What’s Wrong If A Politician Is Polyamorous?
A politician who’s having an affair? That’s so common that it hardly surprises anyone anymore. But a politician in a consensual non-monogamous relationship? We’ve never experienced that, but Netflix’s The Politician asks us to.
Would it help or hinder their career?
Without getting into all the details of the comedy-drama that centers on the numerous political races of Payton Hobart (Ben Platt), a wealthy young man from Santa Barbara, viewers in Season 2 get introduced to a politician who’s part of a throuple — an intimate, sexual relationship among three people.
Dede Standish (Judith Light) is a longtime New York state senator who is being considered for the vice presidential spot for aspiring presidential candidate Tino McCutcheon (Sam Jaeger) while facing, for the first time in years, competition for her senate seat, from Hobart. It is only then that her 10-year-long throuple relationship with her husband, Marcus, and their younger partner, William, is discovered (and it’s amazing that they were able to keep it secret for that long) and is suddenly an issue in her political life.
Standish refuses to dissolve her throuple, imagining that if they can no longer keep it secret, then being honest about it may help her career. As she tells her longtime chief of staff Hadassah (Bette Midler):
“I’m tired of hiding in the shadows, not being who I am. … The kids now. They’re fluid, they’re polyamorous. They share rides, apartments, boyfriends. And let me tell you, women ages 45 to 70 will be saying, ‘You go girl’ when they step into the booth to vote for us.”
I have no doubt that we would.
She then cites her own poll that discovered that “62 percent of women over 40 have said that they are more likely to vote for a woman who proudly owns her sexuality. That’s the next level in the women’s empowerment movement.”
I wish there actually was a poll that asked that question because I pretty much bet she’s right. Women are increasingly owning their sexuality and want to see all women be able to put it out there without the old double standard, judgment and slut-shaming we’ve had to face.
As Standish says,
“We live in a culture that makes assumptions about people based on stereotypes. … Women over 50, we are just hitting our stride, and it is more important now more than ever that our voices be heard, too. … and to all my ladies of a certain age, you know what I’m talking about.”
We make assumptions about a lot of things, marriage, monogamy and older women among them. But older women are reclaiming our time and changing the narrative about us.
Look at Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden’s choice for vice president, Kamala Harris. As I noted during her own presidential run, Harris was single and childfree most of her life and only married at age 50, becoming stepmom to her new husband’s two teens.
Women over 50 are indeed hitting our stride. But we are not yet at a place when female politicians like Harris can publicly own their sexuality.
We older gals know it matters that she found love and a partner as a middle-aged woman, just like Sheryl Sandberg (who, at age 50, also happens to be older than her fiance so, you go, girl) because we are always told (by men) that we are washed up, dried up and invisible. Clearly we are not, especially to smart feminist men.
Ironically, the very married McCutcheon has an affair with Hobart’s mother, Georgina (Gwyneth Paltrow), who wins a Marianne Williamson–like bid for governor of California. Would the public be understanding of his affair because his wife is in a coma, or would he face judgment for being an adulterer? Standish’s throuple is a consensual non-monogamous relationship; McCutcheon’s is not. And yet I imagine Standish’s throuple is more threatening to many people than just another affair. Yawn.
There’s a lot of cheating and threesomes in The Politician, including Hobart’s mother, who cheats on her then-husband with a woman, and questions if a throuple would work for her:
“I’m just fascinated how this whole throuple thing works. I tend to get bored in relationships very quickly. I always thought it was a combination of lame choices and intimacy issues, but now I’m thinking maybe being with one person is just inevitably boring. I was wondering if you think this works with two women and one man.”
Of course it would work.
Long-term relationships are particularly hard on female desire, as Wednesday Martin, author of Untrue: Why Nearly Everything We Believe About Women, Lust, and Infidelity Is Wrong and How the New Science Can Set Us Free, discovers. Maybe a feminist version of polygamy is just what women — especially older woman — need.
According to a recent study, people in consensual non-monogamous relationships have more satisfying sex lives than those in monogamous relationships. Too bad more people don’t consider that an option.
I hope one day we have a politician like Standish who is openly poly, so people can have a role model for other ways of living and loving. Because if grabbing pussies of women other than your wife when you’re married doesn’t stop you from making it to the White House, then consensually enjoying more than one pussy or penis at a time shouldn’t stop you either.
Want to know more about consensual non-monogamy? (Of course you do!) Read The New I Do: Reshaping Marriage for Skeptics, Realists and Rebels (Seal Press). You can support your local indie bookstore (please do) or order it on Amazon. And we’re now on Audible.