PW 460: Top five poly trends of 2015

47541500_sHow did the polyamory movement change in 2015? 

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1:00 Host chat

3:30 Poly in the News

7:00 Topic: Top five poly trends of 2015

  1. More nonfiction books gave us more poly voices to relate to.
  1. More poly news snuck into the mainstream, including being satirized in The Onion.
  1. Political pundits gave us air space in the wake of the same-sex marriage legalization announcement over the summer and dissenting Supreme Court judges, political pundits wondered whether the polyamorists would want marriage rights next, which brought polyamory as a topic to the dinner table.
  1. The poly movement saw more diversification, including gay polyamorists, over-60 polyamorists and trans folks. Additionally, the issue of emotional abuse inside our community was brought to light, and relationship anarchy gained momentum.
  1. Poly Weekly kicked butt! OK, maybe this is only #1 for me, but LustyGuy and I spoke at more events than ever before; we exceeded 50,000 downloads a month; we launched an email newsletter, and we even made the Buzzfeed list of top 40 places to learn everything you never learned in sex ed class!

16:45 Wrap Up

Questions? Comments? Feedback? Email or call the listener comment line at 802-505-POLY. And hey, why not attach an audio comment to that email? 🙂 Check out PolyWeekly at Share this with a friend or write an iTunes review!

How to share your sex life on the page and the stage

From CatalystCon West: Anain Bjorkquist, Dixie De La Tour, Gaby Dunn, Rachel Kramer Bussel talk about what it’s like to blog, vlog, storytell and podcast about your sex life to help others #cconpage

How to recognize and respond to emotional abuse

Cunning Minx, Eve Rickert, Tamara Pincus, MSW, LICSW, William Winters discuss the issue of emotional abuse in alternative communities and how we can create awareness and maintain community for both survivors of and perpetrators of abuse at CatalystCon West #cconabuse

CCon session handout

PW 445: How to be a trans ally

comic hands heartA trans activist shares tips on supporting the trans community and its members

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1:00 Announcements

  • Minx will be in New York September 24-27–ping me if you know of poly/kinky events going on!
  • I’ll be at CatalystCon West next weekend!

2:30 Poly in the News

Polyamory, an abundance of love is a friendly, supportive article on Deutsche Welle on polyamory

4:45 Topic: How to be a trans ally

Trans activist Oblio joins our live show in Eugene, Oregon, sponsored by As You Like It, the Pleasure Stop, to share how cisgendered folks can support the trans community.

  • What does “polyamory” mean to you and why do you self-identify as “authentic” instead?
  • What do you wish everyone understood about gender identity?
  • How do we facilitate a safe space to ask the ignorant questions?
  • How would someone approach you in terms of gender identity and pronoun?
  • What is “presenting” and why should you not use that to determine which pronoun to use for address?
  • I appear cisgendered and want to try on a new pronoun for play. Is that offensive or appropriation?

26:15 Wrap Up

Questions? Comments? Feedback? Email or call the listener comment line at 802-505-POLY. And hey, why not attach an audio comment to that email? 🙂 Check out PolyWeekly at Share this with a friend or write an iTunes review!

Should we support this poly family in trouble?

Screen Shot 2015-06-11 at 3.40.07 PMMany of you have forwarded this IndieGoGo campaign regarding this poly group’s rather lengthy, rambling and emotional plight. They are a poly family fighting a legal battle to keep their children, some of which have already been removed from their home.

The group and their claims have been vetted by some folks of the Poly Leadership Network. Long and short of it: these  are real people, the factual claims and court cases are documented, and the amount of legal fees they claim to have spent already is reasonable considering the circumstances. They have been encouraged to contact National Coalition for Sexual Freedom (NCSF) to help with their case.

Additionally, you should be aware that this family is one male in his 30s, with all female partners quite young, in their 20s. There are no other male partners. They have 10 children and two more on the way. (Some of the children are by the man’s ex-wife.) They also have an extensive collection of firearms, which is legal in Texas, but which some might find troubling. And they do not appear to be active in any local poly communities.

Due to the people’s lack of ability to communicate their position clearly and concisely and their lack of a clear legal strategy apart from “throw money at it,” I’d recommend donating to NCSF rather than to this family directly. If the NCSF takes their case, it will be with a defined legal strategy designed for maximum effectiveness, and you can be assured your dollars will go to that end.

What I learned from 10 years of poly podcasting

What y’all have taught me about polyamory, community and myself

minx speaking ccon west 2013

Minx at CatalystCon West 2013

It’s hard to believe that Polyamory Weekly has been going strong for 10 years! When I started, it was to try out this new technology called RSS and to test this new content delivery system. But what topic should I cover for that test? In 2005, I’d been polyamorous for all of two years, and my partner, metamour and I had hit every relationship land mine in the book. As a result, the first year or two of our poly adventure was fraught with drama, tears and intense relationship discussions. So why not podcast about the drama we’d experienced and the lessons we’d learned? And so Poly Weekly was born. Over the years, both my own relationships and my awareness of poly’s place in society matured. When I first started the podcast, the only media mentions were thrilling tales of swing clubs being infiltrated and busted by undercover cops and juicy exposés of the crazy sexual libertines who might be living next door to you. Nowadays, coverage of polyamory in the media typically takes the form of a personal essay describing the lifestyle with a representative configuration, almost more like a how-to article, presented more as a life coaching piece than sensational journalism.

What I’ve learned from 10 years of poly podcasting

So for our anniversary episode, I thought it would be fun to both find out what others wish they’d known before diving into polyamory as well as what I’ve learned from engaging with podcast listeners and seminar attendees over the last 10 years. Listeners called in with a variety of lessons learned, from the hilarious “always buy twin sheets for the king bed so the person in the middle can get out in the middle of the night” to the heartbreaking “I wish I’d known that treating everyone equally is impossible and unfair before it destroyed our relationship.” As far as what I’ve learned from being your podcast host for the last 10 years:

  • Many voices are more powerful than one While my experiences are common and relatable, not everyone is like me, so the more voices we share describing both poly joy and poly issues, the better.
  • Respect and tolerance win the game While it’s not uncommon to run across intolerance and politics in poly forums and discussion groups, that is not representative of the community. When you treat others with respect and a tolerant mind, you get respect and tolerance in return. In 10 years of podcasting and blogging, I have never once received hate mail. Never!
  • Joy should be celebrated Despite the fact that much online coverage relates to relationships in the midst of implosion, happy poly moments flourish and should receive as much attention as the relationships in need of advice.
  • There is a lot I don’t know My fans have made me aware of a plethora of trends, communities and phenomena ranging from slash fic to transgenderism to asexuality. I hope to learn exponentially more over the next 10 years.
  • There is a lot I DO know Like many people, I suffer from the self-worth syndrome of “if I know it, it must not be that valuable or difficult.” Developing podcast and seminar content over the last 10 years has taught me that there is a lot that I do know that is worth sharing. For example, the key to happy relationships lies in four key skills: the ability to know yourself and explain your reactions to others, emotional intelligence, the ability to own your own shit and the ability to ask for what you want.

So, after 10 years, I have to thank all the listeners who kept it real. You have taught me far more than I ever taught you.

Why I love CatalystCon

A quick write up of one my favorite sex positive conferences in the U.S.

#CconOK Opening Keynote panel!

#CconOK Opening Keynote panel!

One of my favorite conferences to attend is CatalystCon. Why? Because it’s not a kink conference. Or a poly conference. It is a sex-positive conference that brings together sex educators, activists, bloggers, sex workers, erotica writers, pornographers, political advocates and more in one big ass event.

Why do I enjoy it so much? Because I get exposed to other’s activism that I would normally be blind to: Joan Price‘s excellent work on senior sex and erotica; Charlie Glickman‘s work on gender as a verb; Dr. Winston Wilde‘s work on psychotherapy for alternative sexualities. It allows me as an educator to take off the blinders and play in others’ playgrounds so I can be a better and more tolerant advocate within my own poly community.

#Ccon West lunch

#Ccon West lunch

Plus, for two whole days, I get to walk around like a rock star and meet people whom I only know by email or Twitter icon. 🙂 And I’ll admit it: being famous for a weekend doesn’t suck!

That being said, it’s difficult to encapsulate the value of the conference in one blog post. Since I wasn’t able to live blog or Storify at this event as is my preference (due to fatigue, not any lack on the part of the organizer), I give you this list of awesome stuff I learned at this year’s CatalystCon West:


Cool Stuff I Learned at #ccon 2014:

  1. Reid Mihalko does a really convincing Dr. Phil impression.

    #CconSelf Marketing panel

    #CconSelf Marketing panel

  2. “Queer” (along with many other gender, sexual and relationship identities) is used to mean vastly different things, so it’s a good idea to ask “What does that mean to you?”
  3. You can make Charlie Glickman blush by treating him like a lady.
  4. There are a lot of really hard-working activists out there who need to hear that their part-time efforts, whether it be “just a blog” or “just a meetup group” are helping, and that that is enough.
  5. Clitorectomies were performed to cure lesbianism and paid for by Blue Cross up until 1977.
  6. There is a lot of debate about whether to use trigger warnings, and people are really passionate about their stances on it.
  7. Poly Weekly fans are the best, hottest, smartest and sexiest folks out there!
  8. Poly Weekly live podcast at #ccon west!

    Poly Weekly live podcast at #ccon west!

    Some people use “sex positive” to mean “sexually free” rather than to refer to an attitude characterized by acceptance and tolerance with regard to sexual identity, practices and needs. But Carol Queen wrote a great post explaining what “sex positive” is and isn’t.

  9. People who want to be sex-positive educators and activists really want to know how to protect their identities online.
  10. Rachel Kramer Bussel, Reid Mihalko and Charlie Glickman are the marketing goddesses of the sex positive world!

PW 388: It’s not about you

judgmentcatTurns out that many argued against tolerance in the community, so let’s revisit poly policing other people’s right to self-identify

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1:00 Announcements and Host Chat

Poly movie review: Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

7:30 Topic: It’s not about you, or everyone is doing poly wrong redux

A number of listeners commented and wrote in to argue that sure, tolerance is great—until you disagree with someone else’s definition of poly or self identity. So we brought in the big guns to reiterate the point: LustyGuy! Y’all wrote in with quite a few objections and instances in which you REALLY wanted to dispute someone else’s self-identity, including:

  1. But Minx, _____ isn’t the RIGHT definition of poly
  2. But Minx, if we don’t have one common definition of poly, we can’t communicate
  3. But Minx, the cheaters who call themselves poly hurt our cause
  4. But Minx, the cheaters who call themselves poly insult my hard-won ethical relationship

31:15 Happy Poly Moment

  • SH shares a happy poly moment of encouraging a friend to pursue the same woman
  • Em shares a happy poly moment of her two partners meeting up secretly to sign a birthday card for her

Wrap up

Questions? Comments? Feedback? Email or call the listener comment line at 802-505-POLY. And hey, why not attach an audio comment to that email? 🙂 Check out PolyWeekly at Share this with a friend or write an iTunes review!

PW 385: Everyone is doing poly wrong (the podcast!)

LustyGuy and Cunning Minx at Conflation in Wild West garb

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1:00 Announcements and Host Chat

4:15 Topic: Everyone is doing poly wrong and needs to die in a fire


I’ve been speaking at more conference than usual this quarter, and with getting out more comes more musing.

In particular, I’ve noticed that we poly folks can be quick to police and judge others who have different definitions from ours. My blog post on why we should stop the poly policing and promote curiosity and tolerance is here; I talk through all the major points and make a plea for stopping our tendency to be the poly police and instead focus on curiosity, understanding and tolerance of others who might practice polyamory differently from us. (Yes, even when we think they’re doing it 100% wrong!)

22:00 Feedback

Q wrote in about polyamory and Buddhism and how they relate. Your thoughts?

25:30 Happy Poly Moment

A wrote in to share a Happy Poly Valentine’s Day moment!

27:00 Thank you!

Thanks to Poly Weekly supporters Melissa, Davie and Nigel for their donations this week! Also, we welcome Madalyn to the Poly Weekly playmates!

28:30 Wrap up

Questions? Comments? Feedback? Email or call the listener comment line at 802-505-POLY. And hey, why not attach an audio comment to that email? 🙂 Check out PolyWeekly at Share this with a friend or write an iTunes review!

Everyone is doing poly wrong and needs to die in a fire

Why we all need to do a self-check for tolerance and acceptance

There is a phenomenon I’ve noticed in many of the poly communities I’ve visited, and it’s time I brought it into the light so we can all take a good, hard look at how we’re treating each other.

cat_weidLet’s start from the basic premise: those of us participating in online forums, posting opinions on blogs or Facebook and attending conferences with poly tracks are all either practicing or interested in practicing polyamory. Or non-monogamy. Or swinging. Or open marriage. Some of us are into BDSM; some of us are into science fiction; some of us are pagan. Some of us have unusual fetishes. Some of us are disabled. Some of us are white; some are African American; some are mixed race. Some of us are wildly creative and spend our lives making beautiful art, music or film and living in humble abodes. Some of us have well-paying, 9-to-5 jobs and enjoy a traditional-looking, middle- or upper-class lifestyle.

We all have opinions, some of them quite strong. And those opinions are not all the same.

But every one of us has something in common: an interest in polyamory. And because of that, we’re weird. We are not 100% mainstream. Even those of us who have traditional jobs, traditional homes and traditional hairstyles are alternative by virtue of the fact that we are interested in, are enjoying or are openly practicing some type of ethical non-monogamy.

So why are so many of us so vehement in our desire to demean, judge and exclude others?

You’re not really poly

It’s alarmingly common during any given poly discussion group or meeting for someone to come out with a definition of polyamory that condemns, criticizes or excludes some other type of practicing polyamorist. We hear, “you’re not really poly if you don’t all live together” or “you’re not really poly if you practice don’t ask/don’t tell” or “you’re not really poly if your husband isn’t also dating as many people as you are.”

To be fair, I understand why we do this. Since polyamory is an alternative relationship structure, most of us have worked very hard at defining what polyamory is for us. We try poly once and make a mess of it. We try again, and it works better, so we decide that what we did the first time was wrong. We try again, and it works better for us, so we decide that we need to advise everyone coming after us that the way we are doing it now is the right way to do polyamory, and every other way is wrong.

But please, I beg of you, let’s stop judging others so harshly, even after we’ve discovered a brand of polyamory that works for us. Before critiquing others based on your personal definitions of what poly is or isn’t, first perform a quick self-check: would you like it if someone told you you weren’t really poly? Would you want someone telling you that your marriage wasn’t real? Would you like for someone else to define what love or commitment means for you? So let’s not impose our definitions and experiences on others.

Everyone gets to choose her own label

Having the right to self-identify is empowering to the individual. It is neither appropriate nor helpful to try to take that right away from others. We let people choose their own labels for their gender identity and for their kink identity. We don’t argue if a man who has never had sex with another man chooses to identify himself as bisexual. We don’t argue if a person who appears female asks us to use the gendered pronoun “he” for address. We offer people the freedom of gender and relationship identity; let’s please extend that same courtesy to relationship orientation as well. whhha

As individuals, it is our job to find the right relationship structure that works for us. I often say that there are as many types of polyamory (and monogamy) as there are people involved in those relationships. Everyone practices monogamy a bit differently; no two relationships look exactly the same when you delve under the surface.

The same is true for polyamory, for non-monogamy, swinging and open relationships. While there are some commonalities to those definitions, every person or group defines his own polyamory in a slightly different way. We each find a brand of non-monogamy that works for us, and we customize it to our specific situation.

So let’s please stop spending our time looking at other people’s relationships and telling them that they aren’t “really” polyamorous. Let’s give people the courtesy of self-exploration and let’s empower each individual to self-label however she sees fit.

In the BDSM world, there is a philosophy that folks are encouraged to embrace. Since BDSM involves exposure to a plethora of fetishes and kinks that we may only not share but may actively dislike, folks are encouraged to be accepting. Even when exposed to a kink that incites disgust, we are encouraged to embrace the notion of “your kink isn’t my kink, but your kink is OK.” Let’s please do that with polyamory as well. Let’s stop spending our time judging others and telling them they are doing poly wrong and simply agree to say:

Your polyamory is not my polyamory, but your polyamory is OK.

Two powerful tools

When someone is kind enough to share with you his poly situation, it is our job to listen, to ask questions and to offer support if asked for it. Labels are the beginning of a discussion and an invitation to ask more questions, not the be-all and end-all. So when someone says, “I’m polyamorous,” my favorite tool to whip out is:

Tool #1: “Cool! So what does that mean to you?”

I believe it’s not anyone’s job (including mine!) to judge and tell someone she is doing poly wrong. Criticism like that only serves to puff up the speaker with a sense of power and to disempower the person sharing his story. If you truly believe that someone you’re speaking with is doing something horribly wrong, a good way to offer an option without judging is, “My experience has been… ” and share your story. See? No judgment necessary.

Tool #2: “My experience has been… “

One caveat, since I know someone will ask: yes, I do have a personal belief about a “wrong” way to do polyamory based on the dictionary definition involving the “full knowledge and consent of all parties involved.” So if, for example, a person self-identifies as poly and has an additional partner that his wife is unaware of, I personally am more inclined to label that “cheating” rather than polyamory due to the fact that his wife doesn’t have knowledge and therefore can’t consent. However, my response is not “you’re not really poly” but rather, “In my experience, poly tends to work best when everyone involved is honest, open and consenting. Have you tried talking with your wife about that?” to open up a conversation rather than impose a judgment.

Share stories, not judgments

story-lolcatI’m a big believer that sharing stories makes us all stronger. Sharing experiences of love, hope and failure in both the poly and monogamous world help all of us to understand what we are going through better and to feel, if nothing else, that we are not alone in our struggles to understand ourselves and the lifestyles we have chosen. So I believe in the power of sharing stories and asking questions rather than offering judgments.

I’ve read a few assertions from intelligent poly folk of late that claim that anyone who defines poly or poly family as [fill in the blank] is wrong and needs to “die in a fire” because that doesn’t match the writer’s or speaker’s own experience.

I don’t know about you, but I dislike it when someone who isn’t in my shoes and who hasn’t lived my life tries to tell me what my poly experience should be. It brings to mind right-wing extremists who claim that they have the right to define what marriage is for everyone else. Or what “family” or “family values” are for everyone else.

If we don’t want others to define marriage or family for us, let’s not do that to each other. The person who gets to define your brand of polyamory is YOU. No one else. And the ONLY person for whom you get to define polyamory is you. Share your definition with your loves, your partners and anyone who asks for it, but please don’t impose it on others or judge others who have chosen to do poly a different way from you. Offer to listen; offer support; offer discussion,;offer your own anecdotes. But please do not offer judgments or critiques. We have the aforementioned right-wing extremists for that.

If you don’t like it when others judge your lifestyle, maybe you should stop judging theirs.

What is right for you?

If you are lucky enough to have found a brand of non-monogamy, polyamory, swinging or open relationships that works for you, GREAT! Many of us take months or years to figure out what we need in order to be happy and healthy in our relationships. And please do share that with others when asked: many of us are looking for models, ideas and roadmaps that might work for us.

So please, share rather than critique. Listen rather than judge. And communicate your definition as an option rather than imposing it as a rule.

And as a final word, absolutely no person or concept should “die in a fire” or “burn in hell.” Let’s just say “My experience has been… “

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