Hetero Poly under patriarchy. Not so viable. Especially when so many men see us as things not full people.
In polyamory, women may have to work double time at their care labor to become more desirable than other women lovers. Perhaps they must be more sexually willful and open, more caring and sweet, sometimes more youthful and simultaneously mature, they must overall have a better performance in reproducing the man in the center in order to continue to earn their part of the attention or by worth the investment, since there is hedging and other investments placed against them.
Moreover, the struggle to get even basic emotional and sexual needs met from men is already an uphill battle for many women. Being “needy” is a sexist stereotype of women, and since there does not exist an actual social impetus for men to meet women’s needs, polyamory can make it all the more difficult for women demand that their needs be met. Rather than do the work to fulfill one woman’s needs in exchange for getting his needs met, a polyamorous man may simply drift to another lover.
And when needs aren’t being met, the excuse is that the polyamorous man is too emotionally or sexually dispersed, he is already not used to doing care labor, and suddenly he has to do his normal minimal amount of labor but now to maintain a few different relationships.
This can mean that not only are we working double-time in one relationship to compete with other women, but if we have multiple partners in poly relationships we must do this with other men too. Our care labor doubles, then quadruples. One could say that reciprocally this is the same for men. Yet men do not do care labor typically, they receive it.
Perceiving other women as a threat is not actually about jealousy or self-esteem. It is the consequence of historical and material processes, or the significance and value of our care labor. As commodities, women are poised to compete with each other. The further commodifying a relationship, the more this happens.
This resonated with me. The bit I quoted isn’t universal to poly relationships but it’s way more prevalent than I hoped for and way more prevalent than it should be. The times I feel most insecure are when my needs aren’t being met, in any context, and I’ve had past partners actively exploit that, poly or no.
And like, I’m poly, I love my boyfriends and they love me, I hope to meet more people who become important to me and bolster and support me and are willing and good at putting in the same kind of emotional labor for me that I put in for them in our relationship with each other.
But a lot of people I’ve met “in the scene” (bleurgh) are just as threatening, just as draining as people who aren’t poly. Being poly doesn’t absolve you of the framework in which we move and live; but people think it does, sometimes, and that leads to complacency and the tendency to not want to work to meet your partners’ needs.
and this same shit can happen in queer relationships. duh