Willow Smith Schools Her Family on Polyamory, Sex and Jealousy on Red Table Talk
“I am struggling here,” exclaims Gam as Willow and their guests try to explain the concept.
Willow Smith was at the center of the action on Wednesday’s new episode of “Red Table Talk,” where she opened up about her decision to practice ethical non-monogamy, or polyamory.
As mom Jada Pinkett Smith explained at the top of the show, polyamory is having multiple emotional and/or romantic partners at the same time. While Jada seemed to have a grasp on the lifestyle, Adrienne Banfield-Norris — aka Gam — made it very clear she does not.
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“With polyamory, I feel like the main foundation is the freedom to create a relationship style that works for you and not just stepping into monogamy because that’s what everyone around you says is the right thing to do,” explained Willow to her mother and grandmother. “So I was like, how can I structure the way that I approach relationships with that in mind. Doing research into polyamory, the reasons why monogamous relationships, why marriage, why divorces happen, is infidelity.”
For Gam, however, she felt the concept was “all centered around sex.”
“I was introduced to it through a non-sexual lens,” Willow told her. “In my friend group, I’m the only polyamorous person and I have the least sex out of my friends.”
“When you told me, this is my get down, I was like, I totally get it,” said Jada. “Wanting to set up your life in a way that you can have what it is what you want. I think anything goes as long as the intentions are clear. I know there’s a lot of beauty that sits outside of the conventional boxes.”
Throughout the episode, Gam defended traditional marriages, warning Willow and Jada against condemning those who “enjoy marriage as it is today.” Jada said polyamory wasn’t about “changing a paradigm that works for people,” but was simply another option for people to explore.
“Most people are practicing monogamy because they feel like they have no other choice,” Jada added. “We all know most people out here doing unethical, non-monogamy any damn way,” she continued, as Gam exclaimed, “That’s called cheatin’, y’all!”
Gam explained that with her fourth husband, Rodney, the two actually talked about polyamory at one point and discussed whether it was something “that we wanted to explore.” She also stressed that practicing monogamy is a choice, just like polyamory.
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“I guess I’m not really clear on what it offers you,” she then posed to Willow.
“Could you imagine being in a group and loving everyone equally, whether it’s platonic or not?” asked Willow, with Gam saying “No,” twice. “Wow, then I don’t know what to say,” replied Willow. Jada then asked her daughter how she feels about marriage.
“The history of marriage really irks me. Just the history of marriage as a whole and what it has represented over the years, for women in particular,” she replied. “I feel like the only way I would get married … let’s say me and my partner or partners wants to help people and we need to put our finances together in order to make that vision happen, that’s the only way I could see myself getting married.”
The three were then joined by a polyamorous woman, Gabrielle, who has a platonic life partner, a sexual partner and a boyfriend named Alex, who also joined her. Adding another layer to the dynamic is Alex’s wife, who also has a boyfriend of her own.
“It seems extremely confusing to me. I don’t understand it!” exclaimed Gam. “I’m confused, but it’s okay.”
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As talk turned to some polyamorous men only being okay with their girlfriends dating other women, Gam interrupted again. “I am struggling here, I am struggling. I just don’t understand it,” she interjected, “it still sounds to me like the major motivation is sexual.”
Gabrielle explained that it was more about sexuality for her. “I’m not specifically attracted to me, I’m not specifically attracted to women or any other gender,” she said. “I want to be able to take opportunities if I feel they’re natural to me.”
Alex, meanwhile, admitted there is a sexual element to polyamory, but it’s nothing to be ashamed of and not the only bonus.
“I think there’s a lot of non consensual non-monogamy going on because people just won’t be honest,” said Jada, before Willow also stressed the importance of transparency between any partners, monogamous or polyamorous.
“You all are putting too much on the negative side of monogamy, as if now monogamy is not right,” Gam them exclaimed. “We don’t want to put that out there either. Don’t get frustrated Willow, don’t get frustrated. I just want to be clear that some people still like monogamy!”
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As the conversation continued, Willow revealed she couldn’t see herself “going past two [people] outside of myself” in a polyamorous situation. She also explained that when she first looked into ethical non-monogamy, she found herself getting extremely jealous.
“When I first started and I was all idealistic about it and then I got in the situation like, whoa, there’s a lot that needs to be addressed within myself that maybe I need to step away from the situation and address these things because I actually want to go into this situation with a more, uh, not broken mindset,” she said. “Coming into it feeling fulfilled, I can handle this, I have the tools, the security within.”
“I did things that I said I would never do when I was in my fits of jealousy and that made me realize how much I need to step back and work on myself,” she added. Because of her own jealousy, Gam said she’d “have so much work to do” on herself as well if she ever considered polyamory.
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Despite her confusion, Gam had a “revelation” near the end of the episode.
“I’m sitting up here and I’m really trying to understand and listen and absorb … but, as I’m sitting here I’m recognizing, it’s really not that important for me to understand,” she told everyone. “That’s fact, it’s not important for me to understand. It’s important I’m able to listen without judgment and let you do your thing.”
“If that means 3 people, if it means 10 people, if that’s what works for you, great,” she added. “It doesn’t have anything to do with me. It’s not for us to decide for you, how you should live your life.”
Willow said the conversation made her feel “so excited and seen” and felt they were able to show that “there’s so much here to be mined and to be uncovered.”
Jada, meanwhile, said the talk was a “a beautiful uncovering today and burning away the layers and myths of polyamory.”
And, in case it wasn’t 100% crystal clear, Gam ended the episode by telling her granddaughter, “I’m okay with you being polyamorous Willow, I have no issue with it.”
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