Sex and Relationships

Asian Woman Doesn’t Speak For Me

In 2010 I finally found the courage to turn my back on a toxic relationship I had suffered for 5 years. As an historic victim of child abuse with toxic internalised object relations, I had very little experience of healthy interaction within an intimate setting (my father was extremely abusive to my mother) I was hardwired to experience negative emotions in a positive light. My brain translated fear/anxiety into excitement. The very early interactions you have in a romantic relationship, unspoken even, determine whether you give someone a chance and if I’d been just like any other young woman in her 20s with a secure attachment to her early caregivers I would have given this man a wide berth. Unfortunately, I was not, and I was already in too deep the first time he revealed his true nature.

When people suggest victims of abuse could leave if it really was that bad, they are in fact suggesting they do not believe the victim. I tried, many times, to break it off, run as far as I could but abusers know you have nowhere to go, it is in fact one of the things that attracts them to you in the first place, not so much the neon sign on your forehead asking for trouble but the vulnerability we carry all around us, the sadness that seeps through and the need we have to fill all the empty spaces with love, whatever the cost. Estranged from my family, whom I’d fled to escape abuse, I found myself leaping out of the frying pan into the fryer, barely a year into the relationship, when he ‘put his foot down’ and decided he would no longer pander to me, because I had asked him to rinse the bath out after he was done.

Abusers know you have no recourse so they do what they like. They use your body, place their own thoughts and feelings in your brain, pushing yours into the furthest recesses where you can’t find them so easily, gaslighting you until you don’t know who you are anymore. You forget who you are, in a bid to keep them happy, because you know they’re capable of love and empathy, that’s how they draw you in, and you can’t help but wish it will be like that again someday. In the course of an abusive relationship a part of you dies forever. For what it’s worth I am glad that part of me is dead and buried, I was afforded the opportunity to be born again, in a sense. I am at peace with the fact my 20s were destroyed by this leech of a man who did not deserve me. One of the lasting memories I have, if only because of how ironic, is of various male friends of my exes crowing in disbelief he’d managed to score a girl like me. Of course, it was all done in the name of ‘banter’ and whilst I am not personally an advocate for jokes that make no one laugh but insult often vulnerable people, it did cheer me up and now I know they were telling the truth, which is probably why he used to get so upset back then and scream at them he had me cos he was worth it.

You might be wondering why I am bringing this reprobate up now, 7 years after I washed my hands of him. When feminists talk about domestic abuse in the context of gendered relationships, a binary set up, usually with one person in a traditionally male role and their partner female, this dynamic also being prevalent in homosexual relationships, we are keen to illustrate the difference in how this abuse is perpetrated because it matters. It matters in a society where opponents of feminism will accuse women of holding equal structural power and control and being just as likely to commit domestic abuse and get away with it. This is simply not true, gendered violence against women is encouraged in a patriarchal system. The penalties for gendered violence are poor, conviction rates abysmal and support is hard to come by. The rate for repeat offence is the highest in domestic abuse, compared to all other crimes. 76% of victims/survivors will endure further violence for daring to leave. There are many ways men continue to control women they believe to be their property, sometimes many years after the relationship broke down, directly but also indirectly, affecting your future relationships and career even.

This is where my ex Shihab Salim Joi creeps in. Despite his unacceptable behaviour during and shortly after our split, using gendered slurs against me, saying I was a slut for e.g. and good for nothing else he had the audacity to ask me for information regarding a book he was thinking of writing. He wanted to write about domestic abuse refuges and what could go wrong, and wanted to pick my brain for insider information. Obviously I said no. He promised me exposure, as though it was the magic word that would erase memories of him domestically abusing me (most of it was mental/financial/sexual but he thumped me a couple of times). I put *my* foot down and told him to get stuffed.

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A few years later, I was googling myself (at least I’m honest) when I saw a link to Asian Woman Magazine which confused me, I had written stuff for Asiana but that was when I was still dating the editor, Shihab Salim, his work for Asian Woman was definitely post-split, after he’d been made redundant as a victim of the credit crunch. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I read what it said. Not only had someone used my name and job description from Asiana, I was the ‘agony aunt’ for a bit, they had given out the kind of advice an abuser would deem suitable. As a staunch feminist who hates most men I am hardly going to advise you pander to any manz fragile ego. If these shoddy little men can’t get a grip on their own toxic masculinity I would advise you kick their asses to the kerb and let them cry wank into the night, you are worth more than some man child who missed out on key developmental stages and really just wants you to be his mum. THIS is why I have written this post. When you google my name, or Shihab’s I want this link to show up too.

I contacted Issuu who said they cannot amend or delete any content without the publisher’s consent but the publisher/editor is as elusive as Wally, in that I can’t find her, even though her name is all over the internet. I can’t/won’t submit a DMCA request because copyright infringement would mean they used words I’d written without my consent and I want it noted I most definitely did not write the frankly, badly written frottage of an excuse for journalism published by J Wimal, clearly without editing, otherwise she would have known I wasn’t at all involved in Shihab’s shameless display of male entitlement and indirect harassment.

It has been 7 years and I am still having to deal with this man turd and his attempts to control my opportunities. This is why women don’t leave. We’re afraid they’ll carry out threats to destroy us, our reputations (as it is in my case), or even our lives, the 52 women murdered by their intimate partners every year a testament to this, for daring to think of themselves for a change, for saying enough is enough.

UPDATE: Issuu have quarantined the offending article as the publisher appears to have deleted their details from the Issuu database. Thank you to Jonas at Issuu for taking my concerns on board.

ANOTHER UPDATE: I will never cease to be amazed at the lies people tell, even when you have evidence to the contrary. What is going on in that tiny little brain of yours Shihab? Is it perhaps a barely veiled threat to out me, giving the name on my passport without my permission (kinda your MO), as though you can scare me into a corner in defense of my anonymity? You were one of the people who convinced me to change my name! You said you wouldn’t employ anyone who sounded like they might wear a hijab and suggested I include a photo of myself with my CV.

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That’s really odd, because if you really are telling the truth here that’d mean you also used my image without my permission.

It behooves you to tell the truth as it happened, Shihab, lies always have a way of unraveling themselves.

Poor Shihab, leaving a trail of angry ex girlfriends in his wake, when he is just a kind and decent sort. I’m not the first to say he’s an abuser, and I won’t be the last. I have plenty more evidence should anyone require it. You won’t take me to court because you’ll lose. Just saying.

Shout your abortion

Following the campaign to defund Planned Parenthood services in America (state funded), abortion activists took to Twitter with the hashtag #ShoutYourAbortion to counter the arguments made by zealous anti choicers. If you’ve ever followed the ever present attacks on family planning or been involved in actions to support your local abortion clinic you’ll have been confronted by some very strange people indeed. With this in mind I knew that tweeting in solidarity would provoke a backlash, I just wasn’t as prepared for the kinds of things completely random people on the internet would say to me (and me, a seasoned survivor of trolls).

I tweeted:

I didn’t say I’d had an abortion or that I agreed or disagreed with termination (for the record, it’s your body, your choice) but I knew it would reach those people whose lives it had saved, at least those who acknowledged the established life within the pregnant person carrying a promise of potential life (20% of first time pregnancies end in spontaneous abortion, 80% of those before 12 weeks gestation), which is in no way a baby or a person (person being a societal construct). When a foetus is squatting in your uterus it does not cancel out the life already in existence, without which the foetus wouldn’t exist at all. Bizarrely this fact seems to have escaped these people.

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Nope, not what I said at all

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Logic clearly evades you for refusing to accept there is life in the person carrying the foetus.

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This tweet is particularly interesting because it feeds into the idea that pregnancy is essentially a woman’s fault. By opening my legs I am consenting to a foetus being installed in there. If this person could acknowledge the sperm provider and the condom issue many men have (yeah sure, they’re ‘too tight’) and spread that responsibility about a bit I’d be less inclined to believe they were woman hating scum.

For example all these people with their righteous war on people who carry foetuses (I doubt very much any of these people has even considered the fact that other genders are also capable of pregnancy, this is a specific hatred driven at cis women for not being masculine/male/patriarchal).

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The idea that all unwanted pregnancies can be attributed to selfish promiscuous women is entirely misogynistic and anti woman. These people would probably accuse a woman of entrapment if she happened to get pregnant and wanted to *keep* the foetus. Similarly there is no sympathy for women choosing to abort because their life depends on it. Going back to my original tweet, I said it because I used to work as an advocate for women in abusive relationships and have seen firsthand the violence inflicted on women for being pregnant in the first place. 30% of all domestic abuse begins in pregnancy. This is because the pregnant partner is suddenly vulnerable and dependent. Controlling abusive people use this to their advantage. It’s not uncommon for perps to threaten forced miscarriage, the idea that they put the foetus in there and they can also take it out should the victim refuse their every whim. There are people who cannot grasp the complexity of human relationships, and crisis points, relationship breakdowns, never mind the systems we have created to control people according to kyriarchy so it is a bit of a reach on my part to expect compassion.

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You are not representative of almost 8 billion people worldwide.

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76% of women faced a further incident of violence for having the audacity to leave. The period after a survivor leaves the perp is the most dangerous, “if you leave I will hunt you down and kill your kids”. 

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This guy thinks we should run all decisions by him because it’s all about him. It’s not and he is nobody.

This assertion that complete strangers have of themselves as the saviours of the unborn would have more merit if they were willing to consider the life of the pregnant person but they cease to be human from the point of conception instead acting as a vessel for the precious new life everyone’s going to forget about once it moves out of the uterus. The pregnant person will be left with the foetus they did not want.. What’s that you say?

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Complete strangers think it’s ok to tell me to sacrifice my body and wallow in the guilt of my unwanted pregnancy which I’ll then have to hand over to a stranger, the system, uncertainty. Pregnancy can be life threatening, from the phsyical difficulties to the mental strain it can put on a person, no one has the right to torture you for having the misfortune of being born with a uterus. If pregnancy doesn’t kill you then labour might. Cis men have no say in the abortion debate because they will never carry a foetus or suffer the fallout if things go wrong. The reason they are so vocal on the anti-choice scene is because they are redundant if they do not exert patriarchal power and control. They won’t ever create life so they control it.

From the frightening to the downright ridiculous, opponents of bodily autonomy reveal more about themselves than the people they target, they’re nosy and perverse, poking around in strange uteri.

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Ah, Americans.

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I keep looking for the illegal thing I’m supposed to have said but to no avail.

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If a person is feeling suicidal cos they’ve been forcibly impregnated, an abortion is life saving and I would go as far as saying therapeutic in terms of their recovery, and regaining control of their own life.

Every single one of these people and the many I didn’t document failed to see the hypocrisy in their words. The life of the foetus cancels out the life of the person carrying it, without whom the foetus wouldn’t exist at all. Personally I’m not here to change your thoughts on abortion or bring you round to my superior way of thinking – something anti-choicers may want to examine in themselves – but to ask you to cast the first stone only when you can say you are completely sin free.

Also, this stance on abortion seems to be as far as they’ve got in terms of a world view and how that actually works in practice. They’re all ‘save the foetuses’ but how many of these advocates shared the same enthusiasm for the precious lives of Syria’s existing children, rejected by Europe, asleep in the freezing cold, barely surviving? Or the fully formed babies with given names blown to pieces in Palestine? How about the severely disfigured infants of Fallujah? Selective outrage makes a mockery of the whole pro-life movement. The planet is exhausted by our reproductive efforts, live viable children are treated as though vermin, domestic abuse blights the lives of some of those foetuses saved by those ignorant of life in its entirety, yet hellbent on power and control. That’s all it is.

Why the truth matters to me

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Growing up a stranger in the place of your birth is disorientating. Asides from the challenges one might encounter when starting at a new school, like making friends, children with foreign parents have to overcome additional obstacles in order to fit in. They must learn another language sometimes, as I did, but language is one of those things small children master within a surprisingly short period of time. Other barriers to assimilation are not so easy to tackle and there are so many, it’s no surprise people from ethnic minorities suffer disproportionately with poor mental health.

When you are told you are, but also feel, a member of the underclass, you either buy into the narrative – especially when you’ve not been taught to think critically – or you seek to distance yourself from the perceptions others have of your people. You buy into their hate or your own, in a bid to survive, but to survive well. Self-love just isn’t an option. I was conscious of the lies I needed to tell if I had any hope of accessing the world I wanted to belong to as early as age 6 when I decided I wanted to be called Sam. Even for one so young and innocent I had an inkling Sam was a name they just couldn’t mess with. It was English for a start. I didn’t have to spell it out every time, or have people poke fun at it, whether my peers or teachers (who should have known better). Even at this age I knew I had to change who I was if I was to have a fighting chance in life.

Racism wasn’t the only thing that informed the shaping of an identity that sat at odds with who I was inside. In fact as time went on, it became less of a conscious thing and something I normalised, and believed everyone did. Of course I now know this isn’t true, that many people are born into their identities and have the freedom to express them without the judgmental white gaze waiting for them to slip up.  Or the limitations of a violent home, living your days in fear of attack, never knowing where the next hit was coming from, desperately trying to cover up the evil truth from outsiders, in case they confirmed you did actually deserve the abuse you endured.

I was bubbly and outgoing, smart and organised, my mouth permanently fixed in a smile. I was part of the school council, a class monitor, a straight A student, a member of the quiz team and captain for rounders, netball and cricket. We were the champions of it all. None of the teachers would have guessed the situation at home was escalating, that we were living in fear and self-harming. My personality was split early on, through necessity; I had to be two different people in order to survive. Entering the big wide world as a teen on the run, I had to invent another persona to fit in with all these interesting new London types from all over Europe and beyond. When I left school, I left my world, my friends, my life behind. I had to learn how to speak in a way that didn’t set southerners off in a fit of giggles at my dulcet Brummie drawl. I had to be flexible if I was going to make it, whatever it would take. I lapped up my token status as the one who wasn’t like all the others, as though this was a reflection of my amazingness and not a divisive and racist microagression used by white people to remind you of your place (not so worthy but not so bad either, a reminder to keep doing what it is you’re doing for cookies), and keep you from questioning their problematic views.

Of course I didn’t know then that I didn’t have to be so amenable. I was on the run from a culture I had rejected because of the ways in which it made me a target and was desperate to adopt new ways to help me blend in. I became so many different things to so many people; I forgot who I was and what I wanted. I lived a life where I was manipulated by people who identified this willingness to please and then exploited it. I was used and abused, scapegoated. I was called a liar for keeping secrets I was too afraid to share. A gestalt therapist I accessed through my work noted that I smiled when I spoke of negative things and asked me to consider the incongruence between my words and my body language. I had become so jumbled up in my thoughts I began to dissociate whenever I was afraid. There was drug abuse, promiscuity, domestic abuse in my intimate relationships whilst I struggled to hold down a job as an advocate fighting for victims of domestic abuse. I was my own best example of bad practice though it did have the bonus of making me non-judgmental, however hopeless a situation might have seemed, I believed it was essential they had access to the same support. Cops for eg are less likely to want to help repeat victims, especially those who may have been warned off from being a witness previously (cos it’s all about them and paperwork, not an infectious social disease).

I couldn’t find my way out of my living hell. I couldn’t access the support to do so because then people would know my secret; that I was ugly and horrible, and undeserving of love and respect. That I should die. My adult relationships confirmed the self-hatred I had as a small child; nothing I did would ever change the fundamental flaw from within, my low social standing as the daughter of immigrants who never did escape the ghetto or the colonial mind-set (despite the straight As) and respect for hierarchy (within patriarchy). I was a slag before I had even kissed a boy, they must have known what I would grow into I reasoned.

A tragic incident in my personal life provided the catalyst for PTSD. All the feelings I’d ever suppressed bubbled to the surface and consumed me. I existed, and that’s all I can say for my consciousness over the period of a year except that I never want to go back there. With the right support, I was able to identify the pathways responsible for the ‘random’ panic attacks. I sorted the snapshots in my mind onto the correct collages and vowed to trace them back to the first triggers so that I could beat them. In order to do this, I have to be 100% honest with myself and everyone else or the carefully constructed administration of my mental health will fold in on itself.

A huge part of my recovery is about owning my genuine mistakes and experiencing them in a way that doesn’t cripple me with anxiety (the white commentariat can go to hell for the ways in which they hindered my progress, not forgetting the PoC who’ve perpetuated the lies about me).

Don’t lie to (or about) me; I will come at you with the rage of a woman who knows she is being gaslighted, because it triggers a collage of all the people who’ve knowingly put me in harm’s way, by minimising, denying and erasing my experience of things. I always feel a little crazy following a spat with people who lie because it hits me hard in a way you cannot appreciate. Sunny Hundal occupies the same brain space as the mosque teacher who molested me and continued to enjoy the kudos of being a holy man. Helen Lewis triggers the same feelings as the guy who molested me at 15 then said he’d heard I was a slag so thought he’d try his luck. That dude denies to this day that he ever put a finger on me.

If I say something and it seems dishonest to you, run your concerns by me, to my knowledge I am always telling the truth. I do however appreciate the arbitrary nature of most things so if you know better, do tell. I won’t lie and say it doesn’t help if you’re already a friend, coming at me with criticisms, however well intentioned, won’t end well if we’ve barely exchanged a RT, or even the bare minimum of support considering the shitehole the internet can be (and has been towards me).

Femme and Proud

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Gender is something that is very personal to each and every one of us. It can’t be written off as a binary with two distinct identities or dismissed altogether as a construction of the patriarchy, it is often complicated, as it should be in a world we share with billions of other people. Culture influences our perceptions of gender and what we deem acceptable from other people. Except it really shouldn’t be about what other people think, our bodies are our own. If someone is more concerned about the contents of your pants, if determining your sex is the most important thing in their mind, then you are reduced to their idea of your primary function, which is to procreate. We think of our babies having babies as soon as they are born (even if we’re not consciously thinking it) and in many cases months before they make their entry into the world. Isn’t that odd?

I was inspired to write this piece after reading a friend’s disclosure regarding their gender identity. They have been empowered enough to state what has been a constant for them but couldn’t before because of society’s expectations of men and the way they are to interact within a patriarchy. It’s a brave step and one that has become possible because of the many ways it is becoming more acceptable to talk about, and our awareness of the rest of the planet and their attitudes towards gender. It is becoming clearer that the binary is predominant in western societies and those nations generally deemed backwards tend to be more relaxed with the idea of a spectrum of many identities. It is with this knowledge and support I now feel able to make my own statement.

I am a cis femme woman and a feminist and I adore my femininity. There, I said it, judge me all you like. I did the tomboy thing, when I thought that was the path to true feminist nirvana, when I bought into patriarchy and behaved as my male peers did so that they couldn’t treat me like a woman (that just made me a bit of a prick tbh). I became that manic pixie dream girl, girly but with enough blokey humour to ensure my place with the lads. All of that sucked for me. I’ve spent my whole life trying to be everything anyone could ever want me to be and it didn’t feel right. I noticed the looks from my feminist colleagues, the comments about my clothes or the ways in which white women just have to write about your hair and your desperate gender performance because you’re not so enlightened and don’t know any better. I’ve tried to be something I’m not to fit in with others ideas of what it is to be x but I’ve never felt more empowered since I embraced the femme within.

I LIKE looking after people. I prefer dresses and skirts to ambiguous clothing. I’ve had my hair cut into a million styles, even a short back and sides yet the only one that feels comfortable is the one that covers my breasts. I also LIKE being looked after. I LIKE the idea of staying at home and looking after any children I might have. Heck, I love babies, most of them, in fact. I know some people find it difficult to handle, but they would, it being a patriarchy, where femininity is judged and mocked by both men and women alike. It’s weak to be feminine or sexually coercive, the mere sight of your curves drawing unsuspecting predators to you like a moth to a flame. Yet all these judgments, these insinuations come from the feelings your body provokes in them (and their tiny little minds). The men hate you for having any control over them and their trouser snake (what are they, 2 fucking years old? Nobody MAKES you do anything. You have to work for that privilege not demand it as your birth right) and the women hate you cos the men are looking at you and not them. They think you’re a strumpet dancing to the tune of the MRAs who believe they deserve a real girl except they get to define what is and isn’t one, something they also have in common with TERFs. Those women who deny gender completely, who seem indistinguishable from power tripping white middle class men.

So there, I’ve said it and I’ll say it once more out loud; I’M FEMME AND I’M PROUD.

I know who I am and I couldn’t give a stuff what you think about it.

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?