Dear Frances B,
I like going on dates and hooking up with people. I could only see myself in a relationship right now if it was open to the possibility of other lovers, but how do you negotiate that with someone? I just want some sex! I want a lot of sex. But I also want to be treated with respect and not referred to as a “drag-off”, or experience that drunken “I won’t look you in the eyes in the morning” thing. And I don’t want to be committed to one person! Am I totally “out there” or can this be done?
– Notched Belt Girl
Ah. Let’s close our eyes, my compadre, and picture a different society, one where sexuality is never thought of as shameful or sinful. In this little fantasy world, instead of learning about sex from porn and from misinformed b’ys passing notes at school, our sexual knowledge would come from inspired, wise teachers – and when I say sexual knowledge, I don’t mean the path of an ovum through fallopian tubes or the life cycle of a sperm. I mean we would really, actually, learn about …sex.
In our little society, let’s say that techniques for bringing a lover to an earth-moving orgasm are as important a scholarly priority as, say, the Pythagorean Theorem, or the Law of Gravity. Our sexuality is not hidden from us by organized religion, or controlled by outdated laws, and we are taught to respect our partners and revere the innate goodness of our sexual selves. We are legally and morally free to enjoy consensual, respectful sex with as many lovers as we wish, and as often as we like, without being judged or labeled. Oh no, anarchy! Must. Stifle.
Oh right. Not anarchy: Free Love. Yes, back in the 60’s and 70’s some folks popularized the notion that nuclear families weren’t the only way to go. But… lots of dads didn’t stick around to raise their unintended kids (Oops!) And many women experienced the negative repercussions of the stud/slut double standard. The un-closeting of gay and bisexual relationships definitely freaked the hell out of a lot of people. Safer sex was not yet a priority, so STDs went cracked. And traditional marriage was still very much a cultural norm to which promiscuous folks could retreat when things got too confusing, or too freaky, or too unpredictable.
Some 40 years later, though, there are still many people happily enjoying multiple partners. It’s still a radical concept, although many of those people have stable “primary partners” and well-adjusted children. Luckily for you and me, NBG, two of these fine folks have written a funny and practical guidebook on the subject entitled: The Ethical Slut, with deals exactly with the questions you raise.
The Ethical Slut by Catherine Liszt and Dossie Easton (Greenery Press) covers all the p’s and q’s of polyamory – having and keeping multiple partners. “We are proud to reclaim the word “slut” as a term of approval, even endearment,” say Liszt and Easton. “We measure the ethics of a good slut not by the number of his partners, but by the respect and care with which he treats them.”
So to get you through until you make it to the bookstore for your copy of The Ethical Slut, here are subject headers from the chapter entitled “How To F*** Up”: “1. Lie. 2. Avoid self-knowledge. 3. Blame the other person(s) 4. Disclaim responsibility. 5. Push. 6. Play on insecurity. 7. Avoid intimacy. 8. Don’t talk. 9. Remain technically faithful while breaking the spirit of whatever agreement you have whenever possible.”
Wise words for everyone, I tink.
– Frances Beatrix
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