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The swinging lifestyle and Stranger in a Strange Land

By JaredG27 in Culture
Wed Aug 01, 2001 at 08:22:30 AM EST
Tags: Culture (all tags)

We all try to take bits and pieces of the things we learn, apply them to our own lives, and then move on. This approach works, so long as we're able to extract the right bits and pieces. If someone says "the key to fitness is going to the gym and lifting weights," you could skim off "going to the gym," as that's inessential, but you can't ignore the "lifting weights." That's a simple example, but sometimes it's not so easy....

Take a comprehensive workout regimen like the now-popular Body for Life plan. It recommends eating six meals per day, each with one carbohydrate and one protein portion... along with a vegetable portion at least twice per day. In addition to that, one is supposed to do 3 days of intense 20-minute cardio- and 3 days of 50 minute resistance-training. Then Sunday one takes off both the diet and the exercising. But how many variables can one adjust in order to follow the plan? They say a portion is one fist-full, but that doesn't even come close to covering it for me. And what if I eat a lot of carbs for meal 1 and lots of protein for meal 2? What if the only type of fat I'm trying to watch is saturated fat? What if I want to do cardio based on my dance schedule (which is hardly 3 days/week or 20 minutes long) and rotate my lifting (which is usually more than 50 minutes) around that? There are a lot of variables and a lot of choices, and I think I've figured out the essential elements: eating right and resting between muscle groups... but then again, I don't know. And this is still an easier example.

My topic for today is the "swinging" relationship phenomenon. I had a long conversation about this yesterday. Referencing Stranger in a Strange Land, my friend felt that it might be moral to have sexual relations with multiple people while maintaining some sort of spiritual and intellectual commitment to a single individual. Now I disagree with that for a lot of reasons... but what I want to bring up is that the reference was an unfair one.

In Stranger, the protagonist advocates a communal living where there are no commitments and sex serves as the ultimate symbol of closeness for the citizens. In this way of life, sex is important and essential, though it must be proceeded by an intense spiritual and emotional connection.

But the "swinging" relationship that my friend brought up assumes physical contact to be separate from these other elements. In addition, the end that sex would meet is fulfillment of desire, so as to relieve tension in the committed relationship in which one's hypothetically involved.

These two situations are very much opposed to one another: in one case sex is placed on a spiritual pedestal, on another it's considered a physical need; in one there is neither monogamy nor commitment within the circle, in the other there is a clearly defined and seemingly inviolable spiritual commitment to one partner. And yet the latter situation was deduced as acceptable from the former.

Then again, if I stop there I'm not being fair to my friend. One of the chief goals behind Stranger's plan is to eliminate sexual jealousy. In this community where everyone shares partners, there is complete equality amongst the citizens... and even more, people supposedly are happier living much less stressful lives.

Something similar applies to my friend's approach. She claims that by sharing sexual partners that will alleviate jealousy. And it will, when it comes to sex. No longer would sex be considered as the distinguishing factor between friendships and relationships. Instead, the focus could be on other elements.

But it's still not that easy. By removing sexual jealousy (if such a thing is possible), there still remains the possibility for other forms of covet. Any type of committed relationship always opens the door to jealousy. By removing sex from the equation, there'll be jealousy but no way of proving your commitment. Or maybe there will, but it'll be less tangible and more difficult.

I just find a lot of difficulty in the idea that more sex will take the focus away from it. Sometimes that's just the sort of paradox that works. Then again there are tons of cultural elements that make the idea difficult to swallow.

While there may be merit in the "swinging" approach, I don't see it. And I definitely don't think Robert Heinlein advocated it in Stranger in a Strange Land. I'm definitely interested in some feedback on this though...


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Related Links
o the now-popular Body for Life plan
o the "swinging" relationship phenomenon
o Stranger in a Strange Land
o Also by JaredG27

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The swinging lifestyle and Stranger in a Strange Land | 44 comments (41 topical, 3 editorial, 0 hidden)
I don't think it will eliminate jealousy (4.00 / 5) (#1)
by weirdling on Tue Jul 31, 2001 at 01:00:23 PM EST

It will just make the more attractive members of the society more busy. There's an upside for an attractive person in a relationship, too, you know, that of not being constantly in demand...

I'm not doing this again; last time no one believed it.
Yes (4.66 / 9) (#2)
by treetops on Tue Jul 31, 2001 at 01:10:42 PM EST

It will just make the more attractive members of the society more busy.

Which will, of course, be a huge problem for k5 geeks, right?
[ Parent ]

I dunno... (5.00 / 5) (#7)
by ODiV on Tue Jul 31, 2001 at 03:05:33 PM EST

Have you seen leftfoot.kuro5hin.org?

[ odiv.net ]
[ Parent ]
Just so you know (3.87 / 8) (#3)
by Nezumi on Tue Jul 31, 2001 at 01:16:39 PM EST

Sex is a physical need. There are four basic needs hard-wired into humans:

  • Food;
  • Water;
  • Air; and
  • Sex.

Sex is the only one of those four by which the lack will not cause the death of the individual in short order. That isn't to say that it isn't equally important, since it will certainly cause death in the genetic sense. Which, on a species level, is vital.

In addition, relatively recent anthropological findings suggest that early humans (of both genders) had multiple sex partners in order to improve the odds for genetically strong children. Which suggests that swinging has at least one set of biological arguments going for it.

Of course, the social arguments get much more thorny...

uh.. (2.60 / 5) (#4)
by pallex on Tue Jul 31, 2001 at 01:26:08 PM EST

and drugs. You forget....what was i saying?

[ Parent ]
the practical side... (4.25 / 4) (#5)
by JaredG27 on Tue Jul 31, 2001 at 01:52:43 PM EST

Yeah, biologically we're certainly fit for multiple sex partners and our history proves it. But socially it certainly is much more "thorny" a topic... It's just impossible and consequently impractical to take on this approach in society today. It's one thing to be able to sleep with whomever you're attracted and get out pent-up sexual desires, but that ain't gonna happen... There's no way to limit our daily contact to a small group of people within a controlled "swinging" group, so we're still going to have those sexual desires with other people. If our entire society were to suddenly take on this perspective, then maybe it'd be more plausible, but that'll never happen. And if we start talking about raising a family, then that's another whole can of worms...

[ Parent ]
Impossibility (none / 0) (#39)
by datarat on Wed Aug 01, 2001 at 03:59:34 PM EST

Actually, I think you may have meant "impractical and consequently impossible."

But I think one of the main issues we need to look at is why there only seem to be two switches: One person or every person. Even Heinlein didn't advocate that. More like Extended families, which I think is attainable, if difficult considering the current social climate.

-datarat "An optimist believes we live in the best of all possible worlds. A pessimist is afraid it's true"
[ Parent ]
comforting to know (3.33 / 6) (#6)
by dr k on Tue Jul 31, 2001 at 03:04:34 PM EST

Sex is a physical need.

That's a relief. For a while there I had been thinking my need to be tied up and spanked was deviant.

Destroy all trusted users!
[ Parent ]

What About Gravity? (1.00 / 1) (#18)
by sventhatcher on Tue Jul 31, 2001 at 06:04:22 PM EST

We also need gravity and a reasonable temperature, but that's another matter entirely. =)

--Sven (Now with bonus vanity weblog! (MLP Sold Seperately))
[ Parent ]
I disagree (none / 0) (#24)
by jlusk4 on Tue Jul 31, 2001 at 09:30:29 PM EST

Many religions have a component of celibacy. Are you saying those beliefs are non-viable? Put another way, are you saying all followers of those religions who claim to be celibate are liars? Or suffering from the lack of satisfaction of a "physical" need?


[ Parent ]

religious celibacy (none / 0) (#30)
by xdroop on Wed Aug 01, 2001 at 08:12:16 AM EST

Religion promotes celibacy for the same reason why they promote poverty -- by having servants of the church 'deny' themselves, be it in food or material belonings, there is more for the rest of the community.
xhost +
[ Parent ]
more for the community? (none / 0) (#42)
by bobby on Thu Aug 02, 2001 at 10:28:16 AM EST

Not allowing people to have promiscuous sex doesn't cause more sex to be left for the "rest of the community". There's less because now there's an entire group of people who won't participate.

[ Parent ]
You misunderstand, likely on purpose (none / 0) (#33)
by Nezumi on Wed Aug 01, 2001 at 11:04:19 AM EST

I'm not saying that you cannot overcome this need. You can overcome the need for food and water for limited times (i.e. fasting), and as I said, sex is the only one which will not kill you if denied for an extended period.

However, you'll note that only certain members of these religions practice celibacy, or only for a certain period of their lives. Otherwise, the sect would die out in a hurry. =)

It's important to recognize that on a very deep level, humans want to mate. There's no way around this. If you recognize that the need is there, yet do not fulfil it, that's fine. Some religions do just that. But to deny its existence and try to act accordingly, you're asking for trouble. A good example is the many "celibate" priests that are now, many years later, being revealed to be closet pedophiles. Do a Google search on, say, Mount Cashel, and you'll get the picture.

[ Parent ]
Exercise, proper diet / sexual mores (4.33 / 9) (#8)
by maynard on Tue Jul 31, 2001 at 03:19:07 PM EST

I haven't voted on this submission because I'm still waffling between two points of view. One, is that you've submitted an article which deals with two completely separate issues: exercise and proper diet one the one hand and the sexual mores of polyamorous relationships on the other. But on the other hand they're both excellent discussion material, and if submitted separately into the queue with a good write up each I'd most likely vote up on both. I'll probably vote this +1 section. Whatever.

I'll start in the order you write: Exercise and proper diet.

I used to weigh far too much, at just slightly under 5'11" at the age of 16 I weighed in at a rotund 230lbs. At around that time I had an accident and fell down a flight of stairs, rupturing a disc in my lumbar regions between L2 and L3. The pain was enormous, and at the time (mid '80s) my doctor had me take a Bone scan, a CT scan, and even an MRI (which was a very new and expensive technology back then). The reason for these tests is that we hadn't linked the fall to the pain, which is often the case with disc rupture -- they can take time to really cause serious pain. Because of this the doctors first wanted to rule out a tumor along my spinal column.

After the tests and diagnosis the doctors recommended I choose one of two therapies:

1) vertebrae fusion surgery, where they remove the disc and fuse the two vertebrae into one. Unfortunately, this surgery at the time (and even today) has a limited success rate with a real potential for serious spinal nerve damage.

2) Lose 50-60lbs and take powerful pain killers until the pain goes away.

The doctors recommended option 1 because they didn't think I would be able to both lose and maintain the weight loss. I did it though. I've kept the weight off for about fifteen years by eating a careful diet of steamed vegetables and plenty of fruit, organic whole grains such as brown rice, and a small amount of meat like chicken or fish. I eat about five times a day. Combine this with regular exercise (I used to jog but have moved over to swimming laps) and I've dropped to a BMI (body mass index) of between 23 and 24. It's important to note that I'm not athletic, I don't lift weights or shoot for big muscles, and I still carry a good deal of fat on my body (mostly around my abdomen). But I'm healthy, I can jog four miles in ~35 minutes or so, and my back pain has mostly receded (negating the need for narcotics -- I now only use ibuprofin when necessary). IMO: Big win. It's good for my heart, it's a good proper diet, and in the long run I think I'll have a more active lifestyle as I move into old age. Big plus: no invasive back surgery.

Second issue: Polyamorous relationships and sexual mores. I have many friends who live in polyamorous relationships -- some with primary partners and secondary sex friends, another set who live in a group house. They seem happy, no skin off my back. I don't think I could handle that kind of lifestyle, mostly because it seems as though the more partners you add the exponentially greater the time investment in all your relationships. It's just too much work. I'm told the sex is great, but then again I have a hard enough time keeping a single relationship going. So, I'm not against polyamory on moral or ethical grounds, I just don't consider "great sex" worth the trouble. Your opinion may differ. Heh.

As for Stranger in a Strange Land, it's a marginally interesting book which has at times been considered serious literature by the acedemic liberal arts establishment. I enjoyed the book as a kid, but a recent re-reading left me seriously wondering what I was thinking. Then again, a rereading of "The Fountainhead" (which I loved as a kid) left me thinking Ayn Rand was full of shit. Obviously, I've changed over time.

Hmmm: interesting submission.


Read The Proxies, a short crime thriller.

my mistakes, but thanks for your thoughts... (3.50 / 4) (#9)
by JaredG27 on Tue Jul 31, 2001 at 03:37:49 PM EST


Thank you so much for your thorough response. First off, I want to respond to your comment about dividing the topic:

I should have written this article completely differently. This is my first posting here and when I wrote it I hadn't written it as an article. I wrote it as a daily reflection, but I thought I was getting at a serious topic by the time I finished so I checked out this site, which a friend had recommended to me, and I posted it.

But just after I posted it I realized that I could've separated it into two or three submissions. And in the future I will do just that.

I'm very interested in both dating and exercise, though I had intended the latter category to only serve as an analogy to my original point in this paper. However, I went off on a tangent and got carried away with the other topic, and then barely returned to my thesis as my intentions shifted. For such a short piece I should've just started over...

Now, to respond specifically to what you were saying...

It's good that you're exercising and eating healthy. It's hard to figure out the best routine for you, but it's not difficult to figure out a decent one. That was what I was getting at in my article. So long as you eat healthy and exercise regularly you _will_ lose weight and perhaps even gain muscle weight. I personally have been eating six mid-large sized meals per day and exercising a lot, but I've been having a lot of difficulty _gaining_ weight. Then again, perhaps I just do too much cardio. It's all just a toss up, but I feel healthier than I've ever felt. And then again, I'm still in college...

As for the polyamorous relationships, I don't know many people that have tried it out, but it does seem like a lot of work to me. And it doesn't seem worth it. Whenever I'm in a relationship, it doesn't feel like it's the physical intimacy that's specifically lacking, it's usually other areas that I'm more worried about with my partner. So long as I'm attracted to her and there's some physical connection then that's enough to maintain that part of the relationship...it's the conversation and personality connection that really takes time and effort (imnsho).

Anyhow, that's my piece. I do wish I had broken down this article, because I feel a lot more could have come of it. But I'll know better for next time. There _will_ be a next time :)

[ Parent ]
Gaining weight (3.00 / 1) (#28)
by maynard on Tue Jul 31, 2001 at 11:29:42 PM EST

So long as you eat healthy and exercise regularly you _will_ lose weight and perhaps even gain muscle weight. I personally have been eating six mid-large sized meals per day and exercising a lot, but I've been having a lot of difficulty _gaining_ weight. Then again, perhaps I just do too much cardio. It's all just a toss up, but I feel healthier than I've ever felt. And then again, I'm still in college...
Two things. First, I was quite thin until my family moved from California to Massachusetts, the cold winters combined with bad childhood eating habits really blew me up quickly. I think that once this becomes the norm in childhood it becomes very difficult to control one's weight afterward. There's a genetic component as well, though my family members are not lean or obese in general, but middle of the road. Still, I suspect that much of your metabolism is set during early childhood and your early teenage years. I'd recommend that all teens excercise! Wish I'd worked harder in phys-ed class.

I will warn you that as you grow older you'll probably have to reduce your caloric intake slowly over time. By the time you're thirty or so you may have to reduce by as much as 500 calories/day. Of course, continue exercising as much as you can. And, of course, some people have fast metabolisms and don't need to worry one bit.

Glad to see the resubmission.


Read The Proxies, a short crime thriller.
[ Parent ]

Free love provides little benefit (2.77 / 9) (#10)
by jabber on Tue Jul 31, 2001 at 03:51:32 PM EST

The swinging lifestyle will not alleviate human suffering. Just as in the gym where people tend to use a certain range of weights, in sexual relationships, people tend to stabilize at a certain level of behaviour. If Gold's Gym adds heavier weights, the patrons rise to the challenge and the most commonly used weight (statistically) increases to match. Same with sexual habits - if your society opens up more behaviours as permissible, more boundaries will be pushed.

It's the old "if you give an inch, they'll take a mile" addage, and it brings to mind the fall of Ancient Rome - for some strange reason.

Once the gates of debauchery are flung open, society starts to slide quickly into the pit. Once resources are plentiful, and people have enough time to contemplate their Pursuit of Happiness, then the civilization is on the decline, and needs a major crisis to save it from Bread, Circus, lead drinking glasses and massive orgies.

There is one very real and solid reason for not swinging. VD. Yes, there are condoms, dental dams, full-body latex coverings and antibiotics, but still.. Nature sees to population control pretty effectively, and rampant sex will see to it that the legends of Soddom and Gomorah pass on to the next generation.

[TINK5C] |"Is K5 my kapusta intellectual teddy bear?"| "Yes"

Puh-lease (4.20 / 5) (#11)
by DangerGrrl on Tue Jul 31, 2001 at 04:13:57 PM EST

Swinging is not for everyone... not everyone has a desire to 'swing'. There are varying degrees of such things as well.
Further, swinging has been going on since before you or I or probably anyone at K5 has been around this planet. What you are hung up on, my friend, is puritanical mores that this country is rampent in.
We live in a country of controdiction - Sex sells everything but we are not supposed to look. Some people are looking, some are doing, and I don't think it's going to make USA a living hell, anymore than it already is.
There really is nothing wrong with pushing boundaries either. If weight lifters can push past theirs, why can't the sexualy adventerous do the same.

P.S. On a personal note, this comment was sooooo not up to your usual standard. Come on man, yer slakin'.

I do many things well, none of which generate income.
[ Parent ]
So where does it end? (2.87 / 8) (#13)
by jabber on Tue Jul 31, 2001 at 04:37:45 PM EST

Societal norms are how they are for a reason. You are absolutely right, swinging has been around since before we came down from the trees, but in the tens of thousands of years since then, the bulk of society has maintained a monogamous lifestyle, and looked upon promiscuity with disdain.. Why is that?

It can't simply be a matter of paternity, so let's not even get on the sexual revolution rail here. Mankind (and I do mean MAN) is quite ingenious at solving 'real problems' so if it were a matter of really wanting free and plentiful sex, that problem would have been solved long before weapons of mass extinction..

It's about testing boundaries, sure, but if a person does not have restraints placed upon them, against which to rile, they become complacent and seek newer and stranger thrills. Now that it is no longer an adventure to travel across the country, people have taken up BASE jumping.. Once sleeping with a new person every day of the month isn't exciting, what will the next challenge be? What boundary will we break next?

Will harems make a comeback? And now that 'we have the technology' will we grow our own disposable sex partners in basement vats?

Or incest.. Now that we understand genetics, and realize that crossing blood is a Bad Idea, will incest suddenly become socially acceptible, just so long as proper contraception is applied? It is only a hop, skip and a jump from swinging to doing your own kids after all. It's just in good fun, and incest is a game the whole family can play..

Yes, the country is already sliding downhill. Your point on Puritanism and it's after-effects vis a vis advertising is well taken. However, the Puritan Ideal is a reflection of hundreds, even thousands of years of cultural evolution, and we really need to ask why the consistant things have stayed consistant for all that time..

[TINK5C] |"Is K5 my kapusta intellectual teddy bear?"| "Yes"
[ Parent ]

Bulk of society (4.25 / 8) (#14)
by DangerGrrl on Tue Jul 31, 2001 at 04:50:15 PM EST

What is this "bulk of society" that you are railing about? Are you talking of the vocal religious right? Republicans? Deomcrats? Single welfare mothers? Just because it is agreed upon by a majority, does not mean it is nessicerily the right thing for the whole - For a while the 'bulk of society' believed lead in paint was a great idea. Times change.

And this "Puritin Ideal is a reflection of hundreds, even thousands of years of cultural evolution," thing... um pardon me, but how many Puritins are in your office? I'm going to guess about zero. There are other ideals out there, other cultures who do not accept monogamy as the norm. And I don't just mean the Mormons.

You raise good points, but I think they are overshadowed by your ethnocentrism in this matter.

Further, as to which boundaries does one break next, I have often found, that when one seems to have broken them al in the sexual arena challenge of going back to monogamy seems to work just fine.

[ Parent ]
Bulk of Society: redux (3.00 / 5) (#16)
by jabber on Tue Jul 31, 2001 at 05:16:00 PM EST

When I used the term 'bulk of society', I meant it from the historical perspective. The current silent majority that spends their days watching Jerry Springer, and feeling morally superior to the freaks paraded in front of them for entertainment purposes, is a different animal altogether.

Historically speaking, we can look back on cultures in which behavior which we consider abnormal today was practiced, and notice that they are now extinct. The Romans with their orgies, the Greeks with their homoerotic pedophilia (Athenians with pure Democracy and Spartans with the killing of the weak, as well as all their other tribes), matriarchial Amazons... They're all gone.

Civilization has taken their good ideas, like plumbing, the Republic, mastectomy, codified Law, and so forth and so on, and run with them... Slavery took a long time to drop, because, hell, it's damn convenient.. And yet, the 'decadent' sexual practices of these cultures have been dropped repeatedly.. Whenever anyone picks them up, they are few, and quickly squelched by the 'bulk' majority and those in power (de Sade?). Why?

Now, whether those in power truly reflect the sensibilities of the majority is a topic for another discussion entirely. Time after time we have seen that when they do not, they are removed from power - and up until recently (and to be again) through violent and often terminal means.. Yet the social conventions of sex and sexuality have not changed all that much in all of history.. Again, why not? What lesson are we not seeing here when we suggest to leave the path that the 'bulk' of humanity has been on for all of it's history?

Yes, the sexual revolution can not be discounted, though it is a remarkably recent development in the historical sense. Women have attained significant sexual power thanks to The Pill and it's ilk, and these have more or less leveled the playing field in the battle of the sexes.. But still, there is a legacy of convention that has been questioned to the detriment of those doing so, throughout history.. Swinging questions it again, and we have a clear precedent that this is not a good idea.. What is the lesson?

Our culture is based on conventions that our ancestors have groped about in the darkness to define. With incomplete understanding, they have given us guidelines that had assured them of their own survival. In this context, one has to wonder if the story of Adam and Eve is not just a Myth of Creation, but also a cautionary tale, warning against man's acceptance of the fruit of sexual liberation at the hands of sexually empowered women.. Though the metaphor is a little too thick to be taken seriously anywhere except some Ivy covered building on some tree lined campus in white-bred America..

[TINK5C] |"Is K5 my kapusta intellectual teddy bear?"| "Yes"
[ Parent ]

Looking through a pinhole at the world (none / 0) (#38)
by datarat on Wed Aug 01, 2001 at 03:03:00 PM EST

If we applied that logic to astronomy we'd still be convinced that the universe revolved around the Earth.

And that's only true for a few of us.

Rarely is a new idea accepted immediately. The fact that there have been such dramatic changes in the last century is the only evidence that I can see that humanity is evolving the ability to be open minded.

Yes, convention is being challenged yet again. I find the argument that it's failed before to be insufficient in this case, as many things have failed before being adopted.

Plumbing, for instance. The Romans had it, brought it to England, yet during the middle ages it wasn't used, resulting in plague.

Finally, I want to refute your final statement. Our culture is based on the values that our ancestors found easiest to grasp, or most advantageous for the greatest number. There was no careful consideration, no planning, no review of history. It's based on what "everybody knows" and that happens to be the worst database in existence.


-datarat "An optimist believes we live in the best of all possible worlds. A pessimist is afraid it's true"
[ Parent ]
A skewed view of history (none / 0) (#41)
by pyramid termite on Wed Aug 01, 2001 at 05:29:28 PM EST

It's hard to know where to start ... I should point out that both the Greeks and the Romans had longer lasting civilizations than the US does so far. Also, I should point out that the Greeks were taken over by those "abnormal" Romans and the Romans, (who lasted until 1500 AD in part of the world), were taken over by barbarian tribes who could be classified as "abnormal" also.

A further review of history would seem to indicate that fallen countries and cultures are generally caused by unrestrained violence, not unrestrained sex. The Romans' real problem wasn't that they slept around a lot - it was that they were willing to use violence to gain personal ends at the expense of the well-being of the country as a whole. They were even willing to hire more violent tribes from outside the Empire to help them with their selfish ends. It was political and military corruption that did the Romans in - they were already screwing around like crazy in Julius Caesar's time and yet, it took centuries more for the Empire to fall.

In short, your idea that sexual morality has anything to do with the fate of nations is not proven.
On the Internet, anyone can accuse you of being a dog.
[ Parent ]
Harems (4.57 / 7) (#17)
by davidduncanscott on Tue Jul 31, 2001 at 05:38:03 PM EST

Here in the US and Europe, it's shocking (or at least very unusual) for a man to have multiple wives, but it's completely acceptable for woman to walk down the street in a tube top and shorts. In much of the Arab world, the reverse is true. Each culture has grounds to consider the other more permissive, showing that mores are not linear, and one thing doesn't always lead to another.

I find it more useful to picture a semi-inflated balloon -- squeezed here, it bulges there. Insist that women wear long dresses and corsets and never reveal so much as their ankles, as in Victorian England, and watch the population of streetwalkers reach new heights. Allow harems, but mandate purdah. Allow polygamy, but disallow caffiene. Drink like a fish, but go to jail for hash. Allow hash, but stone people for drinking.

[ Parent ]

Incest (4.40 / 5) (#22)
by cyclopatra on Tue Jul 31, 2001 at 08:29:32 PM EST

Now that we understand genetics, and realize that crossing blood is a Bad Idea, will incest suddenly become socially acceptible, just so long as proper contraception is applied?

While I could go into the interesting implications of the term "crossing blood" :P... I don't see why this would be a BadThing(tm). The taboo against incest exists because of the increased risk of passing on undesirable traits (and please note: it does not *create* undesirable traits; IOW, two siblings with no bad recessives would have perfectly healthy children). The taboo is really societal anyhow - definitions and requirements involving incest have been different in different societies throughout history. I see no reason why incest should itself be illegal, so long as precautions are taken to prevent children coming of it. *If* a child were born of such a union, *and* it showed evidence of deformity or disability due to reinforced recessives in the parents, *then* I could see a charge of maybe reckless endangerment.

The first thing I expect everyone to yell now is, "So you want it to be OK for a man to sleep with his 3 y.o. daughter?" The answer is no, of course not. But rape is already illegal, as is molesting a child, whether it's by her father, her uncle, or a random person on the street. There's no real reason for incest to be illegal if contraception is practiced. It's purely a moral consideration - and in that case, IMO, we have to consider that not everyone shares our morals, and refrain from making laws about it.

All your .sigs are belong to us.
remove mypants to email
[ Parent ]

Sex with children - BIG no no (2.25 / 4) (#25)
by maynard on Tue Jul 31, 2001 at 10:37:37 PM EST

As far as I'm concerned, consenting adults can do whatever the hell they want. Heterosexual, homosexual, polyamorous/group, straight, oral, anal, alone (no partner necessary), you name it. It's your (and your partner's) body, use it as you (both) wish.

That said, minors are out. Period. The age of consent varies from state to state -- I think Vermont even allows sex legally with children as young as thirteen (which I do not support). Sixteen or seventeen is a common consent age, and of course emancipation of legal rights occurs at eighteen and so is not germane to this point. But I can't imagine anyone who would support sex with a pre-teen child. If you do, you're sick. And if you do it, you need introduction to a jail cell pronto.

JMO (though I doubt many disagree)

Read The Proxies, a short crime thriller.
[ Parent ]

Incest --> pedophilia (3.33 / 3) (#26)
by jabber on Tue Jul 31, 2001 at 10:49:10 PM EST

Incest isn't necessarily sex with underage children. It can be sex between siblings above the age of consent. It can be sex between a parent and adult child. It can be sex between consenting first cousins, a nephew and aunt of virtually the same age, etc, etc..

I bring up the example of incest to make a certain point, and resent the assumption that I would for a moment condone intercourse with minors.. There's discussion of polyamory and incest, and then there's child abuse, which is a totally different kettle of fishyness.

FWIW, it is New Mexico that considers the age of consent to be 13. The New England states are unanimous on 18.

[TINK5C] |"Is K5 my kapusta intellectual teddy bear?"| "Yes"
[ Parent ]

Agreed. (3.50 / 2) (#27)
by maynard on Tue Jul 31, 2001 at 10:57:05 PM EST

I was commenting to your title "Where does it end?" By noting that pedophilia is completely wrong and unethical, I do NOT by omission imply that I support incest. Just wanted to make that clear. As for age of consent issues, I believe that WRT Vermont you are factually wrong, though certainly in Massachusetts (my state) the age of consent is eighteen.


Read The Proxies, a short crime thriller.
[ Parent ]

More information (4.00 / 2) (#29)
by jabber on Wed Aug 01, 2001 at 01:18:21 AM EST

I once had a link to a great reference of statutory and consentual regulations for the USA. Therein were discussed matters such as drugs, weapons possession and age of consent. In time, I have lost the link, but a brief Goggle search brought up http://www.ageofconsent.com which sheds light on the matter.

As for Vermont, we are both factually mistaken (a.k.a. WRONG), at least if the above site is to be believed.

[TINK5C] |"Is K5 my kapusta intellectual teddy bear?"| "Yes"
[ Parent ]

Unbelieveable! (none / 0) (#36)
by datarat on Wed Aug 01, 2001 at 02:36:24 PM EST

Societal "Norms" as you call them have been fluid throughout history! Like most people you look at the slice of the world you live in and the span of your own life and you assume that it always has been this way.

In speaking about monogamy, it's odd that you speak of harems. Understand that the current trend toward monagamy is less than a milennium old, and SUPPLANTS the harem mind-set. It is simply evidence that women have finally gained enough respect to demand attention from one man.

The next logical step is to be able to allow people to love more than one person at a time. I don't know why this is so damned bad! Why do puritans think that the only way to exist is if a man and a woman love one another only, to the exclusion of all else?

If you'd like my personal opinion (tough, you're getting it) that's the cause of most of the interpersonal friction in the world.

I find it curious that some people only have two modes when thinking about sex: It's the thing you do with the person you're committed to, and it's base pleasure and meaningless. Every decision in the world is a shade of grey, why not this one thing?

Ownership. People are greedy and use sex as the signifier of owning or belonging to another person. Why do we need this?

Heinlein said this also: "The more you love, the more you can love, and the more intensely you love. Nor is there any limit on the number you can love. Given time enough, one could love all of that majority who are decent and just."

Please tell me what is inherently wrong with that statement? As far as I can tell it's a helluva ideal, one us poor, insecure, sad humans can conceive, but not believe.

Finally, incest. Nice shock value, and even though I'm not a swinger, I resent you comparing what can be the most traumatic experience a child can have to consenting adults stretching over the limits of an artificially created legal boundary. It's like comparing rape to running a red light.

The only sin lies in hurting other people. Hurting yourself is not a sin, it's just stupid.


Ps, Tap me again if you want to talk about the fallacy of our degeneration into chaos. This is not Rome.

-datarat "An optimist believes we live in the best of all possible worlds. A pessimist is afraid it's true"
[ Parent ]
Proof of commitment (4.14 / 7) (#12)
by DangerGrrl on Tue Jul 31, 2001 at 04:24:19 PM EST

I think we are mistaken in our culture that proof of commitment comes through monogamy. I have encountered many 'cheaters', who provide for their families fully, are there whenever needed for emergancy or function, yet when on business trips, or their lunch breaks are doing something not so monogamous. They are commited to their families even though their logic is flawed.

The ultimate test of comitment, I think, is the ability to be purely honest with your SO. This does includ things that may or may not 'make them jelouse'.

I have in my time shared my partner with another woman. There was zero bull shit in the room. It confirmed my commitment to him and his to me... I got off on watching him, and he got off on me enjoying watching him. Now - this is not for everyone, and like regular sex, swinging could potentialy become just as boring... but from my own experience:
If you are open and honest and are of fairly stable mental health, then yes, jelousy can be disolved through swinging.

And if you are really interested in the topic I think the book, The Ethical Slut put out by Greenery Press, can explain all of what your friend was talking about better than I can.

I do many things well, none of which generate income.
Check out Polyamory (4.00 / 4) (#20)
by anansi on Tue Jul 31, 2001 at 07:23:56 PM EST

There's a small but growing movement of people who give themselves permission to love more than one person at a time. It has its roots in swinger culture, but has several important differences:

Where swing culture tends to be older, well established couples playing as couples, Poly tends towards a 20-somthing crowd who are either 'simgle' or part of a triad. Married couples play in poly, but they're just as likely to take on a third partner as play with another couple.

I could go on, but check out the FAQ

Don't call it Fascism. Use Musollini's term: "Corporatism"

I resubmitted this (5.00 / 2) (#23)
by JaredG27 on Tue Jul 31, 2001 at 09:00:17 PM EST

okay, I rewrote this and changed it a lot. My first submission was something I wrote for own site. I didn't fit here. but the next one is better and focused: http://www.kuro5hin.org/?op=displaystory;sid=2001/7/31/205857/266;mode=moderate

Polyamory... (4.25 / 4) (#31)
by sasseriansection on Wed Aug 01, 2001 at 09:16:03 AM EST

is a pretty interesting thing. About a year ago, I was involved in one, and also dating other people on and off. Here's what i found:

Good Things (tm)
1) Fun and exciting
2) Never a dull moment
3)Get to "share responsibilities", and are able to take a day off from the relationship as needed
4)Everyone talks about you

Bad Things (c)
1)Never a dull moment
2)You have to share responsibilities
3)Everyone wants you to explain it to them... about how you deal with sleeping in bed and stuff
4)Everyone thinks you are homosexual (just because there are more than one partner of the same sex involved. For the record, I never once even saw the same sex partner naked).
AND FINALLY: When the relationship breaks, it goes like a damned cruise liner slamming against an iceberg

In the while that the relationship was active (a little over a year perhaps) I probably learned more about human nature than I ever would have anywhere else. However, learning had the cost that is still trying to be paid off. Mainly in the friend / emotional / "Where am i" categories.

So, am I glad I participated? Kinda. If i could do it all over again would I? I doubt it. I have since been asked to participate in other polys since, and have always refused.

Luckily, the woman that was in the midst of this with me is still with me, and we to this day still deal with some of the crap that came up from our "experiment". Two years later, and a whole lotta patience, we have finally achieved a somewhat normal mono relationship. Life's a lot better now:).

And yes, she's hot.
------------ ------------

Oh yeah, this'll work. Not. (3.00 / 5) (#32)
by 2400n81 on Wed Aug 01, 2001 at 09:40:22 AM EST

Does it ever occur to anyone that if you "really" like someone, maybe you should just voluntarily not fuck other people? Is it that hard for you NOT to have sex? Is it that much of an addiction that you have to keep "shopping" when you've already got someone?

When you're 40, still have no stability in life, and you're now the "old guy in the bar" maybe it'll occur to you that you spent your life in a futile hedonist pursuit instead of doing something with yourself.

I've got an uncle who is nearing 50; never been married, always a swinger and into that lifestyle. He went from a highly-educated, respectable person with a bright future to a low-life, unstable, borderline pervert who now has problems with alcohol... because he thinks he's still 20 and won't grow the fuck up.

And then you breed with someone and have kids "accidentally" and they get to grow up into fucked up "families", if you want to call them that.

Works for me (4.66 / 3) (#35)
by Hizonner on Wed Aug 01, 2001 at 01:15:43 PM EST

The flamage below is aimed at the person I'm replying to, not at everybody who chooses monogamy.
Does it ever occur to anyone that if you "really" like someone, maybe you should just voluntarily not fuck other people?
What does one have to do with the other, exactly? Am I somehow going to like that person less if I fuck somebody else?
Is it that hard for you NOT to have sex?
Nope. I've gone for years without sex, when it suited my purposes.
Is it that much of an addiction that you have to keep "shopping" when you've already got someone?
All right, now you've pissed me off. One "shops" for possessions, not people. Relationships are not slavery.

Maybe you feel some compulsion to own a person. Maybe you're so insecure you can't believe somebody's committed to you if that person sleeps with (or, God forbid, actually loves) somebody else. Maybe you're so hung up on sex that sleeping with somebody once makes you forget all your other commitments in life, or maybe you're so emotionally stunted that you can't commit to anybody in any way beyond sex. Lots of people are that way.

But don't go projecting it onto the rest of us.

When you're 40, still have no stability in life, and you're now the "old guy in the bar" maybe it'll occur to you that you spent your life in a futile hedonist pursuit instead of doing something with yourself.
I am almost 40. I live in a house in an old, established neigborhood. I've been married for 19 years, and expect to stay married for many more. Maybe I'll even end up more married than I am. I'm on good terms with my family. I can't say I'm the "old guy in the bar", since I've never been in a bar alone in my life, and never been drunk in my life. I work in the garden, and putter around the house. I whine and gripe about the noise from the kids next door.

I don't know if I've "done anything with myself". I'm a millionaire; maybe that means more to you than it does to me. I'm pretty well respected professionally. I have lots of long-term friends. I now have the luxury of spending a lot of my time on things I consider socially valuable. No kids... sorry if that doesn't meet your expectations.

I also have sex outside my marriage. So does my wife. Unlike the fake "monogamists" you find running around out there, we don't lie to each other about that, nor do we let it ruin our lives.

... and not just sex, either. Although I'm not running down orgies or one-night stands, I prefer long-term relationships, (yes, with emotional commitment). My wife and I have had all of the above. I've had sex with people whose names I barely knew, and I've had sex with dear friends of many years' standing. I've had sex for the fun of it, and I've had sex with people I loved, to use a corny phrase, more than life itself. And, yes, I've had sex with a few people I wish I hadn't. One lives and learns.

Is all that "futile"? Well, maybe it is. I, like you, am going to end up dead someday. The cold fact is that there's no meaning to life beyond what we give it. The best we can do is love, learn, improve the world according to our own lights... and enjoy life. I'm sorry if you're so hung up that you can't stand to see people do that.

I've got an uncle who is nearing 50; never been married, always a swinger and into that lifestyle.
It's almost impossible to be a "swinger", among the people who used to call themselves that (and now call themselves "lifestyle participants" or some such) without being married. They're totally into a couple-based worldview. Don't like it much, myself; it's too limiting.
He went from a highly-educated, respectable person with a bright future to a low-life, unstable, borderline pervert who now has problems with alcohol... because he thinks he's still 20 and won't grow the fuck up.
Perhaps his problem is that he's too borderline. I've always found it more fun to be a full-bore pervert. :-)

... or perhaps his problem is that he's an emotionally inflexible, unthinking person, playing a social role set up for him by other people's expectations, because he can't create his own, and can't see the rich possibilities life offers him.

... or maybe he's just a drunk.

... or maybe he has some other problem.

And then you breed with someone and have kids "accidentally" and they get to grow up into fucked up "families", if you want to call them that.
Sure, there are risks. I could get an STD and die, leaving my wife alone. I could get hit by a bus, too, but I still go out on the street. I suppose that, in spite of my vasectomy, my religious condom use, and the fact that most of my female partners are on the pill, I could somehow get somebody pregnant. I could hit a child with my car, too, but I still drive... carefully.

I will tell you that no child of mine would live in a "fucked up" environment if I could help it... and there are lots of ways of helping it.

... and now the surprise ending. You're right that there are a lot of fucked up people pursuing "alternative lifestyles". Partly that's because there are lot of fucked up people in all lifestyles. Partly it's because fucked up people tend to try unusual things, perhaps feeling that they have nothing to lose. Partly it's because people react to unusual situations in ways they don't expect, maybe because they don't know their own emotions well enough going in... and sex is almost guaranteed to tweak those emotions in a lot of ways.

I would never advise anybody to push herself into polyamory, or swinging, or anything sexually unusual. Some people just don't work that way, and forcing yourself to do something that doesn't work for you is likely to make things end up in the worst possible way. There's no moral obligation to do things the way I do them; do what's comfortable for you.

What you need to understand is that not everybody doing these things is fucked up, or delusional, or thoughtless, or whatever. For some of us, it just works.

[ Parent ]

sex is orthogonal to commitment (4.00 / 2) (#40)
by kubalaa on Wed Aug 01, 2001 at 05:23:38 PM EST

... is I think the point. In other words, I could rephrase your question as "Does it ever occur to anyone that if you 'really' like someone, maybe you should just voluntarily not [eat sushi | watch Star Trek | play cricket]?"

Sure, if the love of your life can't deal with these things. But if he/she can, then more fun for everybody.

[ Parent ]

Jeez... (5.00 / 2) (#34)
by Hizonner on Wed Aug 01, 2001 at 11:53:47 AM EST

In Stranger, the protagonist advocates a communal living where there are no commitments and sex serves as the ultimate symbol of closeness for the citizens. In this way of life, sex is important and essential, though it must be proceeded by an intense spiritual and emotional connection.
How did you get that out of the book? "No commitments"? The whole idea of "sharing water" was that there were commitments. Those people would have died for each other; the Martians, presumably, were so tightly tied by "sharing water" that they were essentially all "married". Sure, the Nest members had a lot of sex, but that wasn't presented as the "ultimate symbol" of anything. Frankly, I think it was thrown in for shock value.

You're right that SIASL wasn't about swinging, though. More about nearly-universal polyamory, and more than that about universal love in the not-necessarily-sexual sense, and its relationship to religion. Remember the obvious Christ analogy in the way Smith dies; it was laid on with a trowel.

BTW, in some polyamory circles, there's a modified Godwin's law... as soon as somebody mentions Heinlein, the discussion is over...

sorry, i did fix that in the newer submission tho (none / 0) (#37)
by JaredG27 on Wed Aug 01, 2001 at 02:40:52 PM EST

I agree with you on your criticism. I wasn't clear-- what I meant is that there are no greater commitments amongst water brothers. There is commitment to each other equally. Then again, perhaps that's not even fair, because of the way people looked up to Jubal and Michael.

Either way, I corrected that point in my other article and made specific note in a bunch of comments. I had wanted this one killed after the other one was published... sorry.

[ Parent ]
Swinging later in life (none / 0) (#43)
by macquariumguy on Mon Aug 06, 2001 at 05:58:35 AM EST

My wife and I swing occasionally with friends. I don't think we could have had this kind of fun (yes, that's how we see it) when we were younger. Now, with both of us in our mid-40's, it's a different story. Our kids are grown and gone and we aren't going to have more. The couples we hook up with are old enough to know how to prevent unwanted pregnancies also. For us, it's just another way to party.

Separation of Goals (none / 0) (#44)
by tilleyrw on Mon Aug 06, 2001 at 09:51:15 AM EST

In my view, the mature adult has learned to view sex and love as separate but related.

Love can involve sex but need not, just as sex can involve love but need not.

Younger people often cannot perceive this separation and become entangled in negative situations as a result.

A computer without a Microsoft operating system is like a dog without bricks tied to its head.

The swinging lifestyle and Stranger in a Strange Land | 44 comments (41 topical, 3 editorial, 0 hidden)
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