BeeQuiet's Reviews > The Ethical Slut: A Guide to Infinite Sexual Possibilities

The Ethical Slut by Dossie Easton
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's review
May 05, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: non-fiction, feminism, sexuality

As someone that generally goes for monogamy in relationships, I thought this would teach me more about how poly relationships can and do work than how my own relationships work. How wrong I was. This is a book that I think everyone should read, and one that I have already begun recommending to people (my counsellor included). The Ethical Slut moves through various territories fraught with difficulties in all relationships, communication, jealousy, sexual pleasure; it is not just that these are difficult in one particular type of relationship, it can be difficult for all. Also, Easton and Liszt examine the way in which sexuality and relationships are understood in mainstream society, pointing out the logical flaws and negative assumptions made by most people regarding non-monogamous lifestyles. The concept of owning ones emotions, not making claims that another lover or partner "made" one feel angry, upset or jealous, is a useful concept, wonderfully and compassionately explained. I think that many relationships, be they monogamous or non-monogamous, or even friendships for that matter, would be far more stable and healthy if everyone read the sections on communication and jealousy in this book. Of course some sections are specifically focused on engaging in free-love, poly, non-monogamous relationships, such as handling the negative stigma present in mainstream society and the rearing of children in such an environment, yet even in these parts I felt I could take something. The fact that the book is written in an extremely accessible fashion and with a good sense of humour certainly helped.

I feel I should say something about the aspects of this book that I felt negatively about or that did not gel with me. I felt that the language was all rather 'new age', speaking of the healing force of sexuality and its spiritual basis. As someone currently about to be published on the basis of a critique of the spiritualisation of sexuality, I do find this more than a little problematic. Yes, sex can make us feel good, but does it have to be tied into spirituality all the time? Also, I felt uncomfortable with the references to people in domestically violent situations being urged to merely find other ways to communicate as opposed to blaming people could put many people, especially women, in dangerous situations. Many women remain in violent situations because it has been impressed upon them by society that they can change a person from being violent if they only love them, and try hard enough. Nonetheless, overall I found their book, especially their thoughts on negotiating boundaries, communication and jealousy extremely engaging and useful. I still prefer to be monogamous once I enter a relationship, but I still now feel proud to count myself as an ethical slut.

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