Sep 20 2016

The Trainer by Laura Antoniou

[This is the text of the book review from episode 25 of the podcast.]

In this episode I’ll be talking about The Trainer by Laura Antoniou, which is the third book in The Marketplace series. I reviewed the first book in episode one of the show and the second book in episode six.

The Marketplace, in case you’re unfamiliar, is a secret, international organization that trains people who wish to be 24/7 slaves in the truest sense of the word. Once each person is trained, they are auctioned off to the highest bidder, who could live anywhere in the world. That’s the very short version—it’s much more complex than that. And much sexier. Each book focuses on a different aspect of the organization.

The first book, The Marketplace, introduced the reader to the world of the novels through the eyes of four slaves—each of whom represents a particular archetype of slavehood—who’ve been sent to a training house in New York state.

The second book, The Slave, focuses on one person in particular and what it’s like to go from desiring to be a full-time slave to being trained to being placed and any successes or failures that result.

This time out the subject is on how trainers become trainers. Which is probably why it’s called The Trainer. It follows the story of Michael, who is similar to the Sharon character in the first book, but from the other side of the line—he thinks it’s all about sex, basically. He has no idea what he’s getting himself into. If he were a fragrance it would be Naivete No. 5.

A hallmark of the books is learning the life stories of the characters—seeing how they came to realize they were Marketplace material, whatever their position. The Marketplace is a massive international organization—besides the obvious slaves and trainers there are also spotters and trainers of trainers and who knows what else (I’ve only read three books, but I can’t wait to find out what else people do.)

And everyone involved has to be Marketplace approved.

So, sweet, deluded Michael. He’s from California. Well, there’s part of his problem right there—the person he’s been training under to be a trainer, a man named Geoff Negel, has a very loose philosophy of slave training. He views his job more as match-making slaves with the perfect owners and moving people around to find the best fit. Then advising owners not to go too hard on their property when it comes to making them do things they don’t want to do.

I could hear the pan-pipes playing in the background when his name was mentioned.

Michael accompanies Geoff to a Marketplace-run meet-up just for trainers and discovers the person he thinks of as revolutionary isn’t necessarily considered so by their British counterparts.

He also gets a taste of what properly trained slaves are like. And learns of a person referred to as Master Trainer Anderson. She trains trainers. She trained Chris Parker.

Ah, Chris. I do love him. He’s right at the start of the book, being his awesome self.

Chris Parker is the thread that runs through all of the books. He’s not the protagonist (nor an antagonist) but he plays a different role in each book. His story develops in each novel. The character is amazing. Bless Laura Antoniou for giving the world this character. Back to this novel, though.

I mentioned previously that Michael was sort of the trainer version of Sharon, who was my least favorite character in the first book. So having an entire book with an oblivious Isn’t-My-Radiant-Presence-Enough-type was …painful at times.

For example, Anderson has a massive library full of books on slave training, which includes her own notes and other notes by famous trainers around the world on various techniques. He’s given full access to this library. Does he use it? No, because he’s an idiot I wanted to strangle.

Every time Chris showed up I hoped he’d strangle him for me.

But, with characters of that nature I look at it like the author got it right. That’s exactly what some people are like.

It did make the sex scenes difficult to bear because I so profoundly disliked the guy I didn’t want him to enjoy himself. Ever.

As the novel progresses, we learn how on Earth Michael wound up with the best trainer in the Marketplace. We also find out just how unaware of his own stupidity he was. The depths, they are remarkable.

He’s the human embodiment of the phrase, ‘We don’t know what we don’t know.’

We learn some new (very interesting) things about Chris and about characters from previous books. A highlight for me was seeing an episode from the previous book, The Slave, from a different point of view.

Good old Mike has some growing pains and learns approximately 900 things about life, slavery and himself and makes a pretty big decision.

Though the protagonist is, thus far, the Marketplace character I like least of them all, this novel was still compelling. I started the fourth one immediately afterwards. He’s in that one, too. Joy illimited. I want to punch him less now. That’s progress.

Something I enjoyed about this one was ‘watching’ Chris train the people coming through the house. He was staying with Anderson for a period due to personal circumstances I’m not spoiling for you, but holy moly wow. And while there he was polishing up a few slaves. Michael was to learn how to train and we got to watch this. Seeing the philosophy behind training and proper slave care, so to speak, was interesting. Antoniou has fully fleshed out the world of the Marketplace. It’s clear she’s an actual kinky person who understands 24/7 total power exchange.

I wouldn’t recommend reading this one first if you haven’t read other books in the series. Definitely start with The Marketplace. Or at the very least The Slave or else something that happens at one point will make less sense.

Otherwise, I couldn’t put it down—it’s sexy, funny, creative, well-written—you know, all those things Antoniou does so well. It’s 5/5 easy.

Sep 17 2016

The Evolution of Friendships and Polyamory

There was an excellent post on Medium recently about polyamory entitled The Bigger Picture of Polyamory by Jasna.

There were several things that spoke to me, one is that I agree that being poly is a personality trait and not necessarily a relationship choice.

She also put into words something I hadn’t been able to, but this is what I’m looking for–the reason polyamory appeals to me:

I love exploring the way friendships develop. When I meet someone new, I never quite know what form that friendship will take — in the beginning, the possibilities are limitless, and that’s simultaneously an exhilarating and remarkably comforting feeling. I love watching the shape of the friendship evolve and change and discover itself.

Sometimes, there are other layers to it. Sometimes it settles into a space that doesn’t quite have a good name. I have friends whom I cuddle quietly with. Friends whose hand I like holding. Friends whom I hold in my arms when they are sad, and whose forehead I kiss to comfort them. It is still a friendship, but if I were in a monogamous relationship with someone, this type of friendship would begin to blur the lines of what’s okay and isn’t okay.

And then there was this, which was the highlighted by many people, apparently:

Authenticity in life is one of the most important things to me. I want to relate to people in natural, genuine ways. I want to form friendships which feel comfortable for everyone involved. I have found that when I remove expectations for what a friendship should and shouldn’t be, it slowly begins to take its natural form, and becomes something even more beautiful.

I love the idea of allowing friendships to be whatever they are going to be. Rather than trying to prune them or force them into certain shapes due to current cultural mores. As long as everyone is supportive of one another, allowing relationships to take their own path teaches everyone new things about themselves.

Sep 16 2016

Episode 025 The Trainer

Episode the twenty-fifth; wherein the Pageist returns to the Marketplace for the third time to learn how trainers become trainers. Also, a note from a fan and show developments.

.50 Intro & Announcements:

  • Welcome to new listeners in Venezuela! And the new Facebook friend Lexi!
  • Thank you to the person who contacted me through Tumblr. To answer your question, there are several ways to help the show, including:
  • Spreading the word to people at your local munch/dungeon or online,
  • Leaving a positive review on iTunes
  • Sponsoring the show (or sending someone my way who might be interested in doing so)
  • Supporting the upcoming Patreon or Zazzle shop.
  • The Cage is a social networking site that includes blogs, a magazine, a podcast section, forums and all sorts of other things. Registration is open and free. Check out the link here.
  • I happened across Consensual Dominance this week–it’s a blog written by someone who clearly knows a thing or two. The posts are well-written and covers a variety of kink-related topics. Check that out here.
  • I don’t know when the next episode of the show will be due to moving craziness. Definitely not next week. Perhaps the week after? Or the week after that? Hopefully it won’t be a month from now, but I am not leaving you for good just until I have a place I can sit and talk naughty things in peace.

5.52 Book Review:

  • This episode’s review is of The Trainer, the third book in the Marketplace series by Laura Antoniou.
  • I reviewed the first book, The Marketplace, in episode one, here.
  • The second book, The Slave, was in episode six, here.
  • The Marketplace is a secret, international organization that trains people who wish to be 24/7 slaves in the truest sense and then sells them to the highest bidder. That’s the short version–it’s much more complex than that. And sexy. Each book focuses on a different aspect of the organization. The third book is about how trainers (the people who teach slaves how to be proper slaves worthy of the Marketplace) become trainers. And it ain’t easy.

Excerpt:

  • Normally I would read a sexy excerpt from the book, but there’s no time. I’m saving it for another episode. I promise–you’ll get your smut.

13.36 Closing Remarks:

  • Thank you for tuning in!
  • In the next episode I’ll be talking about… I don’t know. Either: kink in films: the good, the bad and the sexy; a review of Life, Leather and the Pursuit of Happiness; a review of two Toybag Guides or something else entirely.
  • Like The Pageist on Facebook, follow on Twitter, Tumblr, Goodreads and join the Fetlife group.
  • You can also subscribe to this website through the email form in the sidebar.
  • Subscribe to the iTunes feed here. You can also rate the show in iTunes, which would be much appreciated!
  • Subscribe, stream or download from libsyn here. All episodes are available in a pop out player on this page.

Link

I’ve just found a site called Consensual Dominance. The essays are solid, well-written advice about a variety of kink topics from someone who clearly knows a thing or two.

Sep 08 2016

Episode 024 Lee Harrington

Episode the twenty-fourth; wherein the Pageist talks with author, educator and instigator Lee Harrington.

.50 Intro & Announcements

1.48 Interview:

  • Lee co-wrote Playing Well with Others with Mollena Williams, which I reviewed in episode 2: here.
  • The book we’re discussing today is Traversing Gender, which I reviewed in episode 21: here.
  • Listen to Lee’s excellent interview with MonsignorX on Passion and Soul: here.
  • Lee’s website: PassionandSoul.com
  • On Twitter: @passionandsoul
  • The official website for Traversing Gender is: here. It has a large number of resources for transgender and gender nonconforming people, as well as a place to recommend resources.

48.40 Outtake:

  • A bonus bit about kink in Alaska from our pre-interview conversation

53.53 Closing Remarks:

  • Thank you for tuning in!
  • In the next episode I’ll be reviewing the third book in Laura Antoniou’s Marketplace series, The Trainer.
  • Like The Pageist on Facebook, follow on Twitter, Tumblr, Goodreads and join the Fetlife group.
  • You can also subscribe to this website through the email form in the sidebar.
  • Subscribe to the iTunes feed here. You can also rate the show in iTunes, which would be much appreciated!
  • Subscribe, stream or download from libsyn here. All episodes are available in a pop out player on this page.

Sep 06 2016

Sex Criminals Volumes 1-3

[This is the text of the book review from episode twenty-three of The Pageist.]

The books this episode are the first three volumes of Sex Criminals by Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky. A sexy comic about a couple of people who stop time whenever they orgasm. Each volume collects five issues of the comic, which is still being produced.

Book one, entitled One Weird Trick, introduces us to our protagonists, Suzie Dickson and Jon Johnson (really, with the names, you guys?) and explains how they each discovered their gift. Then how they got together.

Suzie’s a librarian—she fell in love with libraries when she was doing research trying to figure out why time stopped when she got her jollies—and now the bank wants to foreclose on the property.

Jon—whose dick glows, but I’ll get back to that—suggests they rob banks to pay off what the library owes—just a little money here and there—using their power. Basically, have sex nearby, go in, take a little cash, and leave. No one’s the wiser. He happens to work at the bank that wants to foreclose on her library.

Back to the glowing appendage of delight—it looks like a glow stick. In the comic you can’t really see it because it radiates light when he’s erect. Which makes me wonder why Suzie’s clit doesn’t glow. It’s the same physiological response and same sort of biological tissue. If it glowed maybe guys would have an easier time finding it. Or maybe they’d just think of it as a runway light guiding them in.

Anyway, when younger, Suzie used her powers for good—or at least she didn’t do anything harmful. Jon had a different sort of upbringing (both characters have backstories that help make sense of some of their decisions). Our male protagonist also has some mental health issues, which lead to…well… he poops in his boss’ potted tree. It makes sense in the story.

So they’re doing the sex—which isn’t as graphic as I was expecting, but that’s perfectly fine—and having the orgasms and robbing the banks for small amounts of cash, which they give back to the bank in order to stave off losing the library.

You know, as you do.

But. It turns out our intrepid humping bandits aren’t the only people on Earth with their abilities. There are others. And they are watched over by people Jon and Suzie call the Sex Police. Which is led by a woman Suzie calls Kegelface. Because she always looks like she’s doing kegels.

The Sex Police make life difficult for our friends, indeed.

The second volume is called Two Worlds, One Cop. I would like to officially state: Ewww.

Our frisky friends know they can’t keep up their shenanigans because Kegelface and her two helpers aren’t going to stop chasing them down.

Then things happen that I can’t talk about due to spoilers, but I will say there’s a fight in someone’s personal dungeon that involves a LOT of dildos.

There’s also other kinkiness involved regarding one of a secondary character’s parents. Always knock, kids.

A spoilery thing happens and sets Jon off—they’re going to fight the Sex Police! They’re going to demand to be treated with respect!

So they have to round up someone to help.

I hadn’t received the third volume when I finished the second and I have never been so on the edge of my seat about a comic before. They can tell a story, these guys. The artwork is entirely decent, too.

In the second book—the beginning of chapter/issue 9 something happens and I have no idea what it was. Someone please explain it to me. It was part of a new character’s backstory—I do love all of those, I must say—and … what? What happened? I must have looked at it twenty times.

Volume three introduces more characters—including something for the Hentai fans and yet another fight in a dong dungeon (a different one this time). Also an asexual character! I was so happy! They did it so well! Never in a million years was I expecting an asexual in a comic called Sex Criminals so well done, Chip and Matt.

Most chapters—which are issues of the comic—are about one character—giving us a person’s history and how they wound up in the story. Occasionally, a chapter will focus more on the story as it is or a particular group of characters.

In one scene in the third book Jon wears a shirt that says, ‘Um, actually everybody loves a pedant.’ I would like this shirt, please. It doesn’t exist, I checked.

The authors get creative occasionally. They’re not scared to go meta and they don’t take themselves too seriously.

Each book has bonus material at the end. Covers from the issues—which are great, I dig the aesthetic—and other fun things. In the first book, after discovering her gift, Suzie goes to the school sluts because she figures they’ll know why it happens.

One of the girls takes her into a bathroom stall and tells her, just, all about sex. It’s just like some of the conversations I remember having. Where one person states the most nonsensical thing with confidence and the other kids, because they don’t know better say, ‘Wow, yeah, I think I’ve heard of that.’

In the back of the first book there’s a page full of the names for the sex positions this girl made up. Only a handful were illustrated in the final comic, but the full page has dozens. Here’s a new grown up party game. Someone chooses one of these words and everyone has to either describe what happens during that act or they draw it. I shall read a few to give you an idea of the genius:

Frunging, Hambo, Brifknockin’, The Walking Head, Winterizing the House, The Tip Top Cheerio Guvnor, The World Service, Butt-Nugging, Corinthian Lather and my personal favorite, The Maybe He’ll Like Me.

That’s not even the tip of the iceberg. People who are fans of the comic are called Brimpers, as that was one of the acts illustrated in the comic. Brimping. The best description I have for this act (from the drawing in the book) is: a person with long hair kneels on the floor facing away from a person with a penis. Said penis haver then pulls the long hair up as though they’re going to put it in a ponytail on top of the head. The erect penis is then pushed through the hair being held straight up until it pokes out the front, over the long-hair haver’s head. I’m not sure how enough friction can be achieved, but it’s probably something hair fetishists already do.

Universal has signed a deal with Matt Fraction to adapt the books for the small screen. Let’s hope it’s on cable, because you won’t get to see glowing dick on free-to-view.

[It occurred to me after recording the episode I didn’t rate these. They were great fun and had me wanting more. If you’re looking for well-written, well-drawn, sexy comics that will have you on the edge of your seat then they’re a 5 of 5.]

Sep 02 2016

My Dad Wrote a Porno

(Image shamelessly stolen from their Twitter account @DadWroteaPorno)

(Image shamelessly stolen from their Twitter account @DadWroteaPorno)

In the previous episode of The Pageist (23) I had a few positive words for the podcast My Dad Wrote a Porno.

Well, here are a few more.

Jamie Morton’s father (whose pen name is Rocky Flintstone—the best nom de plume ever to nom a plume) decided to write some erotic literature at the age of sixty.

As with any trauma, there is no wrong way to deal with this sort of thing, so Mr Morton chose to read his father’s…gift to literature to anyone who cared to listen.

The name of the book is Belinda Blinked; 1 A modern story of sex, erotica and passion. How the sexiest sales girl in business earns her huge bonus by being the best at removing her high heels. (US edition here)

That’s the title.

It only gets ‘better’ from there. Belinda works in pots and pans (that’s a quote) and… you know what, you’re not going to read this for the plot. Don’t kid yourself.

Assisting Mr Morton with coping (he insists he’s fine with his father having written this, but, come on now, reading this out to the world is clearly a cry for help) are his two long-time friends, James Cooper and Alice Levine.

The disturbed one is on the far left. Poor sod. Barely keeping it together for the photo. (source)

The disturbed one is on the far left. Poor sod. Barely keeping it together for the photo. (source)

Morton reads the book one chapter at a time and his friends make comments about grammar, plot, characterization and anatomy. There are times when one wonders if Mr Flintstone has seen the naked female form up close, but then one remembers he has several children. One of whom is reading the story to us.

It’s fucking hilarious. The book itself is…well… It’s not about the destination—it’s about the journey… and the wise-ass companions on the journey. Or something.

There is this one character… The Duchess. I picture her as Helen Mirren. So that was okay. Though, Rocky likened her nipples to the ‘three-inch rivets on the fateful Titanic’. W. T. F.

She was also doing something to Belinda at one point and her breasts ‘draped’ over her. What, like a tablecloth? The character was only 50!

There are some classic lines, let me tell you. ‘Her vaginal lids popped open’, ‘their respective vaginas were steaming’, ‘he grabbed her cervix.’ (Sorry.)

My Dad Wrote a Porno is produced brilliantly with crisp audio and Bill Bailey-worthy theme music. Jamie Morton sounds like Robert Webb and James Cooper’s laugh often reminds me of Ricky Gervais, which makes me laugh harder.

And I want to be friends with Alice. Speaking of, the show has the best opening of any podcast ever: It’s Alice saying ‘Why are we here?!’

I think that every morning when I awaken, Alice. I really do. I sort of want it as my ringtone. ‘Why are we here?’ then the theme music for a bit then, ‘No, really, WHY are we here?’ more music, ‘God, are we STILL here?!’

This is more like it. The reality is settling in. With friends like these, eh? (hilarious source)

This is more like it. The reality is settling in. With friends like these, eh? (hilarious source)

The ebook is available, but the podcast has been so popular they’re releasing a hardcover version of the book with all of the commentary and bonus content. (UK here/US here). I shall be gleefully reviewing it on the podcast. The release date is October 27 so it will be one of the earlier books I’ll review after moving to the U.K., which seems apt. Basically, as soon as I have an address in Oxford, I’m placing a pre-order.

The first entire book/series is out on iTunes and acast and probably on Android somehow. The second is currently being released on Mondays (Rocky is a prolific fellow, bless him—he has at least two more books in the works).

In short: if you’re not already listening to this show, go, do it now. But not in public, you’ll embarrass yourself laughing.

You may follow the intrepid gang, if you so wish, through these links:
Website: MyDadWroteaPorno
Podcast: All Episodes
Twitter: @dadwroteaporno
Instagram: MyDadWrotea

Sep 01 2016

Episode 023 Sex Criminals Volumes 1-3

Episode the twenty-third; Wherein the Pageist explores a new app for kinksters, laughs until she cries at a podcast and develops some new ideas for sadistic roleplay. The books reviewed this episode are the first three volumes of the comic Sex Criminals by Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky.

.50 Intro & Announcements:

  • The show is in Estonia and Nepal.
  • Welcome to the newest Facebook fan, Alice!
  • I’ve tried out a new app called Kinkd (it doesn’t seem to have a website, sorry), but I do like the app.
  • The podcast My Dad Wrote a Porno has been keeping Walter and I very entertained. The website is here. The podcast is on iTunes and probably Android somewhere, and can also be heard here.
  • Pre-order the book here.

4.45 My Submissive Life:

  • The move date approaches!
  • I get cozy with my inner sadist and ponder the ways our various kink roles are intrinsic to who we are.

7.57 Book Review:

  • This episode, the books are the first three volumes of Sex Criminals by Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky, which is about two people who stop time when they orgasm. They use this power to rob banks.
  • More information about the television series in the works: here.

17.06 Closing Remarks:

  • Thank you for tuning in!
  • In the next episode I’ll be interviewing Lee Harrington, author, educator and host of Passion and Soul.
  • Like The Pageist on Facebook, follow on Twitter, Tumblr, Goodreads and join the Fetlife group.
  • You can also subscribe to this website through the email form in the sidebar.
  • Subscribe to the iTunes feed here. You can also rate the show in iTunes, which would be much appreciated!
  • Subscribe, stream or download from libsyn here. All episodes are available in a pop out player on this page.

Status update

Welcome to the site’s new theme–Graphene–to celebrate the next chapter of my life.

One of the many features are different types of posts, including statuses. Please let me know what you think of the site changes. I look forward to getting settled in England and returning to regularly scheduled image, music and mentor posts, as well as personal essays and fiction.

Aug 30 2016

The Ethical Slut by Dossie Easton and Janet W. Hardy

[This is the text of the book review from episode 22 of the podcast.]

The book reviewed in this episode is The Ethical Slut: A Practical Guide to Polyamory, Open Relationships and Other Adventures by Dossie Easton and Janet W. Hardy.

Other books I’ve reviewed by the authors are Spanking for Lovers by Janet W. Hardy in episode four, and the book was amazing. Before I had the podcast I reviewed here The New Topping Book and The New Bottoming Book, which are excellent guides for people new to the scene. The Multiamory hosts took over this show for one episode and reviewed both of those books for episode seven, which turned out great.

So, I knew these ladies were kinky and was vaguely aware they had also written a well-known book about ethical nonmonogamy. I figured I’d get around to it eventually, just as I plan to get around to all areas of interesting kinkdom at some point.

But then I realized I was poly, which was blazingly obvious once I thought about it, and The Ethical Slut moved up Mount TBR. (Does everyone use TBR to mean To Be Read?) Mount TBR means the ridiculously huge stack of books I fully intend to read once I become immortal and have an endless supply of money (or free books, whatever).

The version I’m reviewing is the second edition, which the cover informs me has been expanded and updated. The original version was published in 1997—the second edition came out in 2009.

The book is broken down into four parts, with chapters in each part. Part One is entitled Welcome.

In Chapter one, which is called Who is an Ethical Slut, there’s this:

If you ask about a man’s morals, you will probably hear about his honesty, loyalty, integrity, and high principles. When you ask about a woman’s morals, you are more likely to hear about whom she shares sex with, and under what conditions. We have a problem with that.

And rightfully so! It’s not something I’d ever considered before, but it’s true. Double-standard-having bastards.

Something I really like about the book is that it has homework! I mean written exercises. Some are set off on their own, but there are also many, many questions within the text. If you answer all of those you’ll know yourself approximately 2,000 times better by the end of the book.

The authors define slut this way:

To us, a slut is a person of any gender who celebrates sexuality according to the radical proposition that sex is nice and pleasure is good for you.

Chapter Two is Myths and Realities and covers judgments, myths and realities surrounding sluts and includes this quote:

Kinsey once defined a ‘nymphomanic’ as ‘someone who has more sex than you’.

Chapter Three is Our Beliefs, where the authors say:

Most of our criteria for ethics are quite pragmatic. Is anyone being harmed? Is there any way to avoid causing that harm? Are there any risks? Is everybody involved aware of those risks and doing what can be done to minimize them?

On the positive side: How much fun is this? What is everybody learning from it? Is it helping someone to grow? Is it helping make the world a better place?

If everyone on Earth lived by this philosophy we’d all be much better off, let me tell you.

Then there was this: In a section called Rethinking Sex, :

Are you having sex right now? Yes, you are, and so are we.

This was news to me. Then they go on to compare sexual energy to food—something else I don’t care about. The metaphor was that people enjoy the look and smell of food, and the memories of nice meals in the past or what we may eat tomorrow become part of that enjoyment. So sexual energy pervades everything. You know what? I eat whatever is to hand when I’m hungry and I don’t think about it otherwise most of the time. I’m asexual and aculinarial. Or whatever. Maybe books would work. I like the look and smell and feel of them… Anyway. They say that since they’re writing about it and we’re reading about it we’re all having sex. Well okay. Then they say this:

More pragmatically, we have had long, intense intimate conversations that felt deeply sexual to us. And we have had intercourse that didn’t feel terribly sexual. Our best definition is that sex is whatever the people engaging in it think it is. For some people, spanking is sex. For others, wearing a garter belt and stockings is sex. If you and anybody else involved feel sexual when you eat ice cream sundaes together, that sex—for you.

And then it all made sense, for I am a kinky person and I certainly understand being fulfilled by things that other people wouldn’t understand as sexy. Also an intellectual or emotional connection can feel incredibly intense and is much more profound and important to me in terms of a power exchange than anything physical.

Chapter Four was called Slut Styles—the first subheading was Sluthood Today, which sounds like a magazine. Modern Slut.

The chapter covers how different groups of people interact—lesbians, gay men, bisexuals and heterosexuals. No pansexuals or other folks. Asexuals are later in the book.

This description of how gay males approach sex blew my mind.

Gay male sex, as a rule, starts from a presumption of equal power, without the dynamic of overpowerment and withholding that often pervades male/female interactions. Thus, men do not generally try to get consent from each other by manipulation and pressuring: connection is more commonly made by a gentle approach, meeting a gentle response and no need to ask three times. Gay men give each other a lot of credit for being able to say no, and for meaning it when they say it—this makes coming on very simple, since you are never trying to sneak up on anybody and you are not required to be subtle. It is always okay to ask as long as it is okay for the other person to say no. This straight-forward and admirably simple approach to consensuality cannot be recommended too highly.

That could not be more different from anything I’ve experienced or ever expected to experience with men or women. It’s like reading about social practices on a different planet.

Chapter Five is Battling Sex Negativity.

The authors mention a resource guide in the back of the book to help people protect their legal rights in case they’re not in a legally recognized relationship and want to make sure they retain access to funds, property or visitation rights in the case of an accident.

Chapter Six: Infinite Possibilities
This is where the asexuals are. Over with the celibates.
And this is what they have to say about us.

We do not see ‘celibate slut’ or ‘asexual slut’ as in any way a contradiction in terms. There are infinite ways of relating to other people—romantically, intimately, domestically, and more—and if you’ve opened your life and heart to as many of those ways as possible, you’re one of us.

I’m fine with other people declaring themselves ‘sluts’ but I think I’ll stick with ‘ethically nonmonogamous’. ‘Asexual lesbian married to a man’ confuses enough people, without throwing the word slut in there. I’ll spend all day explaining what that means. Forget ‘kinky’ or ‘service-oriented’. Just wait until I start topping dudes. It’s like that Joe Ancis saying that the only normal people are the ones you don’t know very well. That’s so true.

This chapter covers the permutations available to ethically nonmonogamous folks. One of which they call ‘Circles and Tribes’

‘Circle’ is a word we use for a set of connections between a group of people that actually might look more like a constellation, with some people near the hub and connected to several others, and others near the outside and connected to only one or two and, perhaps, part of another constellation as well. (We like the word ‘constellation’ for this, because in a constellation, everybody gets to be a star!)

This reminds me of an early series of the L Word—the first or second—where Alice Pieszecki (the Leisha Hailey character) made something called The Chart and connected all the lesbians she knew together by who’d they’d slept with. It looked like the biggest, gayest constellation you’d ever seen. Then I found out a friend of mine had done something similar with the lesbians she knew and it covered the back of the laundry room door. Lesbians.

Another quote from this chapter:

Couples new to nonmonogamy tend to spend a lot of energy defining their boundaries. They usually focus more at first on what they don’t want their partner to do—the activities that make them feel, for some reason, unsafe or downright terrified—than on their actual desires. Setting these limits is, for many couples, a necessary first step out into the disorienting world of sluthood. However, as a couple becomes more sophisticated at operating the boundaries of their relationship, they tend to focus more on what they would enjoy, and then strategize about how they can make it safe.

Then we’re on to Part Two: The Practice of Sluthood

Chapter Seven is Abundance—basically the idea that there’s an infinite amount of love and sex out there. We tend to believe that if we’re giving something to one person we’re not giving that thing to another person, but you can love all of your pets or kids equally—or in different ways, but you still love them. It’s not, ‘Well, I have a third dog now, I like the first one less and the second one I can’t even look at anymore. Not one single redeeming quality.’

The chapter addresses real world limits like time (Google Docs are your friend—everyone involved can see them) and something they call the tyranny of hydraulics. I’ll let the authors explain.

The ‘tyranny of hydraulics’ is Dossie’s phrase for the biological realities that govern many aspects of sexuality.

So, I’m in love with this phrase and will be using it for the rest of my life. The tyranny of hydraulics. Stuff just doesn’t work sometimes. No matter how much you want it to.

Then we’re on to Chapter Eight, which is Slut Skills. This includes the excellent quote:

Great sluts are made, not born.

I have different quotes on the back of my business cards and that’s going on the back of some in my next set.

Knowing yourself is important in, well, life, but it’s particularly important when embarking on a journey that isn’t traditional. The authors urge self-examination and ask the reader: What do you expect from this way of living your life?

Then there’s a section called ‘Earning Your Slut Merit Badge’ which consists of all the things the best sluts work at: Communication, Emotional Honesty, Affection (which includes most of the love languages), Faithfulness, Limit-setting, Planning, Knowing Yourself, Owning Your Feelings, Going Easy on Yourself & Telling the Truth. These are explained in detail.

Under ‘Limit-Setting’ the authors have this to say:

When you respect your own limits, others will learn to respect them too. People tend to live up to your standards when you are not afraid to set them. Only when everyone’s limits are out in the open do you become free to ask for your dearest fantasies, secure in the knowledge that if your friend doesn’t want to, he won’t.

This brings us to Chapter Nine: Boundaries.
The belief is often that sluts aren’t familiar with the concept of boundaries, but the authors say this:

‘…sluts get a great deal of opportunity to develop exquisitely sophisticated discriminations: ‘We actually have more boundaries than most folks because we have more points of contact,’ more experience relating in very different ways to very diverse people.’

This chapter is about setting boundaries—figuring out what yours are—and communicating effectively. The entire book has stories from other people, as well as Dossie and Janet. It’s always useful to see how various techniques have been applied in real life.

Then we have an Interlude entitled An Unethical Slut: A Rant.

Some people treat sex as a big-game hunt—trying to conquer the unwilling and unwitting victim, as though the object of their attention would never decide to share sex with them unless tricked into it. Someone who tries to use sex to shore up sagging self-esteem by stealing someone else’s is a pitiable object: this strategy does not work to build a solid sense of self-worth, and this poor starving individual will have to go on stealing more and more and never getting fulfilled.

I’ve never thought of it this way, but it isn’t the greatest sign of self-esteem if someone is going around using magic formulae in an effort to get someone into bed rather than just being themselves.

Then there was this revelation:

A friend of ours once discovered that a would-be lover of hers had already had sex with her mother and her sister and was hoping to complete the set.

I have only one thing to say about that: Ewwwwww.

Then we’re back to our regularly scheduled programming in the form of Chapter Ten—Flirting and Cruising.

The authors think that flirting should be it’s own thing rather than having to lead anywhere. I wholeheartedly agree but I’ve have so many people misinterpret my for-fun flirting—either men getting offended I didn’t want more or women thinking I did want more—that that’s not going to happen. I’d constantly be saying: ‘I’m not actually interested in anything happening, okay? Okay.’ And that wouldn’t be conducive to flirting. That’s the opposite of flirting. Whatever that is. Farting, maybe.

The authors offer this advice to heterosexual men when cruising:

Many a man has made the mistake of approaching a woman in the way he thinks he would like to be approached if he were a woman. If you’re not sure if women find your approach too heavy-handed, imagine being approached by a large, strong man using your exact technique and ask yourself how that feels. Successful male cruisers remain sensitive to verbal and nonverbal cues, conveying friendly interest and appreciation for the fascinating human being in front of them.

Also maybe imagine having some of the things you want to say shouted at you by several large, strong men when you’re just trying to get home at night.

Chapter Eleven is Keeping Sex Safe—fairly self explanatory title there.

Chapter Twelve concerns Childrearing and includes this quote:

Janet remembers a conversation with her older son when he was about ten: she’d just done a ‘birds and bees’ rap and had perhaps got a little carried away. At the end of her long speech, she asked him, ‘So, as long as we’re on this topic, is there anything else you want to know?’ He replied fervently, ‘Mom, you’ve already told me much more that I wanted to know.’

Yeah… Janet and I are similar. That’s totally what I’d be like.

Part Three is Navigating Challenges and begins with Chapter Thirteen: Roadmaps Through Jealousy.

One of their suggestions for dealing with jealousy is something they call Go for the Ick, which is just going right ahead and thinking about whatever your partner and their other person might be doing together rather than expending all that energy pushing the thoughts away. It reminds me of that scene in High Fidelity when the main character’s girlfriend has hooked up with the hippie-type guy who lives upstairs. He can’t stand the guy so, in his head, they’re having the most out of this world, kumbaya sex ever.

Chapter Fourteen is Embracing Conflict and contains suggestions for ways to deal with conflict rather than ignoring it or pushing it away.

One of the suggestions is to write whatever you’re feeling down in an email (without filling in the To: line) and saving it to drafts. Then leave it for a bit. Come back later and make sure you’re using I-statements rather than you-ing the person to death, after all, it’s about your feelings, not what the other person is doing. You may decide not to send it at all, but the authors said:

We usually delete sentences that begin with the words, ‘You shithead.’

Sound advice, I think.

Chapter Fifteen: Making Agreements.

‘Agreement’ is a better word than ‘rule’ because rules sound incredibly inflexible. They define it as:

mutually agreed-upon, conscious decisions, designed to be flexible enough to accommodate individuality, growth and change.

The chapter includes a list of sample agreements various people they’ve known have used to give you an idea of what to think about—many are mutually exclusive.

Chapter Sixteen is about Opening an Existing Relationship.

There is advice for each person involved—the person who wants to open the relationship, the ‘other’ person and the person who chose none of this.

There’s also an exercise called the Hierarchy of Hard which can be used to get from here to there on any goal, really. You break down what you need to do into progressively smaller steps and put those on index cards then take one card at a time and do what’s on the card. Proving what I’ve long known–office supplies can always improve your life.

We’re onto the final part—Part Four. Sluts in Love.

Chapter Seventeen is Making a Connection—or how to find people to date.
Under the subheading: Where? Is this:

We find a lot of ethical sluts exploring alternative realities: try your local Society for Creative Anachronism and other historical re-enactment groups, and know that many Renaissance Faires are practically sluts’ trade conferences.

It makes sense that people exploring an alternative way to conduct their romantic lives would also be into alternative realities in general.

They then mention PolyMatchMaker.com, which weirdly doesn’t have an app—doesn’t everything have an app? I’m surprised my cat doesn’t have an app. And there’s an ethical slut test on OKCupid. I took it but my results would come out wonky, because it was mostly sex-based and I’m asexual. Anything that had to do with history or future interest in sex made me look like a particularly prudish nun, as there were no options for—I’d partake in sex as an act of submission with the right D-type. My official result was:

Happy Almost-Slut Whoa! You scored 11 Sluttiness Points and 23 Ethics Points! The 23 Ethics points was higher than 81 percent of other participants,

which is a little unsettling, as I thought I was just being a decent person.

Chapter Eighteen: Couples covers NRE—new relationship energy—also known as limerence. A word that sounds as light and shimmery as NRE feels.

Chapter Nineteen is called The Single Slut and includes lists of The Rights of the Single Slut and the Responsibilities of the Single Slut—both very useful lists to keep in mind.

Then there was this quote, which fell under the sub-heading ‘Role-Constrained Relationship’

Sometimes your relationship may be defined by the roles you play together, roles that a person’s life partner may not want or enjoy. Your connection could be as simple as a love of watching football on TV or, perhaps more complicated, being the same-sex partner to someone in an opposite sex marriage. Your shared roles might be about S/M power exchange, erotic roleplaying, exploration of gender, spiritual journeying, or any other sexual sharing that the partnership doesn’t provide. Your shared role makes you part of a family’s ecology, part of what makes it run smoothly, and is both a joy and a responsibility not to be taken lightly.

This is what I’m looking for so to have it addressed so tidily lets me know it’s not uncommon for people to have someone in their life who fulfills a specific role, as opposed to having multiple traditional relationships, so to speak.

Chapter Twenty: The Ebb and Flow of Relationships covers breakups and how to handle them with grace, dignity and respect for everyone involved.

Chapter Twenty-One is entitled Sex and Pleasure. It addresses the sex-negativity pervasive in our culture and ways to educate yourself in order to have better sex. Under the sub-heading ‘Good Sex Starts with You’ is this quote:

What have you done recently that helps you feel good about the body you are inhabiting today? It’s hard to have a good relationship with our body when all you do is yell at it.

This is such an accurate description of many people’s relationship with their bodies…wow.

Chapter Twenty-Two is Public Sex, Group Sex and Orgies. Which is, bizarrely, a collection of brownie recipes and sewing patterns. Kidding. It’s exactly what it sounds like and how to navigate them with your partner.

The Conclusion is called a Slut Utopia and includes this quote:

When right and wrong are your only options, you may believe that you can’t love more than one person, or that you can’t love in different ways, or that you have a finite capacity for love—that ‘many’ must somehow be opposed to ‘one’, or that your only options are in love and out of love, with no allowance for different degrees or kinds of love.

We would like to propose something different. Instead of these simpleminded either/or arguments, consider the possibility of seeing, and valuing everything that there is, without viewing them as in opposition to one another. We think that if you can do this, you will discover that there are as many ways to be sexual as there are to be human, and all of them are valid. There are lots of ways to relate, to love, to express gender, to share sex, to form families, to be in the world, to be human…and none of them in any way reduces or invalidates any of the others.

Hear, hear.

One thing that I was looking for that wasn’t covered is when one person is poly and the other is monogamous. Often, advice people give is that when your partner is out on a date is to remember that you’ll be going out on a hot date soon, too, but if one of you is happy just being with your partner and the other is poly, that isn’t going to stop the monogamous one from being jealous or insecure occasionally and they won’t have the ‘well, I’ll be getting my own wing doodler done good soon’ to comfort them. By the way, ‘wing doodler’ is non-gender specific. Whatever makes you feel good is your wing doodler. For me, it would often be my brain. ‘Wow, that conversation was so intense and we were so on the same page my wing doodler is buzzing right now.’

Aside from that, it is easy to see why this book is considered to be a classic. It’s well written, by two people with decades of experience and a finely-tuned sense of humor. I would definitely recommend it to both people new to the land of nonmonogamy and anyone interested in learning new relationship skills. 5/5

[After the podcast went live, Janet Hardy let me know the next edition is in the works and will include more information on the varieties of asexuals out there, as well as information on poly/mono relationships. I look forward to that, which is set for 2017, I believe.]

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