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Polyamory gains strange traction in the mainstream: except we're calling it monogamy

Because "monogamy" doesn't have the root for "one" in it
Because "monogamy" doesn't have the root for "one" in it
From the Washington Post:


  • Alan M. 5 years ago

    Hi Kamela, and thanks for the compliments!

    Nelson says she is working on a book that will be titled "The New Monogamy." I suspect this is why she's promoting the term to the exclusion of others.

  • David 5 years ago

    Agreed that this sort of appropriation is annoying, for precisely the reasons you describe. That said, if the easiest way for various sorts of queer to gain mainstream acceptance is for the mainstream to redefine itself to co-opt it... I'm actually kind of OK with that.

  • Pepper 5 years ago

    You've kind of already said this, and I'm sure you understand it, but I want to restate it anyways.

    The reason phrases like "the new monogamy" or "managed monogamy" pop up frequently is because people want to be nonmonogamous, but don't want to suffer the stigma associated with being promiscuous. Even "negotiated infidelity" sounds better to the mainstream than being slutty or a swinger, as infidelity is comparatively better accepted. Poly people know this stigma well - we are accused of being sluts, people assume we cannot commit, poly people lose jobs and family, etc.

    I agree that trying this sort of end run around being labeled as promiscuous is intellectually lazy and smacks of cowardice, though I would not begrudge people their personal strategies, given the stigma involved. But at the same time, I don't think it will work, or at least requires closeting. The stigma only stays away until one's coworkers and friends figure out what a "new monogamous" person is actually do

  • Draxar 5 years ago

    Interesting and telling article. I remember getting quite annoyed with my friends at one of their's wedding, when they were calmly stating that it was self evident that poly couldn't work.

    One statistic you've used that I would question though, is the divorce rate. That, as I understand it, is based on divorces this year versus marriages this year. Which tells you very little, as the marriages could've been from last year or from thirty years ago.

  • anon 5 years ago

    Sounds like the poly community needs to suck it up and finally face up to their heavy overlap with the swinging community. The reason the term polyamory isn't used is because it doesn't apply -- unless you're willing to accept that very short-term, enjoyment-only "infidelity" is part of the community as well, in which case poly folks can quit howling so loudly when they're confused with swingers already. Their own holier-than-thou attitude is what causes the "problem" addressed in this article.

  • Kamela 5 years ago

    @Anon: I'm not as concerned that people practicing swinging or other extra-marital adventures call themselves polyamorous as that they not call themselves monogamous; the term is disingenuous. Also, what exactly is holier-than-thou about wanting to offer a home or platform for those who wish to buck the monogamous mainstream, however they choose to do it?

  • Kamela 5 years ago

    @Draxar: Sorry; you've probably caught *me* in some intellectual laziness there. :) That statistic is one that people tend to throw around pretty casually, and I did the same here to make a quick point, and perhaps a cheap one.

    However, if the statistic is measured as you say, and it has been fairly consistent over a number of years, it doesn't seem to me to matter when within the marriages the divorces are taking place - there are still, if my calculations are correct, half as many marriages ending in any given year as marriages starting?

    Still, it'd be neat to see the breakdown.

  • Jim Catano 5 years ago

    I love it when someone coins a snappy new term that perfectly describes a new (or even old) situation. I detest it when people dink around with perfectly good words attempting to manipulate them to mean something they don't. I think that's the case here and that this linguistic stretch won't get any traction. A few months ago some evangelical bigot used the word "polyamory" in a article to mean any form of non-monogamous perversion. A few of us went after him in big way ridiculing his misuse of the term. I haven't seen anything that would indicate that the Christian Right followed him down the path of linguistic perversion. Same situation here. With perfectly good words like polyamory, open relationship or marriage and polyfidelity, the world doesn't need this writer's offering...especially where it's confusing and a misuse of terms. She needs a tough editor. I'm available. She can find me on Facebook.

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