Dirty Sexy History podcast

Episode 3.15. The Oneida Community: Progressive Utopia or Polyamorous Cult?

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Between 1848 and 1879, the Oneida Community tried to build heaven in Upstate New York through the principles of communism, free love, and contraception. Under the guidance of charismatic preacher John Humphrey Noyes, the community practiced “complex marriage,” meaning everyone was allowed to sleep with everyone else. But there was a dark side to this seemingly progressive paradise—Noyes was a narcissist who exercised extreme control over the lives of his followers, experimenting with eugenics in his quest for immortality. In this special double episode, Jess covers Noyes’s early life and theology, the structure and sexual practices of the community, and its experiments in birth control and “stirpiculture.” You’ll never look at a spoon the same way again.

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