Re-Branding the Term Swingers
Written by K-Ghislaine on April 3, 2018
What is the first thing that pops into your mind when you hear the term swinger. Really think about it for a moment, and allow a picture to form in your mind. Good! Now chances are incredibly high that something negative or taboo, or cliché started to form. Perhaps a fishbowl full of keys, or shag carpets, or some seedy basement reeking of sweat and stale beer, or just a big orgy with lots of pubic hair! I for one, always picture a 60’s scene pool party with that one dude who is short, greasy, lots of chest hair and an inexplicable amount of scantily clad women hanging off of him. Now I know from personal experience that this is not the case, but swinging is just not a modern term, and thus it’s difficult to envision the term free of its rich history, it’s just not representative of the modern participant.
Now if you are one of the few who either didn’t have an immediate negative image form and instead something funny, or sexy popped into your mind congrats! But the reality is if you are part of the lifestyle or know people in it, it can be difficult to separate the stigma from the reality. Or even to look at people who have admitted to swinging without a bit of a skepticism. You know they look normal, but you may wonder what is wrong with them, or their marriage or just think they are clearly not typical swingers, because swinging is not normal and the word has a lot of visual stigma attached.
With all this taboo, and preconception in mind, you can well imagine why so many people who identify as swingers are looking to rebrand the name. It is human nature to want to be accepted in society, or at the very least not judged at every turn. And swingers, polyamory, open relationships, and all the other labels on the non-monogamous spectrum have taken their share of societal beatings over the years. No one group outside of monogamy holds a universally accepted relationship norm. And that is why, over the last few years we have seen an influx of people trying to break free of stigma and or prove the judgemental people wrong. And if you’re a regular reader, you know I am one of the many voices trying to promote acceptance and understanding with my own breaking free of monogamy.
So let’s take a look at what prompted this post, a little tweet from a friend whom we will call @HunterGash (who you can follow on Twitter): “It’s been my mission for 2 years on the show [Hunter Gash and Alley Cat on GTFO Radio] to find a term that doesn’t have the stigma attached like “swingers” does. #FWBLifestyle needs to begin…” In his eyes, the idea of merging friends with benefits and lifestyle is the closest fit for the modern swinger. It’s kind of catchy hashtag FWB Lifestyle. And really, I can see something like that catching on, especially from those who are in the know and want a re-invention of the word swingers.
So here is where I am struggling. I am in my mid 30’s and am experiencing social interaction with a bombardment of labels. Every group out there is trying to break free of stigma by creating new terminology, better suited labels, and just in general trying to fit into a more descriptive box. If you read my post about labels, I go into the idea that labels equals exclusionary boxes. And by using online dating in that post as the main example it does hit the heart of my issue, I don’t like labels. I like living free, fluid and with the ability to explore all new experiences without being tied down or branded so to speak. And so when this friend proudly proclaimed his new term for swingers I was immediately against it.
But then, being the balanced, person I am, I started questioning his motivations. And I agree with the why and the how, and the term is useful and accurate. However, that still leaves me with the predicament of a new label and term to now promote, use and explain. Is that easier or even the best idea? Do we fix the broken term or scratch it and start over? Have we learned enough about our selves and relationships to not screw up this new term too? Or will we end up in 30 years looking back on #FWBLifestyle going, those people were so weird, and were basically horny rabbits, who spent far too much time in hot tubs ignoring their families, and had absolutely no pubic hair anywhere… EWW!
After flip flopping on whether this new term is a good idea, necessary, or will one day replace swinging in our minds I say this. You do you, and let me do me. If using a new term helps you find your place, and gives you a defined sense of community then all the power to you. If labels and boxes give you certainty and comfort, then go for it. Breaking free of terms that have stigma attached and misrepresent a large community is a completely understandable cause. For me though? I prefer to break free of labels and move towards a more fluid existence. In the real world it seems like labels are less important than on social media. So perhaps it’s time to pool our resources towards more in depth conversations and explanations of what we already have and do away with trying to re-invent the wheel.