A couple of recent blog posts over at the More Than Two blog that I’ve neglected to post links to.
First, from my brilliant sweetie Shelly, comes what one commenter described as “by far the clearest, most well laid out, piece written about consent that I have ever read.” Her guest post describing consent in romantic relationships is a must-read. Here’s the teaser:
I would like for this to be the shortest discussion ever. I would like to say that we each have an inalienable right to have domain over our bodies, minds, and choices and end the conversation there. I mean, good people don’t violate consent, and I’m a good person, right?
Well, it’s not really so simple. If there’s one common thread through human history, it’s that we are, collectively, really comfortable violating consent. As children, we are often violated physically, emotionally, legally. As much as we are told that we always have choice, we often find that the choice is between homelessness and an abusive working environment or an abusive living situation. As much as we seem to have finally reached some kind of consensus that rape is wrong, we still seem to be having a cultural dialogue about the kinds of circumstances under which it might actually be deserved.
We may encounter many situations in our lives where we have to put walls up and just absorb the loss of control over our lives, our minds, or our bodies. But the one place where we should never have to do that is in our loving relationships. This may on the surface, seem obvious, but make no mistake–this is a radical idea.
The people in the relationship are more important than the relationship.
The second, more recent, post is about aligning your ethical compass in polyamorous relationships. In that post, I talk about what the “ethical” part of “ethical non-monogamy” means. Here’s the teaser:
Polyamorous people like to call what we do “ethical non-monogamy.” But when I ask people what “ethical” means, most often the answers I get don’t go beyond “be open and be honest.” While that’s a start, there’s a lot more to being ethical than being honest! If I were to walk up to you, the reader, and say “I’m going to hit you in the face with this railroad tie now” and then I hit you in the face with a railroad tie, I have been open and honest, but I have not been ethical.
The poly community prides itself on ethical non-monogamy. We need to do a better job at thinking about what that means.
In the book Eve and I are writing, we have chosen to align our ethical compass using two guiding principles: The people in a relationship are more important than the relationship and Don’t treat people as things. You will notice that “be open” and “be honest” are not among these axioms, because we believe they are corollaries, consequences of aligning our moral sextant to the stars of these two axioms. Being dishonest deprives people of the ability to offer informed consent; when we make people do what we want them to do, without their consent, we are treating them as things.
There are other corollaries as well. If I am in a relationship, and I am asking, How can I make sure my partner doesn’t leave me? I am forgetting the first moral axiom: The people in the relationship are more important than the relationship. If my partner wants to leave, she should be free to do so. If I seek to keep her against her wishes, through rules, structures or any other means, I am saying the relationship is more important than she is. That is not ethical polyamory.
Here are some other recent blog posts over there:
Franklin writes On Selfishness, and why saying “you’re poly? That’s so selfish!” and “You don’t want rules? That’s so selfish” make no sense.
Eve writes Yes, you’re broken. I’m broken too, in which she talked about why we sometimes make polyamory look easier than it is in our writings.
Eve writes WE DID IT! about our successful book fundraising project.
Franklin writes about the cost of being in the poly closet, and how that cost isn’t borne equally by the people in a poly relationship.
And finally, we answer two backer questions, What are poly problems? and What do poly people want to hear from their parents?.
As usual, please feel free to reply here or over there.