Sunday, November 21, 2010

Sex Positive

Yesterday S and I hosted an event. For many years, it's been a lament of mine that, not being a night-owl, I often would miss out, or not be terribly conscious/well-functioning by the time most sexual or kink themed parties were getting rolling. Why was it, I wondered, that so many people that self-identify as "sex positive" still seemed to wait until the wee hours of the morning to enjoy being sexual or kinky with others in public? So, considering my utter ineptitude with "wee hours of the morning" play, I decided to create an opportunity to explore sharing sexual space during the very kinky daylight hours. It was duly dubbed the "Afternoon Delight" party.

Something I've noticed over the years is that, while most of the poly folk I've met would consider themselves sex positive, there are still elements of judgment, real or imagined, about playing (for the purposes of this post, let's define play as sexual or kink activity involving others) with someone you lack a relationship or dating connection with. Does it just seem too close to swinging? There seems to be more lurking in the background. Almost a sense that sharing physical intimacy in a less relationship-oriented context diminishes our polyness. Is it possible to be sex positive in a more casual sense, and remain relationship oriented?

So I sent out the invitations to my guest list. Most were poly community members that I have friendships with, but not relationship energy. Some I've seen at public events before, and knew they'd be quite comfortable. Some, this was going to push some boundaries if they chose to attend. In the week leading up to the event, I found myself fielding inquiries from potential guests. Some were anxious about the public nature of the play. A few wanted to be sure that their kinks, sexual orientation, or being overtly sexual was going to be okay. Several were concerned that this was going to be like a high school dance with everyone sitting on the sidelines waiting for someone else to make the first move.

For myself, I was seeking a catharsis. This was a way to let go of some emotional pain through pleasure, through trust, through connection. I wanted to open myself up, intentionally and mindfully, to my community in a very real, physical and tangible way. It felt pretty vulnerable, but I felt relatively sure that my friends wouldn't leave me dangling in the wind with a flop on my hands!

Sure enough, we came through with flying colors! Our home was blessed by an amazing collection of people, most I knew, but some new faces, and we all started off by sharing what we wanted for ourselves during the event. People were honest and clear. Some with trepidations or boundaries, some with desires, many with offers to help others achieve what they wanted. It was a very promising start, and from there we took off!

Our main living room was floor to floor with mattresses that people helped to bring over. We had two violet wands, side by side sybians, a sex swing, gorgeous attire, many toys, floggers, sensual aids, games, food and beverages. Most were things people donated for the event to help create a festive atmosphere. We had a significant range of ages, orientations, genders, vanilla and kinked. People participated, and it seemed to create a sense of ownership in the activities they chose to enjoy, and the event as a whole.

I was privileged to witness some really beautiful play, even more so to participate in quite a bit myself, and observe my partners enjoying themselves with me, and with others. Without getting into the nitty-gritty details, it was fucking HOT, and had we recorded things, I could make a tidy sum off of the dvds. ;)

Almost everyone participated directly in something, including people that were pretty hesitant at the beginning of the event. The daytime idea was well-received, and will be repeated. This poly/kink community let go, at least a little, of being overly concerned about "messing up friendships with sex". I feel closer to many people today than I did a couple days ago, that things are tighter knit in a good way.

Pleasure can be a tool for intimacy, not just within relationships, but within communities as well. In a poly world, relationship-level closeness doesn't always need to be the goal. Every so often, just feeling good, and sharing that with those you like is more than sufficient.


Anonymous said...

I think something that really made this event work was your gathering of the participants early in the evening to ask what they each wanted from the event.

I'd never seen that before at a play party. Each person went around the room, introduced themselves, and explained where they were that evening, what they wanted to do/share/experience, and what they were totally not up for. That way, expectations were clarified from the get-go.

You also covered basic safe-sex rules and got everyone to mention what safe-sex was to them.

I thought all of that was pretty effective and disarming.

Excellent job!

And highly recommend that for any future play/house party ...


Anonymous said...

Your question was "Does it just seem too close to swinging?"

For my definition of Poly, Yes.

I am in a committed Polyandry Triad, and while one of the partners currently has an outside sexual relationship, it is with someone they are dating.

Ultimately it comes to what you define as "Many Loves". Poly for 'my' definition refers to "romantic" love.

So perhaps billing your party as a friends with benefits party would have been closer to the mark.

Then again it depends on how YOU define Poly, as poly is a very personal aspect of each individuals life and their choices.

EmilyTbM said...

It was an afternoon of delight indeed. I did quite a bit of standing in the sidelines since my primary partner isn't into this sort of thing, I'm lacking additional committed relationships and because gosh darn it, I like to watch.

Thanks for lending me a hand later in the evening to get me into more active participation ;)

polyfulcrum said...

@ anonymous: Yes, each of us has a slightly different idea of how poly works best for them. Thank you for answering the swinging question from your POV!

Sex can be an expression of affection for friends we love, those we are dating, or reserved for very committed relationships. What's interesting to me is the schism within the poly community surrounding "appropriate" sexual activity. Where some would see it as casual play to be sexual (however you want to define THAT!) with a friend of many years, for others, that can be part of expressing how deeply those friendships are cherished and valued.

Much in the same way as polyfidelitous relationships are often referred to as "mono plus one", open, consensual, sexual activity with people that feel close, but not intensely romantically inclined toward each other, is often popped into the swinger box.

I've done swinging. This event felt different to me because it actually facilitated further emotional connection, versus staying strictly in the recreational sex zone.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for this post. I've been contemplating my own sense of sexual boundaries and sex positivity for some time now, and this post really helps clarify things for me. Thank you so much.

I've posted a link to this from one of my online profiles in hopes of starting more discussion of sexual boundaries and the potential for sexual expression within friendship.

polyfulcrum said...

@anonymous #2: I'd really appreciate it if you would be willing to share how this process goes for you down the road!

It's always good to be able to piggy-back off of the experiences of others, and learn a few things that I don't need to do all of the exploration on personally. ;)

Anonymous said...

I really enjoyed the way you facilitated your party. I agree w s1m0n that having the intros/wants/boundaries sharing at the beginning was a big help in creating a comfortable atmosphere. Also, kudos for picking a great group of people to attend. Knowing most of the people and being at your home (somewhere I already feel comfortable) was a big help for me. Hopefully next time I won't be on my moon! Thanks for such a great party.



polyfulcrum said...

Hi W!

Glad that you enjoyed the party, even if it was from the sidelines a bit more than you would have liked. ;) We'll definitely keep that opening portion in the agenda for the next such event.

Thank you for the input on your experience.

Anonymous said...

I've also come across the attitude you are describing. And I find it confusing at times. Sex isn't just about loving to me.

My husband and I entered non-monogamy via swinging. Wasn't interested in the emotions part but certainly didn't fault anyone who was. Along the lines we found poly.

I guess I look at it as a long line with swinging on one end (sex and emotions are taboo) to poly as some see it (only sex within relationships). At this point in my life, I probably fall in the middle. Sex for just the fun of it is enjoyable. It's at times a relief valve for me and healing just for that. Play sex has a different vibe to me than what I share within my two relationships. Emotions just add something to it.

The way you started the party was great. You are full of such ideas. I'm very glad it went so well and you showed them things are just as enjoyable in the daylight hours.