From Monogamy To Open Marriage: I Don't Want To Be A Swinger

I’d rather be called just about anything else, but swinger is still the most familiar word that relates to my sexual choices.

From Monogamy To Open Marriage is a weekly column devoted to the discussion of pursuing sex and love outside marriage.  


I hate the word “swinger.” 

I’d rather be called just about anything else, but swinger is still the most familiar word that relates to my sexual choices. When someone asks if I’m a swinger, I think about the 1970s. Stories of sex parties involving copious amounts of alcohol and drugs spill from the memories of people who are old enough to be my parents. Legends of the key party (Married cis couples dropped their keys in a bowl, and the ladies closed their eyes and fished a set of keys out. And then, spent the night with the owner of those keys.) make me certain that I might have opted out of swinging during that era. That's when women were starting their sexual revolution but were still viewed as objects or possessions. The term “swinger” didn’t apply to single people, and single women who openly dabbled in a variety of sexual partners were harshly judged. 

Even now, most published content about swinging is written from the perspective of a man. Do a quick search on terms like swinger, hotwife, or threesome, and you’ll find most articles, blogs, and ads geared toward men. I’d love to see topics like “how to convince your wife to be a swinger” replaced with “why women should enjoy sex with multiple partners.” I’d love to read about why a threesome could sexually empower a woman instead of how to find a woman who wants a threesome. In 2017, content about sex still slants hard toward the cis male and making his needs and desires the focus. As a woman who has always claimed her sexual pleasure for myself first and my partner second, I am tired of it. 


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At most swinger clubs, men are much more assertive than women. Women tend to sit and wait rather than assessing the prospects in the club and choosing who they want to approach. While the environment is more sexually liberated, women are still on guard, averting their eyes and often relying on male partners to act as a blocker to thwart men who think that a smile or eye contact is equal to an invitation to make sexual advances. “No means no” certainly does apply, but often, women are subject to multiple, insistent, repetitive propositions from the same men who seem to believe that a woman who wants sex should, by default, want it with anyone who is willing and available.

I find I’m most comfortable in a swinger club when I’m with a group of female friends. Something about three or more sexually liberated women together seems to decrease the number of vultures swooping in with “damn baby, you sexy” type lines and replace them with articulate, intelligent men who are more apt to get my attention. I look forward to the time when I can come to a swinger party or club alone and experience this same level of comfort. 

“Swinging” has evolved, and it’s in desperate need of a new name. 

It spans beyond cis couples, and it needs to shake off that old presumption that men are the “lucky ones” that get to play with other people’s wives or girlfriends. More women who frequent swinger events need to make their presence, desires, and boundaries known without hesitation or apology. We should be stepping up and pursuing ways to fulfill our sexual desires rather than waiting patiently for the opportunity to present itself to us. The new version of swinging needs to be synonymous with enthusiastic consent and sever all of its ties to the misogynistic wife swapping of yesteryear. Women are not objects to swap, and women who want a variety of sexual partners can and should indulge at will.

What am I? A pleasure seeker. Proud hedonist. Shameless slut. Please, can we stop calling me a swinger?

 


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