Polyamory in a Patriarchy (CN)

polyamory8Everyone’s childhood has a lasting effect. The decisions we make in the scenarios we face leave an imprint and they form the basis of our choices. I suppose this is why I can pinpoint when I decided I would be different from the rest, if only at that stage because I was sick of being told how to behave. I’d seen the effects of being worn down by your circumstances, every day in fact, from the minute I awoke, staring at my still snoring mum (we shared a bed, along with my baby brother), her face twisted painfully as she slept. She didn’t own the rights to her own body, she wasn’t a free person.

Her life meant nothing, she was a breeding, cleaning robot and she lost her mind, I’m sure of it, though nobody really cared. I wasn’t going to be like her. I fantasised about being a high flying exec with a stay at home husband who’d offer to act as surrogate because he was just so damn amazing like that. Kinda why I was madly in love with seahorses (and still am). I wouldn’t let a man treat me the way my father had abused my mother. I sort of stood by this as a teenager, never quite committing because I guess I still had some semblance of self-worth, if only because I was labelled ‘bright’. I suppose the trouble really started when we ran away. We were vulnerable but how many teenagers would admit to that?

Going from someone who’d vowed to take four husbands in protest at the belief some men are entitled to multiple wives I was suddenly monogamous and desperate for security and that, along with the toxic hardwiring courtesy of my parents (my dad mainly) I was pretty much doomed to the same fate. I went from one disaster to the next, the details slightly different each time but the script remained the same. Severe anxiety, feelings of worthlessness, self-loathing of my sex and gender, if only I wasn’t so nice, or hadn’t worn those clothes or got that drunk or let him touch me when I really did not want to be touched. Maybe everyone was right, maybe I was just asking for it. When you think of yourself as subhuman you let others treat you like that. You give in to the internalised toxicity and believe you’re a loser. Who’d believe you anyway?

Some women can accept second place. I don’t think I’ve ever been one of them and yet that’s what I got. There was the guy in the forces with whom I ranked a clear 4th, after queen, country and his dad. There was the one who chose God. The one with the ex and 2 kids didn’t even present himself as such, not at least until he’d introduced me to hard drugs. He also ‘slept at the office’ a lot. A friend I hold dear was once also my intended. Then his family forced him into a marriage and he went on to have kids and seems happy enough though who ever really knows these things? There was the arsehole who groomed me before any of this was a thing. He had a beautiful girlfriend and of course I just wasn’t up to scratch.

A lot of people are judgemental of girls who fall for bastards but they could just admit they understand that internalised object relations borne of violence and abuse (even torture) are the root cause of these toxic relationships. This is why pick up artists are deeply insidious. They tap into vulnerability that is hardwired in childhood and exploit disordered thinking. They are abusers themselves, carrying on the work of the fathers who wore down the innocence of their daughters, priming them for life in a patriarchy because that’s just nature. Except it isn’t, it’s just power and control and ownership.

I guess I was always going to end up poly, once I broke away and fell out with the whole system and everything. I don’t want an intense, do or die kind of relationship where I am dependent on another person having the time for me. I don’t want to feel all of those feelings ever again. I do however need companionship and intimacy from time to time and it helps if you spread that about a bit.

How can I expect all the things I need from just one partner? It’s impossible and also unfair to expect one person to understand all of those things in the way that you see them. I don’t think I feel more for one than the others, it’s just different. They also have other partners too and no, we don’t all sleep together. Poly means having private relationships, it does not equate to orgies and swingers (whatever floats your boat though). We all know about each other and that’s important, it means we can respect each other.

(As you all know) I’m quite fond of this concept of equality and what is good for the goose etc. So some people carry babies and *shock horror* how would we know who’d put the little one in there if there was more than one partner? This is assuming the people involved subscribe to the belief that lives amount to property and a child can only belong to one man, the patriarch, the sperm provider. It’s a good thing I don’t think of human life in this way, that any potential future offspring need not show me their gratitude for bringing them into this world, especially when they had no say in the matter. Also, not everyone wants babies. Relationships, especially monogamous ones seem to centre on the expectation that settling down means starting a family. Why must we ‘settle down’ even? Why aren’t relationships allowed to shift and grow in the same way people do? Is it preferable we maintain toxic relationships for the sake of the state and being normal, compromising the wellbeing of all those involved whilst conducting secret affairs where yet more lives are destroyed? It seems convenient that in these scenarios it is the women who suffer the fallout, whether she is the ex-wife or the temptress stealing all the husbands away.

It should be easy enough to understand; consenting adults reaching out to each other where there is a connection, being honest about those feelings, feeling free to explore them without the usual constraints of monogamy; obligation, jealousy, ownership, dependency. For the most part my relationships work well, especially within queer circles however, despite the best intentions of the people involved, patriarchal values and judgements are inescapable, especially when you’re a femme presenting woman.

I was 8 years old the first time I was accused of luring someone’s husband away with my tempting childlike qualities. I was accused of this because I’d been seen embracing a member of my extended family in his bedroom. Well what the fuck of it, I was a child, a small one and starved of affection in the home, I took cuddles wherever I could. In justifying this to you now I feel disgusted it even needs to be said but you have to understand where collages of shame begin if you have any hope of destroying them. Aged 10 I stayed silent about the sexual abuse I experienced at the madrassa because I was ashamed of the fact that I’d begun menstruating and perhaps this is why I’d been targeted, my horrid developing body betraying my innocent mind. Perhaps I was just that temptress getting what I deserved. I felt like this is in all of the relationships I mentioned above, looked down upon by the exes of my partners, their families, the church.  I felt like this again, very recently. Taking polyamory out of queer circles and expecting normals will be accommodating is pie in the sky thinking.

To the WAGs I say this; I am not about to steal your husbands and partners, I do still have standards y’know? Sure a couple of my partners are married and I’ve explained to them how the dynamic is oppressive for me, when we live in a system that rewards men for their maleness, so it doesn’t matter how many partners they have, out in the open or otherwise. I understand why people might feel this way; marriage indicates a primary partner, one who shares your name and grants you the respect of being a whole person doing life the way you’re told to do it with someone you will be spending the rest of your life with. That’s what marriage is and I still feel like the bit on the side. It’s not equal. The law says so. But I am poly not a ‘home wrecker’. I suppose these problems arise when your partners are (or at least immediately identifiable as) heteronormative white males. They are the patriarchy whether they choose to be or not. I’ve also admitted my own thoughts on marriage (to myself) and this has an obvious effect on the way I feel currently.

I choose not to be married because I haven’t really found the one I want to be married to (despite being engaged twice) and may never do this. That’s ok; I gave up ‘looking’ a long time ago, when I decided that marriage was for weirdos who couldn’t accept human nature. It’s taken a lot of strength to be honest with myself and admit I actually think quite highly of marriage, more than I’ve been willing to admit. It comes from disappointment at my parents for making these huge life changing decisions (giving up their desires, producing a load of kids for the sake of it) without enough thought for the consequences. Monogamy does work for some people but even they have the potential to stray. To make vows forsaking all others is a serious declaration and one that marrying sorts have hardwired in their brains. Any perceived threat to this dynamic, say a flirty unattached 32 year old performing femme ‘exotic’ woman of colour will be treated as such and made to feel all of the things I have always felt from all the women controlled by the patriarchy (that’s all of us). It’s not just me feeling this because I choose to; everyone contributes to this picture, intentional or not.

It’s impossible to feel like an equal in a poly set up when you are just a girl in a patriarchal world. It doesn’t matter if you change the things that led you to feeling insignificant the last time, and apply different labels, for someone with a toxic pattern it is those very feelings of inaccessibility that attracts you towards situations. The kind that’ll fulfil your script and leave you feeling like the needy unhinged person you’ve always allowed yourself to be, because they are absent. This is something that haunts me regardless of my intimate practices. I had hoped for better though.

Maybe polyamory is just a phase for me. I don’t want to label it as such cos I have no idea what the future holds. I’m happy with this indecisiveness for now but not so down with the judgement of the kind of woman involved in multiple relationships. I’m no more a slag than the men I’m involved with. I am not in possession of magical powers that endears all of the men to me like some testosterone magnet they cannot resist. It does not make me easy, just because I fancy some men does not mean I fancy them all. I am not going to pursue a polyamorous relationship with men in monogamous relationships. The mere suggestion of this recently provoked me into writing this 2000 word blog. I don’t really want to have to do this again so if you have any questions or concerns maybe you could google them instead?

2 comments

  1. I wanted to leave a ‘sensible’ comment, but I’m struggling to can’t find the right words, any words in fact… What you experienced in your childhood was horrendous, you are so extremely brave writing about it all… I think a concept of ‘stealing’ someone’s partner or husband is quite ludicrous. Other than kidnapping, one cannot ‘steal’ a human being. If they leave a relationship, whether they are man or a woman, it’s because they want to.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s