Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Poly-norm vs. poly-nilla


Recently, all this talk about "poly normativity" has me feeling a bit left out. I'll admit it, when it comes to sexuality, I'm a bit ... well, vanilla. But I like that. I have nothing against kink, or queer folk. In fact, I've learned a lot about my own sexuality from both these communities.

And I'll come out and say, that I fit the "poly normal" model. That is, I live with my husband and my two children and see another partner on the side. I didn't plan for it to be that way. I hadn't planned to be polyamorous at all, nor did I even know such a thing was an actual "thing" until almost  two years ago.

I became poly because I met someone I really, really liked. And what a shame it would be to let that person just disappear from my life because I was married. And why should I break up my happy family, and leave my loving husband to be with my new love interest? So, when both gentlemen agreed that I could be with them both ... well, happy day for me! I defaulted to poly status because I found like minded people calling themselves the same thing. But what I really am is happy.

What I hear polynormativity saying is that's not enough. I have to arrange my life and relationships around being the very pinnacle of sexual extremism. So, it's not okay to be poly and vanilla?

Yes, I agree that the media is packaging polyamory into an alluring product in order to sell, sell, sell. Poly is not a fun, edgy, sexual playground for bored white folks. At least, it's not meant to be. But, really? That's what the media does. Sorry sister, if it's out there, the media is going to do what they can to take advantage of it. But that doesn't mean that being "polynormal" is the downfall of polyamory.

Sexgeek writes:
At its most basic, I’d say some people’s poly looks good to the mainstream, and some people’s doesn’t. The mainstream loves to think of itself as edgy, sexy and cool. The mainstream likes to co-opt whatever fresh trendy thing it can in order to convince itself that it’s doing something new and exciting, because that sells magazines, event tickets, whatever. The mainstream likes to do all this while erecting as many barriers as it can against real, fundamental value shifts that might topple the structure of How the World Works. In this case, that structure is the primacy of the couple.
First of all, I've never desired to be edgy or cool. Not in my entire life. In fact, most of the PTA moms are surprised to discover just how geeked out I can get about certain things (which shall remain nameless). Secondly, I'm not after approval (or disapproval, for that matter) from anyone.

Polyamory is a strong force for shifting the shitty, centuries-old vales of our religion-driven society. Let's take a look at those poly-driven value shifts:
  1. Loving people according to how each individual and relationship functions best. 
  2. Viewing relationships as having no chronological structure. No beginning or ending. No real purpose or value outside of the mutual satisfaction of the individuals involved. 
  3. Owning up to your own emotions as your own issues to deal with, and not your partner's job to protect you from. 
  4. Communicating your needs to your partners and not relying on an reliquary relationship framework to tell you what roles you must play.

There are probably more, I'm sure. But having adopted these into my mind frame, am I still not reformed enough to be poly? What's so wrong with being vanilla anyway? I'm fairly convinced I will never be attracted to women, or want to engage in BDSM, sex parties or romps with more than one person at a time. But that's just me. I happen to like being vanilla.

I agree that the media will always screw up whatever is going right in the world. And there will always be bandwagon-jumpers flocking to American Idol-esque fads. But is the poly community really willing to shut out sincere poly-nillas just because we're not freaky enough, just because we happen to fit the polynormal media image? Isn't vanilla a choice too?