PW 306: Polyamory vs polygamy

What are the differences between polyamory and polygamy?Polyamory vs polygamy dont be confused

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Download the mp3 directly


Under 18? Stop listening now and visit

1:00 Announcements and Host chat

10:10 Topic: Polyamory vs Polygamy

First, there is a great rundown of polyamory, including an interview with several poly enclaves, in the Winnipeg Free Press. That article on polyamory vs polygamy: “Polyamoury, for the record, is quite distinct from polygamy, which, thanks to TV shows such as the fictional drama Big Love and the reality series Sister Wives, people tend to associate with fundamentalist Mormons who practise plural marriage… Polyamorous relationships are post-modern, secular, egalitarian and consensual.”

Next, check out this Slate article asking whether polygamy as it is traditionally practiced is good for society and does acknowledge “traditional polygamy is a pre-modern institution with religious and patriarchal roots.”

Minx’s take on the five primary differences between traditional polygamy and modern polyamory:

  1. Motive: Polyamory has no organized religion or government sanctioning it. Polyamory represents an alternative subculture, so it tends to be characterized by a thoughtful process of self-structuring rather than adopting a model prescribed by religion or the state.
  2. Power structure: Polyamory has less tendency toward patriarchy. The pioneers of the poly movement have primarily been women, and there is a generally-accepted undercurrent of egalitarianism (apart from D/s relationships). It’s not unusual for a woman to be the head of the household and the point of the romantic/sexual vee.
  3. Acceptance of diversity: More sexual orientations are welcome. Those practicing polyamory are more likely to welcome gay, bi, lesbian, queer and transgendered folks rather than condemn them. There is an acceptance of the value of diversity of sexual preferences and sexual needs.
  4. Full consent of all parties involved. Some may disagree, but I would argue that both religion and state sponsorship hinder full consent.
  5. Lots of communication and negotiation. Since polyamory is not a given and has no prescribed models, everything can and must be negotiated.

25:10 Feedback

  • John called in to encourage folks to do the work and take the time to become proficient at being poly, just as one would practice for hours to become a virtuoso in any field.
  • Andy from Michigan shared a gradual coming out story that has lead to his family slowly accepting his and his wife’s OSO.

31:45 Wrap up

Questions? Comments? Feedback? Email or call the listener comment line at 206-202-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!

Make a Donation

Poly Weekly Playmates!

Wanna play?
CatalystCon West '15

Poly Weekly on Facebook

Poly Weekly on Twitter