Control Tower

The One-Penis Policy

Comments

1
Thanks for alerting me that there is a name for this arrangement. I see this all the time, especially among the swinger scene. In fact I think this is seems to be a fundamental part of the "lifestyle." I have even seen some couples call this arrangement monogamous.
2
He he he, I lurve you. :)
3
Oh, I lurve you too!
Goose
4
I've known a few straight couples with a variation on the policy. The bisexual woman is allowed to sleep with any woman she so chooses, but no men. However, her man is also bisexual, and he's allowed whichever men he chooses, but no women.

Less infuriating, but still arbitrary.
5
I'm on the above variation of the OPP, in that I get all the women I want and my partner may have all the men he want. Unfortunately I'm a bisexual woman and he isn't a bisexual man, so it's not exactly "fair." But he seems happy enough and I certainly am.
6
Great column! I agree 100%!
7
"And fear is the reason for an OPP. Fears like: If another man fucks "my" woman, he'll steal her away. Only by isolating her can I keep her."

And the other underlying factor is that version of homophobia that assumes that having sex with another man is "real", whereas fooling around with your lady friends doesn't "count".

Sure, as a dyke, I have the ability to be involved with women who have male partners as insecure as these. But frankly, who wants to be involved with anyone who thinks that my relationship "doesn't count" by definition?
8
Frankly, the OPP thing has always seemed to me to be an Ostrich in the sand approach to poly. Pretend your partner's not interested in other people by indulging in a nebulous, extended menage a trois fantasy.
9
And the OPP also includes the THBB syndrome - Two Hot Bi Babes. "The only reason that two women - especially MY woman - would be with another woman is for MY pleasure."

Argh.
10
I was in an OPP situation of sorts in my marriage, he wanted to open up the relationship, but to girls only, and he had to be there for any encounter. We ended up with a steady girlfriend and that worked nicely for a while. And then he ended up with the steady girlfriend and I ended up out on my ass, sans husband and girlfriend. Interestingly enough she has imposed a One Pussy Policy on their relationship, and as far as I know it seems to be working for them.
11
Thank you so much for addressing this. About six years ago, just when I was fully realizing my bisexuality (by enjoying sex with both men and women) I started dating a guy who suggested we could both see other women but I couldn't see other men.

My rebuttal was: "If you're going to be jealous/threatened by my fucking other men, what makes you think I won't have a problem with you sticking it in every other pussy you can find? How about I can fuck other girls and you can fuck other guys? That would be fair."

He said "But I'm not gay."

I said "That's not my problem."
12
In your statement, "also implied is that...competition for status and dominance is biologically inherent to men" is the implication that men don't have a higher propensity for sexual jealousy or status competition. Probably won't change your mind, but you should consider reading some academic papers on the subjects. Science says your implication's bullshit. Just sayin.
13
@ 12 Nature, as someone once said, is what we are put on this earth to rise above. Just because one feels a strong pull towards a negative behavior, such as sexual jealousy for example, does not give one a free pass. Saying my double helix made me do it has no more validity than blaming the devil. This is the 21st century. We have big brains. Come out of the cave and into the sun.
14
@12 If it was really something biological they couldn't help, then ALL men would be jealous ALL the time. Obviously that's not true. Some guys are very jealous and competitive and some guys aren't. Therefore it's a not fixed and inescapable trait to all men.
15
You're leaving out all the "bi" females who really do think they are "just messing around", let alone the one's who are just "messing around" to attract more men.

My two cents thrown down the rabbit hole. Don't spend it all in once place.
16
Not a fixed inescapable trait.. but science can very well call it a psychological condition. Humans do plenty of things that aren't natural according to science. It's that whole free will thing. I can convince someone that it's ok to smear my poo on their forehead every morning before breakfast and abuse logic in the same fashion and say it's my right, deem it my fetish, and claim I'm evolved.

If you can find any unbiased statistics, I guarantee you the men who are "ok with this" are compensating for some broken part of their self esteem which is down there in the mucky-muck.

"Deny Sex and bizarre forms of its expression will torment you.

Deny Love and absurd sentimentalities will disable you."
17
Not a fixed inescapable trait.. but science can very well call it a psychological condition. Humans do plenty of things that aren't natural according to science. It's that whole free will thing. I can convince someone that it's ok to smear my poo on their forehead every morning before breakfast and abuse logic in the same fashion and say it's my right, deem it my fetish, and claim I'm evolved.

If you can find any unbiased statistics, I guarantee you the men who are "ok with this" are compensating for some broken part of their self esteem which is down there in the mucky-muck.

"Deny Sex and bizarre forms of its expression will torment you.

Deny Love and absurd sentimentalities will disable you."
18
@12 right on.
@13 your arguement is the same that is used by Christian Fundamentalist against gays "maybe it is genetic but that is just a test from god"

@14 your arguement makes absolutely no sense. If that were true all people would be blonde, or fat, or skinny or, predisposed to cancer, or any number of genetic traits.
19
So you have a weekly column where you dispense the wisdom you've earned as a sex worker. Week after week, you tell everyone that they have to find what works for them and embrace it, and that no one type of sexual activity is right for everyone.

Then you go ahead and make a negative judgement about people who have a specific sexual arrangement? It's only okay in your book if people do things your way, and not their own?

I am trying to find a sentence that works better than "You are stupid for saying that," and I am failing.
20
@ 18 No, I do not, although I can see how you might make that mistake, as I was not clear. Where I differ from the Christian Fundamentalist is in my definition of negative behavior by which I mean behavior that is selfish and hurts others. Whom you love does not fall under that umbrella. How you treat those you love does. Trying to make their world smaller because you are jealous and insecure is negative behavior. Rationalizing it as hardwired is lazy. Indeed one may not be able to help feeling jealous but one certainly control how one deals with those feelings. If through negotiation with your partner(s) it is mutually agreed upon that the one penis/pussy policy is the way you want to go, then more power to you. This was my situation during my marriage, as I have mentioned, and I was fine with it at the time.
21
@19 I think she has a point about situations where this is agreed upon under duress where the female partner wants a more open agreement and sees this one as unfair but fails to address the fact that some women would be happy with this arrangement and wouldn't mind a fixed OPP to alleviate their partners fears.

I am a male in a relationship where she can fuck as many guys AND girls as she wants and I can only fuck guys BTW, so I feel I have a good position to judge the opposite arrangement, the vary one that she is taking issue with. It's not uncommon in BDSM for this sort of 'unfair' arrangement and a lot of us find it fucking hot!
22
21, I don't see anything here about agreements made under duress. Consent given under duress is hardly consent.

Like 19, I'm reading this judgmental screed from a woman who regularly enters into "unfair" (but mutually agreed upon) activities and seeing lots of irony in her hypocrisy.
23
So the only way a m/f couple can have a OPP is through the insistence and because of the fears of the male in the equation?

I am half of a couple with a bi female. We're active in many "swinger" style activities and get this reaction quite a bit when my girl makes her no-dick-but-mine policy known. Time after time, I get the old stink-eye from "real swingers" who assume that I'm a controlling prick for not allowing her to romp freely amongst the tallywhackers. Funny how many self styled hipsters suddenly become conservatives on this point.

One of the basic principles of sexual freedom is the freedom to make one's own choices. Her OPP is her business, not anyone elses. Am I supposed to badger her until she submits to a gangbang she doesn't desire so we can sit at the cool table? I bloody well don't think so. If she herself decides on something like that, well that's a different story entirely.

OK, I've vented. Sometimes it's her choice kids, that's the lesson for today. We now return you to your regularly scheduled comments...
24
14 is correct, this relationship is HER choice. What's is odd is the reference to "conservatives on this point." Conservative is the wrong word, unless your point is that "conservatives" are the only ones who make a conclusion on the information that they have. My experience is that all people do this. And there is no changing this unless we want to be a society that never draws conclusions.
By the way, The arrangement is not unfair. She either finds the arrangement satisfactory and keeps it, or unsatisfactory and changes it. She is an equal in the decision process. Besides, we all give up something in healthy relationships, whether its work or friendships or family.
25
Exactly 23. It's like she's cool with whatever until she manages to find something that offends her oh-so-delicate sensibilities and then she's just like every hillbilly bigot she's always bitching about.

Sometimes the girl doesn't care about guys enough to want to look for more than one. Sometimes the guy has security issues and she respects him enough to make that sacrifice. Sometimes they find that an mff threesome is a positive experience they can share, and there's no need to branch out into full-fledged polyamorism.

So who the fuck are you to judge, Matisse? This paper is to progressive for that kind of shit.
26
@25

"Lift the gender ban and let her choose as freely as you do."

Yeah, that sounds really judgmental to me — saying people should choose for themselves. Matisse is totally like Hitler, Stalin and the gay Pope rolled into one lovely but evil hillbilly bigot package. I'm totally following you he...

Oh crap, hit my sarcasm quota for the day.
27
What she's doing is taking the sex life of a group of people, #26, and saying it's wrong. She's operating under the assumption that everyone in one of these relationships has these conditions forced on them by the man, who will tolerate no other situation. As much as I hate the way people throw this term around, that's a straw man argument, because she's creating a caricature and speaking as though that represents her subject.

What if you used a different example. Imagine a couple where the woman likes pegging her boyfriend, but refuses to do anal herself. He enjoys the pegging, and would like anal, but she won't give it up. Is she an evil bitch? No, they just aren't quite compatible that way, and anyone would agree that if they're happy with the arrangement despite its quirks, then why stress over it?

I hate to camp the topic, but this column really pissed me off.
28
I find another thing with women and multiple penis partners is the actual physical factor she takes on......

where as a penis doesn't get larger or smaller depending on its use.

A womans private part does take on different characters from the actions implemented on it!
29
This "problem" is as old as humanity. In the 1950's they used to call it "The Double Standard". Guys were expected to be sexually experienced by the time they were married but women were supposed to be virgins.

For many guys, after they have dated a girl for a while they begin to put her into one of two categories. 1) the girl I'd like to fuck. 2) the girl I'd like to marry and have be the mother of my children.
For many men, these categories are mutually exclusive - since you obviously don't want the mother of your children to be a slut.

This is a stupid and unreasonable reaction that is buried deep in the subconcious of every male on the planet.

In a poly relationship it just shows up differently.
30
I guess my partner must be a rare individual. We started with a OPP because that's where he was comfortable. He was big enough to say ' yes, this is fear' and I was reasonable enough to say ok.

Then we took baby steps, and baby steps, and baby steps and got to the point where he said of his own accord 'if you spend the weekend without me with Guy You Have a Huge Crush on' I'm fine if you have sex.

Comfort zones should be respected, but I guess the important thing for me was that my partner made it clear that he was willing to keep working at stuff. If you love someone you stick around and give them a shot. (Getting from Monogamous to More Freedom than I'd Ever Exercise took us 7 years.)
31
@28

"A womans private part does take on different characters from the actions implemented on it! "

This is a completely false statement, especially as it relates to penises. The only thing large enough to actually CHANGE the "fit" of a vagina is multiple babies making their out of one. Otherwise the vagina is a very, very springy muscle that snaps right back to it's snug fit once a penis has vacated the premises and she returns to an unaroused state.

You can put penis after penis in a vagina and it's still not going to turn it into a barn.
32
@28

"A womans private part does take on different characters from the actions implemented on it! "

This is a completely false statement, especially as it relates to penises. The only thing large enough to actually CHANGE the "fit" of a vagina is multiple babies making their out of one. Otherwise the vagina is a very, very springy muscle that snaps right back to it's snug fit once a penis has vacated the premises and she returns to an unaroused state.

You can put penis after penis in a vagina and it's still not going to turn it into a barn.
33
@28

"A womans private part does take on different characters from the actions implemented on it! "

This is a completely false statement, especially as it relates to penises. The only thing large enough to actually CHANGE the "fit" of a vagina is multiple babies making their out of one. Otherwise the vagina is a very, very springy muscle that snaps right back to it's snug fit once a penis has vacated the premises and she returns to an unaroused state.

You can put penis after penis in a vagina and it's still not going to turn it into a barn.
34
Interesting column. I do believe that each couple/triad/quad/whatever, has to figure out what works for them. If everybody is *truly* content with an unequal arrangement, I can see how it would work out.

However, I think Matisse is helping people by pointing out a common fallacy in people new to non-monogamy. A "One Penis Policy" may work for some peopl, but it can definitely breed resentment for others. That's why it's important to do a lot.

And for those who say that men are biologically more jealous or possesive, I don't disagree. But those men who are very jealous and possesive should stick to monogamy. Any man who expects his woman to get over her jealousy, should be willing to do the same. Otherwise he's implying that her feelings of insecurity or jealousy are less important than her own.
35
...and I also love the assumption of the guy in a OPP agreement that the woman won't leave him if she's only fucking girls and him. Naive!
36
Whilst I agree that there are many dumb men with double standards enforcing OPPs on their other halves (and I've met a lot of them) sometimes it can be reasonable -

I'm a bisexual woman in a relationship with a mostly straight man, and we have a similar arrangement, whereby he's happy with me sleeping with other women, but not other men. His reasoning for this, however, is that women have something he doesn't - ie pussy - and that as I'm bisexual he doesn't want me having to cut out half of my sexuality to be with him. He can provide the penis, I can outsource for pussy.
37
Jesus Christ. Reading comprehension must not be taught in school anymore.

So MM starts the article off by saying what she is opposed to is situations in which the MALE'S jealousy is rationalized in a relationship. Explicitly she says, "HE doesn't like the idea of her fucking other guys" (Emphasis Mine).

MM finishes with, "If she doesn't want to, obviously she doesn't have to. But why have a rule forbidding it? Lift the gender ban and let her choose as freely as you do."

She's not saying "if it works for you, it's still wrong." Explicitly MM says if the woman doesn't want to fuck other guys, then she shouldn't. What she is very clearly against here is a relationship in which one half's jealousy is restricting the wants and desires of the other half, and doing so in an underhanded and deceptive way.
38
That was one of the reasons my ex-husband became a complete jerk and got to the point where he was jealous if I even *looked* at a woman. BUT, he was allowed to do that all the time. It hurt my feelings and destroyed our sex life and our marriage. Now, though, I lay down the law: I'm poly and bi, if you don't like that, the conversation stops here. Period. The more complicated the "rules," the more BS is likely to ensue. Accept who/what you are, and your partners will, too. If someone doesn't, too bad. Their monogamous partner is out there, but it sure as heck doesn't have to be you.
39
Lol...I have a partner who's a burgeoning dom, and we have had a very similar problem creep-up in the past. In our case, though, our relationship is relatively open, non-jealous, and equal (except for our significant difference in age, which also means that she's VERY HOT, but that I have the money!). She occasionally fails on a "pay for play" rule, and I just don't understand why women miss it so often!

As I tell her: "Honey, whenever you want to find a guy, a chick, a bi partner, etc...it takes you about 10 feet of walking and 10 seconds of your life to find one, and you usually get free dinner and drinks, too! For me, though, who the hell knows how hard I'll have to work or what I'll have to pay that night to find somebody!"

We are both in Las Vegas for work quite often (and she doesn't like her "dancing" job...more so with the terrible economy really reducing her income), and I usually get us BOTH nice rooms in Vegas to give us some space and freedom, with an "understanding" that the nice room gives her more opportunity to play, but that I should be included in more interesting activities. Last trip, she wangled a 3-some, and only weakly attempted to contact me, and offered some incredibly lame excuses.

So for next trip, I've booked the REALLY, REALLY nice suite on the Strip, and she gets the off-strip sh*thole. And as I told her: "Honey, you know you can always do whatever you want, so have a great play time there, and no EXTRA charges to the room at all, but please do be careful and safe!" And no, you're not invited to my room or my parties that weekend! Remember, we have that "pay to play" rule--if I'm paying, I'm playing, but always feel ABSOLUTELY FREE to play without me WHENEVER you want! And maybe your 3-some will pay for you to play with them all weekend!" Sadly for her, she'll have to work a lot harder at a job she hates to pay her bill, and she'll have less play time, and then maybe we'll have a better understanding between us!

Do I like doing it this way? Absolutely not! And sadly, I'm rather old school in terms of relationships and chivalry, but, very broadly speaking, American women have changed so much over the years AGAINST what makes for a successful, committed relationship. And before I get blasted, believe me, my poor dear mother stayed in a horribly abusive relationship with a terrible alcoholic that she could not leave for economic or societal reasons, which was SO SAD. And before there's too much pop psychology in analyzing me, I'll also tell any partner that my mother's years of being a punching bag in that living hell means her comforts in life get a lot of priority now, too. And yes, the rules for women versus men in relationships were very unfair in many ways for too many years!. Regardless, and lol...it's another topic, but NO WAY IN HELL do I ever tell an American man to marry an American women--GO OVERSEAS, MY FRIEND, GO OVERSEAS!

But I can easily count a hundred times that I've had to re-inforce the point about "pay for play" with women over the years...just don't expect me to pay for YOUR playing!
40
How silly all of this is. You're all supposed to be so naughty (sorry ... "transgressive"), breaking all the rules, and you just end up MAKING MORE RULES. A pox on all your poly genitals! And that's probably what you're going to get anyway.
41
#37 Exactly. To me, "OPP" specifically refers to a situation where one partner (usually the male, but sometimes the situation is reversed) tells the other that he will sleep with any one he wants, but she has to limit herself. This often breeds resentment, even if she agrees to it at first, thinking it won't be a problem.

If the female partner prefers only to sleep with other women, then why make it a hard and fast rule? There's a big difference between "I choose to limit myself, but we'll renegotiate if something changes" and "I'm forced to limit myself."

I have the same issue with mono-poly couples where the poly partner says "I will sleep with/date anyone I want, but you must be monogamous." There's nothing wrong with choosing to be monogamous, but it's a crummy double-standard to force on your partner.
42
@27: I think you're the one making the straw man argument. She specifically says if the woman doesn't WANT to sleep with other men then she shouldn't (although one wonders why you need a rule then). You're argument is based on ignoring her actual argument, that double standards are obnoxious, for an argument that's easier to defeat by claiming that she's saying people's sexual preferences are "just wrong".

As for your argument by analogy, is the pegging something she does for him, or something he does for her? Which one of them introduced the topic of anal play at all? Has she tried anal and decided she didn't like it or refused to try it at all? There's a big difference between her saying she wants to peg him (and him going along with it since it turns her on) but refusing to do the same for him, and her being willing to indulge him with one specific sex act they both enjoy but not one she knows she doesn't like.
43
"as fair and balanced as fox news" made me laugh out loud. OPP is bullshit, go Matisse!
44
I wonder if Matisse actually spoke to any guys who enforce an OPP rule on their partner about why they insist on this rule. Whenever a person does something with which we do not agree, it is very tempting and easy for us to say: "Fear is the reason." This can be a real cop-out because once you label someone a coward, you are relieved from asking them about their perspective, or even trying to imagine what other motives they may have.

Maybe some of these OPP guys are just grossed out about the idea of their woman having sex with other guys. Fear and being grossed out often overlap, but they are not the same thing. (See David Sedaris' interesting take on overuse of the term "homophobia" ... sorry, I forgot where I read it, I think it is in Naked or Me Talk Pretty One Day.)

I'm actually inclined to agree with Matisse that fear is the driving factor here, but I don't have much to base this on, other than imagining how I would feel in the straight guy/bi woman situation where going poly was on the table, then projecting these feelings on other men.

It would be interesting to read more about how poly folks deal with jealousy issues, and fewer posts summarily dismissing jealousy as a purely evil and/or obsolete trait.

45
Sexual limits between people is an AND function not an OR function. As long as all parties willingly agree to whatever arrangement EVERY rule is fair. Erotic disparities will happen due to orientation, physiology, likes and dislikes. Keeping a tally makes for bad sex.

In my current relationship I enjoy penetrated my GF anally and she enjoys being backdoored.
My GF has also expressed interest in penetrating me, but I am not interested being pegged. This is not a double standard it is personal preference and to be respected, not belittled.

Too many people assume that to be fair something has also be exactly the same. A one penis policy is fine as is a one pussy policy... regardless the reasons.

46
YES YES YES...I have said this countless times!!!!!
47
I KNEW I couldn't have been the only woman who thought this. Thanks for the article!
48


"Rationalizing it as hardwired is lazy. Indeed one may not be able to help feeling jealous but one certainly control how one deals with those feelings."

You can apply that logic to any situation, from one extreme to the other, and anywhere in between. You CAN control how one deals with feelings, but if you start supressing/crippling/putting up with something that is not natural to you where it takes an extreme amount of will to suppress, believe me the side effects will show -- if not instantly, years down the road. They WILL manifest themselves in fucked up ways, no matter how much "control" you're taught you're supposed to have. Choke it down, son. Be it a fetish, a broken will/emotion, neurosis, or whatever abstract behavior you could possibly imagine.
49
I love how Mickey only responds to the posts in which are in total agreement with his/her stance, or the complete opposite, but chose to single out and ignore the comments that actually tried to use reasoning. A popular train of thought these days, on all aspects of society.

No surprises here, just another mutation-turned-monument to self indulgence.
50
Having a brain makes us "above nature"? That makes you sound like more of a drone than anything else you've said. When sexuality is this much a part of your identity, this ENTIRE posting, comments and all, reeks of proof otherwise.

Please... Colonize Mars. Make it soon.
51
The whole one-penis (or at least, one penis per woman) standard goes all the way back to the original concept of marriage.

Before DNA testing, the only way to prove paternity was to restrict women to have sex with only one man. Note that I say "women" (plural) and "man" (singular). Men could have multiple wives, concubines, etc., as long as the women remained monogamous, since, when a child is born, who his/her mother may be is never in question.

Women who had sex with more than one man bore children whose paternity couldn't be proven, and so these children were bastards and their mothers, whores.

This concept is so ingrained in our culture that, even though medical science has provided us with the means to prove paternity, there is still a presumed restriction on female sex lives. Females are expected to be monogamous, even if their male partner is not. Lesbian relations are often acceptable because there is no chance of conception taking place, but women are still expected to stay monogamous to one penis.
52
Actually in more primative times property and wealth was passed on thru the woman. Because she knew who HER children were. A male would copulate with as many females as possible hoping that some of the tribes offspring would be his. This is why dominant males became dominant. They had first dibs (so to speak) on the most fertile and 'productive' females. The female would raise HER children regardless of who the father was. But in this circumstance the males were highly motivated to keep the whole tribe going as best as possible. The child you protect from that sabre toothed tiger may be your own. It was only after society began to shift towards monogamy, and paternal inheritance, did the one penis rule come into effect. "I'm not going to expend my energy and resources so that the offspring of some other member of the tribe gets all of my stuff when I die."
53
Franklin Veaux talks about the jealousy and fear that is behind the OPP using a broken refrigerator analogy. (http://www.xeromag.com/fvpolyrefrigerato…)