“The DWC is for women who are exploring the Swervy (swinger/poly/pervy) Lifestyle. We gather once a month to connect, drink drinks, and be ourselves even more brazenly than usual. It provides a supportive environment for more experienced women to share knowledge, resources, and anecdotes with women who are new to non-monogamy.”
Our leader, “fledgling madame” Holley Shepard, is an inspiration with her openness and determination to help us be better people. She knows we are stoking the fire that will grow into a stronger, happier, healthier community. Holley gently keeps us on topic, reminding us, we are not here to gossip (if/when people start naming names). She catches us when we use unnecessary gendered stereotypes. And she makes sure someone is holding the Talking Dick when they speak. This month, Holley kicked off the discussion by explaining what non-monogamy isn’t: It’s not about how much sex you have or who you have it with, or what sort of kinks you’re into. It’s about love, realizing you can love more than one person at the same time. It’s important to recognize, the love for one person does not take away from the love of others. Love is not a zero sum game.
My introduction to Portland’s Lifestyle community was in summer of 2013, while making an early episode of Audreality about a friend’s business, PDX Boat Charters. (Don’t bother watching – I’ve learned so much as an editor since then, it hurts to look at.) That day, our tour ended at Poon Lagoon, a section of the Willamette River, across from the Ross Island rock quarry, where everyone drops anchor, takes their tops off and turns the music up. It’s a boat-hopping, nearly-naked dance party. That’s when I met LFM (Linda Fucking Miller) and her husband Dave. This was the first non-monogamous marriage that I was able to observe, engage with, learn from, and befriend. It was fascinating to see them being affectionate, not only with each other, but with others in the group. Hugs and kisses for everyone! Never with the slightest hint of jealousy.
Many in the Lifestyle are cagey and exclusive when it comes to outsiders who they fear being too “vanilla” (aka squares). They are also wary of the wrong kind of publicity, so as a videographer, I had a steep challenge finding acceptance and feeling welcome. Then, less than a year after the Boat Party episode, I had my bicycle accident. That sidelined any hopes of flirtation, rendering me (relatively) antisocial for the next eighteen months.
After my surgeries were complete, Caligula happened. It was my first time getting freaky at sex party, and it was a blast! I brought my own partner, someone from kickball who I’d had a crush on for several years. He wore a toga and a fat rope around his neck, tied like a noose. Fuck yeah, I’d finally found a group of people I could get down with. Around this time, Holley created the Women & Wine group, which ultimately morphed into DWC.
This month, one of the questions we answered was: Have you come “out” as non-monogamous to your friends, family and coworkers? Some were still “in the closet,” while others shared details of their extra-marital affairs with their children and parents. There was no shaming of anyone’s choice as to whether or not to be public with their relationship choices. However, we did agree that non-monagamy is one of the new frontiers in Feminism and that being “out” is, in general, ideal. Consider the optics. When we allow our authentic, free-loving selves to be seen, it’s an example for others to do the same. Someone has to forge a path into the unknown, so we’re out here in the wilderness, chopping down preconceived notions with a machete. Plus, the exposure works toward normalization; helping others understand, people in the Lifestyle are not bad, immoral, unethical, dirty, or any other pejorative. On the contrary, they’re some of the most well-rounded individuals I’ve had the pleasure of meeting.
Dangerous Women’s Collective meets monthly at Sanctuary in downtown Portland.
Up next, my recap of a panel discussion put on by Marmoset, “Nasty Women: Careers in Music in Film.” SO MUCH RAW POWER!