Savage Love Letter of the Day: Object Lessons, Cont.

Comments

1
Columns like this need a trigger warning.
3
So today "I'm interested in ___ people" is harmless and super-common, but "I'm not interested in ___ people" makes one an asshole and guilty of felony objectification.

But only eight months ago, a person asked Dan if listing their "preference for cisgender women" (clearly expressed as a positive, which today Dan deems just fine) was offensive. Dan summarized that positive preference as a negative ("not into trans women") for some reason, and then said it was the type of asshole thing that an ally shouldn't do.

What changed in the last eight months? And why eight months ago did the positive and negative formulations - clearly an important distinction today - seem to be so interchangeably bad that Dan's reply switched them up?

http://www.thestranger.com/columns/savag…
4
@3 because people. Or alcohol. Or both.

I donno. I puruse ok cupid and craigslist. Plenty of people say looking for slim, looking for chubby etc. At first I felt offended but then again, people have a right to their preferences.... better to know it ahead of time.

So. There is that.
5
Stating, and looking for, people who fit your preferences is what dating sites are all about. Everybody has something they're looking for, and being upfront about it is just being efficient...as long as you're not being an asshole about it. My preference for women with a good sense of humor and an affinity for the outdoors isn't meant to denigrate those who are humorless hermits, it just means we wouldn't be a good fit.
6
@3: Way back in 2011, Dan encouraged a guy to describe himself as "attracted to cis women" in lieu of "not into transwomen": http://www.thestranger.com/seattle/Savag…

But then in 2015 he doubled down on that letter that conflated "expressing my preference for cisgender women" with "putting 'not into trans women' in your online dating profile," and told a male follow-up that it was unacceptable to do either:
http://www.thestranger.com/columns/savag…

What changed in 4 years? Maybe the insufferable glitter-bomb crowd of Tumblrinas got to him.

Now it's acceptable to say you're into transwomen, but (I'm betting) not acceptable to express that you're looking for ciswomen. Got it: you're allowed to specifically, positively say you're into such-and-such as long as such-and-such is bronze or higher in the Oppression Olympics. You're not allowed to say you're into a group that's considered "privileged," even in the positive.
7
"Non-op trans-women? Intriguing, that's an unusual kink..." I thought. Then I clicked on Bailey Jay's site and realized they mean non-op-in-the-pants, and not non-op-all-over. I was disappointed, I'm not really sure why.
8
Oh, those being loudly puzzled about WHY, this is not so tricky.

First, the negative vs. positive phrasing, WHY could there be any issue with "looking for cis women" when it's 'positive' just like "looking for trans women"? Because this isn't about the surface structure of the sentence, it's about what you're saying. "Only into cis" (and "only" is what we're talking about) and "not into trans" are formally different, sure, and maybe one's less obnoxious than the other, but they mean the same thing, and the meaning is a negative statement.

And WHY do I say it's about trans (negative) instead of about cis (positive)? Because be real, to cis people "trans" is the marked one and "cis" is the absence of trans. Ask them to describe themselves at length and what % will mention "cis"? It's the default, it carries next to no information. So when somebody cis writes "looking for cis", they 99.9% did not go out there thinking "cis is so hot", they were thinking "no trans" and this is the wording they came to for that thought.

I'm all geared up to ignore any reply that just reiterates "but this is the same as that" without engaging what I already said, so give me a surprise.
9
Second, about "attraction is all about personal preferences, they are what they are" -- yes, but.

How people want to raise children and to work outside the home is their business, and if they can do what their heart wants to do that's great, but you notice how what their heart wants has a tendency to line up with our gender biases so it's the woman in the het couple that wants to stay home? You still do what you want, but you might give that bias-conformant preference a litttle extra look, a little pushback. Likewise when you find your sexual / romantic attraction happens to line up with social prejudices.

The other "but" is when you have a non-attraction ruling out something you haven't tried, or even had real exposure to. No, this doesn't mean every straight man has to try gay buttsex to make really sure, sorry, but there's a continuum, and we can push a /little/ out of our comfort zones.
10
I think the comment thread on yesterday's email thread might help here. This was: gay guy meets gay guy who he really likes and is very kink-compatible with, but has some behavioral traits that the LW found annoying (boisterous, boundary-violating public conversations, etc).

Why did Dan suggest trying to work it out and explain what was bugging him about this guy, rather than just shrugging it off and trying elsewhere? Because the compatible dating pool (gay, kink-sync) is very small.

Saying you're into girls with dicks means you're saving yourself lots of time, while offending very few people, mostly people who are hypersensitive. Saying you're "NO TR***IES ALLOWED" marginalizes people who are already marginalized, while saving yourself very little time (very few trans women are gonna have coffee with that guy anyway).
11
@10, BigStraightAl, the LW from that thread referenced by @6, was a lesbian.
Impressed by your memory of these threads Gui.
Mtn.Beaver, there was a big big discussion/ argument/ when this thread went up eight months ago.
12
James @3: Nope. Saying "I'm not interested in _____" makes you an asshole. It doesn't make you "guilty of felony objectification." Saying "I'm interested in _____" and treating the _____ human beings you pull as if they're not human beings makes you guilty of felony objectification.

Saying "cis women only" doesn't make you an asshole. It just makes you ineligible to claim you are a trans ally.

Hope I've clarified things for you.
13
Right on, BigStraightAl. Well explained.
14
@8: " I'm all geared up to ignore any reply that just reiterates "but this is the same as that" without engaging what I already said, so give me a surprise."

Don't expect any surprises, just snark and ranting about Dan catering to "PC people" without really thinking about what either of you said.
15
Why the hell would someone need to say they prefer cis women?! There are VERY few trans women out there, you're probably not going to encounter any trans people anyway. It's a completely different situation if you prefer a minority.
16
Sorry@11 was in reference to what@3 brought up.
17
@1
But start with editing.
Letter & response are incoherent.
18
Add me to the minority / majority camp. There are so few trans people on dating sites and they mostly identify themselves up front that actually putting "No trans people!" in your profile makes you look like an asshole, because it's completely unnecessary unless you are super duper worried you might accidentally have some casual contact (as in, coffee) with a trans person. And "cis-women only" is exactly the same.... You already have heterosexual male in your profile.

However, if you are into non-profit transsexuals, there is an overwhelming practical reason to put that in your profile, as it notifies both the small number of no-op trans people who are already having a tough time finding someone into them that you actually will be into them, and it notifies the large number of relatively non-persecuted cis-women that this isn't the profile for them.

So, yes, it's totally reasonable to treat the two differently BECAUSE THEY ARE DIFFERENT.
19
*no-op, not non-profit, silly phone.
20
"Likewise when you find your sexual / romantic attraction happens to line up with social prejudices."

Bulllllshiiiit.

Sexual attraction is one of those pesky things that obstinately refuses to behave the way it's told. If reading Savage Love has taught us nothing else, it's taught us that lust wants what it wants, even if it's socially unacceptable, even if it's going to ruin our lives, even if it's turning us into raging assholes, even if it's embarrassing / stigmatized / humiliating.

There's no shortage of men who would drown in their own drool at the thought of a transwoman. They may be torn up about their feelings, ashamed, and only pursue what they really desire in secret with conflicting feelings and self-loathing, but the attraction is there despite the common social prejudices. Same with liking big women, being gay, etc.

The vehement "doth protest too much" of a festering closet case certainly has something to do with social prejudice. But "meh, doesn't do it for me"...is just that. It makes about as much sense to say lesbianism is due to brainwashing by man-hating feminists, or male gayness is a result systemic cultural misogyny.
21
"we've bought and used pegging toys that allow him to (at least partially) experience his fantasy" - this sounds like his fantasy is to be topped by a trans woman. Are most trans women into that? I think I'd have assumed not, but can't pretend to have any expertise....
22
@8 Mt. Beaver, I think that makes sense and @ 15 and @18 I think makes great sense. Its very different to be "I want slim or I want chubby" when representative - ahum- samples abound in the dating pool. Its not the same dating pool as those available for the not straight.

So I am curious what people recommend for LW then (or rather her husband). Is what he doing offensive? Is he going about it the right way?
23
OkC allows users answer hundreds questions, include some related to one's interest in dating someone transgender. OkC also allows users to search for people who are "Transgender," "Transsexual," and "Trans Women." As such, I think PENIS' husband shouldn't have too great a problem identifying a potential sex partner who fits his interest without having to be particularly specific in his summary, perhaps thereby obviating this dilemma.

Another suggestion for PENIS' husband is to leave a breadcrumb in his profile. For instance, some submissive women list that Secretary among their favorite movies, among other clues, as low key way of signaling dominant men, without placing BDSM front and center in their profile.

Of course after all this, PENIS and PENIS' husband may ultimately realize that the biggest hurdle isn't find a transgender woman, but that the women he finds in his area are looking for someone other than a married man in a open relationship.
24
I'm a non op transwoman who's into couples
PENIS we already have words to describe what your looking for, I personally like trans amorous, be sure to mention he's looking for a woman who wants or is willing to top (they are out there but it's not a default). Other than that READ profiles! Most trans women put it in the first paragraph to try to avoid those cis only people. I can't tell you how often I get messages on my dating profile from men and when I ask about their interest in trans(me) it usually ends up in 'whoops sorry not my thing'. If this is you know that I screen shot our convo and post it to the running meme on my blog titled Menz who can't read...
25
OF COURSE it's fetishizing.

It turns out it's a super normal human activity to fetishize other people. It's as natural as talking to them. Honestly, most of us will never matter so much as when someone else fetishizes us. If you are an American, you are an object, full stop; who cares if some other non-person treats you like a non-person?
26
@6 almost - but if you are (say) only in to black women, that's not cool these days.

What it really boils down to is that people identify as some type of marginalized group have basically given each other the OK to be jerks online.
27
@23: "Another suggestion for PENIS' husband is to leave a breadcrumb in his profile. For instance, some submissive women list that Secretary among their favorite movies, among other clues, as low key way of signaling dominant men, without placing BDSM front and center in their profile."

Way too subtle and if someone did pick up the cue you mentioned, may likely have the opposite effect you intended.
28
on Fetlife this would get him eaten alive. A lot of trans women find it very upsetting to be fetishized for something about their body which they don't want to have. The "chicks with dicks" stereotype is harmful to many. Source: recent thread in the Seattle Area Personals Ads group in Fetlife, among others.
29
@27 lol.

Imagine the dude who breaks out the whips and handcuffs then being like "BUT YOUR PROFILE SAID YOU LIKED SECRETARY!!!"
30
As Dan said in his response, people are objects also, just keep in mind a whole person is in front of you. If people treat others like objects only in other parts of their lives, then the same will hold in the sex/ romance department.
Maybe LW, don't put such an add on fetlife.
31
@27 I think there was a whole discussion of this between Dan & Mistress Mattisse on the podcast where they advocated for this kind of approach because it's "creepy" to put your kinks directly on your profile. I strongly disagree.
32
DH @28
A lot of trans women find it very upsetting to be fetishized for something about their body which they don't want to have.

Many pre-op transsexual sex workers come across as pretty neurotic. I think that may have something to do with this. Presumably, they want to be desired as the women they feel themselves to be, but their clients are mostly interested in their dicks.
33
As part of a couple who like trans women in our recreational sex life, this part of us isn't our our shining moment as tran allies. But it is mostly expressed at kink sex parties or with the engaging of for profit no op trans women. And when we want a trans woman who is into penis penetration, we most certainly are fetishizing the prospective party. But the transwoman who advertised shes a top and into couples on a sex work website or on a kink site is pretty much engaged into fulfilling a fetish. So go for it and ask for what you want in a positive way.

On the other hand, even at an orgy, there are times of just chit chat and if you run from a trans woman at those times, or a trans man but we haven't encountered one yet, then you are being an asshole.

We have met one trans woman at a kink party who we are not going to have sex with (shes in a committed relationship and shes there because shes an exhibionistic submissive). I totally crush on her and we share in common views on politics, sustainability and politics that are similar. We discovered these because we talked to her as a person. So while I would love to be tied up and whipped with her, and that's not going to happen, we are happy to have her as a party friend.

When it comes to kink, you need to ask for what you want to get it (almost all of the time). But you can be a nice person as you do.
34
@32: "Many pre-op transsexual sex workers come across as pretty neurotic. I think that may have something to do with this."

Also because they're not generally I n a great state to afford the surgery?
35
uar @34 I don't know. I'm not talking about destitute streetwalkers here, but about "middle class" sex workers who should earn enough to set savings aside for surgery. Maybe that is even why they started the sex work in the first place.