The angry response to this concept that is so intriguing manifested after xoJane published what appears to be a controversial post by Angi Becker Stevens, titled simply “My Big Polyamorous Wedding.” In it, Stevens explains her plans to marry her boyfriend of several years — but plot twist: she’s already married, and planning to remain wed to her first husband.Some people consent to, and want, things other people do not want. Why is that so hard to understand?
Now, xoJane is a site where most posters and commenters are feminist and “sex positive,” but the response was overwhelmingly negative in the comments section. A small level of grudging acceptance was often appended with a “I don’t really like this, but …”, and even that was rare. Most posts demonstrated a visceral level of discomfort, fear, or otherwise disapproving assessment of Stevens’ life. (A life, we might add, that all parties involved seem to have chosen happily.)
She points out that people quite often approach romantic or sexual relationships differently than they approach anything else in life...
Force or coercion is generally considered to be poor form, and socially discouraged — but if partners are not on the same “marriage timeline” we are, we’re advised by nearly everyone to force their hand on the matter or bail, never to consider that the decision is heavy and one to be arrived at when both parties are comfortable.Again, it isn't true that every person wants exactly the same thing when it comes to relationships as everyone else. And that's OK!
And if you question these unshakeable tenets — that there are minefields full of dealbreakers, that it’s “a breakup because it’s broken,” that “he’s just not that into you,” that tactical plays are the best route — you’re seen in one of two ways. Females are repeatedly told that it’s about “self worth,” and are called “doormats,” while men are accused of being “commitment-phobic,” “manchildren,” or simply are labeled cads.
In our strangely unformed collective opinion, you’re either the player or the played, so best to be on the offensive — a proposition we imbue with the collateral of divorce, expensive jewelry, or simply punitive use of affection. As a standard!
As such, we’ve arrived in 2013 with a post-women’s lib society and an adversarial playing ground for love. Or, at its bare bones, we no longer need the “sexual economy” on which marriage was based for so long. And in the absence of the sex for security exchange, we cling to the bizarrely dated, long-obsolete truths of monogamous marriage like some old harvest sacrifice, adhering to superstition and divination to declare certain certainties for which there really is no hard and fast rule.
She cites the negative comments left after the article, bashing polyamorous people.
It goes on — but the ambient theme in the discussion of polyamory vis a vis gay marriage is fear. Fear we will be forced to “share,” fear that the promised happy ending will look different than what we’ve seen on Pinterest, fear that, most of all, our commitments will be tested time and again rather than a foregone conclusion, a Rachel McAdams and Ryan Gosling kiss in the rain, a post-script to the story of how we “got” the guy or girl — as if a person were a thing to get.
It seems the question of whether polyamory is the next gay marriage is secondary to the real question — why does every major divergence from “one man, one woman” terrify us so intensely, and why do we continue to indulge the idea others’ choices disrupt or even threaten our own?
Gay marriage has, in reality, always existed. So has polyamory. It is just that we're no longer going to force everyone into a closet unless they stick with a narrow heteromonogamous stay-within-your-race mold. Those days are over. Good riddance! Get used to it.