Joe Newton
I just read your recent vaginal discharge column and I have to say that you have GOT to get some better sources of information about women. Yes, various glands in the vagina produce wetness when a woman gets turned on. That part was fine. As for vaginal "discharge," I refer to a book called Taking Charge of Your Fertility by Toni Weschler, which is an extremely cool book about secondary fertility signs in women, how to chart your menstrual cycle, and lots of other information about the female reproductive cycle.

What you and the women at the Chicago Women's Health Center refer to as "vaginal discharge" is actually CERVICAL fluid. "One of the first things you'll probably be struck with when you start charting is the distinct pattern of cervical fluid throughout your cycle," Weschler writes. "No, you were probably not experiencing recurring vaginal infections all the time. No, you were not dirty and in need of douching away the 'discharge.' For this reason, I would suggest that you never use the 'd-word' to describe your healthy cervical fluid.... Cervical fluid is to the woman what seminal fluid is to the man. Since men are always fertile, they produce seminal fluid continually. Women, on the other hand, are only fertile the few days around ovulation, and therefore only produce the substance necessary for sperm nourishment and mobility during that time."

Cervical fluid looks and feels almost exactly like raw egg whites in the fertile phase of a woman's cycle. At other times in a woman's cycle, the fluid is creamy, watery, or nonexistent. If you have sex during a non-fertile time without birth control, it's extremely unlikely you will get pregnant. The cervical fluid is entirely separate from the stuff that is created when you get turned on, but obviously they can be there at the same time.

I know your column is about sex, not how to get pregnant, but a huge problem straight people have is a lack of knowledge about how women's bodies work. If you promote the idea that women are weird, smelly, and drippy, then you are affecting millions of readers, at least half of whom are women and who can really have their enjoyment of sex destroyed by the fear that their bodies are inherently incomprehensible and disgusting.

Brooklyn Reader

Oh, for Christ's sake. I asserted in the column you object to that women's secretions are produced by tiny gnomes stomping tiny champagne grapes in tiny tubs at the tippy-top of women's vaginal canals. It was a biological female, in point of fact (and from a woman's health center, no less) who went off on discharge, both honorable (healthy, normal) and dishonorable (STD-related, yucky). Let it never be said that I want women to think of their own bodies as incomprehensible and disgusting. I may think so, but I'm a gay man, and being a same-sexer means never having to appreciate the bodies of the opposite sex. I mean, if you wanna hear someone go off on just how incomprehensible and disgusting men's bodies are, ask a dyke to give a blowjob.

That said, men who sleep with women (all you straight boys out there) and women who sleep with men (all you straight girls out there) would be well advised to appreciate -- hell, love and adore -- absolutely everything about each other's bodies; or, failing that, to learn to fake it convincingly.

I discovered a method for masturbation that I have never seen mentioned anywhere. I am a heterosexual male, but perennially single, and wanted to help out other guys who have gotten bored with "Rosy Palm and her five sisters." I get a Ziploc bag and squirt two squirts of hand lotion in it. I put my penis in the bag, then insert myself between the mattress and box springs of my bed. If you close your eyes, it's almost like actual sex. I don't really have a question, but I wonder if anyone else has discovered unusual methods of masturbation.

Plastic Wrapped

Um, thanks for sharing, PW. If anyone else would like to share their unusual masturbation methods, please feel free to send them to Dr. Laura Schlesinger, c/o Premiere Radio Networks, 15260 Ventura Blvd., Ste. 500, Sherman Oaks, CA 91403.

I wrote you a letter a few months ago about bleeding from my rectum after anal sex. From one homosexual to another, I was hoping for feedback from you. I have been appalled to read your column every week, hoping to see my letter, only to see fucked-up sick shit from people screwing their shoes. This is bullshit! I actually write you a real letter about a real problem, and you ignore it!

You know, there are "normal" queers such as myself with normal lifestyles who face real troubles in their love lives! Just because I don't stuff my pet bird up my ass doesn't mean that my letter wasn't worthy of a response. I lost my first real homosexual relationship because he didn't want to touch me on account of the bleeding, and maybe if you had responded with some advice, I could've saved the relationship. Just because you're the king of kink doesn't mean that you should ignore your loyal readers, such as myself. Or should I say, ex-loyal reader.

Former Fan

I get about 500 letters a week, FF, and I can't possibly respond to every single one of them. Questions from my gay "brothers" do not get special consideration -- you have to get in line with everyone else. And, I'm sorry, but shoe-fuckers and bird-stuffers are more interesting than fags too dumb to go to a book store and buy a sex manual.

But since you wrote in twice, here's my advice: Your butthole is a delicate flower, and if you wanna jam a cock into the middle of it without knocking the petals off, you have to take it slow and use lots of lubricant. There are some delicate mucus membranes back there, FF, and when you bang a cock through 'em, a little bleeding isn't uncommon. If there's a lot of blood, then you're going too fast or you're not using enough lube. Or, hey, it could be that you have a particularly delicate delicate-flower, or perhaps you have an anal fissure -- a small tear -- that's easily aggravated. And you know what? You could've found out all of this yourself by cracking open any one of a dozen books written by gay men about sex. Buy yourself a copy of Anal Pleasure and Health by Dr. Jack Morin or Living Well: The Gay Man's Essential Health Guide by Dr. Peter Shallit.

Calling all jilted lovers and broken-hearted mopes! The Stranger Personals presents... the third annual VALENTINE'S DAY BASH hosted by Dan Savage! Bring a memento of your FAILED RELATIONSHIP and we will DESTROY IT ON STAGE for you in a cleansing ritual of awesome power. If you place a personal on the spot, you could win fabulous prizes! The Bash is Monday, February 14th, 8:00 at Re-bar (1114 Howell), and admission is FREE! Dumper or dumpee, you WANT to be there! This is a party for all genders, orientations, and inclinations. Questions? Call 720-7855.

letters@savagelove.net