Monoromanticism, Masculinity and More

Gabe and I have been working on unpacking an issue together this weekend. Here are some of the data points I’m gathering about it.

  • Gabe has long been seeking space to discuss his experiences of masculinity and male sexuality and get respectful feedback from others. This search has rarely been fruitful. Even in situations where gender is already being questioned, his experience as a male is rarely welcome.
  • I’ve run into a lot of monophobia in poly lit and in poly culture. Often, the behavior of romantically loving only one person is defined explicitly as unenlightened.
  • I recently had a conversation with a kinky friend who defined vanilla activity as “unexamined.”

Here’s some wording from Gabe that clarifies one part of this for me: anything that is normative is assumed to be understood completely, and not worth discussing or exploring. There is a fundamental yet faulty assumption that normative equals understood.

Now, it’s true that a lot of mono people are making these assumptions. And there’s lots of unreflective men and women that don’t question gender roles they’ve been given. And the same goes for some people having vanilla sex – many of them are not thinking much about why they do it, or what alternatives there are. To be honest, I don’t intend to invest much energy in these populations, and in several others – not when I see that they are mainstream but when I notice they are unreflective. There are a hell of a lot of folks that don’t really question anything. The key to transformation is in their hands and they’re not using it, and no amount of work on my part will change that. If they don’t have a deep need, a drive to think critically, they’re sure as hell not going to start with my agenda on gender or sexual activity or orientation.

Then there’s people who have gone through shit to be who they are. I feel a certain kinship with many of these people. There’s often that drive I mentioned, that craving to understand the dynamics that shape who we are and how we think. For the bulk of us in alternative communities, it’s been a survival mechanism.

It is these people that I hold to a higher standard, and I don’t apologize for that. I do it intentionally and from a desire to nurture myself and my communities. It comes from my background in counseling and my training as a minister and religious leader. We all deserve to be the best we can be. We all deserve encouragement to nourish our continuing development as people of thought and compassion. The analytical skills that saved my life can better my community, if I continue to reflect and examine my actions and thoughts; and the same holds true for others.

Look again at the situations above. In every one of them, it’s a non-mainstream individual or group that is the source of the prejudice. Seeing one particular characteristic that can be named as the “norm,” they equate it not just with being unenlightened and thoughtless. They also frequently equate it with already being understood, and being unworthy of further reflection. Gabe’s maleness and my mono nature get similar treatment in this regard.

I invite us all in alternative communities – all of us with investment in kinky and poly and feminist communities – to expect diversity, not just otherness. I invite us to expect that valuable, thoughtful, reflective experiences will sometimes be of a kind that we perceive as “the norm.” I invite us to be aware of dismissive actions that have hurt us in the past, and make it a prioirity not to inflict those on others. I invite us to cultivate a hunger for others’ reflective experiences. I invite us to see that not just rejecting the norm, but exploding and expanding ideas of it, is an essential part of freedom for many of us.

One Response to “Monoromanticism, Masculinity and More”

  1. random pervertess Says:
    August 17th, 2008 at 8:22 pm

    Urgh, I’ve noticed this too and it sucks. I’m one of those people who has chosen to wait for the right person before I start having sex (well, sex that involves more than one person, anyway). Not until marriage, or for religious reasons, but because I wouldn’t feel comfortable sharing that part of myself with someone unless I felt I could trust them wholly — and I don’t trust easily due to some nasty past experiences. And for that I’ll get called frigid or a prude. It’s so funny, because these same people will tell me about how they would never do sex act x or y because they’re too disgusting/scandalous/whatever, but they’re usually things I would be totally willing to try with the right partner. Not that they have to know that. Heehee.

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