One of the most surprising things to me as I began exploring non-monogamy last year, particularly the swinger lifestyle, was the amount of rampant sexism flowing through the community. I’d expected that a group that had shrugged off the societal rules of marriage = monogamy would be far less willing to embrace the sexist gender roles and rules shoved down our throats at every turn.
I know. Feminism, such a fun topic. And believe me, I feel like a killjoy discussing that rather than my umpteenth threesome this month, or the hot young man who nailed me through the mattress earlier today, and I wish that sexism was so non-existent that I wouldn’t even have to bring it up. But other than the great job Life on the Swingset the website and podcast do to make progressive strides in swinging attitudes, misogyny is ubiquitous in swingtown.
One of the most obvious places I see it is in the theme nights at my local club (and at Desire Resort & Spa, so I’m exceptionally happy our Swingset crew is coming up with the themes this year) such as Bunnies and Millionaires. I get it. The bunny ears and little outfit with fishnets is cute & hot. But the whole power imbalance between men and women as the default in the theme is so frustrating and revolting.
I’m all for a lovely negotiated consensual power imbalance in playtime with nicknames, infantilism, roleplay whatever that two or more people want to do. But with a Bunnies & Millionaires theme, we’re harkening back to a time that Playboy bunnies had to go through regular measurements and weigh-ins, and would be fired if they didn’t stay within those strict guidelines, just to please the rich white men attending the Playboy club? Sickening, not sexy!
The next place I see it is the use of ‘girl’ for woman without the corresponding use of ‘boy’ for man. Again, it’s cute, and when a certain someone calls me a ‘sexy girl’, I feel all fluttery, and also incredibly conflicted, because it’s a throwback to a time when women weren’t considered to be adults the way men were. Women couldn’t make medical decisions for themselves such as getting their tubes tied without their husband’s permission. My mother-in-law (a grown-ass woman) couldn’t get a car loan at one point, despite having a job that would easily pay for it, without her father as co-sign, because she didn’t have a husband.
The weight of that historic oppression smothers the cuteness related to the word ‘girl’. So when I saw ‘girls only orgy’ on the schedule with ‘guys welcome to watch’ at Desire in November, I just couldn’t bring myself to participate, as much as I’d have loved to be in that wonderfully writhing pile of women.
The most insidious place I see it is when men in the lifestyle ask permission of other men to do things to their wives/partners, rather than asking the women directly, as if the women don’t have the agency to speak for themselves. I know that it is a holdover from monogamy, for fear that the partnered male might get violent with another guy approaching his woman. This is 100% related to the fact that women were once property and men will violently defend their ownership of said property. Any guy who has pulled that ‘I was just being courteous’ crap with us has been shut down immediately. By me. The patriarchy has no place in my pussy.
Maybe it seems like I’m overreacting, and if it were a single little thing, I would agree, but it isn’t. It’s so omnipresent that we don’t even see it most places. Every ‘Treat her like a princess, Fuck her like a whore’ meme just reinforces the desperate need to overreact until the new normal for memes reads:
‘Treat her like a person, Fuck her like a person’
Your comments are interesting yet confusing at the same time.
I don’t see any of it as sexist or power imbalance. They are just labels. “Girls” is so much more sexy In certain instances than “woman”. Other times “women” is sexier than “girls”. “Girls” can be sexually free but “woman” can be tight and conservative. “Boys” vs. “men” is different in age or maturity only whereas “girls” vs “women” doesn’t have the same connotation to me. In strict terms I can agree that “girls”, “gals”, and “women” is the same as “boys”, “guys”, and “men”. But I also don’t think anything or totally interchanging the terms to be just labels.
As far as men approaching the women directly I have been told that it is less intimidating to shy women to approach the man. It seems less aggressive. I don’t see it as anything disrespectful towards women that they can’t make their own decisions. Now I am confused. Do I approach the woman and risk seeming overly aggressive or do I ask the man and seem to be dissing the woman. I don’t want to do either and for a shy introvert like me it is hard to approach a beautiful sexy woman, who may also be in some stage of undress, in this lifestyle event.
Hello, I’m Susan. Yes, the casualness of the Swing experience allows for social stereotypes to fill in the gaps of social etiquette, where they are unclear. For me, the easiest way to avoid it is to not indulge it. To do this, I don’t have to be mean or correct anyone, I do set a tone. By creating an environment where I’m as engaged with the man as much as he would expect his girlfriend would be, has me treated that way, as a person. It’s also important, not to indulge the sexist fantasy when it appears, but in a nice way, For instance, if a man says,”I cannot wait to fuck you into next week,” I might reply,”But I’m the type of girl who wants to be made love to until she’s shuddering with orgasms you give me.” Works really well, along with long, sensual kissing. So, yes, he may be a barbarian, but he may not be a barbarian tonight…and with me. The best compliment, during a foursome at a house part was when the other wife said to me,”I saw how my husband was having sex with you and I thought how I wanted it just like that too. Then I got it just like that from your husband.” How cool is that !? Don;t get me wrong, sometimes I like to be thrashed , especially when it’s a cooperative thrashing, but the feeling is mutual, as they say. Lastly, it’s all about having a great partner. I recall a man asking my husband what I’d like and he simply said,”You should ask her. She’ll tell you.” Again, it’s all about the tone and creating an environment.
Thank you so much for your article. After reading it, I realize that I may be contributing to the problem. Here are some examples of what I thought I was innocently doing: using “guys” and “girls” as two opposites. (Both start with “g” and both are monosyllabic. Seemed more informal than “men and women” or “guys and women”). My wife usually gets consent from a woman before she plays with her husband. This is done because we don’t know that the couple has discussed between the two of them their own boundaries, and we want to avoid causing a conflict. Is that reverse sexism and is it also inappropriate? I’ve seen it happen when a unicorn engages the husband without the wife’s knowledge, then the wife comes in angry. The utilitarian in me says that I should ensure that everyone’s on board before playing so that the mood isn’t ruined midstream.
If you get upset because of “Bunnies and Millionaires” or “Hugh and Bunny” night, you aren’t being creative enough.
When they did this theme at Desire, I (male) wore the bunny outfit, whereas my wife wore the bathrobe & pipe outfit.
It was amazing. Never have it had my ass grabbed so much by women.
(Photo proof on our Kasidie profile)
One can genderswap it, and still find the nature of it rather regressive and sexist. Like most theme nights at most swinger parties.
Totally agree with the author.
Also here is a huge difference between getting consent from both parties and talking to the man as if he owns the woman. Some guys will go up to us and just talk to my SO and act like I’m not there while complimenting him on how hot I am. WTF????! Guess who’s not getting in my pants now.
Other offensive themes to me include: Those that only go one way such as “Naughty School Girl” or “Thongs and Stilletos”. Anything with”Ho” in the title. I am not a prostitute*; I give it away for free**.
*Nothing against sex workers.
**Some restrictions may apply.
Hi I’m Jonathan.
I usually turn up my nose when writers talk about the patriarchy but I quite agree with Kat, I often feel that many men in the LS do not treat their partners as having full agency and as equals. One of the most obvious places is the lack of photos of men on couples dating website profiles.
The same men that other correspondents complain of are probably also those who like to give a wife the good seeing to that her old fart of a husband can’t manage.