Monday, April 8, 2013

Misrepresenting Polyamorists

All too often headlines are written in a way so as to impugn polygamy or some form of polyamory, like "Polygamist Arrested for Murder" or something along those lines. We never see headlines like "Monogamist Arrested for Murder." Whether someone commits crimes are not is usually not related to whether they person is a monogamist or a polyamorist of some sort, including being a polygamist.

A recent example is a criminal case of out England involving someone portrayed as a polyamorist. It's a good thing that some people are speaking up about this, like

One of the things about living as a member of a minority social group is that you tend to be on the lookout for things in the news that might affect how people think of you. It's not just about curiosity - it's also about fear, and pain. It's about the experience, time and again, of saying who you are and how you live and love, and being met with fear, confusion, misinformation and disgust.

Now, another news source has found another way in which the Philpott family can be used to demonstrate how a particular group of people are depraved.
Bashing "others" is nothing new, unfortunately.
For example, the article claims that polyamorous relationships subordinate women. But Dr Christine Campbell, Senior Lecturer in Psychology at St Mary's University College, says: "This is absolutely without foundation. There is no research which has found this to my knowledge. In fact the most common poly relationships are found between homosexual men. Research suggests that at least 50 per cent of gay male relationships are consensually non-monogamous in some form or another (some estimates put it as high as 75 per cent) . . . Who takes advantage of whom in a same-sex poly relationship?"

Sarah Brown, Lib Dem councillor for Cambridge, told me: "The BBC's article paints a very inaccurate view of polyamory. The concentration on women being 'pressured' into them by men ignores the existence of all-women polyamorous relationships, such as mine, as well as a number of other kind of poly relationship structures. Polyamorous relationships take many diverse forms. The idea that it's all about a man having a harem is an unhelpful stereotype. The issue here isn't polyamory. The issue here is abusive relationships, and most of those involve only two people."
Yes, let's not forget that supposedly monogamous relationships are sometimes abusive ones.

Dr Thom Brooks, the academic approached for the BBC piece, is not an expert on polyamory, and was according to his twitter feed unaware of the purpose of the piece in which he's quoted. Throughout the piece, the terms polyamory and polygamy are used interchangably, and the title of the piece, 'Philpott fire deaths trial shines light on polyamory', clearly implies a link between ethical non-monogamous polyamory such as my family with the actions that led to the deaths of six children.
Polyamorists shouldn't be misrepresented, nor stereotyped. Most aren't polygamists. Some are abusers or otherwise criminal. Others are great citizens and may be people you love, respect, and admire. Polyamorists are a very diverse sociological group. As far as lies about polygamy, see this entry.
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1 comment:

  1. "Polygamist Arrested for Murder"

    Murderer AND polygamist.
    NOT murderer BECAUSE polygamist.

    Should I think that playing the drum is a bad thing if I drummer killed his family?


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