Millennials are increasingly embracing non-monogamous relationships – and the 1990s guidebook that helped popularize them is getting an update…
In 1994, sexual educator Janet W. Hardy, was bedridden for a month with a bad flu that had evolved into bronchitis. She was, as she recalls, “high off my ass on Codeine cough syrup” when she caught a showing of Indecent Proposal on TV. Married couple David (Woody Harrelson) and Diana (Demi Moore) are faced with a moral dilemma when a billionaire named John (Robert Redford) offers them a million dollars in exchange for spending one night with Diana. Hardy, who is now 62, had herself been in a marriage that had ended about a decade earlier, and had not been in a monogamous relationship since. At the scene where the couple hesitates over the billionaire’s offer, Hardy wondered if she was having a fever dream.
“I was sitting there going, ‘What’s going on here?'” she tells Rolling Stone from her home in Oregon. “A million dollars and Robert Redford, and they have a problem with this? It made no sense to me. I really got it at that point, how distant I had become from mainstream sexual ethics.”
Hardy reached out to her friend and sometimes collaborator, the psychotherapist Dossie Easton to work on a book about non-monogamy. The pair had already coauthored two books on kink which were read in BDSM circles, but not much elsewhere. Both Easton and Hardy identified as queer and polyamorous, and Easton wanted to reclaim the word slut. They combined their own experiences with both casual sex and open marriages, navigating orgies and battling jealousy. In 1997, under Hardy’s own indie sex-ed publishing house Greenery Press, they published The Ethical Slut: A Guide to Infinite Sexual Possibilities. It would go on to sell 200,000 copies.Anna Fitzpatrick
Ethical Slut (the original)
I’m a proud owner of a well worn first edition of The Ethical Slut.
I purchased it on my very first visit to Washington D.C., back when I worked as a community organizer.
In the days before Amazon.com, I was thrilled to discover my future copy at an alternative bookstore near Du Pont Circle. (If memory serves me correctly on the details…) It’s not like I was going to find it at the local Barnes and Nobles here in the Bible Belt.
My purchase was made just after the book was first published. I knew immediately it was a must have for my sexuality library. I had already read a pre-publication blurb in a magazine called S&M Utopian Guardian, which had very much peaked my interest.
The group I was with had to fly home the next day. And, I have to admit being very excited about my new purchase. So excited that I set aside the biography of Thomas Jefferson I’d been reading for the trip, and started my new find.
Reading amidst my co-workers, seated next to my boss, I couldn’t hide what I was reading. I didn’t care. I just sat there on the plane with my jaw agape reading Janet and Dossie’s masterpiece, occasionally nodding my head in agreement with the text. I’m not sure how my seatmates felt about my choice of literature, I honestly didn’t notice.
I was already living a poly lifestyle and had been poly for about a decade. In fact, I’d started living like an ethical slut briefly before the term polyamory was invented. To me it was a simple concept – if a parent can love more than one child, why can’t I love more than one person too? But in practice, well, it was sometimes a real struggle. The Ethical Slut provided the framework I desired for making polyamory work.
It would not be an overstatement to say The Ethical Slut changed my life.
Slutting of the Ethical Kind
I also own a 2nd edition Ethical Slut. I purchased it out of respect for Janet Hardy, I have a bit of a crush on her. And, I wanted to keep up with new concepts in poly. Call it continuing education if you will.
The second edition wasn’t quite life-changing like the first had been. That would have been far too much to ask. But, I still found it more than a little bit useful.
I even picked up a second copy of the 2nd edition for my Kindle not too long ago. While I love the feel of a physical book in my hands, it got to be a little too much to be purchasing a new bookshelf every year for more than a decade.
After picking up The Ethical Slut II on Kindle, I planned to resell my physical copy of the 2nd edition. Obviously, I hoped to economize on space. It never happened. I’m a sentimental bastard, and I just couldn’t part with the book.
Even More Ethical Slutting
Now there’s a third edition, just published. And, I’ve already picked that one up too. I plan to write up a review of The Ethical Slut III once I’ve had the opportunity to digest the new material. It won’t be easy to be objective, but I doubt there’s much to be critical of anyway.
I’m looking forward to more continuing education in polyamory.
Thank you, Janet Hardy and Dossie Easton. To be quite honest, I believe you truly changed the world with your book, The Ethical Slut. You certainly changed mine…
Masturbation Monday: Week 154
It’s called “the cabin where no one can hear you scream.”
It’s quite literally true. I tested it well enough.
Access is a gravel road. Very rural. Farm country.
The trail in is gated.
It’s a mile-and-a-half walk to the cabin from a gravel parking lot.
One night I had a submissive named Kay screaming my name at the top of her lungs. Again. And again.
She had asked for a cathartic flogging. I delivered.
With Kay’s hands cuffed overhead, I started to warm her up with a doeskin flogger. Then, I moved up to up to one with weightier elk tresses. A thick mop.
That’s when the screaming began.
She screamed and screamed. I paused for a moment. Moved in close. I made sure she remembered her safe word. She did.
I had her say the word. She growled it at me. Her look (and sound) was like a feral cat.
I went back to my craft, mixing styles and intensity with the strike of elk hide.
She started screaming again.
Almost a screech, it was almost embarrassing. Well, outside of the fact that the whole spectacle was making my cock hard.
I had Serafina clamp her hand down over the girl’s mouth. The screams were muffled for a moment.
Only a week before, at an event called Twisted Tryst, Janet Hardy had flogged Kay to orgasm in an Energy Play demo.
It was now my chance to try. I worked the rhythm steadily. Florentine flogging. I was breathing with the tempo.
Visualizing my energy, my chi. Letting the energy flow through my hand, through my fingertips. Down the length of the flogger.
I visualized my energy flowing through the elk tresses across Kay’s backside.
As Serafina let go of the lady’s mouth, the screams began again.
Her voice had changed. The screech was gone. It was a dusky growl now.
No longer was she screaming my name. Now it was simply… “Please!”
I’m big on requiring orgasm control from any submissive in my service. The rule is simple, ask for permission before you cum.
She wasn’t begging me for a stronger flogging. Kay certainly wasn’t begging for the flogging to end. She was begging to cum.
Just one of many true stories from the cabin where no one can hear you scream…
Wearing clothes for swimming still seems to me to be only a hair dumber than wearing them for bathing.Janet Hardy