“You like coffee! I like coffee, too! We must be soul mates and spend all of our time together!” — A wise online friend with whom I really oughta make a coffee date.
I’ve noticed among the various online perverts a certain tendency. If we’re sexual deviants, it’s not unusual to expect that to come along with a sheaf of assumptions about other similarities.
A guest column was recently scolded because someone got some queer colloquial language “wrong”. From a scientific point of view, some incorrectly-applied terms have developed other meanings through subculture usage. In the tradition of the Good Editor, I’m gonna stand up for the author here. The author was using the expressions in the technical, rather than jargon, sense and was using them absolutely correctly. I would have accepted either technical or colloquial if the meaning seemed obvious from context.
Friends, just because one is poly, or lesbian, or whatever, does not necessarily mean that everyone in the pervert community is necessarily going to agree with you on all subjects of language, politics and religion. It certainly does not mean that the person is going to be up on the minutiae of technical terminology you might you for your own relationships.
The implication was that if you’re not up on all of this, then you’re not supposed to be writing these columns.
Hell, I only learned that “beard” is an expression for a female companion of a homosexual man who does not care to make his homosexuality known about a month ago! I know the handkerchief code exists, but I’ve no idea what means what. So, you guys that think that people that aren’t up on all the jargon should just stop reading this column now. I’m constantly running across new language and new concepts.
Things that are big and obvious to you and your life might not necessarily be so to everyone’s. I cannot count the times that someone who is pagan will become poly and think that every poly person they meet is not only pagan, but their brand of pagan using exactly their terminology1.
I suppose I find it funniest because I used to run across that sort of thing from church to church as well. In-groups develop their own language, but often forget that they are often relatively small in-groups. They begin to think that their way of thinking is somehow the right way to think. In a community as diverse as the polyamory community, this can become a little problematic.
I’m not saying that language and defintion don’t matter. I’m a writer, for God’s sake! Words and their meanings matter a great deal in my line of work. But assuming that if one calls oneself polyamorous that one is necessarily going to approach things as you do or have the same attitudes isn’t going to be very productive to you in the long run.
1If you’re of the slightest mischievous frame of mind, this can become an endless source of entertainment as well.
8 thoughts on “Presumption”
A friend once described this phenomenon as “walking through the forest saying ‘Tree! Tree! Tree!'”
I agree with what you’ve written here so much that I definitely feel a kinship and bond with you from afar!
Actually, any special-interest group *does* usually have other things in common than the special interest. The mistake is in ass-u-me-ing that *all* the people in the group share the secondary traits.
Night before last, Sparkler and I went to a big jam-crowded party announced on the Poly Boston list. The mob was heavily poly — and also heavily science-geeky (math and computer jokes were rampant, and I met two radio astronomers I hadn’t known). And gothy enough to notice. And pagan. And librarian-heavy (what is it with poly and library science??). And knitter-heavy (*what* is it with poly and KNITTING??!). It seemed like Bush was universally detested, whether from the liberal end or the libertarian end.
I’m sure there were exceptions to all of these, but someone sticking their head in for the first time would have seen certain types.
The same would prolly be true at a coin-collector’s convention.
Keep up with Polyamory in the News!
Well I got into knitting after being in a mental hospital. Mebbe poly drives you crazy, and knitting is supposed to soothe the crazy.
Thing is, I have, thus far, almost nothing in common with the other people I know in the local poly-group. Thus it rather annoys me when similarity is assumed – I’m *not* pagan and while I have my geeky and goth (or more like rivethead) sides, these hardly define my existence. For my polyamorous is something about how I see relationships, not a club I joined!
As a poly person who is not bi, pagan, goth, into SCA, a gamer, OR a knitter, all I can say is, “right on!”
Please, please fix the HTML; the *entire* column and comments are a link to some other site! It makes it *very* hard to read the darn thing.
As to the column itself, yes, birds of a feather flock together but it doesn’t mean they all believe exactly the same things; it’s a common mistake. I especially see it with new people; they tend to believe everyone got to X through the same path they did and, hence, believe all the same things.
FWIW, I went back and looked at the mentioned article. And I didn’t see anything wrong with the author’s phrasing. I actually didn’t notice on the first read what the issue was.
And I am transgender. I usually notice that.