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

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