Sexist Bullshit

I was trying to write a post about something to do with my husband and I as a poly couple, so I looked for a picture to illustrate the idea. I Googled “polyamory,” and was really unhappy with what came up.

Nearly every image that appeared on my search was of a guy with two women!

Even the images that were not people somehow implied that polyamory means two woman and one man.

Google is portraying polyamory (loving several people of any gender) as synonymous with the type of polygamy (the term used for the men who marry several women) in Mormon and other cults.

This makes me angry because it is some sexist bullshit.

 

I disagree with Polygamy as it is practiced in cults like the FLDS, because I used to volunteer at a shelter for homeless teens. Over the years we got several young boys who had been run off the Mormon compound in Colorado City. They nearly all killed themselves because of the horror of being rejected by their cult, and because they were taught that they would be nothing in the after life unless they had several wives.

Why were these boys run off? Well obviously, that would be so fat old men could marry the girls their age.

Gross.

Polygamy is always bad for boys from families without power, and bad for women overall. I base this on reading Under the Banner of Heaven and Escape in part. But I also base it on statistics and personal experiences. I have a lot of data that I have collected over the course of my life, and a lot of it relates to how Polygamy is the main cause of abuse and child abandonment everywhere it is practiced.

So to see my relationship orientation of Polyamory portrayed as a man with multiple women and nothing else in Google makes me sick. I actually felt physically ill scrolling through the pictures.

Not only did the search results conflate Polyamory with Polygamy as if they are the same, but I had another issue as well.

As a woman, I felt underrepresented.

Where are the pictures of women like me with our many boyfriends at our feet? Why was there no woman at the center of a bunch of men? Where were the pictures that accurately depicted my life?

Feeling angry, I did a Google search specifically for polyamory MMF (male-male-female) couples. Only then did I see a few images of a woman with two men.

I was disappointed that there were no women with a harem, but at least Google thinks a woman can date two men. (Although the default is a man with two women.)

And yet there was something even worse:

It was literally all pictures of three people. Just three. So apparently that’s all you get! My husband can date or I can date, but we cannot both date different people. And that cuts to the heart of it:

Polyamory is more than two.

I have boyfriends and girlfriends. My husband has boyfriends and girlfriends. Those people also date other people. So it is a lot more than two people involved.

Another important point:

Polyamory is not about orgies. I am sick to death of my husband and I saying we are poly, and guys turning to him and saying “You must get so much ass.” First, he really doesn’t because he is kind of a disaster of a person a lot of the time.

Second, it is not my job to “share” the people I date with him. I do not look for people to convince to join us. I look for people who want to date me by myself. So there are nearly no orgies and there are not even a lot of threesomes.

We date other people. But, the important point is: We do it separately.

See, it’s not about orgies or threesomes. It’s about how we love the feeling of falling in love. We love getting to know people in that way that you can only do in bed. We love variety, and we love learning new things about the world from new people.

For example: I have a thing for scientists and engineers. I love laying in bed and talking about experimental particle physics or aerospace engineering with the guy next to me. I love hearing about the latest in gene research from the girl in my bed. I love getting to hear their innermost thoughts on how our species is progressing.

And the thing I love the most about my husband is that he understands me, and he respects that I like to go off on tangents and explore things.

In fact, he likes that I come back with cool stories and facts. He enjoys my adventures from the perspective of a friend sharing exploits, and as a husband who likes to know that other men and women find his wife desirable.

From my perspective, I like him dating because he gets to be around girly girls who like makeup and hair. I will never be one of those girls, but I know he loves all of that. Plus I know he likes to be dominant in bed sometimes, and that is just not our dynamic. So, I like that he can have that with other people. And like him, I like knowing that the person I am mated to is desirable to others.

In other words: Polyamory is more than two people. That doesn’t mean three. It means more than two. (Sometimes lots more than two.)

And, in spite of the sexist bullshit, it can be just as rewarding for a woman as it can be for a man. I believe very strongly that this is my orientation, and that I have always felt differently about relationships than monogamous people. I don’t feel at a disadvantage as a poly woman. I don’t think the Google search results reflect my experience at all. And, I hope other women won’t be discouraged by the fact that cultural feelings about polyamory are widely sexist.

Views on us might be sexist, but we are not.

Note: And for the record, both my husband and I are feminists.

Communication is so Important

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I have done a lot of posts about poly couples. Obviously it’s a very complicated subject and everyone sets their own relationship rules and boundaries because there isn’t really any standard expectations in a poly relationship.

However, one thing that is always important is communication.

Not long ago, my husband and I had an experience with a vanilla friend of mine who came to visit. She doesn’t often have sex and is nervous around men, so it seemed like it would be good for her to experiment a little in a safe environment. (With my husband because she is straight.)

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However, because she is vanilla, she is uncomfortable talking about sex at all; let alone handling how to talk to me about having sex with my husband.

I really didn’t want to push her boundaries and I didn’t want to force her into a conversation that would be emotionally difficult for her. So, I didn’t. I let her pretend that nothing happened in the morning and I joined her in whatever topic she introduced for conversation.

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After all, respecting other people’s boundaries in one of the most sacred rules of the kink community.

However, it did make me feel icky to not talk/gossip about it afterwards.

I knew that she had only had sex with a few people in her life, and that she wasn’t even cool really talking about dating (she always got uncomfortable and standoffish when I brought it up). I was glad that my husband could help her learn that men are not all scary creatures that you can’t communicate your needs to. I know it was positive for her to be able to have a safe sexual experience that she could use to help her feel more courageous about pursuing romance on her own in the future.

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However, I did feel that the lack of direct communication between her and I was upsetting for me. (Of course she is my friend and it was my idea because it has always bothered me that she was afraid of sex/dating.)

I guess I just wanted to say that there is no way to overstate how much healthy communication can help make situations more comfortable and positive for everyone.

In this case, I suppose she’ll keep being my friend as she always has. And maybe in time she will get to a place where she can talk about it. Obviously my husband and I talked about it in detail, as we always do. But no two people ever have the same experience, and each person ascribes their own meaning to things that happen to them. I would have liked to have heard her perspective and been able to share the experience from her side.

Monogamous vanilla people are fine, and I am not saying otherwise. But it does make me appreciate my kinky and poly friends just a tiny bit more. And of course, it makes me appreciate that my husband is able to communicate about things. We would be lost without that.

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Big Love

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I recently had someone tell me that I should watch “Big Love” because I am Poly. Obviously I was insulted that my lifestyle was compared to the abusive relationships that some Mormons promote, but I agreed to “keep an open mind” and watch it anyway.

Big Love is about an oppressive system of control imposed by a faction of the Mormon religion. All of the Mormon religion teaches women to shut up and obey, and so I hate it in general. But in specific, those who follow the polygamy path are awful. They kick boys out of their homes when they are 14 or 15 because they don’t want them to get interested in ┬áthe girls. And the girls they marry to old, misogynistic men who are often decades older than them.

So for the record, I am deeply offended by everything to do with this show, even before it was compared to my lifestyle.

There are so many differences between the kink style of poly love and the Mormon idea of it that I hardly know where to begin. I guess I should note that kids and religion are not necessary parts of the poly lifestyle for kinky folks. For me personally, I can not have children and I am not religious. Those things do not factor at all into my life, even a little. Also, when poly people choose to have children, they think it through, They’re not tying to overrun the earth with children of their religion. They’re not breeding for the sake of breeding. Poly couples do not think of children as tools in a war against Satan. They think of them as tiny people, because that is what they are.

The show is centered around religion, and they live their lifestyle because they believe in a god who wants them to have an unnecessary amount of children. I can’t tell you how horrible I find that. Those poor women!

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Also, while the show is centered around the historical Mormon practice of a man having multiple wives, all the wives are expected to be monogamous with their one husband. Some kink couples may choose to have a poly/monogamous relationship. But it is a choice not a requirement, and it is the exception rather than the rule. Poly life usually means freedom for BOTH partners; not just the man.

(I did have one poly/monogamous relationship. He just didn’t seem to be able to find any other girl that would date him. Poor thing. But I wasn’t going to let that stop me from living MY life. It lasted nearly a decade and I think we were both happy, though he sometimes struggled to manage his jealousy.)

Anyway, if you’ve ever read Escape by Carolyn Jessop, you know that Polygamous compounds are full of unspeakable abuse. They make it look cute in the show, but it’s NOT. I am from Arizona and I have seen boys come through the shelter I volunteered at after being run off the compound in Colorado City. Not only were these boys uneducated and afraid, but they missed their families, who tossed them out like trash so they wouldn’t “steal” the young girls in the compound.

Meanwhile women are only dumped in the desert after they have had all the children they can. Often once they reach menopause a husband will decide they are useless and just drive them off the compound and leave them, forbidding them to come back or see their children. And because these folks give birth at home and don’t file birth certificates with the state, the women have no way to prove that they even have children, (nor any money to fight a court case.)

I actually can’t list all the ways that this show glorifies a horrible and abusive lifestyle. I can’t begin to describe my revulsion at the abuse in Colorado City and other Mormon Compounds in Mexico, the USA, and Canada. But I must insist that being a Mormon Polygamist is NOTHING like my lifestyle at all.

In the kink community, we are all equal. We all deserve respect. And I think none of us would support the lifestyle depicted in “Big Love” for the same reason we don’t support the relationship described in “50 Shades of Grey;” because we don’t tolerate abuse. Our object is to be open-minded, not closed-minded. And I think that is a worthy goal for anyone, kinky or not.

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