New feature – The poly-feminist manifesto: towards a feminist non-monogamy

How do you ensure a community is anti-sexist? It’s difficult work whatever the community, no less, it turns out, in the polyamorous community.

A group of workshop participants, writing anonymously, have put together a manifesto with the aim of addressing sexism in their particular poly communities, which we publish at The F-Word today.

The manifesto is an interesting one to run here at The F-Word, where mostly when we’ve posted about polyamory it’s been positive, as a possible feminist relationship choice.

“Because partners tend to create their own guidelines for how they want their relationships to work, there are fewer cracks through which insidious power-dynamics may creep.”

That’s how Tracey Plowman described the feminist potential of non-monogamous relationships last year. And it’s an argument that’s been made more than once.

Or, as Red Chidgey put it:

“Open relationships, or ‘free love’ to court the sentiments of polyamorous Russian anarcha-feminist Emma Goldman, are also a feminist issue. We are raised in a fairy-tale society that keeps us dependent on our lovers for worth, validation and security (and then there’s the compulsory heterosexuality). Despite massive historical shifts which have destabilised marriage in favour of co-habitation, taken the stigma out of the single girl, and opened up the possibility of queer romance, we’re programmed from diapers to false teeth to believe in The One: the person out there who will be smart, sexy, kind and, most importantly, totally into us. It is a romantic gimmick – one that keeps us/women from exploring and expressing ourselves; and guarantees folks remain hooked into the co-dependency model of relationship trauma (really, I am not cynical).”

But it’s not easy to turn these sentiments into reality. And, as the workshop participants report, many in their community see being poly as ‘apolitical’, and so would presumably reject this feminist theorising. Perhaps with interventions like this manifesto, the reality can start to one day look more like the theory?

Image is a sign showing a number of connected hearts, reading “POLYCULE” uploaded by Flickr user theslowlane