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January 17, 2012

Catching at Threads

Filed under: Uncategorized — thirdxlucky @ 12:44 am

I’m feeling pretty lonely lately. I’m debating whether it’s better to deal with this by instigating a social gathering of some sort or whether I should just sit with the feeling for a while. I think it might be good for me to be a little more socially disconnected than usual, because it means a lot of things are coming up for me that I can usually ignore when I’m surrounded by loved ones – and they’re things that I’m going to need to deal with eventually.

I’m never sure how vulnerable I want to be in this blog. I’ve been working on a post for a while now that involves some really raw discussion of sexual trauma. My own. After generating a mountain of notes, drafts, and late-night processy text-messages to myself, I’ve determined that I’m not ready to write about it in public yet. I do want to write about it, though. Eventually.

I’ve also been trying to get my head around a post about the politics of sex parties. My hypothesis (based on personal experience) is that sex-positive scenes as we currently know them are inherently bad at making space for trauma survivors, and that by extension they are inherently bad at making space for any folks with defining experiences of marginalization or oppression. But I’m not sure I can effectively write this post without making reference to the first post, so they both might be a while.

Meanwhile, while I’m thinking about victim-blaming behavior in sex-positive communities, I’m also reading Rachel‘s insights on Slut Shaming Within Poly Communities. (You’ll need a Fetlife account to read that, unfortunately.) These feel like two sides of the same coin to me. They’re both about the insidious reinscribing of hegemonic oppressions among what claim to be communities of resistance, and both situations support each other and hurt me and people I care about. I’d like to flesh this intersection out more, but I need to chew on it for a while.

Speaking of critiques of poly communities, I went back to Facebook today and one of the first things I did was check out the local Facebook Poly Discussion group. Why? Because I’m more of a masochist than I admit, apparently. But I mostly wanted to respond to Joshua, who posted Can Polyamory End Oppression? with the caption: “Food for thought. This hits on a lot of why I no longer consider myself part of the poly “community”.”

Since I’m apparently not going to get an actual content-having blog post together anytime in the immediate future, I’ll just repost what I wrote him there:

Hm. So, I really like a lot of what Kyle has to say here, especially the idea that identities are not inherently radical. I wish he’d developed that idea more. Instead, most of the article feels like an oversimplified response to the “Poly Evangelist Strawman” – which was disappointing.

Here’s what I wish he would’ve said (but he would’ve said it with more panache than I will here): Insofar as compulsory monogamy is an oppressive structure, of *course* choosing to do something else is one form of resistance – or, at the very least, requires adopting strategies of resistance for the sake of sustained survival. The fact that a person is engaging in one type of resistance (or several) doesn’t automatically make them radical across the board, nor does it mean a community of those folks will be a politically radicalized one.

The fact that any given person is engaging in daily resistance just to live their life means they might be experienced and primed to adopt other forms of resistance OR it might mean they feel exhausted and embattled and want nothing to do with taking on what seems to them like additional burdens. That depends on the individual’s personality, not their identity.

If what you’re looking for in a community is, first and foremost, people with whom you share political convictions (as opposed to, say, people with whom you share a cultural background, or with whom you can commiserate about specific experiences of trauma, etc.) then you’re never going to find it by seeking a community based on identity.

The reason this gets tricky is that there are lots and lots of people consciously DOING non-monogamy (and doing queerness, and doing gender, etc) as a political statement as well as/in addition to it being an identity-expression. And those folks are not necessarily going to identify with the “poly community” but they might identify *as* poly (or queer, or genderqueer etc) as part of their resistance work. So it’s dangerous to make assumptions. Period.

The specific “poly community” you’re probably referring to (i.e. the largely white middle-class heterocentric Front Range poly community) is notoriously apolitical – something that you know a lot of us have complained about ad nauseum. Complaining hasn’t really seemed to do much, so – for those of us who do want to be in community w people who share our political convictions – there are a couple of other options:

Staying in the community and trying to transform it is one of them. It can be exhausting and demoralizing but it has some benefits too. Opting out of the community is another totally valid one. That seems to be the one that you and I and most of the people we’re close to have chosen. The problem with that is, for many of us, it’s not like we opted en masse out of apolitical poly community into some other cohesive community that’s doing radical non-monogamy in an intersectional and politicized way. (Wouldn’t that be nice?)

Instead, we just sort of drifted away and found ourselves more-or-less isolated. It’s kinda lonely. Sometimes, it’s so lonely that we go back to the “poly community” seeking solace – only to be reminded that our friends are all gone. 😦

TL;DR: I miss drinking by the creek with you.

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