CVG 2018 Day 3, Part 1 - Polyamory 101

CONvergence 2018 was July 5-8, 2018, almost 3 months ago now. I had planned on getting this post done last week as I have been trying to get posts out on a regular basis, but certain events tied up my brainspace last weekend. Now that I am back on track, I am getting Day 3 (Saturday the 7th) up for you all. I was on the panel “Polyamory 101” and attended “Sex in Sci-Fi/Fantasy”. For Part 1, I present to you the audio recording of the polyamory panel as well as my additional written thoughts about what we discussed, a link to “Polyamory: Perceptions and Realities” from MarsCon 2018, and various resources. Listen to the raw recording of “Polyamory 101” here, or download a cleaned-up version here.

Polyamory 101

Configurations, lexicons, myths, and resources. Polyamory means “many loves” - but there is not just one way to be poly. Come discuss polyamory, what it means, and ways to navigate more than one love. Panelists: Carl, John (mod), Kyle, Justin Grays, Kerry

We aren’t sharing our full names due to privacy issues - people who are outed as polyamorous can lose their jobs or be denied promotions, can lose their kids, and can even lose their homes. My writing about it here can put my job at risk, as I use my name on here; however, I also want to attempt to make it safer to be open about being polyamorous. That why, both here and at MarsCon 2018, I am talking openly about it.

Polyamory 101 was packed - the turnout was larger than space was allocated for. Next year, I hope that we can have two panels: Polyamory 101 & Polyamory 201. Polyamory 101 hopefully will be able to cover more basics for people who have questions, as well as provide a better space for those who are new to polyamory or are curious about it, while Polyamory 201 would hopefully cover deeper discussions with those who are already familiar with certain terms and topics.
After the panel, I made this post (the poll is still open! Please feel free to take it) asking for anonymous feedback about the panel with the following four questions: Did you attend Polyamory 101 at CVG 2018; Should we have Polyamory 201 at CVG 2019; Were there any questions that you wanted to ask but didn’t have the opportunity to; and What would you like to have discussed next time. Most people either loved it or wanted to go to it and couldn’t, and some people left questions that I hope to answer in a follow-up post.

Delving into the concept of some non-cis identities with the help of some super cool pals. Grace: KB: MY BOOK: Free copy: Also find me here: Twitter: Insta: Tumblr: Second Channel:

When introducing ourselves, we intentionally gave our pronouns. Part of the reason is so that people know what our pronouns are, and part of the reason was so that we can help people get out of the habit of assuming other people’s pronouns. Pronouns are words that we use to replace names (she/him/theirs), and it is important to use what most accurately represents the people whom we are referring to.
I identify as graygender - that is, I identify outside the gender binary and feel generally ambivalent about my gender identity. I really am comfortable with any pronoun that is used for me (except for “it”) - however, I very much enjoy it when people change up what pronouns they use for me. I plan on having a separate post that delves into gender and pronouns.

Polyamory literally means Many (from Greek πολύ poly) Loves (from Latin amor). It can be defined as the nature, philosophy, or state of being in love/romantically involved with more than one person at the same time. Polyamory can be considered to be under the non-monogamy blanket, as non-monogamy doesn’t necessarily have to have the sexual or romantic parts of love and relationships.
The non-monogamy blanket (YMMV):

  • Group Marriage - a marriage-like arrangement between more than two people.

  • Open Relationship - an intimate relationship that is consensually non-monogamous.

  • Polyamory - many loves.

  • Polyandry - a form of polygamy in which a person takes two or more husbands at once.

  • Polygyny - a form of polygamy in which a person takes two or more wives at once.

  • Polygamy - the practice of having multiple spouses (bigamy is the act of getting married while still legally married to someone else).

  • Swinging - similar to open relationships, but conducted as an organized social activity.

  • Polyfidelity - a relationship structure where partners agree to restrict sexual activity to only other partners in the relationship.

There are many others, but I feel that these hit the high points (at least, hit the ones that are mentioned in the panel).

Communication is key. Open and honest communication. That’s not just for polyamorous relationships, but for all relationships. Monogamous romantic, friendships, et cetera. Knowing how to communicate is also important, as people communicate in different ways - you may be saying one thing, and they may be understanding it as something else, because of different communication styles or even different language dialects.

Don’t say “poly” - rather, say “polyam” or “polyamory” as “poly” is used as a racial slur towards Polynesians. Here are some links about that:

If you find any other resources about this, please feel free to let me know. And let’s continue to keep updating our vocabulary! We are works in process.

Yes, people who practice ENM can cheat. Cheating on someone(s) is to act dishonestly or unfairly, and acting outside of the relationship agreement is certainly cheating. Acting behind the back of your partner(s) is cheating - it is a betrayal of trust.

Meme from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. The owner of the image is The Walt Disney Company and/or Paramount Pictures, and is used here under Fair Use.

The cult of true womanhood - it belongs in a museum. In 19th century US and UK, there was a value system known as “the culture of domesticity” or the “cult of true womanhood”. There were four cardinal virtues for “true women”: piety, purity, domesticity, and submissiveness - however, this only applied to white, mostly Protestant, middle- and upper-class women. BIPOC women, immigrant women, poor-, lower-, and working-class women, and women from certain religions were excluded form this cult. You can read about it here or check out the Wikipedia page about it.

There is a point towards the end of the panel where I say “considering that sex and gender are different, and I consider my sex to be male”; I said it that way mainly for brevity. Sex and gender are different - sex is a categorization that is determined by the anatomy of one’s reproductive system, chromosomes, genitalia, hormones, and secondary sex characteristics; whereas gender is a social role based off of the sex of a person or their own identification through self-awareness. I outline in “Sex and Gender Part I: The Structure of Sex” how sex is a construct, and I have plans on writing a Part II that talks about gender.
I said that I consider my sex to be male, and I do - but what I really wanted to get at is that I am perceived as male by others. I was assigned male at birth, I have to adhere to male gender performance in certain spaces for my own safety, and most who meet me perceive me as male. As it has been mentioned at "Androids, AI, And Gender Theory" and “Women of Color in Comics: Race, Gender and the Comic Book Medium” at CVG 2017, race is gendered and gender is raced - that is, there is gendered racism that is specifically related to racial and ethnic understandings of gender and gendered forms of race and ethnic discrimination. However, all of this is a post unto itself; I hope to write about it one day, but today is not that day.
Also, I say that OkCupid is the least creepy; what I don’t mention is that despite the fact that my profile says that I do not take drugs and am allergic to smoke, people have asked me where to buy drugs. Repeatedly. I’ve blocked every person who has.

Some definitions for terms used in the panel:

  • ACE - Asexual

  • ARO - Aromantic

  • ENM - Ethical Nonmonagamy

  • Munch - A low-pressure, social gathering at a restaurant or pub for people into BDSM. Particularly intended for people new to the scene who might be intimidated by a play party

  • Polycule - A connected graph of people all of whom are in a relationship with one or more other members of the group; a “polyamory” “molecule”.

  • Triad - Refers to a group of three people in sociology; is a form of ENM with three members. Can also be a Quad and so forth.

  • Unicorn - Sometimes known as the “Hot Bi Babe”; someone who is available, ready to fall in love with an established couple, and only wants to be with that couple.

  • Unicorn Hunter - A couple, generally a couple with one cisman and one ciswoman, who are looking for a Unicorn.

  • YMMV - Your Mileage May Vary. Sometimes people may have a different opinion or experience to yours or mine.


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