(Sorry for email subscribers: I reblogged the wrong post!)
I highly enjoyed this entry on the vision of polyamory the mainstream media is presenting as “normal” – the concept that it starts with a monogamous couple who decide to include other relationships of lesser importance (secondaries) which are regulated by many rules the secondary did not help create, and for which the “primary” partner holds veto. The author makes it clear that although it *is* one version of polyamory, it is by far not the only, or even the most common one. For example, these “polynormative” images assumes heterosexuality, whereas most of us queerdoes have been involved in some form of non-heirarchal poly at one point or another, and yet the media *never* portrays poly as a queer thing (my partner Winter would point out this would have to do with trying to legalize same sex marriage, making all media visages of lesbian and gay relationships identical to heterosexual monogamy). Also, it is rare to see POC represented in these portrayals of polyamory, unless their race is used to show their “exotic beauty”.
Anyway, I don’t want to give away the entire post, but it is incredibly on-point and wittily written in regards to the real depth and breadth of poly relationships and how they are homogenized for television. Kudos to the author for speaking out instead of toeing the line on this one.
Polyamory is getting a lot of airtime in the media these days. It’s quite remarkable, really, and it represents a major shift over the last five to ten years.
The problem—and it’s hardly surprising—is that the form of poly that’s getting by far the most airtime is the one that’s as similar to traditional monogamy as possible, because that’s the least threatening to the dominant social order.
Ten years ago, I think my position was a lot more live-and-let-live. You know, different strokes for different folks. I do poly my way, you do it your way, and we’re all doing something non-monogamous so we can consider ourselves to have something in common that’s different from the norm. We share a certain kind of oppression, in that the world doesn’t appreciate or value non-monogamy. We share relationship concerns, like logistics challenges and time management and jealousy. So we’re all in this…
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Great article! I especially liked the advocacy for non-hierarchical terminology, and this: “…These posts are a crash course in basic human decency. That they are even remotely necessary, to say nothing of extremely popular, is really fucking disturbing.”
That being said, it’s bad that the television misrepresents and homogenizes polyamory… but not particularly surprising. Television misrepresents and homogenizes *everything*. That doesn’t mean we should put up with it, of course…
I guess after “Dr. Phil” started presenting poly, that folks like me got the idea of ‘polynormativity.’ However, now that I think about it, that is just as confining as the sexual dyad model of humanity – either you are a girl or a boy…. However, think of it in these terms, a very vanilla person like me would have shuddered at the thought of multiple partners as a family a few years back. Now, I get to the point, gee there are other folks who do things different. For the record, I have been married to the same man for 35 years, and I discovered that that longevity in marriage or a relationship is quite rare. So I think the culture likes to idealise things that actual people are *not* doing but don’t want to rock the boat since they think that perhaps other people are doing them. Turns out few people are.