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Monday, November 24, 2014

I don’t care.

I don’t care.

The poly landscape is changing. Or, more appropriately… has been changing.

Years ago it seemed identifying as polyamorous was enough. It was alternative enough, unique enough, shocking enough, and different enough. Being poly was enough of an expression of individuality. But things have changed and now, it isn’t enough.  The poly vocabulary changes daily, if not more frequently. And the umbrella term Polyamory just isn’t enough. Now we can’t just be Poly. We have to be poly-fi, solo-poly, Relationship Anarchists, Unicorn Hunters and so on. It isn’t enough that we are Poly; we have to be even more unique within our Poly circles.

Activism has latched onto this trend. It used to be enough to just spread the word about Polyamory. Correcting perceptions and explaining it isn’t just about the sex, no swinging is somewhat different, yes I’m able to commit in a relationship… was enough. Not anymore. Now poly-activism is more about proving differences than finding common ground. It is more about insisting on unique labels. Never mind that we aren’t going to explain what the label means or why it is different than some other label we used last week; That is your problem, not mine! The apocalypse must be just around the corner if you don’t automatically know and use the label I want you to use. That or you are suffering the affliction of white privilege, male privilege, couple privilege, or caught in social traps like ableism, racism, sexism, gender ignorance, and so on. The bottom line, no matter what… it’s your fault.

I appreciate these efforts and attempts at correcting perceptions, spreading the word, even correct labeling. They help spread awareness not only of polyamory, but of the multitude of sexual and personal identities possible in the world. We learn new terms or words and are able to better describe and define ourselves or others.

They are also doing a great job of creating divisions in the poly community. Where we used to see more common ground under the umbrella of Polyamory, the landscape is once again changing. Though with a common link in polyamory, specialized groups are popping up. Poly-BDSM, Poly-swingers, Poly-tantrists, as so on are becoming much more common. Poly-fi, relationship anarchy, and poly-feminism are easily found these days. Literally at the community level, groups and clubs are forming based on differences in approach to polyamory and even sexual safety.  Instead of coming together on common ground, we are dividing ourselves based on minor differences. Even at the personal level people are excluding those from their circle of friends or community based on personal labeling. What I would call progressive polyamorists are excluding traditional polyamorists from their friends circles.

Now before you scream at me “Hey PP… what is wrong with different interests within the community?”… Not a damn thing. Unless they become exclusionary, elitist, and hostile in their expression creating divisions, this is what I’m seeing.

I hear people blasting one another for not using the correct labels. I’ll admit I’m one of those being blasted from time to time. I’m accused of a monogamous mindset (despite never having really identified as monogamous), of exercising couple/white/male privilege, ableism, and so forth. It is a long, never ending list of terms many of which I’ve never heard that changes daily. And those insisting I use them refuse to define or explain them because; that’s my problem not theirs.

But the honest truth which those insisting on correct labeling with absolutely no possibility of ignorance or error don’t want to hear… I don’t care. While you are insisting I somehow automatically know what does and doesn’t offend you, and that you are labeled correctly absolutely all of the time, you aren’t hearing what I’m saying… I don’t care.

It isn’t that I don’t care how you identify and who you are, or that I don’t care to respect you, I simply don’t care to know before I accept you.

I don’t care if you are poly-fi, poly-bdsm, poly-swinger, poly-bananas. I. Just. Don’t. Care. If you identify as poly at all, you are good in my book. I don’t need to know your specific sub-set, sub-label, kink, approach, or whatever you want to call it to make a judgment call whether you are poly enough or the right poly for me to respect you. I don’t need that categorization and detail to accept the fact you identify, at a high level, as a polyamorist.

Now if you are butt-hurt because I didn’t call you a poly-fi-gender-queer-furry instead of a committed-poly-non-binary-kinkster, honestly, I’m sorry. I’m sorry I couldn’t somehow, using my mind-reading super-power, know what label you prefer. And I certainly didn’t intend to malign, offend, judge, or degrade you in any way. That is YOUR interpretation of what I said, not my intent. While I will own my shit and admit I may not have used the right label, gentle correction is all that is needed. Not a lecture, debate, or hostile driving attempt at proving you are right and I’m wrong. You had me at “I’m polyamorous…”. At that point, I accepted you, regardless of your specifics. If you aren’t going to hear what I’m saying, and want judge me based on appropriate use of some mystery label, that is your choice and not mine. Because, once again… I don’t care. In my book if you identify as poly we share some common ground. I don’t care about how we are different. I care about how we are the same. That’s where our power resides rather than with our differences.

Instead of excluding others from our lives because they aren't the same as we are, or because they struggle with learning and remembering what label is preferred, let's come together simply as polyamorists. As much as polyamory can send a message that sharing love is a wonderful thing, uniting (rather than dividing) on common ground may send just as strong a message that polyamory is not a fad or a niche lifestyle, but one that is coming of age and ready to be broadly recognized. Personally, I would rather present a united front than one that is divided.
Maybe I do care.