Arts & Events

Lessons from “The Ethical Slut”

By: V Solar-Miller

How do you feel about the word slut? Its origins trace back to the mid-1400s, and the use of the word hasn’t changed much since then. It’s been just a quick 574 years, and good news – with the scientific advancements in contraception and safe-sex practices, being a slut is easier than ever. In “The Ethical Slut,” Janet Hardy and Dossie Easton teach us the ins and outs of sluthood. They describe a slut as “a person of any gender who celebrates sexuality according to the radical proposition that sex is nice and pleasure is good for you.” However, not everyone’s down with getting it on.

  Slut-shaming is, for real, a direct consequence of the Industrial Revolution, according to “The Ethical Slut”. Limited space for kids in urban areas led to doctors and priests spewing ideas that masturbation was ‘sinful’ and ‘unhealthy’ while non-religious circumcision rates skyrocketed in an attempt to discourage masturbation. The men in power were doing anything and everything to control society’s sexual behavior. If you’re sick and tired of dealing with sex-negativity from the purity culture of bygone days, I’d recommend getting a little slutty. 

  Sex is (supposed to) feel really good and has numerous health benefits, but as the book implies, there are some ethics in the game of sex and love. “The Ethical Slut,” at its core, is a book about polyamory and how to balance having multiple partners, but you can enjoy sex in your committed relationships! So listen up monogamous sluts: there are still important skills to be learned, and I doubt your parents are going to sit you down and teach them to you. To navigate the wide-world of having multiple partners in a healthy way, here are some foundational building blocks “The Ethical Slut” lays out:

Consent: Everyone needs to know what’s going on, and you should always have people’s well-being and pleasure in mind. Lying, manipulating, coercing, or ignoring your partner is not cool, nor is it consensual. 

Honesty: Be honest with your partners and yourself. Listen to your body. Get to know yourself. Understanding your feelings is already a struggle… and communicating them can feel impossible, especially for people who grew up in an environment where sharing your feelings was not common practice. If that’s you, just remember to be patient with yourself. It takes time to learn new things. In spite of the challenges that come with honesty, learning about yourself and your partner is the key to a healthy relationship.

Respect: Be respectful of others’ feelings. You’re not a mind reader, and your partner isn’t either. If you aren’t sure how someone feels, you ask. Keep in mind that you can’t tell someone how they should or shouldn’t feel. If they’re having an emotional reaction to something, it’s a real experience they’re having. The same goes for you.

Owning your shit: If you feel jealous, territorial, or insecure, those are valid emotions that you need to own. Shoving down or holding on to these feelings is a relationship killer. Own them, talk about it, and let it pass. Set boundaries with your partner to avoid triggering these big emotions. In the case that this does happen, Hardy and Easton suggest calling a time-out. They write, “We need to take time-outs when we are emotionally overwhelmed and definitely not at our best. Be ready to forgive each other for being human. Be ready to forgive yourself. The results are well worth it when you come back together ready for harmony and understanding.”

  With summer just around the corner, it doesn’t matter your gender, sexual orientation, or slut-style; we’re in for a lovely, warmer-than-normal season of frolicking and sunburns (wear your sunscreen). And with that, goodbye sluts! I wish everyone a sensual break filled with summer flings and hot sex!