Monday, June 20, 2011

Ryanne Writes About Her Wife, Polyamory, and Solidarity

Sadie Ryanne writes about her relationship with her wife and her lovers in this primer for polyamory, and explains the problem with “compulsory monogamy.” A few of the words in the long essay wouldn’t pass US FCC broadcast restrictions. It is a great read.

Top three questions I receive from monogamous people about polyamory:

Q: Isn’t that cheating?
A: No. Mutually consenting to date or have sex with other people bears no resemblance to lying or breaking promises.
Q: Is that like polygamy?
A: No. Polygamy (meaning “many wives”) [she means polygyny] is a sexist, patriarchal religious institution in which one man has authority over multiple women. This is nothing at all like polyamory, which is a system in which people of all genders freely negotiate the terms of their relationships with multiple romantic and/or sexual partners.
Q: Don’t you get jealous?
A: No. (Read on if you’re curious…)

The other most common misconception about polyamory is that it just means “having multiple sexual partners.” Close… but, wrong!


Honestly, the biggest barrier to making polyamory work is not jealousy. It’s compulsory monogamy.

Like queer and trans relationships in most places, poly relationships are not legally recognized and face a whole host of political and social barriers. We live in a culture that is fanatically invested in monogamy, and does just about everything it can to discourage and punish polyamory. It teaches every one of us from birth that non-monogamy is one of the most horrible things a person can do.

And yet lifelong monogamy is not the norm.

Poly people face bigtory and discrimination all over the place. I’ve had people who totally accepted my being trans and my queer lovers, but who balked at my being poly. Relatives who accept my gay marriage start to question how “serious” my fiancee and I are only when they discover that we’re poly.

This is why education and solidarity are important.
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