The Poly Majority

We are the poly majority: secular or modern non-fundamentalist, egalitarian polyamory.

We believe every adult should create her own relationships. No loving, life-enhancing possibility is out of bounds.

We believe rights are rights, regardless of gender.

We believe in affirmative concern for the feelings, well-being, and autonomy of every person.

That means women or men can have more than one partner… if everybody involved agrees it’s best for them. That’s not empty theory; we live all gender combinations. And we’re queer-friendly, thanks.

Our relationships are custom-made by those in them, without preset roles. We don’t just choose freely; we define the choices. If we have an “institution”, it’s an anti-institution.

We are NICE: negotiated, individualized, consensual, and egalitarian.

For the moment at least, our relationships are legal… as long as we don’t make our promises too public, or treat our commitments as too binding.

Why emphasize “majority”?

Because people are confused.

Forget what you learned in Anthro 101. That’s not what multi-partner families are about in Canada.

We have the numbers. Canada has roughly…

  • 50 Mormon polygynous families (35 in Bountiful)
  • 600 Muslim polygynous families
  • 1,100 egalitarian polyamorous families (or is it 17,000?)
  • … and maybe a hundred others

Those 1100 are committed families, not just people with more than one boyfriend or girlfriend. If you include all of the poly majority, then we dwarf the others even more.

Who matters most?

We are polyamory

There are a lot of “poly-” words in the world. The poly majority, almost to a person, chooses “polyamory“. Many would say polyamory means only the poly majority.

Why not “polygamy”?

“Polygamy” is other people’s word. By some definitions, it applies to some of us. But it’s also a tag for values and practices we reject. Few, if any, of us use it.

Who is NOT the poly majority?

A minority of multi-partner relationships in Canada do not follow poly majority values. In fact, they’re in many ways our complete opposite.

We usually call them “patriarchal polygynists”, because that is what almost all of them are.

Patriarchal polygynists accept multiple partners only for men. They usually limit relationship possibilities to a few traditional scripts. They tend to believe everybody should follow those scripts, regardless of individual factors. Their primary beliefs are contrary to our core values.

The patriarchal minority

The patriarchal minority are essentially all “polygamists”, in the sense that marriage is their paradigm for all intimate relationships… whereas the poly majority celebrates many possible forms and degrees of commitment.

Muslims and other Traditionalists

Muhammed didn’t invent polygyny; it was there long before Islam came along. Islam accepted a tradition. Non-Muslims have similar traditions, especially in certain parts of the world. It probably makes sense to take them all together.

Traditionalists were the first wave of patriarchal polygyny. They’re the people you probably heard about in that anthropology class. In the world as a whole, they’re a majority of multiple-partner families.

In Canada, they are not. Most seem to be first generation immigrants. Canadian culture appears to corrode patriarchal polygyny. It can survive for generations only in carefully constructed, self-reinforcing, socially isolated communities.

Mormons and Bountiful

Fundamentalist Mormon polygynists split when the main LDS church forbade polygyny. While Islam allows polygyny, their doctrine encourages or requires it. Islam accepted an existing practice; early Mormons instituted polygyny against a prevailing monogamous norm. They are in some sense a second wave.

In Canada, there’s one real community of fundamentalist Mormons: the tiny town of Bountiful. It’s minuscule; poor support for criminalizing thousands, even if everything we hear about them is true.

Bountiful has held together since 1946. That’s notable; it’s at least a few generations. Perhaps that’s because it’s isolated from the rest of society, supported by connections with larger FLDS communities in the US… and has an outside threat to rally against. We wonder if Bountiful could survive the loss of Section 293.

Why mention the minority?

We don’t want to be mistaken for them. For that matter, we doubt they want to be mistaken for us.

First, their core values are antithetical to our own. We put individuals over institutions, people over traditions. Equality and self determination are our touchstones.

Second, some of the patriarchal minority have been accused, credibly, of things we reject. We reject fostering dependence. We reject indoctrination. We reject controlling people with social isolation. We reject threats. We reject abuse of pastoral authority. We reject child marriage. There are reasons to believe that these arise from patriarchal values… the ones we don’t share.

ALL of the poly majority rejects those things. And we want you to know it.