Tag: Polyamory

“Open” doesn’t mean “Pass to Cheat”

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This morning I came across this article about Mo’Nique, a well known and award winning actress, speaking publicly about her open marriage to Sidney Hicks. It was based off part of an interview the actress had recently done for True Exclusives. Overall it’s a good article and Mo’Nique explains her feelings on why monogamy just doesn’t make sense to her in a way that I think can be very accessible to a wide audience.

What irked me about the article was the title! Corinne Heller titled the piece for NBC6 South Florida as “Mo’Nique Talks Open Relationships, With a Free Pass to Cheat: ‘I Don’t Want to Be Owned Anymore.” ‘Cheating’ is LITERALLY being dishonest!  “Free pass to cheat” doesn’t just imply but actually states that there is active deception and misleading going on between partners.  That’s not at all what Mo’Nique said! Specifically she says “We don’t cheat.”  She accurately points out that most cheating happens because people feel they aren’t getting something and how completely unreasonable it is to think that you or your partner will never find someone else attractive. She then talks about being open and honest with your partner about how you’re feeling.

“Often times people cheat because of something they’re not getting. But when you have open and honest dialogue and you say we’re just human beings and all these people on the face of the earth, do you think my eyes won’t ever say ‘he’s fine’ or ‘she’s attractive’. Now if you wanna go further with it, let’s be honest enough to have those conversations. What is it about that person that you find that you wanna sleep with? Because they may give you something that I’m simply not willing to do. And if that’s the case, how can I be mad? Because I’m not gon’ do it. Should I deprive you of not having it? That’s when the relationship is real real.”

People who openly communicate with each other about what they want and are honest about the types of relationships they are having DO NOT have a “pass to cheat”. They have a relationship that allows them to express themselves without the judgment and ridicule we find in many monogamous relationships and society in general.

The original interviewer is to blame for the specific line “free pass to cheat” when he asks Mo’Nique about her feelings of privacy in relationships. Unfortunately, Heller added it to the title of her piece which I fell misrepresents Mo’Niques actual feelings on non monogamy. I get the feeling they are there to grab readers attention because of their shock value.

So YAY Mo’Nique on being confident and comfortable enough to speak publicly about your open relationship. BOO to the author for keeping with the “free pass to cheat” way of thinking about non monogamy.

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Great Comic on Non Monogamy from EverydayFeminism!

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It’s awesome that we’re starting to see more ETHICAL non-monogamy in the media. Unfortunately, it currently rarely highlights non hetero, cis, primary couples. Plus we don’t really talk about the couples privilege that accompanies that setup. Luckily for us, Joamette Gill of EverydayFeminism created this great, short, visual to help explain some of the OTHER common ways non-monogamy is done!

 

Here’s one of the blocks but click through to see the whole comic!

 

cisPrimaryPrivilege-02

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Poly, Swinger, Somewhere in between

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We live in a world of societal dichotomies. You’re either a boy or a girl. You’re black or white. You’re gay or straight. You’re Monogamous or Non-Monogamous. When you step back though and take a moment to really look at these labels though we find there is a lot of grey in between. Within the non-monogamy community two labels are becoming more and more publicly known: polyamory and swinging. Depending on who you ask though these terms are mutually exclusive. Let’s take a quick moment to break down each term and see if this is more of a spectrum or two choice system.

“pol·y·am·o·ry

ˌpälēˈamərē/

noun

the philosophy or state of being in love or romantically involved with more than one person at the same time.”

The term is widely accredited to Morning Glory Zell-Ravenheart’s 1990 article “A Bouquet of Lovers” published in Green Egg Magazine (Spring 1990). In its broadest sense it refers to “consensual, ethical, and responsible non-monogamy.”¹ The beauty of poly relationships is that they require for the open, honest, communication between partners which allow for simultaneous relationships to blossom and thrive. These relationships generally have strong emotional connections and may or may include sexual interactions between some or all of the partners.

Google defines swinging in regards to sexuality as:

“swing·ing

ˈswiNGiNG/

adjective

sexually liberated or promiscuous”

Swinging, or casual sexual relationships outside of an established couple, have been around for centuries. Terry Gould’s “The Lifestyle: a look at the erotic rites of swingers” notes the modern movement first among American Air Force pilots and their wives in the 1940s during World War II and later the “free love” movements of the 1960’s.² Today swinging is commonly used to describe individuals who have sex based relationships that may or may not have emotional involvement outside of their traditional couple dynamic.

Labels is defined as:

“la·bel

ˈlābəl/

noun

a classifying phrase or name applied to a person or thing, especially one that is inaccurate or restrictive.

example: ‘my reluctance to stick a label on myself politically'”

Originating an Old French term, labels allow for individuals to categorize people, places, and things into identifiable, predefined, groupings. Throughout history labels have been used to designate powers and roles within society in the form of titles such King/peasant or Master/slave. Due to thier limiting nature’s, many people, places, and things fit into multiple identifiable, predefined, groupings. Often times labels are also not mutually exclusive allowing for these multiple identifiers to co-exist simultaneously. Unfortunately, just as beauty is in the eye of the beholder so to is the limitations and expanse of labels.

As per these definitions an individual may self-identify as BOTH poly AND as a swinger. Both fall under the even broader term of non monogamy
“which covers several types of interpersonal relationships in which an individual forms multiple and simultaneous sexual or romantic bonds.” Both falling under the “ethical” version of openness and honesty.³ A common topic in many poly groups both online and in person, particularly with people who are new, is how to handle personal emotions when our or our partners casual relationships become more. It is not uncommon for regular swing partners to begin to develop connections that have them questioning the current labels they choose to use. While we can offer support and suggestions it is up to the individuals involved in the relationships to determine when or if the jump to a new label is appropriate and acceptable.

As for my PERSONAL definition, adapted from my house and families, poly means we are free to love and develop emotional connections with whoever we choose, with or without the physical/sexual connection. Swinging means we are free to fuck whoever we choose, with or without an emotional connection. I self identify as both poly & a swinger.

Citations

¹ Taormino, T. (2013). Opening Up: A Guide to Creating and Sustaining Open Relationships. Cleis Press.
² Gould, T. (1999). The Lifestyle: a look at the erotic rites of swingers. Vintage Canada.
³ Barker, Langdridge. (2009). Understanding Non-Monogamies. Routledge.

Additional Resources

Books

-Easton, D. (2009). The Ethical Slut: A Practical Guide to Polyamory, Open Relationships, and Other Adventures. Celestial Arts
-Kaldera, R. (2010). Power circuits: Polyamory in a power exchange. Alfred Press

Blogs/Podcast

PolyWeekly
Life on the Swingset
Tristan Taormino’s site

Do you have kinky questions you’d like to see answered or explored? Send your questions to questions@runningaemok.com.

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