The four P’s: Privacy, Politics, Polygamy, and Polyamory

What do polygamy and polyamory have to do with one another, besides starting with the same Greek root word and the same letter of the alphabet? Politics and privacy are two of many places they intersect, in my opinion.

“Sister Wives” (aka Kody Brown family) case lawyer, Jonathan Turley, makes the point that the case is not so much about the polyamory per se, but is really about privacy issues.  Here’s a roundup of his blog entries on the Kody Brown case, with Turley’s article from the New York Times on top at the moment.

Civil libertarians should not be scared away by the arguments of people like Justice Scalia. We should fight for privacy as an inclusive concept, benefiting everyone in the same way. Regardless of whether it is a gay or plural relationship, the struggle and the issue remains the same: the right to live your life according to your own values and faith. — Jonathan Turley

Thanks to Anita Wagner (of Practical Polyamory) & Jasmine (in an email on the PLN list) for the heads-up that May 31 brings another step in the process, that of hearing motions for summary judgement.  If the case isn’t thrown out at that point (for no merit or other reasons), then witnesses may be sought. It’s unclear whether all witness must be from Utah or not, but it has been pointed out that as with the Canadian case last year, they may be looking for a broad as well as local perspectives. If you’re interested in possibly taking part in any input on how polyamory relates to this case, you might want to consider contacting the Polyamory Media Association to begin a conversation as to whether you might have something to offer.  They’d be looking in particular for “…families with poly stories, community leaders with broad awareness of the wider poly community, and credentialed academics and professionals who might consider testifying. ”  Testifying would have some potentially very serious consequences, so consider it carefully. And know that nothing moves quickly in this realm — if it moves at all.


So what do YOU think?  How related ARE polyamory and polygamy?  Are they polar opposites? Common causes? Strange bedfellows? If you’ve got something to share, feel free to answer here, or in my Facebook:!

And if you just want to talk about your own polyamory/open/non-monogamy issues, feel free to contact me to set up a time for a free intro session.  I’m always happy to offer more information and to discuss how I might help you to solve your own perplexing poly predicaments!

~♥ Dawn

PS:  I got SO MUCH out of Sam & Wes’s FREE intro teleseminar for their Write Right Now training. The course hasn’t started yet, so you might want to hop over and sign up for the on-demand recording.  If you want to sign up for the whole course, it’ll cost money (and I’ll get a bonus, as one of Sam’s Really Big Fans 🙂 but honestly, I got so much great info out of just the free teleseminar, I think it’s worth your time to take a listen:



©2012, Dawn M. Davidson

2 thoughts on “The four P’s: Privacy, Politics, Polygamy, and Polyamory

  1. Auros

    Just as a factual / historical matter, polygamous practices as seen in Mormonism are rooted in the beliefs of followers of the Abrahamic religions, while the word “polyamory” was coined by pagans and other matriarchal-leaning non-Christians at the Kerista Commune in SF.

    Polygamy has sprung up as a practice in numerous patriarchal cultures where women are seen as property to be passed transactionally from fathers to husbands; it creates an incentive for young men to distinguish themselves, pursuing wealth or military glory, so that they can earn at least one wife — not b/c they want somebody whom they can love, or who will love them, but because wives are the ultimate status-symbol possession). It’s hard to imagine anything more _different_ from the ethos of polyamory.

    1. Uncharted Love Post author

      Hi Auros:

      I’m actually in agreement with you that they’re pretty different. 🙂

      Jasmine Walton of the PLN wrote a good disambiguation of polyamory and polygamy for the UUPA (Unitarian Universalists for Polyamory Awareness) website:
      She correctly points out the vast ideological differences between the Mormon version of polygamy and the secularly practiced version of polyamory in our culture.

      It’s also worth noting, however, that polygamy (meaning strictly multiple marriage partners) is practiced in other cultures around the world in ways that do not in any way resemble the Mormon version of polygamy. Whether they’re “better” depends entirely on perspective, of course, and what lens you’re looking at them through.

      Also, I don’t think the Kerista commune had anything to do with the coinage of the word polyamory — unless Jennifer Wesp was a Kerista member? My understanding is that her coinage of the word was associated with the alt.polyamory news group. Of course you’re also right that the word was more or less simultaneously coined by Morning Glory Zell in the early 90’s, and published (in the form “poly-amorous” I believe) in her essay “Bouquet of Lovers” in the pagan publication Green Egg.


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