Revolutionary Lovers Guide

7 Apr

Revolution is about love. Love for justice, equality, humanity, all the species and the planet. It follows that revolutionaries are often passionate, open-minded and skilled lovers. But to be truly revolutionary, you must approach your personal relationships with the same determination to fight inequality that you bring to your political causes.

When the revolution comes, oppressive patriarchal norms and social hierarchies will crumble away and love will be free. In the meantime, love is often complicated and even revolutionary lovers can find themselves mirroring dominant and aggressive, or alternately, passive and submissive, behaviours from the society around them.

For this reason, and in response to numerous requests, Sisters of Resistance have created the Revolutionary Lovers Guide, which we hope will prove useful to you in creating healthy foundations for revolutionary romantic relationships.

The Basics: Learning/Unlearning | Respect | Communication & Active Listening | Openness, Honesty & Trust

Becoming Lovers and Making it Last: Conflict and Compromise | Sex | Non-Traditional Relationships

Frequently Asked Questions

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The Revolutionary Lovers Guide by Sisters of Resistance is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License. You can download the entire guide as a PDF file by right clicking and selecting “Save as” here.

The Basics

You met at a demonstration, workshop, fundraiser, or a conscious concert. You were drawn to each others’ intelligence, moral integrity, and the ways you practice what you preach. You agreed to embark upon a relationship of equality and  mutual respect, and showed evidence of this agreement by having both completed and passed the RDAF. You are now prepared to move on to the next stage in your revolutionary relationship.

  • Learning/Unlearning

Revolutionary and aspiring revolutionary lovers must work to ensure their intimate relationships do not begin with an oppressive dynamic.  A fair amount of self-knowledge is required in order to unlearn the behaviours we have been socialised into by the dominant white male heterosexist power structure. Unlearning involves becoming familiar with your own subconscious patterns of domination and personality flaws, acknowledging and openly addressing the ways in which you typically dominate others or allow yourself to be dominated. Accept the challenge to actively deprogram yourself from these negative patterns while learning to replace them with more loving ways of being.

  • Respect

Members of oppressed and marginalised groups, such as (but not limited to) women, people of colour/global majority, LGBTQII and differently abled individuals have all been, in different ways, systematically mistreated. As a result of continual unequal treatment, for many of us, relationships of abuse and domination have become normalised. Radical love demands that we first love ourselves and consider ourselves worthy of love, mutual respect and equal treatment.  In the beginning of the relationship, establish standards for how you wish to be treated, and be ready to communicate with your partner when these lines are crossed to avoid enabling abusive behaviour.

Members of groups who have historically held social and political power are accustomed to their privileged and dominant positions. It is therefore harder for them to unlearn these behaviours, to accept their duty to change, and to learn to listen to others. Respect in a revolutionary loving relationship means actively caring about your partner’s feelings and showing consideration for their concerns. Be attentive to their needs and be aware of their different experiences. Ask how your partner is doing and really listen to the answer. Be considerate and thoughtful at all times. Offer to help, if this is necessary, and always come through and keep promises. Be honest about your mistakes and do not repeat them.

  • Communication & Active Listening

You can only respect someone’s opinions and feelings if you really know and understand what they are; both people in the relationship should communicate their feelings honestly and actively listen to their partner. Asking a lover if they are comfortable and happy and trying to understand where they are coming from can assist communication, while acting in a way that is selfish will inhibit it.

Active listening involves understanding and evaluating what is being said to you. A common technique is to reply “What you’re saying is” or “Do you mean…” and then paraphrasing what you think is being communicated. This then allows the speaker to say either “Yea! Exactly…” and provide more details or “Nah, I meant…” and clarify their point. The idea is to avoid becoming defensive and distracted and to concentrate on what is being said rather than your own thoughts and feelings or other barriers.

  • Openness, Honesty & Trust

Lying to your partner will destroy trust and cause pain. There is no such thing as a  so-called “white” lie. When you lie you are doing so because you have made the decision that it is easier for you than telling the truth. But lies will eventually be found out. Honesty is always the best policy. It may seem to be the more difficult option, but healthy revolutionary relationships take effort. The rewards of a fully honest relationship are definitely worth it.

Trust grows slowly over time; it needs the fertile soil of honest communication and must be regularly nourished with respect. Lies and insensitivity will uproot trust and repeated dishonest behavior will damage it  beyond repair. To establish trust, demonstrate honesty and consistent respect (see above).

Becoming Lovers and Making it Last

  • Conflict & Compromise

Love is a process of growth and transformation. Because of this, you will likely encounter some resistance to the self-improvement necessary to be in a healthy long-term union with another person. Much of this resistance and other potential conflict can be addressed using the above techniques, in addition to compromise, or the settling of differences based upon mutual consent.  It is absolutely crucial that  revolutionary lovers are aware of who is most often making compromises for the sake of the relationship and attempt to minimise any imbalances.  This is an exercise that takes patience but will improve with practice.

  • Sex

Power dynamics influence everything and particularly come into focus when applied to sexual attraction and activity.  A revolutionary sex life should be  based around honesty, agency, desire, consent and mutual pleasure. Communicate before, during and after sex with words, sounds, or body language, and be open to your partners’ communications.

Practice safe sex as a matter of course. In the event that you and a partner decide that you trust each other enough to establish a fluid bond (no condoms/dams/latex), honestly relay the date and results of your last sexual health checkup and get checked regularly.

  • Nontraditional Relationships

Heterosexual monogamy (1 man + 1 woman=happily ever after) is a model for intimate relationships that is historically normative and perhaps unrealistic, yet it has been enforced by the West since the patriarchal institution of marriage arose to ensure heirs for private property.  The misappropriation of female sexuality that ensued from this development has been one of the main ways in which patriarchy has demonised and controlled women, most notably by forcing them to take sole responsibility for childcare and dividing all women into either mother/whore, wifey/sket or ho/housewife stereotypes. Another notable result is the well-known sexual double standard; a man is expected to have many lovers, take pride in his sexual history and will often be congratulated for it, while a woman who has had fewer lovers will often be described as “easy” and “loose”, labeled with sexist terms such as “slut”,“slag”, “slapper” and “jezebel” and will get a “bad reputation”, resulting in further degrading treatment.

Many revolutionary lovers feel that the concept of monogamy encourages feelings of possession and jealousy by trying  to contain and control love.  They feel that it encourages serial monogamy and the hope that each new partner could be “The One,” which in turn leads to serial disappointment.  These revolutionary lovers are often inspired by alternative models which aim to liberate love from its current heteronormative, sexist and monogamist confines, as the boundaries of committed romantic and intimate relationships between consenting adults should not be defined by traditions or institutions such as the state, any mass media, the wedding industry, insurance corporations or tax arrangements, all of which no doubt have an influence on the way we envisage our romantic lives.

Polyamorous lifestyles and open relationships are more fluid models that take into account a wider spectrum of human sexuality, desire and circumstance than is offered by monogamy. They also challenge typical monogamist notions that love is a limited resource and that an individual can and should serve to satisfy all of another’s emotional/sexual/relationship needs. With polyamory, multiple simultaneous long-term commitments are possible, while in open relationships, a primary long-term commitment is maintained.

Yet the models of polyamory and open relationships, like monogamy, still currently exist in a sexist, patriarchal context. Because of this, they can be easily co-opted to give straight men further license to sleep with as many women as possible. This type of appropriation is neither condoned nor promoted in these non-traditional lifestyles, of which honesty, openness, commitment and trust are major components. For a deeper, but less radical, look at polyamory check out The Ethical Slut book (we don’t like the title).  We also feel it is important to highlight the difference between these alternative models and cheating — please see our FAQ for further detail.

  • Families

We are taking suggestions for this area of the guide from revolutionary parents and those with alternative or non-traditional family structures.


Frequently Asked Questions

Are you saying that monogamy is impossible?  Are you working towards the eradication of monogamy as a concept?

Monogamous relationships are not impossible and we are not working towards the eradication of monogamy altogether.  It is completely feasible for a couple to meet, mate and, for the duration of their time together, refrain from engaging in romantic physical or emotional relationships with others.  However, successful monogamous relationships require an extremely high level of commitment to one’s partner, to communication, and to honest self-critique. Because these characteristics are rarely found in one person and thus even rarer in tandem, we have stated that expectations of monogamy can, in many cases, be unrealistic.

In addition to developing a genuine view of each other as equals, the maintenance of any revolutionary intimate partner relationship, monogamous or not, necessitates a willingness to acknowledge and negotiate the tricky territory of physical and emotional attractions to others, not on your own, but with your partner.  We must work on improving our emotional intelligence and communication skills both alone as well as with each other.  This requires that we develop a brutal, but freeing, honesty regarding our own feelings, especially in regards to the way we view ourselves, our self-worth, and any deep-seated fears of commitment, loneliness, and abandonment that are often the sources of feelings of mistrust or jealousy.  Taking this one step further by aiming for monogamy in revolutionary relationships requires acknowledging, rather than suppressing, the energy resulting from what we see as inevitable attractions outside the relationship and consciously redirecting it towards enhancing your relationship with your partner and your commitment to each other.  Once you acknowledge these desires, you must work to actively eliminate sources of temptation from your reach. For example, if you are in a monogamous relationship but find yourself attracted to a person in your workplace, do not allow yourself to imagine sexual scenarios with them, do your best not to be alone with them and do not stay late after work. If you do, it is very likely that you know how it will turn out.

A way you might consider working to maintain your monogamous focus is to document, as often as necessary, how much your partner means to you and how much you value the relationship. In doing so, you are redirecting your energy towards your partner, reinforcing the bond between you and strengthening your commitment to each other. You can do this in private ways, but sharing some of them with your partner will have the added value of bringing more expression of love and commitment to your relationship.

If you are faced with desires you are unable to ignore or redirect towards your partner in a loving way, make the time to discuss them with your partner using the techniques of honesty and active listening described in “The Basics.” If you cheat, or fail to maintain a monogamous commitment, it is your responsibility as a revolutionary lover to inform your partner in a timely manner that is as considerate of their feelings as possible.

What is the difference between polyamory/open relationships and cheating?

There are numerous differences. While non-traditional relationships are based on honesty and mutual understanding, as explained above, a person who is being cheated on has not agreed to it and is being lied to by their lover. The practice of compersion in a non-traditional relationship instead of jealousy is an example of transforming a negative, possessive emotion into a liberating and loving one.

What about class?

As one of the most influential inequalities in our society, class inevitably intersects with interpersonal relationships. In our experience, those from the elite classes of society rarely have long-term meaningful relationships with people from underprivileged economic backgrounds.  However, should this occur, as above, revolutionary lovers should engage in the process of unlearning their patterns of dominance in order to work towards a healthy, equal relationship.

What if you’re not revolutionary?

Take the RDAF and use the Resources.

24 Responses to “Revolutionary Lovers Guide”

  1. Andy April 8, 2011 at 7:29 am #

    Great article as usual.

    One other aspect I’d emphasise: the importance of unconditional love as an emotional need most/all people have (and correspondingly, fear of abjection or of ‘abyssal thought’ applied to oneself); and the importance of struggling against a scarcity perspective, for an abundance perspective.

    Relationships are prefigurative: the ways one relates bring about a certain kind of everyday social world counterposed to dominant relations. To bring about an abundant world without abyssal thought, we need to create relationships which are non-abyssal and abundant. This implies, among other things, eliminating status-ranking and competition as components of our relationships (which is why some of the ‘men to avoid’ types can’t be part of this).

    We need to find a way to distinguish a revolutionary view from a mainstream view which uses similar concepts. There’s a kind of mainstream view where a relationship is something like a ‘deal’ – the rhetoric echoes progressive rhetoric, in that there’s a view that everyone’s needs should be met, there should be mutual respect, abuse and one-sidedness are bad, and so on – but ultimately it’s a capitalistic conception. What counts as ‘doing as much’ is problematic because one is often comparing very different contributions which are ultimately incommensurable. Very often this approach ends up back at asymmetry in two ways: firstly because different initial abilities or situations are not taken into account, and secondly because the ranking whereby incommensurable contributions are turned into equivalential contributions is rigged in favour of dominant groups. The mainstream view is very much complicit with the idea of the responsible individual, of a ‘culture of merit’ rather than a ‘culture of entitlement’ as the right-wingers put it, i.e. of capitalistic exchange rather than welfare, needs, care, or rights. Of conditional rather than unconditional love. We should be trying, in our own relationships, to break down this individualisation of ethics: people are different, each of us has different abilities and problems, each of us is indispensable but insufficient. A relationship (including friends, family, etc., as well as romantic relationships) is ultimately between two singularities which are incommensurable. There can’t be an exchange. There can only be an assemblage, an articulation. The dilemma is how to insist on being respected without slipping into a ‘culture of merit’ or a deal-based model of relationships. I think we need to put less emphasis on actions, and more emphasis on relations, motives and discourses. i.e. it’s not so much specific acts or omissions which are problematic (acts may have different motives, mitigating or aggravating circumstances, and be more or less intentional), as specific discourses which produce asymmetry and define certain acts as problematic or unproblematic.

    The core of unconditional love is love for the other as ‘whatever-singularity’ – life, or a particular life, is to be valued for what it is, not through a separation which splits bare life from some kind of valued life determined by prior criteria. Of course this does not mean love for reactive desire in the other, or for the other’s complicities. The question of how to articulate whatever-singularity (respect for someone whatever they are) with revolutionary refusal or exodus (negation of and secession from logics of dominance) is one I’m still grappling with and don’t have an answer for. The New Age types say, the other is the shadow of the self, always accept and absorb the other – but how does one do this without absorbing the other’s rejection of absorption?

    To sustain a relationship over time, it’s necessary to form and nurture resonances. Eventually, two partners or friends will have something like a two-person heteroglossia, a third mind of multiple voices existing between the two people in which (some of) their own concepts communicate more clearly than usual. Successful relationships always seem to have this to some degree – there are special nodes of memory, private language, joint activities and so on. It’s like each person has their own duration, but at the same time, there’s a third duration which is that of their assemblage. On the one hand, one has to let go of one’s ego to form this kind of assemblage. On the other hand, one is never fully absorbed in the assemblage – two don’t become one. We might almost think of a relationship as a very small affinity-group. There’s no reason people can’t form these kinds of co-resonances with several people, and I think people also form co-resonances with different kinds of life-partners (lovers, friends, family, comrades, coworkers/coauthors), with animals, objects, systems, local places, and so on (I wonder if the ego is simply an abstraction from a series of co-resonances, though that’s another question).

    On families, I think an anti-oppressive orientation logically implies an orientation to libertarian parenting and libertarian education. Have a look at Ivan Illich, John Holt, A.S. Neill and John Taylor Gatto, Llewellyn’s “Teenage Liberation Handbook”, the group Taking Children Seriously, the Natural Child Project, McMurtry, Reichean psychoanalysis (Brinton’s “Irrational in Politics” and Reich’s “Listen, Little Man!” are good intros), and for indigenous comparisons, authors like Gregory Cajete and Inge Bollin. Abundance or scarcity orientations, instrumentalism or expressionism may be learnt very early, and asymmetrical power within families and schools reproduce and model asymmetrical power within capitalism and the state. The main strategic difficulties are in sustaining non-oppressive families in a hostile culture, and especially in situations where parents have very limited time and are over-stressed (i.e. we need to expand these approaches beyond the middle-class). There’s also sociological works on family varieties other than nuclear families, it’s a set topic in introductory sociology, see: There are also experiments with collective childcare in intentional communities, so speaking to someone who works on intentional communities might help. I wonder if de-nuclearising childcare may be the way to expand these approaches. Also of relevance: theorises women’s labour as underpinning of capitalism and advocates refusal to turn children into conformists as a strategy to resist capitalist reproduction, from an autonomist feminist perspective.

  2. Mrs Doubtfire April 8, 2011 at 9:36 am #

    Great article but….

    What happens if you don’t meet at a “demonstration, workshop, fundraiser, or a conscious concert”? What happens if you’re just a couple of ordinary working class kids that are enjoying each others love in a ‘traditional’ sense?
    What happens if you both know the constraints that monogamy can present but you like the throught of working towards true equality within this dynamic? Is this possible in your eyes?

    Are we meant to be fighting for the complete abolition of monogomy as a concept or do we have to accept that human relationships are extremely complex and whilst the normalisation of patriachical ideology has undoubtedly taken place, resorting to generalisations too much might lead us to overlook those instances when monogomy results in profoud and hard won happiness for both parties.

    To other things I wanted to pick up on – isn’t morality a dangerous concept to bring in to the fight for liberation?
    How do the physiological underpinnings of male and female sexuality fit in? Should a female fuck as many people as she can just to show how liberated she is? Moreover if she goes down this path and it doesn’t feel quite right is that just a hangover from social conditioning or is there some deeper internal conflicts that may come in to play?

    • sistaresista May 30, 2011 at 8:57 pm #

      Dear Mrs. Doubtfire,

      We are glad you liked the article and apologise for the delayed reply. It appears that your first question about not meeting at an activist-specific event is somewhat rhetorical, and that your more pressing inquiry is in regards to the participation of non-activist-identified people in revolutionary loving relationships. Yet belonging to the working class and being an activist are nowhere near mutually exclusive, as the two questions in succession imply. In fact, we have found that having a working-class background actually facilitates a revolutionary worldview, as those who are or have been working-class or otherwise socially marginalised have an intimate knowledge of the ways in which a hierarchical capitalist society enacts oppressive forces on its most vulnerable members.

      Also, if you are, as you say, “enjoying each other’s love in a ‘traditional’ sense,” then you are not engaging in revolutionary practice, because the “traditional” sense is by definition patriarchal, heterosexist, and therefore hierarchical, and we highly doubt that the disempowered party would be able to “enjoy” a relationship based on these norms. As a result of the normalised power imbalances that underpin the societies in which we exist, if your relationship was established and allowed to continue in this “traditional” manner, it is almost certain that the power dynamic between you is imbalanced, and that this imbalance will or has already become a pattern that is ever more difficult to unlearn over time.

      To address the inequalities that exist between you and your partner in the hope that they may eventually be eradicated, we recommend that you both read, discuss, reflect on, and work to implement “The Basics” as soon as possible. Make a commitment to review the guidelines often, especially in cases of strong disagreement. Keep being honest and listening to each other with love. Do not be discouraged if you find this practice of unlearning difficult or emotionally draining – this is to be expected when trying to undo a lifetime of conditioning. We assure you that the end results will be worth it.

      For answers to the other questions you pose, please refer periodically to the FAQ, as we will be including them there as we are able to address them. Thank you.

  3. kay April 8, 2011 at 11:45 am #

    This is great – very thoughtful. A couple of things that struck me though – firstly (and you may well be aware of this anyway), the word ‘slut’ is being reclaimed as a way of saying you’re a woman proud, instead of ashamed, of her sexuality. Of course, not everyone is comfortable with this reclamation, especially as this and similar words are still so often used in derogatory ways. I guess what I mean is that so many of these ‘slut-shaming’ words at a basic level mean ‘a woman who knows/enjoys her own sexuality’, which is coded in a very negative way in our majority culture, but it also means that some people feel comfortable reclaiming those words. (For me personally, I wouldn’t feel comfortable using those words to describe myself, or others, but I respect that some use them in a reclamatory way.)

    I’d also posit that monogamy is not inherently oppressive; it’s my opinion that it can have a place in a revolutionary life. Although well-negotiated open and poly relationships are awesome, some people may, through their lives or just at some points in their lives, only feel comfortable in monogamous relationships. It’s my view that as long as this is an active decision, not just a default, it is as valid a relationship as a non-monogamous one.
    Of course, it can be hard to say whether, when one follows a pattern normalised by our culture, one is truly choosing it for oneself (I guess we have all experienced something like this at some point), but people are so diverse, and have such diverse needs and wants that I personally would not judge a negotiated monogamy agreement to be something inherently oppressive and non-radical.

    I fear I’m coming across as a cheerleader for traditional monogamy here, which I’m not – I just think it is one valid option among many.

    I might add more when I’m feeling a bit more coherent.

    • kay April 8, 2011 at 11:46 am #

      Hmm, the last bit there should say ‘…I just think that monogamy is one valid relationship option among many.’.

      • sistaresista May 30, 2011 at 9:40 pm #

        As do we. Thank you for your comments; we have addressed them in the FAQ.

  4. Tabou April 26, 2011 at 8:42 am #

    I am very pleased to see some conscious sistas taking up the difficult task of creating such a guide for the mis-guided revolutionary lovers out there.

    As open-minded as I am, I have always struggled with the more open relationship types. I have tried having open relationships, friends with bennies, that sort of thing with some momentary positive experiences to speak of. So, I advocate for being open to such relationships…in the most conscious of ways of course.

    The one snag I seem to get caught up on is that these relationships only go so deep for me. If it’s just sex, that’s great. If we kick it now and then and cuddle a bit, cool beans. But I’m always hungry for something deeper, more spiritual, multi-dimensional. An intensity I’ve only experienced in monogamous relationships probably because my partner and I were not so preoccupied managing/seeking multiple other relationships. When I’m single and free to mingle, I miss this level of connection. It’s an intensity I don’t fully experience with friends or casual lovers. An intimacy that allows them to know me and me to know them in ways only my mother could…and then some. For me, this marks the difference between relationship and companionship. Relationships are meant to be defined and designed in infinite ways, while a companion, when you meet them, is undeniably THE ONE (or one of many).

    In this case, I am also an advocate for serial monogamy. It is difficult for one such as my self to divide my rawest form of loving among more than one. This focused loving, when principled upon all those core values of healthy relationships you’ve outlined above, can transcend the scars of possessiveness and jealousy that Western tradition has left upon it.

    So, what do you say of the radical lover who is not naturally drawn to multiple relationships?

    • sistaresista May 30, 2011 at 9:39 pm #

      “This focused loving, when principled upon all those core values of healthy relationships you’ve outlined above, can transcend the scars of possessiveness and jealousy that Western tradition has left upon it.”

      Agreed! Thank you for your comments, Tabou. We have addressed your question in the FAQ. Our overall stance is that revolutionary monogamy is not impossible, and we can definitely see the rewards being as fruitful as you’ve described — but like the revolution, those involved must want it enough to be willing to work for it. May revolutionary monogamy become a beautiful lifelong struggle🙂

  5. Mikeya H. April 29, 2011 at 11:39 pm #

    What if the person is Asexual? How do they fit within this whole anylisis?

    • sistaresista June 7, 2011 at 3:02 pm #

      Hi Mikeya, sorry for the delay. We are working on the answer to your question and will add it to the FAQ asap.

  6. b June 6, 2011 at 6:09 pm #

    i have a bunch of issues with the shady ways abusive older men utilized “sex-positive” rhetoric towards me…
    posted more about it here (esp the last paragraph):

    • sistaresista June 7, 2011 at 10:22 am #

      Thanks for your comment. We definitely see that abusive men can and do utilise sex-positive rhetoric to serve their own illicit ends, and sympathise with you in your experiences. The glaring absence of a critical view regarding social power dynamics is our biggest qualm with the sex-positive/kinky community. We appreciate you sharing your thoughts.

      • b June 7, 2011 at 2:03 pm #

        i absolutely loathe this kind of morally superior poly argument. so…monogamous people are capitalistic, entitled and adhering to outdated patriarchal norms, but poly people are positive and free of jealousy (no word on the conceitedness and performativity of “players” who love to impress others about how desirable they are in the age when the concept of “sexiness” is a major consumerism/ad culture cornerstone). im so triggered by sex pos rhetoric bc of the ways asshole men wield it to justify dirtbag behavior. like i’m supposed to be happy for them (“compersion”) when they sound like creeps. quite frankly, i think this kind of crap is a design feature and not a bug. there is something inherently shallow and fucked up with this sort of rhetoric that i see being used in the u.s. and in upper-class circles in my parents’ home country.

      • sistaresista June 7, 2011 at 2:43 pm #

        We are in no way making the argument that polyamory is somehow morally superior to monogamy, and it’s unfortunate that this is how you seem to be reading this piece. We appreciate that you bring up additional critiques of polyamory that we have not addressed here. Your critiques feel completely valid and we are inclined to agree that rhetoric of this sort may often be a coverup for inherently selfish and self-serving, potentially abusive behaviour. However, that is not the case with this article, and any lack of critique of the poly lifestyle can be attributed to a lack of experience with it — currently, only one of us is currently practicing polyamory, has only a year of experience behind her and has not yet engaged with any polyamorous partners, male or female.

        It seems that your anger is directed against “asshole men.” We are fully in agreement with you. These same asshole men have caused innumerable problems from which society is still suffering, ranging from the development and implementation of patriarchy itself to the prison industrial complex to the global war machine to the design of relationship norms that enable men to feel entitled to female sexual partners and female bodies in general. The above RLG does contain a note that whatever the basis, mono or poly, relationships today do exist in a patriarchal and oppressive context that we must resist together.

        “Yet the models of polyamory and open relationships, like monogamy, still currently exist in a sexist, patriarchal context. Because of this, they can be easily co-opted to give straight men further license to sleep with as many women as possible. This type of appropriation is neither condoned nor promoted in these non-traditional lifestyles, of which honesty, openness, commitment and trust are major components.”

        As mentioned before, a lack of experience with poly partners or a poly community may be the basis of our assertion that this type of behaviour is not promoted in non-traditional relationship communities. We may unfortunately have the wrong impression and be overidealising the nature of polyamory in practice. Your critique gives us valuable insight into potential shortcomings of our discussion on the subject, so thank you.

  7. b June 7, 2011 at 2:05 pm #

    it’s also time to step it up beyond trite, opaque rhetoric around “revolution” and “liberation”. i’m so cynical at this point with organizer/queer circles.

    • sistaresista June 7, 2011 at 2:47 pm #

      Again, fully agree that rhetoric around “revolution” and “liberation” is meaningless when not backed up by action. This is precisely the reason we have created this document, so that activists who preach revolution but don’t implement it in their day-to-day lives and relationships have both 1) a reminder that they need to check themselves first, and 2) a thoughtfully crafted document that gives practical steps for how to open communication channels, reduce inequality in power dynamics and treat their partners with genuine love and respect.

      We don’t believe that the strategies outlined here are opaque. Although some of the introductory text may seem so, it is simply intended to be a lighthearted entry point for some seriously challenging guidelines to self-critique and emotional work with the intention of effecting lasting change.

  8. Violet08 February 14, 2012 at 4:28 am #

    Hey Sistas of Resistance. Just wanted to say props for your article on free loving, and breaking down assumed heterosexist dynamics. In Spanish wife is esposa and handcuffs are esposas. It’s related to Latin, and promises, and bonds, but I do trip on that, because I think that often when love isn’t revolutionary, or just plain all around goodness, with no trips involved, it can become about ownership in some way. I own you. You’re mine. Etc.

    I’ve tripped on this subject a lot with my peers, about free love in general. During colonialism (that has not stopped) in PR (where some of my ancestresses are from), many folks were pressured into marriage, because if a woman was walking down the street with her man (but not husband), let’s say to see a movie or something sweet, she could be thrown in jail for being a prostitute. And many were. So how has all of this affected my own conceptions of real love? One of my fave proponents of free love was Louisa Capetillo. I think for her free love meant love that was honest, respectful and genuine, a love free of possession and double sided expectations. When she was writing, there was and still is hella machismo|sexism in the Caribbean. Men stepped out, while women were expected to stay in.

    So as my peers and I were discussing Louisa, a sister|friend of mine said something that has stayed with me: some folks need monogamy to feel safe. And she’s right. Many survivors of sexual abuse find that it feels safer to be monogamous. (Although yeah, it’ s cool digs if someone feels the opposite.) Further reflection, and I realized that if I was going to do the free loving thang, that I would either need a really good therapist (who doesn’t) or strong drugs, followed by rehab. Realistically, I just wasn’t in a place where I could intimately share my body with more than one person. On the real, I think it is possible to share yourself on a super intimate level with someone, and not have it be a monogamous relationship, but I do think that when you are speaking about survivors, a lot of support needs to be in place. (And yeah, I do think that could also be said for survivors who are in monogamous relationships.)

    Flash forward, and I’m a mama now. There are families who function in poly or open love situations, but I’m not one of them. For myself, nursing my daughter and then trying to share my sacred space with more than one person feels overwhelming to me. Right now, I just want one really awesome person to share my intimate spaces with me. BUT I do think that like y’all said, the concepts of revolutionary love, or free love, or radical love can still be applied to that one special person. And I think it’s possible to agree that during the time you’re sharing your bodies with each other, that you are choosing to do that thang only with each other, but it doesn’t mean you are glued to each other. You acknowledge other folks and friends are important to maintaining a healthy love- life balance. Like: we’re not married, but we are sex-wise just getting into this really deep with each other. Or maybe we are married, but not in the traditional way, baby.

    However, as time goes on, sometimes that more open aspect of exploration and free love does sound appealing, it’s just gotta be hella deep for me to get into it. And at this time in my life, I do think there is something really sexy about intimacy shared between two people. Intimacy can even be just touching hands. It’s really individual as to whose hands you’re holding, no regrets style: monogamous, or open. I give props to whicheva Sista is exploring that right now. And love.

    Kinda in response to that first reply by Andy: I do think you’re right that little minds develop their ideas of love and family based on their first years, and so raising them in a world of non-violence and unconditional love is super important. I think this begins within the womb, with a birth that is respectful and loving, ideally with a midwife, in your own home. I have recently been thumbing through the Discipline Book written by William and Martha Sears, and while I have not read all of it, I do like how they break down that spanking, hand-slapping, etc is just not okay. Can we all just imagine how beautiful it would be to be raised up in a world that was non-violent beginning with the family itself? It’s basically just about treating our children as we want to be treated. Respecting them and listening to them, like we desire to be respected and listened to. So, the notes y’all have made about honesty and compassion relate to our children, and our community in a larger way.

    I think dating in general when you have children is complicated, and probably the best way to go about it, is just to keep it really mellow around our little ones, to create an environment for them that is loving and magical, and reflect to them a diverse world. Keep it simple. I read my little one books about alternative families, two moms, single moms, etc. Two dad penguins (Based on a true story, no joke!). I want her to sense that her own world is reflected around her, even though I have to actively seek that out, by looking for alternatives. Sometimes when I’m reading a book to her and the family is hetero, I’ll play it out like there’s the mom, her brother, and his boyfriend, or some such interesting combo just to mix it up a little. So that when she’s all grown up, and thinking about dating, hopefully she won’t have as many barriers to break through.

    All this to say, I think your article is dope, and it gave me a lot to think about, reconsider, and shuffle (just in time for Valentine’s day). When I really meditate on all of it, I think most importantly it’s about recognizing that our bodies are sacred, and really loving ourselves first in a deeply holistic way, where we let go of shame and embrace ourselves honestly. Then I think we can begin to love someone else really well even if that means just for a night, a few months, or a lifetime.

    Props and Love

    One more note for the Fam section: can we stop reading our daughters books on princesses who are saved by princes? That is a super brainwashing heterosexist model, and I think I am still waiting for my prince(ss) charming, because of that. I did however recently read a book about a prince whose mother told him he needed to get married, and as they were receiving different princesses, he fell in love with a prince who was accompanying his sister to the palace! The two princes lived happily eva after, and while in some ways this is still conditioning us to believe in the monogamous happy eva after model, I somehow was pleasantly surprised that it was two princes!

    • Sista Resista February 19, 2012 at 11:33 pm #

      Thanks for your thoughtful and insightful comments. We appreciate your perspective and your input on the Fam section🙂

  9. Rachel Medina October 24, 2012 at 11:15 am #

    My mom had always taught me to believe and trust my heart, your heart won’t lie, or “miss lead” you as my man would say. But he has that ability to brain wash me and second guess my heart. Being that I love him so much,I still run right back to his arms. I need to catch him in order to except it. Untill then, Im just gonna stay in deniel and making excuse for him to others.

    • Sista Resista December 24, 2012 at 3:12 am #


      Sounds like you are aware of what is happening, his brainwashing and your denial. This is an important first step. We hope you are soon ready to take the next step, and that is the realization that you are better off without him than with someone you love but who doesn’t love you back. You have already “caught him” plenty of times — that’s why you are able to say what you have said. What further evidence do you need? In this case, we would have to say, your mother was right.

      Heed your truth,


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