The Ethical Slut: A guide to infinite sexual possibilities
By Dossie Easton and Catherine A. Liszt
Greenery Press; ISBN: 1-890159-01-8; $16.95; 1997
Reviewed by David S. Hall, PhD
Second Edition 2009
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This is the best book on relationships that I have ever read, and I have read a bunch. What more can anyone say? The cover blurbs from Betty Dodson, Ryan Nearing, Deborah Anapol and Stan Dale are also enthusiastic, and these are authors and teachers I respect.
Although a few years old now, this mistitled book has advice and helps for anyone navigating the waters of relationship, and there are very few of us who do not find a storm now and then. The title may have come from some editor who wanted the book to get attention, because the core of the book is good advice on how to work through the problems of any kind of relationship, but particularly "polyamorous" ones. A "Slut" is defined as "a person of any gender who has the courage to lead life according to the radical proposition that sex is nice and pleasure is good for you." If you view sex like this, and particularly if you are open to the idea that you might have a sexual/loving relationship with more than one person at a time, you should read this book. If you are, or think you might be, a polyamorous person, start here.
The book is divided into four parts, plus an excellent bibliography and resource list. Part I focuses on our own relationship with our sexuality, and deals with ethics, values, language, slut skills and slutstyles. It helps us to understand the culture we are in and how that limits our view of sexuality, and provides historical and practical ideas to expand our vision. It serves the proposition that "Great sluts are made, not born".
Part II is about relationships with others, and has some of the most useful advice on boundaries and jealousy in print. Discussions of agreements, and conflicts, are also very helpful. When you feel really rotton, reread the chapter on jealousy and put the ideas into practice.
Part III is about being a slut in the world and about how the government is not your friend. Health issues, legal issues and child rearing issues are well covered. It is the shortest part of the book but has some much needed advice.
Part IV is about finding partners who think like you do, and being involved in sex play and group sex. This may not be your cup of tea, but it is fun to read about how some people find their sexual style in more public surroundings.
Buy this book, give it to your lover(s), and refer to it often.