I was stoked that after we'd finished the reading and Eric opened it up for discussion the first voice was Mike asking about modern polyamory (which was of course what I was thinking the whole time*. He's heard of it via the Internet but doesn't really get it though he would like to. (He's very clear that it wouldn't work for him, but it seems to work for other people, and he'd like to understand that better.)
*During the reading, I found myself thinking that to look at this and to look at contemporary polyamory as I know it is like looking at same-sex sexual activities in Biblical times and same-sex relationships today . . . they're almost completely foreign to each other.
Thanks to athene, collegecate, and paper_crystals, I can say I know real live poly people and can speak about some different flavors of polyamory. I really should do more research, though, as this is the second instance I've kind of spokespersoned, and since it's not a community I'm a part of I don't actually have tons of info.
Eric said that in college there's a lot of exploration, but he's really interested in those people who have been doing this for a long time and have really made it work (poly people forty and over), those who have "loved and won" so to speak (his phrase). I've actually been meaning to do research into that because I used to be really skeptical of polyamory as working long term (nothing in particular happened to change my mind, I'm just less engaged with the concern recently, hence the past tense).
Meredith mentioned a blogger she reads who's a professor of feminism at some Midwestern college/university and is happily married with a five-year-old son but also has a long-term boyfriend in Chicago, and she doesn't mention it very much but when she does she's very matter-of-fact about it, and her son knows about him. I love how many different perspectives Meredith has encountered from all her Internet readings.
When Eric asked for closing thoughts, Meredith said, "No one's mentioned Big Love." At one point, Eric had used the term "sister-wives" and I almost said "Gotta love Big Love for making that term a part of popular discourse." I've really gotta watch that show at some point.
It was interesting hearing people's different takes on the issue, what they focused on, where their concerns focused. And, not gonna lie, it was a bit frustrating that we sometimes had so much difficulty separating the patriarchal oppressive polygny from contemporary Western liberal intellectual hippie polyamory. Though that was a good experience for me, to get a broader sense of where people are coming from and what baggage they bring with them.
I was near-universally Affirmed for my enthusiastic contributions on the evening's topic. "Go Team Freak!" Michelle said.
Jess Affirmed that Mike was with her in being conservative and jealous (in the context of: polyamory is so not for me). "Go team conservative," someone said. I said, "That's usually my team, too." Honestly, I'm a libertarian, so it feels not at all incongruous to me.
Sue Affirmed Mike's usage of the term "meaningful consent" in our discussion, which is indeed a good and useful term.
Sue did her Challenge and then started to move to her self-Affirmation, but we do the "God is with me" / "God is with you" / "Thanks be to God" litany, so Eric said, "Where is God?"
When I Affirmed Eric I said yes of course yay series on sex and all, but also: yay for mac and cheese! He made mac and cheese from a box (store brand) for dinner, and literally everyone who came in was excited to see that was the dinner.
I'd been massaging Michelle's back and shoulders a lot tonight, and she'd been eating it up, so of course that was what she Affirmed tonight, commenting "I'm needy."
"And people wonder why people are polyamorous," I quipped. I never did have opportunity during the discussion to talk about different partners fulfilling different needs -- which is probably just as well, since I don't think I actually have the background to do a very good job arguing it -- though I often thought it (and we did talk a lot about raising kids, and I kept pointing out the whole "it takes a village" thing and how back in the day theree used to be a lot of live-in extended family helping raise kids) and restrained myself in part because my examples kept being BDSM-related which is a whole nother topic.
After we finished, Sue checked in with me, said I didn't seem to quite have the energy I usually do. I was touched that she noticed (though I didn't think I was particularly "off" tonight). I've been trying to transition to getting up earlier in the morning but haven't been so good about getting to bed earlier, so I'm willing to concede being somewhat tired.