Discussing All The Things You Can't Say In Public
[see photo caption below, courtesy Wikipedia.com on 10 Oct. 13]
by Randall Frederick
When I started this site, I actively tried recruiting some of my friends with whom I was discussing sex and sexuality at the time. It became evident soon enough that everyone who had been so encouraging and supportive were changing their opinions. At the time, I wasn’t sure what was happening. Was it me? Was I going too far? Was I making them uncomfortable?
Discussing sex (comma) with friends and family (comma) is normal and, in some ways, healthy. But trying to take those conversations from the intimacy of a livingroom, coffeeshop, or walk to a public sphere makes people very uncomfortable. No more so than when I begin to walk that fine line of discussing extramarital relationships. In a closed setting, discussing affairs has empathetic value. Generally, it is met with contemplative nods indicating that many of those currently in relationships have considered whether the grass is greener elsewhere. Not all of these stories are bad/ end dramatically. Not all are good/ have a happy ending. And not all are… how can I put this… problematic for the relationship.
Full disclosure – I have the permission and editorial support of two couples I know who find sexual satisfaction in cuckolding.
In a recent article by Anthony Neal Macri, the Social Media Director of AshleyMadison.com, cuckolding is explained as
Cuckolding used to be something that was so taboo that nothing could shame a man more. It was the act of taking a married woman and making a mockery out of her husband. A cuckold was someone who had an unfaithful wife whether or not they were aware of it and it was something that was deeply shaming to the point that it would be hard to face society again. To be a cuckold was to be lacking. Being a cuckold meant that you weren’t satisfying your wife in some way and thus, she needed to seek her pleasure elsewhere.
Today, however, cuckolding has become a fetish. It usually involves a dominant woman and her submissive husband. The woman sleeps with another man while the husband watches and has become one of those fetishes that a surprising number of people have since it ties in with things like voyeurism and swinging. When cuckolding is done with the right frame of mind it can be incredibly fun for all those involved.
There’s an incredible amount of trust that is involved in cuckolding and more than that, for all that it would seem that the husband involved is submissive, it takes an incredible amount of self-security to watch another man do intimate things with your wife.
When you’re in the moment though, you get to be the victim. You get to feel like something is getting taken from you and feel this comingling of shame, arousal and need that many men report feeling when they’re cuckolded. There is also cuckolding nowadays where there is no shame or victimization of the male involved which is prevalent in the swinger lifestyle and other non-traditional, non-monogamous relationships.
Some of our members (unsurprisingly) are very into the act of cuckolding [...]
Admittedly, cuckolding is not part of the typical social construction of extramarital relationships. Macri says it is something “used to be taboo” but this must be taken in the context of AshleyMadison’s agenda to help their members find
cheating partners. Our success gives us a unique perspective on married dating and affairs.
Ashley Madison is the online personals dating destination for secret romances, and the largest dating service of its kind with more than 3.5 million members. We cater to people who are single or in a committed relationship and are looking for discreet dating. Our goal is to keep our members from taking unnecessary risks and being subject to exposure while they explore the feelings that caused them to consider cheating or married dating.
In my own circles, I barely discuss this part of my friend’s lives. Perhaps I simply turn a blind eye to it, I’m no longer sure, though I can say with certainty that in one of the instances, cuckolding has helped their marriage. He enjoyed the hedonism of seeing his wife with other men, and she enjoyed the emotional security of knowing that she could literally have sex with another man and he would still love her, dote on her, and raise children with her.
Cuckolding is not the same as having an “open marriage” or even a one-side open-relationship. I must always distinguish this. It is about sex, not (ethical or unethical) non-monogamy. It is primarily sexual, but has more to do with psychology than sex. We have a tendency to think of sex as primarily physical locution rather than psycho-sexually polyvalent. More than that, it is female-centric. The “cuckold” is almost always male, though there has been a recent trend towards male-centric/female-shaming cuckolding in pornographic materials. Primarily, the fetish remains female-centric however. It is focused on the female’s desires and satisfaction and the husband/partner’s “shaming” or inability to reach climax.
Rather than focus on my friends (which I’m reluctant to do since they are my friends), I want to instead point to the rising popularity and interest in cuckolding. It is currently one of the largest search terms in pornographic materials and can fall under several headings like cheating, hotwife, slutwife, cuckold, amateur / caught, shame, humiliation, and cheating. Since it is not restricted to marriage, the parameters can expand to include “girlfriend” in any of these combinations. Pregnancy is often a contributing genre, as are interracial, talking, “sissification” and emasculation. What interests me in all of this – together with what might be obvious – is the social aspect. For example, a correlation could be drawn between the “rise” of women in the workforce, income, education and socio-economic factors, as well as the de-masculazation of men.
Put another way, why has cuckolding become so popular and widespread?
Christopher Ryan and Cacilda Jetha in their book Sex at Dawn: How We Mate, Why We Stray, and What it Means for Modern Relationships (2011) put forward that cuckolding has always existed. While they spend much of their book discussing cheating (extramarital deception), laced within their work is the recurring pattern that humans, indeed all mammals, not only cuckold but thoroughly enjoy it. One need look no further than the common, everyday pornographic material to notice that you are getting off on watching someone else. And what is more, you are probably imagining some form of relationship to those you are watching – transferring yourself either into the material or participating in the reality that you are an observer.
David J. Ley in his book Insatiable Wives (2012) puts forward that cuckolding has always existed. Partners cheat. Humans are not always faithful. Though Ley does not draw off of Ryan and Jetha’s work (the two books seem to have been written concurrently), his presumption is the same – partners cheat. How we manage that differs. His book looks at several instances of cuckolding relationships and he hypothesizes that women see cheating as a form of relational empowerment.
In the case of the friends I mentioned earlier, this proved to be true. “Elizabeth” felt that “Eric” wasn’t “appreciating” her. Despite initial protests, Eric admitted that he knew she was right. There was something missing which only another person from outside the marriage could stir up. Seeing her with another man compelled him to “up his game” emotionally and relationally and provided him with what he refers to as ”something primal” that made him
want [her] more. It was like I didn’t realize how much I really did love her until I saw her with someone else, having sex, and seeing her with… another guy made me, in this really weird way, go absolutely crazy for her. It’s hard to explain, but it’s true. It’s like, by focusing on the fact that this is my wife and that she’s having sex with another man, I’m really tripping over the part where I’m thinking this is my wife. My wife. My wife. Elizabeth is mine, and I’m hers and nothing can ever come between that – not even someone having sex with her. And she’s so fucking hot… you know, watching her with someone else. She’s with someone else, but I’m right there and we’re going to be together forever.
Elizabeth agreed, going a bit further to add
I think a big part of it for me, and it’s weird, is that I was so scared we were going to get a divorce and break up. I didn’t want that. I just wanted us to be together, but something was missing. And when we talked about it, I was really sick for days, just crying and thinking “Oh my God, this is so sick.” The whole ideal marriage... thing… was just not like we had ever been told it could be. Not like our parents told us it could be. I mean, I grew up in a really conservative home, where you just be a good wife and raise the kids and work hard and make sure you have enough to go on a vacation every year, even if you have to hide money and lie to your husband to do it. And it was just… If you would have told me this kind of thing happened? If it was anyone else, if it was one of my girlfriends? I would have said, “Run. Just run away. This man doesn’t love you.”
But, then, once we really got into it – and it took a while to overcome those hang-ups and reorient our relationship, our marriage – I started to see that all he wanted was for me to be happy, to enjoy myself, and to see that side of me. It wasn’t really that different from the way we live other parts of our lives. We make trade-offs for the ones we love because we love them. With [our children] we outsource that parental role to someone else every day. Every day we send them to school. To strangers, really, when you think about it. And that’s okay – we have this communal contract that it’s okay to just give up your parental role of teaching your kids. And why? Because we know – or at least trust and hope – that this person, this stranger, is better than we are. How is that any different for marriage? It’s not a full-time thing. It’s in this one area of life. And at the end of the day, we come back together, and it’s fine.
Right, or work. We trade our spouses to other people and they spend the majority of their waking hours with these people. “Work wives” and “work husbands.” No problem. But when it comes to sex? Oh! Suddenly that’s perverted.
Cont. in pt. II (coming soon)
Photo CaptionFrançais : ”La fête de l’Ordre des Cocus devant le trône de Sa Majesté, Infidélité” English: ”The celebration [fête] of the Order of Cuckoldry before the throne of her majesty, Infidelity” A satirical colored French print, ca. 1815, that parodies knightly orders (such as the English order of the Garter, etc. etc.), which traditionally held annual feasts on the day of the patron-Saint of the order. This caricature makes full use of the traditional European folkloric metaphor that the husband of a sexually unfaithful wife has horns on his head. In fact, all the individuals shown (except Infidelity herself, her servant cupid, and the fifth person from the right) are wearing horns — and there’s a basket of extra horns to the left of the throne, and the canopy above the throne is decorated with smaller horns. Note the gentlemen from non-Western-European nations at the right of the picture, and also the lady in the pink dress who is firmly calling her husband’s attention to the horns on her own head. Most of the members of the Order look none too pleased with the “honor”. The huge scroll at bottom is a membership list; the cupid is writing on the scroll: “Liste de Msrs les Membres Composant la gde. famille de Vénérables Cocus, Cornards, Cornettes, et Cornillons de tous les Pais. &c.” [modern French spelling is "pays"]. An approximate English translation would be “List of members composing the grand family of honorable cuckolds of all nations etc.” (with a list of synonyms and pseudo-synonyms for “cuckold” in the original French).