When I was a teenager, I was very critical of feminism too. I was a white girl, about to grow up into a world of white privilege, and I didn’t see the point. Then, the workplace discrimination started happening, then the sexual harassment, then the assaults, then the catcalls, then the condescension from men who weren’t as smart or accomplished as me, the sports coach who was too friendly, the male mentor with other intentions, the drunk male friend who won’t leave the room after the party so you can sleep, the car horns blaring, the groping: it all started happening at about the age of fifteen. I started realising that there was a large portion of the population to whom I was as good as chattel: I was an object to be acted upon.
I also started realising that I’ve been a female misogynist my whole life, and had a lot of unlearning to do too. Change starts with eliminating the noxious parts of yourself you have internalised during socialisation in a misogynistic culture. Feminism isn’t just about stopping the abuse of women by men, it’s about stopping the abuse we do to ourselves and others by genuinely beginning to believe we deserve to be treated as less than human.
I’m often asked by parents what advice can I give them to help get kids interested in science? And I have only one bit of advice. Get out of their way. Kids are born curious. Period. I don’t care about your economic background. I don’t care what town you’re born in, what city, what country. If you’re a child, you are curious about your environment. You’re overturning rocks. You’re plucking leaves off of trees and petals off of flowers, looking inside, and you’re doing things that create disorder in the lives of the adults around you.
And so then so what do adults do? They say, “Don’t pluck the petals off the flowers. I just spent money on that. Don’t play with the egg. It might break. Don’t….” Everything is a don’t. We spend the first year teaching them to walk and talk and the rest of their lives telling them to shut up and sit down.
So you get out of their way. And you know what you do? You put things in their midst that help them explore. Help ‘em explore. Why don’t you get a pair of binoculars, just leave it there one day? Watch ‘em pick it up. And watch ‘em look around. They’ll do all kinds of things with it.
“If you asked your girlfriend, “Do you want a Hawaiian vacation for your birthday?” and she didn’t say anything, would you buy plane tickets? If you asked someone at the grocery store, “I only have one item, do you mind if I check out ahead of you?” and they stared determinedly into space, would you cut in front of them? Why is it that “you didn’t say no” applies only to sex?”—Real Love: Consent—No is Less Important than Yes (via brutereason)
What Are You Looking For? 1) What’s your ideal type of poly relationship? (for example: triad, harem, v-style relationship, big poly family?) 2) In your ideal relationship how many partners would you have? 3) How many of those would be primary, secondary, casual…other? How many would your partners have? 4) Does your ideal relationship structure include casual sex and/or swinging? 5) Do you have any type of poly relationship that you find a turn-off or would not take part in? (i.e. “I won’t be a part of a relationship where I’m secondary to everyone else’s relationship.) 6) What nature of partners are you interested in? (sexual, BDSM, M/s, casual sex, casual play, emotional intimacy, spiritual intimacy, live-in, take out only, shared only, only not shared) 7) Do you have hierarchical relationships? If so, how does that hierarchy work? Are you open to a changing hierarchy or are you committed to keeping particular partners in particular roles? 8) What kind and level of involvement do you want among your partners? Is it important to you that they get to know each other, like each other, become involved with each other romantically or sexually? How flexible are you on these desires? 9) Something about time & energy management style/preference 10) Describe your communication style/preference 11) What range are you comfortable with, regarding amount that you know about your partners’ other relationships, and they know about yours? every sexual detail? nothing except that the other partners exist and maybe their first names? whatever the OSO chooses to share with you directly, but very little via your common partner? 12) How long have you been actively poly? do you consider poly part of your nature, or something you are experimenting with, or something else? 13) Do you actively seek new, more partners? If so, how? If not, how has your poly been realized? How do people become your partners? 14) How do you feel about long-distance relationships? Live-in relationships? Local relationships? Do you have particular restrictions on what sorts of relationships you feel you can have with someone you do not live with? How about someone you do live with? 15) How do you feel about your partner embarking on new relationships after the one between you is established?
Boundaries and Rules 16) What sex practices, safer sex procedures, and so on are covered? What agreements do you hope to make with new partners? 17) What other kinds of rules do you have? 18) Who do any new partners have to be approved by? Is there a policy or proceedure for that? A trial period? At what point does approval take place? (first meeting, first sex, first play…after the first…when it feels right) Does anyone have veto power? At what point? 19) What agreements, aside from STI stuff and veto powers, do you have with other partners that would affect what you can/will do with a new partner? (examples i’ve heard of include: defined date nights, no sleepovers, ‘our’ restaurant, ruling out certain sexual acts, no sex before meeting the primary, ‘taking a break’ if requested by primary, no sex at your house, DADT…) 20) Are you closeted? What concessions do you expect from your partners to maintain your closet, if so? Can you deal with being partnered with someone who is closeted, and what do you need from a closeted partner to maintain a relationship with them? 21) Is there anyone in your life (extended family, workmates, etc.) who doesn’t know you are poly, and who you don’t want to know? is there any situation in which you would ask me to pretend not to be your partner? 22) How do you define “faithful,” “commitment,” and “cheating”? 23) Have you ever cheated on anyone? Is there anyone in your past who would disagree? 24) Would you consider dating/sleeping with someone who was cheating? Feelings 25) What are three things that make you feel loved? 26) What are three things that hurt you deeply? 27) How would you be most comfortable dealing with changes over time? What are your feelings regarding rules, boundaries, and limits, whether stricter or more open? 28) What are your ideas about spirituality? How do you think those ideas are a part of your intimate relationships? How do you accept, respect and deal with diversity around spiritual beliefs and practices? 29) Do you have children? what are your policies and agreements about your kids and poly? at what point, and in what context/role do you you want your partners to meet your kids? 30) Do you want to have future children? do you have thoughts on with whom and when? 31) What if you/she gets pregnant by accident with a secondary? 32) Do you perceive your relationships as affecting each other? Do you keep them completely separate, and work to see that they have no effect on each other? In what ways do you perceive your relationships do affect each other? How’s that working for you? 33) What is, or would you want to be, your relationship to your “ex”s? If you do not know, how do you think/want it would look? (for instance do you stay friends, do you never want to see or hear from the person again) How has that worked for you in the past? 33) If I break up with you, how would you feel if I kept seeing a metamore of yours? 34) How can a partner support you when you’re having a hard time? What do you do to take care of yourself? What kinds of emotional support are you good at offering? 35) Which of these questions are really important to you, and which aren’t such big issues?
Imagine you have an acquaintance who is a big soccer fan. They play soccer, sing soccer songs and watch soccer. They love soccer and they talk about their soccer team all the time.
One day you tell them that you’re not really into soccer, but you are a sports fan.
“What do you mean, you don’t like soccer? What other sport is there?”
“Well, I like basketball. I play on a local team.”
“Basket ball? What’s that?”
“Well, players try to get a ball into the other team’s basket.”
“Ok, I follow. Like soccer.”
“Yeah, except you bounce the ball with your hands instead of using your feet.”
“Wait, what? You mean you can CHEAT?”
“No, it just has different rules.”
“What do the other players think about that?”
“Well, they all play by the same rules.”
“Maybe you just didn’t commit to soccer. It takes a lot of hard work.”
“So does basketball. It’s really difficult.”
“But it’s just basically permission to cheat. I just couldn’t do that. Sorry.”
“Well, I don’t like playing soccer. Basketball is closer to my skill set and I find it much more exciting and intimate to play. I love watching the game because it’s more fast paced and suits me better.”
“I just couldn’t imagine how I’d feel if the other players were allowed to use their hands like that. I couldn’t do it.”
“Well, it takes skill, but you realise you’d be able to use your hands too, right?”
“Yeah, but I wouldn’t want to. I prefer only using my feet to kick the ball. I couldn’t do it any other way. I just couldn’t.”
“Nobody is making you. We just like different things.”
“Okay, but please don’t talk about this basket ball thing around my soccer friends. It might make them feel weird.”
And this is what it is like to talk to some people about polyamory.
See, what you need to understand is that “Not all guys are like that” is never going to work. Because you’re answering an entirely different conversation than what women are actually saying.
You think women are saying “Every man is a predator and a danger to me.” And you’re replying, “But I’m not like that.”
But women aren’t saying that. They’re saying “There are too many situations where women have to worry about their safety,” and you’re saying “That’s not important.” They’re saying “Women are constantly told it’s their fault if something bad happens,” and you’re saying “Don’t worry about it.” They’re saying “Too often, women find their trust violated by men,” and you’re saying “But you should trust me!”
They’re saying “So many men have decided that what they want is more important than anything about a woman.” And you’re replying “I’m exactly like that.”