Sexual Morality and Ethics Catch-All

BTW, I stand for regulating and taxing the heck out of prostitution, and giving greedy CEOs the same moral condemnation that cheating husbands get for abandoning their wives.

But we'll all be rich someday, and none of us wants to be a hypocrite...

I have a question that I think relates to this topic. Do you who are parents wrestle with the question of how much to tell your kids about sex, and from what age you start talking to them about it? I guess this is an age old question, but I'm wondering more about it now that it seems so easy, especially for men, to get accused of pedophilia, which makes me think, 'what if I tell my 5-year-old how babies are actually made and he/she tells Kindergarten friends, who then tell their parents? Could this lead to a silent ostracism of me by the community for talking to my kid about sex?

I'm very much out of the loop of American culture having not lived there for awhile, but having read some comments on forums here of men receiving accusing looks just for sitting on a park bench near where kids play, I feel like my paranoia might not be totally unwarranted. So what does your moral/ethical compass tell you about talking to your kids about sex and the social implications of them having this knowledge?

As a general matter of prudence, tell the kids as much as they ask. A 5 year old asking where babies are from isn't asking about sex. He's just asking a very straightforward origin question. It's okay to answer him in an equally straightforward manner without going into specifics, since he'll probably just forget about the specifics anyway.

A 13 year old boy asking the same question IS asking about sex, and he needs to get all the answers he requires, even the ones he doesn't ask but clearly implies. If he doesn't get it from you, he'll get it from someone else. Best it be you.

LarryC wrote:

A 13 year old boy asking the same question IS asking about sex, and he needs to get all the answers he requires, even the ones he doesn't ask but clearly implies. If he doesn't get it from you, he'll get it from someone else. Best it be you.

It's also worth noting that half of the draw of sex, besides the obvious hormonal and societal urges, is simply the mystery of it. Parents who don't talk about it at all are really drawing a line in the sand and effectively daring their children not to cross it. While many kids will realize that they shouldn't because their parents say no (and will probably wait awhile), making something forbidden and mysterious is too much of a dare for some kids.

My parents were completely open books about how it worked when me and my brothers were growing up. While I think the handful of us (we're like Weasleys, really) eventually fell in various places along the sexually active spectrum, we were all uniformly unimpressed by both the notion that sex was some sort of great badge of honor and the people who implied such. I think it had a remarkably positive impact on the point at which any of chose to finally start - not because of the age we did so, but because of the reasons behind it.

NathanialG wrote:
Jonman wrote:

Maybe there's the key dichotomy there - sex is wholesome, porn not so much.

Lets talk about this a bit. I happen to enjoy watching porn, but I find that I greatly prefer either couple who are filming themselves, or if professional, when they have an actress show up talk a bit and then get to the business. In the first case there is real passion and enjoyment and in the second you have an attractive woman who is being showcased and usually seems to enjoy herself, at least as a professional performing their craft.

I agree. Without passion or enjoyment it just feels emphatically wrong. I think the reaction of the other person is more interesting then anything else.

I watch porn for the articles and compatibility tests.

Jonman wrote:
Phoenix Rev wrote:

In Phoenix, we have a string of adult stores called the "Castle Boutique." They also operate in other states. Last Saturday night, I stopped in my local Castle Boutique to pick up a few items since Rubb Ed will be here over the Labor Day weekend (go me!). Anyway, the store is divided into two sections and covers about 2400 feet of space. The back half was nothing but videos. The rest of the space was broken into various sections: condoms, lubricants, sex toys, clothing (or lack there of), books on sex, board games, scents, and a rather tasteful whips and chains section (complete with fuzzy handcuffs). In the center of the store was the cashiers station with two late twenty-something guys answering questions and ringing up sales.

Compare and contrast with my preferred adult store here in Seattle (Babeland, formerly Toys In Babeland). Now, admittedly, it's up on Capitol Hill, the 'gay neighbourhood', which is one of the most permissive areas in an already pretty permissive city.

That said, it's a brightly lit store with big windows that open onto a foot-traffic-heavy street surrounded by shops and bars. The staff are knowledgeable, friendly, and have told me that it's store policy for their staff to try as much of the stock as they are able to.

Far from a black featureless bag, they sell cloth totes with their name and logo on, and offer a 10% discount to anyone who brings a Babeland tote back with them. A few months ago, we went a little bit ker-azy in there, and dropped several hundred bucks on a myriad of items. We bought a tote and saved ourselves some money. I now carry that tote in my car with all the other totes, and routinely use it in grocery stores. So far, I've not noticed anyone acknowledging it, but I live in hope

Now that I think about it, I don't think they carry videos. Maybe there's the key dichotomy there - sex is wholesome, porn not so much.

Aw yeah, I love Toys in Babeland! I'm really glad that you support them, those ladies are sweet as hell. Very LGBT&A-friendly! I remember how excited I was to finally go in there on my 18th birthday : )

Another PNW local favorite is Lover's Package and how friendly and pro-education they were, as well. Strip-mall style, big open windows, and very couples-friendly. Very knowledgeable staff and not skeezy.
IMAGE(http://images2.citysearch.net/assets/imgdb/ac/33/b5/32/f0/a3/a/cb/ca/21/70/2b/be/c2/fd/cb/7/5/4/1/6897541.JPG)

I miss Seattle.

On our way home from our wedding my wife and I stopped by an "adult store". We are each 24 and definitely don't look younger than that, but had to show IDs at the door. When my wife didn't have hers she had to go back to the car to get it. Apparently stings are a concern. I just thought it was interesting that I not only needed an ID to buy something, but just to look around.

Yonder wrote:

On our way home from our wedding my wife and I stopped by an "adult store". We are each 24 and definitely don't look younger than that, but had to show IDs at the door. When my wife didn't have hers she had to go back to the car to get it. Apparently stings are a concern. I just thought it was interesting that I not only needed an ID to buy something, but just to look around.

I guess because the issue isn't so much buying what's in the adult store as the exposure to sexually explicit content? Different from, like, a liquor store where you can lick the merchandise all you want, it's not going to get you drunk.

CheezePavilion wrote:

Different from, like, a liquor store where you can lick the merchandise all you want, it's not going to get you drunk.

Says you!

/licks his bottle of Captain Morgan.

I've debated whether to bring this up for a while, considering the subject matter. When I saw this thread existed, I decided this would be a good home for it.

My fiancee and I have been together for four years now. We were both married before, and in both cases, sexual issues were a major part of why the relationships didn't work out. As she and I got to know each other better, we both revealed that we felt stifled in our previous marriages, and felt that we weren't able to be honest about our sexual needs and wants. We made the decision early on that we wanted to be 100% open about what we wanted, and trust that the other person would listen without judgement. Very quickly, we both admitted that we didn't feel that monogamy was all it was cracked up to be.

Fast forward to today. For over two years now, we have been exploring alternatives to traditional monogamy, with very positive results. While polyamory isn't for us, we've become very close with a few poly triads and others in that lifestyle. We've been involved in a number of sexual encounters with other couples, and plan on doing more. The fascinating thing is the effect it's had on our relationship beyond the sexual. I always had difficulties talking with my ex-wife about difficult subjects. But with Jen, there's no trouble. If we can be honest about what we want in the bedroom, it makes it simple to discuss what's important to me outside the bedroom.

Recently, we've discovered a very simple truth. It's virtually impossible to keep something like this completely secret. Over the last few months, friends have found out through various sources, and it's resulted in some awkward situations. Vanilla friends often struggle to be accepting of something so foreign to them. Even worse, a screwup from Sprint resulted in a text message going to the wrong destination, and my mother found out. That's not an easy conversation.

We aren't ashamed of our lifestyle. But that doesn't mean we want to advertise it, particularly with those we know will disapprove. Has anyone else been in similar circumstances, and if so, how do you have that discussion?

Whoa. Text message to my mother wouldn't go over well at all.

garion333 wrote:

Whoa. Text message to my mother wouldn't go over well at all.

No texting plan I assume?

Trichy, you might want to PM Jonman for that one.

There must be nothing quite like polyg-sexting your mother!

P.S. plus, trichy's tag takes on a whole new meaning!

trichy wrote:

We aren't ashamed of our lifestyle. But that doesn't mean we want to advertise it, particularly with those we know will disapprove. Has anyone else been in similar circumstances, and if so, how do you have that discussion?

Yes, and boy howdy.

Wife and I were (happily) monogamous for 7 years of marriage, and have been (just as happily) poly for nearly 2 now. The question of "coming out" has mostly been a non-issue, as the majority of our friend circle are extremely accepting of alternative sexualities and lifestyles. Many of them are or have been non-monogamous in one way or another anyway, so it's not like this is something they're unfamiliar with.

Once you get beyond the friend circle, it becomes a little more complicated.

I'm out to one friend at work. I may be starting a new job where I work with him on a daily basis, and I'm aware that it may come out with other colleagues as a result. I'm OK with that - it's just not something that I'm pushing into people's faces. When they ask me what I'm doing at the weekend, I just tell them I'm going down to San Francisco, instead of going down to San Francisco to see my girlfriend. It's not like there's much crossover between my professional and personal lives anyway.

I'm out to my brother, who I'm close with. His refrain is "I really don't get it mate, I don't need you to try and explain it to me again, but if you're happy, I'm happy." Clearly, he's a good guy I barely talk to my sister, so she doesn't know, although my brother has told me that she reckons that we're swingers, which both amused me and intrigued me as to why she thought that. Of course, my teenage nieces and nephews don't need to know. Yet.

My mother is another matter entirely. She is an extremely critical and negative person, and won't think twice about telling me at great length about all the things I'm doing wrong, from not having any houseplants, to not having redecorated the bathroom, to being overweight. I've thought long and hard about coming out to her, and the honest truth is that I can't envisage a situation where she even approaches acceptance, nor where we as a family would be better off with her knowing. It would be another thing for her to criticize and nitpick at me about, and frankly, I'd rather she didn't have more ammunition to bitch and grouse about. For what it's worth, my brother completely agrees with me that telling her would be a bad idea.

Here's the thing. At this point, I've been dating my girlfriend for nearly 2 years. Ours is the 2nd longest relationship I've ever had (after the wife). We are arse-over-tit in love. She is part of my family, not just some hot chick I'm boning. It is starting to feel seriously duplicitous to not tell my mother. She has met my wife's boyfriend, although of course as far as she's concerned, he's just another one of our buddies.

The flip side of that duplicity is that it's not like I discussed the finer points of my love-life with my mother when I was monogamous either. She doesn't need to know about our escapades with kink either, right?

It's a timely question, as my Mum is currently staying with my wife and I for her annual pilgrimage across the Atlantic for a 2-week visit. At this point, I have no plans to come out to her BUT, if she starts to suspect that something's going on and asking pointed questions, I've resolved to just out and tell her. She won't like it, and she'll tell me at length what a terrible idea it is, but here's the thing that I understand and she won't. It's none of her f*cking business, just like it's none of her f*cking business who I chose to marry (not that that was an issue, just using it for illustration). She's going to have to put up with it.

I've played out that scenario in my head a bunch, and, while I've no idea how it would actually go down, what, what it looks like is me sitting her down, asking her to just listen, not interrupt and I'll answer questions afterward. Then explaining that:
(a) I'm not cheating on my wife,
(b) I'm pursuing a loving, healthy relationship with someone else in addition to the loving, healthy relationship I continue to have with my wife, and that my wife is doing the same,
(c) This is something my wife and I are doing together, that it's not a threat to our marriage and that we're happy and healthy, no-one is being taken advantage of, and that there are no secrets between us regarding our other partners.
(d) That my wife and I both genuinely like and respect our spouse's other partners, and enjoy spending time with them
(e) That I don't need her blessing, nor her condemnation, that I'm telling her out of a desire for transparency and honesty.

That's what I've got.

For what it's worth, my girlfriend is out to her mom, but not her dad, who she feels would struggle to get to a place of acceptance. The wife's boyfriend is out to everyone that he's dating a married chick and no, that's not a problem.

EDIT - might be worth dropping Serengeti a PM - I know he's been riding the non-monogamy train recently too, and I'm not sure if he shows his face in P&C...

Start coming out to your mom by telling that you've been thinking a lot about becoming a Mormon lately!

As I am a monogamous guy my opinion is skewed. But I am not sure if polyamory is a lifestyle that you or the community gets value from by professing your sexuality. When it comes to LGBT sexuality, it is a lifestyle under fire at their fundamental human rights. Being Out=ensuring their rights as Americans.

Have polyamorous people faced issues of child custody, being able to adopt, access to healthcare?

Maybe it is just my open mind. But being "Out" as a polyamorist is like me trying to be out that I prefer forward cowgirl as a sexual position; in my mind.

Polyamory is very much a lifestyle that effects many aspects of life and can definitely lead to issues with adoption, healthcare, and social stigmatization.

It's not like it's just a sexual kink and something that is relegated to the bedroom. The relationships that the people build can be very real with strong, genunie emotions attached.

I'm monogamous myself but having been a member of the BDSM scene for quite some time when I was younger and I saw the effects of societal pressure destroy otherwise happy polyamorous relationships.

KingGorilla wrote:

As I am a monogamous guy my opinion is skewed. But I am not sure if polyamory is a lifestyle that you or the community gets value from by professing your sexuality. When it comes to LGBT sexuality, it is a lifestyle under fire at their fundamental human rights. Being Out=ensuring their rights as Americans.

Have polyamorous people faced issues of child custody, being able to adopt, access to healthcare?

Maybe it is just my open mind. But being "Out" as a polyamorist is like me trying to be out that I prefer forward cowgirl as a sexual position; in my mind.

Are you mixing up open relationships (where people get to have some additional sex on the side) with poly relationships (where people maintain full loving relationships with more than 1 partner)?

I don't really see that it you just have a sexually open relationship (perhaps you're a swinger) that you particularly have any need to come out. I think that is largely in the realm of "what you get up to in the bedroom". But if you have a poly relationship coming out is important because it's not just about occasional sexy times. It's not healthy having to hide someone you're having a relationship with and additionally it's important to normalise these things so people don't see it as something that "just about sex" and snigger behind your back. And yes I do think people in poly-relationships are missing some basic rights around marriage, custody arrangements, inheritance.

It's interesting how there are class and culture clashes here. It's a stereotype that French men have mistresses and that kings have companions (and the latter is sometimes a source of social standing).

DanB wrote:

. And yes I do think people in poly-relationships are missing some basic rights around marriage, custody arrangements, inheritance.

How so? If they are married they have rights. If they are a parent they have rights. Everyone else has the same rights as any other unmarried person in a relationship.

Funkenpants wrote:
DanB wrote:

. And yes I do think people in poly-relationships are missing some basic rights around marriage, custody arrangements, inheritance.

How so? If they are married they have rights. If they are a parent they have rights. Everyone else has the same rights as any other unmarried person in a relationship.

I think he is getting into with plural love, when they form a bond with your kids for example, in the event of divorce or death in the legal marriage the other lover has no rights to visit. Different sexual preferences, such as Domination, swinging can also have an impact on the married couple in the event of a divorce. That sort of "deviance" could come up in court labeling a parent unfit.

What I am more looking for is of a systemic prejudice that homosexuals presently face, or mixed race couples faced in the past.

Funkenpants wrote:
DanB wrote:

. And yes I do think people in poly-relationships are missing some basic rights around marriage, custody arrangements, inheritance.

How so? If they are married they have rights. If they are a parent they have rights. Everyone else has the same rights as any other unmarried person in a relationship.

You can only marry one person.

If you love two people then someone is getting the short end of the stick benefits-wise.

Polyamorous relationships are often seen as "deviant" by main stream culture and thus their parenting skills, fitness for being a parent, and morality are challenged on a regular basis in similar ways to gay couples trying to adopt.

In some instances people in a polyamorous situation are threatened by state laws and common law practices that threaten bigamy charges.

It boils down to the whole "sanctity of marriage" tripe that people use to prevent gay people from being married.

This is how I think about the situation, as a whole, having had a number of friends in various forms of nonstandard relationships: is everyone involved a consenting adult? If the answer is yes, then my opinion is irrelevant.

Malor wrote:

This is how I think about the situation, as a whole, having had a number of friends in various forms of nonstandard relationships: is everyone involved a consenting adult? If the answer is yes, then my opinion is irrelevant.

Tannhauser'ed.

Spoiler:

I know, not a Tannhauser'ing per se. Let me have my moment. :P

Thanks for the feedback! While we aren't in a poly relationship per se, it's something that we aren't necessarily opposed to. We aren't planning on advertising our lifestyle, but things happen, and we've discovered that occasionally we're going to be in the situation of having to explain our choices to someone whose opinion matters to us.

heavyfeul wrote:

A great new book on the subject, if anyone is interested, is Sex at Dawn by Christopher Ryan. As a failed anthropolgist/archeaologist, a bit of a geek, and someone who is in a 20 year monogamous relationship that is flirting with the idea of "opening up," I found it very interesting.

I cannot recommend the Savage Lovecast by Dan Savage (NSFW) more highly. I love podcasts and his is one of the best. He coined the term "Monogamish." The morals and ethics (personal and social) of sexuality and relationships is his bread and butter.

Dan Savage wrote:

Why do most people assume that all nonmonogamous relationships are destined to fail? Because we only hear about the ones that do. If a three-way or an affair was a factor in a divorce or breakup, we hear all about it. But we rarely hear from happy couples who aren’t monogamous, because they don’t want to be perceived as dangerous sex maniacs who are destined to divorce.

In my view the only things people need to have to have an ethical and moral sex life is honesty, communication, informed consent, and a healthy dose of empathy. Whatever configuration, arrangment, or behavior that comes from that should work out just fine.

I've recommended this elsewhere on the site, and am happy to second it here.

TheArtOfScience wrote:

You can only marry one person.

If you love two people then someone is getting the short end of the stick benefits-wise.

The idea underlying gay marriage is equality. If the state is going to recognize a marriage, it should treat every person equally and the same rules should apply to everyone. But that's not the situation with polygamy, because currently polygamy isn't recognized for anyone. It's a different argument for a constitutional right than the one underlying gay equality under the law.

If you can get agreement to change the law, that would solve the problem. But that's a legislative issue, not a legal one.