More on Polyamory and Feminism

In the few months since I’ve started this blog, my piece on feminism and polyamory has been by far my most viewed post. According to the stats, many of the folks who arrive here via google are searching for some variation of “polyamory and feminism.” And it turns out that when does google “polyamory and feminism,” this blog appears to be the top search result.

I’m incredibly glad that so many people appear to be interested in that particular intersection. And as a writer whose two main topics of choice are feminism and poly, I’d really love to be more of a consistent resource in that area. So with that in mind, I wanted to announce that I’m going to start posting specifically on poly and feminism on a regular basis. I’d like to say weekly, though I’m not committing firmly to that frequency. It’s a topic I’m looking forward to exploring more regularly and in more depth, especially knowing that there seems to be a great deal of interest. And I hope to invite some other poly and feminist writers and activists to contribute their thoughts here in the future.

If anyone has any thoughts/suggestions/requests for specific aspects of poly and feminism that you’d like to see addressed, please feel free to comment and let me know! And look out for the first post in this series to appear sometime in the next few days.

Thanks, as always, for reading.

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5 thoughts on “More on Polyamory and Feminism

  1. Jessica Burde

    I’ll bite – I’ve frequently heard folks who know more about the history and origins of polyamory say that many of the early polyamorists were feminists and drew their ideas from feminism. I have no reason to disbelieve the folks who say this, but I’d love to have a resource that lays out how those early polyfolk were involved in feminism and the relationship between the origin of polyamory and feminism.

    Also, you touched on this from the other side in your first piece, but a lot of people who aren’t familiar with poly will claim that any multi-partner relationship is inherently misogynist. If you were interested in laying out their claims and exploring why they are wrong, that would be awesome.

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  2. Jennifer Cox - Psychology major at Capella University

    “Polyamorous relationships; therefore, are equal in nature and are formed by agreed guidelines and principles by everyone involved. In his article Beyond Monogamy and Polyamory: A New Vision of Intimate Relationships for the Twenty-First Century, PhD Jorge N. Ferrer discusses the true nature of Polyamory. He states:
    “In Buddhism, sympathetic joy (mudita) is regarded as one of the ‘four immeasurable states’ (brahmaviharas) or qualities of an enlightened person—the other three being loving-kindness (metta), compassion (karuna), and equanimity (upeksha). Sympathetic joy refers to the human capability to participate in joy of others, to feel happy when others feel happy. Sympathetic joy can break through the ultimately false duality between self and others, being therefore a potent aid on the path toward overcoming self-centeredness and achieving liberation. This intimate capacity for sympathetic joy in intimate relationships often reaches its peak in deeply emotional shared experiences, sensual exchange, and lovemaking. When we are in love, the embodied joy of our beloved becomes extremely contagious” (Ferrer, 2008)(p. 53).

    In other words, only those who can break through and deeply feel empathic joy and love can truly understand it. Those who follow the higher, enlightened cultures can accept this because most individuals cannot grasp unconditional and un-selfish joy and love.
    “The concept of polyamory was developed in debates around alternative approaches to relationships. According to Ananpol, the word was coined by Morning Glory and Oberon Zell, the founders of the Neo-Pagan Church of All Worlds to create an alternative to the term “responsible non-monogamy” in 1990 (1997:5; 2010:1). The term initially spread in a primarily spiritualistic counter-culture milieu in the United States (cf. Anapol, 2010; Aviram, 2010; Kaldera, 2005; Anderlini-D’Onofrio, 2004c). Members are overwhelmingly white, college educated, claim a middle or upper-middle class status, have professional jobs (often in computers or counseling/therapy). Most of her respondents were in their mid-thirties to late fifties” (Klesse, 2011)(p. 7-8).

    This is only partly true. Polyamory has actually been around much longer than the 1990s. On August 31, 21012, I had an interview with Don Wildgrube, at his home in Ferguson, Missouri (a suburb of St Louis), who at the time of the age of 74, a High Priest of The Church of All Worlds, and a dear friend and former poly-member of Morning Glory and Oberon Zell’s group. Don Wildgrube stated that polyamory was actually started in the 1970 in the Saint Louis, Missouri area, which I confirmed with Oberon Zell prior to our interview on August 26, 2012 by Facebook instant messenger. Also, Don mentioned that it took a lot of work to get a workable format of “responsible non-monogamy” and the word “polyamory” wasn’t actually published in The Green Egg magazine until the May 1990 issue in an article called A Bouquet of Lovers: Strategies for Responsible Open Relationships by Morning Glory Zell.”

    American Psychological Association. (2007). APA Dictionary of Psychology. (P. G. VandenBos, Ed.) Washington, DC, United States: American Psychological Association.
    Baumeister, R. F., & Bushman, B. J. (2011). Social Psychology and Human Nature (Second ed.). Belmont, CA, United States: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.
    Boyd, D., & Bee, H. (2009). Lifespan Development. Boston, MA, United States: Pearson Education, Inc.
    Education-Portal Academy. (2012). Mystery Cults and the Early Mother Goddess. Retrieved September 04, 2012, from educationportal.com: http://education-portal.com/academy/lesson/mystery-cults-and-the-early-mother-goddess.html
    Ferrer, J. N. (2008). Beyond Monogamy and Polyamory: A New Vision of Intimate Relationships for the Twenty-First Century. ReVision, 30(1 & 2), 53-58.
    Heinlein, R. A. (1961). A Stranger in a Strange Land. New York, NY, United States: Putnam Publishing Group.

    Reply
  3. Jennifer Cox - Psychology major at Capella University

    Paganism by all intensive purposes is feministic according to Greet Hofstede’s multicultural studies in over some 50 countries.

    ” To understand fully Hofstede’s study of masculinity and femininity, it is not that one dominates the other sex but with femininity cultures the two are balanced, which also aligns with the spiritualistic paths of Paganism. This is a quote from Professor Geert Hofstede:
    “Masculinity stands for a society in which social gender roles are clearly distinct: Men are supposed to be assertive, tough, and focused on material success; women are supposed to be more modest, tender, and concerned with the quality of life. Femininity stands for a society in which social gender roles overlap: Both men and women are supposed to be modest, tender, and concerned with the quality of life (From Hofstede (2001), Culture’s Consequences, 2nd ed. (p. 297)” (http://www.andrews.edu, Unknown).
    Feminine cultures do not try to dominate men but view each other as equals. With this different perspective we have a much different view of sex, culture, and religion compared to the masculine culture.
    Feminine cultures have: “matter-of-fact attitudes about sex; unwanted intimacies not a major issue; there is a weak distinction between sex and love; there is a single standard for women and men; sex is not oriented toward the male ego; sexual interaction is more intimate; happy lovers equally benefit; sex is viewed as a way of relating to someone instead of sex as a way of performing; sexual attraction is unrelated to career successes; homosexuality is a fact of life and lovers mutually feel and support each other to be educated and socially oriented. Sexual harassment is not a major issue because no one is trying to dominate the other sex and because of this sex and violence in the media is taboo. The religious culture in a feminine society has a positive or neutral attitude toward sexual pleasure and sexuality is also viewed as one area of human motivation. Feminine religious views focus on fellow human beings rather focusing on solely on a deity, deities, or religious building and property. In feminine cultures, the children are socialized toward responsibility and politeness and even the young people are more influenced by parents” (Matsumoto & Juang, Culture & Psychology, 2008)(p. 159).” Many make this the line of reasoning but also connects with Zsuzsanna Budapest whose focus is on only Goddess worship and not balancing the masculine and the feminine aspects that so many Pagans believe. She is perceived as a female sexist by most Pagans but is a very prominent leader in the lesbian communities.

    Reply
  4. BahB

    Polyamory is rooted in feminism because it harkens back to a time before the advent of agriculture or industry when human societies were matriarchies. The primary bonds within and between clans were among women who kept households and villages in order while the guys played with the kids & went out hunting. Often times polygyny is presented as the alternative to monogamy; however, both are based on an ‘ownership model’ with men in control. The reality of matriarchal societies is that there was a ‘horde sexuality’ where both men and women had multiple partners and everyone in the clan /village took care of everyone else’s children. How can we know this is the case? It’s because there are still a few stone-age matriarchal societies in existence that anthropologist can study today.

    Polyamory has plenty of it’s own attendant problems and as such, isn’t the answer for everyone. That being said, if practiced with patience and fairness is less stressful than the alternatives. After all, polyamory represents the style of relationships that most closely resembles what we’re all emotionally and physically wired for. Over the last two million years, we’ve all evolved to be polyamorous. It’s only during the last ten thousand years or so that patriarchy and an ‘ownnership model’ of relationships has come about. No wonder so many people are miserable being “married”; and no wonder so many people “cheat”, get divorced, ditch their families for someone new, etc. Here’s a final thought for y’all to ponder: If people were truly monogamous, there’d be no such thing as “cheating” because on one would be interested in doing it.

    Reply
  5. Sable Aradia

    My name is Diane Morrison, known in the Pagan community as Sable Aradia. I’m an emerging Pagan writer and I have been openly poly for many years to lesser and greater degrees. I’ve got a book coming out with Weiser in the fall and I’m currently writing a column at Witches & Pagans Magazine’s website and one (soon to be two) at the Pagan channel of Patheos.com. I’m also currently working on a book on Paganism, love and sacred sex with my lover of many years. If you’re looking for someone to do some guest posts once in a while, I’d be happy to volunteer!

    Reply

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