Faculty of Social and Human Sciences (UNL) Conference System, 1st Non-Monogamies and Contemporary Intimacies Conference

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Swinging in Portugal: reflections on sexual non-monogamy and emotional monogamy among couples
Maria Silva e Silvério

##manager.scheduler.building##: B Tower
##manager.scheduler.room##: T10
Date: 2015-09-27 04:30 PM – 06:00 PM
Last modified: 2015-08-08


This paper will firstly give an overview of swinging in Portugal showing the amount of couples and clubs and what motivates people to start swinging. The community maintains itself closed and it is hard to find a club’s address on Internet. Then, it discusses how swinging challenges (or not) the heterosexual-monogamous normativity and how gender and sexual identities are reproduced, resignified or denied in this lifestyle.

Although swingers belong to the normative group of heterosexuality, they are usually seen as deviant as they don’t fit sexual and marital mono-normativity of Western societies. Swingers consider themselves emotionally monogamous and sexually non-monogamous. In this perspective, swinging is a paradoxical way of relationship in which couples willing to adopt a more hedonistic lifestyle are in conflict with traditional principles acquired throughout life.

Although binary gender structure is prevalent and often act as a prohibitive factor for certain disruptions, sometimes this boundary is broken enabling women and men to adopt identities, practices and behaviors culturally related to “the other”. Such disruptions occur especially for women, who have the possibility to experience sexual and gender identities more freely and fluid than men, still attached to the precepts of hegemonic masculinity. In this sense, I infer that a “liberal heteronormativity” prevails in swinging.

In this paper, the reflections are based on the experience and discourse of six interviewed swinger couples, on ethnography realized in a swinging club in Lisbon area and on anthropological theoretical review. There is no other academic work in this discipline in Portugal.