Polyamory’s Prime Directive?
This is a repost from my personal blog on July 26, 2015.
In the scifi fantasy show, Star Trek, there is a guiding principle for the featured organization of the story, the Federation. That principle is known as the Prime Directive, described as the single guiding principle of all of their civilization which includes humans.
The Prime Directive basically states that they will not interfere in the natural evolution of an alien species. This usually means that if they encounter a less sophisticated society, they don’t get involved in their wars, medical issues, or geology.
In the show and movies, it’s basically a plot ploy, because captains of star ships are always breaking the fucking thing. They help natives all the time with or without their knowing. The Prime Directive is so strict, that alien races without advanced space travel technology aren’t even allowed to know the existence of the Federation.
At the point in their evolution when an alien race achieves warp technology, then first contact is initiated. This is where the Federation sends a ship, an ambassador, and a lovely fruit basket to the aliens, with a card reading “Welcome to space, we run things, so just stay the fuck out of our way.”
Actually, that’s not what they do, but we’re not really going to be geeking out on Star Trek. What we are going to discuss is whether or not there is a cultural prime directive when speaking about sexual rights.
Recently, President Obama went to Kenya and one of the topics that he was bringing up was about the human rights of homosexuals. In Africa, this is a big deal where a few countries have the death penalty for many such individuals.
And America has guns, nukes, and lots of cash. So, like the Federation, once they know of our existence, we also send them a ship, an ambassador, a fruit basket, and a card that says, “If you want more fruit baskets, play ball, or at least stay the fuck out of our way”.
This is a simplified message of the actual diplomacy, which is being very polite. Diplomacy is when you can tell someone to kiss your ass, and they thank you for being so generous. I’m sure that’s a quote, but don’t care to look up who said it. Probably someone smart.
And we Americans love our asses being kissed, even by countries who have no factories, few paved roads for their few cars, mostly purchased with money we gave them.
In other words, we throw cash at natives, and tell them to replicate us, and they almost always fail miserably because their culture has not evolved into modern society as we know it. We believe that if you throw laptops at indigent villages, there will be technology start ups in deserts.
In pointing out the ridiculousness of our expectations, we should note that their societies go through rapid changes to cope. Imagine if such a nation came to the United States in the early 1800s when we were still a farming nation.
Now, imagine world leaders started saying that their money to help us catch up depended on outlawing slavery, giving women equal rights, and legalizing same sex marriage.
While our modern minds barely comprehend the mindset of the 1800s, only a fool would imagine that this wouldn’t completely outrage every single man, woman, and child in the United States in that time period. Remember, even the early anti-slavery folks believed that dark skinned people were still inferior creatures. They could be more closely associated with the modern group PETA and other animal rights groups much more than the modern NAACP and other civil rights groups.
Sure, there is not a one of us who wouldn’t love to have travelled in a time machine and by promising computers, automatic weapons, and money, have slavery outlawed. But it would not have changed the mindset of the people overnight.
And there is another reason we bring this up. How hard do we really push a third world nation to act as though they, too, were riding around in Cadillacs taking their little rug rats to soccer games and play dates. When, in fact, some villages might not collectively own a single soccer ball.
Yet, somehow, we expect them to accept our way of life?
There is also the aspect of what we are working on now, which is society’s acceptance of polyamory.
When we talk about sexual and reproductive rights, we imagine this incredibly idiotic thing. We imagine that we have “The Answer”©, and that whatever that answer is, we force it on the rest of the world.
This is ironic, of course, because “The Answer”© keeps changing for us. I mean shit, the idea that we have this figured out is being dumb. It’s just flat out hubris.
But, Americans are rather bullheaded. Once we get the idea in our heads that we’re right, and everyone else is a backwards native, we charge in, all ambassadors blazing, and ask them to make a change contrary to the belief of their people.
What should we push, and what should we allow countries to naturally develop?
Just take a look at our attempts to force democracies in the Middle East. We royally fuck up entire regions by forcing change. The backlash lasts for hundreds of years.
Most modern ambassadors understand this, and they ask for small changes. Don’t legalize gay marriage, but how about we stop applying prison and death sentences?
We push with a lighter hand, and usually in concert with other meaningful changes, like good economic policies and the end to conflicts.
But what does that have to do with you and your polyamory tribe living here in the good ol’ USA?
Well, we have to remember how far ahead of the curve we are. Not only are we ahead of the curve, but we can make the same mistake as our foreign policy and imagine that we have “The Answer”©. And we can be arrogant.
I’m certainly arrogant in my recent book, Polyamory: It’s Not Complicated. On the other hand, buyers of my book are either new to polyamory or thinking about starting. In other words, I’m preaching to the choir a bit.
But very clear in my mind throughout the book, even if I never wrote it down, was that no single book or idea was going to change America overnight. And even if that happened, it’s not as though the entire world was going to follow suit anytime soon.
We also have to realize that we haven’t figured it all out. Let’s be honest folks, this shit is just now making it out of the West Coast on the fringes of the mainstream. Sure, there are plenty of nonmonogamy television shows and specials.
You know why they do those, right? Because we’re still taboo. We’re the circus freak show to most of society. I believe we have two generations before this has really permeated through society to a significant level. Millennials aren’t quite ready for it. They only just realized how screwed up marriage is. Premarital sex is, just now, entering society as the expected norm.
Good freaking god, how long do you think it will be before we have an actively polyamorous president having a first lady and a first man move in with her into the White House?
Yeah, pretty goddamn far into the future.
So, let’s imagine that we’re on the Starship Polyfuckery, and we just arrived on the planet Earth.
They’ve just developed early nonmonogamy. They’re not quite up to Brave New World standards as of yet. These people haven’t even figured out sexual harassment in their work places, they think exposing the female breast in public is offensive, and they still can’t have a romantic movie featuring a male gay love scene without vomiting a little in their mouths.
We, my friends, live with primitives guided by superstition and fear. And we must be careful about how we approach them.
With too strong of a hand, we only encourage backlash. With too soft of a hand, they’ll walk all over our rights.
But the real question is this? I believe monogamy is foolish. It might be going the way of circumcision, but that’s still quite a popular practice.
My point is this. I don’t believe we can convert very many, nor should we.
See, gay rights didn’t require the population to BECOME gay, just to let them be. But polyamorous people are a bit of a different bird altogether. We do hit on them, ask them out, ask them to accept our other lovers.
In other words, we do ask monogamous people to give us a try. You don’t really see many gay men asking straight men to switch. Ok… that’s not true… just look at craigslist.
But my point is that we DO want everyone to join in, and we believe that nonmonogamy is THEIR natural state as well, a human trait.
But maybe it’s time we thought about a Prime Directive. For instance, most podcasts that deal with poly’s trying to date mono’s give the answer to “date your own species”. I teach this in my book as well.
We don’t want to, though. I’m never deterred by a woman with a boyfriend. Heh, I’m used to women with husbands.
But I’m deterred by them be monogamists. I hate to say it, but I hope a few I know read my book and well… you get the idea.
It’s a pipe dream, though. It’ll never happen, and I think forcing the issue at this point to break the monogamy monopoly would be wrong.
These are just some random thoughts. Leave your own comments about what you think!