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July 26, 2001
One night last year I walked into my dorm room to go to bed, interrupting my roommate while he was having sex with his girlfriend. The room was pitch black, so they would have noticed me entering the room thanks to the light spilling in from the hall. However, I reasoned, if I simply flopped on my bed and went to sleep, they would never know that I'd seen them. So that's what I did. Now, my question: What should innocent roommates like me do if we happen to walk in?
Not a Looker
A question about dorm life isn't exactly timely--school is, as they say, out for summer. Nevertheless, I'm running NAL's letter for all the recent high-school grads out there anxiously awaiting their first taste of sexual freedom (a.k.a. dorm life). Kids, when you arrive at college, odds are good that your roommate is going to want to have sex at some point. And your roommate will want to have sex in the room you share. And unless you're some sort of saving-yourself-for-something-or-other sociopath, you're going to want to have sex in your room sometimes, too.
So what do you do if you walk in on your roommate having sex? You walk right back out, head down to the lounge, wait 20 minutes, and then head back up to your room. In that time, your roommate should either have finished up or bailed out, and when you return you should be able to go to bed. If your roommate is a clod--if he or she hasn't wrapped things up--stand in the door and say, "Look, you guys, I have to get to bed. I'll wait outside the door for five more minutes." That will either kill the mood entirely or inspire them to bring things to a conclusion.
No doubt all of this will be covered in the upcoming sequel to American Pie, which I saw the trailer for today. Unfortunately, the trailer did not include any footage of Chris Klein sitting on Seann William Scott's face. Until the film is released, however, I shall live in hope.
I'm a straight guy who has no problems with the gay lifestyle. But when I was going back to my apartment one night, two gay guys got in the tiny elevator of our building with me and proceeded to French-kiss for 11 slowly passing floors. I was repulsed. At first I thought I was disgusted at the public display of affection. But upon reflection I realized that if the couple were a man and woman I probably wouldn't have been bothered, and if it were two women I probably would have been aroused. So am I a bigot? Conversely, I was wondering if some gays react to forced exposure to hetero PDA with as much disgust?
Forced to Watch Homo PDA
Hetero PDA is everywhere you look--on streets, in movies, and right up there on the altar in front of God and everybody. Consequently, most gays don't flinch when forced to witness hetero PDA, as what's one more man on top of one more woman if you've been exposed to that sort of thing all your life? Unless the guy is really cute, hetero PDA hardly even registers with homos.
Are you a bigot? An anti-gay bigot wouldn't send some fag advice columnist a letter stressing out about whether he's an anti-gay bigot. No, a bigot would've beat the shit out of the two fags in the elevator--or at least attempted to beat the shit out of them. These days bigots who try to beat the shit out of homos often wind up getting the shit beat out of themselves. So take care, bigots.
So why did the homo PDA stress you out? Because PDAs, be they homo, hetero, or bestial, stress EVERYONE out--except the inconsiderate horndogs committing the PDA. Public displays of affection always disgust witnesses, regardless of sexual orientation. You write that you would've been aroused by two chicks making out in the elevator. That's speculative! In your imagination it's a turn-on because the women making out in your elevator are the kind of overly made-up sluts who appear in "lesbian" porn produced for straight men. In reality, the live lesbians making out in your elevators would probably be a couple of unattractive, frumpy dykes with big shoes and facial hair. I guarantee you would have been just as disgusted witnessing that distressing scene. (This is not intended to disparage dykes, but merely to point out that in reality, most people are unattractive.)
Recently I found a roll of film on the Bremerton ferry. Being nosy, I had it developed. Among the pictures of happy tourists, there is a rather innocent image of a woman in the shower naked. Long ago (when I was 12), I overcame the sense that I was doing something vile to a model when I would view her image in porn while masturbating. After all, the model takes her clothes off for the camera with the understanding that her image will be used as a masturbatory aid.
But here I have an image of a naked woman that came into my possession without the woman's consent. My question, Dan, is this: Is it ethical for me to masturbate while looking at this picture?
One Numb and Nimble Image-Seizing Tom
Oh Lord, not another ethics question. As the only advice columnist on the planet who regularly advises people to cheat on their partners, ethics questions aren't exactly my forte--or so the fidelity fanatics among my readers are always telling me. So to handle this tricky ethical question, I brought in the only ethics expert who returns my calls.
"Your reader's solitary erotic excursion, conducted in the privacy of his own home, is not so different from conjuring up the image of a stranger he may have passed on the street," said Randy Cohen, author of the Ethicist in The New York Times Magazine. "Because the woman in the photo is not harmed by what he is doing--indeed she will never know--he is not behaving unethically. There are no thought crimes. He may give his imagination free rein."
So you're off the hook, right? Ah... wrong.
"He is guilty of an ethical transgression, but not the one that worries him. By developing the film, he violated that woman's privacy. A stranger on the street or an actor in a film has no expectation of privacy. But someone else's film is another matter. To go through these photographs is akin to opening that woman's mail. When he found that film he should have turned it into lost and found."
Okay, Dan here: You shouldn't hand the photographs over to lost and found. I mean, you wouldn't want to put that dirty picture in the hands of hardened state ferry workers, would you? Instead, you should post them on the Internet. Hopefully some friend of hers will stumble across her picture online and forward it on to her. I was going to run this idea past Randy--just to make sure it was ethical and everything--and I kept leaving messages on his machine, but apparently the number of ethicists who now return my calls has sunk to zero. Geez, those ethicists sure are easy to spook.
Confidential to FIST: Mail is pouring in for you, but I seem to have misplaced your address. If you want me to forward these mash notes, please get in touch.