Monday, April 17, 2006

Sibling Rivalry

Last episode, we played with some of the similarities and differences between these two strategies of mindful sexuality: the ethical slut and the sensual prude. In this post I want to show some of the starker contrasts between the sister philosophies: their sibling rivalries of method.

Please, pardon any unintended snark. Nobody gets along perfectly with thier sibling. It's formative, dammit. Even only-children have to practice not getting along with themselves every now and again.

So, The Ethical Slut says:
“We have been taught by our culture that when our partner has sex with another, we have lost something. Not to sound dumb, but we are confused. What have we lost?”

and the Sensual Prude says:


Yeah, here is a place of parting between the philosophies. I think the Ethical Slut would say you have lost nothing, and that the things you feel you have lost are things that you should be providing for yourself. Fair enough. The Sensual Prude would say there is an essential vulnerability that is sacrificed, and a trust rooted in our biology that is nearly impossible to regain. Plus, ouch.

I appreciate all that the Ethical Slut has to say about overcoming jealousy. Having consensual non-monogamous relationships, as it describes, sounds like a very intense and direct method towards overcoming the Ego. Of course, so is the old monk trick of hitting yourself on the head with a board. They are both useful lessons in pain management. Between you and me, I’d choose the board.

The Ethical Slut says:

"_ A ring around the finger does not cause a nerve block to the genitals."

The Sensual Prude says:

"Granted, granted. Though hopefully a tingle in the genitals does not cause an aneurism to the forebrain."

Time for a clear distinction between the slut and prude: What to do when you get all tingly?

Ethical Sluts are happiest when pursuing all sexual attractions. Clearly the tingles mean they must now fight the jealousies and social conventions that prevent them from doing so!

Sensual Prudes are happiest when forming a lasting, meaningful sexual relationship. Clearly the tingles mean they must now fight the cultural pressures to be distractible and insecure in their boundaries!

>Sigh!< So much work, these tingles. Luckily, it seems whichever you practice, it gets easier every time.

And here we are, at the fork in the road. From here on out, the methods are no longer mutual.

There. After five long posts, the Sensual Prude is finally fully defined. Now we can turn our attention to the real matters: working out the nuances of fighting those distractions, methods of examining and affirming our chosen boundaries, and
most of all, of supporting each other in our goal of fabulous, satisfying, and oh so sensual monogamist relationships.


Saturday, April 15, 2006

The Sisterhood of Slut and Prude

Well now, we have begun scratching out our boundaries to the right as radical mono gamists, it is time we define our boundaries to the left with our fellow members of the sex positivist community.

For clarity, I am going to start by comparing the popular Philosophy of The Ethical Slut as carefully and artfully layed out by Dosse Eaton in her bestselling book, against the Philosphy of the Sensual Prude, as invented by me this week in my pajamas. I would like to give a shout out to my own arrogence for this daring comparison, with the knowledege that the blog is the perfect medium for walking that delicate line between self-celebration and self-importance. Shall we proceed?

I think that comparisons are best made in the author's own words, so I have selected a few tasty quotes that show off thier sassy philosophy, and give me something to push against. Siblings often define themselves in contrast to each other, so these comparisons must not be mistaken for lack of repect and love.

(Note: these quotes are all taken from the book The Ethical Slut by Dosse Eaton. The citations are incomplete, due to several obsticals, one being laziness and another the aforementioned pajama factor. They will be posted in good time. Meanwhile please refrain from sueing Metapede or her pajamas.)

The Ethical Slut says in a sultry tone:

_ “So we are proud to reclaim the word "slut" as a term of approval, even endearment. To us, a slut is a person of any gender who has the courage to lead life according to the radical proposition that sex is nice and pleasure is good for you.”

The Sensual Prude answers coyly:

Our task is to also reclaim the word “prude” in the same fashion. Our radical proposition is that sex is sacred and unshameful, pleasure with integrity is good for you, and your thoughtful boundaries are something to be proud of and respected.

The Ethical Slut reasons huskily:

_ “We believe that it is fundamentally a radical political act to deprivatize sex. So much oppression in our culture is based on shame about sex: the oppression of women, of cultural minorities, oppression in the name of the (presumably asexual) family, oppression of sexual minorities. We are all oppressed. We have all been taught, one way or another, that our desires, our bodies, our sexualities, are shameful. What better way to defeat oppression than to get together in communities and celebrate the wonders of sex?”

The Sensual Prude pursuades ardent and breathless:

Yum, what a delicious quote for illustrating where the Ethical Slut and the Sensual Prude agree, and where they begin to diverge. It would be nearly impossible to have come through any subgroup of our culture without a bulky chunk of shame on your shoulder. Both sluts and prudes know that their personal shame is an enemy to their relationships. Both know that their partners’ shame is an enemy to their relationships. Both believe working through that shame is essential to a thoughtful, deliberate, and delightful life as a sexual being.

The last line in the quote is generally where things begin to diverge. The sex positivist movement in recent history has played an amazing role in freeing our ability to make choices around our relationships. The “It’s just sex” mantra is a light and playful contradiction to the burden of guilt, secrecy, and fear that has accumulated like grout all over our culture’s perception of sexuality. We owe a lot to the sex positivists - they took more than one for the team, so to speak. However, the Sensual Prude would does not wish to stop there.

The Sensual Prude would like to return sex to its sacred context. For himself, he does not wish to have “just sex.” She is looking for sex in it’s other role, that of building an intimate connection with a chosen partner on a physical, emotional, and spiritual level. Once free of the guilt, secrecy, and fear, he would like sex to have meaning again.

Hmmmm...I think this is a juicy enough comparison to warrant multiple postings, so
I will stop here. As always, the point of this sensual blog is to generate conversation about mindful sexuality. Tell me what you think!

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Not Your Grandma's Monogamy

Or: How a Sensual Prude is radical

Now, I do not know your Grandma. Perhaps she is a lifetime sensual prude, sucking the marrow from her experience and putting us all to crimson shame with her richly nourished partnership, supportive ties with other women, and zestful friendships with men.

Our archetypal Grandma, on the other hand, keeps the sensible a stranger to the sensual with one powerful purse of her disapproving lips. Grandma is guardian to that viscous mire of assumptions history has passed us, through whose sticky muck we must navigate all our intimate relationships. In this mire live many familiar notions, like:

Women are possessions cut off from economic survival except through sex, which they are not allowed to enjoy. They are irrational, manipulative, and will trap men into monogamy by any means.

Men are expendable, can’t control themselves, and have no feelings but the constant battle between honor and lust. They are monogamist in show only, meanwhile engaged in gentlemanly indiscretions and saturated in taboo imagery.

Anyone who chooses a relationship with someone of the same gender must be so depraved that they probably also eat babies.

And so on.

Then we hit the pool of assumptions that have been added recently. Many of the more potent sources of assumptions, Consumer Culture for a conspicuous example, actually advocate for monogamy as an economic institution. The monogamy a Consumer Culture thrives on, however, is insecure, competitive, hungry, guilty, bored, escapist – all those lovable traits that keep us buying. But you have heard all this before. You live it every day.

So, this is not Grandma’s monogamy. We want to climb out of the mire and wipe its slimy traces from our partnerships and friendships, yet still hold on to the possibility that there is something sacred about the number two.

So what kind of monogamy comes next? That is for us to invent. Sensual Prudes are all very unique, have drawn different boundaries based on very different ideals. There are a few points, however, that I consider essential for a true radical revolution of relationships:

- We strive to be clear and articulate about our sexual and emotional boundaries.
- We accept the boundaries drawn by others.
- We do not believe men are inherently weak, and do not treat them so.
- We do not believe women are inherently manipulative, and do not treat them so.
- We use our boundaries to power our sexual selves, not to stifle them.
- We actively oppose all cultural obstacles to the success of relations between and within the genders. This includes issues such as homophobia, the commodification of women and women's image, masogeny, domestic violence, competition between women, isolation for men, and predation towards youth.

But Prudehood is larger than me, and no one person holds the whole of it. So I open the floor - tell me: What makes a sensual prude?

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Sex and the Cafeteria

A tasteless metaphor:

In the Junior High Cafeteria of Life, there are tables of sexual philosophy. Imagine, if you will, that you are a Sensual Prude - the new kid, scanning furtively for potential friends. Palms sweaty, limbs in an awkward dangle, pants developing holes in un-hip places…you know this story. All philosophies have stood here, in this puddle of pubescence, at one time in their theoretical lives.

To your right there is the Sex is for Making Babies table. They are eager for you to join them. It’s nice to be wanted, but they are weirdly secretive and ashamed of what is in their lunch bags. You move on.

To your left is there is a gaggle of Poly Sex Enthusiasts. While they are clearly way more fun and share their lunches quite generously, the drama grows old quickly. Honestly, these guys can sometimes give you the heebie-jeebies. among other things.

In the middle sit the Default Monogamists. You usually sit with them, and listen uncomfortably to their scores on People Magazine quiz after quiz. Their parents packed their lunch for them.

What we need is a table of our own. It would be demanding, yes. Long-winded,yes. Self-righteous, oh yes. But it would be deliberate, it would be loyal, and whatever it is that comes out of the lunch bag, you can bet we will enjoy the hell out of it.

We need a table of our own. For now, we will settle for a blog.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Definition: Sensual Prude

Sensual Prudes: an unusual class of sex positivists, who have undergone thoughtful, revolutionary introspection of their relationships and chosen to seek a new level of committed relationship with one partner.

Sensual - sen·su·al (sen-shoo-al) adj. Highly appreciative of the pleasures of sensation, taking delight in beauty. Awake to the delight of the body in the world. Committed to deep intimacy and awareness with ones environment and all its adorable humans.

Prude - (prood) n. Far from it's contemporary use as an admonishment, this site takes the word back to its ancient use in Old French meaning "wise one." One who creates and articulates their own boundaries of intimacy, and uses these boundaries not as constriction but as fulcrum for inner power. The new prude is a friend to pleasure, but would never buy it at the price of joy or integrity.