Thursday, May 19, 2011

Slutty Ethics

I finally got around to reading The Ethical Slut by Dossie Easton and Janet Hardy, which Ume and Gene gave to me for Christmas. As it's one of the only books explicitly about ethical non-monogamy available, of course I'd already heard a lot about it. Specifically, I'd already heard one of the biggest criticisms of the book, which is that it places too much emphasis on "owning one's feelings," which leads to people blaming themselves for their partners' legitimately problematic behavior.

I can definitely see where this criticism comes from. However, I don't think it's what the authors intended. (Somewhere, my Literary Criticism professor's hair just stood up on the back of her neck!) When Easton and Hardy talk about owning your feelings, they specifically talk about it in the context of giving yourself agency. When you realize that your feelings are coming from within you and aren't inflicted upon you, you realize that you have options on how to deal with those feelings.

Where Easton and Hardy fell flat, in my opinion, is that they never explicitly said, "One of those options is to end the relationship." They do talk about determining your limits, and they talk about breaking up, and how not every conflict has a happy resolution. However, I think they needed to tie that idea more closely to the idea of owning one's feelings.

Overall, though, I thought the book was very good. While a lot of the "exercises" that it included weren't the most helpful, considering I've been poly for several years, it still had a lot of valuable insight. It did get a little "hippy-dippy" at times, but Easton and Hardy kept their observations pertinent to modern culture. Though I wouldn't go so far as to say every poly person should own this book, it's definitely a good idea to check it out from the library.

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