Editorial Note: This post was written by Wes Fenza, long before the falling out of our previous quint household and the subsequent illumination of his abusive behavior, sexual assault of several women, and removal from the Polyamory Leadership Network and banning from at least one conference. I have left Wes’ posts here because I don’t believe it’s meaningful to simply remove them. You cannot remove the truth by hiding it; Wes and I used to collaborate, and his thoughts will remain here, with this notice attached.
Deborah Anapol is one of the founders of the polyamory movement. Her contributions to the movement cannot be overstated. She is the cofounder of Loving More magazine, and the author of Polyamory: The New Love Without Limits. She works tirelessly to promote acceptance of my lifestyle, and she is a truly valuable ally to have.
That said, I need to express my disagreement with her recent article in Psychology Today, where she argues that the sexual revolution has, after tallying up a remarkable number of achievements, stalled:
The architects of the Sexual Revolution intended to unleash the evolutionary energies of sex and love in service of human liberation. Instead, attempts at sexual r/evolution have been repeatedly sidetracked, hijacked, and eventually derailed by a combination of greed, lust, and immaturity. Sex and love are potent forces which can easily spiral out of control. While change always stirs fear in those who cling to the security of the familiar, the absence of a strong spiritual foundation at the heart of the sexual revolution aroused legitimate concerns for many. Ultimately, the lack of integrity in the movement for sexual freedom has prevented the unfolding of its full potential for transforming society. Furthermore, its failure to focus on the ecological consequences of colonizing our planet in the same way we have colonized our own bodies and genitals, has drastically curtailed its relevance.
She seems to be tracing the problems with our sexuality to two causes: (1) the lack of spirituality in the movement, and (2) the failure to merge the sexual revolution movement with the environmental movement.
The nicest term I can come up with for this is “bullshit.” Anapol does not define what she means by “spirituality,” so she may mean something different, but she’s writing in Psychology Today, which is a mainstream publication. The mainstream understanding of spirituality refers to religion. Religion, as will be obvious to most readers of this blog, is the main force holding back further progression of the sexual revolution. The fear of sex in our society is intrinsically linked to Christian values, which completely saturate American society. Furthermore, holding sex as “sacred,” as Anapol suggests, only encourages people to be as irrational about sex as they are about prayer. The way to move the sexual revolution forward is to encourage sober-minded rationalism about sex. That means more thinking rationally, less holding things sacred.
Secondly, I don’t see what sexual issues and environmental issues have to do with each other, except that right-wingers hate them both. Anapol seems to be arguing that respect for women’s bodies and respect for the Earth come from the same place. That idea has no rational basis. “Mother Earth” is not a real person. The rational basis for environmentalism is selfish. We need the environment. Destroying the environment is bad for us. Respecting women’s bodies is not about selfish goals. It’s about recognizing that all people deserve a minimum amount of respect and decency. There are selfish reasons to respect women’s bodies as well, but that doesn’t seem to be Anapol’s connection.
Also, I don’t really agree that the sexual revolution has stalled. Our society is becoming more comfortable about sex every day. Gay marriage is legal in six states, with many more expected in the near future, and polls show that it’s supported by a majority of Americans. Every major city has a kink scene. High-profile people are standing up for non-monogamy. No-fault divorce has largely put an end to the legal consequences of adultery. Comprehensive sex education is now available with a few clicks of a mouse. Pornography is now available for almost any sexual interest imaginable. Websites like Fetlife has created communities where nobody is shamed for their sexual desires. We still have a long way to go, but I think we’re on the right track. Change is happening. But, like all big changes, it’s happening slowly. I don’t know what Anapol thinks has gone so wrong.