Polyamory is the next big culture war issue

Feb 12, 2024 by

By John Murawski, UnHerd:

The gender question has been a cultural wedge issue for many years now, but there are signs that the media is moving onto a new topic: polyamory.

That the sordid details of Molly Roden Winter’s More: A Memoir of an Open Marriage have grabbed the attention of the Atlantic, New York Times, New Yorker and Washington Post suggests that marriage is about to be redefined again. But to appreciate that this is not fad, one has to look beyond the bedroom — or wherever More’s author was hooking up with her paramours, friends with benefits or other “ethical sluts”, as polyamorists sometimes refer to themselves.

More is the latest in a recent spate of books, TV shows and celebrities extolling the virtues of polyamory in the past few years. There is now a growing acceptance and normalisation of consensual non-monogamy, an arrangement that was, until recently, considered immoral and degenerate, and associated with kink, sex clubs and wife-swapping.

Following a game plan established by advocates of gay marriage and trans rights, polyamory is poised to be the next sexual identity to seek legal recognition. The leaders of this movement are ultimately hoping to win full social acceptance, a strategy that requires emphasising happy polyamorous families, preferably with well-adjusted children.

If this feels like déjà vu, it’s because the polyamory rights movement is consciously modelled on successful predecessors that erased wicked stereotypes with family-friendly imagery. The Polyamory Legal Advocacy Coalition points to the recent municipal recognition of polyamory as a domestic partnership in Somerville, Mass., and Cambridge, Mass., as important breakthroughs because that’s precisely how gay marriage began winning legal acceptance, which “led to massive changes in social attitudes”, before the US Supreme Court legalised same-sex unions in 2015.

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