The Name (Labeling) Game on a Throwback Thursday


A facebook friend posted an article irresistibly intriguing about a wealthy, powerful Florida man, now deceased, who married two women and lived parallel lives, raising two families–the Cone and Carlson families–the children of which attended the same private school. Neither wife appeared to know of the other. The article about this apparent anomaly is brief and ends with the statement that the school’s baseball field is now named in the man’s (?) honor called the Carlson-Cone baseball field. That was the best part of the entire article for me, the irony. Was this town giving the dead guy a high five? Yeah man, you pulled it off. Let’s celebrate by honoring you with a dedicated space in the name of your bigamy. I love it.

This article has had me thinking for a couple of days into this labeling miasma I have created in my brain. So, this man would be considered a polygamist according to a relationship orientation and a bigamist according to a legal perspective. But what about his love for these two women, assuming that is the reason for his marrying and obtaining two wives (though he could be just a control freak and needed another woman and kids to own or a glutton for punishment or has way too much money and needed more tax write offs)? Is he polyamorous too? I am told it is human nature to label and not to fight it, so here I go.

Poking around the Internet, looking to tack the polyamory label to this Tampa polygamist, I found myself on Under the term polyamory, I found an explosion of labels to make my head spin and produce an urgent need to nap. We humans do love to catalog and diagram and chart and define–architects and archeologists all. I was amazed.

So as far as human relationships, there are the following:

Human sexuality and sexology
Sexual relationship
Asexuality Bisexuality Casual relationship Casual sex Celibacy Committed relationship Free love Heterosexuality Homosexuality Involuntary celibacy One-night stand Polyamory Promiscuity Female promiscuity Romance (love) Sex life Sexual abstinence Sexual partner Single person
Sexual dynamics
Hermaphrodite Hypergamy Physical attractiveness Sexual attraction Sexual ethics

As to the taxonomy of gender identity, the encyclopedia offers this:

Gender and sexual identities
Gender identities
Male Female Androgyne Bigender Boi Cisgender Cross-dresser Genderqueer Girlfag and guydyke Intersex Pangender Transgender Trans man Trans woman Transexual Womyn
Third sex /
Third gender
Akava’ine Androgynos Bakla Bissu Burnesha Eunuch Fa’afafine Fakaleiti Femminiello Galli Hermaphrodite Hijra Kathoey Khanith Köçek Mahu Maknyah Mukhannathun Muxe Sworn virgin Takatāpui Third gender Transgender in China Transgender people in Singapore Transgender in film and television Transsexuality in Iran Travesti Tumtum Two-Spirit Winkte

Finally, sexual orientation is categorized thusly:

Sexual orientation
Gender binary
Asexual Bisexual Heterosexual Homosexual
Ambiphilia, Androphilia, Gynephilia Pansexuality Polysexuality Third gender Two-Spirit
Attraction to transgender people Banjee Bi-curious Ex-gay Ex-ex-gay Gay Heteroflexible Lesbian Kinsey scale Non-heterosexual Object sexuality Queer Questioning Pansexual Polyamorous Polysexual Romantic orientation Same gender loving

But wait, there’s more:

Bisexuality topics
Sexual identities
Bisexual Monosexual Pansexual Polysexual
Bisexual American history
Innate bisexuality Journal of Bisexuality Kinsey scale Klein grid Human male sexuality
Biphobia Bisexual chic Bisexual erasure Lesbian until graduation
Bisexual community
American Institute of Bisexuality Bialogue BiCon (UK) BiFest BiNet USA Bisexual Resource Center Bisexual pride flag Bisexual Pride Day International Conference on Bisexuality New York Area Bisexual Network Bay Area Bisexual Network Transcending Boundaries Conference Media portrayals of bisexuality
Self-identified bisexual persons List of bisexuality-related organizations List of media portrayals of bisexuality
LGBT portal Sexuality portal
Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) topics

Academic fields Discourse
LGBT topics in education Gender studies Lavender linguistics Lesbian feminism LGBT literature LGBT/Queer studies Queer theory Transfeminism

Community Culture
Anthems Bars Bisexual community Coming out Community center Drag king Drag queen Gay friendly Icons Lesbian utopia Literature Music Neighborhoods Organizations Periodicals Pride Pride parade Religious groups Rodeos Same-sex relationships Slang
List of slang
Slogans Sports Symbols Tourism
Category:LGBT culture

Gender identities Sexual identities
Gender identities
Male Female Androgyne Bigender Boi Cisgender Genderqueer Girlfag and guydyke Intersex Pangender Transgender Womyn
Third sex / Third gender
Akava’ine Eunuch Fa’afafine Fakaleiti Femminiello Hijra Kathoey Khanith Mahu Mukhannathun Muxe Bissu Two-Spirit Hermaphrodite
Sexual orientation identities
Sexual orientations
Asexual Bisexual Heterosexual Homosexual
Ex-gay Ex-ex-gay Pansexual Polyamorous Banjee Gay Lesbian Queer Same gender loving Non-heterosexual Object sexuality Questioning bi-curious heteroflexible
Gender roles Human female sexuality Human male sexuality Sexuality and gender identity-based cultures

LGBT history
History of lesbianism LGBT history timeline Social movements History of Christianity and homosexuality History of same-sex unions Pederasty Category:LGBT history
LGBT pride flag
Pre-modern era
Adelphopoiesis Homosexuality in ancient Greece Homosexuality in ancient Rome Homosexuality in ancient Egypt Homosexuality in ancient Peru Homosexuality in medieval Europe
16th to 19th century
Mollies Urnings
20th century
Gay Liberation Homosexuals in Nazi Germany and the Holocaust Inversion Sea queens Stonewall riots Festival of Light action White Night riots Queer theory
21st century
Same-sex marriage

Rights Legal issues
LGBT rights by country or territory
Africa Americas Asia Europe Oceania List of LGBT rights articles by region
LGBT rights topics
Adoption Civil unions and partnerships Hate crime laws Legal aspects of transsexualism Military service Parenting Same-sex marriage (Status Timeline) Socialism Sodomy laws United Nations/Yogyakarta Principles
LGBT rights movements
Gay Liberation LGBT rights groups LGBT rights activists

Sexual orientations – Medicine, science and sexology
Biology Birth order Demographics Environment Heterosexual–homosexual continuum Homosexuality and psychology Kinsey scale Klein Grid Mental roots Neuroscience Prenatal hormones Sexual orientation change efforts Sexual orientation identity Timeline of sexual orientation and medicine

Social attitudes Prejudice Violence
Social attitudes
Anti-LGBT slogans Heteronormativity Gay panic LGBT rights opposition LGBT stereotypes Religion and homosexuality Transgenderism and religion
Prejudice and discrimination
AIDS stigma Biphobia Genderism Heterosexism Homophobia Internalized homophobia Lesbophobia Non-binary discrimination Riddle scale SPLC-designated list of anti-gay U.S. hate groups Transphobia
Violence against LGBT people
Corrective rape Gay bashing History of violence in the UK History of violence in the US Significant acts of violence against LGBT people Trans bashing Unlawfully killed transgender people LGBT suicides

There appears to be an identity or an issue related to the loins and mind of every individual at any given moment in time. There are even ex ex gays. I don’t know. I couldn’t look them all up. Am I wrong to be frustrated with labels, to speak out against them? Are my compadres in the labeling game who tell me to relax, it’s human, the ones who know better? Clearly it is human to label. It is a compulsion, an obsession. We are taxonomists. We are analyzers of the world around us and to analyze is to break something down into its constituent parts in order to examine them. The term appears to be connotatively positive, somewhat synonymous to discovery and learning. However, to examine the parts of something is to destroy that something, dismantle it, break it down into parts from a whole constitution.

Perhaps that is my objection, the labeling of parts, and then carelessly taking a single part of a whole to represent a whole, reckless synecdoche. It hurts.

From a taxonomist’s point of view, Mr. Carlson-Cone cannot be classified as polyamorous. Polyamory, according to the encyclopedia, is based on consensual, ethical and transparent multi-loving:
Polyamory, often abbreviated as poly, is often described as “consensual, ethical, and responsible non-monogamy.” The word is sometimes used in a broader sense to refer to sexual or romantic relationships that are not sexually exclusive, though there is disagreement on how broadly it applies; an emphasis on ethics, honesty, and transparency all around is widely regarded as the crucial defining characteristic.
Did he love both women?

I guess we will never know. But I thank him for this delightful delving into the inspirational art form of the label. Now let’s pause here to play the name game on this “Throwback Thursday.”

Polyamory: a bouquet of lovers


I woke up with angst this morning, and when that happens, all the ugly appears. Today’s ugly came in the form of jealousy and not just the kind commonly thought of in relationships–the other man or woman–but the all encompassing kind that takes in a little of everything including envy, such as how come some stoned guy who repeats “double rainbow” twenty or thirty times in a video can garner such attention and semi-fame?

However, the sharpest jealousies come from the investments I make with other human beings. My teenage daughters and I have discussed the friend jealousy, the one where the best friend gets a boyfriend and then has no time for the friend. Then there is the jealousy that comes with a significant other spending time with an ex-lover/girlfriend or boyfriend, the jealousy of time spent at work over the family, the jealousy of a significant other’s memories of past loves, etc. Jealousy is a host of ugly, and I don’t mean the emotion itself, which is merely an emotion. I mean the way it makes me feel and think.

Poking around the Internet for enlightenment on jealousy, where it comes from and how to deal with it, I came upon an extremely informative article in the Atlantic Monthly entitled “Multiple Lovers Without Jealousy” so thorough and well presented that it was impossible not to share. I had heard of polyamory before but had never read about the psychology and lifestyle but lightly. This article challenges the reader to think about the basis of our relationships, monogamous or otherwise, and intimates not surprisingly that successful relationships are based on ever-negotiating agreements, long-term and moment by moment. Seen through the prism of polyamory, monogamy or polygamy or communal living comes down to understanding the nature of jealousy, i.e., the self, taking responsibility for one’s own emotions, and of course, trust in the other person’s feelings and commitment, whatever the parameters of the relationship is determined to be whether pre-determined or negotiated as it goes.

It sounds ideal–to have multiple partners because the pressure to be everything to someone is overwhelming as is the expectation (and probably disappointment) of someone to be that everything. But can the green-eyed monster be controlled? Is polyamory realistic? Probably not for everyone–in practice–but for some it certainly can be.

Here are a few teasers to this thoroughly interesting article, but I recommend taking the time to read it even for the tidbits of the history of monogamy and the studies to dive into further if the subject interests:

There’s a phenomenon within psychology called obsessional review, which refers to the kinds of questions that the partner that finds out about the infidelity asks the unfaithful partner,” Shackelford said. “Men ask, ‘Did you have sex with him? How many orgasms did you have?’ etc. Women ask, ‘Are you in love with her? Did you buy her gifts? Did you take her to our restaurant?’ and so on.”

Those of us who are in monogamous relationships will probably never stop being jealous—and that’s healthy. What’s not healthy is the way some monogamous people manipulate their partners’ jealousy and devotion. According to Shackelford, women in monogamous relationships “are more likely to use sexual assets to induce jealousy in their partner,” while “men will manipulate access to resources.”

By contrast, the way polyamorous people tend to resolve their conflicts is more above-board. When extramarital relations are already out in the open, it seems there’s little else to hide. “A big part of what makes someone feel jealous is when their expectations for the relationship are violated,” Theiss said. “In poly situations, where they’ve actually negotiated the ground rules—‘I care about you and I also care about this other person, and that doesn’t mean I care less about you’—that creates a foundation that means [they] don’t have to feel jealous. They don’t have uncertainty about what’s happening.”

For example, as Conley, the polyamory researcher, has noted, “polyamory writings explicitly advocate that people revisit and reevaluate the terms of their relationships regularly and consistently—this practice could benefit monogamous relationships as well. Perhaps a monogamous couple deemed dancing with others appropriate a year ago, but after revisiting this boundary they agree that it is stressful and should be eliminated for the interim.”

People in plural relationships get jealous, too, of course. But the way polys get jealous is unique—and possibly even adaptive. Rather than blame the partner for their feelings, the polys view the jealousy an irrational symptom of their own self-doubt.