[Epistemic status: trolling.]

One-penis policies are roundly condemned in the polyamory community. This article provides a fair sample of the common opinion: it’s homophobic, misogynistic, sex-negative, unfair, and a product of insecurity and toxic masculinity.

Now, it’s possible that I live in this wonderful bubble of people with healthy polyamory, but I’ve never actually met anyone with a one-penis policy. The amount of condemnation one-penis policies get seems entirely out of line with the number of men who actually get their partners to implement such a thing.

Furthermore, we clearly treat one-penis policies as a special case. In most aspects of polyamory, people adopt a nuanced position: while the ideal is for everyone to be comfortable with their partners’ other relationships, we accept that temporarily, while someone works on developing the skills necessary to deal with jealousy, they might accept certain reasonable limits. However, nobody says “well, it’s a bad idea if you’re planning on having one-penis policies forever, but while you’re opening up that’s a pretty reasonable way to deal with insecurity.” They say “insecure misogynist homophobe!” Why is that?

Wikipedia points out that of the 1231 societies in the Ethnographic Atlas, more than a thousand practiced polygyny at least occasionally, while those who practice polyandry make up a grand total of four. Of course, many have argued that the Atlas undercounts polyandrous societies. But even so, cross-culturally, it seems like polygyny without polyandry is by far the most common kind of polygamy. It’s almost like it’s an attractor: as soon as you start letting some people marry more than one person, it devolves into some guys having harems of women that they don’t let fuck any other guys.

So, let’s imagine how polygyny would look in our society. We’re modern, sex-positive people; we want at least a veneer of equality here. But we’re also, fundamentally, a homophobic society, one that views women’s relationships with women as being less important than their relationships with men, as sexy disposable fun times in between the real relationships.

Polygyny would probably look like “we can both fuck as many girls as we want!”

There are obvious reasons why no poly people want our poly networks to be polygynous. For one thing, for every man who has two girls who date only him, there’s another guy who doesn’t get to date anyone, which is sad for him. It’s not a great deal for the women either. And when people see you having harems of women, they start saying words like “fundamentalist Mormons” and “patriarchal” and other things one would not like to have associated with one’s minority sexual practice.

So what we do is we shame one-penis policies. It might be a bit unfair that the guy who is insecure about his wife fucking other men has to put up with it while the guy who is insecure about his wife kissing other people can say “look, honey, can we phase in the kissing over the next couple months?” But if we didn’t do it, we’d be sucked into the polygyny void from which– apparently– only four cultures can escape.