We exercise a little “Clout” on Air America Radio

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Clout is the name of the radio show on Air America Radio that Phae and I were just on, with our friends Tom and Joy out in Santa Cruz, California, talking about polyamory and the current “scandal” over John Edward’s lovelife.

I got a chance to discuss monothesisism and dualism, and to explain how and why mudslinging works in political campaigns. Richard Greene, host of the show, loved the fact that Phae and Joy and Tom and I were “getting together” on his show, along with a poet named Sara from New York City, and challenging the dominant paradigm not only about marriage and relationships, but the very roots of America’s dysfunctional schizophrenia about sexuality.

Go to the show’s website and download the podcast!

About Isaac Bonewits

World famous (or is that notorious) Druid/Wiccan/Heathen/Santarian author, speaker, pundit, etc. Google me to see what I've been doing with my life and what my friends and enemies think about me.
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7 Responses to We exercise a little “Clout” on Air America Radio

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  3. danaseilhan says:

    Sorry to be going back into really old blog posts but I haven’t been here in a while and y’all don’t post that often to begin with.

    It has now been five years since a waking nightmare began for me, touched off by my partner’s apparent belief that he had the right to have sex with anyone he wanted, any time he wanted and I had no right to say yea or nay to him. He being the instigator of the pregnancy I was going through at the time just complicated things beyond belief. We were in a polyamorous relationship. I already had issues with him playing favorites that were worsened by my hormonal changes which affected my mental health. I’m sure you can imagine. And what made it worse WAS the involvement of other partners (all his; I apparently, as a secondary, was not worthy of having another partner myself) who saw fit to put their two cents in where it was not welcome or wanted. Only in the past two years or so, since 2004, have I been able to mostly put it behind me and reach some level of emotional equilibrium. Perhaps coincidentally, I have also not had sex with him in the past two years, if not longer.

    In that five-year period I lost all my friends here in Ohio; those who hadn’t moved away before the trouble started abandoned me after it started because I wasn’t supposed to object to ill-treatment, I was supposed to shut up and bend over and take it up the dirt road. Because he was “exercising his sexual freedom” and I was just a selfish prude.

    You know, I think that in theory polyamory is a perfectly valid path for someone to follow, if they don’t ever want to get too close to another human being and take the time to develop an adult love relationship to its fullest potential. That’s fine. And hey, if they DO want and manage to do and have those things, then that’s great too.

    But that doesn’t mean I think poly is a fit relationship model for MOST people who try it. I disagree that “not being able to do monogamy” is a valid reason to attempt poly, either. Based on my experience and my observations of other polyfolk (although I no longer identify as such), I would hazard a guess that someone unable to “do” monogamy won’t be able to “do” poly either, any more than a person who can’t juggle one bowling pin will be able to juggle five.

    Now to the subtexts of your remarks here. All I know at this point about the Edwards scandal is that he had an affair. I don’t know if Elizabeth knew about it. The press certainly does not seem to indicate that, and the fact that he covered it up and the mistress covered it up and no DNA tests are being done (last I heard?), tells me this was yet another tired old soap opera drama where a purportedly monogamous man decides his needs aren’t being met in his marriage and decides to sneak around behind his wife’s back.

    IF what I think I’m seeing here is what in fact occurred, I hate to be the one to break this to you, but that wasn’t poly. It was cheating. Are you seriously trying to tell your fans that cheating is okay?

    I’ve got more news for you, too. Not only do the signs indicate that Edwards cheated on his wife, but it is also possible to cheat within the paradigm of polyamory. That’s what happened to me. And it broke my heart that someone who had told me he wanted to have children with me would turn around and become deeply involved with someone I had never even met without talking with me about it first to make sure I felt safe in the situation. She never said anything to me either. I just didn’t count in their reckoning of things. And when I got angry about it, that was then used as the excuse for them to continue sneaking around. The other excuse used was that I wasn’t his wife, so I didn’t need to know. It made me wonder for a while whether he meant to impregnate me and then drive me crazy so his wife, who could not then conceive, could have my child instead of me. That didn’t happen, thank goodness, but given what was going on, my paranoia was understandable.

    He and I get along a lot better these days, but it took me backing completely off and getting to a place where I don’t overly care about him anymore. That’s sad. It feels like I killed part of myself.

    This is an example of what happens when lying and sneaking around are framed as “making healthy sexual choices” and when someone who just wants to be treated with respect and told the truth is painted as an anti-sex prude.

    What’s even worse in Edwards’s situation is that his wife has CANCER. The woman might DIE. Doesn’t this matter to anyone? But I keep seeing the same old meme repeated everywhere in the liberal blogosphere, from Pagans to feminists. It’s embarrassing. I consider myself a liberal and I have to be associated with this crap. People, if you’re not happy in a monogamous marriage (or any other kind), GET A DIVORCE.

    And the other thing? This whole meme of it being OK to cheat because it’s sexual freedom? It implies that people have a right to have sex. Can you see where that idea gives rise to ethical issues too? If we all have a right to have sex with another person, that means rape is OK because to be denied sex is to have our rights violated. I would rather say that we have a right to an orgasm, at least one we give ourselves. This, boys and girls, is how I’ve managed to get through 2+ dry years relatively (for me) happy, healthy, and sane: I know how to use a hand and a dildo. Not to be too graphic, but there ya go. And guys? They make masturbation toys for you too. They’re even cheaper than a divorce lawyer. (And if in Edwards’s case he was straying because his wife couldn’t help him get off anymore, he could at least still get other kinds of physical affection from her, which are really the important thing in a marriage. So the time-worn excuse “I needed affection I wasn’t getting at home” is B.S. too.)

    But that’s the bottom line. It’s not OK to say you’re entitled to sex. It’s not OK to lie. It’s not OK to break promises. There are a few exceptions to those ethical statements, but all of them involve saving the life of an innocent person and somehow, I don’t think John boinking some random strange woman is going to do one whit to extend Elizabeth’s life, do you?

    grr. Sorry. I just… really see red about this crap. I’ve gotten pretty disillusioned over the years because I see too much of people claiming to stand for something when they’re really just sitting on their asses letting bad things happen and lending their approval to those things, or at least their acquiescence. For that reason among others I doubt I will ever get married again and I likely won’t get into another long-term relationship either. If conservatives want to enslave me and liberals want to humiliate me, who can I trust?

  4. ibonewits says:

    Wow. You sure had a rough time. The people you were involved with apparently broke just about every rule that polyamorists have evolved to practice “responsible nonmonogamy.” Lying and cheating are unethical whether one is in a “traditional” monogamous relationship or a polyamorous one, gay or straight or bisexual.

    The key to successful polyamory, the kind that benefits everyone, is honesty, with oneself and all the other participants. That’s also key to successful monogamy. The issue isn’t the lovestyle, it’s the characters of the people in the relationship(s).

    Just because someone calls themself a liberal (or a conservative) does not mean that they live up to their ideals. Living up to one’s ideals is darned hard work and many people aren’t willing to do it.

    I hope you find yourself a good person who will treat you with the respect and kindness you deserve.

  5. sari0009 says:

    danaseilhan,

    If people don’t understand the power paradigms…the warning signs of abuse, the building blocks of learned empowerment and equality…then how are they to change things? One cannot change things with the same mindset and information (or ignorance) that created the problems. The domestic abuse rates and issues with ethics are so profoundly frequent because people don’t strive to understand what equality is, what abuse is.

    Instead, people back off, they put others on ignore, they say it’s not their business…still.

    I am so sorry you went through the abuse, danaseilhan. I was in a monogamous (well, for me it was anyway, he apparently had other partners…I found out) relationship and also suffered double standards, humiliation, isolation, loss of social support/network, and more. He also played favorites (between the kids and I, and between the kids).

    Functionally, abusive relationships display many of the same basic hurtful things, it’s just expressed in different ways. At the battered women’s shelter, we used to joke that they all had somehow read the same manual. Abusers do the same basic things, they just do them a little differently, under different circumstances, and with different people. Whether at home, at work, or even in politics, they:

    * Create isolation of some people somehow.
    * Create trust issues that cripple others (but that enable them).
    * Frequently try to make two wrongs into a right (if they act wrongly, they try to further benefit from it…often at others’ expense).
    * Drive away your support or put wedges between people/parties/groups (wedge issues, playing favorites, creating false information about people, creating whacked associations, etc.).
    * Rule reality — your sense of reality is crazy/wrong/dumb/undisciplined/unethical or otherwise asking for it or punished.
    * Mix truth with lies.
    * Do what’s called “crazy making” behavior (basically, they try to wear you down or overwhelm you with their crap and make you feel as if you’re crazy/confused/defeated/hopeless).
    * Cannot and do not maintain healthy boundaries — they move and reinvent boundaries as it suits them, frequently at others’ expense. They make break rules and the law.
    * Have the victim mentality and may see themselves as the good guy even when they are so very wrong. If they apologize, it’s only because they think it’s their best option, not because it’s the right thing to do.
    * Have an overblown sense of entitlement (to money, power, sex, support, whatever).
    * Thrive on double standards and various detrimental -ists and -isms.
    * Use their status/role to their advantages (in unhealthy ways, of course).
    * Use ridicule/shame/blame.
    * Don’t demonstrate a sound sense of accountability for their actions.

    And so on.

    The problem isn’t poly or mono, it’s the abuse. It’s whether the relationship is based on mutual courtesy and respect through personal excellence (equality) or if it’s based on one having power ** over ** the other by way of having the upper hand (abuse).

    Now, about things liberal…

    My mother, a retired high school school teacher, has swallowed the Dionysian vs. Apollian false dilemma, which she interprets as Liberals vs. Conservatives (and conservatives are, of course, church going Christians). Because she’s been told what the frame of reality is so many times in the news, on the radio, and in articles. She points her finger at San Francisco because supposedly the anything goes gay-pride culture there caused a ruinous economy, she claims. In her mind, liberal means no rules, no boundaries, and abusive relationships of all sorts — it means bedlam, not order; primitive lusts and dull minds, not virtuous civilized behavior.

    That’s not how I understand things liberal/left. After much study and years of healing, I **strongly** associate functional (functional!) virtues, ethics, and fine character with things liberal — with freedom comes great responsibility and a deep sense of accountability — with joy comes structure and clear and stable boundaries. Balance.

    That such associations don’t commonly occur to great numbers of people doesn’t mean that liberal or poly is wrong or that liberal or polyamory will eternally be wrong (too lax) for most people. What it does mean is that people don’t understand equality and abuse. they’ve accepted the frame of reality they’ve been fed so many times and they act it out accordingly.

    Neopaganism will grow past this dull liberal vs. conservative, Dionysian vs. Apollian crap. It’ll take time and I’m afraid it will take some study. Equality, the type of equality that removes the stinking thinking of abuse and the institutions of abuse, has to be understood if it’s to be built and maintained. And just as a witch may have to know how to hex in order to know how to heal, as the saying goes, one must understand abuse in order to better understand equality. Scope matters.

    You can see the power wheels and and numerous ways of looking at them on my pages about abuse or virtues, if you really want to dive in…or just look at the wheels. Or you can do a visual search for Power and Control wheels or Equality Wheels.

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