The poly community – part 3/4: Rape Culture at poly events
The poly community devalues purely erotic and sexual desires. This is expressed in general slutshaming, rejection of swingers, and that people justify the common points of the monogamous and polyamorous fallacy without hesitation. All of these suppress the sexual level. Moreover, there is also a wide-open romantic level, which is expressed in romantically open social behaviour and cuddle piles. So once again, the sexual level can only be unlocked by the opening of the romantic level. This sets the chronification of the patriarchal falsehood in motion which in turn produces its own Rape Culture (!).
Behind their beliefs in universal love, this is what actually happens at most poly events:
People in the social role “woman”, primarily women, but also men and other genders, migrate into the scene because they are attracted by claims about romantic love with more than one person.
There, however, transgressive people in the social role “man”, primarily men, are already waiting, who use the even more powerful narratives about love compared to the mainstream to exploit people in the social role “woman”, to receive unfair attention and sex where they don’t (need to) give any regard for the woman’s safety or pleasure.
Once a couple or a polycule attends a poly event together, all people at the event assume that all individuals of this couple or polycule are romantically open and are also here to meet someone new. Although the vast majority of couples in the mainstream are closed, and there are also many polyamorous constellations that are partly or completely closed, no one considers that an existing couple or polycule could be closed, or could be open to certain actions only under certain conditions.
This situation could be clarified easily, quickly and fair, in that an interested person inquires about the desires of the other people before he or she proceeds to make advances on one of them.
Of course, because of the assumption above, this doesn’t happen. If a person is interested in someone among the new arrivals, they will immediately start flirting with the desired person. They will simply ignore the relationship(s) of this person at best, but usually try to push them to the side via micro-aggressions and social manoeuvres.
Person A and person B have come to a poly event as a couple. Person C notices them, is attracted to person B, and immediately starts a conversation with or makes advances on person B. In the process, person C greets person B exuberantly, but ignores their partner person A by not greeting them at all, or by a minimal greeting, but then no longer looking at or addressing them during the conversation. If person A nevertheless tries to participate in the conversation, they are repeatedly interrupted after a few words – by person C or other people standing next to them.
After a few minutes of conversation, the typical manoeuvres begin: Person C positions themselves in such a way that person A and person B are not able to touch or to see each other. When person A goes away in search for a drink, or a better conversation, person C immediately fills their place, and does not give it back as soon as person A returns. In most cases, person B does not notice that person A has been deliberately cut off.
Person C in this example can be an individual person doing all these things, but also several people, all of whom stand in a circle around person B, and flirt with them at the same time or one after the other.
Not surprisingly, person B is usually a conventionally attractive woman, person A her boyfriend whom she brought along, and person C one or more straight men who try to get a piece of the pie. As a result, although the poly community is constantly talking about polycules and multiple simultaneous relationships, there are no polycules and only a few couples present at poly meet-ups: Understandably, hardly anyone in a romantic relationship wants to expose their significant other to such treatment, which is why they usually don’t attend more than one or two poly events.
If this dynamic increases, there will be transgressive people in the role “man” who generally address and approach people in the role “woman” as sexual objects without a will of their own, and try to bypass consent through various social games, or even simply disregard it. These games, however, are not easy to observe directly, as this risks uncovering the players’ true motivations. Instead, they are more likely to manifest in latent transgressions:
In the case of several interested people, mostly men, they often form a circle around the targeted woman, so that she doesn’t have much leeway to move away from being touched, and she has to demand that she be left out of the circle in order that someone makes room. I use the word demand deliberately, because only a loud, angry statement causes the men in question to get out of the way – with polite requests (“Could you please move a bit?”) or announcements (“I’ll get something to drink!”), the same men do not move a millimeter.
The same is true for being touched: A woman who politely tells someone how or where she doesn’t want to be touched, or that she is not interested in someone who is hitting on her, can not only expect an extremely offended man (Man: “Why not?!”), but that he will attempt the same touch / the same manoeuvre later in the evening, or at the next poly event, as if she had never said anything.
The same men also like to physically block the path to “catch” women so that they have to stop and get into conversation. Some of these men are constantly lurking in narrow spaces on the way to the bar or the toilet, others even deliberately stand in the way when they notice an attractive woman going in their direction. In order to get where she wanted, the woman has to squeeze by, or again demand passage with a loud and annoyed voice.
I experienced all these behaviours myself, and have observed them happen to others numerous times at almost every poly event. They are a clear disregard of consent culture, and thus a form of Rape Culture.
Shortly before I left the scene, I had started to counteract these manoeuvres where possible: Whenever a transgressive man stood between me and one of my romantic partners, I either immediately went around him to join them again, or turned my head to whom I was talking, thus deliberately overlooking him, and raised my voice to continue conversation. Whenever a man tried to block my way, I even sped up with the intent to produce a collision, causing him to jump out of the way.
This, however, raises the question:
If romantic openness fuels classic patriarchal dynamics and transgressions, why does the poly community so strongly uphold romantic openness for everyone?
Unfortunately, the answer is already in the question: Because it makes young, liberal women in the role “woman” easy prey for assholes in the role “man”.
In reality, no romantic relationship ever, neither one between two people, nor several at the same time (and I know this from experience!), can be stable and loving long-term, if it remains romantically open. How could everyday life as a relationship, trust, and even feelings of love itself grow under the constant threat of mutual intimacy being massively reduced at any time? Each new, attached relationship automatically reduces the emotional resources – time, energy, and emotional work – that ensure continued trust and intimacy between the individuals of the original couple or polycule. As a consequence, there is less intimacy with every additional person, which eventually leaves frustrated relationships that produce mostly energy-draining dynamics.
The demand for a continued romantic openness guarantees that not only as many women as possible are romantically “available” at the same time, but also that all of their relationships end soon, so that they return to the scene unhappy and vulnerable – where the next trophy collectors are already waiting. The poly community obfuscates this fact with several narratives that portray constant romantic openness as an attainable goal, or even a wonderful, enhancing experience. I have termed these beliefs heart farts, and will examine them in a separate series.