So, I asked my husband to give me some bullet points on the topic that maybe I could work from.
His first thought: 'You shouldn't have sex within your chain of command. It mucks up the works.'
Pretty much, I agree with that. There are exceptions, and I've known a few, but for the most part people have trouble separating roles from the bedroom to the boardroom. Enough so that it's understandable when organizations make 'ethical' policies against it.
His second bullet was that sex shouldn't be used as a tool. Then he amended that and said that it was okay if you used it as a reward or a favor and wiggled his eyebrows at me. 'You should only bargain with sex for the powers of good!' he said.
He thought a little longer, trying to find another overall bullet to add. 'Personally,' he said, 'I think it should be monogamous. Not because sex should be for procreation or within marriage or anything, but because more than one is going to blow up in your face.'
Sex gets sticky. And I don't mean the fluids leftover afterwards. I mean, all the baggage we bring into it. I mean all the other stuff we drag into it. Jealousy. Possessiveness. Insecurity. Competition. Embarrassment. 'But is it ethical, if you are all cool about it, to say that sex should only be monogamous?' I had to ask.
We bounced that back and forth a while (along with some teasing about the ethics of trading kinky sexual favors for laundry and dishes) and decided, above anything else, that sex should be open, honest and consensual. If you can manage that, it doesn't matter if there are two of you or seven in that bed. But honesty - honesty is really key.
You've got to be able to tell your partner(s) what you want, what you feel comfortable with, what turns you off, and what makes you purr. You have to be honest about your own feelings, and your own hangups. Laugh about it a little! It's amazing what people who care can do for each other if you accept who you are, what you want, and what you can do for one another. Not everyone runs at the same sexual speed - in a truly balanced relationship, you can find healthy ways to see that everyone gets what they need and desire, and no one is giving more than they feel comfortable giving. But not knowing what you each need is like trying to drive without tires.
Sex doesn't have to involve undying love or commitment or religious validation, but the bottom line is that it should involve respect and honesty. Whether it's a one-night fling because you've got an itch to scratch or the lovemaking of two committed people, the ethics of the matter are based in respect for each other - and the honesty to let the parties involved know what they actually require to feel that respect.
*Dude, I never noticed that consensual had 'sensual' in it. How cool is that? Also, I figure it goes without saying that people too young to understand aren't really consensual and coercion is not at all the same thing.
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