The Ethical Slut by Dossie Easton and Catherine A. Liszt

January 19th, 2011

Just finished reading The Ethical Slut by Dossie Easton and Catherine A. Liszt, original edition. I was only a few chapters in when I realized that I would be reading it over again, with pen and paper in hand, if not moving up to the revised edition with the same. I’m not looking for free love any time soon, but I do have a freer love than a lot of the people I know. I currently have two partners, my husband and my boyfriend, and for a couple years I had another boyfriend as well. I do a more poly-fidelity type thing, than free love. I establish solid relationships these days more than random hookups. So, what do I need with The Ethical Slut?

It is not a book just about sleeping around and getting it on with anyone you find attractive. It is a book about relationships of all types, and communication, and being sex positive, whether or not you’re actually having intercourse with someone else. It is about being comfortable with yourself, and your wants, needs and desires first. Then going out and talking to your partners about them. Then considering the possibility of other partners. And lastly, learning to live safely in the world you are creating.

Something I’ve posted about repeatedly is my shyness around sex and asking for what I want. This book addresses it directly. Talks about societal causes and gives ideas on how to work through your social programming to get what you want out of life. It is not just about intercourse, but about any of your wants that aren’t being met. Sex can have a lot of different connotations to a lot of different people. I’m kinky, sometimes I get better orgasms from an intense rope scene than I do from traditional intercourse. Is this sex for me? It can certainly be highly sexual.

Recently, a game was proposed in which points could be redeemed for activities, and lists would be required of said activities. The game did not commence, but the idea is still stuck in my head. Simply because it is an organized way of thinking about and asking for what I want. What with the convention this past weekend, I have not created said lists, but as I am currently couch-ridden, they will probably be created soon. Getting past my insecurities of “what if he doesn’t want to” or “what if he says no” is something I am still working on. But putting ideas out en masse for future consideration, seems easier than saying I want something right here and now. One step in the right direction anyway. With more to come.

The book also talks about communication, and the importance not just of communicating, but of setting aside time to do so. In poly life, time is a valuable commodity. And sometimes we hesitate to use it fighting, or having hard discussions. “I just want to relax.” “We can talk about it next time.” “It’s not really that important.” And then we spend the whole evening stewing about it and it is days before we see them again. They call it scheduling a fight, and I resisted this terminology at first, because I don’t like fighting. The reality is, however, that high emotions can turn into a fight, and if you set a time to discuss something, it gives a release valve for the emotions. It gets rid of the feeling that “he doesn’t even know anything is wrong” and replaces it with “okay, I just have to wait until X and then we’ll sit down and figure this out.” A much more useful thought to have, and it gives you both a set time frame to get clear and ready for the discussion.

Overall, a great book, with lots of good things to think about and discuss. One read through is definitely not enough.

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11 Responses to “The Ethical Slut by Dossie Easton and Catherine A. Liszt”

  1. Scootah says:

    I fucking LOVE The Ethical Slut. And I’d love to Meet Dossie Easton, I love her writing. A few of my favourite quotes –

    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.

    A slut shares his sexuality the way a philanthropist shares her money because they have a lot of it to share, because it makes them happy to share it, because sharing makes the world a better place.

    We see ourselves as people who are committed to finding a place of sanity with sex, and to freeing ourselves to enjoy our sexuality and to share it in as many ways as may fit for each of us.

    We hate boredom. We are people who are greedy to experience all that life has to offer, and also generous in sharing what we have to offer to others. We are the good times had by all.

    And possibly the most affirming/clarifying passage I have ever read. This idea quantified something that I have always passionately believed – but never been able to adequately express.

    Many people believe, explicitly or implicitly, that romantic love, intimacy and connection are finite capabilities of which there is never enough to go around, and that if you give some to one person, you must be taking some away from another.

    We call this belief a “starvation economy”; we’ll talk much more about it in Part II. Many of us learn to think this way in childhood, from parents who have little intimacy or attention for us, so we learn that there is only a limited amount of love in the world and we have to fight for whatever we get often in cutthroat competition with our brothers and sisters.

    People who operate from starvation economies can become very possessive about the people, things and ideas that matter to them. They are working from a paradigm that anything they get comes from a small pool of not-enough, and must thus be taken from someone else and, similarly, that anything anyone else gets must be taken from them.

    It is important to distinguish between starvation economies and real-world limits. Time, for example, is a real-world limit; even the most dedicated slut has only twenty-four hours every day. Love is not a real world limit: the mother of nine children can love each of them as much as the mother of an only child.

    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.

    • PervertedImp says:

      Thanks, Scootah. Starvation economy especially is a concept that is difficult to overcome, especially cast among those real-world limits like time. I’m still working on it, myself.

  2. […] edit)As I posted Wednesday evening, The Ethical Slut by Dossie Easton and Catherine A. Liszt is also a pretty amazing book, but more about poly than […]

  3. […] edit)As I posted Wednesday evening, The Ethical Slut by Dossie Easton and Catherine A. Liszt is also a pretty amazing book, but more about poly than […]

  4. […] (unfortunately, yesterday, when I got tired, of packing I fell asleep instead of posting) is The Ethical Slut, by Dossie Easton and Catherine A. Liszt, which I posted about the first time I read it. This week, I read Part 1: Within Ourselves, and […]

  5. […] (unfortunately, yesterday, when I got tired, of packing I fell asleep instead of posting) is The Ethical Slut, by Dossie Easton and Catherine A. Liszt, which I posted about the first time I read it. This week, I read Part 1: Within Ourselves, and […]

  6. […] to do the posts close together, but things keep getting busy. So, here’s the second post on The Ethical Slut, part II. This one focuses on Jealousy and […]

  7. […] three of The Ethical Slut, Part Two, is about Emotions and Validation. The previous post, on Fear and Jealousy, touched on […]

  8. […] three of The Ethical Slut, Part Two, is about Emotions and Validation. The previous post, on Fear and Jealousy, touched on […]

  9. […] more time. Here is the final selection of my thoughts on The Ethical Slut, part two. Soon, I’ll get to Part Three. And maybe even a post about the 2nd edition of this […]

  10. […] more time. Here is the final selection of my thoughts on The Ethical Slut, part two. Soon, I’ll get to Part Three. And maybe even a post about the 2nd edition of this […]