Thursday, March 29, 2012

Quick Update

Had to grind things to a halt yesterday, will be back on track soon, with big news (-:

- Jason

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Review 7b: Border Sexualities, Border Families in Schools, Chapter 4 (Bordering)

Review 7b:
Pallotta-Chiarolli, M. (2010). Border sexualities, border families in schools. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
Fourth Chapter: "Messing up the Couples Cabinet": Multisexual and Polyamorous Families in Schools. (subsection: bordering) Pp. 184-195.

Bordering is the part of the pass/border/pollute model that I have the hardest time with. It's somewhere between passing and polluting, but it's hard to get a sense on even that, and it occupies it's own space too, rather like borderers do themselves. Again, I'll start with a drawback/benefit list, then go into summary mode.


  • With borderers, there's a lot to keep track of, and the results are unweildly at best. There's examples of children who do and don't get teased for their family's lifestyle, and of children who do and don't acclimate to being poly themselves. These are, put simply, messy approaches to approaching interaction outside the family with. The impact of bordering even changes as children get older.
  • Confusion for those outside the family too, in terms of attempts at classification. Though boreder-dwellers contain many of the same reservations that passers do about exposure, there seems to be of a 'educate the child and let them make up their own mind' approach than with passers. Odds are borders will be outed at some point, regardless.
  • Borders are constantly trying to balance between caring/protecting their children, and being honest and real to who they are. I.E. good providers vs good role models.
  • Bordering has massive benefits on the variety of potential exposures that any member of the family has. Being able to see the world both through the poly family lens and through the normative cultural lens gives borders a highly diverse set of information and resources to draw on, as well as a sensitivity to who is and isn't a good person to open up to. Instead of the more blanket catch-all 'don't tell' that passing seems to contain, bordering is more conditional.
  • Bordering is less contentious with the normative world. For example, school isn't seen as a danger, or an agency to convert, but instead as a supplement. There's a much higher ability to absorb information and use from a variety of sources, even potentially harmful ones.
  • Lastly, the 'border' position that borderers occupy puts them at the perfect position to be ambassadors/translators/moderators/etc. between the normative world and the poly world.
I still don't know if I have bordering quite right, but it's key ideas seem to be that conditionality and adaptability are the rule of thumb. To some people, be deceptive, to some people be honest, to some people talk about this, to some people talk about that. A major distinction between bordering and passing in regards to labels is passers will 'pass' as a label, to some degree with themselves too. Borders seem to shift labels between different settings. Instead of apropriating labels for general use, there's a dynamicness to their self-identifiers.

I'm still not quite sure what to do with this category. Since it seems that label/identifier usage is the model I'm starting to approach understanding pass/border/pollute from, I'm trying to figure a way of how border-dwellers would handle labels differently than passers, in a functional way. I guess the key difference would be whether or not the labels are treated as fixed-point absolutes, or there's incentive to 'drift' between labels. This is a little higher-level thinking than I like to be for this kinda stuff, but I'm not sure how to distill it down any further.

I'll have to sit with this for awhile.

- Jason

Review 7a: Border Sexualities, Border Families in Schools, Chapter 4 (Passing)

Author's Note:

Chapter 4 is so dense with material that I'm breaking it up into four separate sections, an assessment of poly families passing, bordering and polluting, and then a summary of the chapter as a whole.

To give an idea, of the material density increase: the 85 pages of  chapter 3 translated to two pages of notes in my book. 23 pages of material in chapter 4 is an entire page in my notebook, with the bulk of it  (2/3rds of a page) being pages 173-184. That's a big jump!

Review 7a:
Pallotta-Chiarolli, M. (2010). Border sexualities, border families in schools. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
Fourth Chapter: "Messing up the Couples Cabinet": Multisexual and Polyamorous Families in Schools. (subsection: passing) Pp. 173-184.

Focusing on polyfamilies adopting a passing method, there's a lot of interesting data that comes up here. I'm going to divide this into a drawbacks/benefits list for passing, then go into a more general assessment of passing for polyfamilies in general.


  • There's a role multiplicity that exists for passers, where there's often one approach for presenting it within the family, and another approach for presenting it to the outside world, possibly even multiple approaches (I'm expecting more on that in bordering). A recurring concern that comes up for poly parents seems to be the potential harm of asking their children to either a) (if they tell the children about being poly) asking their children to lead double-lives, to be honest and open within the family, but to be evasive and deceptive outside of the family; or b) (if they don't tell the child) the impact that being polyamorous will have on their children if they find out that their parents are poly.
  • There's an idea hinted at in here that I really want to flush out more, that the lack of a normative discusrive framework of polyamory molds the fears of children. I'd love to see more work on this...
  • The psychological impacts and tugs on the family can be pretty extreme using a passing model. One teacher in the study avoided work-related social functions because of fears of being outed. This has me wondering how much avoidance is created for parents. I can rationalize that a passing model would encourage the 'non-registered' parents to avoid similar functions, such as their child's sports activities, volunteering at the school, school parent social events, etc. This wasn't really touched on (though another perspective was examined, which I will get into later), so I really have to wonder, how much does the passing model detach parents from their kids, and potentially also, partners from each other? Does a passing model serve as a hindrance for intimacy development? I'm thinking from a Reiss Wheel Theory perspective here. Something to examine...
  • Both in regards to actual consequences to being 'outed' from a passing approach, and the psychological impact of always being on guard in a passing approach. There's the expected slew of concerns around job loss and child custody. 
  • There's a degree of agency that passers have, to function within society, but still be polyamorous. The family spaces that poly's create can be a phenomenal space to allow personal and family agency to have a large degree of latitude.
  • Related to this agency, is the capacity of appropriating normative labels to re-define the family with. In a way, this allows the family to both 'pass' as normal, and 'be' normal. This is exceptionally helpful if the only normative deviation of the family is being non-monogamous.
  • Expanding on the label appropriation, there are methods to, proverbially, 'work the system' to get benefits of the system without the same scrutiny. The example in the book is families who give their schools clearance for their other partners to be 'co-parents', or 'emergency contacts' or who O.K. their other partners to pick up the children from school. This offers not only a normative appropriation, but allows them some level of formal validation to their legitimacy in being involved in the child's life, as seen through the normative cultural lens.
I'm harsh on passing, both personally and because I do see some nasty psychological drawbacks, for parents and children, in taking this avenue. It's not without it's benefits, the personal agency, and normative appropriation are huge benefits. Specifically with normative appropriation, it has policy benefits, as just exampled. The question comes up, what kind of passing-related appropriation does existing policy encourage?

Thinking about this in more detail is a policy analysis framework (yay!): From the root question of 'how does policy influence polyfamily's decisions on passing, bordering and polluting?', looking at policy from the angle of 'how would polyfamilies appropriate the labels/identifiers/categories/etc. in this policy?' can give indications about how, and to what extent, a policy would encourage a polyfamily to take a passing approach in regards to that policy area.

There's a key aspect to this framework though: The necessity for the existing labels/identifiers/categories/etc. to *not* include a direct reference to the lifestyle. These are labels that are 'passed as', and don't actually include a distinction or criteria for those who are passing under them. An example would be the marital status labels. There's not a marital status label that fits for a non-monogamous family, even though non-monogamous families can and do appropriate the labeling status of married/divorced/single/etc.

This hits back to one of the overall common themes amongst passing, which is the overarching sense of always being observed and scrutinized by the criteria of the normative labels. without individuals, or a family, feeling like they are in some way 'faking it' with the labels, and there is a sense of punishment from being 'discovered' for not conforming to the labels, there's no motivation to pass.

This creates an important component for policy analysis using this method. Not only do the labels need to A) not identify non-monogamy as a conceivable option, B) the policies need to be contained within a framework that's bound to those labels, and ties a reward/punishment system to them.

I really feel like I need an example to hep explain this with, but I can't come up with a good one. Either way, I'm very pleased to have that framework now. It actually helps smooth out my personal criticisms to passing behaviors too (-:

- Jason

Friday, March 23, 2012

Statistics, Economics & Non-Monogamy - Revisited

I thought it appropriate to give another look at an earlier post I made regarding statistical assessment, economics, and how they can be used as tools to asses non-monogamy. I'm taking Macroeconomics now, and getting a broader-scale picture on economic forces, and I'm coming up with new questions. Some of those are touched on in my review of Infidelity & GDP, but this will be more focused.

  1. What will be the macro-level economic impacts in shifting existing family laws/policies, social services, education, discrimination laws, and so on, to be inclusive of non-monogamy?
  2. In bringing non-monogamy forward as an acceptable practice to society, it makes sense that the number of practicing non-monogamists would increase. How broad of a cultural shift would this be, what differing consumption/savings patterns do non-monogamists have compared to monogamists, and what would be the net impact on GDP?
  3. Though I don't like the Infidelity & GDP paper, it did bring to mind one question that has been stewing in the back of my mind for awhile: Is there a way to measure the impact of transitory partners in poly families? This isn't like monogamous transitions, which consists of the serial monogamy 'break-up-and-re-marry', since it's entirely possible for a partner to transition out of a relationship and the relationship is still standing, AND it's possible for a partner to transition in a relationship. What's an economic perspective, both macro and micro, on these transitions?
Just a few notes for future research. I'm sure I'll dig into this at another time.


- Jason

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Review 6: Border Sexualities, Border Families in Schools, Chapter 3

Review 6:
Pallotta-Chiarolli, M. (2010). Border sexualities, border families in schools. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
Third Chapter: 'We're the X-Files': When Bisexualitiy 'messes up' Sexual Dichotomy in Schools. Pp. 75-160.

Very big chapter compared to the last two, and the focus is mainly on bisexuality, though I can imagine that some of the issues parallel and/or impact non-monogamous issues, so I'm going to be extrapolating new questions that came up for me while reading this, rather than points that were made:

1) The biggest take-away I have from this is wondering how policies around bisexuality affect decisions about non-monogamy. I'm really hoping for more of a coming-together at the end of the book that talks about the overlaps and impacts between bisexuality and non-monogamy.

2) Questions on what connections there are between polyamory and risk-taking behaviors. This was covered nicely in this chapter for bisexuals, so I'm hoping that chapter 4 delves into it for polys. But the broader questions are: do polyamorists face culturally/lifestyle issues, such as substance abuse, that policy could help address, and is existing policy contributing to any issues currently?

3) The passing/bordering/polluting model. This is going to be my hands-down biggest take-away from this book. I love this model as it actually gives me something to work with when looking at how people interact with the outside world from within their lifestyle. This chapter clarified bordering for me better, though I'm still somewhat confused about it. I'll definitely do a separate write-up on pass/border/pollute just before I start writing the big paper so I can have something to refer to while I'm writing.

4) Though this was discussed from the perspective of bisexuality, I'm fairly confident it applies to poly too: The idea that school is a normalizing agent, instead of an educating agent, to quote: "The school is not referenced as the place where [diversity] skill-learning has occured. Rather it is a major site where [the interviewee] needs to utilize these skills." (pg. 140). Yikes...

5) There's also a big component of this chapter that makes reference to the need for diversity programs thtat include bisexuality to be policy-mandated. This was something that came up a lot amongst the interviewees, and I'm thinking, though I'm inclined to agree, what are the specific benefits of working from within policy prior to working within other avenues, and what other avenues are available? Naturally my question is more on the poly side of things, but I think it's a fair question for either bisexuality or polyamory.

Very much looking forward to the next chapter, as it's about non-monogamy, *squee!* I'm hoping that a lot of the same material is covered there.


- Jason

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Review 5: Infidelity & GDP

Author's Note:

Less than a week to beat Mass Effect on the hard difficulty... I'm getting too good at this...

Minor detour because there was an article that came up on poly researchers that caught my eye. Still reading through Border Sexualities, but the current chapter is a doozy, which I should have something on soon.


Review 5:
Crouch, E. (2011). Infidelity & GDP. Retrieved from

I'm not sure quite what to think about this paper. The questions are good, what's the economic impact on society (macroeconomic style) of infidelity. Really more of a mono-normative question but interesting because of the questions it raises.

Unfortunately how it tries to answer those questions is shoddy at best, self-contradictions (infidelity being both the second most AND the leading cause of divorce? Seriously?) and jumping to grand conclusions (infidelity is not responsible for the disillusionment of all families!).

Again, the primary take-aways are with the questions, not the answers. The questions I'm appropriating for my use, of course, but here's what I can garner:

1) What are the consumption patterns of non-monogamous families? How does that differ from monogamous and single families? How do existing policies and laws affect non-monogamist consumption patterns compared to monogamists

2) What social services do non-monogamists have access to? How are those services allocating resources to non-monogamists? What is the broader impact of non-monogamists using those services instead of monogamists?

Interesting economic questions about non-monogamists, and as always, no data out there to really work with (especially from this piece), but a good starting point.

- Jason

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Minor Dropping Out

Hey Everyone,

Minor status update. I'm going to be ducking out for a bit.

My reason, Mass Effect 3 came out today. I know, horrible of me, putting gaming ahead of research.

I kind of see this as my last real opportunity to get in some solid gaming prior to grad school.

See ya'll in a few!

- Jason