Politics and polyamory – Gendered online discourses about non-monogamies and (in)civility

Daniel Cardoso

Marisa Torres da Silva

Ana Rosa



This presentation focuses on an exploratory research on how debates around polyamory are dependent on the acknowledgment of (non-)monogamies as political topics or not. Taking into consideration the contested space of intimate citizenship, we are currently analyzing the Facebook online comments made with respect to a Portuguese TV newspiece from 2014 that framed polyamory as a political topic, by associating it with the anniversary of the revolution that overthrew the fascist Estado Novo regime in 1974. We analyzed the comments left on the media’s official pages by means of content analysis using NVivo 11, and performed Critical Discourse Analysis on part of those comments. Our results show that polyamory is often relegated to the apolitical by means of a liberal stance on “personal choices”, by both detractors and supporters, and that incivility is strongly gendered, especially from those who claim that polyamory is unacceptable or the sign of moral and social decay. There was also considerable overlap between comments supporting people’s right to be polyamorous and incivility, demonstrating how political discussion is layered and non-binary. These results call into question the functioning of social networks as public spheres of political discussion, and emphasize the importance of recognition of Othered identities for public debate.


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Interest in BDSM/Fetishism and romantic relationships: Preliminary Results

R. Quaresma, P.M. Pascoal, D. Cardoso

Escola de Psicologia e Ciências da Vida, Universidade Lusófona de Humanidades e Tecnologias, Lisbon, PORTUGAL

Objective: The purpose of this study is to understand what challenges people interested in BDSM/fetish perceive they face within romantic relationships.

Design and Method: This cross-sectional qualitative study takes a participatory research approach. The questionnaire was developed in collaboration with members of the Portuguese BDSM/fetishist community - 5 - and was available through an online platform. After approval by the IRB and pilot testing, links to the questionnaire were distributed within the BDSM/Fetishists forums, newsletters, and closed groups within social networks, but also in generalist social networks and via snowballing. There were 103 responses. In this study we focus, via thematic analysis, on participants’ perceptions of unique challenges posed to people who are interested in BDSM within the context of their romantic relationships.

Results: The participants had in average 34.04 years old, 54 male (M=34.81) and 49 female (M=33.48), of the participants 44 males and 35 females had responded interest and/or practiced BDSM/fetishism. Thematic analyses were conducted on 57 informative responses and highlighted that self-disclosure and acceptance of BDSM/fetishism were a major concern, with challenges in maintaining a relationship with a person with no interest in BDSM/fetishism.

Conclusions: Mismatched expectations about how to interact sexually with partners are complex and nondichotomous (e.g.: when partners are kinky but their preferences are similar rather than compatible). There is a tendency to morally invest non-kinksters as being less ‘open’, and kinksters often disavow responsibility in terms of mismatched expectations sometimes with implicit moral superiority. This can be seen as a reaction to stigma around BDSM/fetishism, but it can also hamper interpersonal acceptance.

Polyamory as a gendered experience: Portuguese women talk about non-monogamies and discrimination

Daniel Cardoso (FCSH-UNL; ECATI-ULHT), Inês Ribeiro (FCSH-UNL)


Polyamory emerged as an identity in the early nineties, and non-monogamous people face social discrimination, especially women. This exploratory study analyses how Portuguese non-monogamous women talk about discrimination and how they cope with how society seeks to frame women’s agency as problematic both by its supposed inexistence and excess.


The voyeuristic fascination of sexual alterity: BDSM and kink representations in Portuguese journalism

Daniel Cardoso (CESNOVA - Universidade Nova de Lisboa / CICANT - Universidade Lusófona de Humanidades e Tecnologias)

Mafalda Mota (Faculdade de Psicologia e Ciências da Educação - Universidade do Porto)


The past few years have given way to greater visibility of BDSM as a theme in popular culture, and press coverage of BDSM/kink in Portugal has been sporadic but consistent in the past decade. Following Margot Weiss’ analysis of the American coverage of the same topic, we analyze the journalistic methods by which BDSM/kink is represented in a convenience sample gathered in mainstream newsmagazines and newspapers. By constantly interviewing members of the Portuguese BDSM community, these articles give voice to a closeted sexual minority, but by framing their discourse as Other, it manages to uphold the borders between normative and non-normative sexualities, while providing the readers with voyeuristic pleasure. Academic (psychological) discourse is also a constant, with the double role of serving as assurance of non-pathology and yet reinforcing the privileged role of the psy sciences in making sexuality ‘speak’.