Open Discussion of "Poly Women Respond"

River

Active member
This thread is for discussing the women's responses in the thread "Poly Women Respond". http://www.polyamory.com/forum/showthread.php?t=13368

I've separated these threads so that the women could respond without men interfering with comments and questions, etc. I wanted a space for women to speak their minds, apart from the guys. Here, both men and women are welcome to discuss the "Poly Women Respond" thread and its comments.

The original thread already seems fairly popular, so this comment area seemed appropriate, given the limitation I provided in the original thread.

Moderators should feel free to move inappropriate posts in the other thread to this one.
 
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Snowbunting

New member
What is Sean's evidence?

River,

Did Sean give reasons/arguments/evidence for his views? I'm wondering what sort of evidence he is calling on (even if only in his own mind) when he affirms his beliefs about women and poly.

I'm also wondering what he thinks about the power of social conditioning. Sometimes it can be very easy to absorb and internalize views that are prevalent in mainstream culture - this process can even result in a lack of self-knowledge that might have otherwise been present. (At least, this is my opinion, an opinion that stems from my own experience. It would be interesting to learn more about his experiences and how they impact his views concerning women and poly.)

Is there any chance that he'd be up for diving into the forum and reading a bunch of threads? It would be interesting to see whether doing so might lead him to alter his opinions in any way...

Cheers,
SB
 

River

Active member
"Did Sean give reasons/arguments/evidence for his views? I'm wondering what sort of evidence he is calling on (even if only in his own mind) when he affirms his beliefs about women and poly."

When asked why he believed as he does, Sean drew from his experience with many women over many years. (He's in his mid forties, and has had many women lovers and companions.) He said all of the women in his life insisted on sexual/romantic exclusivity.

"I'm also wondering what he thinks about the power of social conditioning."

It would be fun to invite him here and ask him this question--which I shall do. And he shall remain anonymous and disguised in name, so he's safe to express himself in a public forum without worry. I got the strong impression that Sean thinks his view on women's sexual/romantic nature is rooted in biology, in the very essence of women, rather than socialization factors. My own strong impression is that women are at least as much "naturally inclined" (socialization aside) toward romantic nonexclusivity as men. And this includes bi and gay men, whom Sean thinks are much more open to it.

(My own observation is that gay men tend to be sexually nonmonogamous more often than persons in the general population, but about typically exclusive in the emotional intimacy realm. That is, many gay men are okay with their boyfriends having casual sex with strangers while fearing and prohibiting romantic love outside of the pairing.)

"Sometimes it can be very easy to absorb and internalize views that are prevalent in mainstream culture - this process can even result in a lack of self-knowledge that might have otherwise been present."

My impression is that most of us tend to uncritically absorb social norms and conventions, and even identify strongly with these without having much considered other ways of thinking, perceiving and behaving. This is true in so many domains of our lives, from how we think about economics to how we think about and behave as "consumers".... On and on. Society provides us with "default settings", to use a little computer metaphor. And it often punishes us for failure to keep our lives set in these conventional patterns, never mind that some of the "alternative" patterns often actually make more good sense than the "default".

"Is there any chance that he'd be up for diving into the forum and reading a bunch of threads? It would be interesting to see whether doing so might lead him to alter his opinions in any way..."

I'll invite him to look at the forum and respond in this thread, as Sean.
 
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Snowbunting

New member
Welcome to Sean!

Great! Sean, if you see this, welcome aboard! :)

(By the way, while you're here, you'll find lots of great material in River's posts. You have a good friend in him. :) )
 

River

Active member
"First of all, possessiveness and the desire for exclusivity in love have nothing to do with biology. Love is not biologically driven, but emotionally driven."

From - http://www.polyamory.com/forum/showpost.php?p=97072&postcount=15

Current scientific theory now has it that our species has a biologically rooted love drive, just as we have a biologically rooted sex drive. So it is now commonly accepted that falling in love is woven into our flesh, not just into our psyches (and psyche and flesh are quite interwoven, anyway). There are measurable chemical and brain state thingies involved. Our brains secrete specific chemicals, which act like a drug, when we're in love. But, of course, we have to be in love for them to be secreted, so there is a bit of a chicken and egg problem for those who insist that love is nothing more than the presence of these chemicals in x region of the body (blood?, brain region?).

So I'd say, yes, love is both biologically and "emotionally" driven. Those chemicals which scientists link with "being in love" are released when our dear one inspires such a chemical reaction. We truly do have "chemistry" with certain very special people.

Here's an article on the chemistry, etc.:
http://www.youramazingbrain.org.uk/lovesex/sciencelove.htm

Love - mammalian drive -

https://encrypted.google.com/search...n+drive&aq=0v&aqi=g-v2&aql=&oq=love+mammalian
 
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AutumnalTone

New member
When asked why he believed as he does, Sean drew from his experience with many women over many years. (He's in his mid forties, and has had many women lovers and companions.) He said all of the women in his life insisted on sexual/romantic exclusivity.

I am also in my mid-40s and have had many lovers over the years. My reaction to the claim that most women prefer exclusivity is: hogwash. I suspect whatever his attraction process is works to sort for women who prefer exclusivity.

My experience with women with whom I've been involved and the many female friends I've been close to over the years tells me a significant portion don't require exclusivity. Many of those who do only do so because they don't see how a non-exclusive arrangement would work in practical terms.
 

River

Active member
.... Studies of surviving hunter-gatherer cultures show that foraging for food takes a much smaller part of the day than the average day job of the modern world, and leaves plenty of free time. ....

That's right. And this fact, that "primitive" peoples have on average had more leisure time than people in advanced technological civilizations does much to challenge the absurd myth of "progress" that keeps us in highly stressed and competitive social conditions. All of our "labor saving devices" have provided many things, but leisure is not one of them.
 

River

Active member
Hey River, what does your friend say about the responses?

He lives way out in the country and presently doesn't have internet at home. He's quite busy. I did invite him to read and respond, but it may be he just hasn't had an opportunity to do so yet. I'll nudge him a little--gently. I'd like him to answer your question himself, in the forum.
 

River

Active member
I talked with Sean on the phone yesterday, and he mentioned that he'd been reading the threads on "Poly Women Respond". (This one and the original.) Sean is a wonderful, good person, and I love him, but it is just shocking to me how differently he and I perceive polyamory. He generalized about the women in Poly Women Respond by saying they are "materialistic". I simply couldn't grasp what he meant, so I asked him what he meant and he said "They just can't get enough". Some of Sean's words cued me in that Sean sees polyamory as primarily a sexual thing, rather than a thing about love and loving. So my impression was that he thinks poly women just can't "get enough" sex, with enough men.

He wanted me to say something in the forum on his behalf and I refused, thinking he should be responsible for his own words -- and, besides, he was not entirely satisfied with how I paraphrased him in the original thread. (Though he did say my paraphrase was close enough.) He said he won't be posting in here, and that he finds some of the responses funny, or laughable (to paraphrase).

I do not get the impression that Sean looks down on me for my polyamory, or on my partner, Kevin, for his. My impression is that he respects us as individuals in this choice, but perhaps thinks only a very, very few people have what it takes to do polyamory.

Oh, and he did say that men are as little likely to be well suited for/to polyamory as women.

In a much earlier conversation, he did say that bi men are probably most apt to be well suited to poly. I'll have to discuss the whys of that with him again, for they escape memory at the moment.

I suspect he's thinking about polyamory more-or-less for the first time, so it's understandable that he's not quite sure about it all. It takes a lot of thought to grasp the distinctions and differences relative to the social norms.
 

opalescent

Active member
I realize you are paraphrasing from a conversation. However, even after rereading the Poly Women Respond thread, I really, really don't get how or why 'materialistic' is the term your friend chose to describe the responses. If possible, I would like to hear more on why that word was chosen. I'm really curious about it.
 

River

Active member
... I really, really don't get how or why 'materialistic' is the term your friend chose to describe the responses. .... I'm really curious about it.

Well, the impression I got was that Sean was using "materialistic" as roughly synonymous with "greedy". And I agree very much that the word seems widly off the mark, since people and relationships are not material possessions.

I've come to think of my sexuality as just one of many ways in which I can be intimate and give and receive love and affection, but I'm certainly often around people who don't see sexuality in this way, but rather as a resource which other people have which one can get from them, like a commodity. So these are radically differing paradigms about sexuality which often result in great misunderstandings in communication and in relationships.

A person who thinks of sexuality as an exchange of resource may have a terrible time comprehending what polyamory is to a person like me, for whom sex is less central to loving experience (though still lovely and important). Friendship is central to my loverly relationships, and non-sexual intimacies and sharings of experience are as precious to me as "making love". So it is not difficult for me to love multiple persons "romantically," because the model is friendship rather than resource or ownership. I don't possess my dear Kevin, nor FarawaySweetheart. Nor would I wish to! They are free agents in their own lives, and we come together because we enjoy one another. Period.

Mature, sensible people do not insist to their close friends that they have no other close friends, right?! That's crazy talk! So why do/should "we" expect this of our lovers? It is a form of madness. It really isn't very loving.

A friend of mine just complained to me about his wife who won't let him have female friends, for fear.... He feels imprisoned, because he prefers women for friends, since he finds so many men rather uninteresting. And I have many such stories. It is commonplace, it seems, for people to imprison "the one they love". I think it's time for our culture to grow up some.
 

Ready2Fly

New member
The model is friendship rather than resource or ownership. I don't possess my dear Kevin, nor FarawaySweetheart. Nor would I wish to! They are free agents in their own lives, and we come together because we enjoy one another. Period.

Mature, sensible people do not insist to their close friends that they have no other close friends, right?! That's crazy talk! So why do/should "we" expect this of our lovers? It is a form of madness. It really isn't very loving.

I completely agree. My perception of the culture of compulsory monogamy is that it is all about cutting off relationships, rather than fostering them. Not only is it unloving of your partner, but (and especially) of the wider community. I sometimes lurk in mainstream love advice forums... because I can't take my eyes away from the train wreck. All the advice (when it's not about your obligation to snoop in your partner's phone records and e-mail) is about how to stop caring for, stop feeling for, stop fostering intimacy with, anyone other than your partner. The world of the typical "taken" monogamist must be awful internal torture, always vigilant for developing caring feelings for others--- so that when they do arise they can be instantly obliterated. No wonder the world is such a harsh and lonely place.

It's a polite way of "slut-shaming"

Exactly.
 
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Chimera

New member
River, I hate to say this, but your friend Sean sounds like a typical sexist man. Jeez, he's almost an archetype. That includes the inability to hear what women in that thread were saying. His own quite mistaken assertions were challenged from about every angle possible, so he digs in with a dismissive/derogatory response. *sigh*

I'm sure he has some positives since you are his friend, but I put people like that in my "not worth wasting one more word on" category.
 

River

Active member
I'm sure he has some positives since you are his friend, but I put people like that in my "not worth wasting one more word on" category.

He's not only my friend, he's one of my inner circle of very best friends, and I love him with all of my heart. (He was just here with me for a brief visit.)

None of us see things with perfect clarity, knowledge and insight in every realm of life. We're human! Yes, he has growth areas to work on. We all do. And he's growing, and has been contemplating all of this polyamory stuff, since one of his closest friends is poly. You gotta give him some credit for at least thinking freshly and being honest about his thoughts and feelings, which are changing (as we all do with experience and good communication). "Sean" (not his real name here) is quite an open-minded fellow, generally. He's the only heterosexual guy friend of mine that will snuggle and cuddle with me, kiss me on the lips..., spend long hours talking from the heart in heart-open space. He's a fine person with - perhaps - a blind spot about polyamory. Still, he's marvelously and lovingly supportive of me as I welcome a new love into my life -- though I already have a long time loverly partnership with my dear Kevin (also his dear friend).:p
 

Chimera

New member
He's not only my friend, he's one of my inner circle of very best friends, and I love him with all of my heart. (He was just here with me for a brief visit.)

None of us see things with perfect clarity, knowledge and insight in every realm of life. We're human! Yes, he has growth areas to work on.

I wasn't trying to say he's not a worthwhile person at all and I very much agree what you've said. However, I'm taking issue with his assertions. I know these are interwebs conversations, so it's hard to parse what the actual words and meanings were. I'm trying to say that I don't think his issue is with polyamory, but with women. That seems to me to be his real blind spot and a sexist one -- a reliance on pseudo-scientific generalizations that conflate biology with socially constructed categories. So we go from women not being inclined to poly, to women being "materialistic" if they are. Neither is based in nature, neither is accurate.
 
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NeonKaos

Custodian
Whatever. WE'll make sure we all give Sean plenty of "space". Yeah, "space". That's a good way to put it.
 

NeonKaos

Custodian
I read that and the words, "Space 1999" popped into my head. Remember that series?


Okay, sorry for the tangent.

I do remember that, although i didn't watch it. Just like Battlestar Galactica. I did watch Star Trek and Buck Rodgers though because my father watched those and they were on before my bedtime.
 

River

Active member
That seems to me to be his real blind spot and a sexist one -- a reliance on pseudo-scientific generalizations that conflate biology with socially constructed categories. So we go from women not being inclined to poly, to women being "materialistic" if they are. Neither is based in nature, neither is accurate.

My impression is that Sean is not particularly sexist. I've known him for quite a few years, and he seems to genuinely like and respect women. Then again, perhaps he does have some sexism going on. I think something else may be at work, which is very likely to be about fear of loss (or?), should his own Sweetie be with another man. He has said that he would not enjoy the thought of his loverly companion having sexual relations with another man. This is hardly unusual in this culture! More likely, he has the usual, typical fears/issues that monogamously inclined people so often do.

I, of course, wish he'd speak for himself -- and only engage in this sort of talk here with his privacy respected by the fictitious name "Sean".

It's not easy addressing the many layers of social conditioning we've all had. It hasn't been for me, I'll assure you.
 
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