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Rattling (poem)

CN: my fucking family, VAWG, incest, sexual assault.

The door to my room is white, wooden. With glass panels, up and down.

The light of the city comes through the window with the mellow rumble of trains, traffic, tube lines. The constant rhythm of north London noise.

I know what he wants. From the other side of the glass. Wants to be by my side. In my bed. Where siblings should fear to tread.

I do.

He doesn’t care.

My bedroom curtains are never closed. On the third floor facing back over the west coast railway line and the overground bit of the Piccadilly. A panorama of streetlights and sunrises, there is no one to look but me.

He’s been trying to get in for a while now. I told him no, and this time, I managed to kick him out.

Leaning on the door as it shudders, I wonder what it will take to convince my parents that the lock I want is to keep my brother out, not other boys in.

A commuter train rattles past, its tempo so different from the high speed rich seats on their way to Manchester.

The pressure on the door stops. I ignore the answering build up in my eyes.

I sit down. My back to the door. Trace wood grain through white paint. Try to lose myself in the soothing steel music of rails that has been my lullaby for so long.

I almost miss him coming back up the stairs.

I’m scared, my back against the glass. Where is my mother?

It shudders. The glass. The door. My core.

He has a weapon.

An old dial telephone, it’s a good weight, and it swings well.

It hits again. He’s definitely aiming for my shadow.

Again. Again. The glass cracks against my back.

By the time my memory returns to me, there’s black tape on the shatter lines.

The next week, I get a small hook for my door. The comfort is paper thin.

The glass remains unchanged for the years until I move out at 18.

Poly Means Many: polyamory and feminism

Poly Means Many: There are many aspects of polyamory. Each month, the PMM bloggers will write about their views on one of them. Links to all posts will be found at . This month, our topic is “ polyamory and feminism”.

While thinking about what to write for this, I came across this fabulous comic on the Everyday Feminism project that I wanted to give a 1-up to.

It doesn’t make mention of the issue of polyamory and race, and of how people of colour can be relatively invisible within the non monogamous community. I’m sure there are other axes of oppression that are also missed out, however that is the one that jumped out at me.

That aside, this is a really good introduction to how one can experience oppression in one axis (like being in a non monogamous relationship) and still be relatively privileged compared to others.

That’s all I’ve got for this month, but in my defence, that comic is really good!

Protected: All The Family Bullshit – please ask for password

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What’s in a song

To believe in a monarchy is to believe that some, by birth, deserve more. More power. More wealth. More adulation. More respect. Not for their actions, but for their genetics.

To believe that about one family, it is a small step to believe that about a whole class of people. To believe that there are people who, by virtue of their birth, not their deeds, deserve more from society, and are better suited to shape it.

To believe that about a class of people, and about one family based on their genetics, it is almost inevitable to believe that about people who look and sound the same.

If you believe that some inherent characteristics entitle one to more, you may not realise it, but you must also believe that some people, by virtue of characteristics decided before their birth, deserve less. Less power. Less wealth. Less respect. Not for what they do, but for who they are.

To believe in a monarchy is to believe that some people are just not worth as much. That they don’t matter. That the comfort of this group of people is worth more than the suffering and deprivation of those people.

To pay lip service to a monarch is to glorify and perpetuate this system. This societal agreement that if your parents had the wrong job, if your written and spoken language don’t match, if you love the wrong people, if your skin and your faith don’t match the colour and practice of the realm, then not only do you probably get less than the right people, but the fact you get less is a consequence of society working properly, not a sign that it is broken.

I love my country. I love its people, ancient and new. I love its voices, in their glorious melodic variety. Its kaleidescope of faces.

But my country has a cancer at its heart. The monarchy is a modern hangover. Colonialism is not dead.

In the age of empire, the class that ruled Britain ruled the world. Those people committed horrors upon horrors on those below them, both in these isles and across the world.

We have not exorcised these ghosts. Their structures remain. The same blood sits on the same seats.

With those seats, the message is given, over and over, that we are not the same. That some people are just worth more than others. That some deserve gold headwear. Others, a photo of their child, cold on a Turkish beach.

So no. I will not sing your anthem.

I am not more than you because of my parents education. I am not less than you because of who I love. And I will not say that I am, not in any way, and certainly not with a song.

With eternal thanks to all those who have helped me see the consequences of my attitudes, and helped me be a kinder human being.

Pacifism, republicanism and supporting the troops

So, I have something to say about the reaction to Jeremy Corbyn as a pacifist and a republican.

Being opposed to nuclear armament and armed conflict is not incompatible with being supportive of our troops and their service. The people who declare war and the people who fight wars are two separate groups of people. It is totally possible to condemn the decisions of one without in any way diminishing the contribution of the other.

It is not our troops on the ground who decide who their enemies are. That is decided in Parliament. More often nowadays that is decided in Number 10. To be opposed to conflict and favour democratic negotiation, and to be willing to speak to all parties, including Hamas, to avoid military action, is merely pacifism. It isn’t and shouldn’t be interpreted as a slight to serving men and women or veterans.

It is the duty of our armed forces to serve at Her Majesty’s pleasure and to follow the chain of command. To do so is an honourable decision. Regardless of how one feels about the monarchy or the commands being given.

It is the duty of our government to determine where and how our armed forces should be used, and to correctly interpret the will of the people. And debate should be welcome in this arena given the lives that hang in the balance.


Poly Means Many: polyamory and cheating

There are many aspects to polyamory, but sometimes you just have to go back to the basics. Is it possible to cheat in a polyamorous relationship, and if it is what does that look like? I’ve lost count of the number of times people have asked me if it is possible to cheat in a polyamorous relationship, or have thought that my polyamorous relationship is the same as cheating.

After the Ashley Madison data leak the spot light is on marriage, cheating, and mistresses. These are all ways to have more than one relationship, that fall under the heading of cheating. But what does it look like to have more than one relationship, and for that to be not cheating? What does it look like to cheat when you are in relationships with more than one person?

In my relationships and my experience, the definition of cheating is to do something outside the agreed parameters. My family is, to all intents and purposes, a closed group. This means that, within the four of us, there are no relationship restrictions. However, if one of us wishes to start a new relationship, they need to discuss that with the other three, and get all of their agreement.

Cheating is therefore defined as going outside our rules. That would mean having sexual contact or starting a relationship with someone without the agreement or knowledge of the family. That doesn’t mean that new sexual and romantic relationships are not possible. We have, in fact, recently recently added a new relationship to our family, someone I am immensely proud to be able to call a metamore.

The fundamental difference between monogamous and polyamorous relationships is usually the variety of shapes and situations that are possible in a polyamorous relationship. There can be a very small or very large number of people involved. There can be very strict rules and boundaries, or things might be very relaxed. Regardless of the agreed structures, cheating in these circumstances is any action which breaks those agreed rules, whatever they are. By comparison, monogamous relationships are very simple. The defining feature of a monogamous relationship is that you have one sexual and romantic partner.

Defining what is cheating in a polyamorous relationship can be more difficult, but it is still very possible. 

Ultimately, it is our responsibility as sexual and romantic partners to be aware of the responsibilities we have to those we are in relationship with. Being faithful to the rules that we have agreed to is the essential foundation to healthy and nourishing relationships, weather monogamous or polyamorous.

Poly Means Many: in response to The Guardian

Poly Means Many: there are many aspects of Polyamory. Each month, the PMM bloggers will write about their views on one of them. Links to all posts can be found on Poly Means Many. This month we chose to respond to a piece in The Guardian.

This week, the Guardian published an article by Emer O’Toole on the subject of polyamory. It was an interesting read and in it, Emer gave the stories of several of her friends who were polyamorous. I really liked the structure of the article, and the stories, showing that poly really does mean many – many stories and many ways of structuring relationships and lives.

In the spirit of the article, here is my story.

The natural

I started going out with my first real boyfriend when I was 17. And about 7 months later, he broke up with me for reasons that I did not at that point understand. I later found out that one of the main reasons he has broken up with me was because he had met and kissed another girl. He was feeling guilty about this but also didn’t want to hurt me and so didn’t tell me. When I found out about the other girl, I was heartbroken. I felt hurt that you wouldn’t trust me to tell me what had happened, and that he didn’t feel able to tell me and trust that I would respond appropriately.  I guess this was my first clue that I wouldn’t be doing relationships in a conventional way.

My next relationship of any length was with a wonderful man I am privileged to now call one of my best friends. He was in a vulnerable place emotionally at the time, and therefore despite the obvious feelings we had for one another, we never officially called ourselves a relationship. I knew that at any time, either of us could meet someone else, or find ourselves in different circumstances, and that they could take priority over what we had together.

The new circumstances arrived, and I moved to Sheffield. In my first year here, I started a relationship with a married couple. It was the first relationship I had had with a woman, and it was so much fun to play with the two of them.

I still didn’t have a name for these flexible relationships I was having. There was still very definitely an assumption that at some point I would find the one and then all of this experimentation would be just that. A period of exploration at the beginning of my life as an overture and prelude to the main event – marriage and 2.4 children.

And then I met Tom. Well, more accurately I met up with Tom again. Tom had been one of the first people I met when I came to Sheffield, and we had started a relationship within the first week of knowing one another by virtue of being two thirds of a threesome. Also he let me drive his Mini. Which is a swift way to a girls heart if ever there was one!

By the time Tom and I got back together, he had figured out that he was polyamorous, had a word for it, and knew that for him, any relationship of significance needed to be a polyamorous one. As soon as he explains the principles to me, I knew that I had found my home. All of my past relationships suddenly seemed to make a lot more sense.

For this reason, polyamory has always seemed, at least for me, to be an orientation. A relationship orientation, if you will.

That conversation, between Tom and I, in which he explained polyamory, will be 10 years ago this July. I am so grateful to the work of everyone who has gone before us, to those who have battled for individuality, and who have shared information that has helped me to know myself and love my loves so much better.

So, how about you? What is your polyamorous story?


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