Of course, people who have had bad experiences with poly can talk about them. I mention all the time the things that can and have gone wrong, but polyamory does have a particular ethos and social psychology to it whether or not everyone is actually living up to that. Making it sound like the ethos is just more patriarchal duping and using of women is counter-factual. Here are some more specifics that I take issue with:

Historically, monogamy hasn’t been particularly great for women. But, then again, neither has any other relationship structure.

Where are the supports for this? Up until the widespread adoption of patriarchy about 10 thousand years ago, human beings lived in highly egalitarian and cooperative societies where women were quite often not only on equal footing but were revered. Being in pair-bonded relationships did not impinge upon that. She’s making an assertion based on assumptions without actually knowing what she’s talking about.

“When analysed from a feminist perspective the much-vaunted revolutionary changes can look merely cosmetic,” Jeffreys writes. She explains that in the 60s a wider range of sexual practices such as oral and anal sex became normalized — practices which primarily benefit men.

Conflating the failures to equality that the so-called sexual revolution did not bring in the 1960s and 1970s with modern-day polyamory is an apples to oranges comparison. She’s talking about free love (which is essentially what we call swinging today) with polyamory. She’s also acting like women don’t ever enjoy oral and anal sex — that it’s only done for the benefit of men. That’s gross hyperbole to suit her worldview.

“In many cases, it is the husband who initiates swinging contacts and then either persuades or browbeats his wife into “going along”.”

  • Anticlimax, pg. 134

I don’t know when that book was published or when that quote refers to but in current time it is overwhelmingly women who initiate opening monogamous relationships up. “Two-thirds of open marriages are initiated by women says a survey from OpenMinded.com, a website for open marriage dating that polled 64,000 couples.”

Feminists want to end objectifying and exploitative sex, which is apparently the cornerstone of gay male culture.

Wow — talk about condescending!! I also know a lot of women who engage in BDSM and find it very empowering. Deciding for other people what their lives are like and what kind of sex is appropriate for them is not feminism — it’s internalized patriarchy where everyone must always be ranked against oneself to see if they are lower or higher on the dominance hierarchy.

Women have been psychoanalyzed, therapized, and philosophized into wanting sex that they never desired in the first place.

This makes it sound like women are not inherently sexual beings just as men are. That’s completely dehumanizing. If she wants to talk about specific instances where women’s sexuality was coopted to meet male expectations, then have at it, but this makes it sound like women don’t even enjoy sex and have to be coerced into it.

The historical reality is that increased sexuality in society has never been the choice of women.

What does she base that assertion on? I know plenty of women, including myself, who have benefited greatly from loosening sexual mores which gave them greater access to and exploration of their true sexual selves. Even this quote that she thinks supports her thesis actual supports the exact opposite.

“Polyamory for me wasn’t a decision I made based on a deep, long-standing feeling of it being who I am. To be honest, it was based largely on sex… and the need to express myself and the love I carry through it.”

The writer of this quote is saying that she is expressing herself and her love through sexuality. That’s exactly the core of polyamory, but the author seems to have some kind of prudish notion about the appropriate way for women to express themselves and love that is not that. Again, the internalized patriarchy pretending to be feminism.

In a sex-obsessed culture driven by male sexual desire, we should expect polyamory to function similarly. This, of course, does not let monogamy off the hook. Many women in monogamous relationships are at the whims of their husband or boyfriend’s porn-fueled sexuality, often pressured to engage in sex acts they don’t desire. The only difference is that in polyamory, women are subjected to the sexual whims of multiple men.

Wrong! Again, she is conflating things that do not necessarily go together. There may indeed be women who find themselves pressured into doing things that their men have seen in porn, but those aren’t polyamorous women. When you don’t have all of your eggs in one basket so to speak, if someone is demanding something of you that you don’t want, you leave them and find a different polyamorous partner that better suits your needs/wants. Also, because polyamory fosters individuality rather than co-dependency, poly women are more likely to have the inner resources and the more partnership-oriented relationships that enable them to say no to something that they don’t want. And then there’s the fact that their partners also have other options to go find someone who does want to engage in the same things as they do and they can still maintain their relationship.

She’s trying to look at polyamory through the eyes of monogamy and that isn’t going to work. The poly revolution is being led by both men and women who are rejecting patriarchal norms of control and unequal power dynamics. The fact that not every single person who claims to be poly is demonstrating that doesn’t mean that it isn’t the case.

In other words, she has no real idea what she’s talking about but has simply constructed a scenario to suit her premise. To me, that’s not only condescending but it’s extremely lazy writing. It’s also totally heteronormative. Lots of poly relationships involve same-sex lovers, as well as opposite-sex ones. The entire thing is really off-base, as was pointed out by a lot of the other people who left comments.

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Dispelling cultural myths with research-driven stories. My favorite word is “specious.” Not fragile like a flower; fragile like a bomb! Twitter @ElleBeau

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