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


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

"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.


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 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.

Confirm in context at
(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.

Polyamory Panel Discussion organizer:
Cora Bilsker 250-507-1674,
CPAA spokesperson:
Kiki Christie,

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