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Media Updates

"Polyamory: The End of Marriage?"

on Tuesday, 26 November 2013. Hits 229

Nightline

Some married couples are opting for live-in lovers to spice up their love lives.

http://abcnews.go.com/Nightline/video/polyamory-end-marriage-21013545

"The joyless law of sex"

on Monday, 25 November 2013. Hits 598

Washington Post

Margo Kaplan is an assistant professor of law at Rutgers School of Law-Camden. Her article “Sex-Positive Law” will appear in the New York University Law Review in April.

Emma Thompson recently declared that dancing with Prince Charles is better. Hunter S. Thompson wrote a book about how politics is better . Google lists thousands of cake recipes claiming to be better. Zeus and Hera debated whether it is better for women or for men.

But even if we can’t quite agree on what’s better than sex, the comparison suggests we take for granted that sex can be pretty good.

Which makes it all the more puzzling that our courts and legislatures are still strangely squeamish about sexual pleasure, tending to treat it as a topic to be avoided or an immoral indulgence the state should prevent. When they address sex, they often reveal their embarrassment by using Victorian-sounding euphemisms such as “an intimate relation of husband and wife” or awkwardly clinical terms such as “the physical act.” Other times, they express outright disgust. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia warned that prohibiting states from banning sodomy might harken a nightmarish future in which states could not criminalize masturbation. Imagine.

Of course, judges and politicians have made great progress as far as attitudes toward the gay community and marriage equality. Just this year, the Supreme Court struck down a ban on the federal recognition of same-sex marriages and the number of states recognizing marriage equality more than doubled. But these moves don’t further sexual freedom in itself. Rather, antiquated attitudes about sexual pleasure have allowed for the persistence of bad laws that touch on everything from free speech to how we define and punish rape.

To the extent that courts and legislatures have shown any appreciation for the value of sex, it’s usually in the context of more traditionally acceptable goals. The Supreme Court, for example, is downright reverent toward sex as a component of strong marriages and successful procreation.

In Griswold v. Connecticut (1964), the court held that a law banning the use of contraceptives unconstitutionally infringed on the right to marital privacy. But the court made clear that it was primarily interested in protecting the “sacred precincts of marital bedrooms,” not the sex that happened there or elsewhere. Writing the majority opinion, Justice William Douglas waxed rhapsodic about marriage as “a coming together for better or for worse, hopefully enduring, and intimate to the degree of being sacred. It is an association .?.?. for as noble a purpose as any involved in our prior decisions.” The implication: Sex is bad, but marriage justifies its offense by directing it toward a socially acceptable purpose.

Eight years later, in Eisenstadt v. Baird , the court struck down a Massachusetts law denying unmarried people access to contraception. The opinion was less a green light for sex outside marriage than an acknowledgment that those who insist on having sex outside marriage have a right to avoid pregnancy. In fact, the court was oddly silent about the reasons people might want to have non-procreative sex in the first place. Instead, it spoke in terms of equal protection of unmarried couples and an individual’s right to decide whether to have children. ...

"South Beloit Urges Shutdown of Emerald Lounge"

on Friday, 22 November 2013. Hits 234

WIFR.com

SOUTH BELOIT (WIFR) – A South Beloit club is fighting to stay open after the city claims the business is a sex club. The owner of that bar says the allegations aren’t true.

The Emerald Lounge in South Beloit is a very unassuming place. The jewel on the door is the only sign there’s anything inside and what’s going on indoors has the city and the club’s owner at odds.

“This place started out with six guys in a garage and we decided it was time to get out of the garage, open up our own place.”

The Lounge has a few rooms filled with a bar, couches, chairs, a pool table and a dance floor equipped with a stripper pole.

“Hey, we’re men. That doesn’t make us a sexually orientated business.”

The owner says it’s nothing more than a place for people to hang out, but city employees believe it’s a swingers club and want to shut it down.

“We don’t have a swinger club here. What we do is we throw theme parties and as you see going around the lodge if we had a swinger club, we’d have a lot more fun.”

In letters obtained by 23 News, the City calls the Emerald Lounge a sexually oriented business, citing the stripper pole and a website as evidence, a violation of city zoning codes.

“This club or whatever you want to call it doesn’t sell anything, so it doesn’t meet up to the zoning codes. Plus, it’s within a thousand feet of residences and that type of establishment isn’t allowed there,” said South Beloit Police Chief Dean Stiegmeier.

“We actually fit into their zoning regulations under their private club. That’s where we’re the loyal order emeralds. We actually filed our non-profit papers,” said the club owner.

As for the website the city cited in its cease and desist order, the owner says that the web page was made by an angry ex-member, claiming that the club’s actual website makes no mention of swingers. Chief Stiegmeier says officers haven’t had any calls to the address, however he worries something may happen.

“That type of business can lead to all types of things. Drug dealing, violence, especially if you get alcohol involved,” said Chief Stiegmeier. ...

"Polyamory, lots and lots of love"

on Sunday, 17 November 2013. Hits 366

Philly Inquirer

Same-sex marriage is now legal in 14 states and Washington D.C. An estimated six million children are being raised by gay or lesbian parents. More than twenty million are growing up with a single mother or father. According to the 2010 U.S. Census, the traditional nuclear family - mom, dad, children - accounts for only 20 percent of households. This is the first in an occasional series of stories about the new modern family, one that may be living next door to you.

On Sept. 10, 2011, Deirdre Cusack, Jeremy Peirce, and Kala Pierson got married. To one another.

More than 60 friends and relatives attended their marriage ceremony at Philadelphia's Magic Gardens. They smiled as the two brides, both in traditional white wedding gowns, and the groom, dapper in his tuxedo, passed Noah, their 18-month-old son, from one set of arms to another.

Today, two years later, the foursome appear to be an ordinary family living with their cats, Moonstone and Dandelion, in a single home in a Philadelphia suburb. Noah goes to a progressive day care center where he is learning Hebrew and Spanish. He loves pasta, albeit topped with brussels sprouts, and squeals with delight when he is rewarded with a chunk of licorice after success on the potty.

All three parents hold prestigious jobs - Jeremy, Noah's birth father, with degrees from Amherst and Princeton, is a biotech scientist; Kala writes classical music that has been performed in 28 countries. Deirdre, Noah's birth mother, is a data analyst. Deirdre's sister, Deborah, and Jeremy's mother, Marie, usually laden with gifts for Noah, visit often.

Still - When Kala describes her ordinary, extraordinary family, she shrugs insouciantly and says, "We make dinner for each other . . . we have sex with each other."

And that isn't all. Jeremy, Kala, and Deirdre all have "sweeties" (most of whom attended their wedding) outside their close-knit trio - two each at the moment - with one another's blessings.

All of their sweeties are also polyamorous (from the Greek and Latin "many loves"), a word defining a lifestyle that, if not increasing, is certainly more visible than ever before.

The online magazine Loving More claims more than 100,000 hits a month. Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, a singer, songwriter, and former first lady of France, has said, "Monogamy bores me. I am faithful . . . to myself." Each February since 2005, an annual national conference on polyamory, given by Loving More Nonprofit, is held right here in Philadelphia.

Since polyamorous "marriages" are not recognized legally and the lifestyle is not understood by much of society, most poly families walk in the shadows. Research is sparse, but studies by Terri Conley, professor of psychology and women's studies at the University of Michigan, estimate that 4.5 percent of Americans - about 13 million people - may be engaged in some form of non-monogamy including polyamory, swinging, or open relationships.

Studies by Elisabeth Sheff, a sociologist formerly with Georgia State University and author of The Polyamorists Next Door, found that those who are polyamorous are likely to be well-educated, often with graduate degrees, and strongly feminist in their beliefs. As with Kala, Deirdre, and Jeremy, the vision of their primary family is usually one of commitment, deep love, and the determination to raise their children into happy, productive adulthood.

The cornerstone of polyamory is "ethical non-monogamy," involvement in intimate, loving relationships with more than one person at a time. They are not "swingers," those who casually swap partners or engage in sex as recreation. They are not polygamists, men with several subservient wives. And they disdain those who take solemn wedding vows pledging fidelity, only to betray their spouses with secret philandering.

"In our relationships, the key is honesty," Jeremy says. "I am not monogamous, nor do I want to be, and I'm up front about it. Deirdre and Kala feel the same way." ...

" Judge considers Trevor’s Toybox owner’s appeal against Pembroke zoning board"

on Thursday, 14 November 2013. Hits 632

Concord Monitor

A Merrimack County Superior Court judge yesterday stared down from his bench and addressed perfunctory questions to the lawyer for Pembroke business owner Larry Preston.

“Could these handcuffs be used for anything else?” Judge Richard McNamara asked, his voice stern.

And later, “Where else would whips be sold?”

Lawyers yesterday argued over how what they termed “the BDSM lifestyle” relates to Trevor’s Toybox, the shop where Preston hopes to sell leather clothing, handcuffs and whips on Pembroke’s Main Street.

Now, the judge will need to rule on whether the Pembroke zoning board could block Trevor’s Toybox by claiming the bondage items it would sell are sexually explicit.

In May, the zoning board barred Preston from opening the shop in the town’s central business district, where property cannot be used for “passive adult entertainment.” Pembroke’s zoning ordinances cite examples of passive adult entertainment uses, including sexual paraphernalia stores, adult video stores and adult bookstores.

The town says Trevor’s Toybox violates that ordinance because the store would sell bondage items to “cater to sexual preferences, tastes and activities,” according to court documents. The store’s business card defines the store as “meeting the demand for BDSM equipment.”

A small footnote in the town’s court filings cites an internet search for “BDSM defined,” which produced “countless pages devoted to a description of ‘bondage, dominance, submission and masochism.’ ”

“This is a retail store specializing in the sale of paraphernalia used in the erotic touching of body parts,” town attorney Chris Cole said in court.

Preston filed a lawsuit in June to reverse that decision, claiming the items he would sell in the store can easily be purchased at other businesses.

“For example, Walmart sells handcuffs,” the documents state. “A store called Party City in Manchester has children’s handcuff kits. The Army barracks in Salem has handcuffs. Tractor Supply sells whips for pigs and horses. A store called Spencer’s in Concord sells whips and handcuffs. One can buy leather jackets and leather chaps at a Harley Davidson motorcycle shop.”

The items in Trevor’s Toybox could also be used for nonsexual purposes, argued Finis Williams, Preston’s lawyer.

“If a person were to buy a leather jacket and a whip from Trevor’s Toybox so that person could be Indiana Jones for Halloween, that would not constitute a passive adult entertainment use,” the suit reads.

The Trevor’s Toybox website does sell sexually oriented items, Preston has said, but those items would not be sold in his Pembroke store. ...

International Media Update: "Out of Bounds"

on Tuesday, 12 November 2013. Hits 316

The Indian Express

In a predominantly dark photograph, a young man raises his arms as if to fight off an approaching horror. His fingers are fanned out, his wrists handcuffed, and his torso bare. This could be an image of hostility — except that the man's look, even in the darkness, hints at defiance. "He is a submissive, somebody who has surrendered to his partner and will obey every order. Surrendering to another power is a powerful act in itself, as Sufi saints and meditation practitioners have always said," says Jaya Sharma, a spokesperson of the Kinky Collective, organisers of a photography exhibition, titled "Bound to be Free", of which this image is a part. The exhibition in Delhi ended on Sunday and is now set to travel to Bangalore, Kolkata and Chennai.

The Kinky Collective follow intense erotic practices termed as BDSM or Bondage, Discipline, Sadism and Masochism. These include role-playing, and acts that involve either power or pain as a means of pleasure. "We wanted to have the exhibition so that as members of the BDSM community we could represent our desires and who we are," says Sharma.

As a means of stepping out of the closet, the exhibition is a milestone. But, the 40 photographs on display — taken by members of the community, besides two professional photographers — have mixed aesthetic value. There are images with BDSM stereotypes such as stilletos, blindfolds, whips and bodies captured by amateur lensmen.

The photos, however, underline the community's core belief in consent. "In BDSM, consent is proactively sought and offered, and can be withdrawn unconditionally and instantly with the use of a single word or gesture," says Sharma, "In contrast to the construction of BDSM as anti-women and even misogynist, it is important to know that BDSM enables space for women Dominants to be completely in control, and for submissive men to be vulnerable. It is also important to challenge the typical imagination of male dominant and a woman submissive." ...

"Monogamous: To Be or Not to Be?"

on Tuesday, 12 November 2013. Hits 743

Huffington Post

The one thing you don't expect to see in any of the Bible Belt states (most of which have amended their constitutions to define marriage as a union between one man and one woman) is an organization promoting polyamory.

Last month at Atlanta's pride parade, the group Atlanta Polyamory Inc. did just that -- and out in the light of day. The result was the shock, awe, and disgust of a mixed group.

Atlanta Polyamory Inc.'s purple-lettered banner read, "Polyamory: Having simultaneous close emotional relationships with two or more other individuals."

While many religious conservatives might argue that the legalization of same-gender marriage and shows like HBO's Big Love, about a fictional polygamist Mormon family, plant seeds to destroy the conventional family unit, we have to ask ourselves whether monogamy is a natural instinct in us or a social construct devised to protect and regulate the institution of heterosexual marriage.

Being nonmonogamous in this culture carries a stigma for both heterosexuals and LGBTQs. Nonmonogamous people are widely assumed to be sexually promiscuous, sex- and love-addicted and unable to achieve emotional and sexual intimacy. But this assumption ignores the reality that some people really are in polyamorous relationships, and their ability to love more than one person at a time is not about a lust-fest for them.

Deepak Chopra, a renowned spiritual master and director of educational programs at the Chopra Center for Well Being in California, told The Advocate in 1998:

As far as monogamy is concerned, I honestly believe that human beings are not monogamous biologically; they were not created that way. However, it is certainly helpful in society and social structure ... because of the family structure. ... [W]ith gay and lesbian relationships, I think you're going to see families. You're going to see children. ... So in the interest of family structure, we've evolved biologically to the point where we are social creatures.

But the purported evolutionary benefits of monogamy have not panned out as expected. The biggest claim touted in support of monogamy is that it's the best social and psychological arrangement for children. However, if a couples is in a monogamous relationship solely for the kids, the children suffer because they witness no love, compassion or respect between the parents. ...

"What’s So Bad About an Open Marriage?"

on Tuesday, 12 November 2013. Hits 396

Daily Beast

Will and Jada Smith found themselves at the center of a scandal last week, when the tabloid Star Magazine allegedly caught Will canoodling with Margot Robbie, a 23-year-old actress and a costar of Focus, a movie he’s shooting in New Orleans.

The tabloid ran pictures from a photo booth photo shoot of Will and Robbie hamming it up. In one picture they are baring their chests at the camera; in another they are flashing peace signs; in the third, he’s hugging her from behind and throwing the peace sign. It looks pretty chummy, if not necessarily lascivious.

But Star’s spin on the cover story might be missing a key ingredient to the Smiths’ marriage. While the cover blared: “Will & Jada: The Photos That Will Tear Them Apart!” and alleged, “Will cheats with sexy 23-year-old in New Orleans,” it has long been rumored that the Smiths have an open relationship.

Robbie’s already taken to Twitter to issue a denial:

But in April, Jada Smith told Huff Post Live: “I’ve always told Will, ‘You can do whatever you want as long as you can look at yourself in the mirror and be OK. Because at the end of the day, Will is his own man,” she said. “It comes from respecting that you are in a partnership and that also you are an individual as well.”

Later, she clarified in a Facebook post: “Will and I BOTH can do WHATEVER we want, because we TRUST each other to do so. This does NOT mean we have an open relationship…this means we have a GROWN one.”

Though they aren’t totally fessing up, the Smiths aren’t the first celebrity couple to face open marriage speculation/rumors and open relationship talk. When the picture of Robin Thicke with his hand on Lana Scolaro’s butt at a VMA afterparty was Instagrammed and Tweeted around the world, the typical narrative of the celebrity scandal was upended. This time, Thicke wasn’t in trouble with his wife; she wasn’t about to leave him; and he wasn’t getting dumped for being a dog.

Perhaps that has to do with Thicke’s carefully cultivated—and relatively new— image as a Lothario (see: “Blurred Lines.”) But in this narrative, his wife, actress Paula Patton, was supposedly cool with it all. Scolaro told the tabs that Patton was in the next room, and didn’t mind. “He mentioned that he and his wife are very chill. He was like, “Be nice to her, she’ll like you, she’ll love you,” she told Life&Style.

And Thicke’s interview with Howard Stern last July also seemed to imply that they had an unconventional relationship. “We’ve done just about everything,” he said. But he stopped short of saying they were in an open marriage. “Out of respect for her, we just won’t answer that one.”

Later, Patton’s rep denied it all: “It’s just a girl looking for some attention.”

***

If the Smiths and Thicke and his wife do have a very French arrangement, they wouldn’t be alone. Polyamory and open relationships have been gaining prominence with the public. From TV shows like Polyamory: Married and Dating to celebrities like Mo’Nique coming out about being in an open relationship, polyamorous (loosely defined as loving more than one person at a time) relationships are becoming more visible. If you are on a dating site like OkCupid, chances are you’ve encountered someone who is already in a relationship looking to spice things up.

“I think more people are participating in open marriages and polyamory now than ever before,” says Jenny Block, author of Open: Love, Sex, and Life in an Open Marriage. “It’s becoming clear that heterosexual monogamous marriage simply doesn’t work for most people. And I think people are tired of being unhappy and dissatisfied.”

With 50 percent of marriages ending in divorce, monogamy may seem like impossible ideal. “We cannot control our own desires and we certainly cannot control the desires of others,” says Block, who has been in an open marriage for the past 10 years. “You cannot tell someone, ‘Don’t be attracted to anyone else. Don’t desire anyone else.’ You can say, ‘If we’re going to be together, I want it to be monogamous.’ But you cannot control the other person’s heart and mind. The heart wants what it wants.” ...

Latest Reader Comments

  • This seems to me like it was a BSDM arrangement, which explains why she kept going to work and then went back to the apt. That said, even...

    luisa

    22. February, 2011 |

  • This is a right sentence. How could you fail to share your condition in this situation. You left all these people without any choice.

    John

    23. January, 2011 |

  • Taking pictures with one of her own graduate students wasn't the most bright move.

    Inferno

    22. September, 2010 |

  • We chose polyamory because love could not be denied.

    twowives

    27. August, 2010 |

  • [...] (That link is not remotely work-safe.) I’ve never been, but I surely will someday! And the National Coalition for Sexual...
  • We loved the ethical slut! Great Book!

    Fellow Swingers

    06. July, 2010 |