Faculty of Social and Human Sciences (UNL) Conference System, 1st Non-Monogamies and Contemporary Intimacies Conference

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Power and Privilege: Consent and Abuse in Polyamorous Relationships and Communities
Lisa Poole

##manager.scheduler.building##: B Tower
##manager.scheduler.room##: T12
Date: 2015-09-27 11:30 AM – 01:00 PM
Last modified: 2015-09-15


According to Carol Queen (2009), "sex-positivity allows for and in fact celebrates sexual diversity, differing desires and relationships structures, and individual choices based on consent" (p. 278). One “different” relationship structure is polyamory, which is loosely defined as the practice of respectful, responsible, and consensual non-monogamy. Polyamorists are usually considered proponents of a sex positive culture and emphasize the importance of consent which leads to the common belief that the risk of abuse is limited.According to Fett (2014), “abuse is, first and foremost, about entitlement and control;...[it] is the degradation of boundaries in order to override consent.” A typical form of a poly relationship model is one where a couple opens up their relationship and in doing so, may create a relationship structure that has the potential to facilitate abuse. In the process of opening up, it is common for a couple to establish boundaries and explicitly negotiate rules and agreements that define how the relationship will become non-monogamous. This has the potential to be problematic on several levels, including control and entitlement within the couple relationship and disempowerment of new partners.This is one example of the potential for consent violations and abuse in polyamorous relationships and communities. I would like to facilitate a discussion that explores non-monogamous relationship structural practices and how they might be potential sites for consent violations and abuse.  I would also like to discuss possible approaches for preventing or subverting these (mal)practices by building on existing sex positive practices that already exist within polyamorous communities.