I'm looking for any writing on the rise of "ethical non-monogamy" as part of the same late-capitalist scarcity ethos that fuels the growth of things like Uber, Airbnb, and Doordash and "affordable housing". Something along the lines of Žižek on Caffeine-Free Diet Coke

@olamina If there is something like that, @danielscardoso might have heard of it.

I'd be surprised though. Those of us who think about ethical non-monogamy philosophically tend to approach it from a anti-capitalism abundance perspective

The essay you linked to gets into levels of philosophy way over my head, but speaking personally one of the appeals for me has always been as a way to build a non-nuclear family in a capitalist society that isolations & maintaining punishes extended family ties

Yeah that's my point. I am thinking the "anticapitalist abundance" narrative is a capitalist lie. The same as, "Work whenever you want!" is a capitalist lie

I don't know of m/any ENM arrangements that are/have become family. And if they do it is probably more just to stave off poverty not to cultivate abundance.

The current neoliberal line is, "You'll own nothing and you'll be happy". I think ENM might be part of it knowyourmeme.com/memes/youll-o


@olamina @jessmahler @danielscardoso many of the ENM relationships I see among my friends do indeed resemble extended family structures (and sometimes are explicitly labeled/coded/legalized as families) without as heavy of a poverty angle as you might think.

The fundamental basis I see is less that "full ownership" is superfluous a la a Spotify subscription instead of a record collection, and very explicitly a rejection that anyone should own another human.

@olamina @jessmahler @danielscardoso the philosophical underpinnings I hear are also grounded much more in "pre-capitalist" history than I'd expect. Stuff like how formalized marriage with a single partner, a lack of lovers on the side, and a focus on "nuclear families" is quite ahistorical: commoners generally didn't formalize relationships like royals did, marriage was a property deal and not for love (cough Disney), and homes were mixed until midcentury.


@wilbr @olamina @danielscardoso
Historically strict monogamous societies are an aberration. Not quite as much of an aberration as mainly-polyandrous societies, but still.

That doesn't mean some folks aren't using historical dressing to push a capitalist agenda, intentionally or otherwise.

The more I think about it, the more complicated I think it is, with some folks doing exactly what @olamina is suggesting, and others drawing on other philsophies.

@wilbr @olamina @danielscardoso
But I've known for a while that the 'big names' and folks getting news articles and notice are some of the ones I least trust.

I was on the periphery of those circles a while, well known but not publicized or supported, and I walked away from them AND any public discussion of polyamory for years because of the toxic environment they created.

Daniel is pretty much the only person I'm still in touch with from that time.

Who are the "big names"? My gripe comes from the glut of normies on dating apps saying they are ENM. Anytime normals get onto something like that I smell something neoliberal in the offing...

@wilbr @danielscardoso

@olamina @wilbr @danielscardoso
Not surprised you are seeing that. There's always been lots of people claiming polyamory or ENM who are just users.

And it's becoming a fad. That doesn't mean that the folks who have been an active part of the polyamory community are like that. If you go to meetups and such youll see a very different picture, more folks like @wilbr and myself.

@jessmahler @olamina @danielscardoso to be clear I'm pretty much a normie but I'm also not ENM just on the outskirts. And yeah I'm sure many people especially on dating apps will use it as a term to make hookup culture seem sophisticated.

I don't think any of my practicing friends have time for meetups outside their own circles, and they seem just as frustrated by chasers and sleazebags in the dating scene.

"...a term to make hookup culture seem sophisticated."

This resonates!!
@jessmahler @danielscardoso

@olamina @jessmahler @danielscardoso my friends seem to use the word polyamory a bit more often, I wonder to what extent you're encountering people who are basically like "my husband/wife says it's ok for me to see other people" whether that's true or not and call it ethical but might not be very versed in making sure everyone involved is actually comfortable. Which to be clear is a huge and difficult undertaking even for people dedicated to it.

@olamina @jessmahler @danielscardoso I just saw a post by another person who said they don't feel comfortable when asked to keep a relationship a secret, or when they can't meet or know about the person's other partners. No shit, where's the ethics in that? Someone may transparently not wish to meet their metamours but there shouldn't be secrets in ethical relationships. Just the opposite, I'd be like can I see all of your metas' STD results?

Yeah I'm getting the sense it is more people who "got the hallpass" as it were and not people who are involved (or even aware of !) poly community or philosophy or anything
@jessmahler @danielscardoso

@olamina @wilbr @danielscardoso

I'm not comfortable naming specific people. Just talking about it at all is spiking my anxiety. But if you don't already know at least one of the people I'm referring to, than you don't know enough about the history of polyamory and the development of ethical nonmonogamies in English-langauge cultures to build a useful philosophical analysis.

I'm not building any "philosophical analysis". I'm *looking* for one/some, because I've got suspicions.

I don't need to read history books to be suspicious of suspicious-seeming things.
@wilbr @danielscardoso

@olamina @wilbr @danielscardoso
This convo hit some trauma triggers for me.

No, you do not need to know the history to be suspicious, and I've said that I think your suspicions may have some basis.

But you've also made some very sweeping statements while clearly knowing very little about many of the people doing different types of ENM.

I've given you the best resouce I can for the analysis you want, and if you really want those big names, you can find them easily enough by looking at...

@olamina @wilbr @danielscardoso
... the folks running polyamory conventions and teaching workshops and otherwise putting themselves forwards as 'leaders' and 'educators'.

I will not be tearing open my wounds further. The way i set that boundary was intemperate, but that was the best I could manage at the time, and I won't apologize for being harsh while in trauma response

If you want to discuss ENM or polyamory stuff not involving those people, I can probably do that after I manage some sleep

Sorry you got triggered. Looking at
@wilbr 's post here glitch.social/@wilbr/108954742 think you and I are talking about two distinct groups of people @danielscardoso

@olamina @wilbr @danielscardoso
Yeah, figured that out last night, but probably wasn't clear bc of not thinking clearly.

You've broadly got three types of folks using the enm or one of the labels under it's umbrella.

Folks who've vaguely heard about and think it's a good way to justify doing what they want to do anyway. Sounds like those are who you are running into

Folks for whom it is an identity/life style who dig into how to make it work right.

@olamina @wilbr @danielscardoso
Folks for whom it becomes a passion and start writing and talking about it all the time, and trying to help other folks learn how to make it work.

Of that last group, some are passionate for the wrong reasons and use the platform they gain as educators to be shitty. The rest of us tend to get pushed out or burned out after dealing with their bullshit for a few years.

@jessmahler @olamina @wilbr
Hi all, I am not sure if I'm still wanted/needed here. Overall: contemporary critiques of monogamy are rooted in marxist-feminist analysis. Critiques of "polynormativity" are also rooted in intersectional feminism. Simultaneously, many lived experiences of CNM (esp those made visible by mainstream media) have been coopted by neoliberalism. As everything has.

@jessmahler @olamina @wilbr
I would however disagree that an analysis of platformed labour (ie Uber / Airbnb) is related to "scarcity ethos" or Zizek's work on Coke - rather, Airbnb and the likes are based on a perversion of the notion of "community" and "wealth/resource redistribution".

@jessmahler @olamina @wilbr

Still, and because I was summoned to provide bibliography, the only thing I can think of that connects CNM to individualization is a piece by good old me (only in Portuguese), and Eleanor Wilkinson's fundamental text:

@danielscardoso @olamina @wilbr
Found a non-paywalled copy. Def looks like an interesting read:

What's queer about non-monogamy now?

M. Barker, D. Langdridge, Eleanor Wilkinson


@jessmahler Ah, apologies, did not realize that link I sent was paywalled! Thank you!

@olamina @wilbr

"Moreover, these [polyamory] narratives help reinforce the idea that our primary emotional connections have to be with people we fuck. The sanctity of sex and the position of romantic relationships above all others is left unchallenged"

All the fucking this!

@jessmahler @olamina @wilbr

In case I'm allowed to toot my own horn (some more), here's some preliminary findings that have been published about what activists say they want to see changed in political terms in the UK and Portugal


Exactly. I only mentioned Žižek because I like his style and because I think there is something to this lie that people (mostly cis straight men) are essentially seeking women out for what previously were paid services by claiming they are offering the women some opportunity under the umbrella of ENM as some sort of subversive "movement"

@jessmahler @wilbr


But CNM practice is more prevalent among the non-het and non-cis population, so in my mind at least it makes sense to distinguish between different lived experiences and to carefully note on the historical origins of CNM practices (and also ofc of their coopting by cis-straight-white)

@jessmahler @wilbr

@danielscardoso @olamina @wilbr

I had meant to apologize for inadvertently spamming your feed with everything the other day, but your input is always appreciated.

@jessmahler not a problem, I didn't engage because I'd not seen it yet. I've been travelling for work almost non stop these past 2 weeks so time and energy are limited :)

Ouch! Hope you have some down time scheduled.

Been a while since we chatted, if you have time now -- how have you been?

@jessmahler so to be clear are you saying there's a bunch of people out there with a "why buy a boyfriend when you can rent him" philosophy and it's a quantity over quality swinger-roommate type deal that celebrates a lack of deep attachment, and they call it ENM?

Everyone I know in the "scene" is either just messed in the head without any particular philosophy (aren't we all?) or has at least one dedicated partner and less sex than you might think, just not demanding exclusivity

I'm saying many of the 'leaders' of polyamory -- the folks putting on the cons, writing the books, and getting interviewed for TV shows are toxic, users, and/or abusers.

I'm saying everyone I know who was part of that circle and wasn't like that was pushed out sooner or later and many abandoned polyamory and ENM activism entirely.

None of them had a 'why buy a boyfriend when you can rent him' philosophy openly. They all talk a good talk...

... but it was TALK, and talk that pushed the idea that the individual was all, that communal approaches to relationships were inherently wrong.

And some of those people were outted as abusers, have made their names and money off of the labor of others, and have relationship histories of 'trading up' or 'trading out' when it was convenient.

So I could fully believe that whatever they say, some of them were pushing the kind of neoliberal bullshit that the essay was discussing.

Honestly, 'why buy a boyfriend when you can rent him' would be a healthy approach compared to some of what I saw. At least it would be honest.

@jessmahler ah I see. Yeah toxicity and abuse can definitely be a hazard of the "scene" (as with any scene honestly?) I guess I'm just fortunate to know a lot of people who do seem to cultivate a community of care around themselves and seem to apologize for any transgressions. They might make decisions I wouldn't make for myself, they may break up too easily or get together too readily, but much of the drama seems to happen away from them not close to them.

@jessmahler the idea that the "individual is all" seems really antithetical to a lot of what I've seen and heard: everyone has their individual boundaries but making sure each other is cared for and their boundaries respected and the ability to truly opt out of things they'd draw a line on, and resolving conflict equitably, is like half of what I hear from them.

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