Women may at times want to engage with predominantly male social circles, such as Effective Altruism or casinos. Yet no one wants to be the rasher of bacon in a famine. There are diminishing returns to being hit on. If a boy and girl meet cute, and the boy flirts with the girl, she’s fairly likely to find this flattering even if she isn’t actually interested in him specifically. If literally every single man she encounters is hitting on her, she is left with two hypotheses: either she is overwhelmingly desirable, or these guys are just really really horny in a kind of gross way. Most women aren’t self-deluded enough to pick the first option.

In practice, women navigating mostly-male social circles generally get themselves a boyfriend or a husband in fairly short order, which, once this becomes public knowledge, generally serves to decrease the volume of sexual attention they get by some large percentage. Most men are not complete chancers and will typically tone it down with a monogamously partnered woman. Furthermore, many men in the scene may well be partnered themselves, and are typically not going to try to cheat on their wives or girlfriends. All this serves to keep the sexual interest levels manageable.

Polyamory is uniquely destructive because it upends all of these protections. The “get a boyfriend” tactic doesn’t work because everyone will assume you’re still sexually available, since polyamory is the default norm. The “mostly hang out with the partnered men” option now doesn’t work either because these men are still looking for women to add to their roster. Suddenly there is no way to avoid being the bacon rasher in the famine. The only way to opt out is to leave the scene altogether.

The dynamics described in the Time article are not hard to get your head around once you view the problem through this lens. Let’s take the most charitable framework and assume that most of the men not called REDACTED BY A TIME-TRAVELLING AGI in the stories listed didn’t think they were doing anything wrong and had relatively moral intentions. Default polyamory, though, turns what might otherwise be merely awkward or even charming interactions into “oh god not again” in the head of the women in question. Quite reasonably! Who isn’t going to get jaded if every man you run across is trying to get into your pants? 

A heavy-poly scene that is also largely male-dominated is inevitably going to be woman-unfriendly, even before we add in all the existing EA problems around control over jobs and funding applications that certain high-profile gatekeepers enjoy. It’s just bad, makes things worse for women, adds endless drama potential, and makes managing conflicts of interest essentially impossible. As these problems become more and more publicly known, EA will get talent-drained as EA-adjacent people simply give up on applying for jobs and grants because they aren't part of the inner magic sex circle. Though a relatively minor problem, this dynamic also makes life worse for monogamously married men whose wives may not be thrilled with the additional workplace sexual interest that being involved in EA comes with.

EA should, therefore, try systemic affirmative action in favour of monogamous people. Most urgently, there should be a clear commitment from the board of EVF that the next CEO of CEA will a) be monogamous and b) have at least three degrees of sexual separation from any current or past board members of EVF.

No doubt this will get downvoted into oblivion by the poly people, but the future of EA itself is at stake. Eventually FTX will be forgotten, but a rolling series of #MeToo scandals that drip-feed out over the next few years will do huge damage. If you don't think there's more to come, then boy do I ever have some bets we can make for you!






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at least three degrees of sexual separation from any current or past board members of EVF

Uh. Determining whether a candidate qualifies would require not only asking both them and all ~20 past board members who they've slept with, but asking those people everyone who they've ever slept with.

This seems a lot like satire to me, title definitely implies that.

No, the joke is in thinking that you can combine a very hierarchical funding structure, a high % male, widespread polyamory, and have it all not end with torrid #MeToo stories strewn across the mainstream press. Eating babies, on the other hand, would actually have solved Ireland's overpopulation problem, provided they were eaten in sufficient quantities. 

I partly agree with this, but I think the problem of 'high-profile gatekeepers' is much more serious, and that it would exist even in a largely monogamous movement which had the same professional/sexual overlap and the same (blatantly) deficient processes for responding to misconduct from high-profile members.

Put another way, your (b) is more important than your (a). And I can picture a quite idealised situation in which everyone is polyamorous, but they all obey good norms around flirting/displaying interest, and they all keep it strongly separated from money; and so the awful tit-for-tat funding/employment dynamics that have enabled harassment by EAs like Owen Cotton-Barratt don't exist.

But I do agree that this is a pretty idealised situation, and not really achievable from where the EA community is right now. While it's unfortunate, it's also true that long-term relationships are often the main barrier stopping work life and professional life overlapping in these dangerous ways. Widespread polyamory gets rid of this barrier, and so introduces additional danger. Maybe, in an ideal world, the EA community could navigate around this danger; but this is not the ideal world, and after such blatant failures the community really needs to stop seeing itself in such an idealised and sanctified light. EA has failed to navigate these dangers in the past; if EAs stop thinking of their movement as fundamentally holier and analyse it in the same way they analyse any other social movement, they should not expect to be able to navigate them any better in the future. Polyamory might not be a massive priority compared to (say) massively overhauling safeguarding and reporting processes around misconduct; but it's still important.

Thank you. I agree and disagree in part with the last paragraph in particular. It is very true that we do not live in an ideal world, and therefore should opt for pragmatic, sensible solutions. Virtually every other social movement manages to do just fine without widespread polyamory. Perhaps they're better off for it? If poly is essentially confined to some cults and EA, surely the default hypothesis should be that it's clearly societally maladaptive. 

An ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure, after all, so while the Community Health team clearly needs a complete replacement of its existing personnel, perhaps it would be better if such a team either wasn't needed or could be far smaller with far less to do. Procedures fail and bureaucracies are clumsy things. No likes the HR department for a reason: surely everyone would be far better off if there was less need for the EA version of it? 

With regards to your last sentence, the problem here is that I'm not really talking about "safeguarding and misconduct" issues per se. Women can still have a miserable time in a social scene where there are no real safeguarding problems and no obvious misconduct beyond financial COIs (which polyamory does make inevitable, but hey). Monogamy is not infallible of course, but as a default it just makes everything massively easier when it comes to navigating social dynamics between men and women. 

(before someone tells me that no one is poly in their uni EA club, yes I know and that's also not what I'm talking about here)

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