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[P]
Salon confronts polyamory in geek community

By maynard in News
Fri May 26, 2000 at 08:59:43 AM EST
Tags: Culture (all tags)
Culture

Today's front page story at Salon Magazine is an essay by Annalee Newitz regarding the relative popularity of polyamorous relationships among the geek community. While I choose a more traditional monogomous lifestyle, I've known many hackers who also choose to live non-traditional sexual lifestyles.

Frankly, they seem the happier for it. :-)


Here are some choice quotes:
"Coders suffer an unfortunate reputation for living disembodied, asexual lives; they are maligned for being passionate only about their computers and often deemed incapable of non-virtual lust. But the stereotype doesn't hold true -- the geeks I know are getting some, and not infrequently with utter disregard for conventional social mores."
[...]
"When programmers see that software production is dramatically improved in a shared, non-competitive, free environment, wouldn't it be natural for them to apply what they've learned from coding to what they practice in their everyday lives -- including their sex lives? And the logical extension of free and open-source software in the realm of sex would certainly include publicly shared sex at a sex party, for instance, alternative ways of building relationships (such as queer sexuality) and non-monogamy (or, to put it another way, non-proprietary sexual affection)."
Non proprietary??? Richard Stallman is interviewed and a quote of Eric Raymond's non-traditional sexual views is presented from the New Hacker's Dictionary:
"Stallman says he has never had a monogamous sexual relationship, and he's also observed that programmers tend to favor polyamorous or non-monogamous relationships more than people in other jobs. "It's about being able to question conventional wisdom," he asserts."
There's plenty more to read than the few quotes I've selected.

Some may find the correlation between hacking and perverted sex either strange or simply offensive, and I recognize that some would consider this article derogatory to the free software community as a whole. They might think it presents unwelcome fodder for the biased "professional" tech press to plunder; sort of like when Eric Raymond wore that Jedi Knight uniform to Windows Refund day. Or think the intersection os hacking and sex is simply unprofessional, maybe thinking "Do we really want the world to think we like weird sex when we're trying to get them interested in using our software?" But this article is truth. I know many geeks in the Cambridge, MA area who fit this description. However, I know many who also intersect in the pagan community, many of whom may not be geeks but still practice polyamory. These are some amazing and wonderful people -- folks I strongly respect.

I'm curious to see how this will run on Kuro5hin... there are a bunch of conservative geeks out there too who might be really offended by this article. Even so, I think it's good discussion material....

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Salon confronts polyamory in geek community | 74 comments (74 topical, editorial, 0 hidden)
Hail Eris! Hail Discordia!... (1.00 / 1) (#10)
by pacc on Fri May 26, 2000 at 02:22:15 AM EST

pacc voted 1 on this story.

Hail Eris! Hail Discordia!

your point being? (none / 0) (#58)
by sayke on Sun May 28, 2000 at 01:52:54 PM EST

i consider myself a discordian (in that i think the only way to spell jesus' real name is with an "f", 5 "g"s, and the number 23), and i realize that we can, by doing things that seem to have no reason, leave people who ask few questions no choice but to ask questions... (i take this to be useful, aka a Good Thing) but wtf. do you not realize that when beauty becomes monolithic it stops being beautiful? complex systems never collapse from undermanagement, man, and the art of weaving conspiracies, like weaving code, is all about surgical elegance. this applies even (rather, especially) to the systematic creation of spaghettii fortan and mass panic. let your lies be poetry, and, like dogen shaping a stream by throwing a pebble, realize that coalescent turbulence is a most effective tool. remember, governments are anarchy's way of making more anarchy. and, of course, it isn't a war on drugs, its a war on personal freedom, and i'd like you to keep that in mind at all times. thank you.
sayke, v2.3.1 /* i am the middle finger of the invisible hand */
[ Parent ]
Geek sex. Always a good topic of co... (2.50 / 2) (#7)
by h2odragon on Fri May 26, 2000 at 02:24:30 AM EST

h2odragon voted 1 on this story.

Geek sex. Always a good topic of conversation. I've got only the highest regards for RMS, but I've met the man: I'm kinda suprised to hear he's had any sexual relationships, of whatever flavor... (Yeah, yeah, I'm not one to throw stones etc. is joke.)

Re: Geek sex. Always a good topic of co... (3.00 / 1) (#48)
by Anonymous Hero on Sat May 27, 2000 at 09:52:07 AM EST

RMS had a much maligned - and almost public - relationship with the notorious Usenet kook Doctress Neutopia. Details available on http://kalex.engin.umich.edu/gnutopia/

[ Parent ]
schweet.... (1.00 / 2) (#9)
by guppie on Fri May 26, 2000 at 02:26:25 AM EST

guppie voted 1 on this story.

schweet.

What? The land of the free? Whoever told you that is your enemy.
-Zack de la Rocha

Programming requires hubris. Chall... (4.00 / 2) (#5)
by bobsquatch on Fri May 26, 2000 at 02:27:58 AM EST

bobsquatch voted 1 on this story.

Programming requires hubris. Challenging widely-held social mores also requires hubris. Hey, whaddaya know, some folks with a lot of hubris do both! Who'da thunk?

While I think this article states the obvious, it's sadly necessary to state the obvious in the face of false stereotype.

Re: Programming requires hubris. Chall... (3.00 / 1) (#15)
by Alhazred on Fri May 26, 2000 at 09:51:40 AM EST

I think thats a very perceptive observation actually.
That is not dead which may eternal lie And with strange aeons death itself may die.
[ Parent ]
Generalizations are bad. 'nuff said... (4.00 / 1) (#11)
by jmcneill on Fri May 26, 2000 at 05:10:20 AM EST

jmcneill voted 1 on this story.

Generalizations are bad. 'nuff said.
``Of course it runs NetBSD.''

Re: Generalizations are bad. 'nuff said... (4.00 / 1) (#40)
by Anonymous Hero on Sat May 27, 2000 at 02:23:10 AM EST

In General?

[ Parent ]
geeks aren't a total sub-culture. A... (4.00 / 1) (#13)
by martin on Fri May 26, 2000 at 06:01:14 AM EST

martin voted -1 on this story.

geeks aren't a total sub-culture. All the ones I know have an amazingly diverse set of interests and just seem to be a subset of the general population. ie sounds a bit like prejudgist here (find one and they must all be the same).

Re: geeks aren't a total sub-culture. A... (4.00 / 1) (#22)
by Ozymandias on Fri May 26, 2000 at 12:15:49 PM EST

That's what makes "geeks" a subculture.

Perform a little experiment:
Make a mental list of all the people you know, or know of, who have a wide variety of interests. Not just "Justin's into plants and John's into rock climbing," but a list of people like "Jenny's into rock climbing, plants, cooking, sailing, and Quake." Make it, oh, just to be completely arbitrary, at least three serious interests, regardless of what they are. (Serious in the sense that they spend a fair amount of their free time with it, no serious in the sense of molecular biology vs. Jello Sculpture)

How many of the people on that list are geeks? On my list, it's about 9 out of 10.

That doesn't mean those people all like the same things, or even like each other. They still have that feature in common - they're all very broad in the scope of their interests.
- Ozymandias
[ Parent ]

Re: geeks aren't a total sub-culture. A... (3.00 / 1) (#35)
by bmetzler on Fri May 26, 2000 at 11:20:04 PM EST

How many of the people on that list are geeks? On my list, it's about 9 out of 10.

It's probably be 9 outta 10 on my list too, but that has to do with the fact that 9 outta 10 people I know are geeks.

-Brent
www.bmetzler.org - it's not just a personal weblog, it's so much more.
[ Parent ]
Re: geeks aren't a total sub-culture. A... (4.00 / 1) (#39)
by Ozymandias on Sat May 27, 2000 at 02:05:30 AM EST

Then, how many of the people that AREN'T on your list are geeks? If it's a much lower number, then the same point is made. If not - strange. You'd be the first person I've heard of who DIDN'T confirm it. In true research scientist fashion, I shall proclaim your data invalid.
- Ozymandias
[ Parent ]
Well, the independent Republic of C... (3.00 / 1) (#1)
by rusty on Fri May 26, 2000 at 06:03:08 AM EST

rusty voted 1 on this story.

Well, the independent Republic of Cambridge... what would you expect? ;-)

____
Not the real rusty

Better tell my wife this... :-)... (2.00 / 1) (#2)
by hattig on Fri May 26, 2000 at 06:16:44 AM EST

hattig voted 1 on this story.

Better tell my wife this... :-)

OK, any guy who says that he is for... (4.00 / 1) (#12)
by weave on Fri May 26, 2000 at 06:59:29 AM EST

weave voted 0 on this story.

OK, any guy who says that he is for an "open" relationship, please send me the info for your girlfriend/wife/SO so I can have some too! :-)

Re: OK, any guy who says that he is for... (1.50 / 2) (#21)
by Nio Spartan on Fri May 26, 2000 at 12:05:39 PM EST

I was in an "open" relationship once -- after forgetting my girlfriend's birthday, she pulled her car to the curb and told me to start walking =(
What does courage mean? You can't program it. -Hugo Pratt
[ Parent ]
Most geeks I know don't get anythin... (2.00 / 1) (#3)
by Fish on Fri May 26, 2000 at 07:04:11 AM EST

Fish voted 1 on this story.

Most geeks I know don't get anything. But then you'd have to find some wierd girls who could put up with them.

What I wanna know is.. where's my s... (3.00 / 1) (#4)
by Pelorat on Fri May 26, 2000 at 08:10:37 AM EST

Pelorat voted 1 on this story.

What I wanna know is.. where's my share of this 'polyamorous' stuff?? I certainly haven't seen any around recently =) (note to the economist paper submission authors: this is an example of a good writeup...)

You almost come to think geeks are ... (3.60 / 5) (#8)
by farlukar on Fri May 26, 2000 at 08:14:15 AM EST

farlukar voted 1 on this story.

You almost come to think geeks are just human after all....
The article is not changing the stigma from asexual to pervert, it's presenting a more diverse image, and it's certainly nothing to be offended by.

"Just because you know other freaks in open-source doesn't mean that being into open-source makes you a pervert."
"Computer people talk about two things: code and sex,"
That's not bad. A lot of people can only talk about sex.
"Some of my female and/or queer and/or transgendered friends have felt very out of place in the Linux community,"
Perhaps it is true that Linux is more popular than sex.
______________________
$ make install not war

Salon turning Jon Katz (4.30 / 3) (#19)
by Demona on Fri May 26, 2000 at 11:16:02 AM EST

Talk about strained metaphors and desperate connections. Anything to tie one currently hot topic to one that's always on fire. It all seems so damn Freudian, and more than vaguely related to the old joke about "How do you stop thinking about an elephant?" Why don't we just be who we are? Oh, I forgot...

"If somebody feels really good about who they are, they don't feel threatened by what other people are." Dr. M. Rubenstein
Why are so many of us afraid of what other people are? (Other than the ones who we _should_ be afraid of, like criminals and the terminally ignorant.) Just because so few of us feel really good about who we are? Why does 'celebrating diversity' so often turn into chest-beating and razing the neighboring village in the name of one's own perceived superiority or one's 'chosen people's' righteousness? And why the hell can't I ever stay on topic?

Back to topic. Not everything is about hacking and Linux, but the online media knows these are hot topics. So they repeatedly attempt to tie them to topics that are never out of style, like sex. Sensationalist and mostly substance- free, even the 'enlightened', 'judgment-free' ones.

I'm no prude. But I think we should go back to the attitude that it's nobody's damn business who you sleep with as long as it's voluntary.

-dj

always a bridesmaid but never a bride

[ Parent ]

Re: Salon turning Jon Katz (none / 0) (#25)
by farlukar on Fri May 26, 2000 at 02:44:29 PM EST

I was not trying to defend the article. I just wanted to point out that although it's a tendentious piece of crap, it contains some relativating stuff and is not worth making too much of a fuss about.
I agree, it is nobody's business what X does with Y, but is that really what it's about? I see in Salon's article just a bad piece of demography.

______________________
$ make install not war

[ Parent ]
Re: Salon turning Jon Katz (none / 0) (#26)
by Demona on Fri May 26, 2000 at 03:06:09 PM EST

You didn't seem to be defending it, I just chose your post to attach my vent to since it seemed closest.

[ Parent ]
you rock... (1.00 / 2) (#6)
by bgp4 on Fri May 26, 2000 at 08:17:42 AM EST

bgp4 voted 1 on this story.

you rock
May all your salads be eaten out of black hats

Jesus Christ! (2.25 / 4) (#14)
by TheLocust on Fri May 26, 2000 at 09:25:03 AM EST

That was a WEIRD fucking article. San Fransisco sex party and Apache? Jeezus. I need to get a job in San Fran.

Where does Salon find these people? Are they like "Annalee... we need you to go to this fuck party, and when you are about to orally pleasure 3 men, change the subject to.... umm.... oh yes.. installing Apache on overseas servers... see what happens..."

you know... with all that in mind, i wonder if they will send her to rootfest... and, uh... change the meaning a little.
.......o- thelocust -o.........
ignorant people speak of people
average people speak of events
great people speak of ideas

disturbing (3.30 / 6) (#16)
by Anonymous Hero on Fri May 26, 2000 at 10:19:16 AM EST

I am sorry but I did not need to read anything about RMS's sexual practices this early in the morning (or ever for that matter) Maybe I am the disturbed one; after reading that article I have this mental image of Pappa Smurf hitting on Smurfet stuck in my head.

Yeah right (3.70 / 3) (#17)
by HiQ on Fri May 26, 2000 at 10:26:56 AM EST

"When programmers see that software production is dramatically improved in a shared, non-competitive, free environment..."

Let's be real now: non-competitive? Look at all the discussion sites and what do you see? Browser X is better than that browser Y, Linux (insert preferred flavour here) is better than Microsoft, BSD or Linux Brand X. Even when joining a free software project, people still care greatly about status. Most hackers want to be gods (in the software world), so doesn't that fall under competition?

Although many hackers are quite alike, I think that they still come in lots of different flavours; so why all the stereotyping?

Maybe a lot of hackers are scared for monogamous relations, because they tend to take up a lot of your time. Time that cannot be spend behind a computer.
How to make a sig
without having an idea
just made a HiQ

Re: Yeah right (3.00 / 1) (#38)
by Wolfkin on Sat May 27, 2000 at 01:59:22 AM EST

Maybe a lot of hackers are scared for monogamous relations, because they tend to take up a lot of your time. Time that cannot be spend behind a computer.

Actually, I've found that relationships (if serious) tend to all take about the same amount of time. Having more relationships (e.g., being poly) is actually a serious strain on available time. My wife and I both like the idea of polyamory, but we just don't have time to pursue it, preceisely because we both spend most of our time behind a computer.

I guess all I really mean to say is that polyamory does not take less time than monogamy, but more.

Wolfkin.

[ Parent ]

Salon, Polyamory, and the Zen of Subcultures (4.23 / 13) (#18)
by Caraig on Fri May 26, 2000 at 11:07:30 AM EST

This is my first time posting here, so please be merciful. =)

Salon is irritating. Let me justify this statement. Salon's articles regarding the so-called alternative lifestyles try to be one part "edgy," and one part "objective observer." They usually fail at both. There have been several articles regarding certain alternative subcultures/communities which were not objective or terribly informative. In fact, the reporters' biases show fairly clearly throughout most of the articles I've read in Salon. Now, granted, this is Salon's perogative if they choose to allow their reporters to be subjective. It's just hard for me to call it journalism if they do, and if they do then they should have an opposing viewpoint presented.

Most of us remember David Brin's somewhat famous rant against George Lucas, thinly disguised as a pop-philosophical treatise. Another article on the BDSM community was pretty obviously one reporter's five-hour experience with meeting a miniscule cross-section of that subculture. Now we get this article....

Now, this article in and of itself is very positive of both free-software advocates and polyamorous advocates. However, like other Salon articles, it makes some sweeping generalizations based off of a small cross-section. Positive or not, it's a disturbing trend in Salon. (Of course, this rant could be a sweepng generalization! You decide. =)

Did anyone notice, at the end of this article, a link to ANOTHER Salon article looking into why "geeks" aren't "getting any!"

Oh, one more thing that the reporter got wrong. Please excuse the bold, but having known for two years someone who is very adamantly polyamorous, I feel it should be emphasized:

Polyamory does NOT mean free sex!

*sigh* Many polyamorists are in fact frustrated by this lack of distinction. People automatically assume that they'll sleep with anyone and anything. This is so incredibly WRONG. "Polyamory" means, literally, "Loving many," which (as I hope we all know) does not mean copulating with everyone that comes by. It means being able to love (as a husband/wife in a more "traditional" relationship) more than one person at once. There are polyamorous fammilies, consisting of three or more persons at once, who do not have sex outside their family, just like a traditional marriage (except there's more than one husband and/or wife.)

Sorry for the length of this, but Salon does tend to raise my ire. =)

(By the way, anyone else beside me honked off at the dozen or so cookies that Salon tries to put on your computer?)

Re: Salon, Polyamory, and the Zen of Subcultures (3.50 / 2) (#20)
by decomyn on Fri May 26, 2000 at 11:25:29 AM EST

A couple of good points here, both as to the Salon article and the stereotyping of subcultures. As a participant or observer in several, I share some views with both the Salon writer and the above response. I think that just the interest in any subculture is going to move any person into a rather strange group -- regardless of the group. Once you're in one 'non-traditional' group, the folks in the 'traditional' camp are going to lump your deeply held values and beliefs together with stereotypes that are totally antithetical to yours. It's a basic human laziness. If you share a culture with me, I know what your basic drives are. If you don't, it doesn't matter if you're a gun-nut-free-software-dress-in-funny-clothes-pacifist-lesbian-food-freak-radical-fundy-athiest-fuzzy or what. You're different. <grin> With that, with the difference does come tolerance (at least more than is available in our managed society).

[ Parent ]
Re: Salon, Polyamory, and the Zen of Subcultures (3.00 / 2) (#24)
by warpeightbot on Fri May 26, 2000 at 01:48:56 PM EST

Salon, like certain Other Commentators from certain Other Sites, is simply stirring the pot, trying to get ratings. Sounds a lot like ZDNet, C|Net, or any number of other pseudojournalistic entities out there trying to masquerade an ad agency as a news organization.

[ Parent ]
Far out, deja-vu all over again! (4.00 / 1) (#41)
by Stormbringer on Sat May 27, 2000 at 03:31:14 AM EST

Reading this and other posts at this point, it struck me: Salon is intent on being the Rolling Stone of this revolution.
The Sixties never died... it just went underground and got root :)
stormr

[ Parent ]
Re: Salon, Polyamory, and the Zen of Subcultures (none / 0) (#62)
by Anonymous Hero on Mon May 29, 2000 at 02:18:22 AM EST

(By the way, anyone else beside me honked off at the dozen or so cookies that Salon tries to put on your computer?)

Why? Kuro5hin tries to set a session cookie every time you load a page. Why aren't you "honked off" at this?

Fortunately, modern browsers have the ability to selectively autoaccept or autodeny cookies from specific sites. (I recommend Lynx or Mozilla; right now I'm in Lynx, and it gives a very alien browsing experience to someone who's used to Netscape, but ultimately quite pleasing... except when you accidentally hit the "back" key...)

[ Parent ]

ugh (2.50 / 2) (#23)
by emjay on Fri May 26, 2000 at 01:37:50 PM EST

I wish I would have caught this one in voting.. this is retarded.
-------------------------
We can't stop here, this is bat country!
Missing the forest for the trees. (4.00 / 3) (#27)
by Inoshiro on Fri May 26, 2000 at 03:35:17 PM EST

Does anyone remember the studies done by prominent sexologists that show that more educated people tend to have better sex, longer lasting relationships, and stronger orgasms?

Given that, you could start to think that, yes, these programmer people might have good sex and interesting sex lives because they are (on the whole) intelligent. You could also draw the conclusion that the more intelligent university students must have some pretty wild times, and that other "fringe" groups that have a large proportion of intelligent people would also enjoy these benefits.

You could say that, but clearly our Apache/Sucking author does not need to do any research, and seems fit to draw conclusions from weird sex parties in the SF. Bay area. Phhft.



--
[ イノシロ ]
Re: Missing the forest for the trees. (3.00 / 1) (#36)
by Anonymous Hero on Fri May 26, 2000 at 11:58:50 PM EST

uhh... you missed the study that states that frequency of sexual encounters decreases as a person progresses through higher education. In other words, Ph.D.'s have sex less regularly than B.S.'s and B.S.'s get less than high school dropouts.

[ Parent ]
Re: Missing the forest for the trees. (none / 0) (#50)
by Inoshiro on Sat May 27, 2000 at 10:44:34 PM EST

It's a quality/quantity thing. Remember: quality != quantity.

--
[ イノシロ ]
[ Parent ]
I thought it was kind of lame (3.00 / 1) (#28)
by deanc on Fri May 26, 2000 at 03:44:43 PM EST

The post had a tone of "Look how these new hipsters of the New Economy have taken hold of the new, cutting edge world of sex! We'll all be like them some day since they're the future! woo-hoo!"

Sure, I know plenty of "geeky" people into polygamous relationships, though it's been amusing to see many of them settle into monogamous ones or get married after they leave college.

This had all of the silly tone of an early-90s vintage article from Wired. Not to mention that I never wanted to hear about Stallman's sex life.... <shudder> So, some people who program experiment with alternative sexual practices. Surprise. Of course, I wonder if this also falls into the category of the middle class basically "taking over" the BDSM movement. These things are more socially acceptable, so you attract a less bohemian, more middle class clientele, such as the programmers.

-Dean


Re: I thought it was kind of lame (none / 0) (#64)
by entrippy on Mon May 29, 2000 at 05:04:46 AM EST

It may have all the signs of an early 90's wired article, but thats only because early wired articles had all the signs of wanting to be the sixties all over again. This sort of thing went on in the fifties. Again in the sixties. Guess what? seventies, eighties and ninetys too. I give it five years before we're named the 'swinging naughties' in an article somewhere. Because people never change, really...

[ Parent ]
Analee is not a great writer (3.30 / 3) (#29)
by Anonymous Hero on Fri May 26, 2000 at 06:30:49 PM EST

First off, for what it's worth, Analee Newitz is not normally a writer for Salon. This is apparently a guest column. She regularly writes for the Metro (a Silicon Valley weekly modeled after the Village Voice and the Bay Guardian, although not nearly as good). Her column is entitled &amp;quot;Work: Silicon Valley Employment Weekly&amp;quot;, although this is somewhat of a misnomer, since her column rarely contains anything about work or employment. Instead, it is like this story in Salon. She goes on about what books she's read lately or what parties she's been to. In order to keep up the appearance of doing journalism, she tries to draw bizarre connections between things that really have very little to do with each other. In other words, she's a fluff writer.

Also, I'll bet that this "sex party" that she mentioned has about a 10 to 1 ratio of males to females, so she probably had a good time, but any men going to this party had to double or even triple up (as was the case with her, apparently) in order to get any action with a female. As usual, women can have sex whenever they want, and men have to either pay or make other sacrifices in order to get some.

She does make one interesting point that I agree with, however, and that is that the recent article by Paulina Borsook (author of "Cyberselfish: A critical romp through the terribly libertarian culture of high-tech") was an unfortunate bit of stereotyping. Unfortunately, Ms. Newitz's article is also an effort at stereotyping: she tries to make it sound as though the only programmers who are open-minded are the ultra-radical free-software and open-source advocates, which is bullocks.

Re: Analee is not a great writer (4.50 / 2) (#37)
by Anonymous Hero on Sat May 27, 2000 at 12:53:36 AM EST

As a Bisexual poly geek here in the valley , I'm not too sure about well Analee's generalizations actually apply.

The simplest explaination for the high number of poly geeks in this area is that it's because there are lots of geeks here.

I think the averages are higher than the general populace but still only 1/100 geeks are poly.

Also polyamory is not free love. well, in some cases it is... but in most cases people are in commited relationships with more than one person and you have to work hard to maintain them. Now, swinging.. thats something different.

Now if you want to examine a real link between alternative lifestyles and something... then you should look at D&D. While not every Bi/poly person I know is a techie almost all of them have played D&D at some point in their life..... freaky.

[ Parent ]
Pfft.... (1.00 / 1) (#47)
by Anonymous Hero on Sat May 27, 2000 at 09:15:47 AM EST

I just hate hearing about people who have more sex than I do.

(Which is pretty much why I can't watch TV.)

:-P



[ Parent ]
It's "bollocks"mate, not "bullocks& (3.00 / 2) (#51)
by Jules on Sat May 27, 2000 at 10:57:40 PM EST

..."bullocks" would be something to do with cattle. "Bollocks" are the veg that goes with your meat. Know what I mean?

[ Parent ]
Join us now and free the software (1.00 / 1) (#30)
by Anonymous Hero on Fri May 26, 2000 at 07:51:31 PM EST

Join us now, free the software, join the massive apache orgy, San Francisco, RMS, Open Source

Time and money make the difference. (3.00 / 3) (#31)
by mahlen on Fri May 26, 2000 at 07:54:46 PM EST

While there may be a higher than expected percentage of programmers in polyamoury circles (certainly true in my long-ago experience voluteering at the San Francisco Sex Information Hotline, which not surprisingly had a lot of non-traditional sexual orientations in it), I think that the connection is less to do with mindset and more to do with opportunity.

Programmers/geeks tend to have more flexible schedules and money than the population at large, and so these relationships are easier to maintain; (you think one partner is eating up your time, try three!) Also, we can afford to care a lot less about what people think about us (since we rely on talent more than schmoozing in our career), so we are also more likely to ADMIT to being polyamorous than people who care what the neighbors think. I think similar selection forces are at work with the number of transgendered geeks I met then.

However, there's little support for the notion that free source -> kink. I've known kinky hackers longer than I've heard of Eric Raymond. Sadly, a story about both GNU/Linux AND Sex would be impossible for Salon to turn down, so the lack of introspection and critical thinking is not surprising.

BTW, does anyone besides me that that this post's headline "Salon confronts polyamory in geek community" was a tad odd? "Confronts"? Was this some issue that had been burning in the back of our minds, and now finally Salon has the guts to tackle it? Minor quibble, but seemed an odd choice...

mahlen

Beware the software rot, my son!
The faults that bite, the jobs that thrash!
Beware the broken pipe, and shun
The frumious system crash!

"confronts" fits into the subject line (3.00 / 1) (#49)
by maynard on Sat May 27, 2000 at 11:19:50 AM EST

BTW, does anyone besides me that that this post's headline "Salon confronts polyamory in geek community" was a tad odd? "Confronts"? Was this some issue that had been burning in the back of our minds, and now finally Salon has the guts to tackle it? Minor quibble, but seemed an odd choice...
It fit onto the subject line. While I agree that Salon tends to hype sex to gain readership, I also think this is a perfectly reasonable discussion. Human culture in a large way revolves around our sex lives. That many technophiles I know enjoy non-traditional sex lives (including gay, multi-partner, and BDSM) suggests to me that this article is appropriate both for kuro5hin and Salon.

I knew this post would generate some controversy. But I think that in general it's been a positive post for kuro5hin. People create culture and sex is arguably our most important inate behavior. Kuro5hin's motto is "Technology and culture, from the trenches" ... this is why I posted the story.

Cheers,
--Maynard

Read The Proxies, a short crime thriller.
[ Parent ]

That's Disgusting! (3.00 / 1) (#32)
by Anonymous Hero on Fri May 26, 2000 at 07:55:27 PM EST

Is this typical of life in America?

Because the only American (and he was a geek) I ever knew claimed that whenever he was back in the States, he was having it off with 3 bi-sexual girls in frequent orgies. Not to mention other stuff.

Not that there were any girls throwing themselves over him when he was here, but I'm sure he could explain that away.

One time I went to the pub with some geeks. We got drunk. We played truth or dare. The question went 'so, how often do you m*sturbate?'

The first answer ... 'once every fortnight'. Well, we didn't believe him (who would) so we questioned him further: 'I'm trying to cut down'. There you go.

The next geek was a little better. 3 times a week. He owns too much hardware for his own good.

Then came the American (not literally, of course, thank God). He said it was something like 5 times a day.

The only other thing I can remember about that time in the pub was telling YAG (yet another geek) that he was nice-looking and that he'd find a girl one day.

Oh, to be a student again ...

p.s. where do people *find* all these orgies? How does anyone have the nerve to mention it in public for the first time? [Otherwise, how do you get people in on it?] Bizarre...

p.p.s. And as for Richard Stallman ... bleurgh ... spoke to him once in the flesh, attractive: no.

where do people *find* all these orgies? (4.00 / 1) (#42)
by Anonymous Hero on Sat May 27, 2000 at 04:29:27 AM EST

Well, you can start with the contact magazines. I'm not sure what it's like where you live, but where I am ( Australia ), these are normally kept as "under the counter" publications at most newsagents.

These are normally split up into specific sections, such as "Man seeks Wonan", "Woman seeks Man", "Swingers", etc, etc.

From there, you simply start writing around to the different people who are advertising until someone takes an interest in you. That's how you get your introduction into the social goups of people with a perticular interest.

The other popular way is to cruise the singles bars/cafe's. After a while, you will become known as "one of the locals". People will start talking to you and working out what your inclinations are. If your into monogamous relationships, people will direct you to the bars where other like minded people hang out. If your into poligamy, then you'll likewise be send in the appropriate direction. Basically, it's just a question of making up your mind what you want and talking about it in a fairly laid back manner.

Last but by no means least, you can seek "profesional advice". For a relativley modest fee, your average "working girl" will be quite happy to recommend a good bar/club/whatever.

At least, that's how it seems to be. For the record, I'm normally celibate, but from time to time some of my friends will insist on dragging me away from my computer, taking me on a tour of the night spots and introducing me to some of their outragous friends. I appreciate the effort that they make on my behalf, and it's fun to occasionaly check out the steamier side of life, but I'm far too wrapped up in my own obsessions to devote much time to it.

You might be strangling my chicken, but you don't want to know what I'm doing to your hampster.



[ Parent ]

Re: where do people *find* all these orgies? (3.00 / 1) (#44)
by Anonymous Hero on Sat May 27, 2000 at 07:45:52 AM EST

What are swingers?

They were going on about 'em in this channel 4 program 'dotcomedy', where they kept sending videos of themselves (dressed up to make them look really ugly) to these Americans who were looking for swingers. One of the American swinger people sent back a photo of a naked man. That was censored for TV, btw.

So, my curiosity is stoked!

[ Parent ]

Re: where do people *find* all these orgies? (none / 0) (#74)
by Anonymous Hero on Thu Jun 01, 2000 at 01:04:35 PM EST

OK, Mr. Troll... A "swinger" is a person interested in multiple non-committed sexual relationships - usually as often as possible, sometimes just as an occasional fling. There are clubs for this. Supposedly all Frenchmen are swingers and no Germans are, but that's just a stereotype. Being a swinger does not rule out committed partnerships as well, be they pair-bonding or polyamorous groupings. --Trollsbane

[ Parent ]
That's humanity! (none / 0) (#55)
by maynard on Sun May 28, 2000 at 06:45:33 AM EST

p.s. where do people *find* all these orgies? How does anyone have the nerve to mention it in public for the first time? [Otherwise, how do you get people in on it?] Bizarre...

p.p.s. And as for Richard Stallman ... bleurgh ... spoke to him once in the flesh, attractive: no.

This is a subculture, as such it's not widely advertised to society at large. It consists of not just the geek community that I know, but of many others who share similar sexual tastes -- though almost all that I know are well educated and professionals in their respective fields. One thing I'll note is that it's not geographically limited to coastal cities like Cambridge, MA or San Francisco, but is spread throughout the United States and the rest of the world. I note a post in here from Australia, and I know of several Europeans who are involved in the scene (actually, the Europeans I've dated generally were far more sexually open than most American's; we're still a pretty puritan society here in the States).

I don't involve myself in the "swinging" scene -- which generally involves wife swapping, sex parties (orgies), and random sexual encounters -- knowing folks involved in the neopagan movement. Pagans generally accept a wide range of behavior within their communities as long as it's not overtly destructive. And sexual norms within this society simply don't fit general society's rules.

Your discussion on masturbation is irrelevant. That most people masturbate privately at points in their lives is well accepted among the sex research community: one look at Masters and Johnson should convince you of this. I refuse to accept the notion that masturbation should invoke shame, either in the reader by tying it to the alternative sex lives of some prominent geeks -- which wasn't related to the article -- or in general.

Finally, WRT Richard Stallman's relative sexual attractiveness: one presupposition of this statement is that because you find him unattractive therefore he shouldn't (or doesn't) "get any." I've met rms on many occasions, and while I agree he's a difficult personality, and I agree that he doesn't fit the norms of beauty as defined in the mass media, i most emphatically don't agree this says anything about his ability to find mates throughout society; especially among the alternative sex community. I don't know anything about rms's sex life -- so I can't comment with specifics. But I do think that your presumption about beauty and attractiveness being the primary motivator for sexual unions belies a common misunderstanding among those in general society: that the unattractive not only don't get sex, they don't deserve sexual gratification either! This is patently absurd. I'll also point out that I know of some amazingly attractive women and men in this community, and I know of some who would fit the definition of "ogre" among the "Baywatch" crowd -- they all get laid.

Cheers,
--Maynard

Read The Proxies, a short crime thriller.
[ Parent ]

Re: That's humanity! (none / 0) (#61)
by Anonymous Hero on Sun May 28, 2000 at 09:02:53 PM EST

Hello again!

Well, the masturbatory thing, which you weren't meant to take that seriously *was* AFAIAC relevant, as these geeks never had a girlfriend in their life, never really tried, and weren't even interested in themselves by all accounts. Sure there's no shame in masturbating, but the first guy obviously thought there was. Or he was telling the truth, which is maybe more telling.

As for Richard Stallman, your presupposition is incorrect. I just don't want to have images of Richard Stallman having polyamorous relationships planted in my brain, yer know? That's my right in life, and unfortunately I have a vivid imagination. Sorry, he's 20+ years older, bearded/hairy, overweight and with an unattractive accent [Aussie/Irish are nice accents, btw], but good luck to him and anyone who finds him attractive! I don't care, and I don't think it should be posted about on the public Internet!

Cheers.

[ Parent ]

You are one heck of a moron, AFAICS. (none / 0) (#68)
by CRConrad on Tue May 30, 2000 at 08:41:38 AM EST

Some tosspot wrote:
I just don't want to have images of Richard Stallman having polyamorous relationships planted in my brain, yer know? That's my right in life, and unfortunately I have a vivid imagination.
Then why did you follow the links?!? Both the one to the Salon story, and the one into this discussion... It's not as if they weren't clearly marked on the K5 front page, is it?

You have only yourself to blame for getting your pwecious "imagination" polluted.
I don't care, and I don't think it should be posted about on the public Internet!
Thank Ghu nobody died and made you Über-censor, then...

Now go tend to your pwecious bodily fluids, there's a good moron.



      Christian R. Conrad

I live in Finland.
[ Parent ]
Re: That's Disgusting! (none / 0) (#72)
by Anonymous Hero on Tue May 30, 2000 at 04:04:24 PM EST

Is this typical of life in America?

No, not at all. In fact, I'm fond of reminding people that the US was not founded on freedom, as is commonly believed, but rather it was founded by a group of people who wanted laws more prudish than were permitted in Britain at the time. :)

Without understanding this, American culture will never make sense. Also, realize that the article was written by a woman who lives in San Francisco, which is basically very accepting of perversion. I felt so bland when I lived there.

where do people *find* all these orgies? How does anyone have the nerve to mention it in public for the first time? [Otherwise, how do you get people in on it?] Bizarre...

Being female, I must say that I have heard about them for many a year, being first propositioned for same when I was 18 -- by someone I was not involved with. Ick. There are, from what I understand, far more willing male participants than female ones, but frankly I'm not interested in the poly scene.

And as for Richard Stallman ... bleurgh ... spoke to him once in the flesh, attractive: no.

There is a subculture of American women being groupies. ESR often comments on this, much to my annoyance (I really don't care about people's conquests or potential conquests, honest). I will also say that RMS can be quite charming. I wouldn't go so far as to say attractive though.

More to the point: I consider the article fundamentally flawed (and I told Annalee at the time) in that I don't think that open source people are, on average, any more open about poly and/or kink than society at large. The correlation seems to be more with those in the open source community who are into science fiction than with open source itself. Annalee decided only to print my "wet blanket" quote, which is fine with me. :)

_Deirdre

[ Parent ]

Re: That's Disgusting! (none / 0) (#73)
by deeny on Tue May 30, 2000 at 04:19:30 PM EST

Gah, I wasn't trying to post the above anonymously, I just hadn't logged in.

_Deirdre

[ Parent ]

Duh... (2.50 / 2) (#33)
by Anonymous Hero on Fri May 26, 2000 at 10:24:17 PM EST

It is bollocks. It's such a bollocks that I almost got offended by it. I consider myself a nerd for all intents and purposes (been programming since the age of eight) and am now married happily and so are most of my nerdy friends. Also I don't think there is much wife swapping going on between us. This article is just trying to make waves. Also it pisses me off how ESR is shown as a definitive source on geeks habits and his 'observations' are very often plain wrong genralizations that usually sound nonsensical outside of the US of A anyway....
Flipping crap overall. spare it the next time or you'll start attracting 'the slashdot community' here with articles like this one.

I concur. (none / 0) (#52)
by pwhysall on Sun May 28, 2000 at 05:33:49 AM EST

I work in a building full of geeks, and by and large they're just normal people who get a buzz out of programming computers all day. They're married, single, with children, without children, bikers, old car nuts, musicians, christians, atheists, vegans, carnivores, boring, interesting, nice, nasty. Normal people, in other words.

This article came across as "I go to sex parties, and I'm a geek, and I met another geek at a sex party, ergo there are lots of geeks who go to sex parties and have polywossname relationships".

Nah. Sorry. Don't buy it. This article struck me as an attempt to rustle up some adbanner hits.

More than that, though, I just don't give a shit about the sexual habits of other people. As long as it's safe, legal and doesn't frighten the horses, I really, really don't give a damn. You can do whatever to whoever and as long as all parties involved are happy, it's OK. I don't need it ramming down my throat like this, if you'll pardon the pun.

There's gotta be more to "geek culture" than this US-centric look-at-me-I'm-different-really-I-am shite.

Peter.
--
Peter
K5 Editors
I'm going to wager that the story keeps getting dumped because it is a steaming pile of badly formatted fool-meme.
CheeseBurgerBrown
[ Parent ]

OT: Re: Duh... (none / 0) (#54)
by Anonymous Hero on Sun May 28, 2000 at 06:01:39 AM EST

>or you'll start attracting 'the slashdot community' here with articles like this one.

Kuro5hin:Slashdot::FreeBSD:Linux

i don't quite understand why the people here feel the need to bash /. so much,
but then i've never understood why BSDies gain so much pleasure from bashing
Linux every five minutes.

I like /.
I like k5.

I like Linux and FreeBSD.

Sure, S/N has decreased as /. has increased in popularity, but the same could be said
of any sufficiently large community. There are still intelligent posters there who still make
commentary worth listening to, and browsing at +2 or +3 is a good way to block out the
bs and mediocre posts.

Are all these disparaging remarks really necessary,
or do you just need to feel l33t and 'unmainstream'?

-jlm

[ Parent ]
Re: Duh... (none / 0) (#57)
by Anonymous Hero on Sun May 28, 2000 at 01:21:01 PM EST

am now married happily and so are most of my nerdy friends. Also I don't think there is much wife swapping going on between us.
Umm, Your not sure? =)

[ Parent ]
how? (4.00 / 1) (#34)
by Akuma on Fri May 26, 2000 at 10:57:50 PM EST

I've never understood how you can have a polyamorous relationship and still get things done - I have enough problems balancing the rest of my life along with just one girl..

Word. (none / 0) (#56)
by maynard on Sun May 28, 2000 at 07:01:22 AM EST

:-)

Between my terminally ill father, career, and GF I can't imagine accepting the responsibility of a second or third sexual relationship either. But some people seem to thrive weaving these complexities through their lives. I can't imagine what their "sleep debt" must be like. Heh. --M



Read The Proxies, a short crime thriller.
[ Parent ]

Bleh... (2.00 / 1) (#43)
by Anonymous Hero on Sat May 27, 2000 at 07:33:13 AM EST

As an 18 year old virgin, this is really annoying. I can't even get ONE girl to have a RELATIONSHIP with me, much less have sex!

Re: Bleh... (3.00 / 1) (#45)
by Anonymous Hero on Sat May 27, 2000 at 07:48:55 AM EST

There's nothing wrong with being 18 and being a virgin. In fact, there's a lot *right* with it. Okay, so I'm married, and my partner was a virgin before they met me. I however wasn't, and its a shame....

You only have to worry about being a virgin when you approach 30. If you haven't found a girl by then, I suggest you start looking in other places! [no, not internet chat rooms ;-)]

[ Parent ]

Here's a tip then (none / 0) (#46)
by Anonymous Hero on Sat May 27, 2000 at 07:54:41 AM EST

Girls like it if you don't appear interested in them. I know a guy who was on the pull for years, and narry a girl spoke to him. Then, he got a girlfriend and suddenly girls were chatting him up on the street. It's true! "I like your hair", etc. Its a confidence thing on a man's part, and for the female's part, they don't like being oggled over, which men don't do when they've got a girlfriend, qed.

Anyway, relationships don't work well when you're in them for the sake of having one. The whole point is that there's more to it than that!

[ Parent ]

Also... (4.00 / 1) (#53)
by pwhysall on Sun May 28, 2000 at 05:46:23 AM EST

You have to stop trying so hard.

I just came out of a long relationship (8 years) and was just about getting used to being single again when out of sheer chivalry (no, it was, honest) I offered to walk a girl (girl? /me slaps himself, hard. She's a *woman*) home from the pub. Sure, she was very, very attractive, but I really, honestly just wanted to see her home safely. She accepted and I've been seeing her now for a month :)

I'm damn sure that if I'd gone into that situation with a hidden agenda that it wouldn't have worked out that way.

And finally, from Peter's Guide To Chicks, you have to occasionally take a risk. If you're honest and open, no woman is going to want to hurt your feelings by humiliating you in public. Unless you're acting like a dick, that is. But you have to be prepared for women to say "no" to you. How you deal with that is up to you - but you don't have to feel bad about it. Would *you* say "yes" to every single woman who propositioned you? (Hint. "Yes" is the wrong answer :)
--
Peter
K5 Editors
I'm going to wager that the story keeps getting dumped because it is a steaming pile of badly formatted fool-meme.
CheeseBurgerBrown
[ Parent ]

Re: Also... (none / 0) (#60)
by Anonymous Hero on Sun May 28, 2000 at 08:54:48 PM EST

I agree with what you say [for the record, I'm female].

I always found men who were platonic + chivalrous more attractive. It's sort of like being rescued by the knight in shining armour, every girls' dream ... er maybe not, maybe it's just me :-)

OTOH, I know a girl who goes round telling blokes that they could never turn her down for sex, although she would never be interested in them. One poor guy got really wound up when he was adamant that he never was/would be interested. It was like battle of the egos! Another poor guy is her boyfriend, he was looking embarrassed, saying "sorry, she's on heat..." and then talking about Linux, and websites.

p.s. what part of Engerlernd are you from?

[ Parent ]

Re: Also... (none / 0) (#65)
by pwhysall on Mon May 29, 2000 at 10:48:42 AM EST

I'm in the NE. Teesside.

Over the years, I've found that people who are inyerface about their sexuality are usually insecure as hell about it, and the only way they can vindicate themselves is to put other people into a position where it's impossible to say anything other than "that's, uh, great".

OTOH, I've also discovered that some of the quietest, most unassuming people have the most astounding proclivities :)

Back to the topic, though, it cuts both ways on the chivalry thing. It's *highly* unlikely that you're likely to form a lasting relationship with someone who hurls themselves bodily at you at first sight - but the sad thing is that many men do fall for this; i.e. they mistake the need of a lonely insecure woman not to be alone for the night for some kind of chemistry or attraction. And vice versa of course. The reason that I've stated this in the order I have comes from a quote from a now-forgotten comedian : "Women have sex when they want. Men have sex when they can."
--
Peter
K5 Editors
I'm going to wager that the story keeps getting dumped because it is a steaming pile of badly formatted fool-meme.
CheeseBurgerBrown
[ Parent ]

Erratum (none / 0) (#66)
by pwhysall on Mon May 29, 2000 at 10:52:07 AM EST

Substitute this:

It's *highly* unlikely that you're likely to form a lasting relationship

With this:

It's *highly* unlikely that you're going to form a lasting relationship

There. Now it actually parses :)
--
Peter
K5 Editors
I'm going to wager that the story keeps getting dumped because it is a steaming pile of badly formatted fool-meme.
CheeseBurgerBrown
[ Parent ]

Re: Bleh... (none / 0) (#71)
by OscarIommi on Tue May 30, 2000 at 10:19:21 AM EST

Ah, don't worry about it. I actually prefer coding over having sex.. Most of the time.. I have found this "nature herb", valeriana officinalis which is supposed to calm you down, but a sideeffect (maybe I'm the only one who reacts that way) seems to be that it decreases my sexual.. 'craving'. The 'thing' works just as ususal (so if I can't come up with an excuse when my wife's horny, I can still please her), but I don't have a need for it any more..

I can see how everyone thinks I'm a nut now..

[ Parent ]
OSS Geeks as sexual gods? (3.00 / 1) (#59)
by soulhuntre on Sun May 28, 2000 at 04:17:37 PM EST

This is too funny.

Is anyone paying attention to how played the geek community is getting? OpenSource really is a cult - now it will increase your sex life? C'mon :)

And the funniest part is going to be watchign the folks at slashdot eat it up.

Here is a news flash for Salon. It has nothing to do with OpenSource. Personally, I am not an OSS advocate in any strong way, I firmly believe in making a profit, thank you and I firmly believe that I own my code. I am extremely competative :)

Yet, I am in a poly relationship. The young ladies in question also happen to be firm believers in profit, in fact we spent all weekend pounding out a business plan - BTW that link is not an add, just the proper geek thing to do :)

In any case, the point is that the OSS mentality does NOT go hand in hand with alternative lifestyles. Between our friends int he poly world, and our friends in the BDSM communities it is clear there are two important factors in living an alternative live (thats living, as opposed to having a fun weekend).

  1. Money. It takes a fair amount of disposable cash to do it. The expenses and stresses add up, money can help.
  2. A flexible schedule helps tremendously.

Most programmers have both of the above.

But the idea that OSS people are now "sexual leaders" as a result of ther stand on open source is self aggrandizing propoganda, and it will be funny to see who swallows it :)



Re: OSS Geeks as sexual gods? (none / 0) (#63)
by Anonymous Hero on Mon May 29, 2000 at 04:00:25 AM EST

Said in a "Monty Python : Life of Brian" accent:

Lucky BASTARD! :)



[ Parent ]
Insane! (2.00 / 1) (#67)
by CAIMLAS on Tue May 30, 2000 at 02:26:02 AM EST

This is nothing more than sensationalism.

Of course geeks have poly relationships.

As do artists.

Doctors.

Plumbers.

School teachers.

Really now. Probably the only reason this is so openly observable is because geeks tend to commune as it is, so they can intellectualize, talk, save money, pool resources, and of course, have the frequent low ping game of UT or Half-Life: Counterstrike. It's not that it's more common, necessarily, it's just that it's more observable, and of a certain group. The plumbers, teachers, etc, probably don't have seperated groups.

American society makes me generally ill. If people will read it, someone will write it.
--

Socialism and communism better explained by a psychologist than a political theorist.

This tells us more about Salon than about geeks. (2.00 / 1) (#69)
by Anonymous Hero on Tue May 30, 2000 at 09:36:54 AM EST

While I can't attest to anything more than the geeks I know (who are pretty much avaerage in their sexual exploits), I can tell you this - Salon is obsessed with sex. Sex in all its forms, and especially anything weird, salacious, or unexpected. Salon is a strange of mix tabloid sensationalism and good writing. Despite their glossy look and relatively high profile, I wouldn't accept any of their proclamations re: sex as gospel. Anywho. Not that I'd mind if the OSS community _was_ like that. :-)

Meaningless correlation (none / 0) (#75)
by Digambaranath on Tue Jun 06, 2000 at 09:52:05 AM EST

Not only can coincidences be meaningless, a lot of correlations can be too (if we regard something as "meaningless" if you can't extract useful information from it). Sure, they may be a correlation between geekiness and polyamory, but, like so many correlations, it doesn't tell us anything, since there are too many variables to keep track of. I frankly find the idea that polyamory is a logical consequence of Open Source laughable - it reminds me of all the ideologically correct sex my friends and I were trying to have back in the '70's (well actually, in those days I was just trying to have sex period).

"Open Source = open relationships" is about as weak an analogy as you can get. You could just as well say that since in a 'nix system you have to have someone as root who has unlimited priveleges, in every community there should be one person who is allowed to screw anyone they want!

Salon confronts polyamory in geek community | 74 comments (74 topical, 0 editorial, 0 hidden)
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