This is really a great piece. Really great.
Real relationship anarchy is political. Thereâ€™s just no way around it. How could it be otherwise, when it has roots in political anarchism? Relationship anarchy is not about getting your dick wet and looking cool while you do it. Itâ€™s not about sounding hipper than all the other polyamorists. You can do polyamory without any political consciousness whatsoever, and you can definitely do monogamy without it. You can be mono or poly in service of the capitalist hetero-patriarchy. Most people are. But you canâ€™t do relationship anarchy without some awareness of the socio-political context youâ€™re operating in and how youâ€™re attempting to go against that grain out of a genuine belief in certain concrete principles. Those concrete principles are nothing so basic and shallow as â€œfreedomâ€ (to fuck) or â€œhonesty.â€ Theyâ€™re the kind of political principles that you can base an effective social movement on: a movement that offers an alternative to the capitalist hetero-patriarchyâ€™s commodification of bodies, sex, and love; to the sabotage of female solidarity in friendship and romantic love; to neoliberal capitalismâ€™s goal of the isolated couple and nuclear family; to the homophobia and toxic gender crap that prevents even nonsexual/nonromantic connection and intimacy between members of the same sex.
[â€¦R]elationship anarchy resonates with me so much because its principles amount to a friendship ethic. The word â€œfriendshipâ€ is widely used as a broad, vague, often meaningless term, but to me, friendship as this deep, intimate, important, positive bond between humans is described really well by the above set of principles. Friendship leans away from interpersonal coercion by default and canâ€™t survive under the burden of it for long. Mutual aid and cooperation are in friendshipâ€™s very nature; you could even define friendship by those qualities: helping and supporting each other out of desire and not duty. And when friendship is committed, that commitment is done in a spirit of communication, not drawn up as a contract, which what marriage is: a legal contract binding romantic partners.
Being a relationship anarchist doesnâ€™t mean you have to fuck more than one person at a time, because relationship anarchy is not about sexual nonmonogamy, even though it is usually inclusive of sexual nonmonogamy. Relationship anarchy is not polyamory sans the obvious hierarchy of romantic partners. Itâ€™s about doing relationships with community-centric values, not couple-centric values. Above all, itâ€™s about relating to other human beings without coercive authority in play and without hierarchy in your group of relationships or in any relationship itself.
I fucking cringe when I read about polyamorous people defining â€œrelationship anarchyâ€ using nonhierarchal polyamoryâ€™s terms, just as I cringe when I hear stories of men pulling the RA card on their casual sexcapades. Not just because of how unbelievably inaccurate, apolitical, and ignorant it is but because in both cases, â€œrelationship anarchyâ€ is falsely used to describe the kind of romance supremacist, friendship-excluding, sex-centric lifestyles that are diametrically opposed to authentic relationship anarchy.
The capitalist, heteronormative, patriarchal state promotes relationship hierarchies based on romance supremacy and amatonormativity. It endorses treating sex like a product, protects heterosexual men in their consumption of female bodies as sexual objects, promotes the buying and selling of womenâ€™s sexualized bodies. The capitalist heteronormative patriarchal state WANTS you to invest all of your free time, energy, resources, and emotion into romantic couplehood, into marriage, into sex. It WANTS you to devalue friendship, to stay isolated from everyone who isnâ€™t your romantic partner, to be a self-interested individual with no ties or commitments to anyone but your spouse. Why? Because friendship could lead to community and community could lead to collective political action, which could turn into revolution. And because friendship and community are almost impossible to commodify and harness for the purpose of feeding into the capitalist economy and creating bigger profits for the wealthy elite. Sex and romance make rich people money all day every day. They sell it to you every waking moment. They canâ€™t use friendship and community to sell you shit. They canâ€™t turn friendship and community into products. If they could, they wouldâ€™ve spent the last century doing so, instead of teaching the public that friendship is worthless and money is more important than community.
So donâ€™t tell me that youâ€™re entitled to call your polyamory or your casual sex â€œrelationship anarchy,â€ as you conduct your social life with anti-anarchism principles and the same amatonormativity that all the coupled up monogamists preach and believe in. Donâ€™t tell me youâ€™re a â€œrelationship anarchistâ€ when you donâ€™t give a fuck about friendship or community or political resistance, just sex and romance and your freedom to be nonmonogamous.
Relationship anarchy is not a cover for fuckboys. And it is not nonhierarchical polyamory.