RSS Feed

The Ethical Slut (2009): I Don’t Know, You Naughty Boy, I’ve Never Kippled!

Dossie Easton and Janet W. Hardy, The Ethical Slut: A Practical Guide to Polyamory, Open Relationships, and Other Adventures (2/E) (Celestial Arts, 2009)

Four happy woodcut-looking figures with big hearts adorn the cover of the book.

Your soul is in trouble and requires repairs.
photo credit: Wikipedia

Perhaps the most important thing to know about The Ethical Slut, if you’re just hearing about it for the first time, comes from Annie Sprinkle’s blurb on the back. “The Ethical Slut is one of the most useful relationship books you could ever read, no matter what your lifestyle choices.” This is indeed the case. Even if you’re a committed monogamist (like most folks around the globe today who are in serious relationships), there is a great deal of information in here you can use; given that polyamory is simply an exponential projection of normal relationship dynamics, the books presents a masterclass on the same stuff about relationships that’s covered in every other self-help book. And since they’re looking at situations that most people will consider absurd, they’re going well out beyond what the monogamous will think of as the worst case scenario. As a result, simply put: this is the best self-help book, not only about relationships, but about anything, that you will ever read.


Think of polyamory like cooking. The standard relationship we all think of, two people romantically involved, that’s like making a souffle. It’s not the easiest thing in the world to do, but as long as you’re willing to adapt to your surroundings and follow a few rules, most of which are common-sense, you will end up with something good. Polyamory, well, with each new person you add, you’re cooking another dish at the same time. Usually in a different oven, often in a different apartment in the building, and sometimes the equipment in the other place is stuff you’re not used to and you end up having to tread very carefully or you’re going to wind up with scrambled eggs instead. (You’ve seen this movie before.) And yet, somehow, thousands of people make it work every day. The levels of communication and empathy involved often feel superhuman to the monogamous, once they overcome the “aren’t you always jealous?” phenomenon. And that’s where the “this is good advice for the monogamous as well” factor comes in. Dealing with, say, a breakup in a polyamorous relationship involves a whole bunch of support from other people who love you and take your feelings into account. How is that different from a monogamous relationship? They’re friends, and sometimes we don’t think to ask. Or if you’re in a monogamous relationship and just never think to talk about a topic for some reason? Yeah, you’ll learn how to cut that out, ’cause it’s usually a bad idea. Learning to think about the idea of gender fluidity in a different way? Par for the course, bub. And these are just tip-of-the-iceberg examples.

In short, it doesn’t matter who you are, what kind of relationship you’re in (including being asexual by choice), or anything else, you are almost guaranteed to find at least one piece of helpful advice in this book. Most will find it a treasure trove of great ideas well worth exploring, capable of taking their relationships to levels beyond anything they would have previously believed. I say it again: this is, as far as I know, the single best self-help book of all time. You need to read this. *****

About Robert "Goat" Beveridge

Media critic (amateur, semi-pro, and for one brief shining moment in 2000 pro) since 1986. Guy behind noise/powerelectronics band XTerminal (after many small stints in jazz, rock, and metal bands). Known for being tactless but honest.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: