A Look at the Erotic Rites of Swingers
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Almost everything you wanted to know about swinging sex, but were afraid to ask.

As a member of the Lifestyle, Gould (How the Blind Make Love, not reviewed) brings swinging out of the closet as he argues that consenting adults should not be denigrated for engaging in private behavior that (he claims) harms no one. Through a history of the Lifestyles Organization and interviews with swingers (mostly married couples), Gould depicts a world refreshing in its sincerity, openness, and normality—in spite of such apparent contradictions as swinging Mormons or Republicans. The view that emerges of the Lifestyle is one of hedonism, but an ethical hedonism in which individual choices are respected and boundaries never crossed without permission. Although Gould describes swinging trips to such hotspots as the New Horizons club (known as the ``Disneyland of swing clubs''), we see fairly little sex throughout the book beyond discreet suggestions that some couples do indeed pair off. With this surprisingly chaste approach, Gould fails to give the whole picture to his reader; consequently, some tough questions remain. Why does the Lifestyle encourage bisexuality among women, but not among men? How do swingers explain the Lifestyle to friends, family, and coworkers, and what are the repercussions for such honesty? Gould also undercuts his message with hearsay passed off as history: for example, very little evidence supports his argument that the Lifestyle's incarnation in contemporary America descends directly from the sexual practices of WWII fighter pilots. Likewise, his defense of swinging sex based on evolutionary theory (``fight sperm wars in females!'') relies more on assertion than proof.

Although the ``Blind Fondle'' contest and other aspects of the Lifestyle might not appeal to everyone, Gould humanizes a marginalized community and demonstrates that sexual expression does not automatically equate with deviance.

Pub Date: May 1st, 2000
ISBN: 1-55209-482-0
Page count: 392pp
Publisher: Firefly
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15th, 2000


NonfictionSWINGLAND by Daniel Stern
by Daniel Stern