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More apt title: 'The Rationalised Slut'
on 3 January 2016
Hmmm, I dunno... summit didn't sit right with me from the start with 'The Ethical Slut'. I read on hoping it'd pass, but I left feeling distinctly unsatisfied.
For my part, I acknowledge my own limitations / expectations going in to this. I had thought it would be a balanced account on relationships involving polyfidelity - offering an (almost academic?) account of both the joys and pitfalls of navigating an exclusive relationship with multiple partners. i.e. a useful tool for polyfidelity. I thought it'd be discussing the dynamics (good and bad) of that particular set-up. To be clear, this book is not that.
First off, whilst the book is written in an accessible and communicative way, it's certainly not academic. When I say that, I mean - it's not an impartial account. The authors clearly live a certain lifestyle, and the book is evidently written to justify and promote that. Whilst they do put in the occasional warnings, misgivings and pitfalls etc, it just feels like a token gesture so that they can appear to be unbiased and fair. But, the vast majority of the book is given to extolling the virtues of non-monogamous sex, and installing the reader with the resources to actioning that lifestyle.
Don't get me wrong. The authors are clearly experienced in a given lifestyle, and provide useful strategies and insights for those wanting to immerse themselves in that same said lifestyle. They provide periodic useful exercises throughout the book, to provide the odd self insight. Plus, it's easy to read. It really is a useful resource if you want to be a 'slut' (I'm avoiding the word 'ethical' here as it's too loaded, too ambiguous, and the authors didn't do a great job of convincing me just how 'ethical' this all is).
I've giving this 3-stars - as the 'middle ground', and to be fair-minded - as whilst it definitely wasn't what I was after, if you're looking for a way to rationalise promiscuity, or justification to live a non-monogamous lifestyle, this is the book for you. For me though it fails as it's an idealised, biased account that almost reads as a sales pitch, rather than a legitimately balanced approached that gives serious consideration to monogamy or standard relationships. 'The Ethical Slut' left me with a distinct whiff of very much being a product for (of?) the 21st Century 'social media' generation - all about instantaneous impulse gratification, ego-stroking and personal 'specialness', with no serious consideration of responsibility, self-discipline (yes, I said it - self-discipline!), or deeper meaning. I want to use the word 'superficial'. Ultimately, there was just something about the whole 'ethical slut' experience that left me feeling disheartened - as if it were all just some sad reflection of sex within a modern consumer society.
Be honest with yourself here - if you're looking for a way to rationalise or justify (either to yourself or others) the likes of a non-monogamous or promiscuous lifestyle, then this really is the book for you.