Follow Dan

Facebook    Twitter    Instagram    YouTube
Savage Lovecast
Dan Savage's Hump
It Gets Better Project

Savage Love Podcast

Got a question for Dan Savage?
Call the Savage Love Podcast at 206-201-2720
or email Dan at

Savage Love Archives

More in the Archives »

More from Dan Savage

More in the Archives »

Books by Dan Savage

Want a Second Opinion?

Contact Dan Savage

Savage on YouTube


Get Back to Banging

October 4, 2001

  • comments
  • Print

Like you, I was horrified by the events of September 11. The Red Cross has advised people to avoid repeated viewings of the event, talk about our feelings, and return to our normal routines to reduce stress. Well, sex feels good and lowers stress. But the stress of current events leaves my partner feeling rather unenthused. Maybe you could offer us all some advice on how to be especially kind to one another in bed during this stressful time.

Not Getting Any

I haven't had much interest in sex since September 11, privately or professionally. I keep expecting my base desires to kick back into gear... but I didn't so much as touch my boyfriend in the first couple of weeks after the attack. What's weirder, though, is that since September 11, I haven't checked in with any of the various porn sites I frequent.

So I'm not in a very good position to advise you or your partner, NGA, on ramping the ol' sex life back up to pre-attack levels. But, hey, I'm with the Red Cross: People should be kind to each other during this stressful time, in and out of bed, and whatever makes you feel better or lowers stress levels--well, do it. You know what they say: If you can't lower your stress levels with the one you love, honey, lower them with the one you're with.

You acted surprised that someone was thinking about sex in the immediate aftermath of the recent attacks, but my sex worker friends and I witnessed a sudden surge in demand. Are people trying to get their minds off the tragedy? Or are they trying to make the best of life before the next wave of attacks?

Socially Responsible Hooker

P.S. I am sending a portion of my income from the "big week" to the Red Cross.

According to three prostitutes I spoke with, business has indeed been booming. A male hustler in New York City told me his clients wanted to get their minds off the news; a female hooker in Chicago told me Armageddon wouldn't keep her clients from sex; and a tranny escort in Vancouver told me his/her clients were so fucking weird that he/she wasn't in the least surprised that his/her pager buzzed constantly in the week after the attack.

Unfortunately, none of the whores I spoke with were as socially responsible as you, SRH. None said they would be sharing their post-WTC windfalls with the Red Cross.

Ever since the World Trade Center attacks I have lost my sex drive. I try to go out to plays and movies, but every time I pass by the firehouse at 48th and Eighth and see the flowers and the photos of the 15 firemen that died, I cry. All I want to do is stay home. How much longer will this last?

James in Manhattan

It might last another week, James. Or a month. Or a year. Hell, it might last forever, if you let it.

So don't let it.

Look, you can wallow in the grief or you can make up your mind to pull yourself together and get on with your life. And getting on with your life is in no way disrespectful to the men and women who died trying to rescue people from the World Trade Center. I mean, why do you think firefighters risk their lives saving other people's lives? They do it so the people they rescue can live long, productive, eventful lives filled with joy, plays, movies, sex, and fun. Firefighters don't risk their lives so that we can lock ourselves away in our apartments and mourn for all eternity when they die in the line of duty.Although I think it is hard to see the existence of God on a day like September 11, I think God can be seen in the days and weeks that have followed. I have seen my community and my country bind together to help one another. I have seen individuals travel across the country to give of their talents and skills. I believe it is in this love, concern, and compassion that we can truly see God.

A Reason To Believe

Let me see if I follow you: When bad people do bad things, bad people get the blame. But when good people do good things, God gets the credit? Excuse me, but if God gets the credit when people do good, shouldn't God shoulder some of the blame when people do bad?

I wanted to express my thanks for your column about God last week. It's too bad God didn't just tell the cavemen about physics, and chemistry, and biology, and astronomy. Then the cavemen wouldn't have needed to invoke deities to explain everything inexplicable. The events of September 11 were pretty inexplicable, and can be blamed on belief in God (twisted belief, but belief). No one has ever been killed or injured by a group of fundamentalist atheists.

Atheist in LA

Sorry, AILA, but I can't get your back on this one. No one has ever been killed by fundamentalist atheists? Really? Tell that the victims of Joseph Stalin, Chairman Mao, and Pol Pot. Fundamentalist atheists are every bit as dangerous as all the other fundamentalists.

We know that bin Laden and his collaborators, the Taliban rulers of Afghanistan, espouse a radical vision of the world that bans alcohol, drugs, and most forms of popular entertainment; this vision forces women to cover themselves from head to toe. These zealots have shown a bloodthirsty willingness to inflict mass violence on an international scale to achieve their reactionary aims. But will we give in? Will we allow their terror campaign to cow us into abandoning our freedoms? In response to their violence, we must redouble our "decadent" practices that fly in the face of their distorted, puritanical views! We must form patriotic columns streaming forth into nightclubs, bars, theaters, and casinos! We must offer rousing support for a woman's right to bare her flesh in public! And we must shun the moral preachings of the likes of Jerry Falwell who merely echo what our adversaries stand for. For love of God and country, boogie on!

United Sensualists of America

I couldn't tell if your letter, USA, was something you wrote for my column or if you were just forwarding me something someone else forwarded you. Regardless, your e-mail touched me, and I will do what I can to return to my decadent ways ASAP just to spite those fundie dickweeds.

Oh, and speaking of dickweeds, last week Ari Fleischer, the White House press secretary, scolded Bill Maher, host of ABC's Politically Incorrect, for calling some recent U.S. military actions "cowardly." (Although George W. Bush said much the same during his campaign last fall.) "Americans... need to watch what they say," Fleischer said. Excuse me, Ari, but isn't freedom of speech one of those fab freedoms your boss called on Americans to defend, during his big speech to Congress last week?


Commenting was not available when this article was originally published.

Comments (7) RSS

Oldest First Unregistered On Registered On Add a comment
"No one has ever been killed by fundamentalist atheists? Really? Tell that the victims of Joseph Stalin, Chairman Mao, and Pol Pot. Fundamentalist atheists are every bit as dangerous as all the other fundamentalists."

But they didn't commit their atrocities BECAUSE of their atheism. Atheism has no dogma. It's the lack of belief. It should (if stripped down to "fundamentals) have nothing to do with anyone's actions, really.…
Posted by k'ehleyr on December 15, 2009 at 9:49 AM · Report this
Atheism, at least as actually practiced, is not the absence of belief. It may be the absence of belief in the supernatural, but all those thinking atheists (Dawkins, Hitchens, Harris, etc) believe strongly in the scientific method--evidence, investigation, rational examination of phenomena--as well as freedom and liberty. Many go as far to say they don't totally lack belief in God, but rather are skeptical in proportion to the evidence--if they were unwilling to consider the possibility, they wouldn't be rational anymore. I think it helps to divide rationalism from faith--an extreme faith in state power, nationalism, and communism drove those "atheists" to genocide. Those atheists were fundamentalists of a different kind of religion.
Posted by yonush18 on December 15, 2009 at 3:42 PM · Report this
Well said, Yonush.
Posted by Jodie on January 16, 2010 at 1:40 AM · Report this
The problem with your suggestion Yonush is that while yes they technically are practicing a different kind of religion, they are standing under a self-described banner of atheism.

The religious zealots of any religion never fall under the correct teachings of the faith because none of the faiths demand that anyone kill mercilessly for a cause. They warp one teaching to their views and expand upon the aspect of hatred.

The examples that Savage listed did just that. So, in the context, his statement is correct.
Posted by yearslater on April 20, 2011 at 1:47 PM · Report this
I can't say much about about Stalin and Pol Pot, although I am sure they killed religious people for that reason, but I've read books on the Chinese Revolution (and the subsequent cultural revolution) and I know for a fact that Mao committed those atrocities PRECISELY because of his atheism. He had a dogma: the old china is gone; believing in god is part of the old China, therefore if you believe in god you are part if the old get the point.
Posted by trampledmoose on August 19, 2011 at 12:07 PM · Report this
Religionists: You have the blood of over three thousand presumptively innocent people on your hands due to the human-caused tragedy referred to above. Don't you think you ought to wipe them off just a little bit, say, by undoing some of the evil you've caused, before you slam athiests? Wasn't there something in that book about an eye and a mote and another eye and a log?
Posted by NT on March 24, 2012 at 6:47 PM · Report this
Allen Gilliam 7
Dan's Joseph Stalin, Chairman Mao, and Pol Pot comment is flawed and unfair because atheism is not the foundation of anyone's way of deciding what's true (epistemology). Atheism is a consequence of more than one kind of epistemology.

Some people are atheists because they're evidence-based and rational thinkers who value free thought, open debate, skepticism, and science. And some people are atheists because atheism is part of a dogma they believe in with unquestioned, fanatical faith.

The first type does not murder millions of people for ideological reasons; the second type does. And the second type's manner of thinking is identical to that of religious fanatics: blind, unquestioned faith.

It's fair to group religious people together because they all believe by faith. They all believe things that can not be justified by facts. It's fair to call attention to the danger of this kind of thinking whenever anybody murders a bunch of innocent people for religious reasons.

Atheism however is not a kind of thinking. People arrive at atheism by vastly different means. Therefore it's not fair to group all atheists together.
Posted by Allen Gilliam on July 26, 2013 at 2:57 PM · Report this

Add a comment