Maxine's Journal

Adventures of the Polka-Dotted One

[sticky post]Welcome to my world
I'm posting this entry for the edification of new readers, as a flag to my important posts (at least the ones important to me), and a map of my world.

My name's Maxine Green. I'm an artist and illustrator by trade, polyamorous (and many other things) by nature, a scientist at heart, and an activist by accident.

My introductory post is here: Butterfly

A continuing series of scribblings about the things that are important to me:
Defining My Terms: 1. Bisexuality
Defining my Terms 2: Polyamory
Defining my Terms 3: Kink
Defining My Terms 4: Radical Agnostic
(because not everything is about sex)
Some More Definitions
Recipe for the Good Life

Original Essays/Articles:

SAMOTURE - or This is What an Activist Looks Like (2009-10-01)
Bisexuality & Statistics: Twice as many dates? (2010-07-16)
Secret Loves (why they suck) (2010-06-10)
The Emanixine Creed (2010-10-03)
The big, beautiful shiny rainbow of kink (A.K.A. there's no One True Way) (2011-04-25)
On hierarchies, relationships and cat ownership. (March 9th, 2013)
On how touching someone without asking is assault. EVEN IF THEY LIKED IT. (October 17th, 2012)
I Am Not Here For Your Entertainment. (The Story) (October 25th, 2011)
Self-Evident Epiphanies - Human Beings. (January 30th, 2011)
Hi, I'm poly and I don't exist. (August 1st, 2010)
Polyamory and Statistics, or “Why haven't we found 'our third' yet?” (September 8th, 2014)
. (.)


Bicon Follow-Up - Poly 201 responses. (2010-09-05)
Bicon Follow-Up 2 - Recipe for Aloe-based Lube (2010-09-05)
Bicon Follow-Up 3 - SM/Breathplay, with link to Jay Wiseman's Essays (2010-09-05)
How to Be Trans-friendly and Subvert Crummy Gender Roles at the Same Time, in Five Easy Steps! (2010-04-07)
Legal Prostitutes Have HALF the Infection Rate of 'Straight' Population (2010-07-12)
'The Bastards! - A sympathetic technique for relationship harmony.' (September 27th, 2013)
More Bad Science - Contraception and Statistics. (a.k.a. Implanon Implants: They're Fine.) (January 9th, 2011)
. (.)

Some more "Me Manual" stuff:

Let's Only Date Grown-ups. (June 8th, 2012)
Form Letter (Response to idiots sending me form letters on dating sites and social networks) (October 23rd, 2013)
On Pain, Punishment and Perverse Incentives (February 3rd, 2012)
One from the Archives: Why I Love Techies. (November 21st, 2014 (Original, 2007))
The Penis Size Rant (September 18th, 2014)
Why My House is a Christmas Free Zone. (December 15th, 2014)
. (.)

No doubt I'll edit this further as new things occur to me, and as my essay series grows.

In the meantime, enjoy!



So You Want To Interview Polyamorous People?
An open letter to media people who want to interview poly people. Including five reasons your approaches may be failing, six ways you can stand out over the norm, and a few suggestions on where to get in touch with polyamorous folks.

Dear Media Folks,

As a poly activist, I see a lot of media requests. It seems like every other week there is another email going around mailing lists and social media, often to little avail. I see that many of you are finding it difficult to engage with polyamorous people, and you're not really sure why. I'd like to help you identify some of the reasons your approaches may not be working, some of the experiences of poly people who have already spoken with the media, and how you might improve on both of these things. So let's sit down, have a nice cup of tea (or whatever you prefer) and talk about it.

Here are some of the reasons you may not be finding the poly folks you're looking for:

#1 - Polyamory doesn't look, or work, the way you're imagining.

An awful lot of media requests ask explicitly for 'polyamorous couples', 'trouples' or 'triads'. To many more experienced poly folks this is a glaring sign of cluelessness: To most of us, poly isn't something that couples do, or 'couples-plus-one'. It is something that people do.

Triad-structure relationships, and especially live-in ones are incredibly rare, even within the polyamorous community. Here is an essay that explains why this is.

Most media requests also focus heavily on live-in families, whereas for many long-term polyamorous people long-distance relationships are the norm rather than the exception.

Requests for live-in poly families exclude large parts of our community who live in geographically distributed networks, as 'solopoly' people in long term relationships that are less obviously entwined, or who subscribe to relationship anarchy and live in even more different situations. I myself am a long-time poly activist, but have been turned down for several media engagements because (hilariously!) by their definition I 'wasn't poly enough' because I wasn't living with any of my long term partners. Hint: This is a great way to discourage poly activists from passing on your details!

We're sorry. We know it isn't quite so photogenic, but most poly relationship structures look more like this
than this

It is also worth mentioning that the poly groups who DO look like this are often 'newbies' themselves: Folks who have started out in a monogamous relationship and decided to 'open up'. That's fine, if what you're wanting to document is exactly that process of transition, but please understand that the general rule of thumb is that the longer someone has been polyamorous, the more complex their relationship structures will be. By focusing on smaller poly households you will be cutting yourself off from a wealth of poly experience and information.

You can find some more information about the different ways people 'do' polyamory here.

#2 - Poly people are not (currently) protected by anti-discrimination laws.

Unlike sexuality, gender or religion, being polyamorous is not considered to be a 'protected' status under current UK anti-discrimination law (or in most of the rest of the world either). This means that a polyamorous person has no automatic recourse under law if sacked, verbally abused, or refused any sort of job or service for reasons of being polyamorous. It's not that we believe we are particularly under attack, but who wants to be a test case?

Until our legal status is clarified, for poly people who have financial commitments, dependents or careers that they are keen to keep, remaining closeted is often the preferred option. Being 'out' is the province of the young, carefree and entrepreneurial amongst us. Happily there are more of us bucking that trend every year, but the number of polyamorous people who can afford to be 'out' is still relatively small.

We are also aware of cases where families have been reported to child welfare authorities for having more than the 'usual' number of parents, or where polyamory has been brought up in custody cases. For many poly folks who have children there is no question: Being 'out', and especially in the media, is not an option.

With all of that, it isn't really surprising that the number of polyamorous people who are willing to talk publicly about being is pretty limited.

#3 - Many of us have already had poor experiences talking to the media.

Did you include words like 'sensitivity' and 'privacy' in your opening message? The trouble is, so did these people.

The pool of poly activists and media-capable polyamorous people is small, so chances are that most of us will already have given a media interview or two, and been badly misquoted, poorly edited and generally felt pretty cheesed off with the results. A good interview where the participants feel they have been fairly accurately represented is pretty rare, and usually comes from someone who has had experiences outside of monogamy themselves.

We suspect it is usually not deliberate. Many folks come in carrying their own preconceptions about what polyamory is, how it works, what it looks like, and what the outcomes will be, and it is natural to seek out stories that fit into one's own preconceptions. Unfortunately, it is very hard for us poly people to separate out the objective, unbiased (but often still uninformed) reporters from the sensationalists just from a few brief emails, so many of us are understandably wary.

#4 - Frankly, we're embarrassed by some of the media that is already out there!

From poorly staged 'Cuddle Parties' through awkward reality TV style documentaries about hippy sex gurus giving us all way too much information straight into the camera, all the way out to Louis Theroux style exposés talking about orgies and who knows what else, much of the portrayal of polyamory in mainstream media is pretty cringeworthy stuff. It's hard to say if these interviews were fairly edited, or whether the folks involved really are the crackpots they're made out to be, but for some of our less ingenuous poly activists the idea of being tarred with the same brush is really not terribly attractive.

To combat this, many of us prefer to create our own media that we have full control over. To record our own podcasts and YouTube videos, create our own online magazines and write our own blogs (Hi!).

#5 - Most of us just want to get on with our lives.

The vast majority of poly people, activists included, are really not all that thrilled by the media 'buzz'. Unlike many folks who might be interviewed in the papers or for documentaries, we don't have a product we're selling or a cause we're championing, other than the ability to get on and live our own lives in peace. Every moment we're talking to you takes away from the time we would otherwise be spending working in our day jobs, and our night jobs, and our weekend jobs (many polyamorous people are self-employed), scheduling time with our partners, travelling between houses, doing emotional processing (endless emotional processing!). Oh, and just occasionally actually going on dates. Those of us who are activists or even just open to occasional media contact may well be feeling pretty burned out. I know I am!

We are a growing but still fairly small percentage of the population, but we receive a disproportionate amount of media attention. Apparently challenging the dominant ideal of monogamy is 'edgy' and 'fashionable' or something these days. Except most of us aren't doing it to be edgy. We're doing it because we just happen to believe that it is okay to love more than one person at a time, and we're a bit busy actually doing that!


So what should you do if you want to connect with poly people?

1. Drop the word 'couple'.

In the world of experienced polyamorous folk, polyamory is not 'couple-centric' and you will be alienating a great many long-term polys by using language that very obviously comes from a monogamous mindset.

2. Demonstrate an awareness of our position.

Do your research. Instead of just promising sensitivity, try showing it up front. Think it's unfair that poly isn't a protected status? Say so! Read a few blogs from poly people about our media experiences and get an understanding of the sorts of mistakes and fallacies media folks usually bring into interviews. If you can't quite get your head around all of it, that's fine, but demonstrating that you have tried will mark you out as someone who has actually done some proper background research and put you on a better footing for starting the interview.

3. Build a portfolio of work

that demonstrates your knowledge of the topic and how you intend to handle it.

Sure, everyone has to start from somewhere, and perhaps as a journalist or a documentarian you have never covered this topic before. Why not then browse through existing works by poly people and see if you can find something that speaks to you. Quoting our own words back at us – in context – is a great way of demonstrating understanding. Or put together a brief sample article or video that shows roughly the sort of story you expect to be telling. Try to sum up what you know of poly so far, what your gaps in knowledge are, and what it is that you want to learn. Then we will know whether we fit your paradigm or not.

4. Offer editorial input and opportunities for feedback.

We know you have deadlines, but many of the worst media experiences we have had have involved being terribly paraphrased or misquoted, and this gives us the opportunity to correct errors before they can embarrass us – or you! - in print. This is also a great way to build trust with folks, which may mean leaving the door open for more interviews in future.

5. Be flexible!

Poly people tend to have busy lives. Being flexible about meeting times and places could mean the difference between being able to meet and chat or not at all. We know you have lives too, so we don't expect you to be on call 24 hours a day, but being able to think outside the box could come in pretty handy. Don't worry, we're good at scheduling. We get a lot of practice!


If poly people talk to you about concerns with your approach or your plans for your work, pay attention. We don't mind educating people. After all, that's what we activist types are here for, but we can and will withdraw if we feel our concerns are not being taken seriously.

What NOT to do:

Whatever you do, if you want to maintain any goodwill within the polyamorous community at all, DON'T lie, cheat or 'infiltrate' groups of polyamorous people in the hope of getting a juicier story. Firstly it won't work (Seriously, poly really isn't all that exciting. It's just like regular dating, only with more people), and secondly, poly people talk to each other! Since so many of us are in long-distance relationships, our romantic and familial networks often extend across countries, sometimes even internationally, and our grapevine works fast. If you upset one group of poly people, chances are the rest of us will know about it within a day or two. On the flip side, if you deal fairly and equitably with us, and make the experience a positive one, we might well be able to put you in touch with poly folks all over the country, perhaps even the world!

Where to find Poly People?

So now you've done a bit of background research about what polyamory really looks like, how it works and what poly people want to say to the world. How do you get your message to the people you want to talk to?

1. - If you're in the UK, try sending a message to the admin of the UK Poly Mailing list who will be able to pass it on to a nation-wide group of polyamorous and poly-friendly people.

2. - Facebook and Twitter are great places to connect with polyamorous people. Check out the #poly and #polyamory hashtags.

3. - Check out existing poly media. Many poly people have blogs, just like mine. Getting in touch with people who are already engaging in activism and talking about their relationship structures in the public eye tends to be far more effective than showering general poly groups with media requests.

4. - Leave a comment here! I don't mind forwarding the odd message to my poly networks. All the better if you've followed the advice above. :)

Looking forward to new and better media interactions,



Pharmacologist cookery, or 'what I cook when I have a cold'. :)
Diagram of a sick bunny. Image from www.chaosbunny.com.

This post initially arose out of a discussion about homeopathy (and indeed most other 'alternative' styles of treatment), about which, having trained in pharmacology at university, I usually end up in a paradox loop.

Yes, according to all of the research available, everyone who is saying that homeopathy is no better than a placebo is correct... BUT the placebo is one of the safest and most powerful treatments known to medical science. So I'm torn. When someone has a virus (for example, the common cold) or some other condition that is otherwise untreatable, is it worse to say 'I'm sorry, there's nothing I can do for you.' or to give someone a sugar pill and say 'this will make you feel better'... and it does? If a placebo treatment is effective, is it even a lie?

I also think the reason we have such enormous trouble getting rid of 'alternative' unscientific treatments is because they genuinely do offer something that empirical medicine doesn't, and that is often the simple sense of being heard, cared for and of being able to 'do something', where medical science might just say 'wait this out'.

Which is why I feel so excited about having found something of a middle ground: When I or my friends have an infection, I 'prescribe' a whole list of foods known for antimicrobial properties (usually resulting in a rather nice curry!). It's not 'medicine', precisely, but evidence suggests that each of the individual items themselves should help at least a little bit more than a placebo would, good nutrition is *always* useful and the sense of being able to 'do something' about the situation is an enormous relief.

My personal infection-fighting shopping list is as follows (I will try to come back and edit this later to add proper references and update it with new possibly bug-fighting foods as and when I spot them):

Garlic (evidence of some antimicrobial properties, including antiviral, antibacterial and antifungal)

Onions (evidence of some antimicrobial properties)

Ginger (evidence of some antimicrobial properties)

Cinnamon (evidence of some antimicrobial properties, also kills insect larvae)

Cloves ("")

Cardamom (evidence of some antimicrobial, and some anti inflammatory properties)

Hot Chilli Peppers (you guessed it, evidence of some antimicrobial properties. Also stimulates endorphin release for pain relief, and is a pretty effective decongestant)

Sweet peppers/bell peppers (super-high in vitamin C)

Tomatoes (high in vit. C, which is good for the immune system, and lycopene- antioxidant, lowers stroke risk, apparently good for asthma sufferers)

Lemon (more vit. C)

Something high in zinc, which is known for helping the immune system along (lamb is supposed to be good, as are quite a lot of nuts, and iirc a fair few kinds of fish as well.)

Something that's a good source of protein, to help build and repair new cells (usually chicken, fish or lamb, also eggs, cheese or pretty much any sort of nuts).

[ Tea and Cookies are not on the list yet, but I can always hope!]


...All of the above can be referenced via pubmed. It's not a coincidence that a lot of those items on the list are strongly flavoured 'aromatic' foods - a lot of the pungent flavours we find so fascinating turn out to be the plants natural chemical defences against invading bugs. I've probably missed off a few, but a rule of thumb seems to be that if it's a strongly flavoured spice, fruit, or vegetable, then it probably has some bug-killing properties.

It turns out that all that's pretty close to a recipe for a lamb doppiaza right there, which coincidentally happens to be my favourite curry (other kinds of curry are available)! Also quite a lot of thai food (A good tom yum soup is also great for keeping hydrated, too, as well as containing lots of anti-bug foods!).

I'd love to see more recipe suggestions and additions to my list in the comments here!

On 'Needs' vs. 'Wants'
pink hair
"Having needs doesn't make you needy. It makes you human. Just thought you should know."

A friend posted the above comment on Facebook today, and while I think I am fundamentally in agreement with the spirit of the statement, I am twitchy about the use of that particular word, 'needs', and have been for a long time. I do want to say that *wanting things* does not inherently make anyone a bad person, or needy, or whatever. To want is very definitely human. On the other hand, the word 'needs' as used to describe relationship requirements or even very important and urgent wants always gives me a little shudder because it is such a fuzzily defined term the way most people use it, and I have seen it very badly misused in the past.

Sure, everybody has needs. Food, water, shelter, basic medical care, y'know... the sorts of things that make us Not Die. But using the word 'needs' to mean 'minimum things I want in a relationship' or simply 'things I really really want right now' has always struck me as somewhat blackmailish, because it raises requirements within one particular relationship to the level of things that are non-negotiable for survival, which - and folks may certainly disagree with me here - in my opinion, they aren't. However much I might value my chosen family and the relationships I have built in and around that, the basic unit for survival is the individual, not the family, and definitely not the relationship.

Using the word 'needs' to describe any expectation or desire within a relationship seems to me to demand that a specific person (or sometimes in poly a small group of people) should meet those 'needs' whether they want to or not.

I strongly feel that romantic relationships are voluntary and therefore all aspects within those relationships should be voluntary as well (beyond the basic minimum level of respect that we should all have for our fellow human beings, of course). Not everybody has them, not everybody *should* have them. Ultimately where we are talking about the emotional aspect of a relationship, everyone is responsible for meeting their own needs or that aspect of the relationship is no longer voluntary and therefore, I would argue, neither is the relationship itself.

If I'm not able to satisfy what all of my partners *want* right now this minute, or vice versa... well, sometimes them's the breaks. We can't always expect our partners to 'perform' for us on every level. On the other hand, if I am not able to satisfy my partners minimum relationship requirements, or if they're not able to satisfy mine, logic says that we should dissolve the relationship. Whereas if the word 'needs' is used, the implication seems to be that if I am not able to satisfy my partners 'needs', I am a Bad Partner(TM) and should step up to the plate, whether doing so works for me or not.

I am probably extra sensitive to this because I had an abusive relationship in the past where my partners 'needs' were used as levers to demand more and more from me that I wasn't actually prepared to give, on the basis that *I* was a Bad and Abusive Partner(TM) if I didn't provide for them. How awful a person was I, to ignore things that were stated as NEEDS? Even if those needs effectively negated anything I might ever want out of that relationship myself, and even if those needs were things I would have stated as outside the remit of that relationship had the request been made in any other way. I was *needed*. To say no would have put me in the wrong, no matter what was being asked.

Everyone deserves to be able to ask for what they want in relationships, but every single person also deserves to set the terms of their own relationships, and not be hung out to dry if what they are able to provide is not the same as what the other person in that relationship wants, however those wants are stated.

I mean, how unreasonable would I be if I was to say "I need you not to use the word 'needs' ever again"...?

How do you folks feel about this question? Do you have different ways of defining the word 'need'? Do you love it, hate it, feel neutral about it? If you use it, what do you mean by it?

Think of the children?
I have seen a couple of articles recently with a very similar theme: Porn is bad because well... it's bad, mm'kay. And also kids might see it.

I'm not going to address the question of whether porn is 'good' or 'bad' for adults (I think the answer, as with so many things, is somewhere in the region of 'it depends'), but I made a couple of comments on facebook in discussion about these articles specifically regarding children's access to pornography that I wanted to retain for later use, so I'm going to publish them here to refer back to.

[Comment one]
Critiquing the existence of porn by objecting that children might see it is like criticising the existence of cutlery because toddlers might hurt themselves on it*, or of horror films because underage children might see those too. Yes, it happens, and sensible folks should take precautions against it happening, but kids are not the target market for porn in the same way that toddlers are not the intended market for knives, or for horror movies.

On the whole the folks who make porn are also in agreement that it's not intended for children, and take steps to avoid it. The people who make porn easily accessible for children are the people who steal it/share it/pirate it, and not the people who make it. Nobody is making porn with the *intention* of kids seeing it, so I think that 'what about the kids who see this?' is not a terribly useful criticism of its content, or of the industry itself, only how it's distributed - and again, that's usually more down to folks other than the makers and publishers of said porn. I think most folks would quite rightly be annoyed at someone leaving knives around where kids can get at them, without blaming the person who made the knife, or trying to ban the manufacture of knives outright. We can accept that there is an appropriate place for knives, and for horror films. Why is the same standard not applied to porn?

On the other hand, I'd far rather kids were watching people having a nice time with each other than, for example, people being beheaded - which is apparently perfectly acceptable in mainstream TV, even before the watershed, while images of naked people enjoying themselves are not."

*By comparing porn with knives, I am not saying that I think porn is 'dangerous', just that neither is a tool intended for children (and it was the first analogy that sprang to mind)

[Comment two]
Coming back to this after pondering for a few more hours, it follows that tightening up on copyright infringement would probably have a far more pronounced effect on reducing children's access to pornography than any newly created obscenity laws, but to do so in a way overtly linked to porn would probably be political suicide as the government would be accused of protecting the pornographers' interests. Bah. Politics is rubbish.


So is that the answer to kids accessing material not intended for them? Tightening up on copyright infringement? It's already 'wrong', but currently it's a civil lawsuit and not a criminal one. What would be the impact of making copyright infringement a criminal offence, and would it be effective without international cooperation? Would a public organisation chasing down incidents of copyright infringement help or hinder artists? Would it cost more or less than hunting down 'obscene' materials? Who would get caught up in the collateral damage?

What other ways exist or could exist that might be more effective in preventing children from accessing material not intended for them?

I don't have the answers, only lots more questions, but I think these are more important and relevant questions to be asking than simply 'Why don't we ban EVERYONE from watching porn in case children also see it'. Or you know... while we're at it, we could ban kitchen knives, alcohol, all prescription drugs ever, heavy metal music, horror films and the manufacture of cars, too. After all, everyone knows that children shouldn't have access to those...

Polyamory: Not just many lovers, but many KINDS of love.

Polyamory is often defined as the practice of engaging in multiple romantic or sexual relationships with the consent of all the people involved.

I think that while that definition is a reasonable one, it doesn't convey the way that polyamory has, for me, opened up an entire new spectrum of potential relationships, of new ways to relate to other people.

Our 'monocentric' or monogamously oriented culture offers a fairly simple view of relationships. The path is laid out for us clearly by our friends, families and the media. We are expected to meet someone, fall in love, go on a few dates, move in together, settle down, get engaged, get married and live happily ever after. Some poly folks refer to this as the 'Relationship Escalator'. Once you are on the Relationship Escalator, a 'successful' relationship is defined as one that ends in marriage, and ideally children. According to this mythos, any relationship that falls outside this track is deemed a failure. For many polyamorous people, however, this is not the case. 'Success' in poly relationships is defined by the people in that relationship, and not necessarily by outside culture.

Just as the greeks had several different words for love, polyamorous people may find that they experience different kinds of relationship with different people. Certainly for some people, poly can offer opportunities for sexual exploration, but for others it can allow the building of close familial bonds, simply with more people. For yet others it can mean creating dispersed networks of long distance loves, and for some of us it means there is space for all of the above: Everything from occasional encounters and romantic but non-sexual friendships, all the way through to deeply committed live-in partnerships. The difference, for poly people, is that our relationship model doesn't tell us how to structure those relationships.

Some Different Styles of Polyamory

Some poly folks prefer to structure their relationships so that they still look very much like the Relationship Escalator model, only with more people in it. These people will still expect to meet someone new, fall in love, date for a period, and then consider adding that new partner to their existing household, before possibly making some sort of long term commitment or raising children together. In other words, it looks a lot like monogamy, only with more people. This is the version of polyamory most often seen in the media, since it is easier for those outside the community to understand and relate to, but it is far from the most common poly relationship structure.

More common in the polyamorous communities that I know is for poly people to form dynamic 'clusters', 'pods', 'polycules' or 'tribes' of interconnected singles, couples and smaller groups. Each relationship within that cluster may have different expectations. Some may be 'primary' style relationships with expectations about cohabiting, shared finances and child rearing (or as I sometimes call them 'Indoor Cat' relationships), some may be 'secondary' or 'satellite' relationships, or ('Outdoor Cats'), with romantic or sexual attachments but fewer shared commitments. Others may sit outside of those expectations entirely. Some poly people may share their living space with people who are not sexual partners, but who are still committed parts of their lives. Some folks may also choose to co-parent with people they are not romantically attached to, or with partners they are not cohabiting with, or pick and choose what aspects of a 'conventional' relationship structure they do and do not apply to each relationship.
Many polyamorous families with children are indistinguishable from the 'blended families' we are seeing more of in our society as a result of divorce (except usually less acrimonious!). Conversely, some monogamous divorced couples are nowadays choosing to build lifestyles that look remarkably similar to poly households, with ex spouses choosing to carry on house-sharing and co-parenting whilst dating other people. Labels, shmabels, eh!

Another, newer, phenomenon in the world of polyamory is the Solo Poly movement. Solo Poly people tend to live alone or cohabit with friends or roommates rather than with partners, and do so intentionally. Their relationships may be committed or not, sexual or not, romantic or not, independently of whether they are cohabiting with their partners. There is an excellent and more informative post about what Solo Poly is and is not here at http://solopoly.net/2014/12/05/what-is-solo-polyamory-my-take/

Where I personally stand is somewhere between those latter two styles of polyamory. Preferring something more akin to relationship anarchy to hierarchies, I like to let each of my relationships find its own level – looking for spaces to fit the people in my life rather than people to fill the preordained spaces. I tend towards the solo poly end of things philosophically. I prefer to keep my finances separate to those of my partners, to always have my own room and my own space. My relationships do not generally follow the Escalator model (several of the most important people in my life live in entirely different cities!). However I am not opposed to sharing living space with one or more partners, assuming we're compatible in that way, and I love the idea of one day building my own poly 'village' which I could share with lots of my partners and metamours. Experience has taught me that life rather often takes me in directions unexpected, however, so there is little I rule out, these days!

How Poly Can Make Different Kinds of Relationship Possible

For me personally, polyamory has made possible a number of relationships that simply could not have worked out in the world of monogamy, or at least with 'standard' relationship expectations.

Take my longest standing partner, for example: We're chalk and cheese in many ways. He is obsessively neat and ordered whereas I love my creative chaos, he loves to have the TV on all of the time whereas I find that it drives me nutty after only a short while, he wants to be interacting all of the time we're in the same building whereas I am more introverted and need to be left alone sometimes to work, or to think. He loves living in the city, whereas I'd rather be outside it these days. There are many ways, big and small, that we are not well suited to share space with each other, yet we have shared a deep, abiding and supportive love for the best part of a decade, have looked after each other financially, physically and most importantly emotionally. We have met each others' parents and colleagues and are firmly established as fixtures in each others' lives, but living together? The way I like to see it is that we love each other enough not to try to squeeze ourselves into that ill-fitting box.

Poly can also allow child-free people to maintain loving and supportive relationships with partners who want children, people with mismatched sex drives to stay in happy and fulfilling romantic relationships with partners they are otherwise perfectly suited with, and people in long distance relationships to find local companionship without harming their existing relationship. It certainly isn't a fix for every kind of relationship problem – far from it, but stepping outside the expectations of monogamy can make some things that would be 'deal-breakers' in a monogamous relationship much less of an issue.

I want to make it clear here that polyamory is NOT just about dating 'enough' people to make sure that all of your 'needs' are met. Known to some as 'Frankenpoly', the idea of adding all of one's partners together to create some sort of gestalt 'perfect poly partner' is flawed and somewhat objectifying. There are some important characteristics every relationship needs to have in order to be a functional and healthy relationship in itself, and the most important of these are compassion and a healthy respect for each other as human beings – not as 'needs fulfilment machines' as Tacit has often put it.

Polyamory has made it possible, too, for me and many other people to experience different sorts of relationships with people one might not normally be compatible with. Including, for me, an incredibly sweet ongoing connection with a young man who is otherwise only into men, and a cheerfully intimate friendship with a cheeky chap who tells me he is 'awful at relationships' mostly because of the nomadic nature of his work, but has been consistently lovely over 15 years of extremely intermittent occasional dates (I suppose I could call this man my longest standing partner but we have probably only spent a week together over that entire time, pleasant as it was).
Poly makes it possible to be a small-but-good thing in someone's life, and vice versa, without having to put any more expectations on that particular relationship. It has enabled me to play more relationships by ear, to 'see where things go', without feeling under pressure to find the one 'perfect' mate. With a rather beautiful irony, that has also allowed me to meet and develop strong relationships with people who turned out to be much larger features in my life than I expected them to be, whom I would have automatically discounted if I had been looking for a monogamous partnership, simply because I didn't believe we would turn out to be as compatible as we actually are.

Non-sexual Relationships and Poly

I want to add in a note here about asexuality and poly. It is an assumption often made by people outside of the polyamorous community – and even some people within our community - that poly is 'all about the sex'. The first page I came to when looking for a good definition of the word described polyamory as 'the practice of having multiple sexual relationships'. I personally would argue that the focus of polyamory, for myself and most of the folks that I know, is much more about the loving than about the sexual aspect of the relationship. Also while I do not in any way define myself as asexual, I have had (and still have) some incredibly satisfying romantic relationships that did not involve sex.
So I want to make it clear that yes, asexual people CAN have romantic relationships, which can also be poly relationships (although they don't have to be) – there is a lovely long 'manifesto' about asexuality and poly here by a blogger I just found when I was looking for references for this essay: https://transpolyasexual.wordpress.com/2014/01/30/my-ace-poly-manifesto/ - and polyamorous people can have romantic relationships that do not include sex. That too is another type of relationship that I firmly believe would not have been available to me if I had been monogamous, thanks to ideas about 'emotional infidelity'. As a sexual person, I could well have have had to choose between the deeper emotional connection on the one hand and a partner I could sleep with on the other. I am incredibly grateful that, thanks to poly, I do not have to make that choice.

I am clearly not the only poly person with a sexual orientation to appreciate the non-sexual opportunities my nonmonogamous relationship model allows me, as this post by The Ferrett shows too. http://www.theferrett.com/ferrettworks/2015/01/a-nice-thing-about-polyamory/

And last but most assuredly not least, there is another, more familial form of love I have found through poly: the love that I feel for my metamours, or my partners' partners. We may not have sexual chemistry (although the complexity of my network within the UK has before now resulted in the invention of the term 'lolomylo' or 'lover's lover who is also my lover'), but we invariably have more in common than just our mutual partner. We may not always agree on everything, but at the end of the day we are connected, by the community we are a part of, by ideology and by our love for our partners. Some of my metamours are also close friends, many of them are activists and, for me at least, being a part of my relationship network very often feels like being a member of a league of superheroes.

Much like this, in fact:

What About You?

In conclusion, being ethically non-monogamous has offered me and those close to me opportunities to build many different kinds of relationships and to tailor those relationships to suit our lives, our needs and our selves. Has poly opened up new kinds of love to you? If so, in what ways? Are there any kinds of love that I missed?

With love (of various sorts!),


[Edit 2015/03/06: Minor changes. Fixed a couple of typos and added in a couple of extra hyperlinks. Made headings more obvious.]

Why My House is a Christmas Free Zone.
Subtitle: Seriously, please don't buy me gifts.

Dear Peoples,

This year (as I have for the past several years) I am declaring my house a Christmas Free Zone. I am excusing myself from participating in a pointless cultural habit.

Some of it is ideological: I am neither a Christian, a Pagan, nor a Capitalist, and while I think it's nice knowing that Isaac Newton was born on the 25th of December, I think he would appreciate the sentiment of my doing nothing at all to celebrate this fact, because he simply isn't around to see it.

Some of it is more practical: After almost a decade of short-term living situations and an entire year of living out of backpack, the idea of acquiring more Stuff gives me an almost-physical pain. I can't help imagining carrying the extra weight of this new item, whatever it is, or doing the calculation in my head, working out which thing in my already full to capacity backpack I will have to give away, destroy, or otherwise leave behind in order to accommodate this new uninvited guest, however small.

Yes, I have a house right now, but my intention is to sell up and go back to being nomadic in the future. Every gift I receive now will have to be either carried or disposed of in the intervening time, and it hurts my heart to receive beautiful things knowing I can't keep them.

I'm not a complete grinch. I don't want to spoil anyone else's fun. I just question how much 'fun' is really involved in the rituals of compulsory gift-giving, emotional blackmail and gluttony that go alongside a traditional celebration of... what? The birth of a prophet who preached poverty, self-immolation and charitable giving? The turning of the seasons?
Why not, then, spare a thought instead for folks who are less well off? Perhaps those who are out in the cold. Rather than indulging in ridiculously high calorie foods, making oneself miserable, or at best uncomfortable, with overindulgence, why not give the whole damn lot to a food bank? Why not the gifts too? Instead of buying yet another gift set of pre-wrapped toiletries, probably destined barely to be glanced over before being placed on a high shelf and left to gather dust, why not say to your friend, family member, colleague, 'Today I made the world a slightly better place'. Why not give to charity instead, or volunteer your time?
Don't get me wrong, I'm not against ever giving gifts. I love gift-giving. I just feel that gifts can happen the other 364 days of the year, for better reasons than 'a historical figure was born over 2000 years ago and probably nowhere near this time of year, so now I have to give you these socks that you didn't ask for...'. I have no objection to giving things to folks, especially if they're useful, wanted, well thought out. If they'll make life genuinely *better* rather than just fulfilling some sort of ritual expectation. I'll probably even be buying gifts for a few people this December, they just won't be christmas gifts.

If you're the sort of person who might have the urge to buy me a gift, I urge you please to reconsider. I have no need of more 'stuff' in my life – in fact, I need less. I have more than enough food, more than enough clothes, a warm place to live. The only thing I'm short on is time. I would rather hear that you had donated to charity on my behalf, or spent some time making the world a better place in some way. Some random act of kindness, or at the very least the carbon-neutral, pollution-free and mostly harmless act that is doing nothing at all.

There will be no christmas cards sent from my house, this year. There will be no tinsel, no baubles, and no tree. There will be no massive christmas dinner, or stressful family visits. Life, in fact, will carry on pretty much as usual, except perhaps a little quieter. Since I first went 'on strike' from christmas, several years ago now, midwinter has become a peaceful contemplative time for me to catch up with myself, my reading, and all of the bits and bobs that have built up through the year. I'll be sorting out my tax return, figuring out what I might be donating to charity on top of the steady stream of possessions I've been giving away over the last few months, and thinking about how I can contribute to the lives of friends and family through the rest of the year. I might get some DIY done.

Whatever I end up doing, I'm rather looking forward to the blissful peace of watching the hustle and bustle of the 'festive season' from a safe distance, and not being involved in any of it.

I guess you could say that this is the gift I'm giving myself.

Love and peace to everyone,



One from the Archives: Why I Love Techies.
"Editor's Note": I wrote the original article in 2008, for a website that no longer exists, and it's been gathering dust in my archive ever since. I thought it was about time it came out for an airing. There may be a few grammatical errors as I had to run a find and replace on the genders, having pleasingly met lots of female and gender variant Techie types since I wrote the first version. Hope folks enjoy it!

Why I Love Techies
by GeekGroupie (a.k.a. Maxine Green)

An enthusiastic rant about just what it is I love so much about (shiver) practical folks.

Now really, would you trust someone who didn't know which end of a screwdriver was which to push *your* buttons?

I have to confess, I have a soft spot for geeks in general. Geeks are, in their many quiet ways, passionate people, and that's a thing that has always appealed to me, but a particular love has always been the Techie.


What is a Techie?

The Techie is a guru of technology. A specialist. They are the sort of person other people go to when they have a technical problem, a source of expertise. The Techie, male, female or otherwise, may be an engineer, a programmer, a top-level mechanic, a space-ship builder, maybe even a chef - it's the personality traits that make the difference. They are passionate about what they do, they do things right, and they get things done.

Techies are confident in their field, they tend to be well aware of their own competencies - a trait that happily extends to other aspects of their lives. A good techie is innovative and pragmatic - they will use the tools they has at hand to get the job done, and if they aren't the ones designed to do the job they will improvise. They are generally single-minded, focused and willing to experiment. If the Techie doesn't know how to do a thing, they will learn how rather than leave it to someone else.


So what exactly is it that I love? Every one of those traits has a use in the bedroom, I promise you. The human body is a complicated device - would you entrust it to someone who wasn't capable of learning how to use any others? A Techie won't just assume they're doing everything right, they will look and listen for feedback, and most likely ask if they're not getting it. If the task at hand happens to be, say, 'provide partner with orgasm' believe me, they won't rest until the task is complete. A Techie is not afraid to use tools to get the job done - I confess, a Techie guy introduced me to my first vibrator, and I haven't looked back.

As partners, Techies have their faults - it can take a bit of effort sometimes to get their attention when they're more interested in pushing buttons on their latest project than on ''you'' but on the other hand, my engineer loves have fulfilled more of my fantasies than anyone else - To a true Techie there is no such thing as 'can't'. I've seen techie folks take up soldering irons, spanners, welding torches and saws to make play equipment and looked on in awe at the results - and these weren't botch-jobs, No, a good Techie is always a perfectionist. They're not going to do anything by halves. Some of the best nights of my life have been spent in the hands of the folks who spend their days bending over their electronic loves.

So who do I look to when I want a good time? Do I go for the playboy? The Charmer? The pretty people? Do I go after money, or looks, or a silver tongue? Hell no! I'm off to find the folks behind the scenes who are busy making things work, screwdriver in hand.

Hey sexy Techie, got a tool for me?

The Penis Size Rant
Inspired by far too many posts on social media in which guys worry about the size of their genitalia. This is a slightly edited version of something I posted as a comment on facebook last week, but felt it deserved to be preserved for posterity, or future referencing:

"Aaaaaaargh!! I think I just hit my final limit for guys imagining that having a massive cock is what makes for a good lay. It just plain isn't true. It's not length, it's not girth, it's not even what you do with it that matters. What makes you decent in bed, guys, is NOT BEING ALL ABOUT YOUR COCK.

Guys, I have got to tell you, your best tools for pleasing a woman are (1) Your hands*, (2) Your mouth*, (3) your brain, (4) whatever sex toys you happen to have lying around, and maybe if she's really worked up and horny for you then your dick might be a welcome addition, and when it is... guess what? The size of it isn't going to matter, because (unless you're painfully bashing her cervix, which is so not fun) she'll only be able to feel the first three inches and your pubic bone grinding against hers anyway.

Don't get me wrong. I love fucking. I've used strap-ons with my girlfriends too, on occasion (NB. Funnily enough, it's never the first thing we go for). When it's good, it's good. But when it's good, it's because someone's paying attention to the girl-bits it's going into, not just to the size of the damn tool.

This rant brought to you by the Horny Bisexual Women's Commission For Better Sex."


*Okay, female opinion may differ on the order of these. But hey, this is my rant. And for my money, hands are WAY more versatile, flexible, sensitive and effective than mouths. I've never yet had a tongue hit my g-spot.

Tales of Accidental House Ownership: Emanix and the Sexist Carpet Salesman
So this just happened.

Background: I'm in the process of redecorating my accidental house in Manchester, including the yard, and having spotted a roll of astroturf outside one of my local carpet shops, marked with a sign saying 'roll end sale', I measured up the space concerned and then wandered in to the carpet shop to make enquiries about size and cost.

I just happen to have my henchman with me. He's hanging back behind me as I wander in, because it's not his house and the purchase has nothing to do with him. Nothing about his body language is saying 'pay attention to me'. Apparently this doesn't matter.

We step through the door and the manager has clearly stepped out for a minute. There are two ladies there, and one asks me if I mind waiting for the boss to get back. I'm fine with that, and about ten seconds later 'the boss' walks back in. A smart-looking middle aged indian man in a suit. The lady I spoke to indicates that there is someone here to see him, pointing at me, so I step forward, expecting the salesman to say hello.

"Hello Sir!" he says peering over my shoulder, to Henchman No.1, who is standing several steps behind me, goggling.

I take a quick glance down at myself to check I haven't suddenly become invisible (nope, there I am, in full stripey-and-spotty chaosbunnific glory). I take another step towards the salesman. Perhaps he's short sighted or something.

"Hi!" I say, rather pointedly, as though he'd spoken to me in the first place.

At this point he literally steps AROUND me to ask Henchman No.1 what he's looking for.
Henchman No.1 is silently shaking his head and pointing at me, and right now I'm getting kinda pissed off, so I march back in front of the salesman and tell him "ME. You speak to ME, please."

Mr. Sexist Salesman did rather grudgingly then proceed to talk to me, but clearly wasn't actually paying any attention to what I said, because while I was asking him about the astroturf I had seen outside, marked as 'roll end sale', he then starts pointing me at carpets inside the store. Carpets that are clearly not roll ends, either.

Wow, sexist carpet salesman, this is the 21st century. Do you seriously mean to tell me that you've never had to treat a woman as a potential client before?

Eventually it turned out that the astroturf was NOT in fact in the sale, so I got the price and sizing availability from him and we left. Unless it turns out that his price is the cheapest source of astroturf in the entire country, I don't believe I will be going back, except possibly to let Sexist Carpet Saleman know how much money I spent with a competing store, and why.

If anyone else feels like calling Carpets World to explain why you also will be giving your money to other carpet stores, they can be contacted here:

Carpets World
787 Stockport Rd Manchester M19 3DL (Levenshulme)
0161 248 0420


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