Taking a 2+ Year Vacation from English Language Fiction

I recently discovered the Tempest Challenge, which is to stop reading fiction by straight white cis men who write in English for an entire year.

Before the ‘Tempest Challenge’ existed, I had actually done this myself. In fact I took it a few steps further – for a period of 2+ years, I only read fiction written in Chinese (with the exception of webcomics). The vast majority of that fiction was originally in Chinese, but I also read some Japanese-to-Chinese and Korean-to-Chinese translations. All of this fiction was by East Asians, which meant that I also happened to stop reading fiction by white people during this period.

Why did I do this? Mainly because I wanted to improve my Chinese, and to get good at reading Chinese, one has to get a lot of practice. And I didn’t want to read English-to-Chinese translations since I can read the originals in English.

This immersion experience definitely changed the way I think and perceive the world. Some of the changes were obvious at the time, whereas I am only gradually noticing some of the other changes years later.

For example, when I made up stories in my head to amuse myself, the characters tended to be white people. Since I’m a white person myself, that was not surprising. However, after a year or two of my immersion in Chinese fiction, the characters who appeared in my head-stories tended to be Asian, not white, by default. It wasn’t any conscious process or decision on my part, it’s just what seemed most natural to my imagination at the time. Now that I’m back in the United States and taking in a lot of fiction by white people, the characters in my head-stories are now mostly white people again, but … I am impressed that all it took for my imagination to shift that way was to just limit myself to Chinese-language fiction for a couple years (okay, the fact that I was living in a city with very few white people, where I could go weeks without seeing another white person, might have had something to do with it too).

As far as the subtler effects which I am only noticing later … a lot of that comes up when I am reading English-language fiction. English speakers tend to think in a way which is a bit different than the way Chinese speakers think (a lot of this is cultural), and things which I would have never noticed before now leap out at me as being a specifically English-speaker kind of thing. It’s hard to describe some of this stuff, because a lot it is me getting a feeling but not knowing how to explain it in words.

All and all, I think this was very good for me. This experience definitely expanded my imagination and perceptiveness (not to mention that a lot of Chinese language fiction is fun to read). And I think that I went really hardcore – as in, I refused to read English-language fiction (except webcomics) or even fiction which originated in English for years – made the experience much deeper than if I had simply stopped reading fiction by cis-het-white-males for a year.

I don’t think I’ll do anything like this again in my life, or even do the Tempest Challenge, but I think I would benefit by reading more fiction by a) people who are neither white nor East Asian b) queer people and c) disabled people.

Aces Become Sex Gurus; Aromantics Become Romance Gurus; (& Bonus Mini-Linkspam)

This is for the July 2016 Carnival of Aces – “Make ’em Laugh”

There is a phenomenon I have observed among both aces and aromantics: there is a tendency for them to become the go-to person for advice on sex and romantic relationships for their non-ace and non-aro acquaintances. This seems to happen mostly to aces and aros who have little to no direct experience with sex and/or romantic relationships.

What gives???!!!!

I recall one ace who had taken a test to determine which career was best for her. The result? “Marriage Counselor.” She said that her friends found that hilarious. IIRC, she said something along the lines of “If I were a marriage counselor, I would be like ‘Hmmm, your marriage has problems, have you considered divorce?'”

A long time ago, possibly before I identified as ace (I don’t remember for sure), my dad said that if I were a character in a soap opera, I would be the heroine’s best friend – the one she always turns to for advice. In retrospect, this casting may have something to do with the fact that I never showed the least interest in dating.

Maybe, for some bizarre reason, if someone is totally staying out of sexual / romantic drama, it’s subconsciously interpreted as a sign that they know the secret to dealing with sexual / romantic drama. In fact, the secret is that they simply don’t participate in sexual / romantic relationships in the first place. And then they share this secret, and advise the person seeking advice to simply break up … and hilarity ensues.

This phenomenon is already a theme in asexual and aromantic humor, for example this tumblr meme.

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Bonus: Mini Linkspam on Ace and Aro humor

First of all, there are the Aromantic Humor and it’s funny cause I’m ace tumblrs.

You all know about Queenie’s Sad Cookie, right? RIGHT?

I like this humorous post about fictional characters.

And finally, here is a Marvel Cinematic Universe fanfic where everyone is asexual and/or aromantic. Don’t read Marvel Cinematic Universe fanfiction? Me neither! Heck, I haven’t even watched any of the Marvel movies, and know little to nothing about most of these characters. I still laughed at these little vignettes. You don’t have to know squat about Marvel stories or characters to appreciate the ace and aro humor in these little stories.

Alliance of the Non-mono Folk in the USA, Part 5: The Asexual and Polyamory Communities (Conclusion)

Here is the previous post.

Since the only two major non-mono groups in the 21st century whose interactions I am aware of are the asexual and polyamory communities, this post is going to be about how these two groups interact. That is not to say that interactions between other non-mono groups is unimportant, I am simply not sufficiently informed.

First of all, the article “Asexual Polyamory: Potential Challenges and Benefits” by Dan Copulsky is worth reading (note: I am one of the people who corresponded with the writers of the article).

Mutually Informed?

*I* first learned about polyamory for real, as opposed to just casual mentions which I did not pay much attention to, through my participation in the asexual community. Thus, for me personally, polyamory is tied to asexuality in my mind since exploring asexual is how polyamory has been most relevant to my life. And generally, the aces I know know much more about polyamory than the non-ace people I know.

In the polyamory writing and materials I have read, I have also found more references and a better understanding of asexuality than I have in writing/materials about sex and romance in general. This is no doubt skewed by the fact that the polyamory writing/materials which I’m likely to find are more likely to be ace-friendly simply because I tend to be directed to them through the ace community. Nonetheless, my impression is that poly people are more likely to be informed about asexuality than the general population. That is not to say that poly people always get it *right* – they don’t – but ace people don’t always get poly right either.

The Poly Aces (and Poly Aros)

There are people who are both poly and ace. I am not one of them (I am ace, not poly). Fortunately, some people who are ace and poly have written about it. Here is a small sample of writing by poly aces about being poly and ace:

A confession and an announcement
Polyamory: Never a One-sided Deal, even in Mixed Relationships
My Ace Poly Manifesto
I don’t understand dating, so I’m getting married

I also want to throw in a couple of essays by people who are aromantic (albeit not ace) and poly:

What a Poly, Aromantic Relationship Looks Like
Promiscuous, unloving, and incapable of commitment

Poly as a Solution to Mixed Ace/Non-Ace relationships

When the topic of polyamory is brought up in the context of asexuality, the most common assumption is that it is a ‘solution’ for a mixed couple – that is, an asexual and a non-asexual who are a ‘couple – so that the non-asexual person in the couple can get sex without putting pressure on the asexual.

Sometimes, setting up a poly relationship so that the non-asexual person can have sex without breaking up with the asexual or pressuring the asexual for sex works. But as one of the essays linked above (“Polyamory: Never a One-sided Deal, even in Mixed Relationships”) states, *assuming* this framework places the needs and wants of the non-asexual above the needs and wants of the asexual. It’s one thing for two people to consider all of their options and conclude that this is the best option; it’s another thing for someone to assume that this needs to happen just because an asexual and a non-asexual person are having some kind of relationship which society expects to be sexual and monogamous.

However, I do think, as several of the essays which I have linked claimed, it does help for asexuals to have the *option* of mixed-relationship polyamory when dealing with relationships, even if we don’t ultimately choose that option, and that this is a major reason that asexuals have such a high level of interest in polyamory.

Common Features of Asexual, Aromantic, and Polyamory Communities

Some people, particularly people who are uninformed about asexuality, aromanticism, and polyamory, assume that asexuality and polyamory are opposites. This mistake is based on assumptions that polyamory is all about having lots of sex, or that asexuals are uninterested in close personal relationships, or something.

In fact, asexual, aromantic, and polyamory communities all have a lot in common, and I think that is the main reason there is an ‘alliance’ between them.

First of all, all three of these communities have ideals of open, honest, and detailed communication. All of them have created a bunch of new words (for example, demisexual, akoiromantic, and metamour) because words in mainstream use are not adequate for the ideas they want to discuss. All tend to have extended conversations about personal boundaries. And all tend to have high-word-count conversations about what they want from close personal relationships. Mind you, just because open, honest, and detailed communication is the *ideal* does not mean that people in these communities always put those ideals into practice. However, the fact that this is a commonly shared ideal helps them interact with each other.

However, I think the most important thing these communities have in common is that they are all striving to increase their freedom to engage in personal relationships which work for them, rather than forcing themselves to fit the relationship norms of mainstream society. I think that’s why certain polyamory blogs, such as SoloPoly, are popular with asexual and aromantic readers. This, more than anything else, is why I consider the asexual and aromantic communities to be natural allies of the polyamory community. We have the common goal of wanting to make close relationships other than sexually and romantically exclusive monogamous relationships a socially acceptable option.

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NOTE: This post is scheduled to be published at a time I won’t have internet access. Therefore, it may take me a while to respond to comments.

Alliance of the Non-mono Folk in the USA, Part 4: Comparing the 19th and 21st Centuries

In previous part, I discussed how 19th century non-monogamist groups related to each other. Now, because I don’t know enough about the 20th century, I am skipping straight to the 21st century.

The Asexual and Aromantic Communities

Hey! I am asexual and aromantic. Anyway, this is the largest group I am aware of in the United States in the 21st century which embraces non-gamy (i.e. simply not entering sexual and/or romantic relationships). However, the asexual and aromantic communities are based on people’s identities, not their relationship patterns – there are aces and aros who do pursue sexual and/or romantic relationships for various reasons. So why am I pegging this as a non-gamy group? Because pursuing a sexually/romantically monogamous relationship is not the norm in this community. Though most aces and aros have no objection to other people pursuing monogamy, sexual and/or romantic monogamy is not what most people in these communities pursue.

The Swinging Community

This a group of people who openly pursue multiple sexual relationships, though they tend to have more restrictions on romantic availability. I don’t know much about them, so I am just going to note that they exist.

The Polyamory Community

This is a group of people who openly pursue multiple sexual and romantic relationships. They tend to be affluent, politically ‘liberal’, have a high level of formal education, and to say that being open to love/sex from multiple people is liberating in some fashion. They have their own set of jargon to describe their relationships (look up the word ‘metamour’ for an example). An important value in this community is honesty – which is not to say that it always put in practice (these are people, not perfect beings) – but rather that people should tell all of their sexual/romantic partners about what sexual/romantic relationships they are having or pursuing.

Working Class / Low Income Non-monogamy

People who identify with ‘polyamory’ tend to belong to the upper middle class or ‘creative’ class. That is not to say that they are the only ones in United States society who pursue multiple sexual relationships in an open and honest way (by ‘open and honest’ I mean that there is no attempt to hide sexual relationships from one’s sexual/romantic partners). In fact, I know from some conversations I’ve had with working class and low income people that some of them also do their own version of ‘poly’. However, they tend not to writes books, blogs, create organizations around it, etc., possibly because they are dedicating more of their efforts to economic survival than organizing communities around non-monogamy. I don’t know much about them, but I also want to note that they also exist.

The above is not intended to be an exhaustive list, and if you think I should mention any other 21st century groups which practice and/or promote non-monogamy, please drop a comment!

Comparing and Contrasting the 19th Century and 20th Century Groups

The 19th century and 21st century groups have a number of striking parallels. For example, both the asexual/aromantic and polyamory communities tend to have a lot of concern about social justice (I don’t know enough about the other groups I mentioned to comment), have a tendency to be veg*n of some kind (I wrote a whole series of posts about the asexual community and veg*nism), and a disproportionate number of members are atheist or otherwise non-religious, or practice a non-conventional one (such as, in the 21st century, paganism). In short, people who openly participate in these communities, both in the 19th or 21st century, are people who are interested in deviating from or critiquing social norms beyond simply not doing monogamy.

The big difference between these groups in the 19th century and the 21st century is that, in the 19th century, these groups tended to go out and form their own communes. This is also a trend with some of the 20th century non-monogamy groups. However, 21st non-monogamy groups seem a lot less interested in separating from mainstream society and creating communes. The 21st century groups are also much less inclined to connect their refusal of monogamy to critiques of the economic system or private property, which may also be another reason that the 21st century groups are a lot more comfortable with staying in mainstream society. In fact, the 21st century groups put a lot of effort into making it easier for themselves to blend into mainstream society by trying to make mainstream society a more friendly place for themselves.

Though this is less true of the poly groups, asexual and aromantic groups claim that their community is tied to an orientation or intrinsic identity rather than a relationship pattern. Though the orientation and relationship patterns are related, it is the orientation which is treated as the defining feature of the communities. I am not aware of any 19th century group which was like this.

In the next post, I will discuss how the asexual and polyamory communities relate to each other (I am picking those two because I know enough about how those two relate to each other to feel comfortable commenting upon it, not because the other groups are less important).

How Adopting an Asexual and Aromantic Identity Has Made Me More Resilient

This is for the June 2016 Carnival of Aces: Resiliency

A really long time ago, I believed that I was going to eventually end up in a sexual/romantic relationship, and that it was just a matter of meeting the right person. Over time, I gradually realized that it was a) not happening and b) there was more to why it was not happening than not meeting the ‘right person’.

I was luckier than some people in that this was never a great source of distress in my life. However, I did make some half-hearted attempts to try to meet the kind of person who would at least be someone I’d be interested in trying sex/romance with. Identifying as asexual put an end to that (it was years later that I started identifying as aromantic).

What would have happened if I had not identified as asexual when I did? I don’t know. I don’t regret the (futile) attempts I made to get any kind of romance/sex in my life, but I don’t think I would have benefited from further attempts, so I think it’s just as well that I stopped when I did. Just this alone – to cease trying to bring sex and romance in my life – increased my personal resiliency, since it allowed me to focus more on things which did a lot more to develop myself as a person.

My identity also helps me deal with how other people react to the lack of sex and romance in my life. Before I took on an asexual identity, people often made comments about sex and/or romance which I felt uncomfortable with. But I did not understand why I was uncomfortable. Now, I understand that I have a very different perspective than most people do on sex and romance. That explains a lot of the dissonance I feel between my thoughts and other people’s thoughts on these things. Whatever people think of me, my perspective on my own sexless life is 100% valid. That makes me more resilient in the face of ignorant remarks made by other people.

And finally, I know, thanks to other asexual and aromantic people who have discussed their identities, that I am not alone. I don’t know why people feel a need to find themselves in others in order to feel like it’s okay for them to be themselves, but that is how human nature is, and I am not an exception. Knowing that it’s not just me gives me an additional bit of psychological resilience.

For more about what I have to say about asexuality and resilience, I suggest this old post about living in Taiwan as an asexual.

Alliance of the Non-mono Folk in the USA, Part 3: Ties among the 19th Century Groups

In the previous post, I introduced some prominent groups in the United States which practiced non-mono relationships, either celibacy or poly relationships. In this post, I will discuss how groups who sometimes had very different ideas about how to do non-monogamy became allies.

Their Rejection of Monogamy Was a Part of a Greater Context

None of these groups rejected monogamy just for the sake of rejecting monogamy – they all saw it as a part of something bigger. This was all going on as the United States was becoming an industrialized society.

Ann Lee herself, the founder of the Shakers, grew up in Manchester, England. When she was born, Manchester still had a predominantly agricultural economy, but by the time she left Manchester, the industrial revolution was in full swing, and the living conditions of the working classes was far more miserable than the lives of the townspeople Ann Lee would have known as a young girl. It has even been speculated that, due to the increasingly crowded living conditions in Manchester caused by the industrial revolution, sex became increasingly public, and problems caused by unplanned pregnancies became increasingly obvious, and that all of this might have led Ann Lee to have become more anti-sex than she might have been if she had been born a century earlier. Though the Shakers are best known nowadays for their crafts and for being celibate, there is a reason why they rejected private property, and to a large extent they were trying to create an economic model which could compete with capitalism while being much more humane. Shakerism greatly influenced Karl Marx and other communist intellectuals. In fact, it could be argued that the greatest impact Shakerism had on the world was economic (or rather, the way people thought about economics).

It was not just the Shakers – all of these groups rejected the institution of private property to some degree. Even the Mormons, who in the 20th century gained a reputation for being anti-Communist, experimented with abolishing private property in the 19th century. And all of these groups considered private property and monogamous marriage to be so deeply intertwined that one could not truly eliminate private property without also eliminating monogamy. To them, the purpose of monogamous marriage was to sustain private property over multiple generations, and to assert men’s ownership of women.

That brings us to another issue – all of these groups were much more strongly in favor of gender equality than mainstream American society in the 19th century. Most of these groups saw monogamous marriage as one of the primary ways that men oppressed women, which for them was all the more reason to reject monogamy.

I do NOT think it is a coincidence that the Icarians – the only major ‘communitarian’ group which not only practiced monogamy, but which forbade poly relationships and was also anti-celibacy – was also the only group which did not allow women to vote in community governance meetings.

Nowadays the Mormons have a reputation for sexist, but in the 19th century Mormon women had more rights and privileges in the Mormon community than most American women did in their communities. For example, the 19th Century Mormons supported women’s education, and said that if women had adequate education, they could do many things just as well as men. Mormon women could vote in community affairs, and Utah had women’s suffrage in 1870 – only one other state/territory in the USA (Wyoming) granted women’s suffrage even earlier than that. I’m not an expert on Mormon history, but I wonder whether or not it is a coincidence that they gave up the practice of plural marriage around the same time they became more supportive of capitalism and less supportive of gender equity than mainstream USA society.

(Side note: I used to think that polygyny was inherently more patriarchal than monogamy – I no longer think this. There are certain polygynous systems which are less patriarchal than certain monogamous systems – for example, the polygynous 19th century Mormons were less patriarchal than the monogamous Icarians. What matters is the details, not whether it’s polygyny or monogamy).

In addition to being concerned about economic justice and women’s rights, all of these groups also tended to support other ‘liberal’ causes of the day, especially abolitionism (that made things really interesting when these non-mono groups tried to set up communities in the South – especially if it was a community which accepted black members). Vegetarianism was also very common – for example, many Shaker communities set aside a table in the dining room just for vegetarian members of the communities – and most of the Oneida Perfectionists were vegetarians. There were even a few people who nowadays would be labelled as ‘vegans’ or ‘animal rights activists’ (most famously Amos Bronson Alcott).

So How Did These Groups Ally with Each Other?

First of all, everybody loved the Shakers. They were the oldest and most visibly successful of all these groups, and everybody wanted to copy at least some aspects of Shakerism. Sometimes the Shakers responded to this by saying “well, since you think we are so wonderful, why don’t you join us?” Obviously, some of the people who admired the Shakers did not want to, for example, take vows of celibacy, which is one reason why they set up their own communities rather than just join the Shakers.

The 18th century Shakers wanted to withdraw from the world, not participate in it. In fact, withdrawing from the world was an important strategy for them, since they were often assaulted, particularly during the American Revolution when they were often suspected of being agents of the British (in truth, the Shakers were neutral in the American Revolution, and refused to fight on the behalf of either side of the war). In the middle of the 19th century, the Shakers were much more involved in worldly affairs, for example, many Shakers were abolitionists who worked with non-Shaker abolitionists (Frederick William Evans is the most famous of the Shaker abolitionists).

These groups sometimes traded communities with each other – for example, the Harmony Society sold one of their communities (by ‘community’ I mean ‘land and buildings’ and not people) to the Owenites (who named it ‘New Harmony’). Also, when people became dissatisfied with one group, or when a community failed, it was common for them to move to a different group.

The Shakers used the Gospel of Matthew (22:30) to justify their rejection of marriage – and since they did not support sex without marriage, that also meant no sex. John Humphrey Noyes, the leader of the Oneida Perfectionists, used the very same line in the gospel as evidence of why monogamous marriage is wrong – but to him, it said nothing about sex, which meant that sex was still okay.

I find the relationship between the Shakers and the Perfectionists a perfect example of how celibate and poly groups could be allies. On the one hand, the Oneida Perfectionists, like everyone else, loved the Shakers. When the Oneida community finally dissolved, some of them chose to join the Shakers (in particular, the ones who believed that ‘special love’ was wrong thought that it was better to be celibate than to enter a monogamous marriage). Likewise, when there was an organized campaign against Oneida community, some of the local Shakers came to their defence, and one say that the Oneida complex marriage was “vastly purer than some of the most respectable marriages of today” which demonstrates that, to some Shakers, monogamy was more abhorrent than sex, and that they did not consider poly sexual relationships any more immoral/sinful than mono sexual relationships.

The Attacks Were the Same

Even though these non-monogamous groups were so diverse, many of their critics launched the same kinds of attacks on them. For example, the Shakers were sometimes accused of being harlots and promiscuous because they allowed unmarried men and women to live together (did the critics not get the part about Shakers being celibate, or did they simply refuse to believe that men and women could live together without having sex?)

Likewise, even though the Oneida Perfectionists were the most enthusiastic about having multiple sexual partners, some of their critics accused them of emasculating and reducing the sexual ability of their men (to be fair, this may have had more to do with the Oneida Perfectionists’ peculiar birth control method – which was actually as effective as modern day birth control pills at preventing pregnancy – as with the Oneida Perfectionists’ rejection of monogamy).

Often, one group was pitted against another, with rhetoric like ‘even the ghastly Mormons maintain the distinction between husband and wife, unlike free love commune over there’.

So, next time…

Though I know something about the practice of non-mono relationships in the United States in the 20th century, I know nothing about how non-mono groups with different philosophies related to each other. Therefore, I am going to skip the 20th century completely, and go straight to the 21st century in the next part of the series.

Alliance of the Non-mono Folk in the USA, Part 2: Introducing the 19th Century

Read Part 1 Here.

There was a great deal of social experimentation in the middle of the 19th century in the United States, which, among other things, encouraged the growth of both celibate and poly groups. The reasons for why this happened are complex, but these groups tended to be most active when the economy was in decline, and in places with good communication/transportation. Upstate New York, which had good communication/transportation thanks to the Erie Canal, and which experienced an extended economic depression in the middle of the 19th century, had a relatively high concentration of Shakers, was where the Church of Latter Day Saints got started, and was the location of the Perfectionists’ most successful community, Oneida.

The Celibate Groups: the Shakers and the Harmony Society

By far the largest and most influential group which rejected monogamy in the 19th Century USA was the Shakers (the Church of Latter Days Saints had less power/influence in the 19th century than the Shakers). The Shakers rejected both sex and marriage. Their founder, Ann Lee, was apparently strongly opposed to sex, and her rejection of marriage flowed from her rejection of sex. However, among Shakers, this view was not universal: there seem to have been some Shakers who felt more strongly about monogamous marriage being wrong than sex being wrong. In any case, sexual abstinence AND not having marriage were both key parts of the Shaker lifestyle and religion.

The second most famous celibate group was the Harmony Society (a.k.a. the Rappites). Though they did not regard sex as being as evil as the Shakers did, they also had religious reasons for believing that celibacy was the best way to live. They also did not practice marriage.

The Theist Poly Groups

By far the most famous and long-lasting poly group from the 19th century was the Church of Latter Day Saints, though they transitioned away from ‘plural marriage’ between 1890 and 1904 (there is more info about this here). ‘Plural Marriage’ was polygyny – one man married multiple women. Unlike some of the other poly groups from the 19th century, the Church of Latter Day Saints always accepted monogamous as well as polygamous relationships, and they obviously supported the institution of marriage.

Another famous theist poly group from the 19th century were the Perfectionists, specifically Oneida Perfectionists. The Oneida Perfectionists practiced ‘complex marriage’. Since it was, indeed, complex, I am not going to try to explain it, but there are two things I want to note. First, it involved both men and women having sex with multiple people. And second – and this is the more important point for me – the Oneida Perfectionists were opposed to ‘special loves’. What was ‘special love’? First of all, if someone showed a strong preference for one sexual partner over others, this could be considered a ‘special love’, and therefore wrong. Ditto for strong romantic attachments between two people. People who showed too much more affection for their own biological children over the other children of the community could also be criticized for having ‘special love’ – the idea was that everyone was supposed to love all of the children.

The Secular Poly Groups

The largest – and most diverse – of the secular poly groups was the Associationists, who were inspired by writing of Charles Fourier. Fourier had many wild ideas, some of which were outright ridiculous. To be fair, some of his ridiculous ideas – such as his prediction that increased human activity spurred by the industrial revolution would eventually increase global temperatures – turned out to be true. Fourier’s philosophy was that people should pursue their passions, especially their sexual passions – for example, people with homosexual inclinations should have sex with people of the same gender. He was a big advocate of well-organized group orgies. The various Associationist groups all chose their own ways of interpreting Fourier’s ideas, and thus the way they were put into practice varied widely.

Another famous secular poly group was the Owenites, founded by Robert Owen. In the 1820s, he was vocally opposed to the institution of marriage (specifically, he said that marriage was one of the “trinity of most monstrous evils that could be combined to inflict mental and physical evil upon [the] whole race.”)

Whereas the theist communities tended to prescribe specific approaches to sexual/romantic relationships (whether that was complete abstinence or having a specific type of poly structure for relationships), the secular communities tended to let people figure that out for themselves, whether it was some form of non-monogamy, or whether they decided to have conventional monogamous relationships after all.

Now that I have introduced some of the prominent non-monogamous groups from the 19th century United States, in the next part I will discuss how their ideas about gender and communal property informed their non-monogamy, as well as how groups with different philosophies related to each other.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Most of the information I have about these 19th century non-monogamous groups comes from the book Paradise Now by Chris Jennings. If you want to know more, I highly recommend reading the books.

Go to Part 3.