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Thursday, March 24, 2011

I'm so greedy I even want your partner!

Recently the "lifestyle publication" Madame Noire ran an article with the following headline "Love & Marriage: Are Some People Really “Polyamorous” or Just Plain Greedy?" written by Toya Sharee.

Although the article wasn't half bad (Toya made a better effort than most at being fair and factual), the title annoys the heck out of me. And this isn't the first time I've heard the statement "Poly people are just greedy". But I am hearing it more often. (Don't think it is that prevalent? Try the Google search "Polyamory Greedy" and see how many hits you get, many complaints by people who have been called greedy).

So I sat down for a minute and thought about why that statement bothers me and came to the conclusion it is the word "greedy". More to the point, I think it is the commonly held definition of the word "having or showing a selfish desire for wealth and possessions" (2., from in the context of that sentence that bothers me.

The sentence implies that there are some people out there who rather than being Polyamorous actually just have a strong desire to accumulate possessions, or people in this example. Literally there is separation in the statement between Poly people and those who are just greedy. In actuality however, the statement is mild stereotyping with the judgment that many Poly people are in fact just greedy relationship collectors. I liken it to saying something like "Love & Marriage: Are some serial monogamists actually monogamous, or just sluts?"

To be honest, I find the implication of the statement "Poly people are just greedy" not only offensive, but a good indication of the depth of ignorance some people enjoy.

-The definition of Greed includes "selfish desire". If I’m poly, and happy with my partners having other partners, does that sound remotely selfish? It sounds a heck of a lot less selfish than monogamy to me.

-Sometimes "greedy" in the statement refers to the poly persons desire to be loved by many. How exactly does wanting to be loved by many make me any different than say Oprah or Ashton Kutcher? (That's assuming that wanting to be loved by many people is a bad thing to begin with and even needs defending).

-I've even heard the statement defended as "Poly people just want everyone else's partners." Sorry, that's "coveting", not greed. By the way, what makes you think I want everyone else's partner, let alone yours? Hell, I've heard how you talk about your partner and he/she doesn't sound like a prize to me!

Where I was left at the end of my ponderings was guessing that someone who would describe poly people as "greedy" probably has bigger issues than understanding Polyamory. It is quite possible that taking an offensive stance with such a strong statement is due to a lack of confidence in their own abilities to acquire and keep even a single, solid relationship let alone more than one.

I think next time someone says poly people are greedy I will agree. I will tell them that yes, I do want their partner so they better lock them up and/or start sexing them up real good if they want to keep them past next Thursday. And yes, I'm a selfish bastard who wants everyone for myself. None for you! And when I acquire all those people as mine, we will all join Twitter and kick Oprah and Ashton right the heck off into obscurity. After that, my new extended Poly family and I will proceed to conquer Earth. Our first order of business . . . elimination of the word "greedy" from the dictionary and the public beheading of anyone who uses the word in the future. (Though maybe we will grant clemency to a few serial monogamist sluts for giggles).

Today I will be proud to be a greedy Polyamorist!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Light at the end of the Unicorn tunnel?

Lately one of the message boards I follow has been exploding with the usual conversations about Unicorns.

On one side of the fence we have the Unicorn Hunters. Those couples, usually M/F, who are looking for the hot bi babe to join them in a relationship. Now, the definition of a "relationship" differs from couple to couple with some wanting just a "playtoy" at times, others wanting a relationship with emotional depth but the Unicorn being subordinate, and others want the equality of a true family. The methods they use range from the couple hunting together and being very direct, to one partner shopping for them both. Their complaints vary from not finding Unicorns at all to being unable to find a Unicorn undamaged by other hunters who is open to the type of relationship they propose.

On the other side we have the Unicorns. Many of them have their own complaints about finding appropriate couples. Often they find couples where one partner quickly becomes jealous. Stories of couples proposing a three-way emotionally equal relationship that quickly turns to the Unicorn being subordinate to the existing relationship abound. Another common story; only one partner in the existing relationship is actually interested in adding another person while the other partner is just "going with the flow", a situation that turns ugly quickly.

Those of you who read my blog regularly know I have something of a fixation on the whole Unicorn vs. Unicorn Hunter paradigm. This is probably because I have a relationship with a hot bi babe who is regularly approached by Unicorn Hunters. I've also seen firsthand her frustration with finding viable relationships. Another reason for my fascination, I must admit in all fairness, is that we (she and I) are Unicorn Hunters ourselves, in a fashion. I say "in a fashion" because I would classify us more as interested in Unicorns than actually hunting them. We don't approach Unicorns as a couple, we prefer to try and recognize a connection naturally. We don't even search for new partners as a couple but only as individuals. Neither of us require new partners to be involved with us both but if there is a connection between the three of us we will make the option known. We don't even have requirements that we look for as a couple. Essentially, we are open to the possibility of adding a third to our relationship but not actively pursuing the idea.

Reading the posts on the message board I mentioned got me to thinking about Unicorns and Unicorn Hunters. I put aside my usual frustration with Unicorn Hunters who present themselves deceptively, effectively damaging the Unicorns with which they come in contact. I stepped off my soap-box of defensiveness around the poor Unicorns that are constantly attacked by needy couples. And I thought about the experiences my SO and I have had with Unicorns.

We (more she than we actually) have had quite a few encounters with Unicorn Hunters but only a very few encounters with Unicorns we thought might be a fit with us. What I realized is that often Unicorns aren't any more honest, open, or ethical than the Unicorn Hunters. I'm also realizing something of a theme and similarity between Unicorns and Unicorn Hunters. They quite often misrepresent what they want, claiming interest in my SO and I as a couple when actually they are only interested in one of us. With couples that is usually my SO, the hot bi babe. With females the interest is often with me. What we have ended up with frequently is an attempted relationship with someone only to quickly find they can't fake interest in both of us when they are really only interested in one of us. My SO usually seems less surprised by this than I am. I am very open and direct about things from the beginning with new partners. I'm also a realist so I know sometimes relationships fail and you can't know until you try. At the same time I get extremely frustrated when I find someone has misrepresented themselves and tried to build a relationship based on the misrepresentation.

This has led me to something of a paradigm shift in my perspectives on Unicorns and Unicorn Hunters. Where in the past I felt somewhat repulsed by Unicorn Hunters and sympathy for Unicorns, I'm beginning equalize those feels. I'm feeling much less turned-off by Unicorn Hunters, though I still think many have ignored issues. I'm also feeling a lot less sympathy for Unicorns who, on the message boards I've been reading, seem to constantly be given sympathy and regarded as the ones being "wronged" in the Unicorn vs. Unicorn Hunter situation when in actuality Unicorns aren't universally without blame. In the end, I'm realizing both have their problems and stereotyping either group into a category of right or wrong is unfair.

What say you?

Monday, March 14, 2011

Interview with a Unicorn, not a Vampire.

Although they are a hard to find mythical creature, I was finally able to track down and corner a Unicorn and have a conversation. . .

Question: How would you describe your sexuality or orientation?
Answer: Bi-sexual with either a high preference for females or a low preference for men. I hate to say I have preference for either males or females because of the automatic assumptions people have that accompany those labels.

Question: What is the first thing you think of when you hear the term "Unicorn"?
Answer: A couple that sends out the bisexual woman (or pretend bisexual woman) to find a bisexual woman to join the couple as a threesome.

Question: What is the hardest thing about being a Unicorn?
Answer: I don't think I am a Unicorn. I'm not looking for a bisexual relationship or a M/F couple. Just because I have a male partner currently doesn't mean that is my preference when I go looking for other relationships. The hardest thing really is that I state my preferences up front but because of my bisexuality people will assume they can change my mind.

Question: Okay, then what is the hardest thing about being a bisexual woman with a preference for women?
Answer: Trying to find another bisexual woman with a preference for women rather than one who is looking to find a third for a threesome with her and her male partner.

Question: So, what are your limits when it comes to a relationship with another woman? Must she prefer women? Can she have a male partner?
Answer: She doesn't have to prefer women but she has to want to date a woman, and I don't care if she has other relationships, male or female. I'm a Unicorn looking for a Unicorn!! That's interesting, there is some humor in that.

And finally, a question from the Unicorn: I really wonder if other women in the same situation, or other bisexual women, run into the same problems. Are they somehow able to find other women to date without the expectation of helping create a threesome situation for a M/F couple? Specifically can they find relationships with other women, not just sexual encounters or FWB situations.

During our conversation it became somewhat obvious that being a lesbian is maybe a bit easier than being bi-sexual. Particularly being a bi-sexual female with a male partner. Being a lesbian makes is pretty clear you are a woman who likes women. Of course the stray super-ego male will come along convinced he can convert you to either bisexuality or heterosexuality by the power of his penis but they are easily dismissed. But when you are bisexual people often seem to assume it means you will have sex with anyone, and both sexes can consider trying to convert you. It also begins to exclude you from the somewhat exclusive lesbian community when it comes to finding dating partners. For a bisexual female interested in females, adding an existing male partner to the equation brings even more difficulty. Explaining to males that although you have a male partner you don't want another one, becomes a challenge to them. It also pretty much guarantees your exclusion from the lesbian community because, well, you aren't a lesbian. You are "playing" at it or just don't know what you want. Almost a purist type attitude.

So what say you? Have you had similar experiences as our Unicorn here has had? As a bisexual female, what challenges have you faced and how have you overcome them?

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

A kinky little documentary.

Ok all you kinksters, raise your hands. I know you are out there! Put down the flogger for a minute, release the nipple clamps, and untie the ropes. No, wait, just kidding, this will probably bore you.

I recently saw a film I thought I would share with you called Fetishes.

A documentary, Fetishes explores the lifestyle inside Pandora's Box, a New York City S&M club. The interviewer and cameraman follow around the Mistresses of the house exploring some unusual and interesting cravings that satisfy sexual and power cravings for both the Mistresses and their clients.
Released in 1996 the documentary is showing some age at this point and is a bit "light" given all the information currently available on the internet.

Fetishes begins with a small bit of background before moving into the club and meeting some of the Mistresses. The ladies at first seem a bit reluctant to be open about their business but soon warm up. Likewise the interviewer feels unsure about the direction he is going with the documentary and appears to "wing it" for the most part. That said, the film does do some mild exploration of a variety of fetishes and what motivates both the giver and receiver. Unfortunately the Mistresses come across as alternating between not understanding the fetishes, not caring about their clients, being very caring of their clients, and satisfying their own urges rather than those of their clients. Add in a couple of scenes that didn't adhere to safety guidelines in the least and the documentary feels incomplete to say the least.

There were a few things I found surprising or dishonest in the film. One was how the Mistresses maintained that fetishes aren't always about pain yet most of the fetishes in the film did involve pain of some sort. Another was how they talked about safety but in a couple of scenes the Mistresses continued administering lashes or didn't quickly release someone even after they had used a safe word. They also seemed to have a fondness for making fun of men in a variety of situations yet didn't have the same interest with their female clients. There were also several verbal slips such as one dominatrix mentioning a "syndrome" then correcting herself with the word "fetish", and indication she feels something may be unhealthy or a psychological issue. At other points in the documentary though she is heard to say acceptance of different fetishes is important.

Overall Fetishes barely qualifies as a documentary and even then, barely brushes the surface of the multitude of fetishes that exist and the motivations behind them. For those with no exposure to fetishes this may be a good start. For anyone with fetish experience Fetishes will likely not provide any new information or much entertainment value other than possibly historical or nostalgic.

Have you seen the film? If so, what are your thoughts?

Friday, March 4, 2011

Controlling risk as a parent.

For those of you who think all I do is sit around thinking about polyamory this article is going to prove you wrong. And for those of you who are here only to read about polyamory this is when you should change the channel. In this article I'm going to talk a bit about suicide from the perspective of a parent.

Imagine you have a teenage daughter who is fairly close to one of her older female cousins. The cousin picks your daughter up in her car a few times a month to go shopping or to movies, they spend nights at each others homes, and are generally fairly close.

Then one fine day the cousin decides to attempt suicide, failing because she is found in time by a family member. After a night in the hospital, the cousin is remanded to a mental health facility for a week after which she is released and enrolled in counseling.

After a month or so without much contact, the cousin begins reaching out to your daughter via phone calls and messages, wanting to once again go shopping, to movies, or having overnights. For the past month, since the suicide attempt, you haven't heard much about the cousin except that she is doing well. Her family, feeling the suicide attempt is a private matter and possibly wanting to keep things quiet, haven't said much about what happened or how things have changed since.

When your daughter comes to you to ask if it is okay for the cousin to pick her up in her car so they can go shopping, then to her house for an overnight, what do you say?

My response was "no". When asked why I explained that I didn't know the current mental state of the cousin.

About a month later at a family gathering I was verbally attacked by a relative claiming I was being unreasonable. They stated I was being unfair to both my daughter and the cousin for no reason and they demanded an explanation why my daughter was not allowed to ride in the cousin's car or have a sleepover without other adult supervision. When I stated I didn't know the current mental state of the cousin they argued that it shouldn't be my concern, it was a matter being handled within their immediate family. They further maintained that since the cousin was being allowed to drive her car and make invitations to my daughter I should realize that means she is mentally fine.

This is about the time I dug my heels in and prepared for battle.

One of my jobs as a parent is to protect my children. In performing that job there are measured risks that are taken every day. Allowing my child to ride in a car with anyone is a risk, we can probably all agree on that one. But realistically riding in a car is a common thing a lot of us risk every day. Does that mean I would allow my child to ride in a car driven by someone without a license, or a long history of accidents? Nope. With the mental health problems the cousin had in the recent past, and without being informed of her treatment or status, how can I know she is stable? How could I know she won't decide to again try and commit suicide by running her car into a wall? Possibly with my daughter in the car at the time? Likewise, would I allow my daughter to spend a night unsupervised with a friend at their house? Nope. With the mental health of the cousin in question how could I think it wise to allow my daughter to spend the night with her unsupervised?

In my mind it comes back to a level of risk I am willing to accept. Riding in a car is a risk but it is a common activity. At the same time, I can control the risks somewhat as mentioned. Minimizing my daughters exposure, particularly unsupervised exposure, to someone with mental health issues is a risk I can control.

One of the questions this begs is; "How can you know the mental health of anyone?" The answer is I can't. I'm not a mental health professional and even most of them will tell you there are no guarantees when it comes to the human brain. Going back to risk; assuming a healthy mental state is a risk we all take on a daily basis. Don't believe me? Next time you are in the grocery store look at the person in line behind you. Are they a serial killer? Pedophile? Violent? Are they armed at the moment? If they were any of those things would you be standing in front of them, within arms reach? Of course you wouldn't. But you are because you assume the mental health of those around you until they give you an indication they aren't mentally healthy. But wait, the cousin was proven to not be mentally healthy, at least mildly. And to that I can react appropriately, as a parent, and attempt to minimize the risk of my daughter being harmed either directly or indirectly.

I learned a lot during this process. (This was not my first exposure to suicide by any means). I was particularly surprised how many people are ashamed by suicide attempts and try to minimize the information shared about them. I also found it interesting how people are sometimes surprised and angered when they realize a suicide attempt may cause them to be treated differently, though this may explain why many try to hide it. This seems to be even more pronounced when rather than being treated gently and with extra consideration they are instead treated with a level of wariness or even mistrust. I also second guessed my actions quite a bit, wondering if I was overreacting. My conclusion was that when it comes to the safety of my children following my instincts, even if they are overreacting at times, is better than the alternative.

What are your thoughts? Would you resist exposure of your children to someone with a questionable state of mental health, even if it hadn't been verified? Do you measure risk like I do, or do you have another method? What would you have done different had you been me?

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Jumping on the bandwagon!

Is Charlie Sheen the next polyamory poster-boy?

Yep, I am jumping on the Charlie media wagon for a minute.

If you haven't been watching, Charlie Sheen has been on a media blitz lately. Apparently the producers of his show, Two And a Half Men, were unhappy with his substance abuse problems which prompted Sheen to become wildly agitated with them. In interviews recently he is talking about suing them, demanded payment for canceled shows, and generally verbally abused many people associated with the show.

As entertaining as all that is, what really got my attention was his interview with
Andrea Canning, part of which aired on Good Morning America.

Basically Sheen is living with and dating porn star Rachel Oberlin (aka. Bree Olson of Adam & Eve fame), along with Natalie Kenly, a graphic designer and former nanny. Oh, by the way, his soon to be ex-wife Brooke Mueller and his two sons with Brooke live in the home as well. Did I mention Sheen is 45 yrs old and the two women he is dating, his "Goddesses" as he calls them, are both 24 yrs old? Wait, I'm not done yet, Oberlin and Kenly apparently have a relationship with each other as well as with Sheen according to an interview of the group in the Los Angeles Times.

Okay, fine, he has some possible drug and alcohol problems, fair enough. Yes, I said "possibly" since he has recently passed repeated drug tests with flying colors. But is he really doing anything wrong? Maybe Sheen isn't the best role model at the moment and I will concede his actions lately seem to indicate either an addiction problem of some kind or a mental health issue. Yet, Sheen seems aware his behavior is somewhat strange but makes no excuses. In interviews it sounds like he is consciously living the crazy life and enjoying it as much as he can. Mid-life crisis anyone?

Okay, I was kidding about Charlie Sheen being the next polyamory poster-boy. I don't think what he is doing with his two Goddesses can, at least at this point, be considered polyamory. Just good clean (or is that good dirty?) fun. Though he has professed the desire to marry them both, which could launch him into the polygamy camp.

I've enjoyed the show Two And a Half Men for a while now and more than once thought how Charlie's character on the show, Charlie, could possibly be poly and not know it. I've also considered the contrast between the two main characters and how their lives are only interesting because of the contrast between a closet-poly (Charlie) and a die-hard monogamist (Alan). Now it appears Charlie has taken his characters life to heart and is even going a step further by openly living with two women and expressing his interest in marrying them both.

Whatever happens, I think Charlie is about to provide us all with a wonderful roller-coaster of a ride for a while. I just hope for his sake, and others involved, the thing stays on the tracks until it can come to a smooth stop.