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The Journal Of The InnKeeper
Ranty Lessons by Joreth
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4th-Feb-2009 06:53 pm - Welcome Visitors!
photography, Self-Portrait, personal
 Welcome all visitors and newcomers to the Journal of the InnKeeper.  I thought I'd preface this with a little explanation of what this journal is, what the purpose is, and who I am.

I am Joreth, The InnKeeper, of The InnBetween.  As you can see on the left sidebar, I am an Atheist, I am Polyamorous, I work in the entertainment industry as a Camera Operator, a Stagehand, a Video and Lighting Technician, a Forklift Operator, a Boom Lift Operator, and a Spotlight Operator, and I am sex-positive.  I am opinionated and aggressive and passionate and I care deeply about humanity and my fellow companions on this planet.

This journal started out because I started dating tacit, who began referring to me in his journal.  So I created a profile here so that he could reference me with a link, instead of just S (the first initial of my real name).  I didn't figure I'd use this for anything since I have my own website where I can post whatever I want.  Mostly, what I wanted to post were pictures, and my website is much better for that purpose.

But then I discovered that my journal was a great way to post those stupid email forwards that everyone wants to send, filled with cute pictures and kitchy sayings or jokes, because I was pretty sure that, here, only people who cared what I had to say would see them.  I wouldn't be sending on unwanted junk email, because if people didn't want to read what I had to say, people wouldn't friend me.  Plus, I could put stuff behind cuts and then visitors would have to do double duty and actually CLICK on the stuff they wanted to see.  So nothing I posted was unsolicited.

But then I discovered the internet's second true purpose (porn being the first one) ... RANTING!

Keeping with my concern of bothering friends and family with unwanted email, I found I could blow off steam and rant here in my journal too, and just like with the email glurge, only people who wanted to read it, would.

Well, over time, it turned out that the things that most frustrated me, the things I ranted about most of all, were things that I (and my followers) felt would be a benefit to society to be heard.  I have always been an educator and a mentor.  I'm not particularly smart, but I do grasp concepts quickly and I can often (not always) find ways to phrase things so that people understand when they might have had trouble before.  At work, bosses routinely tell new guys to just follow me around in order to quickly learn the basics of the business.  I was a mentor, a math tutor, a lighting lab instructor, and a guidance "counselor" at various times.

I have also always been an activist at heart.  A passionate personality and an interest in education tends to pair up to become activist leanings, for whatever causes strike's the activist's heart.  The topics I was most passionate about tended to be the topics that frustrated me the most and ended up as a rant here in my journal.  So my journal took on an educational bent, for some definition of "educational".

I tackle topics that interest me the most, or that I have the most stake in the outcome of changing society.  I cover the most current news in STDs and sexual health, I cover gender issues, I cover netiquette, I cover polyamory, I cover atheism and science and skepticism.  These are topics I feel that people need to be educated about, and I do my best to provide one source of education, to those for whom my style of teaching works.

But, as I've repeatedly said, the topics that tend to get written about HERE, in my LiveJournal, are those that I feel most passionate about, which tends to lead me to feel most frustrated when they're not going the direction I think they should, which leads to most of my entries being rants.

And, to that end, Dear Reader, please understand that, although many of my posts are, in my opinion, educational in nature, they are also written from the perspective of a passionate, frustrated, human, who takes the term "journal" to heart, and treats this like a journal, not a "blog", or a news column, or a classroom.  I hope that people get something of value from my journal, that I can report interesting or relevant news items, and that I can teach people something, and I do offer more classic or traditional styles of education, such as lectures & workshops, but I also come here, specifically, to rant.

Journals are typically places where people can write their private or personal thoughts.  They were traditionally considered safe places to reveal one's innermost thoughts, perhaps even those ideas that could not be spoken aloud.  Well, we have discovered just how valuable revealing certain journals can be to society, usually after that person's death.  And the advent of the internet has created a whole new society whose private thoughts are more public than truly private.  We use the internet to share those personal, innermost thoughts, to reach out to people, to connect with others, when once we might have suffered in silence, in isolation, with our private, paper journals as the sole, compassionate listener to our most intimate selves.

So, here, on the internet, utilizing LiveJournal as a personal journal where I can write my innermost thoughts, perhaps the kinds of things I cannot verbally say in polite society or as a way to organize my thoughts for a more appropriate-for-public version later, you, my Dear Reader, can get a glimpse into the mind of the InnKeeper.

But note that this journal, like any other journal, is only a small slice of who I am.  I use this journal to vent, to rant, to let off steam, and these rantings have shown to have some value to those who follow it.  But this is not the whole of who I am.  This is Ranty Joreth; this is the Joreth who needs to vent; this is the Joreth who needs to blow off steam; this is the Joreth who says anything and everything that may not be allowed to be spoken aloud, in public, or to the intended recipient.

Joreth is ranty and frustrated and passionate.  But Joreth is also compassionate and caring and occasionally a little silly.  Joreth melts at the mere sight of her fluffy kitty and is often late to work because she can't bear the thought of disturbing her cat to remove her hand out from under the cat's head.  Joreth needs hugs and cuddles.  Joreth cries at sappy movies and whenever anyone around her tears up.  Joreth sometimes lets her emotions carry her away.  Joreth gets deeply hurt.  Joreth isn't happy with her physical appearance but is mostly content and accustomed to it.  Joreth secretly craves attention and adoration.  Joreth likes to sing, especially bluesy-country songs and showtunes, but is terrified to have people hear her sing, in spite of being a mezzo-soprano in a choir for 5 years.  Joreth is touched by tears glistening in her father's eyes when he's proud of her.  Joreth has a sweet tooth and can almost always be tempted by sugary desserts.  Joreth is a lot of things, just as everyone else is.  This journal, and the other online aspects of Joreth are not the totality of who Joreth is.  

You get to see a portion of me, and it is truly me, here in this journal, but it is, by far, not the only portion of who I am.  Do not mistake reading a journal, whose very purpose is to be an outlet for a very specific part of my personality, for knowing who I am or anticipating how I will behave or react.  Just as I show only a certain portion of myself at work, and I show only a certain portion of myself with biological family, I show only a certain portion of who I am here.  All versions of me are still me, and there is some cross-over, but they are not complete models of me by themselves.  Just like anyone else, I am a three-dimensional, multi-faceted, complex and dynamic person.  I care, I love, I laugh, I hate, I hurt, I crave, I desire.  Just like everyone else.
26th-Apr-2014 01:19 pm - You Can't Handle The Truth! PSA
woo, stupidity, rants, Dobert Demons of Stupidity, religion
I see a lot of people complaining that someone who blocked them just "couldn't handle a difference of opinion". That's not why people get blocked. Ever. Everyone has friends and family who have different opinions from themselves, and they get along with them fine, or at least put up with them.

The reason why people get blocked online is not for their differences of opinion. It's for their attitude or personality regarding those opinions. Every single time, I guarantee you, it's not the opinion, it's because they think you're being a jerk about it. It doesn't even matter if you don't think you're being a jerk - they do, that's why they blocked you, and the opinion that matters when someone is being a jerk is the person who is the recipient of the offending behaviour. Most often it's because you wouldn't drop it when they asked. Respecting consent is important in all social interactions, not just sex (but disrespecting non-sexual consent is a good indicator of that person's attitude towards sexual consent, which is why those of us heavy with the banhammer use it as often as we do).

And I say this as someone who gets blocked. I know when I'm being mean to people. Most of the time, I'm doing it intentionally because that person was a jackass in some way and I'm either trying to teach him what it feels like or I just no longer care about hurting his feelings because I've deemed him not worth my empathy or the cost in spoons for being such a fucktard. But that means that *I'm being an asshole*. Doesn't matter if it's in response to something they did, if they block me, it's not because I'm an atheist or poly or feminist or hold those views, it's because *they don't like me as a person* or they don't like my approach. When I'm being an asshole, that's kind of the point.

I've had plenty of "discussions" with anti-vaxxers, for example, where I thought I was being totally reasonable, calm, rational, in explaining why they're wrong.  And I stand by my belief that they're wrong.  They are, empirically, factually, wrong.  But I wasn't blocked because I am pro-vaccination.  I was pro-vaccination from the beginning when they friended me in the first place.  I was blocked because they didn't like my approach.  *They* thought I was being arrogant and condescending, even if I didn't (and still don't) think so, and they didn't like it.  So, sure, even if there was some way to prove, without a doubt and with completely objective metrics, that I absolutely was not being condescending and they were wrong to think so, the point is that they still did not block me because of my argument; they blocked me because they did not like how I said it.

Maybe it's true that there is absolutely no way to express that opinion in a way that the other person will find acceptable.  That is my position on many of my opinions - I believe that there is no way to express atheism (a personal lack of belief in a deity) that won't offend some people, for example.  There is no magic phrase, no amount of kowtowing or humbling that will make my personal lack of belief acceptable to be spoken about in public.  "I don't care if they're gay, but do they have to rub it in our faces?"  There are times when I believe it is justified to continue to press an opinion even when a listener doesn't like the approach.  This PSA is not a position on whether it is appropriate or not (or when it is or not) to hold or voice a controversial opinion.  This PSA is an EXPLANATION of why people get blocked, regardless of the rightness or moral standing or reasonableness of the action.  It's not the opinion that got you blocked, it was your attitude, your personality, or your approach that got you blocked.

So drop all this self-righteous blathering about how people just can't handle "the truth". What they can't handle is your arrogant, entitled, posturing. Your opinions are not nearly as offensive as you as a person are when you spouted them which resulted in you getting blocked.
1st-Apr-2014 01:59 am - Why Did Joreth Block Me?
frustration, ::headdesk::

For future reference: if I ask you to drop a subject or to stop talking to me for a period, and I warn you that continuing to press the issue will result in me blocking you, it is not a "threat" that you should feel afraid about; I am giving you necessary information to make informed decisions about your future interactions with me.  I hold no illusions that anyone is "afraid" of no longer having contact with me or that it's even something worth fearing.  Frankly, if someone is afraid of that, then I worry about their emotional stability.  Nor is it because you have a difference of opinion. I am quite good friends with a lot of people who have radically different opinions to me, some positions to which I am actively opposed and even work against. The reason why they remain friends is because we both respect each others' right to hold those positions and not argue about them for the sake of peaceful interactions.  I am opposed to the ideas themselves, not the people, and we can coexist, not just peacefully, but even amicably and as friends as long as a basic level of respect for each others' humanity is in place (if their opinion itself is a disrespect of others' humanity, well, that's a whole other can of worms).

No, when I tell you that I do not wish to discuss a topic anymore, it is not because of your opinion. It's because of your personality. It's because I find your approach to be disrespectful and I am attempting to keep the peace by just agreeing to disagree, at least for now.

If I warn you that I will block you, it is not because I can't handle differing opinions or that I live in an echo chamber. In fact, accusations of such are worth blocking for on that statement alone. It is because you are violating my boundaries in my request for peaceful disagreement and the only way I have to enforce my boundaries is to block you entirely because continued pressing of the issue is direct evidence that YOU DO NOT RESPECT BOUNDARIES and are therefore untrustworthy to be around.

I am posting this because I cannot message you after I have already blocked you to explain why you have just been blocked. So if you get blocked by me, this is why. It's not me, it's definitely you. It's not your opinion, it's you.

You are being blocked because you are untrustworthy, not because you hold a different opinion and certainly not because I can't "handle" that opinion, and not because I have to have to have the last word. In fact, there's a good chance that you already had the last word, since I will often not even bother to refute people I'm about to block, I just say "drop the subject or you will be blocked".  You are not being censored (although I appreciate that you think I am a powerful enough person that I have the force of the government behind me, I simply do not have the ability to censor you). You are not more rational than I. You are not more level-headed than I. You are not more open-minded than I. You are entitled, rude, belligerent, pushy, manipulative, and a conversational terrorist*. None of that is more "rational" or "open-minded".

By the time I feel the need to resort to blocking you, I couldn't give a fuck about whatever opinion you think is so important that I'm blocking you over it. By that point, your opinion is the least objectionable part about you. By that point, I am more concerned with your total lack of empathy and your willingness to trod all over another person's request for space. If you can't even give that space on a stupid social media site, I have to wonder if I'm even safe being around you in person, or will I need one of the weapons that I carry on me at all times**?

And the internet is the ONLY place that I have the power to remove people like you from my presence. Every where else in the world, I am forced to coexist with people I am not safe around. Every where else in the world, I am smaller and less capable than those I am not safe around. But here, on the internet, I can force YOU to give me the space I need to feel safe.

So that is what I'm doing when I block you. I give fuck-all about your stupid opinion on whatever stupid subject that started this whole thing. I care that you have no consideration for the people around you. And THAT is why I will block you.



*Even for me that title is a little too hyperbolic, but that's what it's called and I didn't make up the term so that's the word we're stuck with.

**I have had to pull my knife on 3 occasions, only two of which were strangers but all 3 were people who did not back off when I repeatedly and clearly stated my desire for space.

14th-Feb-2014 01:39 pm - More Poly Jewelry
Purple Mobius, polyamory

Dude! Claire's, that costume jewelry store in most US malls, is selling poly jewelry! Quick, go out and get some before they figure out what it is they're selling!

The earrings and rings were $6.50 and the necklaces were $5.50 each. They seem to be marketed as "best friends" jewelry, I suppose because their target audience is tweens and teens, so they don't want to encourage The One Twue Wove that early, but BFF (best friends forever) is an acceptable trope for that age.

Since they're costume jewelry, I expect the silver and gold patinas to rub off over time so I'm also going to buy enough to pack away for when the others wear out.


You can order the accidentally polyamorous jewelry from Claire's online & have it shipped to you!

I can't find the rings online (apparently called best friends rings), but I did find a set of bracelets with the infinity heart that I did not see in the store! I might order a set of those. Also part of the "best friends" collection, you get a bracelet set with one silver & one gold just like the rings.

The silver & gold pendants: http://www.claires.com/store/us/goods/jewelry/cat1260146/charms+%26+pendants/p16763/infinity+heart+pendant+necklace/
The silver post earrings: http://www.claires.com/store/us/goods/jewelry/cat1260132/studs/p96843/interlocking+infinity+symbol+and+heart+stud+earrings/
The gold post stud earrings: http://www.claires.com/store/us/goods/jewelry/cat1260132/studs/p96851/interlocking+infinity+symbol+and+heart+stud+earrings/
Gold & silver bracelets: http://www.claires.com/store/us/goods/jewelry/cat1780116/for+friends/p27378/best+friends+infinity+heart+bracelets+set+of+2/
I can't find those infinity heart "best friends" rings on their site anywhere. This is the closest I can find, a "Love Knot" ring. http://www.claires.com/store/us/goods/jewelry/cat1260040/rings+/p1001319/heart+knot+ring/

*Meh* I've bought other jewelry that have a heart and an infinity but not in the usual poly configuration just to have *something* even a little bit related that matched an outfit, so y'all might be interested in this. But knowing that they have a real infinity heart ring set at the stores in person, I'm less inclined to settle for this one, personally.

I made some modifications to the ones I bought, so here's my new Poly By Claire's Collection:

I went back and got a second silver pendant to store in a ziploc jewelry baggie in anticipation of the day that mine would tarnish and the finish would peel off (they are costume jewelry, after all), assuming I wouldn't be able to find these again when I needed to replace them.

I also bought a second pair of silver earrings to turn into dangly earrings. I had this pretty silver chain made up of curved links, so I attached a fishhook earring to the middle of a short length and attached each end to the humps of the heart with a very small jump ring. I would have made it a single strand but there was nothing in the middle of the infinity heart to attach it to, so it would have tilted to one side and I didn't want that. With two points of connection, it hangs straight.  I also didn't want to have to buy two more silver pendents to make the earrings (which would have that hanging point in the center), so instead I cut the posts off a pair of earrings to get them cheaper.

Then I took the silver pendent off the silver chain because I rarely ever wear anything but chokers when I dress up, and I already have my favorite silver & copper one from Abzu Emporium that I wear daily on a standard length ball-chain.

I made 3 new chokers - a red suede, a purple suede, and a silver fine-weave chain - that the new all-silver pendent can be switched to, to match whatever color outfit I'm wearing. I already have a silver pendent that looks like it's made of ball-chain (but it's not, it's solid silver) on a black choker and that's my go-to "dressy" necklace now. But I wanted a few colors so that I could have jewelry that matched my outfits, not just standard black (especially for the few red, purple or light colored outfits I have that don't have any black in them.)

Then, of course, I still have the gold pendent & gold earrings for the very rare occasions when I want to wear gold jewelry, and silver and gold rings for those costumed occasions when poly jewelry wouldn't work for the character and some other theme jewelry would work better.

I'm hoping to get the silver and gold bracelets that I saw online as well, but they were not in the stores when I went back to get my duplicate silver earrings & pendent, and the sales clerks seemed so confused when I asked for them that I'm sure that they never carried them in-store.

Now I have daily poly jewelry, gold poly jewelry, dressy poly jewelry to match any color outfit, and very large poly jewelry (got some for xmas that I haven't posted pics of yet), and birthstone poly family jewelry.

I think I'm good on the poly jewelry now!

14th-Feb-2014 01:07 pm - Thin Skinned
Bad Computer!, anger
I get a lot of shit for losing my temper, getting offended, and blocking people when someone is a serious asshat. I'm often told to "calm down" or "relax" or "I'm just asking questions" or "we're just having a conversation."

No. Fuck you. I'm not the asshole for getting pissed. You're the asshole for pissing me off AND YOU ARE NOT ENTITLED TO MY ATTENTION, TIME, OR POSITIVE OPINION OF YOU.

From Miri Mogilevsky:


In responding to an asshole on my blog yesterday, I realized that there's a misconception out there that anybody who demands respect and asks someone to stop insulting them is doing so because they have "hurt feelings" or a "thin skin."

1) Even if that's true, there's nothing wrong with that and we must not use "thin-skinned" as an insult. Ever.

2) When I demand to be treated the right way, it's not so much because my feelings are hurt otherwise but because I am worth too much to be treated like shit, and being able to interact with me is not a right granted to you simply because you exist and possess a computer. It's something you get to do only if I decide that interacting with you is fun or pleasurable or simply useful to me (the latter applies mostly to people I don't know personally).

If that sounds egotistical, I don't really care. I'm not here for anyone's entertainment or to serve their apparent need to humiliate and mistreat others.
14th-Feb-2014 11:01 am - Best Relationship Advice
Purple Mobius, polyamory
http://www.businessinsider.com/nate-bagleys-best-relationship-advice-2014-2

I believe that it is possible to have both individuality and *healthy* deep attachment, and I believe that the only way that it CAN be possible is to start with the individual.

And I think that even couple-centric evidence supports this. Of course, this is not scientific research, by any stretch of the imagination. But it is one more social research project that supports my hypothesis. Over and over again, articles and documentaries and interviews that ask "successful" couples how they managed to be successful (usually defined by longevity but more and more often defined by quality, or some combination of the two) find similar answers. And those answers include independence, individuality, space, freedom, and conscious decision.

"On the key things that make a relationship successful:

...Self Love: The happiest couples always consisted of two (sometimes more) emotionally healthy and independently happy individuals. ...

Establish that foundation, and you're in good shape.

Intentionality: ...The couples who try on a daily basis to experience some sort of meaningful connection, or create a fun memory are the couples who shattered my perception of what was possible in a loving relationship."

Because poly people are working without a blueprint, without a roadmap, without role models, everything we do has to be intentional. We have to consciously think about the structure of our relationships and what we want from them. Monogamous people, because it's the social default, can simply "fall into" a relationship if they want, and they can even last for a long time in them. But the people who find HAPPINESS in their relationships apply the same lesson that we as poly people find is necessary for ours - deliberate intent.

It's OK to fall into the status quo, as long as you've thought about it and chose it for yourself because that's what works for you and everyone in the relationship (the reason I'm opposed to poly structures that enshrine couples privilege is because they DON'T work for "everyone", they prioritize the original couple at the expense of anyone else. A married couple who has a satellite relationship with a hot bi babe is fine if that's the relationship that just happens to work organically, but a married couple who prescripts that structure and sets up the rules to prioritize the happiness of the couple over the happiness of the HBB (or even the individuals within the couple) without her input and she is expected to agree or GTFO is not fine, for example).

So, this article isn't about being single or polyamory at all (my relationship preferences). But I find that the lessons learned in singleish or solo polyamory, or polyamory that respects the autonomy of the individuals - those lessons that are necessary for that kind of polyamory to work at all, never mind happily - are the exact same lessons that make the best, happiest, monogamous relationships, regardless of how long any of the relationships last.

Funny, that.

#NotAPolyIssueButAPeopleIssue #polyamory #polyamorous #poly #OpenRelationships #relationships
9th-Feb-2014 07:44 pm - Suckage By Association
statement, Kitty Eyes, being wise
"I've never been there, but I once met someone who talked about it and I didn't like that person, so I'll just assume that he's representative of the entire experience there and say that it'll probably suck."

When it's not a subject with objective data that can illustrate, contradict, and/or remove our own logical fallacies and cognitive biases regarding experiences, I'm going to take a pretty dim view of any review that includes "I didn't experience it myself", especially when combined with "because I don't like a person who likes it".

Now, if the objection is "the entire content is this subject I don't like" or "the target audience is people I don't relate to", it's probably a safe assumption to make that you're less likely to like it yourself.  But...

"I don't want to go to an adult store because only losers go there" and

"I don't want to go to Kentucky because my cousin is a redneck and he lives there so it's filled with rednecks" and

"I don't want to read Shakespeare because elitist snobs read Shakespeare" and

"I don't want to listen to country music because I once heard the joke about listening to it backwards gets your dog, your wife, and your truck back so it must all be filled with stupid lyrics" and

"I don't want to go to the ballet because I once saw a picture of a guy in tights so I assume there's nothing there but men in tights" and

"I don't want to go see your dance performance because I know a guy who pops gum and likes the theater so the audience will probably have people there who pop gum and I can't stand that" and

"I don't want to try Indian food because I was once in an Indian person's house and it smelled funny"

are all examples (from real life, I might add) of people being prejudiced, close-minded, and in some cases just stupid.  Telling others not to try the experience without having done it yourself (again, with experiences that are enjoyed or disliked subjectively, not that make truth claims and have objective data to verify those claims) only lets those around you *see* you acting prejudiced, close-minded, and in some cases just stupid.  And since I know no one thinks of themselves as prejudiced, close-minded, or stupid, I know that none of you will want to APPEAR that way even by accident, right?  So don't do that shit.

This is not to be confused with reading several reviews about an experience from people/organizations that have a stable pattern of having similar opinions as your own and reporting "I heard/read that This Person didn't like it for these reasons".  I want to be very clear that I am complaining about a specific thing - criticizing an experienced based on association with another person that you don't like, not for the content of that experience, which can be verified even second-hand, and assuming content of an experience based solely on the presence of another person that you don't like without verifying that content is, in fact, the content.

I have a habit of liking movies that get poor critic reviews, so I might decide to go see a movie just because all the critics said it sucked.  If my close feminist friends all say a particular movie was sexist and offensive, I might give it a miss.  But if one of my coworkers, who happens to be sexist, likes a particular movie, I won't assume that the movie is sexist just because he likes it unless he actually SAYS something about the content.  Him just liking it is not enough for me to assume anything about the content.  I need some other data point, like WHY he liked it or the demographics of the entire audience who liked it, to give me a clue as to whether or not I might like it.

And even then, I often surprise myself by discovering things I used to swear I hated and would never like.  Hummus, for example.  Absolutely hated it until about a year ago.  Tomatoes are another thing.  I've hated the texture so much that my mom had to puree them in pasta sauce before I'd even look at it.  Now I love them both.  I also used to really love the Chronicles of Narnia, even though I was an atheist child.  But back then, I lived in a liberal bubble where my atheism wasn't the target of oppression.  Now that I'm more aware of oppression, I can't help but feel turned off by the obvious religious apologetics in the series.  My tastes change over time, and the more I deliberately test my assumptions about my opinions, the more aware I become of who I am and I am better to more accurately predict what I might like or dislike and in what direction I might change.

And the more I find to like where I previously assumed I wouldn't like.  The universe is a vast and wondrous place, far more interesting than any individual can really comprehend.  And there is far too little time to discover all its wonder, so I don't want to waste time avoiding things that might turn out to be amazing just because some other jackass also happens to like it.

“Your true self can be known only by systematic experimentation, and controlled only by being known.” Francis Bacon
Purple Mobius, polyamory
http://www.amazon.com/Hyde-Park-Hudson-Bill-Murray/dp/B00B4ZN3XQ - Amazon
http://dvd.netflix.com/Movie/Hyde-Park-on-Hudson/70243444 - Netflix
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1477855/ - IMDB

This movie was recommended to me by several people, many of whom are not poly. When that happens, I go into the viewing with a dubious mindset. Most of the time, people who are not poly don't really understand what polyamory is, so when they identify something as "poly", it's not really. I was aware of 32nd President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's affairs. Not in any detail, but as a critic of American politics, I am superficially aware that many of our past politicians' indiscretions were more or less common knowledge but ignored, as the public focused on how they performed their jobs and not what they did in their bedrooms. I am aware of that because of the stark contrast for how we treat today's politicians and celebrities. But that's a rant for another time.

This movie is from the perspective of Margaret Suckley, commonly called "Daisy", who was a sixth cousin* to FDR and a regular companion during his time in office. It is more or less a biography of FDR while he was president of the United States prior to his involvement in WWII and seeks to show him as a relatable human, rather than an impressive government official and leader of the Free World.

It has been established that FDR was married to Eleanor Roosevelt, had a long-time affair with her secretary, Lucy, another two-decade-long affair with his own secretary, Missy, and rumors that are accepted as probably true about an affair with Princess Martha of Sweden while she lived at the White House during WWII. It is also "common knowledge" that these affairs killed the emotional connection between FDR and his wife Eleanor, who remained married to him as a political partnership until he died. Rumors of illicit affairs with the owner of the New York Post, Dorothy Schiff, and the main character, Daisy, are controversial, to say the least.

With this kind of history, I had a few preconceptions going into the film. I thought it would be just another movie about cheating, which is pretty common. Many movies that get suggested to me are nothing more than movies about cheating. Occasionally the cheating is the result of a loving relationship and not just about sex, but it's still nevertheless about cheating. Every once in a blue moon, I will accept a cheating movie as a poly-ish movie if I give it a pass for the era in which the movie takes place if the story feels like it would have been the version of polyamory that I recognize had it not been for some heavy social penalties. In other words, it was as close to polyamory as a non-monogamous relationship could get given the circumstances.

This is what I feel that Hyde Park On Hudson is. From here I will be discussing the movie itself, with complete disregard to the question of historical accuracy. In the context of my Poly-ish Movie Reviews, I care less about the liberties a director takes with historical facts and more about how well the movie answers the question "is this a movie about polyamory or that has polyamory in it?"

In this movie, Daisy is a sweet, naive girl who falls in love with a powerful older man because he invites her in to his heart and shows her the human being he is, not the political office. He is caring and compassionate and frail and vunlerable. She knows that he is still married and she does not harbor a belief that he will leave his wife for her. She has heard the rumors that they have a loveless marriage, and usually that is enough justification for a mistress to accept the role. But Daisy observes the spouses together and believes that they still share an emotional connection. This observation does not seem to provoke any jealousy. She just seems to accept that her lover still loves his wife.

But soon enough, Daisy learns that Franklin is having sexual relations with his secretary, Missy. Missy runs after the fleeing Daisy to confront her and explain the situation. Up until this point, I still felt that this was a cheating movie, just one of those that included emotional connections and not just sex. Missy drops more bombs on the shaken Daisy when Missy reveals that Franklin is having other affairs too, and that Missy knew about Daisy from the moment their relationship began and accepted her. Missy insists that Daisy must accept that she will have to "share" Franklin. Daisy says that can't, but Missy tells her that she can.

So, I could have included it on my Poly-ish list at this point because Franklin has what appears to be loving relationships with multiple women who know and "deal with it", but it would have held a wobbly position on that list. It's the next part that makes me feel that this is a poly movie.

Eventually Daisy forgives Franklin and they begin seeing each other again. Simultaneously, Daisy develops a friendship with Missy. The two women become very close, deliberately using their mutual connection to a lover as the springboard from which their own relationship blossoms. Daisy comes to admire and rely on Missy. Missy often fetches Daisy when Missy believes that Franklin will benefit from her presence. The two women do more than reach a truce regarding their respective roles; they forge an alliance. And both women have a somewhat more distant relationship with Eleanor, but a relationship built on respect and admiration nonetheless.

Eleanore has a separate home, but she is a constant fixture in the scenes in the movie. So the image that is portrayed to us is one of a loving family with Franklin, his smart and savvy political wife, his lover and assistant, and his companion, as well as his mother who appears to know all about who is sleeping with whom. His mother and his wife butt heads, naturally, but everyone seems to get along and to accept or cherish each other's roles in Franklin's life. Franklin's mother and secretary, for example, both "severely criticized [him] for not inviting [Daisy] to dinner" on the night that the White House hosted the King and Queen of England - the first time that British royals had ever set foot on US soil. After Daisy learns that she is not the only one and is pressured into attending another social political function while still sulking about it, Missy is the first to approach Daisy and welcome her to the event. Franklin even publicly declares that Daisy belongs at VIP table, where everyone who is important to him ought to be, along with the royals, his wife, and his other mistress.

This movie is not solely about FDR's romantic life. It is also about the friendship forged between the US and England in the tenuous days before WWII, it's about the pressures of political life on an ailing man, about the effect of foreign wars on domestic issues, and about the dichotomy of being a private person in the public sphere. The movie included stellar acting and touching peeks into complex people in complex situations.  I have to say that, although I knew that Bill Murray was a good actor and I've always loved his films, this was the first movie I've seen of his where he wasn't "Bill Murray" in it. You know how there are some actors that, even while they're good, you still know that they are who they are? Gary Oldman is the opposite of that. He's an actor that I usually make it halfway through the movie before I even realize that it's Gary Oldman. Leonardo diCaprio is one of those actors that, even when he's doing a good job, he's still always Leo.

But Bill Murray's performance in this role thoroughly distracted me from my jewelry-making (I often do physical projects while watching movies - my brain can't focus on a story alone without my hands doing something) because I kept watching in fascination at a face that I just knew belonged to Peter Venkman but there was nothing of Dr. Venkman or Phil Connors or Frank Cross, or even of Bill Murray himself as seen in interviews in that face and in that body. I saw FDR, as I knew him from recordings and film reels. I heard FDR in his voice, I saw FDR in the tilt of his head and the way he held his hands. When I can't see Gary Oldman, I really can't see Gary Oldman. But to physically see Bill Murray and still not be able to "see" Bill Murray was disconcerting and wonderful and I am charmed by this film apart from its poly (or not) leanings.

So I recommend this movie. I thought it was an engaging film that I was willing to enjoy as a narrative and not insist that it be taken as a biography, and I felt that the relationships portrayed in the film represented what I recognize as polyamorous - loving, consensual, accepting, family - in spite of the lack of intentional communication and apparent deception that I feel was characteristic of the era regarding romantic liaisons. Although the modern poly movement of the last 30 years prioritizes communication above all else (and I happen to agree that it is a necessary element to healthy poly relationships), people are still the products of their times and cultures. So a movie set in another time and culture will necessarily have a different perspective on appropriate and effective communication. I may still disagree with them, but I believe other elements are more important to classifying a relationship as poly than whether or not multiple adults sat down around a large table with health reports, spreadsheets, and Google calendars to discuss the future possibility of taking a new partner.

There are many different ways to do poly. Some of them are wrong, some of them are right, some are healthy and some are outright abusive, but what makes it poly is that there are multiple, they are loving, and there is acceptance. It is not poly if there are only two partners & that is the preferred state. It is not poly if it is purely based on sex with no emotional connections and that is the preferred state. It is not poly if there is deception maintained throughout (and if that is the preferred state). It is not poly if the participants feel forced into the situation and begrudge the arrangement. Deception and poor communication certainly exist in poly relationships. But it's what the movie says about deception or communication, or how it's dealt with, that changes it from a movie condemning non-monogamy to a movie that merely presents one example of a loving relationship that happens to have some flaws.



*Sixth cousins are really only barely related. It means that they shared a common ancestor roughly 6 generations in their past. So, in other words, you add 5 "greats" before the word "grandparent" to come up with "sixth cousins". The "once removed" bits in relationship taxonomy refer to whether or not the cousins are in the same generation as each other. So first cousins have the same grandparents. Second cousins have the same great-grandparents. First cousins once removed is your first cousin's child - you and that child have your grandparents (their great-grandparents) in common and are in different generations from each other, hence "once removed". None of this has anything to do with the movie. It was common both in the era and within the Roosevelt family itself for non-first cousins to marry or be involved and Daisy's "sixth cousin" status was completely irrelevant to her romantic relationship with Franklin. It was really only relevant to mention because it was her connection as a relative who had grown up as a child with the Franklin that excused the President of the United States' mother for inviting a nobody like Daisy to the White House to attend the President when he fell ill. But I find genealogy interesting, and I know that a lot of people don't know how all those second/third/eigth cousins twice removed labels actually work, and I also know there are a lot of knee-jerk reactions to the idea of relatives having sexual relationships with each other. So I thought I'd mention it in a footnote.
7th-Jan-2014 12:53 pm - Local STD Testing Update
statement, Kitty Eyes, being wise
I haven't done an update on local testing options in a few years, so even though that post is still here in my journal, it's time to do a new one.

Local Testing Options ReviewCollapse )
Here's my opinion on necessary testingCollapse )

To sum up:

Get tested for everything listed above at least once to establish a baseline. Then get tested for The Big Four approximately once a year and 3 months after new sexual partners.

If you don't have a GP or health insurance for a full STD screening, visit one of the online services like AnyLabTest Now! for a complete workup to set your baseline. Then, if you are in the Orlando area, I recommend using the Orange County Health Department on Center Ave. for the minimum Big Four to maintain your regular testing schedule and AnyLabTest Now! for the HSV test for the most economical options. If you skip any of the steps, get another full workup as soon as possible to reset your baseline known health status. If you test positive for anything, discuss your case with your STD counselor, your clinician, or your GP for the appropriate measures for you.

For more information about HPV, about HPV research, or about other testing posts that I have made, click on my STI tag below.  I focus on HPV research and occasionally I post about local testing options and general testing information to give non-local people enough information to research their own local testing options.
statement, Kitty Eyes, being wise

I'm working on a collaborative project with my ex-sweetie involving breaking up. Tell me your breakup stories and preferences? Good breakups, bad breakups, and why were they good or bad? Did you do the breaking up or did they? How often do you do the breaking up vs. get broken up with? What do you wish you had done differently? What do you wish your ex had done differently? How was overlapping social circles handled?

I don't need to hear any details of the relationship or why the breakups happened or even who was involved other than what the connection between the players was, but the breakup actions and what followed the breakup are relevant. It doesn't even have to be limited to romantic breakups.

No names at all will be used without permission in my project and even most anecdotes will be lumped together to illustrate types and trends rather than specific examples.

Responses can be posted here, privately messaged to me, or even told to me in person if we know each other IRL.

holiday, Xmas Kitties
I have a lot of issues surrounding cultural obligations of gift giving.  A lot of it is internalized so it's not necessarily that any specific individual is making me feel obligated.  But those feelings are there nonetheless.

Many years ago, I made a personal pact not to exchange holiday gifts with anyone except my parents (who still buy me lots of stuff, making my life considerably easier, which is a huge relief to someone living below the poverty line) and my nephews (because they're kids).  It has always been my extended family's practice to stop buying gifts for family members when they turn 18, so I had some precedence to mitigate the social pressure to give gifts.

But as I dated, that pressure to exchange gifts grew, the more people I dated.  It was always there in monogamy, because it's part of the social expectations wrapped up in being in a relationship and in being female (I just could not get it through my male partners' heads that I did not want them to buy me flowers or jewelry because they could not let go of the cultural trope that women like flowers and jewelry even when one of them says she doesn't).  But as I started dating poly people, people who are already deliberately bucking the social conventions, that pressure didn't lessen.

As I said, it wasn't necessarily direct pressure from individuals.  Because of my difficulty with gift-giving, I tried to date people who had similar issues, so that I could escape that pressure within my relationships.  But when I started building large, multi-adult poly families, certain traditions were held by some people with a ferocity that brought all those social obligations roaring back, whether they intended it or not.

When there would be a holiday party, inevitably someone would bring someone a gift.  I get it, it's a wonderful feeling to see someone's face light up with pleasure at something you did for them.  I enjoy giving people gifts.  But I'm dirt poor and I just can't afford it.  So at these poly family and extended poly social gatherings, someone would be really into gift-giving.  They might say "I just like giving gifts, no one has to get me anything" and they might even mean it.  But some people would feel obligated to return the gesture.  And others would likewise enjoy giving things.  And sooner or later, we'd have a poly holiday gathering where everyone but me was exchanging gifts, and yet I would still be receiving them.

So I could continue to just accept gifts.  Or I could make a fuss and reject all the gifts on principle.  Or I could bow to the (usually unintended) pressure to return the gestures.  Between socialization as a woman not to make waves, to go along with the crowd, "when in Rome", be polite, etc., and the genuine desire to do nice things for the people I love, as well as feeling left out that can be such a danger in polyamory in general, eventually that pressure builds, regardless of the well-meaning intentions of everyone else.

And forget giving gifts to just some people and not others.  In a family where "honey, what's for dinner" can lead to a week of relationship triage emails and a panicky
group IM chat, deliberately leaving someone out of what is supposed to be a beloved tradition expressing love and happiness is a social minefield.

So now, although I still have a poly family and I still have core partners (my replacement word for "primary" because I refuse the hierarchical power structure but still have emotionally intimate connections and long-term commitments), being a solo poly or someone with a singleish poly lifestyle, I am missing that sense of obligation with regards to gift giving.  I feel a huge relief as I look at my meager checking account and tally up all the bills and eye my empty work calendar and I realize that I don't have a dozen other people to buy gifts for in the next two weeks and I don't have to deal with the crazy, hectic consumerist shopping trauma that my life always entails because I'm always too busy with work in the months leading up to December so I only have a couple of weeks before the holidays to even start thinking of gifts.  And I know I could make gifts that would be cheaper, but then I have that whole time issue thing.

So, I'm thankful that I can build deep, intimate, loving connections with my partners, and even to create our own traditions, but can also have the kind of structure that makes it *look* like I'm a single person, which allows me to discard certain other traditions that don't work for me without hurting people's feelings or raising too many eyebrows.

I deal enough with poly education of my monogamous circles, that sometimes it's a relief to do something that I don't have to explain or justify, even if they accept it for the wrong reasons.  They all think it's totally reasonable that I wouldn't have anyone to buy gifts for because I'm "just dating around" or "single", but when I have a partner that passes for an escalator relationship partner, and I talk about how stressful gift-giving is, that's one more battle I have to fight to make people understand alternative relationship options.

There are a lot of obligations and expectations that I feel free of by identifying as a solo poly or as poly singleish.  There are other things I struggle with, other downsides, other expectations.  But this is one I am happy to be free of.  And it doesn't mean that I dislike receiving gifts, or giving them for that matter.  It just means that I feel some relief of this particular pressure to give, that really comes from several places and is a very complex issue for me.
9th-Nov-2013 11:23 pm - Happy Anniversary!
Purple Mobius, polyamory
I was too busy and sleep deprived and just fucking exhausted to get online yesterday, so happy belated anniversary to my sweetie tacit!  9 years together, I can hardly even believe it! I wasn't sure where our relationship would take us when we started. You were so different from anyone else I had dated before and I wasn't sure our slightly different relationship styles would mesh well enough to find a common thread.

But I tried a new (at the time) tactic of just jumping in and seeing where things would go without trying to prescript our future, and also allowing our relationship to change and flex with circumstances instead of holding onto a particular structure and then giving up when circumstances change. And that seems to be the successful strategy.

You "get" me unlike anyone else, you inspire me to be more than I am, and you always seem to come up with some nuanced philosophy that so clearly expresses views that I, myself, am just developing or being introduced to, unintentionally providing me with such a clear roadmap, lighting my path and showing me the way I wish to travel.

Thank you for always being there for me and for taking so many years to get to know me and evolve along with me. I look forward to sharing many more years, many more shared projects, many more conversations, many more debates, and even many more chagrined moments as I realize that I have gradually approached a perspective that you held for some time and that I argued against at first but have eventually come on my own to see.
Purple Mobius, polyamory
http://www.petting-zoo.org/2013/08/30/teamplay/

I can't tell you how many times I've tried to correct people on the "protect the existing relationship" that once you introduce someone(s) new, there is no longer any "existing" relationship - it's a whole new thing that has a whole new dynamic with (perhaps only slightly, perhaps massively) different needs and priorities.

New partners are not patches to be slapped onto an old pair of jeans - intended to add onto and improve, but not otherwise significantly change the original garment. They are a completely unique element unto themselves that changes the entire ensemble - sometimes in complimentary ways, sometimes in unflattering ways, sometimes merely altering the tone but sometimes changing the whole look and feel of the outfit.

Like my black slashed t-shirt that I made for a 7 Deadly Sins party one year, where I dressed as Wrath. With the leather pants and chain mail skirt and creepy fire eye contacts, I looked like Wrath. But paired with a black fedora and short flirty skirt and hi-top Converse, the black slashed t-shirt looked totally '80s hip hop dancer. Vastly different outfits because I swapped out other elements.

Then, for my Victorian ballgown, that's clearly a historical looking outfit. But I can take off the outer blouse and skirt, and just wear the corset and underskirt, and I get a Victorian-themed ballroom dancing outfit or add a mask and I got a kink-appropriate Masquerade outfit. Leave the whole thing put together and add some jewelry made of gears and I get a Steampunk Victorian outfit. Leave the fantail down and I get an extravagant gown that needs an assistant to move around or pin the fantail up and I get a much more practical gown that I can walk around in. Same outfit, different tones and feelings with different elements.

     

So stop trying to "protect the existing relationship" and start asking "exactly what kind of team is this anyway, and what will it be with me as part of it?"
28th-Aug-2013 02:00 pm - Keep In Touch At Dragon*Con
Silent Bob Headbang, yay!, shiny, cool
For the last several years, I've maintained a Group Me for conventions.  This is a web-based service that allows you to enter your phone number, join a particular Group Me (or be added by the moderator), and then send a regular SMS text message to the Group Me phone number that will then be relayed to everyone else in the group.  They have the option to do the same.  This has come in handy for sending a single message out to everyone to say "I'm going to eat at the hotel restaurant, anyone else free and want to share a meal?" and "Party tonight is in room 465!" and "Sorry, have to cancel the party - roommate is sick.  Please don't show up tonight!"  I send one message to one phone number and reach everyone who needs that information.  Everyone else can send a message or reply to mine and everyone else gets to see it too.

Some people have suggested that Facebook or Twitter is the same thing, or good enough, for this purpose.  But I don't agree.  For one thing, it requires that everyone whom you wish to speak to has a FB or Twitter account.  Second, it requires that you be friends with those people.  Third, it requires that you have the ability to access FB or Twitter whenever you want to send that message.   For some people, this is all true.

But not for me. And here's why...Collapse )

Group Me allows you to join yourself or have the moderator add you to the group.  No one else will see your phone number unless they already have your phone number in their phone's address book, so it protects your privacy.  It allows you to choose your display name so you can use the name that people can use to find you online or not, as you prefer.  It removes me as the central organizing point and gives everyone else on the list some degree of control or participation.  It works for all phones that have SMS capabilities (and if my ancient clam-shell dumb phone can do it, then every cell phone can do it).  It does not cost anything except whatever your current text messaging plan is.  If you have limited text messages, you can turn it on and off, and you can also check messages at the website with a computer or other device with internet access.

If you have no internet access and no or limited texting capabilities, then it's true, this service will not work for you.  But I'm also at a loss as to how to include you on con' plan coordination at all in this case if I can't text or send you internet messages.  So, sorry.

Here are specifics on how to join & use the GroupMe...Collapse )
30th-Jul-2013 08:01 pm - More Entitlement
frustration, ::headdesk::
In which I ramble nearly incoherently about entitlement and agency and autonomy and other buzzwordsCollapse )
So, in case it hasn't occurred to you yet, the tl;dr version is this: communities and groups of like-minded people are not a convenient location in which we have rounded up a bevy of people for your attention or perusal. Even those groups for which the purpose *is* whatever you're looking for (i.e. a dating site), the group members are not there for you specifically. Do not treat such groups and communities as your personal pool to fish from, stocked with said fish for your pleasure. Being part of a "singles" group, or a submissive group, or a childfree group, or a poly group, or a kink group, or a whatever group, does not mean that the group exists for you to use as a collection site like a temp employment agency. Being part of one of those groups does not mean that the members are there for you. Even being sexually available does not mean that they are sexually available to you.

And for fuck's sake, stop posting personals ads on the internet unless you're specifically signed up for a personals ads service! Just have a fucking conversation with people, and through those conversations, you will eventually find people who are compatible enough with you to consider the sort of relationship you're looking for (or even a whole new kind of relationship you hadn't considered before, but you'd never have known that you'd be open to it if you hadn't just fucking talked to people first).
9th-Jul-2013 02:11 pm - My Creation Lives!
Purple Mobius, polyamory
One of the more common topic discussions in poly circles is how to "convert" someone to polyamory.  The vast majority of poly veterans will tell you that you can't "convert" someone, you can only offer polyamory as an alternative, explain what it is, and let them decide if they want to try it or not.  We all know the experience of banging our heads against a brick wall trying to "change" someone into being the person we think they ought to be.  It's an exercise in frustration, pain, and heartache ... on both sides.  But more than just being a pain in the ass to drag someone, kicking and screaming, into a poly relationship, I think it's inherently a devaluing and dismissive perspective.

There seems to be this either/or false dichotomy thing happening every time the subject of "conversion" comes up. I usually see only 2 options being presented: 1) "explain" polyamory to people who don't get it; 2) "convert" people who aren't poly into being poly *with you*. Very few people seem to have any motivation to "convert" people to being polyamorous whom they have no personal interest in dating.  The first option, I have no problem with.  In fact, I'm a pretty strong advocate of the first option.  The second option seems to have the underlying assumption that if one falls in love with a mono person, one must necessarily change that person into a poly person because the only option is to date them.

*That's* the part I'm having a problem with. One of the things that I dislike about monogamous culture is the devaluing of all relationships that aren't on-the-way-to-marriage-romantic-relationships. If you're not on that "first comes love, then comes marriage, then comes baby in the baby carriage" track, that relationship doesn't "count" or is less or something. That very idea is exactly why I'm poly in the first place. I'm seeing that same sentiment in poly circles every time the subject of "conversion" comes up.

tacit says "it's possible to really and truly love someone and still not make a good partner for them." I've seen more unnecessary heartache from people trying to force their relationships into something it doesn't want to be, than from any other thing that people do to each other in romantic relationships. It is inherently disrespectful, which, IMO, is incompatible with "love".

If you want to explain polyamory to people so that they'll understand you and who you are, great. I'm all for that. I expend a great deal of my time and efforts doing just that. If you meet someone who has never heard of polyamory but, after learning about it from you, thinks it's something he wants to give a try even though it might be hard work on his part, great. I support people exploring themselves and challenging their assumptions.

But I do not agree with the idea that we have to date everyone we take a fancy to just because we fancy them, I do not agree with the idea that when we love someone, there is only one kind of relationship we absolutely must have with them or else we'll die of longing, and I do not agree with trying to date someone who *fundamentally* wants a different relationship than you are willing to offer. I don't agree when monogamous people date polys for the purpose of trying to convert us back to monogamy (cowboys) and I don't agree when we do it to them. We do not have to force everyone we like into a relationship that doesn't fit them, i.e. a romantic relationship.

Turn the scenario around.  How many of you, who see nothing wrong with using your infatuation with someone to justify trying to shoehorn them into a relationship that you want, but they don't, how many of you would feel totally OK with a monogamous person trying to do it to you?  How many of you do NOT think "it's just a phase, eventually you'll realize that I'm enough for you and that I'm The One" is disrespecting or dismissing your poly nature and your own desires for what you want out of a relationship (remember, the assumption is that you *inherently* want polyamory, not that you can do either/or - if you could be happy with either, then you are not equivalent to the issue at hand)?  I would posit that those who are both OK with trying to remake their partners into their own ideal image of a poly person and who also have no problem with their partners trying to remake them into the ideal monogamous person have some serious problems with identity or self-esteem or insecurity - problems that are too big for me to address in a LJ post or comments thread.  I would also posit that such a relationship would be fundamentally combative and contentious.  I would then further suggest that those are people whose ideas for relationships are not people we should be heeding if we want healthy relationships.

If you truly value them as a person, then find a relationship that FITS. If that means you have to be friends with someone because they are neato but not poly, then maybe they'll change their minds after a few years of observing how well poly works for you, but at least you won't be playing Pygmalion and doing the bullshit "I love everything about you, now change the very core of who you are for me" game. I hate it when monogamists do it to each other, I hate it when women do it to men, I hate it when men do it to women, I hate it when monogamists try to do it to polys, and I hate it when polys try to do it to monos.

YOU DO NOT HAVE TO DATE EVERYONE YOU FIND ATTRACTIVE, and I would suggest that attempting to do so would fall under a pathology, similar to believing you have to date everyone who is interested in you. Explain, offer resources, assist when assistance is requested. But don't try to *change* someone unless they have specifically asked for your help in changing. I'm hard-pressed to come up with anything more disrespectful and devaluing than trying to "change" or "fix" someone who isn't actively involved in their own self-growth process, short of actual abuse.

Show people a possible path, and let them stroll down it, or not, as they see fit.  Hand them a water bottle, recommend a good pair of walking shoes, suggest a walking stick, but don't stick a gun in their back and tell them that they must go down that path because that's the path you're on, and YOU want them to walk with you.  That's not a companion, that's a hostage.



Related Terms:
3rd-Jul-2013 11:58 pm - Some Thoughts On Privilege
Super Tech, strong, feminism
"I acknowledge that my white privilege has meant that I’ve been given hella opportunities, and am now in a privileged position to be able to sit here and write these ideas. But part of dealing with privilege is working actively to dismantle it. If I didn’t use my strange combination of oppression and privilege to openly question, critique, and start conversations, I’d just be playing into the system that benefits from Native subjugation and white privilege–and that would be something to be concerned about." - http://nativeappropriations.com/2012/07/real-indians-dont-care-about-tonto.html

Replace the word "Native" in the last sentence with any subjegated, oppressed, or discriminated group, and the word "white" with any majority or otherwise privileged group, and this is exactly my position on activism and why I'm "out" as all the minority groups that make me who I am and why I open myself up to criticism and discrimination by claiming those labels and being public about them and talking about them in spite of my natural tendency towards privacy.

Privilege and oppression are rarely binary states. There's a whole field of study on intersectionality, but when trying to introduce or explain the concept of privilege to someone who has it or doesn't get it, we usually reduce it to people who have it and people who don't, for simplicity even though the reality is that almost everyone has some of each. But I can use my privilege to support and assist those of less privilege, including myself. My white-ness and educated status can help my poly, atheist, and female status while my poly, atheist, female, and Latina statuses can all inform the direction my privilege should take in helping.

We are not a nation of Privileged People at the top of a mountain and Oppressed People all at the bottom, with every Privileged Person having an equal panoramic view and every Oppressed Person being buried under the same size rocks that come crashing down, dislodged from the uncaring feet of the Privileged at the top. We are people, in various places along the mountainside, some with easier paths than others, some higher up than others, and all with the opportunity to reach down a helping hand to those below or on rockier paths, while at the same time accepting those helping hands from above or suffering on our own paths while those above refuse to look down and assist, maybe even kicking a few boulders onto our path for good measure.

So, where my path is secure, strong, stable, I'll reach out my hand or lower a rope to help those who need it. Where my path is rocky, tenuous, slippery, I'll call out for a safety line from those above or for someone below to catch me if I fall. Even if they're technically below me, their path might, at this point in time, be more stable than mine, and we can help each other.

Privilege does not make you a bad person, nor does it mean that you never suffer. It means you are part of a group that has been given SYSTEMIC assistance in making life easier, even if you, personally, didn't get a hand on that rope.  Maybe no one lowered down a rope to your path when it got rocky, but someone built the path there for you in the first place, for instance. It also means that you have a stable part of the path that you can use to help someone else up. It also means, in my opinion, that you have a responsibility to use that stable part of the path to help someone else up. As someone who also has rocky portions of the path, that ought to make you more sympathetic to the people below who need your help, not less.
18th-Jun-2013 01:03 am - Communicate With Me Now, Damn It!
Bad Computer!, anger

Seriously, people, you have GOT to let people get out of discussions (i.e. arguments) when they become too emotional to be productive. Even better, let them get out before they become too emotional if either of you can see the warning signs. If they're not the type to recognize that they've lost too much control to be effective, then you may have to request that they take a break for them.

There's this weird fetishization of "communication". I put that in quotes because, in this context, it's not used in the sense that I usually use that word. To me, communication is an exchange of ideas, or, if not an exchange in two directions, at least the ideas flow in one direction and are actually received. To me, communication does not include one person talking to oneself, two people shouting at each other and not listening or "hearing" each other, or anyone shouting at what amounts to a brick wall. Nor does it include someone spouting gibberish or obscenities with no real content (as I have been known to do).

No, to me, communicating means that the ideas shared are actually shared, implying that there is someone on the receiving end actually getting the signal. So when it is no longer possible to share those ideas - when someone is no longer either transmitting clearly or receiving clearly and/or there is no attempt to discuss or debate in good faith, then there is no more communication happening. Insisting that the two sides remain locked in combat with each other past that point is not advocating communication.

I'm all for communication. Hell, I give workshops and private unofficial "counseling" sessions exploring alternate ways of communicating to improve relationships. But I do not agree with this "communicating" that means "talking at each other regardless of how each participant feels during the discussion and insisting that the talking continue indefinitely while accusing any attempt to end the talking as being censorship, silencing tactics, or blocking communication". Bonus points if you can accuse the person trying to end the talking of being a hypocrite for claiming to advocate communication but not wanting to talk about this *right now*, for insisting that the other person "teach" you why what you did was so wrong *right now*, or for using their own emotional state as a weapon against them, discrediting them and their position simply for their inability to keep their cool.

I get it, it's frustrating to be trying to express yourself and have the other person just end the discussion, without letting you get in the last word or to "be heard". But keeping that other person there is not the way to accomplish that goal. However, neither is ending a discussion at this point "censorship", "silencing", or a position against communication. In many cases, ending a discussion before it becomes contentious and tabling it for better circumstances is one method for salvaging the communication.

Often, when a person has reached the point that they are no longer able to communicate effectively (hang on here, I'm going to get complex), they have reached the point that they are no longer able to communicate effectively. Whoa, mind blown, right? This means that they may not be able to explain why they're so angry, or to patiently and calmly explain that they need some time apart to compose themselves and come back to the discussion later. They are angry, upset, hurt, emotional. So their request for time off may similarly be angry, upset, hurt, or emotional. At this point, stopping whatever is hurting them is the primary objective. It is not reasonable to expect them to be compassionate, respectful, articulate, or willing to teach you all about their emotional responses in a tone that panders to your own issues.

If someone needs to stop, just fucking stop. Recognize that they are upset and let it the-fuck go. Sometime later, you can ask them to explain what happened and how you can work with them to avoid a repeat performance. Sometime later you can explain that their reaction to stress is hurtful to you and you want to find a compromise between their need for space and your desire not to be hurt by their need for space. Sometime later you can address if this seems to be a pattern and what that means.

Get your head out of your ass and let go of your own inflated sense of self-importance and look at what's happening. Supposedly, you're the rational one here, right? I mean, you're not the one throwing the temper tantrum and storming off in a huff, so that must mean you're the rational one, yes? Someone is hurting and someone is acting out in their pain. And if you're not actually causing it, you're at least in the position to be perceived as having caused it, or contributed to it. So take a fucking step back and let the other person breathe. Give them the space necessary to calm down and come back around in a more rational frame of mind. Perpetuating the cycle will not achieve communication, no matter how much longer you manage to bully them into continuing the talking (or shouting).

Some things that can increase the odds of reaching this non-productive state are:


  • Starting the argument late at night or keeping someone up past their natural (or necessary) bedtime to talk about distressing subjects.

  • Starting the discussion or argument before they have to leave for another obligation, such as work, where they have to either choose to be late or end the discussion before you're ready to end it (and whatever consequences you might apply for doing so).

  • Starting the discussion when hungry or not breaking for food when they become hungry.

  • Starting or continuing the argument/discussion in front of other people where they might become embarrassed on top of whatever other emotional reaction they have to the topic, or where they might not feel free to express their thoughts as necessary.

  • Having the argument in a place where they feel trapped, like a moving vehicle or at work where they can't leave or out someplace where you are sharing transportation and they can't easily leave.

  • Threatening them with dire consequences if they don't want to have the argument/discussion at the time of your choosing, such as breaking up, destroying property, withholding favors, restricting access to other people, pets, or things, etc.

  • Using a medium to communicate that they feel discomfort using or they have difficulty expressing themselves clearly using, like insisting on email when they express themselves better verbally.

I'm sure there are more, but I see these play out over and over again. In fact, I have personally been subjected to each of these on more than one occasion, even after I have clearly expressed my opinions on the subject. I once had someone start an intense discussion with me after I explicitly said I didn't want to talk about it because I had to go to bed soon and I had to wake up early, looking "fresh" and rested. I had a partner who repeatedly picked fights with me at work no matter how often I told him to leave the personal shit for home and I actually had to request to be scheduled on different gigs even after we broke up. My second fiance would molest me while I was sleeping and then threaten to break my possessions if I got pissed at him and tried to go sleep on the couch (wish I had known he would do this before I agreed to marry him!). My mother once kept pushing me on the subject of my Catholic Confirmation ceremony when I was in the car and I couldn't escape her screaming at me when I finally told her I was atheist so I couldn't go through the ceremony and would she please drop the subject?  I once had a partner insist on having a very difficult conversation through email after I had made it clear on several occasions that I felt more comfortable expressing myself verbally because I felt that we both misunderstood intent when we communicated with each other through text.

I could go on but the point is that these are terrible things to do to someone. I've never read the book Emotional Blackmail, but I'd be willing to bet money that at least some of these tactics are mentioned in it somewhere, or in some book about emotional abuse. Keeping people from sleeping & eating properly while bombarding them with a particular message is a standard "brainwashing"* technique even.  The reason why I have such an explosive temper is because I'm sick of people doing these things to me and I'm sick of then being blamed for the demise of the discussion when they've done it and I'm really sick of not even being allowed to do what is necessary to get back under control, so people can then continue to blame me for not "communicating".

I recognize that I have lost control and I'm taking responsibility for that by altering my circumstances such that I can regain control and become productive again. So let me do that and don't belittle me for it. Let me gain some perspective and some composure. Let anyone who who has lost control gain some perspective and some composure, especially if they clearly communicate that they need it (even if you don't like the tone they use when they express their desire). If they don't know themselves well enough to request it on their own, then you suggest to them that a break might be necessary. You might actually gain their respect and speed along their composure if you can acknowledge their efforts to get back on track, rather than faulting them for not subjecting themselves to your power trip.



*I put "brainwashing" in quotes because I'm aware of some of the controversy on the effectiveness of brainwashing & brainwashing reversal and I don't want to get into a debate about it.  The point is that this is a technique people use when they are deliberately trying to indoctrinate someone against their will or to subvert their better judgement.  Using these techniques during a discussion or argument where each person is supposed to retain their own agency is inconsiderate at best, unethical and cruel at worst.

17th-Jun-2013 11:18 pm - Poly Movie Review - Three
Purple Mobius, polyamory

http://dvd.netflix.com/Movie/Three/60030021 - Netflix
http://www.amazon.com/Three/dp/B004VZWE4A - Amazon
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0169320/ - IMDB

There are several movies by this name.  Every time someone recommends a movie to me called Three, I go to look for it on Netflix and half a dozen movies pop up, and I can't tell which one is which.  So it wasn't until about 10 minutes in that I realized I had already watched this movie.  But I haven't reviewed it yet, so I guess it wasn't a total waste of an hour and a half.

I'll be honest, from the Netflix description, I didn't have high hopes for this movie.  The very summary makes it sound like a torn-between-two-lovers-and-forced-to-make-a-choice movie.  And that's what it was.  But the title screen on the DVD is incredibly misleading.  It shows a FMF threesome that never happens in the movie.

The movie was interesting, and it certainly had a lot to say on the subject of homosexuality and coming out, so I might recommend it on that basis.  But it wasn't poly.  Tito and Elsie are unhappily married.  Tito is an arrogant, entitled, selfish asshole and Elsie is incredibly fearful - she moves through life on the path of least courage.  Tito is screwing a collegue, Susan, who is desperately trying to steal Tito away from Elsie, even though Tito has never given her any reason to think he would leave his wife (I think he's getting off on the idea of cheating even more than the sex itself, and leaving his wife for her would take that away).

Before Elsie married Tito (at her mother's insistence), she had a secret lesbian relationship with Alice, the "tomboy" next door.  Elsie couldn't handle the idea of her mother finding out or experiencing any sort of cultural shame for being gay, so she bowed to pressure and broke up with Susan and married Tito.

But Alice has cancer and wants Elsie back - not just because she wants her hot lovin' but because Alice very strongly believes in personal authenticity and coming out and being true to oneself.  She worries that Elsie will never come out and will continue to live a lie, unhappy in her marriage until she dies, if Susan doesn't inspire her to be more courageous.

But, just to add another layer of complexity, Susan has been living with another lover (whose name I never caught) who stays with her through everything, caring for her, giving her the shots & IV drips, even being with her on her deathbed and yet is tossed aside as soon as Elsie walks in the door.  When Elsie leaves her husband for Alice, she manages to live with Alice and her now-former lover for 9 months before even bothering to ask the lover who she is to Alice or what their relationship was before she came along.

So, there's no polyamory happening here.  Tito cheats on his wife.  His wife leaves him for her ex-girlfriend.  The ex-girlfriend dumps her own partner to get back together with the wife.  Everyone is contemptuous and disrespectful to the poor ex-lover still living in the house, caring for her terminally sick love.

And the story is told from her point of view.

There were some really interesting bits about Tito getting over his homophobia, coming out to Elsie's mother, raising a child in a gay community, parents who don't love each other trying to co-parent and live together, courage, fear, and personal growth.  Anyone interested in movies on these kinds of subjects might want to check out this movie.

But I didn't like any of the characters, and as regular readers of my LJ might know by now, if I can't empathize with the characters, then I have trouble enjoying the story.  At least this time there was a reason for putting together the main couple when they didn't actually like each other.  Usually movies do that and expect us to just accept that they're in a happy relationship that we should be rooting for (or that they're not currently in a romantic relationship but that we should be hoping that they get into one in spite of not liking each other).  So I didn't have any trouble wondering why they were together since they didn't like each other.  I just thought that everyone did really stupid things and it was completely obvious to me why everyone was unhappy.  Somehow, that made it much easier to sit through than movies that give happy endings to people who totally fuck up their own lives or who villify or sacrifice those who do something contrary when they should have been happy.

3rd-May-2013 08:22 pm - Missing The Point Pedantry
Bad Computer!, anger
There's this thing that otherwise reasonable, intelligent people do that just really pisses me off. I've started calling it Missing The Point Pedantry. This is when someone who is a generally intelligent person with a reasonable amount of social skills decides to argue some pedantic, specific little detail that someone, who is also fairly intelligent with social skills, said in a conversation or online post that completely misses the point of what was being said. It requires the pedant to overlook context, any knowledge of the person speaking and/or their past track record or tendencies regarding either the subject or their conversation/speaking/writing style, and any social conventions involved in speaking/writing.

So, for example: let's take Devon. Devon is a college graduate with an interest in the hard sciences but a vast experience with the arts and pop culture. Devon can use "totes" and "adorbs" in conversation and not sound like my dad sounded in the '80s when he tried to say "that's totally radical dude!" in an effort to connect with "the kids these days". Devon is well-read in popular fiction, the classics, and non-fiction in some specialty areas of interest. Devon is sex-positive and active in alternative communities like the Ren Faire and the local indie club scene. In other words, Devon is a well-rounded person with general knowledge, some specific expertise, and social skills like current slang and local/cultural body language.

Now let's take Quinn. Other than the specific areas of specialty that Quinn focuses on or hobbies and interests that Quinn has, Quinn is basically the same as Devon - well-read, intelligent, average size social group, etc. Maybe Quinn is a sci-fi geek instead of a Renny or maybe Quinn listens to goth instead of industrial music, but otherwise, they are fairly well-matched people. They also know each other through overlapping social circles and have had direct interactions with each other, but maybe they don't know each other quite well enough to call each other "friend" in the can-call-each-other-up-in-the-middle-of-the-night-to-rescue sense. They probably show up at some of the same parties if they're in the same area and they are probably friends on Facebook or something.

So Devon and Quinn are at a party one night and Devon is speaking with some people on a subject that most of the people mostly agree on. Maybe it's the conflict in the Middle East, maybe it's about immigration, maybe it's about pc vs. mac, maybe it's on the inherent privilege that blondes face in this country at the expense of redheads. Whatever, Devon is reasonably certain that most of the people have similar, if not identical, views on the subject and that there are probably people at the party who disagree, but that's not who Devon is talking to right now, although Devon is aware that those people could probably overhear the conversation. Quinn is at the party and generally agrees on the subject, but has different personal experiences of the subject so might have a slightly different perspective, although they both agree on the important points.

Devon starts relating a story about a study on the subject that suggests some really interesting and suggestive trends among, oh, I dunno, blondes. It turns out that when you prime blondes by having them read pro-blonde jokes, they have a tendency to become more hostile towards non-blondes. They answer questions about crime committed by redheads with harsher penalties than blondes, and they want harsher penalties than the blondes who weren't primed for it. The study, and a series of related studies, show some shocking revelations about the privilege of blondes in our country that lend weight to the redhead accusation that hair-colorism is not yet over, it just moved to a more subtle form. Blondes aren't burning redheads at the stake for being witches anymore, but they still aren't given exactly the same treatement as blondes in society, and the redheads aren't just being "overly sensitive" about "seeing hair-colorism everywhere".

Since Devon is not a research scientist, was not personally involved in this study, and is speaking at a party and not a science forum, Devon is playing a little loose with the language. Devon sums up the study instead of quotes it, uses anecdote as illustration to connect with the audience, speaks in the common vernacular and not necessarily precise, scientific language, sometimes uses humor to relieve the tension, sometimes gets a little angry at the injustice of it all and the anger seeps into the tone every so often. But Devon is speaking to peers, who understand the same common vernacular, who are swayed by anecdotal illustrations and have not spent their life-long careers training themselves to recognize personal bias (although some do it as a hobby, they all still understand that they're all at a party and not being hired to review this study), who are also there to just converse with people they like and if they happen to learn an interesting new tip, even better.

As Devon finishes with an anecdote that supports the study's conclusion, in an effort to better connect the audience to the dry data and to illustrate the point and maybe to connect the study to something that was said previously that is related but not necessarily the exact same thing, Quinn jumps in with "well, I'm blonde and I like anti-redhead jokes, but *I* certainly have no problem with redheads! Therefore you can't say that blondes are anti-redhead. If I were to follow your logic where you used a personal anecdote to support hair-colorism, then my experience as a blonde who had a hair-colorist redhead father should lead me to make sweeping generalizations that all redheads were anti-blonde!"

This, ladies and gentlemen, is what we call Missing The Point.

Of course we shouldn't take our personal experiences and use them to make sweeping generalizations. That's not what Devon did. Devon used a personal anecdote to illustrate a trend that a scientific study suggested. The point of using anecdotes in this context is to make the subject matter relatable to the general audience. People use analogies, similes, hyperbole, alliteration, allusion, and other literary tools to create an emotional response in the audience. That's what people do. The scientific and the skeptics communities are both terrible about not utilizing these tools, and it's one of the reasons why we have a culture of anti-intellectualism. The religious and the woo crowds are experts at these tools and they use them liberally to sway the public away from science, away from reason, away from critical thinking. Science, critical thinking, and reason are hard for humans, in general (don't anyone fucking dare comment about how easy it is for you, personally - that's exactly what I'm talking about). But tell people there's a quantum flux theory that totally explains why hospitals fill up on nights with a full moon because your sister once had a dream about a peanut butter and jelly sandwich at exactly the same time you were making one, therefore water that remembers the medicine you filtered out of it but not the poop totally cured your autism, and they'll think you're making absolute sense.

When an individual makes a claim, such as "women are just naturally more nurturing than men" and backs it up with a story about how "every single" woman they know is better with children than "every single" man they know, and has been that way since birth, therefore they can make the claim that women in general, or all women, are naturally more nurturing than men - that's a logical fallacy. The counter to that is a combination of actual science research that says otherwise as well as any examples that do not fit the claim. If the claim is that "all people of X group", then only 1 counter example is sufficient to falsify the claim. If the claim is "generally people of X group", then anyone whose personal experience is that most people of that group do *not* is sufficient to falsify the claim - especially when either case is backed up with scientific data.

In other words, if you say "all dogs have 4 legs", then all I have to do is produce 1 dog without 4 legs and the claim is bunk. If you say "dogs are generally mean and vicious animals", then all I have to do is say that I've worked with thousands of animals in an animal shelter and the vast majority of dogs I've worked with were lovable and sweet, and that the only mean and vicious dogs I encountered were raised by asshole owners who trained them specifically to be mean and vicious to counter the claim that meanness is a species-wide trend.

But when the scientific evidence suggests a particular trend, and a person shares an anecdote to illustrate what the trend is, or to help the audience connect or relate to the conclusion, or to say "I can believe that because this thing that supports the conclusion happened to me", that is not a logical fallacy. That's called being a part of a social species that uses complex language filled with nuance and social context to share ideas with each other.

Most of the time, this Missing The Point Pedantry takes the form of a strawman argument. I have an ex who did this constantly. He once got interested in dating someone that I felt would be problematic because she was opposed to polyamory. I was concerned that she would do typical cowboy or cuckoo things to break us up or drive me away so that she could have him all to herself. I was concerned because she exhibited such behaviour in the past. His reaction was to scoff at me and tell me that he was anti-marriage, so I shouldn't worry because it's not like he was going to run off to Vegas and marry her, he just wanted to fuck her.

Well, no shit Sherlock, I didn't think he was going to run off to Vegas and marry her and that's not at all what I was concerned about. It doesn't take something as drastic as a vehemently anti-marriage man completely 180-ing on his lifelong, somewhat pathological, anger at the institution of marriage to make me concerned about how a new partner is going to affect my existing relationship. Things like refusing to be in the same room with me even at parties forcing him to routinely "choose" between us, calling in the middle of our date night for her weekly emotional "crisis" to have a 2-hour long argument about whether or not he should come home *again* to take care of her, showing up at my house at exactly midnight because "my night" with him is now *technically* the next day, which isn't my night, so he has to come home with her right now, spinning private stories in a negative way to mutual friends to gradually turn those mutual friends away from me and onto "her side" - these are the kinds of things that I'm afraid of. These, by the way, are all things that have actually happened to me and not hyperbole, exaggeration, or strawmen or pulled out of my ass. I don't need to be worried that she's going to kidnap my boyfriend at gunpoint, force him to marry her, and never see me again to be concerned that my life is about to be unpleasantly disrupted by someone with a history of being disruptive.

So sometimes the pedantry is used to pick on a specific detail or pull a loose form of speech to focus on at the expense of all the rest of what was said - the context, the cultural influences, the history of the speaker, and even the non-spoken implications revealed by the language used - to pick out that detail and blow it up to exaggerated proportions so that the original speaker would have to backtrack or renege the point in order to not be associated with the caricature now presented.

But sometimes it's another logical fallacy, and I don't particularly want to attempt to cover every possible fallacy that someone could make in these circumstances. The point is I really hate Missing The Point Pedantry because I have to explain, in great detail and at great length, why this is a misdirection in order to get back on track, which, in effect, is exactly what I'm trying to avoid - being misdirected. Instead of discussing the topic, we get sidetracked onto this other niggling little detail. There's no good way to handle this problem that I am aware of. If you don't address it, a falsehood or a fallacy goes unchallenged, and all that results from that. If you do address it directly, you get off the main topic and start arguing something that wasn't your point in the first place. If you address the fact that it's missing the point, you still get off the main topic and start arguing something else that wasn't your main point, only now you're arguing about arguing.

The people I know are intelligent, reasonable people, for the most part, and, contrary to the mainstream perception of intelligent people, are not actually all socially maladapted misfits like Sheldon Cooper. They are people who understand humor, sarcasm, double entendre, can tell when someone shouts "fine, whatever!" and storms out of a room that she's probably not actually fine and is likely pissed off, can identify "I'd love to but..." as a polite rejection even if the word "no" was never spoken, and a whole host of other social interactions. But, for some reason, all of those interaction skills go right out the window when they seize on a detail that might not be an absolutely, literal, 100% in all cases down to the fractal level, perfect phrase or example.

When most people say "I'm going down to Miami for the weekend", most other people understand that "down" is a cultural slang term that means "south-ish from this point", not that the speaker is literally moving in a downward direction into the planet and pretty much no one tries to correct the speaker. Even when someone says "I'm going down to New York for the weekend", and we all know that "down" means "south-ish" but the speaker will be traveling "north-ish" or "east-ish", most of the time people still don't try to correct the speaker because we grasped, from the context, what the important point was - that the speaker is going somewhere for the weekend. But when Missing The Point Pedantry happens, suddenly I'm faced with, for example, anti-sexist men who want to argue that "she didn't say the word no so it's not rape" or "but men have bad stuff that happens too" or "what's wrong with wanting to protect my primary relationship?" or "if she just knew self-defense, she wouldn't be a target" or "I agree that religion is actively harmful, but do you have to be so aggressive about it?" or "you know that aspirin comes from willow trees, right, so don't do the opposite and assume everything that's natural is harmful" or a million other wacky things that completely miss the point.

No, I haven't actually counted out one million examples. That's a figure of speech and is intended to convey "a lot" in a way that impresses the reader with "really a lot". And that's exactly what I'm talking about - Missing The Point Pedantry. Everyone knows that "a million other things" doesn't literally mean exactly one million other things, and "everyone knows" doesn't literally mean that every person on the entire planet that has ever or will ever live understands that figure of speech. And you, who is doing this, also understand that, in most contexts except for whatever it is about this one that prompted you to point this out. I'm not speaking to Rain Man here, or Sheldon, I'm not speaking to or about anyone who has any kind of actual neurological condition or complication that makes them actually have trouble with abstract thought. I'm talking to and about people who, in most cases, get this, but couldn't refrain from "not getting it" now. I know you're not stupid and I know you're not an asshole, but for fuck's sake, stop acting like it and, by implication, stop acting like I'm stupid by ignoring all the context around whatever detail you picked out to focus on.
28th-Apr-2013 08:18 pm - But it WORKS for us!
Purple Mobius, polyamory
"Our relationship is over! Us in the original couple are in a totally closed triad with no outside partners for a reason and we explained that to our Third when we met her and she agreed back then but now it's over because she wants someone besides us! Why can't she understand that we have a system that works for us?"

Because, honey, that system DOESN'T work for you. If it worked for you, the triad wouldn't have broken up over it. Oh, you mean that it worked for the primary couple! This is a great example of couples privilege - writing up rules that only work for the original couple, and as long as the original two people like it and stay together, that's all that counts as "works for us".

This is the problem I have with Unicorn Hunters (which, I shouldn't have to repeat but obviously I do, does not mean all individual people who think they might like being part of a triad someday) - they're not interested in what works for everyone and they're not interested in accommodating their partner as if she were a full human being with her own needs and desires. They're interested in what she can do for them, and in not having their lives interrupted in any meaningful way while they're getting what they want from her without regard to what "works" for her.

Although, I have to say that it doesn't sound like it's working out for the original couple either, since the two of you haven't managed to make your dream triad work, but that's a whole other argument.

Also, this isn't a straw man. This is a real post I saw in an online poly group.

I ought to make a post or a tag for posts that include things I've said for which people accuse me of straw-manning but are actually real statements, arguments, posts, or claims made by real people. Like the post I saw last week and tweeted about where I said that my hypothetical Unicorn Hunters that I use as examples are never as bad as the real thing because I never thought to prescript the nipple size of the unicorn, for instance. Seriously, the worst of everything I've ever said about Unicorn Hunters, and the reason I'm opposed to them, are both absolutely real examples with no hyperbole and not as bad as some other absolutely real life examples.
Purple Mobius, polyamory
There's this thing that people who are exploring polyamory for the first time as part of a couple do, and I don't see it happen when people attempt to try polyamory as a single person.  It doesn't matter if the "couple" is dating together, dating individually, unicorn hunting or not, or how long the relationship has existed prior to the poly exploration.  And there's this thing that a lot of poly "veterans" keep trying to do, but a lot of poly veterans learned the hard way that it's not the most successful strategy so they don't do it anymore.  The thing they do is set out trying to find additional partners "without risking or disrupting the pre-existing relationship".

Every time, these new explorations are attempted while simultaneously attempting to keep the pre-existing relationship exactly the same, only, y'know, with more people.  I get it, I mean, they love each other, otherwise they'd break up and start dating someone new.  Kind of the whole point of polyamory is that you get to start dating someone new without losing anyone old.

Single people, however, don't try to find a partner with the assumption that their life will look exactly the same after they get a new partner as it did before.  We seem to instinctively understand that, no matter what relationship type - poly or mono - dating someone new means things will be a little different.  Compromises will have to be made based on who the new person ends up being, some plans get put on the back burner, some priorities get reshuffled, some things get given up and some new things get adopted.

Sometimes we can predict which of our things will be affected, like a guy who assumes that he'll have less time for Monday Night Football once he gets a girlfriend who doesn't like it, and other things we can't predict like waking up one day and realizing that we haven't actually touched our scuba equipment in months because our new partner doesn't dive and we'd rather spend time with them.  Every once in a while, we decide that our pre-dating proclamation to never ever leave the city we're in because we love it so much, ever, no matter what, doesn't feel as strong in the face of our soulmate announcing their intention to move back to their home country.  Some people who thought they'd never even consider dating someone with a kid from a previous relationship find themselves being a step-parent because their True Love just happened to come with a kid.  Life ends up looking different than it did before dating, and we all just kind of know that.

But couples seem to think that they can preserve and protect their relationship from experiencing any kind of change or disruption if they just find the "right partner" or if they make a bunch of rules dictating the speed and direction the new relationships are allowed to take, to make the change happen slow enough that it's essentially unnoticeable   There's a fundamental flaw that makes this strategy inherently less likely to succeed.  Only tacit said it better than I could - I'd ramble on for pages, so I'll let him say it:


There is one fly in the ointment: If you introduce someone new into your life, you DO risk disruption.

A lot of otherwise decent people do many very evil things in the name of protecting their existing relationships from disruption. But disruption is a fact of life. You can't introduce someone new into your life without risking disruption, and that's okay.

Almost everything you do in your life risks disruption to your relationships. Taking a new job. Losing a job. (Couples counselors say that financial stress is more likely to ruin a relationship than any other single factor, including cheating.) Deciding to have a baby. Moving to another city. An illness or injury. Problems in the family of origin. A death in the family. New hobbies. Hell, every time you walk outside your door or step into a car, you're risking serious injury or death, and that'll disrupt a relationship real quick!

We don't live in fear of disruption when we're offered a new job or decide to have a child. We accept that these things will change our lives, and move on. Ethical polyamory is the same thing: you accept that changes in your romantic life may affect your relationship, you resolve to act with integrity and honesty to cherish your partners to the best of your ability, you trust that your partners will do the same thing, and you move on.


There will be disruption.  You can't avoid that.  Your pre-existing relationship will change.  The only thing that trying to prevent change will do is hurt the new person, and quite likely hurt the pre-existing relationship that you were seeking to protect in the first place.  Have you ever tried to put ice into a glass of water without affecting the water level?  It can't be done.  The presence of the new ice affects the existing water.  And if it's the middle of winter and you have hypothermia, adding ice is probably going to be a stupid idea.  But if it's the middle of summer, and it's hot, and you're sweating, and you take that ice water onto the porch where there's a bit of a breeze, to sip while reading a good book on the porch swing, well, adding that ice makes the water a whole lot better.

It's not a terrific analogy.  As I said, I'll ramble on for pages, even after
tacit already said all there needed to be said on the subject.  There will be change and you can't avoid it.  But you might be turning your pre-existing relationship into something better, if you just let the change happen instead of trying to prevent it.
1st-Mar-2013 02:08 pm - It's Almost Time!
Purple Mobius, polyamory
Atlanta Poly Weekend is coming up in just a couple of weeks and I'm REALLY excited about it this year! This is APW's third year and, if the trend continues, it should be even better than last year, which was better than the first year.

For APW's first year, I gave several presentations, including why poly people should cooperate with the media and how to get into it, and a panel discussion on the intersection between polyamory and skepticism with Kelley Clark. I also debuted my Miss Poly Manners costume for the first time and held a live Miss Poly Manners Q&A.

Last year I was invited back as one of APW's keynote speakers, where I featured a talk on the intersection between poly and skepticism, and also debuted my own interpretation of the Five Love Languages for polyamorous relationships. I reprised my role as Miss Poly Manners (with an improved Victorian gown) and stretched my range of etiquette lessons to include convention etiquette, not poly-specific etiquette.

This year, Miss Poly Manners comes back once again to kick off the convention with some Con Etiquette, and to participate in APW's newest fun track! The folks in Atlanta had so much great content this year that they had to open up a fourth track of programming, not including the kids-specific track! In addition to three panels simultaneously all weekend long, covering such topics as communication tools, creating intimacy, poly case law, the results of a 15-year long study on kids of poly families, kissing classes, dealing with stress, jealousy, STIs, and special poly celebrity panels, APW will also feature a fun and games track.

Just as polyamory is not ALL about the sex, conventions are not all about the serious lectures. To lighten the mood and have some fun, this year's APW will feature some of our favorite campy game shows with a special poly twist. There will be events like Poly Family Feud and APW's Got Talent and Poly-eopardy and ... Miss Poly Manners will be the center square on our own live version of Polywood Squares! You won't want to miss it!

The highlight of every weekend is the evening entertainment and this year will have another dance with DJ Cat Ninetails. Right before the dance, by special request, I will be teaching dance lessons with Sterling! According to the expressed interests of everyone who says they want to learn how to dance but never get around to taking lessons, we've chosen a dance that will look flashy enough to show off, but can be danced to almost any popular music you might hear at a nightclub, a wedding, an office party, a convention, a party, or almost anywhere out in public. You will learn a handful of steps that can have you dancing that night, with plenty of room for growth to continue learning how to dance on your own, plus a list of resources for practice videos online and where to shop for dance shoes and clothes.

I'll be on the poly & skepticism panel again with Kelley Clark & Shaun Philly, and Sterling will be giving his ever-popular workshop on using personality types to improve poly relationships & communication. His workshop fills up to capacity every time he gives it and everyone who takes it wants to attend it again. And, as a special double-feature, I'll be giving my Five Love Languages workshop again!

For those who aren't aware, The Five Love Languages is a self-help theory developed by Dr. Gary Chapman. The basic premise is that everyone expresses their feelings of love and wants to have love expressed to them in certain ways. Those ways can be grouped into what he calls "languages", because they are ways that we all communicate our feelings of love. But the problem is that we don't express or feel loved in the same ways as everyone else. So we can love another person, and do things that we think expresses our love for them, but that person may not hear that they are loved because they speak a different love language than we do.

When people have partners who do not express love in the way they most feel loved, i.e. in their own love language, then it doesn't matter how much the other person loves them, they won't feel loved. And when people don't feel loved, they end up with what Dr. Chapman says is an empty love tank. When people's love tank is empty, they can act out in hurtful, damaging, even unpredictable ways. We have to learn how to communicate our love for each other in ways that the other person most needs to hear, because this acting out is all about how one feels regardless of how the other one thinks he or she is behaving.

Think about a child who is neglected by their parents. You will often see so-called "troubled kids" that have absent or neglectful parental figures. The movie, The Breakfast Club, is pretty much the quintessential story of kids with empty love tanks and the kinds of trouble they get into when they are crying out for love and attention. Adults aren't any different, although they may act out in different ways. Then again, sometimes they don't. People under stress and feeling neglected, unloved, and alone, often do all kinds of strange things in a reaction to that stress, and they often lack the vocabulary to express what it is they're lacking or how to give it to them. And, sometimes, their vocabulary is just fine, but the person listening doesn't have the vocabulary to understand. Or worse, when both are lacking the words to explain and the definitions to understand.

Many times, one person in a relationship will insist that they are doing everything possible to show how much they love their partner, and their partner complains that they still aren't getting what they need, still feel hurt, and still act out. If you've ever tried every way you can think of to show someone that you love them and they still accuse you of not loving them anymore, this is probably what happened - your partner had a different love language and the two of you were talking past each other, not realizing that you were actually speaking different languages. Learning to speak the other person's love language will often take care of many other problems in the relationship, sometimes things you didn't even know were related.

The Five Love Languages is one tool, among many, to give people a set of vocabularly to help explain how they need to feel loved and what they're doing when they are expressing their love. I've taken out the religious justifications and the monogamous intentions and the heteronormative assumptions and adapted the theory to apply to all genders and all relationships. You'll find out what your primary love language is and how to identify your partners' love languages, and concrete suggestions for expressing love in different languages. You'll also get a handout with summaries of each of the different languages & suggestions to take home for future reference.

So I'm really excited to get to do this workshop again, and to dance, and to see all of my old friends from previous years and to meet new friends this year. I'm terrible about out-of-context meetings, so if you see me there, please tell me how we know each other (if you follow me on a particular social networking site, if we've met before somewhere else, etc.) so I can connect the different contexts. Hope to see you there!
Super Tech, strong, feminism
http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/?p=9416

Read and add your signature, if you want to. It’s easy and fun, and shorter than an iTunes TOS update!

I pledge not to fetishize civility over justice. I recognize that the very notion of “civility” is defined in large part by those in whose benefit the status quo is maintained. I further recognize that the structure of “civility” at least in part has been created with the express purpose of bolstering chronic injustices. As Malvina Reynolds sang, “it isn’t nice to block the doorways, it isn’t nice to go to jail; there are nicer ways to do it, but the nice ways always fail.”

I pledge to remember that civility and compassion are not the same thing. Executive Order 9066, for example, was an emphatically civil document. There was not a mean-spirited or insulting word in the entire document, with the exception of the phrase “alien enemies.” In fact, it specified that a group of people would be provided with food, housing, and transportation. And yet it was one of the most unkind, uncompassionate acts of the US Government in the 20th Century. Civility is a very effective camouflage for hatred.

I pledge to remember that a fetishized civility is a field mark of insulation from suffering. The cries of the wounded on a battleground may be very unpleasant and uncivil indeed. I pledge to nod sympathetically and help bind those wounds rather than chide the wounded for bleeding so indecorously.

I pledge to keep a sense of perspective. Tossing basic civil rights under the bus in order to maintain a jury-rigged superficial peace in a single-issue movement is a bad bargain.

Rather than worry overmuch about civility, I pledge to be as kind as possible. And sometimes the kindest possible contribution to a discussion with someone acting in bad faith and harmfully is to tell them to go fuck themselves sideways.
18th-Nov-2012 06:23 pm - On Being A Dick
Bad Computer!, anger
I can't tell you how much I hate the phrase "Don't Be A Dick".  I greatly admire & respect Phil Plait & Wil Wheaton, who have made that the catchphrase of the Nice Guy Skeptical Movement (TM).  I will go so far as to say that I even happen to agree with their point - that people don't tend to change their minds when you're insulting them, so if we want to change someone's mind directly, we shouldn't call them names on the internet when we disagree.

The reason I hate the phrase is because it is subjective.  There is no criteria for what being a "dick" means.  So it gets used every time anyone says anything that anyone else disagrees with.  Sure, we can point to examples where one person is clearly being an asshole, clearly being antagonistic, and not at all interested in dialog and an exchange of viewpoints.  But that's not usually under debate by either side in the DBAD debate.  

To clarify: Don't Be A Dick is not when you complain about someone doing something harmful and you call him out on it, like calling the sexist asshole who fired a movie reviewer for daring to write a movie review about Snow White because it propagated "alpha females and beta males", a sexist asshole.  You're not a dick for calling an asshole an asshole.  Don't Be A Dick is also not when you complain about a person holding a harmful, offensive, or dangerous position or worldview, like the fucktard who thinks children should be killed for disobeying their parents and calling that person a fucktard.  You're not a dick for being appalled by someone's harmful and offensive worldview.  Don't Be A Dick is not when someone says something sexist/racist/bigoted/offensive and you try to tell them that it was sexist/racist/bigoted/offensive and they shouldn't do that - you are not a dick for trying to eliminate racism/sexism/bigotry.

Don't Be A Dick is when you hold some position or make some claim, and you are told, sometimes by someone who actually agrees with you, to adjust your delivery so as to not offend the people who disagree with you without necessarily changing the message.  This is when you say "you're being racist" and someone says "you are correct, but you should say it nicer, without using the "r" word, so that he doesn't get upset and he will be more likely to listen to you".

There are 2 times when I see this catchphrase being used:

1) Nice Guy Skeptics talking philosophically about tactics for converting people to skeptical or atheist viewpoints, but not giving any specific examples or pointing any fingers.

2) When one person says something that another person finds offensive, regardless of how the original message is phrased or the intent of the speaker, simply because the offended person doesn't like what was said, and the original person is told to change how he phrases things without changing the message, as if that would fix the offense.

There is no clear-cut way to determine when one is being a dick or how to avoid being a dick, when these are the 2 instances of use for the phrase.  I admit that I can be an asshole.  There are times when I lose my temper and I have ceased having a productive conversation and have resorted to expressing my anger without using that anger as a tool to motivate others.  One such noteworthy exchange is when I asked, and then demanded, that someone stop tweeting at me & demanding that I engage with him in a religious debate, and after he refused to stop, I spent the next 2 days tweeting nothing but insults at him to get him to block me.  I was not being productive or trying to have a dialog, and there was never any illusion that I was.

But then there are times when I just state something, not even an opinion sometimes but a statement of fact, and I am accused of being an asshole, a dick, "aggressive", mean, bullying, etc.  If I happen to say something, and someone out there on the internet doesn't like the statement, whether it's an opinion or a fact or even when I sympathize with them, I will be accused of being mean and of hurting someone's feelings, or worse, hurting "the community/movement".  Confidence and pragmatism are often confused with arrogance and aggressiveness, especially online.  Someone who seems confident to me will seem arrogant to someone else.  How do we know which one is correct?  Most likely, the answer is both and neither.

Take the most recent post, for example:

Natalie Reed
@Joreth @RichardDawkins @michaelshermer Why are you sharing Justicar's nasty, petty little video and tagging it "shared by Natalie Reed!"?!

...

Joreth ‏@Joreth
@nataliereed84 I'm not, the automated online make-your-own-newspaper paper.li is. It sees what links ppl posts & aggregates them


Joreth ‏@Joreth
@nataliereed84 Please do some research before you get angry & start falsely accusing ppl of things. I have no idea what you're talking about


Joreth ‏@Joreth
@nataliereed84 I didn't watch the video, I didn't choose that particular link. If you posted it, paper.li picked it up


Joreth ‏@Joreth
@nataliereed84 But I'll be happy to remove you from the list of respected skeptics & scientists who provide news & links to twitter

...

VixenVivienValentine ‏@vae_victae
@nataliereed84 paper.li does automatic aggregation of links. Since you posted that video it attributed that to you. It's not @Joreth fault.


Joreth ‏@Joreth
@vae_victae I did try to tell @nataliereed84 that, but she seems to prefer to jump to conclusions & get angry at supporters. Shame.

...

VixenVivienValentine ‏@vae_victae
@Joreth indeed a shame. While I understand your aggressiveness to her, I feel that maybe if you had responded differently it'd be different

...

Joreth ‏@Joreth
@vae_victae I'm not sure if you read my responses to her, but I was the opposite of aggressive. 



It's hard for me to even see where someone could have interpreted what I said there as "aggressive".  Natalie asked me, angrily, why I was sharing some video and associating her with it.  I told her, immediately and clearly, that I wasn't doing so and I explained about the link aggregate service.  I didn't cuss, call her names, or use emotional language.  I was also limited to 140 characters.

Some of you will remember another post I made a couple of years back about the polyamory.com forums, in which someone made an offensive statement. I and a couple of others pointed out the factual inaccuracy of the statement & the offense in making it, several people responded angrily & emotionally, those on my side again pointed out the inaccuracy (calmly, I thought), and then those on my side were accused of being angry and hurtful, apparently without irony to the original angry and hurtful comments that prompted our responses.  Only after I lost my temper at being insulted, did my posts get deleted, but the original offensive posts never did, nor did the insults that caused me to lose my temper.

Then there are the numerous times when someone just doesn't like me personally, and they will disagree with me no matter what I say, even while I am agreeing with them.  We end up in this "duck season / rabbit season" argument where they say something, I agree, then they argue with me over it.  For instance, someone posted something not too long ago about Unicorn Hunters that was derogatory.  Someone else jumped in with "I see nothing wrong with unicorn hunting, because I do this thing that is totally not unicorn hunting".  So I said something like "it doesn't sound like you are the kind of jerk that the OP is talking about, so don't worry about it".  And they proceeded to defend their right to call themselves Unicorn Hunters and insist that unicorn hunting isn't bad.  I believe my response was something along the lines of "I'm trying to explain to you why you're not an asshole, but if you want to keep insisting you are, I'll stop defending you".

tacit gets this all the time too.  The Polyamorous Misanthrope once made a blog post that was, essentially, the exact same kind of post that tacit makes.  Or maybe it was even a re-post of his, I don't remember.  One of her followers complimented her on the post, and she responded that it was the same thing that tacit always says.  They replied that they can't stand tacit.  She posted on tacit's page that she doesn't understand why people like her but don't like him, because she says the same thing, and in no less of a blunt, holds-no-punches sort of way.  Same message, same delivery, yet people like her and don't like him.  Sometimes there is no helping this.

This, by the way, is primarily the problem happening in our Congress at the moment.  The Republicans in office are doing their damnedest to disagree with Democrats, even when the Democrats agree with them.  They seem to want to disagree on principle, not because they actually disagree.  Consequently, we have one of the most fucked up Congresses ever in our history, with decisions being made to the detriment of our country, deliberately and intentionally, out of spite.

Then there is when I, fairly regularly, post exchanges where I am accused of having some emotional state that I do not currently have, and I have posted several examples of the differences between a calm difference of opinion ("what you said was incorrect, here is the evidence") and an emotional outburst ("you fucking shithead! I hate you!")

And yet, every time I have a difference of opinion to someone, regardless as to how calm I state my position or how much to the facts I try to stick or even, on occasion, when I try to be conciliatory, I am accused of being the one to have some emotional outburst, some angry reaction, some feeling that I am not feeling.  

So I strongly disagree with the whole "Don't Be A Dick" meme, not because I disagree with the underlying premise, but because I think it is subjective and, ultimately, futile.  If people don't like what you have to say, someone will think you're being a dick no matter how you say it, and having this ambiguous, undefined moving goalpost of "dick" that we're all supposed to follow won't change that.  

I can try to hold myself to a certain standard of exchange, but in the end, we all usually feel justified in the position we take (or if we change our minds, then the willingness to change further confirms our own opinion of ourselves as being Good Guys), and besides that, the phrase "Don't Be A Dick" is a message from one person to another, not a personal standard.  It's not like edwardmartiniii's Bue Button project - a reminder to ourselves to hold ourselves to a standard that we, ourselves, set.  Don't Be A Dick an admonition from other people that you are not behaving the way THEY think you ought to behave.

As an aside, even though edwardmartiniii's Blue Button is intended as a personal standard, even that gets used as a weapon with which to bludgeon those with whom people disagree.  In some other disagreement that I had online that I don't even remember the details of, some friend of his told me that I needed a blue button for daring to hold a position that the commenter did not hold - again, people trying to tell others how to behave, and mostly surrounding "tone", not actual behaviour - completely contrary to the spirit of edwardmartiniii's Blue Button, which is about protecting one's community from bullies by making a personal vow to stand up to bullying when one sees it and explicitly not trying to "stop other people from being creepy".  In fact, telling other people that they need to wear a blue button is, again explicitly, against the rules for how this concept is to work.

There is a quote that I can't find, so I can't give you the exact wording or proper attribution.  But it says, essentially, that there is no nice way to tell someone that they wasted their entire lives on a lie.  Which is, essentially, what one is saying when one claims that religion & the god myths are not true.  But it's even less world-shattering than that.  There is no nice way to challenge any belief that a person holds strongly, whether it's something as deep and profound as our purpose in life or as ultimately unimportant as who is the best football team in the NFL (seriously, I watched this argument nearly come to blows last week when a customer at Little Ceasar's asked the cashier who her favorite team was, and he, shall we say, did not agree).  

If the other person has a strong emotional attachment to their position, you can try different tactics to get through to them, but, ultimately, you are telling them that you think they are wrong and they have an attachment to the belief that they are right.  Because some positions are, by their very nature, mutually exclusive - you can't hold one without simultaneously believing the other is false.  If you think the moon is made of green cheese, then, by necessity, you have to think that anyone who thinks it's made of rock is wrong.  Even if you refuse to go so far as to use the words "they are wrong".

And sometimes, with some people and some tactics, it won't be a big deal.  If you think I'm wrong to have been a fan of the 49ers back in my sports days, I won't really care, unless you try to attack me over it.  And then, I'll only care that you're attacking me, not that you like the Steelers (that's still football, right?).

But other times, with other people, and other topics, the tactic won't matter - especially if part of their position is that *you* are A Bad Guy for holding that position in the first place.  Someone, sometime, somewhere, will think you're a Dick, and if we insist on flying the DBAD banner, we will forever be derailing into the Tone Argument, when we should be focusing on the topic under debate.

And I am fucking sick to death of having the motherfucking Tone Argument or having people tell me that I'm feeling things that I'm not feeling, especially when I have gone out of my way not to lose my temper or devolve into yet another flame war.  Your feelings are your own, and just because you have them, it does not mean necessarily that I am the reason you are feeling them.  There is only so far anyone should be expected to go to make *you* feel better about what they're saying.

If you don't like my message, then you don't like my message, but for the love of all that is good in this universe, STOP fucking derailing the argument into whether or not I was properly conciliatory when I said that thing that you didn't like.  Maybe I wasn't being a dick, maybe I wasn't being aggressive or rude or mean or an asshole.  Maybe you just didn't like what I had to say, or maybe you had an emotional reaction to the topic and misunderstood what I was saying, or maybe you don't like me personally and it doesn't matter even when I'm agreeing with you.  And maybe the message is actually something worth being a dick about - maybe the message is something that the messenger ought to be angry about or posting in angry, emotional language.

Just please stop telling people when they should or should not be angry, stop accusing them of being angry (or any other emotion) when they have said that they're not, and stop this bullshit meme about "don't be a dick" - it is a totally subjective standard that cannot possibly be enforced.  Even the honorable Phil Plait & Wil Wheton have gone into "dick" mode when they were sufficiently pushed, and they will defend those times as "but that's different!"  

Yeah, it's different - a different perspective.  When it happened to them, it was either justifiable, or they salvaged their opinions of themselves as Nice Guys by later admitting that they were wrong.  But when it happens to someone else, that someone else is being "a dick".  Just like when you cut someone off in traffic, it's because you're in a hurry, but when that guy does it to you, he's an asshole.  

We are all "dicks" to someone else, and there are times when it doesn't matter how you phrase it, holding the position that you hold makes you the "dick" and there are no collection of pretty words to make the other person see it otherwise.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YLX5dwy8Leo#t=3m50s

(if it doesn't start playing at 3:50, skip to that point - that's the only part that's relevant)

16th-Nov-2012 09:15 pm - Poly Movie Review - Bandits
Purple Mobius, polyamory
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0219965/ - IMDB
http://dvd.netflix.com/Movie/Bandits/60021636 - Netflix
http://www.amazon.com/Bandits-Bruce-Willis/dp/B00005V4XW/ - Amazon

It's past time that I did a review of Bandits, but for some reason I keep putting it off. This is a quirky story of 2 mismatched bank robbers and the woman who comes between them. And it's a poly movie, and one of my favorite movies, poly or no.

Bruce Willis plays a gruff, stoic, spontaneous bank robber with a temper problem named Joseph. We first meet him in prison, where he's shackled to Terry (played by Billy Bob Thornton), a neurotic, hypochondriac, obsessively compulsive thief who can't shut the fuck up. Joseph wants to escape, but being shackled to Terry necessarily requires Terry's cooperation. One day, in the prison yard, Joseph spontaneously makes their escape, much to over-planning Terry's annoyance. But escape they do, and they continue their bank robbing career once on the outside.

But then Terry starts running the numbers, and decides that the risk of being re-captured is not worth the traditional bank jobs that they usually do. So he comes up with the idea to visit the bank manager's house the night before, and then enlist the manager's unwilling cooperation when he opens the bank the next morning, before the customers or any employees arrive. This works out so well, that it earns them the moniker The Sleepover Bandits.

During a nearly botched escape, Terry ends up running into Kate ... or rather, Kate ends up running into Terry. Literally. Kate is a flighty, also neurotic, lonely housewife with a mischievous streak who is fleeing from her loveless marriage when she stumbles upon the exciting life of the notorious bank robbers.

And so follows their tale, as Kate gets to know the two men independently, and each of the men gets to know her, and all their respective relationships flourish and flounder amidst the backdrop of their turbulent career choices.

It's a really interestingly shot film, with a mixture of classic action film sequences, "buddy robber" scenes, romance scenes, and "mockumentary" scenes with footage from an interview that the Sleepover Bandits give to a journalist about their fame and exploits intermixed among the regular movie scenes. The characters seem superficial and one-dimensional, but I think we get to see a little depth as the plot progresses, and I, at least, started to care about the characters about halfway through (although it was hard for me to empathize much with them - Terry just bugs the shit out of me).

I was already poly by the time this movie came out, but I did not realize this was a poly movie before I saw it. I think I was actually a bit trepidatious about seeing it, because I don't tend to go in much for artsy, indie films and I think I had the impression that this was that kind of movie. But I ended up really liking it in spite of myself, and I liked the strain that Kate found herself under as she realized that she loved two men who were very different from each other and gave her very different kinds of relationships - relationships that she could not possibly have with the other one and relationships that both brought value to her life for their uniqueness and individuality.

It would be very nice, though, for a movie heroine caught between two lovers to not declare that, mixed together, the combined men make up the perfect man. I really don't approve of the Frankenboyfriend sentiment to polyamory. But I think her point is that each man is unique & she can't get from one what she gets from the other, and I think that point comes across clearly.

I recommend watching this movie. We've already shown it at our OrlandoPoly Poly Movie Nights, and it was a big hit with the whole audience.
20th-Sep-2012 02:59 pm - Assholes on Twitter
frustration, ::headdesk::
I'd started out writing an Online Skeezballs post, and it turned into a rant about bullies.  I had planned to keep updating it as the bully added more stuff, but it's really not written to accommodate additions well, so I'm starting a new post about it.  Here is the exchange:

I originally made a tweet complaining about poly people going to poly events, and then saying "I was hoping to meet someone, but everyone there was already partnered". I don't want to debate this tweet here, this is part of a larger issue that the 140 character limitation of Twitter necessarily truncates & requires incomplete, generalized, and/or soundbitey statements and is not the point of what happened next.

So I made that tweet and @isayshizzz responded "sounds like you've never heard of polyfi"

So I said "sounds like you've never heard of Twitter, where things have to be summarized in 140 characters"

So they said "I hear you're fat, old, ugly and hide behind the internet"

To which I said "wow, you're an ass"

And they said "not as much as you, claiming to be an ally for poly people but you do more harm#cunt"

At which point, I blocked them. But then others came to my defense (much more politely than even I was here), and here is what @isayshizzz to that: "are u all fucking the old hag or what? This is why she's a cunt, she gets others to be cunty for her. Eat my asshole"

Now, if you go to their twitter feed, every single response having to do with me has been deleted, which is why I'm actually missing a bunch of them, including insinuations that this person, whom I've never met, "knows" me and thinks my "behaviour" (but not my tweets) is "harmful" to the poly community. So I've started retweeting their tweets when I see them, now that I know they will conveniently delete them after they've had a chance to piss off whomever they're attacking.


Thurs, Sept. 20

There is a journalist on Twitter looking for poly people to interview. @Modernpoly recommends contacting me because of the Poly Media Association. @isayshizzz says: "Don't contact @Joreth, she'll only send you losers. Don't listen to @modernpoly she's bipolar"

Sun., Oct. 14

"Please explain to me why so many polyamorous people are fat and old? Never going to a meet up again #gross #traumatized" link

"@OpenXiminez @Joreth @Datan0de bet ur all fat and old #amirite" link

"The polyamory show on showtime is deceiving, there are no good looking young people in poly, aside from my lovers. Were they actors??? WTF" link

"@Datan0de @OpenXiminez @Joreth shallowness makes the world go round fattie" link
18th-Sep-2012 11:25 pm - Poly Movie Review - The Blood Oranges
Purple Mobius, polyamory
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0118743/ - IMDB
http://dvd.netflix.com/Movie/The-Blood-Oranges/1180875?strkid=1845016849 - Netflix
http://www.amazon.com/Blood-Oranges-Charles-Dance/dp/B00000JKZB/ - Amazon

Husband and wife Cyril and Fiona explore new ground and new relationships when they take a vacation in the tropics. While on holiday, the pair meets another couple, Hugh and Catherine, and their three children. Relationships become intertwined when Cyril and Fiona lose their inhibitions and seek sexual intimacy with Hugh and Catherine in this erotic drama.

So Netflix says. It sounded pretty promising, and yeah, I think this fits under the "poly-ish" heading. Cyril and Fiona are clearly in an open marriage with both of them openly supportive of each others' interests. Honestly, though, I was surprised to see that this movie was made in 1999. It just felt like another '60s sexual revolution type of film, not the least of which was a slightly predatory personality from Fiona and a pseudo-sex cult leader attitude from Cyril, but also it just kind of looked like it - the cinematography and lack of a soundtrack, I think.

Here's what I liked about the movie:
  • An attempted quad instead of unicorn hunters looking for the hot bi babe
  • The newbie love interest struggles with deeply indoctrinated beliefs of fidelity & ownership
  • Neither the polyamory nor society around them was responsible for ending the relationships
  • How non-traditional parental relationships affects children old enough to have internalized society's messages about relationships
  • A couple not letting their pre-existing relationship make the other relationships "secondary" and doing what's best for the family instead of "protecting" their couplehood at all costs
Here's what I didn't like about the movie:
  • The characters
I like serious dramas, but I'm really picky about them. I don't tend to like movies that I describe as "very French" - filled with unnecessary angst and smoking and existential ennui and desolation. Unfortunately, in movies that explore alternative sexuality, if it's a drama and not a comedy or something uplifting, I too often find it's one of these types of dramas. Such was this movie for me. I didn't like the movie, but that's based solely on personal taste. One might say that I have no taste, since I'd rather be watching cheesy '80s sitcoms, so there you go.

I'm extremely character-driven in my entertainment preferences and I just didn't like the characters. I found Cyril to be pompous, elitist, and blind to his own privilege, even if I happened to appreciate his understanding that possession should not be part of interpersonal relationships. I thought Fiona was selfish, predatory, and naively idealistic. Catherine, I just felt sorry for and wished she would grow a backbone.

And Hugh! I have no idea why anyone liked Hugh. He was controlling, possessive, self-righteous, arrogant, dismissive, condescending, and filled with disgust. There is one scene in particular (that I won't describe so as to not give away spoilers) where he is such a hateful asshole that I immediately disliked every other character just because they overlooked Hugh's behaviour and attitudes. Even after he did something that I would have found unforgivable, it was everyone else's primary desire to make him feel better and keep him a part of the family.

But they were trying to build a strong family, and for that, I have to give this movie credit ... or at least say that it's a poly-ish movie. Cyril and Fiona were not the typical movie couple, where the guy wants some hot chick & talks his wife into it. They both seemed equally enamored of the other couple & welcomed them and their children into their home. Cyril in particular tried very hard to reach out to the children and soothe the oldest, who noticed something going on and seemed resentful. Cyril and Fiona both did everything in their power to help Catherine during her own time of emotional crisis without putting their own relationship above everything else.

So, I'd recommend this movie if dramas are your thing and you want to see a poly movie that doesn't end with polyamory destroying everyone's lives and, in fact, the polyamory is beneficial to providing an emotional support structure in difficult times.
Purple Mobius, polyamory

I read an interesting article in Psychology Today. I'll be honest, I have dropped PT from my mental list of Websites Of Quality Articles. They are just another online blog site with dozens of bloggers of varying quality and expertise. They are certainly not a peer-reviewed scientific journal, but increasingly they aren't even an interesting source of pop-psychology to provide food for thought - just a source of rage about how some people are able to obtain advanced degrees and be allowed to have a public forum for their views.

But occasionally I run across an article or op-ed that I like. This was one of them. It talks about respect. "Respect" is thrown around a lot in the poly community in a very particular way. I most often see it used as a defense of The Rules* by primary couples wishing to protect their relationship. The reason why The Rules are necessary, they might say, is because they need to ensure that the incoming partner respects their relationship, their primacy. This is, IME, the reason most often given when a couple does not want to admit to being insecure.

No, they might say, the Rules are not because I don't trust my partner! I trust him implicitly! It's other people that I don't trust! We have a rock-solid relationship! We are best friends! I know that he would never do anything to hurt me! So I am not dictating his behaviour, I am laying out the rules for her behaviour! We don't want anyone to come in and not respect our primary relationship and/or not respect me as his primary partner. So we need Rules to make sure she is respectful.

So let's talk about respect.

tacit has said, in many places, but in his most recent post on rules:

Many folks who claim primacy in a primary/secondary relationship often say they need rules because otherwise they don't feel "respected" by secondary partners, yet it's difficult to be respectful when one feels hemmed in, encircled by walls, and knowing that one's relationship is always under review.
In his previous post on rules, he says
"Respect" is a slippery, tricky word. It's kind of like "freedom"--everyone thinks they know what it means, but when the rubber meets the road, few folks actually agree on a definition.

To me, respect has to be mutual. If Alice is demanding respect from Bob's new sweetie Cindy, that can only come if Alice in turn respects the notion that Cindy is a grown adult with her own needs and desires, and she, too, deserves a shot at having a voice in the relationship. Imposing rules by fiat on other people and then demanding respect from those people is all the rage (I hear) among leaders of North Korea, but can feel a bit yucky when we're talking romantic relationships. ...

At worst, it sets up a relationship with a certain amount of tension and conflict baked in. If you see your partner's other partner as a source of stress, if you set up rules to govern that other person's behavior, then already you've started out on a basis of conflict ... there's an irreconcilable difference there. Someone's desire is going to get trumped, and you're playing the "respect" card to try to make sure it's not yours.

So this article had some interesting things to say about respect. And no, it is not a poly article, it's about relationships in general. In fact, it spends about as much time, if not more, talking about respecting one's children as it does respecting one's spouse. As I say so often, this is not a poly issue, this is a people issue. But I want to bring it around to poly specifically, as I see it played out in this Primary vs. Secondary deathmatch battle at Thunderdome, where the primary couple puts themselves in opposition to the incoming secondary partner and justifies the structure under the heading of "respect".

The author, Peter Gray, separates out love from respect. He acknowledges that some people make respect an integral part of their definition of love (like I do), but he sticks to his point that they are independent elements. Although I do not believe one can "love" someone if they do not respect them, I agree that "love" and "respect" are not interchangeable and can be discussed separately. One can have respect without love, for instance, even if one insists that love must include respect. I can have bacon without it being in a bacon-lettuce-tomato sandwich, but I can't have a BLT without bacon, by definition - then it's just an LT sandwich.

Gray says that, if you accept the premise that love can exist without respect and vice versa, then bliss is what happens when you combine the two. But if he had to choose between them, he'd take respect over love.

It is useful, I think, to compare and contrast parent-child relationships with husband-wife relationships. In both of these, respect is absolutely essential for the relationship to work. Love without respect is dangerous; it can crush the other person, sometimes literally. To respect is to understand that the other person is not you, not an extension of you, not a reflection of you, not your toy, not your pet, not your product. In a relationship of respect, your task is to understand the other person as a unique individual and learn how to mesh your needs with his or hers and help that person achieve what he or she wants to achieve. Your task is not to control the other person or try to change him or her in a direction that you desire but he or she does not. I think this applies as much to parent-child relationships as to husband-wife relationships.

If we apply this to the primary/secondary/metamour scenario, it sounds like this: To respect your partner is to understand that the other person is not you, not an extension of you, not a reflection of you, not your toy, not your pet, not your product. To respect your metamour/secondary is to understand that the other person is not a reflection of you, not your toy, not your pet, not your product. In a relationship of respect, your task is to understand that your metamour/secondary is a unique individual and learn how to mesh your needs with his or hers and help your metamour/secondary to acheive what he or she wants to achieve. Your task is not to control your metamour/secondary or try to change him or her in a direction that you desire but he or she does not. In a relationship of respect, your task is to understand that your partner is a unique individual and to help your partner achieve what he or she wants to achieve. Your task is not to control your partner or try to change him or her in a direction that you desire but he or she does not.

This is the antithesis of everything that The Rules stand for in poly relationships. The Rules, as I am referring to them here, are about protecting from change and prohibiting growth of one person in a direction not necessarily desired by another person. The Rules are designed to make partners into an extension of each other and reflection of each other and to make secondaries into toys, pets, or products.

This is the exact opposite of that "respect" that these sorts of couples are demanding. When those couples that I am talking about refer to "respect", they mean it in the way that we all "respect" the law - by that I mean that we all follow a set of rules that someone else imposed on us without our input whether we agree with it or not because there are consequences to breaking the law, and we surriptitiously break the law when we think we can get away with it (seriously, if anyone out there thinks that you never break any law, like speeding or oral sex, either you are lying to yourself or you've never actually read every single law that affects your jurisdiction - some are inherently contradictory and some don't even apply anymore but were never stricken from the books). We are generally taught to obey authority for the good of society. But really, how much of that is "respect" and how much of that is a sense of obligation coupled with a fear of consequences? That may be an acceptable way to run a large society, but that doesn't sound like any way to run a relationship that claims to be "loving".

I don't "respect" authority and law. I recognize that authority & law have power over me and I recognize that a system of law and authority is beneficial for society (the individual points of authority & law are debatable, though). I accept this power structure, mostly, in order to get along with society, basically as a social contract - I don't hurt, maim, kill, or steal from you if you won't do it to me. That's not respect, that's an uneasy truce amongst people who don't know each other and don't have much motivation to care about each other.

But I also follow many laws simply by coincidence because I care and respect my fellow human beings. I don't need a law to tell me not to hurt or kill or steal from other people (as a matter of fact, there was a time when the law against stealing didn't do shit to prevent me from it). What makes me really not hurt or kill or steal from other people is a sense of compassion, a belief that we all deserve to live with dignity, an immense feeling of empathy, a passionate philosophy of personal soverignty ... in short, respect.

As tacit also says, if your partner truly loves and cherishes you, a rule is unneccessary, but if a partner does not truly love and cherish you, a rule won't make him. Just like with our secular laws, if someone really doesn't feel that sense of compassion and empathy towards the one they are hurting, a law doesn't tend to stop them from doing it. Never has a criminal seriously said (Facebook meme pics aside) "Man, I'm totally gonna kill you! What do you mean it's illegal? Oh, well, then, nevermind, sorry, forget I said anything." People who want to kill find ways to do it. Some of them become criminals who ignore the law, some of them become soldiers and cops who have the law behind them, and some of them become legal executioners who are specifically ordered to do it. If a partner wants to do something that will hurt you, he will whether there is a "rule" in place or not. If a partner honestly does not want to hurt you, he will do his best not to whether there is a rule in place or not.

The same goes for metamours. If respect is what you want, passing rules won't make anyone respect the relationship or the primary position. What makes a person respect that is all those other things I talked about above - compassion, empathy, consideration, acceptance, understanding. Those things are not demanded nor legislated. They are earned. And the best way to earn them from other people is to first give them to those other people.

Love is not all you need, nor all your wife or husband needs, and certainly not all your children need. We all need respect, especially from those who are closest and most intimately connected with us.



*The Rules are defined for this post as a set of restrictions or guidelines dictating the behaviour of other people, such as "you will not have intercourse with anyone other than me without a condom" and "no overnight stays".  Reciprocation and agreement to said rules are irrelevant to the definition of "dicating the behaviour of others".

This is contrasted from Boundaries, which are a source of information about one person that another person can use to inform his or her decisions, such as "I do not feel safe having sex with anyone who does not use condoms with all of his partners" so that anyone that "I" am dating can still choose to use condoms or not knowing how his decision will affect "I" and/or his relationship with "I".  

Many people use the word "rule" when they actually mean "boundary" and many people *think* they are talking about boundaries when they are actually imposing rules.

Purple Mobius, polyamory
Sometimes I think that maybe I'm actually speaking a different langauge from everyone else, and maybe I have some kind of universal translator or babelfish so that I can't tell, but that the translator is buggy or slightly off in some ways. Because people don't seem to use words in the same way that I do. Even with a dictionary, people use words differently, and I find that I am constantly having semantics arguments because we can't discuss a topic until we are all on the same page about what the words we are using mean.

One of those words is polyamory. I'm a pretty big proponent of using the definition of a word that the person who made up the word uses. In some cases, I think the Argument from Authority is a good one. If you invented or coined a term, then you get to decide what it means. This is even more important, to me, the younger the word is. And if the word was invented or coined within the same generation (i.e. roughly 30-ish years) and the coiners are still alive, then there shouldn't be any debate about "living languages" and so forth.

So, to me, polyamory is about having or wanting multiple simultaneous romantic relationships in which all parties consent to the arrangement. That means that they both know about it and agree to it willingly, not grudgingly. If you don't say yes, it's not consent. If you are coerced, it's not consent. If someone uses their position of authority over you, it's not consent. If you are not aware of any other options, it's not consent. If you are not allowed the opportunity to back out, it's not consent. And so on. Polyamory is also, to me, more about building intentional families (even if some of those relatives are "extended" relatives) than in experiencing sexual encounters (also explicit in the definition - a word's definition is not necessarily limited solely to it's literal translation, the intent and cultural context of a word is also taken into account).

So when someone suggests a movie to me that they claim has polyamory in it, I am now highly dubious about that claim. I have been recommended all manner of cheating and swinging and other non-monogamous movies, but very rarely do I find actual polyamory in these films. Every so often, a cheating movie might make it into my Poly-ish Movie List because I believe from the context of the story that it would be polyamorous if not for the circumstances, like the era or culture, that prevents the characters from openly declaring their relationships that are, nonetheless, loving (like Same Time, Next Year) - I basically feel that the characters are poly but possibly trapped somewhen/somewhere that they can't express it properly.  Many times, it's hard for me to really quantify why a particular borderline movie is poly and why this other one isn't. It usually boils down to tone, and a vague sense of "moralizing" that I may or may not get from the storytellers.

This was the problem I had with The Unbearable Lightness of Being. I kept getting told that it was a poly movie, but there was just something wrong with its tone. Tomas is a philanderer who seems to be afraid of committment and keeps his emotional entanglements to a minimum. Basically, he has sex with lots of women a few times and drops them when they start becoming "serious". Except for one woman, Sabina, who basically seems to have the same outlook as Tomas, in that she hightails it outta there as soon as a guy starts getting "serious" about her. They appear to have a mutual respect in addition to their mutual attraction and mutual passion because of their shared interest in not letting anyone get close to them. Ironically, that barrier that they both erect to keep people out is what ties them together.

Along comes Tereza, an innocent young girl who manages to, as far as I could tell, guilt her way into Tomas' life. She shows up on his doorstep with no place to stay, and so breaks his rule about kicking every girl out before morning. After a whole bunch of these mornings, he finally ends up marrying her.

This is yet another case of a couple who don't seem to have anything in common and don't seem to like each other very much. At least, the director and/or screenwriter didn't establish their relationship very well. We know what Tomas likes in Tereza - she's female - but we don't really see what brings the two such different characters together. She's young, naive, innocent, apolitical, and extremely jealous and insecure. He's worldly, sophisticated, educated, a bit misogynistic, contemptous of most people, and a horndog. Other than the fact that their bits fit together, I couldn't understand their relationship at all.

Tomas continues to cheat on Tereza throughout their relationship, and every time Tereza catches him at it, she throws a huge fit that borders on emotional blackmail. I think she's probably depressive to the point of suicidal. Not that I'm defending Tomas either - Tereza doesn't consent to an open relationship, so he's cheating. Period. She deserves better.

There is only one scene that could even possibly be confused for a pro-poly scene. And I have to say that I didn't even interpret the scene this way until someone else suggested it. I still don't see the scene this way, but I can at least see how someone else might.

Tereza suspects Tomas of having an affair with Sabina, who has been introduced to the new Mrs. Tomas as his friend & occasionally socializes with them. So Tereza, who is told to get into photographing naked women if she wants to be taken seriously as a professional photographer, approaches Sabina to be Tereza's first nude model. Sabina, a confident, sexually liberated woman in the '60s, is the only person Tereza knows who might even consider the proposal.

So we have a scene where Tereza photographs Sabina, and eventually Sabina (who is also a photographer and artist) talks Tereza into posing nude for her in return. The two women, who have before been very awkward together, gain some sort of comfort and familiarity with each other through this mutual nude photography session.

I didn't see how this was poly, really. The argument was made that it was basically two metamours who had finally reached out to each other and were able to get past the jealousy to see each other maybe as how their mutual partner could see them. The reason why I didn't interpret the scene this way is because Tereza had only suspected Sabina as being Tomas' lover (he never confirmed) and neither woman spoke of anything relationship-oriented at all. So maybe they did get past some of their jealousy and learned to see each other as people, and maybe this was a bonding, and even a learning moment for both of them. But it was still cheating and still a secret and Tereza still never approved of Tomas' philandering, and the two women never saw each other again on screen.

This movie was not about a poly vee. This was a political commentary on the war in Europe and the Soviet invasion of Czecheslovakia, using the characters as vehicles for the commentary. The movie was brilliantly made, using real footage and photographs from the invasion itself, as chronicled by art students at the university at the time, and staging the characters on the sets to flip back and forth seamlessly between the real archival footage and the movie. This was the first and best comprehensive collection of the record of the invasion ever made.

This movie was based on the book by the same name, which is also widely touted as a brilliant piece of literature. It was critically acclaimed, although, like any book-based movie, many were disappointed with the conversion to film. So I recommend this movie if history and foreign films and high-brow media are your thing. I just didn't feel that it was particularly poly.


***SPOILERS*** (but not all of them)Collapse )


This is one of the few artsy-foreign films that I didn't dislike for being too artsy & foreign, and I'd like to read the book. I might have liked the movie better if I had just come across it on my own instead of having it recommended to me as a potential poly film, because I watched it through a filter of hopes and expectations of poly content. I will not be including this on the Poly-ish Movie List, but it was an interesting movie and I'm glad I saw it.
19th-Aug-2012 05:55 pm - Third Wheels & Inclusion
Purple Mobius, polyamory
I just finished listening to Poly Weekly's recent episode on advice for opening up a couple. I particularly enjoyed it because it was advice aimed at a couple from the point of view of the potential new "third" coming into the relationship. There are lots of advice floating around there telling couples how to open their relationship, like talking to each other and establishing The Rules before doing anything. But there is not much being said from this perspective.

Actually, there are quite a few sources telling couples what it feels like from the prospective Third, including me. But these sources consistently get shut down as couples defend their methods of "protecting [their] relationship". Now, it seems to me that if a group of people (and for these purposes, we'll include 2 people under the heading "group") want to attract another person or group of people, it would be in their best interest to actually heed the advice of said incoming person or group.

We see this in the skeptics and atheist communities too. And we see it in the larger poly community, not just first-time couples looking for unicorns. We have groups here of predominently white, educated, middle- & upper-class men (and women in the poly community) looking for more diversity. But instead of reaching out to the classes of people they wish to attract and asking them what they want from a community, what would convince them to try us out, and how we can improve their experiences with us, my communities of atheists, skeptics, and polys, continue to close ranks with locked arms, telling these other classes that they just need to deal with the communities as-is because that's how we like it, and then putting our own heads together to brainstorm ideas without input from the ones these ideas will most impact.

Back to the poly couples, they do the same thing. These two people (and sometimes it's a poly group about to open up for more) put their heads together and start discussing rules and regulations and future stuff without any input at all from the one person these rules will impact the most. And they defend it by saying that they don't want anyone who doesn't like these rules anyway and it's no different from pre-weeding out potential candidates based on other conflicting things like "I don't date guys who beat up kittens".

And then the poly couples and the atheist & skeptic organizers sit around and whine and moan about how hard it is to find people to join them and how mean everyone is being towards them and their policies.

tacit and I have also faced this phenonemon before, where we suggest that certain methods have better success rates than others (as well as being more humane and considerate and compassionate), and couples who can't find their unicorns belligerently defend the need for rules by calling them "training wheels" - things you do when you don't yet have compassion and empathy and consideration and relationship and communication skills in order to start being poly first and learn the "advanced" techniques as you go. And yes, I have been accused by people for being "enlightened" and "advanced" - this is not me tooting my own horn, these are the things other people have said about me and the reasons people give for not following my advice.  Frankly, I started out as poly with these same skills and have improved over time, so I have a hard time thinking of them as "advanced" or "enlightened" - as far as I'm concerned, being considerate towards those in your chosen family and thinking about what I bring to the table instead of how he will adequately fulfill my own needs are basic skills, not advanced.  But I digress.

It seems to me that if one wishes to be successful at something, and that something is attracting new people, one ought to be following the advice given by the people one wishes to attract and those who are successful at attracting them, not telling those one wishes to attract how wrong their advice is for how to attract them.  I'm pretty sure that I know better than anyone else what will attract me to that person or group, so if you want me in your group, you ought to listen to what I say will get me there.

So I liked this episode, and although I still don't agree with every single little itty bitty thing cunningminx said, I very much appreciated having someone with as big of a voice as she has saying these things in no uncertain terms and without bending over backwards to accommodate and pander to the couples, who already have an unequal distribution of power in the community, living in a heteronormative, couple-centric society to begin with.
27th-Jul-2012 06:01 pm - Poly Movie Review: Savages
Purple Mobius, polyamory

http://www.savagesfilm.com/
http://dvd.netflix.com/Movie/Savages/70221488 - Netflix
http://www.amazon.com/Savages-Taylor-Kitsch/dp/B005LAII94 - Amazon
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1615065/ - IMDB

I think this is the first time I've ever seen a movie that was purported to be a poly movie while it was still in theaters. So I figured I'd go ahead and skip out of order and do a review of it while ya'll still have the chance to see it too.

I knew very little about this movie when I went to see it. A friend of mine texted me with "want to go see the movie with triad?" I thought "wait, who do we know who's in a triad? Everyone we know are singles, couples, or extended networks!" So I asked her to explain & she told me that there was a new movie opening up in theaters the following week that featured an MFM triad. So I said "hell yeah I want to see it!" So we made it a group event for our local poly group.

I'm going to answer the three big questions right up front, and then I'll talk a little about the movie itself. First of all, it is poly. Second, I liked it. Third, I liked the polyamory IN it.

Now, I do have a few little quibbles about both the polyamory and the movie itself, but c'mon, I was a pretentious film student in college and I work in the entertainment industry now. I'm always going to quibble about SOMETHING. That doesn't mean that I also don't like the movie.

For those who haven't heard, the website says: Laguna Beach entrepeneurs Ben, a peaceful and charitable marijuana producer, and his closest friend Chon, a former Navy SEAL and ex-mercenary, run a lucrative, homegrown industry - raising some of the best weed ever developed. They also share a one-of-a-kind love with the extraordinary beauty Ophelia. Life is idyllic in their Southern California town ... until the Mexican Baja Cartel decides to move in and demands that the trio partners with them.

When the merciless head of the BC, Elena, and her brutal enforcer, Lado, understimate the unbreakable bond among these three friends, Ben and Chon - with the reluctant, slippery assistance of a dirty DEA agent - wage a seemingly unwinnable war against the cartel. And so begins a series of increasingly vicious ploys and maneuvers in a high stakes, savage battle of wills.

I liken this genre to the modern day western. There are clearly "good guys vs. bad guys", even though the good guys are often doing something bad, and there is violence, and it's "dirty" (like, with people getting blood and dirt all over them), and it often ends up in Mexico, or the US' modern equivilent of "lawless land", somewhere in the Middle East. Think, Three Kings, with jump-zoom camera moves and handheld camera work, and that yellow-orangey filter that makes everything look like it's hot and sweaty. Oh, and graphic violence with guns and blood and death. Yeah, there was that. But, I thought, just enough to make it worthy of the genre but not what I might call gratuitous violence or gore, again, considering the genre.

So, if you like that kind of movie, you'll probably like this one. But the poly stuff ... that's where this could have gotten tricky. Now, we know before even going into the movie that they are in a threesome kind of arrangement, and right up front, the girl tells us in a voice over how she loves them both and they love her and she doesn't care if you think she's a slut because it's a thing between them. Here's one of my quibbles - in the beginning, where she's describing how her relationships with the each of them work, she compares and contrasts them. I actually liked that part because it emphasized that they were not interchangeable, that she loves them for their uniqueness and that her relationships with the two men are different from each other.

But then she has to go and say that the the two men are more than just different, they're basically opposites, so together, they make up the perfect man. I REALLY really hate that line of thinking - that Frankenboyfriend version of polyamory. But whatever, it was a single line and the trio are clearly happy together.

What I particularly liked about the poly aspect of the movie was that the polyamory was never the problem. "Sharing" a girl wasn't a source of contention for them, there was no rivalry, and there was no social pressure either. It was just a relationship, like any other. There were some confused and even digusted reactions from other characters, when it came up, but the polyamory was not the source of conflict or the plot device.

From the trailer, we know that the Cartel uses the girl against the boys. But this isn't any different from any other "nice guy gets in over his head and has his wife or girlfriend used against him by the bad guys" plot. Again, the polyamory itself was not a plot device. The love story was, but it was the love for the girl, not the fact that there were 2 guys, that was used, and that's so standard that it's cliche. In most of these kinds of movies, a badass, or a guy who used to be a badass, or a guy who isn't a badass but becomes one in a montage, has his girl kidnapped or threatened or killed, and he goes and gets all badassey on them, somehow having exactly the right skills at any given moment to triumph, with maybe a backup guy who can run the intelligence or who gets him the guns or something. In this movie, "all the right skills" get to be divided up between the two men, which, in my opinion, is actually more realistic. And, at least, they made the one guy a former Navy SEAL who did 2 tours overseas to justify the crazy violence they get into during the film.

I had a couple of other little quibbles too, but they give away too many spoilers, so if you see the movie and want to talk to me about it, look me up online (or in person if you're local). But this movie definitely deserves to be on a Poly Movie List, and I actually enjoyed watching it. The graphic violence was just right, in my opinion, for the style of movie, the plot didn't have so many twists and turns and holes in it to make me feel like I was being insulted, and the polyamory was done well. I got the feeling that the writer was poly, or knew someone who was poly and grasped the concepts just well enough that it wasn't a slap in the face to the poly community the way 50 Shades Of Grey was to the kink community.

Now, you could argue that this trio was dealing drugs and got into a Mexican shootout, and that only that kind of low-down, dirty scum would get into something as freaky as a threesome. You could argue that, but I think you'd be wrong. I've talked about "tone" before, and I did not get the idea from this movie that the tone was yet another "polyamory is bad, here watch this trainwreck to see why" kind of movie. I did not get the feeling that we were being moralized at by this film or that the polyamory was being used as another example of their deviance. To me, it just seemed like any other relationship, almost incidental. They could have told the exact same story using only a monogamous male-female dyad and it wouldn't have been significantly different. You could say that the trio is what makes this film stand out from all the others in this genre, so maybe they were selling the trio like beer and car commercials use hot chicks to sell beer and cars. But I'm still not sure that's any different from any other romantic hook in an action film.

And I particularly like knowing that a mainstream, regular box-office movie featured a male-female-male trio in a way that made it seem normal, like, just another relationship and not something to make a big fuss over. That's what I want to see more of and that's a sign, to me anyway, that polyamory has a chance of lasting far into the future. It's just not fussed over the way it should be at this point in its history, like other alternative communities. I might like to see a movie that addresses polyamory itself sometime (in a healthy way, for a change), but I'd rather see movies that have polyamory in them just as naturally and casually as they have monogamy in them.

Also, smokin' hot surfer dudes and ex-military men in very little clothing! Almost makes me miss my teen years growing up in California with the abs and the saltwater-and-sun highlights and the tight little swimmers' asses. So I say: go see this movie!

24th-Jul-2012 10:38 pm - Let's Open Our Relationship
Purple Mobius, polyamory

Honey, can we talk? So, we've been talking about this for a while, but I think we're ready. I think we ought to do it. Our relationship has never been stronger, we're both in really good places right now with work and with each other. Life is perfect, so right now is the best time, I think, to bring in someone new to our family.

Let's have a baby.

I think it'll be great! We're totally ready to take this next step in our relationship. But, because our relationship is so perfect, I don't want the kind of baby that will threaten our existing relationship, so let's talk about the rules. We need to have some rules to make sure that nothing between you and I changes when the baby comes along.

First of all, we have to have a girl baby. I don't want to have to compete with a son for being "the guy" around the house, and you're a woman so you'll have lots in common with a girl baby so you'll naturally get along perfectly. You already know how to handle girls because you are one - you have all the same equipment and you understand women, so having a girl baby makes more sense. I'm a guy, so naturally I understand how to handle girls too, but I don't have any experience with dudes, so I'll be a better father to a girl baby.

Second, we have to do exactly the same things with the baby. I don't want our new daughter to end up loving one of us more than the other, so let's agree to never be alone with the baby and to do all the same things with her. If one of us plays soccer with her before the big soccer game, then the other has to play for the same amount of time the next day. If you help her with her math homework for 2 hours, then I get to help her with her math homework for 2 hours.

Now, honey, I know math isn't your favorite thing to do, but she's going to need help with her math homework, and if I'm the only one helping her, then that leaves you out. And I don't want you to feel left out. Besides, then you might do something with her without me and I'll feel left out. No, it's just better if we only do things with her together, that way no one will feel left out. Of course, we'll also only do the things that you and I like to do. Since she'll be our daughter, she'll just want to do all those things anyway - we wouldn't have a daughter that wanted different things, so that'll be that.

Since a trio is inherently more stable than any other configuration, let's agree to just one daughter that we both share equally. There will not be any accidental pregnancies because we've agreed not to have any.  We don't need to discuss what happens if you unintentionally get pregnant because we just agreed that it won't happen.  

I think I ought to have veto power over your pregnancies too. You can have the same, of course. I know men can't get pregnant, but I'm still giving you the veto power, so it's still totally equal. Also veto power after the kid is born - if one of us doesn't like her, out she goes and we try again. I'm willing to give you veto power because I love you that much, and I trust you not to use the veto power except in extreme circumstances, and protecting our relationship is more important than protecting the parental relationship with the new kid - after all, you and I were here first, way before any kid came along.


We'll work out a schedule for the baby - who gets to change her and who gets to feed her and when. We'll stick to that schedule no matter what because the important thing here is that our relationship with each other doesn't change significantly. The baby will have only the extra-curricular activities we tell her to have, and we'll choose them based on what works best for you and me, not her preferences, because I don't want this new baby to upset our lives too much.

After the baby comes, I still expect sex as often with you as we have it now. I want you to be there for me like you always have been, just as I will be there for you. I still want us to have the time and energy to dedicate to each other that we currently do. Just because the baby will be all new and shiny and she'll want lots of our attention in the beginning, we have to take care not to let that new relationship interfere with our existing relationship. So we have to promise, before any baby comes along, that none of that will change when we finally do have a baby. OK? You won't stop having sex with me, we'll still have date nights, and we won't give each other only the boring, day-to-day parts of ourselves. Promise me now that we'll both still keep the magic in our relationship just the way it is now and that we won't let any baby interfere with that.

What we have right now is so wonderful, we should share it with another person. A baby will be so lucky to grow up in our lives! We have good jobs and we take fun vacations and we have great friends and a lot of knowledge to pass on, any baby would be fortunate to have us as parents! She'll go on all the same vacations that we like to go on, she'll eat all the awesome food that we eat, she'll play all the same sports that we like to play, she'll take after me in math but after you in music, and she'll just love our lives as much as we do! And as long as we plan everything out in advance, make all kinds of rules for every contingency, everything should work out totally smoothly. It'll be awesome!

2nd-Jul-2012 08:51 pm - More Poly Jewelry
Purple Mobius, polyamory
It's time for another installment of Poly Jewelry - a post about where to buy jewelry to make a poly statement.  This is mostly generic jewelry that has the right themes that we can "steal" them and use them to make a poly statement, with a couple of pieces of jewelry that was created *as* poly jewelry.  Poly jewelry is usually a very subtle way of making a poly statement, so that, if you wanted, you could be "discreet", only declaring your poly statement to those "in the know" while just wearing something pretty or striking that non-polys won't know has any particular meaning behind it.


So with that, let's get to the poly jewelry...Collapse )


Don't forget the usual stores that specialize in poly-specific jewelry:

Poly Tees now has a non-apparel section with earrings, pendants, buttons, etc. www.polytees.com
Abzu Emporium is the original infinity-heart jeweler and still sells them. www.abzuemporium.com
Poly Charms is becoming the most well-known poly jeweler online.  http://www.polycharms.com/

Also my past journal entries on poly jewelry & gifts:
http://joreth.livejournal.com/205419.html - there's only 1 poly item on this list 
Purple Mobius, polyamory
http://dvd.netflix.com/Movie/She-s-Gotta-Have-It/60034929?trkid=1525591 - Netflix
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0091939/ - IMDB
http://www.amazon.com/Shes-Gotta-Have-Spike-Lee/dp/B000XJD34S/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1339548489&sr=8-1 - Amazon

There's something about student films and classic French movies that just do not work for me. Maybe it's the penchant for black and white even in a color era, or maybe it's the frequent complete lack of musical score or soundtrack, or maybe it's the excruciatingly slow pace and shitty acting, or maybe it's all those years I spent as a film student, forced to watch the painfully "artistic" films by my peers and dragged to pretentious indie art houses to see confusing avant garde movies. I don't know, whatever it is, they're just not my cuppa tea. And Spike Lee's debut movie fits squarely in the middle of that je ne sais quoi that makes my eyes glaze over. But you might have different tastes.

She's Gotta Have It is another Netflix recommendation that I was expecting to be misleading at best. Plus, the black community, at least as it's portrayed in pop media, has never been sympathetic towards multiple partnerships, especially if it's the woman with the multiple partners.

Nola is in love with 3 very different men. At first I thought it would be another cheating movie where the girl would eventually find The One (who, of course, was not one of the guys she was fucking, because sex is dirty, or something). But then I discovered that she was honest about her "friends", as she calls them, so I thought it was more like Cafe Au Lait, complete with detestable characters who didn't actually seem to like each other.

It did feel a lot like a Brooklyn version of that movie - none of the guys liked each other, I didn't like any of them, and no one had any redeeming features to make me understand why she liked them or why they liked her. I kept waiting for her to get pregnant so they could have a Dysfunctionally Ever After ending.

But then I noticed something. I noticed that the arguments the guys used to try and convince Nola to be monogamous were the exact same shit I got over the years from cowboys. When you're not monogamous in a monogamous world, and you don't know anyone else like you to date and can only draw from the mono pool, this movie is exactly what you might get.

I'm having trouble categorizing this one. On the one hand, she's honest about her multiple partners and claims to love them. On the other hand, they hate each other and are all competing to be "the winner" - the sole object for her affection. On yet another hand, this is very much what it feels like for some of us to be poly (or something not monogamous) without a community or support or understanding from anyone since no one else is like us. On the final hand, it was yet another movie with characters who didn't really like their dating partners.

I think I want to include this on the Poly-ish Movie List because I think a lot of polys go through similar arguments before they find a community, and I think it's a valid part of the broader story of what it's like to be poly. But this was not a story of a poly relationship. If anything, it was the story of a poly-ish woman stuck in a mono world.
31st-May-2012 02:06 am - But I'M Not Cheating, He Is!
Purple Mobius, polyamory
First of all, let's define "cheating". Two people have an agreement, either explicit or implicit, about how their relationship should look. If implicit, the "cheater" knows that the spouse would not approve even if they never made any vows on the subject. What that agreement is about is not relevant to this definition. It could be about sexual infidelity, it could be about emotional infidelity, it could be kink, it could be that they're not allowed to dance with anyone else but each other, or it could be that she's the only one allowed to ride on the back of his motorcycle (seriously, I know a couple like both of the last 2 examples). They could be monogamous, they could be poly, they could be swingers, they could be DADT. It doesn't matter. All that matters is that they have an agreement not to do something with other people or to only do something with each other. If they agree that one or both of them can go out and get sex as long as the other doesn't have to be aware of it, that's not cheating. If it's like the TV politician characters who say "she knows I have lovers & she looks the other way as long as I don't rub her nose in it", it's not cheating, for this rant. I have other problems with DADT, but that's not what I'm about to discuss. Cheating, in this rant, is doing something your partner would not want you to do, and does not condone even "discreetly", and you know it, on some level. Saying "well, we never talked about it, and she never actually said I couldn't get blowjobs from strangers in bathhouses..." is cheating and you fucking know it.

I take a hard line against cheating. I've heard all the excuses, all the justifications, all the hypothetical "what if his wife is a cripple & can't have sex with him, but he stays because he loves her & needs to care for her but he has to get his needs met somewhere" (please excuse the term "cripple", that was a quote") and "she already broke the marriage contract by withholding sex indefinitely so he's not really breaking his agreements by having a secret girlfriend on the side because she broke the marriage contract first" and "if he leaves, she'll get the kids and he'll never see them again and he'll go bankrupt because he can't afford to maintain two houses & then he'll have to resort to bank robbery to support his 12 children and then he'll get caught & die horribly in a police shootout, which the kids will see on TV and be scarred for life". I was a cheater, so don't tell me about the shitty situations people find themselves in that make them justify cheating.

Seriously, I don't want to hear any more excuses. Sometimes people have really shitty situations. And I'm sorry for them. There are a lot of really terrible conditions out there like stoning & mutilation and famine & discrimination, but the solution isn't to retaliate - the solution is to stop the terrible conditions from happening. Making a relationship agreement with someone, and then breaking it behind their back and continuing to exist in the relationship as if the agreement still stands is wrong. It might be the lesser of two wrongs, it might bring the cheater a sliver of happiness in an otherwise horrible existence, but it is still breaking an agreement, no matter how you slice it, and it is not the greater path of courage.

But I'm not actually here to talk about being a cheater. I'm here to rant about being the person a cheater cheats with. There's this fucking irritating trope in the poly community that says "It's not my job to police other people's relationships. He's an adult, he can make his own choices. Who am I to tell him what he should and shouldn't do? If he wants to cheat, that's his choice. I'm not doing anything wrong because I didn't make those relationship agreements, so I'm not breaking any."

Bullshit.

There are a lot of selfish attitudes in the poly community, mostly holdovers from The Monogamous Mindset, mostly having to do with Couple Privilege. This is one of the worst. This is all about "me". This is all about what the third person is getting, masked under a pious attitude about "choice", and maybe even under some superficial sympathy for the poor man (or woman, or whoever) who is trapped in such a loveless marriage that he needs to find some happiness somewhere or experiment with something his spouse won't do, and oh how convenient that I'm here to provide it! This is all about ducking responsibility for one's own actions - actions that harm another person, even if it's only their dignity that is harmed.

I've always said that the real test of being poly is not how many people you're fucking, but how you handle your partners fucking someone else. In my opinion, being a caring and compassionate metamour is a required element for being in a poly relationship. No, not being your metamours' BFF, but being caring and compassionate, regardless of how well you actually like each other and get along. Courage and integrity are nothing when it's easy - it's when it's difficult that they count. And you cannot stand there and say that you support, choose, or prefer, relationships based on honesty, trust, and communication (y'know, the foundations of polyamory and, for that matter "open" relationships) while simultaneously supporting lying, cheating, dishonesty, and non-consensual relationships.

That wife (for the sake of simplicity, I'm sticking with pronouns specific to the situations I would find myself in if I were the "mistress" in the scenario - which means the cheater is male, his spouse is female, and the cheatee is female.), that wife did not consent to this arrangement. She could not have, since she doesn't know about it. And if she did know about it, she wouldn't. Whether she is being unreasonable or not is completely irrelevant ... SHE DID NOT CONSENT TO THIS ARRANGEMENT. That, by itself, makes my actions, as the mistress, wrong.

Sure, there can be levels of wrong, and there can be multiple wrong parties. Pilfering office supplies is not in the same league as, say, the Holocaust. I wouldn't give anyone the death penalty, or even jail time, for stealing a stapler or using the office copy machine for personal use. That does not erase the fact that willingly and deliberately engaging in a relationship that at least one person does not consent to is WRONG. I'm not making any statement at all on how "wrong" that wrong is, because there are too many variables and nuances and even perceptions, and we're talking about hypotheticals here, not any specific relationship. But a creek is small next to the Pacific Ocean, and if you step in either of them, you're gonna get wet. Wet is wet, whether you like being wet or not.

Now, let's skip past the pragmatic reasons why being the mistress is a bad idea. Let's just move right past the middle-of-the-night phone calls from the angry wife, the death threats, the lawsuits, the fact that, if he's caught, this new love of yours loses everything anyway, the fact that he has to hide you & can't acknowledge you, that you will always be "the dirty little secret", that you will never be able to fully share his life with him (maybe you don't want to, I dunno), that this is a setup pretty much designed for creating unnecessary drama.

Let's forget, for the moment, the time my PLATONIC friend's girlfriend tracked down my parent's phone number and started calling their house while I was there visiting, shrieking into the phone to "stay away from my man you fucking whore!" Let's pretend I never got a call at 3 in the morning, waking me and my then-boyfriend, from my one-time boss's fiancee demanding to know who I was and how her man got my phone number. Let's dismiss the daily 5 AM phone calls from my then-boyfriend's EX-wife (who thought that giving him a couch to sleep on when he was out of work made him her property) demanding to know where he was, whether he was with me or not, and who only stopped calling when I reported her to the police for harassment & had my phone company block her number back when I had a landline. Let's brush off the stories I have from 3, count them THREE coworkers and one ex-boyfriend's brother who all had either a girlfriend or an ex-girlfriend actually shoot at them for believing they were cheating (only 1 actually was - 2 of them married the girls AFTER the shooting incident, but that's another rant). And let's especially ignore the psycho who showed up at my house with a stolen pickup truck and her daddy's shotgun to tell me that some guy I barely knew and wasn't interested in was "taken" (also, I grew up in a city in California, not a Kentucky farm town). Let's also ignore the fact that a person willing to cheat with me is more likely to excuse cheating on me if he feels justified.

Let's just say that we both agree there are some risks involved with being the mistress of a cheating husband.

I want to talk about character and integrity. Sure, the cheater is an adult. Sure, he can make his own choices. Sure, it's not my job to make sure he behaves. But that doesn't then give me license to engage in behaviour that a person who is affected by did not consent to. As a polyamorous person, I believe that a good relationship requires honesty, consent, and communication. When I am someone's mistress, when I am a cheatee, that relationship is missing all three of those elements. I am engaging in a relationship, willfully and deliberately, that someone did not agree to, and would not agree to it if she knew. I am removing her personal sovereignty to make choices about how her life should look and I am robbing her of her dignity to live the life she chooses. I am not acting out of compassion or consideration for another human being. That means that I am putting my own desires as priority to the detriment of others, which is the very definition of "selfish".

Now, some people have tried to defend this position by saying the poor guy is in a really bad situations. We feel sorry for him! We are being compassionate, because his life is just awful, so we're bringing him some joy. Back to those hypothetical extremes - the wife already broke the marriage contract, the wife is refusing him sex or a particular kind of sex, he loves his wife and doesn't want to hurt her but he can't help his love for you (or his desire for sex and your body will do), so he's doing the best he can in a difficult situation.

Bullshit.

I guarantee that the wife has a different perspective than the one he's selling you. Oh sure, he probably really does believe what he's telling you. Most people, I think, are not outright liars and frauds. I think, most of the time, these guys really do see themselves in difficult positions with no "good" options, only less-worse options. And I'm willing to bet that, most of the time, they're not completely wrong. But I still guarantee that the wife also doesn't see herself as the bad guy in the situation. It's pretty much a human trait that we rarely ever see ourselves as "bad guys". Even Saddam Hussein & Osama Bin Laden probably really believed that they were good, honorable men, fighting for truth and justice. Even "bad guys" have people who love them, who see them as good people. In fact, that's at least one reason why we have The Entrenchment Effect - giving people facts doesn't actually change their opinions, because the cognitive dissonance between their view of themselves as a "good person" and the fact that they were wrong about something makes people dig their heels in and believe even harder against the evidence so that they don't have to see themselves as "not good". So no matter what sob story you want to tell me that he's sold you on, I know there is another side to that story, and no matter whose side I actually believe, I have some compassion for the wife who is being cheated on.  It's really hard for people to put themselves in their metamour's position.  That's why we have so many couples willing to use veto power & make rules restricting other people's behaviour.  But we have to do it anyway, at least, we do if we want to be honest about being an ethical person.

Which makes all your claims of feeling "sympathy" for the poor cheater fall flat. Maybe the wife really is a horrible, evil bitch. But putting her into a relationship that she did not agree to, or violating her existing relationship agreements does not make you the white knight in the story. It makes you both bad guys. Maybe you're less of a bad guy than she is, but you just put someone in a relationship that they did not consent to and could not give informed consent to even if she was willing. We arrest people for that. But, even worse, maybe she's not a horrible, evil bitch. Maybe she's the kind of wife that the husband really loves, but who just doesn't share his interest in a particular kind of sex, so he has to go explore elsewhere.

Seriously? You really want to justify participation in a relationship that breaks the agreements of a woman who is good & kind & loving & worth keeping? She's wonderful enough that he doesn't want to leave her and this is the thanks she gets for being such a great wife? You have turned her life into a lie. She is not in the relationship she thinks she's in and YOU contributed to that. You have removed from this wonderful woman the right to make her own choice about her own relationships. You talk about his right to "choose", but what about hers?

I care very deeply about not hurting that wife. I care that she is having her relationship agreement broken. As someone said in a Facebook thread recently, "Relationships are like webs, you can't just tug on one string and pretend you aren't affecting the others. And I'm not saying anything beyond that about what to do or not to do, just that I'm uncomfortable with the idea that 'ultimately it's their choice, not mine'. Because you are making a choice to get involved in the situation."

My involvement with a cheater affects his wife. I am complicit in breaking an agreement. I am agreeing to violate someone else's boundaries. We do not have to have made the agreement ourselves to be able to violate an agreement. I never "agreed" never to trespass on private property, yet climbing the fence with a "No Trespassing" sign on it puts me in violation. In fact, we don't even have to have done an illegal act to be an accomplice or an accomplice after the fact, in the eyes of the law, as long as we know about it and don't try to stop it or report it to the authorities. We have a social contract that says "I won't do these things to you if you don't do these things to me" and that's how we all get along. I try not to do the sorts of things that I don't want people to do to me, because I know how much it would hurt me, so I have empathy for the other people and I don't want to hurt them.

I don't have to try and "police" the husband's relationship agreements for him. He is a grown-up and he can make his own choices. But so am I. And I choose not to violate another human being's right to "choose" her own relationship. I choose not to participate in a relationship that removes the right of choice from someone else. I choose not to willingly infringe upon another's personal sovereignty or dignity. And I choose not to perform actions that lead a person into a non-consensual relationship.

I do not respect anyone who defends the position that it is ever morally or ethically "right" to do any of those things. The lesser of two wrongs is still wrong, not right. It just means that the situation is complicated and there may be no "right" answer. But if there is no "right" answer, that means that the cheating is still wrong. That some people might benefit (such as "bringing joy into a person stuck in a loveless marriage") does not overwrite that some people do not. That some people have complicated and difficult lives and I feel sympathy for them does not require participating in activities that harm someone else.

And if the defender is also polyamorous, is also a community leader or activist or "celebrity" espousing the values of polyamory as a valid and, especially as an "ethical" relationship choice, not only do I not respect that person, I also think she's a hypocrite. Since I've already heard all the defenses, continuing to defend that position only makes the defender look worse in my eyes. If you want to talk about compassion & ethics, I'll start listening when that compassion & ethical behaviour gets extended to the metamours. As someone who is a metamour, I try not to treat my metamours with any less compassion than I expect in return. I may not always succeed, but that is the standard to which I hold myself. And violating their relationship agreements is not compassionate nor ethical.
25th-May-2012 03:46 am - I Hate, Er, Love Him!
Purple Mobius, polyamory
I'm in love with a man who is pathologically poly. He has to have new sex partners constantly, and as soon as the NRE wears off, he gets bored with the new puppies & kicks them to the curb. I've come to resent the new playthings deeply and I want to warn them all away. I want to explain to them that I've been there, that I remember falling for this man who makes you his intense focus, for a while, and that's deeply romantic and and addicting. But after the shiny wears off, he'll lose interest in the fluffy new puppy and she'll be the old dog chained in the backyard with the rest of us, watching her master go off and play with the next new puppy. Those of us who have stuck around hate the new ones and barely tolerate each other. But I love this man, so I can't leave.
This is a paraphrase of something I've heard many times over the years. The posts are usually dripping with resentment, bitterness, and anger, and usually all directed at the poor metamours. Pointing out that the bitter "old dog" should just leave if she's not happy with her relationship only results in her defending her decision to stay by insisting that she loves him, all the while complaining that he's a "sex addict" or NRE junkie, or some other derogatory thing that makes him sound like a bad guy & her his victim.

A lot of people take the tactic of sympathizing with the poster, saying that the guy sounds like a royal asshat & she should get out while she can. This is, of course, assuming that the picture the poster has painted is even close to accurate. But his royal asshatness is usually not present to defend his side of the story.

Now, I'm not going to disagree with anyone who takes the position that the posters in these scenarios are in bad situations and should get the fuck out. If their partners are as callous & compulsive as it sounds, or even half as bad, they definitely should GTFO. And, frankly, there are people like that. We've all heard the stories of assholes who use the label "polyamory" to justify, what is essentially an excuse to fuck around without compassion or consideration for who he hurts in the process.

(Also, I'm going to stick with the gendered pronouns to make it easier to follow my ramblings - but any gender can be any player in the hypothetical scenario I'm describing).

I have tried to step back from the details themselves when posting responses, and just address the emotions. Here we have one person who is expressing extreme distress at a relationship partner's behaviour, and two people who appear to want different things out of the relationship they are in. Regardless of who is right or wrong, or who is seeing clearly or not, if you're that unhappy in a relationship, then this is not the right relationship for you.

Now, I want to exempt from this analysis any scenario that actually makes it, for all practical purposes, impossible to leave - shared kids that the spouse has threatened to steal, some sort of financial or legal entanglement that can't be separated, whatever. Let's just leave it at people who are in the poster's position who say they can't leave only because they "love" their alleged-sex-addict partner too much to leave.

Basically, when one person is as miserable in a relationship as these posters express that they are, I see two possible solutions: 1) Talk to the other partner & renegotiate the relationship so that the miserable partner gets more of the relationship that they want; 2) leave the relationship (which may be step 2 instead of option 2, if #1 doesn't work).

Yes, I know it's terrifying/heartbreaking/difficult/painful/awful to leave a relationship - even one that is making you unhappy. I've certainly overstayed my own share of broken relationships because the idea of losing him, or of being alone, made me feel bad. That doesn't change the fact that it's what needs to be done. cunningminx's most recent Poly Weekly podcast called "I Hate My Metamour" actually brushed on this very subject. It's hard, it's scary, it sucks to think of being alone & starting over. Do it anyway.

But I actually want to address this issue from the other perspective for a moment. I don't often do this because 1) the other person in the story isn't around to hear me anyway, and 2) the person making these sorts of pleas for help never appreciate hearing what I'm about to say because they're currently hurting and what I'm about to say is not flattering to someone already in pain.

If I were the "sex addict" in the story, and I heard that this was how my partner thought of me, I would be appalled - at my partner. This would make me lose all respect & caring feelings for my partner to know how resentful she felt towards me & how much she hated my other partners. And I would want to ditch the poster if I knew this is how she felt about me.

There are a couple of reasons why the NRE Junkies in the stories might feel that way. Now, this may be a wake-up call for some people, who don't realize how much they are hurting their partners. But my observations suggest to me that, the more likely reaction is to become defensive about one's behaviour. Either the Junkie really is an NRE Junkie, & they're likely to dig in their heels & try to justify what they're doing with "well, you knew the rules when you signed on, so tough shit", or they really aren't an NRE Junkie and this is just a typical reaction from a monogamous cowboy who was not honest with either her partner or herself about what she wanted in a relationship.

I hear stories about "sex addict poly partners", and I see things just a little differently than how they're painted in the story. The reason is because I have often been on the receiving end of "sex addict" accusations. I have had people mad at me for taking new lovers, or even just wanting to, and I have been accused of being a sex addict, of being uncaring towards my partners, of having some "need" for NRE. And as the person currently residing inside the head of the person being so accused, those accusations are just baffling.

I have the lowest sex drive of anyone in my current immediate network. Even my metamour battling a chronic pain condition has more interest in sex than I do, overall. I can go months, even years, without feeling any particular desire for sex or sexual activity. And I don't like NRE. My most recent relationship is the first time I have ever even slightly enjoyed going through NRE, and the only reason I could is because he and I both understood what it was we were going through, so I didn't get any of the crap with NRE that tends to drive me away from partners - him mistaking the rush of hormones for proof that we're "meant to be", making the long-term plans like marriage & cohabitating before we really knew each other, etc.

I tend not to like my partners going through NRE because I know how fleeting & unstable it is and they so often don't, but I also don't actually like the feeling of NRE itself. It was kind of enjoyable this last time because it came with a healthy dose of awareness about what we were going through & the implications of all those hormones, but when it started to fade, I felt relief that I could finally start moving into the stage that I think really makes the magic of a relationship happen.

To me, NRE is kind of like being drunk. I know a lot of people who enjoy getting drunk & feel no remorse afterwards (even if they do feel hangovers). I also know a lot of people who like getting drunk but who feel bad about it or the things they do afterwards. I never liked even the idea of getting drunk. I have never been drunk, but the descriptions sound awful to me, even when someone is telling me what they think are the good parts about it. I have been on various sorts of medication whose effects match the descriptions I have been given of being drunk, and I hated every minute of it, even while I might have been laughing at the time. I do not like NRE.

But I like being in relationships. I'm not afraid to be in relationships. And I view the outcome of a relationship as being proportional to the amount put into it. So once I've decided to be in one, I jump wholeheartedly into it. And when the other person is going through NRE, whether I am or not, sometimes that means that the person I thought I was getting into a relationship with isn't the person I end up in a relationship with (because they're putting on the NRE best-face that people do), and the relationship I thought I was getting into turns out not to be the kind of relationship the other person wants. So I've had a pretty long string of short-term relationships - almost exclusively with people who either did not want the same kind of relationship I wanted, or who did not want a relationship with me, but instead with a person they were hoping I would be.

So, to a person who really, in their heart of hearts, doesn't really want a poly relationship or believes it's something people do only until they find The One, my having a series of relationships that end fairly quickly becomes another point in their confirmation bias that I'm only in it for the NRE.

I have someone who I have gradually come to call "my stalker". We've known each other since we were in grade school. He decided the moment we met that I was his One True Love. Thanks to stupid books & movies like Twilight (not that Twilight was around back then, but it's an easy example to give), I thought this was romantic. When he pursued me relentlessly through our teens & into adulthood, I still thought this was romantic and it was definitely an ego boost, particularly when I had just been dumped or had been single for a while. Even after I learned that he used to sit on my front lawn at night, watching my bedroom window while I slept, I still thought it was romantic. I didn't learn just how creepy that was until much later. I refused to date him because, although I didn't know I was poly at the time, I knew I was still looking for something, and I didn't want to repay his devotion to me with any sort of pain or betrayal that I was sure I would inflict while I kept "looking" for whatever it was I hadn't found yet.

There's a country song whose basic theme is that a guy changes his answering machine message with "I'll be doing this thing until this date, and if this is Austin, I still love you" for years. The girl is amazed at his level of devotion & after a string of broken romances, finally decides that a man who is that devoted to her is worth loving. Crap like this is what made me finally give him a chance.  Plus, he was hot & I was single.

At this point, I had discovered polyamory, and I spent about a year trying to explain to him what it was and how I felt. The whole "it's possible to love two people at once" concept and everything. Finally, he said he understood, so we started dating.

The short story is that he was fucking miserable the whole time, which made me miserable. We just did not want the same things out of a relationship. We broke up, but remained friends for another decade. During which time, we had the same conversation, about once a year. He swore to me that I was his One, I reminded him that I was poly, he wanted me to give up trying to fill some emptiness with an endless string of men & find happiness with just him, I tried to explain that my life was not actually a revolving door and that I didn't feel empty but that I finally felt happy, he would recant & say he understands poly now and could I give him another chance, I would really drive home all my poly talking points yet again to make him face the fact that I loved someone other than him, and he would break down crying and asking why I couldn't love him.

I finally had enough. I finally learned that this was not actually romance, that this was a serious problem and that he needed to get over me and find someone else who would love him the way he wanted to be loved. Or, failing that, maybe some psychiatric attention.  So the last time we had this conversation, I told him that he was never to bring up the subject of us dating again. The consequence for bringing it up was to lose all contact with me entirely and forever.

So we drifted apart, and if it wasn't for Facebook, I wouldn't have had any contact with him in several years now. Except for 2 emails he sent me, one of which is relevant to this whole story. He went back to school, and in his creative writing class, he wrote a story about his perspective of our relationship over the years. He said that he knew there was no hope for us, but that he thought I would want to read his story and see how things looked to him.

All my years of knowing this person, all our conversations, all our arguments, all our letters, and I still didn't know just how different his perception of me was until I read something he wrote that he did not intend for me to read when he wrote it. After YEARS of talking about how much I loved my very few multiple partners (4 being the most number simultaneously, but 2 being the more common number), how much happier I was in poly relationships, how devoted I was to them, how I felt I was building futures & lives & families with these people, and also how imoprtant it was to me that my partners had other partners in part because I didn't have the sex drive to be anyone's only partner, let alone several, he still never got it.

In his paper, the image he had of me, after all these years, was still a person who shied away from intimacy, who was "promiscuous", who filled some emotional gap with a variety of sexual partners, and who kept people at arms-length to protect herself from hurt.

::blinkblink::

Who was this person he was writing about? It couldn't have been me! How could anyone hear me talk about my loves and not hear the depth of my emotion, or the severity of the heartache when it ended? How could anyone know me in person for any length of time - hell, how could anyone date me and not know my sexual limitations? Where was he when I poured my heart out to him over the phone for all those years? How is it even possible for someone with even a cursory peek into my life to be unaware of my heart's desire?

Because he never fully saw me. From day one, he never saw me. At first, I was an idol, a work of art, put on a pedestal to be worshiped, too perfect to touch and only safe to view from a distance. Later, I was a TV sitcom character, a personality written the way the writer wanted her to be & layered over the actress regardless of how she felt in real life, but able to be brought into the home via the airwaves, able to spend time with & pretend to get to know. And finally, I was a stick figure drawing - two dimensional, empty, heartless. For all that he professed his love for me for decades, he didn't seem to know me very well, nor did he seem to really like me very much.

He was not the only person in my past to do this, but his story was the most dramatic, the most long-term delusional. So when I hear stories about these supposed-poly sex addicts, these NRE Junkies, from people who also claim to be in love with them and who won't leave these people who are abusing them so, I'm reminded of my stalker. And I have to question just how accurate their perception of their lover is, or of his motivations. Maybe sometimes they're completely accurate. Maybe even most of the time the people making these complaints are completely and absolutely accurate.

But having been someone who had a partner/ex who saw me in the same disdainful, resentful, bitterly angry way as these posters see their own partners, it's really hard not to feel contempt for the posters, rather than the alleged NRE Junkies. It's really hard for me not to be contemptful and disgusted by someone who claims to love a person they describe with such anger and resentment. It's really hard for me to feel very much sympathy for people who feel such bitter feelings about another person but who won't leave the person they seem to hate so much. It's really, really hard to be hated and resented that much by someone who claims to love me. And it's really hard to see that as "love" at all.

So I write this here, rather than respond directly to the dozens of people who have made online posts like this over the years. They are genuinely hurting, and me telling them that I am disgusted by them while they are in the middle of their pain and reaching out for help is not productive for them. I stick with the "you're obviously unhappy, this relationship doesn't seem to be the type of relationship you want, I think you will be happier if you look elsewhere" line, because it's true and it's more helpful.

But maybe one of these so-called sex addicts will stumble across my entry someday and see their situation reflected in my story. And maybe this will help them to make the courageous decision to cut someone loose who feels tied to them and unhappy about it. Or maybe they have been harboring similar feelings and they feel guilty for having them - after all, if their partner can feel such resentment and still love them, then shouldn't they hold on to the "love" part & ignore their own bad feelings too? No, I don't think so.

Or maybe one of these resentful posters will stumble across this post and, since it's not directed at them specifically, be more open to hearing it, and therefore be made aware of how much their resentment may be poisoning the very relationship they refuse to let go of. Maybe they're not aware that all this anger & resentment can make their partner feel angry & resentful back. Maybe they're not aware that they aren't the only ones in the relationship who is looking on their partners with disgust and contempt. And maybe they'll learn to change their perspective or maybe they'll talk to their partners to renegotiate a more equitable relationship or maybe they'll finally get the courage to leave & find someone who wants the same thing they want out of a relationship.

It's possible to really and truly love someone and still not make a good partner for them. It's also possible to really and truly dislike someone but confuse other emotions, like attachment & fear of loss, for "love". If you are really not what they want and they are really not what you want, then even if you love them, it may be kinder to let them go.



If you see yourself in any of my examples and think I'm talking about you, well, if you made any posts like this on the internet, there's a good chance that I am talking about you.  But I'm also NOT talking about you - at least, not you specifically.  Even if I used phrases that sound like phrases you used, I'm still not talking about you specifically.  Believe it or not, you're not the only person to be in this situation, and the fact that it's so commonplace is exactly why I wrote this entry.  But if you see yourself here, whether I ever came across your specific story or not, you probably ought to do some reconsidering of your choices, because that says more about you than it does about me.
Flogging, BDSM
I added this to my Netflix queue because it was either on a poly list or Netflix recommended it to me when I added some other movie that was on a poly list.  I can't remember.  I was pretty sure there wasn't any polyamory in the show, but I had heard about the famous Belle and her blog-then-book, so I thought I'd at least check it out.

I've only watched 4 episodes (the first disc of season 1), so I'm not prepared to declare yea or nay to the poly question yet, but I did want to mention two things about one episode.

In the 4th episode, Belle discovers one of her regulars is into S&M, but she has no idea what it's all about.  Curious, she seeks out lessons with a London Domme and learns how to be a professional bitch.

I say that, because it seems that if television is your only resource, you'd think that the only thing to BDSM is hot chicks in black latex & corsets ordering fat old white men in thongs to clean the toilets with their tongues, stepping on them with high heels, and then beating the shit out of them with riding crops.  Also, doing so in a "I'm pissed off at you" or "I'm bored" voice seem to be the only options.  If you think that's all there is to fetishes and BDSM, please visit www.xeromag.com/fvbdsm.html

Anyway, there were 2 parts in particular that I liked.  In the first one, Belle mentions that she wants to learn about S&M because a client has expressed interest.  She explains that the client is married & the wife doesn't know about his interest.  The Domme says "well that's a shame" and when Belle looks at her questioningly, the Domme continues "so many secrets!"  Later, it comes out that the Domme is married and her husband knows.  In fact, he is often at home during the sessions - not participating, but puttering around the house, making tea, watching TV, whatever.  Belle expresses a wistful sort of envy at having someone to share her job with, not necessarily to do it with him, but someone she can confide in, who knows who she is.  The Domme's attitude is that honesty is not just the best policy, but a given.  When Belle says how nice it sounds, the Domme says "well, it's a marriage", implying that, of course they share these parts of themselves with each other, as if it never even occurred to her that she wouldn't.

I really liked that honesty-is-a-given attitude, and from the character that the mainstream audience would think of as the most deviant.  I really like when the "deviant" characters are the moral centers of a show.

In the other part that I liked, Belle takes a few lessons, then immediately redecorates her entire "professional" apartment as the kind of dungeon that non-fetishists think a dungeon looks like - dark red walls, black plastic over the windows, elaborate black candelabra stands with a dozen thick candles, and a professional, leather-covered "chair" of sorts whose only function, it seems, is to look as unlike any other normal sort of furniture so that you can't pass it off as something else (i.e. it's not a chair and it's not a massage table, but something in between).

So she invites her client over for an S&M session instead of their usual sex.  She orders him to strip, put on a thong, and kneel.  Then she addresses the audience (this show regularly uses the broken 4th wall tactic) to explain that everything has been pre-negotiated, and she means EVERYTHING, right down to the insults that she will use.  She says "yes, even the insults I will use".

I really, really liked how they made a point to emphasize the negotiation part of BDSM.  I don't think that can be stressed enough.  When people first start out, if they have any exposure to a fetish community at all, they know all about negotiation and rules, but it takes experience for it to really sink in just how much negotiation is required.  Even people who have done this for years can find themselves in situations where they forgot to cover something and get surprised when something happens (or could happen) that they didn't negotiate for.

And, here's the thing, it's not just about thinking up every possible scenario and every possible activity and then laying a bunch of rules down about it.  Sure, within BDSM, rules can actually be a healthy and important part of the dynamic (unlike in relationships in general, but that's another rant), but just making a list of rules isn't sufficient.  What's important is to understand why those rules are necessary, so that you don't have to think up a million specific activities.  If you know that condom use, for example, is for disease control, then you know to be careful about fluid transfer in general, which means no semen in the mouth, wash the floggers carefully & pay attention to blood, etc.  But if condoms are for birth control only, then an accidental or non-pre-negotiated semen in the mouth might not ruin the scene.

Now, a lot of people get overwhelmed at all the talking & negotiating that goes on in poly & kinky situations.  "It's not romantic or sexy if it's not spontaneous!  All this planning just seems cold and calculating, it takes all the passion out!"  Well, I have a bit of a surprise for you then.  All the planning & talking & negotiating is what allows for the spontaneity and surprise and wild passionate abandon.  Once you've taken care of all the logistics, you can just let things happen when the mood strikes you, if you want.  Because, if you've done it ahead of time, then you don't have to stop a scene to say "oh, wait, is this OK?"

I mean, you do want to check in with your partners and make sure everything is OK but a check-in is not the same thing as a "we didn't talk about this before so I have no idea what you're feeling or how you're going to react, and I'm not really sure I can trust your decisions because you might feel differently about this once the endorphins wear off".  It's also not the same thing as being surprise-penetrated*, thereby being dragged completely out of the fun fantasy into the real world as it suddenly hits you what all the implications are to this thing that you forgot to talk about and now you have to do a whole bunch of quick calculations in your head to figure out how this will affect you now, in an hour, in a day, in a week, in a year.

Plus, it can be extremely liberating to go into a situation where you already know what's off the table, what's definitely on the agenda, and what things you can decide on the spur of the moment to try.  There's no more guessing, no more wondering "am I really going to get laid tonight, or are we just making out & I'm going home with blue balls", no more "I really wish he'd just try this thing already!", no more "oh for fuck's sake, if I fake it maybe he'll hurry up and finish", no more "I think he's hinting about this and I don't want to, but if I tell him I don't want to, he might leave and never call me again", and no more "if I try this, will it freak her out & send her running, leaving me alone tonight / forever?"  

The outcome is never guaranteed and you can still go in unplanned directions.  But with a trusted partner in a scene that you have pre-negotiated, I know that this thing that I really, really like - he's gonna do it, and this thing that turns me off every fucking time - he won't do it.  I know that when I'm in the mood for rough, that's what I'm going to get because that's what we agreed on.  I know that when I'm in the mood for soft and romantic, that's what I'm going to get because that's what we agreed on.  I know that this time, I'm in charge and I already know in what ways I can hurt him that will make him happy with the scene and in what ways I can't hurt him without ruining the scene.  I know that next time, I can give up control and let him take care of me because he agreed to only doing the sorts of things that make me feel safe when I'm not in control and he won't do the sorts of things that make me feel unsafe.

Because we have talked.  It's sex and it's kink and it's pain and it's mind games and it's all sorts of naughty fun, and the reason it's fun is because we talked first.


*People not part of the fetish community, and even people who are but who don't talk about this topic, might be surprised at just how often "surprise penetration" happens.  It's a serious problem, one that we need to shed more light on and work to eradicate from our communities.
13th-May-2012 09:32 pm - Poly Ballroom Dancing
Purple Mobius, polyamory
This week, Dancing With The Stars featured ballroom dance trios! As a poly & a ballroom dancer, how could I not love it? Besides just the idea of doing ballroom dance with more than one partner, the introductions to each of the dances show some themes that I think poly people will find very familiar!

First, all of the trios are actually pre-existing couples who invited a third person in. Second, within the trios there is a mix of all dancing together and sometimes splitting up into various duos - not always losing the new member, sometimes it's one of the pre-existing members dancing alone with the new member!  In other words, sometimes they all dance together, and sometimes one of them wanders off and leaves two of them dancing alone, and sometimes the two dancing alone are not the pre-existing couple - sometimes it's one of the pre-existing couple and the new person.  All relationships need some alone time, and many experienced polys know that, even in triads, you gotta have some alone time with each of the others and you have to nurture that relationship with the new person.

As for the dances...
  • There's the FMF that you'd think would be everyone's dream but was actually very rare as the only grouping in that configuration out of all the trios on the show, and the two girls who used to be rivals but are now whole-heartedly throwing themselves into a partnership with perfect harmony.

  • There's the MFM where one guy was afraid the other guy would be "better" than him & the girl wanted to use his jealousy to her "advantage".

  • Then there's the MFM where the couple brought in the guy's brother because of his talent and skill, so they thought they would be better as a whole group for the addition (and they were).

  • There's the MFM where the first guy brought in the other guy because he knew how much the girl loved the other guy & the first guy enjoyed the "break" and letting the other guy take care of the girl some of the time.

  • And finally are the two MFMs where the girls each brought in the new guy so that the first guy could learn something from him and grow and improve themselves through relating to the new guy. Although, ironically, the dance story of both of those MFM trios was of the new guy trying to "steal the girl" and the first guy chasing off the intruder!
While not every single possible scenario found in poly triads & vees, these 6 performances and the arrangements of how they got to be trios sure cover an awful lot of poly tropes!  What was I just saying, about not being a poly issue, but a people issue?


See the dances!Collapse )

13th-May-2012 04:37 pm - Poly, er. People Issues.
Purple Mobius, polyamory
cunningminx recently did an episode called What Would Monogamists Do? and I have coined the phrase "it's not a poly problem, it's a people problem". The basic premise is that being polyamorous is really not very different from being monogamous. We have to deal with all the same issues that monogamous people do and very, very few issues that they don't.

For instance, "what about the children?" How do you handle nosy school employees and multiple parental figures? Well, the same way my single-mother sister handled multiple parental figures and her kids' schools. I've told this story before - my sister is raising her two kids while living with our parents. Her two kids have two different fathers. So, right there, the oldest kid had 3 adults on his Approved For Pickup & Emergency Contact lists (his father was not in the picture & not allowed to pick him up) and the youngest kid had 4 adults on his lists (his dad is an involved dad).

Then each kid had daycare, so add +1 for each of them. Then I lived at home while the oldest kid was a toddler, so add +1 to his count for me to pick him up. Then my sister's best friend was practically another mother to the kids, especially when she had her own kids and they were sort of a psuedo-lesbian-without-the-lesbian-sex family. So that makes another +1 for both of them. Then there was the other single mother-friend that my sister lived with for a while, to combine incomes and share resources, so that was +1 for the oldest kid, but they "broke up" in a pretty ugly, dramatic manner, so she had to be removed from the lists after about a year. Then there were the 2 or so years my sister lived with her oldest son's grandparents (the father's parents) in another town, who was across the street from our 2 cousins and down the street from another cousin and 2 blocks over from an aunt & uncle and around the corner from our grandfather, so add +8 for him while subtracting all the previous pluses.

So, let's see, that makes 6 adults on the kids' Approved Adults Lists for school, 1 person who was on there only briefly, and 8 adults who were on the oldest kid's list for about 2 years while the other 6 taken off and then switched again when she moved back. Wait, are we talking about poly families again?

My sister is monogamous. The kid-school problem was simple. She just told her schools that these people were allowed to pick her children up and could be called in an emergency. If they insisted on listing a relationship to the children, we were all either listed as family friend, babysitter, or some family name like "aunt" or "grandmother", whether it was true or not. For example, all of our cousins (my sister's and mine) are listed as "aunt" to my nephews, even though they're actually second cousins to the kids. My sister's best friends are also called "aunt" by the boys. I, as the only actual aunt, am called Auntie, to distinguish that there is a different lineage happening. But I also live the farthest away & the boys have more contact with their "aunts" than their "auntie" (although I am my oldest nephew's primary source of tech support).

People like to ask "how will the kids know who their 'real' parents are?" Well, how do my sister's kids know who their "real" parents are, or their real aunts, for that matter? It's pretty simple ... she tells them. The oldest kid knows he has a different father than his brother, and he knows that I am his mom's sister and all his other aunts are actually his mom's cousins or best friends. The younger kid will learn that after he actually masters whole sentences.

My sister and I were both adopted, and we knew who are "real" parents were - they were the two people who raised us and sat up with us when we were sick and helped us with our homework and disciplined us when we acted up. My sister and I both knew that there were some other people out there somewhere who had actually put together our genetic material, and we knew that the two people whose DNA I had were not the same 2 people whose DNA she had. It wasn't confusing at all. In 3rd grade, I actually got in trouble because a kid was teasing me for being adopted and my retort was "at least I wasn't an accident - my parents wanted me!" So yeah, I knew and I understood. It really wasn't that hard. Even after meeting my bio-mom & siblings, I'm pretty well able to keep it straight in my head who is who. Even bonobos can tell each other apart in spite of living all communal-like.

Which brings us to today. I get a lot of questions like "who do you spend holidays with" and "it must be expensive trying to give that many people holiday gifts" and other things that imply that the person asking the question can't fathom how to juggle schedules and finances when there is more than one person who might be the recipient of important celebrations.

Ever since my extended family, the neophytes, got on Facebook, I have started a tradition of posting an old photo of them on their walls related to whatever holiday it is. For example, on their birthdays, I post an embarassing baby photo. On their annversaries, I post an old wedding photo. On Mother's & Father's Days, I post an old photo of them being mothers & fathers. I thought this was a sweet tradition ... until more and more of my family got online. Now I'm faced with three problems - 1) I'm running out of old pictures; 2) I wasn't around or didn't know some of my family long enough to have the appropriate pictures; 3) I have so many people in my family that if I did this for everyone in order to not make anyone feel left out, I'd spend days uploading pictures for each holiday!

I was raised in a monogamous, Christian, non-divided home. If I narrow the criteria to just my most immediate family, I can hopefully escape the jealous "why didn't you post a mother's day wish on MY wall?" from all the cousins and aunts and family friends and old school friends on my Facebook. But that still leaves 2 mothers and 3 sisters. Then, off Facebook, I still have to call 2 grandmothers! And that's only this year, since I recently lost my godmother and my third grandmother (I have a fourth grandmother, somewhere, but she denies my existence so she doesn't get my holiday wishes either).

So who do I spend holidays with and how do I handle gifts for so many people? First, I evaluate who is actually in my vicinity/budget to spend physical time with. Then I narrow down the list to those I have a first-degree relationship with in order to cut down on time & financial expenses. That leaves me with 7 people to do *something* special to acknowledge on this special day.

I'm talking about my monogamous, Christian, bio/adopted family, not my poly family.

Fortunately for me, none of my partners have kids (and they're male) so I never have to wish any of them a happy parent's day, and only one of my partners' other partners (my immediate metamours) has kids, so I actually do not have this problem as a poly person. For me, this whole scheduling around holidays & managing the gifts thing is pretty much exclusively a non-poly issue!

By the time the winter holiday season comes around, and all 6 of us who live within driving distance of each other want to spend the day all together and there are only 2 parents of the group who also live within driving distance, this whole holiday scheduling/gift-giving thing is pretty effortless! Sometimes things can get a little complicated, but any time the complication ratchets up as a poly person, it's really no more complicated than what I had to deal with as a mono person with mono relatives. It's the exact same set of complication and the exact same skill set to deal with it.

"But I'm not having sex with my siblings!" Of course not, but nothing we're talking about here has anything to do with sex. I don't have to be having some incestuous relationship with my sisters to make one feel jealous or left out if I give the others more attention or a better gift than her. I don't have to be sleeping with my mothers to want to tread carefully and be compassionate when doing stuff for the other mother so that each doesn't feel abandoned or excluded or usurped. I'm talking about people's feelings and maintaining loving relationships. Sex is not required to make either someone feel a special connection to you or to make them feel hurt by you. And to manage everyone's feelings and expectations in a reasonable & compassionate manner, those are skills that I learned from interacting with my parents, siblings, cousins, and family friends.

If you think there is some novel and exclusive set of relationship skills for managing poly relationships, I think you are making things way more difficult than they need to be and you are just trying to reinvent the wheel. Take the issue of sex out of the equation and just think, "how can I be compassionate and considerate to this other person without neglecting my own emotional or physical health? How can I be compassionate and considerate to these several other people without neglecting either my or everyone else's emotional or physical health? What kinds of compromises can we find to solve the conflict that will either meet everyone's needs, or at least distribute among those involved the amount of sacrifice & compromise that needs to be made in order to have a resolution?  How can I do this without imposing limits on other people's behaviour or devaluing one relationship in favor of another?"

I can't upload photos for every single mother I know on Mother's Day. I don't have the time, nor do I have the photos. It is reasonable for me to limit my largest efforts to those I have the closest and most direct relationship to - my own mothers & sisters with children - and my extended relatives will not feel slighted because of the nature of those relationships (and not because I told them "hey, you knew the deal when you signed up to be a cousin - you are less important than these other people here" - a cousin is still a person & sometimes it will be necessary to prioritize the cousin if I want to maintain that relationship.  My sister, for example, is very close to our cousins, close enough that she treats them as sisters, but I moved away a long time ago & our cousin relationship just didn't grow in that direction.  The "closeness" is about emotional connection, not about them being "cousins" & therefore relegated to a lesser status).

Because those close relationships are ones that I value, I make it a priority to extend the effort to all of them even though there are still several people left after narrowing the criteria. I get to express my love for them, they feel loved, everyone's happy. Yes, it took more time out of my day than if I only said "happy mother's day" to my own mom and no one else. Even if I only said it to both mothers. That's an exchange I'm willing to make because I value those relationships. Notice that I didn't say "a price I'm willing to pay".

Oh, but wait, was I supposed to be talking about poly relationships? Sometimes it's hard to tell the difference. And I think that's one of the keys to having successful poly relationships.
10th-May-2012 11:13 pm - Poly Movie Review: The Mentalist
Purple Mobius, polyamory

http://dvd.netflix.com/Movie/The-Mentalist/70155590 - Netflix
http://www.amazon.com/Mentalist-Complete-Second-Season/dp/B002N5N4NA - Amazon
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1196946/ - IMDB

Here's a new one! I find poly movies to review by one of 3 ways: 1) It's on a poly list somewhere on the internet; 2) Someone learns that I review poly movies & suggests a movie to me; 3) Netflix suggests a "similar title" based on me adding known poly movies to my queue. What has never happened, to the best of my recollection, is me stumbling upon a poly show completely by accident.

The closest I've come is watching movies or TV shows that are strong poly analogues - shows that are not explicitly poly, but, other than the sex, they might as well be. For example, Sex And The City (the TV show, not the movies), a story about 4 female, non-sexual (with each other) best friends who are actually each others' soulmates and form an intentional family of sorts between them. Think of cunningminx's recent Poly Weekly podcast episode about "What Would Monogamists Do?" where her basic premise is that, what we do isn't all that different, and if you're stumped for how to deal with a situation, just ask how you would handle it if you were monogamous, and the answer will probably be very similar. I say all the time, "that's not a poly problem, that's a people problem."

But I'm getting off topic. Stumbling across actual polyamory in popular media with no notice, right.

As regular readers undoubtedly know, I am also a skeptic. In addition to my collection of poly media, I am also building a collection (mostly an online list, but I will slowly collect the physical media too) of skeptic media - movies, music, podcasts, books, etc. I like lists and categories, and just like the poly community, the skeptic community suffers from a lack of specific-to-us art & entertainment. Much like the poly community, the skeptic community not only suffers from a lack of art, but is drowning under a deluge of "art" that promotes the antithesis and even outright reviles everything we stand for.

What both the poly and the skeptic communities have in common, is that they are both subcultures struggling to find a toe-hold in a society that has built into its very institutions, its foundations, a support structure for mindsets & philosophies that are both opposite and intolerant of the subcultures themselves.

But again, I'm getting off topic.

All this is to say that I've been watching The Mentalist from Netflix. It's a TV cop drama about a guy who was a con artist using the label "psychic" to bilk people out of money by making shit up about their dead relatives, and other related cons, until he offered his "psychic services" to the police on a serial murder case. In his arrogance, he did what media-hungry con artists (*cough* Sylvia Brown *cough*) do, and that was to spout off on television about his "work" on the case, insulting the serial killer and pissing him off.

So the serial killer, Red John, targeted Jayne's (the "psychic") wife & daughter, and made damn sure that Jayne knew who had done it and why. Now we come to the actual start of the series, where Patrick Jayne works as a consultant for the California Bureau of Investigation, not as a phony psychic, but using his skill and expertise in deception to help catch criminals. Although he closes cases left and right and has been a tremendous asset to the CBI, his sole motivation for working with them is to get close enough to the Red John case that he can find Red John and kill him, and the other closed cases are merely incidental. He knows that he will go to jail, and possibly get the death penalty, but revenge is what drives him and helping people are a side effect.

Patrick Jayne is an atheist and a skeptic, and every episode highlights, not only the kinds of things that people do to trick other people, but also how we can fool ourselves. The character states outright, unashamedly and in no uncertain terms, that there is no god (episode 2), and there are no psychics, faith healers, people who can talk to the dead, none of that (almost every episode). He is James Randi, Jamey Ian Swiss, Penn & Teller, and Joe Nickell, all wrapped up in a slick, charismatic, borderline sociopathic, TV protagonist package*. With expensive suits that include suit vests. You can see why I might like him, yes?

So what does this have to do with polyamory? Read on for some plot spoilers, but not the final conclusion of the episode.Collapse )

And I do recommend watching the show. Here's a bit more about the series itself.Collapse )



*I've heard that this show is merely a knock-off of Psych, and, supposedly, a pale shadow compared to the ever-observant Sherlock Holmes. I don't care. I've never seen Psych, but I have read all the original Sherlock serials. There are some similarities, in that people who are skeptical & hyper-observant do come across as arrogant and cynical to others, and since the writers of both are not skeptical & hyper-observant, it's to be expected that the characters are written as arrogant, cynical, & loners. Because who would be friends with an arrogant cynic who sees everything & is always right? Skeptics & pedants never have friends, do they? But, aside from both being arrogant and both being detectives, they're not the same story at all. Psych, I'm told, is more buddy-cop comedy than cop drama, and whose main character actually does try to pass himself off as a psychic. One reviewer said that, to say The Mentalist is a rip-off of Psych is to say that Grey's Anatomy is a rip-off of Scrubs because they both follow medical interns into their residency. But, of the one trailer I've seen for the show, the audience knows he is not a real psychic, so I may watch it some day to see if it has any good skeptical value.
13th-Apr-2012 01:48 am - I Must Be Your Favorite
Purple Mobius, polyamory
One of the many reasons why I love tacit so much is his ability to really *see* his girlfriends. I have never once felt threatened or worried or concerned about him loving someone besides me because I knew, down to his very core, I was unique and special and that no one could ever replace me. I would always be his "favorite" because we were all his "favorite".

I know he loves me with all of his heart, because he doesn't know how to love any other way. I know he loves all of his loves with all of his heart, and not only does that not diminish, dilute, or take away from the love that he feels for me, but it's part of what makes his love for me so strong, so special, and so utterly incapable of being "taken" from me by some other woman.

After being loved by someone like tacit, it's impossible to settle for anything less. My other loves have a high bar set for them. Fortunately, for me, they meet the bar, or they wouldn't last long in my life.

Of Puppies And Favorites: http://www.morethantwo.com/puppies.html
10th-Feb-2012 09:40 pm - Why Do You Do It?
Purple Mobius, polyamory
"Why do you do it?  All that work for polyamory, why not just be satisfied with one relationship?"

When people ask me, why do I bother with all the work involved, i usually answer something about how we're driven, as a species, to build relationships.  Everyone does.  Polyamory is just one way among many to do that.  But today I heard a story that I think illustrates what I mean.

Aron Ralston was a young man, active, a thrill-seeker, free-climber.  One day he took off for some canyons in Utah, in as remote a place as still exists on this planet.  He set off alone.  He didn't tell anyone.

As he was climbing those remote canyon walls, a small boulder he was standing on gave way and they both dropped into the crevice until they reached a narrow enough spot that the boulder wedged itself, trapping his right hand, and therefore him.

He remained in that canyon for 6 days, with no help in sight.  He finally realized that he was going to die, that this canyon would be his grave.

So he pulled out his camera and recorded the first of several goodbye messages.  He spoke to his parents, his friends, everyone he loved, and he told them how much he loved them and how much he appreciated them.  Then he made the decision that ultimately led to his story being told.  He pulled out his Leatherman and cut off his own right hand.

There's more to his remarkable escape, but you can see it for yourself in the movie 127 Hours, made based on his story and his tapes.  The reason I tell his story now is because I saw this young man speak at work today.  I'm watching him speak right now as I write this journal entry.  I'm sure the movie will be touching, but I heard him tell his own story from his own mouth.  I watched him re-live his last message to his mother.

Aron stands on that stage and tells us how, when he was facing his last moments on Earth, when he was saying goodbye to the world, that what he thought about was not his achievements, his accomplishments, the things he had done.  When he was reviewing his life for the last time, what he thought about was his relationships.  He thought about the people he loved.

The tagline for the movie is "there is nothing greater than the will to live."  As he stood before us, telling his story, he said "I don't think that's true.  I think there is one thing greater than the will to live.  And that's the will to love."

Aron showed us pictures of his parents, of he and his friends going hiking, going whitewater rafting, hanging out.  He showed us a picture of him, minus his right hand, standing next to his buddy, and said "I wasn't just hiking and my friend happened to be there.  I was with my friend, and we happened to be hiking."  He told us of how his experience made him leap for life, made him live every moment he had, and what made his life worth living, what made him grasp for life with every fiber in his being, were the relationships he had.  He then showed us a picture of his infant and told us that this is worth living for and this is worth leaving his hand for.  He says he didn't lose anything in that canyon.  He left his hand behind, but he gained so much more in the realization that the will to love is what was behind his will to live, and that it was his relationships that made life worth living.

That's why I'm polyamorous and that's why I go through the effort.  Because equal or greater than the will to live is the will to love.
frustration, ::headdesk::
Apparently, it needs to be said -AGAIN-:  

1) "Joreth" is an online persona that is one facet of a whole person, and not the whole person.  I have several online personas, each explicitly focused on a single or related facets, and one cannot assume knowledge of the whole person based on interacting only with one persona.  She is not a character made out of whole cloth, she is *me*, but she is only one part of me.  Even the title says this is where I come to rant & blow off steam.  This is who I am when I'm fucking pissed off, but this is not who I am [period].

2) "Joreth" does not do interviews.  I conduct interviews under my real name or under pseudonyms, so that reporters do not use "Joreth" to represent the poly community.  People may find "Joreth" through those interviews, but "Joreth" is not the person being profiled in the news.

3) I have extensive experience with dealing with the media.  And I don't mean that I "shine lights on a stage".  I couldn't possibly give my entire background, but I have been working with the media, both in front of and behind the scenes, for almost my entire life.  I have been in the public spotlight for activism since the '80s.  I literally grew up surrounded by the media.  I have also been on the production side of broadcast journalism and in print news, so I know what the media is looking for, and how they get it.  There are plenty of people with more experience than me, and more polished than I.  But I know what I'm talking about, and I know what areas I don't know too.  I also utilize the resources of those more experienced and more polished than I to get even better than I currently am, since I know that I can always improve.

So what I don't need is someone telling me all about how to behave in front of the media.  And I certainly don't need someone with apparently no media training jumping into media relations and fucking up something I had just orchestrated to be positive media coverage with a MAJOR media outlet immediately after presuming to lecture ME on how to handle the media.

I had just gotten polyamory a positive portrayal on one of the nation's largest news outlets with a promise of future coverage, including expanding the story to cover some of our national poly conferences.  That's a pretty big coup and could result in some pretty big benefits to the community as a whole.  When some idiot who ONLY knows me through Twitter, decided to lecture me on proper media behaviour based only on my Twitter activity, and then brought the whole ugly exchange directly to the attention of said major news outlet.  

Yes, he actually lectured me on the perils of not representing the poly community well and then sent them a direct link to an ugly exchange that did not represent the poly community well (of course, the exchange wasn't intended to represent the community, but give it to the media & it will).

Did I mention that the interview hadn't been published yet, so he didn't even know how I had represented the poly community at all when he jumped in to complain about my behaviour with the media?  Did I mention that he doesn't know me outside of Twitter or PolyWeekly?  Did I mention that I was specifically asked to be snarky & opinionated on PW because Minx doesn't feel that she has the freedom to say certain things, so we play sort of a good cop - bad cop routine so that she can keep all her listeners but still have certain things said & still appease those listeners who like snark?  Did I mention that he was totally unaware that I had even done any prior interviews, let alone read or seen any of them?  Did I mention that I managed to get a tabloid magazine who had a prior record of screwing over a poly family in a previous article to write a decent article about polyamory when they dealt with me?

We all have been involved in some kind of tiff with others of the poly community at one time or another, and we all have seen others get into flamewars online. That can't be helped. But I would like to offer a bit of advice about dealing with these things in front of the media, especially since we're getting so much media attention right now.

Don't.

In other words, even if the argument happens "in public" on the internet, where anyone can see it if they know where to look, don't draw the media's attention to it. While we can, and should, publicly admit that there are all kinds of different people who are polyamorous, and that when we speak, we are speaking for ourselves and not necessarily for others, what we should NOT do is help the media out by actually pointing them towards community dissonance.

Giving them transcripts of a forum flame war and sending contact information / user names / real names to major news outlets is not the way to do damage control if someone happens to get on the news whom you think doesn't represent you. That just gives the media fodder to turn an otherwise human interest story into a sensationalized "rift in the community" mud-slinging scandal (which, let's face it, is much more tempting to print than a boring "all is well with us!" poly story).

So if you happen to see a news report or read an article where the respondent does not represent polyamory as you would like to be represented, please try to respond with your own personal perspective, and do not invite the media into drama regardless of your personal interactions with the subject of their stories. If you're worried about looking bad to the media, bringing to their attention your personal drama with someone is a pretty sure-fire way to look bad to the media.

Think of it as being a community organizer & publicly badmouthing your exes - generally speaking, no matter how "bad" your exes might have been, bashing them in public* (with real names & private details) makes YOU look bad and leaves a negative impression to those around you of the community as a whole as being drama-filled and conflict-ridden.

Oh, and also, wait until the story is actually published or broadcast before complaining about the person they're profiling. 1) You don't know how it's going to turn out - it may turn out in your favor and 2) that just gives them the opportunity to switch gears and highlight the community drama instead of whatever other angle they were originally going for.

I recommend sending this advice to all activists & community leaders. In order to protect the community and win battles, we need to present a unified front. That doesn't mean we should all be in lockstep, or even that we should never fight amongst ourselves, that means thinking 5 steps ahead and realizing what the media could do with a public disagreement. I also recommend that people don't contact the media themselves without the benefit of *some* kind of media training, where they might have learned tips like this one.

One of the ways that you can tell someone has no media training is when they talk about things they don't want the media to focus on.  One of the tips you will learn at PMA is to keep your shit separate.  When you do an article on polyamory, don't fucking talk about BDSM, or the SCA, or paganism, or people you don't like in the community.  If a person really is a bad representative of the poly community, YOU DON'T TELL THE MEDIA ABOUT THEM.  You don't give the media ammunition to publicize the wacky crazy shit you're trying to keep out of the media.  If the media brings something up that you don't want to talk about, you learn, through media training, how to minimize, de-emphasize, and redirect the interview to get off the subject.

But you absolutely, under no circumstances, point the media at someone or some exchange or some situation that you don't want highlighted in the media.  That's just dumb.

And if you do something like that, you have no grounds on which to be schooling ME on how to handle the media.



*Many times, anecdotes of relationships gone wrong can be very valuable for others to hear, especially within the poly community where newbies have no social role models and tend to reinvent the broken wheel every time.  An anecdote can be told to illustrate a point without mentioning the ex by name, without asking people to take sides, and without making the entire community look like nothing good ever happens there or scaring the newbies into thinking that if they make a mistake, they will forever be villified and publicly shunned.  "Bashing", as I use it, means to take private, personal details of the relationship and use them as a weapon to turn your ex into "the bad guy" in the community in a personal vendetta against him because you feel hurt.

There is room for exception here - if you are or know the victim of an assault or know of someone who is deliberately harming his partners (and by "deliberate", I mean, he either knows he's being harmful, or he doesn't realize he is, but has been told he is and dismisses it), I believe it's fair to warn others, such as what is currently happening in the BDSM community.  This is the type of situation that must be tread lightly, as sometimes people are just angry and they rewrite history from "we had a fight" to "he abused me".  There is no blanket rule for this.  Suffice to say that it's a situational circumstance that I am acknowledging exists even while I say, as a general guideline, bashing your exes publicly has social ramifications so it's probably better not to do it.

13th-Jan-2012 05:08 pm - You're Not My Metamour!
Purple Mobius, polyamory

Someone on Facebook was recently introduced to the term "metamour" and, after hearing the definition of "your partner's other partner", seems to have taken the stance that a metamour relationship is something you have thrust upon you, completely at the whim of the "person in the center". In fact, his exact quotes are:

"Apparently, it's the person at center's choice." and "The situation as I have read it here is a definition of a situation that was not chosen by the person given the title. It defines the sharing that is not sharing which starts as the middle person choosing to be with a and b but not ab."

This reminds me a lot of an argument in high school with very smart teenagers who like to argue philosophy and semantics as if their intelligence gives them insight into the world that the adults who came before them never grasped. Yes, I was one of those teenagers. The argument was on selfishness and whether there was any act anywhere that didn't ultimately boil down to selfishness. The argument goes that even altruism is a selfish act because people who perform acts of altruism do so because they feel good or otherwise get something out of it, ergo there is no such thing as an unselfish act.

Except, as I didn't realize at the time, the definition of selfishness requires that the person being selfish put himself at the top of the priority list even when it harms other people. Altruism, by definition, is not selfish. But, being smart and yet very young and arrogant, we were missing a fundamental part of the definition of the word that rendered all those hours debating this topic completely moot*.

Anyway, that's what this stance reminded me of. If you circled around and squinted your eyes, you could eventually reach the conclusion that you are given the title of "metamour" by the person you are dating whether you wanted it or not, that it's the choice of the "person in center" entirely. And I disagree.  You can continue to insist that the glass is half empty if you wish and it might be technically true if you ignore or are unaware of a particular necessary element, but I prefer to say that it's exactly 50% full of water and 50% full of air and therefore completely full.

I used the analogy that a person is given the title "fiance" when that person accepts a proposal of marriage, so the title comes along with the relationship. Afterwards, I think I have a better analogy. It's more like being given the title of sister-in-law or son-in-law when you get married. Technically, you are given that title whether you want to be someone's son-in-law or not. But there are 2 things that make being a metamour not exclusively the choice of someone other than you.

First is that, by agreeing to get into the relationship in the first place, you are also agreeing to be someone's metamour, or son-in-law. That just goes along with the romantic relationship - they're a package deal. You might not like the other person you are now tied to, but if you didn't want to be their in-law or their metamour, you don't have to be in a relationship with someone that includes that person.

You know that old saying, when you marry someone, you marry their whole family? Well, you do. You get whatever kind of relationship with your spouse's family that your spouse has with them. No, it's not the exact same relationship, but if you marry a mama's boy, you're gonna get the mother along with the son. If you marry someone who never sees her family, then you won't have much of a relationship with them either. Whoever your partner is attached to comes along, in some form or another, when they get involved with you, and your relationship to those other people is, in part, determined by the relationship between them and your partner who brought them along. If he's a hermit, then I guess you're off the hook.

Now some people manage to convince their partners to drop some family member or friend once the romantic relationship "gets serious". We all know the stereotype of a group of guys losing one of their best buddies because he got married and his wife doesn't like their weekly poker nights or football games. But I'd say that is more of an exception than the rule, because even if a lot of people manage to get their spouses to dump one friend or family member, the spouse still comes along with all their other friends, family, and co-workers.

We are a social species, we have attachments and alliances, and when we get involved with someone, we get all those attachments and alliances too, just as they get ours. That's part of the deal, and it's not like it's some big secret. As a matter of fact, "marriage" was initially all ABOUT those connections and alliances and love had nothing to do with it. The whole freaking point was to connect yourself to all these other people. So I don't think you can say that you just get this title assigned to you whether you like it or not. It's part of the deal that you agreed to.

Second, is that a metamour relationship is a relationship. The definition explains how you are connected, but it is a relationship all on its own. Just like being a daughter-in-law isn't only about "sharing" someone in the middle, it also explains what your relationship is to this other person. Also, just like being a daughter-in-law, there is a very wide variety in how that relationship can be expressed. Maybe you have no direct line of communication and you avoid each other, or maybe you're best friends, but the metamour connection is its own relationship.

Or, to put it in the original person's terms, "metamour" describes not only X with A and B but ALSO AB, the exact opposite of his claim that it describes "a and b but not ab".

Now, I'd wager that most of us don't have a sit-down with our fiance's brother to work out the boundaries and relationship details and how we're going to split our fiance/brother's time between us. Mostly, we just kind of meet the brother, see how we get along, and the in-law relationship develops on its own. If our fiance is very close with his brother, then before meeting him, we might have some idea of how our relationship with him ought to go, and we might try to direct the course of the relationship by intentionally trying to become his friend on the grounds that, if he's going to be around a lot, we ought to strike up some kind of alliance rather than be at odds.

And metamours are the same thing, just with more talking and usually more structure. Some of us have an idea in our heads before meeting the metamour of what kind of relationship we want to have with them, and we might try to steer our metamour relationship in that general direction. Some of us just wait until we meet the metamour to decide how we get along and how this will work into our lives. And still some of us have decided ahead of time exactly what kind of metamour relationship we will have and demand that it will work this way or not at all. Anyone who has ever had a pushy mother-in-law try to arrange your marriage for you knows that this is usually a bad idea, fosters resentment, and generally pisses people off. But some metamours try to do it anyway.

So, the point is that there are 2 ways in which the metamour relationship is a choice of all parties involved, and not some title bestowed upon you, whether you are willing to be one or not. As I said in my response to him, that since polyamory requires consent of all involved, that means, by default and definition, that you consent to be someone's metamour, and if you don't, it's cheating.

By agreeing to be in a romantic relationship with someone who has or will have another partner, you are, de facto, agreeing to be someone's metamour, just the way that agreeing to marry someone implies that you are agreeing to be someone's in-law (or, as I said in my original analogy, agreeing to marry someone makes you a fiance whether you want the "title" or not - the title comes along with the relationship). You cannot get just the person without everyone he or she is attached to (or will be attached to, if you are agreeing to open up a preexisting monogamous relationship). That is not polyamory, that is some other form of non-monogamy that doesn't include consent or ethics.

In addition, being someone's metamour, while defined by its connections, is not solely about the path of connections. Like all other genealogical connections, the metamour connection is also a relationship of its own. The reason why its definition is restricted to the connections is because, also like all other genealogical connections, there is no single way to be someone's metamour.  My cousin might be my dad's sister's child, but he's also my cousin - the boy I grew up playing soccer and climbing trees and sneaking through the space between the fence in my back yard and the fence in my neighbor's yard pretending we were hunting for buried treasure.

We cannot define these familial relationships by their content because the only thing they have in common is the connections of relationship that put them there. There is no constant of behaviour or emotional content that applies to all people in any given familial connection, as much as we might like to think there is, or as much as the media would like us to believe there is an ideal (or stereotypical) form of them. The stepmother is not always wicked, the father is not always distant but providing, the big brother is not always a bully, and the metamour is not always a rival.

What is always constant is how a person was given that title in the first place - by the connection (and even then there are multiple paths to any given title). You are someone's metamour because your partner has another partner. But you had to take on that title voluntarily by agreeing to a romantic relationship that includes metamours, and the "title" describes an independent relationship all on its own.

Which should serve to remind everyone that metamours are not something you have to put up with or tolerate, or even something you can dismiss and ignore. You agreed to be a metamour, and you have a relationship with that other person. Polyamory is not something you are forced to do - if you are forced into it, it's not polyamory. This is why people should never be grudgingly dragged into polyamory. Everyone has to agree and accept, because it's no longer about you and your spouse. It's about all these other people and your relationship to them. Your metamours are YOUR metamours. Yes, they are your partner's other partner, but they are also connected to YOU. Polyamory doesn't require that all metamours be BFFs, just like family doesn't require that all daughter-in-laws hate their mother-in-laws or all fathers and sons have male bonding moments over the exposed engine of a car. But it does require that you recognize that your metamour is a person and not some nebulous "other" floating out there on the far side of your "shared" partner, that this person is connected to YOU, and that you agreed to that relationship.

If any of those qualifications don't apply, it's not polyamory, and I'd suggest that it's also not healthy and you probably ought not to be there.




*For the record, I was on the side of "altruism is not selfish", but if I had known that about the definition, I could have won the debate from the start, instead of having to argue for, literally, hours about it with others who are also very smart but didn't know this was a fundamental part of the definition
12th-Jan-2012 01:04 am - Breakup Classifications
demure, sad, polite, boxed in, Misty in Box

My house is a mess from two trips that I haven't unpacked from (or cleaned up from the original packing frenzy), the cats have fleas, and I have 3 presentations to write in less than 3 months. So naturally I'm blogging.

I was listening to a new poly podcast called Pedestrian Polyamory. I'm not entirely sure what I think of it yet, but I do like the fact that they say right in their opening that they will be talking about polymory - not tantra or paganism or woo bullshit, just polyamory. I've listened to all their episodes so far and I haven't unsubscribed yet, unlike some other poly podcasts, so I guess I don't dislike it!

The latest episode is on breaking up, and one of the hosts, Shira, came up with some breakup categories. I like categories. I like things that organize and categorize and put things in places. So I decided to write up these breakup categories. She listed 3 types, but I'm going to start with 6 and maybe add to it if I think of more. I kept a couple of her titles, but not all of them, and the descriptions are my own. Because I just like how I put things :-)

  • Failure To Launch - This is a relationship that never really went anywhere. This is when you had a date or two or three, and the both of you just kind of fizzled out and stopped following through. Maybe there was no chemistry, maybe ya'll got busy doing other things, whatever, it just never really happened.

    IMO, these are the least problematic, but the hosts of the podcast seem to think that this kind of "breakup" (if we can call it that) makes for really awkward social events when you run into them later. Shira recommends having that final confrontation where it is established that this relationship really isn't going anywhere, to avoid the post-fade-party-meetup awkwardness. I've never really found it to be that much of a problem. If we're both fading away, then I don't see much reason to feel awkward about running into each other later, but maybe that's just me. Not that I disagree with the advice to communicate, just saying that I never noticed any particular awkwardness when my Failure To Launches failed to launch. But I could just be that socially oblivious.

  • The War - Unfortunately, I have had a few of these. This is, as Shira called it, a knock-down, drag-out battle. This is a fucking mess. This is a giant train-wreck of a scene with tears and shouting, and it might even last for a few days, or weeks. In my experience, this kind of breakup often spills over into the rest of the community.

    One of my War breakups involved literally shouting at each other on the sidewalk, with him calling me a slut and me calling him a fucking asshole and demanding my stuff back. He was also my co-worker. I'm actually pretty good about maintaining a professional relationship with my exes, but he made it impossible. He picked on me and argued and got snotty every time I came around. It got so uncomfortable that other coworkers started complaining and I had to request to be scheduled on days that he was not scheduled. Then there was the infamous Freaks List Incident, where he couldn't figure out how to unsubscribe from the mailing list that our social circle uses to keep in touch about events or write an email filter for it, so he decided to insult everyone in an effort to get himself banned from the list instead.

    This is where the phrase "poly people come with references" comes in. While not a guarantee, we can estimate someone's future breakup behaviour based on their past patterns. If he has a habit of big flaming breakups, if he doesn't stay friends with his exes, if all his exes talk shit about him, take that as a warning sign. As they say, if all your exes are crazy, the thing they have in common is you.

    With this ex, his last relationship was particularly turbulent. But hey, that could have been a fluke, right? Especially since I personally witnessed a lot of their fights and it really did seem like she was the instigator and the drama queen. But that was only a single data point. I should have had more, and then I could have known that he was a fucking lunatic too.

    My other big War breakup wasn't quite so dramatic. But lack of fireworks doesn't mean that it wasn't still a War - after all, the US spent years in a Cold War that was every bit as tense, if not as bloody, as a regular war. We bickered a lot, and our breakup finally came to a head with some rather unpleasant email exchanges. OK, that's bad enough, but it was what happened afterwards that was the real problem.

    After the breakup, even though we were both prominent figures in our local community, he started avoiding me. And I don't mean that he stayed home from a couple of parties. I mean that he attended those parties, said "hello" to everyone, and pointedly ignored me. Seriously. When he got a new girlfriend, he walked up to a group of about 6 or 7 of us standing in a circle, all of whom happened to also be friends of his. He introduced his new girlfriend to everyone in the group, by name, and skipped over me.

    "Hi, I want to introduce my new girlfriend, Rebecca. Rebecca, this is Calvin and Tom and Sarah and Jessica ... and Melanie and Bob." No lie, no exaggeration, no hyperbole, just some name changes. People still talk of that incident, and not because I bring it up.

    At all subsequent parties, he would leave the room if I walked in. I actually went from room to room once, just to see if it was a coincidence, but nope, he did it every single time I went in, even if he was in the middle of conversation with someone. This is also still talked about by people. In fact, a couple of people jokingly now have a pool every time we're at the same party, for how many minutes it'll take him to leave a room after I've entered it.

    There was one time he felt he had to speak to me, and this man whom I had been in love with and spent several years with and intended to spend several more with, addressed me by Ms. My-Last-Name. Now, that's rude enough, but 1) he broke up with me (twice) and 2) I have a particular pet peeve about being addressed by my last name, and he was well aware of it. In fact, not only had he and I talked about it on several occasions, but one time, someone he met online (who did not know that we were dating) actually gave him the URL to my LJ rant about formality and suggested that my then-bf lighten up and stop calling him "mr." if he expected to become friends.

    And the final straw was when I was invited to a combination party (the party was actually 4 different parties that were all happening at the same time/location) by the host of 3 of the 4 parties (I want to say it was 2 different birthday parties, a housewarming party, & something else). Well, the fourth party happened to be my ex's birthday party, so, as the host of that party, he actually emailed me after I had received an invitation and told me I was uninvited and not to come, in spite of there being 3 other parties with different hosts who *did* invite me, along with my current partners and friends.

    Once again, I didn't properly vette my prospective partner. He *claimed* to want to remain friends with his exes, but I hadn't met any of them. I did meet his other girlfriend, so I thought that gave me enough perspective, but it didn't. In fact, the primary motivation for him dumping me is also the primary reason why he ended up breaking up with that other girlfriend too, a few months later. Patterns ... patterns are very important.

    So, this didn't involve any shouting matches on the sidewalk, but this was a particulary nasty, ugly breakup. I am not a fan of the Wars and I look down quite a bit on those who insist on breaking up in this manner. IMO, all of my War breakups were completely unnecessary and left a lot of battle damage on everyone around them as well.

  • Resource Famine - This is when there just isn't enough time or attention or something to make the relationship work. Contrary to popular opinion, love does not conquer all and "all we need is love" is a falsehood. Relationships take effort to maintain. The good relationships don't feel like "effort" or "work" because we are receiving such joy and happiness from them. But it takes more than warm fuzzies to maintain a meaningful relationship with another person. What it does take depends on the people involved and the type of relationship. But it's possible to really and truly love another person and not make a good partner for them. If you don't have enough time, enough attention, hell, even enough money or interest in sex, loving the other person is not enough.

    Sometimes lacking the resources can turn into a War, but a Resource Famine breakup is specifically when it does not turn into a War. One person or both just decides that it's not working and the relationship ends. This doesn't mean that everything is all roses and sunshine either - breakups usually suck no matter how painless they are. But painful or not, not all breakups have to end in a knock-down, drag-out Battle To The Death.

  • Fade To Black - This was not listed by the Pedestrian Polyamory podcast. This is when two people just drift apart. Don't mistake this for the first category - Failure To Launch. This is when a relationship is actually underway. In fact, this can happen years into a relationship, even to people who have built a life together. Sometimes people just move in different directions, but there isn't any specific Bad Thing or hard times or even any dislike between the people. If the relationship never moves to the living-together stage, it could die out in the same way as the Failure To Launch, with times between phone calls growing longer and longer until eventually one or both of you realizes that you're just not dating anymore.

    I have two different examples of this. The first is my NSSO partner. I met him and his live-in partner when I first moved to Florida, nearly 11 years ago now. When we met online we just clicked. I mean we CLICKED. Things were going great, and when I went home for the holidays, I met him and his partner in person. Things continued to just click. I thought of him as a partner and a major part of my life. But over the years, with my trips home becoming more and more infrequent and our lives going in different directions (I became a poly activist, they withdrew from the poly community, stuff like that) we just sort of faded out. I have very fond memories of them and I would love to reconnect sometime. But neither of us has put forth any effort in the last couple of years and somewhere along the line, I stopped thinking of him as a partner. As far as I can tell, this was a mutual fading, and if a breakup has to happen, this is probably the least painful way to go.

    My other example is my current fuckbuddy. I like casual sex and I like having a regular fuckbuddy. But I also have a low sex drive. So when I have an ongoing romantic relationship that includes sex as well as love and friendship and companionship, I tend to have fewer resources for maintaining casual relationships. There is one guy who I still think of as a "current" partner. He is, in no way, suitable for a romantic relationship. We are just way too different. But I am not suitable for him either. So, just by coincidence, he and I happen to both want exactly the kind of casual sexual relationship that we started out with.

    But I also have 3 romantic partners right now, as well as running the orlandopoly group, which I have increased from just a monthly discussion meeting to a full-blown social club with no fewer than 3 social activities a month in addition to the discussion meeting. Add work on top of that, and my usual mountain of hobbies, and I just don't have the time or interest in a sexual relationship that isn't also providing me with something else. Especially not when my sex drive has plummeted again. When sex is the only purpose in your relationship, and you have no sex drive, that kind of defeats the purpose of the relationship.

    He's the same way - when he gets a "real girlfriend" (he's not poly), he stops calling me. When work for him picks up, he stops calling me. This is what I mean by coincidentally both wanting the same kind of relationship with each other. This doesn't bother me because it's how I think of him, and vice versa. We didn't put each other into a particular role, this is just how things worked out between us.

    So, basically, whenever we are both "between partners", we tend to call up each other. Well, I haven't been "between partners" in quite some time now, so our infrequent trysts have now gone for a few years between hookups. My casual partner and I never have any "breakup talk" - he never calls me up to tell me he has another girlfriend, I don't email him to explain that I won't be seeing him for a while. We just kind of don't call each other. We'll explain when the other one does call and we're not available, but since we don't call each other much to begin with, we don't go out of our way to notify each other.

    Because it doesn't look like I'll be "between boyfriends" anytime soon, this is probably another Fade To Black breakup for me. I don't even know if I can still legitimately call him my fuckbuddy since it's been so long since we hooked up. Really, the only reason I still think of him in that capacity is because I still intend to call him if I ever find myself in the realm of needing a casual fuck and I have no reason to think he wouldn't be amenable to the suggestion if I ever do. So, in my mind, it's not "over", exactly, it's just not "ongoing" either. But if I never see him again, this would be a pretty classic example of Fade To Black.

  • Culture Clash - This is where two people just fundamentally want different things out of their relationship. It's not exactly the same as the Resource Famine, because they might be putting as much time, energy, attention, whatever into the relationship as it needs, or as is reasonable. But I would say that the Culture Clash is related. This is your standard mono-poly relationship, where the poly person wants a poly relationship with poly people, and the mono person wants a mono relationship with the poly person and wants him to be mono too, and there is no getting around that - they want different things from their relationship.

    This is also the Conservative Traditionalist marries what turns out to be the Progressive Mate, stereotypically seen when a "family values" man expects his wife to quit her job and become the happy homemaker, and either she isn't happy with that role, or she was happy with it until the kids turned 18 and moved out, and she was left with no life and no identity, so she goes back to school and the husband flips out over her new short haircut, wearing jeans, swearing, and her sexy liberal Philosophy professor or aggressive Women's Studies instructor.

    Again, like the Resource Famine, sometimes it's possible to really and truly love someone and still not make a good partner for them. If two people want different, and incompatible things from their relationship together, love cannot always conquer all and sometimes all we need is more than love. In fact, two people who don't love each other can get along quite amicably for an entire lifetime if their goals for their relationship with each other are similar and their needs are being met. It's maybe not the life that I would choose, but it does serve to illustrate that love is not what makes the world go 'round.

    Also, like the Resource Famine, the Culture Clash can lead to a War breakup, but it can also be a breakup all on its own, with one or both people coming to the realization that they just want different things and choosing to bow out. My ex-fiance and I broke up this way. He wanted a wife and homemaker just like his mother and I wanted someone who wasn't a pathological liar and a coercive rapist. Apparently, these things were incompatible with each other, so I left, and it didn't turn into a War.

  • The Disappearing Act - I think I hate this one the most, even more than the War. This is where things appear to be going well and someone just disappears. It doesn't fade or fizzle out, things are actually moving and there's no indication from the magician that the end is nigh.

    I wrote about my last Disappearing Act too. The last words he spoke to me were "I love you and can't wait to see you again". And then, no call, no returned call, no text, no email, nothing. I thought he might have gotten into a car accident, except he kept logging onto his MySpace page (before Facebook).

    I finally drove all the way into Bumfuck Egypt where he lived and camped out in front of house house and waited for him to get home to confront him. It was a fairly civil conversation, where he listed all kinds of excuses why he couldn't call, couldn't borrow someone's phone, and had no interent but could still access MySpace. Then he promised to call me the next day. Of course, it was all bullshit, and he disappeared again. In the age of the internet, it's hard to disappear completely, so I know where he is. But he effectively pulled a Disappearing Act as a breakup technique.

    And it fucking sucks. This is one of the most painful ways to breakup, for me at least. It usually comes as a complete surprise, it gives me no explanation for what went wrong, nothing to fix or correct, and not even any chance to get my own say in. It's a cowardly way to breakup and I hate it and I hate the people who do it. And yes, I'm still angry over this, several years later. I don't give a fuck about the guy anymore, he's clearly an asshole and I'm better off without him. I'm angry at the idea of the Disappearing Act and how it demeans the person you disappear on.

    So there you have it, several different types of breakup, some of them better than others. Some people say there is no good way to breakup with someone, and while it may be true that there is no good way, much like there is no One Right Way to be polyamorous, but here are plenty of wrong, and more wrong than other, ways. The "right" way is a way that treats the other person with dignity and respect and gives them the opportunity to learn what went wrong, so that they can put the episode behind them and move on too. Maybe not all of our exes are as deserving of respect as others, but that is still the method that makes YOU a decent person, and someone worth taking a chance on dating. Remember my advice to become a friendly ex, if you have to breakup, and avoid the War or the Disappearing Act if it's at all within your power to avoid.


    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nsLQju2I0dU
10th-Jan-2012 04:02 am - Premature Poly Ejaculation
Purple Mobius, polyamory
Reading Robert Heinlein poly books is like the literary equivelent of having sex with a misogynistic premature ejaculator:
Oh, that's nice. That's good, yes, keep doing that. That's great! Almost there ... almost ... what do you mean you're done? Oh, well, that's OK, we can still ... you mean you're just stopping? Right there? But we're so close! If you just ... what do you mean it's all my fault? Yes women should be responsible for their own orgasms, but that doesn't mean you aren't supposed to contribute anything at all! This is supposed to be a shared experience! That doesn't make you a feminist, that makes you a shitty lover.

I don't think I'll continue wasting my time with a guy who may be decent at starting off, but stops short right when it starts to get good - not when there are plenty of other guys out there who can start out good and still follow through to the end, and who don't mask their condescension of women with intellectual snobbery.
10th-Jan-2012 03:25 am - Poly Irony
Purple Mobius, polyamory
Irony: a woman who helps adopted kids find their bio-families ranting about the "loose morals" of people who fall in love with more than one person, how it's impossible to love >1 because if you love #2 then you never loved #1 to begin with.

She apparently completely missed the part where us adopted kids love two moms and two dads. Which came first or second for me? Was it my adopted parents who came second, so I never really loved my bio-parents? Or was it my bio-mom since I didn't actually meet her until I was 30, so I never loved my adopted mom who raised me & cared for me & is responsible for the person I am now?

But it's DIFFERENT! You're not having sex with your parents!

That's true, but if sex is really the only defining element of your romantic relationships, if that's REALLY the only thing that sets your marriage apart from any other relationship you have, including your friends, then I have to say that I think I got the better deal.

Now, in MY relationships, if you took the sex away for some reason (like, say, a medical condition), my relationships would still be special, would still be set apart from my friends or my siblings, or my parents, or my pets, for instance.  My romantic relationships are intimate on so many different levels, and in so many ways, that removing the sex, while disappointing, would not sufficiently take away enough from my feelings for my partners to actually destroy the relationship, or even make it so much less somehow that they were indistinguishable from my friends, co-workers, and acquaintances.

And I have nothing but pity for those for whom sex is the ONLY thing of note in their primary romantic relationships (people who choose to have fuckbuddies are a different subject all together).  I also have nothing but pity for those for whom they completely become un-special just because their partners happen to do the same thing with them as with another person.  

I mean, if I had a partner who would cease to find me special just because some other woman cooked him dinner, or called him "honey", or was prettier than me, I don't think I would think much of that partner, or of my relationship with him.  My partners love me so much because of who I am, that I am not so easily replaced that anyone who can give a good backrub can come along and destroy my relationship.  But I guess that, if their relationships really are so tenuous, I would probably be hyper-sensitive and jealous if my relationships were that fragile too.

As for the "loose morals" and "being selfish" and "hurting others", really, I can't find any more ways to explain that it's the opposite of "selfish" (of or for one's self to the detriment of others) to feel happiness at your partner's happiness in his other relationships and it's not hurting someone when they gleefully accept the arrangement - you can only hurt someone if you do something they don't like and trusted you not to do, which is not the case in my relationships.  If you still believe it is even after I've said so in plain terms, you're just refusing to listen, and if you refuse to listen, there's nothing more to say to someone who is more interested in closing their mind than in respecting that other people have different wants, needs, desires, and preferences.  

No one is asking you to jump on the poly bandwagon, just stop insisting that what would make you miserable would make everyone else miserable, especially when you are told that some of us are not, in fact, miserable.
7th-Jan-2012 11:12 pm - Poly Movie Review: Family
Purple Mobius, polyamory
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1487166/ - IMDB
http://www.3dogpictures.com/ - Streaming
http://www.amazon.com/Family-web-Season-Amber-Rack/dp/B003A1JNN6/ref=sr_1_2?s=movies-tv&ie=UTF8&qid=1313445193&sr=1-2 - Amazon

I've posted about this show before, but I haven't done an official review yet. First of all, it's poly. It's about as poly as you get. Second, it's funny and weird. Third, I liked the first half better than the second half, but I liked it in general. Mostly it was just a couple of episodes in the second half that threw me off.

Family is the brain-child of Terisa Greenan, a polyamorous filmmaker in Seattle, WA. The show follows the lives of Ben, Gemma, and Stuart, a live-in triad (I get the impression that it's sexually a Vee, but they all consider themselves equal family, so that makes them a triad) that is very loosely based on Terisa's own life.

Each episode is roughly 7 to 10 minutes long and posted on YouTube, although there are 2 or 3 "uncensored" episodes that are posted elsewhere that doesn't have YouTube's ridiculous nudity taboo. We start out by just meeting the three main characters and getting a feel for how their family is arranged. My favorite episode is the second one, where the triad goes to a poly meeting. If you've ever been to a poly meeting and have a sense of humor about yourself, this episode will have you laughing out loud at the caricature painting of poly people.

The entire series is available as a DVD, and watching all episodes one after the other is about 3 hours, and worth the watch. The show covers things like adding new partners, getting along with metamours you don't like, meeting the "in-laws", dealing with conservative neighbors, and even dealing with the media.

About halfway through, though, the show takes a turn for the weird. It introduces some pretty bizarre characters and some of the plots have less to do with polyamory and more to do with just having strange people squatting in your garage, with a bit of psychosis-masquerading-as-woo thrown in for flavor. But it doesn't leave polyamory completely, and the series finale brings it back with a very serious issue that our main characters have to face together as a family.

The production quality is pretty good, and although the acting is a little wooden, it's not so terrible that it distracts from my enjoyment of the show in general. Really, the crazy characters starting about 8 or 9 episodes in was more distracting than any less-than-stellar acting.

I definitely recommend watching this show and, like Summer Lovers, no list of poly movies would be complete without it.

Purple Mobius, polyamory

Someone recommended this movie to me as a poly movie, and I can see why he did, but I have to disagree. I don't think this was a poly movie. I think this movie had a poly character in it, but the movie was not polyamorous. As far as enjoyment goes, my tastes run towards the banal and crude - I like action flicks and screwball comedies. I've written several times that I just don't get artsy films or foreign films made during the sexual revolution when things were all experimental and everything looked like the writers and directors were permanently on LSD.

So you might like this film if your tastes differ from mine - don't avoid seeing it on the basis of my personal enjoyment if you happen to be into artsy or foreign or '60s movies. And as far as artsy or foreign or '60s movies goes, this wasn't even all that horrible. It didn't have the bizarre music or jump cuts of A Woman Is A Woman. But, probably because of the difference in cultures, I just didn't find this movie very interesting or the characters very compelling. I know, there's irony in that statement after admitting that I like movies like Caddyshack. But it's the truth, I found the movie just kind of blah. However, I can see other people enjoying it. I have lots of friends who like lots of movies that I don't enjoy, and I can see some of them really liking this film.

As for the poly stuff, the plot is about a married man who loves and adores his wife and kids, but who falls in love with another woman. According to my movie guidelines, cheating movies do not get added to the list, but a movie where the cheater genuinely loves both of his partners and there is some outside constriction preventing them from living honestly (such as social taboos) may be exempted and be added to the list.

Francois loves Therese, his wife. He's very happy with his life, content. But then one day he meets Emilie. And he falls immediately in love. This was his first strike against him, for me. I don't much hold with the love-at-first-sight bullshit. I believe people can have instant attractions to each other, and then sometimes, by coincidence, they are attracted to people who happen to also be compatible to them, so the attraction-at-first-sight can blossom into a true love, and it is when that happens that people think they fell in love at first sight. But we don't hear epic tales of attraction-at-first-sight that then turns out poorly. It's a matter of confirmation bias, or the Fake Boob/Toupee fallacy (I can always spot fake boobs/toupees because they look fake, except when they don't and I can't). Love at first sight is real, except when it isn't.

Anyway, so Francois falls in "love" with Emilie and immediately begins an affair with her. As I said, cheating movies don't make the list, but loving both partners might exempt it, so this movie could have been added to the list. The reason why it's not is because of the ending, which changes the whole tone of the movie into "multi-partner relationships are Wrong and Bad", and which I'll go into under the cut.

***SPOILERS***Collapse )

Although Francois said a lot of very good poly lines, this movie had that elusive and hard-to-quantify tone that implies, to me, that non-monogamy is bad. As I said in the guidelines, it's not whether a movie ends happily or tragically, or whether a multi-adult relationship breaks up or stays together - it's what the movie says about non-monogamy that puts it on the poly-ish movie list or not. And, in spite of the main character clearly being about loving multiple people, this movie said to me that non-monogamy is cruel and wrong and that a happy nuclear family is the goal.

I think one could defend some ambivalence in the message, with Francois being written sympathetically and not as a villain, so I don't actually recommend that ya'll avoid seeing this movie. It may be worth your time. But I think that the way things were wrapped up, ambivalence aside, the message was more pro-nuclear-family than pro-consider-alternatives, so I will not include it on the list, but I will suggest that people might want to see this movie if they're into French cinema or if they want to hear a protagonist defend the idea of loving two women at the same time.

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