Thursday, February 28, 2013

02/28/13 • The Ethical Slut: Myths About Sluts

February 28, 2013 - Posted from home (Arizona)

I am reading the Ethical Slut, enjoying it very much so far. I am keeping notes here, more for my sake of wanting a record than for the blog itself, but you are welcome to follow along. :)

The part of the book, so far, that has grabbed my attention most is the myths about sluts (keeping in mind the book has a positive view of the term slut - an effort to reclaim it from its generally negative perception: it's ok to enjoy sex and to want a lot of it).

Here are my thoughts on these:

Myth #1 Long Term Monogamous Relationships are the Only Real Relationships

"Instead of questioning the myth, they question themselves: Am I incomplete? Where is my other half? The myth teaches them that they are not good in and of themselves. Often people develop a very unrealistic view of couplehood - Mr. or Ms. Right will automatically solve all their problems, fill all the gaps, make their lives complete."

I am guilty of this. I have been looking to Erin - my whole life in fact - to be the person who completes me. The one person to fill all my gaps. Reading it here... wow, what a lot to put on one person's shoulders. Whether it's through outside friendships or outside relationships, I think everyone needs more than one someone to meet our many social needs.

Myth #2 Romantic Love is the Only Real Love


"The thing that gets called romantic love in this culture seems to be a heady cocktail of lust and adrenaline, sparked by uncertainty, insecurity, perhaps even anger or danger. The chills up the spine that we recognize as passion are, in fact, the same physical phenomenon as hair rising up on a cat's back and are caused by the fight or flight response."

When I look at romantic love from this perspective, it really makes me think: no wonder we have so many issues with relationships. No wonder there are so many arguments. We've become conditioned to seek out the feelings brought on by fight or flight response... we chase it... we cause it... to get our passion "fix". No wonder fight and flight are becoming more and more common in relationships these days.

Myth #3 Sexual Desire is a Destructive Force


"... men are the gas pedal and women are the brakes, which is, we thing, pretty hard on the engine."

This is how many people in our culture view the sexual dynamics between the average man and woman. My observations have been that a guy with a lot of sexual partners is often painted from the male perspective as a hero and from the female perspective as a player. A woman who has a lot of sexual partners is often painted by either gender as easy and by society as a slut. Similarly, a man who has not lost his virginity by at least the end of his teen years is looked upon as though something must be wrong with him whereas a woman who maintains her virginity - waiting until marriage perhaps - is seen either as a prude or as virtuous. Perhaps we should all just respect everyone else's position for themselves on this and stop the slut shaming and the pedestal raising that is actually speaks more to our own point of view than the person anyway.

 Myth #4 Loving Someone Makes it Okay to Control His or Her Behavior

"The old 'awww, she's jealous - she must really care about me' reasoning, or the scene in which the girl falls in love with the boy  when he punches our a rival suitor, are symptomatic of a very disturbed set of personal boundaries that can lead to a great deal of unhappiness."

You know, this is where my own conflict with the open marriage arrangement that Erin and I have comes into play. On the one hand, deep down, I do ask myself, "If Erin really loved me, why would she want me to sleep with other women?" and on the other, I find it really cool that she does. I love that she has chosen to remain monogamous because I, hypocritically, don't know how I would be able to handle the jealousy. Why? Because I am selfish and I want her all to myself.... because I am insecure. Ultimately, if she really did want this, I would support her, but I know it would be very difficult. I should use this time while she isn't pushing for it to come to terms with these insecurities and address them so I'll be better equipped to support her should she decide later she wants more as well.

Myth #5 Jealousy is Inevitable and Impossible to Overcome


"Some people also believe that jealousy is such a shattering emotion that they have no choice but to succumb to it... On the contrary, we have also found that many of the 'oughta-be's' that lead to jealousy can be unlearned..."

Learning to manage jealousy is one of the reasons I chose to read this book. It has been very difficult for me to balance the fact that Erin wants me to enjoy other women, but then also still deals with jealousy herself. It also, as I have mentioned, is something that I am not sure how to manage myself.

Myth #6 Outside Involvements Reduce Intimacy in the Primary Relationship


"It is cruel and insensitive to interpret an affair as a symptom of sickness in the relationship, as it leaves 'cheated-on' partners - who may already be feeling insecure - to wonder what is wrong with them."

I agree that this is a destructive view. I have wondered myself why am I not enough? Erin's feelings for Rob before we married lingered afterward and ultimately caused her to cheat on me. She told me, once we started being truthful with one another, that she would have chosen him over me had he wanted to marry her. She also told me though, that the time when she was having sex with Rob and dating and having sex with me and having Aaron still pining for her was the most fun time of her life. She said if she could have combined Rob and I into one person, she'd be completely happy. Looking back, I wish I'd known more about non-monogamy and had the security to have allowed her to enjoy her time with him even while our own relationship progressed. we fell victim to the cultural norm of "either / or" and it probably cost us both quite a deal of happiness along the way.

Myth #7 Love Conquers All


"This myth has it that if you're really in love with someone, you never have to argue, disagree, communicate, negotiate, or do any other kind of work... that love means we automatically get turned on by our beloved and that we never have to lift a finger to make any effort to deliberately kindle passion."

Um.... I think Erin wrote this part for them. She has told me this so many times. And she is right. I have a lot of work to do here.




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