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March 18, 2009

RANT!

Filed under: Uncategorized — thirdxlucky @ 10:54 am

In response to a post in which I said nothing specific about my personal relationships but expressed joy over seeing a positive article about polyamory in a mainstream news-source, someone just posted the following comment on my LiveJournal:

Most of the polyamorous people I’ve met are compulsive liars, greedy, incredibly attention-seeking, and very, very sexually promiscuous. If this had been maybe one or two people, I’d shrugged it off, but I’ve got eight friends that I’m fairly well-acquainted with who claim to be bisexual and polyamorous. They’ve given me some pretty negative views considering they’re all irresponsible and selfish in their relationships. It’s all about instant emotional gratification, and eventually physical.

I just don’t approve of the quality of people I’ve met thus far living the lifestyle. I can see how it’d work, but with the immaturity and selfishness of the polyamorous I’ve met thus far, the community is just a big fucking joke to me.

What the fuck? Seriously?

I didn’t even know what to say. I settled on “Why did you feel it was appropriate to post a comment like this here?” and left it at that – but I really had to fight down the bile in my throat impulse to get seriously defensive and start trying to refute her insults point-by-point and telling her why her logic was broken and she was an asshole…but I know there’s no point. This person is clearly just spewing hate. And, honestly, even if she weren’t I am fucking sick of trying to be the shining counter-example for everyone’s assbackwards stereotypes about polyfolk.

Additional Ranty Ranting behind the cut.

Normally, I don’t mind educating people about polyamory. I get burned out on it sometimes, but it’s usually only mildly aggravating compared to similar discussions around race, class, sexuality and gender. (Probably partly because I’ve been doing it so long that I have the 101 patter down pat, partly because polyfolk are invisible enough that most people have general ‘wtf? weird!!’ confusion about us rather than distinct and strongly formed prejudices, and partly because I’m insulated by so much privilege along other vectors that most people won’t tell me straight to my face they think I’m a greedy, attention-seeking, very very promiscuous compulsive liar.) I try to do it even when I am sick of it, because I know I’m in the very privileged position of being able to talk about being poly publicly without putting my job, my relationship with my family, or the custody of my children at risk. And, once in a while, it’s actually really rewarding – especially when you’re talking to a person who suddenly gets that dawning look of comprehension in hir eyes and goes, “Ohhh fuck…that’s me. That’s me! That’s me! That’s ME!”

Most of the previous comments on that entry had been negative – but they were an “I’m just affirming my commitment to monogamy here” kind of negation that is problematic politically but doesn’t really bother me on an emotional level ’cause, I mean, whatever. Be monogamous all night and all day. That’s cool. It doesn’t change who I am as a person or alter the way I feel about my partners. But there’s a way in which telling me that, as a poly person, I am inherently irresponsible and selfish reifies a universe in which that stereotype is true. Because I’m forced to either live in and play out the role you force onto me or expend extra energy fighting to get out of it. And you know what? Fuck you.

I don’t know why this comment set me off. I mean, there were far more inflammatory comments on the linked article itself, but those didn’t upset me; I thought they were funny. It’s like this was written specifically to trigger me, though. At first I wondered if this person was a troll. I don’t recognize her handle, but she has me on her Flist and I know there are people who read my journal whose usernames I don’t know. Her journal looks like a totally normal twenty-something geek journal. So the comment appears to be totally genuine random hatespew from an otherwise normal human being. Maybe it triggered me because it reminded me of the far-less-considerate-than-LiveJournal places I used to hang out as a teenager where I’d regularly get dragged into screaming flamewars where I was expected to justify my ‘lifestyle’ and then random proto-4Chanish teenage boys would hold forth about whether my penchant to “fuck anything that moves” made me a “fat slut cunt” or an “ugly fat slut cunt.” Or maybe it made me angry because it describes, almost exactly, the stereotype I internalized about myself for so many years and have worked so hard to get out of my system.

Fuck. I don’t know. I just needed to rant somewhere and I didn’t want to do it there – because that journal is a lot of things, but safe(r) space is NOT one of them.

And partly, I guess – even though I know that a number of people who I have to interact with in daily life still say insulting, degrading things about me behind my back on a regular basis, and tell my partners they “deserve better,” and try to set them up with other (monogamous) people, and honestly believe that my getting sexually assaulted was my fault (or didn’t even happen) because a poly woman will “fuck anything that moves”, and just generally feel entitled to treat my personal life like it’s cheap entertainment – I rarely have to deal with it to my face anymore, so I’m probably out of practice.

I guess this is one nice thing… In the past, if someone had leveled that kind of bs against me, I would have felt that it was my obligation to prove them wrong, and to do so in the most reasoned, well-crafted, polite and convincing manner I could muster in the hopes they’d listen to me (or at least that someone else would be convinced and come take my side.) Apparently, I’m no longer afraid that my identity, my relationships, and polyamory in general are going to get blown over like a house of cards if I don’t stand and defend them.

Before I would’ve been ranting, desperately and defensively, about how she was incorrect. Now I just feel like ranting about how she’s being an asshole.

Lady, you’re being an asshole.

And anyone else who thinks that polyfolk, by virtue of being poly, are selfish, greedy, irresponsible, promiscuous (not that there’s anything inherently wrong with promiscuity, either), melodramatic, immature, afraid of commitment, incapable of love, obsessed with sex, attention-seeking, dishonest, manipulative, out to steal your partner, confused, on the road to disaster, on the road to hell, going through a phase, just haven’t found the right person yet, are just acting like this to make some political point, or to be different, or to be trendy…need I go on? You, too, are being an asshole.

And monogamous people, you are not necessarily being assholes but you are in serious danger-of-asshole territory. If you are monogamous, you have privilege. Even if you’re not currently in a monogamous relationship, if you’re oriented primarily toward monogamous relationships, you have privilege. If you can’t imagine why on earth anyone would want to “share” their partner; or if you can’t imagine why on earth anyone would want more than one partner; or if you take it as a given that, whatever you do in your youth, you will ultimately settle down in an exclusive relationship with one other person, and you find that certainty pleasant rather than confusing and upsetting, those things indicate privilege.

That’s cool. We all have privilege that we have to learn to deal with. Just please, please, please, please think about it before posting your opinion about my intimate relationships in my LiveJournal.

Thanks.

ETA: But you know what part I think really pissed me off most? Far more than the litany of insults?

I just don’t approve of the quality of people I’ve met thus far living the lifestyle.

You don’t, huh? You just don’t approve of the quality of people…living the “lifestyle”. Those eight “friends” of yours. You don’t approve of their quality.

And since that’s totally your prerogative, it’s good that you shared your opinion with us. We’ll be sure to pass it on to all the other polyfolk “living the lifestyle” as well.

That you, y’know, don’t approve.

That we’re not quality people.

That’s important.

Thanks.

Asshole.

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