The Sexual Freedom Project: Discussing Polyamory

Polyamory, loving more than one partner, is finally getting the exposure it needs in the media and elsewhere. These are natural relationships based on shared values and deserve just as much respect as any other relationship. This may not be your cup of tea but that doesn’t mean you are incapable of recognizing and respecting relationships that are different from your own.

Consider this: monogamy, and the rigid jealousy with which it is partnered, has long been the cause of so many broken families, needlessly, because of a general misunderstanding of what fidelity is all about. It’s not about “cheating” because whom are you cheating on, yourself or your objecting partner? Most people don’t stray because they are afraid, their desire for safety and stability trumping their true desires.

Fidelity is about reciprocal loyalty, and as long as that is in place, everyone, whether married or not, should be free to experience their sexuality as they wish, without canceling out their fidelity to their committed partner or to their new committed partners. This expression of fidelity, giving your partner the freedom to express their desires however they choose, actually strengthens all relationships to the extent they are open and honest. Fidelity by definition accepts the notion that fidelity can exist within a multitude of relationships, sexual or not.

Cutting off your sexuality just because you are in a committed relationship doesn’t add up for those who wish to expand their sexual horizons. This is not to say that polyamory doesn’t come with many challenges, but they always lead to self-understanding, mutual understanding, and, ultimately, self-mastery.

What do you think? Let us know by making your own video, writing a poem, song, or an essay — or even create an original work of art — and express your thoughts. If we feature your contribution on the site, we will send you one of our prized  prized VenusPlusX t-shirt to thank you.

More videos.

What is Family?

(Tabién en español)

A particularly important idea that really answers the question, “What is family?” is that a family is what we make it.

Yes, the nuclear family with a mother, father, and two children may sill be considered the norm, but in reality, non-traditional families are a rising majority. a subject that I began to learn more about during a few of the panels at Woodhull’s Sexual Freedom Summit. Speakers such as Diana Adams and Anita Wagner Illig explained to their audience that there are many other groups that can be considered family, even if their family format is not exactly mainstream: a single mother and her children; a lesbian couple, a sperm donor who wishes to take an active role in the child’s life, and the child; a gay couple, their child, and a surrogate mother; one parent, a child, and grandparents; and, polyamorous groups such as a married couple and their other partners. These may not be the individuals that people normally associate first with the word “family,” but that doesn’t make their love and devotion for each other any less real. They are all important example of what a family really is.

Creative Commons: Gay Ray

Creative Commons: Gay Ray

Fortunately, a wider view of family is starting to become more common throughout society. LGBT and polyamorous groups are now able to adopt children and California has even proposed a bill that could allow for the possibility of legally recognizing 3-parent families. Though the term “family” was undefined, UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Article 16) gave us the right to family since 1948, which doesn’t itself define what a family is.

Article 16.

  • (1) Men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and to found a family. They are entitled to equal rights as to marriage, during marriage and at its dissolution.
  • (2) Marriage shall be entered into only with the free and full consent of the intending spouses.
  • (3) The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State

(The Universal Declaration of Human Rights)

It is a fairly recent development that this idea has reached beyond that of the nuclear family, which, again, no longer describes the majority of families in this country. Now that this definition gives LGBT families legal recognition, there is hope that in the future, we will be able to share this same right freely with all non-traditional families.

Creative Commons: Eric Ward

Editor’s Note: On September 22, 2012, at the Woodhull Sexual Freedom Summit, Woodhull’s Executive Director Ricci Levy announced the official launch of it’s newest campaign, The Family Matters Project, “Woodhull recognizes the diversity of family in the United States and our goal is to protect our fundamental human right to family by eliminating discrimination based on family structure and relationship choices.” Summit attendees were among the first to contribute by filling out cards describing why family means to them that will appear as part of this national campaign.. 

Love Poly Style

This video comes to us from Newsweek, and is called “POLYAMORY: Making Poly Love Work.” For anyone not familiar with the term polyamory (from Greek πολύ [poly, meaning many or several] and Latin amor [love]), Wikipedia defines it as “the practice, desire, or acceptance of having more than one intimate relationship at a time with the knowledge and consent of everyone involved.”

From the Newsweek article:

Terisa and Matt and Vera and Larry—along with Scott, who’s also at this dinner—are not swingers, per se; they aren’t pursuing casual sex. Nor are they polygamists of the sort portrayed on HBO’s Big Love; they aren’t religious, and they don’t have multiple wives. But they do believe in “ethical nonmonogamy,” or engaging in loving, intimate relationships with more than one person—based upon the knowledge and consent of everyone involved. They are polyamorous, to use the term of art applied to multiple-partner families like theirs, and they wouldn’t want to live any other way.

More from Newsweek:

Some polyamorists are married with multiple love interests, while others practice informal group marriage. Some have group sex—and many are bisexual—while those like Greenan have a series of heterosexual, one-on-one relationships. Still others don’t identify as poly but live a recognizably poly lifestyle. Terisa describes her particular cluster as a “triad,” for the number of people involved, and a “vee” for its organization, with Terisa at the center (the point of the V) and her two primary partners, Scott and Larry (who are not intimate with each other) as the tips of each arm. Other poly vocabulary exists, too: “spice” is the plural of “spouse”; “polygeometry” is how a polyamorous group describes their connections; “polyfidelitous” refers to folks who don’t date outside their menage; and a “quad” is a four-member poly group.

What unique challenges do individuals in polyamorous relationships face from society, from religion, from the government? What do you think are the advantages of being in a polyamorous relationship? Is it something that you have ever considered or experienced? How do children factor into these challenges? What role would jealousy play, and how could it be overcome?

Let us know what you think. Make a video, write a poem, song, or an essay — or even create an original work of art — and express your thoughts on these topics. If we feature your contribution on the site, we will send you a free VenusPlusX t-shirt to thank you.

Image by Ratatosk, used with permission.