Cunning Minx: Badass Acivist Friday

It’s Friday, and we all know what that means! Interviews with your favorite badass feminists and activists. Whether social media queens and kings, creative artists, sex educators, or just kick-ass personalities, these people harness righteous anger, instigate movements and inspire cultural change. We’re here to honor them and their work, but more importantly, to highlight how we can all get up, plug in, and Just Start Doing.

This week’s badass is Cunning Minx. She is the producer and host of the PolyWeekly podcast, and has been since 2005. There, she talks about non-monogamy as well as kink, providing a valuable resource for the poly-community. The podcast has received much praise, and Minx has been invited to speak at many conferences, including Sex 2.0 and the Heartland Polyamory Conference.

Here is what she had to say to us!

You’ve been doing the PolyWeekly podcast since 2005 now. How did you get started? Has your audience changed at all during that time? Do you see trends in the topics you cover, or are there some staples that always come up again?

I started podcasting on a lark. My boyfriend at the time came to me one weekend, all excited about this audio RSS thing he’d read about in Wired magazine. I shrugged it off as a geek thing. Then, one day, I walked in to a coffee shop to meet him, and he was chatting into a computer mic. He hit a few buttons, and I asked him what he was doing. “I just recorded my podcast and converted to MP3,” he said. “Oh, wait,” I said, “Podcasting is just talking? Like a normal person? I can do THAT!”

Famous last words. Over 300 episodes and many, many hours of wrestling with audio, creating content and wrangling guests and cohosts, I can’t believe I entertained the idea of doing a weekly show so lightly!

The audience has certainly grown over the years. When I began in 2005, iTunes wasn’t yet a podcatcher, so folks had to be pretty geeky to figure out how to aggregate podcast RSS feeds. I remember looking at my stats and being amazed that 200 people I didn’t know were listening to me! Now, of course, we have over 50,000 monthly downloads and a really engaged listener base. I think that’s the thing that has changed the most since the first year—topics come and go, but what has really kept the show going was the active decision to make it a listener-directed show. I chose to cover content I Iike, but the feedback is what determines how often we revisit those topics.

One thing that has changed since the first year was my reluctance to give advice. I didn’t really feel qualified, so I sort of hedged around it. After a few years, though, I kept seeing smart people in real pain with real issues asking for help, so I shared my own experiences and the knowledge I’d gained from them.

How has your personal approach to non-monogamy changed over time? Have you learned any lessons from your listeners or contributors?

One thing I’ve definitely honed over the last six years is my own identity and preferred non-monogamous style—and that those who choose a different style are no less polyamorous than I am. It’s rare that I’ll say “oh, they’re not really poly” when I hear of a person or couple practicing differently from me. The only thing I’m a stickler about is communication and consent—I will rain down bloody hell on you if you do not communicate your desires and activities to all parties involved so they can make informed relationship decisions. But apart from that, I’m pretty tolerant.

Personally, I’m semi-monogamous or poly-friendly. I don’t feel the burning need to have more than one long-term partner, but I like having the option of exploring feelings and relationships when they arise. And while I was blessed with a wonderful period in which I had two long-term boyfriends, I don’t feel like I’m missing anything by having only one at the moment.

One thing I’ve learned from my listeners is that the things that we discuss on the show don’t apply exclusively to polyamory; it really all does come down to self-knowledge and honest communication. About half of the Poly Weekly listening audience identifies as monogamous but let us know that they find the show helpful for improving their monogamous relationships with better communication.

How do you feel about representations of non-monogamy in the media, be they fictional representations (such as Dr. Taub and his wife attempting an open marriage on the TV series House), or “real life” (such as Gingrich’s second wife revealing his asking her to open up the marriage)? Are they positive because they bring non-monogamy to the public attention, or negative for overwhelmingly portraying non-monogamy as a way for dealing with cheating within a marriage (and usually a cheating husband, specifically)?

Ah, that’s quite a question. It depends on the representation. We’ve discussed instances of poly in the media such as the polygamy depicted in the show Sister Wives, with mixed responses. The show is positive in that it does show ongoing communication to make the marriages work, but negative in that it shows a religion-based, patriarchal, heterosexual model that isn’t really representative of how a lot of people practice modern polyamory. And, well, if you’d seen my post on Gingrich, you’d know how I feel about that. I think he has sullied the traditional family values of polyamory with his sleazy, half-hearted proposition to his spouse.

[And here is that post on Gingrich!]

What is most essential about mentions of poly in the media is that there are more of them—a lot more—than even just five or six years ago. And the mentions are becoming decreasingly sensationalized and increasingly normalized.

Similarly, how did you feel about the book Sex at Dawn? It became very popular very quickly, and was received in a largely positive way. Do you think that it can have any lasting effect in the way that monogamy/non-monogamy are viewed?

The value of Christopher Ryan’s Sex at Dawn is that it got many people thinking about non-monogamy in a logical manner. It has tremendous value in that it provided a conversation starter for many people who would never otherwise have considered the biological and anthropological origins of non-monogamy. Plus, bonobos are fun.

What’s your current hot topic? What blog/public figure/news event are you getting really excited/passionate/angry about? Or, feel free to plug any project you are currently working on!

Mostly I’m just really excited about the overwhelming expression of listener support for the show. One thing podcasters never tell you is that we get tired of weekly production. Over the last two years, I’ve nearly shut the show down several times because it just takes so much time and energy. And I wasn’t in a relationship, myself, or even getting lucky, so it was pretty heartbreaking to get on mic every week and spew advice about relationships I didn’t have!  So when a listener suggested the show have a button for monthly repeating donations, I wasn’t sure what would happen. But I’m pleased to report that in the two months since its inception, the Poly Weekly Playmates has 15 monthly donors. And the fact that those people want to hear the content every week has been a huge motivator for me. There is no danger of the show stopping any time soon!

I’ll be speaking on a new topic, How Not to Be a Douche on FetLife, at MomentumCon in March, and I’ve submitted to speak at OpenSF this summer as well. I’m looking forward to both events!

 

Thanks so much for your time, Minx!

 

 

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