SL Letter of the Day: Career Counseling

Comments

1
Can I just say that I'm impressed he put the apostrophe on "somethin' "? It's a skill to imply redneckism while being grammatically correct. This man may need a brain, but he doesn't need an editor.
2
What do you mean "There's no response from me after the jump—the man did ask me to shut up"??

When did you start doing what people told you? You're your own guy which is why I read you every day.

Say something! (there--- I commanded you, now do it)
3
I like how he says he means no disrespect, but then goes on to say the most disrespectful stuff imaginable. This passage showed a real flair for analogy:

It is a certainty that some other fella will fill your shoes with nearly the exact same diahrea, but at least it won't be you standing in a puddle of your own shit.
4
I love how we all get to have opinions. It amuses me that we think our opinion is the only one that matters, we are just a bit full of ourselves.

That said, I get to state my own now. I like reading your advice, Dan. Sometimes I agree and sometimes I don't, but everytime it makes me stop and think. It makes me try and see it through someone elses eyes, and that is a halmark of gaining an ethical perspective. But, that is just my $0.02 and people are always free to ignore it
5
Are you sure he didn't mean to send it to Ann Landers?
6
@2: He's definitely his own man — as shaped by his gratuitous name-dropping of products and by the advertisers which pay for ad space on the SL column pages.

The kid's gotta make his money somehow. He probably wouldn't be able to fund his cosy living on a local weekly's editor-in-chief wage alone.
7
Clearly you need to hand off Ann Landers' desk to someone else. This guy obviously knows what he's talking about.

Speaking of diarrhea, Dan, I vaguely recall a Savage Love letter from pre-archive days where a guy describes having some awesome sex with an awesome woman the night he tried middle eastern food for the first time. He discovered his allergy to saffron the next morning when she was in the shower and he was in bed and finally free to fart, only it wasn't just air that came out. Panicked, he bailed and left her to come out of her shower to face bright yellow, shit-encrusted sheets, probably still steaming. His question to you, though, was priceless: how can I make it up to this girl and have sex with her again? Your answer, if memory serves, was, "You can't."

Am I remembering any of this correctly? Now that was some golden advice.
8
Aww, isn't he just such a precious little darling? I think he's just dying to shave his widdle wegs and dwess up in a tutiu for Mommy.
9
@4 Yes, Kim, exactly!
10
I've often wondered how Dan chooses the letters that appear in SL each week. Even for the weird ones (poo eaters and such), there must be several similar letters... how to pick which one gets printed? Shortest? Fewest grammatical errors? Drawn at random?
11
@1, @3, I don't know what you're talking about. Game Hater here obviously fancies himself a bit of a writer, but in this sample he's terrible at it. Rambling, illiterate, riddled with mishandled cliches.
12
I love how the guy in that first letter says your advice is bad but refrains from saying how exactly it is bad. Very arrogant of him to assume that his viewpoint, whatever it is, is so obvious it needs no explication.
13
Fuck off, Telsa.

Assuming you mean Babeland? I was writing about them before they were advertising, and saw no need to stop once they started advertising. Otherwise...
14
At least he had the sense to say that he was condemning Dan based on the advice in a single column.

Usually these clowns write something along the lines of how disgusting it is week after week, with all the deviance and kink and general end-of-society stuff, and how they can barely force themselves to read, and read, and read….

Same advice as to people who are offended by a TV show - don't like it, don't watch.
15
Yeah, Dan, stop it with the bad advice. At least 95% of the people who comment here regularly disagree with what you say. ;-)

As for the second comment, Jane Goodall would have something to say to you. When a female chimp goes into estrus, the males do line up for their turn to inseminate the female. We share 94% of our DNA with these animals, and they are our ancestors, so you can interpret that as you will.

I also find it amusing when someone comments, "I haven't read the book, but I totally disagree with what it says."
16
Wonder if the first letter is from a MF of a DTMFA response?
17
The writing style seems eerily familiar. Is Gamehater one of the Palin children, like Track, Trig, Trampoline and Condombroke?
18
@6, it always kills me when someone gets a five-dollar word like "gratuitous" right, but then can't figure out how to spell "cozy."
19
@6 Telsa, I ususally agree with you, but sheesh, it's a free paper, they have to have tons of ads! Like the Vancouver Straight, or Calgary's FFWD, if you're getting it for free, you're only relying on ad revenue to pay salaries, right? Violet Blue has ads on her sidebar from sites that she vouches for and accepts ad revenue from, and I never read about people thinking that's a conflict of interest. I think it's just a fluid thing, you know, you like a product (the way Ayelet Waldman is always writing about Babeland), you mention it, they advertise on your site. I don't see it as a big conspiracy. And why should it matter if Dan works outside of his regular job? More income means more red wine, at least the way I do the math...
20
Dan,

While I understand that everyone has a right to their opinion, the answer to the person is just the same about the complaints about "bad" books, tv, etc etc etc. That answer is; Don't view it. I don't like many things; religion, slasher flicks, country music, Fox News. So I don't view these items. I don't need to tell others to not view these. It's that simple.

I think this is the perfect time to tell you that I wish I had found your column sooner. Your advice would have saved me from a marriage that broke my heart. However, I have been reading you since 1999 and with the help of what you have written my current relationship (9 years in) is wonderful. You are partially responsable for this success and because of you my life is much better.

Thank you.

Peace,
James Rose
21
My favorite line: "I'm not trying to only offend you or anything."
22
Some old school trolling there, that brings me back.

It reminds me when years ago a guy wrote to my biggest client to complain that I was critical of the Iraq invasion. He was told to go fuck himself.
23
Please don't quit, Dan. I love you. In my dream fantasy life, I am your fag hag.

I listen to your podcast. Whenever I hear some kid get good sex positive advice from you, I am just so happy because that kid got the advice that he/she needed, and a hundred other kids got to hear advice that they needed. Those kids will share that advice with their friends, too, so it has a multiplier effect. You're making the world a better place, Dan Savage. It makes me happy.
24
@13: Dan, it might help to clear the air if you stopped telling me to fuck myself all the time (which is fine by me, but I don't need you to encourage it). Yeah, I'm tough on you. Take the heat, or something like that.

In this case, I think the SL guy, GH, was being a douchebag, but name-dropping a book over and over again in the same column distils to soft advertising. This certainly is not the sole time this has happened. As for the SL column itself, there are ads from other advertisers, though I don't see one (at this moment) for TiB. Those who buy ads for SL are not doing it just to be randomly placed somewhere in the Stranger, but placed next to SL because they know they will be seen. This is also the case for the several syndicated appearances of SL found in other local weeklies.

So rather than contesting this point in any defensive sense, acknowledge that there are times for disclosure of preferential bias (say, for a book or for a product) that can help distinguish raw advice from the soft cel . . . oops (sorry, Marc and David) — soft sell.
25
Fuck off, Telsa.
26
@ 11, you must have skipped over the analogy I quoted. That's poetry that's worthy of study at lit programs nationwide.
27
@24

I know it's not quite analogous, but your criticism reminds of that of Al Gore for promoting green businesses when he was in fact invested in those businesses. Dan's putting his money where his mouth (and mind) is (are).
28
@19: Sure, but voluntary disclosure certainly never hurt one's reputation. And yes, more power to Dan the entrepreneur for making income in all sorts of ways from the branding of his name. But how is that structurally different from say, a brand like Martha or Oprah — with exception to scale? All have advertising, product placement, and free advertising to authors that fall beyond the bounds of anything editorial.

I think the emerging point is that for each time Dan is put on the spot, his defensiveness gets in the way of advancing a bona fide defence — such as with the Williams-Sonoma bit the other day. He could have coolly ticked my argument, point-by-point, to tatters, or he could have said nothing at all. That is not what happened. And a couple of weeks back with that whole Manne Lawrence thing? Not only does he tell me to fuck off, but then proceeds to ignore the crux of that argument and tell me with a straight face that that predator is somehow a good person in any sense — which of course is completely far-fetched and even absurd to the many who would (and do) know better.

But anyway.
29
I hope a rabid raccoon poops in Game Hater's breakfast. Or in other words, thanks Dan, for writing Savage Love, especially the July 8 column, and for being the sort of person who would never give Game Hater's letter serious consideration.
30
I'm still not entirely sure what this guy is trying to say, even though I read the freaking thing 5 times. Coherency FTL?
31
Wow, of course I've seen plenty of people miss points, expansively discuss topics they are ignorant of, and fuck up basic writing in their haste to troll. But I've never seen anyone honest-to-god fail at concern trolling before.
32
Um... I am an employee of the Stranger. They paper sells ads around the content I create—the column, blog posts, the podcast, etc. I get a salary. I don't get a cut, or a percentage, and there's a wall between edit and advertising.

La la la.
33
For that second letter, I ponder this question: How often to modern men go to something like a strip club in groups? Now, forgive me for being an ignorant girl here, but often the men composing these groups are good friends, right? In pre-agricultural times, a man's close friends would also be his brothers and his cousins. In this instance, competition with other men in the group for one woman doesn't matter as much, because it's the same genes being passed down. Now if a man from another group tried to hop on at the end of that line, I'm sure he'd be subject to horrible violence from the men of the group. It's called in-group love and out-group hate, and according to recent studies, it's regulated by the same hormone that bonds women and their babies together.

Sometimes, when it comes to understanding evolution, I think that there must be a lot of people out there with an incredible dearth of imagination and a wealth of ignorance.
34
Dan gives free advice to people who ask for his opinion. But this guy is indignant! For some unspecified reason! You just have to marvel at the entitlement complex. I demand that all free public entertainment is tailored to my needs and opinions alone!

And I always thought Matt Groening made Comic Book Guy up.
35
@25: I'll do it for me. Not for you.

Also, try to sound as intelligent as we know you are. A bunch of "fuck offs" starts to sound like primitive grunting after a bit. If I'm off about something I said, then call me out on it accordingly with a cogent response or argument (or just say nothing at all).
36
@32: Okay. It's a good disclaimer. Thanks.
37
.....at least he talks to you, Telsa....sigh.
38
Hey Dan, the last letter on the whole "natural" thing is worth taking seriously. I totally support depathologizing non-monogamy, but I also support sound thinking and science, and your column, while generating a great debate, sort of puts these two things at odds.

As for the "natural" state of human relationships? People have, to varying degrees, a wide variety of natural desires - the desire for intimacy, sexual stimulation, economic security, social status, love, family, shelter, attention, making their loved ones happy, exclusivity, etc. - all of which have implications for the kind of sexual relationships they form. Depending on a lot of variables - the availability of partners, social norms, how they prioritize their desires, etc. - people can "naturally" arrive at different relationship configurations.
39
@37: Take him to task whenever you see it. I'm sure he'll reply. Or maybe he says something because he knows that people like me (the few, but steady number of us there are) are not going to put up with being walked over by someone using their column inches from time to time as a recreational bully pulpit to belittle us. That time, starting back with the SL columns of the 1990s, is over.

And this is not the kind of talking I value in life. I would value it more over a beer coupled with heated, but civil conversation — and less of the "stick it where light does not shine" moments.
40
Funny he didn't specific on which particular advice of Dan's is horrible and how the advice should have gone. I mean if he's not here to correct Dan and make things better, why bother? It doesn't help anyone to just yell and berate. Is Dan the cause of his break up?
41
"...some sort of salacious 18th century duel:

'Sir, you have offended my honor, I demand satisfaction!'

'Very well, sex at dawn...'"

I loved it!
42
Fuck off Telsa. Dan has no obligation to defend himself to you, because it's obvious to everyone but you that there's nothing unethical going on here.
43
@1: I might have noticed that if he hadn't written "column man" instead of "column, man" in his very first sentence.

@3: "I like how he says he means no disrespect, but then goes on to say the most disrespectful stuff imaginable."

It's odd how one always follows the other. "No offense BUT," etc. I think it's some kind of twisted way of calling dibs.

"You said I'm a despicable piece of shit that needs to die!" "Well, yeah, but I *said* 'no offense.'"
44
Hmm...the first lw seems obsessed with feces. Could he be in denial about something?

Also, the world would be a better place if all disputes were settled at dawn on the mattress of honor.
45
@20: Actually, the best response is one Dan gave to a similar letter a few years ago - as long as people keep asking Dan Savage for his advice, Dan Savage is entitled to give it.
46
@42: Save it, BABH.
47
@ Telsa - Disclosure? Seriously? Are you actually implying that someone who works for a newspaper, is PAID for his advice, goes on speaking tours, etc. is somehow supposed to supplement all this obviously and openly commercial conduct with a disclaimer? That seems a bit absurd. And frankly, if someone accused me of recommending a book to the audience just for ad revenue, I'd be pretty offended too. I like you, hon, but that was a dick move.

Also - I'm pretty sure an advice column is pretty much supposed to be a "bully pulpit." People write in for the express purpose of being told what to do; it's a pretty tyrannical enterprise.
48
Hi, Canuck!

And I have no financial stake in Sex at Dawn. Or Branden Hayward (it's not his finances I want to stake anyway), or Babeland, or Mr. S., or Fleshlights, or anything else I've ever pimped. I pimps what I likes, I likes what I pimp.

Teh end!
49
Um, Telsa, stop digging. I don't know the whole story of what's going on here, because I have studiously worked to avoid knowing, because I don't care. But whatever it is, if you're suggesting that there is anything remotely unethical about Dan publishing his writing in the Stranger, you're wrong. It's an ad-supported newspaper, and an ad-supported blog. If you're suggesting that he trades mentions in his writing for ad revenue, you're worse than wrong, you're just being stupid. Please stop.
50
I wish there was a way to block registered users. Maybe like the Firefox add-on that blocks Charles.
51
@7 he could try the Polanksi approach.

@50 there is, they have a GreaseMonkey script that blocks me for example.
52
*smile*
53
There is, Leslie! http://userscripts.org/scripts/show/4858…

I've not had to read anything by Telsa Grills/Telsa in months. I do enjoy reading Dan's "Fuck off" comments though.

But now I'm thinking you might already know this...
54
Fnarf, Anne:

I have yet to bring up ethics forthwith. I haven't done so because this is not academic peer review (nor should it be). I did challenge his lack of disclosure when he writes in editorial capacity, and I did question the steady use of a single book throughout all three of those SL letters. It reads more like an flavour of the week pitch than it does advice. If questioning what reads like an "info-torial" is a matter of ethics, then ok. I'll own that.

Fnarf, the details aren't germane for the following: what this back and forth between me and Dan amounts to is that when I do question or take to task something he has written (which certainly isn't always; we do agree from time to time), he breaks out the F-bomb rather than dignify a thought-out comment or nothing at all. That's obviously his prerogative, but it's not going to make him any better for doing so.

I readily know that I'm an annoying cunt, and I'm often wrong. Some of what he says is comparably annoying, if not more so, and he too is often wrong — sometimes with deleterious, real effects for people he neither sees nor could give a damn about. And when it comes to those Slog postings in which he was way out of his league (or even when he bellyaches about rainy weather in Seattle or about not getting his way at a major retailer), it's foolish to expect us all to indulge him with faint agreement or stroke his ego like a sycophant would.

When he's on point, he's on point. When he's being a douchebag, he's being a douchebag. When he's taken to task for that, he ought to be ready to man up and hold his ground on the merit of what he originally wrote or concede the argument that challenged his point(s) was a fair one (giving him pause to reconsider the central point(s) in a different way).

That's the point of open discussion for an original post and for blogs generally. Dan's a bright guy, and there's nothing thwarting him from refuting, rebutting, or setting straight an argument made by someone who voluntarily commented to something he voluntarily posted to a wide audience (there's also nothing preventing him from writing a blog in which no comments are permitted). He could just as easily walk away from the keyboard or coolly dismiss an argument with authoritative rebuttal as he has with his recent schoolyard language.
55
@48:
Really? If you ask me, it's time to reconsider your business model.

Why, for instance, are we all not fucking each other with Savage-endorsed Trojans? Coated in Savage-Glide lubricant? And cleaning up the mess with Dan Savage's Old-Fashioned Santorum Wipes?
56
Not touching the advertising angle too much. My assumption is that Dan is promoting the hell out of the book because he fundamentally agrees with its ideas. Ideas that Dan has been shouting to everyone who will listen plus the potted plants for-fucking-ever. Unless someone gives me some evidence he gets an undisclosed cut from this I see no foul play. Call me when he starts promoting penis-growth pills.

I'm more interested in the last letter of the bunch. I agree that whether or not something is natural or not does not coincide with whether it is moral or not. However I don't think its an irrelevant question. Humans are evolved to like sugary and greasy stuff, because they have lots of energy and were hard to come by when we were developing. Now, that instinct combined with the new availability of such stuff as Pop-Tarts are made of (??) is hurting us. Likewise if we are not naturally monogamous we can still decide that monogamy is the more moral choice, but we should at least agree that in doing so we are fighting against our nature so that those who don't manage to handle monogamy succesfully can't really be considered freaks.
57
@53 Find me one for Chrome and I'll be your new best friend.
58
Or you'll be my new best friend. Or something. You know what I mean.
59
Who shit in Game Hater's Wheaties this morning? What a whiner. Doesn't like an advice columnist giving advice with which he disagrees? Jesus, welcome to the world of ... everyone who's ever read any advice column, anywhere.

Get over yourself, haterboy.
60
I just like the idea that people realise humankind has a much longer history than the short period of written history. It has enormous possibilities for helping us understand who we are.
61
I'm surprised not more people are chiming in about evolutionary anthropology. I personally hate it, and was totally bummed that the entire column (which I have been reading religiously for the past 13 years or so), was about evolutionary theory. Dan, I love you and think you give some of the best advice around. I only wish this week's column was full of YOUR advice and not some bullshit about natural states. Of course, I suppose I could retire my dildo until the bonobos learn to use them... lest I be considered "unnatural".
62
@55 "Savage-Glide" doesn't sound very, um, comfortable...

@56 "if we are not naturally monogamous we can still decide that monogamy is the more moral choice"
That's a good point, that those of us who have chosen to be monogamous (and, to be honest, weren't aware of other "business models" when we made the decision) are *working* at it, that it doesn't just come naturally. But, I don't think I'd attach the term "moral," because it suggests that it's better, when really, it's just one of our options, one isn't more "moral" than the other.
63
@56 "we should at least agree that in doing so we are fighting against our nature"

Not quite. We fight one set of natural impulses when we remain monogamous, and yet another set of natural impulses when we open a relationship to others.

Nature doesn't have any pat answers on this subject.
64
@63, I didn't mean to imply it was neccesarily that simple. I haven't read the book or the relevant papers, do I can't really know what the right answer is. My gut feeling is that both promiscuity and possesiveness are deeply ingrained behaviors with natural origins, but I'm as much the product of my culture as anyone and as Carl Sagan once said "I try not to think with my gut".

My point is that while we can make an independent assesement of whether something is moral without needing to know if its natural, understanding our fundamental natures can help us direct ourselves to the hardest goals of all; behaviors that are NOT natural to us but that ARE desirable rationally. Not saying monogamy is one of those, just saying understanding our natures can help us to better direct them.
65
I'm very wary about commenters that say they "can't imagine" the prehistoric societal arrangements the authors refer to in their book. I haven't yet read the book so I can't say whether it makes a fully convincing case for this group-sex idea, but the fact that a person has difficulty imagining something is no critique of its scientific validity. I "can't imagine" what it would be like to live in a world without jobs, money, agriculture, & permanent settlements, but ancient humans did live this way, & presumably had social lives that were correspondingly difficult to visualize. Evolution by natural selection (or evolution, period) seemed enormously difficult to accept when it was 1st proposed to the scientific community. A theory being weird or counterintuitive, by itself, means nothing. In fact, the theories that seem to fit our intuition the best are often the ones that simply conform to our assumptions & prejudices better -- "monogamy developed because cave women traded sex for food and resources," or whatever.

@61, you "hate" evolutionary anthropology?! What's to hate about the idea that human beings are the products of evolutionary processes? Unless you don't believe in evolution, this makes no sense. Of course, there are other valid ways to discuss human psychology and society (e.g., cognitive science, sociology, cultural studies). But evolutionary science is the only possible source of valid information about how human brains and minds originally came to exist. I would be the first to admit that some evo-psych authors make absurd, reductive arguments. But the proper response to that is for scientists to do evo-anthropology the *right* way, not to conclude human brains are simply too wonderful and mysterious to be discussed in the context of natural selection.
66
No one is saying that you should quit your unnatural ways - just that you should be aware that you're a freak and get to the back of the bus. Other than that, everyone is free to pursue whatever unnatural interests they have. (Freaks.)

^That, in short, is what Dan's column and subsequent blog entries boil down to.
67
Telsa:

When he's on point, he's on point. When he's being a douchebag, he's being a douchebag. When he's taken to task for that, he ought to be ready to man up and hold his ground on the merit of what he originally wrote or concede the argument that challenged his point(s) was a fair one


Sounds fair.

But you didn't "take him to task for being a douchebag." You accused him of taking kickbacks for recommending products in his column. What's more, you made a thinly-veiled assertion that he was driven to do this by the financial demands of an extravagant lifestyle:


@2: He's definitely his own man — as shaped by his gratuitous name-dropping of products and by the advertisers which pay for ad space on the SL column pages.

The kid's gotta make his money somehow. He probably wouldn't be able to fund his cosy living on a local weekly's editor-in-chief wage alone.


Then he told you to fuck off. Seems like a response in kind, to me.

But then you started running around whining about how he was being rude and unproductive. Sounds ridiculous, doesn't it? But it's what you did:


Dan, it might help to clear the air if you stopped telling me to fuck myself all the time


Clear the air? Bullshit, that's not what you were after. You didn't start acting like you wanted an actual discussion until after you had been a dick and he told you to fuck off. Then you started playing the aggrieved party and acting like his "schoolyard language" was somehow an inappropriate response to you suggesting, without any support other than your own speculation, that he was taking kickbacks:


He could have coolly ticked my argument, point-by-point, to tatters, or he could have said nothing at all. That is not what happened.


You didn't have an argument. You had a nasty comment that you only later tried to recast as merely the thesis statement of some kind of investigation into journalistic integrity. And guess what? Dan actually met you halfway, which is more than I would've done:


Um... I am an employee of the Stranger. They paper sells ads around the content I create—the column, blog posts, the podcast, etc. I get a salary. I don't get a cut, or a percentage, and there's a wall between edit and advertising.


What he wrote here is not news. It's standard practice and taken for granted by anybody with even a minimum of knowledge of how newspapers operate. Nothing to see here, right? Wrong! This put your entire invented kerfluffle to a stop:


@32: Okay. It's a good disclaimer. Thanks.


THAT's what it took to derail your crusade? You look like a complete idiot, here, and your bizarrely florid writing style ("I think the emerging point is..."; "I have yet to bring up ethics forthwith.") isn't helping. If you're going to convert your bitchy comments into "cogent arguments" after the fact, do some research about the subject first so that completely run-of-the-mill, 'two plus two equals four'-style statements don't stop you in your tracks.

I see a lot of commenters who I respect treating you with kid gloves over this, so I'm assuming that you're normally not this stupid. Maybe Mondays are tough for you. But as somebody who doesn't really remember any of your other comments that I've read, you sure seem like you're picking a fight for no good reason but then acting like a victim when the other guy comes out swinging, trying to pretend that you were just engaged in thoughtful roughhousing and trying to take some kind of imaginary high ground. "Schoolyard language," for Pete's sake! You started the fight and then act like Dan is being childish for fighting back. What a dick!

But on the off chance that you're not an asshole and that your first comment here actually was a genuine attempt at starting a conversation, here's how you might rewrite it and get a response that isn't "Fuck off" from Dan:

"Hey, Dan, it sure seems like you're bringing this Sex at Dawn book up a lot. Is this an official Savage Love promotion or something? I'm genuinely curious. A yes or no would suffice, but if you have time, I'm interested in how your promotion is structurally different from Oprah and Martha's setups, aside from the obvious difference of scale. Thanks!"

I'm sure you can detect the difference in tone between your opening comment and what I've written here. If you're really so aggrieved by Dan telling you to Fuck off, the above might be a better way to avoid it while still engaging him. Of course, at this point a hearty "I'm sorry for trolling you and then pretending that I actually had a legitimate beef" and/or "I'm sorry that my opening comment was so sarcastic and assumed guilt in the absence of evidence" would probably be necessary, too.
68
@54:

"I readily know that I'm an annoying cunt, and I'm often wrong"

"when I do question or take to task something he has written [...], he breaks out the F-bomb rather than dignify a thought-out comment or nothing at all."

I think those things may be connected.

Dan obviously doesn't feel your comments are worthy of response, yet because you're a familiar registered user, you're harder to "tune out" than the average anonymous troll. That's why you receive an irritated response. Bringing up irrelevant things that derail the discussion doesn't help, either.
69
fuck off Telsa!
70
@ 67 AKA Mike.
May I borrow you for the fight I am currently in on a forum about whether Henry Rollins is a great person or a douchebag sellout? (I'm on the great person side)

I appreciate someone who takes the time to examine an argument and dissect it. Altho I do have to question the "Tea Party Porno" avatar of yours...
"Yeah baby. Cutting away all those Big Government programs left me aching.... Come on over here..."
71
@55 has a point. Hey, Dan! I would actually buy a box of Santorum Wipes, should you choose to endorse such a product, whether I needed them or not, just for the heck of it, or maybe to mail them to a certain conservative republican douchebag next time he runs for office.
72
Full disclosure: Mike receives 2.5% of all "Savage Love" proceeds. Starting now.
73
Calvin, I adore you.
74
It's worth noting that the naturalistic fallacy Calvin mentions in his letter isn't what he thinks it is. What he meant was the appeal to nature fallacy. A technicality, I know; but I can't help myself.

Moreover, what Dan is doing and what anti-gay bigots are doing is actually quite different. When Dan says that monogamy is unnatural, I take it he means that it is not something that our species does without societal pressures compelling us to do so. He doesn't conclude from this that monogamy is evil, but only that it is hardly rational to expect it to be default behavior. Anti-gay bigots, meanwhile, mean something different by "unnatural." When they use it, the word has implications of uncleanliness (in the Biblical sense of "unholy taint"). In other words, they DO draw moral conclusions about the behavior they are discussing. It can't be that they're saying it doesn't happen in nature, because it very obviously does. Or, if they are saying that, it just proves how out of touch with reality they are. This last accusation cannot be turned around on Dan because, as far as I know, he has never claimed that no one has ever attempted or succeeded at monogamy. What he is saying is that we -- as a species -- do not naturally gravitate towards it (even if a few individuals might).

Oh, and by the way: fuck off, Tesla.
75
@74, @64, @15:

I'm Calvin.

@15: I didn't say anything good or bad about the book. I noted that I hadn't read it, so couldn't comment on it. My comment was directed entirely at Dan. Are you dense?

@64: You got my point exactly, I think. Nicely put.

@74: Good catch. And I certainly recognize that discussing the biological basis of that behavior is itself intrinsically interesting, as well as relevant for the reasons you mentioned. I didn't bother to note that because, well, it was a short letter. But I think because Dan's column so often touches on issues of moral, social, medical, etc. significance, it's important to clarify what evolutionary psych does and doesn't teach us, which was really why I wrote the letter. If Dan wants to write about the topic, I think that's perfectly reasonable--like I said, I think this stuff is itself interesting, regardless of what external relevance it has--but I think he should do a better job making clear that it's _not_ relevant from a moral perspective, nor is it necessarily a good basis for giving advice to letter-writers. I think Dan fell down on both of these points to some degree.

The gulf between "this is the biological basis of our behaviors" and "this is how we should act" is huge. The problem with the anti-gay bigots isn't that they only use the "appeal to nature" (thanks!) fallacy to make moral arguments, but that they use the purported biological norm to make health and cultural arguments, too ("no culture with a tolerance for homosexuality has survived", etc). These arguments--that one should do something for moral, health, emotional, or social reasons--all sound very similar, to me, to the sort of advice an advice columnist might give, so my own inclination is to draw a wide boundary around using such speculative evidence as a basis for it. But I don't think it's just about the faulty moral reasoning.

Or to put it another way, Dan gives great advice, most of the time, based on his own experiences and instincts--better advice, I think, than the authors of the book are likely able to give. So he should stick to using those experiences and instincts.

But I appreciate your comments. I think you have a good point. I hope my letter didn't come off all vitriolic and crazy like the first one.
76
Dan, you're always good for a cheering on a shitty day. Thanks for that.
77
53. Jade, how do use that script? Personally I hate listening to any bully slash whiney crybaby. Or a bully with a God complex. Or a borderline stalker slash bully slash crybaby.
78
@75 I'll admit, looking back at your comment, that it was taken out of context. But there are nicer ways of pointing that out than personally insulting me, buddy. Lighten up.
79
Dan, we love you! May I suggest that the reason for publishing the first letter was that you simply needed to hear it from us again? ;-)

Calvin is right, and should read the comments from the authors of the book, since they seem to agree with him. I haven't read it yet, but my friend has, and he claims that the book is an exact opposite to the usual evo-phych bullshit.

Oh, yeah, and: Telsa, read what Mike said. Slowly. Twice. And then fuck off.
80
Calvin, you might want to try reading the book before blasting it, since the authors do the opposite of what you suspect they do... they actually invest a lot of time picking apart the fallacies of classic "standard" Evolutionary Psychology and its conclusions.

It also does not bill itself as a scientific proof.

At the end of the day, what they do is present direct and circumstantial evidence that the "standard narrative," that holds the monogamous nuclear family to be the only "natural" and correct social order, is almost certainly total bullshit. Does their evidence suggest that human society might be happier overall if it could express its sexuality freely in ways that would be "out of bounds" to Ward and June Cleaver? Yes it does. Do they try to say that there's one specific "natural" way to go? No.

It's a thought-provoking book. Read it and see. Two-thirds of it is a fun read, and maybe one-third of it is somewhat dense academic treatise (though still worthwhile).

And no Telsa I don't have any stake in the book, nor do I know anybody involved, although with all the nonsense on this topic, now I'm tempted to set up an Amazon affiliate link and provide it here. But as I said in an earlier thread I would like to have dinner with Dan and the authors. :)

P.S. Yes, I have read the book. I downloaded it after Dan blogged about it and read it on my iPhone's Amazon Kindle application. I also don't have any stake in Apple or Amazon, but again, if somebody wants to buy a Kindle I'll be more than happy to create and send you an Amazon affiliate link so I can get my cut from this shameless commercializing. ;-)
81
@67. Amen, Mike!

P.S. Fuck off, Telsa!
82
I find it amusing that he admits to only having read one of your columns, and bases his whole "critique" of your advice on the one date where you let someone else give 90% of the answers... Almost the only thing you yourself advised people to do in that column was "Buy Sex at Dawn," so logically that single bit of advice must be what has the letter writer all up in arms.

Wonder why he hates the book so much...
83
Seriously folks, am I the only one that read the many conditionals Calvin put in his letter? He's not knocking the book. He's not opining on the book at all in fact. His opinions are aimed squarely at Dan's comments on the book. He specifically said that IF (small word, I know, but relevant) Dans comments were an accurate reflection of the books ideas then he disagreed with the premise. The point was simply that Dan might be portraying the book in a light not actually well suited to giving it credibility through his word choice.

Also, I tend to disagree that Dan is neutral on the subject of monogamy. Its absolutely obvious that he thinks non-monogamy is a superior choice. Every single time he talks about the subject he makes clear that you shouldn't be surprised if monogamy doesn't work and "opening up the relationship" is offered as a solution to a staggeringly large number of problems. The fact that leaves a disclaimer that you are of course free to choose monogamy if you wish, does not change the fact that his preference is obvious. And its really tempting, when you think our natural instincts are to behave in the way you prefer, to blur the line between "natural" and "right".
84
Calvin is right and what he said is exactly what the authors of Sex at Dawn themselves are saying.

I know it's exciting that there is a book about early human society that tells you what you want to hear, Dan, but it would be nice if you'd take these dudes to heart before you start alienating (currently) monogamous readers... you have a lot to tell us too you know
85
@62 - Now you sound just like Dan - that monogamy is not natural and all of us that are monogamous have to work at it.

No - I really don't have to work at it and I doubt I am alone in this. If I chose to be non-monogamous, I'd really have to "work" at it. The assumption that *some* people have a hard time with monogamy does not imply that it is not natural because the same argument could be applied to the fact that *some* people would have just as hard a time being non-monogamous.

It could just be that neither is natural. Or both. Like all the other things that vary in people such as tastes, desires, talents, looks, etc.

Whenever Dan gets a letter where the couple has problems because one prefers monogamy and the other doesn't, he always spends a lot of time trying to change the monogamous one and tells the non-monogamous one they can't change. And then a *teeny tiny* bit at the end about how the monogamous doesn't need to change if they really can't bring themselves to and to consider getting out of the relationship.

How about suggesting that which ever one in the couple has the most flexibility to change (either to mono or non-mono) would be the one to do the changing? Unless neither one is flexible enough and the relationship is doomed.
86
Fuck off, Telsa.

Let me recommend "The Red Queen: Sex and the Evolution of Human Nature" for people interested in the whole sex & evolution debate. It goes deeper than just human sexuality, but is a fascinating book.

As far as guys waiting in line to sleep with women, yes it happened in the past and it happens frequently with other species. My dog came from a litter with 2 fathers- a German Shepard and a Black Lab. The dominant dog would sleep with the mother first, taking on any challengers. Once he was done, he would lose interest, he had spread his seed performing his biological need. Other dogs would then take the opportunity to try and spread their seed by mounting the female. The female allows this because it improves the chance of offspring. She wants to stay in the pack with the dominant male, but also make sure she does have offspring. If the dominant male is infertile and she does not do this, her line can die out. All life's primal urge is to procreate.
87
It'll be interesting to see whether "Sex at Dawn" is a short term thing for Dan or if he continues to refer to it when monogamy issues come up. (83, you're completely right about his personal slant.) Not quite interesting enough to give the author money he may not deserve, but somewhat.
In the latest podcast the "Sex at Dawn" guy seemed dismissive of the existence of pair bonding as a real human drive, although Dan didn't. I'd like to hear this expanded on a bit.
88
You know who I miss? Loveschild.
89
@85 "Now you sound just like Dan - that monogamy is not natural and all of us that are monogamous have to work at it."

I didn't mean to imply that it was a big daily drama, you know, that I'm gagging trying to hold myself back from the cute guy in front of me at Costco, but seriously, are you saying you never look at other people? Never think about what it would be like to be with someone else? Never feel like you have a *connection* with the spouse of a friend? Really? All I'm saying is that I acknowledge that there are plenty of times that if I weren't married/monogamous, there are opportunities I would have pursued if I had been single.

I reread parts of that old book "The Hite Report on Male Sexuality" recently, and in the opening chapters she interviews men who have had affairs (something like 75% of all the men she had interviewed had had affairs!) and almost all of them said having the odd affair had strengthened their relationship with their wife. My own husband, who is about as vanilla/boy scoutish as they come, and I were discussing this subject recently, and he said "if you give men a pass to have affairs, they will ALL have affairs, frequently." I guess my point is that I think we are monogamous because we have been conditioned by society to be that way, not necessarily because it's what our hearts want. And yes, I'd imagine being non-monogamous would be just as difficult, in other ways, as being monogamous.
90
@89, I'd really like to see that study where men reported that having affairs strengthened the marriage. I'm going to take a wild guess and say she wasn't tallking to men who had divorced the wives they cheated on, but men who either had an "agreement" or had done it on the sly and never got found out. Now it could be that the affairs strenthened the marriage of course, but it could just as easily be that the men had a strong emotional need to justify to others and to themselves an act they knew was wrong (assuming, again, that there was no prior agreement).

I understand people who have a hard time with monogamy (for whatever reason) wanting to believe its not a natural state. What I don't get is this overriding need to say that NO humans are monogamous and that those that are simply have been "socialized". Is the possibility that maybe there are different kinds of people with different preferences so difficult to handle? Must we be either all monogamous or all promiscuous? Can't some of us be naturally (or unnaturally) monogamous and others promiscuous and others different at different phases of our lives? The important thing is not to decide who gets to wear the nature crown, its to make sure that people partner with others of their same approximate levels of monogamy.
91
@80 Hey Evn, I'm kind of web-stupid. Contact me (via our site) and I'll gladly pay you to set up an affiliate link for me. And Telsa, fuck off!
92
RugbySkin @70:


May I borrow you for the fight I am currently in on a forum about whether Henry Rollins is a great person or a douchebag sellout? (I'm on the great person side)


I'm afraid that my new rate is now 2.5% of proceeds. If you can get Mr. Rollins on board, then we have a deal.

Also:


Altho I do have to question the "Tea Party Porno" avatar of yours...
"Yeah baby. Cutting away all those Big Government programs left me aching.... Come on over here..."


This made me laugh. When people at Questionland Happy Hour or Slog Happy have asked me what the picture is all about, I used to explain that it was a costume for Halloween '08, when I dressed as a "patriot" and tried to register people to vote at parties. Nice idea, not so successful in practice. Anyway, now when people ask, I'm just going to look them in the eye and say "Tea Party Porn."

Although I am a little resentful that the Tea Party nuts seem to have managed to abscond with something that belongs to all of us. My costume, just like the actual founders, predates the Tea Party.
93
@69: I don't know you, and I've never said anything to you. We have no quarrel with one another.

@68: That doesn't rationalize Dan's persistent use of the F-bomb. If he is irritated enough by something in a comment, then he can take the high road and say nothing, walk away, or if impelled to comment, respond coolly and cogently (which Mike @67 has done very well here). The F-bombs began on some fairly sober discussions where at least once, possibly more, other people told Dan to back off and that he was way out of line. And then on lighter topics, like critiquing his sense of entitlement, it's been more of the same.

It would be more productive if you didn't use a big brush to paint me as a troll. Trolls are sadists; if anything, I'm more a masochist, but I digress. I read The Stranger, SLOG, and Line Out — and like you, I make comments. When Dan dismisses valid arguments outright (as with the conversations in the above links), it's not very useful to anyone, especially when a salient argument is being made.

@67: Mike, next comment.
94
But you didn't "take him to task for being a douchebag." You accused him of taking kickbacks for recommending products in his column.


I accused Dan of not disclosing bias which favours a product. I also discussed advertisers of his column do so because it's his column, and not The Stranger in general. This does not amount to a kickback. It does amount to probable ad buys being set to a higher rate than other columns in the publication. Ultimately, ad buys pay for the operation of the publication just as they also pay for salaries. There's also nothing wrong with that. When certain books, products, or services are name-dropped in three different letters in the same week's column, then it's probably prudent to say, "These folks did not pay me to say this, and it doesn't really reflect the publication where I happen to be editor-in-chief." He did give a call-to-action by saying, "Anyone who's ever struggled with monogamy . . . needs to read Sex at Dawn," which is perfectly appropriate for a for-profit media outlet. One could go to a library and borrow it, and that doesn't amount to a sale. What isn't appropriate is speaking with the authority of giving advice and then pitching the same title thrice without saying, "Just to be clear, they didn't pay me to say this," because it certainly looks otherwise. If, say, next week he wrote a column where every response recommended the same product — say, a lube — would this make any difference? I don't think so.

What's more, you made a thinly-veiled assertion that he was driven to do this by the financial demands of an extravagant lifestyle


I used the word "cosy". I define that as "not having to worry about where the next paycheque has to come from" -- not "lavish", "spendthrifty", or as you said it, "extravagant". If you read anything beyond "cosy" (also means "comfortable"), that is something you'll have to suss out on your own.

Then the first "fuck off" of this conversation from Dan queued. That was not necessary. But moving on.

But then you started running around whining about how he was being rude and unproductive. Sounds ridiculous, doesn't it? But it's what you did


No, the next thing I did was to tell Dan to stop reflexively telling me to fuck off. He assumed I meant "Babeland" (i.e., Toys in Babeland). His assumption was off. Then, the next thing I said was that the SL letter of the day writer was an arse, but he did raise one point of interest: that of pitching, or "soft advertising" ("hard advertising" would involve money, I'd think, but I did not think that was the case here). I went on to tell Dan that he should disclose his preferential bias for a product to preserve his own integrity as a writer giving advice. For the last SL column, this product would have been the Sex at Dawn title.

Clear the air? Bullshit, that's not what you were after.


That's precisely what I was after. It's hard to have a semi-cogent conversation when people are lobbing "fuck yous" your way. It's a knee-jerk defensive mechanism that doesn't really advance anything productively.

Then Dan's second "fuck you" happened.

You didn't start acting like you wanted an actual discussion until after you had been a dick and he told you to fuck off.


If I hadn't wanted an actual discussion, then I would have gone out a few minutes earlier for lunch and saved those 5-10 minutes time for myself.

Then you started playing the aggrieved party


Because? For what should I be aggrieved? I'm not losing or gaining anything out of the discussion. I called him on something (which in a grand scheme was not exactly major, but good to acknowledge anyway), and rather than him responding, "Uh, no, here's the deal," he just flatly dismissed with the f-all.

and acting like his "schoolyard language" was somehow an inappropriate response to you suggesting, without any support other than your own speculation, that he was taking kickbacks:


Telling people to "fuck off" with little to no further comment doesn't really say anything except that one's reacting defensively. And still, "kickbacks" was not something I said or even considered. That has so far been the word you have used.

He could have coolly ticked my argument, point-by-point, to tatters, or he could have said nothing at all. That is not what happened.


You didn't have an argument. You had a nasty comment that you only later tried to recast as merely the thesis statement of some kind of investigation into journalistic integrity.


At most, the "nasty comment" about his cosy living was a comment — hell, a critique — about how "he was his own man", remarking Hartiepie @2, though aided by his placement as a column writer that got there through an aggressive entrepreneurship. Sure, it's fine to be entrepreneurial, but at least acknowledge how you go there first before having people tell you that "you're your own" person. When ad buyers pay for space on a column, there are always some limits of compromise in what can be said. Advertisers like consistency and predictability of content; inconsistency and volatility are what discourage ad buys from closing. If you, Mike, ever have worked in media, this would be a 101-level lesson.

And guess what? Dan actually met you halfway, which is more than I would've done

Um... I am an employee of the Stranger. They paper sells ads around the content I create—the column, blog posts, the podcast, etc. I get a salary. I don't get a cut, or a percentage, and there's a wall between edit and advertising.


After two "fuck-offs"? That is hardly what I'd call "half-way". But once he said this, I responded:

@32: Okay. It's a good disclaimer. Thanks.


Full-stop.

What he wrote here is not news. It's standard practice and taken for granted by anybody with even a minimum of knowledge of how newspapers operate.


And that minimum knowledge is to have a disclaimer saying, paraphrased, all opinions are of the author/columnist and not of the editorial staff, the publication, or its advertisers. Having worked for both dailies and weeklies, this is common practice.

Nothing to see here, right? Wrong! This put your entire invented kerfluffle to a stop


It's "kerfuffle", but no matter.

THAT's what it took to derail your crusade?


There was a crusade? Making a critical comment — even if a little bitchy — is a crusade? You're serious? Wow. I wonder what that would make the actual Crusades then? The Super-Crusades? Is there a variant of Godwin's Law we could use for when "crusade" is name-dropped?

You look like a complete idiot, here, and your bizarrely florid writing style ("I think the emerging point is..."; "I have yet to bring up ethics forthwith.") isn't helping.


Nor is mocking the way someone writes.

If you're going to convert your bitchy comments into "cogent arguments" after the fact, do some research about the subject first so that completely run-of-the-mill, 'two plus two equals four'-style statements don't stop you in your tracks.


I think what needs to be clarified has been so done in this response. QED and all that.

I see a lot of commenters who I respect treating you with kid gloves over this, so I'm assuming that you're normally not this stupid.


OK. To those commenters treating me with kid gloves: PLEASE STOP. Be blunt and honest. That always works better (except at dinner parties).

Calling me "stupid" isn't helping, either.

Maybe Mondays are tough for you. But as somebody who doesn't really remember any of your other comments that I've read . . .


And therein lies your deficiency for making this argument without any back-history between Dan's cycle of "fuck-offs" and this discussion. It never hurts to learn from history.

. . . you sure seem like you're picking a fight for no good reason but then acting like a victim when the other guy comes out swinging,


OK. Let's re-cap: I make critical comment about disclosure, then "fuck off", then point out that while letter writer was an arse, disclosure is something Dan should state; another "fuck off"; then another "Dan should disclaim" and pointing out that his "fuck-offs" are off-putting; then he acknowledges a disclaimer; then I thank him for said disclaimer.

I don't feel like a victim.

trying to pretend that you were just engaged in thoughtful roughhousing and trying to take some kind of imaginary high ground. "Schoolyard language," for Pete's sake! You started the fight and then act like Dan is being childish for fighting back. What a dick!


You have a point? I think I've made mine.

But on the off chance that you're not an asshole and that your first comment here actually was a genuine attempt at starting a conversation, here's how you might rewrite it and get a response that isn't "Fuck off" from Dan: . . .

. . . I'm sure you can detect the difference in tone between your opening comment and what I've written here


I can tell a difference, but I don't need a comment editor — well, beyond myself — to screen how I phrase a comment made to a blog.

Of course, at this point a hearty "I'm sorry for trolling you and then pretending that I actually had a legitimate beef" and/or "I'm sorry that my opening comment was so sarcastic and assumed guilt in the absence of evidence" would probably be necessary, too.


You're out of line.
95
Dear all who joined Dan in a "me-too" moment of telling me to fuck off:

No. I don't have a quarrel with you. If you have one with me, fine. Until it is shared why there is one, then I don't know what the quarrel is about and it is not my problem.

Articulate your point, set me to ignore, or walk away. I don't care.
96
@ 92 If i could get him on board with things I want to do, we wouldn't be having this conversation. I'd be otherwise engaged...

Oh, and Fuck off Telsa.
97
@18: Telsa may be a bumface, but he/she didn't misspell "cosy". That's how we spell it here in the UK. And we're right, of course.
98
@90 It's not a study, it's a book, and you can read it any time you want: "The Hite Report on Male Sexuality" by Shere Hite.

I don't really care whether monogamy or non-monogamy is called "natural," I'm just saying most people don't stop noticing or thinking about other people just because they are in a monogamous relationship. I've been in a monogamous relationship for 23 years, so I guess I don't find it all that difficult either, I'm just saying I've *thought* about other people, and I'm sure my husband has, too. And you didn't answer that part of the question: Do you think about other people? Find other people attractive? If you say yes, then you'd have to admit that you are monogamous by choice, because you've made that commitment with your partner, or you'd feel too guilty otherwise, or you don't want to risk hurting your relationship, all of which come from the "socialized" part of you, not from your inner caveman or cavewoman. It would also be interesting to know more about you: How long have you been in a monogamous relationship? That may have some bearing here, because if you had asked me this question in year 1 of my marriage, I'm sure I would have said, "not thinking of anyone else ever!"
99
@Tesla #94: Undisclosed bias? How is it undisclosed? He says he thinks the book is great in the column - that seems like disclosure of his bias that the book it great to me...

Are you complaining that Dan is subject to financial motivations for some of his actions? Welcome to a capitalist society... Given what the book is saying, it makes perfect sense for Dan to plug it, since it provides some science to back up his anecdotal observations. I don't see why there would be any suspicion of kickbacks or other impropriety here. It sounds more like you have a problem with the way capitalist economics forces a society to organize, and you're taking it out on Dan specifically for some reason.

About the letters: What is the first guy's beef with the July 8 column? That wasn't even one of the more controversial ones. Is the issue with telling a woman that her husband isn't gay because he likes sloppy seconds? Telling a woman to be honest with herself and others that she's not into monogamy? Advising someone who to have an open, honest discussion about opening a marriage in order to avoid the inevitable "cheating" that will occur in lieu of that? This HAS to simply be a anti-anything-except-"traditional"-sexuality letter, right?

Also, evolutionary psychology, WHEN PRACTICED IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE SCIENTIFIC METHOD, is not "unscientific". There ARE a lot of people running around calling their unscientific assertions in furtherance of their own agendas "evolutionary psychology," but of course there are plenty of people who assert that cryptobiology, astrology, and Untelligent Design are science. Don't listen to them, and don't let them denigrate actual, scientific evolutionary psychology. Genetics absolutely plays a role in how our brains work, and these features are (were) indisputably selected-for. Please do not generalize bad science to describe an entire scientific discipline.
100
Holy crap, Telsa's a bore.