OTI Online
Spring 1998

Reader Feedback
Spring 1998

Multiple Relationships -- Yea and Nay

Your review of Celeste West's Lesbian Polyfidelity: A Pleasure Guide for All Women Whose Hearts Are Open to Multiple Sexualoves states that the author is a Buddhist and that she makes many references to her Buddhism in her book. [See Carolyn Gage's review, Winter 1998.] As Buddhists ourselves, we are concerned that readers not familiar with Buddhism may be led to believe that it advocates or approves of polyfidelity. This is not the case. The different schools of Buddhism all commonly take certain basic vows, among which is the vow to refrain from sexual misconduct. These basic vows have been elaborated and explained very beautifully by the well-respected Vietnamese teacher Thich Nhat Hanh. His statement of this vow in For a Future to be Possible (Berkeley, Parallax Press, 1998), reads as follows:

"Aware of the suffering caused by sexual misconduct, I am committed to cultivating responsibility and learning ways to protect the safety and integrity of individuals, couples, families, and society. I am determined not to engage in sexual relations without love and a long-term commitment."

 Joan Sophie & Deborah Scott, Chicago

I am amazed by On The Issues', or should that be On The Monogamy's frightening/frightened editorial stance on Lesbian Polyfidelity: A Pleasure Guide for All Women Whose Hearts Are Open to Multiple Sexualoves. Why does OTI devote two fulminating pages to a unilateral, contextless condemnation of the first published research and interviews of lesbians in honest multi-relationships? Might not my book have been more fairly, at least more expertly, evaluated by a lesbian polyfidele? We polyfideles are, after all, about one in five lesbians, according to a confirming Advocate survey. Lesbian Polyfidelity was also a finalist this year in both the American Library Association awards and the Lambda Literary Awards.

Booklegger Publishing is getting a motherlode of phone orders from OTI readers, so the "any review" adage must be operative when there is so much interest in open, dynamic relationship forms.

Because I truly admire the usual perception and quality of OTI -- one of the perks of multiple relationships is the variety of mags we explore around bedsides -- here's a conflict-free offer: In the tradition of independent thought, let the OTI reader decide for herself! All OTI readers who request one will receive a FREE hardback copy of Lesbian Polyfidelity from Booklegger, P.O. Box 460654, San Francisco, CA 94146, while copies last.

 Celeste West, author, San Francisco

Light Shed on Rape Crimes

I was deeply affected by Jan Goodwin's article on Rwanda in On The Issues [Rwanda: Justice Denied, Fall 1997]. I can't tell you how enraged, saddened, and ashamed I felt when I finished it. OTI brought the experiences of these women right up in my face, and they have stayed with me. I hope I never forget. Goodwin is one hell of a writer who continually brings the systematic and often appalling abuse of women around the world to greater attention.

OTI readers will be interested to know that this past summer, the indictment against Jean-Paul Akayesu was amended to include rape and other forms of sexual violence. In the motion to amend the indictment, the prosecutor mentioned "a significant amount of attention on this issue from outside organizations..." and acknowledged that the prosecution was "not as sensitive as we should have been on the issue." Amen to that.

 Mandy Sullivan, Campaign Dir., Equality Now - NY 
Equality Now works for the civil, political, economic and social rights of women around the world.)

An Experience to Learn From

Thank you for Merle Hoffman's essay on abortion activism [27 Years, but Who's Counting? Thoughts on yet another Roe v. Wade, Winter 1998]. I was astounded by her insights. I had an abortion when I was 15 years old, and now, at the age of 23, I'm thinking it's an experience I can learn more and more from rather than putting it behind me. Every woman has her right to choose -- always.

 Oriana Noel Lewis, Jamaica Plain, MA

Purging Helplessness

I would like to thank you for your wonderful article on abuse in institutions [No Safe Place by Phyllis Chesler, Winter 1998]. Four years ago, when I was 12, I was molested by a 70-year-old doctor while in an institution. I knew I couldn't tell anyone: Who would believe a 12-year-old mental patient over a respected doctor? Your article was the first I had ever seen on the issue. After I read it, I spent hours on the phone with my girlfriend, crying. My tears purged that feeling of helplessness and filth that have been haunting me for so long. Please let me remain anonymous.

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