In Defense of Polyamory
Jack Herrera

13 February 2017

Carrie Ichikawa Jenkins, a philosopher at the University of British Columbia, enjoys an open relationship with her husband. In a recent profile in The Chronicle of Higher Education, Moira Weigel profiles Jenkins's experience as a person in a "polyamorous" relationship. 

Jenkins talks about what it's like to have both a husband and a serious boyfriend--she describes awkward interactions with a colleague when they met her boyfriend at her husband's birthday party, and writing her wedding vows to reflect an open relationship. But, according to Jenkins, a dominant characteristic of her relationships is actually rather banal: scheduling time to fit her partners in with work. 

"People ask, ‘Tell me about the downsides,’ " Jenkins says. "They expect the answer to be that it’s so hard jealousy-wise. But the most common answer is timing and scheduling. I’m a fairly organized person, so I don’t find it super challenging."

While the Weigel spends time covering Jenkins's personal life, the article also explores Jenkins's philosophical defense of polyamory. Jenkins perceives various misconceptions at the root of revulsion to polyamory: she thinks people are incorrect when they call the relationships less healthy, either physiologically or psychologically. She also discusses how many conflate polyamory with promiscuity: 

"There is no necessary connection between polyamory and prom­iscuity, Jenkins argues. She thinks like a logician, and to her, this is simply a confusion of concepts. She points out that a person could fall in love with two people at the same time, have only two partners her whole life, and be considered a "slut." Meanwhile, someone can sleep around while dating, or go through a string of brief, monogamous relationships, and have dozens of partners without receiving censure. Still, Jenkins recognizes that most people will struggle with her ideas."

Should we struggle with Jenkins's ideas? Are there relevant philosophical concerns when it comes to polyamory? And, while we're on the subject, is there any argument that monogamy is a moral obligation? Jenkins's personal experience provides an interesting opportunity for her--and us--to investigate the morality of relationships. 

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