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The Ethical Slut by Dossie Easton – Book Review

Since the sexual revolution from the sixties, people in the western world have become more open with sexuality. Homosexuals have the right to marry in most western countries. Women have emancipated in large numbers; they are no longer ‘under the authority’ of the man who they’re with. This liberation of the sex has produced many positive achievements. Though, as with everything, it isn’t always just sunshine (depending on your view, you might see the rise in divorce and single parenting as a bad thing).

            One big change is the way we have sex with other people. It used to be that we didn’t have sex until marriage, which as always quite early, and only with that single person. Nowadays, this is seen as a relic of the past. By now, it’s a strange sight to find someone who has only ever had sex with one person, which is something the movie Hall Pass jokes about. Still, the conception remains that if we have a relationship, we stay loyal to that one person. You can have as many sexual partners as you wish, but when you’re together with someone, you restrict yourself to that person alone.

            But, says Dossie Easton, this as well should be a thing of the past. Introduce polygamy, the concept where, while in a relationship, you can have multiple sexual partners at the same time. Throughout time there have been many taboos on sexual activities, mostly coming from religious viewpoints. Masturbation was deemed as immoral for a long time, but now it so popular that now there’s even a new movement prohibiting masturbation for mindfulness: NoFap.

            This book is about polygamy, the myths surrounding it and is a sort of ‘guide’ to be being polygamous. I kind mistook this book for something it isn’t. I thought this book would be about the ethical implications of polygamy and if something like this would benefit society. Instead, this book from the beginning accepts this as totally acceptable and something everyone should do. More sex would mean more happy people. I was kind of disappointed in this regard, because I don’t believe it is always the case that when you have more sex, you are happier. The first thing that comes to mind is someone who has been sexually molested as a kid, using a lot of sex to cope with the incident.

            I’ll have to read another book about the ethical implications about the concept of polygamy, but in the meantime, is this book any good on the practical side of polygamy? I have to say: no. The book is quite surface level. The book basically just says: be a decent person. Talk with your partner openly, be honest, don’t make each other feel bad, etc. This is so basic that it astounds me that there wasn’t ‘space’ for a deeper analysis. The author repeats the same thing over and over.

            To give an example: the author begins by ‘debunking’ some myths about sex. Myths would be like: Romantic love is the only true love. Or sexual desire is a destructive force. These myths are so simplistic that it feels like the author is stuck in the sixties. To be fair, she has experienced the sexual revolution in the flesh, while I reap the benefits of that revolution. So, it might seem outdated for me, it was certainly reality for her. Nonetheless, in the twenty-first century, I feel that these myths are pretty much outdated and to be relevant it should come up with better examples.

            Other concepts she talks about are boundaries, jealousy, consent and the other things you would deem as self-explanatory in a relationship. So, for a ‘practical guide’ into polygamy, I feel like there isn’t much in this book. Just do what you would normally do in a relationship except ask your partner to have sex with other people and see if they are cool with it.

When the book doesn’t talk about relationship values, it basically devolves into gender politics. They see sex as something which the people having it, think it is. So, if we hold hands and we both see this as sexual, then we’re having sex. According to the authors I was having sex with them while I was reading the book! I hope they weren’t sad I didn’t last very long. Jokes aside, this is a pretty relativistic definition and shows that the author hasn’t really tried thinking about it deeply. I believe the message the author tries to explain comes from a sense of goodwill. Only I would have preferred some actual substance instead of the common assertion. (“We believe that sex can be fun!” How groundbreaking!)

Gender studies is a fairly new subject in academia, and I believe it is important that we talk about sex seriously and rationally. This was not one of those books. If you want some commonsense advice on how to build a relationship, you’ll get some value out of this book. If you want to learn about polygamy (like I wanted too) you will finish the book disappointed. Now go forth and do whatever you want.

By elenchusphilosophy

I'm a Philosophy student in Belgium, trying to talk and write about ideas of all kinds of sorts.

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