Freedom – but only if it’s hushed up: Swingers’ orgy cancelled by Edinburgh hotel

According to the Daily Record, the Carlton Hotel on Northbridge, central Edinburgh, cancelled a swingers’ orgy when management realised it wasn’t just a masked ball. Now, I am doubtful if indeed it was an orgy and not any other type of social event, but whether or not it was true or not is irrelevant. The fact is, the hotel took an email tip-off at face value and cancelled what they believed was an orgy. I’m not criticising the hotel, who were trying to protect their reputation (if the paper is to be believed), not discriminate against swingers. What does concern me is societal attitudes which forced this cancellation and engender stigma against swingers.

The hotel had to do what they did because of social attitudes. If it wasn’t for us, the general public, discriminating swingers, what would the hotel have to hide? Why could this orgy not boost its reputation, as happens with certain hotels in England?

These attitudes are hypocritical. We all know what goes on in hotels, B&Bs, and the like: affairs, NSA sex, one night stands with people you’ve met on internet dating sites, and of course higher-end prostitution. Hotels don’t screen for any of this. If you go in with your toyboy or mistress, they won’t ask if you’re already married to someone else. They won’t ask for your marriage certificates if you drag your latest internet conquest down to the local Travelodge. They won’t ask if you or your companion is a sex worker. Or if she’s your best friend’s girlfriend. Let’s face it, hotels are not the Sexual Repression Police. As long as you can pay your way, you can do everything the Bible-thumpers tell you you can’t.

So far, so good. But when hotels start cancelling or banning any sex that takes place openly, with dignity, without shame, that is a testament to feeling comfortable with expressing one’s sexuality and having a healthy attitude towards sex, that’s bad. Because it sends a message that sex is only allowable when it is kept dark, secret and guilty. It sends the message that, yes, you’re free to not be a married monogamous heterosexual nuclear family – but only in private. If you express your sexuality and identity in public, that’s not allowed. Again, the conservative-patriarchal model of family and sex is being priveleged; any other sexual expression is confined to the darkness of the bedroom while the patriarchal model appears in adverts, films, books and TV series.

The attitudes of some in this country hold that even in-group (only swingers were invited to the ball/orgy) and consensual sex between adults is still wrong if it does not follow the restrictive conservative-patriarchal model. Allowing other sexual expressions could have (or so management believed) tarnished the hotel’s reputation. It is a stunning double standard: it is perfectly legitimate to allow forms of sex expression close to the conservative-patriarchal model to occur in the Carlton (sex between two individuals), but allowing a form of sexual expression which differs too much from this model is wrong and damaging to the Carlton’s image.

The deliberate sensationalising of this story quite obscures the truth of what happened that day: swingers were stigmatised (as doing ‘bad’ things that might ruin the Carton’s reputation) and discriminated against (by having their event suddenly cancelled). If the Carlton had cancelled an event because the attendees were black, gay or Jewish, the slant on the story and subsequent reactions by the public would have been very, very different. In fact, it would probably have been a criminal offence, or, depending on how carefully the cancellation was worded, at least a base for civil proceedings.

I am very shocked by the stigma that swingers have to face and the extreme levels of sex-negativity in this country. This story also begs the question of what other freedoms we will be denied by establishments or corporations. The freedom given to us by governments and the law is the first, and main, step; we have that. But scial freedom – the freedom given to us by the community, media, public discourse and society in general, is very important as it can sometimes trump the freedoms we are given by law.

Reference: http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/scottish-news/secret-swingers-unmasked-after-hotel-1377592#.UHq2sgWpWXA.twitter

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3 thoughts on “Freedom – but only if it’s hushed up: Swingers’ orgy cancelled by Edinburgh hotel

  1. jemima101 October 14, 2012 at 11:27 pm Reply

    the media attitude to swingers is summed up in that hackneyed phrase, I made my excuses and left…jealousy, desire and othering. I am not as active currently very on sites, so I don’t know if the ball was a swingers event, I do know that many swingers events have been outed, in defense of that thing called “the public good” . You might like this old post from Hobby, showing exactly how the local press operate in this area.

    http://itsjustahobby.wordpress.com/2011/05/25/ryan-giggs-super-injunctions-and-the-fate-of-ordinary-people/

    Sex negative attitudes are growing, and worrying. Consent is becoming less important than fitting into an acceptable way of behaviour, that road leads to very dangerous places,

  2. Slutocrat October 14, 2012 at 11:33 pm Reply

    Yeah, like in the USA 😦 And if we were more sex-positive we wouldn’t have Hunt or Dorries saying/doing such things. If only all this hating on gays/swingers/poly/kinky people was directed at rapists, and all that time and energy used to catch rapists and paedophiles (real paedos, not a 17 year old with a 15 year old boyfriend).

    • jemima101 October 14, 2012 at 11:39 pm Reply

      or someone who thinks something, but is never going to act on it!

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