I love talking about the intersections of folklore and sex, gender, and sexuality. Thus I was thrilled when Cooper Beckett, host of the non-monogamy podcast Life on the Swingset and author of My Life on the Swingset, invited me to be a guest on an episode of the podcast.
This has been an interest of mine since my undergraduate days, thanks to the influence of my folklore mentor Alan Dundes. He encouraged his students to never shy away from taboo or stigmatized topics, ranging from dead baby jokes and blond jokes to anal sex folk speech and incestuous fairy tales. Clearly I took this concept – that nothing is off-limits, and that we can learn about a culture by studying how it treats sex in its folklore – and ran with it!
I’ve written about a number of areas of overlap between sexuality and folklore, such as sex positivity in folklore (or lack thereof), sex in a limited good economy, and specific Scandinavian legends about witches, butter, and breastmilk. Here, though, we zeroed in on swinger folklore, a topic I’ve done some research on and want to learn more about.
In this podcast interview, I mention a number of basic folklore definitions (such as myth vs. legend) as well as analyze why origin stories are important to group identity, even if the origin under discussion here is more speculative than factual (since especially when studying legends, what people feel and fear often comes to the forefront). I also describe a bit of fairy-tale history and give examples of queer and erotic fairy tales.
In the discussion, we toss around a few speculative ideas about swinger origins, and I even manage to not be too annoying in my usual “Citation, please” mode of scholarship (though I did have a mini-rant about sex-negativity in academia, surprise surprise). It helped that in addition to Cooper, the other Swingset folks – Ginger, Miko, and Dylan – were all fantastic conversationalists with tons of ideas and perspectives to contribute.
So head on over to the episode link and give it a listen! Or find it on iTunes and listen there. Either way, I’d love to hear some feedback!