The Ethical Slut: The Book That Will Teach You The Way To Polyamory
Books

The Ethical Slut: The Book That Will Teach You The Way To Polyamory

Avatar of Maria Suarez

By: Maria Suarez

October 11, 2017

Books The Ethical Slut: The Book That Will Teach You The Way To Polyamory
Avatar of Maria Suarez

By: Maria Suarez

October 11, 2017

“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.” Easton and Hardy

In 1990, the term poly-amorous was first used by Morning Glory Zell, a neopagan priestess in an article where she explained how to carry on with a relationship of more than two people. One of the main points was about parameters and jealousy. But, what I think most people were surprised about was both the candidness and honesty in the article. Still, as much as we like to think we’ve changed since the Victorian way of marriage and gender roles, this article shocked the world because it was unapologetic in its description of how, perhaps, monogamy was not really a valid choice in finding connection, romantic or sexual. However, by the time that Morning Glory wrote this piece, there were already communities and plenty of people engaging in non-monogamous relationships.


Psychotherapist Dossie Easton and sex educator Janet Hardy were two people who also refused to be part of the labels and expectations imposed by our hetero-normative society. Though both had already written books on BDSM, they decided to bring out a sort of guide to help people navigate the world of polyamory. Because if you think that having a monogamous relationship is complicated, you need to consider the fact that if you’re in a non-monogamous agreement, you’ll need to keep your jealous feelings in check, while also being able to find your own joy and pleasure in possibly seeing, or knowing, the person you desire finding their own pleasure with someone else. And this is where The Ethical Slut: A Practical Guide to Polyamory, Open Relationships, and Other Adventures comes in.


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Before anyone gets offended over the term slut, we should point out that this is a reclaiming of the word. It is no longer about pointing fingers, shaming, blaming, or degrading anyone who chooses to exercise their sexuality. There’s no witch hunt included in this terminology. In fact, this is the definition given in the book:


“To us, a slut is a person of any gender who has the courage to lead life according to the radical proposition that sex is nice and pleasure is good for you.”

So perhaps most of us would identify as sluts under this definition. It’s actually a much better use of the word at least, since it’s clear, concise, and positive. The negative connotation is ever hardly this simple, since it can imply someone who’s being judged for having too much sex, with too many partners, or even someone who dresses a certain way. It’s about time we took this word out of the hands of the people who wish to use it as a way of controlling the way people relate to their own bodies and to others. But there’s plenty of other great nuggets in the text.


“Ethical sluts also recognize the ramifications of our sexual choices. We see that our emotions, our upbringing, and the standards of our culture often conflict with our sexual desires. And we make a conscious commitment to supporting ourselves and our partners as we deal with those conflicts, honestly and honorably.”

Just because we’re saying that finding your happiness and pleasure is good, we can't pretend that all the bad stuff that’s been embedded in our psyche will just disappear. It won’t. So being honest with ourselves and those around us, working on our issues, and reprogramming ourselves into a culture of openness rather than shame, is part of finding this joy. Before we can carry on with our romantic, emotional, and sexual relationships, we need to acknowledge the broken system we come from. Once we understand where our hang-ups were born from, they are easier to cut off from our life.


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“Our culture positively worships self-denial – those who unapologetically satisfy their desires, whether they be food, recreation, sex, are vilified as immature, disgusting, even sinful.”

Our historical backgrounds have long made monogamy as the one and only option for long-term relationships. However, Easton and Hardy tell us that a relationship does not need to last a specific amount of time to be critical, important, life-changing, or even significant in our lives. We can have a one-night encounter that stays with us forever. In fact, we can have a one-night stand that improves our relationship with our main partner.


“Our belief is that the human capacity for sex and love and intimacy is far greater than most people think – possibly infinite – and that having a lot of satisfying connections simply makes it possible for you to have a lot more.”

I believe that this last part, not necessarily talking about having a triad, throttle, or other established polyamorous relationship, is what most of us struggle with. Because if we accept that having an open relationship comes with the obvious probability that we or our partner might have relationships or sexual encounters with other people, then our general idea of what infidelity means needs to change. I’m not saying there’s no room for cheating in a non-monogamous relationship, because there is. What sets apart cheating from finding a connection with another person is the honesty and openness the person has with both their main partner and the new one.


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“Many people also believe that unashamed sexual desire, particularly desire for other people, destroys the family – yet we suspect that far more families have been destroyed by bitter divorces over adultery than have ever been disturbed by ethical consensual nonmonogamy.”

I believe that The Ethical Slut is a book we all need to read, regardless of whether we identify as monogamous o non-monogamous, because we need to understand that there’s nothing terrible about finding other people attractive while we’re in a relationship. Our sexual desire or attraction does not cease to exist just because we’ve found our life partner or soul mate. The more we eradicate the shame and negative connotations regarding sex and relationships, the easier the road towards true sexual fulfillment becomes.


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Black and white images by Rachel Brennecke