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

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"Poly Politics": Are We Normal Yet?
Lisa Poole

##manager.scheduler.building##: B Tower
##manager.scheduler.room##: T10
Date: 2015-09-25 02:30 PM – 04:00 PM
Last modified: 2015-08-07


Sexual citizenship confers national status and rights on individuals whose behaviours and identities conform to what is currently legally and culturally acceptable sexually (Cossman, 2007; Bell & Binnie, 2000; Richardson, 2000; Rubin, 1984). Currently in Canadian society, conceptions of sexuality, intimacy, family, and kinship are changing significantly; however, monogamy remains normatively privileged, while sexual lives structured outside of monogamy are simultaneously marginalized (Butler, 2002).

Polyamory, or “poly,” – defined as the practice of respectful, responsible, and consensual non-monogamy – is a group marked outside the norm of monogamy and excluded from full sexual citizenship. Yet, as an emergent relationship form, polyamory is developing into an established social practice with an expanding community and increasing media exposure. It could be said that poly people might be “‘coming out of the closet’ as an interest group with a political agenda” (Strassberg, 2003).

“Poly politics” are emerging in a particular social, economic, and political context.  To understand poly politics, we need to look at the concept of citizenship within contemporary sexual politics, along with the associated emergence of the idea of the “normal” “good sexual citizen.” Those not considered “good” sexual citizens are excluded which forecloses and denies unacceptable sexualities. It is within this framework of sexual citizenship and normalization that I will explore “poly politics.” As an excluded group, do poly people “want in” and to be considered “normal”? How might this kind of poly politics impact notions of sexual citizenship, the social and legal institution of marriage, and the rights and responsibilities that traditionally accompany marriage?