I started writing this post in December in response to a bunch of posts whose writers were holding high and, in my mind, mighty the ramparts of monogamy. It's a bit rantish, this canty post, but after rereading it a few times, I decided I still liked it enough to post it.
Let me take a moment to sing the praises of bathhouse-style fornication.
In our culture, we place a great emphasis on sex as part of a loving and stable relationship. In fact, we so privilege sex with someone we love over sex with someone we do not, or don’t as much, or don’t conventionally, or exclusively, or whatever, that it’s pretty much an accepted idea that sex with your beloved always is/was/will be inherently vastly superior to sex with the one you love less, if at all.
Moreover, the notion that sex with someone you love, and love exclusively and have sex with exclusively, is superior to sex with someone you don’t has such acceptance in this culture that we tend to consider other kinds of sex as not merely inferior, but somehow, well, wrong.
Morally wrong, sometimes. But also immature, unhealthy, a possible misstep on the way to the beautiful fullness of monogamous adult sexual health.
Don’t get me wrong. I love sex with the man I love. I love our sex as a playful, passionate, intense physical expression of our feelings for each other, as well as for its metaphysical ability to embody the trust we have in one another. And I love fucking the man I love, which means I also love it when our sex isn’t wrapped up, in or around our floaty pink capital-“L” love.
But I also love doing most things with him. In fact, I pretty much love doing just about everything with him more than I love doing it with others or alone. I love bowling with him more. I love going to movies with him more. I love going to restaurants, paying bills, bickering about trivia, folding laundry, walking my dog, singing bad Korean karaoke, or shopping for socks more with him than I do with anyone else.
It’s this bundle of stuff—and less the sex in and of itself—that really differentiates my relationship with the man I love from my relationship with everyone else.
Which leads me to the value of bathhouse-style fornication. I have fucked my way through great swaths of men, and slender swaths of women. And I have to say that there is value in it.
The summer before last I gave myself the gift of SlutFest 2004: the permission to do whomever, whatever, wherever and however I wanted to do them. And I did. I won’t give you numbers, but it was impressive.
I’ll give you an example, though. My friend Stevie called me on a Monday morning to go running with her. My response to her—which I don’t remember, but she reminded me of it a couple of weeks ago—was that I’d love to, but I have a threesome at 1:00.
Suffice to say that what I experienced was nothing short of bath-house-style fornication. I fucked and sucked men whose names I didn’t know. I had threesomes of several combinations. I fucked my way through the summer and I took some chances that when I look back on them I recoil in horror.
(I always used condoms. I did not always know the person with whom I was using them. I could, very easily, have ended up drugged and dead, my tender bits stored in ziplock bags in some man’s freezer. I did not.)
But I do not recoil in horror in light of my experiences. Some of them were very, very good, and some of them were really very awful. Most were in the grey area in between. Regardless of the sublime, the mediocre or the ugly of the deed, I learned a tremendous amount about myself in those few months.
I learned that I am a far kinkier woman than I ever thought I had the capacity to be.
I learned that I am really very good in bed, especially at sucking cock or licking pussy.
I learned that I am apparently a pretty good judge of character, even if I didn’t realize it in the moment.
I learned that I have a tremendous capacity for sexual energy, creativity, fervor, passion and play, and that I demand these qualities from my lover.
I learned that I am not ever going to be fulfilled in a traditional monogamous heterosexual relationship.
And I learned that that’s ok.
And I learned that as important as I thought sex was to me before SlultFest 2004, that it is actually really way more integral to the person I am than I can even begin to put into words.
I came into SlutFest 2004 feeling a bit repressed about my sexuality. The years I’d spent stripping made me self-conscious about my erotic self. It was hard for me to experience my own sexuality after having put it on the sale rack for so many years, and so I had picked a man who was not sexually compatible with me, as great as I thought he was everywhere outside of our conjugal bed. And then I spent two and a half years with him.
I put my erotic self on hold because I couldn’t really integrate it into my whole person. It took fucking a lot of strange men (and a few strange women) for me to put it all into perspective.
And here’s what it all comes to, in my world: it’s cool if you only have sex with one person in your life if it works for you. It’s equally cool for you if you swing like Spiderman from one sex partner to another, one sex party to another, or whatever. It’s just not cool to tell me what’s mature or real or adult.
It’s my body, my mind, my life, and I’m going to rock it the way that I want to. And so should you.
And whether that means that you’re having orgasms by watching your lover sleep peacefully beside you or by having him rub your pussy with a live chicken while an NBA Forward has his way with your ass, or by the more realistic panoply of activities that rest in the spectrum in between, you’re good as long as you feel good before, during and after.
And even if you don’t always feel good—as I didn’t always during my experiences in SlutFest—you can take the opportunity to figure out what does make sense to you. And that is what real, adult sexuality is: learning who you are, what you like, what you want and being honest about it. And knowing that like anything else it’s probably, over the length of your life, going to change.
Sex is an inherently complicated activity. It is much more than the fitting of interlocking body parts together in copious manners of happy copulation. Sex has emotional, physical, cultural, spiritual and, apparently, intellectual ramifications of potentially fantastic proportions. Undoubtedly, these inherently high stakes of sex makes us want to impose limits, for limits give the appearance of safety.
However, as consenting adults, we have the right to define our sexual lives as we choose. And of course our activities need to be consensual and with other adults, and of course we must strive for honesty with others and with ourselves, and of course we must recognize that respect for self and others is baseline.
Outside of these boundaries, do it. Do it ‘till you’re satisfied. Whoever, however, or wherever you are.
White House. Outhouse. Doghouse. Or bathhouse.