In the venture into the realm of open relationships you may notice that many couples who first open their relationships have an extremely harmful rule- the one penis policy.
In an effort to protect themselves from jealousy and insecurity these people agree to open their relationship’ but only if their partner only dates people of the gender opposite of themselves.
Usually, one penis policy involves a straight cis-man and a bisexual cis woman. There are exceptions. Basically, the cisman wants to be the only penis in his partner’s life.
Opening relationships to see other people can be scary and often we are tempted to construct rules to protect our feelings.
The one penis policy is not actually protecting anyone’s feelings.
The one penis policy acts as a crutch for insecurity and jealousy. Instead of working on overcoming insecurity the one penis policy perpetuates sexism, trans exclusion, and anti LGBTQIAA+ attitudes.
1. The OPP Oversimplifies Gender and Is Transexclusionary
The term “one penis policy” is in itself exclusionary because it refers to only allowing your partner to have your penis in their life as synonymous with only having one male partner.
Both the name and practice are trans-exclusionarily. Men aren’t the only people with penises and not all men have penises.
Additionally, the one penis policy oversimplifies gender. There is no “opposite” gender because gender is not binary. Choosing who your partner dates based on their gender is sexist in a big way. Gender should not affect how okay you are with your partner dating because relationships between all genders (or absence of gender) are all valuable.
2. Male Privilege & Cis-men Make The Rules
The one penis policy’s name is not a coincidence. Usually, the rule is made by cis-men with penises and the OPP has deep roots in toxic masculinity. Often men are allowed to sleep with any gender they want (which usually is just women) while their girlfriend’s only can sleep with women despite an attraction to other off-limit genders.
Any dating rule with a double standard for men and women is going to be a problem in my opinion. OPP is a step away from gender equality and another form of male privilege. Men should not continue to be in control of women’s sexuality.
One member of the relationship is making decisions for both people is unacceptable.
I get asked questions about polygamy and “sister wives” every once in awhile. The differences between polygamy and polyamory are complicated. Often, in polygamy men make all decisions for wives. He has multiple but all must be faithful to only him. OPP is not much better. Allowing your partner to date only who you choose is a less extreme example of how even in alternative relationships escaping sexism and control of women is difficult.
OPP is not much better than this sexist brand of polygamy. Allowing your partner to date only who you choose is a less extreme example of how even in alternative relationships escaping the far reach of sexism is difficult.
3. OPP Devalues Real Relationships
During my attempt at monogamy, I was in an open relationship with a one penis policy. At first, I was excited to have a partner who was willing to try an open relationship. After a while, the hypocrisy began to weigh on me.
Why was my partner okay with me dating women and not men?
“Because it doesn’t count,” he claimed as if it were obvious. I was astonished and dismayed. I made the assumption that since he knew I was bisexual (that was the best way I knew how to identify myself at the time) he was supportive of girl-girl relationships.
Supportive was the wrong word.
Even though he was not openly hateful towards lesbians he also didn’t recognize the value of lesbian relationships.
The one penis policy is a quieter form of discrimination against gay/ bisexual couples that is still harmful.
Saying my relationship did not count was insulting to my sexual identity and every relationship between women and other marginalized genders. Relationships between two women do count and the penis policy minimizes that.
4. Sexualizes legitimate relationships
Along with the one penis policy devaluing relationships between women; it also sexualizes relationships between women.
It is no secret that many men are turned on by “girl on girl action.” Lesbian dominates this map of porn searches.
The problem is that this preoccupation goes beyond the porn folder. Relationships between two women are commonly sexualized.
Having your equally legitimate relationship constantly sexualized is dehumanizing.
The catcalling, whooping, and sexual invitations towards same-sex woman couples have gotten entirely out of hand. In fact, I have had multiple partners and friends who will not participate in public displays of affection because they are so jaded by this experience.
Same sex couples need to be taken seriously and be able to act as any heterosexual couple does without fear of sexual harassment.
The one penis policy is commonly put into place with this mindset. This other relationship turns them on- so they allow it. They diminish their partner’s relationship to masturbation material.
5. OPPs Are Controlling
Men have been trying to control women for a long time and that control and possession is still predominant and terrifying. OPP is an extension of men trying to control women.
Fortunately, this controlling, possessive attitude can be unlearned in some cases. Some men are oblivious to this being sexist and when they realize it is correct their thinking.
Cis men who decide the one penis policy is necessary put a little too much value in their penis. Many see sex between women as unthreatening without acknowledging that the sex can be just as good- or even better.
Having sex with another person with a penis is not going to make your partner leave you unless there are other reasons to break up anyway.
Do not rely on a rule that is hurtful to women and your relationship. Take it slowly and constantly communicate and you can have a satisfying open relationship without the harmful OPP.