260 of 288 people found the following review helpful
on November 24, 2013
I write this review as someone who is extremely sympathetic to polyamory, has explored it in the past, and has made the choice that it is not something that would be ultimately as satisfying for me as monogamy.
I am delighted with certain aspects of the book that reframe abundant sexual expression in positive ways, promote honest, authentic, and safe relationships, and encourage people to explore with openness what is true for them. I also enjoy the "workbook" like nature of many of the inquiries, allowing many people to really make these ideas concrete in their own lives.
However, even upon re-reading this 2nd edition, I fundamentally disagree with too many of the underlying premises and the underlying energy of defensiveness throughout the book. Foremost is the underlying premise that monogamy isn't anything special, and that you can essential do everything you can do in monogamy with polyamory. The authors suggest quite explicitly in several places that monogamy is simply a more sexually repressed, unenlightened, and outdated version of a more supposedly spiritually mature polyamory. I find their arguments utterly unconvincing, overly simplistic, defensive, and often overstated.
I maintain that monogamy and polyamory are qualitatively different and should not be compared as if they were better or lesser versions of the same thing. They are both beautiful, both unique, and there is something special about both of them. They present qualitatively different challenges that are not the same. Monogamy inviting challenges that can ONLY come from unconditionally committing to be sexually exclusive with one person. Polyamory invites challenges that can ONLY come from unconditionally being open to letting love and sexual exploration flow as they arise. A truly non-biased book on polyamory would address both of these things as if they were equally beautiful, not as if one was better than the other.
Also, it would have struck me as more balanced to give some credence to the idea that some people do indeed explore polyamory as a means to escape when confronting their edges, out of fear of commitment or 'abandonment', or other choices that don't come from love. I would have liked to have seen a process to help people tell the difference between moving towards polyamory out of fear vs. because it is truly aligned for us. Our authors seem to suggest fairly consistently that any foray into polyamory is a step in the direction of greater love and sexual expression whereas my own exploration and so too those of many of my friends suggest that this is not always (or often) the case.
There are also ideas in the book which strike me as simply incorrect or inconsistent For example: the authors seem to be thoroughly convinced in "the more is better attitude" equating more sexual partners with notions of sexual abundance. They write that they see no benefit in restriction or abstinence. Yet they paradoxically also seem to promote healthy boundaries. I see this as inconsistent. Every ancient spiritual tradition that I know of (from tantra to taoism) that is sex positive has highly developed practices of sexual abstinence that increase the intensity, pleasure, and intimacy among sexual partners when they do occur. To not see any role for abstinence and restriction in sexual empowerment strikes me as adolescent and a really dangerous proposal for those who truly value self-connection and self-realization.
Restriction and abstinence are not forms of repression if they arise from a clear discernment about we we want. Furthermore what is common to both monogamy and polyamory is the willingness to redirect all of our energy, all of our sexuality towards where it will flower most in the world. A monogamist does this with one person. A polyamorist with many. I don't see any need to bash monogamy to promote polyamory. Let polyamory stand on its own.
Because of these and many other reasons, I find this book to be a stepping stone to better books about the subject that aren't so defensive, overstated, and are much more balanced in their approach.
Perhaps the pioneers of a lifestyle need to be a bit more overzealous and defensive about getting something 'new' out into the world. This doesn't mean we need to carry their biases into our own explorations. So if you want to explore polyamory, this book has quite a bit to offer, but don't ever lose touch with your heart, what you really want, and what is true for you.
I would like to see a book on polyamory that doesn't treat it like a new paradigm replacing an old paradigm. Monogamy is probably here to stay, and for good reason. What I hope for is a book that speaks of coexistence and true inclusivity for all love and sexual styles.
193 of 219 people found the following review helpful
on April 24, 2009
The Ethical Slut is incredible!
I first read The Ethical Slut (first edition) as part of a college course. As an undergrad, I was already well on my way to being a proud slut - I did the usual versions of short-term college dating, hookups, friends-with-benefits, threesomes, and the like, with or without a committed partner at various times. It all felt natural and right, but there were invariably awkward moments of poor negotiation, misunderstood communication, and mis-handled jealousy.
When I read The Ethical Slut, I found an amazing wealth of information and suggestions on how I could make my various relationships work better and more smoothly. I wished I'd had this book all along - it would have saved so much trouble! If only I'd known that an agreement to "see other people" wasn't nearly complete enough! The Ethical Slut lays out all the things to think about in having open relationships of various sorts. I've been called a slut since I was 14, but it was this book that gave me the idea that being a slut could be a good thing - and now I couldn't be happier with my fabulous life as a proud slut.
The Ethical Slut is an entertaining, readable, real-life explanation of all the options in relationships. Whether you want to be single or partnered or grouped, poly or monogamous, or whatever else, this book helps you figure out all the possibilities better. It's THE relationship book for anyone who wants more options than a "leave-it-to-beaver" relationship.
If you're just starting to explore open relationships, or you're even just thinking about it, there's no better place to start than with this book. And if you're already immersed in poly life, it's got the "advanced level" information you need. For those who know and love the first edition, the second edition is definitely worth adding to your collection. There's a ton of new information on the really crucial details of how to make all sorts of poly and open relationships work.
The second edition now has exercises exercises, taken from Dossie Easton's work as a therapist with poly folks, that you and/or your partner(s) can work on together. I loved the new section on living as a single slut - which makes the point that sluthood and open loving can be an identity that doesn't require a conventional partnership to secure or ground it. It also offers ideas on how to get one's needs met from a network of friends and lovers - useful information for pretty much anyone. The new segments on handling jealousy and conflict are especially good for those of us who have been involved in poly relationships for some time and need the more detailed info, from the voices of experience, to help through the rough spots. I feel like I'm always learning in poly relationships, and every time I go back to The Ethical Slut, there's some tidbit that helps with the complicated, hard, or unexpected parts of a generally fabulous poly life.
Whether you've read the first edition or not, this is definitely a book you should own. I've read it 3 or 4 times now, and I keep going back to it to check out certain sections that become more relevant as I encounter new poly challenges.
Rather than offering generalities and theories, The Ethical Slut speaks from many people's experience over many decades. It's the real-life information that you need to make all your relationships amazing!!
(and, speaking of making sex and play and relationships amazing, check out some of Dossie Easton and Janet Hardy's other books - The Topping Book, The Bottoming Book, When Someone You Love Is Kinky, and Radical Ecstasy!)
214 of 268 people found the following review helpful
on February 2, 2012
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
My partner isn't just some guy I'm dating; we share a home together. We share our lives together. He's part of my FAMILY. A compendium of flippant personal opinions that lack scholarly/clinical/statistical backing, and a smattering of personal anecdotes from the authors' lives is NOT what I need to guide me through one of the more important decisions I'll make in my life.
Non-monogamy is hard work, especially for folks like us raised up in a society that is so biased toward monogamy... and so grossly misinformed about even the basics of non-monogamy. I actually have poly friends to look to for advice or as examples, but most folks don't. So most of us don't have anything to go on. And the thing is, even the most sincere, loving, caring, honest people can torpedo their relationship BY ACCIDENT, through totally innocent mistakes. I'm lucky enough just to know that from reading some excellently-written and informative websites--A million times more useful than this waste of a book. So many people have raved about The Ethical Slut, so I picked up a copy. I was LIVID before I could finish the first chapter, and I had to force myself to finish the rest of the book, just in case there was something--anything--of value amid the vapid, self-serving rubbish the authors present.
Speaking of chapter one, the authors even fail at justifying the concept of rehabilitating the word slut... they themselves say that one of the primary attributes given to the word "slut" is that a slut is indiscriminate... and then they blather on a bunch of nonsense without ever sorting that one *little* issue out. The word is not salvageable, ESPECIALLY in regards to the concept of relationship ethics (which they repeatedly claim is a prime focus of their book), because indiscriminate behavior is utterly counter to ethical relationship behavior. I won't harp on it any more but I will tell you that an opening chapter that is complete HOOEY did not leave me anticipating the remaining chapters. Hey, Dossie and Janet, you chose the word to use in your title because you knew it would sell more books. Period. Don't feed me a bunch of BS to try to claim otherwise. I'm not stupid.
By the time I was 3/4 through the rest of the book I was reduced to scanning paragraphs. It's all just opinions and personal anecdotes from two people. I am having to seriously monitor my language right now, because it makes me so angry to think about people buying this book because they need information, and getting this useless crap instead, and thinking that they've gotten the information they need to navigate the ocean that is non-monogamy. How many good people have accidentally destroyed their relationships because they thought they had done their homework by reading this? So much SUFFERING. I hope the authors choke on a royalty check.
I'm about to order Opening Up now. With a description that includes things like, "Drawing on in-depth interviews with over a hundred women and men, Opening Up explores the real-life benefits and challenges of all styles of open relationships -- from partnered non-monogamy to solo polyamory" and, "offers solutions for making an open relationship work, including tips on dealing with jealousy, negotiating boundaries, finding community, parenting and time management", it sounds far more likely to give readers the IMPORTANT INFORMATION THEY NEED. (Update: Opening Up is an EXCELLENT resource and I highly recommend it!)
This is my life, my love, and my family we're talking about here. I don't have time for the opinions of a couple of attention whores. Rehab THAT word, Dossie and Janet.
68 of 84 people found the following review helpful
on March 11, 2009
I have always loved sex, but growing up in the South, felt a bit guilty about that. Even though I had open-minded parents, the society around me shaped my beliefs more than I often like to admit.
I found this book very helpful as it showed me that I am not the only one to feel as I do about sex and, more importantly, that I'm not a "bad" person for feeling this way.
Whether or not you are interested in having more sex, or justifying the sex you already have, this book will help you to work with the mental issues around that.
Being an "ethical slut" is about much more than sex though-- it's about having the courage to express your feelings and following your desires. It's about expanding yourself to new levels and going way beyond the limits society has set for you.
Of course, that is my definition. One of the great things about this book is that it allows you to define "ethical slut" for yourself. The authors throw it all out there. Bisexuality, multiple partners are once, marriage, leather, bondage, and more is included here. You pick what works for you. You're also free to change that at any time.
Good book. Very progressive and certainly not for everybody. The book encourages you to follow your own road though, so if you read it, do so knowing that it's perfectly ok for you to disagree.
A related book, which I also love, and I think you will also, is Just Fk Me! - What Women Want Men to Know About Taking Control in the Bedroom. Something else to make you question everything and come up with your own thoughts.
15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on March 14, 2012
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
Ethical Slut by Dossie Easton and Janet Hardy, review by Dan Nicholas, 1.3.13 edit
The Slut word in the title scared me off for years. But I got weary reading about this book and decided to get bold and buy it. Good move. Especial since one of the authors had come out, using her real name in the second edition. But why me and this book? For starters, as a retired priest I'm pretty much a traditionalist and yet probably at the same time in some denial about being an Eros positive male slut wannabe. And, not unlike the 2% milk I drink, on a good day I'm only about 2% kinkster. Poly? Hardly. So, again, why am I reading this book; and a lot of people like me?
Because--God forgive me if I'm wrong--I'm starting to think that the Divine is a bit slutty in a way. The Divine into the slut thing? Really? Well, think about it. We all want more love and that's what we mean by slut--someone whose having more, getting more ecstatic connections than you, right? We're just not sure what "more" means.
Like a lot of folks who'd never be seen in an airport with this title in hand, I'm old fashioned. I never wanted more than one woman I don't think. But then reality kicks in. I get honest and...well, a little more ethical. I'm in my early 60s and on my third marriage. Ouch. So why did I pick up this book and, for heaven's sake? And love it? This is not what they taught me in seminary! Maybe not. But I'm starting to get honest and come out about being an ethical slut myself.
For one thing I've come out this last decade with my eroticism in general, thanks to writers like Susie Bright. To be honest, sexually speaking, I'm one of those "pretty much you want to nail them all" guys like Billy Crystal's character in When Harry Met Sally. Yes, I want all the women. Any guy who says different I say is most likely a liar. And by Eastman and Hardy standards, not ethical.
Yes, I was born with this curse that says I want love to go with; to go with all my man/woman connections. And I even want to grow old with one woman, which makes me a 99% monogamy man. Well, it's all madness, isn't it? On this I'd toss my hat in with Rachel Resnick and her memoir, Love Junkie. I am that love junkie man I guess. So I'll always want to be having more sex than you are having. Which makes me a slut. And I want to be honest with myself in all things. Which makes me want to be honest sexually, too. Now wasn't it Heraclitus in the 5th century BC who said that the senses are false witnesses to an impure soul? Time for some soul honesty. And why not? I think all of us want to be ethical. And we'd have to admit most of us like at least part of the joy of being a little more slutty.
Again, the Divine is slutty sometimes, no? This thought occurred to me the other day reading this book. Especially if we think about opening up our sex life to God and to a beloved, a significant and intimate other. Heck, to all the heavenly host, right? Then are we not all then into a group sex thing in some fashion? All love is group love maybe then? At least a three way. Especially if God/Goddess are invited to look. And if our sex is ethical why wouldn't we want all the gods to look and to applaud? Maybe even for all of us to open our eyes together?
So I bought the book, knowing I had a few things to learn. This title gave me practical tips on communicating what I need and want sexually and romantically. It's all about being honest. Good sex for me is always about how we can bring along the virtues as we get naked and honest, too. That's what I got from this book, albeit in an odd way.
Self honesty? I confessed recently to my wife being jealous of her cats. Her chiropractor; her massage therapist. They all those who get to touch her. Sometimes even when I'm not invited to. I've a few things to learn I guess. This book helped me admit I still am sort of the jealous type, which galls me. I'm working on it.
As to the craziness of slutty love--and this book does get a bit crazy--I have been reading this last decade many spiritual writers, Christian monastics and mystics and early century theologians who spoke oddly enough and openly about the wild madness of erotic love--Eros Maniakos--maniacal sold out give up everything, edgy to die for love for God. Needless to say, a growing love for the poetry and prose of all risk taking with eroticism (Love Poems From God, Daniel Ladinsky) have kept me reading more. From seventh century forward, St. Maximus the Confessor of Constantinople (Turkey, Istanbul); to Elder Porphyrios of modern times in (Athens, Greece), or St. Symeon the New Theologian in the 10th century and his Divine Eros.
Holy men and women of God speak of edgy eros, of all out desire for the Divine. Philip Serrard seems to in his Christianity and Eros (1976). So I guess that makes all these writers slutty, too. They want to have more than you're having.
I'm thinking now of Bernini's statue of St. Teresa of Avila in the West (loved her Interior Castle). The image of that sculpture in Rome is etched in my mind here. There she is fainting in orgasmic bliss, in 3D, in church no less. In the throes of erotic release. In church. Her heart is being pierced by the arrow of God and it is a sex thing. Unless you are a dull person you can't see this and take it in. (Does the Pope know about this? Is he still permitting this sort of sex in church? My, my.)
Professor Kyriacos Markides of Maine speaks often of Eros Maniakos in his Mountain of Silence (2002) and also in his other works: Gifts of the Desert and Inner River. Any love story, it seems to me, is a story of love madness. So this was my pull to actually read about all out ethical eroticism detailed here by these two mad for love poly authors. Who proudly call themselves both slutty, severely erotic, and ethical. OK, why not. I'm a philosopher and a theologian. We talk about ethics a lot. We best get honest about the eros part, too.
As to the confluence of spirituality and love and sexuality, Easton and Hardy take a serious look at this with their other work, Radical Ecstasy (2004) which is all about bliss, the divine, Tantra, falling, and the losing control thing. Breath, chakras, surrender. So much for the charge that these authors are only and always about some slutty sex equals pleasure only doctrine. God gets in there with them. Also, I see these days more writing about BDSM and "leather spirituality" and the transcendence of dark eros. Again: my, my.
I'm not the only one in recently decades to grown weary with the dishonesty of the traditional church--Catholic, Protestant, Orthodox--around sexuality. When single and divorced ten years back I asked an Orthodox monk and speaker at a Greek Orthodox two day workshop on Sex, Love and Marriage what leaders in the church had in as advice for the 45 million mid-life folk in this country who are now dating online. To this day I love his crisp reply to me and the 100+ Sex, Love and Marriage workshop inquirers in attendance. Said the then monk now church hierarch: "Advice from the church? To be honest, we don't have a clue."
So, I got over the title of this book, over my false purity about the slut word. I read it. So I could get a clue. I spent dozens of hours thinking about the stuff Easton and Hardy brought up here. They became during my reading here my priest/priestess love coaches.
I had to get ethically honest and I invite you to as well. If I as Mr. Church guy am so into the romantic love/marriage/family monogamy path, why am I on my third marriage? If I'm so one-man-for-one-woman forever...why am I still attracted to other women? Why was the divorce so costly and painful? Worth it but costly? Twice. And remarried at age 58, why do I get jealous of my wife's cats and friends sometimes. Each who also want to love her? And why does Dark Eros (Thomas Moore, 1998) and even some of BDSM even still fascinate me? And why have I read dozens of books on Eros Maniakos and the mystics and monks and nuns who have retained their commitment to mad, go for broke love for God? Guess it all makes me rather down in the trenches slutty some. I'm getting to like the term, actually.
Again, I picked up this Easton-Hardy title for the same reason I picked up Tristan Taormino 's Opening Up (BTW, of my 130 Amazon reviews, it's the most popular to date) because two couple friends of mine and one single friend are in one of those "complicated" (Baldwin's character to Streep's character: "It's complicated!") relationships that are poly type. Poly. Even the word intrigues and confounds. My partner and I have spent hours discussing these creative relationships our friends have. Why parts of what they have seem to work? And why do some poly type relationships seem so alive while some old school type Married Folk seem to endure only in their deadness?
I recently read and loved Sex At Dawn by Christopher Ryan, made me rethink monogamy. Like Ethical Slut, Sex At Dawn makes me rethink how church people preach monogamy for life but aren't much better at it statistically than the unchurched. And, besides, when I set out a decade back on my own path dating in midlife, trying to be honest, I knew I'd likely be "kissing a few frogs" mixing it up naked with a few ladies on my self discovery path. I wanted to be ethical.
So, in an odd way, dating is always going to be a serial monogamy/poly/ethical homework assignment. Especially if you invite God in, seems to me. Especially if you are trying to be honest and perhaps date several women at a time; which I was only able to do for three months. Which makes me not good poly material I guess.
My biggest take away from the book? Solid tips on jealousy, honesty, agreements, communication, saying what you want. Meaning what you say. How to fight fair. Flirting honestly with other women while in a committed relationship. Flirting, yes. Something I've always done and don't intend to stop is flirting with the Safeway cashier. Thanks to the call if this book I'm increasingly OK with that.
A confession here. After reading this book I'm still pretty much with author Chloe Caldwell. (See her article: Legs Get Led Astray, 2012) As she said, it takes special, almost otherworldly people to do the poly thing. Caldwell shows herself in her essay on Why I Am No Longer An Ethical Slut found at the Faster Times zine. "As much as I love the idea, as much as I think it is a wonderful book, I don't think being an Ethical Slut is possible. At least not for him. At least not for me."
One of her friends commented on Caldwell's mad love relationship: "Chloe, you guys spent three years being shady for dopamine." Caldwell agreed. Yes, being shady is not being ethical.
"It's never been better said. We were cheaters, liars; we were addicted to a feeling we'd created. There was not one ethical thing about it."
So, to wrap up this tome of a review, even though I was a 98% voyeur type while reading all this about sluthood from Easton and Hardy, I learned a lot. I learned even more than simply tolerance for these poly writers. I learned some key relationship let's-talk-about-it-in-the-daylight skills. Actually, I liked the Eastman/Hardy smaller title When Someone You Love Is Kinky (2000). Ethical Slut is a far more exhaustive work.
I'd recommend this book for died in the wool traditionalists like the unbrave one star reviewer here at Amazon who threw the book away half read. Monogamy folk and poly timers alike could up their communication skills on jealousy and fighting fair paying attention to what's contained here. And and get something in just contemplating the whole business of what it means to want more. A thoughtful book.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on January 4, 2012
The main premise of the book is that being sexually promiscuous (being a "slut") is not a "bad thing." It actually is a positive experience to live as a slut: to have the freedom and ability to express one's sexuality and to act on (consensual) sexual desires. The authors attempt to reclaim the word slut as a label that positively describes someone's ability and desire to have a variety of positive sexual encounters, experiences, and partners.
While there were a few things I did like about this book, there were also some things I was not as fond of. The writing feels disconnected from my generation. The authors seem to place an emphasis on "free love" which feels out of touch with the way our society is structured and with how most people live right now. This isn't to say that I don't think "free love" is a humbling and sort of noble idea; I would actually prefer it, I think, if people had the humility and security to love many people and have sex with many people without it causing anxiety, fear of loss, jealousy, and anger. Overall, though, it doesn't feel like a practical guide to expanding relationships and sexual experiences. The authors actually admit to having their roots in 1960s San Francisco, and most of the book feels couched in a small, small slice of the American experience and not applicable to mainstream America.
I really did like, however, their discussion about how the taboo nature of sex has led to distorted views about the sexual experience and misinformation. If no one can openly talk about sex and ask questions when there is confusion about the real mechanics of sex, then I think people go off of the messages they receive from mass media and porn. Sex is always passionate, right? The woman always squirts, right? The man is always bigger than the woman, right? There is always a lot of grunting and screaming, right? I think if we all talked to all of our friends, family, neighbors, and coworkers, we would find out that the sexual experience is as diverse as people are in general. Because social constraints keep us from talking openly about sex with everyone we might want to, we have no way of knowing that not every man grunts, not every woman orgasms the same way, that sometimes sex is just sex and not some mind-blowing, earth-shattering event. One of their suggestions for breaking yourself out of your own "sex is taboo" box is to write down all sex-related words that you can think of, and then choose the ones you like. Say them out loud five times in a row so that you actually feel comfortable saying them. It makes it easier to communicate to yourself and others what you want, what you like, and what you want to do.
The chapter on jealousy was also solid, and had some great tips about how to manage and face jealousy. A lot of their suggestions had to do with relaxation techniques, being honest with yourself and your partner, appropriate ways to respond to jealousy, and how to problem solve and manage conflicts peacefully and constructively. The chapters on health and raising children were also informative and helpful. Lastly, I really liked the authors' ability to talk about the "real-world" constraints of having an open relationship: time, money, and one's ability to have sex many times a day are all limited! It does take honest negotiation and communication to make an open relationship work.
20 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on August 27, 2010
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
While the book offers many humorous anecdotal examples of how polyamorous couples are able to successfully navigate the challenges of multi-partner pairing, I found the exercises that readers are supposed to complete with their partner(s) a bit lacking. In short, it is a useful tool for reinforcing or promoting the idea that it is not morally or biologically "better" to be strictly monogamous, but it is not the only literature to consider before making any lifestyle changes. Additionally, the topics of sexually transmitted infections and unwanted pregnancies are not treated with appropriate seriousness, but instead are glazed over as minor impediments.
32 of 42 people found the following review helpful
on May 23, 2012
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
I bought this book from Amazon and received it today. I immediately cracked it open and ended up reading it cover to cover in one sitting. I kept reading hoping I would come to the part that prompted 29 Amazon reviewers to give it 4 or 5 stars. Or the part that supported editorial reviews of "definitive guide", "absolute masterpiece", "a must-read". That moment never happened.
This is a simple book that has obviously helped enlighten a number of readers. If, however, you've done any reading on feminist thought, artful negotiation, fair fighting or sexuality your reading time is probably better spent on more in-depth, complex material.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on January 12, 2015
Having read this book myself, and having had my own experience with polyamory, I have to make this assessment.
When I first read the book, there were a lot of things that really resonated with me. Ideas of freedom and abundance. But I was also young and naive. And that's problematic. Because I honestly don't believe anyone in their teens and 20's knows what they want out of a relationship, or who they are. And that is exactly the audience that is going to be most attracted to this kind of book. So you're talking about a book that proposes entangling multiples peoples lives, emotions, and genitals -- during a time in life when a young adult still hasn't grasped how they feel about themselves, their own emotions, and own sexuality. It's a recipe of disaster.
There were parts of this book I found really insightful. Like the parts about communication (really, everything in love and life is about communication). In those pages, I found the message most beneficial to the reader. Other parts of the book were very delusional. Like the general idea from the book that polyamory is superior to monogomy, and is the more "enlightened" way to live. It's pretentious to say the least.
Some parts of the book were promoting down right predatory behavior. Which I would consider most unethical. But the way they are presented is in such a positive way, that it became very grey-area at best. For example, when the book talks about when to "come out" to a new potential dating partner about your lifestyle. It basically said that "its your business and you don't have to tell anyone if you don't want to." That's extremely immature, and irresponsible. If I am planning to get sexually and emotionally involved with a person, it matters very much to me if they are sleeping with a new stranger every week. I want to be aware if I am exposing myself to risk of STI's, at the very least, and have a right to know this information. If you get involved with a person sexually, they have a right to know what kinds of risks they are exposing themselves to. To believe that your "lifestyle" should be your little secret, is not only shady, but kind of unethical -- and this whole chapter pretty much goes completely contradictory to the "open communication" chapter of the book.
I got the impression that the book was a lot less about love and compassion, and a lot more about filling a greedy sexual agenda and being as private (and secretive) as you want. Which then the book lambastes exclusive relationships as being the "greedy" way to live life, because it claims sharing your body is the only way to be selfless. Very black-and-white kind of thinking. Not to mention the multiple hypocrisies.
I've met other polyists and I just get a very strong feeling of defensiveness from all of them. Even I, during my phase, had to really convince myself that such a lifestyle was acceptable. Lying to yourself about your behavior is not healthy. Quite frankly, its self delusion; denial.
And I got that same sense that the author was trying to "convincing herself" that it's ok from this book too. I also got the reoccurring feeling that it was more about sex than love. I mean, it takes a lot of maturity to commit to one person. And I'm not talking about sexually, but emotionally too. That takes a lot. Sex and emotions go hand in hand. They are not mutually exclusive. And I got a strong feeling from this book trying to convince me that not only is sex "just sex," but that separating your emotions from sex is not only ok, but it's healthy. Which, I'm sorry, but it's just not. To deny the emotional aspect of your sexuality is unhealthy.
And for someone who may have experienced trauma in life regarding sex, this kind of attitude can be extremely dangerous.
I'm not 100% against polyamory as an ideal. I understand the principle, and I can totally imagine how a group of 3 or 4 persons could live in harmony together -- Without any delusions, in a stable, healthy, non-abusive, emotionally safe, secure arrangement. I can picture how it's possible.
But quite frankly, I've never personally met any polyists who I could describe that way. And even this author, I get a strong feeling of unhealthy defensiveness. And I just have to ask in this case "what are they trying to hide from?"
It takes a lot of maturity to commit to one person, and stay faithful for decades. It isn't the end-all-be-all way to live a life... But I just get the impression that a lot of polyists are just not very emotionally mature people. The defensiveness also shows that a person hasn't done the necessary introspection into their own intentions to give a really good non-biased view of their lifestyle.
Does being an ethical slut free you from shame?
Or is it freeing you from responsibility (of being accountable for your actions, and for those you hurt along the way).
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on January 23, 2013
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
Now that I've read Dossie and Janet's other books, I like this one a lot more because I feel like I understand their writing style. These two are basically delightfully goofy cheerleaders for doing what makes you happy, and that irritates the hell out of some people in the same way that your coworker who trills "Good MOOOOORRRNINGGG!" at 7am does. I totally understand. Sometimes I re-read some of their other books and go "you're at a 12, we need you at an 8."
With that said, I can't ignore that there's a certain amount of self-congratulatory head-patting that goes on in this - you sleep with lots of people? Yay! Good for you! And that's lovely.
But we all know plenty of people who have many sexual partners because they don't trust anyone, or because they hate their bodies and think that having lots of sexual partners will make them feel desirable, or because they think they don't deserve to have a stable, loving relationship with an equal partner. Or, on the flip side, because they are manipulative sociopaths. Those people may be sluts and they may even be mildly ethical about it, but they're not happy and I don't know if you can argue that they're doing the right thing.
I'm also a little sad about their hate-on for words like "nonmonogamy." I get it - the idea that we're defining ourselves by what we're not instead of what we are is a little odd. But, to the best of my knowledge, there IS no better word for it than "nonmonogamy." For people like me, who have outside relationships that may be flings, may be long-term, may be serious, may be loving, may be none of those things - we can't fit in with existing communities real life or online the way they are. The polyamory community frequently only embraces those who have multiple serious, long-term relationships, and those of us who sometimes have flings or casual relationships are told we're not "really" polyamorous and we're "just" swingers or whatever. (Meanwhile, my swinger friends are DYING over the idea that my girlfriend and I have a 'casual' relationship. Ha!)
Let's face it, relationships are pretty much a Kinsey scale like everything else. Talk to your partner and do what works for you. Talk to YOURSELF and do what works for you. The right answer is the one you and your partner decide on. Ask lots of awkward questions. And as much as I love these two ladies? Read MANY other books aside from theirs. This might be a good beginner piece but it shouldn't be the only thing you read.
Oh, one other thing: the issue I have always had with this book is some of its advice on jealousy is, well, unhelpful. For example, there's a story about one of the authors hanging out with a boytoy and her best friend, and the boytoy and the best friend get inebriated, blow her off, and start making out in front of her. She seems to pride herself on the fact that she chose to walk away unbothered by this, and I find that frankly ridiculous. Situations like that aren't about sexual jealousy; they're about the fact that your friends are being rude, inconsiderate jackwagons, and just walking away and pretending the whole thing didn't happen isn't, in my opinion, a behavior that should be congratulated, because it's incredibly passive and spineless. I do not want people to think that being "not jealous" means not caring about what your people do, or feigning apathy when the people in your life are behaving hurtfully. /soapbox