Sunday, July 01, 2007

He may be a UU at heart after all

In two weeks, we're throwing a little retro-50's cocktail party for my birthday. TheCSO and I were discussing it, and somehow the question of what we would do next year came up.

I said "Well, we could always go all 1970's and have a key party?"

"What's that?" he asked.

"Well..." I said, delighted that for once I possesed degenerate knowledge that he lacked, a reversal of the usual order of things. "I was totally kidding. It's a really tacky-middle class swinger party. The men all put their keys in a bowl and each woman takes a set of keys. Then the women go off and have sex with the men whose keys they've taken. It's very 1970's"

"Hmmm..." TheCSO said thoughtfully. "Sounds awfully heteronormative."



Lilylou said...

I'm ashamed to say that I had to look that word up. Did he then say "Gotcha?"

Stephanie said...

Well, it was heteronormative. ;)
And lacked any sense of sexually transmitted diseases. I can only hope my parents didn't participate.

Louise said...

Those sorts of parties are only selectively heteronormative. Women are allowed to exhibit all sorts of behaviors and engage any partner they choose, but men must remain strictly straight.

And kittens, they didn't end in the '70s.

Swinging is one of the last great taboos, even among UUs. Polyamory is okay because everyone is in a committed relationship with their sexual partners. But swingers have sex with their friends! Gasp!

They walk among us, and know how dark it is in the closet...

Stephanie said...

I don't think I was suggesting that swinging existed only in 70's....

PG said...

"But swingers have sex with their friends!"

Actually, the special social bias against swingers is that they have sex with people they have just met. Hence the concept of swinger clubs. If people were only having sex with their friends, they'd hardly need special clubs in which to make new "friends" for the evening. And as ms. theologian points out, while you can rely on your friends to care about your health and their own, you hardly can make such demands on people you've just met.

Anonymous said...

I'm going to enter this discussion as "anonymous" because I'm not ready to out myself yet. Prejudice against swingers is rampant in our society, and not even a UU church is a safe place to come out. Sad, eh?

Having been active in the swinging community, I can say that I have never met a woman who was anything except totally in charge of the situation. Let me repeat that: women RUN the show. If they don't like what they see the first time, they never come back. Women choose the new partners, the venue, the position, the timing, EVERYTHING. And the men are thrilled, believe me.

The community is highly tuned to "No means no." It is not a free-for-all where people walk through the door and have sex. It's just like dating, where the chemistry has to be right. My partner and I actually have a hard time finding the right couple to "play" with because my standards are even higher with couples than with the singles I used to date! O

That being said, it is just as obvious when a couple isn't interested in you as it was back in the singles' bars. And when one person is "off" (not in the mood, cranky, having her period and not interested in intercourse, etc.) that is obvious, too. I tell you this not to make you squeamish, but to help dispell the myth about women being "forced" to participate. I have never seen it.

As for the "sex makes babies and spreads disease part..." Swinging is the safest sex I've seen. Condoms and dental dams are everywhere, although truth be told, intercourse is really more of the exception. Most of the couples are middle-aged and have had their children, so vasectomies and tubal ligations are common. I've never heard of an "oops!" baby.

Each person is totally responsible for their own safe sex. If a couple doesn't want to use protection, sorry, no go with us. "No means no, no hard feelings." And unlike a one-on-one encounter,there is a community there to help enforce the standards. Helpful friends handing out the latex!

Oy, I could go on with details, but suffice it to say that as an ardent UU, I wouldn't be involved in swinging if it didn't feel respectful and affirming of all the participants' worth and dignity. But of course, because I am only "anonymous" here, how can you trust my assurances? :-( Catch 22.

Chalicechick said...

Of all the anonymous comments I've ever gotten, I think that might be my favorite.


UUbuntu said...

There's a sizeable subplot regarding '70s key parties in Ang Lee's movie "The Ice Storm". It's not a positive reference, but then it's not much of a positive movie either.

Also, a key party wouldn't necesarily need to be heternormative -- key parties may be easily modified so that everyone puts a set of keys into the bowl and they are fished out 2-at-a-time, and you go have sex with your partner. The rules are pretty simple to modify as meets the needs of the group.

One must keep in mind that '70s culture was pretty heternormative to begin with, as homosexuality was still considered to be a psychiatric disease until the mid '70s (see This American Life, episode "81 Words")

Chalicechick said...

Oh, and FWIW, I don't doubt that among swingers who treat it as a lifestyle the women get a fair shake.

I was more imagining your classic key party where the fairly mainstream neighbors all get together for a little frisky fun.

Let's say the 1970's housewife who isn't particularly into it, but is pressured in by husband and peers isn't terribly hard to imagine.