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Dec 16, 2015 miracles commented on Savage Love.
SCRAPE: You're seriously jumping to "philosophical implications" as a reason your girlfriend might want to avoid an infamously painful method of personal grooming? When your whole problem is that her personal grooming choices are causing you pain? I wouldn't want to go out of my way for you either.

Sep 13, 2015 miracles commented on Survivor of Homeschooling Moved By Joel's Story.
@46: It's not just about whether someone is beaten (or molested, or abused in some other way), it's also about what resources are available to help a child who's already being abused. It's also not just about the systems themselves, but how they're exploitable by people who want to abuse their children.

If you randomly pick a thousand kids and have them be homeschooled without state regulations, and then randomly pick a thousand kids and have them go to public school, you probably won't see much difference in whether these kids are abused. The homeschooled kids might even face lower rates of abuse, since every group will probably have about the same number of abusive parents (since it's random), and the homeschooled kids will probably be interacting with fewer people with the potential to abuse them.

But, let the parents self-sort, and you'll start to see different results. Neglectful parents are probably less likely to homeschool, so you'll see the rate of neglect in the public school group go up. Parents who take absolute control of their children through isolation are probably more likely to homeschool, so you'll see the rate of that sort of abuse in the homeschooling group go up. Parents who beat or molest their children and don't want to get in trouble with the law sometimes take their children out of school and homeschool expressly for the purpose of being able to do those things more privately, so you'll see the rates of those types of abuse in the homeschooling group go up. Parents who demonstrate extreme sexism in their childrearing practices are more likely to take their children out of school and homeschool so they can do that more privately, or in a subculture that's supportive of this, so you'll see the rate of that type of abuse in the homeschooling group go up.

Another dimension to this is, what can a child do if they're being abused? A child who goes to public school will have teachers around, and almost definitely a school counselor, and probably some friends. If they're being abused in any way, especially if it's illegal, there are going to be safe people they can can tell about it, and they'll be able to receive help. Many public schools also try to educate children about what abuse is, and how it isn't okay. Some homeschooled children also have access to safe people who they can tell about abuse, and some homeschooled children are educated about abuse, too. But it is possible for a homeschooled child to have zero safe people around who they can tell about abuse, often because the abusers have intentionally set up the child's situation that way. Some forms of abuse are also much, much easier to do in isolation.

It's not that homeschooling is bad, or that homeschooling families are bad, it's that if you're legally allowed to keep your kids away from anyone who they could safely report a crime to, some people are going to take that opportunity and use it to commit a bunch of crimes against their kids. If parents can have the ultimate authority over not only how their kids are educated, but if their kids are educated, some people are going to deliberately keep their children isolated and dependent on themselves or their community, especially if that community involves set unequal roles for some portions of the population (like if your community requires subservience from women, for example). This isn't a problem with homeschooling, it's a problem with giving abusers the license to do whatever the hell they want. Homeschooling with oversight and check-ins won't have this problem so much at all.
Sep 12, 2015 miracles commented on Survivor of Homeschooling Moved By Joel's Story.
@40: If you were allowed to plan your own curriculum but had to get approval for it, and there were minimum standards for a child to meet plus yearly testing to track a child's progress in meeting those standards (maybe with more personalized standards if the child had a disability that would affect their ability to meet the regular standards), then it wouldn't have any negative affect on good homeschooling families, apart from being a mild annoyance. Something like that wouldn't prevent you from doing what you did with your daughter at all, but it would prevent people from refusing to educate their daughters.
Sep 12, 2015 miracles commented on Survivor of Homeschooling Moved By Joel's Story.
@22: " What does schooling run by the state offer that home school doesn't?"

In a healthy family environment, not necessarily anything. But it offers a lot in terms of insurance against unhealthy family enviroments: the guaranteed opportunity to report abuse in the home, the guaranteed opportunity to develop independence and make some of their own decisions, the guaranteed opportunity to learn about the community they belong to, and the guaranteed opportunity to develop skills and qualifications that will give them some agency over their own future.

To elaborate a little, about abuse: I'm absolutely not saying that most homeschooling families are abusive, or that no public schooling (or even private schooling) families are abusive, but if a child goes to some kind of school, then in the worst case scenario where they do get abused, there is physically a person around who isn't connected first and foremost to the parents and who can be told about the abuse. This isn't perfect, since many abused children don't report the abuse, or feel like they can't, even when there's someone around, and plenty of homeschooling families give the kid access to authority figures who aren't in the family or affiliated with it. But unregulated homeschooling can lead to situations where a child never gets to be away from their family, ever, or where the only people they ever get to be away from their parents with are people who will never, ever take an abuse accusation seriously, or who themselves are abusers or accomplices. Abusive parents will sometimes intentionally homeschool so they're free to abuse their children without oversight.

About independence: A good public or private school will offer enough supervision that the kid won't make any terrible mistakes, but enough independence so that they can learn to make age-appropriate decisions for themselves - stuff like what they want to read or play or who they want to be friends with when they're young, stuff like electives and topics of study when they're older. Parents should definitely be part of these decisions, and have the final say! But it's horrible for kids to never get to practice making choices at all, because they'll grow into adults who don't know how to make their own decisions. A good homeschooling environment will do that, too. However, with unregulated homeschooling, it's entirely possible for a parent to control every aspect of the child's existence. And I don't mean "raising the child with a certain ideology in mind," I mean "literally no freedom."

About the community: I'm not disputing that parents can have their own views and raise their children with those views if they want, but if they're part of an extreme subculture (and I don't mean "they're conservative" or "they're liberal" but like, if you want to raise your children in the Quiverfull movement or in an anarchist commune farm) and they're teaching their children that the outside world is evil and this can never be questioned, that's a problem. Cults and cult-like groups exist, and school almost necessarily exposes kids to people with different beliefs. Even on a more mundane level... my own beliefs are not quite what my family's were, though on most issues, they're close, and I'm still really glad I got to go to school with people who had drastically different beliefs. I still believe conservatives are wrong, but after having some actual experience with them, it's easier to see them as people who believe things I disagree with than THE EVIL OTHER SIDE. We should not be dehumanizing each other, and having experience with people who are different from us is very important for that. Good homeschooling families will give the kids some opportunities to participate in the community, too, if possible (and it might not be possible in all situations) but again, without any oversight, it's possible to isolate your child so they only encounter an echo chamber.

About agency over the future: Parents have the right to raise their children with their own views, but a child should never be put in a position where their life will be ruined if they want something different for themselves. I believe that Joel's parents behaved horribly, but in this case, I'm talking more about extreme fundamentalist families who make sure their daughters are only taught how to be homemakers, and deliberately deprived of a base to go pursue higher education. And I don't just mean parents that think it's best for women to be homemakers, or who pressure their daughters to become homemakers, or who won't provide financial support for a daughter who wants to go to college, I mean parents who will deliberately fuck up their daughter's education so she can't leave their lifestyle. This isn't just a hypothetical, this is something that people have done. Good homeschooling families won't do this, obviously. But if a daughter in that sort of family had to go to public school, or even was homeschooled somewhere homeschooling was regulated, this isn't something that could be done to her.

While it's not something I've ever heard of happening, unregulated homeschooling could also be used to abuse children for being religious, or male, or straight, if there was a homeschooling parent who wanted to abuse their child for those things. The law couldn't touch them.
May 15, 2015 miracles commented on SL Letter of the Day: Preferences.
CMA, you're not necessarily an asshole for having a really specific preference. It sounds like your really specific preference is holding you back from dating, and I imagine you've made an effort to get over it, but weren't able to. If your favorite sex act is giving oral and you're really opposed to getting pubes in your mouth and can only really have a good time if the woman's clit is big enough to suck on, it's understandable why this would be a dealbreaker for you. I'm going to assume it's something like that and you're not just being a whiny demanding child who thinks everything has to be exactly the way you want it, no compromises ever. Anyway, here's what you do:

1) Find some dating site that allows you to filter people by the type of dating they're looking to do - casual sex, looking for relationships, etc. I know OKCupid does this but I'm not sure about any of the others. Set up a profile, and say that you're looking for casual sex + whatever level of dating you're looking to do. Don't be sleazy. Don't talk about little men in boats. Don't even talk about sex acts or genitals on your initial profile. Yes, you want to have sex with genitals, but opening with that is not going to work very well for you. A lot of guys who reeeeeeeally like eating pussy make the mistake of making their profile all about how they like eating pussy and everyone says they're awesome at it, and that comes off a little desperate and try-hard. It's like going on and on about how you're nice - you're making your whole persona about general decency/adequate oral, both things that shouldn't be that special. Look up some advice on making a profile, and if you have any women friends, see if you can enlist them to give you an honest critique.

2) Filter your results to give you women who want casual sex + whatever level of dating you're looking to do. Then, message a bunch of these women. You're going to want to cast a pretty wide net. The more things that are absolutely dealbreakers to you, the smaller your dating pool gets, and those girls are going to also have their own standards about whether to date you. Does she seem like she might be a fun person for you to be around? Even if she doesn't look like your perfect ideal of a woman, is she at least physically attractive enough that it won't be a problem? Send her a message. And don't just do that copypaste shit where you send the same message to 100 different girls. Lots of guys do it, it's obvious, and you'll come off like the kind of person who isn't going to put in any effort. Read her goddamn profile and talk about something she mentioned. Type like an adult. Repeat this step until somebody bites.

3) Exchange some messages with this woman! Be your best self, and don't come off like a raving horndog. If she doesn't start steering the conversation towards sex, talk to her a little before doing that yourself. You don't have to let her be the one to set the pace, but you do need to seem like you're taking her mood and interest level into account. If she wants to have a conversation before bringing out the penises and vaginas, don't be the online dating guy who insists on penises and vaginas right now. Once it gets sexy, never escalate before you get the sense that she's a comfortable participant in the current level of sexiness. If you end up making her uncomfortable, then apologize, dial it waaaay back, and let her be the one to escalate the sexy next time if she chooses to continue the conversation.

4) Eventually, it'll be... dick pic time! When's the right time to send a dick pic? When you've asked if you can send a dick pic, and she's agreed to receive one. When's the right time to ask if you can send a dick pic? When you're already talking sex and she seems like she has a legit interest in your dick. http://critiquemydickpic.tumblr.com/ This tumblr reviews dick pics and gives some good advice in taking a decent one that isn't too aggressive or gross, and comes off like an invitation rather than an invasive come-on. With enough effort and thought, whatever you're working with physically can be presented in an appealing way.

5) If she likes your dick pic, she'll probably return the favor. It's at least safe to ask, though don't pressure her, and take no for an answer if she says she doesn't want to. If you get a pussy pic and you can't tell if her clit's as big as you need, you can compliment her picture and ask her to do one where she shows you her clit, but do offer to take requests too. If her clit's not as big as you need, she still went through the trouble of sending you nudes, so be a gentleman. Thank her, compliment her picture, and back out of the conversation with a benign excuse like going to bed. If she wants to talk to you again, let her down nicely. You probably don't want to be too honest about why. Offer to delete the pictures. If her clit's nice but she isn't shaved, then if you end up making plans to hook up, you can ask if it's something she's willing to do. If you frame it like it's easier for you to go down that way and you love going down, it'll seem like a reasonable request. Ask if there's anything she wants you to do, too - it seems less entitled when you're asking if you can cater to each other rather than just asking her to cater to you. If she doesn't want to do it, again, be a gentleman. If she IS shaved in her pictures, you might want to say something nice about it in case she's shaved sometimes but unshaved other times, so she knows that shaving is a plus for you. Again, ask if there's anything she wants you to do! Being GGG goes a long way.

That might seem like a lot of steps, but it'll cut down the time it takes to see if you'll be interested, and you'll be way less likely to hurt someone's feelings that way.
May 14, 2015 miracles commented on Savage Love.
@JibeHo: Well, first off, you're making a lot of assumptions about what women seeking women on a dating site are going to be into? A lot of them are going to be bi or queer rather than lesbian, and while that doesn't necessarily mean they'll be open to dating trans women, it does mean that they probably don't have any super strict preferences for genitalia. Not all of the lesbians will have super strict preferences for genitalia either - like, even if we're just talking about the physical, there are other standard differences between women and men besides just genitalia, and those traits are going to be more of a dealbreaker for some lesbians than genitals are. Also, if a trans woman has had reassignment surgery, it's not like her genitals are going to be that different from a cis woman's anyway. She'll need lube to get wet, but... so do a lot of cis women. It's definitely okay to have a super strict genitalia preference, so please don't take this as me saying I think it's not! But not everyone is that way, either, and that's also okay.

Also, trans men generally take testosterone and get chest surgery. Here's a link about what testosterone actually does to you: http://www.ftmguide.org/ttherapybasics.h… So basically, trans dudes are going to be boobless, hairy, and a bunch of other things that are going to appeal much more to people who like men than to people who like only women. Most lesbians are probably not going to want to date straight trans men for those reasons, even if they have vaginas. Similarly, straight trans guys are probably also not going to want to date each other.
May 14, 2015 miracles commented on Savage Love.
@Chairman: A woman who's out for a willing dick attached to a decent dude probably wouldn't mind if you were openly out for a willing pussy attached to a decent lady. But if a woman worries about being seen that way, it's probably not because she's insecure, but because that's not what she's looking for in a relationship. You're not a bigot for having a genitalia preference (most people do) or for putting the physical stuff first, but do keep in mind that a lot of women have had awful experiences with being treated like their worth as human beings (not just as sex partners, but as human beings) came from whether they were hot or not and whether they put out, so... just saying, a lot of women are going to be super turned off by dudes who put a great ass above a great personality. You absolutely have the right to your priorities, but please respect that.

Excellent point about the presumptuousness thing, though. :)
May 13, 2015 miracles commented on Savage Love.
@vennominon: I'm a miss! Also, gay. I didn't have anything to say about the third letter because I thought Dan did a good job with it and there wasn't really anything more to say, but yeah, I don't think straight people are the only ones with those kinds of expectations. I was thinking about my experiences having sex with men before realizing I was gay (where PIV was treated like it was automatically going to be the main event for both parties, and there wasn't really any room to not be into it, or even to do it as something to pleasure your partner, like giving head - and I wasn't really into any of it, PIV or no, for obvious reasons, but looking back, there were all these expectations) versus sex with women (where taking turns is generally pretty much expected.) I wasn't really thinking of man/man couples, and I'm sorry for that! Next time I'll try to keep all possible combinations in mind.
May 13, 2015 miracles commented on Savage Love.
CAYA: Many people, especially many straight people, have this idea about sex where every act should be equally satisfying for everyone involved, apart from maybe some brief turn-taking in foreplay... and then, when real sex doesn't measure up to that standard, someone's doing something wrong. No. It's nice when everything's enjoyable for everyone, and nobody should have to do stuff that they hate, but every sex act under the sun is going to be at least a little more for one partner than for the other.

Which is all to say, if you don't like having to rub her clit and watching her close her eyes and concentrate on that in the middle of the stuff that's supposed to be getting you off, why not try taking turns? If she likes being rubbed with her eyes closed, that can be what the two of you do in the part of the sex that's for her. If you like concentrating on the PIV, or if you want to experiment with more adventurous things, that can be what the two of you do in the part of the sex that's for you. Not everything the two of you like has to line up perfectly, as long as you're both willing to do what the other party enjoys, within reason, and you're able to talk with each other about what you're into.

CIS: Yes, it would be hurtful to just put up a thing on your profile saying "no trans women". It would probably drive away a lot of the people you'd actually be interested in dating, too - a lot of cis lesbians and bi women care about dating people who aren't transphobic, and it probably wouldn't matter once they get to know you that you're not into trans women in that way, but if their first impression of you is "might be transphobic," they might not want to bother. But that doesn't mean you should have to sit through a weird and awkward coffee date with someone you're not at all into, either.

Like, forget the trans and cis thing. The heart of the matter seems to be that you've been getting approached by women you didn't find attractive, and it's not fun being in a situation where you don't want to be a dick and hurt the girl's feelings but you also don't want to be too nice and make it look like you'd be up for a second date. You've probably gone on awkward dates with cis women you didn't find attractive, too, and while those dates apparently didn't come together as enough of a pattern to make you feel like something had to be done, they're basically part of the same problem: online dating does allow you to be selective of your prospective dates before you date them, but only if you actually put the work into being selective. If "she seems nice and her pictures are okay, sure, we'll go out for coffee" is all the work you put into screening your dates, you're going to end up on a bunch of dates with people who just aren't that hot to you.

Talk to the girls a little more before meeting up. Have a phone call or a Skype call. Exchange more casual pictures. Show each other your blogs and social media stuff, if either of you are into that. You'll probably be able to tell if this is someone who you want to date - and if she's not, you'll probably be able to think of a kind enough way to let her down. You won't be able to be as spontaneous, but that's the price you pay for avoiding those horrible doomed first dates. If spontaneity matters more, those horrible doomed first dates are the price you pay for getting to be able to just go on a date with a girl you met five minutes ago who seems okay. Either way, you can't have it all, but you can have whichever matters most to you.

And if you meet a girl, and you like her voice, and you like her pictures, and her tumblr seems reasonable and not horribly off-putting, and then after a pretty good first date, she comes out to you as a trans woman, is that the sort of person you'd really want to automatically filter out from interacting with you on the dating site anyway?
Apr 30, 2015 miracles commented on Savage Love Letter of the Day: Great Expectations.
People do sometimes need to compromise on their expectations, but here's the dangerous thing about saying so in a general context: the people who take the message are probably not going to be the ones who actually need to. The "my partner is not allowed to masturbate" crowd are going to think it's so very important to ban their partners from masturbation that the advice couldn't possibly apply to them. The "my partner should be able to completely control what our relationship is" crowd will take the advice to mean that they should compromise even more. People are reluctant to change, is what I'm saying.

I got the sense from ME's letter that even just being a primary partner rather than being an only partner was a compromise to her - that ideally, she wouldn't be in a poly situation at all. I can't really tell if her attempts at finding compromise were more "can you cut back a little on dating so we have time for each other?" or like, asking things of her boyfriend that would functionally make the relationship way more monogamous than he'd be comfortable with. Was she trying to get rid of every other partner, or consign every other partner to a completely different category, or put the primary relationship in a place above not only every other relationship individually, but all the other relationships in aggregate? Or did she just want him to stop bringing in new people, when he already had her and a few other partners, and she didn't feel she was getting enough boyfriend time as it was?

This absolutely isn't to say that she was wrong and she should have compromised more, though! The situation wasn't workable for her, and no amount of trying to compromise or force herself to let go of expectations would make the situation workable for her. This isn't because she was too controlling or because she had too many expectations - monogamy is a perfectly reasonable preference to have - but because she, and maybe also he, made the assumptions that 1) compromise would be workable, and 2) trying to find a compromise with a probably-incompatible person is better than putting your needs as individuals first and finding more compatible partners instead. Nobody should have to worry about finding a workable place on the poly/mono spectrum with their partner of less than a year, that's the kind of shit you worry about when someone's already so deeply a part of your life that it's worth trying things out that might hurt and might fail, because losing that person and everything you have together would probably be a bigger hurt. But if you meet someone, and you hit it off, and you find out pretty early on that you're not in very compatible places on the poly/mono spectrum, why would you do that to yourselves? Your incompatible boyfriend might be great, but he's not the father of your children or your partner of ten years or the mythical one person on this world who could possibly understand you and make you happy, and it sure as hell isn't brave or selfless or loving or mature to force both him and yourself into a situation where the best anyone can get is a tolerable middle ground.

So, how do you work on keeping yourself from getting too caught up in expectations? By knowing what's a dealbreaker and knowing what you're willing to compromise on, and holding yourself to those standards at the beginning of the relationship, before you've gotten too invested. You know now that you don't want to date people who fall on certain parts of the poly/mono spectrum, and now that you know that about yourself, bring it up early and gently but firmly break things off if a potential partner can't meet your needs. If you ever find yourself in a situation where your feelings seem to be more based on your ideas of what a relationship should be rather than what you and the other person both want (ex: if both parties in a marriage had outside casual sex, and both parties would rather be allowed to continue having outside casual sex, but both parties are stuck on feeling like their relationship is broken if it isn't monogamous), or you've got a dealbreaker that's more trouble than it's worth (ex: if a woman really really really wants a boyfriend, but keeps breaking up with otherwise-decent guys because they sometimes look at porn) then maybe it's time to reevaluate! Maybe it's time to try opening up the marriage, or to be more realistic about straight dudes and porn ("honey, I'm really uncomfortable with porn and I'd rather not see it or hear about it, but I'm not going to try to catch you, and I promise to not freak out if I accidentally catch you" will make things much, much easier on both parties). But it's totally okay, and good for the sanity of both you and poly guys, if you weed poly guys out of your dating pool. There's nothing wrong with having your own standards and expectations, and it doesn't seem like that's going to get in the way of finding a partner and being happy.