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The Ethical Slut: A Guide to Infinite Sexual Possibilities

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The essential guide for singles and couples who want to explore polyamory in ways that are ethically and emotionally sustainable.

For anyone who has ever dreamed of love, sex, and companionship beyond the limits of traditional monogamy, this groundbreaking guide navigates the infinite possibilities that open relationships can offer. Experienced ethical sluts Dossie Easton and Janet W. Hardy dispel myths and cover all the skills necessary to maintain a successful and responsible polyamorous lifestyle--from self-reflection and honest communication to practicing safe sex and raising a family. Individuals and their partners will learn how to discuss and honor boundaries, resolve conflicts, and to define relationships on their own terms.

"I couldn't stop reading it, and I for one identify as an ethical slut. This is a book for anyone interested in creating more pleasure in their lives . . . a complete guide to improving any style of relating, from going steady to having an extended family of sexual friends." --Betty Dodson, PhD, author of Sex for One

280 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1997

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Dossie Easton

12 books280 followers

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,828 reviews
Profile Image for Teresa Jusino.
Author 7 books46 followers
August 13, 2007
This book should've been called "How To Be a Human Being." :) Everything it talks about has to do with how to have effective and enriching relationships in all their forms. Own your feelings, be honest, be open about what you want, be willing to compromise, talk to each other, listen to each other... I was particularly interested in what it had to say about owning one's feelings - that no one can make you feel anything. That idea goes a long way in making strong emotions more manageable. Also, I really appreciate that it acknowledges those emotions. It doesn't say you shouldn't feel a strong, negative emotion, it says that what's important is how you act on the negative emotion, and how you let it affect the people you say you love.

Also, reading this definitely corrected certain assumptions about polyamory that I had. It's funny...but a lot of what's considered "polyamorous" is stuff that I wouldn't consider outside the bounds of what I would consider a monogamous relationship! The key is, though, any relationship can work as long as everyone involved is clear about what they want, and honest about their intentions.

I tend to bristle whenever anyone perports to have "the answer." Now, I know this book was primarily designed for people who are already considering a polyamorous lifestyle, or are at least interested in the topic, and several times it said something like "monogamy is fine if you actually choose it"....but then it would go on to talk as if monogamy=depression and polyamory=freedom. Taking one kind of dogma and replacing it with another does not equal freedom to me. The only thing I believe means actual freedom is the ability to make a choice and allowing an environment where people don't feel ostracized for making one choice over another. If someone chooses "vanilla sex" with one person for the rest of their life, they shouldn't be made to feel as though they are somehow lesser for being "less adventurous" or "repressed" any more than someone who chooses an open relationship should be called "promiscuous."

Lastly, I had trouble with some of the logic used in this book. For example, when they say that "do parents of nine children love their children any less than the parent of one child loves him/her?" And the thing is, YES. Parents always have a favorite. Parents always love one child (or several children) more than the others. This doesn't mean that they don't love the other children, but it does mean that they are loved differently. They shouldn't love all their children the same. If what separates human beings from animals is the ability to make conscious choices, then we can't balk at the idea that there is one thing or one person we would choose over something or someone else. I mean, even the distinction between "primary" and "secondary" relationship illustrates that.

I think the biggest problem for me with this book is that there was no real distinction made between emotional and sexual monogamy. Monogamy is simply used as the all-encompassing opposite of polyamory. But as was illustrated in so many of the relationships used as examples in this book, very often people in a group love relationship have one person they are the most emotionally committed to - and not even that they are interested in being "life partners" with, owning a house or having kids with - but two people who are committed to each other, and committed to a certain lifestyle together. There's always a person we enjoy being with the most. It doesn't mean we don't love and enjoy being with our other friends, lovers, family, whatever....but people have favorites, and ultimately, a most favorite. Pretending that's not the case seems silly to me.
Profile Image for Rita Brinkerhoff.
66 reviews18 followers
January 30, 2008
I feel like it is written for/by pagan couples in their fifties who go to the Renaissance Faire, i.e. not bisexual ladies in their twenties. It's a good introduction to these concepts, though. Interesting stuff like your hippie parent would tell you about, without having to listen to said parent talk.
Profile Image for Mephistia.
281 reviews52 followers
April 11, 2018
Before I write my review, I want to say something. I don't normally read psycho-babble self-help relationship-help type books.

Maybe it's because I've been in therapy since I was a teen, maybe it's because I regularly read psychology and medical texts, maybe it's because I have an immediately visceral and negative reaction to the idea of trying to change another person. This is probably due to the fact that people have been trying to "change" me for so long, convince me mental health issues are figmentss of my imagination; fallacies I can overcome by strength of will.

And too often, self-help books and relationship manuals rely on what I perceive as the negative perpetuation of the idea that one can improve serious issues like depression, bipolar, dissociative personality disorders, PTSD, and other serious mental health issues through "happy thoughts" and "positive thinking" and "spiritual energies" and other hoo-ha.

Most relationship "help" books also tend to tilt too far in one direction or the other: Here's how to change him/her (you can't change another person, it's an exercise in futility and only hurts everyone involved), or, alternatively and supposedly more realistically: You can't change them, so accept them faults and all and love them as they are. Live with it.

Both of those tactics are depressing and horrific and probably help attribute to the high divorce rate, as neither of those tactics are in any way conductive to honest communication.

Which is why The Ethical Slut is so freaking awesome. The authors are proponents of polyamory, or open relationships, that's true. But the basic tenants of communication and how to strengthen a core relationship, the little exercises for opening up the lines of discussion between a couple -- everything in this book is invaluable.

I loved the concept of "agreements" rather than "rules" -- it's so easy for someone to say, "This is a rule," and we think of something strict and unbreakable and feel boxed in and itchy and, even if we often don't admit it, angry and wanting to break it. Rules beg to be broken. But agreements sound so flexible, so easy and negotiable.

As my husband pointed out when I discussed this with him, they have safety rules at his place of work and they get broken all the time (which irritates the crap out of him, as a forklift driver). But they also have employee agreements, which are re-negotiated every two years, with employee input.

And I can see how that parallels so easily. It makes sense.

Another thing the authors discussed was arguing -- obviously, all couples argue. Everybody argues. We have to argue, it's how we hash out the difficult issues, paying bills and visiting inlaws and everything big and little that we disagree on. The authors introduced two new concepts to me: Scheduling fights (?!?!) and the win-win idea.

I'd heard of scheduling sex. I'm pretty sure that anyone married more than 3 years and definitely anyone with a kid has been introduced to the concept of scheduling sex. At first it sounds weird, but then you get used to the idea, and then it makes perfect sense. There's still spontaneous sex, yeah, but there's also scheduled sex.

Well, the authors discussed how scheduling fights and learning how to fight constructively -- letting each person have uninterrupted time to air their feelings, practicing fighting over small issues using a timer, learning to walk away and calm down for 10 to 15 minutes when things got too heated -- can strengthen a relationship.

The concept of a win-win is brilliant, too. It's basically compromise, but I love how they phrased it, because we all go into an argument wanting to win. It's how we're wired -- we want to make our point and we want to win, and once we do, it'll be done because we've won, right?

Except it's not done just because we've won, because somebody's lost and a loser is never happy. They're still angry and mulling over their loss and what happened and one day that same damn argument will swell up and bite you in the ass, even though the winner thought it was over and done and behind them -- they won, so it was done, right?

That's where win-win, compromise, agreements come in. If everyone feels like they've won, then there are no losers and the argument is truly over. It won't come back to bite anybody in the ass. But only if you've hashed out a compromise that's truly a win-win for everybody, something that everyone is happy with and can live with.

And all these things seem so self-evident, so, "Well, duh, I knew that."
They're the type of things that when you read them, you're nodding and laughing and going, "Yeah, I totally get that!" and making little notes in the margins and underlining phrases and entire paragraphs. Because even though in some part of your brain you knew that and you totally understood how that worked, you couldn't quite figure out how to phrase it in just the right way.

I swear, this book is a must have for everybody in a relationship or anybody who wants to be in a relationship. It's awesome. It doesn't matter if you're in a monogamous relationship, an open relationship, or curious about an open relationship. It's great for anyone, seriously. Read it.
Profile Image for Mk.
179 reviews
February 19, 2008
So I realize that I probably lose radical queer points for not being that into this book, but so goes it. Though it contains some practical tips for polyamory, the tone of much of it rubs me the wrong way. The idea that sex solves everything is clearly oversimplified. No joke, at one point they come quite close to saying that if people had just been having more sex with more people the Holocaust wouldn't have happened.
Profile Image for William2.
737 reviews2,892 followers
Want to read
August 28, 2020
This is better than I thought it would be. In part, it’s a quasi-history of sexual morality and attitudes through the ages; in part, a psychology of desire, especially how we justify certain biases about sex, with compelling suggestions on how we might live more pleasurable lives. Epicurus, not to mention his disciple Lucretius, would have admired it greatly. It’s also a great pep talk. Get it while you can! What interests me most is the sheer number of sexual viewpoints today, and this book strives to honor all of them.

“While we are looking at sexual diversity, let’s remember that we live in a multicultural society and that every culture in our world, every subculture, every ethnic culture, has its own ways of creating relationship, connecting in sex, and building families. All are valid and valuable.” (p.43)

I like the positive worldview, but I can think of plentiful examples that do not seem suboptimal. Another problem is that the book makes some spectacular claims, but doesn’t source them. For instance, “the Greek philosopher Aristotle is known to have enjoyed being ridden like a pony by his female acquaintances....” I’d sure like to know where that came from. No doubt there are classicists who do, but I don’t, and one reaches the saturation point when it comes to Googling everything. So the book isn’t scholarly. It’s a book of practical advice, of lived experience.

Another thing, it seems to me the authors are far too sunny about sex work. Yes, it would be wonderful if sex workers were viewed as, say, psychoanalysts are seen, bringing healing expression to their clients. Meanwhile, look at sex trafficking and how it operates in 3/4 of the world. (See Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn’s Half The Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide.) Don’t get me wrong, the authors do seek to keep their readers streetwise. They’re very good at warning sexual adventurers that being open about their polyamorous lifestyle might not be the best thing for their careers or families. But in other respects, with regard to sex workers, say, they seem pollyannas. Especially here there’s an aspirational impulse underlying the text. The authors don’t always see things as they are, but as they Wish them to be. To wit,

“Sexual healers could help free us from the terrors and inhibitions learned in a sex-negative society and show us what amazing sexual geniuses we all might be. Healing shame, healing trauma, the amazingness of sex beyond violation, the power of fantasies… So much is there for us to learn and grow [sic]. Sex can be a powerful journey into healing in general goodness, there are professionals who can teach us how.” (p. 52)

Must finish...
Profile Image for Joey Comeau.
Author 53 books640 followers
December 23, 2011
I wish someone could write a book about having multiple sexual or romantic partners without sounding like a god damn flake hippy.
Profile Image for Jess.
37 reviews3 followers
July 19, 2007
This book helped me deconstruct the way I have been programmed to think about love, relationships, and how important it is to take care of yourself. Even If you don;t plan on becoming a floozie anytime soon, this book is a really great read.
Profile Image for Mickey Schulz.
157 reviews3 followers
July 22, 2014
This book is lauded as a sort of "Poly Bible." I don't know how I feel about that. It's a little twee in parts, but includes a whole lot of good information about how to communicate that can be used by everyone, not just people looking to practice open or polyamorous relationships.

I do have a couple of bones to pick, though. I don't agree that "anyone" can do poly or open relationships. Some people just don't have the psychological wherewithal, and THAT'S OK. And the book does actually say that if you don't want to, that's ok. It still has a sort of inference that you should want to, but at least it does throw monogamous folks a bone.

I think that asking the wronged partner in a cheating situation to be mindful of the feelings of those who cheated on them is kind of weird. I'm also highly skeptical that an open relationship founded on the basis of one partner already cheating can grow into a healthy relationship. I'm sure it's not impossible, I'm just highly skeptical.

Also, I would not recommend introducing a monogamous partner to the concept of poly or open relationships by just giving them this book without prior conversation. Really. Like as not that's going to just get it thrown at your head. I think you need to broach the subject first and ask (beg or plead) with your partner to read it. Not just spring it on them. Granted, probably better than coming home and saying, "Guess what? I already have another partner, you need to adapt," but still.

I stress again, that the book has a LOT to recommend it. Excellent communication tips, and advice to challenge views about sex and sexuality that you did not consciously form, but were instead indoctrinated in you by society/parents/church. They also discuss being more mindful of your partner(s)'s feelings, and making sure you take the time to find out what makes them tick emotionally and sexually. And while they do stress that this will be hard work, I don't think they emphasize this enough, and instead spend most of their energy telling you how AWESOME it will be when you are sexually open. And granted, part of that may just be my annoyance with the bulk of poly evangelists I've known IRL, who annoy the piss out of me, because they tend to leave a string of broken people behind them who wonder what's "wrong" with them that they can't do poly.
Profile Image for Tate.
47 reviews
January 11, 2008
Totally the epitome of the "It was ok" rating. I think the only people who read this book and really really love it are people who are looking for some validation ("it's in a book - it's gotta be legit!") for polyamory. I think polyamory is pretty valid, but the authors seem self-righteous at times, and that really turned me off to this one.
Profile Image for Samantha.
409 reviews16.7k followers
February 1, 2023
3.5 stars

There are parts of this book that lean more heavily into the sexual aspects of non-monogamy but as you get further into the book it does focus more on the relationship and community building aspects. It covers a lot of topics about non monogamy but doesn’t go very deep about any of them. A decent primer and the reason it was the leading book on the subject for so long but there’s other resources out there now to supplement it.
Profile Image for N.
792 reviews196 followers
April 27, 2008
Firstly: make no mistake, this is a self-help book. Be wary if you are someone who dislikes endless cheerleading on why you should respect and love yourself! and others! and the birdies and the treeeeees! -- okay, I'm exaggerating, but people who find self-help jargon grating should proceed with caution. There's a LOT of "learning to love yourself" stuff in here -- much of it not relating to polyamory at all.

However, beneath the cheerleading, there is also practical advice, along with some charming personal anecdotes. Even for those who aren't really looking to plunge into a polyamorous lifestyle, there's some thought-provoking stuff about sexuality in this book -- all of it presented a non-judgemental way.

The Ethical Slut could do with being a hundred pages shorter (it's fairly repetitive), but otherwise, it's a good read.
Profile Image for Amanda.
386 reviews68 followers
January 15, 2012
This book is an absolute must-read for anyone planning on interacting with other people in any kind of sexual or romantic context, regardless of whether or not they are considering non-monogamy. It has a lot of good lessons on communication, unlearning jealousy, and talking frankly about your sexual needs and limits. There were definitely some paragraphs which made me stop and go: "Oh!" - I learned a lot about things I'd thought myself fairly well-versed in already, and came to some big new realisations.

The resources section in the back is likely more helpful to people diving into non-traditional relationships, and is by no means complete, but acts as a good jumping off point. The activities included in the text are probably best done as part of an existing couple, but are good food for thought. I would say if you can handle the very-obviously-written-by-flower-children tone of the book and the occasional references to tarot, paganism, tantra, and other alternative spirituality-based ideas, it is definitely worth getting a copy.

Profile Image for Paul.
109 reviews8 followers
October 9, 2021
I would really rate this 3-1/2 stars but I'm not allowed. It's funny that so many books about this stuff are so posi, I guess cuz you wouldn't bother writing a book about all of your failed experiments and the ragged pain and confusion and all that bullshit - maybe all those people just wrote fiction, or weren't writers. Not that I don't think it's worthwhile, but maybe that it's like how desert cookbooks don't talk about hypoglycemia or obesity or anything like that.

* 2021 edit -- this review was my most popular but I don't really like it anymore. It's fat-phobic and a bit too cynical. Sure, polyamory can run you ragged, especially if you start out with unreasonable expectations, but if you practice you get pretty good at it. You can even make healthy desserts!
Profile Image for Rhonda Anderberg.
17 reviews1 follower
March 30, 2014
I have had this book for several years, 2010 to be exact. I bought it when my then husband of 10 years and his (still) married girlfriend were trying to tell me that "WE" were in a polyamorous relationship (I had no idea what that meant), I wasn't asked, I was told. Just as I was told if I wanted to continue to remain a part of my husbands life I must learn to get with the program and play by their ever changing rule book, I bought this book to help me navigate this unknown world. Things unraveled quickly as they usually do in bad situations and I never got the chance to read the book. Fast forward to Mar 2014, I am now a happily single 48 year old woman, learning to love who I am at this stage in my life as I navigate through the world of singledom. The opening of chapter three of this book defines me as I have always been, the rest of chapter three however confirmed what I suspected (especially once the girlfriend told me that she "owned" my husband), the bullying, neglect, alienation and manipulation my Ex and his girlfriend were dishing out, was not "polyamory," it was them trying to give a warm fuzzy name to their game, a.k.a. "the inhumane experiment."

I recommend this book to everyone who wants to be a grown up who is not ashamed of what they want and feel as caring, and yes, sexual beings. Break out of the square box you have been conditioned to stay in because it makes everyone around you comfortable. As far as I know, we only get one life, live yours the way you want. As Dossie says in the book "sex is nice and pleasure is good for you" (p.22). The most important thing of all is to be HONEST, with yourself and everyone you are in contact with, lies and deceit eventually hurt someone.
Profile Image for Keely Hyslop.
Author 2 books27 followers
November 2, 2007
When my friend recommended this book to me I looked it up on Amazon and found that there were two types of reviews for it. Half the people who read it said it was life altering and that everyone should read it and the other half said it was dangerous and ought to be burned. As a result I had to read it. Sexuality, in particular sexual ethics, is one of those topics about which our society's opinions are particularly schizophrenic. The media tells us that we should be obsessively desirous and deeply ashamed simultaneously. The Ethical Slut argues that consent of all parties is the only prerequisite for moral sexual behavior and that everything else is just convention. Agree or disagree - the point is well argued, and it has been thus far at least, an interesting read.
Profile Image for Johanna.
79 reviews134 followers
March 21, 2021
Hay un único modelo válido y aceptado socialmente: el de las relaciones monógamas. Nos vemos forzados a encajar en ese molde adecuando nuestro instinto, deseo y afecto al esquema establecido. Pero esta forma de relacionarnos, que parece la única posible, no le conviene a todos porque hay cuerpos y deseos no domesticables; estructuras y espíritus poco aptos para la monogamia, entonces, se contemplan alternativas como las relaciones poliamorosas. Pero, si ya es difícil entre dos, ¿cómo será lidiar con tres, cuatro o más personas inmersas en relaciones afectivo eróticas?

Para dar respuesta a este interrogante Dossie Easton y Janet W. Hardy escriben ética promiscua. Lo primero que hacen es desmitificar todo el asunto y reivindicar el término putón, afirmándolo; explican todas la posibilidades y combinaciones de las relaciones múltiples, que son muchos más amplias de lo que inicialmente puede pensarse; la diferencia entre el putón con ética y sin ética; las consecuencias de cada elección; los retos que supone un estilo de vida como este; y otros tantos temas que hacen del libro una guía para quien se sienta atraído por las mieles del poliamor.

Revelador, transgresor y entretenido, tres adjetivos que lo describen bastante bien.

Profile Image for Ashley.
500 reviews19 followers
June 7, 2010
To be honest, I went into this book with a bad attitude. I read it as part of a book club. It's not so much that I'm pro-monogamy or anti-sex. I felt like the book is oddly dated, and that for all the moral panic about "hook up culture" if there is anything it's done (for women especially) it's separate sex and relationships.

Perhaps it's a generational thing. The two authors spend A LOT of time talking about how you can be sexual in different ways with different people at different times and I just kept thinking "duh, of course you can." Similarly, their advice is stuff like "schedule time for everyone," "communicate clearly," and "make sure you're making choices consciously." Maybe I was lucky, but I can't imagine anyone making ANY choice about love or sex without really thinking about it-- I mean, good Lord if you're promising a life to someone you SHOULD have given that a lot of thought. Again, perhaps this is just a generational thing?

Anyway, I suppose that if you're looking for information about how to have more thoughtful relationships with lots of the people in your life (sexual or otherwise) this book might be helpful. However, this book did NOT really challenge any of my assumptions about relationships or about the way my partnership functions.

Oh, and a note on the style. The authors are a little too aware of how cute and vixen-ish they are. They "wink" at the reader way too often. Plus, it's repetitive. I read it in a day oly because you can skim A LOT.
Profile Image for Jami.
17 reviews12 followers
August 11, 2012
At the very least, I would classify myself as a theoretical non-monogamist, so I guess I could only avoid reading this book for so long. In polyamory circles, I see it recommended more than any other text, so I felt obligated to finally borrow a copy from the library. My verdict is a half-hearted shrug.

There are good parts worth mentioning. Know yourself, love yourself, communicate, be honest, set boundaries, process jealousy, practice safer sex, shed prudish societal conventions that no longer work for you, etc., etc. -- this is all great universal advice for living and relating to others. It provides you with a bird’s-eye view of a different way of thinking about relationships, and if you’ve never pondered any of these concepts for a moment, then maybe this is a decent appetizer to the world of non-monogamy. Mulling over jealousy and insecurity, in particular, are useful exercises for any person, from sluts to monogamists. But if you’re looking for real depth on the subject, or if you’re looking for an answer to a more specific question about polyamory, this isn’t the place to find it.

As pretty much everyone knows, The Ethical Slut is always peddled as the polyamory bible, and because of this, well, it’s got big shoes to fill, so I’m judging it harshly. In a nutshell: it lacks depth, and I don’t think it lives up to all the hype. Some might find the conversational, sometimes cutesy tone friendly and disarming, but I just found it annoying. I would have preferred something far more professional and less anecdotal.

Another aspect that bothered me is the focus on sex. Yes, it’s called The Ethical Slut, so I can’t blame it for going on about sexual exploration with multiple partners. But is it making a case for casual sex, or for polyamory? While the two can overlap, they aren’t necessarily synonymous. Perhaps I should be criticizing the cheerleaders of this book instead of the book itself, but it doesn’t seem like the best go-to manual for educating oneself on the complex nuances of maintaining multiple romantic relationships. Personally, while the idea of sex with several people can be a stressor, it doesn’t really top the list of things I find tricky to navigate when a relationship is opened up to more partners. I find insecurities develop around much more fundamental issues, of which sex is an offshoot.

Also, while the authors do acknowledge the many different ways people may choose to arrange and define their intimate relationships, I feel as though they only pay lip service to those who choose monogamy. It highlights a problem I have in general with many polyamorists, this self-righteous idea that non-monogamy is superior or more evolved than monogamy. It’s different, for sure, but not inherently better. And it absolutely presents some unique problems of its own. Given that we’re representing a minority alternative lifestyle, there’s an advocacy facet to consider when talking about polyamory, and if you treat it as something better, rather than something that is merely different but still acceptable, the arrogance alone is going to repel people. As a parallel, when I advocate for gay rights and equality (and I myself am queer as the rainbow), I don’t make the mistake of stating that homosexuality is better than heterosexuality (tempting though it may be since I personally feel that way). That’s just my experience, because that’s what works for me. I just worry when I see popular texts like this treating a lifestyle as superior, rather than a different but equal choice, that we kind of set ourselves back. In fact, it makes me not want to identify with this group.

Okay, fine, I guess you could say I’m nitpicking. It’s not a bad book, it does have practical, generic advice, but the end result is that I’m looking elsewhere for a text that does non-monogamy justice.
Profile Image for Darren.
11 reviews
January 19, 2014
I see labels... and am glad to see some of the women stigmatized by the norms of patriarchal attitudes turned the negative to positive.
I know I tend to sound like a broken record with this observation but it is tragic that so many things are still dictated by an ignorant notion that women are property.
This of course is obvious in the double standard that men can be studs yet women should be chaste. I think that the example shown by those of same gender preference is the best way to deal with the word slut. Just as they claimed, the words queer, fag as their own, and devalued them as insults, women should claim the word slut. Many women have already including Janet Hardy who authored “The Ethical Slut”
Before the word slut became prominent, the word males used to describe any women who was deemed promiscuous (or even enjoyed sex) was nymphomaniac.
Kinsey had the right idea when commenting on the erroneous concept stated humorously
“A nymphomaniac is "Someone who has more sex than you do."
A slut was a person who in their peers eyes were indiscriminate about with whom who they had sex. This was based more upon appearance and often personality clashes then upon actual knowledge of person’s sexual habits.
In high school, I hung out with an older crowd many of whom had already graduated or dropped out. I remember the term slut being used in a friendlier manner to describe casual sex; I think the term was “slut puppy” as in “your such a slut puppy” or I was such a slut puppy last night” I also recall the word “whore” being a more derogatory term and associated with a person using sexuality for unscrupulous purpose. However, it was also used erroneously because of personality clash or jealousy. I had a relationship in my late teens with a girl who had grown up in a suburb of Cleveland. She was estranged from her family because of an incident that happened to her in her SR year of high school.
She was a ministers daughter who was pretty much mainstream in her teens.
However, she attended a party, got drunk, and went to bed with the town Romeo. Several of the girls from her father’s church had also attended the party and became jealous. These girls engaged in an active campaign against her and she became the “slut”. She related to me that until that experience she had been a virgin. While traumatized at the time by the whole experience she related, “It had a positive effect in her growth as it lead to rejecting the values she was raised she felt if it had not been for that incident and her families lack of support she would have wound up like her mother
71 reviews3 followers
August 19, 2011
This is not a book to read if you are interested in alternative ethics. This is a book to read if you are interested in the poly amorous lifestyle and want a primer before you start.

The book does not convincingly lay out respect for monogamy. While "sexually liberated monogamy" is listed as respectable in a perfunctory way, the authors come across as quite condescending to the monogamous. I respect many of the core tenets of the book but I think part of the problem lies in the authors being in a minority. When you are in a minority, there can be a tendency to be overly defensive and critical of the majority. This is as unbalanced a position as the majority dismissing the view point of the minority.

Being a racial minority, I have a great deal of sympathy for minority viewpoints and I have a good number of polyanmorous friends. When I was an "angry young man" with resentment over minority oppression, I took many of this same unbalanced approach on different issues. As an adult who knows more view points than one can be valid, such a position comes across as arrogant and short-sighted to me.

If I did not know polyamorous people, I probably would have come away from this book with less respect for the lifestyle than I had before due to this tone. Also, the book does little to address the fact that poly amorous people have to live in a society that is monogamous and how to ethically interact with the monogamous when you are "open".

Profile Image for Sarah.
548 reviews63 followers
May 31, 2015
There are so many incredible quotes in this book, I can’t even begin to list them all. You’ll have to read it for yourself to get all the good ones! Both as a human being and as a therapist who specializes in women’s issues and sexuality, I believe that this book is a must-read for us all. Every one of us is a sexual being, after all!

The concept of sexual exploration is profoundly feminist and it requires a careful deconstruciton of the messages and limitations dictated to us by a patriarchal society (sex is shameful, monogamy is the only way to love, partners represent your other half, etc.). True, polyamory isn’t for everyone— but that’s precisely the point. As with everything in life, there is no one answer or lifestyle that fits all. In order to discover our own truth, we have to let go of the false “truths” forced upon us and unlearn behaviors that have been engrained in our society for centuries. This is, of course, difficult beyond belief.

In the end, these authors argue that regardless of your chosen lifestyle, there are ethical and healthy ways to be in relationship with others. Consent, personal awareness and exploration, communication, honesty; these are all crucial skills that take time to learn and implement in our lives whether your choice is monogamy or any other expression of love and sexuality.

What an awesome read!
Profile Image for Heather Derussy.
19 reviews4 followers
January 3, 2013
This book isn't simply a "how to have sex with alot of people" book. It is a guide to healthy relationships overall, whether you are monogamous or not. Included are tools for conflict resolution, fair fighting, deepening sexual experiences, reducing jealousy, and a very good rant about unethical sluts. I especially like the additional resources listed in this book. I read this based on my therapist's recommendation and was quite skeptical at first. While the overall lifestyles discussed in this book are not what I feel would be appropriate for myself or my husband, I did learn very valuable insights in to how/why he and I are so different and why we connect with people much differently. This book is a practical guide for any human being regardless of relationship status, sexual orientation or religious background. The overall premise is simple: In order to have successful relationships you have to be ethical with one and other on every level. That takes a hell of a lot of work.
Profile Image for Amanda.
319 reviews54 followers
June 7, 2016
A great reference book on sexuality and polyamory if you treat it as such. Entire chapters were skippable to me but could be useful to someone in another situation. This isn't a book I felt the need to read cover-to-cover and once I realized that I enjoyed it much more!
Profile Image for Kenya Wright.
Author 97 books2,172 followers
May 21, 2014
It just can't get better than this when a book is discussing how to just be a good and loving person. . .while being a SLUT!!
Profile Image for Laurie.
126 reviews
December 13, 2009
I read this for research I was doing on a paper in my English class regarding the potential sociomoral ramifications of polyamory.

This was my least favorite of the books I read on polyamory. It was neither insightful nor enjoyable. Easton and Hardy’s approach to defining polyamory is unreservedly direct, albeit abrasive. They ineffectively attempt to provide modern definitions to words generally deemed as crude or crass in polite society. Most of the words they proudly exploit,“not as insults," are too explicit to use as examples here.

If you're already a polyamorist perhaps the way this book is written would not be considered offensive, however as a monogamist researching polyamory I found it distasteful and disrespectful to a group of people who are attempting to garner positive recognition.
Profile Image for Jeannie.
24 reviews1 follower
April 22, 2015
This book was helpful in many aspects of my life. It teaches and reminds us that we are responsible for our emotions and reactions, no matter the situation. I loved that one of the authors is a clinical psychologist, and that certainly comes through. It's a caring and understanding book that will give you a firm foundation for exploring life and relationships in their many forms.
Profile Image for Ellen Andromeda.
45 reviews2 followers
September 4, 2013
I found the book really simplistic, and way too optimistic about basically anyone working out a poly relationship. They all but say that a poly relationship will not end because it's poly, that if it ends it has to be some other reason. I have to say that they're wrong. Not everyone's cut out for or even wants polyamory, and while they play lip service to that, it's clear that they feel that polyamory is best and the reader must agree. They believe that you're a better person if you can be happy staying home with a book while your boyfriend goes out with another girl, but they never convinced me why I should want that.

Even if you do want polyamory and you totally agree with them, they do a disservice to people considering opening up their relationship by not prompting them to think of any of the hard questions that should go along with it. Like, what would you do if one of you fell in love quickly but the other wasn't adjusting to polyamory at all? This is not an abstract question to think about, but one to go talk to your partner right now about before you have all complicated emotions clouding everything you say. Also every intro to poly book should have a warning that if you read multiple books, blogs, etc on the subject and your partner reads zero, that's a bad sign.

I was hoping this book would have more advice on casual relationships, but unfortunately almost all the advice is geared either to committed couples or someone wanting to get involved with a committed couple. That's a more specific definition of "slut" than I was thinking, and if those two scenarios don't apply to you then another book would be better.
Profile Image for Julie Bozza.
Author 31 books285 followers
August 23, 2012
The title says it all, really: You say ‘polyamorous’, society says ‘slut’. How do you live ethically in the tensions of that situation? If you want to explore the notion, then this is a good place to start.

Society is (always?) in transition and is certainly freeing up about some aspects of sexuality and relationships. However, polyamory is still on the Forbidden Fruit List for most, I feel. Which makes it difficult to even talk about living as a polyamorous person, or be open about it beyond your immediate circle.

There are other problems, too, of course, not least of which are jealousy and resentment. Of course I feel as if I have so very much love to share, an infinite amount of love – but even if those on the receiving end agree, we would all still have to deal with the fact that they are sharing not only my infinite love, but also certain finite resources such as my time, energy, and attention. Such relationships require a great deal of emotional intelligence – and as we are all fallible human beings, I suspect that can be a rather finite resource, too. Speaking personally, I rather like the theory, but I’m not sure if I’d be able to put it into practice.

If you do decide that you want to chart the tricky waters of polyamory, however, and do so with respect for the dignity and worth of all concerned, then this is probably the book for you.

And it’s those words ‘if you want’ that really helped establish the foundations of this book for me. For ultimately the book is about having the cake you most want to eat, whether that’s singledom, casual encounters, monogamy, or polyamory. It’s about living well with your own choices, and doing the least harm to yourself or others. The book focuses on polyamory as the least visible and least supported choice in our society today, but much of its advice on love and sex can apply to any person and any relationship.

It loses a star because: (a) I am not a fan of the self-help genre; (b) the relentlessly cheery tone was a bit much even for me, Pollyanna though I am; and (c) I have concerns around the issues of protecting yourself. Which probably says far more about me than anything else. But it is important to be able to protect your precious, most cherished dreams even while being out there in the wild world living your dreams. And that's not always easy. This kind of book tends to emphasise the living of dreams rather than the protecting... and I immagine the authors would tell me I am simply prey to my own fears. Who is right? I'll get back to you if I ever figure it out.
Profile Image for Anna.
23 reviews1 follower
August 20, 2007
This book had some useful nuggets of information on jealousy, communication, and ways to encourage people to get what they need from their relationships (romantic or otherwise) that I think are applicable to everyone, not just people in poly situations. Given my age and educational background, some of the stuff that was supposed to blow my mind, didn't. I also agree with some of the other reviews that have described the book at a bit too cheerful and "let's all love each other" but I'm glad people like that exist.
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