Dear Diversity Group,
It is with great concern that I write to draw your attention to statements made by Tara Hewitt, who is listed as a Diversity Group Award nominee. They suggest strongly that, far from encouraging diversity, she encourages diversity in a few areas but also has strong views that other diversities have no legitimacy and should be rejected. Her personal statements seem grossly inappropriate for anyone in a position of standing, much less someone suitable for consideration as a face of UK diversity.
I ask that you examine whether this behaviour makes Tara a suitable candidate for a Diversity Award, would showcase diversity work, or would reflect well on the work you yourselves do.
The comments are from her Twitter account (@Tara_Hewitt) over the last week. They relate to people who are not in traditional monogamous relationships – for example people who live in a three-way relationship, or have committed long term outside partners with their partners’ agreement. Such relationships, their parenting, their social welfare, and their needs and care, are known as “polyamory”, and are long-established although often tacitly and without fanfare. [Note: Wikipedia defines polyamory as “the practice, desire, or acceptance of having more than one intimate relationship at a time with the knowledge and consent of everyone involved”.] Relationships like this are surprisingly common, especially in the LGBT communities, and are what Tara Hewitt directly states are illegitimate, and uses grotesque parenting stereotypes to smear and to declare she does not consider acceptable. With them, she delegitimises a great many diverse relationships across a great many communities.
The Tweets are attached as a separate document of screenshots, all from her account (@Tara_Hewitt), and were all posted between 24 – 27 April 2014.
In her Tweets, Tara states that people who wish to have children in the context of a polyamorous relationship, are “selfish” and “part of societies [sic] obsession with doing something because we can regardless of if we should” (24/04/14 at 22:49). She disregards that people may wish for children for far more profound reasons than just “what they can do”.
Tara next asserts that to her, polyamory isn’t a valid relationship “identity” (24/04/14 at 23:35) – although hers is by no means the view of many polyamorous people themselves. She states that the view of the people themselves whose personal sense of identity is discussed, is illegitimate (if they see polyamory as an identity) and that her blunt denial of their sense of identity is what is correct. Telling a person in any minority that they are wrong about their identity is grossly disrespectful and damaging.
Tara in effect tacitly marginalises all such relationships as illegitimate even while stating she “ha[s] no judgment” (24/04/14 at 23:49). For example, she claims that her only concern is parenting (24/04/14 at 23:49), but then almost immediately she states elsewhere “I do not support the new emerging “polyamorous” rights campaign” whether or not children are involved at all (24/04/14 at 23:25) and generally attacks all polyamorous relationships indiscriminately even if those without children (“You choose to be in a polyamorous relationship”: 24/04/14 at 23:20).
There is a legitimate discussion to be had about parenting in any minority. But this is not that legitimate discussion; it is a disenfranchising, narrow, rigid, prejudicial view, unrelated to legitimate research or personal experience.
I feel these Tweets are at odds with the aims of the Diversity Awards, as set out on your website, especially the aim to honour “outstanding devotion to enhancing equality, diversity and inclusion; thus embracing the excellence of all our citizens, irrespective of race, faith, religion, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, disability and culture“, and the purpose of the specific award, the Positive Role Model Award, she has been nominated for, which is to “know that diversity makes for a rich tapestry, and […] understand all the threads of the tapestry are of equal value“.
Tara’s comments made me, a polyamorous person, feel that my thread in the tapestry was not of equal value, in comparison to, for example, the “gay” thread (her Tweet: “gay people are gay they dont [sic] choose to be gay. You choose to be in a polyamorous relationship” 24/04/14 at 23:20).
As someone who identifies as polyamorous, I feel hurt, erased and alienated by Tara’s comments. I feel like she has made a judgement, having never met me, nor spoken with me on the topic of how I live my life, about my suitability to parent based solely on who I am intimate with and how. I feel she has erased my polyamorous identity, treating me as a second-class citizen whose rights are unimportant compared to those of other minority groups, and assumed my ability to function in society is somehow impaired by this identity.
I was also concerned by Tara’s Tweet stating “[i]t would appear I have developed some lib dem [sic] stalkers” (27/04/14 at 11:59). This was in response to Liberal Democrat Twitter users expressing their concern to her about her Tweets regarding polyamorous parenting. It concerns me greatly that someone holding the position of Diversity Consultant, who is nominated for a Diversity Award should casually throw around words like “stalker”, much less use it to discuss people who object to her asserting their lives are not valid. I feel this trivialises the seriousness of the experience of victims of genuine stalking, shows her disregard for concerns that should, rightly, be addressed, and her unwillingness to enter dialogue about those concerns.
As a Diversity Consultant, Tara advocates on behalf of vulnerable groups, and I feel her use of language such as this erases with disturbing lack of conscience, the lives of the very people she is supposed to advocate for. I would hope that the Diversity Awards expects its nominees to be demonstrably inclusive and thoughtful, to measure their speech carefully when discussing experiences outside their own, to have private views that match their public stances, and to walk their talk in dialogue about diversity.
I am concerned that in her eagerness to strengthen the rights of certain minority groups, Tara’s behaviour, rather than creating a level playing field where all are judged on their merits, is reinforcing the current two-tier system where some groups are recognised as full members of society, and granted rights accordingly, and others are not. Who falls into which if these two categories may change, but the categories themselves, and the unfair way people are placed in one or the other based on prejudiced assumptions, remain. I would hope that the Diversity Awards seek to level the playing field rather than perpetuate the current two-tier system.
I am not raising this concern out of malice, vindictiveness, or a desire for party-political point-scoring (I am not affiliated to any political party), but because I am genuinely concerned that Tara’s nomination may undermine the credibility of the Diversity Awards, and signal that even within diversity, it’s permissible to delegitimise an entire diverse group on spurious grounds.
I look forward to your confirmation that this is taken with utmost seriousness, and your reply.
Selected Tweets from account @Tara_Hewitt:
“Polyamorous lovers having a child is selfish and part of societies obsession with doing something because we can regardless of if we should” 24/04/14 at 22:49
“@stealthmunchkin because simply choosing to have lots of partners is not a identity” 24/04/14 at 23:35
“.@pseudomonas not at all I have no judgement about people in poly relationships. Its when that impacts on a child I have an issue with it” 24/04/14 at 23:49
“@AaronLSpense polyamorous is a relasionship choice and will create confusion and impact on a childs development…” 24/04/14 at 23:16
“@AaronLSpense gay people are gay they dont choose to be gay. You choose to be in a polyamorous relationship” 24/04/14 at 23:20
“I do not support the new emerging “polyamorous” rights campaign that seems to be emerging” 24/04/14 at 23:25
“It would appear I have developed some lib dem stalkers. Its nice they’re taking an interest in the Conservative party our doors are always open” 27/04/14 at 11:59
Tara has been made aware of this post and has been offered the right to reply either here or elsewhere.