Comrade Tikva has penned a great piece for Elephant Journal [Which posted my review of the Movie Wanderlust] If you want to see this article on EJ , with it’s links (and odd image) it’s here. She also does a brilliant comic on polyamory.
Many romances begin with wordless flirtation, stolen kisses and vague communication.
In a culture where disinterest is often interpreted as shyness or “playing hard to get,” men are encouraged to think women need to be skillfully interpreted and convinced, instead of taken at their word. Even the clearest “no” is still up for debate.
I’ve had men tell me I was “asking for it” by making eye contact with them on the street instead of averting my gaze. And when they discovered that my polite smile was not a request for sex, they reacted in outrage as if I was purposefully leading them on.
A stranger misinterpreting our smile as an open invitation to our body sounds ludicrous, but watching any romantic comedy will show us how our culture views consent.
How many times does the woman turn the main character down before he grabs and kisses her—and doesn’t she secretly want it all along, perhaps without even knowing it herself, until he figures out how to prove that they are meant to be?
It may be entertaining to watch awkward fumbling and forceful passion on the screen, but this kind of indirect communication seeps out into our actual romantic encounters far too often and can be very dangerous.
When men identify with that main character who wins the girl in the end, they feel cheated when their own efforts aren’t achieving the same results. They can sometimes decide to take it forcefully if the woman isn’t catching on quick enough, because “no” just means she hasn’t been convinced yet that this is what she really wants.
Most women have encountered men who feel entitled to have access to their bodies. Just look at the recent gruesome events involving Elliot Rodger and the resulting stories on Twitter with the hashtag “#YesAllWomen.”
Clearly there are a lot of men out there who think they deserve the girl, regardless of what she has to say about it.
In polyamorous relationships, unclear communication will have us drowning in a sea of interpersonal drama much more quickly than it would in a conventional, monogamous relationship.
One reason for this is that monogamy is the expected norm, so if we’re monogamous, it’s pretty easy to coast through the beginning of our relationship without putting any effort into communicating our intentions or expectations.
If we say nothing at all about what we want, it is assumed that our eventual goal is a monogamous until-death-do-us-part with someone. Polyamorous relationships are more complex and less understood, so therefore require explanation right from the beginning and skillful communication throughout.
Poly folks will often discuss their specific intentions with people they are attracted to and even sit down with everyone’s other partners and discuss it with them as well, way before the first date is even considered. It is very likely that a first kiss won’t come with a silent assumption of consent, but after it has been discussed with everyone involved instead.
Clear communication is a must for long-term poly relationships, so this is a skill that gets exercised often.
But what does this have to do with rape culture? Rape culture is fed on silence and assumptions. By insisting on communicating clearly every step of the way about any intention of sex or romance, we kill those old ideas of romance being about silent flirtation and stolen kisses.
We make consent sexy.
We might think that clear communication is overkill, boring and that it will stifle the romance—but the opposite is true. When people are open and vulnerable in relationship to each other, expressing the full extent of their desires and (most importantly) wanting to hear and understand the desires of their partners, there is absolutely nothing sexier than that.
I used to think that stolen kisses were sexy, but now I see them as a sign of emotional immaturity and dissociation. I would much rather my partners be obviously interested in what I want than trying to see what they can get out of me.
I would much rather be telling them what I want than waiting for them to guess.
Margaret Atwood’s quote, “Men are afraid that women will laugh at them. Women are afraid that men will kill them.” illustrates why it is more important that men take on the task of communicating clearly and receiving consent, but it is incredibly empowering to take on the task as a woman as well.
We don’t need to be in a polyamorous relationship to get our clear communication groove on, obviously. But if we’re in a polyamorous relationship we need to communicate impeccably, just to keep up with what’s going on.
Making clear communication and consent sexy is a huge part of what’s needed to feed the revolution of consent culture. So whether we are monogamous, polyamorous, monogam-ish, or poly-curious, we need to push ourselves to communicate more openly with everyone and see how it affects our romantic life.
I believe in Aliens.
There I said it.
As you may know, I am pretty open about a wide-variety of things, including, but certainly not limited to my polyglamorous relationships, my obsession with twerking, and my desire for some radical heteronormativity in my life. (while of course still maintaining my polyglamorus status.)
I must come out of the space ship, although I hold some reservations about coming out of the space ship. I feel like I will be judged negatively and that the anti-nuclear activists and the communities movement will shun me, that I will have gone too “woo woo” or maybe people will think I’ve simply gone of my rocker. Perhaps if this was just a small part of me people would understand.
But, its not.
I think spreading the truth about Space Aliens and their involvement on earth is some of the most important activism we can do. I want to be the Chelsea Manning of Extra Terrestrials. The information NEEDS to be out there and people NEED to know that aliens are among us.
You may be thinking “wow paxus has finally snapped.” As if I haven’t already, excuse me.
The rest of you are thinking ” gee, I wonder why he thinks this.”
And a small number of you, the true truthers, are thinking “yes I believe too, please go on.”
I will gladly tell you the story of how I first became aware that Aliens are real AND living on planet Earth. I am especially excited because this is not one of the stories that I tell on loop at every event ever.
When I was in the Czech, protesting nukes, I met a women named Eleanora. Eleanora was, well, odd to say the least. Her diet is one example, she specifically like invertebrates. She always said in her weird, practically indistinguishable accent “It es so much easeiar to eat dah invertabras, you do not eben ned to peek meat off das bones! You jest squeese it out.” Of course I found it to be ridiculously adorable and we spent many nights together, discussing the protein humans are missing and how nukes may destroy the planet, you know, typical radical type stuff. Another odd thing, she introduced me to twerking, before twerking was a thing, she shared a great love for it.
One night we had plans to spend time together in one of the downtown areas of the czech, she called me and told me that she could not come out that night, she didn’t feel very well. She sounded like she had been crying and I asked her if maybe I could just come over instead. After some conversation she agreed.
When I got there she complained about feeling “allown on dis planet.” and feeling like “All the odders like me have jest given oop and become followers.” At first I thought this was just your typical activist breakdown. You know “The worlds gone mad! Nobody cares!”
But, I became fascinated about how often she used the terms “on dis planet!” and finally it escalated into her practically yelling “And dere destroying the galoxy for the rest of us!”
All the emotion faded from her face, realizing she had said a bit too much. I could see it in her face and me desiring transparency asked her to please explain herself. She took a deep breath and told me that she was a Extra Terrestrial from a somewhat nearby Solar System and that she was hear to try and stop humans from poisoning the universe. She said that her species is somewhat related to hers, but that they had blue hair and some other traits.
Suddenly it all made sense, why Eleanora was constantly buying brown hair dye, while being upset about using such nasty chemicals, and why we never played with her genitals. I didn’t complain because I rather enjoyed all the fellatio I was receiving.
This led to years and years of Eleanora introducing me to her underground ET politcal groups and explaining to me the various species of aliens, some being related to humans, some being shape shifters. Cats are aliens that take advantage of humans parental instincts.
Remember when I hitchhiked on boats?
Well the whole reason was so that I could get far enough out to sea so that I could get picked up by a spacecraft to and go visit Eleanoras family on the celebration of some religion from their planet.
I have more information, but I have been to space and back multiple times since then.
This information needs to be out.
I know this is a lot to spring on all of you, but I swear it is all true. Its as true as my love for twerking.
Transparency is my favorite thing and this is no different.
Willow had been talking about dumpster diving with Feonix for a couple of days leading up to the Tarrytown NY craft fair and he was excited. There was this slightly odd moment of role reversal in which I had blacked out and sometime after midnight Willow woke me and said “Are you ready to go dumpster diving now?” And while some part of my exhausted body wanted to decline, instead I was propelled by my desire to be a yes for my son. We jumped in the van and headed to White Plains where a Dunkin Donuts of known riches was to be found.
We pull in realize that we have neglected flashlights and Feonix uses her phones app to light the way. And we have donuts. The world is a better place and Willow is pleased. Later we would get a flashlight app for my phone, but even with the light the Trader Joes dumpster was being staffed way late in the night (actually crazy early in the morning) and the Whole Foods compacter revealed nothing that could be salvaged. As my son snuck from the security cameras in the parking lot I wondered about this aspect of his home schooling.
It is one of my favorite annual rituals, Feonix and Willow and Corb and Hawina and I doing the Tarrytown fair. In part because Feonix always has the new cool thing or three for us to experience. This time it was Bee and PuppyCat. Which has an inspired scene where Bee is in a temp agency and the cruel recruiter turns away from her to take a phone call. When he turns back his bowl of sweets is emptied and Bee says “You took too long. Now your Candy’s gone. That’s what happened. Kapow.” and she disappears thru the door.
This was one of our regular chants as we took the long drive down the New Jersey Turnpike after the fair. I took a five hour energy drink, Feonix was running her normal night owl energy and Willow was doing the sugar rush connected with low level donut poisoning. We all sang loudly and (at least myself) off key to Mackelmore’s Can’t Hold US on the radio at absurd o’clock somewhere outside Philly.
We arrive at the Keep late, but Willow and I are the last to go to bed. It may well qualify me again for the cover of Negligent Parenting Magazine, but I would not have it another way.
[Willow has approved this post]
For once I was happy to be forced to drive slowly.
We had just finished a pretty rich Point A meeting with the Washington DC group and an even more successful mini-communities conference in NYC. I was exhausted, but excited to have some hours in the snow storm to chat with ex-Twin Oaker Dream. In many ways the trip is like the 1981 movie “My Dinner with Andre“, where Dream was playing the slightly other worldly stage director Andre Gregory.
Dream reminded me of transformative moments in his life, about feeling a Kundalini energy awakening in his body, while in bed aboard the USS Missouri just before it was struck by missiles during the first Gulf War. About falling in love with East Wind while at UMass Darmouth and struggling to decide if he should return to school. About hearing a word in a dream “Constatic” whispered to him. Constatic contrasts the unique experience of ecstatic, with a collective euphoric state, which he would only learn was a real (though very rarely used) word many years later.
Dream and I have quite similar tastes in a number of things. We both loved Being John Malcovich and the new movie Her, where the hero falls in love with his AI operating system. We were excited about the ideas in Heinlein’s “The Moon is a Harsh Mistress” and the works of Huxley. We shared a number of attractions to people in communities.
Without even a masters degree, Dream has somehow managed to secure teaching positions at both MIT and Harvard. Some combination of daring, charm and a highly accessible presentation style is what makes this story believable. But it is Dream’s imagination which makes him such good company for a long drive. He has all manner of wild ideas, some of which just might be huge, if they got the right attention. In this I also see the parts of myself I like best.
Dream is all about empowering kids using long-lever computer tools. Well after midnight when I finally left him behind at Morningstar, he had assembled a group of kids, including Willow to work with his new educational tech tool, called scratch. And within minutes of them working together my son was saying “I want to put up my own website.” And with inspiring teachers like Dream, it can’t be long before this is happening.
[Edited by Vermin F. Cockwolf]
It was perhaps a dozen years ago at a heated polyamory discussion dinner. There was a flirtatious communard who was known to be in a long-term committed relationship and their partner was quite jealous of their attractions outside their established relationship. One side of our divided conversation were people who believed that the responsibility for caring for that relationship was on the shared flirtatious partner. It was on this person to know, respect and communicate any agreements or boundaries the pre-existing relationship placed on the new connection. The other position was that it was good poly practice to communicate directly with your intimate’s other partners, especially if they are known to be jealous, so no one is surprised, everyone is on the same page and the new affair does not have an acidic effect on the existing romance. The group that was advocating for direct inquiry of the jealous partner was the older demographic at the table. I will call this group the Old Guard.
And there was kind of a “guardian” feeling to this concern. Poly is an ambitious relationship model. You are assuming that you can do better than upbringing. That you can transcend the perhaps 30% of all pop songs which promote exclusive romantic role models, or the 50% of soap operas which play off jealousy as a central theme. Not only do you have to be better, but the people you are playing with are going to have to be above average in their response to potentially highly charged emotional circumstances.
Remember the classical trajectory of new intimacies. They start with honeymoons. During this period we tend to be in significant denial about there being any flaws to our new partners. They are wonderful, their feet don’t stink, they treat you like you really deserve to be treated. And while you are wearing these rose colored glasses the existing (in this case jealous) partner can be completely reasonably worried that you would want to spend all your time with this shiny new relationship, rather than the grumpy old one with demanding attention, needing processing and not very fun.
Everyone in the old guard claimed to be not just taking care of the other partner, they were also taking care of the notion of polyamory being a responsible and sustainable relationship model. While it might be fun to jump on a discovered attraction at a party, the clean up can be a nightmare.
The young Turks thought differently (they were mostly 20-something so the label seemed apt at the time). We are adults, we are responsible for our relationships. If someone says they are romantically available to play it is untrusting and perhaps even insulting to say, “oh i have to go make sure i have permission from your main squeeze.” The young Turks thought they were being mature and respectful, the old guard thought the Turks represented the wild, wild west of intimacy frontiers. And while i have my own opinion, i can fully see why both sides believe theirs is a fair and reasonable position.
I am happy that there is again a polyamory discussion group at Twin Oaks, which Sky started up again. It happens on Tuesdays at dinner.
Shal who was at this polyamory dinner so long ago and thinks deeply about these issues had this to say about guards and Turks.
I understand the perspective of assuming new flame can be responsible for their own situation, but we know that is not always how it turns out. After all, the shared lover is looking at the situation with rose colored glasses too.
I agree with the reasons you speak of to be checking in with established intimates of a new flame. And there are some reasons that you did not mention why I think it is wise to be considerate of other partners of a new lover or potential lover. If the topic comes up at the new poly dinner I will mention these.It is not just about whether one gets the ok to start the relationship or not. There are many situations in life when one is more likely to feel ok with a change if one is asked first rather than the change being made without asking. I think this is also true of new relationships with one’s partner. If the other intimate of a new flame is asked nicely, and especially if co is assured co’s situation will be considered and cared about in the decisions made in the future (if that is true), co is more likely to feel ok with the proposed new relationship. And then the new relationship is more likely to go well. So I see such an approach as a wise mix of altruism and self-interest.
Also when in such a situation I would want my new lover’s life to go well, not just when co is with me but also in broader ways. And if co’s current relationship blows up it would cause much unhappiness to this person I care a lot about. So checking in with partners’ partners is not just caring for and about the other intimate one is checking in with, it is also and more importantly caring for and about the person one is getting emotionally involved with.I call such an approach “cooperative poly”.
[Edited by Judy Youngquest]