Polyamory: When One Spouse Isn’t Enough

^ That title irks me. It’s also the title for THIS article on ABC News Health online. The article itself isn’t that bad (though not very well-written), or maybe I’m just not indignant enough, but the sensationalist and warped title rubs me the wrong way because it gives off negative connotations of spousal inadequacy and dysfunctional relationships. Furthermore, the caption on their illustration is “Some who live in clusters with multiple sex partners say legalzing marriage for polyamorous partners is the next civil rights movement.” The article says something entirely different, yet the title and caption point to the same shit everyone thinks about non-monogamy in general–it’s all about sex. Not that I think sex is bad or that people should’t have casual/recreational sex, but that reducing things that aren’t just about sex to sex is wrong.

One of the things that annoys me about the portrayal of “alternative lifestyles” in the media is that they tokenize people who participate in them, and, furthermore, make everything in their lives SOMEHOW related to that aspect of their identity/life. If a poly person eats an apple, it’s because they’re poly, NOT because they just so happen to love apples. If a queer person commits a crime, it’s all traceable solely to their sexual/gender identity, NOT something else. The “unmarkedness” of certain identities is so infuriating. The “default” human in the U.S. is white, male, heterosexual, and monogamous (or supposed to be), and anything that deviates from that is seen as “a factor”(or THE factor) in any equation. If a white man kills 20 people, it’s because he was crazy or something; no one ever brings in race/ethnicity, culture, sexuality, or whatever else into the picture. Similarly, if a poly relationships dissolves, people blame it on the poly aspect, when there is SO much more that could have gone wrong. No one generally blames monogamy when a marriage falls apart, so why should poly be any different?

There’s so much pressure to be “perfect” and conform to the cookie-cutter image; people are put under constant scrutiny. Same with queers–radical queers “make us look bad” and we constantly have to try and please the majority and be “the model queers” so we’ll get basic civil rights and some respect. It’s so sad and unfair. It’s like women having to work harder than men to get the same wages–all these “minority” groups having to become “model minorities” and assimilate in order to do anything. Guh. It’s so upsetting that the only way to seemingly advance queer rights is to be as heteronormative as possible. “See? We’re JUST LIKE YOU! TOTALLY! LOVE US BECAUSE WE’RE LIKE YOU! (not because we’re, y’know, human or anything)”

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