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'Wonder Woman' gets a kinky real-life backstory in ‘Professor Marston & the Wonder Women’

on Friday, 21 July 2017. Posted in Front Page Headline, Media Updates

USA Today

by Maeve McDermott

No, this isn't the trailer for the Wonder Woman sequel.

 

Instead of taking place in the same DC Extended Universe as Wonder Woman's smash-hit film adaptation earlier this year, Professor Marston & the Wonder Women is a biopic that tells the story of Professor William Marston, who penned the original series under the pseudonym Charles Moulton.

 

In fact, the Wonder Woman comics have a backstory that's significantly more risqué than DC's recent Gal Gadot-led film. Set in the 1940s, Professor Marston's titular character (Luke Evans) engages in a sordid love triangle with his wife Elizabeth (Rebecca Hall) and their shared romantic partner Olive Byrne (Bella Heathcote).

 

Professor Marston & the Wonder Women arrives in theaters Oct. 27.

Relationship Satisfaction Entails Playing By the Rules

on Friday, 21 July 2017. Posted in Front Page Headline, Media Updates

Psychology Today

by Susan Krauss Whitbourne Ph.D. 

The so-called “standard” type of relationship in which both partners in a couple are monogamous doesn’t work for everyone.  In some of these alternative relationships, one partner may engage in sexual activities outside of the couple but not let the other partner know.  Another, the “monogamish” relationship, occurs when both partners agree that they can have extramarital sex but only as a threesome. In open relationships, both partners are free to engage with other partners but be in love with only one, and in polyamory, both partners can have multiple relationships of a romantic or sexual nature, with all parties aware of and consenting to the relationship. The question of whether “all in love is fair,” becomes one of determining whether people can be as satisfied in any of these relationships, as long as they agree to whatever the arrangement is that they work out with each other.

University of Quebec in Montreal researcher Léa J. Séguin and colleagues (2017) investigated the satisfaction of couples living according to differing types of “relationship agreements.” They noted that although some previous studies suggested that non-monogamy is healthiest for relationship quality, other researchers found no differences in such factors as jealousy, trust, and overall satisfaction. The Montreal team believes that the discrepancies in the literature can be accounted for by various unique aspects of sample characteristics and the particular measures of satisfaction they used. Most importantly, perhaps, the previous studies included samples only of gay men, among whom polyamory has tended to be more prevalent. To resolve these issues, Séguin and her collaborators compared relationship types among sexually diverse samples of men and women focusing on the monogamous, open, and polyamorous arrangements.

Using a sample of 3,463 adults living across all Canadian provinces and territories recruited via social media, Séguin et al. were able to obtain sufficient numbers across the three relationship types to allow comparisons to be made on several key measures of relationship health. The sample was large enough, in addition, to permit control for such important factors as age, sex, length of relationship, cohabitation status, and sexual orientation as well as the combined factors of sex and sexual orientation. Thus, this was the largest investigation to date in which it was possible to rule out many of the important qualities that could bias the results of relationship type comparisons.

The tricky feature of a study examining the multiple relationships of any one partner is that the participant needs to pick one of several possible individuals to use as the basis for rating. Therefore, the researchers instructed the survey responders to pick the most significant of their possible relationship partners. A 17-item questionnaire measured satisfaction with 5 aspects of this relationship: sexual satisfaction, relationship satisfaction, closeness, trust, and commitment.  Additionally, participants answered a set of questions concerning whether they felt they were getting as much as they were giving in the relationship. Participants also described their relationships as monogamous (only one romantic partner and monogamous sexual agreement), open (explicit agreement that sex with multiple partners was permissible), and polyamorous (more than one romantic partner and agreement on the relationship rules).

One advantage of this study was that the online format of the questionnaires would allow participants to express their honest views about the relationship without worrying that they needed to look good to the researchers. Participants did complete a consent form, and were informed that their responses from the 20-45 minute survey would be recorded anonymously.  Imagining yourself completing such a survey, you can perhaps therefore appreciate that there was no reason for participants to try to hide the details of their sex lives. If you didn’t want to complete the survey, your participation was entirely voluntary anyhow. Another advantage of the study’s methods is that respondents were solicited through multiple sources rather than support groups for polyamorous couples (as has been true in other studies).

Now, onto the findings. The large majority (nearly 80 percent) of participants were monogamous, a small percentage were in open relationships (14 percent) and the remainder were in polyamorous relationships (7 percent). Most of the participants were women, a large percentage (62 percent) were students, and the average age was about 29 years old. With enough of a spread among the sample among other factors such as relationship duration and sexual orientation, the findings showed clearly that there was no down side to being in an open or polyamorous relationship compared to the monogamous variety. Monogamous individuals were most likely to be heterosexual, open-relationship individuals to be homosexual, and those in polyamorous to be bisexual. Nevertheless, there were large percentages of heterosexual individuals in these two non-monogamous relationship types,

Overall, participants in each of the three relationship types reported being very satisfied with their relationships. It’s possible that the study contained an inadvertent bias, then, and that people unhappy with their partners would have preferred not to participate in the first place. Even with this limitation in mind, the number of controls instituted in the analyses provide at least some assurance of the validity of the results. Of course, the study authors provide the usual caution that further studies on even more representative samples are needed.  ...

Dallas Symposium Puts Polyamory On Center Stage

on Friday, 21 July 2017. Posted in Front Page Headline, Media Updates

Dallas Observer

BY PAIGE SKINNER

During Marla Stewart’s presentation of “Being Black, Poly and Kinky: Navigating Power, Equity and Anarchy in Alternative Relationship Modalities,” she encouraged members of the audience to think about their polyamorous relationships. The lecture was just one part of the third annual, three-day PolyDallas Millennium this weekend at the Crowne Plaza Hotel off Interstate 35.

According to Merriam-Webster, polyamorous means "the state or practice of having more than one open romantic relationship at a time." Therapist Ruby Johnson founded the symposium three years ago when she realized there was no training for polyamory in Dallas.

“My thoughts were and are ... maybe we can have some de-mythification," she says. "It's not so much deviance and it's going to break down the fabric of America.”

 

Attendance at the conference is growing. The inaugural event hosted about 30 people during one day. The second year, it expanded to a day and a half, and this year, it took place over three days. About 80 to 100 people attended, Johnson says, and she suspects about 10 percent were not in a polyamorous relationship but simply curious about the lifestyle.

 

Iris Muscarella attended with her girlfriend and boyfriend. She spoke several times during Stewart’s lecture, explaining that she has been in a nonmonogamous relationship since she was 16.

“It was the first place someone didn’t tell me to be less,” Muscarella told the crowd and Stewart. “Well I made them feel less, but they loved it.” The crowd laughed.

Muscarella’s girlfriend, Jessica Hoffman, says she enjoys PolyDallas because there is no matchmaking overtone. “A lot of other events where you can get to know each other, it might be a little bit more like get to know each other with the end result of maybe finding someone, but here that’s, like, super back burner,” she says. “It’s more about education, being yourself and personal journey, but also building a community.”

Muscarella, Hoffman and Muscarella’s boyfriend, Sean Sparks, say coming out as polyamorous in Dallas hasn’t been that difficult, although there are some misconceptions. “I think Dallas has a lot of conservative pockets,” Muscarella says. “If you’re trying to date outside of the poly community, it can turn into this whole thing of, 'You’re just slutty and you don’t want any kind of meaning in your relationship.'”

Johnson says there are many misconceptions about polyamory. One is that it’s “polyfuckery,” in which people just go out and have sex. Instead, she says, it’s about many loves and being open to loving people. Johnson also says it’s not just an excuse to cheat, and it’s not just about couples.

"There's all kinds of structures,” she says. “There’s people who are solo-poly, which is they are by themselves; there's individuals who are in quads, who are in polyamorous families.”...

Jeffrey Payne announces run for Texas governor

on Friday, 21 July 2017. Posted in Front Page Headline, Media Updates

Dallas Voice

by Tammye Nash

Dallas businessman Jeffery Payne on Friday, July 14, announced that he is running for governor of Texas, challenging Republican incumbent Greg Abbott, who he characterizes as a “disaster for Texans” and a governor who “offers nothing in the way of new ideas.”

“Texas needs a governor who believes in real Texas values, like integrity, honesty, freedom and independence,” Payne said in a statement announcing his candidacy. “It’s time we stopped wasting our time and money on silly legislation and start investing our time finding ways to help Texans, their families and businesses prosper.”

Payne pointed to his history of success as a businessman — from his respected court reporting firm, to his real estate dealings and his thriving nightclub, The Dallas Eagle. The candidate said he makes no secret of his active involvement in the Dallas LGBT community or his history as a former International Mr. Leather, a title that gave him a platform to promote many charity events.

He also said that his philanthropic work reflects his commitment to helping others not just in the LGBT community, but the greater Texas community, as well. He founded the Sharon St. Cyr Fund, an organization that assists people in obtaining hearing aids and provides grants for sign language interpreters at public events.

Payne, born in Maine, lost his mother when he was 3, and he spent much of his childhood in an orphanage before entering foster care at age 15. From that point on, he said, he was driven to succeed no matter what the circumstances. By age 23 he owned Payne’s Fine Jewelry, which marked the beginning of a series of successful ventures — ventures that were interrupted suddenly when Hurricane Katrina whipped out everything he had built up in New Orleans, where he lived.

Undeterred, Payne relocated to Dallas and started over again.

Payne said Texas has been good to him, and he believes it’s time he returned that good fortune. He has chosen to run for the governor’s office because he holds a strong commitment to real Texas values and truly believes he can make a positive difference in Texas politics as usual. ...

Kinky Sex Is Easier to Find Than Ever, and That May Not Be a Good Thing

on Friday, 21 July 2017. Posted in Front Page Headline, Media Updates

The kink community isn't thrilled about the deluge of new apps that lower the bar for entry.

VICE

ByMARK HAYandLARRY FITZMAURICE

inkD is an app promising to help users "fulfill their golden shower fantasies." Essentially Tinder for kinky folk, the app's developers see their creation as an innovative platform for people looking to find niche sexual co-conspirators, or to easily explore their erotic desires. But KinkD isn't quite as novel as it might seem.

The last two years have seen the launch of a number of kinky Tinder parallels—like Kinkstr, KNKI, and Whiplr, which Gawker called "Tinder in leather chaps." Whiplr hit a million downloads earlier this year, but spokespeople from KNKI and KinkD tell me they have tens of thousands of regular users and are logging thousands more every month. Openly riding on kink's pop exposure in the post-Fifty Shades era, these apps all seem to believe they're doing something good for the kinky community—and humanity—by facilitating some casual S&M exploration.

"Everyone has the potential to be kinky, and most people have a reserved desire to be," said KinkD co-founder Jeffrey Cheung, who found domination via porn relatively recently and used it to rekindle his married sex life. "Dating apps will help the kink community expand quickly."

 

But to some in kink society, these apps aren't such a simple good. For many, kink is more than just a set of acts. It involves community and education, helping kinksters and the curious alike explore their boundaries, meet others, and learn and adopt the norms of safe and consensual best kinky practice. "Fundamentally, what makes [it] a subculture is that it is social," said Michal Daveed of The Eulenspiegel Society (TES), America's oldest fetish education and community group. "It's always been part of how we grow as individuals and a community, share skills, strengthen our values of communication, and care for one another. There's a degree of safety to this, as well as an established behavioral etiquette." Such social spaces are major venues for kinksters to meet one another, but also for newbies to learn vital ropes—sometimes literally.

These new apps paint kink as an identity or regular practice, similar to how people in the scene depict themselves, and they try to match people on anything from simple acts (like pegging) to fairly intense fetishes (like breath play). Yet while some apps nod to community and education, they cannot ensure it, or police norms, as effectively as old-school kink spaces. Still, no one's out to kill these apps. "It's great to have increased opportunities for kink practitioners, or the curious, to meet each other," said Daveed. But he and others believe apps ought to do a little more soul searching about how to encourage safe, sane, and consensual kink rather than just provide a new meat market on which anyone, even non-initiates, can wander blindly into any sort of kinkiness.

Traditional kink spaces take on diverse forms, ideally making them welcoming to any level of fetish knowledge or mode of social being. Sure, many people think of kink events or spaces in terms of sex dungeons or play parties, in which people enact or watch fetish tableaus. But there are also formal or informal educational events, and "munches," meetings in public spaces to socialize—an especially welcoming environment for newcomers. These venues aren't perfect; abusers can still infiltrate them, and novices can still wind up in some odd situations. However, they are welcoming and well-crafted spaces made to connect and educate all sorts of folks. ...

The Surprising Conclusion From the Biggest Polyamory Survey Ever

on Friday, 21 July 2017. Posted in Front Page Headline, Media Updates

It's a win-win all around.

Inverse

By Tanya Basu 

Historically, polyamory has been seen as a surefire sign of a failing relationship: If your partner is sleeping with others, even with your permission, your relationship is fizzling towards its demise. If you couldn’t satisfy your partner, your relationship was doomed.

 

But as of late, polyamorous relationships — sometimes referred to among married people as “open relationships” — have gotten a boost of recognition as a viable, healthy way to maintain commitment. And a study published earlier this summer in PLOS One suggests that polyamory actually forms the foundation of stronger primary relationships.

It’s a conclusion that is at once surprising and revolutionary, mostly because polyamory is a practice that’s almost universally stigmatized as “not normal,” and in fact detrimental to the success of a relationship. But modern society is becoming much more accepting of non-monogamous relationships, says co-author Justin J. Lehmiller, director of the social psychology graduate program at Ball State University.

“I don’t think it’s because polyamory is more accepted,” he tells Inverse, saying there continues to be a pervasive bias about the nature of and reasoning behind polyamory. “People are more interested today with consensual non-monogamy.”

That openness has allowed Lehmiller and his colleagues to collect information from 3,530 self-identifying polyamorists, over half of whom were American.

Lehmiller points out that polyamory has various definitions. The standard definition of consensual non-monogamy — what we call polyamory — is a relationship in which partners agree that they and/or their partners can enter a romantic or sexual relationship with a third party. What complicates this definition is whether the relationship veers from romantic to sexual and whether one or both partners are polyamorous, extending from just one other partner to a “network” of partners.

The team of researchers asked participants online about their relationships and their partners regarding intimacy, communication, companionship, and attraction to both their primary and secondary (the polyamorous) relationship. They found that not only were the partners of polyamorous people accepting of their secondary relationship, but that the primary relationship was supposedly made better because of polyamory.

“People were less likely to keep those relationships secret,” Lehmiller says. “That means the primary relationship got better investment, more acceptance, and more communication.” This, despite the fact that the polyamorous individual was usually reporting more sexual activity with the secondary partner.

It’s a rare win-win for both polyamorous couples and social scientists like Lehmiller who study non-traditional relationships.

Lehmiller said that studies on polyamory have traditionally suffered from either tiny sample sizes or unreliable answers given the stigmatized nature of polyamorous relationships. But Lehmiller and team contacted participants through polyamory interest groups and sites, explicitly being transparent about study techniques and ensuring the anonymity of participants. Thanks to this approach, Lehmiller says they achieved what might be the largest and most accurate polyamory survey to date.

To Lehmiller, the fact that more partners were satisfied with their secondary relationships, the more partners reported being committed to primary relationships is what’s most interesting. “All these relationships can benefit one another,” he says. “People are tempted to assume that if you have sex with someone else you are less committed. But we have a demonstration here of the Coolidge Effect” — the idea that our sexual arousal and response habituates with the same activity over time, or boredom.

That’s not to say that Lehmiller and his colleagues are suggesting polyamory is the cure to the seven-year itch, or that monogamy is an institution that doesn’t work. In fact, Lehmiller says, his research suggests exactly the opposite: That relationships don’t have a single prescription for success, and that the adage that different couples work differently is true. “There are some people who are perfectly content with monogamy and have satisfying, passionate relationships,” Lehmiller says. “Monogamy works for some people. But I’m hesitant to say that there’s one kind of relationship that is more natural than another.”

The American-focused study — however simple in its construction — also offers fascinating insights about the range of sexual habits. First, it shows that polyamorous people are across the country, in every state and region and across genders. Polyamorous people are your neighbors and friends, and they are found across the political and religious affiliations. What unites them is that they are nonconformists, willing to try something new. “Does that come first, or is that the result of a polyamorous relationship? We don’t know,” Lehmiller says.

If anything, the survey proves that humans weren’t necessarily “designed” to be monogamous, feeding into the debate of whether or not humans are actually a lot more like their animal counterparts in how they mate. That’s a query that will take a long time for us to answer, and before then, Lehmiller says, we have to understand non-traditional relationships more. ...

Polyphobia

on Friday, 21 July 2017. Posted in Front Page Headline, Media Updates

Anti-polyamorous prejudice and discrimination.

Psychology Today

by Elisabeth A. Sheff, Ph.D., CASA, CSE

Prejudice is making judgements about a specific kind of person based on stereotypes, assumptions, and incomplete or actively faulty information. Usually the person being judged is part of an assumed-homogeneous mass of others who are different in some way from the person who is judging them. Discrimination is taking prejudicial thoughts or attitudes and enacting them in real life, in behaviors, interactions, or laws, etc. that hamper, limit, or undermine the minority group.

Reality TV shows and coverage in everything from the New York Times to ABC News have put polyamory and other forms of consensual non-monogamy (CNM) in the media spotlight. Along with increasing public awareness of CNM comes a backlash of negativity that runs along a spectrum from simple discomfort with the idea at one end, to virulent polyphobia from people who hate polyamory and take it as a personal mission to harass/destroy others in CNM relationships at the other. Mere negative reaction to polyamory does not necessarily constitute polyphobia. Because polyamory is not a good fit for most people, many of those who react negatively are monogamous and simply do not want to have polyamorous relationships themselves, but do not really care if other people are polyamorous.

In a previous blog on the Polyamorous Possibility, I explained why polyamorous relationships can seem especially threatening to people who ardently desire to be in monogamous relationships themselves. It is often a fear of polyamory “infecting” their own relationship or their own unresolved issues with infidelity (their own, a partner’s, or parent’s, etc.) that spurs monogamous folks to get upset about someone else’s polyamorous relationship. This negative reaction becomes prejudicial if the monogamous person stereotypes all polyamorous people as problematic. Such anti-poly prejudice often takes the form of assuming all polyamorous people are slutty, incapable of real intimacy, poor parents, etc.

Discrimination is hurtful action taken against an identifiable minority group, and anti-poly discrimination takes many different forms. Using data from my 20-year study of polyamorous families with children, I compiled some of the ways in which polyamorous people report experiencing discrimination. It is important to note that many of the people in the research reported positive experiences with polyamory, from family members who fully embraced them, their partners, and metamours, to friends who welcomed the new chosen family members and employers who invited the entire polycule to the employee holiday dinner. People living in urban areas, especially in liberal states, reported less discrimination than people living in conservative and/or rural regions. Most respondents were middle-class white people and did not mention racial or class discrimination, though respondents of color did mention concern for polyamory to complicate their already challenging interactions with racism. 

 

Lose Friends, Family, & Social Connections

 

Some people who come out as polyamorous find themselves marginalized, or even ostracized, from social groups that had previously accepted them. For others who come out as polyamorous, friendships that had lasted for years and appeared to be lifelong suddenly fade away or end abruptly in a flare of anger. Loss of these informal social ties can be especially harmful for people of color, who also most likely experience some degree of (often unconscious/colorblind) racism among polyamorous communities. It can be painful and precarious for people who don’t truly fit in to minority communities or the dominant culture, so people of color with unconventional relationships or sex lives face potentially higher risk when they lose social connections because they must rely more on social connections when other social privileges (such as white privilege) are not there to draw upon.

 

Lose Jobs

Some people who have come out (or been found out) as polyamorous have lost their jobs. In most cases, employers use a morality clause in the hiring contract that stipulates employees act in a moral manner. Employers determine what is moral and what is not. Even if the employee’s relationships are consensually negotiated, employers have deemed any sex outside of heterosexual marriage to be immoral. In another case, a coworker asked why their colleague was so evasive about what they did over the weekend. After the coworker kept asking, the colleague responded that they were private at work because they had a polyamorous family and were not sure what their coworkers would think about it. The coworker did not say anything more to the colleague at the time, and later that week the colleague was fired for sexually harassing the coworker by divulging their polyamorous relationship. It did not matter to the employer that the coworker had sought out the information, or that the colleague had been evaluated as excellent in their most recent evaluation.

 

Lose Child Custody

 

In a previous blog I explained the reasons why polyamorous parents face custody battles over their children, most likely brought into court by ex-spouses or the children’s grandparents, rather than the state or Child Protective Services. When parents who are in polyamorous relationships face custody challenges in court, they have generally fared quite poorly. However, new developments in recent court cases have set some precedent for polyamorous families to retain custody of their children, and even to recognize three legal parents.

 

Lose Housing

In some jurisdictions, housing is restricted to families related by blood or marriage. Cities and municipalities who wish to discourage immigrants from sharing housing or sororities/fraternities from establishing houses within their municipal boundaries routinely prohibit groups of people who are not married or parents/children/siblings from sharing a domicile. Even though they are not generally the initial focus of the laws, polyamorous families can become the targets of the law when landlords, neighbors, or housing associations want to evict poly groups. ...

Missoula legislators, state leaders celebrate reforms of state rape laws

on Friday, 21 July 2017. Posted in Front Page Headline, Media Updates

Missoulian

by Jayme Fraser

For the first time in decades, Montana made comprehensive updates to its sexual assault law, drawing Gov. Steve Bullock, Attorney General Tim Fox, several legislators and advocates to Missoula for a signing ceremony.

 

“Most of these laws were passed in the 1970s when we had a very different idea of what sexual assault was. We have had many cases of a sexual assault that everyone agrees was a sexual assault [but] isn’t a sexual assault under the law,” said Sen. Diane Sands, a veteran Missoula Democrat who led much of the work to study the issues and draft the new laws.  

 

“We looked at really what it takes to convict someone of sexual assault. I’m very pleased we could actually pass these pieces of legislation, in most cases pretty much unanimously," she said.

 

Bullock signed two bills in the ceremony at Missoula City Council Chambers on Monday, but celebrated the larger package of six bills as an important bipartisan effort of the Interim Law and Justice Committee in 2015 and 2016 as well as the 2017 Montana Legislature.

 

“We have those moments where the greater good is definitely recognized, where we see the challenges that can literally destroy and devastate people’s lives,” Bullock said.

 

Fox agreed. “This was a long process to get rid of the societal bias that we’ve seen historically,” he said. “We’re not done yet. But this is a momentous occasion.”

 

The signature reform in the package changed the legal definition of sexual assault.

 

Previously, victims had to prove they were violently attacked or threatened in the course of a rape. The new statute allows prosecutors to charge people who use such force with aggravated sexual assault. Now, they also can prosecute people for sexual assault if they cannot prove they received consent. That includes, but is not limited to, cases where the attacker drugged their victim, the attacker claimed to have consent because of a previous or ongoing relationship, or the attacker was in a position of authority that made it difficult for the victim to speak up.

 

The changes reflect a better understanding that is common for victims to freeze out of fear and not fight attackers, as well as the fact that many offenders manipulate targets without violence.

 

That measure, Senate Bill 29, passed the Legislature 148-2. Only two Republican House members opposed the change: Brad Tschida of Missoula and Adam Rosendale of Billings.

 

Bills signed by the governor in May expanded from 10 to 20 years the length of time a child survivor of sexual violence has to press criminal charges; allow survivors to seek to terminate the parental rights of their attacker for a child born as a result of rape; exclude from the sex offender registry some people convicted of statutory rape at age 18 for having sex someone 14 years or older, and various other changes to related sentencing laws.

 

Several people credited the sweeping reforms to an increased public awareness of rape and the difficulty of prosecuting attackers as the national spotlight burned on Missoula.

 

The University of Montana, city and county first came under scrutiny in late 2011 following high-profile rape allegations involving football players, and as the U.S. Department of Justice launched three investigations on flaws in how officials handled rape reports. The community has since made numerous reforms in policy and training that has increased the prosecution rate of such crimes.

 

By contrast, Sands referenced Yellowstone County and the City of Billings, where none of the 60 rapes reported in 2016 led to criminal charges, a fact revealed by a previous Lee Newspaper report. She and others hope that statistic can be reversed, in part, because of the changes made by the 2017 Legislature. ...

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