the very idea that we are somehow "snatching" children from the monogamous overculture is simply absurd.  That said, I do believe it is possible that as future, more open-minded generations come along, more and more people will recognize the wisdom of having an alternative to monogamy, because that's what works better for some - not all - people. This is not information that can feasibly be withheld from children. Still, nobody's snatching anyone's innocence. Shedding light that badly needs to be shed is more like it.

There's a very good analysis of this statement here written by Austin Open Relationships Examiner Sadie Smythe.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Oh the Irony! Parenting Video Parallels Polyamory

Update: Twice now the video below has disappeared from YouTube. I've just discovered it on another diaper company website. Should the video below disappear yet again, you can (hopefully) also see it here.

My daughter, who is the mother of two small children and to whom I am out as poly, just sent me this video. I am amazed and delighted, though also a bit bemused. Many a poly person has under analogous circumstances had a very similar conversation with a significant other. Of course, not adding a new partner until existing partners give their consent is a much better and more ethical strategy, but that would ruin the gag here.

The video originally appeared on a diaper company's website in the UK (not anymore) and also appears on a second diaper company's site. Surely only a poly or poly-aware person would choose this approach for an educational video for parents who are working out how to introduce a child to a new sibling. It would seem that someone at the diaper companies (or their ad agencies) sees it as a cool way of attracting today's generation of parents with young children.

Could it be that polyamory really is beginning to infiltrate western mainstream culture to such an extent as this???

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Tristan and Colten Got Married!

Tristan Taormino and her partner, Colten, were married the first weekend in August in the Catskills. They are two of my most favorite people, and I'm so happy for them, especially since Tristian is lesbian and Colten is transgendered. It's good to see people I've known a long time finally have the right to make their union legal.

Amongst many, many other things, Tristan is the author of the polyamory guide book Opening Up: A Guide to Creating and Sustaining Open Relationships, in which I had the privilege of playing a minor role and which I reviewed when it was published in 2008. I still highly recommend it to anyone who wants to figure out what poyamory is all about and how it might work for them and their partner/spouse.

Colten is Tristan's tireless partner in business as well as love and juggles an amazing amount of work that supports Tristan's various endeavors and their joint endeavors.

Congratulations and much love to Tristan and Colten!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Gaylen Moore on The Importance of Being Naughty: Exploring the Science of Erotic Diversity

Gaylen Moore is a graduate student in Cleveland who writes for and styles himself the Cleveland Open Relationships Examiner. A few days ago he published a most excellent article, the title of which I reference in the title of this post. I highly recommend that you spend the time reading it. It isn't very long, he includes the latest scientific findings on what it is that drives us to pursue love and sex, and he puts much about the chemistry of love into proper poly context, if you will. The following two paragraphs are particularly enlightening:

One very interesting thing to know about prolactin [a hormone produced by both men and women during sex]: Scientists have discovered that proactin triggers stem cells in the brain to produce new neurons! If you see a headline saying "Sex makes your brain grow" – you can bet that prolactin is star of the show. People seeking treatments for victims of stroke and degenerative diseases like Huntington's, Parkinson's, and Alzheimers are hopeful that this research will lead to new treatment options. Advocates of more sexually liberal lifestyles are hoping that the good news about prolactin might lend credence to the belief that lots of good sex is a good thing, and thus liberal sexual lifestyles should not be stigmatized by prudish cultures. This is where polyamory, swinging, and "hot monogamy" come in.

The basic problem with long-term monogamy is that after a few years with the same person, the frequency of sex dwindles down to a trickle. If, in fact, an active sex life is good for your physical and mental health, then it seems that traditional monogamy might not be the best choice for long-term health. The problem with long-term monogamy is well-known to science, and there is even a term for it: the "Coolidge Effect." Scientists (who, as we know, love to study rats) have observed that after a lot of copulation with a particular female, a male rat will lose sexual interest in her. But if a new female comes along, he’ll perk right up and be happy to service her. It is well-known that the same effect applies to humans – and not just to males. Both men and women find it difficult to maintain a high level of sexual interest in their long-term mate. (If you have never heard the joke that is said to be the origin of the term "the Coolidge Effect," click here.) The problem generally is not that couples no longer love each other; the problem generally has more to do with the complex chemistry of sexual desire.

Love that Coolidge effect story, one that always amuses me whenever it is referenced.

I've written here before about the role of brain chemistry in how we love. I've sung the praises of research anthropologist Helen fisher, who continues her quest to understand how we love, and why. To more fully understand his premise, be sure to view the video at the bottom of Gaylen's post of a segment of Dr. Fisher's presentation at the TED conference in 2008 - it will be 16 minutes well spent. She will help you understand what it is about sexual and romantic love that drives us to such distraction as for many of us it in large measure is the source of our humanity and what makes our lives worth living.

As a polyamory advocate and educator, I sometimes find it vexing to try to explain what it is about we poly people that makes what we want a valid choice, especially to those who disapprove of us. There is more evidence to confirm what many of us know, that we polyamorists are frequently condemned for being naturally who we are. Understandable to a point, especially when one considers that who and what we are flies in the face of everything westerners have been told they ought to be.

If you agree with the evidence at hand (as do I), then despite the vehement disagreement even amongst polyamory advocates as to whether polyamory is choice or identity, it is clear that though some may choose polyamory and be just as capable of choosing and being happy with monogamy, for others of us polyamory is indeed who we are in the most human biological terms.

Our greatest hope for finding acceptance and understanding from those who require proof positive is the work of researchers like the awesome Helen Fisher. Perhaps the time will come when our preference for keeping long-term lovers while adding new ones instead of choosing serial monogamy will be better understood and even embraced by a more significant segment of society. Certainly it will if Helen Fisher has anything to do with it. One can always hope.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

O'Reilly Weighs In on Polyamory - Again

Thanks to "Family" web series actor Ernie Joseph for the tip on this. Bill O'Reilly and his guest commentators, "Culture Warriors" Gretchen Carlson and Margaret Hoover, take up the debate about polyamory and same-sex marriage. Hoover has a lot more on the ball than the other two, especially when she points out that polyamorists aren't interested in legal marriage. (This is not to say that there is zero interest in it, but there's very little at this point in time.)

After viewing a clip from Family in which a discussion takes place about who is going to sleep with whom that night, Carlson first poo poos O'Reilly's claim that Oprah has called Terisa Greenan to talk about an episode (she did), calls the clip ridiculous and claims that "most Americans believe this is ridiculous, tawdry." She also says she doesn't believe polyamory will become a trend. Clearly she isn't up on her poly facts as to how widespread the practice is today.

Hoover also flatly states that what polyamorists want is to be able to live their lives as they want to, and even O'Reilly agrees that as long as it's behind closed doors, he being all libertarian and all, whatever. But he then goes on to conflate polyamory and plural marriage as a way of proving that the subject should be taken seriously.

Update on Newsweek Polyamory Article

It seems that Newsweek caught so much heat from the leaders of the (Save Traditional) Marriage Movement as a result of last week's indepth article on polyamory that the subtitle "America's Next Romantic Revolution" has been removed from the article and is replaced with the words "Polyamory—relationships with multiple, mutually consenting partners—has a coming-out party."

Clearly the article has struck a nerve. With all the debate it has fostered and counter-articles it has inspired, polyamory, until now something the conservatives kept an eye on but did not take as a serious threat, has been catapulted into dead center of the culture war as it relates to the desperate attempts being made to shore up societal value for traditional marriage.

This is not to say that I see no value in monogamy and traditional marriage. For those who want it and feel it works for them, then by all means have at it. It's a fine choice for many people. I just want people to know they have a legitimate alternative that works better for some.

It will be interesting to see if the article makes it into the print magazine. We were told last week when the article was published to the website that chances were fairly good for that happening in a few weeks. I hope Newsweek sticks to it's guns and doesn't yield any further to pressure.

Polyamory on FindLaw

This guy gets it right in this FindLaw article as the law applies to polyamorous relationships.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Polyamory Targeted in Wall Street Journal Op-Ed

As a result of last week's Newsweek article we polyamorists are being placed front and center as the culture war rages on. In today's Wall Street Journal, Robert P. George has authored an op-ed piece entitled "Gay Marriage, Democracy, and the Courts: The culture war will never end if judges invalidate the choices of voters." in which he first attempts to persuade the reader that if the courts and not the voters are permitted to define marriage, the culture war will worsen and marriage will become abortion's twin issue and yet another never-ending cause of societal discord.

Next he attempts to convince the reader that marriage's only truly important purpose is for procreation. I find this amusing, because I know there are fairly large numbers of stable poly households where children are thriving on the added resources supplied by having more than two parents. I stayed with such a family just a week ago, and their kids are bright, loving, healthy, and happy. Everything parents hope to create and provide to their children is present in greater amounts than any two parents can provide.

George says:

If marriage is redefined, its connection to organic bodily union—and thus to procreation—will be undermined. It will increasingly be understood as an emotional union for the sake of adult satisfaction that is served by mutually agreeable sexual play. But there is no reason that primarily emotional unions like friendships should be permanent, exclusive, limited to two, or legally regulated at all. Thus, there will remain no principled basis for upholding marital norms like monogamy.

A veneer of sentiment may prevent these norms from collapsing—but only temporarily. The marriage culture, already wounded by widespread divorce, nonmarital cohabitation and out-of-wedlock childbearing will fare no better than it has in those European societies that were in the vanguard of sexual “enlightenment.” And the primary victims of a weakened marriage culture are always children and those in the poorest, most vulnerable sectors of society.

Candid and clear-thinking advocates of redefining marriage recognize that doing so entails abandoning norms such as monogamy. In a 2006 statement entitled “Beyond Same-Sex Marriage,” over 300 lesbian, gay, and allied activists, educators, lawyers, and community organizers—including Gloria Steinem, Barbara Ehrenreich, and prominent Yale, Columbia and Georgetown professors—call for legally recognizing multiple sex partner (“polyamorous”) relationships. Their logic is unassailable once the historic definition of marriage is overthrown.

Is this a red herring? This week’s Newsweek reports more than 500,000 polyamorous households in the U.S. (Emphasis mine.)

So, before judging whether traditional marriage laws should be junked, we must decide what marriage is. It is this crucial and logically prior question that some want to shuffle off stage.

Because marriage has already been deeply wounded, some say that redefining it will do no additional harm. I disagree. We should strengthen, not redefine, marriage.

Mr. George is Professor of Jurisprudence at Princeton University and founder of the American Principles Project. Interestingly, as I read the referenced principles, I was strongly impressed with just how interpretive they are of the Constitution. To the extent he defined those principles - and I gather he is their primary author - it's as though his academic accomplishments entitle him to make such interpretations for the rest of us. Isn't that what he objects to the courts doing???

Sorry, it doesn't matter how smart and accomplished a person is. To me it's about personal integrity, and being willing to admit to one's own biases, at minimum. Here's yet another person people are inclined to believe because of his stellar academic accomplishments. He may be well equipped to understand the issues via his legal background, but it still doesn't make him right.