Swan Son

A few people have brought this article to my attention:

In Tuesday’s books podcast, we marked LGBT history month by interviewing Christine Burns, a campaigner for transgender rights, about her history of the UK’s trans community. The next day, my son was in a TV documentary – deep breath – about polyamory.

Sounds edgy. Do go on.

Love Unlimited wasn’t about trans people, but about life choices that challenged traditional thinking about relationships. The Oxford English Dictionary traces the word polyamory back to 1992 and says it is not to be confused with casual recreational sex, serial monogamy or swinging.

Similarly, Playboy is not to be confused with pornography. Because of the articles.

My 24-year-old son was one of a dozen or so young people – gay, straight, bisexual, trans and cis – interviewed about love lives that to them seem entirely normal, but which all involve the possibility of committed partnerships with multiple lovers.

So there is no actual committed partnership in these polyamorous arrangements, merely the possibility of one. Meaning, it’s possible in theory or they spend time thinking about it. In which case, my own love life seems entirely normal but involves the possibility of weekly sessions in a hot tub with Maria Sharapova and two of her closest friends. Ahem.

The interviewees included three gay men, two of whom work as nurses, who are filmed whiling away an evening with board games in their Edinburgh flat before retiring to their two bedrooms (there isn’t room for all three to sleep comfortably in one bed, and shift work means often only two of them are in anyway). Their setup is known in polyamorous circles as a triad or “thruple”.

Three gay men shagging each other is news? Did we suddenly slip back in time to 1950?

What, they say, could be more ordinary?

Indeed. The only mystery is why this became a TV show.

My son’s arrangement is a daisy chain, in which each person is free to have other lovers while remaining committed to each other.

An arrangement which, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, is not to be confused with casual recreational sex.

He currently has only one partner, but “they” – the pronoun of choice – are also in a lesbian relationship, so I resonate strongly with the splendidly upfront mother of one of the gay nurses as she recalled her initial reaction to the introduction of a third partner: “[I thought] that’s my baby’s man … Does this mean they’re not going to get married? Is my baby going to be lying in bed alone at night crying because his partner’s not there and is away shagging some other bloke?”

Paraphrasing from Fawlty Towers, there’s enough material there for an entire conference.

The film says my son and his partner regard themselves as non-binary “in that they identify as neither exclusively masculine nor feminine”. Wrong, says my son, when I discuss it with him: they see themselves as neither exclusively male nor female, but his partner strongly identifies as femme.

Such delicate distinctions can wrongfoot the best of us. Pronouns, in particular, have been an issue in my household since my son came out as trans. I am clumsy in my attempts to negotiate a way around “he” and “they”. Childhood anecdotes in particular frequently leave me blundering back to “she”.

Life’s tough in modern Britain. Who is writing this gibberish, I hear you ask?

Claire Armitstead is associate editor, culture for the Guardian

Ah.

Meanwhile, via Whiteboard Technician:

Bisexual Polyamorous Goose Love Triangle Ends In Tragedy

Which is only marginally more ludicrous than the first story.

Homosexuality has been widely documented in the animal kingdom: 1,500 known species display this behavior, and more cases are likely to be discovered. Luckily for them, there is no indication that homophobia exists outside of humans.

Nor does consent.

Thomas’s multi-partner inclinations are also no oddity in nature – significant evidence of polyamorous behavior (not to mention polygendered individuals) has been recently observed, prompting biologists like Antonia Forster to keep challenging our understanding of sexuality.

Presumably we should also be sniffing each other’s arses, licking our balls, and flinging shit around too, then?

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25 thoughts on “Swan Son

  1. The OED, apparently, actually says:

    polyamory, n.

    orig. U.S.

    Forms: 19- polyamory, 19- polyamoury. [< POLY- comb. form + classical Latin amor (see AMOUR n.1) + -Y suffix3, after POLYAMOROUS adj.
    In form polyamoury prob. after French amour AMOUR n.1]

    The fact of having simultaneous close emotional relationships with two or more other individuals, viewed as an alternative to monogamy, esp. in regard to matters of sexual fidelity; the custom or practice of engaging in multiple sexual relationships with the knowledge and consent of all partners concerned.

    Etymology: [1992 J[ennifer] L. WESP Proposal for alt.poly-amory in alt.config (Usenet newsgroup) 21 May, I propose to form the group alt.poly-amory. It would be a place for people who have multiple lovers to talk about the various problems unique to us.] 1992 Re: Reasons not to be Monogamous in soc.singles (Usenet newsgroup) 28 May, Serial monogamy is often more risky than long term polyamory. 1998 Guardian 21 July II. 2/3 The burgeoning polyamoury community in the US — with its offshoot organisation in Britain — is supporting and promoting all kinds of polygamous relationships. 2005 Seattle Weekly (Nexis) 2 Mar. 75 [He] began preaching meditation, polyamory, and disco dancing as ways of unmooring oneself from earthly ties.

    https://polyinthemedia.blogspot.co.uk/2007/01/polyamory-enters-oxford-english.html

    I can see nothing that supports her contention:

    The Oxford English Dictionary traces the word polyamory back to 1992 and says it is not to be confused with casual recreational sex, serial monogamy or swinging. since none of those are even mentioned.

    Is there anything in The Guardian which isn’t just made-up?

  2. This type of nuttiness is so boring. At least Pogonip vs. CVS offered the intellectual stimulation of discussing who’s responsible for CVS’s computer problems.

  3. This type of nuttiness is so boring. At least Pogonip vs. CVS offered the intellectual stimulation of discussing who’s responsible for CVS’s computer problems.

    Was it you who Tweeted about that yesterday?

  4. “Such delicate distinctions can wrongfoot the best of us.”

    They are meant to wrongfoot you, though, aren’t they? Your child is playing “My mum doesn’t understand me”. As Mum works for the Guardian, she presumably understands gay men shagging, which is why her son now takes refuge in being trans and calling his partners weird pronouns that invite inadvertent but important transgressions. If he himself ever manages to reproduce, his offspring will be fucking disembodied spirits from ancient African cultures, and woe betide us if we get the pronoun wrong.

  5. On the subject of polyamory, Ms Penny and her doings have been absent from here for a while. She appeared on Newsnight the other day to talk about fake news.

    With a pair of non-matching eyes and a grating voice I can understand that the risk of loneliness is very real to her and that she should stave off the inevitable for as long as she can with an abundance of undiscriminating partners.

    However, to ensure some form of companionship into the future it would be wise for her to decide now on the best colour for a litter tray to match her decor and stockpile old copies of the guardian.

  6. I remember reading somewhere in last year, activist mothers who try to make their children feel loved become zealots about trans lifestyle while their child is more moderate. Some people are bi-sexual, attracted to both sexes, and they should explore their sexuality but they should not be forced into one identity which is what happening. Much pressure on people to be ‘authentic’ nowadays and many trans people should remain bi and avoid operations and chemicals.

    Story I read claimed many trans people in their twenties wanted to switch back to original sex but their mothers are all in on their child being different sex, some trans people were nervous of what it will do to their mom’s worldview.

  7. The film says my son and his partner regard themselves as non-binary “in that they identify as neither exclusively masculine nor feminine”. Wrong, says my son, when I discuss it with him: they see themselves as neither exclusively male nor female, but his partner strongly identifies as femme.

    As so often, all I have in response to the above is: “What the fuck does that even mean?”

  8. AFAIAA, no major civilisation has thrived when the sexual mores are ‘anything goes’. Civilisation requires at least nominal adherence to a set of sexual rules, because little can be achieved without some sexual restraint. Some may quietly diverge from the norms and rules; and, if discovered, the penalties vary in different civilisations – from disapproval to the savage.

    Moreover, the reason why no culture that promotes polyamory has survived to produce a great civilisation is that the most reliable way of raising a functioning and stable adult is the two-parent family, where the parents are committed exclusively to one another. Few functioning and stable adults = barbarism.

    Laurie Penny and some folk in North Berwick will never understand these simple truths.

    Time for another glass of claret…

  9. Whenever a progressive resorts to comparing themselves to animals, I have to admit I’ve lost the debate. You can’t argue with someone who thinks they are just an animal.

  10. There’s a “queer” (her word not mine) mother in Sydney raising a transgender 4 year old.

    It feels like there’s an awful lot of legal redress that will be sought later in life by the children of these individuals for the denial of the opportunity to have a sane childhood.

  11. I anticipate a flood of lawsuits in about ten years against parents who allowed, and surgeons who performed, irreversible mutilations on persons who were too young, and too mentally unstable, to decide such things.

  12. “You can’t argue with someone who thinks they are just an animal.”

    I’m probably going to upset a lot of people here, but isn’t that the logical conclusion of evolutionary theory?

    I’m of the view that, right or wrong (and personally while I think it does a reasonable job of accounting for most of the observable facts about the universe in theory, it’s got far too many gaping holes and missing links to be treated as half as factual as it’s proponents would have us believe [see also other unprovable scientific theories, e.g. Climate change]), at a societal level, evolutionary theory is incredibly damaging – if everything comes from random chance, and we’re all meaningless anyway, why care about anything? Why not do whatever brings us the biggest dopamine hit going, and who cares if your kids are total write off and last weeks “lover” ends up in a lonely old age surrounded by cats…

  13. Why do half the people on the Internet revere cats and the other half dismiss them as not suitable for anyone but feminists? Discuss.

    😊🐱

    Although we don’t have one, I’m fine with cats—anything that eats roaches is my friend. Cat COLLECTORS, however, should be banished to Devil’s Island.

  14. I tried to follow the twists and turns of who was sticking what into what, with whom and which pronoun and sexual identity they were claiming to be (lesbian, gay, gay man) and got a bit lost off …

    Is the “mother” when she is talking about “introduction of a third partner: “[I thought] that’s my baby’s man ” actually talking about a) a man and b) an actual baby (as in a human that is under the age of two years old) or what?

    Signed

    Confused of Nelson South (NZ)

  15. What the actual fuck is going on here? Is this writer’s son a girl or a boy? Is the pairing an actual lesbian/gay one or a self identified girl/boy and an actual girl/boy? As “non-binary” one cannot help but assume this is aseriously screwed up group of people who are rebelling as per a prior poster. Since the writer is a screwed up Guardian writer the child can go two ways, to be a conservative and like Douglas Murray and Brendan O’Neil or go all-in on the “any self identification is as valid as any other” and become so fluid they lack any real core identity.

    God I hope my kids stay sane and away from this shit. My eldest said that last week the school, an all boys competitive entry school, had a feminist come in to lecture them on feminism and how privileged they were but that the white students were even more privileged. Given my parents left school with virtually no qualifications, I went to a comprehensive (then Oxford admittedly) and some of the black kids parents are multi-m(b)illionaires my (white) son took this as the pile of crap it really is.

    Destruction of the west is their aim from whatever guilt they were indoctrinated with by whatever Marxist they supped with as impressionable youths. L Penny and her Guardian ilk double down at every opportunity and this article just shows this. The Guardian has its own people writing about how screwed up their own lives are due to the thing they push on everyone else and they don’t see a link!!

    The comments section is always good as it often shows a fight back against the crazies

  16. Nope, I don’t use Twitter. What did the tweet say?

    I don’t remember exactly, but was basically a complaint that CVS no longer accept their own coupons.

  17. On the subject of polyamory, Ms Penny and her doings have been absent from here for a while.

    I found it was getting rather repetitive, to be honest. She doesn’t come out with anything new of profound, and I only wrote about her so I could feel justified in instantly dismissing anything she says in future. Apparently she has a new book coming out, published by Bloomsbury, in which she gives us her considered opinion on “sexual consent, rape culture and the power of desire”. Apparently it’s based on her Longreads articles which I’ve found to be unreadable dreck, even by her standards. Still, she has a following who like this stuff and Bloomsbury wouldn’t be doing it if they didn’t think they could make any money.

    That said, it doesn’t look as though her previous book did terribly well: its ranking on Amazon is pretty poor, and she has only marginally more Amazon reviews as I do. Given she had a traditional publisher and plenty of hype in the press, it’s not very impressive.

  18. As so often, all I have in response to the above is: “What the fuck does that even mean?”

    I have no idea, I couldn’t work it out either.

  19. Actually Tim, if I could lick my balls I’d be telling everyone about it. What a party piece, eh?

  20. Story I read claimed many trans people in their twenties wanted to switch back to original sex

    By age 25, over 95% of adolescents experiencing “gender identity disorder” or homosexual tendencies, have settled into their biological sex.

    The regret and recidivism rate for adult transsexuals is about 40% by the 10-15 year mark. That’s 40% of the ones that survive that long; the lifelong suicide rate for post-op transsexuals is also about 40%.

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