Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Blog Entry: My problem with the term Progressive Swinging

The term progressive swinging has been proposed by the Life on the Swingset Podcast as a term to describe the type of swinging some of them engage in. In the podcast, the panel describes progressive swinging as swinging with a close group of friends, which they say encourages bonding, promotes safer sex practices and community.  The implication is that since the people they would be having sex with are friends of theirs, as their friendships grow, so would their desire to care for each other's well being. This, in turn, would create a community of so-called progressive swingers.

In this article I will discuss an alternate view; why I believe “progressive swinger” is not only a useless term, but one that carries moral judgement and potentially harmful one to those of who do not fit its description.

Ms Swap Fu and I have been swingers for a little more than three years. We have sex with close friends – people we cherish in fact – however, we would never call ourselves progressive swingers. The reason for this is that we do not see friendship as a precondition that must be in place before we have sex with people. The people we have sex with exist at varying levels of intimacy from us: from complete strangers to people we, as mentioned, cherish.

From Wikipedia (which I will be abusing for the length of this article):
Swinging or (rarely) partner swapping is a non-monogamous behavior, in which singles or partners in a committed relationship engage in sexual activities with others as a recreational or social activity. Swinging can take place in a number of contexts, ranging from spontaneous sexual activity at informal gatherings of friends to planned regular social meetings to hooking up with like-minded people at a swingers' club. It can also involve Internet-based swinger social networking services online.

By this definition, what some of the Swingset panel as well as Ms Swap Fu and I do is correctly considered swinging. The above definition quite clearly says that swingers can be friends with each other or not.

Now, let’s go back to this concept of progressive swinging. The perceived need for this term has arisen, I believe, out of criticisms by other members of the non-monogamous community and from the public at large that swingers are promiscuous. I believe the Swingset panel is trying to mitigate this criticism by saying that progressive swingers are not promiscuous. But, let’s remind ourselves what promiscuity means.

From Wikipedia:
Promiscuity, in human sexual behavior, is the practice of casual sex with multiple sexual partners.

I do not think the Swingset panel would disagree that by this definition, that they are indeed promiscuous, as Ms Swap Fu and I are. As in the definition of swinging, nothing is said above about relationship those who are promiscuous have with each other. The only qualifier is that the sex be casual and that there are multiple partners.

But the Wikipedia definition continues:
The term can carry a moral judgment and is viewed in the context of a mainstream social ideal for sexual activity to take place within exclusive committed relationships. A common example of behavior viewed as promiscuous within the mainstream social ideals of many cultures is a one-night stand.

I have highlighted “can carry moral judgment” above. And this is where I have a problem. The term “progressive swinger” is an attempt to avoid moral judgment. It infers that those who are progressive swingers are engaging in a behavior which is inside mainstream social ideal, or moral. And those who are not progressive swingers are outside the mainstream social ideal, or immoral.

This moral judgment is only exacerbated by the choice of the word “progressive” to somehow describe those within the mainstream ideal. What are the rest of us swingers to be called? Non-progressive swingers? Regressive swingers? Or we could just be “immoral swingers” and cut to the chase.

To be clear, I do not have a problem with being called immoral. Morality is a matter of opinion as far as I’m concerned, and everyone is entitled to have an opinion. Further, I think everybody has the right to call themselves whatever they want. That being said, I would like to know whether people calling themselves progressive swingers are comfortable taking a moral stand against those of us who do not have a problem with being promiscuous?

Ms Swap Fu and I are unabashedly promiscuous, and by the non-judgmental definition of the word, so are those on the Swingset panel. The only difference is that the Swingset panel’s promiscuity, when qualified by the fact that they only have sex with friends, more closely resembles the sexual practices of other non-monogamous groups.

And that’s fine.

On the swinger dating websites you see the term “friends first” a lot. This means the swinging couple wants to become friends with their potential sex partners before they have sex. I think this is a much more accurate and judgment-free manner of describing what the swinging members of the Swingset panel do: friends first swinging. The progressive swinging label is therefore largely unnecessary or least ill chosen.