Why Feminists Should Accept Polyamory and Monogamy

By Lisa Petriello

First of all I want to debunk the idea that polyamory is inherently sexist and/or abusive to women (it is true some polyamorous relationships are, but then so are some monogamous relationships). As to the argument that polyamory means a woman being owned and shared as a possession between several men, that can be so but it need not be so, even in a poly relationship that involves one woman and several men (which does not include all poly relationships). Indeed, one has only to look at how the opposite type of poly relationship is sometimes characterized – as a lone man with a harem of women to service him – to see that the gender with the smaller number of members in a poly relationship need not be put at a disadvantage or treated unfairly due to that. Likewise, the gender with the larger number of members need not be treated as a harem, and could even be treated in a superior way (as in the possession-owning model discussed above) or in an equal way. Equality of rights within polyamory need not be connected to equality of numbers – for example, a woman in a poly relationship with several men may be in love with and sincerely loved by each one of them, and women in a poly relationship with one man may each sincerely love and be loved by him, with no one seeing anyone as a possession or harem servant. 

I must also point out that feminism, among other endeavors, seeks to end slut-shaming, which often affects women involved in polyamory (in addition to other women). Some may say that this is due to an incorrect perception that a woman who is involved in polyamory must be so in order to have a lot of sex (and/or have it with a lot of different partners), but while this is not true in regard to all women who are involved in polyamory, it is true for some of them, and in any case it is nothing anyone ought to be shamed for. 

Now I come to the idea that feminism means women, or at least heterosexual women, must reject monogamy in order to reject the idea that women belong to men. This is incorrect because if a certain woman wishes to be monogamous and her partner agrees to be monogamous in return, that in itself is not treating the woman like property (since after all her partner is under the same restriction, and she has happily and freely agreed to it). I also note that few polyamorous people are anti-BDSM (which I agree with), and it is hypocritical to oppose monogamy on the grounds it is treating a woman like property while supporting women agreeing to be dominated, tied up, etc..

Feminism is thus not inherently opposed to monogamy or polyamory, and feminists should not oppose either relationship structure. 

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