276 thoughts on “Polyamory and Privilege

    • Other than the “couple privilege”, what would the female bubble look like? I ask because I don’t think I’ve ever seen purely female privilege in the poly context, only couple privilege, not because I don’t think it exists.

      • It would be totally symmetric around the couple bubble; mirror through the Couple-Entitlement’ centerlines and label it Female Privilege; I have heard of some folks having a ‘one vagina’ policy, I believe…

        • I haven’t personally encountered a lot of female privilege (well, outside of female supremacy BDSM groups, anyway). Culturally, most societies are male privileged, and I think it’s a lot easier to grow up stepped in invisible, unconscious privilege as a man–privilege which I suspect many men aren’t even aware they have.

          I’ve never personally encountered a “one vagina policy,” though I’d be interested to see how many relationship structures are built that way.

          There’s definitely another form of privilege in the mix which isn’t on this chart, and which may be added if I do an update, and that’s heterosexual privilege. We definitely live in a society that privileges male heterosexuals and female bisexuals, strongly at the expense of gay and bisexual men and TG/TS people.

          • My previous relationship was a “one vagina policy”. I was dating two men seriously and saw other people casually on the side (very rarely). The two men who were seriously dating me weren’t “allowed” to be with other people. It worked like this for over 2 years.

          • Pardon my prying, but was that a HBB situation, or was that a MFM vee relationship?

            Because canonically, HBB’s are female, and thus it’s generally a one-penis competitive (anti-gay homophobic) thing, rather than a one-vagina (anti-lesbian) thing…

          • MFM.

            I’m engaged to one of the men now, and my ex (and friend) is in an exclusive relationship with a woman. Both have only ever been with woman and always exclusively except in our case.

          • I’m not going to lie. I have no idea what a HBB is. I don’t know much about the many genders and sexualities out there (though I think diversity is great).

            Everyone I know is straight. My relationship was like that because no one could commit to ending the relationships. The two guys were friends since childhood and somehow both got romantically involved with me at the same time. They weren’t fond of it but everyone invested into the relationship so it went on for well over two years. I was pretty happy though, selfish, but true.

            What I’m saying is, it wasn’t a poly relationship either since we were are all monogamous, just in a screwed up romantic triangle.

          • *nod*

            HBB – HotBiBabe. It’s…I’m going to flat out call it a problematic but commonly desired by het-couples form of polyamory. (Lifestyle accessory girlfriend, they’re the public married MF couple, she’s the spice.) And I’ve been the HBB, because I liked it at the time, but ultimately the privilege disparity really got to me.

          • Yeah, that sounds like a potential train wreck. I don’t know how I feel about that. I get it, but I’m not sure I like it. I know it’s not my place to judge (and I’m not) but it seems like the odds are really stacked against the HBB for a long meaningful commitment from both parties.

          • This is pretty much what tacit’s infographic is about, to me. Relationships based on privilege-assertion are unstable unless everyone plays along with the privilege.

          • And you can’t even get rid of it completely even if you don’t want it. Even trying to find a way to erase the HBB dynamic and have an egalitarian triad feels practically impossible because the rest of the world is so determined to bestow couple privilege on two of the folks in the relationship. Even if no one is treated as the “spice” internally, someone will be externally viewed that way, which puts strain on the entire dynamic.

            It applies to big and little things. As a hypothetical, say, where you’re going for the holidays. If two folks in the group are legally married, the family of the married component could raise hell and make everyone’s lives miserable because they feel the group should come to their home since they’re the “real” couple. It’s often easier for everyone’s sanity to capitulate to that kind of social pressure.

            Privilege is ultimately a trap. It’s a bargain that has to be maintained, and nobody really comes out better for it in the end.

          • A triad can do a lot of things that reduce the privilege and the HBB dynamic, though I think it’s a lot harder to do that when the triad consists of one married couple and an “extra” person.

            I’m actually preparing what will likely be a very long post on couple privilege. There are several forms of such privilege, often tacitly buried beneath claims of “egalitarian” relationships (for example, should there become a problem within a triad, I think it’s generally assumed that it’s the married couple, rather than, say, the “third” person and one part of the married couple, that will get the most attention, and most couples will seek to preserve that part of the relationship). Not always, but often enough that it’s a fair bet.

            I think that triads which form that way tend, in my observation anyway, to be less steeped in privilege than triads that form when an established couple adds a third person. But that’s a whole ‘nother post as well.

          • Marriage is definitely another category of privilege–a federally recognized one, at that.

            If a triad begins to dissolve, and the married element is the one that remains, most folks outside of the family unit say hurrah! I’m so glad they got that out of their systems! Things will be so much more simple now!

            Excepting unusual circumstances, however, if it’s one of the non-married units that survives the dissolution of the triad, folks outside the family unit retroactively call it an affair or use phrases like “homewrecker.” That’s my observation, anyway. I’ve even seen that when the surviving couple got together before the marriage occurred.

            In general it’s weird and arbitrary the dynamics we confer superiority to. Maybe irrational is a better word than arbitrary.

          • *nods* Agreed — while the individuals involved may be in a completely egalitarian relationship (I’m part of a triad with a married couple, but I’m not their “third” — we’re all equals, and I’ve been involved since before they got married), outsiders can perceive things differently.

            And you’re right — if a triad dissolves, there are basically two ways that the majority of observers are going to react, as you described.

            On the plus side, it’s nice to know that triads CAN exist without the “third” partner being automatically in a “spice” role — my relationship, and another triad who I’m good friends with, are both fully egalitarian and there is no assumption that certain dyads are privileged over others *within the relationship.*

            — A πŸ™‚

          • Natja

            I am very interested also, as a member of a triad I have been very interested in couple privilege.

          • As with any sort of privilege like that, it takes a lot of effort on the part of the privileged to minimize the effects. Every moment of “just letting it go” reinforces the negative effects. Every bit of “standing up against it” helps bolster the effort to stave off the tide. I’ve seen some stable triads. Changing healthcare laws in the U.S. would have helped a few relationships I know of – it sucks when only two partners can give each other the benefit of shared healthcare benefits.

          • I agree with every bit of what you said.

            I do think intersections make things a bit complicated, at times, when it comes to minimizing privilege. A poor white family who shops at wal-mart may be reinforcing the negative effects of that corporation and of U.S. privilege, but they’re not in much of a position to stand up against it directly. They have other options, perhaps.

            Healthcare is one of the biggest and cruelest ways we confer privilege in the U.S.

          • The healthcare thing *is* cruel and arbitrary, and it has huge effects in my own life — I’m disabled and can’t GET insurance other than through my legal husband (I’m on Medicare, but it only covers so much — my meds alone would be $600+ a month without private insurance), and I’m not eligible for the current high-risk state pools because they have steep hurdles for joining (you have to have gone six months without coverage, and the coverage they offer is ridiculously expensive/unaffordable) . . . so that has influenced my choice to remain legally married even though my husband and I are no longer romantic/sexual partners.

            It SUCKS to feel like my life and health is dependent on his generosity — and there is always the potential that he’s going to want to get divorced at some point, or even if we had some kind of a major fight, and then I’m stuck without health care . . . and I deeply fear what the incoming Republicans are going to try to do to health-care reform. I was really hoping that in 2014 I could get an affordable individual policy, but I’m not holding my breath at this point :/

            And my boyfriend has no health insurance, because he’s a contractor for a large telecom — so he works with full-time employees who receive benefits, but doesn’t receive them himself. Corporations are doing their best to contract everything out as much as possible, because they save money by not having to pay for benefits/vacation/retirement . . . and the people who need a job are having to take these contracting positions, because nobody is OFFERING full-time employee status right now.

            It sucks πŸ™

            — A <3

          • NeedyMeds.com

            @Ashbet: Have you looked into the website needymeds.com I get several of my prescriptions through that site. It hooks you up with which companies offer free prescriptions of certain drugs they make. It’s for people with low income, who would otherwise have trouble paying for their prescriptions. Worthwhile to check out.

          • *nod* Once there’s a Walmart in town, the viable options tend to dry up for all but the privileged. (There are times in my life that I avoided Walmart at some cost to myself, but the fact that I could do it at all was not a privilege I took lightly.)

            (had to relogin – amusing captcha – unifty tragedy.)

          • I do not believe that “one vagina policy” is common, but I have personal knowledge of a relationship which worked like that. It was a complete reversal of the traditional she’s-bi-and-he’s-threatened-by-the-idea-of-another-man one-penis-policy bit. In this case, HE was bi and SHE was threatened by the idea of another woman. I don’t know how often the other-penis option was exercised, but I know that both did have sex with other men occasionally.

          • Had the one-vagina-policy imposed on me some time back (married male) — but there isn’t the sort of societal support for it. I’ve seen far more cases of apparent “only looking for a woman”, as pointed out downthread — and wonder if, perhaps, a one vagina policy is (or can be) a form of couples privilege. Perhaps when invoked by a female partner in a more primary role?

      • female privilege?

        I don’t know if this is what female privilege would be, yet I have bumped into something that seems that way – a triad marriage of two men and one woman, where her views of putting marriage first seems to involve the ability to reduce or terminate relationships her husbands may develop. Not exactly veto power, yet strong desire to influence the other connections, including reducing or ending other new or established connections if she feels unsafe about them at any point.

      • I think I have had it

        I think woman generally have a lot of privilege in the realm of sexuality, either that or I am unusually lucky.

        I am not unusually pretty or the like and I usually make passes at people by sending them an email and asking if they would like to have a sexual relationship. I have only been turned down about once. I think that would be different if I was a guy.

        I have also seen woman act terribly affronted when they wanted sex from one of my male partners and he was not interested. It kind of reminds me of the lady who bakes cookies and gets mad if you don’t have one.

        I think it might be a more pronounced privilege in the pretty but I think that culture tends to teach the modern american woman that she is basically entitled to sex from any man she likes enough to let in to her panties. But it could be a regional or social group effect.

        So in this context I would say it comes in to play with couple privilege in lists of long controlling rules and veto. I know sometimes these are men but I usually see it with women and they are often specifically enforced with being” cut off” sexually.

          • More Work Drama

            Sorry, that did not make a lot of sense

            I think that, overall, women can be more successful in heterosexual interactions with direct and minimal approaches then men of equlivalant attractiveness (whatever that means) and that sort of disparity, where average results change with group identification of the asker are the tkind of things that seem to be expressing cultural bias and expectations

  1. You’ve done it again! When you write your poly books (the book you’re supposed to be writing, & the book form of your website), there ought to be a big coffee table book or something with a collection of all your sexual informatics!

  2. You’ve done it again! When you write your poly books (the book you’re supposed to be writing, & the book form of your website), there ought to be a big coffee table book or something with a collection of all your sexual informatics!

  3. Other than the “couple privilege”, what would the female bubble look like? I ask because I don’t think I’ve ever seen purely female privilege in the poly context, only couple privilege, not because I don’t think it exists.

  4. It would be totally symmetric around the couple bubble; mirror through the Couple-Entitlement’ centerlines and label it Female Privilege; I have heard of some folks having a ‘one vagina’ policy, I believe…

  5. I haven’t personally encountered a lot of female privilege (well, outside of female supremacy BDSM groups, anyway). Culturally, most societies are male privileged, and I think it’s a lot easier to grow up stepped in invisible, unconscious privilege as a man–privilege which I suspect many men aren’t even aware they have.

    I’ve never personally encountered a “one vagina policy,” though I’d be interested to see how many relationship structures are built that way.

    There’s definitely another form of privilege in the mix which isn’t on this chart, and which may be added if I do an update, and that’s heterosexual privilege. We definitely live in a society that privileges male heterosexuals and female bisexuals, strongly at the expense of gay and bisexual men and TG/TS people.

  6. female privilege?

    I don’t know if this is what female privilege would be, yet I have bumped into something that seems that way – a triad marriage of two men and one woman, where her views of putting marriage first seems to involve the ability to reduce or terminate relationships her husbands may develop. Not exactly veto power, yet strong desire to influence the other connections, including reducing or ending other new or established connections if she feels unsafe about them at any point.

  7. My previous relationship was a “one vagina policy”. I was dating two men seriously and saw other people casually on the side (very rarely). The two men who were seriously dating me weren’t “allowed” to be with other people. It worked like this for over 2 years.

  8. Pardon my prying, but was that a HBB situation, or was that a MFM vee relationship?

    Because canonically, HBB’s are female, and thus it’s generally a one-penis competitive (anti-gay homophobic) thing, rather than a one-vagina (anti-lesbian) thing…

  9. I’m not going to lie. I have no idea what a HBB is. I don’t know much about the many genders and sexualities out there (though I think diversity is great).

    Everyone I know is straight. My relationship was like that because no one could commit to ending the relationships. The two guys were friends since childhood and somehow both got romantically involved with me at the same time. They weren’t fond of it but everyone invested into the relationship so it went on for well over two years. I was pretty happy though, selfish, but true.

    What I’m saying is, it wasn’t a poly relationship either since we were are all monogamous, just in a screwed up romantic triangle.

  10. *nod*

    HBB – HotBiBabe. It’s…I’m going to flat out call it a problematic but commonly desired by het-couples form of polyamory. (Lifestyle accessory girlfriend, they’re the public married MF couple, she’s the spice.) And I’ve been the HBB, because I liked it at the time, but ultimately the privilege disparity really got to me.

  11. Yeah, that sounds like a potential train wreck. I don’t know how I feel about that. I get it, but I’m not sure I like it. I know it’s not my place to judge (and I’m not) but it seems like the odds are really stacked against the HBB for a long meaningful commitment from both parties.

  12. This is pretty much what tacit’s infographic is about, to me. Relationships based on privilege-assertion are unstable unless everyone plays along with the privilege.

  13. I have to chime in on the “one vagina” thing. I’ve been in 2 serious relationships where the women felt strongly entitled to have all the partners they wanted, while their partners (at least their male partners) were supposed to have no others.

    In both cases they threw out arguments based on the following (in various combinations):
    *”True” polyamory is female-centric, so it should be all about the woman and her needs
    *Men aren’t capable of keeping up with a woman sexually, so the woman should be able to seek out all the partners she needs whereas a man should be fine with one woman
    *A similar argument to the above, but about attention in general
    *Women are nurturers who’re programmed by their nature to give love to many so they can care for multiple kids, men don’t share this & so can’t truly love more than one person
    *Male society is exploitative of women, so only be living in a fully female-centric manner can we escape such exploitation

    There were others, but those were the main points. And I’ve seen some or all of those arguments get support.

    • I have to second that one, because I keep on bumping into females with a huge ego and an even bigger sense of self-entitlement, doubly so when it comes to whom they feel they are entitled to date and with how their male companion shall only be allowed to date others on the woman’s terms, if at all.

      As for the above diagram and its overlooked “one vagina” item, I’ll venture that some western countries are so hopelessly stuck into these notions of privileged groups that its people are incapable of looking past this and, for example, to admit that affirmative actions have often resulted in the marginalization of those very groups that were previously viewed as privileged. Sure enough, white people and doubly so white males tend to be more and more systematically ostracized and marginalized in USA and a number of other countries. This has to stop.

      • Yep. I’ve run in to that attitude too… “Men were the controlling abusers so long that now it’s womens’ turn and men need to know how it felt.”

        They seem to feel it’s justified as some sort of punishment or lesson or revenge. Some discuss it in terms of a pendulum swing, but they don’t see that by pushing it so far one way it makes it unlikely there’ll be a center point any time soon.

        • Not only that, but what good does it serve to ostracize a generation that has done no evil, just because the previous generations knew no better and did plenty of evil?

  14. I have to chime in on the “one vagina” thing. I’ve been in 2 serious relationships where the women felt strongly entitled to have all the partners they wanted, while their partners (at least their male partners) were supposed to have no others.

    In both cases they threw out arguments based on the following (in various combinations):
    *”True” polyamory is female-centric, so it should be all about the woman and her needs
    *Men aren’t capable of keeping up with a woman sexually, so the woman should be able to seek out all the partners she needs whereas a man should be fine with one woman
    *A similar argument to the above, but about attention in general
    *Women are nurturers who’re programmed by their nature to give love to many so they can care for multiple kids, men don’t share this & so can’t truly love more than one person
    *Male society is exploitative of women, so only be living in a fully female-centric manner can we escape such exploitation

    There were others, but those were the main points. And I’ve seen some or all of those arguments get support.

  15. πŸ˜›

    I’d like to see an analysis of the point at which “privilege” became something to be ashamed of. Not just in this context, just in general. If I could have a harem and a billion dollar trust, I’d be a fucking lunatic to turn it down for fear of being “priviledged.” And as everyone knows, I am quite sane in such regards.

    • Re: πŸ˜›

      I don’t think it’s really something to be ashamed of, so much as something to be aware of. It comes out of critical race theory, and from there intersected through other civil rights movements and political theories.

      • Re: πŸ˜›

        I know. And I’m being somewhat tongue-in-cheek. But the fact is it also comes off a lot like “liberal guilt.” My thing is if people are really concerned with being privileged they can paypal me $100, which will assuage their guilt and help me out, as I have no compunctions about being a great deal more privileged than I am. (Though I will say if I had a billion dollar trust that I wouldn’t use the investment returns just for myself. There’s a difference between privilege and greed. ;P)

        • Re: πŸ˜›

          The critique of privilege actually came about in part as a response to “liberal guilt.” For instance, it is wealthy white folks who have the privilege of being “colorblind.”

    • Re: πŸ˜›

      Um, also–if your harem was populated by folks who didn’t have much of a choice in being there, and your billion dollar trust was provided through war crimes and human rights violations, then you would be a lunatic not to turn them down.

      That’s the problem with privilege, really. Not thinking about where it comes from or how it affects those who don’t have it. It’s not bad to have a billion dollars, but it’s not good if that billion dollars was acquired through human suffering. Privilege isn’t bad unless you don’t stop to think whether or not you’re hurting anybody with it from time to time and try to at least minimize that. No one can get rid of it completely, but it’s something to at least try to be as responsible as one can be given their circumstances.

      • Re: πŸ˜›

        I think we can safely assume that someone was hurt or at least taken advantage of along the way for any such considerable fortune.

        The reality is I wouldn’t have a forced harem– aside from the ethical issues it just wouldn’t do it for me. Same reason I couldn’t pay for sex. I get off on free will, go figure.

        But there’s no natural law that enforces the sort of moral structure you’re talking about here. My point is, the people who AREN’T concerned about these things are going to be just fine to continue going dancing on the backs of the poor, as they always have. And the liberal middle class and academics can continue to be concerned with the ethos of privilege. No one gets a reward for being responsible in such a way. Those who could give a toss certainly about to, and the idea that we can educate everyone into agreeing with us is, well, sadly another compelling liberal fantasy. I loved The West Wing too, and tend to fall pretty far on the liberal side of the spectrum when it comes to most “issues,” but I’ve also been coming to the conclusion, more and more, that the stances involved in holding those beliefs are inherently insular and disenfranchising.

        And the fact remains, when it comes to a billion dollar fortune, I would probably invest a fair amount of it into education incentives and God knows what else, but I still would say “better me than the other guy.”

        Of course it’s moot, because I’m an artist and a writer, and everyone knows we die poor.

        To bring this back to the actual topic – When it comes to polyamory, the times I’ve been involved in a triad with two bisexual girls have been the most pleasant, and – for the most part – most mutually enjoyable arrangements. Is it some sort of privilege? I don’t know, but it’s sure as hell less messy than what I have going on in my life right now. I’d rather be privileged than miserable. What about you?

        • Re: πŸ˜›

          I’ve never seen the west wing.

          Well, I’ve seen a youtube clip where a dude recites a letter that circulated on the internet a few years before the episode was written at some lady who was apparently supposed to be a parody of Dr. Laura or something.

          Considering that, and that I’m currently in a one-penis-only-open-marriage where I’ve quite happily had sex and relationships with several other girls (both in and out of a triad dynamic) because that’s what I prefer and because it makes my husband more comfortable which means the whole thing is totally informed by male privilege and we’re both completely aware of that and ok with it, I can only conclude that your comment doesn’t have a whole lot to do with mine.

          You seem to like comics. Was it bad that spidey had super powers? No. It was pretty fucking awesome. Was it awesome when he didn’t give a shit about anybody but himself and Uncle Ben got killed? Not so much. If Stan Lee gets it, you can too. Much like the comic is better when Parker isn’t full of angst (or clones), liberalism is better without the paralyzing guilt and angst too!

          • Re: πŸ˜›

            Well, I certainly agree with this part “Much like the comic is better when Parker isn’t full of angst (or clones), liberalism is better without the paralyzing guilt and angst too!”

            Never much into Spider Man. Only comics I really enjoyed are the 90s vertigo type ones. Sandman, Invisibles, Transmetro, Promethea, etc.

            I just don’t think your agreement is “informed by male privilege” so much as it is something you both choose to do. It generally makes the situation more workable, whether or not it is ALWAYS what YOU want to do. But you’re right, I’m not trying to level some sort of argument against you. For starters, I don’t know you. ;p

          • Re: πŸ˜›

            It is. He’s uncomfortable with it because he’s uncomfortable with the notion of me being with other men because other men = threat and other women = hot. He’s the one who told me it was irrational and that it came from that place. Two girls is a fantasy even if he’s not around for it, another dude is icky even if he’s not involved at all. I even offered that maybe it’s just that he’s not attracted to dudes and he told me that wasn’t it, it’s just the emotional territoriality that women don’t infringe on because that’s not really what we’re brought up to feel.

            The fact, however, that he’s aware that it comes from some pretty sexist places means that we discussed it and he was really open and honest about it rather than defensive and controlling. Recognizing where it came from didn’t automatically mean we had to reject it, it just meant we knew. So, I didn’t feel resentful, he articulated his feelings and fears, we both felt more secure about the whole thing, and minus a few bumps it’s been pretty awesome. It also works out because I’m attracted to something like half the girls I interact with and maybe 1 out of 100 dudes I interact with. If I was closer to a 3 on the kinsey it may feel more unfair and we might have to unpack the issue a bit more.

            Mostly it just means that we have to be a little mindful that my relationships with girls are respected as not being a porno fantasy, and involve another human being who I care about on some level. It also makes us more open about establishing clarity on his level of involvement and the other girl and I’s level of emotional involvement with each other and him. Stuff people should really do anyway.

            Being aware of privilege really just means not being a douche. Knowing when your actions might have an effect on the people around you, being considerate, stuff like that. There are very few circumstances in which privilege even can be outright rejected so thinking about whether or not one should is vaguely moot.

          • Re: πŸ˜›

            I don’t know about guys being icky but we do resort to direct conflict rather quickly.

            Anyway, the way you define privilege makes sense to me– but it certainly isn’t the “talking down your nose” sense in which it usually used. Every time I’ve heard it, it’s been a verbal attempt at turning the tables, and making one feel superior than someone who is luckier, better connected, or simply more brutal than they are. If everyone had the same regard for it you seem to I doubt that would come through so much.

          • Re: πŸ˜›

            “ZOMG, “privilege”, what-EVER” thing is deployed as a derailment tactic no matter how the term was intended.

          • Re: πŸ˜›

            Everyone I know who’s discussing privilege in terms of power dynamics in a sociological (or civil rights) sense does have the same regard for it that I do.

            Pretty much the only people I ever hear say that privilege is always bad are people who frame it as “Feminists/liberals/activists/people of color say privilege is bad and should be rejected and I think that’s too simple!” It’s a strawman. Since the underlying concept necessarily states that it’s not something that can be gotten rid of or rejected completely (as things are now), only people who aren’t familiar with the concept would say such things.

          • Re: πŸ˜›

            I AM familiar with the concept (I was raised by lesbians and went to Bard college for christs sake, a liberal arts school that has been said to “put the liberal back in liberal arts”) and I still think that as it is generally used in academic circles, they may say one thing but they’re acting on an emotional impulse which is quite another. Don’t be quite so quick to make assumptione about another’s assumptions. ;p

  16. πŸ˜›

    I’d like to see an analysis of the point at which “privilege” became something to be ashamed of. Not just in this context, just in general. If I could have a harem and a billion dollar trust, I’d be a fucking lunatic to turn it down for fear of being “priviledged.” And as everyone knows, I am quite sane in such regards.

  17. Privilege

    This isn’t really directed at you, Tacit, so much as towards the “what about the menz?!” comments.

    When 4 of the top 5* major world religions have at one point (or currently) featured a one vagina multiple penis policy as standard practice–deviation from often punishable by death!–then maybe we can think about adding “female privilege” to that diagram.

    Polygamy and Polyamory may be different, but the latter didn’t develop in a vacuum, and they’re both (like everything) informed by male privilege in some capacity. The context that this diagram seems to be borrowing from is the sociological concept of privilege pulled from critical race theory. If that’s the case, then there isn’t any such thing as female privilege because female isn’t a privileged class. If that isn’t the case, then ignore my whole comment. πŸ™‚

    Heterosexual and cis privilege would come into play. Class would too, and in fact it seems pretty common for couples pull in a third who was/became economically dependent which gave them far less power in the relationship. Male, couple, straight, cis, wealthy, white, etc, folks in a poly (or really any) relationship can exercise their privilege to make unfair demands specifically because they have more power in the society at large to fall back on. That isn’t to say the opposite never occurs–obviously people in this thread have experienced it–but it would be individual experience, not social phenomena.

    *Although the polyandry that occurs in tibet is still a form of male privilege, as the women are generally unwilling participants.

    • Re: Privilege

      I agree that this informatic pretty accurately represents some of the ways in which privilege has influenced some relationships — I’ve seen it in action, and I don’t disagree with what has laid out here.

      I *do* think that there is some degree of female/HBB privilege in the poly community, though — I’ve known very few couple-with-third types (and the MFF triad who I’m friends with is VERY egalitarian and they consider their relationships to be of equal priority), whereas I know a lot of women who have multiple partners (of various genders), without the one-penis policy coming into play.

      I’ve been in MFM configurations for most of my poly life (although I have only had one live-in partner, my monogamous husband, who is not interested in other relationships — so the other “M” was always someone I spent time with away from the house), and for the majority of it, I’ve been the center of a closed “polycule” — where the relationship with my husband was one extended leg, and I had other relationships that intersected (I’ve been part of an N shape, among others, and my longest-lasting configuration has me as one part of a triad, my husband as a dyad, and myself and my boyfriend as a dyad — he’s had other female partners, but they didn’t last.)

      I really need ChemDraw to document it properly πŸ˜‰

      But, basically — for several years, I had three male partners and one female partner, who was married to one of my male partners. I currently have two male partners and one female partner (my husband and I still live together, but for unrelated-to-poly reasons, we’ve recently transitioned to being close friends/family, but no longer romantically involved.)

      My relationship with C and L, my married-couple partners, isn’t as a non-privileged third (I contribute a lot to their household, I’ve materially helped in raising their daughter, who I view as a daughter-of-my-heart, and I’m an equal in making decisions), but as a valued member of the family and a full partner.

      We’re all currently polyfidelitous (C and L had an open relationship when I first met them, with each of them allowed to pursue partners of the genders that interested them, but they decided some years ago that they were happier as a closed triad, with the understanding that my existing relationships were part of the package), and if my boyfriend, J, decides to enter another relationship, that partner would be expected to become part of this closed system.

      (I know it sounds like I’m exercising HBB-privilege in asking that my partners’ partners not be open-ended, but part of the issue is that we’re fluid-bonded and I have a compromised immune system, so it’s really important that any new partners be fully tested and willing to have any of their potential future relationships go through the same testing process — so, basically, if my boyfriend starts dating his play partner and wants to have sex with her, she’d need to agree not to enter into any other relationships without her new potential partner getting tested and agreeing to only date her. And *she* has been fully tested/etc. before they had any contact without being fully clothed, because something relatively minor like HPV or HSV-1 could steamroller my immune system, so we decided not to take any chances.)

      Thus far, it’s worked out really well — my triad relationship is of almost seven years’ duration, my boyfriend and I just passed the two-year mark, and while my husband is no longer my sexual/romantic partner, we had an 11-year partnership that overlapped my other relationships. (I never did the whole “married dyad is privileged over all other relationships” thing — for quite some time, my “primary” partnerships have been with other people.)

      (cont’d)

      • Re: Privilege

        Yes, my legal marriage and my triad partners’ legal marriage convey rights not available to other relationships (and it sucks — should I decide to move to the UK, neither of them could sponsor me or bring me in on a fiancΓ©e visa — same thing if they decided to move to the US), and my husband and I have decided to stay legally married for the foreseeable future so that I don’t lose my health insurance (which is a BIG deal, because I’m disabled and have huge medical expenses), even though we’re going to be moving to different states next year.

        I also am a huge marriage-equality advocate, and I would LOVE to see, someday, a form of civil contract where a poly group could have legal rights and could share in things like child custody and inheritance. (Yes, it’d be complicated, but it’s worth figuring out a way to do it — our legal/tax system is based on dyadic relationships, but it would be nice if civil relationship contracts were recognized as an option.)

        So, in my personal experience with poly, I haven’t had to deal with too much male/couple privilege in the ways that Franklin is describing above, but I do recognize that these privileges exist, and they’re definitely worth talking about and being aware of.

        — A πŸ™‚

        • Re: Privilege

          Ashbet, you made my head hurt. What you’re talking about isn’t classic HBB, and the ways in which you’re not exposed and disprivileged is just proving the rule –

          A single bisexual woman in a closed polyfi triad with a het married couple is denied a bunch of societal privileges.

          Change *any* of those parameters (married bi woman involved with a het-married couple, three single MFF, etc.) and the privilege is distributed vastly differently.

          I’m with you as far as roll-your-own legal structures. I’d like to see a lot more support for those.

          • Re: Privilege

            Oh, I totally agree — I was talking about my personal circumstances to show that there are ways of being poly that fall *outside* of < ‘s diagram . . . although, as noted, I do recognize that I have privilege as a married woman that I wouldn’t necessarily have as a single woman dating a married couple.

            When you introduce legal marriage into the mix, whether it’s a dyad within a triad or any poly relationship configuration, the “het”-married dyad automatically privileged by society, both socially and legally. (I put “het” in quotes, because the legal presumption is that both are heterosexual, although the parties may be bisexual or gay/lesbian in their actual orientation. And sometimes the married “dyad” may not be sexually involved at all, due to immigration or health insurance.)

            I love the idea of calling custom-built legal structures “roll-your-own” — that’s very nifty πŸ˜€

            — A <3

          • Re: Privilege

            Did anyone say that MFF is necessarily, always about one MF pair having power over the other F? Or that all triads are (MF)F ? Because I’m seeing a lot of people leaping to represent configurations that are not (MF)F.

            I don’t remember whether I came up with “roll-your-own”, or picked it up somewhere. I’m glad you find it nifty!

          • Re: Privilege

            I don’t think anyone (certainly not me!) is saying that all triads are (MF)F — I think the discussion is referencing the fact that a single woman in a triad with a married couple is going to face some disadvantages based on the fact that the marital dyad is legally and societally privileged.

            There are certainly plenty of triads who are FFF or MMM or MFM or any combination, including transmen and transwomen and nongendered people who may or may not define themselves as “M” or “F”. And there can be any combination of sexual orientations within the triads (one bi man with two gay men, for example.)

            I think the discussion has focused on couple-with-third configurations because that’s what Franklin was referencing in his diagram.

            (Please correct me if I’m wrong, but that’s what I’m seeing.)

            — A <3

          • Re: Privilege

            I’m seeing a lot of “but my FMF triad…” stuff, which is *not* in the (MF)F configuration that’s so problematic in terms of privilege imbalance…I wouldn’t say it’s derailing, because the topic wasn’t defined as (MF)F, but when we’re discussing privilege…it seems like it’s swamping the central case with unusual configurations that pretty much bear out just how problematic (MF)F is.

          • Re: Privilege

            Since the topic wasn’t narrowly defined, I think people are discussing the relationships they’re familiar with — their own and those of their friends. I don’t think non-(MF)F triads are necessarily all that uncommon — but, then again, we’re a self-selecting sample — I’d lay bets that the majority of people who read this journal tend towards more egalitarian relationships than the world at large.

            If the topic shifts to (MF)F exclusively, then discussing other relationships is derailing & off-topic. I’m not sure we’re there at the moment.

            To me, discussion of other relationships is on-topic in terms of finding ways to *avoid* the inherent inequalities in a married-couple/HBB situation πŸ™‚

            — A <3

    • Re: Privilege

      there isn’t any such thing as female privilege because female isn’t a privileged class
      I’m sorry, but that’s a complete pile of crap. I’ll buy that black isn’t a privileged class (although I think standard race theory wrongly discounts individual power) until affirmative action gets involved, but there are plenty of female privileges. If what you want out of life is to raise a family and take care of the house, I think you’ll find that’s going to go over much better if you have a vagina. The same is true if you want to work in childcare or elementary education. Or if you want to date men.

      I’ll agree that there are *more* male privileges, no problem, but feminism lately seems to have forgotten the idea that patriarchy is bad for everyone.

      • Re: Privilege

        The concept of privilege is not “I get to do some stuff that I like.”

        I would elaborate, but you obviously have access to the internet, so you can look it up. πŸ™‚

        If you read several of my other comments, you’ll see that I quite obviously believe that patriarchy hurts everyone–including those who capitulate to it, and even those who benefit from it.

  18. Privilege

    This isn’t really directed at you, Tacit, so much as towards the “what about the menz?!” comments.

    When 4 of the top 5* major world religions have at one point (or currently) featured a one vagina multiple penis policy as standard practice–deviation from often punishable by death!–then maybe we can think about adding “female privilege” to that diagram.

    Polygamy and Polyamory may be different, but the latter didn’t develop in a vacuum, and they’re both (like everything) informed by male privilege in some capacity. The context that this diagram seems to be borrowing from is the sociological concept of privilege pulled from critical race theory. If that’s the case, then there isn’t any such thing as female privilege because female isn’t a privileged class. If that isn’t the case, then ignore my whole comment. πŸ™‚

    Heterosexual and cis privilege would come into play. Class would too, and in fact it seems pretty common for couples pull in a third who was/became economically dependent which gave them far less power in the relationship. Male, couple, straight, cis, wealthy, white, etc, folks in a poly (or really any) relationship can exercise their privilege to make unfair demands specifically because they have more power in the society at large to fall back on. That isn’t to say the opposite never occurs–obviously people in this thread have experienced it–but it would be individual experience, not social phenomena.

    *Although the polyandry that occurs in tibet is still a form of male privilege, as the women are generally unwilling participants.

  19. Re: πŸ˜›

    I don’t think it’s really something to be ashamed of, so much as something to be aware of. It comes out of critical race theory, and from there intersected through other civil rights movements and political theories.

  20. Re: πŸ˜›

    I know. And I’m being somewhat tongue-in-cheek. But the fact is it also comes off a lot like “liberal guilt.” My thing is if people are really concerned with being privileged they can paypal me $100, which will assuage their guilt and help me out, as I have no compunctions about being a great deal more privileged than I am. (Though I will say if I had a billion dollar trust that I wouldn’t use the investment returns just for myself. There’s a difference between privilege and greed. ;P)

  21. Re: πŸ˜›

    Um, also–if your harem was populated by folks who didn’t have much of a choice in being there, and your billion dollar trust was provided through war crimes and human rights violations, then you would be a lunatic not to turn them down.

    That’s the problem with privilege, really. Not thinking about where it comes from or how it affects those who don’t have it. It’s not bad to have a billion dollars, but it’s not good if that billion dollars was acquired through human suffering. Privilege isn’t bad unless you don’t stop to think whether or not you’re hurting anybody with it from time to time and try to at least minimize that. No one can get rid of it completely, but it’s something to at least try to be as responsible as one can be given their circumstances.

  22. Re: πŸ˜›

    The critique of privilege actually came about in part as a response to “liberal guilt.” For instance, it is wealthy white folks who have the privilege of being “colorblind.”

  23. Re: πŸ˜›

    I think we can safely assume that someone was hurt or at least taken advantage of along the way for any such considerable fortune.

    The reality is I wouldn’t have a forced harem– aside from the ethical issues it just wouldn’t do it for me. Same reason I couldn’t pay for sex. I get off on free will, go figure.

    But there’s no natural law that enforces the sort of moral structure you’re talking about here. My point is, the people who AREN’T concerned about these things are going to be just fine to continue going dancing on the backs of the poor, as they always have. And the liberal middle class and academics can continue to be concerned with the ethos of privilege. No one gets a reward for being responsible in such a way. Those who could give a toss certainly about to, and the idea that we can educate everyone into agreeing with us is, well, sadly another compelling liberal fantasy. I loved The West Wing too, and tend to fall pretty far on the liberal side of the spectrum when it comes to most “issues,” but I’ve also been coming to the conclusion, more and more, that the stances involved in holding those beliefs are inherently insular and disenfranchising.

    And the fact remains, when it comes to a billion dollar fortune, I would probably invest a fair amount of it into education incentives and God knows what else, but I still would say “better me than the other guy.”

    Of course it’s moot, because I’m an artist and a writer, and everyone knows we die poor.

    To bring this back to the actual topic – When it comes to polyamory, the times I’ve been involved in a triad with two bisexual girls have been the most pleasant, and – for the most part – most mutually enjoyable arrangements. Is it some sort of privilege? I don’t know, but it’s sure as hell less messy than what I have going on in my life right now. I’d rather be privileged than miserable. What about you?

  24. And you can’t even get rid of it completely even if you don’t want it. Even trying to find a way to erase the HBB dynamic and have an egalitarian triad feels practically impossible because the rest of the world is so determined to bestow couple privilege on two of the folks in the relationship. Even if no one is treated as the “spice” internally, someone will be externally viewed that way, which puts strain on the entire dynamic.

    It applies to big and little things. As a hypothetical, say, where you’re going for the holidays. If two folks in the group are legally married, the family of the married component could raise hell and make everyone’s lives miserable because they feel the group should come to their home since they’re the “real” couple. It’s often easier for everyone’s sanity to capitulate to that kind of social pressure.

    Privilege is ultimately a trap. It’s a bargain that has to be maintained, and nobody really comes out better for it in the end.

  25. Re: πŸ˜›

    I’ve never seen the west wing.

    Well, I’ve seen a youtube clip where a dude recites a letter that circulated on the internet a few years before the episode was written at some lady who was apparently supposed to be a parody of Dr. Laura or something.

    Considering that, and that I’m currently in a one-penis-only-open-marriage where I’ve quite happily had sex and relationships with several other girls (both in and out of a triad dynamic) because that’s what I prefer and because it makes my husband more comfortable which means the whole thing is totally informed by male privilege and we’re both completely aware of that and ok with it, I can only conclude that your comment doesn’t have a whole lot to do with mine.

    You seem to like comics. Was it bad that spidey had super powers? No. It was pretty fucking awesome. Was it awesome when he didn’t give a shit about anybody but himself and Uncle Ben got killed? Not so much. If Stan Lee gets it, you can too. Much like the comic is better when Parker isn’t full of angst (or clones), liberalism is better without the paralyzing guilt and angst too!

  26. Re: πŸ˜›

    Well, I certainly agree with this part “Much like the comic is better when Parker isn’t full of angst (or clones), liberalism is better without the paralyzing guilt and angst too!”

    Never much into Spider Man. Only comics I really enjoyed are the 90s vertigo type ones. Sandman, Invisibles, Transmetro, Promethea, etc.

    I just don’t think your agreement is “informed by male privilege” so much as it is something you both choose to do. It generally makes the situation more workable, whether or not it is ALWAYS what YOU want to do. But you’re right, I’m not trying to level some sort of argument against you. For starters, I don’t know you. ;p

  27. A triad can do a lot of things that reduce the privilege and the HBB dynamic, though I think it’s a lot harder to do that when the triad consists of one married couple and an “extra” person.

    I’m actually preparing what will likely be a very long post on couple privilege. There are several forms of such privilege, often tacitly buried beneath claims of “egalitarian” relationships (for example, should there become a problem within a triad, I think it’s generally assumed that it’s the married couple, rather than, say, the “third” person and one part of the married couple, that will get the most attention, and most couples will seek to preserve that part of the relationship). Not always, but often enough that it’s a fair bet.

    I think that triads which form that way tend, in my observation anyway, to be less steeped in privilege than triads that form when an established couple adds a third person. But that’s a whole ‘nother post as well.

  28. Re: πŸ˜›

    It is. He’s uncomfortable with it because he’s uncomfortable with the notion of me being with other men because other men = threat and other women = hot. He’s the one who told me it was irrational and that it came from that place. Two girls is a fantasy even if he’s not around for it, another dude is icky even if he’s not involved at all. I even offered that maybe it’s just that he’s not attracted to dudes and he told me that wasn’t it, it’s just the emotional territoriality that women don’t infringe on because that’s not really what we’re brought up to feel.

    The fact, however, that he’s aware that it comes from some pretty sexist places means that we discussed it and he was really open and honest about it rather than defensive and controlling. Recognizing where it came from didn’t automatically mean we had to reject it, it just meant we knew. So, I didn’t feel resentful, he articulated his feelings and fears, we both felt more secure about the whole thing, and minus a few bumps it’s been pretty awesome. It also works out because I’m attracted to something like half the girls I interact with and maybe 1 out of 100 dudes I interact with. If I was closer to a 3 on the kinsey it may feel more unfair and we might have to unpack the issue a bit more.

    Mostly it just means that we have to be a little mindful that my relationships with girls are respected as not being a porno fantasy, and involve another human being who I care about on some level. It also makes us more open about establishing clarity on his level of involvement and the other girl and I’s level of emotional involvement with each other and him. Stuff people should really do anyway.

    Being aware of privilege really just means not being a douche. Knowing when your actions might have an effect on the people around you, being considerate, stuff like that. There are very few circumstances in which privilege even can be outright rejected so thinking about whether or not one should is vaguely moot.

  29. I wonder how much of the one-penis policy is really male privilege versus the simple choice of both people involved not to have any other penises.

    I’m very, very skeptical about that. If the people in the relationship genuinely don’t want another male partner, for real, then a rule forbidding additional male partners becomes superfluous.

    For example, I’m straight. I do not have any desire for a male sexual partner. So if someone were to pass a rule–“You will not have a male sexual partner”–it’d seem to be a bit odd to me, and I’d wonder what was up. People don’t generally pass rules against things that nobody has any desire or intention of doing anyway, you know?

    It seems to me that a great deal of the rules that people pass against having “outside” men involved are stepped in the notion that, heh heh, two girls together, heh heh, is, like, heh heh, totally hot, heh heh, but it’s not threatening because it’s not “really” sex We all know, heh heh, that when two girls get it on, what they really want, heh heh, is a cock. This notion is reinforced daily in everything from men’s magazines to Hollywood movies to TV ads for beer; once you start looking for that notion, it quickly becomes astonishing how ubiquitous it is. Girl-on-girl isn’t REALLY sex; but another guy, now that’s threatening.

    From Okcupid I came across a boat load of women in relationships who specifically said they were only looking for a female. That they were perfectly happy with just having one guy. That they really wanted to have their cake and their pie too.

    Yet, the result is considered male privilege. Why is that?

    You know, it’s amazing how many women I’ve talked to, often at poly get-togethers, who will come with a male partner and loudly proclaim “I’m only interested in another woman, I don’t want another man,” but then once you talk to them in private, away from the male partner, the story becomes Well, I don’t NEED another man, and the last time I found some other guy interesting my boyfriend had a cow, so…”

    Hell, there are people on my LJ flist who’ve been in that kind of situation.

    There is female privilege outside of this chart. Its the privilege of being able to have all sorts of interesting sexual interactions.

    Who are all those couple seeking? Young Females

    If you’re a single female what are your chances at getting invited to group sex?
    If you’re a single male how do your chances compare?

    I actually see that as treating women (and not women in general, but specifically young, unattached women of a socially approved appearance and body type) as commodities. Women are sought out in the sorts of situations you describe precisely because they are seen as coveted objects; that’s male privilege, not female privilege. Young, sexually attractive, single females often have good prospects in any society, even oppressive polygynous societies, but it’s because they are seen as objects of desire, which isn’t quite the same thing as being empowered.

    Some women learn to trade on the desire of others to empower themselves, but that can become a Faustian bargain.

    • Sexual attraction and availability *is* a commodity, no matter who you are. Male/couple privilege is probably a big part of what skews the supply and demand, but the much higher rate of female bisexuality is a big factor, too.

      • Statistical sources for this, please?

        I’d note that homophobia & biphobia are increased where it comes to male bisexuality, so the guys tend not to be as visible, but in the bisexual communities that I’m part of, the split is about 50/50

        • If anyone claimed to actually have statistics on that, I’d be pretty skeptical about their data collection methods.

          Wouldn’t male bisexuals be a lot more inclined to associate with a bisexuality-specific community because of the homophobia & biphobia elsewhere? Bisexuality is almost expected among poly women; I’ve known straight ones to get uncomfortable about it in the same way I’ve occasionally felt out of place for not being pagan.

          • I wouldn’t think so, no. I think bi women would be less likely to feel a need for a separate bisexuality group, and that seems to be true among the people I know.

            This is essentially just wild guessing, though.

          • *sigh*

            There are plenty of reasons why bisexual women would want bisexual fellowship. Being commodified as a desirable HBB is in fact one of those reasons, not a counter to them.

          • I was just talking rates. Sure, there are plenty of reasons for women to be interested in such a group, but bi men also may have nowhere else they’re quite accepted as bisexual in the first place. Maybe the HBB-annoyance approximately offsets it.

          • People join bi-focused groups because they’re bi (or bi-curious, or bi-allies, but primarily because they’re bi).

            HBB “privilege” doesn’t change that.

            And frankly…being an exotic “desirable”, being treated like meat, is not a privilege, no more than being a straight woman perceived as “fuckable” is.

          • I was just talking rates. Sure, there are plenty of reasons for women to be interested in such a group, but bi men also may have nowhere else they’re quite accepted as bisexual in the first place. Maybe the HBB-annoyance approximately offsets it.

            Did I misread your last sentence?

          • Maybe, but I’m drawing a blank on what you took it to mean.

            I was acknowledging that being treated as a role to fill (“seeking sisterwife”, etc.) would be something that would bring in women more often than men (men do get this from straight woman / bi man couples, but less often). I don’t know whether it’s by more or less than the big reason that would bring in more men than women.

          • Argh. “sisterwife” is a polygamist term. It does *not* apply to couples seeking HBBs.

            Look. *YOU* are not a bisexual woman, right? Maybe you’re not qualified to make the statements you’ve been making?

          • I see “sisterwife” all the time on the Michigan poly mailing lists. Yes, it annoys everyone.

            And I didn’t want to get into it. People keep demanding that I explain myself on minor points.

            Besides, by definition, no one can be a member of every group we’re talking about.

          • Does “sisterwife” mean “HBB, having a separate sexual F/F (wives) relationship without the husband involved” ? Or does it mean “all interactions are presumed to be F/M/F, any F/F sexual interaction for the benefit of the husband” ?

            I’m saying that maybe you don’t have the standing to talk about bisexual women’s issues compared to actual bisexual women.

          • I’ve seen it used to mean both triad and V.

            And you don’t have the standing to talk about bisexual men. (to be fair, I just barely do) Is this something only trans people can talk about, then?

          • I can only talk about what I’ve witnessed in terms of participation of bisexual men in mixed gender bisexual groups. The only groups I’ve seen that are heavily weighted toward bisexual women are, in fact, explicitly bisexual women’s groups. πŸ˜‰

            Cisprivilege is something else altogether. (And at least no one is arguing that bisexuality doesn’t exist, or that you have to be doing things *simultaneously* to be bisexual.)

            I’m skeptical about sisterwife as a potential triad, for large values of ‘triad’. But people don’t always choose their labels with thought for connotation, so who knows.

          • As icky as it is, I’ve seen it, too. Usually from people who pop up briefly in a poly space, get roundly jeered/flamed, and then go away quietly (or move to OKCupid.)

            It’s generally a dog-whistle for “Man wants a harem, women must perform sexually with each other for man’s amusement.”

            It also often signifies a situation where a married couple with kids wants a live-in nanny/maid/sex toy, sometimes with the expectation that the third partner is also expected to bear the man’s children.

            It squicks me, but I have to admit that it exists, mostly as a fantasy in the minds of people who think the configuration would be just peachy-keen. ;p

            — A <3

          • Huh, am I misreading you or vice-versa?

            I was meaning to question your claim that bisexuality is more prevalent among females. What I’m getting is that you say you’d be skeptical of statistics on prevalence of different types of sexuality, yet you’re prepared to make statistical claims based on… what? Personal perception?

            Perhaps my community is somewhat skewed – the UK poly movement largely grew out of the bisexual, so there are a lot of bi guys amongst the activist community here. I don’t see it as highly likely, though. Stats I remember implied that poulations were pretty similar – some studies find more male bisexuals, some more female ones, but there is rarely a large gap in numbers: For example this link refers to a couple of different surveys http://www.kinseyinstitute.org/resources/FAQ.html#homosexuality

          • yet you’re prepared to make statistical claims based on… what? Personal perception?
            I’m not sure I’d quite call “much higher” a statistical claim, but essentially, yes. I didn’t even realize I was making a claim — that was just pointing out common knowledge.

            90% of 18-44 year old women in 2002 claimed to be straight?

          • Yes.

            Of course, I suspect that’s not counting all the straight women who flirt with other girls in public purely to appear cool and extra desirable in front of their boyfriends (thus pissing me off intensely when they do it with me). Since you appear to be male, I wonder if you’ve been duped by the same idiotic ploy.

    • You know, it’s amazing how many women I’ve talked to, often at poly get-togethers, who will come with a male partner and loudly proclaim “I’m only interested in another woman, I don’t want another man,” but then once you talk to them in private, away from the male partner, the story becomes Well, I don’t NEED another man, and the last time I found some other guy interesting my boyfriend had a cow, so…”

      Thank you for this comment. I believe the same, but almost always come under fire from OPP males that this really isn’t the case.

  30. I wonder how much of the one-penis policy is really male privilege versus the simple choice of both people involved not to have any other penises.

    I’m very, very skeptical about that. If the people in the relationship genuinely don’t want another male partner, for real, then a rule forbidding additional male partners becomes superfluous.

    For example, I’m straight. I do not have any desire for a male sexual partner. So if someone were to pass a rule–“You will not have a male sexual partner”–it’d seem to be a bit odd to me, and I’d wonder what was up. People don’t generally pass rules against things that nobody has any desire or intention of doing anyway, you know?

    It seems to me that a great deal of the rules that people pass against having “outside” men involved are stepped in the notion that, heh heh, two girls together, heh heh, is, like, heh heh, totally hot, heh heh, but it’s not threatening because it’s not “really” sex We all know, heh heh, that when two girls get it on, what they really want, heh heh, is a cock. This notion is reinforced daily in everything from men’s magazines to Hollywood movies to TV ads for beer; once you start looking for that notion, it quickly becomes astonishing how ubiquitous it is. Girl-on-girl isn’t REALLY sex; but another guy, now that’s threatening.

    From Okcupid I came across a boat load of women in relationships who specifically said they were only looking for a female. That they were perfectly happy with just having one guy. That they really wanted to have their cake and their pie too.

    Yet, the result is considered male privilege. Why is that?

    You know, it’s amazing how many women I’ve talked to, often at poly get-togethers, who will come with a male partner and loudly proclaim “I’m only interested in another woman, I don’t want another man,” but then once you talk to them in private, away from the male partner, the story becomes Well, I don’t NEED another man, and the last time I found some other guy interesting my boyfriend had a cow, so…”

    Hell, there are people on my LJ flist who’ve been in that kind of situation.

    There is female privilege outside of this chart. Its the privilege of being able to have all sorts of interesting sexual interactions.

    Who are all those couple seeking? Young Females

    If you’re a single female what are your chances at getting invited to group sex?
    If you’re a single male how do your chances compare?

    I actually see that as treating women (and not women in general, but specifically young, unattached women of a socially approved appearance and body type) as commodities. Women are sought out in the sorts of situations you describe precisely because they are seen as coveted objects; that’s male privilege, not female privilege. Young, sexually attractive, single females often have good prospects in any society, even oppressive polygynous societies, but it’s because they are seen as objects of desire, which isn’t quite the same thing as being empowered.

    Some women learn to trade on the desire of others to empower themselves, but that can become a Faustian bargain.

  31. Marriage is definitely another category of privilege–a federally recognized one, at that.

    If a triad begins to dissolve, and the married element is the one that remains, most folks outside of the family unit say hurrah! I’m so glad they got that out of their systems! Things will be so much more simple now!

    Excepting unusual circumstances, however, if it’s one of the non-married units that survives the dissolution of the triad, folks outside the family unit retroactively call it an affair or use phrases like “homewrecker.” That’s my observation, anyway. I’ve even seen that when the surviving couple got together before the marriage occurred.

    In general it’s weird and arbitrary the dynamics we confer superiority to. Maybe irrational is a better word than arbitrary.

  32. As with any sort of privilege like that, it takes a lot of effort on the part of the privileged to minimize the effects. Every moment of “just letting it go” reinforces the negative effects. Every bit of “standing up against it” helps bolster the effort to stave off the tide. I’ve seen some stable triads. Changing healthcare laws in the U.S. would have helped a few relationships I know of – it sucks when only two partners can give each other the benefit of shared healthcare benefits.

  33. I agree with every bit of what you said.

    I do think intersections make things a bit complicated, at times, when it comes to minimizing privilege. A poor white family who shops at wal-mart may be reinforcing the negative effects of that corporation and of U.S. privilege, but they’re not in much of a position to stand up against it directly. They have other options, perhaps.

    Healthcare is one of the biggest and cruelest ways we confer privilege in the U.S.

    • As I understand it, it’s not so much that it’s desirable to fall within these categories, it’s just noting that these privileges *exist*, and that people should be aware of them.

      For example, as a formally-educated cisgendered femme Caucasian-appearing woman, I have certain levels of privilege that my Puerto Rican cisgendered butch female friend, who speaks with a noticeable accent, does not. (She actually has more formal education than I do, but someone observing us wouldn’t necessarily guess it if they were listening to our manner of speaking.)

      This doesn’t mean that I’m necessarily taking ADVANTAGE of this privilege in any way, but since we live in a society based on kyriarchy model, I am perceived as having more privilege than she does.

      It’s not so much that this model exists in all individual relationships, but more that society privileges certain relationships and certain people over others.

      Make sense? πŸ™‚

      — A <3

        • Here’s a slightly in-your-face definition of it, and the Wikipedia entry on intersectionality is also helpful.

          Basically, it’s the idea that it’s not only gender that matters (patriarchy model) — it’s the interaction between factors such as race, sexual orientation, education level, ability/disability, financial status, etc. The idea behind using the term “kyriarchy” is to acknowledge that these factors exist and intersect to form an individual’s place in the societal hierarchy.

          Hope this helps — I was unfamiliar with the word until a year or two ago, but I do like the concept that it’s not just race and gender that create privilege.

          — A πŸ™‚

  34. definitions?

    I’m wondering what definition of *privilege* is being used here?

    The OP has not given much context, so the only place I can draw from are comments.

    It seems that some folks who are commenting are using the word privilege to mean something akin to the folks who get (some) goodies in individual relationships/situations.

    And a few folks who are commenting seem to be using a definition of privilege that I am much more familiar with–where institutionalized oppression sets things up so that certain groups of folks automatically get and are expected to have(often unquestioned, unexamined, and not chosen or even sought) rights/favors/advantages/goodies/immunities due to membership in that group, including simply not being targeted by that form of oppression. (e.g. male privilege is connected to sexism and misogyny as insitutions and the goodies that men get because of those insitutions, and is not wholly about individual feelings and expressions between people, which of course vary considerably).

    Similarly, I’m wondering what definition of *entitlement* is being used here?

    • Re: definitions?

      I agree. When most people use the terms entitlement & privilege, they are both perjurative terms– as I explored a little with my kind of tongue-in-cheek comments elsewhere in this thread. Now, the perspective that it is “simply something to be aware of” is a valid one, but I wonder at it being used in such judgmentally loaded words which, as I’ve seen them used most commonly, are like weapons to level an unlevel playing field. Moral high-ground when no other high-ground can be won, that kind of thing.

      This remains an ongoing issue for the discussion of ideas like this– or race and gender relations for that matter– because so long as people are put on the offensive and defensive through the use of terms (whatever their supposed “neutral” definition may be), you’ll just see a recapitulation of power struggle in the form of language. I have generally tossed out these words as useful for that reason, though it seems some can actually engage with them with it being an insightful rather than accusatory thing. And that’s great.

        • Re: definitions?

          Agreed — even though breaking out the word “privilege” makes me twitch a little (because I have seen it used in an accusatory fashion), it’s a word with a defined meaning and it enables all of us to have a discussion while using commonly-recognized terms. If I called it *foo* instead of “privilege”, the people I’m engaging with aren’t necessarily going to have any idea what I’m talking about.

          Privilege exists, intersectionality exists, and the kyriarchy exists, and we have to acknowledge that.

          But, yes — while I believe that you didn’t mean it that way, , complaining about the language used is a REALLY common derailing tactic when people want to change the subject and turn the discussion away from something they’re uncomfortable with, usually examining/unpacking/acknowledging the areas in which they have privilege.

          It doesn’t have to be accusatory at all — but it is something that is important to be aware of, and there’s no shame in admitting that you have certain kinds of societal privileges which may advantage you in some ways over others.

          F’rex, here are a few that describe me — the first word is the category that applies to me:

          Female < Male > Transgender
          Invisibly Disabled > Disabled < Able-bodied Caucasian-appearing > People of Color
          Native English Speaker > ESL

          So, as you can see, I have some advantages and some disadvantages, but there’s nothing for me to apologize for — however, I do need to be aware of these things and mindfully tailor my behavior so that my actions don’t result in being crappy towards other people I share this world with.

          Make sense?

          — A <3

        • Re: definitions?

          Or demands the use of a term that doesn’t have the same emotional baggage.

          Which is what would be suggested in any philosophical investigation, certainly. And if you think the use of the word “entitlement” is without such connotations, take a survey of a couple thousand people at random in terms of what they think the word means, and what their reaction to it is.

          But whatever, we could all stand to lighten up a bit too. As, at the same time, the insistence on an air of “high seriousness” in many discussions of topics like this tend to make me want to start squirting people with water pistols. (An act I was kicked out of Quaker church for at age 4- permanently. Why So Serious? ;p)

          • Re: definitions?

            I was including myself in the “we,” saying I, too, might be trying to explore this in such abstract terms that a dose if grounding might be called for. Before I launch into the rant on signified & signifier I had ready to go, yknow?

            Laughter is good for banishment, and when that doesn’t work, it usually shows the underlying elements at play.

          • Re: definitions?

            Whether you include yourself in the *we* or not, *I* don’t want to be included in the *we* that you’re exhorting to “not take this privilege stuff seriously”.

            Shrugging it off is not equivalent to the issue not existing.

          • Re: definitions?

            Thats not quite what I am saying, anyhow.

            I’m saying that I think the terms being used are problematic to create the type of open discourse they are trying to engender, and this discussion is an example of that.

            But I’m also saying, rather than take THAT so seriously that we both waste an afternoon arguing about it on the Internet, maybe we could all use to not take ourselves so seriously. And if that offends you, well I guess you can chalk it up to whatever form of privilege you like. But just consider for a moment that writing me or anyone off with that takes away from an actual encounter with a complete person who happens to have beliefs slightly different from your own. I think the term is problematic; if you want to write me off with it you’ve just proven my point. (Which is what in meant by “this is exactly what I meant.”)

            There’s a rule about arguing on the Internet. I’m going to try to follow that so we don’t both sign up for the special olympics. I’m just procrastinating from working on a scene in this boon that’s been giving me trouble anyhow. πŸ˜‰

            Best–

          • Re: definitions?

            I’d be happy to use other terms, but I have found over time that it usually is just another form of the tone argument.

            Willingness to discuss usually surmounts issues of terminology, IME.

            Best of luck with the scene.

      • Re: definitions?

        What do you agree with that I’ve said?

        Your comment seems to assume that I’m against using the language or that the language itself is problematic. That was not at all my intended point–I was pointing out that there are two main definitions being used, and I wanted a sense of which was intended by the OP, and which was generally accepted by the community.

        I don’t find it useful to toss out the concept/language of privilege–I have found the concept/language of privilege to be very useful to me and my activist communities, particularly with a shared definition. (Of course I have only experienced a shared definition of the second sort that I laid out (rooted in insitutional oppression), not the first, so I cannot speak to that one being personally useful to me.)

        • Tossed out

          I’m not sure that I understand that everyone who has used “tossed out” or treated on comments where it appears, in this thread, is using th phrase in the same way. Tabled or tabled? Tossed out as in with the bathwater or as in onto the playing field to find out whether it is useful?

  35. definitions?

    I’m wondering what definition of *privilege* is being used here?

    The OP has not given much context, so the only place I can draw from are comments.

    It seems that some folks who are commenting are using the word privilege to mean something akin to the folks who get (some) goodies in individual relationships/situations.

    And a few folks who are commenting seem to be using a definition of privilege that I am much more familiar with–where institutionalized oppression sets things up so that certain groups of folks automatically get and are expected to have(often unquestioned, unexamined, and not chosen or even sought) rights/favors/advantages/goodies/immunities due to membership in that group, including simply not being targeted by that form of oppression. (e.g. male privilege is connected to sexism and misogyny as insitutions and the goodies that men get because of those insitutions, and is not wholly about individual feelings and expressions between people, which of course vary considerably).

    Similarly, I’m wondering what definition of *entitlement* is being used here?

  36. Re: Privilege

    I agree that this informatic pretty accurately represents some of the ways in which privilege has influenced some relationships — I’ve seen it in action, and I don’t disagree with what has laid out here.

    I *do* think that there is some degree of female/HBB privilege in the poly community, though — I’ve known very few couple-with-third types (and the MFF triad who I’m friends with is VERY egalitarian and they consider their relationships to be of equal priority), whereas I know a lot of women who have multiple partners (of various genders), without the one-penis policy coming into play.

    I’ve been in MFM configurations for most of my poly life (although I have only had one live-in partner, my monogamous husband, who is not interested in other relationships — so the other “M” was always someone I spent time with away from the house), and for the majority of it, I’ve been the center of a closed “polycule” — where the relationship with my husband was one extended leg, and I had other relationships that intersected (I’ve been part of an N shape, among others, and my longest-lasting configuration has me as one part of a triad, my husband as a dyad, and myself and my boyfriend as a dyad — he’s had other female partners, but they didn’t last.)

    I really need ChemDraw to document it properly πŸ˜‰

    But, basically — for several years, I had three male partners and one female partner, who was married to one of my male partners. I currently have two male partners and one female partner (my husband and I still live together, but for unrelated-to-poly reasons, we’ve recently transitioned to being close friends/family, but no longer romantically involved.)

    My relationship with C and L, my married-couple partners, isn’t as a non-privileged third (I contribute a lot to their household, I’ve materially helped in raising their daughter, who I view as a daughter-of-my-heart, and I’m an equal in making decisions), but as a valued member of the family and a full partner.

    We’re all currently polyfidelitous (C and L had an open relationship when I first met them, with each of them allowed to pursue partners of the genders that interested them, but they decided some years ago that they were happier as a closed triad, with the understanding that my existing relationships were part of the package), and if my boyfriend, J, decides to enter another relationship, that partner would be expected to become part of this closed system.

    (I know it sounds like I’m exercising HBB-privilege in asking that my partners’ partners not be open-ended, but part of the issue is that we’re fluid-bonded and I have a compromised immune system, so it’s really important that any new partners be fully tested and willing to have any of their potential future relationships go through the same testing process — so, basically, if my boyfriend starts dating his play partner and wants to have sex with her, she’d need to agree not to enter into any other relationships without her new potential partner getting tested and agreeing to only date her. And *she* has been fully tested/etc. before they had any contact without being fully clothed, because something relatively minor like HPV or HSV-1 could steamroller my immune system, so we decided not to take any chances.)

    Thus far, it’s worked out really well — my triad relationship is of almost seven years’ duration, my boyfriend and I just passed the two-year mark, and while my husband is no longer my sexual/romantic partner, we had an 11-year partnership that overlapped my other relationships. (I never did the whole “married dyad is privileged over all other relationships” thing — for quite some time, my “primary” partnerships have been with other people.)

    (cont’d)

  37. Re: Privilege

    Yes, my legal marriage and my triad partners’ legal marriage convey rights not available to other relationships (and it sucks — should I decide to move to the UK, neither of them could sponsor me or bring me in on a fiancΓ©e visa — same thing if they decided to move to the US), and my husband and I have decided to stay legally married for the foreseeable future so that I don’t lose my health insurance (which is a BIG deal, because I’m disabled and have huge medical expenses), even though we’re going to be moving to different states next year.

    I also am a huge marriage-equality advocate, and I would LOVE to see, someday, a form of civil contract where a poly group could have legal rights and could share in things like child custody and inheritance. (Yes, it’d be complicated, but it’s worth figuring out a way to do it — our legal/tax system is based on dyadic relationships, but it would be nice if civil relationship contracts were recognized as an option.)

    So, in my personal experience with poly, I haven’t had to deal with too much male/couple privilege in the ways that Franklin is describing above, but I do recognize that these privileges exist, and they’re definitely worth talking about and being aware of.

    — A πŸ™‚

  38. As I understand it, it’s not so much that it’s desirable to fall within these categories, it’s just noting that these privileges *exist*, and that people should be aware of them.

    For example, as a formally-educated cisgendered femme Caucasian-appearing woman, I have certain levels of privilege that my Puerto Rican cisgendered butch female friend, who speaks with a noticeable accent, does not. (She actually has more formal education than I do, but someone observing us wouldn’t necessarily guess it if they were listening to our manner of speaking.)

    This doesn’t mean that I’m necessarily taking ADVANTAGE of this privilege in any way, but since we live in a society based on kyriarchy model, I am perceived as having more privilege than she does.

    It’s not so much that this model exists in all individual relationships, but more that society privileges certain relationships and certain people over others.

    Make sense? πŸ™‚

    — A <3

  39. *nods* Agreed — while the individuals involved may be in a completely egalitarian relationship (I’m part of a triad with a married couple, but I’m not their “third” — we’re all equals, and I’ve been involved since before they got married), outsiders can perceive things differently.

    And you’re right — if a triad dissolves, there are basically two ways that the majority of observers are going to react, as you described.

    On the plus side, it’s nice to know that triads CAN exist without the “third” partner being automatically in a “spice” role — my relationship, and another triad who I’m good friends with, are both fully egalitarian and there is no assumption that certain dyads are privileged over others *within the relationship.*

    — A πŸ™‚

  40. The healthcare thing *is* cruel and arbitrary, and it has huge effects in my own life — I’m disabled and can’t GET insurance other than through my legal husband (I’m on Medicare, but it only covers so much — my meds alone would be $600+ a month without private insurance), and I’m not eligible for the current high-risk state pools because they have steep hurdles for joining (you have to have gone six months without coverage, and the coverage they offer is ridiculously expensive/unaffordable) . . . so that has influenced my choice to remain legally married even though my husband and I are no longer romantic/sexual partners.

    It SUCKS to feel like my life and health is dependent on his generosity — and there is always the potential that he’s going to want to get divorced at some point, or even if we had some kind of a major fight, and then I’m stuck without health care . . . and I deeply fear what the incoming Republicans are going to try to do to health-care reform. I was really hoping that in 2014 I could get an affordable individual policy, but I’m not holding my breath at this point :/

    And my boyfriend has no health insurance, because he’s a contractor for a large telecom — so he works with full-time employees who receive benefits, but doesn’t receive them himself. Corporations are doing their best to contract everything out as much as possible, because they save money by not having to pay for benefits/vacation/retirement . . . and the people who need a job are having to take these contracting positions, because nobody is OFFERING full-time employee status right now.

    It sucks πŸ™

    — A <3

  41. Sexual attraction and availability *is* a commodity, no matter who you are. Male/couple privilege is probably a big part of what skews the supply and demand, but the much higher rate of female bisexuality is a big factor, too.

  42. Re: πŸ˜›

    I don’t know about guys being icky but we do resort to direct conflict rather quickly.

    Anyway, the way you define privilege makes sense to me– but it certainly isn’t the “talking down your nose” sense in which it usually used. Every time I’ve heard it, it’s been a verbal attempt at turning the tables, and making one feel superior than someone who is luckier, better connected, or simply more brutal than they are. If everyone had the same regard for it you seem to I doubt that would come through so much.

  43. Re: Privilege

    there isn’t any such thing as female privilege because female isn’t a privileged class
    I’m sorry, but that’s a complete pile of crap. I’ll buy that black isn’t a privileged class (although I think standard race theory wrongly discounts individual power) until affirmative action gets involved, but there are plenty of female privileges. If what you want out of life is to raise a family and take care of the house, I think you’ll find that’s going to go over much better if you have a vagina. The same is true if you want to work in childcare or elementary education. Or if you want to date men.

    I’ll agree that there are *more* male privileges, no problem, but feminism lately seems to have forgotten the idea that patriarchy is bad for everyone.

  44. Statistical sources for this, please?

    I’d note that homophobia & biphobia are increased where it comes to male bisexuality, so the guys tend not to be as visible, but in the bisexual communities that I’m part of, the split is about 50/50

  45. I do not believe that “one vagina policy” is common, but I have personal knowledge of a relationship which worked like that. It was a complete reversal of the traditional she’s-bi-and-he’s-threatened-by-the-idea-of-another-man one-penis-policy bit. In this case, HE was bi and SHE was threatened by the idea of another woman. I don’t know how often the other-penis option was exercised, but I know that both did have sex with other men occasionally.

  46. If anyone claimed to actually have statistics on that, I’d be pretty skeptical about their data collection methods.

    Wouldn’t male bisexuals be a lot more inclined to associate with a bisexuality-specific community because of the homophobia & biphobia elsewhere? Bisexuality is almost expected among poly women; I’ve known straight ones to get uncomfortable about it in the same way I’ve occasionally felt out of place for not being pagan.

  47. Re: definitions?

    I agree. When most people use the terms entitlement & privilege, they are both perjurative terms– as I explored a little with my kind of tongue-in-cheek comments elsewhere in this thread. Now, the perspective that it is “simply something to be aware of” is a valid one, but I wonder at it being used in such judgmentally loaded words which, as I’ve seen them used most commonly, are like weapons to level an unlevel playing field. Moral high-ground when no other high-ground can be won, that kind of thing.

    This remains an ongoing issue for the discussion of ideas like this– or race and gender relations for that matter– because so long as people are put on the offensive and defensive through the use of terms (whatever their supposed “neutral” definition may be), you’ll just see a recapitulation of power struggle in the form of language. I have generally tossed out these words as useful for that reason, though it seems some can actually engage with them with it being an insightful rather than accusatory thing. And that’s great.

  48. *nod* Once there’s a Walmart in town, the viable options tend to dry up for all but the privileged. (There are times in my life that I avoided Walmart at some cost to myself, but the fact that I could do it at all was not a privilege I took lightly.)

    (had to relogin – amusing captcha – unifty tragedy.)

  49. I wouldn’t think so, no. I think bi women would be less likely to feel a need for a separate bisexuality group, and that seems to be true among the people I know.

    This is essentially just wild guessing, though.

  50. Huh, am I misreading you or vice-versa?

    I was meaning to question your claim that bisexuality is more prevalent among females. What I’m getting is that you say you’d be skeptical of statistics on prevalence of different types of sexuality, yet you’re prepared to make statistical claims based on… what? Personal perception?

    Perhaps my community is somewhat skewed – the UK poly movement largely grew out of the bisexual, so there are a lot of bi guys amongst the activist community here. I don’t see it as highly likely, though. Stats I remember implied that poulations were pretty similar – some studies find more male bisexuals, some more female ones, but there is rarely a large gap in numbers: For example this link refers to a couple of different surveys http://www.kinseyinstitute.org/resources/FAQ.html#homosexuality

  51. Re: Privilege

    Ashbet, you made my head hurt. What you’re talking about isn’t classic HBB, and the ways in which you’re not exposed and disprivileged is just proving the rule –

    A single bisexual woman in a closed polyfi triad with a het married couple is denied a bunch of societal privileges.

    Change *any* of those parameters (married bi woman involved with a het-married couple, three single MFF, etc.) and the privilege is distributed vastly differently.

    I’m with you as far as roll-your-own legal structures. I’d like to see a lot more support for those.

  52. *sigh*

    There are plenty of reasons why bisexual women would want bisexual fellowship. Being commodified as a desirable HBB is in fact one of those reasons, not a counter to them.

  53. yet you’re prepared to make statistical claims based on… what? Personal perception?
    I’m not sure I’d quite call “much higher” a statistical claim, but essentially, yes. I didn’t even realize I was making a claim — that was just pointing out common knowledge.

    90% of 18-44 year old women in 2002 claimed to be straight?

  54. Re: Privilege

    Oh, I totally agree — I was talking about my personal circumstances to show that there are ways of being poly that fall *outside* of < ‘s diagram . . . although, as noted, I do recognize that I have privilege as a married woman that I wouldn’t necessarily have as a single woman dating a married couple.

    When you introduce legal marriage into the mix, whether it’s a dyad within a triad or any poly relationship configuration, the “het”-married dyad automatically privileged by society, both socially and legally. (I put “het” in quotes, because the legal presumption is that both are heterosexual, although the parties may be bisexual or gay/lesbian in their actual orientation. And sometimes the married “dyad” may not be sexually involved at all, due to immigration or health insurance.)

    I love the idea of calling custom-built legal structures “roll-your-own” — that’s very nifty πŸ˜€

    — A <3

  55. I was just talking rates. Sure, there are plenty of reasons for women to be interested in such a group, but bi men also may have nowhere else they’re quite accepted as bisexual in the first place. Maybe the HBB-annoyance approximately offsets it.

  56. I suppose that’s true in some ways — I am definitely aware that I have HBB privilege (along with, as mentioned below, cis-white-femme privilege, and my disability isn’t visible, so I have ableist privilege until someone actually sees me try to walk any distance or notices me dealing with pain.)

    As a HBB, I have more options available to me in the poly community, and as a married woman, I have the advantage of being perceived to be heterosexual by people who don’t know my relationship status.

    On the other hand, that’s a form of erasure — I’m pretty damn out and proud, but I can’t control the assumptions of random people I encounter casually (i.e., if I don’t know them well enough to say “This is my girlfriend, and this is her husband” — people we happen to run across in the course of a day may assume any kind of dyadic/relationship status among the three of us, just seeing us walking down the street.)

    I do think that there *is* a privilege in being a female bisexual, because desirability and relationship availability is an advantage. My bisexual boyfriend has to deal with societal homophobia, and a lot of gay men aren’t keen on a man who has a female partner. He has cis-male privilege, but his sexual orientation is less privileged than mine, in part because of the fetishization of bi women, in part because I just have more options than he does.

    I’m confining my discussion to the poly community, because out in the monogamous world, a poly bi female is NOT privileged.

    And, yes — in a swinging environment, women and couples are privileged, particularly bi women. Most swingers want nothing to do with bi males (from observation and discussion — I’m not a swinger, but I have good friends who do swing and engage in casual play, so I’m aware of some of the dynamics of that community.)

    But, yes — the perceived advantage/acceptance also comes with another side of the coin, in terms of fetishization, HBB-hunting couples wanting a polyfi “third” with limited privileges, perceived availability/sluttiness, belief that a bi woman is unable to be monogamous, etc.

    — A <3

  57. I suppose that’s true in some ways — I am definitely aware that I have HBB privilege (along with, as mentioned below, cis-white-femme privilege, and my disability isn’t visible, so I have ableist privilege until someone actually sees me try to walk any distance or notices me dealing with pain.)

    As a HBB, I have more options available to me in the poly community, and as a married woman, I have the advantage of being perceived to be heterosexual by people who don’t know my relationship status.

    On the other hand, that’s a form of erasure — I’m pretty damn out and proud, but I can’t control the assumptions of random people I encounter casually (i.e., if I don’t know them well enough to say “This is my girlfriend, and this is her husband” — people we happen to run across in the course of a day may assume any kind of dyadic/relationship status among the three of us, just seeing us walking down the street.)

    I do think that there *is* a privilege in being a female bisexual, because desirability and relationship availability is an advantage. My bisexual boyfriend has to deal with societal homophobia, and a lot of gay men aren’t keen on a man who has a female partner. He has cis-male privilege, but his sexual orientation is less privileged than mine, in part because of the fetishization of bi women, in part because I just have more options than he does.

    I’m confining my discussion to the poly community, because out in the monogamous world, a poly bi female is NOT privileged.

    And, yes — in a swinging environment, women and couples are privileged, particularly bi women. Most swingers want nothing to do with bi males (from observation and discussion — I’m not a swinger, but I have good friends who do swing and engage in casual play, so I’m aware of some of the dynamics of that community.)

    But, yes — the perceived advantage/acceptance also comes with another side of the coin, in terms of fetishization, HBB-hunting couples wanting a polyfi “third” with limited privileges, perceived availability/sluttiness, belief that a bi woman is unable to be monogamous, etc.

    — A <3

  58. People join bi-focused groups because they’re bi (or bi-curious, or bi-allies, but primarily because they’re bi).

    HBB “privilege” doesn’t change that.

    And frankly…being an exotic “desirable”, being treated like meat, is not a privilege, no more than being a straight woman perceived as “fuckable” is.

  59. Re: Privilege

    Did anyone say that MFF is necessarily, always about one MF pair having power over the other F? Or that all triads are (MF)F ? Because I’m seeing a lot of people leaping to represent configurations that are not (MF)F.

    I don’t remember whether I came up with “roll-your-own”, or picked it up somewhere. I’m glad you find it nifty!

  60. I was just talking rates. Sure, there are plenty of reasons for women to be interested in such a group, but bi men also may have nowhere else they’re quite accepted as bisexual in the first place. Maybe the HBB-annoyance approximately offsets it.

    Did I misread your last sentence?

  61. Re: definitions?

    What do you agree with that I’ve said?

    Your comment seems to assume that I’m against using the language or that the language itself is problematic. That was not at all my intended point–I was pointing out that there are two main definitions being used, and I wanted a sense of which was intended by the OP, and which was generally accepted by the community.

    I don’t find it useful to toss out the concept/language of privilege–I have found the concept/language of privilege to be very useful to me and my activist communities, particularly with a shared definition. (Of course I have only experienced a shared definition of the second sort that I laid out (rooted in insitutional oppression), not the first, so I cannot speak to that one being personally useful to me.)

  62. Maybe, but I’m drawing a blank on what you took it to mean.

    I was acknowledging that being treated as a role to fill (“seeking sisterwife”, etc.) would be something that would bring in women more often than men (men do get this from straight woman / bi man couples, but less often). I don’t know whether it’s by more or less than the big reason that would bring in more men than women.

  63. Re: definitions?

    Agreed — even though breaking out the word “privilege” makes me twitch a little (because I have seen it used in an accusatory fashion), it’s a word with a defined meaning and it enables all of us to have a discussion while using commonly-recognized terms. If I called it *foo* instead of “privilege”, the people I’m engaging with aren’t necessarily going to have any idea what I’m talking about.

    Privilege exists, intersectionality exists, and the kyriarchy exists, and we have to acknowledge that.

    But, yes — while I believe that you didn’t mean it that way, , complaining about the language used is a REALLY common derailing tactic when people want to change the subject and turn the discussion away from something they’re uncomfortable with, usually examining/unpacking/acknowledging the areas in which they have privilege.

    It doesn’t have to be accusatory at all — but it is something that is important to be aware of, and there’s no shame in admitting that you have certain kinds of societal privileges which may advantage you in some ways over others.

    F’rex, here are a few that describe me — the first word is the category that applies to me:

    Female < Male > Transgender
    Invisibly Disabled > Disabled < Able-bodied Caucasian-appearing > People of Color
    Native English Speaker > ESL

    So, as you can see, I have some advantages and some disadvantages, but there’s nothing for me to apologize for — however, I do need to be aware of these things and mindfully tailor my behavior so that my actions don’t result in being crappy towards other people I share this world with.

    Make sense?

    — A <3

  64. Here’s a slightly in-your-face definition of it, and the Wikipedia entry on intersectionality is also helpful.

    Basically, it’s the idea that it’s not only gender that matters (patriarchy model) — it’s the interaction between factors such as race, sexual orientation, education level, ability/disability, financial status, etc. The idea behind using the term “kyriarchy” is to acknowledge that these factors exist and intersect to form an individual’s place in the societal hierarchy.

    Hope this helps — I was unfamiliar with the word until a year or two ago, but I do like the concept that it’s not just race and gender that create privilege.

    — A πŸ™‚

  65. Re: definitions?

    Or demands the use of a term that doesn’t have the same emotional baggage.

    Which is what would be suggested in any philosophical investigation, certainly. And if you think the use of the word “entitlement” is without such connotations, take a survey of a couple thousand people at random in terms of what they think the word means, and what their reaction to it is.

    But whatever, we could all stand to lighten up a bit too. As, at the same time, the insistence on an air of “high seriousness” in many discussions of topics like this tend to make me want to start squirting people with water pistols. (An act I was kicked out of Quaker church for at age 4- permanently. Why So Serious? ;p)

  66. Re: Privilege

    I don’t think anyone (certainly not me!) is saying that all triads are (MF)F — I think the discussion is referencing the fact that a single woman in a triad with a married couple is going to face some disadvantages based on the fact that the marital dyad is legally and societally privileged.

    There are certainly plenty of triads who are FFF or MMM or MFM or any combination, including transmen and transwomen and nongendered people who may or may not define themselves as “M” or “F”. And there can be any combination of sexual orientations within the triads (one bi man with two gay men, for example.)

    I think the discussion has focused on couple-with-third configurations because that’s what Franklin was referencing in his diagram.

    (Please correct me if I’m wrong, but that’s what I’m seeing.)

    — A <3

  67. Re: Privilege

    The concept of privilege is not “I get to do some stuff that I like.”

    I would elaborate, but you obviously have access to the internet, so you can look it up. πŸ™‚

    If you read several of my other comments, you’ll see that I quite obviously believe that patriarchy hurts everyone–including those who capitulate to it, and even those who benefit from it.

  68. Re: Privilege

    I’m seeing a lot of “but my FMF triad…” stuff, which is *not* in the (MF)F configuration that’s so problematic in terms of privilege imbalance…I wouldn’t say it’s derailing, because the topic wasn’t defined as (MF)F, but when we’re discussing privilege…it seems like it’s swamping the central case with unusual configurations that pretty much bear out just how problematic (MF)F is.

  69. Re: πŸ˜›

    Everyone I know who’s discussing privilege in terms of power dynamics in a sociological (or civil rights) sense does have the same regard for it that I do.

    Pretty much the only people I ever hear say that privilege is always bad are people who frame it as “Feminists/liberals/activists/people of color say privilege is bad and should be rejected and I think that’s too simple!” It’s a strawman. Since the underlying concept necessarily states that it’s not something that can be gotten rid of or rejected completely (as things are now), only people who aren’t familiar with the concept would say such things.

  70. Argh. “sisterwife” is a polygamist term. It does *not* apply to couples seeking HBBs.

    Look. *YOU* are not a bisexual woman, right? Maybe you’re not qualified to make the statements you’ve been making?

  71. Re: πŸ˜›

    I AM familiar with the concept (I was raised by lesbians and went to Bard college for christs sake, a liberal arts school that has been said to “put the liberal back in liberal arts”) and I still think that as it is generally used in academic circles, they may say one thing but they’re acting on an emotional impulse which is quite another. Don’t be quite so quick to make assumptione about another’s assumptions. ;p

  72. Re: definitions?

    I was including myself in the “we,” saying I, too, might be trying to explore this in such abstract terms that a dose if grounding might be called for. Before I launch into the rant on signified & signifier I had ready to go, yknow?

    Laughter is good for banishment, and when that doesn’t work, it usually shows the underlying elements at play.

  73. Re: definitions?

    Whether you include yourself in the *we* or not, *I* don’t want to be included in the *we* that you’re exhorting to “not take this privilege stuff seriously”.

    Shrugging it off is not equivalent to the issue not existing.

  74. I see “sisterwife” all the time on the Michigan poly mailing lists. Yes, it annoys everyone.

    And I didn’t want to get into it. People keep demanding that I explain myself on minor points.

    Besides, by definition, no one can be a member of every group we’re talking about.

  75. What I find is that bi women are *desired* by many couples seeking a third, but they’re not *respected*, and their bisexuality is viewed as being in service to the couple’s kink. (I am not positing polyamory as a kink, here…I’m saying that couples who go cruising for a HBB are viewing this as a kink-fulfilling activity.)

    There’s a whole lot of “heh heh two women so HAWT for guys to watch” mentality, and an erasure of bisexuality in favor of “het but willing to engage in same-sex activity for the pleasure of men”.

    I had Asian female “privilege” when I was a young woman – but what it really meant was that I had the “privilege” of being desired for fulfillment of someone’s Asian fetish, rather than their perceiving my Asian heritage as a living part of my identity.

  76. What I find is that bi women are *desired* by many couples seeking a third, but they’re not *respected*, and their bisexuality is viewed as being in service to the couple’s kink. (I am not positing polyamory as a kink, here…I’m saying that couples who go cruising for a HBB are viewing this as a kink-fulfilling activity.)

    There’s a whole lot of “heh heh two women so HAWT for guys to watch” mentality, and an erasure of bisexuality in favor of “het but willing to engage in same-sex activity for the pleasure of men”.

    I had Asian female “privilege” when I was a young woman – but what it really meant was that I had the “privilege” of being desired for fulfillment of someone’s Asian fetish, rather than their perceiving my Asian heritage as a living part of my identity.

  77. Re: Privilege

    Since the topic wasn’t narrowly defined, I think people are discussing the relationships they’re familiar with — their own and those of their friends. I don’t think non-(MF)F triads are necessarily all that uncommon — but, then again, we’re a self-selecting sample — I’d lay bets that the majority of people who read this journal tend towards more egalitarian relationships than the world at large.

    If the topic shifts to (MF)F exclusively, then discussing other relationships is derailing & off-topic. I’m not sure we’re there at the moment.

    To me, discussion of other relationships is on-topic in terms of finding ways to *avoid* the inherent inequalities in a married-couple/HBB situation πŸ™‚

    — A <3

  78. Does “sisterwife” mean “HBB, having a separate sexual F/F (wives) relationship without the husband involved” ? Or does it mean “all interactions are presumed to be F/M/F, any F/F sexual interaction for the benefit of the husband” ?

    I’m saying that maybe you don’t have the standing to talk about bisexual women’s issues compared to actual bisexual women.

  79. Re: definitions?

    Thats not quite what I am saying, anyhow.

    I’m saying that I think the terms being used are problematic to create the type of open discourse they are trying to engender, and this discussion is an example of that.

    But I’m also saying, rather than take THAT so seriously that we both waste an afternoon arguing about it on the Internet, maybe we could all use to not take ourselves so seriously. And if that offends you, well I guess you can chalk it up to whatever form of privilege you like. But just consider for a moment that writing me or anyone off with that takes away from an actual encounter with a complete person who happens to have beliefs slightly different from your own. I think the term is problematic; if you want to write me off with it you’ve just proven my point. (Which is what in meant by “this is exactly what I meant.”)

    There’s a rule about arguing on the Internet. I’m going to try to follow that so we don’t both sign up for the special olympics. I’m just procrastinating from working on a scene in this boon that’s been giving me trouble anyhow. πŸ˜‰

    Best–

  80. I’ve seen it used to mean both triad and V.

    And you don’t have the standing to talk about bisexual men. (to be fair, I just barely do) Is this something only trans people can talk about, then?

  81. As icky as it is, I’ve seen it, too. Usually from people who pop up briefly in a poly space, get roundly jeered/flamed, and then go away quietly (or move to OKCupid.)

    It’s generally a dog-whistle for “Man wants a harem, women must perform sexually with each other for man’s amusement.”

    It also often signifies a situation where a married couple with kids wants a live-in nanny/maid/sex toy, sometimes with the expectation that the third partner is also expected to bear the man’s children.

    It squicks me, but I have to admit that it exists, mostly as a fantasy in the minds of people who think the configuration would be just peachy-keen. ;p

    — A <3

  82. Re: definitions?

    I’d be happy to use other terms, but I have found over time that it usually is just another form of the tone argument.

    Willingness to discuss usually surmounts issues of terminology, IME.

    Best of luck with the scene.

  83. I can only talk about what I’ve witnessed in terms of participation of bisexual men in mixed gender bisexual groups. The only groups I’ve seen that are heavily weighted toward bisexual women are, in fact, explicitly bisexual women’s groups. πŸ˜‰

    Cisprivilege is something else altogether. (And at least no one is arguing that bisexuality doesn’t exist, or that you have to be doing things *simultaneously* to be bisexual.)

    I’m skeptical about sisterwife as a potential triad, for large values of ‘triad’. But people don’t always choose their labels with thought for connotation, so who knows.

  84. I think I have had it

    I think woman generally have a lot of privilege in the realm of sexuality, either that or I am unusually lucky.

    I am not unusually pretty or the like and I usually make passes at people by sending them an email and asking if they would like to have a sexual relationship. I have only been turned down about once. I think that would be different if I was a guy.

    I have also seen woman act terribly affronted when they wanted sex from one of my male partners and he was not interested. It kind of reminds me of the lady who bakes cookies and gets mad if you don’t have one.

    I think it might be a more pronounced privilege in the pretty but I think that culture tends to teach the modern american woman that she is basically entitled to sex from any man she likes enough to let in to her panties. But it could be a regional or social group effect.

    So in this context I would say it comes in to play with couple privilege in lists of long controlling rules and veto. I know sometimes these are men but I usually see it with women and they are often specifically enforced with being” cut off” sexually.

  85. More Work Drama

    They are not the same thing, but for me the experience of privilege in my life often feels like luck or sometimes even merit (which in this case I guess would be sexiness as a form of accomplishment)

  86. More Work Drama

    They are not the same thing, but for me the experience of privilege in my life often feels like luck or sometimes even merit (which in this case I guess would be sexiness as a form of accomplishment)

  87. I don’t disagree, but I personally do not feel the exercise of my privilege or the action of my privilege in my world as a “feeling or privilege” instead my subjective experience feels more like luck, thus things that are very lucky are places I look for privilege.

    I could just be lucky in lust, but it seems more likely that our current culture gives women a certain power as sexual gatekeepers that has made such things easy and made women and men both feel that it is the woman’s role to say yes and the man should desire sex and not even consider not playing along.

  88. I don’t disagree, but I personally do not feel the exercise of my privilege or the action of my privilege in my world as a “feeling or privilege” instead my subjective experience feels more like luck, thus things that are very lucky are places I look for privilege.

    I could just be lucky in lust, but it seems more likely that our current culture gives women a certain power as sexual gatekeepers that has made such things easy and made women and men both feel that it is the woman’s role to say yes and the man should desire sex and not even consider not playing along.

  89. You know, it’s amazing how many women I’ve talked to, often at poly get-togethers, who will come with a male partner and loudly proclaim “I’m only interested in another woman, I don’t want another man,” but then once you talk to them in private, away from the male partner, the story becomes Well, I don’t NEED another man, and the last time I found some other guy interesting my boyfriend had a cow, so…”

    Thank you for this comment. I believe the same, but almost always come under fire from OPP males that this really isn’t the case.

  90. Tossed out

    I’m not sure that I understand that everyone who has used “tossed out” or treated on comments where it appears, in this thread, is using th phrase in the same way. Tabled or tabled? Tossed out as in with the bathwater or as in onto the playing field to find out whether it is useful?

  91. NeedyMeds.com

    @Ashbet: Have you looked into the website needymeds.com I get several of my prescriptions through that site. It hooks you up with which companies offer free prescriptions of certain drugs they make. It’s for people with low income, who would otherwise have trouble paying for their prescriptions. Worthwhile to check out.

  92. More Work Drama

    Sorry, that did not make a lot of sense

    I think that, overall, women can be more successful in heterosexual interactions with direct and minimal approaches then men of equlivalant attractiveness (whatever that means) and that sort of disparity, where average results change with group identification of the asker are the tkind of things that seem to be expressing cultural bias and expectations

  93. Re: Privilege

    Uh. I have not and would not blame a male for being “weak” because he was mistreated. I would also NEVER ask why someone “allowed” themselves to be controlled regardless of sex or gender because that’s terribly victim-blaming and profoundly anti-feminist. None of that has anything to do with anything I said, and it seems like you didn’t read my comments.

    You are apparently having a conversation with bizzaro me.

  94. Re: Privilege

    Uh. I have not and would not blame a male for being “weak” because he was mistreated. I would also NEVER ask why someone “allowed” themselves to be controlled regardless of sex or gender because that’s terribly victim-blaming and profoundly anti-feminist. None of that has anything to do with anything I said, and it seems like you didn’t read my comments.

    You are apparently having a conversation with bizzaro me.

  95. It’s pretty cliche what happens. Some people jump to completely redefine it as something no one is saying, then they denounce the definition they just made up, then call for everyone to use totally different words so no one can get “confused” by the made up meaning they themselves injected into the discourse. It’s almost impressive.

  96. It’s pretty cliche what happens. Some people jump to completely redefine it as something no one is saying, then they denounce the definition they just made up, then call for everyone to use totally different words so no one can get “confused” by the made up meaning they themselves injected into the discourse. It’s almost impressive.

  97. Re: Privilege

    BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!

    Polyfolk are no more evolved than non-polyfolk, as a general rule. Individuals vary, of course. Polyfolk are just as prone to being sexist, racist, homophobic, ableist, steeped in privilege, assholes to oppressed groups, etc.

    An awful lot of people are really self-involved in their vectors of open-mindedness/acceptance.

  98. Re: Privilege

    BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!

    Polyfolk are no more evolved than non-polyfolk, as a general rule. Individuals vary, of course. Polyfolk are just as prone to being sexist, racist, homophobic, ableist, steeped in privilege, assholes to oppressed groups, etc.

    An awful lot of people are really self-involved in their vectors of open-mindedness/acceptance.

  99. . It’s not at all what I’d call polyamory though. Can’t we just call it swinging? Since they are supposedly the more rule based group.

    Let people self-ident, eh? A lot of those people will tell you that they are *not* swingers, they’re poly, or “open”, or whatever.

  100. . It’s not at all what I’d call polyamory though. Can’t we just call it swinging? Since they are supposedly the more rule based group.

    Let people self-ident, eh? A lot of those people will tell you that they are *not* swingers, they’re poly, or “open”, or whatever.

  101. Yes.

    Of course, I suspect that’s not counting all the straight women who flirt with other girls in public purely to appear cool and extra desirable in front of their boyfriends (thus pissing me off intensely when they do it with me). Since you appear to be male, I wonder if you’ve been duped by the same idiotic ploy.

  102. o.O ?!

    You don’t self-ident as poly, but you feel like you should have a say in whether other people do?!

    And…what makes you think that poly people don’t have rules in their relationships? Or that what defines swingers is whether they have rules or not?

  103. o.O ?!

    You don’t self-ident as poly, but you feel like you should have a say in whether other people do?!

    And…what makes you think that poly people don’t have rules in their relationships? Or that what defines swingers is whether they have rules or not?

  104. Privilege versus entitlement

    Generally, when talking about issues that intersect with gender, race and class, the definition of privilege that is most widely used is this:

    PRIVILEGE: An UNEARNED advantage conferred upon a person or a specific grouping of people because of a particular identity that person or group of people claim.

    ENTITLEMENT: The general belief that one has a right to these privileges.

    • It should be noted that privilege is a dynamic…not a fixed event or condition. Since different aspects of a person’s identity can align or not align with various identity groups, people can find certain parts of their identity confer certain privileges on them where other parts of their identity may not. Being white confers certain privileges, being a cis woman gives some privileges while also denies others, etc…
    • It should also be noted that privilege is talked about most often when dealing with aspects of power and access to power WITHIN OUR SOCIETY IN GENERAL. When someone starts using examples like “I’m white, but I grew up in a black neighborhood and I most certainly was NOT privileged in that neighborhood.” They are not looking past their own nose and are failing to see the larger picture of how their skin color affords them some unearned advantages in the larger society.
    • It should also be noted that often, the people who have the privilege have the most difficult time seeing that privilege. (Or as has put it- “It’s hard to see the mountain when you’re standing on it.”)

    Setting aside that in our society, being part of a couple is one of those things that confers a lot of privilege onto a person, within the poly community I can see that privilege even more because it usually comes with a lot of entitlement.

    When people start arguing what other people should be feeling or how other people should be expressing themselves on a subject (particularly when they start talking about other identity groups- “You know, people of color would do much better advancing their cause if they weren’t so angry” or “I really wish people would stop bringing up privilege. What’s the big deal…it happens and people should just deal with it rather than try to make me feel guilty for having it” or “That single HBB shouldn’t complain so much about the attention she gets from couples like us”), I generally take that as a clue that there is a lot of privilege informing their behavior.

    As for entitlement, it does amaze me how many couples, when given all sorts of perspectives about how their unicorn hunt is objectifying and degrading to those they hunt, dig their heels in and start defending their right to unicorn hunt. When people who are called on shitty behavior start responding with lines such as “YOUR poly isn’t MY poly” or “There no one right way to do poly”, I can generally take that as a clue that there is a lot of entitlement informing their behavior.

    (NOTE: I’m not saying that there is no validity to sentiments such as “Your poly isn’t my poly” or “There’s no one right way to do poly”. However, those statements do lose all their validity with me when they are used to defend generally shitty behavior.)

  105. Privilege versus entitlement

    Generally, when talking about issues that intersect with gender, race and class, the definition of privilege that is most widely used is this:

    PRIVILEGE: An UNEARNED advantage conferred upon a person or a specific grouping of people because of a particular identity that person or group of people claim.

    ENTITLEMENT: The general belief that one has a right to these privileges.

    • It should be noted that privilege is a dynamic…not a fixed event or condition. Since different aspects of a person’s identity can align or not align with various identity groups, people can find certain parts of their identity confer certain privileges on them where other parts of their identity may not. Being white confers certain privileges, being a cis woman gives some privileges while also denies others, etc…
    • It should also be noted that privilege is talked about most often when dealing with aspects of power and access to power WITHIN OUR SOCIETY IN GENERAL. When someone starts using examples like “I’m white, but I grew up in a black neighborhood and I most certainly was NOT privileged in that neighborhood.” They are not looking past their own nose and are failing to see the larger picture of how their skin color affords them some unearned advantages in the larger society.
    • It should also be noted that often, the people who have the privilege have the most difficult time seeing that privilege. (Or as has put it- “It’s hard to see the mountain when you’re standing on it.”)

    Setting aside that in our society, being part of a couple is one of those things that confers a lot of privilege onto a person, within the poly community I can see that privilege even more because it usually comes with a lot of entitlement.

    When people start arguing what other people should be feeling or how other people should be expressing themselves on a subject (particularly when they start talking about other identity groups- “You know, people of color would do much better advancing their cause if they weren’t so angry” or “I really wish people would stop bringing up privilege. What’s the big deal…it happens and people should just deal with it rather than try to make me feel guilty for having it” or “That single HBB shouldn’t complain so much about the attention she gets from couples like us”), I generally take that as a clue that there is a lot of privilege informing their behavior.

    As for entitlement, it does amaze me how many couples, when given all sorts of perspectives about how their unicorn hunt is objectifying and degrading to those they hunt, dig their heels in and start defending their right to unicorn hunt. When people who are called on shitty behavior start responding with lines such as “YOUR poly isn’t MY poly” or “There no one right way to do poly”, I can generally take that as a clue that there is a lot of entitlement informing their behavior.

    (NOTE: I’m not saying that there is no validity to sentiments such as “Your poly isn’t my poly” or “There’s no one right way to do poly”. However, those statements do lose all their validity with me when they are used to defend generally shitty behavior.)

  106. People identify as poly and swinging and open and all sorts of other labels without necessarily falling into neat categories.

    As far as *I* have observed…poly rules apply to who one has *relationships* with, and of what form. Meanwhile, you said, “I mean if they are going to have all kinds of rules and restrictions then is it really poly anymore?” and “Can’t we just call it swinging? Since they are supposedly the more rule based group.”

    Looks to me like you’re saying, “if you have rules and restrictions, it’s not poly, it’s swinging, and you’re labeling wrong!”

    p.s. – “We don’t live in an oppressive society.” Who you including in your “we” there? Must be nice, living in that society.

  107. People identify as poly and swinging and open and all sorts of other labels without necessarily falling into neat categories.

    As far as *I* have observed…poly rules apply to who one has *relationships* with, and of what form. Meanwhile, you said, “I mean if they are going to have all kinds of rules and restrictions then is it really poly anymore?” and “Can’t we just call it swinging? Since they are supposedly the more rule based group.”

    Looks to me like you’re saying, “if you have rules and restrictions, it’s not poly, it’s swinging, and you’re labeling wrong!”

    p.s. – “We don’t live in an oppressive society.” Who you including in your “we” there? Must be nice, living in that society.

  108. Privilege. You’re *steeping* in it.

    Nice poly pedestal you’ve built there, but it’s your own fantasy construct. It’s not some gold medal you can hang on someone for being “evolved enough”, or whatever definition you want to stick on it.

    What *is* your definition of this fantastic no-limits poly? The ultimate in free love? Poly-fi doesn’t fit there, evidently.

    Poly-identified people are as fucked up as anyone else, in similar proportions. It would be nice if that weren’t so.

    I’m cool with people saying, “that’s not how *I* (want to) do poly…” but when someone says, “I don’t ident as poly, and neither should $that_person…” That, I have a beef with, and I’m pretty sure a bunch of other people do, too. I’m sorry to tell you that your PolySantaToothFairy doesn’t exist, but it’s as much of a PolyUnicorn as the ultimate non-problematic HBB fantasy.

    I should correct my statement about oppressive society. There is obviously oppression, but not the kind of overt oppression in other societies or previous times. Its certainly a struggle to live an alternative life style, but not impossible.

    I’m guessing that you’re not a parent, or a schoolteacher, or in a lot of other categories that don’t have the privilege that a (single?) (het?) cismale does as far as non-mainstream relationships.

    I struggle with finding what I want, but I don’t blame social oppression for it. Yeah. Because *YOU* are privileged. Go ‘s comment here, she did a great job of laying it out. Privilege doesn’t have to noticeably impinge on *your* circumstances to be real, and worth examining.

  109. Privilege. You’re *steeping* in it.

    Nice poly pedestal you’ve built there, but it’s your own fantasy construct. It’s not some gold medal you can hang on someone for being “evolved enough”, or whatever definition you want to stick on it.

    What *is* your definition of this fantastic no-limits poly? The ultimate in free love? Poly-fi doesn’t fit there, evidently.

    Poly-identified people are as fucked up as anyone else, in similar proportions. It would be nice if that weren’t so.

    I’m cool with people saying, “that’s not how *I* (want to) do poly…” but when someone says, “I don’t ident as poly, and neither should $that_person…” That, I have a beef with, and I’m pretty sure a bunch of other people do, too. I’m sorry to tell you that your PolySantaToothFairy doesn’t exist, but it’s as much of a PolyUnicorn as the ultimate non-problematic HBB fantasy.

    I should correct my statement about oppressive society. There is obviously oppression, but not the kind of overt oppression in other societies or previous times. Its certainly a struggle to live an alternative life style, but not impossible.

    I’m guessing that you’re not a parent, or a schoolteacher, or in a lot of other categories that don’t have the privilege that a (single?) (het?) cismale does as far as non-mainstream relationships.

    I struggle with finding what I want, but I don’t blame social oppression for it. Yeah. Because *YOU* are privileged. Go ‘s comment here, she did a great job of laying it out. Privilege doesn’t have to noticeably impinge on *your* circumstances to be real, and worth examining.

  110. I should correct my statement about oppressive society. There is obviously oppression, but not the kind of overt oppression in other societies or previous times. Its certainly a struggle to live an alternative life style, but not impossible. It’s certainly easier now than it was even 10 years ago. I’m not counting utah, or the bible belt or my fathers house. πŸ˜›

    I struggle with finding what I want, but I don’t blame social oppression for it. Sure its there and it acts as a hand of fate, but I can fight it. I’m not sure what good it even does me if I had something to blame it on.

    Are you white?

    Do you not think that people who are not white may have a very different experience of oppression in our society than you do?

  111. I should correct my statement about oppressive society. There is obviously oppression, but not the kind of overt oppression in other societies or previous times. Its certainly a struggle to live an alternative life style, but not impossible. It’s certainly easier now than it was even 10 years ago. I’m not counting utah, or the bible belt or my fathers house. πŸ˜›

    I struggle with finding what I want, but I don’t blame social oppression for it. Sure its there and it acts as a hand of fate, but I can fight it. I’m not sure what good it even does me if I had something to blame it on.

    Are you white?

    Do you not think that people who are not white may have a very different experience of oppression in our society than you do?

  112. Unfortunately, there are other people for whom their race isn’t an whole different ballgame, even as it intersects with poly sexuality. These things come into play for many people even when SPECIFICALLY limited to poly sexuality.

    But I think the main point to this is that when you say that there isn’t that much oppression (in this case, you’re talking about people’s freedom to live different sexual alternative lifestyles) in society because you’ve not experienced a great deal of oppression, you are effectively discounting the experiences of many others who probably have.

    When you say something like

    I struggle with finding what I want, but I don’t blame social oppression for it. Sure its there and it acts as a hand of fate, but I can fight it. I’m not sure what good it even does me if I had something to blame it on.

    you are implying that because you don’t blame social oppression, others shouldn’t either. It’s also kind of implying that others shouldn’t look to the conditions of privilege that are affecting their situation (either positively or negatively).

    Now, that may not have been your intent in saying such a thing, but it’s entirely reasonable for someone in a different position than you to see it that way.

    When you compare the amount of oppression we face in the west compared to a place like Uganda (where gay people are being chased down and executed), of course we can say that we don’t deal with that level of oppression. But I would really think carefully about making blanket statements about how easy or difficult things can be for other people based upon your own experiences. You can be sure that there are other people experiencing the same thing with far less privilege (for various reasons) so I find it best to not assume that their challenges are the same as mine.

  113. Unfortunately, there are other people for whom their race isn’t an whole different ballgame, even as it intersects with poly sexuality. These things come into play for many people even when SPECIFICALLY limited to poly sexuality.

    But I think the main point to this is that when you say that there isn’t that much oppression (in this case, you’re talking about people’s freedom to live different sexual alternative lifestyles) in society because you’ve not experienced a great deal of oppression, you are effectively discounting the experiences of many others who probably have.

    When you say something like

    I struggle with finding what I want, but I don’t blame social oppression for it. Sure its there and it acts as a hand of fate, but I can fight it. I’m not sure what good it even does me if I had something to blame it on.

    you are implying that because you don’t blame social oppression, others shouldn’t either. It’s also kind of implying that others shouldn’t look to the conditions of privilege that are affecting their situation (either positively or negatively).

    Now, that may not have been your intent in saying such a thing, but it’s entirely reasonable for someone in a different position than you to see it that way.

    When you compare the amount of oppression we face in the west compared to a place like Uganda (where gay people are being chased down and executed), of course we can say that we don’t deal with that level of oppression. But I would really think carefully about making blanket statements about how easy or difficult things can be for other people based upon your own experiences. You can be sure that there are other people experiencing the same thing with far less privilege (for various reasons) so I find it best to not assume that their challenges are the same as mine.

  114. I strongly suspect you have more privileges than I do, although I may have privileges that you don’t.

    You have been continually shrugging off how much societal norms can *hurt* people, and that it’s not so simple as a matter of *ignoring* or *transcending* them.

    I’m not in a one-penis relationship. I never have been. But this discussion about labels and self-identity and privilege has only been bound by that particular scenario in your mind, if any.

    I’m leaving this conversation here, because I am starting to become angry about having issues I haven’t bared here in a public discussion dismissed as if they were delusions on my part, and I’m not willing to reveal those issues and expose those vulnerable disprivileges just to prove a point.

  115. I strongly suspect you have more privileges than I do, although I may have privileges that you don’t.

    You have been continually shrugging off how much societal norms can *hurt* people, and that it’s not so simple as a matter of *ignoring* or *transcending* them.

    I’m not in a one-penis relationship. I never have been. But this discussion about labels and self-identity and privilege has only been bound by that particular scenario in your mind, if any.

    I’m leaving this conversation here, because I am starting to become angry about having issues I haven’t bared here in a public discussion dismissed as if they were delusions on my part, and I’m not willing to reveal those issues and expose those vulnerable disprivileges just to prove a point.

  116. Keep in mind that this discussion stemmed from a specific kind of sexual oppression.

    What specific kind of sexual oppression is that? I was under the impression that this discussion stemmed from the fact that you were arguing what and how other people should identify based upon your own experience and not theirs.

    A sexual oppression that I don’t think should be allowed. It really comes down to the fact that there are certain things in my life that I just don’t allow for.

    If I do allow for them then people question me on why I’m not defending my boundaries. Or that I’m not demanding more.

    Now they are saying these things without knowing the challenges I face.

    I don’t call it unfair when they question me. When they wonder why I’m not fighting.

    This sounds like some personal experience you’re talking about and I have no idea what it is. I responded to some blanket statements you made about oppression in society. I know nothing of any boundaries you’re defending or what people are questioning of you.

    I think its fair to question why a poly female allows her primary to dictate the gender of who she sleeps with when he’s allowed to sleep with the opposite sex.

    From my vantage point on my mountain of privilege it seems really odd to accept that.

    I think it’s entirely fair to question it as well. But claiming that someone isn’t poly because they aren’t conforming to your idea of what poly should be isn’t the same as questioning that. ESPECIALLY when you yourself have said that you don’t identify as poly.

    Feeling that you can say how other people should identify when you don’t even share that identity with them is a pretty entitled attitude to have.

  117. Keep in mind that this discussion stemmed from a specific kind of sexual oppression.

    What specific kind of sexual oppression is that? I was under the impression that this discussion stemmed from the fact that you were arguing what and how other people should identify based upon your own experience and not theirs.

    A sexual oppression that I don’t think should be allowed. It really comes down to the fact that there are certain things in my life that I just don’t allow for.

    If I do allow for them then people question me on why I’m not defending my boundaries. Or that I’m not demanding more.

    Now they are saying these things without knowing the challenges I face.

    I don’t call it unfair when they question me. When they wonder why I’m not fighting.

    This sounds like some personal experience you’re talking about and I have no idea what it is. I responded to some blanket statements you made about oppression in society. I know nothing of any boundaries you’re defending or what people are questioning of you.

    I think its fair to question why a poly female allows her primary to dictate the gender of who she sleeps with when he’s allowed to sleep with the opposite sex.

    From my vantage point on my mountain of privilege it seems really odd to accept that.

    I think it’s entirely fair to question it as well. But claiming that someone isn’t poly because they aren’t conforming to your idea of what poly should be isn’t the same as questioning that. ESPECIALLY when you yourself have said that you don’t identify as poly.

    Feeling that you can say how other people should identify when you don’t even share that identity with them is a pretty entitled attitude to have.

  118. I’m leaving this conversation here, because I am starting to become angry about having issues I haven’t bared here in a public discussion dismissed as if they were delusions on my part, and I’m not willing to reveal those issues and expose those vulnerable disprivileges just to prove a point.

    And his username, incidentally, is tacit.

  119. I’m leaving this conversation here, because I am starting to become angry about having issues I haven’t bared here in a public discussion dismissed as if they were delusions on my part, and I’m not willing to reveal those issues and expose those vulnerable disprivileges just to prove a point.

    And his username, incidentally, is tacit.

  120. I just wanted Poly to mean something.

    Apparently it doesn’t mean anything. I think someone else a long time ago said that poly was what a person chose to be, and not what it was defined as. Or any definition we could give it.

    Again, it’s pretty entitled to think that because poly doesn’t mean what you think it should mean, then it doesn’t mean anything. Poly means a whole lot to those who live that way. There is a working definition of poly. It means that people can love more than one person in a romantic context. How that love looks for someone else may not be how that love looks for you, but the same variations of how love is expressed exist in all relationships- poly, mono platonic and everything else. Simply because that love is different than you expect it to be doesn’t make it “Not Love” and consequently “Not Poly”.

    That way I don’t get myself into trouble by expecting a poly person to actually be fair and equal about who their partners could sleep with. I guess I incorrectly assumed that they were a little more evolved than the average joe.

    If you are directly in a relationship with a poly person and want to expect that YOUR relationship is fair and equal about who your partners can sleep with that’s entirely reasonable. When you’re looking at someone else’s relationship from the outside and decide FOR THEM how fair and equal it is, there are problems.

    Again, you can question whatever practices they have…I often do, especially when dealing with stuff like OPP. And I most certainly won’t get involved with poly people who subscribe to certain practices like OPP and prescriptive relationship styles. If someone posts something on the internets about how fantastic OPP is, I sure as hell am going to question it and argue it. But I would never presume to say that they have no right to call themselves poly simply because I disagree with how they practice it.

    Basically, how other people choose to live their lives is not going to be about what you want, so the more you get over that, the easier I suspect it would be to find what you want.

  121. I just wanted Poly to mean something.

    Apparently it doesn’t mean anything. I think someone else a long time ago said that poly was what a person chose to be, and not what it was defined as. Or any definition we could give it.

    Again, it’s pretty entitled to think that because poly doesn’t mean what you think it should mean, then it doesn’t mean anything. Poly means a whole lot to those who live that way. There is a working definition of poly. It means that people can love more than one person in a romantic context. How that love looks for someone else may not be how that love looks for you, but the same variations of how love is expressed exist in all relationships- poly, mono platonic and everything else. Simply because that love is different than you expect it to be doesn’t make it “Not Love” and consequently “Not Poly”.

    That way I don’t get myself into trouble by expecting a poly person to actually be fair and equal about who their partners could sleep with. I guess I incorrectly assumed that they were a little more evolved than the average joe.

    If you are directly in a relationship with a poly person and want to expect that YOUR relationship is fair and equal about who your partners can sleep with that’s entirely reasonable. When you’re looking at someone else’s relationship from the outside and decide FOR THEM how fair and equal it is, there are problems.

    Again, you can question whatever practices they have…I often do, especially when dealing with stuff like OPP. And I most certainly won’t get involved with poly people who subscribe to certain practices like OPP and prescriptive relationship styles. If someone posts something on the internets about how fantastic OPP is, I sure as hell am going to question it and argue it. But I would never presume to say that they have no right to call themselves poly simply because I disagree with how they practice it.

    Basically, how other people choose to live their lives is not going to be about what you want, so the more you get over that, the easier I suspect it would be to find what you want.

  122. Re: Privilege

    This is an incredibly one sided conversation in which you’re basically talking to yourself by making up things that I haven’t said, don’t really relate to anything I think, and certainly aren’t things I’ve referenced anywhere in this thread.

    You may want to do your own blog or journal entry or something to work out whatever it is you’re working out there, but you’re not really responding to me so I’m not going to keep chasing my tail. If you do say something relevant to anything I’ve said, we can have a discussion or something, but right now I’m just your sounding board and I’m not comfortable in that role because I don’t know you and you don’t know me.

  123. Re: Privilege

    This is an incredibly one sided conversation in which you’re basically talking to yourself by making up things that I haven’t said, don’t really relate to anything I think, and certainly aren’t things I’ve referenced anywhere in this thread.

    You may want to do your own blog or journal entry or something to work out whatever it is you’re working out there, but you’re not really responding to me so I’m not going to keep chasing my tail. If you do say something relevant to anything I’ve said, we can have a discussion or something, but right now I’m just your sounding board and I’m not comfortable in that role because I don’t know you and you don’t know me.

  124. I have to second that one, because I keep on bumping into females with a huge ego and an even bigger sense of self-entitlement, doubly so when it comes to whom they feel they are entitled to date and with how their male companion shall only be allowed to date others on the woman’s terms, if at all.

    As for the above diagram and its overlooked “one vagina” item, I’ll venture that some western countries are so hopelessly stuck into these notions of privileged groups that its people are incapable of looking past this and, for example, to admit that affirmative actions have often resulted in the marginalization of those very groups that were previously viewed as privileged. Sure enough, white people and doubly so white males tend to be more and more systematically ostracized and marginalized in USA and a number of other countries. This has to stop.

  125. Yep. I’ve run in to that attitude too… “Men were the controlling abusers so long that now it’s womens’ turn and men need to know how it felt.”

    They seem to feel it’s justified as some sort of punishment or lesson or revenge. Some discuss it in terms of a pendulum swing, but they don’t see that by pushing it so far one way it makes it unlikely there’ll be a center point any time soon.

  126. Not only that, but what good does it serve to ostracize a generation that has done no evil, just because the previous generations knew no better and did plenty of evil?

  127. I don’t see the one penis policy as a rule as much as just the end result of SOMETHING.

    Then you’re not talking about the same thing is takling about. He (and others here) are talking about those people who make it a RULE. If they don’t make it a rule, and they just end up in that configuration by coincidence, then they aren’t what he’s talkinga bout.

    so they don’t have a lot of desire for them especially when they already have one.

    Because guys are interchangeable, and if you have one you don’t need any more?

    You see Privilege where I just see a guy getting a girl to do what he wants because he’s a big baby.

    That’s what privilege IS – being allowed to get away with being “a big baby”.

    she wanted another girl not for the benefit of me, but for herself

    Oh the audacity of your ex-gf to want a girlfriend because *she wanted a girlfriend* and it had nothing to do with you! How dare she desire a sexual relationship that isn’t exclusively, or even partially, for your own benefit!

    Considering you gleefully admit you enjoy your privilege, I’m not surprised she wouldn’t want you around when she’s trying to be intimate with her own partner. I wouldn’t want you around either, and not just in those circumstances. People who get the short end of the privilege stick don’t tend to like being around people who benefit at their expense, and enjoy that benefit at their expense.

  128. I don’t see the one penis policy as a rule as much as just the end result of SOMETHING.

    Then you’re not talking about the same thing is takling about. He (and others here) are talking about those people who make it a RULE. If they don’t make it a rule, and they just end up in that configuration by coincidence, then they aren’t what he’s talkinga bout.

    so they don’t have a lot of desire for them especially when they already have one.

    Because guys are interchangeable, and if you have one you don’t need any more?

    You see Privilege where I just see a guy getting a girl to do what he wants because he’s a big baby.

    That’s what privilege IS – being allowed to get away with being “a big baby”.

    she wanted another girl not for the benefit of me, but for herself

    Oh the audacity of your ex-gf to want a girlfriend because *she wanted a girlfriend* and it had nothing to do with you! How dare she desire a sexual relationship that isn’t exclusively, or even partially, for your own benefit!

    Considering you gleefully admit you enjoy your privilege, I’m not surprised she wouldn’t want you around when she’s trying to be intimate with her own partner. I wouldn’t want you around either, and not just in those circumstances. People who get the short end of the privilege stick don’t tend to like being around people who benefit at their expense, and enjoy that benefit at their expense.

  129. Found this from FetLife. ZOMG. Yes. This. I can’t agree enough. And thank you for framing it in such a way that illustrates my qualms with this as a former unicorn. (Well, okay. might still be one. Anyway. Thank you.)

  130. Found this from FetLife. ZOMG. Yes. This. I can’t agree enough. And thank you for framing it in such a way that illustrates my qualms with this as a former unicorn. (Well, okay. might still be one. Anyway. Thank you.)

  131. Had the one-vagina-policy imposed on me some time back (married male) — but there isn’t the sort of societal support for it. I’ve seen far more cases of apparent “only looking for a woman”, as pointed out downthread — and wonder if, perhaps, a one vagina policy is (or can be) a form of couples privilege. Perhaps when invoked by a female partner in a more primary role?

  132. Female Dominance and Polyamory

    My submissive male and I would definitely redefine this paradigm. I am allowed multiple men AND women to play with, and I control whom he plays with. He may not play separate of Me unless I personally arrange for that and then it is only play with other men, and in My company he may play with another female though I will control the play as well. Female privilege is more dominating than his. As his Domme, I control all our polyamorous play, and yet….. do much to keep him happy and well sexed up with others in play….. I am generous…..but must maintain control.

  133. Female Dominance and Polyamory

    My submissive male and I would definitely redefine this paradigm. I am allowed multiple men AND women to play with, and I control whom he plays with. He may not play separate of Me unless I personally arrange for that and then it is only play with other men, and in My company he may play with another female though I will control the play as well. Female privilege is more dominating than his. As his Domme, I control all our polyamorous play, and yet….. do much to keep him happy and well sexed up with others in play….. I am generous…..but must maintain control.

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