Category: Slideshow

Great Wall of Vagina – Jamie McCartney – Skin Deep – FREE

All my UK readers, please visit this gallery by June 2nd. Apologies for not posting sooner, but I just received notice regarding this show.

SKIN DEEP featuring The Great Wall Of Vagina – London Exhibition (Last week of show!!)

Jamie McCartney’s debut solo exhibition SKIN DEEP at the Hay Hill Gallery, Cork Street, features over 40 artworks celebrating both the human body and the human condition. Headlining the show is the long-awaited gallery premiere of The Great Wall of Vagina, a sculpture intended to change the lives of women. It is without a doubt succeeding.

This iconic sculpture is of great social importance and is a highly provocative response to the exponential rise in cosmetic labial surgeries. By confronting the viewer and revealing the diversity of female genital appearance, McCartney opposes any notion of a singularly “perfect” aesthetic, thereby forcing society to rethink its relationship with the vulva.


“It’s time our society grew up around these issues and I’m certain that art has a role to play.” Jamie McCartney


It’s not vulgar, it’s vulva. This isn’t just sensation, it is art with a social conscience. The sculpture has caught the public’s imagination, using the twin approaches of humour and spectacle. Having captured their attention it then educates about what normal women really look like ‘down there’. The Great Wall of Vagina, is recognised worldwide for its artistic impact and social importance. Created from 400 plaster casts taken from volunteers’ vulvas this “Vagina Monologues of sculpture” sculpture is succeeding in changing the lives of women around the world. How often can one say that and mean it? How often does a sculpture have it’s own website??




1. “Hi just wanted to say how stunning the exhibition is in Cork St. I sat across the street from it all week and finally got in to see it on Saturday. I am sure I am joining many women in saying thank you for putting my mind at rest. Nough said!” Charlotte, UK


2. “Thank you Jamie, your work does exactly what you set out to do. I feel better now!” Kimberley, USA


3. “I want to personally thank you, Jamie, for The Great Wall of Vagina. This work finally (finally!) presents women with what we look like, what is “normal”, what is OK, what our lovers see and love and are turned on by during intimate moments. As an adult woman (36) trying to see what other vuIvas look like ( as recently as a month ago), asking female friends if they too wonder what others look like, comparing and showing my vulva with close friends, I always came out with the frustration of how men see each other’s genitalia so easily in changing rooms and whatnot and how for women, porn seems to have this quasi labia-less pink orifice that does not resemble ours. The real-life comparison always stops at two, maybe three vulvas, if a hetero woman is lucky enough to have such friends who will giddily pull down their pants and open up. Of course Obgyns and midwives get their fair share of exposure but when I look up vagina or vulva on the Internet, I get few images and most are either of the porn variety or diseased. It pretty much sums up society’s perception of women’ s sexuality, I suppose.


So again, thank you. For the first time, I am able to see what I have been looking for and know it is from a trustworthy source. I’m sure I am the hundredth person to drone on and on about this but please understand how even in 2012, in our seemingly fore-thinking world, it was, until your work, impossible for a regular woman like me to see this.” Julie, Canada


4. “I read about your project in the newspaper today. What an important project! I hope it contributes to raise girls and womens’ confidence about their own body. I gave the link to your website to my teenage daughters so they can see how different women are. Well done! Morten, Norway


5. “This is the first piece of artwork I’ve seen my entire life that has actually had an impact on me. I’ve been waiting my whole life for that one moment you hear about where a piece of art actually moves you. I’d begun to think that was only for the truly artistic minded because that just never happened for me. This did. I love the concept, the execution, the humor. I love everything about it. It makes me so happy that you chose to do this and for the reasons you did. Thank you. ” Jayne, USA


Female genitalia have long been a source of fascination, recently of celebration but generally of confusion. McCartney has grasped the nettle to create this monumental sculpture all about this most intimate of parts. Five years in the making he persuaded women from all over the world to volunteer to be cast in an overwhelmingly positive reaction to the project. It has been continually in the press and on TV around the world during that time and since its completion in February last year. Channel 4’s “The Perfect Vagina” 2008 was perhaps the most significant in spreading awareness about this important artwork.


More videos here


One remarkable thing is that the sculpture was entirely self-funded by McCartney, contrary to erroneous reports of Arts Council involvement. Perhaps more remarkable is that the artwork is not for sale. This is art for art’s sake rather than personal gain. McCartney is only interested in the piece being exhibited publically. He is actively seeking an art museum that would like to take it on permanent loan. He is also investigating touring the sculpture to other world cities.


“The Great Wall of Vagina is no use to anyone in storage, as it has been for the last year. This needs to be seen and I’ll do anything I have to in order to accomplish that”. Jamie McCartney


The four hundred plaster casts of vulvas, all of them unique, are arranged into ten large panels. This exhibition marks the very first time the sculpture has been shown in an art gallery and in its full, nine metre span. McCartney set out to make this project as broad and inclusive as possible. The age range of the women is from 18 to 76. Included are mothers and daughters, identical twins, transgendered men and women as well as a woman pre and post natal and another one, rather provocatively, pre and post labiaplasty.


Vulvas and labia are as varied as faces and many people, particularly women, don’t seem to know that. McCartney hopes this sculpture will help to quell that anxiety and combat the exponential rise, seen in recent years, of cosmetic labial surgeries. This worrying trend to create ‘perfect’ vaginas sets a worrying precedent for future generations of women. The medical community is right behind him:


“The Great Wall of Vagina is a work of exceptional importance for women’s understanding of body image, and one which the UK’s Sexual Health specialists & Gynaecologists would like to see publicised as widely as possible to help stem the tide of young women requesting unnecessary labial reduction surgery. Quite apart from that motive, the exhibition also contains other beautiful works of photography & sculpture (see my photo attached) – It should therefore be socially & and ethically newsworthy enough to warrant attention & debate.”         Mr Peter Greenhouse MA MB BChir (Hons) Cantab FRCOG FFSRH Consultant in Sexual Health, Bristol Sexual Health Centre BS2 0JD UK


The sculpture makes for fascinating and revealing viewing which is a far cry from pornography. It is not erotic art. It is not about titillation. McCartney has pulled off an amazing trick, to deliberately make the sexual nonsexual. One is able to stare without shame but instead in wonder at this exposé of human variety. The educational aspects of the sculpture are highlighted on the new education page on the website.

The SKIN DEEP exhibition focuses on notions of beauty and society’s obsession with the physical self. Alongside The Great Wall of Vagina, McCartney premieres his new work, The Physical Photography series (themed, life-sized body photographs taken without a camera) as well as many of his other sculptures all sharing a contemporary, Surrealist twist. As a concession to all the requests to buy vagina panels McCartney also shows some specially created, limited edition vagina and penis sculptures, that are for sale to the public.


So a new star has appeared on the London art scene. Over 500 people attended the launch last week of his truly groundbreaking exhibition that has people talking around the world. Cork Street in London has rarely seen such scenes. It marks a return to form for this most hallowed of art districts, once again breaking the mould to deliver a new art phenomenon.


With 400 vaginas down one wall and a life-size photo of a naked Jesus opposite it is no wonder people are flocking to the gallery. McCartney has taken London’s art scene by storm. A quote from this month’s Art of England perhaps sums it all up, “Like Jeff Koons and Damien Hirst… the world will be talking about Jamie McCartney for a long time to come”.


Notes to Editors:

Short press video preview clip here.


Show catalogue here


The exhibition runs until June 2nd 2012

Hay Hill Gallery, 5a Cork Street, London, W1S 3NY T: 020 7439 1001

Opening hours: Monday Saturday, 10.30am6pm         FREE ADMISSION

Jamie McCartney will be at the gallery to discuss his artworks and sign copies of Great Wall of Vagina book every Saturday from 11:00 am until 5:00 pm.


All artworks in the exhibition are for sale (except The Great Wall of Vagina). With prices ranging from £500 to £25K there are artworks to suit any budget.

Jamie McCartney is a British artist who lives and works in Brighton but trained at Hartford Art School (USA), graduating in 1991. Initially he ran his own forge, making steel sculptures. He then moved into SFX in the film industry, working on feature films such as Blackhawk Down and Casino Royale. His degree in Experimental Studio Art and SFX skills continue to inform his work. No subject is too controversial, nor any process or material off limits.!/Plastercaster!/Greatwallvagina


Are You A Sex Addict? Does Sex Addiction Exist?

Just when I thought the conversation was over on one of my professional listserves, the following response caught my eye. I think Dr. Perper makes an extremely convincing case for sex urges and loneliness, misnamed as sex addiction.

Although I still believe once a computer is turned on it feeds into a lot of peoples’ wiring systems. The question is do they spend time surfing the web for sex, or the next outfit to purchase?

Timothy Perper, PhD response to: A self-identified sex addict


Reposted by permission of author from the AASECT listserve (American Association of Sex Educators, Counselors and Therapists)


Names within text, other than author, have been changed.


…I got to thinking about this business of “uncontrollable

sex urge.” I’m NOT — repeat, not, not, not — going to try to define

that; in fact, my point is that a definition suddenly and unexpectedly

EVADES us. I don’t mean just me; I’ve been reading this postings

(nearly 500 of them since 2006, as I just said) — the definition has

been evading all of us. Seems to me that maybe that’s part of the



When I was a teenager, I too had “uncontrollable sex urges.” My penis,

with a life of its own (a standing joke among men), would get hard in

the middle of high school classes. It just did that — and I wanted to

jerk off. I wasn’t able to talk it down; it ignored me and my

explanations that THIS is not the right time. Or sometimes on subways.

Or at other times.


And later in college, and even later than that, the same thing would

occur again and again: “uncontrollable sex urges.”


Oho! Now we reach a crux in the whole search for a definition.


At some point in college — though not in high school (for reasons I

don’t understand) — I discovered that I could eliminate these

“uncontrollable sex urges” by going to the men’s room, sitting in a

stall with the door locked, and jerking myself off. Then, for some

hours, I had no “uncontrollable sex urges” at all.


In brief, if the definition we are looking for arises from

“uncontrollable PENILE sex urges,” then the solution is simple. Go

find someplace private and masturbate to orgasm. End of that. Yes, I

know that some men have moral and other qualms about masturbation, but

that’s not what we mean by “sex addiction” — that’s called “sex

guilt” or something like that.


If so — and that “if” is very very large! — then no problems exist

about sex addiction. Find someplace private and masturbate. This

solution may be less effective for some women, but I’m going to set

that difficulty aside for a while. IF — repeat, IF, IF, IF —

“uncontrollable sex urges” are of penile (or vaginal/clitoral) origin,

then they can be resolved in a few minutes. End of story and discussion.


Now comes the big but. BUT, someone says, that’s not what

“uncontrollable sex urges” are about! They’re about sitting and

watching HOURS of porn on the internet, talking for HOURS on some sex

phone line, spending HOURS imagining copulating with someone. They

center on the uncontrollable desire to get laid.


And if so, then we have a different definition, and it has nothing to

do with “sex addiction” at all. It is an “uncontrollable” desire and

yearning for a CERTAIN KIND OF SOCIAL CONTACT — with the surrogate

human beings of internet porn, the less surrogate but still fantasy-

laden telephone partner, or the imaginary but completely social

fantasy of masturbating with not only HER (or him, perhaps) but with a

whole bunch of “hers” and “hims.” Those sessions of imagination are

barely sexual at all: sexuality provides a mechanism for imagining a

fantasy of a different life, a different world, a different place, of

different people than the ones we know. The penis or vagina has become

a portal taking us elsewhere — somewhere where we are wanted, are

desired, are happy, are never rejected, are satisfied and are

satisfying. In brief, we invent a utopia for ourselves — because we

do not live in such a utopia in reality.


The underlying engines of such fantasies are not sex — they are

loneliness, despair, unhappy alienation, anomie. Sex is simply a

vehicle by which we imagine a place and time where such loneliness

DOES NOT EXIST. In that world, we are happy.


So if a man — I explicitly do not mean Craig, whom I do not know at

all — tells me that he’s a sex addict, then I privately think to

myself, “And you’re a liar.” If you really and genuinely were an

addict of your penis, you would not be telling ME about it in this

bar, or party, or therapy session. You’d be off jerking yourself off

in the bathroom.


The same holds for a woman, who might say “I was a real sex addict in

college! I just had to get laid all the time, and all I could think

about was how I could hook up with Joe or Jeremy or Chad — ”  And

again my response is the same. “No, you’re not a sex addict at all. If

you were you wouldn’t be telling ME about it in this bar or party.

You’d be off in bed with Joe or Jeremy or Chad or maybe all three of

them, fucking their brains out. You wouldn’t be TALKING about it.”


Underlying everything I have read and heard about sex addiction and

the “uncontrollable sex urges” said to define sex addiction (and that

includes the AASECT listserve) are the engines of loneliness,

isolation, alienation, and despair. It is therefore a social — NOT

SEXUAL — dysfunction, and centers on the inability of the person to

provide him- or herself with people who love and want them. It

involves a FANTASY that sexuality — meaning penile and/or vaginal

contact — will satisfy those social needs for love. But because mere

penile and/or vaginal contact does not fill those needs, the recipe is

repeated, in the hope that maybe it’ll work out the NEXT time. Which

it does not, and we enter a cycle of repetition driven by unidentified

— but profoundly human — desires for social contact, for someone to

talk to, someone who likes you, and who wants to listen.


Did that describe me in high school? Oh, come on. Of course it did. I

would have given anything to have spent the whole day talking to (and

kissing) two or three of the girls I knew… like Jane, who sat next

to me in one class (I loved that class!), and like Amy, who I would

walk home with… Sometimes my penis got stiff, not surprising at the

age of 17, but always I wanted to be with Jane and Amy, stiff penis

or not. That’s not sex addiction. It’s desire and loneliness.






Intelligent Lust – In Defense of Casual Sex

The new movie “Shame” has everyone talking about sex addiction once again, or should I say still. If you have been following my blog you know I don’t believe in sex addiction any more than I believe in food addiction. These are necessary elements of life we can control, although sometimes people are out of control and do not want to take responsibility for their actions.

The following is an excellent article I found in the publication Psychology Today.

In Defense of Casual Sex

By Stanley Siegel, LCSW
Created Dec 12 2011 – 6:17pm
“In the new film “Shame,” an examination of the extremes of human sexuality,  Brandon Sullivan, a successful, handsome New York executive afraid of intimacy, has frequent, random sex with prostitutes and strangers. At work, he sneaks off to masturbate in the men’s room or extends his lunch hour with  trysts. 

The movie  harshly depicts casual sex as an emotionally disconnected, meaningless defilement, as reflected in the the title.  Brandon Sullivan is never permitted sexual enjoyment.  Instead, his getting off is presented as alienating and self-destructive.  The only time he he attempts to have sex with someone he knows, a co-worker,  he can not perform.

In the end, punishment awaits Brandon, the presumable fate for all who have casual sex, as punctuated by the suicide attempt of Brandon’ sister, who is similarly portrayed as sexually depraved.

In a recent interview, director Steve McQueen said the film is based on his research on sexual addiction–a condition whereby the insatiability of sexual cravings is rooted in self-hatred and the avoiding intimacy.

But “Shame” draws an inaccurate comparison between casual sex–an experience typically outside the context of a romantic relationship–and reckless sex. Under the right circumstances, casual sex can be deeply meaningful and more intimate than the sex in a long-term relationship. Those of us who have casual sex know that its not devoid of emotion, nor does it lead to the unhappiness Brandon suffers.

Society dictates that only within marriage or another long-term relationship do sex and intimacy exist and popular culture upholds this as the ultimate formula for happiness.  Despite the high divorce rate, tax laws, for example,  continue to bestow benefits on married couples, while relegating single people to second-class status.

How many times have you heard: He’s afraid of intimacy?  In arguing against casual sex, marriage advocates regularly flaunt research purportedly showing that spouses are happier than single people.  But these studies contain a damaging methodology, which cannot be readily identified by their findings.  That is, they fail to consider the guilt and shame that some single people internalize as a result of how society stigmatizes them.

The truth is,  long-term relationships or marriage do not guarantee a satisfying emotional life or sexual intimacy. Everyone knows someone stuck in a barren marriage, whose members have lost their autonomy and in which sex has disappeared. Brandon’s assertion that people do not belong together forever is correct, but too many of us fear facing that truth or consider alternatives to that permanence.

There are times when casual sex actually deepens one’s self-knowledge. With intelligence and clarity of purpose, casual sex is more than instant gratification. By openly exploring our fantasies and true desires with different partners in a way that may not possible in a committed relationship, we can transcend our inhibitions.  With each new encounter we can discover buried parts of ourselves and in time experience the totality of who we are. We can even experience profound, revelatory moments that unravel our past and show us things we never knew about ourselves. We can satisfy unmet needs by embracing those aspects of our sexuality that are deeply meaningful and we can choose to let go of those that no longer have importance.

Upon turning sixty-five, I recognize that casual sex has often been as intimate for me as were the two long-term relationships I have had. Unencumbered by a complex commitment, the freedom found in casual sex allowed me to move beyond self-consciousness and achieve a level of honesty and authenticity for myself, and my partner, in a way previously unknown to me. With each new experience, the process of discovering and sharing specific sexual interests required verbal and non-verbal communication that was intensely focused and rapidly telegraphed.  And  self-disclosure and vulnerability were as necessary a part of these exchanges as they were in a committed relationship.

In fact, my experience ran contrary to the myth that intimacy needs to be sustained to be meaningful. Even so, I have learned that not all casual sex is meaningful, even though you may get a physical “spike” from its novelty, but it is no more empty than the rote sex that typically happens in marriages.

Some casual encounters presented the unexpected, both splendid and repellent. Some led to love affairs, others to friendships. Together, these experiences offered insights into the deepest levels of my psyche that have been as rich and transforming as any epiphany I had during my long-term relationships. Over time, I refined my own sense of morality based on respect, trust, honesty and generosity.  Finally, I stand in awe of the extraordinarily creative ways that we, as human beings, express who we are through sex.

There is nothing that I have asked of a patient that I haven’t asked of myself. Like many other patients, I took Jane on the journey of Intelligent Lust that I have written about in previous columns and in detail in my book, “Your Brain on Sex” where casual sex is of central importance.

Jane’s younger sister got muscular dystrophy at a very young age, for which Jane’s parents felt terrible guilt. They steadfastly tended to her sister, going beyond what was necessary to accommodate her handicap.

Not only did Jane feel guilty for being the healthy child, she also suffered silently from her parent’s inattentiveness towards her and wondered what it would be like to be the center of attention. Furthermore, in high school, Jane, taller than the boys and less physically developed than the girls, was cruelly nicknamed Olive Oil.

As she matured, Jane developed sexual fantasies in which she was a beautiful enchantress who could charm and seduce even the most handsome and unavailable man.
At thirty, Jane, feeling terribly isolated, came to therapy, after suffering what she called a string of “failed relationships” with men she described as “emotionally unavailable.”
“They put their work or families ahead of me,” Jane told me.

Jane soon recognized that by choosing men who gave her so little attention she reenacted her childhood predicament. And while she was highly sexual in her relationships, she also abandoned her true sexual desires in favor of pleasing her partners whose approval she desperately sought. Sex in these relationship quickly grew empty and inauthentic, misguided by a lack of self-understanding.

During therapy, Jane learned to identify her fantasies and true desires, where they came from and what function they served in her life. She gained insight into how she had eroticized her parents’ neglect as an attempt to turn painful feelings into pleasurable ones.

At first, Jane had a variety of casual sexual encounters, some of which did not require her to please the man. Not unexpectedly, she began to honor and express her sexuality more confidently. She also approached dating with a new perspective, one that didn’t anticipate rejection.  She began to look for men who were a better sexual match, using Intelligent Lust as her guide. And she learned to replace her plain and neutral self-image with a more flirtatious and seductive one, like the enchantress she imagined herself to be.

Within a year, Jane met Bill, a man who had also been a tall and awkward adolescent with sibling issues. As a boy, Bill had been compared to his handsome and brilliant older brother. Despite his physical awkwardness, Bill was a varsity basketball player. Still, even as his star rose, he felt uncomfortable around girls and developed a reputation as a geek. In his favorite masturbatory fantasy, however, Bill imagined a harem of woman chasing him.

With my coaching, Jane got Bill to talk about his fantasies, and soon they agreed to act them out, setting up regular dates in bars. Together, they developed a script for their encounters. Pretending they didn’t know each other, Jane would flirt with the anonymous tall guy, flatter and charm him, then invite him home. At first, Bill would resist, but inevitably he would surrender to the intense seduction. In bed, he would make love to her for hours while she teased and taunted him until they both climaxed, satisfying their sexual fantasies.

The experience continued regularly over several months and as they grew more trusting of each other, Jane and Bill’s emotional and sexual exploration deepened as well as its intensity and satisfaction.

Acting out her fantasies changed Jane. She felt empowered. Not only did she feel her deepest needs had been validated and affirmed by Bill, but for the first time she felt “real.”

Although Jane ended the relationship with Bill several months later when she relocated for a job, it was a profoundly helpful experience that served to correct a lifetime of neglect. Their high level of intimacy served as a standard for her future relationships. The healing that occurred during her few months of sex in a non-committed relationship allowed Jane to vanquish her childhood hurt and feel empowered.”

Polyamory – Three in marriage bed more of a good thing

Polyamory might just be the solution to our low marriage stats and high divorce rate. Glossary at the end of this article, great reference for writers of erotica and those interested in this style of relating-ship.

“For weeks, Sydneysiders and Melburnians who believe menages-a-trois and other polyamorous relationships can be just as committed, loving and valid as marriage between a man and a woman, slaved away together to earn their place in the sun.

They drew up plans, sawed wood, hammered nails.

Finally, in early March, it was ready: the first float celebrating polyamory to join the colourful flotilla in the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras.

For psychologist Nina Melksham, it marked the moment when the poly community, like gays and lesbians a generation ago, had come out of the closet to stand up and be counted.

“The polyamory community has always been supportive of the values of equality and acceptance,” Melksham told Inquirer this week.

“Participating in the Mardi Gras was a natural way for us to affirm these values.”

Boosted by this success, Melksham and her polyamorous friends are planning an even bigger show for next year’s festival.

The polyamorous community has a further cause for celebration.

They believe last weekend’s vote by the ALP national conference to change the party platform to legalise same-sex marriage is a base on which they can build.

The agenda now is to seek recognition and the removal of prejudice against multiple-partner relationships, perhaps legislation to grant them civil unions and even legalised polyamorous marriage.

“My personal view is that any change that moves us towards a more loving, open and accepting society can only be a positive,” Melksham says.

Melksham runs a counselling practice in Lilyfield in Sydney’s inner west catering to polyamorous clients. She describes her own domestic arrangements as “a bit complicated at the moment”: she lives with her former husband, who she describes as her “best friend”, and is in a “vee” relationship with two boyfriends who live separately.

“I had the experience of being deeply in love with more than one person at a time. I had the choice to either deny the reality of the situation or grow and become a more accepting and tolerant person.”

The polyamorous community in Australia is a broad church, with the slogan of its very active website being “ethical non-monogamy”.

It is increasingly prominent, with organised groups in most capital cities that hold regular discussion sessions and social nights.

Polyamorists generally distinguish themselves from the monogamous gay community, and from those seeking kinky casual sex. Some also see themselves as different from heterosexual polygamists where the “hinge” member has sexual relations with the two of the opposite sex, but the two of the same sex do not have sex with each other.

Rather they may form, in polyamorist lingo, a “polyfidelist triad” in which there is an equilateral triangle of sexual activity.

Such was the argument of 46-year-old Victor de Bruijn and his 31-year-old wife of eight years, Bianca, when they were formally united in 2005 in a small Dutch town with Mirjam Geven, a recently divorced 35-year-old whom they’d met several years earlier.

Although Dutch law bans polygamy, because there was no actual marriage in the technical sense, just a common law civil contract, the trio’s union was allowed.

Two court cases, one in Canada last month and one in Australia earlier in the year, show that while British-based law remains resolute against multiple partner marriage, it accepts that a common law threesome is not illegal or even necessarily family-unfriendly.

In the Canadian case, British Columbia Chief Justice Robert Bauman upheld Canada’s anti-polygamy law, but left polyamorous families free from sanction if they do not commit an overt act of multiple marriage.

The Australian case involved a man whose wife had left him for another man and a woman, and taken the children. When the trio set up house together, mingled their respective offspring, and shared the same bedroom, the jilted husband applied to the court seeking an urgent order that the children be removed from the “immoral” household.

But magistrate Philip Burchardt rejected the application, saying the threesome seemed to be “thoroughly decent and honest people” and “I do not regard the relationship . . . as being damaging to the children.”

One of Melksham’s boyfriends, Stuart Dixon, believes polyamorous civil unions or marriage are set to come on to the national agenda following the ALP conference vote.

“I personally feel it would be appropriate to have some sort of legal recognition of multiple partners,” Dixon said.

For those who fought the battle last week at the ALP national conference in support of the change of the party platform, the emergence of “poly pride” is a dangerous development.

Inquirer this week contacted some of the most vocal supporters within the ALP caucus for legalising gay marriage: Finance Minister Penny Wong, Schools Minister Peter Garrett, Social Inclusion Minister Tanya Plibersek, Transport Minister Anthony Albanese, left convener Doug Cameron and Stephen Jones, who plans to introduce a same-sex marriage bill.

Inquirer asked them: “Do you, given your deep commitment to the topic, believe that at the next ALP national conference the platform should be further amended to legalise marriage among polyfidelist triads?”

Not one would speak to Inquirer on the topic, and most did not reply.

After some pressure, Attorney-General Robert McClelland responded, going out of his way to make clear that while gay marriage might be on the agenda, legalised menages-a-trois were not. “Irrespective of whether the definition of marriage is extended to include same-sex couples, there has been and is no suggestion that the definition should extend to polygamous relationships,” a spokesman said.

Even the whisper of recognising polyamorous unions presents two threats for supporters of gay marriage: one from the Right, the other from the Left.

Niko Antalffy, a sociologist at Sydney’s Macquarie University who has studied polyamory and has been “actively polyamorous for about seven years”, says: “Of course they are scared.

“Having multiple partners sounds radical and they know that it won’t fly with the mainstream community,” Antalffy says.

“If you want to promote gay marriage you want to distance yourself with the slippery slope argument as much as possible, so no one will think that marrying your goat is next.”

The polyamorous marriage concept has indeed given conservatives such as NSW upper house MP Fred Nile more ammunition following the ALP national conference vote. “I warned people this would be the next stage,” Nile tells Inquirer.

“You’d get threesomes, foursomes, fivesomes, wanting the same rights. Some people even say they want to marry their pet animal.”

The polyamorist threat from the Left to the gay marriage campaign is more subtle. It raises the question whether those who support gay marriage on the basis of equal rights are hypocritical in not being prepared to even discuss the possibility of committed polyamorists being eligible.

The polyamorist community includes a large component of tertiary-educated professionals and academics because, they say, they are able to assimilate the intellectual sophistication of the polyamory thesis.

“We now know that sexual monogamy is neither natural nor common and has never been,” Antalffy says.

“The institution of marriage and cultural assumptions of monogamy arrived with agriculture and property ownership. In the last four to five decades everything has changed, though: religion has lost its grip on life, we are rich in material goods as well as opportunities, we have greater choices in lifestyles, there’s more equality and equality of opportunity, women can make do without having to be married to a man who keeps her.

“And this brings out human desire, which is multifarious to say the least. Polyamory is the sweet result of modernity.””


* * *

Compersion: The antidote to jealousy: taking joy in the knowledge that a partner is having sexual relations with someone else.

Friend-with-benefits: A relationship where friendship comes first, with occasional sexual contact and no partner-level commitment.

F..k-buddy: A relationship focused primarily on the sex.

New Relationship Energy (NRE): The excitement and energy-boost experienced in the first glow of a new relationship.

Open relationship: A general term meaning consensual non-monogamy.

Polyandry: A woman having more than one husband.

Polyfidelity: A polyamorous relationship of committed and long standing where members agree to be sexually exclusive to one another.

Polygamy: One partner of one sex having more than one spouse of the opposite sex.

Polygyny: A man having more than one wife.

Primary: The commitment relationship which may involve living together, marriage, mutual finances, and co-parenting.

Quad: A relationship between four people, each of whom is intimately connected to all the others.

Secondary: A relationship which may involve sporadic sex, but of a lower order in terms of priority, time and commitment.

Triad: A sexual equilateral triangle in which each member is romantically connected to the others.

Vee: Where one person in a threesome, known as the “hinge”, is sexually involved with two others, but those two are not sexually engaged with each other.