Clarisse Thorn's picture

[slogan] You don’t always know what you’re thinking

Polyamory is a form of consensual non-monogamy in which people have multiple lovers, and are honest with each other about doing so. In May 2010, I wrote a post called “Am I Evolving Away From Monogamy?” in which I talked about my urge towards polyamory, and my confusion about that urge. I talked about my previous dislike for polyamory, and I talked about how new it is for me to feel like I want to be polyamorous. I talked quite a lot, really, but a week later, I started feeling like I hadn’t covered everything … or like I just wasn’t correct about some things I’d written.

But how could I be incorrect? I was, after all, writing about myself and my own feeings. How could I be wrong about what I myself was thinking?

I guess I realized quickly that I’d claimed things about my past self that weren’t quite true. That didn’t acknowledge my own complexity. For example, I wrote that although I’ve toyed with polyamory in the past, my most recent poly leanings came up only because I got my heart broken by a gentleman who I sometimes refer to as Mr. Inferno. I theorized that perhaps I’m just scared of commitment. While it is certainly true that I’m not big on commitment these days, I later recalled that actually — at the beginning of my relationship with Mr. Inferno, I had some doubts about being monogamous. I was monogamous because he was very sure that was what he wanted, but I remember a point when I thought about trying to negotiate something different.

Polyamorous people are stereotyped as being commitment-phobic. I know all about that stereotype — in fact, I have angrily defended my poly friends from it for years! (Even when I was very fiercely monogamous, I got so mad when people who don’t know anything about polyamory said ignorant things about my poly friends!) Yet I have to watch out for that stereotype’s influence on me anyway. When I forgot that I’d considered polyamory with Mr. Inferno, was I being influenced by that stereotype? Or was I just missing Mr. Inferno a lot that day, and wishing I could talk to him, and maybe therefore remembering him as more influential in my life than he actually was? Or … what?

Clarisse Thorn's picture

[storytime] My worst moment of hypocrisy

Originally posted at Clarisse Thorn: Pro-Sex Outreach, Open-Minded Feminism

“Do you have anything that you’re hypocritical about in your own life?”

My mother just asked me this question. We’d been chatting angrily about the latest conservative homosexual coming-out, Ken Mehlman, “the most powerful Republican in history to identify as gay.” I’d mentioned this other conservative leader, a Baptist minister exposed hiring a rent boy, who claimed that “I needed to explore the psyche of a real live gay and witness first-hand what the lifestyle is all about so I could finally find the cure.”

“What do these people tell themselves? How can they justify themselves?” I cried, at which point my mother gently asked about hypocrisy.

I try really hard not to be hypocritical about things. But, like everyone, I’ve had my moments. It seems to me that hypocrisy almost always arises from conflicted emotions, rather than a straightforward intent to lie. The bigger the emotional conflict, the nastier the hypocrisy can get. For this reason, I think I have some understanding of people like Ken Mehlman, who clearly had a really difficult coming-out process, and whose sexuality drastically contradicts his perceived values. (I still think he should at least apologize, though.)

So here’s my biggest moment of hypocrisy. I’m writing about it to remind myself that sex and romance can be terribly difficult, that they bump up against nearly everyone’s morals at some point, and that when you’re really hurt and confused it can be legitimately difficult to know what you yourself are thinking.

book of blue's picture

On the eve of Virgo

Dina. Photograph by Eric Francis.

Nowhere in the feminist literature that I’ve read have I encountered the idea that women deserve to be released from the requirement of monogamy, as a basic facet of holding full personhood.

One reason why this concept may not have surfaced in the past is because actual discussion of monogamy or any form of fidelity is unusual. We usually talk about it when someone violates the unwritten, often unspoken code that we are supposed to be one another’s property.

Rare is it for there to be a conscious, tangible agreement between two (or more) people.

rabbitwhite's picture

Sex and Relationships

victorias sketchbook's picture

Intimacy Beyond Boundaries

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