1st Edition

Polyamory, Monogamy, and American Dreams The Stories We Tell about Poly Lives and the Cultural Production of Inequality

By Mimi Schippers Copyright 2020
    160 Pages 15 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    160 Pages 15 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This book introduces "the poly gaze" as a cultural tool to examine how representations of polyamory and poly lives reflect or challenge cultural hegemonies of race, class, gender, and nation.

    What role does monogamy play in American Identity, the American dream, and U.S. exceptionalism? How do the stories we tell about intimate relationships do cultural and ideological work to maintain and legitimize social inequalities along the lines of race, ethnicity, nation, religion, class, gender and sexuality? How might the introduction of polyamory or consensually non-monogamous relationships in the stories we tell about intimacy confound, disrupt or shift the meaning of what constitutes a good, American life? These are the questions that Mimi Schippers focuses on in this original and engaging study. As she develops the poly gaze, Schippers argues for a sociologically informed and cultivated lens with which anyone, regardless of their experiences with polyamory or consensual non-monogamy, can read culture, media images, and texts against hegemony.

    This will be a key text for researchers and students in Gender Studies, Queer Studies, Cultural Studies, Critical Race Studies, Media Studies, American Studies and Sociology. This book is accessible and indispensable reading for undergraduate student and postgraduates wanting to gain greater understanding of debates around the key concept of heteronormativity.

    Table of Contents



    Introduction: Mononormative Narrative, Poly Narrative, and Social Inequality…...


    The Polygamous Other and American Identity


    Historical Biography and The Erasure of Poly Pasts


    Casual Sex On Campus: The Mononormative Narratives Told About Sexual Relationships in Heterosexual Hookup Cultures


    Poly-Positive Narratives and American Sexual Exceptionalism


    The (Poly) Love That Dare Not Speak Its Name: Poly Kinship as a Design for Living Queerly


    Conclusion: Poly Lives in a Time of Neofascism


    Mimi Schippers received her PhD in Sociology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and is Professor of Sociology and Gender and Sexuality Studies at Tulane University. Her research focuses on masculinities, femininities, and the intersections of gender, race, and sexuality in everyday interactions, relationships, and subcultures. She is author of Beyond Monogamy: Polyamory and the Future of Polyqueer Sexualities and Rockin’ Out of the Box: Gender Maneuvering in Alternative Hard Rock.

    "Polyamory, Monogamy, and American Dreams is a much needed book which radically rethinks the ways in which relationships are understood, represented, and lived in US culture. Taking a poly gaze to everything from mainstream movies to hook-up research, the author points out the skewed perspectives that take a monogamous white, western, norm as their starting point. In times of austerity and neofacism this book offers much-needed alternative perspectives on how we might transform our ways of living and relating if we deploy a poly gaze."

    Dr Meg-John Barker, author of Rewriting the Rules, Understanding Non-Monogamies, and Life Isn't Binary.

    "In Polyamory, Monogamy, and American Dreams, Mimi Schippers trains a polyqueer gaze on cultural narratives from Camelot to Grace and Frankie, unearthing the possibility for connections of care, mutuality, belonging, and intimacy beyond ties of marriage or blood. She teaches us how to identify  mononormativity embedded in the stories we tell--and to see the way that it perpetuates inequalities. This courageous, creative, compassionate book provides new ways to think about the culture we consume and the lives we create."

    Elizabeth A. Armstrong, Professor of Sociology and Organizational Studies, University of Michigan

    "Polyamory, Monogamy, and American Dreamsoffers an urgent interruption of our understanding of sex and love in modern times. From critiquing the sexual styles of American exceptionalism to imploding notions of the good life, through this book's "poly gaze" you'll never see the world the same again."

    Hannah McCann, Lecturer in Cultural Studies, University of Melbourne

    "Arguably the most revolutionary idea to hit gender and sexuality studies in a decade, the poly gaze is more than a lens on polyamory. It’s a prism that reveals how mononormativity inflects all axes of oppression and an essential tool for social justice. Schippers paves an inspiring path toward a more poly politics, one that binds us together instead of holds us apart."

    Lisa Wade, Associate Professor of Sociology, Occidental College and author of American Hookup: The New Culture of Sex on Campus.