Hunters and their Prey
Feminist Provocateur is a vagabond, rabble rouser and all around pain in the ass. Incoherent rants include, feminism, polyamory, media, culture and whatever else makes them mad. Sometimes these rants are even written down.
The Hunter — by: totally not me. (ok, it was me)
I went on a unicorn hunt
to find me a new wet cunt.
I have a one dick policy
I can’t see the fallacy
and my polyamory might be a front.
I am totally being harsh. Not all unicorn hunters are bad. Or maybe that’s just a lie we tell ourselves so we can feel all morally superior that we “accept all approaches to non-monogamy”. Picture me figuratively slapping your lazy thinking right now. Go on. I’ll wait. You are wrong and I call bullshit.
Yes, there are absolutely wrong ways to do relationships; any kind of relationship. And just because people have been doing it wrong for a long time, it still doesn’t make it okay. Let’s take a look at monogamous relationships for a second because everyone is really familiar with them. We know that there are some really terrible ways to do monogamy. Abuse is common, both mental and physical, and it is totally unacceptable; psychological control and emotionally undermining or manipulating your partner is also very common and yet we recognize that it is dangerous and harmful; and speaking of control, strict patriarchal control in a relationship is also harmful. Now, each of these ways of doing monogamy fall on different parts of the moral spectrum depending on the context. They aren’t always equally bad. But, we are clever little hairless apes and we can actually figure this shit out. We understand that lots of people consent to monogamous, patriarchal relationships all the time and while we have no place to tell consenting adults what to do, we can pretty unambiguously see that obligatory male dominance in a relationship is some serious bullshit.
Now, each of these ways of doing monogamy fall on different parts of the moral spectrum depending on the context. They aren’t always equally bad. But, we are clever little hairless apes and we can actually figure this shit out.
Let’s get back to polyamory, because monogamy is going to be dead in 10 years (fingers and toes crossed), so why talk about it? Hopefully by now you have realized that not all approaches to relationships are healthy and that we should not unilaterally support them just to appear inclusive. If you have ideas about how relationships work that turn into harmful practice, then those ideas should absolutely be challenged. If you are not on board with this basic concept then I am probably wasting my time here.
As members of a community, especially one that is fairly new to the public eye, we are responsible for its ethical evolution. People who were raised in a culture that encourages male dominated, monogamous relationships as a social norm, will be filtering into polyamory for a wide variety of reasons; and they will be bringing their bad ideas and habits with them.
What is “Unicorn Hunting”?
Fewer people get their panties in a twist when you first explain what Unicorn Hunting is not. The term Unicorn Hunting does not necessarily apply to every single couple looking for a third. There are plenty of cases where a couple’s idea of an ideal family is a triad and they seek out a person to join their family. There are situations where the woman in a heterosexual couple is bisexual and the man is not, so they seek out a female partner together. (In reality, it is just as common for triads to be made up of two men and a woman, or a man, a woman, and a trans person.) This can appear to be Unicorn Hunting, but it isn’t always the case. This is especially common in younger couples or those who are dipping their toes into polyamory for the first time. Many new poly couples are often insecure about damaging their relationship, so they first try dating together to prevent jealousy and they choose a woman because in the world of patriarchal monogamy, men are more threatening. This is some bullshit, but it’s not their fault. It’s a combination of fear and inexperience. On the other hand, real Unicorn Hunting is a specific and negative stereotype that has a lot to do with intent and is antithetical to the ideals of polyamory.
Many new poly couples are often insecure about damaging their relationship, so they first try dating together to prevent jealousy and they choose a woman because in the world of patriarchal monogamy, men are more threatening.
The One Penis Policy
Unicorn Hunters are couples who seek out what polyamory expert Dr. Elisabeth Sheff has coined, the “Hot Bi Babe”. These hunters are often, but not always, in a patriarchal style relationship where the dude feels like he should be able to have sexual control over his woman. Sometimes springing from sexual boredom, the couple agrees to find another woman that they can bat around for awhile until they are bored. Naturally, the dude in the relationship insists that whoever they play with, his penis had better be the only penis at the party. By rigidly setting these rules, the man pimp gets to fulfill his fantasy of having his pussy and eating cake too. Or having cake and eating pussy too. Or… nevermind. He’s being a controlling sexist prick. You get the idea. Dude-bro gets to bang two chicks but doesn’t have to worry about another dude stealing his woman. Awesome man. This approach to non-monogamy is not only unethical, it is pretty far removed from the ideals of openness and egalitarianism that defines modern polyamory.
The “Hot Bi Babe” Chew Toy
Even if the dude in the relationship isn’t a sexist douche, Unicorn Hunting couples can end up being extremely unethical. To Hunters, the “Hot Bi Babe” that they play with is always a third wheel in a strictly hierarchical relationship. She is a plaything who is expected to be silent on matters of the primary couple’s relationship, living arrangement, finances, or child rearing. The “secondary” is often saddled with rules that make her sexually exclusive to the couple and make it clear that she had better not threaten the primary relationship or be kicked to the curb. The “primary” couple never plan to fully integrate the extra person into their family or lives and sometimes aren’t even upfront about this with the person.
The most toxic Unicorn Hunters beg a little bit from both the “One Penis Policy” and Hierarchical polyamory. The stereotype describes a bored sexist douche who coerces his partner into picking up a hot and ultimately expendable third partner, who they play with and then discard when it is no longer convenient. Furthermore, they Hunt while hiding behind the label of “Polyamory” to lure in dates while never giving a shit about the ethical part of polyamory as a philosophy.
The “primary” couple never plan to fully integrate the extra person into their family or lives and sometimes aren’t even upfront about this with the person.
As responsible, ethical polyamorists looking to educate and foster a positive community, we must be very careful calling out “Unicorn Hunters”. The term is often misused colloquially to describe any couple seeking a third. Knowing how damaging the truly bad Hunters can be, we tend to react harshly to new community members when they announce what they are seeking. “COUPLE SEEKS A FEMALE TO JOIN THEM!” reads the all too familiar headline; to collective eye rolls and sighs. But, it is imperative that we instead react with compassion. People come to polyamory from diverse backgrounds for a host of different reasons. Most of them don’t know shit about it. Even the ones who read up on it know some things, but don’t know what they don’t know; this requires wisdom through experience. People think they know what they want before they even know what is possible -and that is where we come in. We must encourage newcomers to educate themselves about ethical, egalitarian polyamory and be there for them when they fail. Because they will… And so did you. So stop pretending you popped out of your mother’s pussy with a doctorate in polyamory in your grubby little fist and start cutting newbies some slack. At least until they prove to be the stereotypical Unicorn Hunters you thought they were. Then, as the late George Carlin used to say, “Fuck them with a garden rake.”
Feminist Provocateur is a community blogger for NWA Polyamory.