Last night’s TV

October 1, 2008 rooroo

“I’m Dawn Porter, and for the past 4 years, I have been single.” Besides saying her name, I wasn’t quite sure how relevant this statement actually was, especially as the tone sounded akin to a patient saying, “I’m Mrs Jones and for the past 4 years, I have had Chron’s disease.”

Apparently to research free love (or polyamory), you have to fly across the Atlantic and then all the way back into Europe – but avoid the UK at all costs! All partakers in polyamory must have embraced any New Age paradigm, and be aging. I looked at B across from our contemporary living room, no burning sage in sight, what a disappointing couple we make.

So, the programme itself was exactly how I’d expect someone from a monogamy and couple-centric culture to react to a different lifestyle. One of the really frustrating things for me was how blatantly poor Dawn’s communication skills were; there was actually no interest in the people, what they were doing and the reasons for doing this. Her agenda was totally focused on picking out the downsides of a polyamorous lifestyle, and she paid little attention to what was actually being said by those involved.

Perhaps it could just be Dawn’s intellectual capacity, but two excellent points that struck me, which were glossed over:

1) You are the one responsible for getting your needs met. She had been speaking to a very sad German woman who had just split up with someone in the commune she had visited. The woman said something along the lines of how it’s up to the individual to take responsibility for what they want – this is so important in any relationship, polyamorous or otherwise, and could have been a great way to say, “Ok, perhaps we’re not all *that* different,” but that wasn’t what the programme makers wanted, so it was lost in a long sea of dialogue. It’s a lot easier to paint the ‘dumper’ as a horrible sex-crazed penis monster, rather than thinking about how we have probably all screwed up in relationships at some point, stamping feet, pouting lips and shouting, “But you haven’t x, y or z! How could you make me feel like this! You should JUST KNOW!!!”

2) Society tells us that somewhere out there, there is one person who can be absolutely everything we want and need in a person, and Mr Right will tick ALL those boxes – to think like this, you’re only going to set yourself up for failure, and possibly a long lonely life.I think the leader of the commune said this, but Dawn’s glazed look seemed to infer what was going on in her head; a scene from the Simpsons where Homer appears to be listening intently, but inside his head was a picture of two monkeys picking bugs off each other.

I have no idea what the purpose of the oil scene was, besides titillation and a chance to giggle at a ritual of a group of people who have turned away from mainstream society. It’s easier to do this than to suggest that polyamorists are potentially normal people who gasp, walk among us! Dawn appeared very concerned when another member of the group was saying how uncomfortable he felt about the film crew being there. I actually thought this was a good opportunity to see how the group as a whole resolves conflict, but luckily for Dawn, she wasn’t going to get her wrists slapped back at Channel 4, and the oil ritual was back on. Note no stomping off or slamming doors.

The conclusion was that every style of relationship comes with its drawbacks. The silent message of course was that there was something inherently wrong in polyamory (you could see the pathologising going on when the sad woman was talking about her relationship with her parents – AHA! So that’s the reason!) and that rest assured viewers, despite the credit crunch, we’re still the ‘moral’ ones, these people are obviously Very Odd Indeed. I expected no less, to be honest. One thing I had hoped was communicated that was monogamy was a choice and it isn’t something innately ingrained in us – it’s a choice where it’s ok to say no.

Before the oil ceremony, Dawn sat on a bed exasperating, asking why she was doing this and why she couldn’t get a proper job. My thoughts exactly.


Entry Filed under: musings, relationships, sex and tagged: , ,

3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Kate&hellip  | 

    yep, yep, yep. Cracking post, you’ve articulated some of the stuff I haven’t and couldn’t quite work out how to say. Damn, we’re good at this!

  • 2. Dawn Porter’s Free &hellip  | 

    […] note to add that Beena (dommebell)’s post is here – she’s articulated her reservations brilliantly. Thanks, Beena! Possibly related posts: […]

  • 3. Choice & strategy &la&hellip  | 

    […] Finally, I keep reading blogs about Dawn Porter’s Free Lover. I’m not very good at watching TV (I only watch CSI and cartoons, and only when I’m stoned) so I haven’t seen it, but it hasn’t had a good response from poly folk. My friend Breena gives a nice critique here. […]

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