November 9th, 2004
|07:16 pm - *gets on soapbox* "Now, I'm not trying to offend, but watch me say something wrong and regret it!"|
Over the past 10 years, I've been exposed to some interesting things in Paganism. One of the results of this is that I can pretty well take any new development with relatively little non-plus.
Every so often, though, I'm a bit surprised at things. I'd like to address two of them, because they've been on my mind recently for various reasons.
**Note: No, this isn't directed at anyone. It's just some observation to hopefully help people understand what I mean.
It bothers a lot of people that I just don't get it. I don't understand polyamoury or the dynamics that cause/contribute to it/make it work. This leads a lot of people to think that I'm against poly relationships for all manner of silly reasons.
Let me start like this: I'm not poly. I'm not going to be poly. Yes, that means that even if you ask me three times in one week, I'm still not going to be poly. By the same token, what you do with your life is entirely up to you, and I encourage you to use it as you see fit. Just not on me.
My problem with poly doesn't come from the lifestyle. It comes from the people I've encountered who claim the poly lifestyle as their own. Over the past two-three years, I've met some genuinely caring, good people who were poly. Before that, I hadn't met any people who were poly who I really liked (at least, no one who told me that they were poly; I'd probably met some and didn't know it).
The reason I didn't like the people I'd met before is that I was in a relationship, and they wouldn't take "no". "No" meant, to them, that I was not being considerate of their poly lifestyle. To me, repeated attempts to get me to become poly, or to explain polyamoury without me asking them first showed that they weren't considerate of my wish to be monogamous with my girlfriend.
One girl, after asking me three times if I'd date her because "Tina would be okay with it" (despite the fact that I'd never asked Tina, nor did I really want to), asked me if I would date her if I wasn't with Tina. My response was quick, harsh, and possibly the meanest thing I've ever said to a person: "No, because I don't find you attractive." It wasn't necessarily true, but I was so fed up with her persistence and downright obstinance that I had to do something, and being mean was the only thing I hadn't tried.
I'm very free with my flirtations, but that's only because they don't mean anything. I enjoy flirting, and I like innuendo.
I think that people who are cool with their sexuality rock. I think that people who can love lots of people are probably very good people. Actually, I think that people, especially women, who are free and open with their sexuality are generally very strong people. But I also see some of these people as painting a rosey picture where there's something rotten beneath.
Most of the people I've met who are poly are interested in one thing: sex. I watched several of them seek out and eventually damage people emotionally just because they were hot. I've seen people who, rather than being accepting of another person's monogamy, have called that person "stupid" or "dangerous" or "not really Pagan". I watched polyamoury rip a local Grove apart at the seams. I'm convinced that I once saved a girl who was receiving unwelcome advances from rape.
That's what I've dealt with for years. A lot of this was men who called themselves poly, but acted contrary to what I understand poly to be all about. A couple of people on my friends list have convinced me, over time and over experience with them, that there are positive aspects to being poly. I know that not all persons who are poly are like that now. But for the first 7 years of my experience as a Pagan, that's the kind of person I met.
So if you wonder, just for a moment, why I don't necessarily understand poly relationships, that's why.
Senior Druids and Grove Members:
A few months ago, there was some commotion on the ADF-SD list regarding Senior Druids and their dating habits. Someone had posed the question of whether it was proper for an SD to date members of their Grove, and I was a bit shocked that the overwhelming answer to this was "yes", and that some people actually encouraged it.
I didn't reply there, because I had to think it through. It was one of those things where the answer isn't immediately obvious, and to bring it up now would be old hat, and a rehash. So I'm going to try to outline my thought process here, instead.
After thinking it over, I don't think that relationships among leadership of a Grove is a good idea. I know it works for lots of Groves, and lots of study groups, and lots of covens, but I don't think it's wise.
Of course, an established couple, be they husband/wife or simply long-term relationship, is very different than a few hookups. Still, there are considerations that I just can't get past.
First, it makes the SD no longer impartial. If a dispute arises that affects the other person (or persons) in the relationship, the SD is not going to have a clear view of what's going on. That alone is dangerous.
Second, it makes it hard for a single person in the Grove to gain say in matters. This is especially the case in smaller Groves. If the SD is involved with one person, that's one less person you can go to if you have a problem with the SD. ADF Groves are rarely large, and the loss of one person you can talk to is huge.
A poly relationship could make this even worse. You might have all three officers in one relationship, which suddenly makes it very difficult for a person to gain a voice. The thing about relationships is that they tend to form blocks. People become "other" to the relationship, and their opinion doesn't count as much, either because the people in the relationship don't care, or because they constantly hear the side of their lover(s) more often. Plus, it's easier to give in to your lover than to fight them.
One of the most damaging things, though, is the fact that when officers act together, though, their motives become shaded in the eyes of the rest of the Grove. When officers in a relationship send a joint email, the critical (or hurt) party will automatically fall back on, "I'll bet that X got Y to send that because they're sleeping together!" Decisions that were discussed in depth are written off as one person controlling the other through sex. That reaction can cost you half your Grove, if you let it fester.
Third, there's the whole "trust" thing that priests are supposed to have. If you start sleeping with your congregants, you need to be very careful of a few things: Are you sleeping with people who are looking for spiritual help? Are you taking advantage of their need for help? Does the person have the ability to say no to you? Will you still retain their trust after you've slept with them? Will you still retain the Grove's trust?
Fourth, you have to worry about driving people away after a messy breakup. If your SO is an ADF member, and you break up with them in such a way that they feel like they can't come back to your Grove, then they're stuck being solitary. Nothing is worse than suddenly not belonging, and if you can't return to your religion, something people should find solace in, then what can you turn to?
Finally, though, there's the danger that you'll get starfuckers. There are people out there who want to sleep with high-ranking people in any organization. Those people may or may not be looking for the power that comes along with that, but you need to watch for them. Starfuckers cause more burnout than anything outside of Pagan politics.
No one thinks that they're violating any rules when they do things that are fun, but I really think that, if I had to look for a new girlfriend, I would continue to look outside ADF, and certainly outside my Grove. My Grove trusts me, I hope, and I wouldn't want to damage that trust. I'm very much afraid that, if I did sleep with a Grove member, or even another person in ADF, I'd lose that trust.
Current Mood: restless
Current Music: "Fins", -JB
I call myself poly, but I am not really sure that I am. It's an easy to use word that people in most of the circles I run in can relate to (although, as you mention it is often related to negatively). I would be under the label of monogamous... except I'm a femme dyke and married to a man. Men (that aren't my squishie pooh) are just squick (sorry babe). Having said that, wandering around the "poly community" I have found the people who often call themselves poly do the most damage to the term. I also think the same of the words pagan and neopagan. Yet another reason I say I am not neo/pagan. ;)
You make very valid points with your thoughts on relationships and Groves. I see only three pin-pricks. The first is if you allow longterm relationships or legally wed people but not dating or flings, how do you justify it? Those relationships have just as much a chance to blow up painfully. Yeah, yeah, life is not fair. :-D The second is that love cannot be controlled. If feelings develop how do you tell people to knock it off or leave? This leads into the third thing of how do you define a meaningful relationship and a non-meaningful. I'm sure on some level starfuckery has it's meaning to the individual.
But these are all things that, surprisingly, some corporations also struggle with. They even go so far as to say significant others cannot work in the same department together (unless they meet there and got married after both were employed by said company). They will even state certain family member also cannot work in the same departments.
It is a very fine line to walk. Especially if you are clergy. I think it comes down to group dynamics. Some groups could have everyone boinking each other and a break-up could happen and they wouldn't miss a beat. While others would have a tragedy of large proportion on their hands. How do you make a universal policy that doesn't work universally?
And is a member of clergy really taking advantage of someone? How do we figure that out, especially since that sounds very much as if we are basing such a judgment call on one of the more puritanical religions. How do we balance sexual openness with improper behavior?
Personally, I think ultimately it depends on the group and individuals. Some people aren't meant to do those things; they are spiritually, emotionally and psychologically mature enough. Unfortunately I think they are few and far between. Oh, and I wasn't asking any of this questions in an accusatory tone (which I am sure you know), they're really thinking out loud rhetorical questions. :)
They are not spiritually... for got the "not", bwahahahaha.
Yeah, the questions are hard ones, but they're questionst that I think about lots. It was hard to write this entry, actually, because there are so many questions and concerns. I worry about this sort of stuff all the time, even though I'm not dating anyone in the Grove. Heck, I worry about what might happen if Tina joined and she broke up with me. . . It could get really sticky, especially if she starts dating someone else within the Grove!
Ooh, I'm squick! Yeah!