Thursday, January 7, 2010

Love's New Frontier

It's so delightful to know that media interest in polyamory has grown to the point that we can pretty much expect to see at least four even-handed articles on the subject in major publications every year, plus dozens more lower profile articles and broadcast media events.

The latest example of this trend appeared in Sunday's Boston Globe Magazine, a thoroughly researched and accurately written article entitled Love's New Frontier complete with video of Alan and Michelle Wexelblat, long-time fixtures in the Boston Poly group and community. I had the pleasure of sitting on a Poly 101 panel at November's Transcending Boundaries conference in Worcester, Massachusetts, with Michelle, a social worker and experienced polywoman who really knows her stuff.

Other members of the Boston poly community, including my good friend Valerie White of the the Sexual Freedom Legal Defense and Education Fund, paint an entirely accurate picture of what it's like to be polyamorous. It was also wonderful to see a quote from Atlanta-based Elizabeth Sheff, one of the leaders of the growing community of researchers who are studying polyamorists and poly families. 

If I have any nits to pick, it's that I could have done without the erroneous speculation of women's studies prof. Valerie Sperling that poly women tend to be more closeted because of fear of being considered slutty, whereas a man wouldn't be judged so harshly and have to fear being socially castigated. That's an old societal double standard, no doubt, but there are way too many out poly women for that to hold much water. I just don't see it happening, and it's highly unlikely that it had anything to do with a shortage of women who were willing to be quoted for the article. I'm surprised it was that difficult, though admittedly it's easier if you aren't confining the search to one particular area.

In reality the most visible leaders of the polyamory movement are women, something about which I am most definitely delighted. In fact, it is generally believed by some male poly activists that they will not be taken seriously and will instead be dismissed as horn dogs using polyamory as a get-out-of-jail free card to cheat on their partners - open and honest relating being still considered cheating by those who see anything other than monogamy as cheating, including open, consensual outside relationships. I've heard this knee-jerk assertion made about poly men many times, largely by people who feel threatened by the concept of polyamory and compelled to try to discredit it.

Also quoted in the article is Boston area clinical psychologist and poly-friendly therapist Randi Kaufman, who clearly knows what she's talking about. I had the pleasure of meeting and chatting with her at Transcending Boundaries as well. I also loved sex therapist Gina Ogden's quote, whom I met when she presented workshops at Building Bridges, the ITCR conference I co-produced that was held in the Boston area in 2005.  What a wonderful abundance of knowledge about and experience with polyamory there is to be had in the Boston area!

Kudos to journalist Sandra A. Miller for casting a broad net and writing an article that is rich in credibility and authenticity.  She even made sure to speak to Ethical Slut co-author Dossie Easton. 

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