Amber Dawn

2068Joined Sep 2019


I'm a freelance writer and editor for the EA community. I can help you edit drafts and write up your unwritten ideas. If you'd like to work with me, book a short calendly meeting or email me at Website with more info:


Topic Contributions

I just had the exact same question, so thanks Aaron for asking this, and Derek for giving this answer :)

This is repeating some of what's already been said, but I worry that this is targeting the wrong thing. 

I do believe that lots of the abusers or boundary-pushers in EA probably justified their behaviour by just saying they were 'weird' or 'high-openness' or 'high decoupling' or whatever. But I think behaving like this involves not just weirdness, but also other traits - at the less serious end, lack of social skills and empathy (and just good-old fashioned lack of feminist consciousness), and at the more serious end, manipulativeness and being an asshole. Like, I'm weird but I know that you probably shouldn't invite your coworkers to sex parties, because I've managed to absorb the general world knowledge that 'lots of people are weird about sex and consider it private and stuff so you probably should be a bit circumspect about the contexts and ways in which you mention it'. 

I'm sorry to have misinterpreted you. I guess I'm confused by what your broad point is now - where do we disagree? I think I don't understand why you disagree with my comment that 'Polyamory is a morally neutral relationship structure that's practiced happily by lots of people. It doesn't make you an abuser, or not-an-abuser.'

[this is partly also responding to your response to Kelsey below]

I think I view this differently because I prize personal freedom (for everyone) really highly, and I also think that the damage of community disapproval/the norms being 'against' you is pretty high, so I would be hesitant to argue strongly against any consensual  and in-principle-not-harmful relationship style, even if there was evidence that it led to worse outcomes. In that situation, I'd try to mitigate the bad outcomes rather than discouraging the style. 

To get a sense of why poly people are upset about this, imagine if someone was like 'there are better outcomes if people are celibate - you save so much time and emotional energy that can be spent on research! So you should break up with your partner'. You'd probably have a strong 'uh, no, wtf, I'm not doing that' reaction. And maybe you'd say 'oh I would never say anyone would break up with their partners', but depriving someone of future potential positive relationships is also bad, and... like... maybe I'm just neurotic or not assertive enough or something, but if someone says 'X is bad', and I do X, I am inclined to take that seriously

I also think advocating against polyamory wouldn't be very effective at curbing abuses that stem from abusers being exposed to less risk, because I think if you're brazen and sociopathic enough to do some of the things described in the article, and also high status, you're not really going to care about whether your relationship style is vaguely discouraged. Like, stuff like grooming and hitting on young people you have power over and assault is already more-than-vaguely discouraged, and that didn't help! 


What's the mechanism whereby it leads to greater gender equality? 

It literally is intolerant. Like if you are saying "we shouldn't tolerate this in the community", that just is intolerant. 

This feels complicated to say, because it's going to make me seem like I don't care about abuse and harassment described in the article. I do. It's really bad and I wish it hadn't happened, and I'm particularly sad that it's happened within my community, and  (more) that people in my community seemed often to not support the victims. 

But I honestly feel very upset about the anti-polyamory vibe of all this. Polyamory is a morally neutral relationship structure that's practiced happily by lots of people. It doesn't make you an abuser, or not-an-abuser.  It's not accepted in the wider community, so I value its acceptance in EA. I'd be sad if there was a community backlash against it because of stuff like this, because that would hurt a lot of people and I don't think it would solve the problem. 

I think the anti-poly vibe also makes it kind of...harder to work out what's happening, and what exactly is bad, or something? Like, the article describes lots of stuff that's unambiguously bad, like grooming and assault. But it says stuff like 'Another told TIME a much older EA recruited her to join his polyamorous relationship while she was still in college'. Like, what does it mean to 'recruit someone to join your polyamorous relationship'? You mean he asked her out, when he was much older and she was in college, and he happened to be poly?  Yet it's sandwiched between descriptions of two unambiguously awful incidents of sexual harassment and grooming. 

There was also a quote from someone who complained about her poly partner being a fuckboy. Which like... maybe this guy was not a good partner, but that's kind of unrelated to whether he had multiple partners. And 'this guy I dated was kind of a fuckboy and I wasn't happy in the relationship' isn't in the same ballpark as abuse and harassment! 

The inclusion of less-bad things doesn't negate the broad point of the article, but if we want to actually tackle sexual harassment, it helps to know what exactly the problem is, rather than gesturing at 'these people have Unconventional Ways and that's Suspicious'.


I don't see why priors should make us suspect non-monogamous relationships would lead to more abuse than monogamous ones.

I really relate to the 'what would it even look like?' thing.

I also think that coming up with examples and stories like this isn't just important for motivating people - it's also important for epistemics. If you stay too long at the abstract level, I think you can miss things - often flaws or confusions will arise when you try to actually give a very concrete story about what might or will happen. 

I think this is a false choice, because I don't think the top karma posts are usually mediocre. I think high karma is a good proxy for high quality, but low karma isn't a good proxy for poor quality, because some low karma posts are (as OP said) good, but too technical or niche for general readership, or perhaps just not many people have seen it. In other words, I think there are lots of false negatives with karma but few false positives (is that metaphor at all clarifying, lol). 

I do think it's a shame if good non-community-drama posts never even get seen; on going onto the Forum, I'd love to see a front page featuring articles on a range of topics. 

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