emanix: (emanix)
I have seen a couple of articles recently with a very similar theme: Porn is bad because well... it's bad, mm'kay. And also kids might see it.

I'm not going to address the question of whether porn is 'good' or 'bad' for adults (I think the answer, as with so many things, is somewhere in the region of 'it depends'), but I made a couple of comments on facebook in discussion about these articles specifically regarding children's access to pornography that I wanted to retain for later use, so I'm going to publish them here to refer back to.

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[Comment one]
Critiquing the existence of porn by objecting that children might see it is like criticising the existence of cutlery because toddlers might hurt themselves on it*, or of horror films because underage children might see those too. Yes, it happens, and sensible folks should take precautions against it happening, but kids are not the target market for porn in the same way that toddlers are not the intended market for knives, or for horror movies.

On the whole the folks who make porn are also in agreement that it's not intended for children, and take steps to avoid it. The people who make porn easily accessible for children are the people who steal it/share it/pirate it, and not the people who make it. Nobody is making porn with the *intention* of kids seeing it, so I think that 'what about the kids who see this?' is not a terribly useful criticism of its content, or of the industry itself, only how it's distributed - and again, that's usually more down to folks other than the makers and publishers of said porn. I think most folks would quite rightly be annoyed at someone leaving knives around where kids can get at them, without blaming the person who made the knife, or trying to ban the manufacture of knives outright. We can accept that there is an appropriate place for knives, and for horror films. Why is the same standard not applied to porn?

On the other hand, I'd far rather kids were watching people having a nice time with each other than, for example, people being beheaded - which is apparently perfectly acceptable in mainstream TV, even before the watershed, while images of naked people enjoying themselves are not."

*By comparing porn with knives, I am not saying that I think porn is 'dangerous', just that neither is a tool intended for children (and it was the first analogy that sprang to mind)


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[Comment two]
Coming back to this after pondering for a few more hours, it follows that tightening up on copyright infringement would probably have a far more pronounced effect on reducing children's access to pornography than any newly created obscenity laws, but to do so in a way overtly linked to porn would probably be political suicide as the government would be accused of protecting the pornographers' interests. Bah. Politics is rubbish.

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So is that the answer to kids accessing material not intended for them? Tightening up on copyright infringement? It's already 'wrong', but currently it's a civil lawsuit and not a criminal one. What would be the impact of making copyright infringement a criminal offence, and would it be effective without international cooperation? Would a public organisation chasing down incidents of copyright infringement help or hinder artists? Would it cost more or less than hunting down 'obscene' materials? Who would get caught up in the collateral damage?

What other ways exist or could exist that might be more effective in preventing children from accessing material not intended for them?

I don't have the answers, only lots more questions, but I think these are more important and relevant questions to be asking than simply 'Why don't we ban EVERYONE from watching porn in case children also see it'. Or you know... while we're at it, we could ban kitchen knives, alcohol, all prescription drugs ever, heavy metal music, horror films and the manufacture of cars, too. After all, everyone knows that children shouldn't have access to those...
emanix: (emanix)


Polyamory is often defined as the practice of engaging in multiple romantic or sexual relationships with the consent of all the people involved.

I think that while that definition is a reasonable one, it doesn't convey the way that polyamory has, for me, opened up an entire new spectrum of potential relationships, of new ways to relate to other people.

Our 'monocentric' or monogamously oriented culture offers a fairly simple view of relationships. The path is laid out for us clearly by our friends, families and the media. We are expected to meet someone, fall in love, go on a few dates, move in together, settle down, get engaged, get married and live happily ever after. Some poly folks refer to this as the 'Relationship Escalator'. Once you are on the Relationship Escalator, a 'successful' relationship is defined as one that ends in marriage, and ideally children. According to this mythos, any relationship that falls outside this track is deemed a failure. For many polyamorous people, however, this is not the case. 'Success' in poly relationships is defined by the people in that relationship, and not necessarily by outside culture.

Just as the greeks had several different words for love, polyamorous people may find that they experience different kinds of relationship with different people. Certainly for some people, poly can offer opportunities for sexual exploration, but for others it can allow the building of close familial bonds, simply with more people. For yet others it can mean creating dispersed networks of long distance loves, and for some of us it means there is space for all of the above: Everything from occasional encounters and romantic but non-sexual friendships, all the way through to deeply committed live-in partnerships. The difference, for poly people, is that our relationship model doesn't tell us how to structure those relationships.

Some Different Styles of Polyamory



Some poly folks prefer to structure their relationships so that they still look very much like the Relationship Escalator model, only with more people in it. These people will still expect to meet someone new, fall in love, date for a period, and then consider adding that new partner to their existing household, before possibly making some sort of long term commitment or raising children together. In other words, it looks a lot like monogamy, only with more people. This is the version of polyamory most often seen in the media, since it is easier for those outside the community to understand and relate to, but it is far from the most common poly relationship structure.

More common in the polyamorous communities that I know is for poly people to form dynamic 'clusters', 'pods', 'polycules' or 'tribes' of interconnected singles, couples and smaller groups. Each relationship within that cluster may have different expectations. Some may be 'primary' style relationships with expectations about cohabiting, shared finances and child rearing (or as I sometimes call them 'Indoor Cat' relationships), some may be 'secondary' or 'satellite' relationships, or ('Outdoor Cats'), with romantic or sexual attachments but fewer shared commitments. Others may sit outside of those expectations entirely. Some poly people may share their living space with people who are not sexual partners, but who are still committed parts of their lives. Some folks may also choose to co-parent with people they are not romantically attached to, or with partners they are not cohabiting with, or pick and choose what aspects of a 'conventional' relationship structure they do and do not apply to each relationship.
Many polyamorous families with children are indistinguishable from the 'blended families' we are seeing more of in our society as a result of divorce (except usually less acrimonious!). Conversely, some monogamous divorced couples are nowadays choosing to build lifestyles that look remarkably similar to poly households, with ex spouses choosing to carry on house-sharing and co-parenting whilst dating other people. Labels, shmabels, eh!

Another, newer, phenomenon in the world of polyamory is the Solo Poly movement. Solo Poly people tend to live alone or cohabit with friends or roommates rather than with partners, and do so intentionally. Their relationships may be committed or not, sexual or not, romantic or not, independently of whether they are cohabiting with their partners. There is an excellent and more informative post about what Solo Poly is and is not here at http://solopoly.net/2014/12/05/what-is-solo-polyamory-my-take/

Where I personally stand is somewhere between those latter two styles of polyamory. Preferring something more akin to relationship anarchy to hierarchies, I like to let each of my relationships find its own level – looking for spaces to fit the people in my life rather than people to fill the preordained spaces. I tend towards the solo poly end of things philosophically. I prefer to keep my finances separate to those of my partners, to always have my own room and my own space. My relationships do not generally follow the Escalator model (several of the most important people in my life live in entirely different cities!). However I am not opposed to sharing living space with one or more partners, assuming we're compatible in that way, and I love the idea of one day building my own poly 'village' which I could share with lots of my partners and metamours. Experience has taught me that life rather often takes me in directions unexpected, however, so there is little I rule out, these days!

How Poly Can Make Different Kinds of Relationship Possible



For me personally, polyamory has made possible a number of relationships that simply could not have worked out in the world of monogamy, or at least with 'standard' relationship expectations.

Take my longest standing partner, for example: We're chalk and cheese in many ways. He is obsessively neat and ordered whereas I love my creative chaos, he loves to have the TV on all of the time whereas I find that it drives me nutty after only a short while, he wants to be interacting all of the time we're in the same building whereas I am more introverted and need to be left alone sometimes to work, or to think. He loves living in the city, whereas I'd rather be outside it these days. There are many ways, big and small, that we are not well suited to share space with each other, yet we have shared a deep, abiding and supportive love for the best part of a decade, have looked after each other financially, physically and most importantly emotionally. We have met each others' parents and colleagues and are firmly established as fixtures in each others' lives, but living together? The way I like to see it is that we love each other enough not to try to squeeze ourselves into that ill-fitting box.

Poly can also allow child-free people to maintain loving and supportive relationships with partners who want children, people with mismatched sex drives to stay in happy and fulfilling romantic relationships with partners they are otherwise perfectly suited with, and people in long distance relationships to find local companionship without harming their existing relationship. It certainly isn't a fix for every kind of relationship problem – far from it, but stepping outside the expectations of monogamy can make some things that would be 'deal-breakers' in a monogamous relationship much less of an issue.

I want to make it clear here that polyamory is NOT just about dating 'enough' people to make sure that all of your 'needs' are met. Known to some as 'Frankenpoly', the idea of adding all of one's partners together to create some sort of gestalt 'perfect poly partner' is flawed and somewhat objectifying. There are some important characteristics every relationship needs to have in order to be a functional and healthy relationship in itself, and the most important of these are compassion and a healthy respect for each other as human beings – not as 'needs fulfilment machines' as Tacit has often put it.

Polyamory has made it possible, too, for me and many other people to experience different sorts of relationships with people one might not normally be compatible with. Including, for me, an incredibly sweet ongoing connection with a young man who is otherwise only into men, and a cheerfully intimate friendship with a cheeky chap who tells me he is 'awful at relationships' mostly because of the nomadic nature of his work, but has been consistently lovely over 15 years of extremely intermittent occasional dates (I suppose I could call this man my longest standing partner but we have probably only spent a week together over that entire time, pleasant as it was).
Poly makes it possible to be a small-but-good thing in someone's life, and vice versa, without having to put any more expectations on that particular relationship. It has enabled me to play more relationships by ear, to 'see where things go', without feeling under pressure to find the one 'perfect' mate. With a rather beautiful irony, that has also allowed me to meet and develop strong relationships with people who turned out to be much larger features in my life than I expected them to be, whom I would have automatically discounted if I had been looking for a monogamous partnership, simply because I didn't believe we would turn out to be as compatible as we actually are.

Non-sexual Relationships and Poly



I want to add in a note here about asexuality and poly. It is an assumption often made by people outside of the polyamorous community – and even some people within our community - that poly is 'all about the sex'. The first page I came to when looking for a good definition of the word described polyamory as 'the practice of having multiple sexual relationships'. I personally would argue that the focus of polyamory, for myself and most of the folks that I know, is much more about the loving than about the sexual aspect of the relationship. Also while I do not in any way define myself as asexual, I have had (and still have) some incredibly satisfying romantic relationships that did not involve sex.
So I want to make it clear that yes, asexual people CAN have romantic relationships, which can also be poly relationships (although they don't have to be) – there is a lovely long 'manifesto' about asexuality and poly here by a blogger I just found when I was looking for references for this essay: https://transpolyasexual.wordpress.com/2014/01/30/my-ace-poly-manifesto/ - and polyamorous people can have romantic relationships that do not include sex. That too is another type of relationship that I firmly believe would not have been available to me if I had been monogamous, thanks to ideas about 'emotional infidelity'. As a sexual person, I could well have have had to choose between the deeper emotional connection on the one hand and a partner I could sleep with on the other. I am incredibly grateful that, thanks to poly, I do not have to make that choice.

I am clearly not the only poly person with a sexual orientation to appreciate the non-sexual opportunities my nonmonogamous relationship model allows me, as this post by The Ferrett shows too. http://www.theferrett.com/ferrettworks/2015/01/a-nice-thing-about-polyamory/

And last but most assuredly not least, there is another, more familial form of love I have found through poly: the love that I feel for my metamours, or my partners' partners. We may not have sexual chemistry (although the complexity of my network within the UK has before now resulted in the invention of the term 'lolomylo' or 'lover's lover who is also my lover'), but we invariably have more in common than just our mutual partner. We may not always agree on everything, but at the end of the day we are connected, by the community we are a part of, by ideology and by our love for our partners. Some of my metamours are also close friends, many of them are activists and, for me at least, being a part of my relationship network very often feels like being a member of a league of superheroes.

Much like this, in fact:



What About You?



In conclusion, being ethically non-monogamous has offered me and those close to me opportunities to build many different kinds of relationships and to tailor those relationships to suit our lives, our needs and our selves. Has poly opened up new kinds of love to you? If so, in what ways? Are there any kinds of love that I missed?

With love (of various sorts!),

Maxine.




[Edit 2015/03/06: Minor changes. Fixed a couple of typos and added in a couple of extra hyperlinks. Made headings more obvious.]
emanix: (emanix)
Subtitle: Seriously, please don't buy me gifts.
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Dear Peoples,

This year (as I have for the past several years) I am declaring my house a Christmas Free Zone. I am excusing myself from participating in a pointless cultural habit.

Some of it is ideological: I am neither a Christian, a Pagan, nor a Capitalist, and while I think it's nice knowing that Isaac Newton was born on the 25th of December, I think he would appreciate the sentiment of my doing nothing at all to celebrate this fact, because he simply isn't around to see it.

Some of it is more practical: After almost a decade of short-term living situations and an entire year of living out of backpack, the idea of acquiring more Stuff gives me an almost-physical pain. I can't help imagining carrying the extra weight of this new item, whatever it is, or doing the calculation in my head, working out which thing in my already full to capacity backpack I will have to give away, destroy, or otherwise leave behind in order to accommodate this new uninvited guest, however small.

Yes, I have a house right now, but my intention is to sell up and go back to being nomadic in the future. Every gift I receive now will have to be either carried or disposed of in the intervening time, and it hurts my heart to receive beautiful things knowing I can't keep them.

I'm not a complete grinch. I don't want to spoil anyone else's fun. I just question how much 'fun' is really involved in the rituals of compulsory gift-giving, emotional blackmail and gluttony that go alongside a traditional celebration of... what? The birth of a prophet who preached poverty, self-immolation and charitable giving? The turning of the seasons?
Why not, then, spare a thought instead for folks who are less well off? Perhaps those who are out in the cold. Rather than indulging in ridiculously high calorie foods, making oneself miserable, or at best uncomfortable, with overindulgence, why not give the whole damn lot to a food bank? Why not the gifts too? Instead of buying yet another gift set of pre-wrapped toiletries, probably destined barely to be glanced over before being placed on a high shelf and left to gather dust, why not say to your friend, family member, colleague, 'Today I made the world a slightly better place'. Why not give to charity instead, or volunteer your time?
Don't get me wrong, I'm not against ever giving gifts. I love gift-giving. I just feel that gifts can happen the other 364 days of the year, for better reasons than 'a historical figure was born over 2000 years ago and probably nowhere near this time of year, so now I have to give you these socks that you didn't ask for...'. I have no objection to giving things to folks, especially if they're useful, wanted, well thought out. If they'll make life genuinely *better* rather than just fulfilling some sort of ritual expectation. I'll probably even be buying gifts for a few people this December, they just won't be christmas gifts.

If you're the sort of person who might have the urge to buy me a gift, I urge you please to reconsider. I have no need of more 'stuff' in my life – in fact, I need less. I have more than enough food, more than enough clothes, a warm place to live. The only thing I'm short on is time. I would rather hear that you had donated to charity on my behalf, or spent some time making the world a better place in some way. Some random act of kindness, or at the very least the carbon-neutral, pollution-free and mostly harmless act that is doing nothing at all.

There will be no christmas cards sent from my house, this year. There will be no tinsel, no baubles, and no tree. There will be no massive christmas dinner, or stressful family visits. Life, in fact, will carry on pretty much as usual, except perhaps a little quieter. Since I first went 'on strike' from christmas, several years ago now, midwinter has become a peaceful contemplative time for me to catch up with myself, my reading, and all of the bits and bobs that have built up through the year. I'll be sorting out my tax return, figuring out what I might be donating to charity on top of the steady stream of possessions I've been giving away over the last few months, and thinking about how I can contribute to the lives of friends and family through the rest of the year. I might get some DIY done.

Whatever I end up doing, I'm rather looking forward to the blissful peace of watching the hustle and bustle of the 'festive season' from a safe distance, and not being involved in any of it.

I guess you could say that this is the gift I'm giving myself.

Love and peace to everyone,

Maxine.

x
emanix: (emanix)
Find out why we call them 'unicorns'.



Edit, 1st October 2014 (Because I realised I hadn't properly defined my terms!):

In the poly community, a 'unicorn' is a somewhat tongue-in-cheek term for a single, bisexual poly woman willing to date both members of a couple, usually in an exclusive triad.

If that's what you're looking for, you may have already heard people tell you that what you're looking for is incredibly rare, and that it's going to be a long hard journey. Most folks just shrug their shoulders at this and say 'that's okay, I'll just keep on looking til I find it.'

So I took a look at just *how* rare finding a unicorn actually is, how many you're likely to find in your own social circle, and how long it might realistically take to find someone, as a couple, to fit you both.

Full disclosure: I am technically a 'unicorn' myself. As a poly bi woman with no formal primary partnership, I am hypothetically open to dating a couple (though the 'exclusive' part isn't for me). But how many times in my 20 years of dating have I actually met and fallen for two people who were also into each other at exactly the same time? Well, I'll let you know at the end of the essay!




As many folks who read my blog know, it is mostly used as a repository for essays on topics that I encounter repeatedly. I've been writing this essay over about three years, adding a tiny little bit every time I see some new person ask the same question, and if you scroll down you'll see it's a pretty long essay. Stick with me. It's worth it.

Everywhere poly and interested folk gather, I hear the refrain “Why is it so hard for us to find the perfect woman to date us both?” often followed up with some sort of comment to the effect of “There's two of us, so that should make it easier, right?”

Sorry, folks! The computer says no!

Finding one single woman (or man*) to date as a couple is many many many times harder than finding a different partner for each of you. And if we look at the finding-a-date process step by step, the numbers will tell you why.

Let's begin our step by step starting with the straight male member of a male/female couple (just for example), and throw some numbers in for illustrative purposes.

So, wannabe poly triad-building guy, let's say that most of your dating experience has been as a single person. That's great! You know how that works. You go out, go online, mingle with folks, you check women out and you see who you find attractive. Let's assume that's about one in ten, or ten percent of the women out there. Hey, you've got some taste, right? But you've already knocked out 90% of the dating population as possibilities. But let's carry on. Ten percent of the available dating population just happens to be your personal version of 'hot'.

Now, you already know how if you are single only a certain percent of the hot women in your dating pool are going to be interested in you. So let's say that maybe ten percent of those women that you find attractive are willing to consider dating you (obviously your mileage may vary, but 10% is a nice easy number to use to demonstrate). Seems like you're off to a great start, right? Right. One in 100 isn't bad odds. You've still got a pretty good chance of finding a date for yourself here. But you're already down to 1% of the total dating pool (that's ten percent of ten percent), and you haven't asked any of the difficult questions yet.

Chance of finding a partner if you're single: 10% of 10% = 1% or 1 in 100

Now, if you are *not* single, you are limiting yourself to only the people within your dating pool who are open to nonmonogamy. Since the vast majority of the population are still not open to poly, we'll take a guess at that again being about ten percent, so now you're looking at ten percent of ten percent of ten percent, that's only 0.1% of everyone who's available for dating. You have already cut your chances of finding compatible people down to one in 1000, simply by being poly. So if you're dating as an individual, your chances of finding someone who's interested in just you are roughly one in every thousand women you check out. If you're surfing dating sites as an individual, or going out and meeting people in public, that's not too bad. Your female partner will probably have about the same odds if she wants to date other guys.

Chance of finding a poly-friendly partner for just one of you: 10% of 10% of 10% = 0.1% or 1 in 1000

But then you want a partner who will also date your female partner. So it gets more complicated.

Assuming you are an m/f couple both looking for a partner in common, you are also looking for a woman who is bisexual. But don't forget, you're still limiting yourself to being inside that group of 'people who are open to nonmonogamy AND attracted to you'.
Across the board of sexuality studies, the highest estimated percentage of the population who are interested in same sex relationships is approximately ten percent (usually it's less, but we're rounding it up to make things look more hopeful here!). If your female partner is looking independently for another female partner who doesn't need to be attracted to you, her odds will be about here: ten percent of ten percent of ten percent of ten percent, or in other words, about one in 10,000. Out of the general population, only one woman in 10,000 is likely to be hot, poly and as attracted to your female parter as she is to them.

Chance of finding a poly-friendly same sex partner for just one of you: 10% of 10% of 10% of 10% = 0.01% or 1 in 10,000

BUT you're still looking for a partner who will date BOTH of you, not just one of you, so it gets more complicated again.

Specifically bisexual people account for probably about half of that 'interested in same sex relationships' population (maybe a bit less). So again, you're cutting your odds down, this time to about 5% of your already limited group of 'hot women who are open to nonmonogamy AND already attracted to you'.
So that's five percent of ten percent of ten percent of ten percent. You're down to 0.005% of the dating population... That's one in 20,000, and we haven't even accounted for whether or not those women are attracted to your female partner yet – after all, we were so far just looking at women who were attracted to *you*.
So assuming your female partner is about as attractive as you are, and sexily compatible with about ten percent of the people she meets, that adds another zero in front of your chances.

(I'm also assuming here that you and your partner have *exactly* the same tastes, and exactly the same definition of what is 'hot' in a potential partner. If your tastes differ, that's going to reduce your options still further, but lets not, because that's just going to get depressing!).

Still following the maths? Right now, the percentage of hot bisexual women in the dating pool who are open to nonmonogamy AND likely to be interested in dating you AND interested in dating your partner as well is ten percent of five percent of ten percent of ten percent of ten percent. Out of all the potential women in the dating pool, you're now down to 0.0005%, or roughly one in 200,000 women. At this point you have probably run out of women in your dating pool. Hell, you've probably run out of women in your entire state, but hey, if you cast your net wide enough...

Chance of finding a poly-friendly partner interested in both of you: 10% of 5% of 10% of 10% of 10% = 0.005% or 1 in 200,000

And that isn't even taking into account whether or not those women are open to being in a *closed* triad with you, just whether they might be interested in dating you in the first place. The number of poly women who will be open to creating a closed triad with you will be even smaller. Oh what? About ten percent, we figure? That's one in two million women, folks.

Chance of finding a poly-friendly partner interested in both of you AND in exclusivity: 10% of 10% of 5% of 10% of 10% of 10% = 0.0005% or 1 in 2,000,000

You probably call your existing partner 'one in a million', but to actually find ONE woman interested in setting up a FIRST date with both of you, are you really prepared to make contact with two million women?

And folks wonder why they're still looking years later...


*These numbers work equally well if you're an m/f couple looking for a male 'unicorn', just flip the gender of the 'partner' bits of the workings out, I just went with the most common scenario I see for illustration purposes. It's a little different, numerically speaking, if you're already a same sex couple, but not very.




So how long would it take you to sift through two million women, anyway?

How about I throw in some more numbers in for you?

Let's say you're trying to do most of your dating organically, in person or through forums, poly groups and other social mingling. Let's also wildly exaggerate and say that you can meet one woman every minute of your day. If you could do that non-stop without eating, sleeping, going to work or anything else, that alone adds up to nearly four years.

More realistically, you'll probably only be able to devote an hour a day to meeting brand new people. After all, you have lives to lead. At one hour a day, that initial sift alone will take you something like ninety years (actually, I make it 91.32 years ).

Now let's say you spend ten minutes chatting to all the women you find attractive (another 91.32 years), and another ten minutes chatting with the women who seem to be attracted to you. That's only an extra nine years at this point.

Oh hey, you've found out some these women are poly! And bi! You've got to chat with them a little longer, maybe research their background a bit. You're going to have to introduce them to your female partner, see if they get on. You've made great progress though! That's such a short list of women it's not even going to take you a month to sift through and figure out who's into who. You're so nearly there, after a mere 192.74 years of searching, why it's enough to make you drop your walking stick and click your heels together. It's time to actually go on some dates!

So let's say you and your partner finally have a shortlist of women who are hot, bisexual, poly, and even better, attracted to the both of you. Let's say out of your initial two million women, you've managed to narrow it down to ten. You take each one of those women out on a couple of dates to see how you get along, and then you pop the question: “Would you like to be in a closed triad with the two of us?” It's only going to take you twenty days or so. Barely even three weeks worth of dating. Of course, most of the hot bi babes say no. Perhaps they can't see themselves cutting off their options that way. Perhaps they already have existing partners they don't want to dump just for the privilege of being with you. Perhaps it's just not their style (It's not you, it's them). It doesn't matter though. Out of those ten women you spent nearly three weeks dating, miracle of miracles, one of them has said YES!

And it only took you 192.79 years to find someone who wants to start to date both of you. Assuming you're still alive, you'll all be over two hundred years old by now, so I figure you'll all have the maturity to build a successful relationship from this point, plus be too tired to look for anyone else if it doesn't work out. Congratulations! You've found your unicorn! Well done!




...in other words, unicorn hunting is the relationship equivalent of spending every day sitting at home imagining what you will do 'when you win the lottery', rather than going out to work and building yourself a viable business.

That doesn't mean you need to stop buying lottery tickets, but in the meantime why not go out, build solid relationships, build friendships, build family even, with people who fit *you*, and maybe in doing so you'll happen across people who also fit your other partner or partners.

Yes, it sounds like more work and less 'romantic', but on the other hand it's a whole lot more reliable.


Check my maths!

You can see my workings as a spreadsheet here: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1sm5YD8WASdDDs3RcIKUzaLaqF2yMuJe9TBE8tW8tl9U/edit?usp=sharing





Some further reading for couples who are seeking to date a 'unicorn', or for bisexual folks considering dating both or part of a couple:

About bisexuality:
Bisexuality & Statistics: Twice as many dates? (2010-07-16)

http://www.bisexualindex.org.uk/index.php/Main/Bisexuality#equal

More about unicorn hunting, and some advice from experienced poly folk:
http://goodmenproject.com/sex-relationships/hunting-the-elusive-unicorn/

http://www.multiplematch.com/2012/11/why-unicorn-hunting-is-exercising-couple-privilege/

http://unicorns-r-us.com/

http://polytical.org/2012/07/triads-ts/

About dating a couple:
http://www.morethantwo.com/coupledating.html





So, as a 'unicorn', how many times have I actually met and fallen for two people who were also into each other at exactly the same time? --- 0.

That would be big fat zero. I have, however, been dating a wonderful couple for the last several years.
Because they were confident and independent enough to date separately, I was dating him for at least a year when a surprise 'spark' developed with her too. If I'd had to choose between both or neither right at the start though? I'd have had to choose neither, and that would have been a sad loss for all of us.
emanix: (emanix)
(From my personal manifesto)

Live cheaply. Keep the regular costs as low as possible, and save the rest for investments. Invest in things that add to your life. Good shoes for comfort, a good coat for warmth, a camera for memories. Prioritise. Resist ostentation unless it brings joy to people who aren't you.

When you have all you actually need, invest in story. Never forget that narrative has value. Give your lunch to a homeless person. Run naked in the rain. Change the world for the better. Tell a story with your life, and make it a good one.

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- Written ‎12 ‎January ‎2013. I think when I wrote it originally I considered it unfinished, but having found it on my laptop again today, I think that it stands perfectly well as it is so I'm posting it.
emanix: (restricted area)

I am not a brat.

I tend to keep my submissive streak rather quiet. Partly because it's very very rare that it comes out. I have gone most of thirty years and only been submissive for a few days of that, at most. Partly because I see the lack of respect towards submissives in certain parts of the kink scene and perhaps a bit selfishly, to avoid having to spend hours explaining myself or challenging prejudice, I have sometimes taken the easy route to avoiding that. Not by lying, but certainly by omitting to mention my switchy side when in public. I have also hidden my masochistic aspect on occasion, despite that being much larger, because it frustrates me when people automatically assume that masochist equals submissive, and submissive equals masochist (I've written about it in my livejournal before: http://emanix.livejournal.com/24585.html ). I work hard though, nowadays, to break down that false assumption and free other kinky folk from unsatisfying and confusing relationships. Most often, when I play these days, it's something along the lines of 'Masochist Dom' (“Spank me! No, harder! Mmm, that's good. More. Good boy!”)

But I do have a submissive side. There is a part of me that very occasionally wants someone else to be in charge, someone telling me what to do, or what is going to be done to me. It's small, but it runs deep, and comes out only when I'm with people I feel very very safe around, whom I respect emotionally and intellectually, and most often when I'm feeling pressured by the outside world and looking for a safe space to go to, where someone I trust is willing to take on the responsibility of making decisions for me, just for a while. And I am not a brat.

A brat is someone who misbehaves deliberately in order to be punished. An awful lot of masochists are brats, through nature or through training. The outside world teaches us that physical punishment is a response to bad behaviour. A child does something hurtful to themselves or others, and is given a smack as a swift way to create an aversion to that behaviour. Many countries in the world still use corporal punishment to control adults. More importantly, it is normal not to reward bad behaviour, for obvious reasons. If someone hurts you, or takes something of yours, you don't give them a lollipop. It is obvious to most people that giving someone a reward for undesired behaviour is going to result in more of that same behaviour. For a masochist, which I'm going to define here as 'someone who enjoys pain', a spanking is pretty much the same as that lollipop. If you give someone what they enjoy, every time they do something that's annoying or upsetting, you are setting them up to want to do those annoying or upsetting things more often. Even if they don't really want to do those things otherwise. Even if those things are actually bad for them. If you are habitually rewarding a person for bad behaviour, they will keep doing it because they want the reward. Curiously enough, outside the world of kink, this is known as a 'perverse incentive' (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Perverse_incentive). I've known certain masochists who were trained into behaving horribly, being genuinely rude and hurtful to people who weren't consenting to be a part of their scene, because it meant they would be 'in trouble' and get the punishment they really wanted.

I am a masochist, and sometimes I'm submissive, and I am not a brat.

It's still not an easy concept to explain in the abstract, so I'll work through an example:
A few years ago, I moved from a three bedroom house into a single room, and since I had way too much stuff in a very small space, I was struggling to keep it tidy. My primary partner at the time told me he planned to spank me every time he visited and saw that my room was messy. He thought he was being wonderfully helpful – and it would have made perfect sense, in the rest of the world. But for me, that was a stressful and hurtful position to be in, because spanking was something I enjoyed and wanted, this meant I had to choose between two situations I didn't want. If I had a tidy room, it would mean no lovely spankings, but if I left my room messy then I'd get spankings but I'd also have a room I hated to live in. Whatever I did, I lost. Eventually I burst into tears and begged him to please spank me when my room was tidy, or it would never be tidy again.

Don't get me wrong, 'bratting' works really well for some people. At times, it can be a really useful way to negotiate consent without dropping out of role in a scene. When I'm in charge I might threaten to spank someone if they poke their tongue out at me, and then I know, if they poke out their tongue it's a sign they want to get spanked. For some people it's a fun game to play, to see how much you can 'get away with' before you get punished. But (and a few people might find this rather surprising) my subbie side is not a bad girl. Submissive bunny desperately wants to please and hates the idea of doing something upsetting or wrong deliberately. If I've really done something wrong, a mere expression of disappointment is enough to devastate. Punishment of any sort is rather redundant, and physical violence when someone is genuinely angry at me just feels like abuse. I really, really don't want something I love (i.e. pain) associated with negativity and anger.

So how do you punish a masochist?

Well, for one thing, speaking for a moment from the dominant's perspective instead, and an occasional student of psychology, I would question the idea of 'punishment' at all. If you're genuinely in D/s for the purpose of behaviour modification, then there's a lot of research out there talking about how positive or negative reinforcement (i.e. rewarding good behaviour by offering something nice, or by taking away an adverse condition - "you will have to put up with this thing you don't like until you behave yourself properly") is more effective than punishment for long term change. If you're just doing it out of sadism, as an excuse to inflict some torture, then why not be more straightforward about it? “I want to see you suffer. Be a good girl and take it for me.” is, at least to me, hotter and more honest than “You're a bad girl, you need to be punished!” If that's not the way you're kinked, though, and you really, really want to punish, for correction, or just to be evil, then you have to consider what constitutes a reward or a punishment for the individual. Everyone has their own 'thing'. Some people love marmite, and would be really happy to be rewarded with a slice of marmite on toast. Other folks hate the stuff, and would see it as the worst punishment in the world. Same goes for pain, isolation, being enclosed, being paid attention to, being ignored, being humiliated... I could go on and on. For every person who likes something, there is someone who dislikes it. For every fetish there is a phobia. Yes, it requires communication, it requires paying attention. It might even lead to the terrifying possibility of intimacy. For me? Quite honestly, the thought of receiving a pedicure makes me squirm in discomfort. Try inflicting that on me if I'm not in a particularly agreeable headspace and the results will *not* be good.

But if you hate my essay, you're welcome to spank me for it. I'll just enjoy it

emanix: (Default)
If you were watching my twitter, or my tweet-archive (http://emanix-tweets.livejournal.com/) on the 14th of October you'd have seen this series of tweets:

  • Mon, 18:29: I suspect those who ought to see this won't, but #PSA: MEN! FOR THE LOVE OF FUCK, WOMEN ON THE STREET DO NOT EXIST FOR YOUR ENTERTAINMENT!


  • Mon, 18:29: #PSA brought to you by several groups of assholes who demanded I 'perform' in some way on the street today, just bc I'm female. #SmileDarlin


  • Mon, 18:34: Not usually quite so angry at male entitlement, but after 1hr outdoors & a 5th demand to please a total stranger, nearly threw a punch.


  • Mon, 19:10: Actually, now I think about it, a T-shirt reading "I AM NOT HERE FOR YOUR ENTERTAINMENT" would be the perfect answer. @bigcalm


It was a Monday afternoon, I'd been at home looking after my partner's cat and doing some work. Y'know, hanging around the house.

And, oddly enough, despite my reputation, I'm not in the habit of hanging around the house dressed in anything provocative, or even particularly eyecatching. A T-shirt, a skirt, a fleece hoody. Not things that yell "Look at meeee!"

And then I step out for just a second, to talk with the next door neighbour, and the door slams behind me.

So, perhaps not the most auspicious start to an afternoon, but I figured it was a sunny day, I'd view it as an opportunity to enjoy the sunshine, take a walk, run some errands.

Perhaps it was the weather. Perhaps I'm just not often walking around my area on a Monday afternoon. I don't know, but it seemed like there were more men around than usual. And they all wanted something. Attention? Yeah, mostly.

I bristled as I took the shortcut down the edge of my local park, when a guy accompanied by two pals yelled 'Give us a kiss!'
I gritted my teeth, clenched my fists and checked there was a wall behind me if I needed to defend myself (since I walk with a stick, I'm always conscious that, given fight or flight, the 'flight' bit really isn't an option), and I kept on walking past. Shoulders tensed. Very, very aware that they were behind me.

Does that sound like an overreaction? Overly paranoid? As a lone woman, in a quiet, and not particularly overlooked area, being approached by three guys, one of whom is yelling at me, even if it is 'friendly', I don't think so.

The next guy? I don't remember what he said. It wasn't anything that could have got him arrested, but whatever it was he wanted me to do, I didn't feel like doing it. And I could feel the waves of disapproval coming off him as I didn't comply. As he walks past, frowning. Muttering about what a miserable bitch, or something to that effect.

The thing is, after an hour out of doors, and several of these approaches, I'm so keyed up and on my guard that I'm even ready to punch the elderly gentleman who passes me outside the rail station and cheerily shouts "Smile, Darlin'!" - but what business of his is it if I'm smiling anyway? It's not YOUR face, it's mine.

The worst bit, though? This isn't even that unusual. It's all the time. It's everywhere. women put up with this sort of behaviour every day.

Kitty Stryker posted a blog about the same thing, the very next day: "hey baby, nice tits, where you going?"

Check out the cartoon with that blog. It's the fifth panel that says it all to me: The guy yelling out of a car window, "Hey, I'm talking to you!... Fuck you then!" There's this undercurrent, you see, of aggression to a lot of these 'exchanges' (I use 'exchanges in quotes, since usually the approaches are entirely one way). There's so often this air of entitlement - and when the guy doesn't get what he wants, of anger. As though, as a female person, I owe him. And, perhaps, just possibly, if he doesn't get his way, maybe he'll resort to violence.

Yes, I've exclusively used male pronouns to refer to people who behave this way. Would I be just as pissed off at this behaviour if it was women demanding that I 'perform' in some way on the street, for complete strangers? Yes, I would. Especially if they were in groups, and bigger than me, and I were on my own. But 99.999% of the time, it's a man, or multiple men.

And even if it's just one guy, who isn't all that aggressive, it's hard to challenge this shit. We're trained, as girls, as human beings, to be polite. Even to people who aren't being polite to us. We're trained to try to help, to try to please. Maybe we'll even try to oblige, just to 'be nice'. But sometimes, it's time to make a stand, and draw a line, and say 'this is not okay', so here I am.

I really don't imagine for a minute that anyone reading this blog will be the sort of guy who demands anything on the street from a total stranger. But just in case... if you find yourself about to call out a demand, or even a request. Even "Smile!" have a think about it. You have no idea who this person is, where they came from, or where they're going to. You have no idea what the last half-dozen people they passed said to them. Maybe they got locked out. Maybe they're on their way to a funeral.

Fine, if you get eye contact, wish them a good day, but do me a favour... do us *all* a favour, and don't give orders to random women on the street. Respect people's personal sovereignty, people!

NOBODY owes you a smile, or a kiss, or the time of day, or even a hello. No random person on the street owes you ANYTHING. And you don't owe them either.

Actually, what you can *really* do to help if you are a guy, and you see this sort of behaviour, what you can really do about it, is calling that stuff out. You don't need to make a massive fuss. Just a shake of the head and a comment along the lines of 'That's not cool' will go a very long way, especially coming from another guy. From someone who is, near enough, their peer group. If you get the opportunity to expand, see if they can empathise with the hypothetical woman who's on her way to a funeral, and really doesn't want to be yelled at. Explain why the behaviour is shitty.

And if you're a guy, and I hear you explaining to another guy why this sort of thing isn't respectful of women? I will happily owe you a beverage of your choice.

And in the meantime, to take the message to the people who actually need it, on the street, in the politest way I can, I'll be wearing this:

I am not here for your entertainment.

If you want to take the message out there too, the awesome  [livejournal.com profile] joreth (@Joreth on twitter) has made these shirts available in her Spreadshirt store here: http://polytees.spreadshirt.com/your-entertainment-A8317338
emanix: (Default)
(Cross-posted from Polytical.org - original article here)

When I first moved to London at the start of 2007 I was lucky enough that I *had* heard of polyamory. I even defined myself as polyamorous, thanks to a chance encounter with a copy of The Ethical Slut in an Ottawa bookshop. What I had no idea about was where to find other people like myself. It seems like poly people were a rare life form who only existed on the internet or in the USA.

Then, when I heard about Polyday thanks to another chance meeting, I can honestly say it was the beginning of a new chapter of my life. I discovered that not only were there other poly people in the UK, but there was a thriving community, and events I could go to, to meet people like myself. I felt like I had finally come home.

I volunteered to help run Polyday in 2009 because I think community is important. After years of feeling like a fish out of water, the poly community in london and around the UK provided a much-needed safe space where I could finally be myself amongst a bunch of awesome people, and since I’ve been organising the event I’ve had similar feedback from a lot of other folks. Not to mention some beautiful emails to say thanks for introducing people to new loved ones. Polyday is notoriously a high point in the year for new relationships in the poly community as well - though we emphasise that it is *not* a dating event, being surrounded by so many lovely non-monogamous folks a few are bound to hit it off!

There's always something for everyone, from complete beginners to seasoned ‘polyamorists’ and activists, from vanilla to kinky, and whether you're into men, women or everything in between. Plus there will be a some fun sessions and evening entertainment thrown in for good measure.
If you’ve heard of polyamory but are unsure how to put it into practice or where to find out more, polyday is a great place to start.
If you’ve been poly for years and think you have it down, consider coming to our more advanced sessions and sharing your experience with other ‘experts’, joining in the 'poly crafting' workshop, helping out with the running of the day, or perhaps even volunteering to run a workshop - there are still a couple of slots free as I write this.

Whether you’re new to poly or not, this is *your* community event. Even if you feel like you've nothing to learn there is space to chat, share stories and connect with people you may not have met before, or haven't seen since the last Polyday. Come on home.

This year’s Polyday will be on the 27th of August, in central London at Dragon hall (near Holborn). Doors open at 11:30 a.m. and workshops start from noon, with nice long breaks between sessions for coffee and chat, and a dinner break to take advantage of the huge number of excellent local eateries before evening ents until 11pm. Online booking is already open, and there are more details on the website (which will continue to be updated as the event gets closer) at www.polyday.org.uk

You can see Bobbu's round-up of his experiences as a Polyday volunteer here: http://polytical.org/2011/01/a-summary-of-polyday/

I’ll look forward to seeing you all there!

emanix: (emanix)
Ever put up a blog post and then realise only days later you've left out the most important part?

So I posted yesterday about the concept of Self-Evident Epiphanies, but forgot what the burning reason I wanted to talk about it actually was.

Last week I had another Self-Evident Epiphany that I found both utterly banal, and yet deeply inspiring, and it goes as follows:

Every person I have ever admired, every person in power, and every famous person who ever existed was, or is, a human being.

I mean, honestly, take away the crowns, the robes, the uniforms, the bodyguards, the sound technicians, special effects artists, hyperbole and magical thinking, and what have you got? Just people. Making the best decisions they know how.

I mean, think about it. George Bush... is a person. Margaret Thatcher... is a person, Winston Churchill... was a person. Che Guevara, now a near-meaningless T-shirt icon... was a person. Queen Boadicea was a person. Martin Luther King was a person. Emmeline Pankhurst was a person. Lucy Stone was a person. Einstein was a person. Stan Lee, creator of so many superheroes, is a person. Joan of Arc was a person. Buddha. Was a person. Mohammed. Was a person. Jesus Christ. Was a fricking person. Every hollywood actor you know about... is a person. Every musician you've heard of, is a person. Britney Spears, love her or hate her, is a person. Pretty much everyone you've ever heard of, with the exception of fictional characters (and even including some of those - I mean, for example, Saint Nicholas, before he was Santa Claus, he was a person), everyone who had a part in building the world we live in is or was a person. Some of them started out with advantages, others didn't, but every single one of them is or was a person, making the best decisions they know how.

Clearly I'm not the first person to have this sort of thought - After all, it's Self-Evident. Here's Richard Feynman talking about having a 'Healthy Disrespect For Authority'
(Ed. 6/1/2012 - Oops, link broke! A new one can be found here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yhD0MxacnIE )

But why is this important? Because sometimes I catch myself making excuses, telling myself it's okay to not even try to change the world, even when it hurts me, because it's a big world, and I'm just one person. Sometimes I make decisions that are a bit feeble, and I tell myself it's okay, because I'm only human.

But everyone I've ever admired, every person in power, and every famous person who ever existed was, or is, a human being.

And so are you.

SEE?
emanix: (restricted area)
.

Extended Title: Collateral Damage - How certain members of society are disadvantaged and/or criminalised by laws intended to protect. - Part 1. How being assaulted can make you a criminal.

I had been planning to present an essay on this topic later on, after I'd put up OpenCon follow-ups (they're coming!) and I still intend to. At the rate I am coming up with new examples, it may turn out to be several, possibly even a book, chaos save us. However, an article on the BBC News site was brought to my attention this afternoon that literally made me feel nauseous.

Long, ranty and potentially triggering for some (for reasons that should be clear from the above title). )

I'm not a lawyer. I don't have the legal language to name whatever system we should be using, but this isn't it. Victims of any kind of assault need to be able to choose, at any point in the process, to back out without fear of censure. To demand otherwise is inhumane. If we want to take crimes against the person seriously, then lets do that, but not at the expense of criminalising the very people who need the protection of the law.




Edit:
Another similar article here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2010/nov/09/woman-jailed-dropping-rape-charges
emanix: (Default)
Wow it's been a busy month! A lot of new friendships, a may-be new relationship, a lot of new ideas, and a lot of running around.

Idea 1. I love Frolicon!

The first of April saw me at Frolicon - utterly fabulous. Great to see a lot of the people I connected with last year again. And also a certain person that I only briefly bumped into last year, we hit it off *very* well, and I got to hang out with a lovely portion of the polyfamily, too. That was lovely! Now engaged in one of several 'Sooper Sekrit Projects' which involve a great deal of awesome... and tentacles! Frolicon makes me very happy, and it is worth a lot to me to keep going back there. Where else could I find such people? Perhaps not quite so appealing to [livejournal.com profile] werenerd - he and jetlag are not good friends, but I think we'll be back - it was also our anniversary party, after all!

Idea 2. Skeptical Tantra.

Barely had time to breathe in London, catch up on work and spend a little time with my other primary before [livejournal.com profile] werenerd and I were off to a Tantra weekend where I yelled at the instructor for spouting sexist drivel, but also was inspired by the challenge of taking what is good and valuable from these practices (and there certainly *are* parts that are good and valuable) and separating it from the pseudoscience and religious babble.
I realise I'm pretty well-placed to do this. I've been studying sex in a casually academic sense for some 20 years*, I have useful knowledge of the real science behind the pseudoscience, and I have worked for and with a tantra school, one of the teachers for which is conveniently a housemate. It's a hell of an undertaking, but the groundwork is there already that would make it possible, and I feel it would be useful to the world. I'm giving this some serious thought.

Idea 3. Rethinking my views on long-distance relationships.

Once upon a time I swore I woudn't ever have another long-distance relationship, mostly based on the fact that every time I have done it's caused me immense stress thanks to partners being not okay with polyamory (often after previously having been fine with it). These days I might flirt with an openly poly person who lived a bit further away, but had been keeping them somewhat casual out of wariness. My experience of poly thus far is that it works better when partners are local. Perhaps, though, if the person(s) concerned are poly activists, it might in fact be worth taking that chance? It's not as if I don't have plenty of long-distance friendships. I still can't see myself taking on a new relationship with a person that isn't already poly, though. I just don't have that kind of energy these days. One policy change at a time, I think!

Idea 4. Being a 'Superhero'.

Having watched 'Kick-Ass', (which was awesome and you all want to see it!) I went home thinking about 'if I was a superhero, what would I call myself?' I came up with the name 'Polly Amorous' and was amazed to discover that this was in fact available as a web domain, so I impulse-bought it and am now considering what to put there. Suggestions welcomed!

Two vaguely serious thoughts followed - one related to my post on being SAMOTURE: that actually, we *are* all responsible for the state of the world we live in, and taking the cop-out option to be bystanders in our own lives... well, it just plain sucks.
From the film: "with no power comes no responsibility... except that's not true."
How does one encourage heroism anyway?

Secondly, that poly people often seem to be considered 'other' by the media in the same way that superheroes are. Every article I read lately seems to include some phrase equivalent to 'this is not for the average Joe', whereas I would protest that we are very much normal people, just normal people with one slightly different belief. I really feel the need to challenge that perception.
So... there will no doubt be related rants, cartoons, essays and other stuff on www.PollyAmorous.com - watch this space!

Idea 5. Boobquake! Today!

Encountered on twitter, details are here: http://www.blaghag.com/2010/04/in-name-of-science-i-offer-my-boobs.html
In the name of science I shall be also be trotting around town this evening wearing the most immodest dress I can, and my lovely housemate [livejournal.com profile] getoffmoiland will be joining me. Pics later!

Join the #boobquake on Twitter! For Science!

Next month looks to be equally busy, so I intend to spend much of next week being a 'hermit', attempting to get some artwork done, and getting a little rest in if I can, as well. I shall be remaining in South London, and not allowing people to entice me into town during the evenings, which are always (annoyingly) the most productive part of my day.

Love to everybody!




*For the hyperobservant of you, yes really. I said academic, not in a physical manner. That came a little later.
emanix: (Activist)
I'd love for everyone to read this and answer me a couple of questions afterwards:

What are your stereotypes, when you think of what an activist looks like?

Are you SAMOTURE?

Read more... )


Activism isn't just for a select few people at the 'top' of society, it's for everyone, and it's our responsibility to keep nibbling away at it until the world is how we want it.
emanix: (Default)
Last night, I'm up at silly o clock in the morning, trying to draw, but distracted, and I come across mention of a woman online with a tattoo on her arm. It reads 'strap-on' and pictures a naked woman straddling a tool, and I find myself thinking 'that's a bit tasteless, what if she regrets it when she gets older?'

Then I realised there were a lot of things wrong with that thought.
First, who appointed *me* queen of taste? I'm an artist, yes. That gives me a perspective, not the whole rule book.
Second, what has it got to do with me what she wants to do with her body?
Third, what kind of hypocrite am I, forgetting I have my own tasteless tattoos (just because they're in latin doesn't make them any less tacky, does it? Maybe a little?).
Fourth, what's this obsession with people changing their minds?
I realised a whole lot of that response was about my having internalised attitudes straight out of the western media. Good old family values type journalism in which y'know, everybody could maybe have a future as a politician, or a respected public figure, and you wouldn't want to jeopardise that with a silly tattoo now, would you?
Worse still, I realised that if it was a man, I probably wouldn't have had the thought at all - but society tells us that women in particular are prone to changing their minds.

I've been thinking a lot about life choices lately. Decisions are often a hard thing for me. It's not that I lack confidence in the choices I make, on the contrary, when I actually do make a decision, it sticks. It's just that I rarely feel strongly enough about anything for me to want to make the choice. Often, the decisions I've made were based on what gave me the most options farther down the line. I realise I'm always, always thinking 'but what if  I change my mind?' There comes a point though, when choices have to be made. One can't remain in the bud forever.

I recently volunteered to run an event called Polyday (http://www.polyday.org.uk) - a day of workshops, entertainment and social meeting point for Polyamorous people from across the UK. I thought long and hard about the decision before I made it - not so much because of the work involved, or about taking on the responsibility, but about making the declaration "I am poly" to the world. It would be rather ridiculous after all, to run a national level event and have any thoughts about remaining in the closet. And closets, like overstuffed suitcases at the end of a holiday, are notoriously hard to go back into. I considered the possible repercussions all the way into the future, and found that I cared far less about any possible negatives to myself, than about the sad image of a future where events like this didn't exist.

But it wasn't really until last night that I realised there's been a part of me still waiting to decide what I'm going to be 'when I grow up', and always thinking about the 'what-ifs', without ever really focusing on the what I AM.

I'm probably never going to have a career in politics. If at any point I do though, it would be against who I am to try to hide behind a screen of assumed 'virtue'. I have accepted myself, and have no dirty secrets, they're simply a part of who I am. Sex-positive, perpetually curious and wanting to explore everything the world has to offer. I have a past, which of course has made me who I am today, and I'll wear the marks, and the scars, with pride.
I realise now I'm thinking about it that I'd rather have some people running the country with a little colour, some character, some history than the dull grey figures we have today, as career politicians. The idea that the people running the country ought to be pristine married-when-virgins, never modified their bodies, not even an unusual hair colour, never experimented with anything out of the straight and narrow, never had any *fun*... it's crazy. No wonder it's hard to live up to the standard, and all the political parties seem to be the same.

So back to Ms. Strap-on, I want to make her a little apology - sorry about my patronising response earlier. Congratulations on having the courage of your convictions. If you should happen to run for some sort of public office in my area (and your views aren't totally off the wall crazy), then you just got my vote.

Butterfly

May. 1st, 2009 05:49 am
emanix: (Default)
Roughly three years ago now, I began an anonymous online journal*, intending to write about my experiences entering into polyamory as a lifestyle (having known I wasn't happy with monogamy for a long time before that, but being derailed by partners, attitudes and random events that meant I was 'accidentally monogamous' for a long time). It didn't turn out to be quite what I intended.
What I actually recorded was three years of living as a poly person in a community of non-poly people. Monogamites, as I tend to think of them. Three years of being in the closet, and accepting that my innate identity was something to be shut away, hidden and brought out only in private, whispered about in dark corners and conducted furtively.
Three years of internalised shame and embarrassment, and paranoia, culminating in one abusive relationship to end all of them, which I only really woke up from when I had to get the police involved.
Very recently though, I turned a corner. Partly thanks to finally coming into contact with some members of the poly-activist community in London, where I am based, and gaining a support network for coming out in, and partly thanks to this post http://tacit.livejournal.com/207965.html - which crystallised some of the arguments I had actually made way back in early 2006, when I was debating whether or not to make my blog public and write as myself, and let myself get talked out of openness by well-meaning people, and partners who claimed to love me, but weren't accepting enough of my lifestyle to fight for my right to have it and be open about it.

Now... 

You know what? I am proud of what and who I am. I've thought long and hard about my life choices, and about what parts of my personality are mere preferences, and what parts are innate *me*, and ever since I can remember I have put a lot of work into being a good person, and an ethical person, and developing the right kind of communication skills, and patience to be who I want to be, (and lord knows that last one was hardest of all) all without feeling the need to be told what to do by a 'higher authority', be that teacher, religious leader, ephemeral spirits or whatever, and without feeling that I have to follow the herd either. I have applied principles of critical thinking to my own lifestyle and attitudes and come up with a set of personal codes that I believe is both ethical *and* rational. My opinion is valued amongst people I care about and respect, and there are things I want to say. Not as an anonymous 'masked crusader', but as me.

I am, amongst many other things, bisexual, polyamorous, a BDSM switch, a radical agnostic, ambidextrous, an artist with a scientific mind, a geek, a fighter, a drinker of huge amounts of tea, and a person who is deeply upset at the horrible things people do to each other on a daily basis and wants to fight it with big piles of love and joy.
I am proud of the fact that, barring abusive psycho-guy, I am still on good terms with all of my ex-partners. I am proud that even whilst I was in recovery from that relationship, people I hold dear still felt they could come to me for help and advice. I am proud that despite all temptation, I refuse to allow one, or even a series of painful relationships to sour my view of all people (I am wary, yes, but I refuse to treat people with the suspicion that was aimed at me).

Another thing I am is angry. Not so much at the partners who asked me to hide who I was, but at the fact that they felt they needed to, and the society that taught my lovers (and me) that it was the right way to be, however much we all ended up hurting because of it. Through allowing people to talk me out of a large chunk of my self-esteem, through allowing myself to be closeted by others, I feel I contributed ultimately to my own abuse.

In some ways, I am lucky. I have a large number of friends amongst whom I have always been 'out' about everything I am (To some I 'came out' as a geek long after I came out about everything else). My brother knows pretty much everything, and my mother, whilst not officially In The Know, has talked with me about the fact that I was 'seriously' dating two guys who knew about each other, and seen the toys in my room, and watched me letch over women, without anything more than a smile and a raised eyebrow (and in one case, perhaps a hint of envy).  I grew up with some open minded and intelligent friends - the geek crowd - and felt free to be whoever I wanted to be in the schoolyard, even if it wasn't the most popular person in the school. Also, as an artist, the chances of my losing my job over my sexuality or sexual preferences is really quite low - the odd client, perhaps, but certainly not my career as a whole. So I've felt comfortable with being out about everything I am amongst my friends for many years, but not online. After all - people might connect posts on poly or BDSM or bisexuality with my work, and that, social conditioning told me, would be BAD.

Bad Schmad, I feel these days that my arguments have more weight coming from a 'real' person rather than a possibly imaginary anonymous blogger, and I have learned a lot over my lifetime of being polyamorous in a world of monogamites that I think could be very useful to people in the situation I escaped from. Also I want to connect with people who are like me on a real-world basis, not behind a screen.

I'm coming out of my chrysalis, and I intend to *fly*.


* If at some point, I receive agreement from everyone mentioned in my anonymous journal that they are okay with it, I will add a link here, but I promised someone I was deeply in love with at the time that, even as a nickname, I wouldn't 'out' him, and I don't intend to knowingly break that even now.

July 2015

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