One of many highlights of Westcoast Bound 2014 was the opportunity to personally thank Andrea Zanin for her amazing blog post the problem with polynormativity. I don’t currently identify as polyamorous, but I did dabble in it for a little while and got pretty badly burned. Andrea Zanin’s post (and interview with Cunning Minx on Polyamory Weekly) were really helpful to me. Finally, someone was saying that the way I was treated was not okay, that even if someone is ‘just a secondary’ they have the right to be treated like a human being.
One particularly interesting thing about that post is that it took over 200 comments before a secondary partner spoke up in favour of the polynormative model of a primary couple having a girlfriend or boyfriend on the side. Over 200 comments! Unfortunately I can’t link directly to that comment, but if you search the post for “Jennifer Storm – April 3, 2013 at 7:01 pm” you’ll find it. Plenty of butthurt couples showed up to talk about what a big meany Andrea Zanin was for saying they should treat their secondaries like people, not toys who can be thrown out when they become inconvenient, but suspiciously few secondaries defended that model. That alone seems like a pretty strong sign something is badly wrong.
On the one hand it’s great to see people saying “Hey, non-primary partners are in fact people and actually do have feelings”, but on the other hand, to heavily rephrase a point Andrea Zanin already made in her post (which you read already, right? It’s awesome, go read it): what the fuck is wrong with us when we have to tell people to treat their non-primary partners with basic goddamn decency? Seriously, what kind of asshole has to be told that “protecting the couple” is not a good enough reason to treat a secondary partner like they’re disposable?
While not all kinky people are polyamorous (although there does seem to be quite a bit of overlap), there are plenty of us who play with people besides our partners and it’s worth thinking about how we treat those people. Not having sex with a play partner doesn’t mean it’s not still an intimate relationship, not so different from a secondary partner.
And if Andrea Zanin’s post makes you feel extremely defensive, then I hate to break it to you, but you just might be an asshole.