Statement on PolyDay cancellation
On toxic behavior in the polyamory community
Many of you who read me regularly know that my abusive ex has been engaged in a long-running social media and legal campaign aimed at trying to claim sole ownership of the copyrights of books we wrote together, claim the trademark I started using six years before we met, and take my Web domain.
This toxic behavior is now spilling out across people completely uninvolved with me or with her.
There’s a polyamory conference in London. It’s called PolyDay, it was founded in 2004, it’s non-profit, and it became one of Britain’s most popular and successful poly events.
PolyDay 2020 and 2021 were canceled due to Covid. In 2021, a woman who runs a site called “PolyPages” announced that since PolyDay hadn’t hosted an event in 2020 or 2021, she was going to take it over and turn it into a for-profit venture.
The PolyDay volunteers pushed back. She declared she would do it despite their objections. They informed her that the name PolyDay and its graphics and so forth were protected by British trademark law. She renamed her for-profit event “Polyamory Day,” but advertised it online using the PolyDay hashtag.
She also started releasing videos on TikTok slandering the PolyDay volunteers, making false claims about them (including that they were racist against Polynesian people because they called their event PolyDay, even though she herself calls her site PolyPages — yes, seriously).
In these videos, this individual falsely claimed that I am involved with PolyDay (hint, I’m not), that I “sponsor” PolyDay (huh — ?), and that I profit from PolyDay (um, not only am I not involved with PolyDay, nobody profits from it, it’s a non-profit organization).
She claims to be acting in support of my abusive ex (who has accused me of abusing her, naturally). As a result, the Internet masses started a campaign of threats, harassment, bullying, and intimidation aimed at presenters who were scheduled to speak at this year’s PolyDay.
For the record:
- I’m not involved in PolyDay.
- I have nothing to do with PolyDay.
- Sending threats to speakers at a conference because you don’t like some random guy who isn’t involved in the conference makes you a bully.
As a result of repeated threats against PolyDay and its speakers, the conference organizers have chosen to cancel the conference.
The PolyDay organizers have released a statement here.
I have released a statement here.
t breaks my heart to see that this, apparently, is what the modern polyamory community has become: a community of people who thinks it’s okay to send threatening emails to people completely unconnected with me over things I’ve supposedly done they haven’t fact-checked.
I’m not quite sure how we got here. In what way is it acceptable to threaten people, many of them POC or members of other minority groups? How does doing that make someone feel righteous?
When you sit down at your computer to type a threatening email to someone you’ve never met because you’ve heard a rumor on TikTok that person might be speaking at a conference put on by other strangers who you’ve heard a rumor might be connected to someone you’ve told to think is a bad guy by a woman who hits people, perhaps it’s time to ask yourself:
Subcultures, status, and power
There are similarities between these two people. My ex is trying to take sole ownership of a copyright of a book she co-authored and a trademark and website she had nothing at all to do with. The person behind PolyPages is trying to take over a conference she has never been involved with.
Sometimes, it’s easier to gain status by taking other people’s work than by doing the work yourself.
In fact, there’s an essay about this, A Cyclic Theory Of Subcultures, that makes the argument that when any subculture reaches a certain size, it becomes easier to gain status, kudos, and power by attacking people who already have it than by doing the work to get it:
In growth-phase subculture — let’s say one that doubles in size every six months — your status is always improving. And not just because you’re growing older and more experienced, but also because your projects are paying off. Suppose there’s a new art movement of three people. One of them draws the paintings, one writes the manifesto, and one hosts the art shows Ten years later, when the movement has ten thousand people, the first person is a famous pioneering painter, the second person is a public intellectual with a best-selling book, and the third person owns a chain of galleries. […]
[Later] a talented status-hungry young person who joins the movement is likely to expect status but not get it. The frontier is closed; there’s no virgin territory to go homesteading in. The only source of status is to seize someone else’s — ie to start a fight. Sometimes these fights are object-level: the movement’s art is ugly, its intellectual arguments are false, its politics are unjust. But along with the object level disagreements, there are always accusations that accurately reflect status-famine, ones like “the leaders of this movement are insular and undemocratic” or “the elites don’t listen to criticism”. These accusations may or may not be true. But during the Growth phase, nobody makes them, even when they are true; during the Involution phase, people always make them, even when they aren’t.
I think that’s happening here.
I’ve said many times at conferences and book events it will be the people just coming into the scene now, the people who’ve grown up always knowing that polyamory was one choice among many and always having a community to turn to if they didn’t want monogamy, who will show us what the polyamory movement is really made of.
I’m profoundly disappointed by what I see.
As soon as you sit down at your computer to type threats to people you don’t know, yes. Yes, you’re the baddie.