Sunday, August 8, 2010

On Poly and Paganism.

Not specifically magical, no, but I figured I'd chime in a short bit on the conversation starting about Poly and Paganism. First I was reading Robert over at Doing Magick, and his response to Bonnie's post over at her blog, so then I went there and read from the horses.. mouth? Whatever.

First I am going to start by stating that I don't view myself, or my fellow polyamorists as a community. I don't. I don't view monogamists as a community either. I do view us as a sexual minority, and lump us into that realm of other sexual minorities that want our right to be left alone to do as we please. Maybe get married. Maaaybe.

My partner's other significant other, was starting to get involved into poly community building, and the stories he would bring home would set me teeth on edge. There were seminars on media preparedness, and eye gazing, and a bunch of honkey bullshit that gave me a visible eye twitch. But then I tend to have a problem with people telling me how to act or what to do, even "my own". At BEST I would consider us a subculture. Community speaks of rules, standardization, and most of all organization. Poly tends to be as organized as a flash mob pillow fight.

Now, I will say that there are a lot of poly folk in the Pagan community. (I do consider Pagans a community!) That said, in the broader pagan community, we're still a sexual minority, though less of one. There are plenty of Pagans who are monogamous, in fact all of the Asatruar that I know, save one, are all monogamous. And many people who are polyamorously oriented, over a long enough period of time, end up with one or maybe two primary partners to accompany them into their golden years. Though, many people in their golden years, previously monogamous, take up swinging, oddly enough.

I am not going to discount, or critique Bonnie's experience, I will however counter with my own. I've been in poly relationships for close to a decade now, and before that I always thought the idea would be awesome if it could work, though I didn't know it had its own name. Though in the Pagan scene poly is more or less accepted, in the rest of the world it is not so much. Especially so from a legal stand point of benefits, visitation, child custody, and divorce proceedings. It is also very difficult to date outside the poly scene, especially if you are a man who prefers ladies. Outside of the Pagan (and Geek/Fandom, oddly enough) Scene, it is more preferable for you to be almost ANYTHING else. Gay, Asexual, Swinger, Serial Monogamist, Chaste, or Transgendered. I have had poly friends come out about ALL of those things, (also toss in being Pagan) but NOT about poly.

To the general public it is more socially acceptable for me to cheat on my wife, than to have a wife who has a committed relationship with another man. Some how it makes it worse that he and I are genuinely friends, hang out, and enjoy each other's company. Cheating on your wife is "understandable", while having romantic feelings and building relationships with more than one person at a time, totally isn't.

We aren't all looking for the next SO, or hook up. I have no interest in dating any one else seriously, and the occasional clothed couching would be all I would do as far as extracurriculars.. Laaaadies.. Gordon.

I could go on, but I won't. I will say that it really sucks that things happened to make Bonnie feel uncomfortable, but it's not a poly thing. It's an, "I want to totally date you (or your husband.. or yes) so please please please agree to play poly house with meeeeee!!!" thing. It's a manners thing.

And sometimes it's a perception thing. When you are in the majority most of the time, and you get temporarily bumped down to minority status, it can be unsettling. I'm a white male, and a spiritual, as well as a sexual minority quite a few times over, so trust me, I know both sides. No one has gone to Chinatown and accused the residents of trying to make them Chinese. Because they cant. But, when the dividing lines are behavior based, people can feel a subtle pressure, weather it is actually intended by the participants or not.

If your Pagan scene has a large amount of poly folk, you might get asked out, or someone might want to date your partner, or whatever. If they are polite, be polite, if not, don't. If someone asks another person out, and the reply is, "No, I'm married, but flattered," no harm, no foul. Same thing here. You are just swimming in waters where married does not equal mono. We might let the freak flag fly a little harder in places where we are accepted, but that is because we aren't in most places. We are at best tolerated but usually closeted, or worse harassed.

As for poly being some sort of higher love, evolved, spiritual goodness? Bullshit. Poly relationships are just as fucked up as the people in them. Just like mono ones, except with more people. If you have a successful polyamorous relationship structure it doesn't make you better, it only makes you better at time management. The same stupid shit goes on everywhere, and there is about the same success rate of finding a life time partner or partners.

Lastly, Bonnie, if there are people REALLY pressuring you to be poly, or whatever else, it might not be the best place for you, because they obviously are not respecting your boundaries. which makes them assholes who happen to be poly. Please do not mistake it for a standard in the subculture.


Rufus Opus said...

ar-rr-rrrh! The point you make about:

Poly relationships are just as fucked up as the people in them. Just like mono ones, except with more people.

is the part that makes me cringe in fear and horror. Being in a mono relationship is hard enough, the exponential increase of stress and difficulties added by having another set of human-level variables in the mix makes me puke a little in my mouth.

Are the rewards exponentially better as well as the trials?

Gordon said...

I never wear clothing on couches. But otherwise... Time and place, yo. :)

And I absolutely loved the time management line. Awesome.

Robert said...

Holy cow, I just agreed with everything you said. I am now feeling faint. I may need to go lay down. (GRIN)

Jow said...

@RO: The rewards are the same, honestly, except that you can have a shitty relationship with a good one at the same time. If things are totally fucked on all fronts, it is of course terrible, but that is standard with monogamy as well.

geeksdoitbetter said...

"to cheat on my wife"

wow, you're married?

Layo said...

I have encountered the same pressure Bonnie described in more than one Pagan environment. If I said I wasn't poly, people didn't just drop it. They were friends who said they understood my boundaries, but then hit on me or tried to manipulate me over and over for years. I left the Pagan scene over this issue. I also experienced the disdain she described from poly people. Not all, but enough, and consistently.

Jow said...

@geeksdoitbetter: Just as an example ;) There was no secret squirrel wedding. Though that wouldn't be a bad theme..

Jow said...

@Layo: Oh, I have no doubt that it happens, and I am really sorry that it happened to you. It shows a great disregard for you and your boundries, as well as a lack of quite a number of other essential ingredients to making ANY successful relationship. A pushy poly person is no different than a pushy mono person, weather they are single or looking to step out. They are both acting like jackasses.