Igor and I have now watched two episodes of Swingtown. IMBD:
As America celebrates its 200th birthday, two generations of friends and neighbors in a Chicago suburb explore new freedoms and seek connections with each other in the midst of the socio/sexual revolution.
Apparently it’s super old, and it’s about swingers. The show begins a a couple, Susan and Bruce Miller, move into a nicer neighborhood as Bruce is making more money. They meet a new couple in their new neighborhood with new ways of partying. The couple they had been friends with in their old neighborhood are not open to this.
One thing that I noticed was that it seemed like non-monogamy was more prevalent in the wealthier neighborhood than in the less affluent neighborhood. The swinging couple drives a BMW convertible. The square couple, a station wagon.
This got me wondering whether there is any connection between income and education and sex-positivity or non-monogamy. I couldn’t find out. I searched Google, then gallup.com and rasmussenreports.com for polls on “monogamy” and got absolutely nothing from either.
However, I did find the Pew Research Center Values Study. It appears that if your income and education are lower, you’re more likely to hold old-fashioned values about family and marriage.
This chart shows that as income increases, the likelihood that you hold old-fashioned values about family and marriage decreases.
This chart shows that as education increases, the likelihood that you hold old-fashioned values about family and marriage decreases.
So that’s interesting. It’s pretty well established that in the US, the higher your income and education, the less likely you are to be very religious. And I believe that a high level of religiousness often precludes a lot of non-monogamy and much of sex-positivity, as it involves the idea that all consensual sex is “right,” whatever that means to you. But I’d love hard data on that.
Camille Paglia just reviewed some books on BDSM, which isn’t necessarily non-monogamy, but is sex-positive. She describes one author’s treatment of class in the BDSM community. Paglia discusses how Staci Newmahr, an assistant professor of sociology at Buffalo State College, describes the BDSM participants she studied:
In describing her subjects’ style of “blunt speaking” and boasting, as well as their disconcerting invasion of personal space in conversation, however, Newmahr does not mention social class, about which she says little in her book. I would hazard a guess that she was uncovering the difference between lower-middle-class and upper-middle-class manners—the latter characterizing the world she customarily inhabits as an academic.
I’m not sure what the correlation is between income, education, sex-positivity and non-monogamy is, but I’d really love to. This isn’t to say that if rich, well-educated people do it it must be “good” or “best” for everyone. Hardly. But I do think that sometimes, like with gay marriage, what rich, well-educated people do first predicts how the rest of the population will eventually go.
I hypothesize that, like with gay marriage, sex-positivity and non-monogamy are more accepted in richer, better educated parts of the population, and that they will become much more mainstream as time goes on. But I could be wrong. It’ll be interesting to see.