When someone announces that they are a swinger, it leaves those of us in the lifestyle to wonder what that means to them. We have all had those experiences where we spend the entire evening talking, laughing and dancing with another couple with the expectation that it will lead to a good time in the backroom, only to find out the other couple does not play. It occurred to us that perhaps there should be a different terms for people who enjoy spending time at swing clubs or resorts but are not actually swingers.
It seems the French language is much more precise than the English language. For example: in English, we will say we ‘parked in the sun’ and we are ‘taking a shower’. For those who speak French, after they look astonished at what we are physically capable of, will inquire as to what exactly that means? You parked your car in the sun? Did it burn? If you take a shower, where will I shower? Will you return it?
‘Ce qui n’est pas clair n’est pas français’, coined by the 18th century writer Antoine Rivarol, became a pet phrase in French schools: ‘if it’s not clear, it’s not French’, though ‘it could be English, Italian, Greek or Latin’, he added.*
This lack of clarity is quite evident when it comes to the lifestyle. Calling ourselves “swingers” is an odd term and trying to determine the origin of this is almost impossible. There are an abundance of articles written about where the term originated, yet not of them seem to agree on how people came to use the term swingers.
The realization that we need clarity became obvious when we started selling the jewelry. Quite a few couples informed us that they could not wear the jewelry because they are not swingers. That would seem normal except several of these couples are routinely in one of the swing clubs where we sell the jewelry. Why are you regulars in a swing club if you are not a swinger? They consider themselves in the lifestyle but they do not swing. As far as the jewelry is concerned, it is simply to identify you as someone who is in the lifestyle; to open the door of communication with another couple, or single, who is also in the lifestyle. It is not meant to spell out what your preferences are in the lifestyle as that would alienate people from each other and we are looking to unite people.
This is where the French language has it all over us. They have four different words to describe the four most common types of lifestylers:
1. Voyeurisme (Les voyeurs) – In English we call them voyeurs and it is defined as the practice of obtaining sexual gratification by looking at sexual objects or acts, especially secretively. There are certainly many of those in every swinger venue I have ever been to. They like to watch others having sex and frequently they prefer to watch their own spouse play with someone else. Generally speaking, voyeurs do not swing.
2. Echangisme (Les echangistes) – In English we call them swingers which is defined as a person who engages in the exchanging of spouses for sexual activities. These couples swap and look for others who do the same.
3. Melangisme (Les Melangistes)- There is no true English term for them. These couples like the atmosphere of the lifestyle and enjoy swing clubs. They act sexy and provocative, may enjoy kissing and petting, but do not swing. Frequently they are seemingly the most open couples but upon closer observation they are predominantly staying attached to their partner while teasing other couples.
4. Triorisme (Les Trioristes)- This term refers to couples who strictly look for a single male or female to play with . Usually one member of the couple is controlling the entire situation from who they choose to play with to how they play as a threesome. These couples do not play with couples.
5. Le Monde Libertin – This is the most important term to note. This term encompasses all four groups mentioned above: Voyeurisme, Echangisme, Melangisme, Triolisme. The term is solely used to indicate that people are a part of a swinger lifestyle and for nothing else. In English the term lifestyle is vague and confusing as the word lifestyle can mean many things to many people. According to Dictionary.com, the word lifestyle means: the habits, attitudes, tastes, moral standards, economic level, etc., that together constitute the mode of living of an individual or group.
Although we can consider people who swing to be a part of a lifestyle group, the ambiguity of the term does not alert people to any certain group when they hear the word. The term is frequently used to describe wealthy people who jet around the world, own expensive homes and yachts and prefer to mingle with others of their own socio-economic status. It is worth mentioning that people who swing may not have anything else in common besides their open attitudes regarding sexuality and conduct, which somewhat invalidates the definition of the word lifestyle with regard to swingers.
The “lifestyle” jewelry, which we sometimes refer to as “swinger” jewelry, was developed with Le Monde Libertin in mind. The jewelry is intended for everyone who enjoys any aspect of the swinger lifestyle and would like to meet other like minded adults. It is simply identification that alerts others who recognize the pendant that you too, are in this lifestyle. Once couples meet each other because of the jewelry, they can discuss what they are looking for without fear of judgement.
Perhaps now that true “lifestyle” jewelry exists, which like Le Monde Libertin, is only intended to be worn by people who understand the concept, someone will come up with a term in English that identifies people in this lifestyle and means nothing more. Just like their is no ambiguity as to why someone is wearing the jewelry, there should be a clear word to alert others as to what we are about, and only us. The jewelry was developed only for people in this lifestyle and is only sold to people in the lifestyle. When you see the pendant, there is no guess work involved.
*French: precise, romantic, influential, close to English By Professor Michael Kelly 05 September 2014
French: precise, romantic, influential, close to English | British Council