By Chris K.
Growing up in America, we are socialized to believe romantic relationships are shared between two people. However, not everyone follows the typical monogamous path that we are taught to take. Polyamorous relationships are those that consist of multiple partners without sexual exclusion. Those who participate in polyamory “have made a conscious decision to have other partners while maintaining their connection and commitment to their original partner”. The practice of polyamory, or “group love” breaches U.S. social norms and brings a whole new definition to love.
From a feminist perspective, polyamory may be seen in a positive light because it liberates women to express love in various ways. A feminist anthropologist would inquire whether there is female oppression or a gender hierarchy in the structure of a polyamorist relationship. The anthropologist would discover that in opposition to a classic, monogamous relationship with hierarchical gender roles, polyamory resists the notion that a man possesses his wife and that women are constrained to one sexual partner. Similarly, polyamory can be any variation of gender relationships. For example, a polyamorous relationship can be between two women and one man, where all three partners have sexual relations with one another. The non-rigid lines of polyamory “embraces sexual equality” and, furthermore, allows women to express their sexuality in any way they desire while simultaneously keeping strong emotional ties among all partners in the relationship.
An anthropologist that adheres to the theory of culture and personality would examine the patterns in a polyamorous society and draw from those patterns to find out more about the individuals who participate in the alternate love style. A culture and personality anthropologist may examine children in polyamorist families to attempt to extrapolate trait patterns that are reflective of child rearing practices. Polyamory stands on an open minded, free-loving platform, and therefore the culture and personality school would most likely discover that on the individual level in a polyamorist society, people tend to be more liberal and free thinking about issues not only about love, but as well as other social political topics. The polyamorist society believes that “knowing yourself and improving on the knowledge of yourself in such a way that your are in harmony, co-existence and integration with your partners” is crucial to a functional society. These values are the platform of the polyamorist community as a whole but, according to the culture and personality school, also represent characteristics on an individual level. While polyamory may not be the typical relationship structure in modern America, the ideals that coincide with the alternative lifestyle are reflective of gender equality and individual characteristics that are representative of their cultural patterns.
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