Sex doesn’t get enough attention. Or rather, the idea that, well, sex — pleasure — is good for you, doesn’t get enough attention, let alone the idea that having sex with more than one partner isn't bad. This was especially true in 1997, when Dossie Easton and Janet Hardy wrote The Ethical Slut: A Practical Guide to Polyamory, Open Relationships, and Other Adventures. Since that printing, and its 2009 second edition, The Ethical Slut has sold hundreds of thousands of copies. It has been praised by everyone from Margaret Cho — “This book is the definitive guide to having your marriage and eating other people too" — to David Crosby (of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young) — “thoughtful, practical” —and, in its 22-year lifespan, has established itself as the go-to guide for open relationships and polyamory. Along with The Ethical Slut, Dossie Easton and Janet Hardy, friends and long-time lovers, have also co-authored numerous titles including The New Bottoming Book, The New Topping Book, When Someone You Love is Kinky, and Radical Ecstasy: S/M Journeys to Transcendence. Dossie Easton, born in 1944 and a slut since 1969, is dedicated to exploring new paradigms of gender, sexuality, and relationships as a psychotherapist, counselor, and educator in the San Francisco Bay area. With writing that is simultaneously accessible and thought provoking, The Ethical Slut is formatted to facilitate discussion and personal exploration. Dossie Easton chatted with contributor Abby Koski on the phone about how the Internet has shaped polyamory, modern marriages, radical publishing, the craft of co-authorship, and erotic art.
Abby Koski: In The Ethical Slut you and Janet Hardy define a slut as “a person of any gender who celebrates sexuality according to the radical proposition that sex is nice and pleasure is good for you” and also state that “we’re proud to reclaim the word slut as a term of approval and even endearment.” I’m curious why you decided to reclaim a word that had various negative associations, rather than create a new one?