Cyber Swing/Polyamory Resource Center
Promoting Intimacy and Other-Centered Sexuality
This is a college paper on swinging reprinted with writers permission 4/2/02
Disposing The Misconceptions Of The Swinging Lifestyle:
The Truth About Recreational Sex
Disposing The Misconceptions Of The Swinging Lifestyle: The Truth About Recreational Sex
This work discusses the positive sides to recreational sex. Recreational sex, or the swinging lifestyle actually promotes communication, trust, and fantasy exploration in a guilt free environment. It also shows that it has existed an ancient cultures and that extra marital sex is not actually forbidden by the bible as modern moral and religious leaders state. In addition to the arguments, the research points to the facts, swinging does not undermine morality or conventional marriage and allows one to cast off societies stereotypes.
Disposing The Misconceptions Of The Swinging Lifestyle: The Truth About Recreational Sex
Despite societies negative view of those who engage in recreational sex or a “swinging” lifestyle, the lifestyle actually has positive benefits mainly trust and communication in a guilt-free environment. These people have been labeled unjustly by made up church doctrine and out- of -date beliefs. If society would be more tolerant of other people’s views and more open-minded they will see that these so called “swingers” and, in fact enjoy the benefits of open communication, trust, and casting off stereotypes of society.
While this type of lifestyle has existed since the earliest know civilizations it has come under more recent attack from the religious and moral groups. It is pretty much common knowledge that the Greeks and Romans participated in orgies and other such activities. Even in days of the Old Testament, they practiced the belief multiple wives and had several concubines strictly for the purpose of sex. The royalty of Europe practiced recreational sex to one degree or another, stories of Catherine the Great, who was known to have multiple lovers, and bisexual orgies held by the royal court in France. The current attitude towards sex came about from the Victorian period when sex was actually considered vulgar. The men were allowed the same sexual freedom as they always have yet women were denied.
The current form of recreational sex or “ swinging “ has its roots in the 1950’s. Private parties were held behind closed doors. Then sprang the 1960’s where free love and peace were the accepted practices much to the older generations disbelief. Before long swing clubs and magazines were popping up with ads of what people were looking for as far as recreational sex goes.
The religious and morals leaders want you to believe that this very lifestyle is an abomination from god. They will refer to passages in the bible that clearly in their opinion proves that he condemns this type of action. Their first argument will be the Ten Commandments and the first they will refer to will be “Thou shall not commit adultery.”
What these leader fail to tell the people is that words have different meanings in different cultures. The word adultery in biblical times was a violation of a man’s property rights. Since a woman was considered to be the property of her husband to steal her away from him would be adultery. However, adultery took a double meaning at the same time, while a man could have sex with as many women as he pleased and still be in the confines of god’s law unless he stole another man’s wife. Yet, a woman was forbidden to have sex with anyone other than her husband. Dave, cofounder of Liberated Christians.com and who asked that his last name not be published, has done a lot of research on the bible as it pertains to the subject of sex. When asked if sex only belongs in a monogamous marriage Dave says,
Take out your Bible and show us where! Traditional Christian teachings want you to believe this. But if you search the scriptures and understand Hebrew/Greek text, the history of the biblical interpretation and the influence of non-Christian thought on Christian tradition, you will discover you have been sold a lie all these years. (Libchrist.com.2002. para. 2)
It seems in most ancient cultures that women were property and basically had no rights at all. Adultery in Hebrew culture was matter of taking someone’s property and not the morality issues that modern Christian leaders would have you believe. The Moral majority will have you believe the commandment “ thou shall not covet thy neighbors wife.” But nothing is said that if a person has sex with another’s spouse with their consent that it is a sin at all. Jesus walked and talked with women much more frequently then most men of the day. He preached to prostitutes and it seems to him that women should not be a possession but he did not actually say to what status they should actually have. That pretty much makes Jesus the first spokesman for the women’s rights movement. In Romans 13: 8-10(King James Bible), It states, “Owe no one anything, except to love one another, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.” Jesus taught love and peace to the people however gave no specific instruction on how this was to be carried out. The best example of this in action was during the 1960’s when the people spread free love and peace to the world.
Even though the swinging lifestyle does go outside the boundaries of tradition marriage it does not undermine the institution of marriage any more than the single parent will raise a child that will be a non-productive member of society. The lifestyle does promote everything a conventional marriage does but enhances several areas and provides many benefits. The aspects that the lifestyle promotes are communication, trust, and selflessness. The communication goes with out saying. This is probably the most important factor in the swinging lifestyle. One must be open and honest about their feelings with their spouse, discussing fears, boundaries, likes, and dislikes. Poor communication leads to disaster in all relationships and the swinging one is no exception to that either. Trust is kind of hard to describe to a person that is a non-participant but basically one does not have to worry about infidelity in this lifestyle. Jeff Booth, owner of the website Sexbooth.com, talks about the infidelity as it pertains to the lifestyle. Booth says,
We do not typically think of affairs as lacking intimacy or being about impersonal sex. One of the reasons they are so threatening to the spouse who later finds out is that they are intimate. Swinging provides the opportunity to intimate with others without the inherent damage of an affair, with its foundation of deception. This is not to say that there are not people in swinging for whom intimacy is a problem. They are not the norm, though. (sexbooth.com. n.d., para 13).
The selflessness comes from being open minded enough to know that they can not be all things to their partner and allow interaction with others on all levels. With trust and communication each person is allowed his or her individual life. They may share some of the same likes. Most couples honestly cannot say that they have entirely the same interests as their spouses. The most frequently ask question is why would anybody swing if they were happy together? In the book Recreational Sex by P. Thomas she answers this question from a swingers point of view. Thomas says,
To swing together is because they are happy together. The majority of couples in swinging seem to have a number of things going for them that are sadly lacking in many “straight “ relationships: a deep love for one another and a strong commitment to the success and longevity of their relationship; excellent, honest communication skills with each other; healthy sexual attitudes; and a mutual desire to fulfill each other’s wants and needs, not only in the necessities of every day life, but sexually as well. (1997,pg.14)
This allows people to live out fantasies in a guilt-free environment. People can explore their sexuality with out being labeled or having judgment passed upon them. Couples can explore the realm of bisexuality and fantasies without committing an act of infidelity. In fact it is often not the sexual infidelity that is as painful as the betrayal of trust. Often in this lifestyle as with any relationship the emotion of jealousy has to be dealt with. In the book Open Marriage by N. and G. O’Neill, both with a PHD in Anthropology, they explain about jealousy. The O’Neill’s write, “ To begin with we would like to lay to rest the idea that sexual jealousy is a natural, instinctive, and inevitable. It is none of these things; jealousy is primarily a learned response, determined by cultural attitudes.” (1984, pg. 239).
Another benefit of the swinging lifestyle is it provides a form of socializing and recreation in a guilt free environment. It allows a person to experiment with their sexuality without the stigma placed upon them by society. For example a man or a woman can experiment with bisexuality with out being labeled a” fag” or” dike.” A woman can have multiple lovers and not be called a slut. These so called “swingers” come from all walks of life. They hold respectable jobs and are generally happy in their home and work lives. Since public opinion states that this is wrong it has forced these people to remain underground. Many people hold high public offices or high profile jobs. They often worry about the negative backlash that can occur. Society should change their views and become more tolerant and open-minded. According to the Improving Sex.com website says that many swingers are fearful of negative public reactions. “Currently most swingers, about 80-90%, are closet swingers. Sadly it is still not safe for most people to be open about their non-traditional sexual behavior due to discrimination and hate. (The origins of swinging, 2002, para. 4.)” The truth is these people are your neighbors, friends, or even relatives. Many of these people are doctors, lawyers, and business people. Chances are someone close is probably engaged in the lifestyle and never even suspected it. At a gathering of swingers most people would be surprised at what they find. Upon walking in the event , people will be in various dress some revealing, others casual, and everything in between. Inside the various circles, conversations range from sports to politics. One may even hear cooking tips to how to fix a car. They will be dancing and carrying on the same as at a “straight” party. Depending on the type of club, be it on or off-premise, there may be some sexual acts being preformed. However, it will not be on the grand Greek or Roman orgy scale that most envision about a swing club. The truly only major difference is that these swingers may or may not have consensual sex with someone other than their spouse. M. Taylor, the spouse of the author of this paper, speaks about what swinging is to her (personal communication, March, 2002). She began to participate in recreational sex in high school. Starting with threesomes that involved another female and a male. This type of activity began as a curiosity, then later because she enjoyed it. Taylor says, “What I feel for my husband is so much more than sex… anyone can have sex. What we feel goes much deeper. You need communication and trust.” She goes on to say that she loves meeting with new couples and old friends in the lifestyle. Taylor goes on to say’s “the general public thinks that we will just have sex with anyone; this is totally untrue. We must all be compatible, or it just doesn’t happen.” Taylor also believes that the lifestyle is a way to live out fantasies in a guilt free environment. Fulfilling each other’s fantasies is a major part of their involvement in the lifestyle. She says” there are some we haven’t fulfilled but will when the opportunity is there.” The clubs she attends are a no pressure atmosphere. Since she is a business owner she worries about the public finding out about her choice to engage in the lifestyle. Taylor states “ the people we know would never understand and would think unkind of us for doing so, and could affect our home as well as our business lives.” Also, she wishes that people could just be more tolerant of others and just plainly keep their noses in their own business. Taylor says, “what we do behind closed doors as consenting adults is really nobodies business except ours, If we are not breaking the law or hurting anyone, where’s the problem?”
Most religious and moral leaders try to paint an ugly picture of what the lifestyle is about. Under their banners of truth and righteousness they say it promotes perverse behavior and throws conventional marriage out the window. They will tell you that this sinful way breeds hate and other lewd acts. With their words they will tell others that this will lead to rape, violence, and incestuous ways. However, as with all civilized circles, this type of social behavior is totally unacceptable. Most religious leaders will publicly say that anyone who does these types of things is sinful are being hypocritical at the same time. While they are quick condemn this type of extra curricular activity and point out the wrong doings of others, yet, countless times we have heard from newspapers and television of religious leaders, regardless of denomination, being exposed for some sort of extra marital sexual encounter. T. Gould’s book The Lifestyle, explains more about this contradiction in a quote with R. Barker, an evolutionary biologist,
Because… the most successful exponents are those who try through force or criticism, to prevent other people from behaving in a particular way while secretly behaving in precisely that way themselves… Rule makers and enforcers are in fact the people who most indulge in behavior they seek to prevent in others, (as sited in Gould, 1999,pg.92).
These religious leaders try to convince politicians to pass laws in the name of morality against swing clubs and the lifestyle in general. All swingers will agree that if it is done between consenting adults and no one gets hurt, then why do politicians and religious leaders have any right to dictate anything about their private lives? Religious leaders have used their influence in California, Pennsylvania, and Florida trying to regulate what they consider to be a sinful participation of the flesh in the form of moral legislation. These religious leaders love to quote from the Bible and saying it is God’s word. Yet, the Bible itself has been translated many times over and who can prove that the original messages were not replaced with another. This is like comparing it to the game where you gather in a circle and whisper something into the ear of the person next to you. By the time the messages get back to your ear it is totally different then what you had originally said. These people are selling you their interpretation of what the Bible says.
While others will still condemn the lifestyle and believe that it is morally wrong, Dr. Robert McGinley, a psychologist and founder of NASCA, had done a study of swinging couples in 1979. On the NASCA, North American Swing Clubs Association, website says, “ a study of swinging couples (McGinley, 1979) reported increased enjoyment and satisfaction in the relationships accompanied by a better understanding of self and mate, greater intimacy between the partners and a decrease in sex role playing and sexist expectations.” McGinley also says, “Swinging enables a couple to explore sexual and social feelings and needs together, permitting the demystification of sex which allows sex to assume a place in the relationship unhindered by the standard ties of love, duty, sex roles, and morals of others.” (McGinley, n.d., 2002, para.3.)
People will read this saying they are open minded but still make comments like “that’s not right” or “I could do that, I have to love someone to have sex with them.” So are they truly open minded at all?
In conclusion, while swingers do have conventional problems in their marriages they seem to have a deeper communication and an openness that conventional couples do not. They tend to act on their fantasies rather than do this behind their loved ones back. Evidence points back to this Romans, Greeks, and even Hebrews that this type of lifestyle was totally acceptable. Even today’s professionals and everyday people have positive remarks about the lifestyle. If someone has any doubts about the swinging lifestyle, then maybe attending a club or a party and see first hand before a judgment about what it is and is not. Basically, religion or politics should have no hand in saying wither the lifestyle is right or wrong by the passing of legislation. What is done behind closed doors between consenting adults is nobody’s business but the individuals involved. It seems for a country that was founded on freedom there seems to be a great contradiction. Freedom is free as long as it doesn’t conflict with the religious or moral leaders.
Gould, T. (2000). The Lifestyle. Canada. Random House. In text citations: R. Barker, because… the most successful exponents are those who try… (As cited by Gould, 1999, pg. 92)
Improving Sex. (n.d.) advice and information. In The Origins of Swinging. (Para. 4) Retrieved March 20th, 2002 from http://www.improvingsex.com/articles/swinging/origins.of.swinging.htm
Liberated Christians. (n.d.) Doesn’t The Bible teach us that sex belongs only in a monogamous marriage? Retrieved March 20th, 2002 http://www.libchrist.com/
NASCA. (n.d.) Couples In Swinging. In text citations: R. McGinley reported increased enjoyment and satisfaction… (As sited by NASCA, no date) retrieved March 20th, 2002 from http://www.nasca.com/states/nasca_faq.html
O’Neill, N., & O’Neill, G. (1984) Open Marriage. New York. M. Evans and Company. Page 239
Sexbooth. (n.d.) Swinging appeals to those who have problems with intimacy. In text citations J. Booth says, We do not typically think of affairs… retrieved April 3, 2002 from http://www.sexbooth.com/swing/myths.html.
Thomas, P. (1997), Recreational Sex: An insiders guide to the swinging lifestyle. Cleveland. Ohio. Peppermint Publishing Company. Page 14
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