Polyamory, Marriage Rights, and Social Control II

So, part two.  Part two is about socialism, among other things.

But let’s start with capitalism.  What are capitalist values?  Well, capitalism encourages things like individual achievement and responsibility.  It also encourages competition and jealousy as byproducts of the achievement value–your goal should be to outperform your peer, and if your peer is doing better than you, you should want his stuff, because wanting his stuff means you’re going to strive to do better (ie, make more money) so that you can have more property.  For capitalists, this is good.

There’s a condition of this individual achievement thing, though, and that’s regulated relationships.  Marriage.  Our capitalist system says okay, we want you to go out and do well for yourself, but we only want you to do well for yourself.  We want to discourage people making big, messy group bonds because then maybe they’ll start caring more about group welfare than themselves, and then they won’t support the system of individual achievement–a system, incidentally, that strongly benefits most of the law-makers out there, who aren’t doing too badly for themselves under capitalism.

Capitalism discourages creativity when it comes to family structures, and that includes polyamory.

The irony, though, is that communal, socialist forms of relating actually give the individual more freedom to use his own talents by providing resources and choices to everyone in the community and by protecting creativity and safe spaces to develop one’s individual self.  I was struck by a mention in A People’s History of the United States of how American Indians, with the tribal system, don’t consider communal arrangements a form of individual self sacrifice, but actually give the individual the ultimate freedom.  Every individual in the tribe has the right to leave.  Capitalism, on the other hand, gives you very strong legal and financial incentives not to leave.  Alternate family structures to marriage and the nuclear family are not given many of the benefits of living in a capitalist society, because capitalism is very jealous of its members.

“No, don’t go!” benevolent Father Capitalist says.  “I have mooooney for youuu…”

“No thanks.  I don’t want your money.  I’d actually rather be free to choose my own romantic relationships and family structure, and to live in an environment that nurtures my individual creativity.”

“But, but… here in Capitalist America, you can be all you can be.”

“Thanks… but no thanks.”

This post was originally published on the blog Sex Positive Activism, which has now merged to become the sex & relationships section of Queer & Now.

Polyamory, Marriage Rights, and Social Control I

So as same-sex marriage and same-sex partnership rights spread, there has been a lot of talk about benefits.  People in queer relationships, like those in heterosexual ones, now have the dubious privilege of being able to marry for health insurance.  And of course, there’s a big valid point here about equality.

But I’ve been thinking about polyamory and marriage equality.  First gut instinct reaction: hey guys, quit talking so much about how “don’t worry, the slippery slope of same-sex marriage won’t lead to polygamy or anything,” because that’s not very nice.  Second reaction: but wait… were I to buy into marriage in the first place, would I really want the government to confer benefits on me based on the status of my intimate relationships?

Of course, poly people aren’t completely excluded from the legal and employer-based benefits of marriage.  Many poly people are married, to somebody.  But the question is, should the law allow marriage to more than one person, and thus benefits?

From a legal perspective, it gets very sticky of course, because who “counts,” how many marriages can you actually have, etc.?  From a social perspective, people are going to throw Mormon polygamy and sexism in your face.  And then I have to ask, well, are government benefits really what I want in the first place?

Continue reading Polyamory, Marriage Rights, and Social Control I

Sexuality Is Not a Linear Progression

I’ve written before about the coming out model and how it falls flat, especially in the developing world, because it’s very much based on Western notions on gender and sexuality (and specifically American/European, white, middle class notions).  But it’s also a pretty shitty model in the US, and I think it leads to a lot of problems because queer people end up with the expectation that there should be one formative moment, the “coming out” moment, and then they should know their sexuality, and if they change identifiers, or deviate in terms of who they date or have sex with, it’s a bad thing.  Words like “confused,” and more harshly, “betrayal,” come to mind.

The same is true, I think, in kinky communities.  I’ve come across this idea a number of times that a kinky person is supposed to go through a certain progression in terms of sexual awareness.  First there are inklings that one might like some type of kinky sex, whether very early on or later.  Then there’s the research phase, these days probably mostly online.  Then, at some point, there’s an expectation that you go out into that kinky community, meet people, possibly at sex-free social events, but at some point there is a critical threshold that leads to Comfort at Play Parties.

Of course, not everyone falls into this model.  If you don’t it can be frustrating, for example, to mention that you haven’t actually had very kinky sex before and then have recommendations for 101 resources thrown at you.  Well-meaning, certainly, and the resources may be great, but I always find it kind of funny.  Kinky awareness is not the same thing as kinky activity.

It’s also a bad idea to suggest to someone that public scening is a natural point in the kinky progression, and that if they aren’t comfortable with this sort of space, they just haven’t “arrived” in their kinky evolution.  Not everyone is comfortable with public sex or scening.  Even very sex-positive, sex-aware people can prefer to engage in sex only in private, or only in relationships, or both.  There are many, many ways to skin a cat.

This post was originally published on the blog Sex Positive Activism, which has now merged to become the sex & relationships section of Queer & Now.

Monosexuality and the “It’s About the Person” Argument

One argument I’ve heard a lot in reference to bisexuality or pansexuality is “it’s not about the gender to me, it’s about the person.” Which is all well and good, of course, but I think it’s kind of unfair for people who are monosexual (straight or gay) or have some group of people that they are not attracted to for reasons of sex or gender. If this is the case, is it no longer “about the person?” Presumably, bisexual and pansexual people also have dealbreakers–perhaps related to things like marital status, smoker or non, children or childfree, financial situation, hobbies, drug use, location, or whatever else. When a group of people is excluded from dating consideration in this way, is it no longer “about the person?” If not, then why would this apply to gender? Food for thought.

This post was originally published on the blog Sex Positive Activism, which has now merged to become the sex & relationships section of Queer & Now.

Southern Women and Sexual Communication

It’s difficult for many women to communicate about sex.  No big surprise there.  But is it more difficult for Southern women?

I wouldn’t be surprised if the answer were yes.

Of course, you have the obvious reasons.  Little or no sex education means that people are just assumed to know how to have sex, without talking about it.  Women in particular are taught that talking about sex is shameful and inappropriate.  Southern law discourages any interference in the silent space of the marriage bed–it’s no coincidence that North Carolina was the last state in the country to make marital rape illegal, in the mid 1990s.

But I would posit that Southern manners, good old Southern hospitality, are also to blame for this phenomenon.

Southerners, and especially Southern women, are taught that it is better to be seen and not heard, that one should always defer to a guest, that when something desireable is offered it is polite to say “no, thank you” twice and only accept on the third offering.  I find myself wondering, when thinking about communication and sex, if these general rules on manners might bleed over into how Southern women behave in bed.  If a partner is not insistent on finding out how to please a Southern woman, will she have the courage to ask outright, rather than deferring to the partner’s desires in an instinctual show of politesse?  I think that many of us who were raised as little girls in the South probably inherited this difficulty, whether we have overcome it or not.

This post was originally published on the blog Sex Positive Activism, which has now merged to become the sex & relationships section of Queer & Now.

Defining Sexuality from a Genderqueer Perspective

I considered using this space for a brief introductory post, but instead it seems appropriate to get straight to the content.  If you are curious as to the blogger’s background, please feel free to visit the About page for some information.

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Why do we define sexuality with reference to sex and gender?

Simple enough question, I suppose.  I started thinking about this the other night, as I considered my own explorations and vague dissatisfaction with terms like “gay,” “lesbian,” and “bisexual.”  For the record, I use “queer,” mostly for reasons outlined in this thought process.

Feminism 101: Gender and sex are not the same thing.

Fair enough.  I think most people who stumble upon this blog will be aware of that distinction.  But there is at least some connection, no matter how arbitrary, and that is the point from which I begin.

Continue reading Defining Sexuality from a Genderqueer Perspective