What am I? Recently, I’ve been asked a few times to slot myself into one or the other of the categories above. But none calls out to me.
Week Bi Week had a post recently lamenting some aspects of “swinger culture.” I second all her complaints – the presumption of female bisexuality, the presumption against (or really, hostility to) male bisexuality, the politics of gender generally. And I have some others: the complete devaluing of mystery, of discovery, of relation, in favor of – well, in favor of fucking. Even the fetishization of fucking itself and the near-complete devaluing of foreplay and all forms of non-PIV sex, except as means to the fucking end.
These complaints often find some relief in the lands of the poly and the kinkster. But, of course, in the game of Whack-a-Mole that is labeling, they’re replaced with others. Both of these other lands replace the resolute hedonism and pleasure-seeking of swingers with an equally resolute earnestness and seriousness. Witness all the debates about ethics (whom should you fuck, and whom should you not?) and rules (what should you do with whom?) and nomenclature (“Does a ‘true sub’ do x?” “Is y really a dom?”).
Honestly, I find all of this tedious. My “rules,” my ways of being, are highly personal, contingent – and dynamic. I can’t imagine they would have any applicability to you. And while I’m interested in what has worked for you, and sometimes have gotten good (or even great) ideas from others, at the end of the day, it seems unlikely that you will be able to solve my problems or challenges.
I love (sarcastically) people’s tendency to seek some sort of validation and/or answers from others, from authorities. Whether it’s guidance from The Ethical Slut* or validation from Sex at Dawn, these impulses seem to me as foolish as the whole-hog approach to monogamy that’s so dominant in our culture. One of the greatest joys for me as T and I have traveled this path has been the opportunity to approach all of these questions anew, with fresh eyes, with no preconceptions, and from a standpoint that reflects an appreciation and honoring of our feelings, our experience, our desires, our needs. We have friends who have a way of operating that in many ways is very similar to ours (complete transparency, open e-mail accounts) but one crucial difference (they only ever have sex with others together – no “free agent” dating).
Labels here, as most everywhere, get in the way. Am I poly? I don’t want a full-on relationship, don’t want the women other than my wife whom I fuck to be integrated into my home life. Am I a kinkster? Sometimes I really like vanilla sex and, as I have written, though I’m dominant, I’m hardly a dom. Am I a slut? Who knows, but I’ve written a bit about that as well. And re: being a “swinger,” I think “Week Bi Week” pretty much summed it all up for me, with the addendum above.
So all that’s to say, I think labels don’t really work so good for me. It’s what I like about Dan Savage’s “monogamish.” It says so much while saying so little. I’m married. T is the center of my life, and there’s no sex I have that doesn’t take place in the context of my relationship with T. And/but I do have sex with other people occasionally, and sexual interactions with them more often. But what that all looks like? It’s highly variable and contingent.
*To be fair, The Ethical Slut doesn’t generally espouse principles or “rules” so much as identify areas for discussion. But there is a sort of fetishization of the idea that there’s a binary distinction between an “ethical” slut and whatever the opposite is, and the book certainly encourages that.