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"5 Harmful Myths the Ethically Non-Monogamous Community Needs to Address"

on Friday, 24 February 2017. Posted in Front Page Headline, Media Updates


by Michon Neal

5 Harmful Myths the Ethically Non-Monogamous Community Needs to Address

With the rising interest in polyamory and other forms of non-monogamy, our community has a unique platform from which to speak and to possibly transform lives.

But there’s also a bit of a problem. In my experiences with the polyamorous community, I have encountered very little that strikes me as ethical.

And I’m not alone in this.

I’ve known people and seen articles about people who are so fed up with the lack of ethics in non-monogamy that they no longer identify with it?—?and I’m tempted to be one of them.

For a community that prides itself on offering healthier solutions regardless of relationship orientation, the practice of it seems to be more of a burden than a blessing when it comes to certain marginalized people, as pointed out by the article linked above.

There are some deeply ingrained myths about non-monogamy that actually exclude many people with varied experiences?—?especially those of us who have intersecting marginalized identities (minorities of minorities, as I like to call myself).

I am a genderqueer black person who practices relationship anarchy. I have been non-monogamous all my life, even before I knew the terms for it. I am aromantic, pansexual, left-handed, synesthetic, kinky, atheist, and sapiosexual. I have invisible mental and physical illnesses, am neurodiverse, a survivor, poor, and a parent.

I have also had two lovers pass away, one of whom had schizophrenia and the other who had medical illnesses. One was female and the other male; both were black like me.

So when I critique make these criticism of the lack of ethics in ethical non-monogamy, I am coming from 27 years of personal experience, education, and intersection.

Having been at the center of assumptions that nearly cost me my life (like being given the wrong diagnosis and the wrong treatments), I’d like to help unpack those that make the non-monogamous community a rather unethical place to be.

1. Not Everyone Transitions into Non-Monogamy

I very strongly believe polyamory is inherent to my nature. And while nature versus nurture shouldn’t be an issue, my experience of non-monogamy is not the typical narrative.

I never encountered the issues around jealousy, difficult first relationships or abusive partners, or any of the other concerns of those who chose to transition into polyamory. The way I love is different from the “consummate version”?—?The Triangular Theory of Love?—?and yet there wasn’t any nonromantic language to describe what I felt.

So I created some.

Yet, to this day, pretty much all of the community’s stories focus on romantic, white, cis people who’ve transitioned into non-monogamy.

Instead of feeling like I’m part of the community, I ended up feeling more alien than ever.

I appear female, and because I’m black as well, it seems to attract attention from those whose fetishes outweigh my humanity.

When I recently stated that, due to several men in the poly community explicitly ignoring my gender, sexual preferences, and desire for friendship by immediately asking for sex or to explore their fetish with me (and in one case actually being raped by one of these men-who then claimed it couldn’t be rape since I was poly), I would pretty much avoid cis and straight men, I was told that my experiences were too political to be shared in that group.

It exploded as others who’d been fetishized empathized and the rest simply wanted to return to talking about how awesome it was to feel compersion for the first time. ...

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