Tag Archives: marriage

A New Theme: Amazons in Action

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A little known fact – I love action movies.  I’m the girl who would rather watch people getting their asses kicked than sit through a romantic comedy. 

The one caveat here is that action films by and large star men in the leading roles and not women.  Of course, we did go through a period in the late 90s and early 21st century where you saw women regularly kicking ass on-screen.  There was Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Xena, La Femme Nikita, Alias, Tomb Raider, G.I. Jane and if we want to go back further you’ve gotta mention Pam Grier as Foxy Brown and Sigourney Weaver as Ripley.  But where are they now? Angelina Jolie is the only actress mentioned above that still appears in action roles.  One of my favorite quotes from her comes from an interview (and I’m paraphrasing here) where they ask her if she wants to play a Bond girl and she replies, “No, I wanna play Bond.”

Adding insult to injury, we act as if the entertainment industry is doing us a favor by casting women as strong, capable, heroes.  Bruce Willis backs out of Salt and they replace him with Angelina Jolie … how often does that happen? How many of us were impressed that the studio execs made that decision? Well, women in action have always existed.  Women, who were fierce warriors – courageous and honorable fought and died in wars and revolutions throughout history.  Now there’s something you don’t learn about in school!

So, let’s examine the stereotypes and prejudices which encourage us to believe that women can’t hold their own in a physical capacity against men, whether that means sports or combat.  The underlying assumption that we are just at a natural disadvantage leads some to question whether the female action hero is believable.  Why wasn’t Jason Bourne Jane Bourne? What message does that send to little boys and girls? What does it say about men and their role in society? Is their worth solely tied to the belief that women need them to do things that we couldn’t possibly do for ourselves?
****SPECIAL NOTE**** Going forward there will be a new theme every other week instead of every week.  This will give us more time with each theme.  And a great big thanks to all of you who are following this blog!

Marriage Rights: Separate but equal?

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Marriage Rights: Separate but equal?

When prompted about the idea of legalizing poly marriage some people simply shrug it off as not being a big deal.  In my experience these people fit into one of two categories.  They are monogamous OR they are not politically motivated.

If they fit into the latter group, then there’s nothing more to say.  They don’t vote, don’t concern themselves with the idea of justice (social or otherwise).    All that they know is their day to day life.  These are the people that believe discussions of grandeur – involving topics such as politics, philosophy, sociology, psychology, etc. are a waste of time.  So, am I offended when they shrug and change the topic of conversation to the latest episode of their favorite comic book series or what a co-worker said that pissed them off? Nope.  Irritated but not offended.

Now, onto the former group – the monogamous types.  I give them credit that not all of them are vehemently opposed to a different-looking marriage. Some of them are.  Standing on their soap boxes reciting verses from the bible or their own personal moral code, saying that marriage is between one man and one woman.  Your god tells you this is wrong … alright, then you probably should do it.  That doesn’t mean you have the right to stop me from doing it or to force me to believe what you believe.  The arrogance of these people offends me.  I will firmly defend anyone’s right to believe in whatever they choose, to say whatever they want to say because I don’t believe that everyone should live their lives as I would live mine – even if that means their choices offend me.  So, it offends me when I’m not given the same consideration in return.

I’m also reminded of a certain quote: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” Inequality should never be allowed to stand regardless of who it affects and who it doesn’t or if some people think it doesn’t matter.  I’m reminded of the Holocaust.  And the adage about the individual that watched as they came for her neighbors, friends, co-workers, family members, and did nothing.  She simply watched.  And then when they came for her, she realized there was no one left to stand up for her.

Some people may ask, what harm does inequality in this fashion do? So what, some people can’t express their love through marriage.  Most marriages end in divorce anyway today.

If you’ve heard of something called human rights, then you will be familiar with the argument I’m about to make. Everyone, regardless of citizenship, nationality, sexual orientation, religion, race, or any other label has certain rights just for being human.  We can argue exactly about what those rights are but they do exist.  I’m not sure if the right to marry is a human right, but the right to love certainly is and by outlawing some forms of relationship you’re are effectively putting limits on how people can love each other.  We should be able to love as we please.  Love as our hearts or minds dictate.

Only today, you better make sure your heart leads you to someone of the opposite sex.  One person of the opposite sex.  If your heart has other inclinations then you’re just going to have to tell it to be still.  To do as it’s told.  To do as the law tells it to.  To hide in dark corners and lie and hold its breath in fear that someone might find out exactly where your heart lies.

In fact, it would be much easier if your heart could change its mind.  Marry appropriately.  If you are a man, then marry a woman.  You can still have sex with other men if you want … that’s not problematic at all!  You can still have sex with other women, fall in love with other women and have children with them, sure go ahead.  No one is harmed in that situation! You just can’t live with your other family.  Can’t provide for them as we all believe you should.  Can’t acknowledge them in certain social circles or pragmatic ways, but that’s not really harmful is it?

Let’s break it down even further.  Children in preschool are playing with toys and each other.  They’re having a ball.  The teacher walks over and points to three kids out of the group and tells them to stop.  They are not allowed to play with each other.  They can play with the other kids but not each other.  Why? Could there ever be a reasonable explanation for this or does every child have the right to decide who they will play with? And is it fair that those three kids are singled out? To have separate rules for some people?

All over the world equality is challenged.  But YOU probably have the right to believe whatever you want and do as you please, just as the majority does.  Well, as long as you are not gay.  Or lesbian.  Or Muslim.  Or a woman.  Or black or Latino.

Or poly.

The Criminalization of Poly Households in America

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Bigamy laws throughout the United States Misde...

Bigamy is a misdemeanor (yellow); felony (red). All cohabitation is outlawed (dark red).

Polygamy is illegal in all 50 states as indicated by the map to the right. The law does not distinguish between polygamy and bigamy.  By law, you are guilty of both if you marry OR cohabit with more than one person that you claim as a spouse.  A ceremony is NOT required to prove either the 1st marriage or those that follow.  A marriage license is also NOT required.  Law enforcement simply has to prove marital intent.  They may use common law marriage standards, cohabitation, or any other activities to prove their case for polygamy.

In some cases poly people/families are at risk for related infractions as well.  For example, they can be charged with adultery, fornication, and cohabitation.

BIGAMY (A misdemeanor)

These states have minimal criminalization (akin to driving without a license).  They characterize bigamy as a misdemeanor and require all those convicted to pay a fine.

  • Hawaii ***30 days in jail***
  • Iowa
  • Maine
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • New Jersey
  • Ohio
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island *** $1,000 fine***
  • Tennessee
  • Texas

ADULTERY ONLY

If you are poly in the following states and the relationship falls apart you may be at risk for violating laws against adultery.  The ramifications of these violations vary from one state to another.  For some states adultery is grounds for divorce only.  In other states, the “cheating” spouse forfeits all rights to the marital property.  And still in other states the spouse that was “cheated on” can file criminal charges against their ex.  This is obviously only a problem if the poly relationship falls apart.

  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Indiana
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • Maryland ***Results in a $10 fine and is grounds for divorce***
  • Missouri
  • New Jersey
  • Ohio
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Vermont

ADULTERY & FORNICATION

In the following states, poly people can be charged with adultery and fornication.  Both are treated as misdemeanors.

  • Arizona
  • Georgia
  • Illinois ***must be “open and notorious”***
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • New Hampshire
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • North Dakota

COHABITATION

These states have laws against cohabitation.

  • Alabama
  • Alaska
  • Arkansas
  • Florida
  • Massachusetts
  • Mississippi
  • Nebraska
  • North Carolina
  • South Carolina
  • Virginia
  • West Virginia
  • Wyoming

ADULTERY (A felony) & COMMON LAW MARRIAGE

In these states, common law marriage is recognized and adultery is not only illegal but a felony.

  • Colorado
  • Idaho
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Montana
  • New Hampshire ***Recognizes common-law marriages, but only for inheritance purposes after death***
  • Oklahoma
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • Texas ***Recognizes common law marriage if registered by County Clerk***
  • Utah
  • Washington D.C.
  • Wisconsin

THE AS-GOOD-AS-IT-GETS STATES

These states have NO laws against adultery, cohabitation, or fornication.  And they do not recognize common law marriages, although 4 of the 5 treat polygamy as a felony.

  • California
  • Hawaii
  • Nevada
  • Oregon
  • Washington

To summarize, if you are active in the poly lifestyle you are at risk for legal action either by the state or your partners.  Aside from the obvious consequences – spending time in jail, fines, and criminal records, there are other things to consider.  A conviction that mandates jail time can also result in a loss of employment and/or benefits.  It can also result in the loss of child custody.  In some states felony convictions are automatic grounds for losing a number of rights and privileges, including voting rights, student loans, etc.  The criminalization of this lifestyle attempts to push adults, children, and families into the shadows, making them fearful, ashamed, and ultimately vulnerable to discrimination, persecution, and generally unfair treatment.  And for what? Where’s the harm?

A Cultural Niche Within Polyamory

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How and why brothers share one wife.

Coming Out Poly

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Coming Out Poly

“Yes, I’m poly.  No, I am not a slut,” automatically runs through my mind every time I have to broach the subject of my relationship status.  It’s an automatic trigger.  Like, “yes I’m black but no I don’t listen to rap music.”

The evolution of my poly self has been a long time in the making.  I suffered through monogamy for many years, thinking I was the same as everyone else.  I mentally embraced the notion of choosing one boyfriend and having that one boyfriend choose me.  I felt completely betrayed when a high school boyfriend of mine refused to “choose me” and only me.  I just couldn’t understand why he couldn’t/wouldn’t end his previous relationship.  How could he love us both in the same way? Obviously, he had to love one of us more than the other.  Obviously, one of us had to be better for him than the other.  And obviously that person was me! A girl friend of mine at the time listened to me go on and on about this.  She listened calmly and without much of a facial expression.  Then she said, “I think it’s totally possible for someone to love two people at the same time.”  It rocked my world.  She was not my boyfriend’s biggest fan.  In fact, she couldn’t stand him.  So, it didn’t make sense for her to be saying these things to me.  But her words stuck.  I didn’t believe them or agree with them at the time but they managed to stick with me anyway.

Years later in college, I did end up being monogamous with that boyfriend.  We were in love.  We talked of kids and marriage and all that jazz.  We were also long distance but still succeeded in being monogamous.  By sheer will power, I suspect.  I can’t honestly speak for him but that was my experience.  No matter how much I loved him I wanted other people.  I desired them, daydreamed about a future with them, flirted with them, felt little tingles anytime I was alone with one of them, and never mentioned a word of this to him.  Well, technically nothing really happened.  All the feelings in the world don’t amount to action, so I was safe.  I was monogamous.

After college, he began medical school and I went to work.  We were no longer long distance but our relationship faced other problems.  Medical school demanded most of his time, energy, and had even begun to change his personality. In a last-ditch effort to fix said problems, we considered moving in together.  We were visiting a mortgage broker when it happened.  My poly self.  I honestly don’t know where she came from but there she was – smiling and giggling and complimenting this tall, dark, handsome banker that was just my type.  In the moment, I told myself I was just being charming.  I wanted to get a good interest rate after all.  And I’d always loved men with accents … so what if I told him that.  It wasn’t really that big of a deal … right? My boyfriend and I often talked about our “types” and what we were attracted to.  We even teased each other about checking out strangers from time to time.  So, was it the worst thing in the world to compliment a man on his accent?

Well, my boyfriend didn’t exactly see it that way.  He was pissed.  And jealous.  The first time I’d ever seen him jealous in the five years we were together.  And considering how we started you might think it was a bit hypocritical of him and you would be right.  But as he stormed out of the bank with me hurrying along behind him, that was the farthest thing from his mind or mine for that matter.  He muttered angrily to himself about how he couldn’t believe I’d do that right in front of him and momentarily refused to unlock the car door for me.  All of which just made me want to laugh harder.  I was convinced that I’d done nothing wrong.  I wasn’t embarrassed or ashamed.  I was tickled by his reaction and a bit aroused by the encounter with the banker.  It was in that moment, standing outside the car waiting for him to change his mind and let me in, that I realized when we were inside the bank I’d completely forgotten he was there.  Now that I felt bad about.  If there was something I would’ve undone it would’ve been that.  I would’ve tried harder to include my boyfriend in the playful, if flirtatious, conversation between myself and the banker.  A little voice in the back of my head said, “that’s not normal.”

But once he unlocked the door I tuned that voice out and went about making light of the situation.  I don’t remember exactly what was said but I basically grinned and batted my eyes, making a joke out of the whole thing.  He proceeded to drive shaking his head at me, muttering “unbelievable.”  Then I said something like “well if you’re going to be working 12 hour shifts, I’m going to need some company don’t you think? It’s only fair.”  His mouth dropped open.  He asked me if I was serious.  I was.  It made perfect sense.  We’d been arguing constantly about how demanding a doctor’s life is – long shifts, being on-call, not being able to come to our fictional kids’ events, cutting vacations/dates short, … all those inconveniences that he felt the money made up for.  I disagreed.  Obviously, this was the solution.  He could have the career he was determined to have and I wouldn’t be lonely.  I could see him thinking it over but when he vetoed my suggestion without much thought I gave it up just as quickly, retreating into silence and shrinking in the passenger seat.

The next year when our relationship was finally over I began to truly date for the first time.  It never occurred to me to date one guy at a time.  And I didn’t find it hard at all to focus on whoever I was with at the time.  No guilt.  No shame.  No secrecy either, I might add.  But still, I’d never heard of the term poly or polyamory so I didn’t identify with it.  I did begin watching this series on HBO called Big Love.  And eventually, I grew curious about the roots of polygamy.  Did non-Mormons do this? Because to me, it looked like fun.  I love female energy and the thought of sister wives reminded me of a sorority without the hazing.  I considered converting to Mormonism but it just didn’t click with my agnostic perspective.

Then my ex contacted me wanting to be friends.  He’d begun dating one of his other friends in medical school but that didn’t surprise me.  I was well acquainted with his version of friends.  So, I brought it up again.  Explained to him what I’d learned about polyamory and how I felt drawn to it.  I opened the door for him and … he walked right through it.  He said, he could see the appeal.  Confessed that he had the same impulses that I did.  That he didn’t believe he could be happy with just one person for the rest of his life.  BUT his current girlfriend wasn’t like that and he wouldn’t dare bring it up to her.  And how practical was it to begin with? Where were these people that felt like we did? What would his colleagues think of him? His parents? He was much more comfortable with the idea of taking a string of mistresses.

So, I returned to my journey of self-discovery.  Probing my past and my beliefs and feelings trying to find out if I really had this in me.  Could I love more than one person equally? Would I be willing to share? And what I found is that it came down a set of beliefs, a philosophy about life and love.

  • In my heart, I don’t believe that everyone has one soul-mate.  I know that I’ve had several already.  People who came into my life for a time and gave me something or taught me something that I needed to learn.  And I don’t want to live a life smothered by the promise to someone that I will never find another soul-mate.  And I don’t want to do that to anyone that I love.
  • I believe that real love is unconditional.  It doesn’t dictate, demand, or possess.  It wants the best for its intended.  It is not about pride or ego.
  • I don’t believe in Mr. Right or Prince Charming or whatever name he’s going by nowadays.  In high school, I made an off-handed comment about how I fully expected I’d be one of those women to have 4 husbands.  I meant consecutively.  Because husband no.1 would hold a certain allure that I was sure I’d out grow and the same for husbands 2 and 3.  Then by the time I got around to husband no.4 I’d be old enough that it didn’t matter and I’d just settle.  This was just the first inkling of the idea that was to come.  I don’t expect to get everything I want and need from the same person.  Allowing different lovers into my life means I can accept and love people for who they actually are instead of hoping they’ll change into what I really want.
  • And unlike most women, I was never drawn to traditional marriage.  I’d always envisioned making my marriage my own.  I was not going to settle down.  I was going to explore – geographically, sexually, and any other way you can think of.  And my ideal marriage was going to expand to allow this.

This is my mindset.  This is why being poly isn’t so much a choice as it is a philosophy/orientation.  To me, at least.  I know people who consider themselves poly-flexible, meaning they can take it or leave it depending upon who they’re with.  That’s not the case for me.  Is it possible that I could fall head over heels for one person and be only with that person for some time? Sure.  But not forever. Does that mean I’m going to date 50-100 people? Not likely. Does that mean I’m going to trade in old lovers for new ones? Not likely. Does that mean I’m going to have a harem of men? Not necessarily.  Does that mean I’m going to join a harem of women? Not necessarily.  To be honest, it doesn’t mean anything for certain – other than, I will not be in love with only one person for the rest of my life.  I’m only certain of that.  The possibilities of what could happen are endless and that’s kinda the point.

Being poly is how I look at the world – what makes the world good and exciting and worthwhile.  It is definitely a significant part of my best, most authentic life.

This Week’s Theme: Polyamory

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What is polyamory? Well, it’s simple.  Poly = many +  amory = loves

I’ve noticed that here are several clichés that come to mind when monogamous people are faced with this issue or phenomenon.  There’s the Mormon image – underage girls in long braids and prairie dresses.  There’s the “playboy” – the man with a harem of girls just waiting to satisfy his every sexual whim.  And then there’s, “Oh that’s just a hippie thing from the 60s and 70s.”

This happens to be a topic that I have some experience with so I’m going to do my best to present an honest picture of what contemporary polyamory is about – the good and the bad.

More specifically, the posts will attempt to answer/address these points:

  • What kind of person is attracted to this lifestyle?
  • Is it a legitimate lifestyle choice?
  • Are women being taken advantage of?
  • Cross-over with other lifestyles/communities: LGBT, BDSM, Paganism, etc.
  • Jealousy and other complications
  • The many relationship structures
  • Long term polyamory and the family
  • Acceptance in society
Aside

There are new charges filed everyday.

http://www.dailypress.com/news/crime/dp-nws-hampton-domestic-assault-20120708,0,7425272.story

Hampton Man Charged With Domestic Assault

How to look your best the morning after …

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The Story of Simone

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I have a friend.  Let’s call her … Simone.  As a girl she felt abandoned by her absentee dad and stifled and ignored by her mom.  But she dreamed of getting married and having kids, the “white picket fence” picture.  In fact, there was this big white house with black shutters on the corner of her street and every time we drove past it she’d point to it and say someday that would be her house.

Then one day Simone met a boy at her church, let’s call him Joe.  Joe was the same age as her (about 10 at the time) and he seemed to like her.  They ended up in the same social circle – socializing in Sunday School, choir, service, and any other church related events.  One warm Sunday afternoon just as church was letting out, the two of them ran out the double doors into the parking lot.  To anyone watching it would seem like they were playing a game.  Tag or something like that.  Simone darted this way and that, running in a semi-circle over the gravel of the church parking lot.  She wasn’t nearly fast enough to evade him and when he caught up to her his fist pounded into the middle of her back.  Not once.  Not twice.  I honestly lost count.  Yes, I saw it happen with my own eyes.  I screamed for help, screamed for him to leave her alone.  Joe’s father stepped out of the church, watching the scene from his place next to me.  He didn’t move.  He didn’t speak.  He just watched.

Eight years later Joe’s father dies.  Months pass and he’s overcome with grief.  Both he and Simone are now high school seniors.  And dating.  Seriously dating.  They went to prom together.  Joe’s mom actually made her prom dress.  And one night after she had dinner with his family or a date night with him, he took her up to his bedroom.  They argued.  Joe withdrew a knife and threatened her with it.  Poked her with it  (her words, not mine).  Then he traded the knife for a big wooden block which he began to hit her with.  Later, she would explain his behavior saying that he was just upset about his dad passing away.

Three years pass and just before beginning their last year of college, Simone breaks up with Joe.  She dates two other guys – both of which she deems too nice (again, her words not mine).  And by the time school starts again, she and Joe are engaged.  They marry in secret because by now everyone in her family knows about the knife-poking incident and she knows they would not approve. Before spring, the secret is out and Simone’s mother insists that married women do not live with their mothers, they live with their husbands.  So, Simone and Joe get a small apartment together.

To date they’ve been married for 8 years.  Due to a terminal illness, Simone is not able to work.  Joe is the sole provider and she is oh-so-very grateful for that.  She knows that if she didn’t have him she wouldn’t be able to survive. Yes, he works from seven in the morning until ten or eleven at night but that’s normal for high school coaches.  And sure, he gripes that they never have enough sex but that’s normal for most men.  He never goes to any of her doctor’s appointments but she doesn’t complain.  Threatens to throw her out of the house.  Pushes her … and god knows what else.  But he loves her.  And she loves him.  He’s fun and smart (her words not mine).

She recently took a huge step and decided to divorce him.  She drew up papers and got a restraining order against him but dropped everything after two weeks.  It was just too hard not being able to call him (her words, not mine).  And then he apologized.  Said that he was hurt too.  By what she’d done.  Trying to leave him and serving him with a restraining order and all … it hurt his feelings.  So, they are working it out.  Going to therapy.  Because he loves her and she loves him.  And she believes that he can change.

If you know someone like Simone, here’s what you can do:

  1. Listen without judgment.
  2. Tell her about her legal rights.
  3. Tell her where she can go for help.
  4. Tell her about nearby resources specifically for women in violent situations.
  5. Let her know it’s not her fault and she’s not alone.  It may not sink in right away but it doesn’t hurt to say it anyway.