Polyamory's Image Problem

Ready2Fly

New member
If they think about us at all, here's what we are in their eyes:

Polygamists-Pimp-2004-20032.jpg


Shocking, but true. We, on the other hand, I think would be disturbed to call those people "polyamorous," even though they are (a) nonmonogamous, and (b) honest about it. But these examples are the only ones a typical mainstreamer knows anything about, and the only ones the culture of compulsory monogamy even admits can exist, although of course it is loathe to admit any possibility that love could be involved.

Poly cannot come out into the open so long as this is the image people have of it. So my questions are: (a) what is the critical component that separates us from polygamists and pimps*? and (b) how does one introduce such a concept into the public consciousness?

*whatever it is, we need to add it to any discussion of poly with the culture-at-large. Nonmonogamy-with-honesty is not enough, lest we be confronted with these images constantly.
 

GroundedSpirit

New member
Interesting question R2F !

The media of course controls this and WHO controls the media ?

Right now primarily the right wing, conservative camp.

There is much alternative press worldwide but it's outside the 'mainstream' for the most part.

So the change seems like it will follow the other method of change. Slow, steady, until it suddenly reaches the oft named 'tipping point'.

Unfortunately it's not helpful that probably a majority of the people attempting a poly lifestyle are in the learning (relearning) phase and therefore are stumbling and bumbling along as best they can. The nay-sayers LOVE to have that for examples to support their cause.

probably take a generation or two.

GS
 

Terra

New member
I'm brand new to Polyamory and still trying to find my way, so I'm not sure I'm really qualified to weigh in, but just intuitively, the one difference that stands out is the element of exploitation involved with Mormon polygamy and with pimping... Teenage girls who are forced into marriages and into servitude don't really have a choice. And it's obvious that pimps exploit their "stable" of girls. My sense is that with polyamory, there is mutual respect and openness between partners, and that women are generally treated as equals in relationships. I've had a couple of people ask me what distinguishes polyamory from polygamy, and that's generally what I've told them. I've also been informed that polyamorous people are the same as swingers, and have tried to explain that as well, but that's a different topic.
 

nycindie

Active member
I don't think the mainstream associates polyamory with pimps and prostitutes. It's usually polygamists or swingers. Jeez, pimps, really?

Poly cannot come out into the open so long as this is the image people have of it.
Yes it can, no matter what the images people have of it. How can you say it "can't come out" while people hold these views? I think poly MUST come out into the open, because of these views. It is already out in the open more than ever before. To be honest, your whole post confuses me.
 
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Ariakas

Bosun
I understand the premise of your question. But I disagree with its point. Poly is simply being able to love more than one. The relationship constructs around that are up to the individual.

Polyamory has to stand on its own as a collective of lots of different types of relationships. If you want public acceptance you need more people agreeing, not a splitting of hairs that may see polyamorists left out of "poly" because you don't agree with them.

Pimps.. really?.. jeez..
 

RfromRMC

New member
The media of course controls this and WHO controls the media ?

Right now primarily the right wing, conservative camp.

There is much alternative press worldwide but it's outside the 'mainstream' for the most part.

Even if the alternative press does slightly better than the above two pics, they still lack a good deal of accuracy in their portrayals, unfortunately.

Example...about two years ago a gay & lesbian newspaper in our state did a story on polyamory. But their example? Four young skinny pretty-boys (think Bieber clones if you know what I mean) all living in a two bedroom apartment and screwing around with each other. :rolleyes: Lots of discussion in the article about sex and jealousy---along with plenty of shirtless pictures for some odd reason---but very very little about love, romance, emotional bonding, etc. It was a pretty depressing portrayal...especially because they all ended up fighting and breaking up after they got to be on an MTV reality show.
Sure it was polyamorous technically, but not the face of it I'd choose to represent, in my honest opinion. I guess I assumed an LGBT paper would do better than a mainstream conservative one...but I was pretty disappointed.
 
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TL4everu2

New member
I think the show "Sisterwives" is great for helping the general public to understand polygamy a bit more. I would'nt mind doing one which was more polyamory related though as opposed to "polygamy" related. 6 month long show, an hour each week, showing the differences....and likenesses of a polyamorous relationship vs a regular relationship. The bouts of jealousy and insecurity. The love! The absolute caring and understanding which goes into a poly relationship. This is a show I would record and watch every time....no matter what!
 

Ivy

Member
Most "mainstream" and monogamous people I've spoken with think of free-love hippies, with a touch of egotistical intellectualism--as in "We're smarter/more thoughtful/more communicative/more enlightened than you, so you could never be one of us."

I have met some poly people who are like that, and I often see some judgment cast on monogamous folk, as if they don't question their own choices, or have been oppressed somehow.

Just my impression. :)
 

nycindie

Active member
I am an indie filmmaker and have been thinking of either doing a documentary about poly or taking one of my narrative fiction scripts that I have hanging around, and changing it to incorporate poly. My own screenplays are usually about relationships, and there is one I wrote that could work with such an adjustment. I thought about making it a short, but maybe I'll do a feature. First hurdle for me, though, would be raising the funds to make it. But I just might start the wheels in motion to do it - although that means I'd have to decloak out of anonymity to ask you folks for donations! ;)
 

Ready2Fly

New member
A film would be great! We need more of those.

I guess I don't really know what my point is, except that I saw this image in a photography exhibition and was shocked. "Is that what they think of us? We have no hope then." I agree there's also the "hippy free love" reaction, but I don't get that a lot since I look pretty conservative and wear a tie. I don't get called a pimp either, but my beloved does get labeled a slut and a ho when people find out (happened recently when she was seen out at dinner kissing someone else).

I think there needs to be a way to communicate that it's possible to be loving of many people without being exploiting. Obviously, I am not that great communicator, but hey, we all have our (non)talents.
 

River

Active member
I'd love to see a film made by a sympathetic ear and voice!
 

Hopeful

New member
Warning: Academic Feminist theory incoming. Proceed with caution. ;)

I don't know that I agree that the two examples OP uses are the only public perceptions, or even the most common ones. But I think it's definitely true that the public perception of poly bears little relationship to my own experiences, limited though they be. What I find really interesting about both examples, though, is that they portray very patriarchal relationship structures.

In both cases, there is one man and multiple women, and in both cases the man is seen as the center of power, whether socio-religious or economic. It is certainly worthing noticing, I think, that the two examples that at least one person (and therefore possibly a group of people) clearly feels are representative of public perceptions of poly are very phallo-centric.

I have also seen and heard a lot of speculation about poly culture that includes the idea of swinging and free love, both of which at least in theory seem to equate women with men where sexual agency is concerned. And equality is wonderful, so I have fewer reservations about those depictions. My husband and I don't consider ourselves swingers, but we have been called hippies on more than one occasion, and I guess there's a reason for that.

What I have yet to see in mainstream culture is a scenario where a woman may desire to be the power center in a system containing more than one male partner, without that woman being depicted as a "nymphomaniac" and therefore not truly in control of her sexuality at all. Kind of a "fem-pimp," if that makes sense. It's not that I'm advocating this kind of portrayal, just that it's interesting that it seems not to exist.

Anyway, I'll get down off my soapbox and also add that I would LOVE to see a film made about poly by a person who actually identifies as poly, as opposed to people from outside making stuff that really just perpetuates stereotypes...I'm looking at you, MTV.
 

Ariakas

Bosun
Sorry, for all you folks that want to see a poly movie done a certain way.. how exactly. How does that look.

Here is the problem, we are all very different. Some of you can do poly without sex. Actually I would hazard a guess its the majority that I have seen. I can't. I don't identify with the cuddle party loving everyone that walks poly group.

Any.. and every poly movie that would be made would be exclusionary to someone in poly. Unless the only identifying feature is ethically loving more than one person.

Past that, swinging bonobo monkies who bang 50 people and love 3.. ARE STILL POLY...

Thats the kicker folks.. there was a poly documentary made a while back. One from seattle and I think even one from england.

I couldn't identify with anything in their poly worlds beyond the loving more than one. KISS.. the poly part is easy, its everything around it thats the work.
 

MonoVCPHG

New member
Sorry, for all you folks that want to see a poly movie done a certain way.. how exactly. How does that look.

And how do you make it interesting enough for people to want to watch it? Yeah, those of us on here probably would but are we making it for just people outside of monogamy?

Usually movies have some tragic conflict that twists our emotions and makes us cheer for a hero or cry for some broken heart. What would be the plot that would carry the relationship message? Maybe a poly family losing a child to the courts or family and thier triumph over that. (Sunday "made for tv" movie stuff there folks).

How do you reach a large audience without pandering to the mainstream demands of movie goers...conflict, fighting, sex, and heroic success or defeat?

OK....I'm just rambling :eek:
 

Alan7388

Member
Terisa Greenan's web-TV series "Family"...

...is a great start on what such a movie might look like! Very professionally done -- she's a real filmmaker, and she used professional (volunteer) actors. You can watch all 21 episodes (5-10 minutes each) here:

http://www.3dogpictures.com/FamilyEpisodes.html

Scroll to the bottom to start with Episode #1.

Cheers,

Alan M.
 

nycindie

Active member
I have watched that web series. It's cute and the acting is okay.

And how do you make it interesting enough for people to want to watch it?
Ah, yes, the question that every screenwriter struggles with.

Mono, as to how to tell the story, you are right about needing conflict. Without conflict, there is no drama. For narrative fiction, there are certain basics for writing a screenplay that have stood the test of time (or at least since motion pictures began). Basically, it's the hero's journey. The protagonist (main character) has a quest or goal to accomplish, and just before we think he or she will attain it, there's a turn-around (plot point) that takes the protag very far away from that goal, and they have to fight all kinds of obstacles in order to get there. One teacher I had said that if the protag learns a lesson, it is a comedy (in the original sense, not the opposite of drama but just that there's a "happy ending"); if the protag does not learn a lesson on the journey, it's a tragedy.

Any number of genres could be made to fit a poly relationship as the happy ending; correspondingly, a tragedy could have the protag choosing to walk away from a happy poly situation and live with the societal norm.

Lotsa ways to do it.

I actually think a documentary feature would be a great way to reveal several types of poly situations, and better than writing a narrative fiction script, but docs are not usually the box office hits that narratives are (unless you're Michael Moore), and they are harder to fund.


Ari, there's a more recent documentary on one poly family that played at a theater in NYC last month. I did not go, but I saw it on IFC when it first came out. The filmmaker spent six years with a triad of one woman and two bi men. Here's the trailer: Three of Hearts: A Postmodern Family. The DVD is $10 on that popular online bookseller.
 
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Ariakas

Bosun
I have watched that web series. It's cute and the acting is okay.

Actually I had forgotten that one. There is also a west coast documentary style series that came out. Had a bunch of potential poly peeps on it :)

So I guess that makes 3 I can think of.
 

Fobwatch

New member
Um ... wow.

Suffice it to say that I see it exactly opposite from you.

MT

I am inclined to agree. Who controls the media varies wildely from country to country. In britain the BBC is dominant and has quite liberal matter of fact tendencies.

Suffice to say even with more conservative groups present Fox News doesnt exist here.
 
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