9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN23 Sexuality

2009-09-03 15:30:00 2009-09-03 17:00:00 Thursday, 3 September 15:30 - 17:00 Sexuality, the Family and Intimate Life Building I, 1E8

Polyamory as a possibility of feminine empowerment

Polyamory has been gaining ground in several western countries but still remains largely under-publicized. Even so, it seems to indicate an on-going and historically contextualized trend that reminisces of the American Sexual Revolution of the 60s and 70s.
The term Polyamory is generally defined as "the desire, practice, or acceptance of having more than one loving, intimate relationship at a time with the full knowledge and consent of everyone involved" according to Wikipedia (2009). Besides that "essential" terminology, Polyamory shows several differences, varying across different cultural contexts and periods of time.
Based in these variances, we present several definitions of polyamory as a starting point of this paper and then move on to draw on an ethnographic study conducted in the USA by Elisabeth Sheff, characterizing one large polyamorous group and describing its functioning regarding gender dynamics.
Then, our objective is to indicate how polyamory comes in line with several contemporary changes in the meaning and dynamics of gender and gender studies by crossing references from Giddens, Beck & Beck-Gernsheim, Kaufmann and Foucault.
This analysis attempts to conclude how polyamory can be framed as a feminist stance, taking advantage of erotic plasticity (Baumeister, 2000) and Giddens' plastic sexuality as an element of empowerment to women and add some insight into the Psychology field by looking at the high levels of female bisexuality amongst polyamorists, also reported by Sheff's studies.