Feminism, polyamory, and a broken man

Some of you may have read this article on how man was taught feminism through a polyamorous relationship. As a man who is Poly and a member of the MRM this article disgusts me. It is abundantly clear to me that the woman/wife is an abuser. The tone of the article suggests to me that the husband was abused. This doesn’t read like the men and women I know who have decided to make the leap from monogamous relationships into Poly. It read like some who was raped and is lying to themselves to make everything right again.

As I write this, my children are asleep in their room, Loretta Lynn is on the stereo, and my wife is out on a date with a man named Paulo. It’s her second date this week; her fourth this month so far. If it goes like the others, she’ll come home in the middle of the night, crawl into bed beside me, and tell me all about how she and Paulo had sex. I won’t explode with anger or seethe with resentment. I’ll tell her it’s a hot story and I’m glad she had fun. It’s hot because she’s excited, and I’m glad because I’m a feminist.1

Now without knowing the full dynamics of their relationship I can say as someone who is in poly this is generally considered rude or course. In the poly community though it really does depend on the dynamics involved, there are less rigid types of archetypes for relationships. Generally speaking while people in the poly community may know or even be friends with the people involved with their significant others, it is generally considered very rude to talk about what goes on in the bedroom with said significant others.

Jealously is human issue in polyamory that is routinely overcome by necessity but there is no need to throw fuel on a potential fire by talking about in detail how the sex went. Imagine it like this: Your best friend just landed his or her dream job. You’re happy for you friend but then you friend starts to rub your face in how awesome their job is. Eventually you start to resent the friend or become jealous when initially you were happy for them. That same logic applies for poly partners.

Before my wife started sleeping with other men, I certainly considered myself a feminist, but I really only understood it in the abstract. When I quit working to stay at home with the kids, I began to understand it on a whole new level. I am an economically dependent househusband coping with the withering drudgery of child-rearing. Now that I understand the reality of that situation, I don’t blame women for demanding more for themselves than the life of the housewife.1

Polyamory has nothing to do with feminism. This is where I see the first hints that this man is lying to himself to make everything right again. Being poly isn’t a litmus test for being the penultimate feminist. Feminism, however you feel about it, is not a justification to go poly. This doesn’t make him more of a feminist or less of one. He is rationalizing because as I suspect his wife is abusing him or abused him to go Poly.

Still, as a man, I could, if I wanted to, portray what I’m doing as “work,” and thus claim for myself the prestige men traditionally derive from “work.” Whenever I tell someone I stay home with the kids, they invariably say, “Hardest work in the world.” They say this because the only way to account for a man at home with the kids is to say what he’s doing is hard work. But there’s a subtext in the compliment that makes it backhanded: We both know no one ever says it to a woman. Mothers care; fathers provide care. The difference is crucial. Despite my total withdrawal from the economy and the traditional sources of masculine identity, I can still argue I am a provider. I provide care.

In this way, my masculine self-image was stretched but not broken. Diaper bag notwithstanding, I was still a Man. It wasn’t until my wife mentioned one evening that she’d kissed another man and liked it and wanted to do more than kiss next time that I realized how my status as a Man depended on a single fact: that my wife fucked only me.1

Some of this is valid stuff we in the MRM have to fight against and some of it is poly specific that everyone man or woman has to deal with in poly relationships. The largest issues in poly for most people to get over is jealously which I addressed above and will address a little more below.

What is happening in the ‘relationship’ is that  Michael is facing three distinct issues. One going poly, Two losing a large part of his traditional masculine identity and Three the lack freedom and independence that comes with being a stay at home parent. Some of this we do have to deal with if we want to leave traditionalism and gynocentrism in the dust. I am not saying the MRM should advocate for poly to be clear. But these are issues to be addressed from an MRM perspective.

She didn’t present it as an issue of feminism to me, but after much soul-searching about why the idea of my wife having sex with other men bothered me I came to a few conclusions: Monogamy meant I controlled her sexual expression, and, not to get all women’s-studies major about it, patriarchal oppression essentially boils down to a man’s fear that a woman with sexual agency is a woman he can’t control. We aren’t afraid of their intellect or their spirit or their ability to bear children. We are afraid that when it comes time for sex, they won’t choose us. This petty fear has led us as a culture to place judgments on the entire spectrum of female sexual expression: If a woman likes sex, she’s a whore and a slut; if she only likes sex with her husband or boyfriend, she’s boring and lame; if she doesn’t like sex at all, she’s frigid and unfeeling. Every option is a trap.1

This is more of him trying to square poly and scapegoat feminism. (Never thought I would pen such sentence.) These are issues every one man or woman has had to deal with in Poly relationships. This has nothing to do with patriarchy or feminism but that going from Mono to Poly is a very strange transition and squaring that is hard for every one who does it. As someone in the community its very clear to me that he after reading this paragraph that he was pressured in an abusive way into it poly.

That was two years ago, and today we’ve never been happier, more in tune, closer, tighter, stronger. Whatever power I surrendered, I don’t miss. I wouldn’t recommend it for everyone, but I tell everyone it works for us.1

Doublethink confirmed right here. Notice how he says WE not I. In a normal poly context this would be great but given the larger context of this piece I can’t help but feel he is relying exclusively on compersion for his happiness which isn’t happy. Compersion (seeing others happy or making others happy make you feel happy) is great, provided that isn’t your only source of happiness. I get the feeling that at this point he has forgotten that he has every right to seek his own fulfillment and sublimated that in to his wife fulfillment.

How does it feel? It feels great … mostly. Most of the time, it feels like a mature, responsible way to address our needs and desires within our loving, mutually supportive marriage. It feels very adult, especially because it depends on open, honest communication. We take great pride in all the talking we do.1

This would be great provided that was what was actually happening. That is how poly is supposed to work. I strongly believe that this is more him lying to himself. “Lying to each other begins with lying to yourself, and now we don’t have to lie to anyone.” – from later on in that same paragraph. I would suggest he take some of his own advice.

Now I have to address some thing I have been seeing in the manosphere about the article.

Going out alone to hooking up with others was an easy transition. It does work both ways and, yes, I too enjoy sexual carte blanche. I just don’t use mine as much as my wife uses hers. What’s important is equality of opportunity, not outcome.1

This right here means he is not a cuckold. A cuckold is a man or woman who is in half open relationship with or without consent. By definition this man isn’t a cuckold. That doesn’t make this man any less of a possible abuse victim. The tone and demeanor of the article strongly signal to me that he was pushed into polyamory and it was something he would have rather not done. It read like some with stockholm syndrome describing their relationship with their abuser.

This one poly man’s perspective on this piece.


[1] What Open Marriage Taught One Man About Feminism

Recommended Content