Friday, 26 April 2013

The Ethical Slut


Writing essays as I do, I love to read others’ essays too.  I just finished reading a book of comedic  essays by Tucker Max.  His book, I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell, is a wild ride through his days and nights of heavy drinking, hard partying and getting laid.  As the New York Times states on the cover of the book, it’s “highly entertaining and thoroughly reprehensible.”  I felt like the gay version of Tucker, except on a few key points.  His essays are comical, going for the joke, and staying away from too much introspection.  But where I felt I really diverged from him was around the issue of respect.

Tucker assumes that the women that agree to sleep with a cad like him are obviously those with no self-respect.  He meets one woman who gives him everything in bed – she surpasses Tucker’s own levels of perversity by allowing him to humiliate and beat her in bed, hit her until she bleeds, and more.  This woman was game for anything – she blows Tucker while he takes a shit.  But at one point she says she feels bothered that he is seeing other women and wants to know if they can get serious about their relationship, make it monogamous and date just each other.  And what does Tucker do?  He laughs in her face, horrified that the freak he was talking to would think for a moment that he would date a chick like her. 

And this is where Tucker and I differ.  I felt that he should have gotten on his knees and prayed thanks to the sex gods that he had found a woman who was so giving and wild and uninhibited in bed.  Instead, when she got vulnerable, he laughed at her and never saw her again.  Tucker explains in the book his theory that while some women are wonderful and deserve to be treated with respect, others are, in his words, filthy whores.  It’s the old Madonna/Whore syndrome, and he perpetuates the idea that if a woman enjoys sex, and especially enjoys it with him, she is a whore.

Every time I have sex with a guy, I am in awe of his ability to allow me to see him at his most vulnerable and most raw.  I worship men who share their sexuality with me, as if they were offering a very special gift.  And it matters not how often they do it nor with how many partners.  Therefore the word slut doesn’t exist for me (except in the context of role playing and humiliation scenes, where being the “slut” is part of the fun).  And I think that Tucker shoots himself in the foot: He obviously loves wild sex, but the moment he gets it, it lowers the woman’s standing in his eyes.

However, here comes the part where I rake myself over the coals for moments where I have disrespected men.  It was maybe not as blatant as Tucker (laughing in a person`s face), but in other ways all the same.

For example, what do you do when you meet a trick on-line, invite him over, take a look and realize you`re really not attracted to him?  I remember one night (or I should say morning, as it was about 6 am) years ago.  Another winning night of drinking until dawn and cruising Manhunt.net.  In my raging horniness and drunkenness, I invited a guy over, and when he walked in the door, I just didn’t feel it.  I don’t know if he didn’t appear to look like he did in his pictures, but I just didn’t want to do it.  And he was mad, mad enough about leaving home and coming across town that I feared he wouldn’t leave.  He did leave,but in a huff, and I thought, should I have just gone for it, since he did come all that way?  Or am I allowed to say no up the last minute?  What are the ethics of a hook-up?  And that wasn’t the only time.  When a guy arrives for a hook-up and doesn’t look, to me anyway, like his pictures on-line, I’ve sometimes declined.  And I’ve used the lamest excuses: “ I’m too nervous”,” it’s not you, it’s me”.  And yet, I’ve also been on the receiving end of it.  What can you do but brush up your bruised ego and keep trucking?

The ethics of being a slut are explored in wonderful detail in the book The Ethical Slut: A Practical Guide to Polyamory, Open Relationships & Other Adventures by Dossie Easton and Janet W. Hardy.  I realized that I had a thing or two to learn about being an ethical slut.  For example, they advise that you to be careful of sleeping with someone that you know ahead of time that you won’t want to sleep with again.  I’ve had hook-ups where I thought, “Well, it’ll be just a one-time thing.”  For the other person, it may feel very different and hurt feelings will ensue.

What of the married man on the down low?  At first blush, we might quickly say that it’s wrong wrong wrong.  But Dan Savage, in his sex advice column Savage Love, has this to say about it:

"Cheating is permissible when it amounts to the least worst option, i.e., it is allowed for someone who has made a monogamous commitment and isn't getting any at home (sick or disabled spouse, or withholding-without-cause spouse) and divorce isn't an option (sick or disabled spouse, or withholding-without-cause-spouse-who-can't-be-divorced-for-some-karma-imperiling-reason-or-other) and the sex on the side makes it possible for the cheater to stay married and stay sane. (An exception can be made for a married person with a kink that his or her spouse can't/won't accommodate, so long as the kink can be taken care of safely and discreetly.)"

I’ll be brave and say it out loud for all of us:  Which of us haven’t fantasized about bagging a married (and presumably straight) guy?  There’s even a cute, tongue-in-cheek gay porn site called “But I’m a Married Man!”  But outside of fantasy, what are the ethics to you of this reality?  I hand it over to you, Dear Reader…

 

 

2 comments:

  1. Oh, tricky question! I've spent some time thinking about this, too, and it can get kind of uncomfortable. I agree with Dan Savage, based on what you quoted here. Those seem like reasonable circumstances in which cheating would be justifiable, though still awkward. I also think that the ethical burden is more on the cheating person than on the one he cheats with. We (the sluts) don't know if someone is in a relationship when we hook up for what we probably see as harmless fun unless he chooses to tell us about it.

    Things get trickier when we know someone is already in a relationship, be it gay, straight, or other. There's definitely a thrill to be had, especially if helping someone to scratch an itch he can't get satisfied at home. For me it mostly goes back to the concept of "harmless fun." If what we're doing doesn't weaken the emotional relationship or rob the partner of something he/she wants, then there you go. It's not as if I have any intention of stealing the guy away! Of course, putting that into practice gets tricky, as we each set our own practical criteria for exactly what circumstances or acts are "harmless," or at least as acceptable. Looking past the technicalities, a good indicator of when you're crossing a line is feeling uncomfortable or guilty. If you feel like you shouldn't be doing something, don't!

    There's more I could say about the "respect" angle you mentioned earlier, but I think I've yammered on enough already.

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  2. Thanks again Matt! I totally love hearing other points of view, so yammer away (and what you're writing is far from yammering. It's thoughtful). I would love to hear your thoughts on the "respect" portion of the above essay if you ever have time to write again.....Jason

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