It's not my business how many partners people have, but let's not pretend that this will bring sexual equality to relationships
Polyamory is the latest subversive and a la mode sexual practice to receive extensive media coverage. It appeals as a subject for to those interested in alternative lifestyles, but also attracts commentary from some deeply unpleasant folk who have trashed it alongside gay marriage. "What next?" ask the bigoted opponents of equal marriage. "Polygamy and marriage to your brother/cat/hedge trimmer?"
It is neither my business or concern as to how many sexual partners anyone has at any one time, and I genuinely could not care less how folk organise their relationships. But the co-opting and rebranding of polygamy, so that it loses its nasty association with the oppression of the most disadvantaged women, is as irresponsible as suggesting that because some women chose to enter high-end prostitution as a social experiment, all prostitution is radical and harmless.
Caroline Humphrey, a professor of collaborative anthropology at Cambridge University, has argued in favour of the legalisation of polygamy because, according to a number of women in polygamous marriages in Russia, "half a good man is better than none at all". While polyamory is not the same as traditional polygamy – which has been practised for centuries under a strict code of patriarchy in communities where women and children have few if any rights – the co-opting of the sanitised version will further normalise a practice that is anything but liberating for women in this arrangement.
There is also the assumption that polyamory is an invention of a set of too-cool-for-school hipsters, who have recently discovered that exclusive couple-type relationships are so last season. However, it was radical feminists in the 1970s onwards that developed the notion of non-monogamy as a way to challenge patriarchal heterosexuality. The definition of polyamory as "ethical non-monogamy" currently doing the rounds sticks in my craw. Non-monogamy was deeply ethical. One could have as many sexual partners as desired but everything was honest and above board, with no one being deceived.
The type of non-monogamy radical feminists developed and practised involved no men. We were all lesbians starting off on a fairly equal playing field. Some of us involved with leftwing politics had previously been witness to or victims of men who had sexual access to as many women as they wanted, while women waited for her one partner to get round to paying her attention. In the meantime, women were pitted against each other while the men played a subtle game of divide and rule, and there were plenty of women to do the washing, childcare and provide emotional and sexual support for these oh-so alternative men. ...
A new dating website called CHRISTIANSwingers is sending ripples throughout the Christian community for offering "faithful couples" the opportunity to "hookup" with each other. One mental health professional warns the practice will lead to nothing but "pain."
The oxymoronic website brazenly declares that it was "designed to cater to the needs of those like you: devout Christian couples who still want to have an active love life and share it with another, in good faith!"
Before it details its mission, however, the website attempts to make a connection with visitors by justifying the lifestyle.
"For Christian Swingers things are not easy – often other religious people judge you, out of ignorance or envy, telling you that your lifestyle and love practices are wrong," begins the opening paragraph of the pitch.
"But the Bible teaches us 'Judge not lest ye be judged' and there's that verse about the first stone… but if you're keen on keeping your privacy, well – yours, and don't want your friends, coworkers, other PTA members or just about anyone else to know that you don't have a problem with faith and enjoying free love with other couples, this site can help you!" it boasts.
"Skip the swingers' club and meetings where you can be seen and avoid bad reputation – your personal life is something shared between you and our partner; other couples willing to join you are probably having the same problems. Visiting this site might change your life for the better," it adds.
But Louise Nielsen, a licensed Christian counselor and mental health professional of At The Crossroads Inc., dismissed the proposal as not only indecent but unbiblical and dangerous.
"Having been to seminary as well as being trained as a licensed mental health counselor, and as a Christian, it is unbiblical, it is sinful," Nielsen told The Christian Post on Thursday.
"God doesn't stop loving anyone, but it is not a behavior that is in anyway appropriate for Christians or for anyone else. It's just not. I feel sad for the people who are involved in it. I have never seen it result in anything but pain in a marriage," she noted. "It is not something that can be endorsed in a Christian context at all."
On a Facebook page promoting the concept of Christian swingers, some Christians are also airing their disapproval of the practice.
"Whoa to you sons and daughters of Satan.....many will stand before the Lord and say Lord Lord, did we not do this and that in your name.........thou shalt burn in the fires of eternity....No adulterer and no Liar will enter the Kingdom of God," wrote Peter Clarke on the page.
So much new love and sex is thriving in the four-person, two-couple pod profiled on Showtime’s reality series Polyamory: Married and Dating. Tonight’s Season 2 premiere is something of a cram session to catch us up: Kamala is dating her business partner Jason, who is 10 years her junior. Michael, Kamala’s husband, has been dating Rachel for a few months. This is his first lover outside of the pod, and Kamala is “pretty thrilled” about that. Their lovers, Jen and her husband Tahl, have been living with Michael and Kamala for about a year, nearly as long as Jen's been dating Jesse. Tahl’s new girlfriend is named Tziporah, whom Tahl describes as “my little Spanish gypsy, she’s just cute.” Tahl is also out this season as bisexual. “This is who I am. I’m a bisexual poly man,” he beams.
Like most reality television shows, Polyamory documents (ostensibly self-directed) stories woven out of interpersonal relationships. As always, certain personality types serve as perpetual plot generators. The collective capacity of Polyamory's core four to explore the depths of their polyamorous configuration, while remaining committed to each other, is as infinite as a Real Housewife’s ability to find haters, circumstances to be offended by, and meals to spoil.
But on Polyamory, the results are largely of joy and self-discovery, not turmoil and drama. Sure, jealousy tiptoes into the bedroom, boundaries are trampled, and certain sexual encounters turn out to be awkward stumbles. But for the most part, these people are having a great time. And why shouldn’t they? They get home from work and there’s a party waiting for them.
As in last season, the sex within (and without) the group is portrayed in a frequently cut, split-screen, and softcore Real Sex-esque manner. It's as potentially giggle-provoking as the phrase "making love"—a favorite euphemism on the show. But unless you are for some reason unable to access the Internet and a 14-year-old boy, you don't watch Polyamory for the sex scenes. You watch it for the conversations. What Polyamory captures so precisely is the joy of talking about sex—the great American pastime of sitting down with friends (or lovers) and unpacking whatever crazy relationship situation you find yourself in at any given moment.
There's a particular exhilaration when it comes to polyamory because there's no normative model, nor could there be. The complex interplay of feelings and comfort levels expands and alters as more people are added to the mix. A new consensus dictates new rules. And even as you determine how everything fits in the first place, you find yourself relating to society hand-in-hand-in-hand—a different way of presenting all together. My own limited but intense experiences with polyamory since the last season of this show aired made me feel like a virgin. Everything was new—worth exploring, discussing, and examining. Everything was fascinating. To consume love in such quantities is to remind yourself of capable you are as a human of generating seemingly infinite joy.
There’s always the threat, of course, of being consumed, of getting so caught up that you slip out of sync with the fellow wheels of your great love expedition. More fraught than the quad-pod is the almost impossibly attractive trio joining the show this season—mixed-martial arts-studio owner Chris, his wife and pole-dancing school owner Leigh Ann, and their girlfriend of three years, Megan. (Last season’s similarly structured “triad” of Anthony, Lindsey and Vanessa are nowhere to be found.) “I feel like an outsider in my own marriage,” laments Leigh Ann, whose studio work regularly pulls her out of the group. While the foursome is a lot looser about extra-pod play, this trio has stricter rules and is much less forgiving about breaking them. There’s no right way to conduct a polyamorous relationship, but the there are a lot of wrong ways. ...
Unitarian Universalism lays claim to a heritage as an open and affirming faith movement, one that “speaks the truth in love.”Certainly this has been the case with gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender issues, being the first mainstream religious denomination to advocate for GLBT rights, and a preeminent leader for marriage equality.
For kink-oriented UUs, however, ours has been a different experience.Despite increased mainstream media attention around BDSM, despite being told how many UUs have faced discrimination and marginalization for real or assumed kink identity*, despite being provided specific recommendations to be implemented, UUA leaders seem unable to bring themselves to openly address these issues or even acknowledge our existence.We call on the UUA Leadership Council to recognize kink orientation as a reality of human diversity, and an essential part of our identity.
To bring greater awareness to these issues, and to underscore the continued silence of Unitarian Universalist leaders, the Steering Committee of Leather & Grace is calling for people to engage in silent witness at UU congregations across the continent on Sunday, September 29th, 2013.
The Covenant for Silent Sunday:
Those bearing silent witness shall refrain from speaking or singing during worship and other congregational activities; they may communicate by writing and gestures.
Witnesses are expected to identify themselves to others in the congregation, and to explain the reasons behind Silent Sunday; Leather & Grace shall make materials available towards this end.
Witnesses are expected not to disrupt worship or other congregational activities during Silent Sunday, and to treat all people with respect and compassion.
Ministers preaching on this day are asked to acknowledge silent witnesses in attendance, and the reasons behind Silent Sunday.
For more information, please click on the main Silent Sunday page on L&G's website:
The difference between BDSM and what’s portrayed in ‘50 Shades of Grey’
US News & World Report
There's nothing "grey" about it. "50 Shades of Grey," E.L. James' racy best-seller that's now in movie production, portrays a relationship steeped in intimate partner violence, according to a study published Monday in the Journal of Women's Health.
"The book is a glaring glamorization of violence against women," says Amy Bonomi, chair of the Department of Human Development and Family Studies at Michigan State University and lead author of the study. Bonomi explains that Christian Grey, the copper-headed business tycoon for whom James' book is named, controls his young conquest, Anastasia Steele, through stalking, intimidation, isolation and humiliation. In response, Steele "begins to manage her behavior to keep peace in the relationship, which is something we see in abused women," Bonomi says. "Over time, she loses her identity" and "becomes disempowered and entrapped."
The trilogy is known for its depiction of BDSM – a sexual practice that stands for bondage and discipline; dominance and submission; and sadism and masochism. Despite the power differential inherent in BDSM, practitioners take the rules of consent and negotiated boundaries seriously, according to those familiar with the practice. Yet Bonomi points out that "all those things are violated in the book."
With the generated interest in BDSM, sexuality experts have expressed concern about a popularized view of the practice that's distorted and potentially harmful. "Lots of people read things that sound sexy in fantasy, but are not so safe or fun in reality. Or they are only fun for the technically skilled," according to Russell Stambaugh, who chairs the AltSex Special Interests Group of the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists. "I do worry that new participants won't get the education they need," he says.
Critical to the practice of BDSM is detailed and candid communication required for boundary setting between partners to establish the rules of their game. To provide further protection, partners also establish an opt-out signal, known as a "safe word" – often a color, since "yes" or "no" may be scripted into the role play.
Such transparency may account for the results of a recent study that found, when compared to a control group, "BDSM practitioners were less neurotic, more extroverted, more open to new experiences, more conscientious, less rejection sensitive, had higher subjective well-being, yet were less agreeable." The authors concluded that "BDSM may be thought of as a recreational leisure, rather than the expression of psychopathological processes," with which such behaviors have been associated. As to Grey's dominance being related to childhood abuse, Stambaugh says, "There is no scientific evidence that childhood physical or sexual abuse are more prevalent in the histories of kinky folk than vanilla. Abuse histories are sadly prevalent for everyone, not just kinksters."
What happens in a BDSM encounter might include a range of behaviors from gentle biting to full-on whipping in medieval regalia. In other words, one man's kink is another's so-called vanilla, the term therapists used to describe traditional sex. And what's healthy for one person may be harmful for someone else.
But the antics belie a bigger purpose, says Amir Afkhami, a psychiatrist for the Center for Sexual Health at George Washington University's Medical Faculty Associates. "People get too caught up in the pageantry and don't realize the emotional aspect to all of this." The desire to be sexually dominated cuts across both genders and provides an erotic high "that people don't get from the typical vanilla sex experience," he says. "It's titillating. It's kinky, and it involves trust" – the linchpin of romantic relationships, he notes. "When you're giving up control, what is that a statement of at the end of the day? It's a statement on trust." ...
Seriously. I want you to guess. Rack your brain, think of the kinkiest people you know and where they reside. New York City? Los Angeles? Some Podunk town in Kansas somewhere? Where, oh where, could they be?
They’re in Phoenix, Arizona, you guys.
To the best of my knowledge, Arizona has an awful lot of retirees. Does this mean your mom and dad, or Grammy and Grampy are getting their freak on morning, noon and night? God, I hope so.
SeekingArrangements.com, the website that matches sugar babies and sugar daddies, discovered, via one of those handy dandy surveys that, once again thanks to Fifty Shades of (why are we still talking about this book?) Grey, those seeking some good ol’ fashioned BDSM has doubled in Phoenix. With a 96.2% increase in those looking to vamp up their sex life with dom/sub hook-ups, Phoenix is at the top of the kink list, and San Francisco, isn’t far behind.
So who else is seeing the biggest increase in the kink?
1. Phoenix, Ariz.: 96.2 percent
2. San Francisco, Calif.: 95 percent
3. Detroit, Mich.: 50.5 percent
4. Indianapolis, Ind.: 49.7 percent
5. Las Vegas, Nev.: 44.4 percent
6. San Jose, Calif.: 42.3 percent
7. Philadelphia, Pa: 42.6 percent
8. Tampa, Fla.: 40 percent
9. San Diego, Calif.: 37 percent
10. Los Angeles, Calif.: 33.3 percent
What the fuck, New Yorkers? Where the hell are you on this list? No nipple clamps, or bamboo paddles for you? Step it up, kids.
Do you live in one of the kinkiest cities? Is this list fairly accurate, or a bunch of bunk? How many people actually even use nipple clamps?
Just when you thought reality shows have featured almost every imaginable way of life, a new show about the obscure lifestyle of swingers will be making its way to televisions across the country.
Discovery Fit & Health has reportedly given the green light to a four-part series titled, “Secret Sex Lives: Swingers,” which will focus on five ‘average, all-American’ couples from Atlanta as they allow those in the voyeuristic world to peek into the inner workings of their alternate lifestyle choices.
“The biggest misconception about the swinger lifestyle is that we’re hooking up with people day and night, or that I’m a stripper or something,” Jaymee, a senior account executive said to the Daily Mail.
Jaymee, along with her husband Everett, have been swinging for three years. She told the British newspaper that she had just given birth to their first child six months ago and was positive the baby was her husband’s. Claiming she had not been “hooking up” with any other guys at the time, Jaymee said she knew right away that Everett was the father.
“When I found out I was pregnant my first thought was ‘thank God I haven’t hooked up with any other guys lately, so it’s definitely Everett’s baby.’”
“I’m not like Tiger Woods, picking up chicks behind Jaymee’s back and hooking up with them,” Everett said.
According to a Discovery Fit & Health press release, the series captures the deep internal struggles these couples confront—and the repercussions of exposing their lives to family, close friends and the outside world, busting myths and dispelling misconceptions about this hidden lifestyle along the way.
“Secret Sex Life: Swingers” airs Sept. 7 at 10 p.m. on Discovery Fit & Health. Will you be watching? Decide after sneaking a peek at the trailer below. ...