Thursday, December 30, 2010

Guest post: The Other Side of the Coin

(Reposted from polyamory.com forum.)


Last night a new friend to our ever growing community asked if we could
get together to talk. She is very mono it seems but working at building
a relationship with her recently declared poly boyfriend. I agreed
without hesitation and then thought about the impact of any comments I
may have for her.

I spoke to my partner about my concerns and she pointed out that I should
get our friend to thnk and answer questions for herself as opposed to
actually injecting my opinions.

Anyone on here who knows me is aware that I am not a big fan of
mono/poly relationships. I am even a bigger non-fan of two people
starting thier relationship lives with this type of hurdle (and it is a
hurdle). But I do know they work. My biggest concern is always that each
partner has not got to experience a meaningful relationship with some
one who feels the same way about how love is shared and expressed.

She is young and as far as I know has never been in a long term
committed monogamous relationship. Immediately I have to swallow my snap
assessment and understand what I say to her could not only affect her
actions but also the heart and happiness of her boyfriend. I don't know
either person very well but still care about them as human beings and
have a responsibility not to sabotage anyone's natural relationship
progression.

So I thought I would put together some questions that I will ask her to
make her think and then hopefullly be a little more prepared and willing
to choose the best path as she sees it.

Does she truly feel monogamous?
Has she ever felt a romantic connection with more than one person? Can
she see a benefit to being open for the development and expansion of her
own relationships? Is she more traditionally conditioned mono;
influenced by the expectations of society and family? Is she internally
mono, wired to only have one romantic connection as I like to personally
put it.

What has she experienced?
Has she felt what it is liked to be someone's "one and only"? To have
some one give themselves to her willingly the same way she gives
herself? Not controlled but a willing gift of exclusivity as is the core
principle of true monogamy - a gift, not a shackle. This is important
because more than likely she will get the "grass is greener" feeling in
her relationship. I personally feel it is very important to experience
the grass on your own side of relationship nature before venturing into
another.

What are her relationship goals short term and long term?
Short term mono/poly is arguably much easier to enjoy than the
expectation of long term commitment depending on what the individual
wants
Is she a person with traditional relationship aspirations? Will she want
a standard wedding with traditional vows. If there is no long term
commitment ideals such as kids, house, marriage, and retirement planning
then I am much less reserved about exploring different relationship
types to in fact have "experiences".

How important is societal blending to her?
Is she prepared to stand her ground and push for at least acceptance of
how she loves with family, friends, co-workers and neighbors or will she
ok with keeping secrets about the reality of her life?

Who are her close friends and how will they react?
I lost most of my old friends but don't fault them. I am just too far
off their scale of comfort. I have made some very good friends though.
Is she willing to accept the potential loss of her regular crowd to be
replaced a crowd of people who largely have different views than she
does? I still struggle with this at times and have become almost like a
half-member of both, fading in and out of tangibility.

What will her parents think? For some of us, parental acceptance is not
that important in many ways. For others it would be crushing to be cut
off from our parents pride and endorsement of those we love. It's hard
to have a family bbq when your partner is not welcomed by your parents
or siblings because they "cheat" on you. I would be very concerned if my
daughter committed to a relationship with a polyamorous guy and I live
this life quite happily. Imagine if I didn't have a clue about poly? I'd
be waiting for the cheating bastard on the doorstep. You get my point.

What is her boyfriends idea of poly?
Is he looking to add a specific person or persons or is he wanting to be
open to all and any relationships that may present themselves?
Is she prepared to share him? To have him come to her bed after sharing
another woman's? Can she imagine them together and still embrace him
fully? He deserves her untainted love if she goes down this path. He
can't expect to have a partner who is holding back for the duration of
their relationship. If she can't face the reality of his other
relationships how can that be healthy for her or him long term? Is she
prepared for an ongoing cycle of his interest in others? Flirting,
discussing boundaries, the first night they have sex, the meeting of
people he is NREing over? Will she always be worried about every social
thing he attends for fear he is "hunting" or being hunted?

So I plan on meeting her and asking questions more than giving my own
perspective. She will probably ask why I am so happy with my
relationship and my short answer is always, my mono needs were met and
the planets basically had to align for me to be happy in this...truly
happy. Yes I have my worries and areas of concern but every night I go
to sleep and morning I wake up I am happy in knowing I love my partner
and we are family.

Those moments before sleep and just after waking are very telling times
for me. They are the gauge of my health and happiness.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Images from "What is Polyamory?" a panel discussion

I thought it was time to post a few pics from the highly successful and educational poly panel discussion that took place at UVic in November, 2010.

Cherish, Zoe and Quintus (speakers) and Cora (panel moderator)



Brad, Kiki and Captain (speakers)



Monday Magazine's article on the panel (Q & A)

Monday, December 6, 2010

Guest post: A Poly Book in the Human Library

A friend of mine recently participated in a local event called the Human Library. Apparently this idea has been catching on for some time, and you can read more about the concept of people as "living books" humanlibrary.org.


Here's what she had to say about her experience as a book about polyamory:

I was part of a human library event that was two days long a couple of weeks ago. The event required me to take a vacation day from work, but it was a vacation to remember, so I am glad to of used the time. First of all some back ground on how it worked. The entrance way to the university library had comfy chairs and side tables where we could all take our readers to talk. We sat in chairs to one side behind a desk where there was a binder of all our book titles and an intro. People would come by and look at the binder and decide who they wanted to know more about.

Topics ranged from California same sex marriage laws to someones experience moving from Ontario to Florida during a tornado... and someones experience of ageism on campus to another who was experiencing what it was like to be a Chinese person come to school in Western Canada ...very diverse. I was by far the most taken out book it turned out. Exhausting! My friend was there for a time also talking about poly but from the intro kind of angle and she left early so I was it for the afternoon.

It was so much fun and so interesting what people wanted to talk about. I was willing to share about my experiences as a mistress/domme, my journey of discovery of my sexuality and my journey to get to where I am today in my poly relationships... most people were into hearing about the latter although there were definite over laps. I talked a lot about my experiences as a younger woman and how I created my goals for family and how I began making my dreams come true... true to me, no one else and how we can all do whatever our creative minds decide... there is room for all of what we want to do, regardless of what it is...

What I found most interesting were the students from abroad that were interested in and thought poly made sense, but didn't know how to normalize it for themselves. Why students from abroad I have no idea. I talked a lot about jealousy too and how to handle it. There were some people that just plain looked confused and defensive and that brought up odd feelings for me as I felt myself feeling less assured that I am "okay" and noticed I started closing down. Instead of doing so I asked them questions and brought out their relationship style and marketed the concept of we are all different. That seemed to work.

It was fascinating to be taken out by people who didn't know me and who were brave enough to engage in a process like that. When they flipped through the book they had no idea who they were going to get when they looked a the assembly of people sitting there. It was a bizarre feeling... we all wore shirts that made us all look the same... they said, "don't judge a book by it's cover" on them. They were all "man" shirts. Very unflattering... heh, seriously though, why can't they make a shirt that is unisex. Could they not of had womens t-shirts made? That was my only complaint.

There is a plan to do this event next year and I will be really excited to do it again... look out for it!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Rumour has it...

I've heard rumblings of a Victoria poly men's group in the works.  Apparently they call themselves the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (LXG for short) and will be starting up regular discussion nights soon.

Knowing how extraordinary the men in our poly community are, I'm excited to hear about this much-anticipated gathering!  Good luck, gentlemen..  please let us know how you progress!

~Kiki


Monday, November 22, 2010

Loving More workshop: Facing a Monogamous World

This is the last installment of workshop reviews from the Loving More Poly Living conference in Seattle, 2010, that I attended. I feel like I was saving up writing about this one for reasons which didn't really become clear to me until I woke up this morning to read a poly friend's blog post which was answering what amounted to a hate-letter from a monogamous-identified woman who obviously felt very threatened by the very idea of polyamory.


Mixed in with my disappointment and anger at the attack was the feeling, for me, that there is still a long way to go in educating the mainstream population about not just polyamory, but about basic human rights and decency (I'll leave out the desire to see better grammar, though as an English teacher lack of punctuation does tend to colour my opinion of the person doing the writing).


Anyway, this is all a rather personal preamble to my review of a very stimulating and inspiring workshop presented by Pepper Mint, a San Francisco educator, organizer, activist, and social theorist in the polyamory and BDSM movements.  Pepper's contribution to polyamory includes advocacy and organization of local poly events in San Francisco, as well as his excellent blog,  Freaksexual.


His workshop offering at the conference centred on an interactive discussion brainstorming ways in which living in a mono-centric world affects our lives as polyamorous people. 


The workshop's opening statement:  "Most of the problems we face being non-monogamous come from living in a monogamous world" pulled no punches.  We are in a misunderstood (and often ignored) minority.  Not only are there cultural biases (and institutionalized ones) against polyamorous relationships, these biases create power imbalances which perpetuate the feeling of being different (or even persecuted) if you choose to have more than one partner.  


Pepper also reminded us that not all biases come from without -- we ourselves, as products of a monogamous social paradigm -- have embedded and unconscious assumptions about possessiveness, territoriality and competition within relationships that require us to do a lot of extra emotional work to be comfortable with our own poly desires.  


Finally, there is the phenomenon of expectations and even "etiquette" that is created within the sub-culture of polyamorous communities themselves.  We need to remind ourselves that simply because we enjoy the company of other poly people because they make us feel included within the context of a larger mono-centric world, there is no poly "rule book" or "one true way" to be polyamorous, though you often wonder reading poly forums and faq's referring to poly "definitions" and practices.  


I enjoyed the honesty and tough issues that were brought up in this workshop; it's not an easy thing, especially in an environment where you're feeling safe and accepted among your poly peers, to admit that it's a big, often cold and sceptical monogamous world out there that for the most part isn't terribly interested in people doing anything different from the norm.  To be poly in a monogamous world is to be different, and it's up to each of us to choose whether we want to hide, or advocate for change.  Either choice involves hard work and a certain amount of courage.  




Cunning Minx and Pepper Mint at Poly Living, 2010.




Thursday, November 11, 2010

November's Victoria Poly 101 monthly discussion: "Finding and building poly community"

Finding and building poly community

Thursday, November 25 · 6:30pm - 9:00pm

Please note new location for this discussion: University of Victoria, Elliot 162, Victoria, BC

****************************

What poly groups are out there? What is their focus (eg. dating, socializing, activism, discussion.. )? What other alternative or alternative relationship style groups are there (eg. swingers, queer/bi, asexual, sex positive, kinky.. )?

Having recently returned from the Loving More Poly Living conference in Seattle, WA, I have lots of ideas for poly community (and beyond) to share with you. Come bring questions and ideas to discuss about our own local community and more.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Panel Discussion on November 17, 2010: "What is Polyamory?" in Victoria, BC

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
VICTORIA, BC

Polyamory Panel to Take Public Questions
Should the government decide who we sleep with? That’s just one question on the minds of members of the growing polyamory movement, who feel they are under attack by a Canadian law that is under review this winter. The controversial law is considered a tool to target polygamists, but it could also be used to send others to jail, says Kiki Christie, a spokesperson for the Canadian Polyamory Advocacy Association (CPAA).

Polyamory is a practice in which consenting adults can have more than one romantic partner, but it is fundamentally different from the polygamy that is causing concern for lawmakers and the public, says Christie. For example, it does not give special rights to men, assign spouses to underage people, or teach its customs inside closed communities. That’s just the beginning. “Polyamory is a post-modern, ethical and compassionate relationship style that begins by assuming that love is not limited,” says Christie, who acknowledges that the practice is not well understood, with outsiders frequently comparing it to swinging or cheating. “Polyamory advocates are making waves in the upcoming court case, but many people still don't understand how polyamory is different from polygamy.”

A panel discussion at UVIC entitled “What is Polyamory?” on November 17th aims to dispel myths and raise awareness for the movement. The media, students and public are invited to find out more and bring their questions.

Hosted by Poly 101 on Campus, a UVIC student society club, the event will feature polyamory supporting service providers, counsellors, polyamorous people and people in relationships that are polyamorous.

The panel comes at a time when curiosity about such relationships is building. On November 22nd, the BC Supreme Court will sit for at least 40 days to hear witnesses and re-examine the law, Criminal Code s. 293, which criminalizes relationships with more than two people as soon as they choose to make a formal commitment. The CPAA will be on hand to represent polyamorous people across Canada, and to argue for clarity in the law.

With only volunteers, a part-time lawyer and a small amount of funds, calling and interviewing witnesses will be hard without last-minute support, says Christie. Those who wish to support CPAA financially may donate at the event or www.polyadvocacy.ca/donate

"What Is Polyamory?" panel takes place on Wednesday, November 17, 2010 at 7 pm, at the University of Victoria, in the David Strong Building, Room C103.

-30-

POLY 101 ON CAMPUS
Poly 101 on Campus is a UVSS club that evolved from students attending a local discussion group called Victoria Poly 101 to meet, discuss and support each other in the exploration and the practice of ethical consensual non-monogamy.

CPAA
CPAA advocates on behalf of Canadians who practice polyamory. It promotes legal, social, government, and institutional acceptance and support of polyamory, and advances the interests of the Canadian polyamorous community generally. Section 293 of the Criminal Code of Canada purports to outlaw polyamorous people living together as families. It penalizes us as soon as we make a serious commitment to one another.

CANADIAN CRIMINAL CODE S. 293 FULL LEGAL TEXT
Confirm in context at http://laws.justice.gc.ca/eng/C-46/page-6.html#codese:293
(1) Every one who
(a) practises or enters into or in any manner agrees or consents to practise or enter into
(i) any form of polygamy, or
(ii) any kind of conjugal union with more than one person at the same time, whether or not it is by law recognized as a binding form of marriage, or
(b) celebrates, assists or is a party to a rite, ceremony, contract or consent that purports to sanction a relationship mentioned in subparagraph (a)(i) or (ii), is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years.
Evidence in case of polygamy
(2) Where an accused is charged with an offence under this section, no averment or proof of the method by which the alleged relationship was entered into, agreed to or consented to is necessary in the indictment or on the trial of the accused, nor is it necessary on the trial to prove that the persons who are alleged to have entered into the relationship had or intended to have sexual intercourse.

CONTACTS
Polyamory Panel Discussion organizer:
Cora Bilsker 250-507-1674, poly101oncampus@gmail.com
CPAA spokesperson:
Kiki Christie, kikichristie@gmail.com

Friday, November 5, 2010

Loving More workshop: Poly Dating 101

I was really looking forward to attending Poly Dating 101, offered by Cunning Minx (the host of Polyamory Weekly).  Being the tech-savvy lady that she is (ok, she's a self-proclaimed geek), Minx has provided us with her superb slideshow on the blog, here.  This makes my job a lot easier, as I can just highlight what I enjoyed most about the workshop.

The basic premise of the workshop was creating strategies to figure out our own dating needs and how to present them to potential partners.  This twofold goal of "know thyself" and "communicate effectively" was niftily packaged in what Minx calls her "User's Manual", which is exactly what it sounds like.  She encouraged us to write our own manuals, both for the purpose of self-exploration and to give to other people so they know what makes us tick.

Starting with basics such as family history, values and even (or maybe especially!) personal baggage, our user manual should also include sexual preferences and relationship goals.  "You don't want to lose a relationship because you don't know what you want," says Minx, because "only you know what will make you happy."

My favourite part of the workshop, however, was our lively discussion of how to enter into an existing relationship as a "secondary" partner.  Her assertion that we are all "second to none" when it comes to relationships made me sit a little higher in my chair, since I am currently in several relationships with people who already have primary partners.

I really loved the intelligent interactiveness of this workshop; many of the participants brought their own insights and wisdom to the collective poly table, and I left feeling lucky that I have chosen to conduct my relationships within a community that understands and honours individual feelings and each unique connection.

I want to thank Cunning Minx for her hard work in bringing information, laughter and a whole lot of sexiness to what could be seen as a daunting process -- dating polyamorously.


Cunning Minx autographs my User's Manual at the Poly Living Conference..

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Change in Victoria poly discussion group: 201

Due to the increasing number of poly discussion groups in Victoria the organizers of Poly 201 have decided to retire the group.

There is, happily, ample opportunity for poly discussion to take place at Poly 101 on Campus (weekly meetings), Victoria Poly 101 (monthly discussion), the Poly Women's Group (non-monogamous relationship focus, monthly discussion) and Vanisle Polyamory's monthly meet and greet. Please come out and meet poly people at whatever venue you feel most comfortable as there is a LOT to choose from in Victoria -- lucky us!

If you would like more information about these groups, or the Vancouver poly group, see the links on the sidebar of this blog.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Upcoming fundraising and poly awareness event in Victoria, BC

Poly 101 on Campus is hosting a panel discussion in order to raise community awareness of polyamory and to fundraise for the Canadian Polyamory Advocacy Association. This event is open to the public and the media. Click here for the Facebook event.

Wednesday, November 17 · 7:00pm - 9:00pm
David Strong Building C103
Ring Rd. UVic
Victoria, BC


Thursday, October 28, 2010

Dossie on Jealousy: a synopsis of her Poly Living Workshop, 2010

One of the reasons I (and several of my friends) wanted to attend the Poly Living Conference this month was the opportunity to meet and listen to the co-author of The Ethical Slut, Dossie Easton. Practically every person who explores the history and literature of polyamory has read this book, and whether or not we think of ourselves as sluts, pretty much all of us try to adhere to the ethics of open, honest relationships that bring our partners as much pleasure as they do ourselves.

Much of what Dossie has to say in her work as a writer and therapist revolves around the idea that we are not born "perfect" at what we do -- anything, even learning to love, takes work and awareness. I loved how she spoke directly and with humility about her own experiences, mistakes and challenges. Dossie definitely gets across the message that love and sex are experiences within the human realm, and therefore subject to all kinds of difficult (as well as blissful) feelings.

I decided at the last minute to attend her workshop on "Making Friends with Jealousy". After all, I've been attending and leading poly discussions on this topic for many years, not to mention wrestled with my own jealous demons over the course of my poly life -- what could possibly be said that I didn't already know? Turns out I was glad I went.

I've been feeling very scientific lately, so when Dossie announced that she was going to focus on the physiology of jealousy, I perked up. So many people try to find deeply buried emotional reasons for jealousy (and for love, and attachments in general) that coming at this most complex and frightening of emotions from the perspective of our biological self seemed somehow comforting --like maybe jealousy is something I don't need to feel so guilty about experiencing.

Dossie introduced us to our amygdala: essentially the region in our brain where emotions are experienced. There have been, she said, great advances in brain research regarding the physiological components of emotional experience via hormones (such as the stress hormone, hydrocortisone, which is produced by our adrenal glands in response to stressful situations -- essentially, our fight or flight mechanism).



So, in terms of the experience of jealousy, there is a lot going on that is autonomic, or that our bodies are doing without our even realizing it, and this affects our perception of the situation. Dossie listed several things we can do, however, to mitigate the effect of our very human reaction to what we perceive as a dangerous situation (eg. when we feel jealous):

1. Take care of yourself. Schedule times for gratification and things you love doing but don't otherwise get the chance to do. If you can do these things when your partner is out on a hot date with someone else, so much the better!

2. Create a container for your jealous emotions so that you can experience them but not allow them to spill over and affect all aspects of your life and interactions. We get in trouble, she says, when we pretend not to feel something we are actually feeling. (Dossie herself cheerfully admits that she still gets jealous, but after 40 years of working on it, "it's sort of a non-event".)

3. Because we can't solve conflicts in a state of stress, taking at least 15 minutes to calm down (through breathing, meditation, or visualization -- or, depending on personal preference, gentle exercise) will actually "reset" our amygdala and increase our capacity to calm down the next time we get stressed. I thought this was pretty cool, and it also explains why handling jealousy does get easier the longer you address it.

4. Use distraction to deflect the cyclic process of negative thought patterns. This doesn't always work, but it can be an effective tool to derail some of the negative self-esteem chatter than crops up in our minds when we're feeling like we might lose someone's love or attention.

5. Release and banish the "shoulds". There is no one "right" way to feel. Just let your feelings be what they are (this is what she means by "making friends with your jealousy"). At this point in the workshop, Dossie took us through some breathing exercises and a short guided meditation/visualization of what our own jealousy looked like. We were encouraged to try and open a dialogue with our jealousy in whatever form we envisioned it and afterwards we shared this experience with others in the room. (I liked this exercise a lot, because it reminded me of one in my Buddhist practice called: "befriending your demons".)

6. Finally, she reminded us to focus on what we can control in our lives, and to practice letting go of what we can't. As poly people, we know that we cannot (and should not try to) ever, ever control our partners' feelings. We can, however, feel pretty confident that we can control our own feelings with the help of some relatively simple tools and the knowledge that sometimes, managing scary feelings is as easy as shutting off the hormonal hot-water tap and allowing ourselves to rest.

My thanks to Dossie for leaving us with the assurance that we are all beautiful human beings who have valuable things to contribute in terms of wisdom and love.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

VanIsle-Poly Social & Discussion Group's 10th Anniversary

Friday, November 5 · 7:00pm - 11:30pm
Tudor House Sports Bar
Victoria, BC

Come and celebrate TEN YEARS of poly community building on Vancouver Island. Dancing, great food, and a call to all alumni to drop in for a visit. Birthday Girl kisses and/or poly pins to any who donate to the Canadian Polyamory Advocacy Association at the party. (Cash or cheque)
We've come a long way - but there's a long way to go.

Zoe Duff, moderator of Vanisle poly says:

From an idea that there must be others who shared a philosophy to meet & greets in Victoria & Nanaimo, Victoria Poly Dating group, and the seed from which sprang Victoria Poly 101, Poly Kelowna, Poly 201 and Poly Women. From camping trips, retreats, workshop weekends to Polycamp Too and beyond. Hard work and sometimes discouraging but always most delightful and definitely an exciting ride.

Thank you for all your support, interest and for being a part of this wonderful decade of poly community building. Let's PARTY!!!!!!

Canadian Polyamory Advocacy Association at Loving More's Poly Living


The CPAA at Loving More Conference!

Oct 26th, 2010 

We are back home–inspired, very grateful and exhausted!  The CPAA  attended the American Poly Living 2010 conference in Seattle (organized by Loving More, the leading national polyamory organization in the US) .  And not only did we attend lots of great workshops, but Zoe and I (Carole) presented a workshop on our Canadian court case!  (here at http://www.slideshare.net/polychickbc/cpaa-presentation10-23-2010).   

Read more of this blog post on the CPAA's site, here...

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Loving More workshop: Who needs a safer sex elevator speech? YOU do!!

"If someone asks what your safer-sex protocols are, can you answer in two minutes or less?"

Reid Mihalko's workshop: "Creating Your Safer Sex Elevator Speech" tells you just how to do it. Intriguing twist on that oh-so-necessary poly conversation, no? I thought so, which is why I decided to attend this workshop.

I have to confess that I managed to be late for this one, due to the fact that the friend I attended the conference with and myself were staying across town at my lover's home. I'm lucky to have a wonderful partner in Seattle, but I forget sometimes that driving across the city early in the morning (especially a foreign city) takes a bit of extra time. Oops. Anyway, breakfast was delicious and the portion of the workshop I did manage to see was great, especially the group exercise at the end.

Reid, by the way, is an engaging presenter, well-accustomed to talking about sex. He's a polyamorous sex coach, counsellor and spokesperson for healthy relationship choices. His website, reidaboutsex.com, is packed with great advice and links and I recommend checking it out.

Back to the elevator speech. Reid pointed out that it's important to cultivate self knowledge before figuring out what to tell someone else about your safer sex preferences. Sounds familiar, right? It's also sort of difficult, as I found when I tried to write my own speech. To begin with, figuring out what your physical needs are should be balanced with what your emotional needs are regarding sex. Do you feel you just can't live without a fluid bond with an intimate partner? Make sure you say this, so your partner knows that condoms and testing will be mandatory with their other partners. Do you find latex sexy? Do you find condoms awkward for oral? There are many ways to work out a balance between people if you can actually start with your basic needs.

The other really important question we need to ask ourselves is: "What are you ok with getting?" Some STI's are not life threatening, but they may impose a social stigma on the person who carries the infection (HSV is one example). Since NO form of partnered sex (except maybe for web camming and mutual masturbation across the room from each other) is 100% safe, we use the term safer sex because we need to recognise as responsible adults that we are taking a risk. It's up to each of us to decide what our risk limits are and to express them clearly to our potential partners.

If this all sounds rather unsexy, Reid points out that it doesn't have to be. On the contrary, he's honed his matter-of-fact elevator speech to the point where it can actually be used as a great conversation opener at poly conventions and nightclubs. Another benefit to opening a safer sex conversation with a potential partner is that you get to see their reaction to the topic. If they seem uncomfortable or awed by your amazing sense of planning and forethought, you might want to reconsider sleeping with them, since they probably don't think much about testing or safer sex themselves. If, however, they respond with aware enthusiasm and offer their own list of requirements, it's a good bet they've given safer sex some serious thought and you're good to go!

We were then asked to write our own speeches, composed of how we describe ourselves (eg. poly, queer, kinky librarian), when we last got tested, what we were tested for and the results, our safer sex needs (eg. condoms for PIV and anal sex but not oral, disclosure of the STI status of a partner's other partners), what we like, sexually-speaking (eg. cuddling, blow jobs, spanking) and what boundaries we have that we won't cross (definitely NO sex with the cat in the room!).

The moment of truth came, and we paired up to give our elevator pitches. While it was a bit awkward starting out, it was rather fun and I relaxed once I got into it. Talking about sex -- even safer sex requirements -- can be sexy! Wow, go figure!

I think the most valuable thing I got out of the workshop was the clear message that demystifying safer sex into a planned (and not terribly long and rambling) speech helps to separate someone's STI status from their sexual attractiveness. If you're willing to be creative and communicative, there is always *something* sexy two (or more) people can figure out. And hey.. we all know how sexy communication is, don't we, poly people?

Don't let your safer sex communication style (or lack of it) limit your sexual choices!



I caught Reid presumably trying out his elevator speech on Cunning Minx during the book signing.. she seems to have found it pretty amusing!



Poly Living Conference: Workshop on Human Origins and Poly

One of the workshops I really wanted to attend was presented by Leanna Wolfe, PhD and titled:  "Human Origins and Polyamory:  when did it all begin?"   I admit I was especially interested in this workshop because I'd just read Christopher Ryan's Sex at Dawn, the book that is giving scientific credibility to the concept that coexisting peacefully with more than one sexual partner not only has historical validity, it makes anthropological and evolutionary sense as well.  (In fact, as Christopher Ryan put it in his presentation, it's the only explanation that DOES make sense for the way humans have evolved sexually when you consider the volume of research that's accumulated).  I'm not a scientist or psychologist, but I'm a good enough librarian and teacher to know the importance of research.

Leanna Wolfe is one such researcher.  She is a sexual anthropologist who works as a college professor, social theorist and clinical sexologist, and who has had a longstanding interest in polyamory both as a researcher and as a participant.  Her workshop provided factual background on the debate (which is currently heating up) on whether monogamy, or some form of non-monogamy is more "natural" to humans.  


The presentation covered a lot of material, beginning with a detailed summary of human characteristics that researchers have identified as being critical to the development of human social/sexual behaviour.  She discussed the concept of maternal provisioning (the need that mothers caring for dependent infants have for someone else to provide them with food and shelter).  There is, she says, no evidence that "sex for meat" exchanges took the form of monogamous pair bonds, and in fact there is current evidence among cultures that live primarily as "immediate return" hunter gatherers that this exchange takes the form of non-monogamous bonds within a community.


The fact of "sperm competition" (there is ample physiological evidence that this occurs in humans and in our closest primate cousins, chimpanzees and bonobos) means that successful reproduction depends on females having sex with many males within a short timespan rather than with one exclusively.  (This section of the workshop produced one of my favourite quotes of the conference:   "Sperm is complicated!" meaning that different components of human sperm serve different purposes, from blocking and attacking other males' sperm to insemination.)


Cultural and social components were also discussed in the workshop.  The feeling of NRE (New Relationship Energy) that poly people so often refer to is seen as one of the biggest challenges to the poly paradigm (though not impossible to deal with, as many of us have found).  Independence and individuality, so valued in the Western world, are cultural paradigms that can encourage monogamy, which makes being poly a challenge in a world oriented toward "coupledom" (more about this in a future blog post about Pepper Mint's workshop: "Facing a Monogamous World").  


The workshop gave a great overview of anthropological research on this fascinating topic.  In the end, Dr. Wolfe left us with the thought that whatever is most "natural" depends not only on physiological characteristics or environmental conditions, but on culture as well.  We cannot lift ourselves completely out of the context of our current cultural paradigm, but we can (and those of us who are polyamorous DO, all the time) make a conscious choice to creatively adapt a different style of sexual behaviour that feels natural for us.  Whether this style is monogamy, serial monogamy, polyamory or something completely different is up to the many factors and complexities that have combined to evolve human primates.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Loving More's Poly Living Conference, Seattle, 2010: 1st blog of many!!

Whew!  Well, I'm home from the conference and my head is spinning while my heart is happy from all that poly goodness!  I met some fantastic people and heard much poly wisdom and I'm going to be slowly uploading it all to this blog over the course of the week, so stay tuned!

My first impressions are:  "Wow!  What a lot of work conferences are to organize!"  and..  "Robyn Trask and the crew at Loving More make it look sooooo easy!"  Many many thanks and kudos to them for their accomplishment!

The conference took place over the course of a weekend, which meant six workshop slots in total (you can read about them on the conference site, here).  I attended five (ok, I was up a bit too late Saturday night to make it to the early Sunday workshops, but hopefully you'll excuse me because I'd not seen my Seattle sweetheart for several weeks..  I was, uh, busy practicing what I preach).  ;)

Most of the attendees were seasoned poly members of various polyamory and sex positive groups across the globe and many were leaders in their poly communities.  The workshops were not only informative, but were also exciting thinktanks for new and creative ideas on how to think about, learn about and teach about polyamory.  I feel privileged to have been a part of this.

Some of the poly leaders and luminaries in attendance were:  Dossie Easton, author of  The Ethical Slut, Cunning Minx, host of Polyamory Weekly podcast, Alan, the webmaster of Poly in the News, Christopher Ryan, author of Sex at Dawn, Pepper Mint, of Freaksexual, Mim Chapman, author of What Does Polyamory Look Like?, Curt Bergstrand, author of Swinging in America, and several executive committee members of the Canadian Polyamory Advocacy Association.

Over the course of the weekend I got to chat, listen to, discuss with and giggle with all of these lovely people, many of whom I look forward to seeing and working with again.  Events like Poly Living remind me that the world can be a friendlier and more connected place, not only through the magic of the internet and air transportation, but through the willingness of people to share themselves, their dreams, and their determination  to be utterly themselves regardless of what our cultural norms tell us we *should* be.  As Dossie herself said to us in her keynote speech:  Success comes from the willingness to appear foolish and to reach outside the box.



Getting to meet Christopher Ryan at the book signing was awesome!




Me, with my first edition of The Ethical Slut.





Sharing a cuddle with Dossie after she signed BOTH my editions of The Ethical Slut!




With Pepper Mint, doing some poly networking!


Saturday, October 16, 2010

Canadian Polyamory Advocacy Association news

Poly Love may be Criminalized in Canada. The Canadian Polyamory Advocacy Association is asking for both funds and community support to resist this attack on our community.

Please fundraise or donate! Consider holding a poly community pub night or event for the CPAA. We have been operating a very tight, totally volunteer driven campaign on a very limited budget and we’re now starting to have expenses in excess of our $1,100 of seed money. (see below for more info on what we’ve managed to do on those funds! Holy cow!) For continued effective and more fulsome representation on this issue, a donation of any amount would be very helpful. Please send a Paypal payment to donate@polyadvocacy.ca or send email to support@polyadvocacy.ca for instructions on how to send a cheque.

Trial begins November 22! Consider organizing a community event that day or the weekend before to celebrate polyamory and show your support. Send us pictures or a blurb. Talk with your MLA or your MP about polyamory and tell them that loving families should not be criminalized just because they involve more than 2 adults in a marriage-like relationship. Our governments need to know that ordinary Canadians do not want poly to be criminal.



Background: As many of you will recall, the Canadian Polyamory Advocacy Association (CPAA) was formed by well known people in the polyamory community to advocate for polyamory in the Canadian court case on Canada's criminal law against multiple, conjugal living arrangements and polygamy (s. 293 Criminal Code). The court is going to be giving its opinion on whether the law breaches the Charter of Rights and is unconstitutional.



The CPAA’s view is that the law absolutely affects the fundamental freedoms and rights of polyamorists and should be struck down. Loving, families should not be criminalized just because they involve more than 2 adults in a marriage-like relationship.



While the law has seldom been enforced (and was recently aimed at fundamentalist Mormons in BC), scarily it promises 5 year jail sentences to participants, and those assisting/attending celebrations. Visit the Canadian Polyamory Advocacy Association facebook page or our website at polyadvocacy.ca for more information.



Litigation activities and updates: A small group of us got together and formed the CPAA. We got:

-donated seed funds of $1100, now spent on activities (see below)

-a volunteer pro bono lawyer (for a limited amount of time)

-obtained "interested person" status in court

-did a survey of the Canadian poly community which we put into court as evidence

--found 5 witness families from across Canada to swear affidavits about their family stories into court (more volunteered too, thank you!)

--made a pre-trial application to ask the governments to clarify whether they believe polyamorous families’ are criminals under the law (application refused BUT the good news is that the application helped us clarify to media and others that polyamory is very different culturally and in practice than in religious, patriarchal polygamy).

-put into court a 500 page brief of expert and social science evidence as well as 4 books



We are now preparing for the court dates beginning November 22. This includes identifying the witnesses we propose to call and to cross-examine and preparing 2 statements of submission.



Government position: The governments of BC and Canada have so far refused to say that polyamorous conjugal households are not criminal under s. 293. Canada has said nothing about its position on the law but is expected to argue that it applies to polyamorous relationships and is constitutional. BC says s. 293 does criminalize polyamorous households. However, if necessary (if the court thinks 293 breaches the Charter of Rights), then BC might take the position that the law should not be applied to polyamorous relationships. That doesn’t make us feel very safe. Even worse, BC has since put forward evidence and made statements at the pre-trial hearing indicating it might argue that polyamory should be included in the criminal law, particularly polyamorous households in which there is one man and more than one woman (polygnous arrangements).



Please feel free to email us if you have any questions or concerns (support@polyadvocacy.ca). We also have forums open on our website

Friday, October 15, 2010

Seattle Bound for Loving More's conference!

Hey VP101ers,

I wanted to send out a GINORMOUS group hug to all of you who contributed to the generous gift of my registration fee for the Loving More Poly Living conference in Seattle this month! I had pretty much given up on going due to my abysmal financial circumstances and I am overwhelmed and touched by your gesture (along with the wondrous stealthiness of my amazing girlfriend for masterminding the whole plot behind my back). *melts*

My brain is already working overtime on everything I need to do to bring VP101 to the North American poly stage in style and I'm going to make sure I take lots of pics and video during the conference for our blog. Let's put Victoria on the poly map!!!

Your excited and still utterly stunned facilitator,

Kiki 

Thursday, October 14, 2010

A Synopsis from last night's Poly 201 discussion on: Metamours (by Zoe Duff of VanIsle Poly)

Meta- (from Greek: μετά = "after", "beyond", "with", "adjacent", "self"), is a prefix used inEnglish (and other Greek-owing languages) to indicate a concept which is an abstraction from another concept, used to complete or add to the latter.
 
Amour is the French word for love, an intense feeling of affection. It may also refer to: Amour(musical), a stage musical written by Michel Legrand ...
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amour
 
So...."metamour" is "after the musical"?   oh....like applause?  woohoo!!!   I"m the applause???  oh yeah bbbbaby    (chuckle)
 
Well....maybe but no... a metamour is
 
In a polyamorous relationship, where your lover has more than one lover, a metamour is the name given to your partner's other lover(s).
www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?...metamour
 
 
Interesting discussion at the Poly 201 group meeting last night.  This is a smaller group than the Poly 101 and more devoted to the fine tuning of practical poly than basic information and concepts.
 
Discussion revolved around the necessity of some relationship between ourselves and the other partners in our lovers' lives.  The relationship between same sex persons in any poly configuration being a key factor in the success of said configuration according to Deborah Anapole in her various books on the subject.  Key factors in the development of  relationships between members of the poly family around you were identified as:
 
1. Time to develop any kind of a relationship
2. Accessibility of the metamours to each other (less likely in a long distance scenario etc)
2. Inclination or compatibility considerations of the individuals and their relationship styles.
3. Responsibility of the linch pin (the lover who is shared) to introduce, facilitate and perhaps referree the relationship developing
4. Investment required of the metamours - (ie if the girl friend is going to be a long term hanging around the house situation then the live in partner would have greater investment in developing a friendship with her and vice versa)
5. The impact of the level of honesty in the lovers' other relationships on you as metamour and the comfort level of being everything from possibly intrusive, kind of involved to completely detached from the particulars of other relationships. (ie knowing that your partner's partner doesn't know about your relationship with her)  ( ie poking at him to call her etc and vicariously participating in the courtship)
6. The poly configuration involved.  A big poly inter-loving household requires much more relationship development than a network of lovers who might not ever come into social contact with each other.
7. Whether you are a primary partner or trying to relate to the primary partner or another non-living in the house partner.
 
Very interesting discussion. 
 
Zoe
“One determined person can make a significant difference; a small group of determined people can change the course of history.”    Sonia Johnson -~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~Van Isle Polyamory  http://www.vanisle-polyamory.com  inclusivelyalternative.tribe.net

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

October Poly 101 discussion (please note a change in date for this month only)

Time
Thursday, October 21 · 6:30pm - 9:30pm

LocationCamas Books
corner of Kings and Quadra streets
Victoria, BC



More InfoTonight's topic will start out with a discussion on creating intimacy in poly relationships. We will also talk about poly terms, poly community, family and any other poly issues you want to discuss.

Due to a scheduling conflict with another group this month, Poly 101 will be held at a different date for OCTOBER ONLY. Sorry for any inconvenience this may cause.