The Privilege of Polyamory

A controversial perspective on polyamory.

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Phew. That was a frustrating read.

The article starts with cheeky quotation marks around the word “radical,” calling into question just how revolutionary non-monogamy and open relationships really are.  That undermines the fact that non-monogamy is, in fact, still a radical concept from the mainstream. That’s why people in open relationships often fall on the fringe of socially acceptable and are labelled “hedonistic,” “greedy,” and even “confused.”

Fine, if you don’t think these relationship styles are radical, at least don’t diminish the validity of poly/non-mon relationships:

…someone working on minimum wage unsupported by their family might not have the time or resources to invest in developing multiple relationships—if they had a Google Calendar, it would probably be filled with work or time spent helping family members, not dinner dates.

To reduce poly/non-mon down to petty “dinner dates” completely trivializes the many meaningful relationships that comes from such a lifestyle. Onto the socioeconomics: Google Calendar is free. Not sure why someone on minimum wage can’t have it. In addition to being in a polyamorous relationship, I also fill my time work and family and grocery shopping and cooking and cleaning and all those other day-to-day activities that make up basic lower-class existence. I have been poly/non-mon while working for minimum wage. It’s completely doable.

Now, let’s take the “privileges” involved in poly/non-monogamous relationships that the author mentions: some degree of financial freedom, leisure time (which means a certain kind of job and life structure), urbanism (access to a pool of people to date), being conventionally attractive. Funny… aren’t all of these involved in just dating and relationships in general, never mind poly/non-mon scenarios?

Moving on:

Anyone who participates in polyamory MUST recognize that your ability to “be poly” is not a given—you are goddamn lucky to be able to be in a place (physically, socially, financially) where you can love freely.

Personally, I do feel extremely lucky to be able to engage in a poly lifestyle. But the same can be said about being openly LGBT. Should those of us who are able to openly practice and discuss our sexuality be made to feel bad because not everyone can? That does not seem like a healthy or logical approach.

Then the author gets to her solution to all of this self-entitled, snobbish poly/non-mon behaviour:

…I prefer the idea of actively working to expand and share privileges. Some “white” privileges, for example, like being treated nicely by the cops, are things that I believe everyone should have.

Absolutely, I couldn’t agree more. But you’ll get more bees with honey. I practice a poly/non-mon lifestyle and I have a firm finger on the pulse of access and privilege around sexuality (I’ve worked in young people’s sexual health for several years). I don’t appreciate the snarky tone of this article that suggests poly/non-mon folks are privileged pricks. Poly people who appreciate being poly, who don’t feel it is the “right” way to be, and who don’t assume it can work for anyone exist. We are out there. And your perspective does not acknowledge us.

All that being said, if you’re talking about mainstream media’s representation of polyamory, then shit yes it’s problematic and privileged and skewed. But that is a problem with the media, not with polyamory.

The author also links to “Black Girl Dangerous” for 9 strategies for non-oppressive polyamory.

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