by The Only Spectacle Inhabiting This Scene.. Me, Myself, Milla — she=he
Today’s Song: The book of love – Magnetic Fields
October 16th, there was a meeting for getting the papers in order for Polyamory in Finland. About 25 or so – from Turku, Tampere and Helsinki – meeting in the room labeled Historian Luokka (History class) at Panimoravintola Koulu (Brewery-restaurant ‘School’) in Turku, to make it ‘official’ — a registered association — Polyamoria ry.
I’m speaking as a person with the impression that I don’t really have an insight or overview of what’s going on with poly in Finland today (or ever). I was at the polyamory-discussion, arranged at Seta, (who currently distance themselves from making statements about polyamory being a sexual ‘minority’), during pride-week in the summer of 2006. Most persons who attended that meeting were fairly surprised to see more or less 30 others, interested in the same thing. There was a google group (no longer active) set up, and I tried myself to get some face to face meetings together, but because of not managing to find a ‘suitable’ day of the week for meeting up, and also because of dislikings between some people in that particular group, this process came to a standstill, until someone had a stroke of genius and decided that every 15th of the month would be the meeting date — and so it has been, in Helsinki, for some years now. The next meeting will be on Monday, November 15th at Cafe Piritta. I have no idea what time it starts, but I would guess around 6. In Turku, at least the 10th of this month, there was a meeting at a place called CCC, at 7. I don’t know how often they occur. Tampere also has meetings every now and then. I recall someone saying that they had it on regular dates, the same way as in Helsinki. For more info on what’s going on in the poly-scene, sign in and ask at the forum: polyamoria.fi: monisuhteisuusfoorumi.
The call for a meeting to create a ry (registered association) came after the topic of gay marriage had been picked apart in the Finnish public debate. In 2009 there was a proposal on sukupuolineutraali avioliitto (gender-neutral marriage) for gay couples to not only have the possibility for registered partnership, but as well marriage, which would then grant same-sex couples to have some of the same possibilities that hetero-couples now have, for instance – possibilities to adopt children and move to another country as a legal spouse. The triggering sentences in the debate had gone something along the line of: if gender-neutral marriage would be possible then why not lukumääräneutraali (neutrality in relation to number of spouses getting married) or lajineutraali (species-neutral) marriages?
As it was said by one person: it’s very easy to label poly as something similar to ‘students fucking around’ and not as something that many people do not disclose to family, friends or at work – love that is kept secret and hidden – because of fear of repercussions for not fitting the normative way of how to organize intimate relations.
There’s a lot of shame – stigma – and negative attitudes towards persons who figure they might just be open to committing to more than one intimate relation at a time, with all persons involved aware and consenting.
I came late to the meeting, and entered in the introduction round, each person in the circle taking turns saying something about themselves and why they were there.
After this, one person who had been sitting up the night before, doing the boring necessary paper work, was now stuck with the responsibility of going through the paragraphs for the sake of transparency. There were some minor comments here and there on grammar or questions on procedure (for instance, who has access to members lists). The person reading the paragraphs was standing up, and fairly quickly moving through the paper – banging her hand in the air as a club every now and then: “Decided! Agreed!”
After this we were told we were free to go and do as we please. I felt exhausted by this type of meeting: Bureaucracy, no human contact, clearly some persons speaking more and others not at all. Did everybody understand what was happening? I for one wasn’t.. but I’ve gotten used to it, and have somehow just accepted – resigned to – that this is the way we make ‘history’.
A person made an effort to gather the people that stayed after the meeting, to come closer to hear one another, and then as well suggesting to have a round, and making efforts to explain why she would like to have a round (to make sure that everyone gets space to speak and get heard – one person who had been speaking much during the meeting was agreeing with this, saying that it helps her in knowing that she’s not taking too much space). We had a round on what polyamory meant to us, interspersed with spontaneous discussion. It made the coming to Turku feel more like I was there as a human and not just as someone to sign a piece of paper.
I am thoroughly bored with this kind of meeting-culture, and I know that I do not wish to sit through another disconnecting interaction like this, and will therefore, here, list a concrete suggestion on how things can be done differently 🙂
Jälkiviisaus – Rewind.. Meeting starts:
– Getting to know one another: First people walk around in the space, looking at one another, seeing who’s there. Then stop to ask someone you don’t know a question, talk with this person for a few minutes – Repeat this maybe three times, with a new question with every new person. The questions can be about anything, ask someone to make a suggestion to the group. (Examples: “If you had a radio show what would it be about?” “What’s your biggest fear?” “How did you feel when you woke up this morning? What did you eat?”Anything! It can be all related to poly – or not at all. Anything. Just for people to interact and get to know one another.)
– Sit down in a circle, do a quick introduction round: What’s your name – where do you come from – why are you here? Expectations?
– Talk with the person you’re sitting next to for a couple of minutes: “Why create a registered association?” After this ask in the large group for a few persons to say some ‘pros’ and ‘cons’ 🙂 “Why?” “Why not?”
– Then people getting into groups of 3 or 4 and reading through the suggested draft for the ry. Take 15-20 minutes, reading it together, asking questions, making comments and so on. Or talk about whatever, if there’s time over for that..
– Go through the draft with the whole group, piece by piece, and by now there might be more questions and comments coming out. After each paragraph, ask if someone would like to ask some clarifying questions (“Is something unclear?”) and then check if there are any comments or objections.
If doing the whole consensus thing, then it would be cool to ask people to signal by raising their hands if they: “Approve” “Don’t care” “Object”. This way it’s easier to see how many are actually FOR what is being ‘decided’, even though the decisions made might just be a formality for the sake of legality within a bureaucratic system that nobody understands anyways.. There could also be someone there counting the ‘votes’, to make it clear, for others who weren’t there, what ‘weight’ the decisions have.
– And after this the thing that happened at the meeting. Asking for persons to become members of the board, and all the other positions ‘needed’. I have no idea how to make this more inclusive – possibly with a list of tasks clearly described, and if the ry will continue that there are efforts made to rotate the tasks so we don’t end up with the same persons doing the same thing year after year – possibly have a period where the person doing some specific thing, updates the person who’s supposed to take over the task, so they don’t have to ‘re-invent the wheel’ when they get started, and also not making it necessary for people to already have heaps of ‘experience’ before trying something out within the ‘organization’.
– Ending the meeting with persons talking in smaller groups on whatever subjects that feel important or current for the persons present at the meeting, rotate the groups, so that more people get to interact.
– Have a quick feedback circle in a large group: “Thoughts, feelings? What worked for you, what didn’t? Anything else in general?”
It scares me how easy something that is meant to give structure and support, turns into a faceless Entity, where we no longer ask ourselves: “What do I want? What is important to me?” and start acting and working for what’s ‘best’ for the Entity – Making efforts not to ‘get in the way’ of what’s ‘important’ for the ‘organization’; the ‘goal’; the ‘true purpose’. Many times, when a large group of people start acting in this way – and I’ve seen it happen time and time again – we end up with most persons feeling confused and disconnected. We now have a ry, and with this, there is a wish to spread awareness and make an impact. Apart from that, if we don’t yet know what we want – I guess it’s okay to say that out loud, and hopefully there’s a willingness to try out many different ideas and ways of going about things. Failure and things not working out being just as okay and enriching – something to learn from – as what works well and what we would like to keep and repeat.
I’m one of those people who feel ‘fake’ at poly-meetings, since I don’t function very well in any kind of relations (work, personal, personal, work — life..), and the only intimate relation I’ve had that wasn’t a hetero-couple-relation or ‘students fucking around’, was the kind of irresponsible confusing inexperienced ‘poly’ where many persons ended up being hurt. There was no awareness of what was going on, and consent was missing on many levels (sexual, emotional, relational).
My poly-experience was not a pleasant one, I never understood what I was to this person, but at least I’ve learnt some of net-effect and how people sleeping and having sex, relating and sharing and speaking of love with one another, is just as much a part of everyday power relations as any other relation (work, school, organizational) and that ridding oneself of these power relations does not come by labeling oneself ‘poly’ or a relation as ‘open’ or ‘free’. In the same way as a nation state does not become democratic, just and equal by labeling itself a Democracy. Ridding oneself of power relations comes by working through, and becoming aware of all our internalized patterns and speaking and reflecting openly on what hinders and helps in sorting out all the fears around speaking about feelings and needs in relation to one another.
It was said at the meeting that a person being interviewed on the subject of poly, having spoken the usual things about how important it is with Communication-Communication-Communication within these relations, and then saying to the other participants that this is not true for her personal relation, and that she’s just had to trust that the partner would say if something does not feel okay.
The same basic injustices that exist in couple relations [for example: EMC] exist also within poly relations. In wanting to share this beautiful idea with others, of how loving many without guilt and shame would be (and IS!) possible, I somehow fear that the Image of poly will take over the Reality of poly: We don’t yet exist within a community that has means to deal with violence within (child abuse, battery, sexualized abuse). In order to love freely and truly we need to know that our basic need for safety is cared for and that we won’t be left alone when ‘love’ has disappeared. This is the type of discussion that I would like to take part in – finding ways to care for one another when the promise of love fails to materialize, and how to heal what’s broken, how to heal and transform the hurt that is all around.
Says I, with mental problems, alcohol problems. With immense fears of getting ‘close’ to other human beings. Enormous difficulties in learning to trust. For me: Love, attraction, caring is not a beautiful fountain of joy to dive into, it’s more like losing myself and then finding myself again, walking on thin crackling ice, not really knowing where to go – and very difficult and confusing to talk about. Human relations in general are hard. Dizzying, difficult, frustrating, confusing. Triggering as hell.
I would like – love – to learn and experience how to make poly into a safe practice. I still don’t know how, and I doubt that I would feel safe until there’s a community around me ready to take action and care and heal, instead of deny and point fingers of blame and put labels like “jealous” “vengeance seeking” “crazy bitch” when trying to speak of harm done in ‘poly’ relations.
What is poly? What is love? What is responsible non-monogamy? Who gets to define these things in the relations? How are they defined? I’m sure there are many answers to these questions. I would like to find more persons feeling as lost as I do, willing to work towards something beyond propaganda and pretty words. I would like to feel a sense of meaning and belonging, I hope that this text is not yet another outpour of despair – there’s been plenty of those on this blog – I’m hoping that this can be received as a step towards Connection.
Disconnection. Don’t Drink and Dial:
+358503540595 Vad som kunde ha varit. (4.11.2010 night)
+36704568197 Vad och varför? (11.11.2010 night)
+358503540595 Kärlek för kärleks skull. (11.11.2010 night)
+358503540595 Jag var full, och kommer inte ens ihåg att jag skrev det förra meddelandet “Vad som..” Med andra ord: sinnessjukt fyllesnack. (11.11.2010 night)
+36704568197 Are you Milla? (11.11.2010 day)
+358503540595 Yes. Who is asking? (11.11.2010 day)
+36704568197 Daniel. You recently sent drunken messages in swedish and i dont know where to put them (11.11.2010 afternoon)
+358503540595 One drunken msg, two sober. If you want help with clarity on my part, just ask. If you need clarity on your part (why you ask me questions in swedish, why you express your confusion to me, in relation to some messages sent) well, ask yourself. I’m as clueless as you about your confusion. (11.11.2010 afternoon)
+36704568197 Im clear about my part: i thought at first it was some other swedish person thats why swedish and i express confusion cause there are unsettled issues between us. What about u? (11.11.2010 afternoon)
Milla.. too confused and hurt to respond. Flashbacks of a love torn apart, remembering feeling dirty, vulnerable, scared. Alone. Continuing with what I was doing before, tearing up old flesh-wounds when deleting old messages from the phone:
+358503540595 Hello Dani. Please publish this stalking: When will ‘accountability’ be a part of your vocabulary and ‘feminist’ anti-sexist practice? /Milla (11.11.2009)
Daniel then and now too hurt and confused to respond? Or then as now, clear on her part: There are unsettled issues between us.
After some time I sent this message:
+358503540595 Im confused scared and hurt about the unsettled issues between us. In a lot of pain, difficult to get over the hurt. Flashbacks daily. I would like to understand what happened, to be at peace. Heal. (11.11.2010 evening)
+358503540595 What’s your response to hearing that? (11.11.2010 evening)
+36704568197 I feel empathy but distanced from u I want to be responsible im not sure what am i responsible for exactly and what can i do (11.11.2010 evening)
+358503540595 You could say why you call my reality distorted, and as well say why you avoided, ditched so many meetings and why you didnt want to deal with the stuff i brought up. I dont understand that behavior. (11.11.2010 evening)
This conversation continues here: “two persons talking”
Filed under: > Milla & The Ban |