PW 356: The poly hype cycle

Where do we sit on the media hype cycle for polyamory?

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1:00 Topic: Where are we on the poly hype cycle?

The fabulous Sierra Black wrote a response to Andrea Zanin’s polynormativity post and pondered how to be more inclusive in our media representations. Minx suggests that polyamory is in the rising phase of the hype cycle and suffering from inflated expectations.

Other links: Jenny Block’s book Love, Sex and Life in an Open Marriage

Pedestrian Polyamory podcast

19:25 Happy Poly Moment

S shares a moment that is not especially happy but when polyamory’s benefits and love shine.

22:00 Thank you

Thanks to Michael for his donations this week! Plus, app subscribers and Poly Weekly Playmates got a little something extra last week. :-) Thank you for supporting PW!

Wrap up

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4 comments to PW 356: The poly hype cycle

  • Winston

    Download link is for last week’s. Should be PW356.4_24_13.mp3.

  • elf

    Have to say, this was a bad episode that seems to be founded upon Minx’s own insecurities and sense of difference than anything rooted in reality. Playing up a divide between so-called “mainstream” and so-called “fringe” and suggesting that a minority should have to accommodate a majority (there’s a reason you called it MAINstream) smacks of disrespectful attitudes and feelings towards said “fringe.” The very word–plus the terms you used to describe those people–suggested that you thought they didn’t deserve the same level of acceptance that you, oh so holy social media guru, did.

    If you don’t like one community, join another. But don’t tout the appearance of clean-shaven mortgage broker poly activists as progress. It’s assimilation. Why on earth would that be a good goal? Minx sounded like the sort of folks who think that gay marriage rights are more important than LGBT liberation and freedom from conservative norms about family structure. Focus too much on making sure your spokesperson seems palatable, and you’ll quickly find out that they stand for something different than you originally had in mind.

    Make no mistake. Poly is a radical idea. People who practice it really aren’t just like everyone else. The difference between me and Minx is that I don’t have a problem being considered a radical. Does that make me “fringe”? I’m not any of the other things Minx associated with that term, as it happens. But I am honest–and I recognize that polyamory is not something that will be accepted in society if society just gets a little more tolerant through the use of palatable spokespeople.

    Arguments like the one made in this episode further narrow the very small spaces in society in which divergent voices are still allowed to speak. In arguing for mainstream voices, and asserting her own and claiming that label, Minx has made it even harder for those she disrespects to speak their piece (and peace) in the world. Polyamory doesn’t need a single spokesperson, and it doesn’t need to be someone Minx thinks won’t trouble anybody.

    You only make real social change through moments of upheaval. You have to disturb people in order to facilitate social growth. If that makes Minx uncomfortable, she should stop doing this podcast or trying to speak for this community. There is no “fringe” vs. “mainstream.” We’re all in this together. If you can’t accommodate minority religious practices into your view of polyamory, or you think that you should get to speak instead of those people, or over those people, as you do in this podcast, perhaps you should relinquish the reins and fade back into obscurity for the good of everyone? At the very least, you should have done more than subject your listeners to a rant about how you feel excluded, boo hoo, poor you, when those you say exclude you are themselves excluded from society on a general basis by people who have the same dismissive attitudes you presented here.

    Your prejudice is showing, Minx. Clean it up before you return to the airwaves!

    • I think what Minx was getting at in this podcast is trying to graph out the progress of polyamory acceptance by both looking at the media’s depiction of polyamory, and the community’s reaction to it. Part of that reaction deals with the (in)accuracy of how polyamory is depicted in the media, and part of it is bringing awareness to the shift in what it means to identify as polyamorous. One of the observations I have from being both part of the poly community at-large as well as a polyamory activist is that there appears to be 2 camps of poly ideology. Both define polyamory similarly, but they come to that understading through different means, and thus have different outlooks when it comes to overall worldviews and personal agendas.

      The first views polyamory as being part and parcel to radical social/political/sexual thought. Practicing polyamory is seen as a revolutionary act, or at least not something that a “mainstream” person would consider. This is why polyamory was initially linked to various alternative groups, and why it’s common for a person to be “poly and [insert alterantive identity label here]“.

      The second camp consists of those who see polyamory as something they are/do. They came into identifying as polyamrous due to experience (feelings for multiple people simultaneously) rather than ideology (challenging mono-centric culture). Because those who come into polyamory through experience tend to not be connected to alternative communities (at least, not initially), they develop their understanding through books, online forums, and websites. While those resources expose new polyamorists to countercultural beliefs, those beliefs and ideologies are tied to an understanding of multiple simultaneous relationships (challenging monogamy as the norm), rather than promoting a complete cultural cultural paradigm shift (challenging capitalism, patriarchy, power structures, etc.). This is why there are people who identify as polyamorous while otherwise following cultural norms in other areas of their life.

      The media will choose to portray polyamory in a way that their audience can relate to, within the timeframe that they can tell their story. Due to the time and audience constraints, this means isolating polyamory from its political/countercultural roots. They pick from who comes forward, and the people come forward if they feel that they won’t be socially/financially affected by being out on a national scale. If relatively mainstream’ish people are the only ones who come forward, they’re the ones who end up on tv. The solution to this is finding ways to encourage more poly people who aren’t mainstream or who are a part of various minority groups to respond to media queries, rather than look down upon the mainstream’ish poly people who do or say that they don’t exist or don’t belong.

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