I’ve been debating what to do with this post for over a year, long before the accusations against Franklin became public. The truth is, that while there is a still a lot to learn from this book, the more I learn about abuse and come to terms with the abuse I survived, the more I recognize the abusive nature of the relationships Franklin describes in this book.
I’m leaving this post up, unedited, because fuck re-writing history.
But I’m also going to add a link to the website where the accusations against Franklin are being documented, including the women he wrote about in this book. Polyamory #metoo
If/when Franklin’s Accountability Pod makes a similar site/posts an official response, I’ll try to remember to link that here as well.
Survivors have given up on the transformative justice process and published their stories here. As they rightly say, “Franklin published his stories so the world could read them and share in his narrative account. We are taking an opportunity to do the same,…”
Franklin’s Pod never made any official public statements AS a pod, but the survivors have collected public responses, including some from Franklin and his pod.
I had hoped to post a joint review here, as monogamous friend volunteered to read The Game Changer with me and share their thoughts and reactions. Unfortunately that didn’t work out so without further ado, here is my take on The Game Changer.
You that “watching a train wreck in slow motion” feeling? I lost count of how often I got that reading this book. As someone whose been (more or less) involved in poly for over a decade now, I’ve made most of the easy mistakes. Franklin would start a new section with something like “and we decided this, and had no idea how we were setting ourselves up for disaster.” And I would already be mentally tracing the lines of disaster, shaking my head and thinking “Yup, I remember being that (naive/foolish/culturally brainwashed/oblivious).”
This is why I wanted a monogamous (or at least inexperienced poly person’s) take on The Game Changer. it must be a completely different read for those of us who haven’t been around the block long enough to see those disasters coming a mile away.
I won’t go into the details of Franklin’s story here. I will say that the title is fitting. There is a Game Changer in the story, and after the change hits, the game is no longer recognizable as what it once was.
In spite of the almost complete lack of surprise in any of the major “plot twists,” I had trouble putting the book down. As usual, Franklin has an engaging writing style, a way of working humor, self awareness, and bulls-eye insight into his narrative that makes for an engrossing read.
It seems that we, as a culture, understand that if we leave kids to teach themselves math or history or literature, few people will end up being good at those things. So we have developed formal systems of education to teach people, to help them become productive members of society. But we don’t teach them communication, compassion, forgiveness, empathy, or many other skills we need to become fully formed human beings. We leave kids to figure that stuff out on their own. The results are about what we might expect if we left them, say, to deduce the laws of algebra by themselves. The difference is that most of us need interpersonal skills a lot more than we need algebra.
If Franklin’s writing suffers from any flaw, it is a tendency to take a US-centric view, which has occasionally been criticized in his advice on polyamory. However in a memoir, that kind of cultural focus is not just expected, it is required.
Perhaps the most important thing I took away from The Game Changer is a new perspective on the poly approach to honesty and communication:
Self awareness is a prerequisite for open and honest communication. We can’t tell others the truth of our feelings and needs if we refuse to face them and admit them to ourselves.
The Game Changer by Franklin Veaux will be available on September 23, 2015, from Thorntree Press.