Centrepoint: Neither free nor loving
Radio NZ News 31 May 2021
Family First Comment: Our state broadcaster uses the recent TV documentary on Centrepoint to explain polyamory in detail and all its ‘benefits’.
The new ‘marriage equality’
Although most Kiwis live a monogamous life (or pretend to, even when they’re cheating) there are thousands who don’t, but they’re more honest.
The Facebook group Polyamory Aotearoa has over 1700 members.
There are no figures for New Zealand yet, but a 2017 study showed that one out of five Americans engages in consensual non-monogamy (CNM).
CNM, or open relating, means having more than one romantic partner or sexual connection simultaneously, and being transparent with them, though not necessarily with the wider world.
Swingers who attend “play parties” every weekend but are only emotionally bonded with their spouse fall under that umbrella, as well as relationship anarchists (RA) who don’t have a “primary”. They could even be asexual, but still in love – platonically. So don’t jump to assumptions or conclusions.
Polyamory is only one form of CNM and more closely defined. It means loving multiple people.
Anyone who has more than one child or doesn’t give up an old friend for a new one knows that the heart has room for many humans. Love is not a finite resource.
When it comes to intimacy and sex, that can get more complicated because shame, guilt and jealousy are deeply conditioned into us. Owning our desires and facing primal wounds requires work, sometimes even a therapist.
Polyamory has been around for a long time but is now trending, with podcasts and books like The Ethical Slut or More Than Two showing the way. It’s featured in series like Easy, You Me Her, Wanderlust or Sense8 and film classics like Vicki Cristina Barcelona and Jules and Jim.
Queer and woke communities advocate for social acceptance and better legal frameworks for a love style that has also had an uptake with celebrities.
It’s not just a male preference: Jada Pinkett Smith, her daughter Willow, Tilda Swinton and Aotearoa-based Amanda Palmer have mentioned their open relationships, followed by a growing list of recent influencers who even have a Wikipedia page.
Two weeks ago, after Taika Waititi was photographed kissing two women, the Twittersphere speculated whether the director is “poly”. (In New Zealand, the politically correct term is “polyam” to not confuse it with Polynesian.)
But most of us born in the last century don’t have any positive role models for ethical and functioning non-monogamy in our lives.
Unlike homosexuality, polyamory is not normalised yet in the Western World.
Dr Elisabeth Sheff is the foremost academic expert on polyamorous families with children worldwide and the author of books like The Polyamorist Next Door.
The findings from 25 years of her Longitudinal Polyamorous Family Study show that children in these families do as well overall as those with monogamous parents. They appeared to be thriving “with the plentiful resources and adult attention their families provided”.
According to Dr Sheff, a triad formed by a woman with two men is far more common than men with multiple female partners.
Sena Ritchie, an early childhood teacher who runs monthly polyamory meet-ups in Wellington, lives with her daughter and her three partners under one roof and said it was great for her two-year-old.
Ritchie’s knowledge about Centrepoint only extended to “some New Zealand hippie cult” until recently.
“It never occurred to me that what happened there might actually reflect in any way on the way I live”, she says.
Just like monogamous folk are not responsible for the bad things that strictly monogamous people do in cults like Gloriavale, people like her should not have to defend themselves because of Centrepoint.
READ MORE: https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/on-the-inside/443755/centrepoint-neither-free-nor-loving