Friday, September 19, 2008

the ethical slut?

I'm bored, so I ramble, and create issues to debate internally.

"The authors define the term slut as "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." The term is reclaimed from its usual use as a pejorative and as a simple label for a promiscuous person. Instead, it is used to signify a person who is accepting of their enjoyment of sex and the pleasure of intimacy with others, and chooses to engage and accept these in an ethical and open way — rather than as cheating.
The Ethical Slut discusses how to live an active life with multiple concurrent sexual relationships in a fair and honest way. Discussion topics include how to deal with the practical difficulties and opportunities in finding and keeping partners, maintaining relationships with others, and strategies for personal growth.
It contains chapters discussing how consensual nonmonogamy is handled in different subcultures such as the gay and lesbian communities, information on handling scheduling, jealousy, communication, conflict in relationships, and etiquette for group sexual encounters."

A friend of mine told me about this book called, "The Ethical Slut", and I'm betraying my own opinions on the matter by even discussing it (I don't want to validate it). I can only imagine that the desire to eloquently justify something as arbitrary as promiscuous sexual activity, and the desire to build some kind of philosophy around what is ultimately a primitive biological, instinctual practice that has been made into a selfish base recreation, is born out of boredom, and encouraged by the downfalls of post-modern waste. Even the title, "Ethical Slut" presupposes the idea that this form of "college behavior", or "coming of age" is deserving of the complexities of that which is debated in the arena of ethics. I should not be surprised that a book like this would be published, considering the misguided value that has been placed on the "freedom" of selfish sexual behavior. Something such as sexual promiscuity is not even worth the discourse. It's not hard to explain the motivations, it's not hard to explain the desire a person may have to justify his or her behavior, and it's not hard to live a life such as this if you desire to do so. So I guess I just think it's silly to write a book about it. Promiscuous sexual behavior..hmm..I don't consider it a question of ethics, it's just a question what a person wants and how they handle, or essentially deny the complexities involved in human emotions when crossed with the objectification of sexuality, and defining a "relationship" on utility. I'm assuming the book is written entirely in the context of worldly existence, because I think there are obvious spiritual consequences of such behavior. The first line of the summary is humorous; "The authors define the term slut as 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."....haha, this implies a resentment to what the author obviously feels is the typical and repressive "taboo" that society attaches to "sexual enlightenment", and maybe that "sexual enlightenment" is what the author aligns herself with, above all of us "tragically repressed puritan pedestrians".

Or perhaps, I'm being too tough on the book, and demonizing the author's benign and well meaning attempt to lift, what she feels is society's repressive attitude towards sexuality, and the misunderstanding that comes with it, and the damage that could result as well. I guess my reaction the this idea is that it's superfluous and pointless. The attempts to "ethically" justify this activity is not an issue, the behavior is justified by the one who engages in it, and if one believes in it, why should that person seek society's blessing? The same debate could be had about drug use, or murder. Murder can easily be justified in a social context, just as easily as lying can be justified depending on circumstance. I might venturing into questionable grounds of moral relativity, which I'm not prepared to argue. Obviously murder is of more consequence than promiscuous sexual behavior, but that is what makes the book even more arbitrary. In the objective, sex is sex and the value given to it goes as deep as the person who engages in it, and they deal with those consequences themselves, and it is their responsibility to inform their partners of their "philosophy".

I should admit that I have not read the book, I am writing this based on the summary which I posted above...so this, like all my text should be taken with a rock of salt. Although, I do get irritated when sex is giving such a stake in the fate of relationships. The validation of what ultimately amounts to selfishness. No one would argue that sexuality is not a strong and determining influence in one's behavior and I don't mean to make light of it in the least, but to place sex as the "policy maker" to which all aspects of a relationship should ultimately be based on is only an extension of adolescent immaturity, and will eventually propel one into unending disappointment. I can once again refer people to what Kierkegaard refers to as the aesthetic lifestyle.

disclaimer: this post is concerning sex in the realm of the worldly, the tragic tragic role it has taken.

8 Comments:

Blogger Melanie said...

If this is a book justifying sexual promiscuity, multiple partners, etc., it would not be the first, and I seriously doubt it will be the last. When I was much younger, I ended up having dealings with people involved with "wife (and husband) swapping" and it was justified as a something that was acceptable and good. For the people I knew, it was mainly disasterous.

Anyway, I pretty much agree with you on this. It really saddens me that so many have a difficult time separating sex and intimacy (you can have the latter without the former.)

I had some other thoughts on this, but I am very tired, and they are fleeting.

Anyway, you said this far better than I could have.

12:59 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i agree with you. just wondering if this book targets a female or male audience? i feel like there's this new trend to justify promiscuity as a way to empower yourself and srt of protect yourself from any real sexual intimacy. kind of like a form of feminism that "if the guys can sleep around, so can the girls". that's just what i think.

3:25 PM

 
Blogger AJ said...

Yes, and so it continues, in our post-modern generation...just another attempt to justify our sin, and push away any need for our own accountability. "There is nothing new under the sun."

p.s. when are you going to start your career as a professor? you would make an excellent one! :)

4:33 PM

 
Blogger David said...

i generally align myself with post-modern thought :-)

5:19 PM

 
Blogger Ezekiel James said...

I'm going to post my response in the form of a blog

5:02 PM

 
Blogger her name is kyl said...

your blog is more akin to a thesis.
for cryin out loud.

12:44 AM

 
Blogger Janet Hardy said...

Lots of commentary from people who haven't bothered to read the book...

Actually, the book deals substantially with sex as intimacy; it simply posits that it is possible and, for many of us, worthwhile to experience intimacy with more than one person.

While we discuss "casual" sex with all its implications, we also spend a lot of time talking about the implications of experiencing romantic love and intimacy with multiple persons. Probably the largest chunk of the book deals with ways to manage the emotional sequelae of the decision to love more than one with full honesty and disclosure.

It's pretty easy to rant about "the world these days" -- I have a curmudgeonly streak myself -- but choosing a book that you haven't even read to use as your straw man seems an awfully cheap shot. There's a brand-new expanded edition of the book just off the presses, and before you decide what it's about, you might like to take a look at it.

Janet Hardy
co-author, "The Ethical Slut: A Practical Guide to Polyamory, Open Relationships and Other Adventures"

5:39 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Any idea how credit crunch affected porn?


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kelly divine

4:27 PM

 

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