If We Recognize Polyamory, Can I Marry My Goat? (And Other Polyamory Misconceptions)

I mulled it over for several days whether or not I wanted to write a response to the following article. The article is old-ish (published July 2015) and it was getting me into a tizzy because I wasn’t getting myself organized enough to effectively have at it. But yesterday, I realized that I should just do this for the shits and giggles, as well as for the informative value – and the venting value. And thus this post was finally birthed. Hope you enjoy and, as always, I’d love your feedback. – M

Perusing the bowls the “polyamory” WordPress tag, I came across a blog that shared the following article from The Federalist:

polyamory is bad for kids polyamorists and society | the lonely tribalist

It’s written in response to another The Federalist article, entitled “Polyamory is Next, And I’m One Reason Why.” It’s a lovely read. Because of the quality of that article, I was curious how the above anti-poly one would read – even despite the somewhat sensationalist fire and brimstone subtitle. All in all, I wasn’t disappointed – excited, in fact.

cyanide and happiness marry a goat | the lonely tribalist

Reading that article, it’s clear the author, D.C. McAllister, has one or two or a dozen misconceptions of what polyamory is about. Let’s take a look at just a few of them. (There are also plenty of other misconceptions throughout the article – including the belief that the institution of marriage has nothing to do with the legislation of sexual morality – but I don’t have the energy or the interest for that at the moment.)

1. Polyamory is nothing but SEX FIENDERY

“Sara Burrows, a polyamorist, has written at The Federalist that the government’s involvement in marriage—gay or straight—is discriminatory against single people and a growing number of couples who maintain multiple sexual and ‘romantic’ relationships at once.

Welcome to our brave new world. Marriage is romanticized into insignificance. Sex is everything…

Burrows was so quick to throw off the chains of religion and social norms that she fails to see that she has entered a new kind of bondage: she is bound by the chains of her sexual desires. Little does she know that those butterflies that make her feel so alive will soon become dragons that burn off her soul and reduce her to an empty shell of animalistic appetites.”

Note the word “romantic” in quotes. And the outright statement that “Sex is everything.” This being her final word on it indicates this is just a given to her. This is common. I have been afraid to “out” myself as polyamorous for fear that people would recoil with, well, fear and disgust – as if knowing that I sometimes date other people in addition to my partner makes them my next lascivious meal.

It is unfortunately common to have difficulty imagining how we could be allowed – or even have the biological ability at all – to actually love more than one person at a time. Sadly, this is the standard narrative in a society: monogamy is the one right way. Even in this day, where marriage isn’t quite as obligatory, we’re still pressured to ultimately hitch up with just one person to spend the rest of our lives with. Oh, sure, a person can have sex with a barn load of people, but after that phase is over we can only ever romantically love one.

However, since this article is about poly being bad for children, I have to ask: do parents not have a great capacity to love multiple children? Don’t we love our multiple siblings, other family members, our friends? Love is love. Romantic love is just a subset of the human’s grand fibrous social network. I am able to love a man, to cuddle with him, have sex with him, go to the movies with him, and still have love to spare for other men and women in my life.

Sex is great – but it’s no more a fixture of poly relationships than it is of monogamous ones. Oh, and also, sex isn’t bad. Being an animal isn’t bad either. 

hand heart around sun | the lonely tribalist

2. Polyamory can’t be about commitment… right?

But it’s not love if there is no commitment. It’s only sex. It’s only lust. Those who are in love, Lewis wrote, have a natural inclination to bind themselves by promises—promises of faithfulness and devotion—which is why polyamory inevitably devolves into a pigsty of jealousy and pain. People who love want promises with that love; otherwise, anger and destruction follow.

This is related to #1. The big myth here is that sexual promiscuity – such a negatively biased word – is mutually exclusive with loyalty and deep love. Our society has done the impressive job of tying our inner worth, our immense capacities to love, with how often we use our genitals for ungodly deeds.

McAllister looks down at “butterfly” behavior, opting for something she calls “quiet love.” As an introvert, I’m all about respecting “quietness,” but I’m also all about living and letting live. Whenever I come across this argument I wonder what sort of sad childhood must a person have had to disparage the bright and the beautiful. What the hell is wrong with “loud love?” What if people don’t want elevator jazz, but are turned on by the climactic brassy bellows and cannon shots of Tchaikovsky’s “1812 Overture” or the neckbrace-inducing headbanging-ness of Rammstein?

It seems McAllister’s best argument is the equivalent of “you just can’t because common sense, duh.” She completely ignores the experience of the author of the original poly article. In that article, Sarah Burrows defines polyamory as “the practice of engaging in several emotionally and possibly sexually intimate relationships simultaneously, with the full knowledge and consent of everyone involved.” Nowhere does she talk about being or wanted to be less committed to her partner. If anything, she’s seeking to deepen her connection with him. Operating on the premise that a woman is only as good as how pristine her vagina is is so last century.

3. “Fear, jealously, and pain” are only found in polyamory

There is a beauty to familiar sex between a husband and wife that is a thrill all its own. The love is deep, and sex is an expression of real intimacy—a love built on promises that there is only one. No jealousy. No fear. No pain. And, I should add, no sexually transmitted diseases.

Ha! Ha-ha! Excuse me, I stumbled into a laughing fit writing that subheading. This is something I read so often: I don’t think poly’s healthy because, well, you’d just be constantly jealous. Why would I want to get hurt all the time?

*sigh*

Are there are no jealous monogamous people? Is jealousy in monogamous relationships a myth in itself that just popped into my mind from some paranoia vacuum? All relationships run the risk of developing fear, jealousy, and pain. There are whole industries, entire movie genres, that thrive because of this. But do all monogamous relationships fail because of this? No. Polyamory, just like monogamy, requires strong lines of trust and communication and the willingness to support one another through thick and thin. 

So yes, polyamorous relationships can run into a sad amount of fear, jealousy, and pain – just like any other intimate relationship. 

And also, concerning STD problem: USE F*CKING PROTECTION. (Pun intended).

In Cummation

In McAllister’s eyes, polyamory is nothing more than horse shit that us poly animals sift through in the deluded hopes of finding the actual horse. The way I see it though, is that polyamory is a radiant unicorn that you have been taught to see as a pile of shit. You do you and let us do us. Provide actual evidence that polyamory is bad for children rather than pretending your moral righteousness gives you any credentials to determine anything. Open your eyes to lifestyles and orientations that are not like your own. I don’t care that you’re monogamous and you shouldn’t care that we’re poly. Deal with it.

/endrant

Cheers,
Michelle

[Images from: Pixabay]

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