The Ethical Slut

I’ve just been reading The Ethical Slut, by Dossie Easton and Catherine A. Liszt. Well, I say “just been reading” – I actually read it over two days last week (couldn’t put it down) – I’m actually just slow to post anything of interest to my blog, these days.

Anyway; I just wanted to share with you all what a cool book it is (although I appreciate that it’s content, like it’s message, isn’t for everybody). Its a handbook of ethical slutdom – consensual nonmonogamy, for those who prefer longer and better-defined words – and its a veritable wealth of information on alternative lifestyle choices from homosexuality to swinging. Did you know that there was a respected code of etiquitte for orgies? Neither did I. And while breaches of group sex manners are not a faux pas I anticipate having the opportunity to make any time in the near future, it nonetheless makes for fascinating learning.

The thing that impressed me most about the book, though, wasn’t what it gets rave reviews for. Its frank, honest, open and informative coverage of how to have successful polyamourus relationships were extremely good; that’s for sure – certainly great reading even if you’re only casually interested in the subject… but what really impressed me was its coverage of various aspects of relationship management: all as valid, extrapolated from the context in which it is presented, for “regular” serial monogomists as it is for polygamists. It talks about jealously, conflict management, ownership of feelings, respect, distance… all with a healthy dose of active listening on top. Its interspersed with some great stories that the authors (a relationship counsellor and sex therapist) have drawn out of their friends and colleagues, it’s charming, it’s witty, and it challenges you to think about why relationship norms are so popular: things most people take for granted.

The book’s biggest downside: it repeats itself. Now and then it’s easy to find yourself reading a few paragraphs, sure that you must have read this bit before, only to later realise that the authors had copied a whole paragraph to a place earlier in the book, in order to prepare you for them covering it later. It’s a little confusing. Still, highly recommended.

Edit: this comic says it all, really.

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