Review: Professor Marston and the Wonder Women

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Last year’s surprise indie hit, Professor Marston and the Wonder Women, tells the story of the polyamorous relationship between Elizabeth Marston, Olive Byrne, and Professor William Moulton Marston, creator of the iconic comic book superhero, Wonder Woman. Directed byAngela Robinson (Charlie’s Angels, The L Word), the film was released in October 2017 where it had its world premiere at the 2017 Toronto Film Festival and was well received by audiences and critics. It currently holds a Rotten Tomatoes score of 87% with the site’s critical consensus reading, “Professor Marston & The Wonder Women winds a lasso of cinematic truth around a
fascinating fact-based tale with strong performances from its three stars.”

I was asked to review the film last year and had every intention of doing so but after grabbing one of my homegirls and seeing it in the theater, I couldn’t. I knew little about the story other than its validity and little about Wonder Woman herself, not having read any of the comics or watched the show as a child. After seeing the film, I wanted to know more; I wanted to know just how much the film got right and wrong, what was real life and what was Hollywood.

I was already minimally acquainted with the tale of Wonder Woman’s origins. Before this movie, another woman shed light on this remarkable piece of history in “The Secret History of Wonder Woman”, written by Jill Lepore in 2014. I purchased it right away…and then it sat onmy shelf and collected dust. I came home from the theater, dusted it off, and set to reading it that evening. Now that I have read the book and seen the movie, I feel I can give a more accurate review.

“Professor Marston and The Wonder Woman” as a movie is beautiful, poignant, sexy, inspiring. The cinematography is dazzling and the actor performances are endearing. Rebecca Hall, who plays Marston’s ferocious, witty, and brilliant wife Elizabeth, I found completely arresting; I would have fallen in love with her, too. Bella Heathcote as Olive Byrne was sweet and beguiling but not just an angelic pretty face; she had depth and complexity. Luke Evans’ Dr. Marston was sexy but in a way that we don’t see often reflected in male characters; he was pensive, compassionate, a man who felt deeply. The onscreen chemistry between the trio was believable, as was the various struggles they faced both personally and in their outward lives as they sought to be true to themselves and what they felt for one another but wrestled with conventionality.

Set in the late 1930’s, the rich costumes are evocative of the pin-up era yet the movie had a modern feel. And the sex scenes? Very sensual and frankly, arousing. What I enjoyed most about it is that it transported me. It reminded me of what it was like when I was in a triad and falling in love, coming together, working through our issues as a trio, raising our children together. It made me nostalgic. It made me cry. I thoroughly enjoyed the movie experience–however the movie as a historical retelling? Not so much.

One of the things that nagged me about the film is that there is no concrete evidence that Olive Byrne and Elizabeth Marsten EVER had a sexual/romantic relationship. After reading The Secret History of Wonder Woman and doing my own research, I have come to the conclusion that either Elizabeth and Olive had little to no romantic involvement with one another or that they went to great pains to conceal it. I think it is likely the former. While I believe the women shared a very close and intimate relationship (Elizabeth named her second child, a girl, after Olive) and even though they lived together for nearly forty years after the death of William Marston in 1947, I just can’t bring myself to declare definitively that the two women shared anything more than a sisterhood.

In a Forbes.com article, Rob Salkowitz interviews Christie Marston, daughter of William’s son Moulton, who claims that she can say with about 99.99% accuracy that there was no sexual relationship between her grandmother Elizabeth and Olive Byrne, lovingly referred to by her family as “Dots”. According to Christie, “The relationship between Gram [Elizabeth Marston] and Dots [Olive Byrne] is wrong; they were as sisters, not lovers.” In an interview of the film’s director Angela Robinson with Vulture’s Abraham Riesman, Robinson said “I wanted to kind of be able to explore my own interpretation of what the story was,” and admitted that while she read extensively on Marston and his work, she did not include reaching out to family members with actual knowledge of the situation in her research efforts. In statements made by Christie Marston about Robinson’s artistic decisions in creating the film, “If she wanted to ‘explore her own interpretation’ she should not have used real people’s lives to sell her story,” and, “There are many real people who deserve to have their story told who are better subjects. In fact, there was a lesbian who was part of the family and part of WW’s beginnings; had AR done any research, she could have used the Marston and Wonder Woman names honestly.”

I agree. Yes, it made for a great film watching experience but it wasn’t the truth. It opened up this whole conversation for me about respecting the rights and privacy of a person’s life story, even posthumously. I think the director told the story that she wanted to have happened, not the one that did. I also think that the decision to cast Olive and Elizabeth as lovers was about mass appeal. FMF triads, with their current trendiness, make for a more titillating story. Plus, if they had just centered Dr. Marston as the pivot point of the relationship between the two women, it would have been far too redolent of polygamy, which is frowned upon as archaic and misogynistic in modern American society. I also think that it’s interesting to note that the director is herself a lesbian.

The story of the creation of Wonder Woman and the relationship between William, Olive, and Elizabeth, without any artistic flourish, is an extraordinary one. Even in 2018, living in a set-up such as they did is seen as odd, taboo, amoral even. The fact that they were shirking the societal conventions of marriage and monogamy in the 1930’s and 40’s is revolutionary. There was no need to put any extra sauce on it. It was a savory tale on its own.

My conclusion: It’s a great film but it’s just that, a film. A stirring and beautifully told story but a story nonetheless. I encourage everyone to see it but to go into it with the knowledge that you will be watching one person’s interpretation of a true story, not a factual historical depiction. I will say, though, that I watched it three times while writing this and will probably watch it once more before the rental expires. It hits me in all the feels. As far as films are concerned, Angela Robinson did a stellar job in creating this one. I could easily find myself in each character. It’s a touching tale of polyamorous love, heartache, forgiveness, and wonder.

Review: Love’s Not Color Blind

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Love’s Not Color Blind by Kevin Patterson

THIS…..BOOK……RIGHT…HERE!!! (inserts slow clap) I’ve been waiting to read this since hearing about it last year. I thought, Finally Yesss, someone talking about the problems of race within polyamory and other alternative communities which I do belong in.

First can we just talk about the Forward by Ruby Bouie Johnson though??!!! Sis, really came through. Yup I’m about to be real black on this review. I already admire her from just hearing her speak on previous occasions within the poly community so when I read her forward it set the tone for the whole book. It fed my soul and made this atheist want to go back to my old church and do a praise dance and run a few laps around the sanctuary. That’s just how good I felt throughout this WHOLE book. Some of her quotes that got me were:

“A book about the polyamorous experience written by a black man just happened in 2017. This is a historical moment.”

“Black people have been spectators to the white experience long enough. Kevin fills a much needed gap in the literature within the poly community.”

I made a status update just 22 pages in about how this book was making me get my whole entire life, and it was. I had to nod my head to SO much in this book. So much that most people in the alternative communities don’t know about inclusion. I’ve personally experienced in the BDSM community both online and in real life. I’ve been one of the only few black women there who just so happened to have a friend (another black women who I refer to as my “sub sister”) there to support and have fun, but of course I’ve been met with the fetishization of me and my body as a black woman. Kevin speaks about this at length in his chapter on fetishization.

I’ve dogeared several pages that I wanted to talk about that really resonated with me like always being the “ambassador” of polyamory to my non-poly or mono relatives. It’s really irritating that I’m always that one, the face of polyamory so to speak. I know a few of my friends or relatives may say yeah Jai’s into that “white people shit” which he discusses in the book as well. I nearly died laughing when he said that because I’ve heard that about almost everything I like to do, but, oh well, I won’t take up too much time on that topic.

A few things that Kevin does that I absolutely love about this book is he says in the first few chapters of the book about how much privilege he has a cisgendered heterosexual male. He recognized the privilege he had right there, and that’s very important. Sadly, most non-POC can’t recognize how their racial privilege affects people. For the most part it’s a negative effect. I seriously wish I could post every single quote and thing that hit home. I just nodded my head through so much of it, like yup he gets it. He absolutely gets it. Some of the other topics he discusses are intentional communities, othering, white feminism in polyamory, and fostering inclusion in poly to name a few.

These topics definitely need to be addressed all the time, not just in polyamory and alternative communities. I don’t know how many countless discussion, journal entries and group posts that I’ve read in online forums about racism, stereotyping and fetishization. It’s a sad, sad state of affairs, but it is pretty common and of course those people who do it don’t even realize they’re doing it, and, when confronted, they make up every excuse not “to own their shit” as stated in the book. Hey, everyone can’t and won’t grow, I learned that a long time ago.

I’m going to end this review with another quote that resonated with me. “If you aren’t being actively inclusive, you are being passively exclusionary.”

Buy the book here.

Kevin’s on tour!

Review: The Polyamorists Next Door

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The Polyamorists Next Door: Inside Multiple Partner Relationships and Families by Elizabeth Sheff

In my ever growing thirst for knowledge on polyamory and non-monogamy, I came across this book while browsing Audible. I have a monthly membership, so I’m able to purchase an audiobook with a credit. When I first saw the title, I was like Yessss! They’re finally talking about polyamory within a family setting and how real people navigate it.

Here’s a slight blurb from the Goodreads website about the book. “Dr. Elisabeth Sheff examines polyamorous households and reveals their advantages, disadvantages, and the daily lives of those living in them. While polyamorous families are increasingly common, fairly little is known about them outside of their own social circles or of the occasional media sensationalism. This book provides information that will be useful for professionals with polyamorous clients, educators who wish to understand or teach about polyamory, and especially people who wish to better understand polyamory themselves or explain it to their potential partners, adult children, or in-laws.”

After listening to it, here are my thoughts on the book:
This book came about from 15 years of research in the poly community by the author. For those who continually say, “What about the kids?” when it comes to poly people, Elisabeth gave those real life questions important answers. I felt like her research was groundbreaking in the sense that very few books focus on poly households and the day-to-day lives of those families. I really liked that the author included LGBTQ people and their families in her research as well. One thing I was disappointed with is that there was virtually no representation of poly people of color, which I brought up to a friend who’s doing research on poly people of color. He stated, and I agree, that the poly community is divided along the color lines. Which I feel is very sad. All in all I’m happy that I read this book.

I personally don’t have any small children so this issue doesn’t affect or bother me but it’s important because of my other partners have children and this research and discussion is much needed.

Read a Q&A with the author.

Dear Unicorn Hunters

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Dear Unicorn Hunter(s),

We don’t hate you. Honestly many of us are looking for the same or  similar result. I would take it a step further and suggest a lot of the ones rolling their eyes, right now at your, “We looking for our Queen” introductory post, have posted in a similar vein. Busted through the doors of the PolyWorld with the announcement that they were a happy healthy good looking couple looking for “Our Queen.”

If they were tactful, maybe they had the wife post it. She’s looking for a “Bff, Sister-wife, Soulmate for us to share.”

You know what? That’s dope.

When you consider the conservative traditions of Black Folk and romance, that is nothing short of a revolutionary act.

Salute, Comrade.

Now get over yourself.

Lucky enough for you, many a Beavis and Butthead couple made that same clumsy entrance into the Black polyamorous community before they realized that wait, this is a community. After all of those years perfecting the whole “couple that tries to pick up chicks together at the bar” act, they quickly realized they had to throw the whole damn thing away.

You know why? Because they are an actually VERY attractive couple. And folks think they’re cute. In this group there is a collection of the most woke, forward thinking people around. So when you say, “We looking for our Queen?”

They got questions.

What do you mean by Queen? Can your wife date? Alone? What are your thoughts on an OPP? Kitchen table? Hierarchy? What dynamic you claiming?

Don’t get it twisted, it’s OK not to know.

I mean that’s the whole point of having a COMMUNITY. The one thing black poly people love doing more than posting pics of their amazing curl patterns and obsessing about the Black Panther premiere is talking about being black and poly. They will recommend books, site experiences, and slide into your DMs with a Youtube link and a come to Jesus moment.

We have thousands of people coming to these spaces from every corner of the globe looking for a person to add to their life, and what they receive has nothing to do with romance. It is more of blessing than many had the good sense to ask for, because while we out here, “Looking for our Queen,” the foundations of a real community are being laid.

That fellow educator on the frontlines all the way across the country that inspires your lesson plans.

That brother your wife used to date but now you call when you going through it.

That couple that you never met in person, but you live for the pictures they post of their beautiful family.

That’s what you just stepped in to.

Not just a Facebook group or a dating page. This is something that took years, and experiences to build:

Personal, financial and emotional investments.

Being part of a community means you don’t have to make every mistake yourself, although we will give that first one. We silently smile to one another when you post that sexy pic of the two of you laying in the bed doing your best Jigga and Bey.

But after that, please know that have you finally have a group of people to talk shop with when it comes to being non-monogamous. People who won’t classify you as a creep. Some you won’t connect with. Others you feel like you have known them forever.

One way or the other, chances are you will make connections here,  but it can’t be the same as rifling through the discount bin in the back of Burlington.

Take a look around. Get to know the people. The language. Make connections that aren’t transactional. Make it out to a few events.

What you will find is an expanded view of what ‘Many Loves’ means and who knows, you might just run into your Queen.

Happy Hunting.

Review: The Game Changer

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The Game Changer: A Memoir of Disruptive Love by Franklin Veaux

“There is no yardstick for measuring love; nevermind that the heart doesn’t follow rules.”

This quote caught me off guard, and, once I truly understood it, it resonated with me. The author, Franklin Veaux, is the grandfather of modern polyamory in my opinion. His memoir highlighted all his struggles with navigating non-monogamous relationships when there was no such thing. He made errors that I’m grateful for, sad to say. Those errors made a lesson on how to treat your partners ethically and with compassion while not losing who you were ultimately.

His wife Celeste,was a classic example of someone who had a lot of insecurities about herself. Later on in the book, it pointed out that she never considered herself polyamorous, but monogamous, while having sexual relationships with men that she never loved. Sadly, I know someone who deals with this. While I read it, I grew angrier and angrier, because this scenario is what someone I care about is experiencing.

I really would like to one day speak to Mr. Veaux and thank him for his contributions. Thank him for breaking down barriers and societal norms. Anyone who challenges mainstream society and monogamy is my hero.
I’d suggest this book to any poly newbie looking to gain perspective on a more personal level than some of the other nonfiction books on polyamory. While More than Two and The Ethical Slut are great reads for those that are just coming into non-monogamy, The Game Changer is for those of us that have made mistakes and want to know how real people fixed them, while unlearning all the toxic things that monogamy has taught us to be.

Buy the book from our shop.

BDSM and Polyamory

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Jai is back with her story of how BDSM and polyamory intersect. If you missed her first article, check out BDSM 101.

I was introduced to both lifestyles relatively at the same time within my first Dominant/submissive relationship. My Sir and I talked a great amount about life and relationships in general. The topic of polyamory came up. He asked me did I know what it was and how did I feel about it? I’m a very open-minded person and I had read about it prior to meeting him so I told him how I felt about the subject. That was the end of the conversation until months later when he told me that he had another sub and we would all be meeting and spending time together. The only thing he told me is “Don’t be jealous”. I don’t want any jealousy from you. That was the first time I even thought about the possibility of me being jealous of another woman.

Polyamory and BDSM–or D/s and M/s lifestyles–have several similarities, but the only difference is that there’s a power exchange aspect to these relationships. People who are in Dominant/submissive or Master/slave relationships maybe poly but then again there are those who seek monogamy within their dynamics as well.

One similarity is that most D/s poly relationships can be hierarchical. Like any poly relationship, people who are into BDSM can or single. Also, a common misconception is that couples who are into BDSM or the lifestyle, in general, are only comprised of a Dominant and a submissive. The reality is that there are couples in the lifestyle who both identify as Dominants. I’ve personally been in poly relationships with both types of couples. I won’t delve deeper into that but please do take a look at my article on BDSM 101 if you’re confused by any of these terms. I noticed that most married couples have a hierarchical poly situation but it’s not always an OPP(one penis policy) especially if both people identify as Dominants. Both of them may have submissives as each as well as play partners.

One of my relationships was with a married couple comprised of a Daddy Dominant and his baby girl wife. I was actually invited by her to be apart of their family. Her husband, the Daddy was our Dominant. She was a baby girl ,which is under the submissive category but she also had a male slave. They had a purely non-physical, non-sexual relationship. I was her husband’s submissive and I was also in service to her under that specific hierarchy.

To explain what the term “in service” means would show how hierarchy plays a role. In service generally, means that I would also play a submissive role to her as well. That role is not always sexual as with any other relationship. Because they were married and I was coming into the relationship I was the third and therefore was beneath her in the BDSM dynamic.

Another similarity is that often times there is an OPP (one penis policy) The OPP is also rooted in the power exchange that’s within that particular relationship. Personally, I’m opposed to an OPP but once I enter into that power exchange with a Dominant, I can expect that.

The Power exchange is the true distinction. An s-type (submissive, slave, babygirl or masochist) willfully give over that power to their Dominant in exchange for guidance, protection and or leadership. While the s-type has the established responsibilities that his or her Dominant has stated that they need.

Polyamory with a female Dominant woman can look very different. While there is still a power exchange dynamic there may not be an OPP. The female dominant’s sexuality may play a role in this, and if her submissives are male or female. An example is if both the dominant and her submissive are bisexual or pansexual, they both may have other male or female partners to varying degrees and intensities.

All in all, polyamory is and can be integrated into any type of alternative lifestyle. It all amounts to loving and being open to love more than one individual.

Do you have experience with BDSM? Comment below or send us your story!

Stop Sharing Partners!

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As the second eldest of eight children, I learned at an early age the importance of sharing. After a certain amount of children, we became a unit, a flock, a group, and were treated as such.

That’s not to say our individuality was lost, but it can be quite expensive gifting and even treating a large family. Enter: group gifts. These were generalized items that we could either enjoy collectively, or pass around individually. Share.

This became second nature after some squabbles, and eventually sharing became something we wanted, and volunteered to do. But every so often we would receive a personalized gift, one in which we did not have to share as a default, but with permission.

I had several possessions which I passed along happily, keeping a watchful eye on my younger siblings as they tend to destroy all they came in contact with. But my prize possession was MINE. No human dare ask to borrow it, lest they be subjected to a fury hell hath not endured. My coveted possession was cherished and loved to destruction or loss by my own hands.

Unlike that toy or gift, my lovers aren’t mine to possess (unless we’re talking kink.) They aren’t my toys to lend out. They don’t belong to me to share. In all actuality they are sharing of themselves with me. They are free thinking, free loving, individuals, who can make their own decisions, do what they please with their bodies and love, including sharing it with others. It’s their possession, not mine. Respectfully, my body, time and love is my possession to share with whom I desire, without ‘permission’ from anyone.

This concept is what allows me to appreciate them more, not taking for granted that we will be together. I no longer feel entitled to or believe in forever, but am appreciative for every beautiful moment spent together, that we share with each other.

Polyamory is about consent, yes, but what we are consenting to is the non monogamy, not how that looks. All too often when meeting new loves we are bumping into more restrictions imposed by other parties than liberties. And isn’t liberated love essentially what Polyamory about?
Are your relationships prisons and boot camps masquerading as a good time? Trying to control every aspect of your love’s lives is like monitoring your younger siblings in hopes they don’t break what’s ‘yours’. Expecting new partners to thank you for sharing what isn’t essentially yours to share, is quite possessive and in fact screams “Monogamy conditioning!” More so than Polyamory.

This may be one of the reasons so many of those who transition or are even considered vets may have a hard time! Self work= Self worth. It begins with understanding the value of self and how we would like to be loved unrestricted like children.

When we stop looking at ourselves and our lovers through the eyes of a toy mongering 3 year old, and truly understand that they belong to themselves, and we, ourselves, we may be able to loosen the reigns a little and enjoy life and loves just a bit more.

Daddy’s girls

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Here’s another of type of posts available to our Patreon subscribers. This post contains adult content and language.

Wake up. Quietly slip out of bed. Close the door so wouldn’t wake them up. Cook breakfast. Nothing fancy. French toast, eggs, bacon and grits with juice. Makes plates. Prep bathroom so He can piss and brush teeth. Walk back in room. “Morning Sir. I cooked.” He sits up. I quickly kneel and slip on His slippers. We walk to bathroom. I stand and wait patiently. He walks into living room. I wait for Him to get comfortable. I pass Him the remote then quickly grab his food and juice. Wait patiently as He finds what He wants to watch and take His first bite of food. “Is it ok, Sir?” “Yes, baby. It’s fine. Go handle your business”. I quickly walk back to bathroom and flush toilet and prep toothbrush. Then go back to the room. Such a beautiful sight to see. I walk over to bed and kiss her on her forehead. She wakes up. “Morning beautiful. I’ve cooked breakfast. Daddy has been served. Your toothbrush is prepped and your plate is waiting on you.” She smiles and sits up in the bed. Grabs my hand as I begin to walk away. I turn around. She gets up and hugs me and kisses my neck. I blush. “You’re so sweet. Since you cooked breakfast, I’ll cook lunch and we can do dinner together.” My heart smiles. “Sounds perfect.” I say trying to tone down my excitement. She goes and brushes her teeth. I grab my plate and go sit at Daddy’s feet and eat. She comes in and sits down next to Daddy to eat. Daddy finishes before everyone. I pause eating to take His plate to the kitchen then return to His feet. “Finish eating. I’m going to get my clothes out. By time I’m done you should be done eating and ready to wash me.” “Yes Sir.” Washing Him gives me life. I finish eating and quickly put dish up and hurry to the bathroom to prep to wash Daddy. Sister wife finishes eating and begins to wash dishes. Daddy walks past me and goes into kitchen to kiss sister wife. My heart races. The very sight of them together makes my heart smile. She winks at me and Daddy walks back towards me and drops His towel.

What happens next? If you’re a Patreon subscriber you’ll get the password to the rest of the story!