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The Ethical Slut: A Practical Guide to Polyamory, Open Relationships & Other Adventures Paperback – March 10, 2009
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"This book is the definitive guide to having your marriage and eating other people too. The Ethical Slut made me the ethical slut I am today, and I am so proud!”
--Margaret Cho, comedian and author of I’m the One That I Want
“The Ethical Slut is one of the most useful relationship books you could ever read, no matter what your lifestyle choices. It‚’s chock-full of great information about communication, jealousy, asking for what you want, and maintaining a relationship with integrity. An absolute masterpiece and a must-read!”
--Annie Sprinkle, PhD, sexologist and author of Dr. Sprinkle's Spectacular Sex
“Many people wish for and dream of a wider world sexually and live out their lives unable to find the courage to explore. This book is a thoughtful, practical, and loving look at that exploration.”
--David Crosby, musician and author of Since Then
“The Ethical Slut, in this new and expanded edition, is the definitive guide for creating and sustaining all conscious relationships‚Äîpolyamorous, open, alternative, and monogamous. Don’t enter into another relationship without it!”
--Barbara Carrellas, author of Urban Tantra
“Dossie and Janet’s blend of good humor and forthright honesty makes for some of the best writing I have found on sexually complicated relationships and blended family options. Engaging, disarming, forthright‚ this is the book for those of us still brave enough to make the ethically complex choices.”
--Dorothy Allison, author of Bastard Out of Carolina
“A useful guidebook for radical relationship travelers . . . experienced counsel to those on the polysexual frontier.”
--Ryam Nearing, Loving More magazine
“A post-graduate course in ethical relationships of every stripe. The authors pull no punches and are totally outrageous. . . . You’ll never be bored.”
--Stan Dale, DHS, founder of the Human Awareness Institute
“Frank, funny, and full of practical advice . . . life-saving validation, empathy, and plenty of insider tips from the experienced big sisters you probably weren’t fortunate enough to have.”
--Deborah Anapol, PhD, author of Polyamory: The New Love without Limits
From the Publisher
* The essential guide for singles and couples who want to explore polyamory in ways that are ethically and emotionally sustainable.
* Revised and updated throughout, with new strategies for single sluts, advice for opening an existing relationship or marriage, and exercises for thinking about and discussing open relationships.
Top customer reviews
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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.
The book starts with an introduction, insisting that the authors are simply 'reclaiming' the word 'slut', much as gay men attempted to do with 'fag' years ago. Okay, fair enough. Then they move onto dispelling myths about why being a slut is actually a GOOD thing, but has been looked down upon in the past. They talk about how the Industrial Revolution "launched a new era of sex-negativity, perhaps because of the rising middle class and the limited space for children in urban cultures". Maybe I'm asking too much here, but.. citation?? This seems like a blatant assumption to me. And the authors continually do this; take historical events or figures and interpret them freely, sans evidence.
Next we move onto a chapter simply entitled "Our Beliefs". These are ideas that will help the reader become an ethical slut! This sounds like it could be good. Hmm let's see, the first one is 'rethinking sex'. I have to quote this, since paraphrasing it will not properly describe how ridiculous it is: "Are you having sex right now? Yes, you are, and so are we. Perhaps you're looking around you in bewilderment: You still have your clothing on, and maybe you're sitting in a restaurant or a crowded bus. How could you be having sex? We think that the question of when you're having sex is actually sort of meaningless. Sexual energy pervades everything all the time; we inhale it into our lungs and exude it from our pores. While it's pretty easy to determine whether or not you're engaging in a particular sexual activity at any given time - neither you nor we are probably having intercourse at the moment - the idea of sex as something set aside, a discrete, definable activity like driving a car, just doesn't hold up very well." I am pretty sure that sex is, in fact, a distinct activity. By their definition, anyone in a relationship would technically be cheating constantly. Unless we're talking about free love, man.
I must say, I was only able to read up to page 37, and there I had to stop. Right after this sentence: "transgendered people can teach us a lot about the determination to be free". Now, I have absolutely nothing against transgenders, or lesbians, or gays, for that matter. But that sentence was just a culmination of the amount of nonsense that I was willing to take. What does it even MEAN? Just because transgendered people are repressed by society? Hm, so are minorities, and women, and illegal aliens, and homosexuals, and the list goes on and on. Should we all look up to these people as knowing how 'to be free'?
I am unsure what the authors were trying to get at in this book; their arguments are not well thought-out and unorganized. It doesn't help that the book itself is written poorly, as if transcribed from someone's rambles - there are many run-on sentences, and they lack any sense of cohesiveness. The authors often interject their own experiences and opinions into the book, and they come off as smug and all-knowing. Very off-putting to someone who's just started trying to explore this alternative lifestyle. My recommendation is DO NOT buy this book, you can easily find better and less opinionated information on the internet.