joreth: (Purple Mobius)
This is Jane. Jane is monogamous. She believes in the One True Love. She believes that there is someone out there who will compliment her, support her, bring out the best in her, and she will do the same for him. She believes in being sexually fidelitious to one person at a time, even if she's not yet sure if he's The One. She believes that, when you commit to someone, that includes prioritizing them above all others (except for children, of course). She believes that a good relationship is defined by more than just sexual activity, but also a strong emotional connection, common values, and shared goals. She believes that her partner is her sexual partner but also her best friend. Even though she also has best friends, the kind of best friend that a romantic partner is supposed to be is different, and it's not just because of the sex - there is a special connection between two people in a romantic relationship that doesn't match any other type of relationship. That's what sets it apart.

Jane is an adult in the modern age, so she doesn't necessarily believe in "saving yourself for marriage". She doesn't think there's anything wrong with being in romantic relationships and expressing yourself sexually even if that partner turns out to not be The One. She's not a virgin and she doesn't feel "damaged" about that. Sure, she's had some partners in the past who she regretted sleeping with, but she's also regretted some meals she's had and some hair styles she's worn. She doesn't take it as a personal flaw, she just accepts that sometimes she makes poor choices and she tries to learn from her mistakes.

Jane is a monogamist. She had her first boyfriend when she was 16. She was so deeply in love with him. She wrote her first name and his last name in her school notebooks. She tied up her parents' phone line for hours. When that relationship ended in senior year, she was devastated. Then Jane went away to college. She went on a bunch of dates with a bunch of different guys. Not all at the same time, of course. But she'd go on a date or two with a guy, decide that he wasn't right for her, meet another guy, go on a few dates with him, etc. Then she met another guy who turned into a boyfriend for a few years. When that one ended, she decided to focus on her graduate studies and just had friends with benefits for a while.

Jane had a variety of different kinds of relationships before she found someone to marry. And after they got divorced, she had a couple more different relationships before finding the man who would turn out to be The One. Each of her relationships looked different from the others. Some were longer term than others. Some were more emotionally connected than the others. Some were short-term but deeply, intensely connected and some went on for a while but didn't take up too much of her emotional energy or attention. Some relationships were slow and sweet, while some were fiery and passionate fireworks. And, of course, some of them took more conventional pathways - building at the socially acceptable pace, moving in the socially acceptable direction, hitting the various milestones in the socially acceptable timeframe and the socially acceptable order.

The reason why I'm telling the story of Jane is because most people can hear her story, her history with a high school sweetheart followed by a period of experimentation followed by a deep, committed relationship, followed by a more "selfish" phase, followed by another deep, committed relationship ... people can hear that story and they can hear me call her a "monogamist", and no one bats an eye. Within the boundaries of monogamy in a culture that doesn't enforce the literal translation of the term (one marriage, implicitly for life), there is nothing contradictory between someone who ultimately hopes to find a single partner to marry and be sexually and emotionally fidelitous to that partner, and someone who has relationships that don't look exactly like that description. A person can be a monogamous person based on the kind of relationships they desire or prefer, regardless of what their current or past relationships look like.

And yet, 25 years after the term "polyamory" was first put into print, we still debate whether or not someone is polyamorous based on the description of their relationships at the exact moment of the debate. Is someone still polyamorous if they only have one partner? Is someone polyamorous if they have casual sex? Is someone polyamorous if they take their opposite-sex primary partner to sex clubs to hook up with people they meet at those clubs? Is someone polyamorous if they're unpartnered? Is someone polyamorous if they haven't yet been in a poly relationship?

We're still debating whether polyamory is an orientation or a choice. The truth is that it's both and neither. The word "polyamorous" can describe either a person (orientation) or a relationship (choice). Just like the sexual orientation spectrum, people can be to one side of the line or the other, or they can be somewhere in the middle where they can choose to participate or not and still be happy in their relationships.

I'm sick of this debate. Unless someone specifically states that they're non-monogamous, we assume people are monogamous by default almost no matter what their current relationships look like. There's no cognitive dissonance in our collective minds between someone being monogamous and someone having relationship structures that vary. Monogamy encompasses a wide range of things. Even cheaters are still accepted (generally) as being "monogamous". They're probably considered to be fucked up, but still monogamous unless that person has a pattern of cheating or has more than their established partner and one "mistress" or other partner that they're cheating with (more than 2 partners total).

There are several discussions and debates in the poly community that I'd love to never see again. This isn't even one of the more aggravating ones. And I, in particular, like to categorize things and put things into boxes and draw lines around like-things. This is poly, this is not poly. But I'd love to see the end of discussions questioning whether someone can be poly who also happens to like swinging, or who also happens to have a fuckbuddy, or who only happens to have one partner right now. Of course they can. Their swinging relationships might not be poly relationships, but they can still be poly people. Their poly relationships are still poly if the people in those relationships also happen to swing. Poly relationships, because of the etymology of the word, assume some sort of loving connection between the participants. But, in my opinion, part of loving someone is in accepting them for who they are. And if who someone is happens to be a person who also likes casual sex, then I see no problem with someone applying the label "polyamorous" to either themselves or their loving relationships even though that person also has sex-focused relationships, or even if they find themselves polysaturated at one partner.

Sure, I can get behind questioning the validity of using the poly label for a relationship that explicitly forbids the development of emotional connection with anyone other than the one partner in that relationship, or that explicitly forbids any kind of sexual activity outside of the core dyad. But a person in one of those arrangements can still be polyamorous themselves even if they agree to a non-poly relationship. And there is also the question of where those limitations are coming from - a relationship in which one partner has the power or attempts to limit the other partner's behaviour or emotional state in those ways could have its poly label questioned, whereas a relationship where neither partner is limiting the other but they just happen to find themselves in those situations due to their own choices or their own limitations is less up for that kind of questioning. So, if my partner told me that he didn't want me to fall in love with anyone other than him, you could probably question whether or not my relationship was "really poly". But if my partner was totally fine with me loving other people, and I just haven't found anyone else to love right now or I'm too busy with other things to be emotionally available to develop a loving relationship with someone else right now, I don't think that questioning the poly label is appropriate.

So, my point here is that, in many ways polyamory is just like monogamy. We like to reinvent the wheel, for some reason. We keep thinking that we're special snowflakes who are doing these totally different, totally unique things that we need all new rules and structures to deal with, but we really don't for most things. Monogamy covers a very wide spectrum of relationship structures and styles. Healthy monogamy does, anyway. So does polyamory. It can cover closed quads, it can cover open networks, and it can cover a bunch of things in between and to the side. A person can be polyamorous no matter what structure their relationship happens to be, even if that relationship is monogamous in structure. I think it's very valuable to be able to say "this is definitely poly" and "this is definitely not poly". I think it's valuable to be able to define and explain what things are and what they're not. But for the stuff in the middle, I think we need to stop fretting about them and just let them be. If Jane can be a monogamist while she's focusing on her studies and just goes out occasionally with a couple of guys for now, then we can be polys even if sometimes we like to swing or if we have relationships that have a more developed sexuality than emotional connection.

I totally get why a lot of the long-time poly activists and more experienced polys stopped hanging out in poly-centric social circles. After almost two decades of hearing the same fucking debates just because each new generation of newbies thinks that they're the first ones to come up with these questions and they don't want to accept the answers the veterans have already figured out, I now completely understand poly veteran burnout. I just wish there was a primer of some sort that we could just give poly newbies that says "Hi! So you're new to polyamory! We've already had the discussions you're about to start in your new poly groups! Here are all the answers so you don't have to ask us anymore!"

Oh wait, there are primers like that.

This came from a comment I made in the Facebook thread where I posted this same content. It's relevant, so I'm adding it here:

This is a tough one, because so many people are unable to distinguish between categorizing for language and communication vs. boxing people in.  We have to be able to say "this is" and "this isn't" so that we can find each other, find ourselves, build solidarity, communicate, and yes, sometimes even "discriminate" (not in the sense of oppressing others, but in the sense of protecting oneself and/or one's community from those who would harm them).  But at the same time, we can't get so rigid about those category definitions and labels that we end up being the ones to do the harm. Taxonomy is important, but it's important to remember that taxonomy is also messy.

So, take my previous rant on cheaters calling themselves poly. A poly person can cheat. The *relationship* that includes cheating isn't poly and I think we would be doing harm to the community and the cheating victim to allow cheating under the poly umbrella. But the person participating in cheating can still be poly, depending on how they felt about the cheating.

For example, I believe that the reason why I used to cheat is *because* I am poly. I just didn't know how to go about it. Those were not poly relationships, and the unethical harm I was causing made me seek another way so that I could stop cheating. That sense of ethics, that integrity, is what made me "poly" even while I was fucking up.

There needs to be both "this definitely is but that definitely isn't" as well as "this is somewhere in the middle and you're still welcome in the club".
joreth: (Purple Mobius)
"But we need rules to keep people from lying to us!"

I got news for you honey, rules don't keep people from lying to you, they only tell people willing to lie what they need to lie about. An honest person and a liar look exactly the same ... until after you discover the lie, and by then it's too late. Rules won't stop someone from lying because, and I'm gonna let you in on a little secret here ... someone willing to lie to you won't care that there's a rule against lying. It's like someone who is intent on murder isn't going to say "oh, you mean it's illegal for me to own a gun? Oh, well, I guess I won't go murder then!" Being against the rules isn't what stops people from lying, cheating, or hurting us.

But I'll tell you what does stop them from doing those things, most of the time. Respecting people's autonomy, giving them the freedom to make their own decisions, and providing enough safe space for them to tell you things that you might find difficult to hear - that's what prevents most people from lying.

It's kind of amazing how much more willing people are to be honest to you if they believe that it's safe to be honest to you. Lying takes effort. It takes work. But our society rewards lying and punishes telling hard truths. This doesn't mean, of course, that you're not allowed to react or have bad feelings when you hear something upsetting. But it does mean that there has to be some incentive to tell a hard truth that is greater than the incentive to lie and the consequences for telling the truth have to be less than the consequences for lying. Why should I tell the truth if I can lie and nothing bad will happen to me?

Because telling the truth would make a better person, and if you don't make it so difficult for me that not being a good person is the lesser consequence, then I'll tell you the truth (giving myself Brownie points for being a Good Person) and avoid the hassle of lying.

This doesn't stop everyone from lying, of course. Some people have a mental disorder called pathological lying. Some people have programming that's just too ingrained. Some people get off on secrecy and subterfuge. But the kicker is that, for those people, the rules won't stop them anyway. The rules just tell them how they can "win" the game by oh-so-considerately laying out exactly what they can or should lie about. The rules don't weed out liars, they create opportunities for liars.

I've often been baffled by guys who would get into relationships with me because I said I wanted an open one, and then they would proceed to lie to me about seeing anyone else. Like, WTF dude? You have my blessings! There's no reason to lie! Those people are out there, absolutely. What do you think would have happened if I had made a rule that these guys couldn't date other people? Do you think they would have said "oh, well, I WAS going to sneak around behind her back and fuck this chick on the side, but now that she SAID that I couldn't, I guess there goes that plan then!" Because that's totally realistic, right?

People who are going to lie are going to lie. Supporting people's freedom and autonomy and encouraging them to follow their own path while nurturing a haven for them to share the stories of their travels with you is far more successful at weeding out liars and developing honest relationships.

I know, it's surprising, that treating people with respect makes them want to be respectful back. Totally counter-intuitive, right? Well, yes, it is in a culture that confuses "respect" with "fear my authority". But it's really easy to make people fear you. It's much harder to make them willingly respect you.

Our culture can't always tell the difference between "treat me like a person" and "treat me like an authority" because it uses the word "respect" for both concepts.  So some people think that the only way to make a partner treat them like a person is to make their partner fear their authority.

I've heard from many people, even within the poly community, that they want to get married, for instance, because being married will make it more difficult for a partner to leave them, so they will feel more secure in their relationship knowing that their partner will be disinclined to leave because of the difficulty.  

Some people are less interested in treating their partners like autonomous human beings than they are in controlling their behaviour, specifically in "making" someone "respect" them, "love" them, not lie to them.  You can't *make* someone feel respect (and a lot of people assume that you won't lie to them if you respect them).  Tying them to you legally does not make them love you or prevent them from leaving.  Passing rules against lying does not keep people from lying to you.  Even passing rules and making scary punishments does not stop people from lying to you.  It just makes them work harder to not get caught.  But it's not love and it's not "respect".

I guess if fear and control is what you're going for in a relationship, at least you can own up to that and stop kidding yourself that you're doing it for the "respect".  
joreth: (Purple Mobius)
Oh. Gourd. This movie. There's so much to hate about this movie. Where to even begin? First start at the beginning. And when you come to the end, stop. Scratch that. You'll probably be asking me to stop much sooner than the end. Anyway, here goes.

This movie stars an all-B-lister cast, with the likes of Jason Alexander and Jonathan Silverman and Patrick Dempsey and Angie Everhardt, so not terrible actors. We meet the 3 main couples in the first scene at a dinner party. There's the feminist man who's hopelessly devoted to respecting his pregnant fiance and she's characterized by her absolute trust and faith in him. They have this pleasantly, non-threatening sort of progressive relationship that's all liberal, but in a quiet, unassuming sort of way. He spends most of his time trying to distance himself from the asshole Neanderthal men around him.

Next is the ball-busting, opinionated photographer and her husband. Most of what we see of her is her neuroses. More on that later. He doesn't seem to have anything redeeming about himself to make him stand out in my mind, other than "her husband". I'm not even sure what he does for a living. Finally we have the Jewish attorney who cheated on his first wife with his current wife, and the current wife who, in spite of once being someone's mistress, is naively in love with the idea of monogamy and fidelity and Twue Wuv.

To stir up the pot, the lawyer invites a writer who is a client of his to his little dinner party. Jason Alexander shows up playing the role of cynical misanthropist to shatter the illusions off the happily monogamous couples, named Art. His character really pisses me off because he's the role that someone like me would be in at a real dinner party, except he's written by someone who hates him and so portrays that role as a misogynist Radical Truther asshole. He pulls out the usual tropes, such as "dogs don't have the artificial restraints put on their biology that people do," and he coins the phrase "The Monogamy Denial" which is the title of his book, stating that all people are inherently non-monogamous but men especially are because evo-psych biological urges, must hump everything, reasons. Blegh. My sweetie watching this with me curled his lip at the character and called him "smarmy". Art is everything I detest about the circles I run in - skeptical, atheist, non-monogamous, alt-sex lifestylers basically using pop evo-psych to justify being shitheads and walking all over people's dignity in the name of "honesty" and "nature".

Remember, this is the opening scene. Things go downhill from here. So Art starts spouting his "monogamy is unnatural" bullshit (and I say that as someone who doesn't believe that the human species is inherently monogamous even if some individuals are), and immediately, I mean, with no lead up, the photographer lady gets righteously pissed off, saying "are you insinuating that we are not monogamous, what the hell do you know? Fuck you!" So everyone tries to calm her down and change the subject, but Art keeps pushing the issue, and the party breaks up early. Each couple goes home ruminating about his "truths" in their own fashion, some wondering if men really are inherently non-monogamous (men, not people, men), some angry at the implications, some taking pity on him and trying to armchair psychoanalyze him as having some sort of pathetically bad experience to make him bitter.

Next we're introduced to a whole supporting cast of detestable characters designed to support Art's position. The lawyer's brother, for example, is a chubby-chaser - a guy who fetishizes fat women - with an anger management problem. He manages to make a totally reasonable position of someone who relishes the physical experience of sex with different body types and still come off sounding like a disgusting creep. He is also opposed to marriage and believes that monogamy is unnatural. Of course.

The feminist man, Sam, is a chef in a restaurant who has a coworker of some sort who fulfills the role of the misogynistic guy who believes women are just cum receptacles there for his pleasure. Sam is, to his credit, outwardly and outspokenly appalled at misogynist's behaviour. But when a feminist woman coworker pops her head in to complain, she has to be written as a bitchy feminazi who disapproves of both men and yells at both of them even though Sam was clearly and verbally opposed to Misogynist Man's behaviour. Then the writers reduce her to a sex object by having her stomp off in a huff, still mad at both men, while Misogynist Man leers at her butt and comments on it, and Sam can't help himself from gazing at it walking away either. Yes, I said "it" and not "her". Because the camera zooms in on her ass.

The rest of the movie is a series of scenes of the men being unable to remain fidelitous to their wives in various contexts, each one questioning whether or not this really "counts" as cheating. Does it count as cheating if he masturbates to porn and goes to blue movies? Does it count as cheating if it's a happy ending handjob at a massage parlor? Does it count as cheating if you pick up a hot chick at a hockey game and take her back to her house and loudly fuck her while your buddy sits in the living room with her friend in awkward silence?

The entire movie is nothing but a reinforcement of gender role bullshit. But, remember, the original premise was that monogamy is unnatural for everyone, so the women don't get away scott-free either. It's just that men, apparently, are more likely to cheat and to do so for purely physical reasons (as we're reminded continuously from the justification monologues throughout the film) and women have more complicated reasons for cheating or not cheating. So, enter the wives.

Claudia, the photographer, waits until nearly the end of the movie to seduce Art. Remember, the woman who blew up with no build-up at even the insinuation that she wasn't monogamous? Specifically at the same guy she is now fucking? So Art asks her about it, and she admits that she and her husband have a DADT arrangement. He comments on the hypocrisy of her defending monogamy at the dinner party and she just says that her sex life is no one else's business. Then we learn that Art doesn't actually believe any of the stuff he was spouting at the party, he just said them to see what the reactions would be for research for his next book.

The lawyer's wife (and former mistress), the one who seems like a freaking Disney character with her big innocent eyes and adamant attachment to fidelity and Twue Wuv, develops a crush on her professor in med school and they have an affair. Meanwhile, the lawyer is wracked with Jewish guilt over the happy ending at the massage parlor and the handjob from the friend while waiting awkwardly for his buddy to finish having sex in the next room. So he tells her about it, she freaks out, he reminds her that she wanted complete honesty, and she graciously forgives him while warning him how difficult it will be to gain her trust back. She never once admits to her infidelity, which was "worse" because she had sex but was somehow justifiable because it involved "feelings". Or something.

Sammy, the pregnant fiance of the feminist chef Sam who likes porn, meanwhile finds one of his videos and completely freaks out thanks to her man-hating sister who was cheated on once and now thinks all men are pigs and will cheat. The sister convinces her that porn automatically leads to real sex. So Sammy hires a detective to follow Sam around and discovers his penchant for blue movie theaters. Convinced that he must also be having sex with women all over the place, they set him up with an "operative" who is "prepared to go all the way" to get the evidence for his cheating. But, as Sammy watches from the surveillance van down the street (seriously), Sam proves himself to be worthy of her love and doesn't bow to the seduction, confessing his devotion and love to his beautiful pregnant fiance.

This movie reinforces gender roles, evo-psych justifications, a cynical view of love, and yet still manages to also reinforce monogamy and social expectations. All the couples remain in their couples, only with lies and secrets and guilt between them, and they all end smiling at Sam & Sammy's wedding in a veneer of happiness with the implication that all is as it should be - cheating husbands and all.

I think the best summary for this movie was given by my sweetie when I asked him what he thought. He said, "It was almost a good movie. It had a budget, it had decent actors, it had locations and nice sets, it had some funny moments. It was almost a good movie except for that bit in the middle. Where they talked."

~Reviews by Joreth - I watch the crap so you don't have to.
joreth: (Purple Mobius) - Amazon - Netflix - IMDB

This movie was recommended to me by several people, many of whom are not poly. When that happens, I go into the viewing with a dubious mindset. Most of the time, people who are not poly don't really understand what polyamory is, so when they identify something as "poly", it's not really. I was aware of 32nd President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's affairs. Not in any detail, but as a critic of American politics, I am superficially aware that many of our past politicians' indiscretions were more or less common knowledge but ignored, as the public focused on how they performed their jobs and not what they did in their bedrooms. I am aware of that because of the stark contrast for how we treat today's politicians and celebrities. But that's a rant for another time.

This movie is from the perspective of Margaret Suckley, commonly called "Daisy", who was a sixth cousin* to FDR and a regular companion during his time in office. It is more or less a biography of FDR while he was president of the United States prior to his involvement in WWII and seeks to show him as a relatable human, rather than an impressive government official and leader of the Free World.

It has been established that FDR was married to Eleanor Roosevelt, had a long-time affair with her secretary, Lucy, another two-decade-long affair with his own secretary, Missy, and rumors that are accepted as probably true about an affair with Princess Martha of Sweden while she lived at the White House during WWII. It is also "common knowledge" that these affairs killed the emotional connection between FDR and his wife Eleanor, who remained married to him as a political partnership until he died. Rumors of illicit affairs with the owner of the New York Post, Dorothy Schiff, and the main character, Daisy, are controversial, to say the least.

With this kind of history, I had a few preconceptions going into the film. I thought it would be just another movie about cheating, which is pretty common. Many movies that get suggested to me are nothing more than movies about cheating. Occasionally the cheating is the result of a loving relationship and not just about sex, but it's still nevertheless about cheating. Every once in a blue moon, I will accept a cheating movie as a poly-ish movie if I give it a pass for the era in which the movie takes place if the story feels like it would have been the version of polyamory that I recognize had it not been for some heavy social penalties. In other words, it was as close to polyamory as a non-monogamous relationship could get given the circumstances.

This is what I feel that Hyde Park On Hudson is. From here I will be discussing the movie itself, with complete disregard to the question of historical accuracy. In the context of my Poly-ish Movie Reviews, I care less about the liberties a director takes with historical facts and more about how well the movie answers the question "is this a movie about polyamory or that has polyamory in it?"

In this movie, Daisy is a sweet, naive girl who falls in love with a powerful older man because he invites her in to his heart and shows her the human being he is, not the political office. He is caring and compassionate and frail and vunlerable. She knows that he is still married and she does not harbor a belief that he will leave his wife for her. She has heard the rumors that they have a loveless marriage, and usually that is enough justification for a mistress to accept the role. But Daisy observes the spouses together and believes that they still share an emotional connection. This observation does not seem to provoke any jealousy. She just seems to accept that her lover still loves his wife.

But soon enough, Daisy learns that Franklin is having sexual relations with his secretary, Missy. Missy runs after the fleeing Daisy to confront her and explain the situation. Up until this point, I still felt that this was a cheating movie, just one of those that included emotional connections and not just sex. Missy drops more bombs on the shaken Daisy when Missy reveals that Franklin is having other affairs too, and that Missy knew about Daisy from the moment their relationship began and accepted her. Missy insists that Daisy must accept that she will have to "share" Franklin. Daisy says that can't, but Missy tells her that she can.

So, I could have included it on my Poly-ish list at this point because Franklin has what appears to be loving relationships with multiple women who know and "deal with it", but it would have held a wobbly position on that list. It's the next part that makes me feel that this is a poly movie.

Eventually Daisy forgives Franklin and they begin seeing each other again. Simultaneously, Daisy develops a friendship with Missy. The two women become very close, deliberately using their mutual connection to a lover as the springboard from which their own relationship blossoms. Daisy comes to admire and rely on Missy. Missy often fetches Daisy when Missy believes that Franklin will benefit from her presence. The two women do more than reach a truce regarding their respective roles; they forge an alliance. And both women have a somewhat more distant relationship with Eleanor, but a relationship built on respect and admiration nonetheless.

Eleanore has a separate home, but she is a constant fixture in the scenes in the movie. So the image that is portrayed to us is one of a loving family with Franklin, his smart and savvy political wife, his lover and assistant, and his companion, as well as his mother who appears to know all about who is sleeping with whom. His mother and his wife butt heads, naturally, but everyone seems to get along and to accept or cherish each other's roles in Franklin's life. Franklin's mother and secretary, for example, both "severely criticized [him] for not inviting [Daisy] to dinner" on the night that the White House hosted the King and Queen of England - the first time that British royals had ever set foot on US soil. After Daisy learns that she is not the only one and is pressured into attending another social political function while still sulking about it, Missy is the first to approach Daisy and welcome her to the event. Franklin even publicly declares that Daisy belongs at VIP table, where everyone who is important to him ought to be, along with the royals, his wife, and his other mistress.

This movie is not solely about FDR's romantic life. It is also about the friendship forged between the US and England in the tenuous days before WWII, it's about the pressures of political life on an ailing man, about the effect of foreign wars on domestic issues, and about the dichotomy of being a private person in the public sphere. The movie included stellar acting and touching peeks into complex people in complex situations.  I have to say that, although I knew that Bill Murray was a good actor and I've always loved his films, this was the first movie I've seen of his where he wasn't "Bill Murray" in it. You know how there are some actors that, even while they're good, you still know that they are who they are? Gary Oldman is the opposite of that. He's an actor that I usually make it halfway through the movie before I even realize that it's Gary Oldman. Leonardo diCaprio is one of those actors that, even when he's doing a good job, he's still always Leo.

But Bill Murray's performance in this role thoroughly distracted me from my jewelry-making (I often do physical projects while watching movies - my brain can't focus on a story alone without my hands doing something) because I kept watching in fascination at a face that I just knew belonged to Peter Venkman but there was nothing of Dr. Venkman or Phil Connors or Frank Cross, or even of Bill Murray himself as seen in interviews in that face and in that body. I saw FDR, as I knew him from recordings and film reels. I heard FDR in his voice, I saw FDR in the tilt of his head and the way he held his hands. When I can't see Gary Oldman, I really can't see Gary Oldman. But to physically see Bill Murray and still not be able to "see" Bill Murray was disconcerting and wonderful and I am charmed by this film apart from its poly (or not) leanings.

So I recommend this movie. I thought it was an engaging film that I was willing to enjoy as a narrative and not insist that it be taken as a biography, and I felt that the relationships portrayed in the film represented what I recognize as polyamorous - loving, consensual, accepting, family - in spite of the lack of intentional communication and apparent deception that I feel was characteristic of the era regarding romantic liaisons. Although the modern poly movement of the last 30 years prioritizes communication above all else (and I happen to agree that it is a necessary element to healthy poly relationships), people are still the products of their times and cultures. So a movie set in another time and culture will necessarily have a different perspective on appropriate and effective communication. I may still disagree with them, but I believe other elements are more important to classifying a relationship as poly than whether or not multiple adults sat down around a large table with health reports, spreadsheets, and Google calendars to discuss the future possibility of taking a new partner.

There are many different ways to do poly. Some of them are wrong, some of them are right, some are healthy and some are outright abusive, but what makes it poly is that there are multiple, they are loving, and there is acceptance. It is not poly if there are only two partners & that is the preferred state. It is not poly if it is purely based on sex with no emotional connections and that is the preferred state. It is not poly if there is deception maintained throughout (and if that is the preferred state). It is not poly if the participants feel forced into the situation and begrudge the arrangement. Deception and poor communication certainly exist in poly relationships. But it's what the movie says about deception or communication, or how it's dealt with, that changes it from a movie condemning non-monogamy to a movie that merely presents one example of a loving relationship that happens to have some flaws.

*Sixth cousins are really only barely related. It means that they shared a common ancestor roughly 6 generations in their past. So, in other words, you add 5 "greats" before the word "grandparent" to come up with "sixth cousins". The "once removed" bits in relationship taxonomy refer to whether or not the cousins are in the same generation as each other. So first cousins have the same grandparents. Second cousins have the same great-grandparents. First cousins once removed is your first cousin's child - you and that child have your grandparents (their great-grandparents) in common and are in different generations from each other, hence "once removed". None of this has anything to do with the movie. It was common both in the era and within the Roosevelt family itself for non-first cousins to marry or be involved and Daisy's "sixth cousin" status was completely irrelevant to her romantic relationship with Franklin. It was really only relevant to mention because it was her connection as a relative who had grown up as a child with the Franklin that excused the President of the United States' mother for inviting a nobody like Daisy to the White House to attend the President when he fell ill. But I find genealogy interesting, and I know that a lot of people don't know how all those second/third/eigth cousins twice removed labels actually work, and I also know there are a lot of knee-jerk reactions to the idea of relatives having sexual relationships with each other. So I thought I'd mention it in a footnote.
joreth: (Purple Mobius) - Netflix - Amazon - IMDB

There are several movies by this name.  Every time someone recommends a movie to me called Three, I go to look for it on Netflix and half a dozen movies pop up, and I can't tell which one is which.  So it wasn't until about 10 minutes in that I realized I had already watched this movie.  But I haven't reviewed it yet, so I guess it wasn't a total waste of an hour and a half.

I'll be honest, from the Netflix description, I didn't have high hopes for this movie.  The very summary makes it sound like a torn-between-two-lovers-and-forced-to-make-a-choice movie.  And that's what it was.  But the title screen on the DVD is incredibly misleading.  It shows a FMF threesome that never happens in the movie.

The movie was interesting, and it certainly had a lot to say on the subject of homosexuality and coming out, so I might recommend it on that basis.  But it wasn't poly.  Tito and Elsie are unhappily married.  Tito is an arrogant, entitled, selfish asshole and Elsie is incredibly fearful - she moves through life on the path of least courage.  Tito is screwing a collegue, Susan, who is desperately trying to steal Tito away from Elsie, even though Tito has never given her any reason to think he would leave his wife (I think he's getting off on the idea of cheating even more than the sex itself, and leaving his wife for her would take that away).

Before Elsie married Tito (at her mother's insistence), she had a secret lesbian relationship with Alice, the "tomboy" next door.  Elsie couldn't handle the idea of her mother finding out or experiencing any sort of cultural shame for being gay, so she bowed to pressure and broke up with Susan and married Tito.

But Alice has cancer and wants Elsie back - not just because she wants her hot lovin' but because Alice very strongly believes in personal authenticity and coming out and being true to oneself.  She worries that Elsie will never come out and will continue to live a lie, unhappy in her marriage until she dies, if Susan doesn't inspire her to be more courageous.

But, just to add another layer of complexity, Susan has been living with another lover (whose name I never caught) who stays with her through everything, caring for her, giving her the shots & IV drips, even being with her on her deathbed and yet is tossed aside as soon as Elsie walks in the door.  When Elsie leaves her husband for Alice, she manages to live with Alice and her now-former lover for 9 months before even bothering to ask the lover who she is to Alice or what their relationship was before she came along.

So, there's no polyamory happening here.  Tito cheats on his wife.  His wife leaves him for her ex-girlfriend.  The ex-girlfriend dumps her own partner to get back together with the wife.  Everyone is contemptuous and disrespectful to the poor ex-lover still living in the house, caring for her terminally sick love.

And the story is told from her point of view.

There were some really interesting bits about Tito getting over his homophobia, coming out to Elsie's mother, raising a child in a gay community, parents who don't love each other trying to co-parent and live together, courage, fear, and personal growth.  Anyone interested in movies on these kinds of subjects might want to check out this movie.

But I didn't like any of the characters, and as regular readers of my LJ might know by now, if I can't empathize with the characters, then I have trouble enjoying the story.  At least this time there was a reason for putting together the main couple when they didn't actually like each other.  Usually movies do that and expect us to just accept that they're in a happy relationship that we should be rooting for (or that they're not currently in a romantic relationship but that we should be hoping that they get into one in spite of not liking each other).  So I didn't have any trouble wondering why they were together since they didn't like each other.  I just thought that everyone did really stupid things and it was completely obvious to me why everyone was unhappy.  Somehow, that made it much easier to sit through than movies that give happy endings to people who totally fuck up their own lives or who villify or sacrifice those who do something contrary when they should have been happy.

joreth: (Purple Mobius)
Sometimes I think that maybe I'm actually speaking a different langauge from everyone else, and maybe I have some kind of universal translator or babelfish so that I can't tell, but that the translator is buggy or slightly off in some ways. Because people don't seem to use words in the same way that I do. Even with a dictionary, people use words differently, and I find that I am constantly having semantics arguments because we can't discuss a topic until we are all on the same page about what the words we are using mean.

One of those words is polyamory. I'm a pretty big proponent of using the definition of a word that the person who made up the word uses. In some cases, I think the Argument from Authority is a good one. If you invented or coined a term, then you get to decide what it means. This is even more important, to me, the younger the word is. And if the word was invented or coined within the same generation (i.e. roughly 30-ish years) and the coiners are still alive, then there shouldn't be any debate about "living languages" and so forth.

So, to me, polyamory is about having or wanting multiple simultaneous romantic relationships in which all parties consent to the arrangement. That means that they both know about it and agree to it willingly, not grudgingly. If you don't say yes, it's not consent. If you are coerced, it's not consent. If someone uses their position of authority over you, it's not consent. If you are not aware of any other options, it's not consent. If you are not allowed the opportunity to back out, it's not consent. And so on. Polyamory is also, to me, more about building intentional families (even if some of those relatives are "extended" relatives) than in experiencing sexual encounters (also explicit in the definition - a word's definition is not necessarily limited solely to it's literal translation, the intent and cultural context of a word is also taken into account).

So when someone suggests a movie to me that they claim has polyamory in it, I am now highly dubious about that claim. I have been recommended all manner of cheating and swinging and other non-monogamous movies, but very rarely do I find actual polyamory in these films. Every so often, a cheating movie might make it into my Poly-ish Movie List because I believe from the context of the story that it would be polyamorous if not for the circumstances, like the era or culture, that prevents the characters from openly declaring their relationships that are, nonetheless, loving (like Same Time, Next Year) - I basically feel that the characters are poly but possibly trapped somewhen/somewhere that they can't express it properly.  Many times, it's hard for me to really quantify why a particular borderline movie is poly and why this other one isn't. It usually boils down to tone, and a vague sense of "moralizing" that I may or may not get from the storytellers.

This was the problem I had with The Unbearable Lightness of Being. I kept getting told that it was a poly movie, but there was just something wrong with its tone. Tomas is a philanderer who seems to be afraid of committment and keeps his emotional entanglements to a minimum. Basically, he has sex with lots of women a few times and drops them when they start becoming "serious". Except for one woman, Sabina, who basically seems to have the same outlook as Tomas, in that she hightails it outta there as soon as a guy starts getting "serious" about her. They appear to have a mutual respect in addition to their mutual attraction and mutual passion because of their shared interest in not letting anyone get close to them. Ironically, that barrier that they both erect to keep people out is what ties them together.

Along comes Tereza, an innocent young girl who manages to, as far as I could tell, guilt her way into Tomas' life. She shows up on his doorstep with no place to stay, and so breaks his rule about kicking every girl out before morning. After a whole bunch of these mornings, he finally ends up marrying her.

This is yet another case of a couple who don't seem to have anything in common and don't seem to like each other very much. At least, the director and/or screenwriter didn't establish their relationship very well. We know what Tomas likes in Tereza - she's female - but we don't really see what brings the two such different characters together. She's young, naive, innocent, apolitical, and extremely jealous and insecure. He's worldly, sophisticated, educated, a bit misogynistic, contemptous of most people, and a horndog. Other than the fact that their bits fit together, I couldn't understand their relationship at all.

Tomas continues to cheat on Tereza throughout their relationship, and every time Tereza catches him at it, she throws a huge fit that borders on emotional blackmail. I think she's probably depressive to the point of suicidal. Not that I'm defending Tomas either - Tereza doesn't consent to an open relationship, so he's cheating. Period. She deserves better.

There is only one scene that could even possibly be confused for a pro-poly scene. And I have to say that I didn't even interpret the scene this way until someone else suggested it. I still don't see the scene this way, but I can at least see how someone else might.

Tereza suspects Tomas of having an affair with Sabina, who has been introduced to the new Mrs. Tomas as his friend & occasionally socializes with them. So Tereza, who is told to get into photographing naked women if she wants to be taken seriously as a professional photographer, approaches Sabina to be Tereza's first nude model. Sabina, a confident, sexually liberated woman in the '60s, is the only person Tereza knows who might even consider the proposal.

So we have a scene where Tereza photographs Sabina, and eventually Sabina (who is also a photographer and artist) talks Tereza into posing nude for her in return. The two women, who have before been very awkward together, gain some sort of comfort and familiarity with each other through this mutual nude photography session.

I didn't see how this was poly, really. The argument was made that it was basically two metamours who had finally reached out to each other and were able to get past the jealousy to see each other maybe as how their mutual partner could see them. The reason why I didn't interpret the scene this way is because Tereza had only suspected Sabina as being Tomas' lover (he never confirmed) and neither woman spoke of anything relationship-oriented at all. So maybe they did get past some of their jealousy and learned to see each other as people, and maybe this was a bonding, and even a learning moment for both of them. But it was still cheating and still a secret and Tereza still never approved of Tomas' philandering, and the two women never saw each other again on screen.

This movie was not about a poly vee. This was a political commentary on the war in Europe and the Soviet invasion of Czecheslovakia, using the characters as vehicles for the commentary. The movie was brilliantly made, using real footage and photographs from the invasion itself, as chronicled by art students at the university at the time, and staging the characters on the sets to flip back and forth seamlessly between the real archival footage and the movie. This was the first and best comprehensive collection of the record of the invasion ever made.

This movie was based on the book by the same name, which is also widely touted as a brilliant piece of literature. It was critically acclaimed, although, like any book-based movie, many were disappointed with the conversion to film. So I recommend this movie if history and foreign films and high-brow media are your thing. I just didn't feel that it was particularly poly.

***SPOILERS*** (but not all of them) )

This is one of the few artsy-foreign films that I didn't dislike for being too artsy & foreign, and I'd like to read the book. I might have liked the movie better if I had just come across it on my own instead of having it recommended to me as a potential poly film, because I watched it through a filter of hopes and expectations of poly content. I will not be including this on the Poly-ish Movie List, but it was an interesting movie and I'm glad I saw it.
joreth: (polyamory)
First of all, let's define "cheating". Two people have an agreement, either explicit or implicit, about how their relationship should look. If implicit, the "cheater" knows that the partner would not approve even if they never made any vows on the subject. What that agreement is about is not relevant to this definition.

It could be about sexual infidelity, it could be about emotional infidelity, it could be kink, it could be that they're not allowed to dance with anyone else but each other, or it could be that she's the only one allowed to ride on the back of his motorcycle (seriously, I know a couple like both of the last 2 examples). They could be monogamous, they could be poly, they could be swingers, they could be DADT. It doesn't matter. All that matters is that they have an agreement not to do something with other people or to only do something with each other.

If they agree that one or both of them can go out and get sex as long as the other doesn't have to be aware of it, that's not cheating. If it's like the TV politician characters who say "she knows I have lovers & she looks the other way as long as I don't rub her nose in it", it's not cheating, for this rant. I have other problems with DADT, but that's not what I'm about to discuss.

Cheating, in this rant, is doing something your partner would not want you to do, and does not condone even "discreetly", and you know it, on some level. Saying "well, we never talked about it, and she never actually said I *couldn't* get blowjobs from strangers in bathhouses..." is cheating and you fucking know it.

I take a hard line against cheating. I've heard all the excuses, all the justifications, all the hypothetical "what if his wife is disabled & can't have sex with him, but he stays because he loves her & needs to care for her but he has to get his needs met somewhere" (although the last person who said this to me actually used the word "cripple", because justifying cheating on a disability wasn't bad enough) and "she already broke the marriage contract by withholding sex indefinitely so he's not really breaking his agreements by having a secret girlfriend on the side because she broke the marriage contract first" and "if he leaves, she'll get the kids and he'll never see them again and he'll go bankrupt because he can't afford to maintain two houses & then he'll have to resort to bank robbery to support his 12 children and then he'll get caught & die horribly in a police shootout, which the kids will see on TV and be scarred for life". I *was* a cheater, so don't tell me about the shitty situations people find themselves in that make them justify cheating.

Seriously, I don't want to hear any more excuses. Sometimes people have really shitty situations. And I'm sorry for them. There are a lot of really terrible conditions out there like stoning & mutilation and famine & discrimination, but the solution isn't to retaliate - the solution is to stop the terrible conditions from happening.

Making a relationship agreement with someone, and then breaking it behind their back and continuing to exist in the relationship as if the agreement still stands is *wrong*. It might be the lesser of two wrongs, it might bring the cheater a sliver of happiness in an otherwise horrible existence, but it is still breaking an agreement, no matter how you slice it, and it is not the greater path of courage.

But I'm not actually here to talk about being a cheater. I'm here to rant about being the person a cheater cheats with. There's this fucking irritating trope in the poly community that says "It's not my job to police other people's relationships. He's an adult, he can make his own choices. Who am I to tell him what he should and shouldn't do? If he wants to cheat, that's his choice. I'm not doing anything wrong because *I* didn't make those relationship agreements, so I'm not breaking any."


There are a lot of selfish attitudes in the poly community, mostly holdovers from The Monogamous Mindset, mostly having to do with Couple Privilege. This is one of the worst. This is all about "me". This is all about what the third person is getting, masked under a pious attitude about "choice", and maybe even under some superficial sympathy for the poor man (or woman, or whoever) who is trapped in such a loveless marriage that he needs to find some happiness somewhere or experiment with something his spouse won't do, and oh how convenient that I'm here to provide it! This is all about ducking responsibility for one's own actions - actions that harm another person, even if it's only their dignity that is harmed.

I've always said that the real test of being poly is not how many people you're fucking, but how you handle your partners fucking someone else. In my opinion, being a caring and compassionate metamour is a required element for being in a poly relationship. No, not being your metamours' BFF, but being *caring and compassionate*, regardless of how well you actually like each other and get along. Courage and integrity are nothing when it's easy - it's when it's difficult that they count. And you cannot stand there and say that you support, choose, or prefer, relationships based on honesty, trust, and communication (y'know, the foundations of polyamory and, for that matter "open" relationships) while simultaneously supporting lying, cheating, dishonesty, and non-consensual relationships.

That wife (for the sake of simplicity, I'm sticking with pronouns specific to the situations I would find myself in if I were the "mistress" in the scenario - which means the cheater is male, his spouse is female, and the cheatee is female.), that wife did not consent to this arrangement. She could not have, since she doesn't know about it. And if she did know about it, she wouldn't. Whether she is being unreasonable or not is completely irrelevant ... SHE DID NOT CONSENT TO THIS ARRANGEMENT. That, by itself, makes my actions, as the mistress, wrong.

Sure, there can be levels of wrong, and there can be multiple wrong parties. Pilfering office supplies is not in the same league as, say, the Holocaust. I wouldn't give anyone the death penalty, or even jail time, for stealing a stapler or using the office copy machine for personal use. That does not erase the fact that willingly and deliberately engaging in a relationship that at least one person does not consent to is WRONG. I'm not making any statement at all on how "wrong" that wrong is, because there are too many variables and nuances and even perceptions, and we're talking about hypotheticals here, not any specific relationship. But a creek is small next to the Pacific Ocean, and if you step in either of them, you're gonna get wet. Wet is wet, whether you like being wet or not.

Now, let's skip past the pragmatic reasons why being the mistress is a bad idea. Let's just move right past the middle-of-the-night phone calls from the angry wife, the death threats, the lawsuits, the fact that, if he's caught, this new love of yours loses everything anyway, the fact that he has to hide you & can't acknowledge you, that you will always be "the dirty little secret", that you will never be able to fully share his life with him (maybe you don't want to, I dunno), that this is a setup pretty much designed for creating unnecessary drama.

Let's forget, for the moment, the time my PLATONIC friend's girlfriend tracked down my parent's phone number and started calling their house while I was there visiting, shrieking into the phone to "stay away from my man you fucking whore!" Let's pretend I never got a call at 3 in the morning, waking me and my then-boyfriend, from my one-time boss's fiancee demanding to know who I was and how her man got my phone number.

Let's dismiss the daily 5 AM phone calls from my then-boyfriend's EX-wife (who thought that giving him a couch to sleep on when he was out of work made him her property) demanding to know where he was, whether he was with me or not, and who only stopped calling when I reported her to the police for harassment & had my phone company block her number back when I had a landline.

Let's brush off the stories I have from 3, count them THREE coworkers and one ex-boyfriend's brother who all had either a girlfriend or an ex-girlfriend actually shoot at them for believing they were cheating (only 1 actually was - 2 of these guys actually married the women AFTER the shooting incident, but that's another rant). And let's especially ignore the young woman who showed up at my house with a stolen pickup truck and her daddy's shotgun to tell me that some guy I barely knew and wasn't interested in was "taken" (also, I grew up in a city in California, not a Kentucky farm town). Let's also ignore the fact that a person willing to cheat *with* me is more likely to excuse cheating *on* me if he feels justified.

Let's just say that we both agree there are some risks involved with being the mistress of a cheating husband.

I want to talk about character and integrity. Sure, the cheater is an adult. Sure, he can make his own choices. Sure, it's not my job to make sure he behaves. But that doesn't then give me license to engage in behaviour that a person who is affected by did not consent to.

As a polyamorous person, I believe that a good relationship requires honesty, consent, and communication. When I am someone's mistress, when I am a cheatee, that relationship is missing all three of those elements. I am engaging in a relationship, willfully and deliberately, that someone did not agree to, and would not agree to it if she knew. I am removing her personal sovereignty to make choices about how her life should look and I am robbing her of her dignity to live the life she chooses.

I am not acting out of compassion or consideration for another human being. That means that I am putting my own desires as priority *to the detriment of others*, which is the very definition of "selfish".

Some people have tried to defend this position by saying the poor guy is in a really bad situation. We feel sorry for him! We *are* being compassionate, because his life is just awful, so we're bringing him some joy. Back to those hypothetical extremes - the wife already broke the marriage contract, the wife is refusing him sex or a particular kind of sex, he loves his wife and doesn't want to hurt her but he can't help his love for you (or his desire for sex and your body will do), so he's doing the best he can in a difficult situation.


I guarantee that the wife has a different perspective than the one he's selling you. Oh sure, he probably really does believe what he's telling you. Most people, I think, are not outright liars and frauds. I think, most of the time, these guys really do see themselves in difficult positions with no "good" options, only less-worse options. And I'm willing to bet that, most of the time, they're not *completely* wrong.

But I still guarantee that the wife *also* doesn't see herself as the bad guy in the situation. It's pretty much a human trait that we rarely ever see ourselves as "bad guys". Even Saddam Hussein & Osama Bin Laden probably really believed that they were good, honorable men, fighting for truth and justice. Even "bad guys" have people who love them, who see them as good people.

In fact, that's at least one reason why we have The Entrenchment Effect - giving people facts doesn't actually change their opinions, because the cognitive dissonance between their view of themselves as a "good person" and the fact that they were wrong about something makes people dig their heels in and believe even harder against the evidence so that they don't have to see themselves as "not good".

So no matter what sob story you want to tell me that he's sold you on, I know there is another side to that story, and no matter whose side I actually believe, I have some compassion for the wife who is being cheated on.  It's really hard for people to put themselves in their metamour's position.  That's why we have so many couples willing to use veto power & make rules restricting other people's behaviour.  But we have to do it anyway, at least, we do if we want to be honest about being an ethical person.

Which makes all your claims of feeling "sympathy" for the poor cheater fall flat. Maybe the wife really is a horrible, evil bitch. But putting her into a relationship that she did not agree to, or violating her existing relationship agreements does not make you the white knight in the story. It makes you *both* bad guys. Maybe you're less of a bad guy than she is, but you just put someone in a relationship that they did not consent to and could not give informed consent to even if she was willing. We're supposed to arrest people for that.

But, even worse, maybe she's not a horrible, evil bitch. Maybe she's the kind of wife that the husband really loves, but who just doesn't share his interest in a particular kind of sex, so he has to go explore elsewhere.  That's what a lot of poly people say to justify their complicity in a cheating partnership.  Mono people will justify cheating with someone by the "the wife is a horrible person who trapped him" line, but poly people seem to be OK with the "his wife is actually a good person and he loves her, she just won't have sex with him and won't agree to an open marriage, so he has to get his needs met somehow."

Seriously? You really want to justify participation in a relationship that breaks the agreements of a woman who is good & kind & loving & worth keeping? She's wonderful enough that he doesn't want to leave her and *this* is the thanks she gets for being such a great wife? You have turned her life into a lie. She is not in the relationship she thinks she's in and YOU contributed to that. You have removed from this wonderful woman the right to make her own choice about her own relationships. You talk about his right to "choose", but what about hers?  Is the freedom of choice only reserved for people who choose what happens to benefit you?

I care very deeply about not hurting that wife. I care that she is having her relationship agreement broken. As someone said in a Facebook thread recently, "Relationships are like webs, you can't just tug on one string and pretend you aren't affecting the others. And I'm not saying anything beyond that about what to do or not to do, just that I'm uncomfortable with the idea that 'ultimately it's their choice, not mine'. Because you are making a choice to get involved in the situation."

My involvement with a cheater affects his wife. I am complicit in breaking an agreement. I am agreeing to violate someone else's boundaries. We do not have to have made the agreement ourselves to be able to violate an agreement. I never "agreed" never to trespass on private property, yet climbing the fence with a "No Trespassing" sign on it puts me in violation.

In fact, we don't even have to have done an illegal act to be an accomplice or an accomplice after the fact, in the eyes of the law, as long as we know about it and don't try to stop it or report it to the authorities. We have a social contract that says "I won't do these things to you and you don't do these things to me" and that's how we all get along. I try not to do the sorts of things that I don't want people to do to me (like violate their agency), because I know how much it would hurt me, so I have empathy for the other people and I don't want to hurt them.

I don't have to try and "police" the husband's relationship agreements for him. He is a grown-up and he can make his own choices. But so am I. And I choose not to violate another human being's right to "choose" her own relationship. I choose not to participate in a relationship that removes the right of choice from someone else. I choose not to willingly infringe upon another's personal sovereignty or dignity. And I choose not to perform actions that lead a person into a non-consensual relationship.

I do not respect anyone who defends the position that it is ever morally or ethically "right" to do any of those things. The lesser of two wrongs is still wrong, not right. It just means that the situation is complicated and there may be no "right" answer. But if there is no "right" answer, that means that the cheating is still wrong. That some people might benefit (such as "bringing joy into a person stuck in a loveless marriage") does not overwrite that other people do not. That some people have complicated and difficult lives and I feel sympathy for them does not require participating in activities that harm someone else.

And if the defender is also polyamorous, is also a community leader or activist or "celebrity" espousing the values of polyamory as a valid and, especially as an "ethical" relationship choice, not only do I not respect that person, I also think she's a hypocrite. Since I've already heard all the defenses, continuing to defend that position only makes the defender look worse in my eyes.

If you want to talk about compassion & ethics, I'll start listening when that compassion & ethical behaviour gets extended to the metamours. As someone who *is* a metamour, I try not to treat my metamours with any less compassion than I expect in return. I may not always succeed, but that is the standard to which I hold myself. And violating their relationship agreements is not compassionate nor ethical.
joreth: (Purple Mobius)

Someone recommended this movie to me as a poly movie, and I can see why he did, but I have to disagree. I don't think this was a poly movie. I think this movie had a poly character in it, but the movie was not polyamorous. As far as enjoyment goes, my tastes run towards the banal and crude - I like action flicks and screwball comedies. I've written several times that I just don't get artsy films or foreign films made during the sexual revolution when things were all experimental and everything looked like the writers and directors were permanently on LSD.

So you might like this film if your tastes differ from mine - don't avoid seeing it on the basis of my personal enjoyment if you happen to be into artsy or foreign or '60s movies. And as far as artsy or foreign or '60s movies goes, this wasn't even all that horrible. It didn't have the bizarre music or jump cuts of A Woman Is A Woman. But, probably because of the difference in cultures, I just didn't find this movie very interesting or the characters very compelling. I know, there's irony in that statement after admitting that I like movies like Caddyshack. But it's the truth, I found the movie just kind of blah. However, I can see other people enjoying it. I have lots of friends who like lots of movies that I don't enjoy, and I can see some of them really liking this film.

As for the poly stuff, the plot is about a married man who loves and adores his wife and kids, but who falls in love with another woman. According to my movie guidelines, cheating movies do not get added to the list, but a movie where the cheater genuinely loves both of his partners and there is some outside constriction preventing them from living honestly (such as social taboos) may be exempted and be added to the list.

Francois loves Therese, his wife. He's very happy with his life, content. But then one day he meets Emilie. And he falls immediately in love. This was his first strike against him, for me. I don't much hold with the love-at-first-sight bullshit. I believe people can have instant attractions to each other, and then sometimes, by coincidence, they are attracted to people who happen to also be compatible to them, so the attraction-at-first-sight can blossom into a true love, and it is when that happens that people think they fell in love at first sight. But we don't hear epic tales of attraction-at-first-sight that then turns out poorly. It's a matter of confirmation bias, or the Fake Boob/Toupee fallacy (I can always spot fake boobs/toupees because they look fake, except when they don't and I can't). Love at first sight is real, except when it isn't.

Anyway, so Francois falls in "love" with Emilie and immediately begins an affair with her. As I said, cheating movies don't make the list, but loving both partners might exempt it, so this movie could have been added to the list. The reason why it's not is because of the ending, which changes the whole tone of the movie into "multi-partner relationships are Wrong and Bad", and which I'll go into under the cut.

***SPOILERS*** )

Although Francois said a lot of very good poly lines, this movie had that elusive and hard-to-quantify tone that implies, to me, that non-monogamy is bad. As I said in the guidelines, it's not whether a movie ends happily or tragically, or whether a multi-adult relationship breaks up or stays together - it's what the movie says about non-monogamy that puts it on the poly-ish movie list or not. And, in spite of the main character clearly being about loving multiple people, this movie said to me that non-monogamy is cruel and wrong and that a happy nuclear family is the goal.

I think one could defend some ambivalence in the message, with Francois being written sympathetically and not as a villain, so I don't actually recommend that ya'll avoid seeing this movie. It may be worth your time. But I think that the way things were wrapped up, ambivalence aside, the message was more pro-nuclear-family than pro-consider-alternatives, so I will not include it on the list, but I will suggest that people might want to see this movie if they're into French cinema or if they want to hear a protagonist defend the idea of loving two women at the same time.

joreth: (polyamory) - IMDB - Netflix - Amazon

This movie caused me quite some consternation because it had equal parts of "include" and "do not include" on the Poly-ish Movie List. In fact, it was so ambivalent that it prompted me to write the Guidelines post, to help me decide whether or not to include it. I have decided that it should be included on the list, but I am very torn about that decision.

This movie started out as the very first "include" criteria - which is a relationship that appeared happy and functional between two people who enjoyed additional sexual partners besides each other. This movie ended with a tone that seemed to me to be suggesting that the only people who would be interested in open relationships are people who are immature, selfish, users, and afraid to commit. The big problem I had with the movie is that the first half and the second half didn't mesh well. It almost seemed to me as though it was written by someone who knew people in happy and successful open relationships, who wrote the characters faithfully and well, but who had a personal belief that open relationships were wrong and so wrote an ending that he believed people in open relationships ought to have.

Naturally, in order to explain, I have to give spoilers. But I'll leave a good deal of the details out so you can watch the movie without feeling as though you've already watched it.

Mason and Samantha have an open relationship and have been together for several years now. We start the movie with the two of them living together and getting ready to go to a wedding. At the wedding, both of them hook up with other wedding guests and then come back to their hotel room together, apparently totally comfortable with the fact that they were each with other people. They told each other everything and they fell asleep in each other's arms.

Later, Samantha starts dating someone (as opposed to fucking someone) and she has to explain how her relationship with Mason works. I think this is a very valuable couple of scenes. Samantha is adamant that she is happy, that her relationship with Mason is secure and functional, that she is not a victim and chooses her life, and that jealousy is a symptom of insecurity. She faces someone who is disgusted and contemptuous of the idea of a woman having multiple sexual partners. I think she adequately defends her position and I think it is important to see the reception that people in open relationships receive when they admit to being in open relationships.

Meanwhile, Mason also has a friend who is completely disgusted and contemptuous of their relationship, to the point of appearing personally offended and violently angry about two people insisting that they are happy fucking other people even though he is not involved with either of those people. Again, I think it is important to see this kind of reception. Mason is not quite as good at defending himself, he mainly deflects the questions and accusations in an attempt to remain friendly with his buddy.

The assumptions from the opposition are fairly common - that the only reasons to get into open relationships are: 1) fear of commitment; 2) fear of being alone so willing to put up with being "cheated on"; 3) selfish; 4) using others for sex; etc. Mason and Sam do not appear to be these kinds of people. Their love for each other, their dedication to honesty, their obvious acceptance of each other's other partners (Mason gives a guy tips on how to hit on Sam when the guy comments about not having any luck without realizing that Mason is Sam's boyfriend / Sam reassures Mason's new girlfriend that it's totally OK to be at their house & to have fun together), their defense of their choices, their declarations that they are each confident in the other's commitment to them - all suggest that this is a happy and functioning relationship.

Then the movie goes off the rails. Both of the main characters make decisions that seem totally out of character for the confident, happy people so far portrayed. Mason keeps a secret from Sam, and since Sam actually knows about it from the beginning, she lets Mason keep the secret, which poisons her own feelings about him to the point that she chooses her other boyfriend - y'know, the one who looks on her in disgust and contempt whenever he is reminded that some other guy puts his cock in the same place he does.

Mason is constantly accused of being a user and of being afraid to commit, but, as [ profile] emanix pointed out to me, that only makes sense if your definition of "commit" is "committing to be monogamous only, and to be idiotically jealous and controlling of your partners", since Mason seems disinclined to leave his relationship with Sam. In fact, there was a scene where everything could have been resolved in a happy poly way, and given what I thought I knew of the characters before, I would have believed the movie if it had taken that direction, and I did not believe the characters choosing the other path.

The implication is that yes, Mason really was a selfish user who was afraid to commit and Sam really did want a traditional life. The problem is that I just didn't see them that way.

So, I have my guideline that says "if the moral of the story is 'polyamory is doomed to fail, here watch this train-wreck to see why' then it doesn't go on the list". But the main relationship in the movie wasn't a train-wreck. It was a pretty realistically functional one, IMO, until the two characters made, what I consider to be, out-of-character decisions that ultimately led to a train-wreck. So, I refined my guidelines to include movies that offered scenes of valuable situations, like coming out to family, introducing new partners to the concept of open relationships, discrimination, etc., all of which were in this movie, since a happy ending was never necessary to be included on the list. We do see a coming out to family scene; we do see an introduction to a new partner scene; we do see the negative reactions and assumptions of people about open relationships in several scenes; we do see a couple who defends their relationship choices in positive terms, such as being attracted to others not changing the love they feel for each other and feeling secure and confident about their relationship, and all of these feel fairly realistic.

Basically, this movie could be summarized as "this is what non-polys think of polyamory and open relationships, and how things are supposed to end for us". But that means that there really was a poly-ish relationship in it, which means it should go on the list. It also means that, if this is the case, then this movie would be valuable to the poly community to show what non-polys think of us and other non-monogamists.
joreth: (polyamory)
I don't think I've ever felt so misled by a movie summary before in my life. Netflix says "A modern-day couple, Joseph and Sarah, discovers there's room for a third person in their marriage in this unusual romantic comedy. Joseph's best friend, Frank, is in love with Sarah, too, and no matter how much he tries, he can't get over her." IMDB says "Six different writers wrote a scene each of this romantic comedy featuring the marriage and turbulent relationship of Joseph and Sarah, with Joseph's best friend Frank trying hard to cope with letting the love of his life marry his best friend."

And Amazon says "What happens when a man and his best friend both love his wife? Plenty of wildly funny, intense and shocking party conversation! Eric Stoltz, Craig Sheffer and Meg Tilly explore contemporary romance and relationships over six social events in 'the most original romantic comedy of the year. ... Sleep With Me is a raucously funny film! Joseph has finally professed his love for Sarah. Unfortunately, so has his best friend Frank! Bad timing, yes, but for whom? Frank's heartfelt admission bewitches Sarah, bothers Joseph and bewilders their friends who have no problem expressing their own often hilarious opinions of this bizarre love triangle."

I swear I didn't watch this movie. Maybe Eric Stolz, Meg Tilly, Craig Sheffer, Joey Lauren Adams, Parker Posey, and June Lockheart were all in another movie that happened to have the same name, and same character names, and similar plot, but was really the movie in the descriptions and I watched the other one. Even the cover art had nothing to do with the events in this film (it shows Meg Tilly in bed between Eric Stolz & Craig Sheffer - an enviable position, IMO).

This was not a romantic comedy. This was a fucking trainwreck of a relationship drama. There wasn't anything funny in this at all. Joseph is dating Sarah. Joseph is best friends with Frank. Frank is also best friends with Sarah. The three of them have known each other since college, when Frank was assigned as Joseph's roommate the year Joseph first started dating Sarah. Finally, after years of dating (and breaking up and getting back together), Joseph asks Sarah to marry him. Frank urges her to say yes, so she does.

The day before the wedding, Sarah confesses to Frank that she once considered pursuing him after the first time she and Joseph broke up back in college. He asks what would have happened, and Sarah says that she and Joseph would have gotten back together and she and Frank would have remained friends. Disbelieving her, Sarah kisses him to prove that they are still friends.

Some time later, at a party, Frank reveals that he is in love with Sarah and passionately kisses her in front of everyone. Joseph jumps up yelling "that's my WIFE!" and prys them apart. The party breaks up and Joseph and Sarah go home.

At the next party, Frank shows up at the invitation of their instigator friend (who is the host of the party), prompting Joseph to pick a fight with Frank that Sarah tries to break up. So Joseph turns on Sarah and they start screaming at each other in the kitchen. Joseph leaves with another girl at the party, so Sarah leaves with Frank. Joseph makes out with the other girl, but then leaves before sealing the deal. Meanwhile, Sarah has sex with Frank.

A week later, Frank crashes another party to find out why Sarah hasn't left Joseph yet and run away with him. Joseph discovers that Frank is there and picks another fight with him that results in the three of them shouting on the front lawn all the dirty details about Sarah and Frank having sex while Sarah is still married to Joseph. Sarah grabs the keys and leaves the two men standing on the sidewalk staring after her.

But Joseph turns away first so that only Frank notices that Sarah has stopped the car a block away. Frank doesn't go after her, though. He tells Joseph that she hasn't left. So Joseph, her husband, runs after her. Sarah opens the car door for him, he gets in, and they drive off.

That's it.

There's no poly in this at all, not even poly-ish. There's no comedy, no laughter, and certainly no group sex as the DVD cover and posters imply. There is only two people don't seem to like each other very much (why do movies always have characters who don't like each other?), and a single man who is too shy to reveal his feelings for the woman he loves until she has thoroughly entangled her life with someone else. There is shouting, there is pain, there is heartache, there is confusion, there is cheating, there is lying, there is ownership and possession, there is backstabbing, and there certainly wasn't any "room for a third person in their marriage". I'm not even sure there was any room for the two who were in the marriage, let alone a third person.

The ending was so abrupt and so unresolved that I actually stared at the credits for a few heartbeats, expecting another scene. Apparently, it means that Sarah and Joseph are back in their not-so-happy twosome and have left Frank behind, alone again. I went back to the various webpages to get the URLs for this review, and I read and re-read the descriptions again. I checked the titles, I checked the URLs, I looked closely at the covers, to make sure I was at the right pages. I swear, this is not the same movie.

I can't even tell if this was a "good" film or not because I'm so jarred by the misleading summaries and the unresolved ending. I wonder if this is why people have such fucked up views of relationships? Hollywood seems to think that relationships with people who don't like each other still have driving-off-into-the-sunset endings. So maybe people stay in relationships with each other because they think they're not supposed to like their partners very much, but if they stay there long enough, they'll get a fairy tale ending?

All I know is that everyone in that movie seemed to be miserable, including every single supporting character, and if that's what life and love are supposed to be like, I'll take my "unrealistic", "naive" poly family, thank you very much. Even on days when it seems as though we can't go a 24 hour period without someone freaking out, at least everyone likes each other, and at the end of the day, no one stays out of obligation or fear of being alone. And goddamnit, no one starts a fucking shouting match at a party or thinks that public humiliation is an appropriate conflict resolution strategy.

~Reviews By Joreth - I watch the crap so you don't have to
joreth: (Purple Mobius) - IMDB - Amazon

I just watched the creepiest fucking movie ever.

Rita and Sue are teenagers about to graduate high school.  At least, I think.  It's a film from the UK and I have absolutely no clue how the educational system works there, but it's weeks away from the end of their mandatory schooling and when they can move out of their parents' homes.  Rita and Sue are babysitters for Bob and Michelle.  Again, I have no idea how that system works, but they are apparently both sitters.  When I used to babysit, if the parents were going to be out particularly late, I was sometimes allowed to invite a female friend over to keep me company, but I was the only paid sitter.  It was never explained how it works for Rita and Sue, I imagine because everyone in the UK already knows how it works.  But they both sit regularly.

So anyway, Rita and Sue babysit one night and Bob drives them home.  Only he doesn't go home.  He starts asking them creepy questions like if they're virgins and if they know how to put on a condom.  The girls act insulted and antagonistic, but given how they behave throughout the rest of the movie, apparently antagonism is foreplay.  So Bob takes them to some desolate cliff overlooking their town and fucks them both.

This is the third scene in the movie, and it only gets ickier from there.

There is absolutely no way to explain the poly part of this movie without giving away the ending. Sorry. )

So, there's nothing poly about this movie until *maybe* the final 3 seconds of the film.  The first part isn't poly because it's a married man cheating on his wife with two fucking teenagers.  The middle part isn't poly because he chooses only one of the teens and the other gets into an abusive relationship.  But since it could be argued that the very very end of the movie involves three people in a live-in, consensual relationship, that makes this a poly movie.

But I disliked this movie more than I disliked Cafe au Lait.  At least in Cafe au Lait, the three characters all live together for about half the film, even though they disliked each other.  In this one, the three title characters don't dislike each other, exactly, but they don't seem to really like each other either.  But, to be fair, they don't seem to like anybody, or anything.  Everyone in the movie fights with everyone else.  Apparently, that's just what life is like Yorkshire.  The reviews keep calling it "realistic".  That's a terrifying thought.  The movie also got rave reviews at the Cannes Film Festival, the Berlin Film Festival, and Sundance.

I can't understand why everyone loved this movie.  Just showing people argue with each other and daring to set a film in a slum doesn't make for a "gritty film", in my opinion.  So the girls are poor, and there's a lot of cussing and fucking.  Big deal.  The characters were unlikeable and their motivations were random and unpredictable.  But I guess if you live in an area where nobody likes anyone, you don't expect the characters to like each other.  They just have to agree to stay together.  Although I'm not sure why anyone *does* stay together if you don't like each other and there's no financial incentive.  I guess it's just something you do.

I've already established that it's still a poly film if the movie ends with a breakup, as long as the *reason* is not that polyamory itself destroyed the relationship.  If a movie shows functional polyamory that's destroyed by outside pressures, or even by personality conflicts but not because there are multiple people, then even if the relationship ends, it's a poly movie.  So is it a poly film if the opposite happens?  Does it count as poly if there is no poly in the movie anywhere but it has a "happy" poly ending?  I guess so.

I'm grudgingly keeping this movie on the list because of the ending.  But I hated it.

~Reviews by Joreth - I watch the crap so you don't have to.
joreth: (anger)
I just watched the most godawful movie ever.  Well, to be fair, this movie was not on a poly movie list, it was recommended to me by Netflix when I added a bunch of movies from some poly movie list.  And, historically, Netflix's suggestions based on poly movie additions are shit.  So I was expecting this to be bad.

This movie completely lived up to all my expectations.

Building contractor Marty Barnes has always wondered what it would be like to share a bed with two women and, to his delight, he persuades his reluctant wife, Laura, to try it. The experience fulfills Marty's wildest dream ... until Laura morphs into a walking sex machine who seduces every woman in sight -- including Marty's secretary.

So yeah, you all should be able to guess what happened.  And I'm pretty sure that whatever you're thinking right now is exactly what happened.  There were absolutely no surprises for me in this movie at all.  It went exactly where I thought it would go.

First, we have the asshole husband who begs and pleads and pushes his wife into trying lesbianism for his own benefit, using every bullshit stupid excuse I've ever heard ... "it'd be good for you", "you have the homecourt advantage, you'll like it because you're a woman so you already know what to do", "no, it's not for me, it's for us", "it'll bring us closer together", "I want you to feel free to express yourself", blah blah blah.  Bullshit.  

So, after pestering her forever, she finally starts thinking about it.  Laura comes up with the usual list of rules that movies written by men seem to think are important to women, including "not a stranger, but not any girl I know whom you like".  Eventually they settle on Laura's part-time co-worker at the hair salon, Didi, who is an out lesbian and who very clearly has the hots for Laura.  

They invite Didi over for dinner one night, and she puts the moves on Laura while Marty encourages them.  After a couple of freakouts and a ton of liquor, they end up in a threesome that involves Marty, panting and happy, dancing downstairs at the thought of just having had a threesome, while the two ladies continue to go at it upstairs, apparently oblivious to Marty's absence.

Now, we all know the fable of RBAMP and the Ballad Of The Unicorn Hunters, so we know how Didi's part in this story plays out.

Naturally, Laura has the best sex of her life and starts seducing every woman she meets, including Marty's secretary, his business partner's wife, his sister, and the wife of an investor that he's desparately hoping to convince to invest in his construction project.  Because all a woman has to do is have sex once with another woman to be turned into a sex-crazed, predatory maniac.  It will automatically be the best sex ever and any woman within range will fall under the influence of lesbianism.  It's an STD, you know - gayness is contagious, that's why the fundies are so afraid of it.

Here's what I hated about this movie:

1) Marty pushed his wife into doing something she didn't want to do, for his own selfish gain.

2) The entire fallout was blamed on Marty for having "broken the dam" and suggesting this in the first place

3) It's better to never experiment or explore, to lock up all your desires lest they carry you away like a runaway train into a dark tunnel filled with depravity and no self-control because once you start down that track, you won't be able to stop.  First it's lesbianism, then it's kinky bondage, then it's practicing surgery without a license (yes, seriously, he said that)

4) The assumption that lesbian sex is automatically better than hetero sex because of the "homecourt advantage"

5) The assumption that all it takes is good sex to turn someone into a complete nymphomaniac who can't control her own behaviour and has to have sex all the time with no discrimination

6) That this only happens to hot women

7) The blatant use and disposal of women for the married couple's personal pleasure

8) All women who are seduced by or interested in a hot wife will automatically be willing to have sex with the husband too

9) Marty immediately became suspicious of every woman in the world because he imagined Laura was going to seduce her

10) Marty was right and his paranoid accusations were justified

11) The implicit assumption that lesbian sex doesn't "count"

Yes, that was there too.  It was there when Marty condemned his business partner for cheating on his wife with another woman, telling him that he's going to hell and that god was watching, but when he came home from work early to find his wife in bed with his secretary, Laura wasn't going to hell.  Laura talked openly about her experimentation with women and Marty found it annoying, but not because he felt he was being "cheated on", but because he started to feel inadequate.  The double standard that a man having an affair with another woman was evil but a woman having an affair with every goddamn woman in town was just a nuisance pissed me off.

As a side note, the cheating partner pissed me off too.  He justified his cheating on his wife being "fat".  We get to meet his wife.  She's a size 9.  Maybe.  I'm betting that she started eating because she realized she was stuck with an ignorant, shallow, callous, fucktard and pizza and brownies offered her more satisfaction and comfort than her asshole husband.  He then had the nerve to tell Marty later, when Laura seduced his "fat" wife, that Marty was no better than him because, although he was cheating on his wife, Marty was too, but at least the asshole friend had the good sense to not do it in front of his wife.  Grrr.  Back to the story.

To top it off, Laura even admitted later that she was just "experimenting" and that she really only wanted Marty.  As far as I can tell, this was the one good thing to come out of it - not because she went back to being monogamous, but because she finally started to tell Marty what she needed to feel good in bed.  Laura gave up women, but started instructing Marty on how to please her.  This, of course, made Marty feel even worse about himself.

For those of you following me on Twitter, here is the part that was responsible for my tweet "OMG TEH STOOPID IT BURNZ!":

Marty is trying to entice Dave, a jerkoff from high school who is now a millionaire to invest in his construction project.  After Laura gives up women, Marty suggests that Laura "run her little rap" on Evie, Dave's wife, in order to get Evie to talk her husband into investing.  Marty stops shy of suggesting that Laura pimp herself out for the money, because by this point, he's begging Laura to stop fucking women.  But he does tell Laura to get friendly with her.

So Laura and Evie go out for lunch, where little miss Republican Trophy Wife comes on strong to Laura.  Laura freaks out and tries to avoid Evie, until Evie shows up at her house one day and instructs Laura to come upstairs and fuck her, and be quick about it since Evie has a cubscout meeting to attend.

Upstairs, Evie strips down to her teddy and garters and starts ordering Laura around.  She pulls out Marty's good ties and yells at Laura to shove Evie down on the bed hard, and then tie her up and gag her, which Laura reluctantly does.  Marty chooses that moment to walk in on them.

Leaving Evie tied and gagged, Laura runs after Marty so they can have a screaming match in the hallway where Marty accuses her of being a sex pervert and Laura yells back that it's all Marty's fault, that he "broke the dam" and that Marty is really the one who tied up Evie.  Laura never once says that it was Evie's idea that she get tied up, but that doesn't stop the narrow-minded Marty from being a prick who thinks all kinky sex is a mental disorder.

Then it gets even more stupid.  Dave, the rich husband, comes by the house looking for his wife.  Laura goes to the door to see who's there, then runs upstairs and whispers to Marty who it is.  In a panic, they decide to leave Evie tied up, pretend to act normal, and deny all knowledge of Evie's whereabouts.


All they would have had to do is have Laura run back in the bedroom, tell Evie that her husband is there, untie her, let her get dressed, open the door, and explain to Dave that Laura and Evie, who are now friends, were just about to go shopping, and the whole thing would be over.  After all, Evie is just as invested in keeping this secret from Dave as the psycho couple is.

But no.

Marty opens the door, Dave asks where Evie is, and Marty says "how should I know where your wife is?"  Dave says "her car is in your driveway."  Marty has no answer for that and tries to distract him by getting him outside.  Suddenly, at that moment, Laura's first fling, Didi shows up.  Marty leaves Dave to Laura and tries to get rid of Didi.  So Dave asks Laura where Evie is, and Laura says she doesn't know, so Dave mentions that Evie's car is out front, and Laura's answer is "oh, well, I'm not a car person, so I don't know why it's here."


Meanwhile, the only scene in the whole movie that I liked takes place outside.

Marty is trying to get rid of Didi, who seems hurt and confused as to why Laura is now avoiding her.  Marty decides to explain it in this way:

"Don't take this wrong, but my wife doesn't want to join your little club. ... Yeah, your little club.  See, she had a trial membership but now she doesn't want to renew.  This is not about you, no offense, nothing personal.  I gotta go."


Do you people not understand how cruel this is?  Those particular unicorn-hunting married couples looking for the hot bi babe for their own enjoyment don't seem to understand that this is how that hot bi babe is being treated.  No, I don't care that you craft your breakup speeches with more tact.  She is being treated as the hired help, and when you're done with her services, or dissatisfied with her ability to properly spice up your marriage without actually affecting your lives outside the bedroom, you throw her away.  Sorry, no offense, nothing personal.

It IS personal.  She is a human being with feelings.  

Anyway, the reason why I liked that scene is because of Didi's answer:

"You know something?  All you guys, you think  you know so much about lesbians, you think you're so into lesbians but you're not.  You're into what you wish lesbians were, cock-hungry nymphos keeping themselves busy until the Real Man hits town, but that's not the reality.  The reality, Marty, is that you pushed and you pushed and you pushed, and now your wife eats pussy better than you do."

So, now, because I know you're all DYING to know how the movie ends, the spoilers:

Dave isn't buying any of Laura's bullshit about not being a car person and drinking too much espresso, and suddenly Evie, still tied up and gagged upstairs, starts screaming and banging the bed against the wall to get someone's attention.  Dave runs upstairs, discovers his wife tied and gagged, and immediately attacks Marty while his wife crumples now that her hidden secret lesbian life has been discovered.

Laura finally breaks up the fight by knocking Dave upside the head with a giant book and explains that Marty isn't the one into crazy kinky shit, that it was Laura who tied her up but it was Evie's idea.  So Dave naturally turns on Laura and calls her a wacked-out twat and leaves.  Meanwhile, Evie is STILL tied up upstairs.  Marty tells Laura to untie her, Laura refuses and tells Marty to do it, and they get into a shouting match in the front yard over whose job it is to untie the poor woman.

Marty loses, so he heads upstairs to untie her and takes the opportunity of having Evie's undivided attention to suggest that, since this encounter will probably result in divorce, that Evie should take half of Dave's money and invest in his construction project.

In the final scene, Marty comes to pick up Laura at work to take her to lunch, and we see that Laura has hired a replacement for Didi - a male hairdresser named Henry.  At lunch, Laura starts the exact same conversation with Marty that started this whole mess, suggesting that Henry may be bisexual and that some exploration on Marty's part would be "good for him".  Marty looks at her, dumbstruck, and finally asks if she's joking.  Laura says yes, she's joking.  Well, that she might be.  And that's where it ends.

I loved Didi's answer to the horrific but all too standard treatment of the hot bi babe, and I was pleasantly surprised to see the tables turned on the sexist, selfish asshole of a husband at the end.  But neither was worth watching the movie for.  Really, neither was worth reading this review for either, but at least you didn't have to waste 2 hours to hear the good parts from me.

So Sex Monster was not on a poly movie list, but it was recommended by Netflix as being "similar" to movies that are on a poly movie list.  Whether it's similar or not, this movie is not poly and it was not good.  

~Reviews by Joreth - I watch the crap so you don't have to.
joreth: (polyamory) - Netflix - IMDB Database - Amazon - Amazon Instant Video

I first saw this movie as a kid. It was playing on some B-movie channel like USA or Lifetime, and it had already started when I came upon it. I was flipping channels, and I stopped only because I noticed Alan Alda. Being a huge fan of the show M*A*S*H, I had to see what Hawkeye was up to.

I actually have very little memory of the movie itself. All I was left with was the basic premise, which is of a man and a woman who are both married, but not to each other, who meet each other every year at the same time, at the same place, for a weekend affair. The movie spans about 25 years, and the idea of lasting 25 years with the same person, other than their spouse, touched me, even as a child.

So, I had added it to the Poly Movie List based on my memory of a feeling, rather than actually remembering the plot. And I decided recently that I ought to watch the movie again, just to make sure it really deserved to be included on that list. And after watching it, y'know what? I'm not really sure.

We first meet George and Doris on the night that they meet each other. George is an accountant with a client in the area, and Doris is a housewife whose in-laws hate her, so she comes up to a nearby convent/retreat every year on this weekend to avoid them. The two find themselves drawn to each other in the bed & breakfast's restaurant and they spend the evening gazing into each other's eyes and talking deeply to each other. The next morning, they wake up to discover that they've had an affair.

Normally, cheating spouses is a pretty good guarantee of a movie getting itself banned from the Poly Movie List. But this one was a little different. George and Doris are not unhappy at home and looking to replace their respective spouses. They each love their respective spouses and have happy lives with them. It's just that they are so drawn to each other, but their affair does not change the love they have for their spouses, and they agonize over the duplicity throughout the entire movie.

Also, this movie is different from most cheating movies because it's not a one-time thing, or over a short span of time. Their affair lasts for the bulk of their adult lives. They grow old together, and their affair deepens to a true love of each other. Yes, it's true, they do not tell their spouses, and that deceitfulness is what makes me waver on whether or not to keep this movie on the list. But George and Doris not only love each other, but they grow to be fond of each other's families and spouses too, even though they have never met each other.

George and Doris play a game, where they each tell one story that paints their spouses in a negative light, and then another story that paints them in a positive light. These scenes are so touching, as they live vicariously through each other's stories and get to know each other's spouses from afar. We see them live through each other's pain and anguish, and we see them grow through each other's joys. We see George and Doris each take different life paths and learn how to grow back together.

Two small spoilers, but not the end of the movie )

So, I think the reason why I keep wanting to keep this movie on the list, is because this is what I imagine polyamorous relationships are like when the participants don't know that an option like polyamory exists. This is the story I believe that we could all have found ourselves in if we lived in a time and place where open relationships were just not allowed. This is what I think happens when we are not allowed to express ourselves and our love when love is bigger than our rules.

This is a movie about 4 people, even though we only ever meet 2 of them - about the love and desire that encompass them, through presidential terms, through wars, through changing fashions and political ideals, and over the course of a quarter of a century. So you may disagree with me about whether or not this is a poly movie, and I think some very valid points can be made on that side of the debate that I can't argue with. But I'm going to keep it on the list anyway.
joreth: (Purple Mobius) - IMDB - Amazon - Netflix

Micki & Maude is a bedroom farce-style romantic comedy that I was expecting to disappoint me. I'll be honest, I'm not really a big Dudley Moore fan and the idea of a poly movie put out in the last 30 years in America, rather than a movie about being torn between 1 suitable lover and 1 unsuitable lover making it appropriate to dump one of them and live monogamously, seemed far fetched.  But this movie had two major redeeming features that lead me to include it on a list of Poly-ish movies, regardless of how "good" the movie is otherwise.

Rob is a man who loves children and wants nothing more than to raise a huge family. Unfortunately, he is in love with, and married to, a career-driven woman. If the roles were reversed, since the women have the babies, she could just have one and be a stay-at-home mom and he would support her with his money-making but emotionally-distant career, and that would be the end of it. But since it is the husband who wants the kids, even if Micki were willing to be the "workaholic father-figure" and let Rob be the stay-at-home Dad, she would still have to be the one to get pregnant, carry to term, and deliver - all of which threatens her very tenuous position as lawyer-bucking-for-judge. So Rob is just shit out of luck without her cooperation.

Then he meets Maude during a particularly busy time at work for his wife, in which they manage to have not seen each other in roughly 5 weeks in spite of living under the same roof. Maude is a cellist who doesn't work very much. She is spontaneous and creative and free, and she adores Rob. So while Rob is feeling particularly isolated and abandoned in his relationship with his wife, along comes a woman who has the time and ability to make Rob her whole world. He finds himself quickly infatuated and begins an affair.

Many people have found themselves in this position, and have discovered polyamory through this route. I can't say I approve, but the sheer prevelance of this situation makes me feel sympathetic towards the characters - after all, I'm a former cheater myself so I understand the desire to be with both at the expense of their consent and dignity. When a society forces people into a single relationship structure regardless of the nature of the human species or the wants of the individuals, some people are naturally going to find themselves in situations with no optimal choices - such as loving one's spouse enough to want to stay married but feeling alone and vulnerable and available to fall in love with someone new.  And with no guidelines or role models to help them find an honest path, many take the more selfish choice because emotions often override logic, or at least twist the logic to protect the emotion.

Often, it is only by experiencing a situation first-hand, which challenges the assumptions we have about relationships, that we ever really *do* any questioning or challenging of assumptions. So it is often that situations like this are what it takes to make people face their assumptions of love, relationships, and fidelity, and, *some* people come through it with a better understanding of who they are and what they want and a desire to be authentic and live honestly, by exploring an alternative relationship like polyamory.

So, back to the story. Remember, this is a bedroom farce, so here's where it gets annoying, if one does not like the absurdity of bedroom farces. So Maude, the mistress, announces that she's pregnant. Rob, who we know wants nothing more than to be a father, is so overcome with happiness, that he decides he will divorce Micki and marry Maude, which he was previously loathe to do since he does still love Micki. But he can't *not* be a husband and father for Maude now that a baby is really on the way, and he can't do *that* while still married to Micki.

So Rob screws up the courage and finally pins Micki down for a date at a nice restaurant, and says he has something to tell her. But before he can get his request for a divorce out, Micki announces that she's pregnant and, although she originally assumed she would get an abortion because it's poor timing (she is about to be appointed a judge, and her previous miscarriage suggests that she will have to remain bedridden for most of her next pregnancy), when she realized that she was actually with child, she started thinking about how much she loved Rob and how much her relationship and their family means to her. So she decided to keep the child and has recommitted herself to her marriage. So what does Rob do now?

In order to understand why I'm including it on the poly-ish movie list, I will have to give away the ending, so: Spoiler Alert! )
joreth: (Bad Computer!)\Football\20090708\FBN-McNair-Killed.xml&cat=sports&subcat=football&pageid=1

Why is it that homosexuals and polyamorists are charged with the downfall of society and a lack of family values, when this monogamously married man had a 6-month affair with a woman, who then got so enraged at the thought of him possibly cheating *on her* that she then shot and killed him?

I don't know a single polyamorist who would stand up for what Steve McNair did.  He cheated on his wife.  He endangered her life by engaging in a sexual relationship with a woman without his wife's knowledge.  He could have given her an STD, or this psycho girlfriend could have chosen to kill the wife and their four kids instead once she learned that McNair made up the story about his pending divorce.

The poly community in no way supports this scenario.  I wouldn't go so far as to say McNair "got what he deserved", but I do have to ask him "what the fuck were you thinking?"  What do you expect to happen when you betray the trust of another human being?

I want to make very clear that I am not excusing McNair's murder.  Sahel Kazemi has taken another person's life and I do not support or excuse that in any way, shape or form.  This was not a case of self-defense, the man was sleeping.  He was an asshole, perhaps, but the solution to his asshatery is to break up with him, not kill him.

But when you betray a person's trust, you identify yourself as a person who cannot be trusted.  And when a person believes that you cannot be trusted, she will naturally believe that you have betrayed her at some point because she (rightly) believes you to be untrustworthy.  And then when she believes that you have betrayed her, she will undoubtedly act out on her hurt feelings.

It is not actually a stated fact that McNair cheated on his mistress with a third woman, this was simply Kazemi's belief at this time.  But if he cheated on his wife to be with Kazemi, why wouldn't he cheat on Kazemi with someone else?

On the flip side, if we lived in a society that did not revere monogamy above all other relationship forms, if we did not perpetuate the myth that there is a single "soulmate" for everyone, if we did not hide the fact that humans are not actually monogamous by nature, and if we did not discourage the open and honest acceptance of this fact coupled with a sense of personal responsibility for one's actions, if we did not insist that interest in, attraction for, or relating to other people indicated a lack of something in a pre-existing partner, then we would have far fewer jealousy-related acts of violence. 

If McNair and his wife understood and accepted that McNair was not a monogamous person, she would not have learned that her own life had been put in danger by the man she trusted it with, from a cop telling her that her husband was dead.

If the mistress understood and accepted that McNair was a married man and had no plans to divorce, and that she would not be his only partner, it is possible she would not have killed him on the mere suspicion that he had a third partner somewhere.  Then again, someone who is willing to kill like this is probably crazy to begin with.

But if we had a society that disapproved of jealousy, or at least did not excuse poor behaviour because of it, then perhaps her crazy would have been caught much earlier, before she had the chance to harm someone with her crazy.  And then McNair would not be the sleezball that he is for cheating on his wife because they would have had an open arrangement.  Perhaps, if it had been an open arrangement, his wife (who was not going through NRE or loss of cognitive functions due to blood-rearrangement of her internal organs) might have seen the signs that this chick was a wackaloon and advised against a relationship with her.

People need to understand that having additional partners does not mean that you are "not enough".  It didn't mean that when our parents had additional kids, it didn't mean that when our best friends found spouses, it didn't mean that when our spouses have best friends, and it doesn't mean that when our lovers have additional lovers.  It means only that humans are social creatures who naturally form intimate relationships with other people.  Only by acknowledging and accepting this fact can we consciously modify our behaviour to embrace our natural inclinations and still do so honestly, ethically, and with care and consideration for our fellow humans.  

As [ profile] tacit says, a majority of our problems would cease to exist if people just talked to each other.  This is not polyamory, this is cheating and this is crazy.
joreth: (polyamory)

I have mixed feelings about this article.  It's all about how a woman married a man right out of college, who then got so busy with his career as a doctor that she felt abandoned, and started an affair with another man who lavished attention on her.  I think everyone who knows me, now knows how I feel about cheating and lying in relationships - it's wrong under all circumstances.  But the fact of the matter is that people do cheat (myself included) and this often brings people to discover polyamory when they realize they love both their spouse and their lover and don't want to give either up.  So, although it's wrong, some very important life lessons can be learned from a cheating experience.  Such as this one:

"I was also determined, however tentatively, to touch a toe into the waters of what it was to be alone. To be lonely. And as I did, I began to learn that I was … just fine."

When the author told her husband she wanted to separate and that she had been having an affair, she distanced herself from her husband but did not then speed up her relationship with her lover (speeding up one when another ends is always a mistake, IMO, especially when the person doing the transition is afraid of being alone).  She took some time to just be alone.  She had met her husband when she was lost on campus and he offered to help her find her way.  And she continued to use him to "help find her way" ever since.  She was terrified of being alone and it was the feeling that she was alone even while married that drove her to start an affair with someone else.  And she learned that the world did not stop spinning, that she did not stop breathing.  Being alone can be scary, but you will survive - and do more than just survive.

Now, because I am not afraid of being "alone", because I know the world will not end and I will get over my heartache, I am often accused of not developing deep, emotional attachments to people, of withholding, of using my independence as a shield or a defense mechanism.  I don't think that's true.  I know I will survive and even love again after a heartbreak, but that doesn't mean I don't love, I don't have heartbreaks, and that they don't really fucking hurt.  I don't think that love is mutually exclusive of "independence", but I do want, and have, love.  Which brings me to another line from this article:

"It had taken this time apart to realize that my husband was a man I could indeed live without. But I sure as hell didn’t want to."

I think this goes back to my Why I'm A Bottom, Not A Sub post, where I quote from a book in an attempt to explain that being independent does not mean being alone.

The rest of the article goes on to explain how she got back together with her husband, even though she had come to love her lover too.  Many monogamous people think that polyamory is significantly different from their own lives, that we feel differently and think differently.  I don't think that's true.  I think I may be more *aware of* and more *honest* of my own feelings than many monogamous people, but I don't think I'm inherently *different* in how I feel. 

Monogamous people love multiple people and monogamous people can feel sexually attracted to more than one person at a time.  What is different is the social strictures that guide us.  In my life, I am *allowed* to have these feelings and to act on them.  In monogamy, whether one is allowed to have the feelings varies from relationship to relationship, but they cannot generally *act* on them.

In the process of falling in love with her lover, this author also learned that she continued to love her husband.  Here's where my mixed feelings come in.  She ended her affair to go back to being monogamous with her husband, and I don't see why that had to be the answer.  She got very different things from her relationships - of course, they were very different people.  Even similar people will still provide completely unique relationships.  And if two relationships are unique and individual, one can never replace the other because it could never *be* the other.  It will *always* be different.  This is what enables me to feel secure in my polyamorous life - my metamours are not my rivals because it is not a competition.  We CANNOT compete with each other because we do not have the same relationship.

The author continued to develop a very deep, emotional friendship with her lover after they ended their affair.  And that illustrates my point.  These were two unique relationships and one does not have to directly compete with the other.  Here is an example of how a "monogamous" woman has the same feelings as a poly person - we just exhibit them differently.  There is a place in her life for both men, as they enhance her life in unique ways:
"I took what I had learned from Alex [her lover] and his view of the world into my interactions with James [her husband].  ... I used to think that if I could combine Alex and James, I would have the perfect man. I wasn’t wrong. They do indeed fill in each other’s blanks, serving my different needs. Many people in my life can’t fathom how I have fulfilling relationships with them both."
Of course, the problem I have here is the idea of combining two people to make the perfect person, but what I think she's trying to say is that neither man can fulfill all the roles of people she needs in her life and neither should they be expected to, and how her relationship with each man has enhanced, not just her life, but her relationship with the other.  The additional perspectives that we get by relating to different people bring a richer, more complex texture to our own lives and thoughts and personalities and this is true whether the "other people" are lovers or not.  This will affect all our other relationships, not just our romantic ones, and that affect can be good.  

I've also heard people claim that it's not possible to have fulfilling relationships with more than one person, and I'm just totally baffled by that statement.  Especially when those people have both spouses and "best friends", and siblings, children, parents, other relatives, etc.  I mean, are none of those relationships "fulfilling" simply because that person has so many of them? 

Oh, wait, but that person isn't having sex with more than one person, right.  Sorry, but I just don't buy that the act of sex is the one defining behaviour that makes one relationship more fulfilling than any other (I know certain individuals who do not develop intimate bonds with people they are not having sex with, but this is not a universal trait, nor even all that common, from what I've observed). 

Each relationship fulfills a different niche and comparing how fulfilling a romantic relationship is to how fulfilling your best friend relationship or your relationship with a family member is comparing apples to oranges, even though many of those relationships share common activities.  They are all fulfilling, but in different ways even when some behaviours overlap, and sexual relationships are no different.  If you go to the same restaurants, talk about the same topics, even have sex in the same positions, two relationships will never be identical and, the fact of the matter is, no two relationships include going to only and exactly the same restaurants/talk about the same topics/have sex in the same positions.

The other point I find fault with is that the author continues to keep her now-platonic friendship with her lover a secret from her husband.  She claims it's not out of guilt or shame but to avoid reminding her husband of the time she chose another.

I think this is a huge mistake.  First of all, her relationship with her ex-lover is described as "extremely close, unconditionally devoted companions."  This is a SIGNIFICANT part of her life and of who she is that she is forced to keep strictly separated from the man she professes to love.  These kinds of secrets block paths to intimacy and are corrosive to the delicate nature of intimate relationships.  How can she possibly not be doing damage to her marriage when she has to lie about who she is spending time with, how she spent her day, important conversations she had, all those things that contribute to making her *who she is*?  Her relationship with her ex-lover affects *who she is* right now and will continue to contribute to shaping who she is in the future.  And her husband is prohibited from any exposure to that part of her and her life.

Second, if she's not doing anything wrong now, she should have no reason to hide.  If her husband cannot bear her having this man in her life, they have a serious problem.  Either she is not willing to sacrifice for his sake (give up her ex-lover, which, for the record, I don't think she should have to) or he is not dealing with his insecurity over her past infidelity. 

If he *can* bear it, she's treating him like a child who can't make his own decisions for what his life looks like.  This is not fair to her husband.  She is not allowing him to develop the tools necessary to heal from her past betrayal or to become secure enough in their relationship to allow her to fully be the person she is.  She is taking his decision-making ability away from him.  She is also continuing her betrayal, whether she continues to have sex or not.  He is not being allowed to choose, for himself, a life with this woman with or without her ex-lover-turned-best-friend. 

Any secret so big that one feels would damage the relationship if told is probably a secret that most needs to be told.

And third, I think he *should* be reminded of the time she chose another.  Always.  The reason she "chose another" is because she felt that he was not giving her as much of his time and attention as she wanted.  She should have communicated her needs more clearly, rather than cheating, but the fact is that he was willing to make an effort to change some behaviour to accommodate her needs and desires - namely to give her more attention.  If he ever forgets that, he risks losing her again.  He should always be conscious of the fact that his actions have consequences and neglecting your partner can cause your partner to leave.

Now, please do not misunderstand me and think I am advocating that the author use her past infidelity as a weapon to keep her husband in line.  "You better pay attention to me or I'll cheat again!"  This is not what I'm saying.  But the world is governed by actions and consequences.  This is about their *choices*.   He has to choose his own path.  Sometimes, however, some things are not compatible.  He has to find the balance in his life between the time and attention he focuses on his career and the time and attention he focuses on his wife.  It is true that making money and following a demanding dream career requires a sacrifice on how much time can be given to other people.  It's not zero-sum, but there are still some things that just cannot co-exist at the same time and time is a finite resource.  One has to decide just how little time one can spend with another before it ceases to be a relationship.

I was dating someone last year.  He was busy with school, I was still living in Tampa and commuting to Orlando and busy with work.  I don't require a lot of time (in terms of counting hours) from my partners.  Both of us expected the other to respect our dedication to our respective goals.  This seemed like we were compatible.  However, when we had been dating a year and had only actually seen each other maybe 5 times and talked on the phone not much more than that, I had to question whether we were actually in a relationship or not.  When I went 3 months in a row not having heard from him at all, I had to admit that we weren't actually dating anymore.

It's not just the physical time spent together - anyone who has made long-distance relationships work understands that.  It's about how significant a person is to you.  We were not in each other's thoughts very often, we did not make much effort to keep in touch with alternate methods, and we were both low on the priority scale for each other.

So when two people are married and share a home and a life together, *some* amount of effort needs to be put forth to maintain the relationship or it isn't a relationship anymore, merely housemates.  And I think that a person who has a tendency to get caught up in one's career to the detriment of the relationships one has, that person needs to be reminded that there is a choice to be made. 

Sometimes I *have* chosen my career over my relationships.  I'm not suggesting it's an incorrect choice.  But it *is* a choice.  So I think it would benefit this husband to always remember that he is involved in a balancing act and that if he wishes to maintain a relationship with his wife, he has to put forth some effort.  The author is doing her husband and herself a disservice by hiding her continued friendship with her ex-lover.

So, overall, I think this article has some very good points to make about loving more than one person, being independent, and honesty and communication with one's partners.  Unfortunately, there are those couple of points that I think she gets wrong, and they are so very, very wrong.
joreth: (polyamory) - Internet Movie Database - Rent From Netflix - Amazon

The Summary tells us that Lola is pregnant and doesn't know which of the two men she loves is the father. I had high hopes for this one. Unfortunately, I was let down. It was "poly", but the movie sucked.

This was a French film that started out by introducing us to Felix (or rather, Felix's foot in the pedal of his bike), a particularly obnoxious young man who seems to delight in antagonizing drivers. He arrives at a building at the same time as a young man named Jamal, who shows up in a nice car, wearing a suit, and displaying courteous manners. They both enter the building and squeeze into a closet-sized elevator and find themselves waiting in front of the same apartment door.

Lola opens the door, smiles, and invites them both in. She sits them down and tells them both that she's pregnant and she doesn't know which of them is the father, but it doesn't matter because it's her baby and she will take care of it herself, so they can just fuck off. This is the first time either man hears that Lola is involved with someone else.

Understandably, they both get pissed and leave.

But, for some unfathomable reason, both men continue to obsess over her. Jamal is the first to show up on her doorstep with flowers and ask to get back together. He moves in with her and begins taking care of her.

Felix goes on for some time insulting his friends, beating up on his sister, making racial slurs at the local gangbangers in the rap club scene where he hangs out. He is a thoroughly detestable character. He's not nice, he's sullen, he has a shitty job that he often flakes out on, he occasionally deals drugs, and he's argumentative to everyone.

Jamal, on the other hand, is the son of a Muslim diplomat, is in college, has money and manners, and seems to be basically respectful of everyone around him, although he does spit out the occasional misogynistic statement in his attempt to be the "man of the house", which Lola treats with contempt and ignores.

Lola is a woman that I can't figure out why these two men are so obsessed with. She cheats on them both, she lies, then she drops the bomb in possibly the worst way - a way practically designed to elicit a triple homicide, then tells them both that she doesn't need them. She's demanding and elusive and condescending. But she's hot. However, as [ profile] zen_shooter said, beauty isn't all that uncommon. Surely the guys can find someone else who is pretty and not a lying, cheating bitch.

Anyway, Felix runs in to Jamal and starts a fight that lands them both in jail overnight. Lola decides she's had enough and leaves Jamal to visit her parents in the West Indies, leaving as her explanation note the test results that say Felix is the baby's father.

Jamal storms over to Felix's house, searching for Lola and this is where Felix learns that he is the natural father. As both men realize she's dumped them both - again, this starts the beginnings of their collaboration ... or at least it's the beginning of the end of their rivalry, but there is still much road left to travel.

Soon, Lola comes back, and both men are at the airport waiting for her with flowers (although still as rivals). Lola comes down the people-mover, smiles, and walks between them both with no word, leaving them both rejected, yet again.

Felix starts hitchiking home and Jamal picks him up. In the car, they both realize they are being fools and that Lola is calling all the shots. They also discover they both met her on the same night, although Felix has to turn that into a competition too by gloating that he actually got to have sex with Lola first. Although they still see each other as rivals, they both appear to understand that Lola will not choose one over the other.

One day, Lola invites them both to meet her for dinner, unbeknownst to each guy, who gets irritated at Lola's habit of springing news on them in this manner. Lola shows up and says she will not resume her sexual relationship with either guy, but if they want to be in her life, she wants Jamal to provide financial support and Felix to provide menial labor. For some bizarre reason, both men immediately agree, although it was never clarified if this arrangement was to last forever or just the duration of the pregnancy, and what do each of them do about other sexual partners?

So now Jamal and Felix begin their collaboration in ernest. Both men perform their duties to the best of their abilities, but in a somewhat cold and detached manner, leaving Lola's apartment without saying goodbye but leaving notes, just as if they really were hired help. Apparently, this is too much for Lola. She shows up at Jamal's house (where Felix apparently has moved in) crying, saying that she can't bear the lack of emotional content anymore.

Now, all three of them live together, with Jamal providing financial stability (and still attending school), Felix providing shoddy housework, and Lola not seeming to do anything but sit around and be pregnant, reveling in the hold she has over the two men. I am unclear about whether the sex is resumed or not, but [ profile] zen_shooter insists it did not resume. Occasionally, we see shots of one or the other man sleeping next to Lola and there is physical displays of affection, but it could be argued that "friends" do those things too.

This is the part that makes it a "poly" movie, but I have to say they're a piss-poor example of a poly family. Unfortunately, too many poly families reinvent polyamory in just this way - one person cheats on her lover with someone else, loves them both, can't choose, the wronged parties then decide their love for the cheater is bigger than the wrong that was done to them, and they attempt to force a family out of the mess because the alternative is to dump the cheating bastard and be alone (as a former cheater, I have to say I have sympathy here, but it's still a fucked up way to go about things).

There is one scene in this whole movie that I actually liked. The 3 of them are sitting at the dinner table and Felix is looking at the Chore Chart and complaining that two big chores have been assigned on the same day and it's not fair. It's a big fight and I don't really like the conclusion, but the part I like is that they made an effort to divide up the responsibilities according to each person's abilities and the agreement is subject to negotiation. Now that is poly. In the argument, Jamal and Felix rearrange who cooks when and Felix negotiates for one night a week that Felix can go out and party.

The reason why I don't like this movie is because I don't like any of the characters and I really hate the message that having a baby is the solution to all relationships that include volatile personality clashes. The three characters really don't like each other and really don't have anything in common. I can't, for the life of me, figure out why Lola likes either man or why either of them like her. And the two men don't actually like each other, but are putting up with each other because they have no choice. But the movie ends with Lola in the delivery room and the two men on either side of her, touching the baby and smiling, when just before Lola went into labor, the men got themselves in another fight that landed them in jail again and Lola came to bail them out and proceeded to rip into both of them for being childish. As usual, the movie implies that having a baby makes a Happily Ever After.

I suppose it should be included on a list of poly movies, because it really does show us a poly family. Both men refer to Lola as their wife (hence, my ambiguity at whether the sex resumes or not), each refers to Lola as the other's wife at least once, and Felix even says at one point "my wife's other husband..." Felix brings a very-pregnant Lola and Jamal home to meet his very traditional Jewish family and he has even explained to his grandfather what the arrangement is (relying on the grandfather to explain to his grandmother). There is a scene with Lola confiding in her own grandmother her love for both men and even her gynecologist knows the score. But I disliked the movie because I didn't like the characters and I don't think they liked each other. I loathe movies that show characters who are not compatible with each other but give them a romantic "happy ending" anyway. I don't like movies that encourage people that having a baby will make your family complete and everything is magically better. Relationship Broken Add More People.


April 2019



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