Columns Nov 19, 2009 at 4:00 am

Co-Workers of the World


I find it rather odd that the word "faggot" is somehow offensive to Mr. Savage but he has no problem calling people with mental disabilities "tard" or "retard". I can only assume that he doesn't really mean it and that calling gay people "faggot" is perfectly acceptable in his world.

So to the letter writer I would suggest that you do what Mr. Savage does rather than what he says and simply go along with your co-worker's use of the word. Use it yourself!
People who preferentially seek out the mates of others are known as "mate-poachers" in the research literature. they are shown to often be untrustworthy, selfish, arrogant and generally not nice. I recently published a book, Insatiable Wives, Women who Stray and the Men Who Love Them, that explores the dynamics and issues of both the first two letters. And, it includes several nice references to Savage Love!
@97: I completely agree that Dan's response to NMP is inconsistent and hypocritical given his recent use of the word "Tard" to refer to men with Down syndrome. Dan Savage can claim the f-word for himself, but he does not get to decide
whether or not the word "Tard" is offensive. And neither do you, @51. As the mother of a child with Down syndrome who is not yet old enough yet to advocate for himself, I do.
So sad. Who are you Mr. Savage, to decide that "n**ger" and "f*gg*t" are unacceptable words, yet the word "tard" is perfectly fine. I've got news for you; THEY ARE ALL UNACCEPTABLE! You may find humor in the word "tard", but it is a word that has inflicted pain and shame on millions of people with mental disabilities because ignorant people like you like to yak it up as "funny". Laugh as much as you choose, but you will not laugh me out of my opinion. You are a hypocrite, Mr. Savage; and a mean one at that.
#105: I don't see the hypocracy. "Retard" does is just plain not the same as "Nigger" or "Faggot". You can't deny a guy a job because he's black. You shouldn't be able to deny a guy a job because he's gay. But you can definitely deny a guy a job because he's retarded.

Black people should not have to be treated like less-capable human beings just because they are black. Gay people should not have to be treated like less-capable human beings just because they are gay. Retarded people are less-capable human beings my definition.

So implying someone is incompetent because they are black or gay is offensive. Implying someone is incompetent because they are retarded is, well, true.
RE: NMP. I asked once and I'll ask you again Dan, just what are you thinking? Oz Squad Alpha's comment is rational and correct, as are the others who have commented on your hypocrisy. Surely you "get it" by now. Your silence does not surprise me, but it does speak volumes. We are left to draw our own conclusions. Perhaps you won't apologize for your use of the word tard, retard, etc. because you are unable to admit when you are wrong. If you did, it would damage your ego, change the way your readers think of you, hurt your standing or lose you 'cool points'? Or, maybe you simply disregard people with intellectual disabilities because you see them as less than worthy of respect and having little value. They just don't matter to you? If any of these are your reasons, let me just say, that's a bag of BS. It's not to late Dan. Admit your hypocrisy and apologize, or, watch as parents of children with disabilities (like me) take you to school and hand you your own back end. Then again, maybe you just love the attention.
#51 jssmbdy: So what you are saying is that it is OK to use a word to insult someone as long as you don't use it to insult someone who it actually applies to. So it would be wrong to call Mr. Savage a faggot but it would be OK to call a person who acts like the stereotype of a gay person but who isn't gay, a faggot. Don't you worry that doing so would create a hostile environment for gay people even if the word wasn't directed at them? And, of course, in this case Mr. Savage did direct the word at people with Down syndrome so your argument seems to not apply.

And I should add that most people with Down syndrome are perfectly aware they are being insulted when they are called "retard" or when that word is used around them.
You're such a retard, Dan.
Too many comments here already but here`s my 2 cents. Regarding NWP, I think she should talk to the person throwing the word faggot around herself. She can start the conversation with: I know you are pissed off with X, but...

The offender doesn`t even necessarily have a particular problem with gays, just the one that she is in competition with and she needs to know that NWP doesn`t find her speech acceptable. Talking to HR before talking to her escalates the situation when this may not be necessary. HR are always there for backup if the direct approach fails.
perhaps the coworker in NMP's office just watched the recent south park that suggests the word 'fag' should no longer be used as a derogatory term for gay, and instead is a non-sexual insult similar to asshole or fuckwad. if so, it would be irrelevant that the competitor is gay; he might simply be an asshole.
Right on advice as always, Dan!!
Keep up your great column!
@110: Gee---for someone who signs his /her name "forward thinking", it doesn't sound like you are.

Get a grip!
@73: Wow--you're right: @64 IS a shitty poet and doesn't know it!
In relation to NMP, here in Maryland the law is such that if someone uses a term and a third party overhears it and is offended, that person can sue the enterprise for sexual harassment. That is, one doesn't have to be involved at all, one could just be overhearing something in another cubicle.
Are you EFFIN kiddin' me, Dan?

1. You have the balls to argue that somebody should lodge an HR or legal complaint when using the f- or n-word in a derogatory manner (which, in fact, I agree that they should), but at the same time you use "retard" or "tard" or "retarded" or "leotarded" (long list, huh?) in a derogatory manner all the time???

2. Is your argument based solely on the idea that discrimination against Black people and gays/lesbians is illegal under U.S. anti-discrimination law? Hmmmm... that doesn't quite work given that all people with disabilities (including INTELLECTUAL DISABILITIES) are afforded the same exact legal rights (and in some cases MORE protection) under Federal and State laws.

3. You argue that you would "resent the assumption... that since [you're] white she can use racist speech" in your presence. So, is it just RACIST speech that offends you because you're not a racist POS (your words, not mine)? Does that mean that you are just a POS that thinks it's okay to demean, belittle, ostracize, offend, patronize, and trample on the rights of people with a mental disability?

4. Is your argument that racist and anti-gay language is not okay because if a workplace tolerates one, they must tolerate the other? That doesn't seem to be the case in your workplace. Obviously, you don't tolerate racist or anti-gay language (except when you "claim" the f-word for yourself) in your workplace, but advocate for using the word "retard" as synonymous with "dumbass," "lame," and "stupid," or simply to poke fun at people with an intellectual disability. So, if you don't tolerate some, why do tolerate (and yourself use!) the word retard in a similar fashion? Although I do not know for sure, I'm willing to put money on the fact that no person with an intellectual disability would claim the word "retard" like you choose to claim the f-word.

5. Interestingly, you told NMP that if people use the n-word when no Black people are around they are likely using the f-word when no gay people are in the room. I claim this is interesting because you clearly use "retard" regardless of who hears it, including people who themselves have, or are family members of somebody who has, an intellectual disability. Hell, you even call people with these disabilities "retards"!!!!

6. Clearly you wouldn't claim using "retard" is your First Amendment right while arguing that people shouldn't be afforded the same First Amendment rights to use other hateful and hurtful speech (f- and n-words are you most recent examples in this blog post). Honestly, that was probably the only argument I would have bought from you. Just because speech is protected by the First Amendment doesn't make it right or good, but at least the First Amendment affords me the right to tell somebody who uses hurtful speech what I think of it. And trust me, I'm trying REAL hard to use my protected speech in an effective and meaningful way right now instead of using a long list of ad hominem attacks.

7. Maybe you simply don't value people with intellectual disabilities... People who use the f- and n-words clearly don't respect and value Black people or gays/lesbians. So maybe that's it. Maybe you don't value people with mental disabilities. But wait. That doesn't work either, does it, Dan? Because you were ready to embrace your child back when you thought FAS was a possibility.

I can't figure it out on my own, Dan. I need your help, and your silence begs too many questions...

So, back to my original question: Are you effin kiddin' me? Either you are a hypocrite, or you're a dumbass that can't see when his own logic has failed him.





The people with intellectual disabilities - and their friends and family who love them - weren't in the room when you wrote "Tard Supper" so just help us understand why all people should embrace such labels.

Excellent point! I hadn't thought of that, but it's so true. Always being "pitched to" all the time really is unattractive and a buzz kill. And it reeks of desperation. Women are sooooo used to the pathetic pitches all day long that it's refreshing to be around someone that's not playing any game, just being himself. And it draws her in. Makes perfect sense.
Not My Problem needs to first address the offending co-worker directly. If the use of "faggot" persists after that, then it would be appropriate to go to management or HR.
@107, there are a lot of folks out there with mental retardation who hold jobs and contribute to society. In offices, even. I know a local fellow with Down syndrome who works in a law office preparing case files for court.

As long as they meet the job requirements, folks with retardation should have the exact same opportunity to work a job as anyone else. Denying someone a job for which they are qualified just because they have retardation is also blatant discrimination.

And besides, I think the point is more about the vocabulary in this case, isn't it?

I think it's all been said, but I will throw out there that I am sick of the hypocrisy, Dan.
I agree with the commenters about Dan's double-standard; a slur is a slur, and I'm still ticked that Dan Savage, whose columns I love and read every week, would think that writing "tard" or "retarded" is okay.

jssmbdy (comment #51) makes an interesting point, and it's true that the word "retarded" began with a non-pejorative meaning, but so did "negro," and people tend to avoid that word today, because its context has changed. I believe "retarded" is the same way.

Regardless: come on, Dan, explain yourself!
I am not a lawyer but it is my belief that harassment is illegal - and use of the terms 'nigger' and 'faggot' DO fall under the definition of harassment. This co-worker may find herself in a lot of unexpected hot water for what might seem to her like a small thing. Workplaces are still fearful of harassment suits.

I worked in a DNA sequencing lab for a few months which was managed by a man who lost his previous job because he had a kitschy postcard of a girl in a swim suit from Florida - totally as a joke, the guy is gay. One of the women who worked for him saw it, took him to court, she won, he was out the door and was unable to find another job because once HR sees a sexual harassment suit on your record they won't touch you with a 10 foot pole.

I would talk to the co-worker 1 to 1, point out that the use of the word is offensive, and remind her of exactly what she is jumping into.
I wonder when all the people clogging this forum with comments about Dan's misuse of the word "retarded" are going to figure out that Dan doesn't read these comments. You'll be far more likely to get the results you crave if you fill his email inbox instead, folks.
Dear Jesus God, where do you people come from? You are talking about your workplace here! Married people - stop looking for a piece on the side at work! Do you know what adultery does to your workplace rep? Even the most tolerant of bosses will place you in the "drama generation" column when assessing employee value for that one. NOCLUE, your name is perfect, really! What if your co-worker's not at all interested and goes around telling everybody "EEEECCCH, that old married lady in Documentation (or whatever) hit on me"? Do you know what it does to your career to have that be "the word" on you? Excellent advice from the Olivia Dukakis character in Moonstruck: Don't shit where you eat. Get your tail elsewhere!
For the 'faggot' cunt: Just take a shit in her desk drawer, and forget about it.
Oh, and instead of 'retarded', can we just say 'brain-damaged'?
So...have we officially banned the use of the words "nigger" and "faggot" in all workplaces, public places, and all media except cable TV stand-up comedy, hip-hop and/or gay comic performances?

Or are we still in that amorphous world in which the acceptability of slang terminology depends on the context and intent, depending on the comfort level of all those persons in the universe, and in perpetuity.

Personally, as a VERY gay-friendly guy, I hear the words "faggot" and "queer" used by gay and straight alike; the insinuated intent and context of the usage seems to be the determining factor as to whether the terms are to be interpreted as slang or as cultural slurs. The same is true with the term "nigger" (niggah). I find the term generally distasteful and insulting, but it is a slang term widely used by my black friends, but with a potent exclusion for "white folk." Should it not be subject to the same context-related criteria?

The main difference seems to be an implied threat of violent retribution for a misused reference. Both terms carry an identical penalty for malicious harassment (and penalties therefore.) Shouldn't the social implications be uniform?
I read NMP's letter yesterday and thought "Wow, what a jerk you should totally say something" Dan's advice was spot on. Then later in the day I found myself standing by quietly while someone made derogatory comments about a transgendered person. Now I'm the jerk and I feel like scum...
"Smile when you say that."

My momma likes to use the Gary Cooper for perspective when it comes to words.

That's not that line. Cooper and the book both said, "When you call me that, SMILE."

The Virginian hadn't paid attention to someone earlier calling him a son of a bitch. The narrator was shocked. It was a time and place where men have killed each other for less.

When the villain says it...

Therefore Trampas spoke. "Your bet, you son-of-a--."

The Virginian's pistol came out, and his hand lay on the table, holding it unaimed. And with a voice as gentle as ever, the voice that sounded almost like a caress, but drawling a very little more than usual, so that there was almost a space between each word, he issued his orders to the man Trampas: "When you call me that, SMILE." And he looked at Trampas across the table.
@Loveschild: Have you never heard of queerbashing? @belovedlovett: Fuck the haters, you're awesome! @Oz Squad Alpha (#97): This is a cyberspace advice column, not a meatspace office, and you're not Dan's coworker. Grow a spine and get over your bad self, you whiny retarded piece of shit. Or just get in line behind biggie's better opinion in 107. ;-P

@ "Male DNA=Men's room" (#36):
That would be exactly as inappropriate as a lesbian diddling herself to the same thing in the same place, or a gay male jerking off to you peeing right next to you. And in case you can't do the math, the degree of inappropriateness here is "entirely." If you want to jerk off, use the internet at home. The workplace is, whadday fuckin' know, a place for work.

As for the rest of you, who ever said that casual non-commitment-related sex was "meaningless?" Maybe it's not your cup of tea, and that's fine. But keep in mind that there are plenty of people who find your silly matrimonial song and dance to be meaningless, too. And that's OK. People are different and value different things; the problem here, as I see it, is that NFW is asking a stranger (albeit an intelligent and experienced and witty one) what another individual is thinking, and wanting to generalize from there. I call bullshit. If NFW really wants to know what's going on in this chick's head, he ought to ask her - and he also ought to be OK with the prospect that even she might not know, or might not be willing to share. But at the end of the day, arbitrary social conventions are arbitrary. The important part is to find a way to play the games you like with a number of people you're comfortable with, and then everybody wins because the point is playing in the first place.
Savage's column used to be titled "Hey Faggot."
Savage's column used to be titled "Hey Faggot."
NFW, take it from me: It's a bad idea to sleep with coworkers. Bad. Plus, maybe she unconsciously backed off once she realized that you have more than one source of STD's to share with her.

I can't tell from the letter whether he said to her what he said to Dan and us about "it's not about nailing everything that walks by," but maybe that's what she thought.
BTW, without reading all the other comments, Dan, your advice to NOCLUE is some of the finest columnar advice I have ever read anywhere, any time, in my 51 years on this planet.

@11 Hate to burst the bubble, but my married boyfriend did divorce his wife to be with me. Like you, I didn't believe it (that never happens, right?) until he did. Go figure.
This is NFW (really it is) Thanks for the additional advice, my wife and I have enjoyed reading them.
A little clarification, the letter was not so much about this particular co-worker as it was about this happening in general. One small point that I didn't make in the letter was that this only happens with straight women. Bi women, transgendered people, and men never get caught up on my arrangement (Dan edited out the part about my being Bi but that is ok).

How do you nonmonogamous people do it? I barely have the time and energy to juggle the demands of my job, marriage,and children without trying to find other partners. Trying to balance their emotional needs/demands with those of a third party is daunting. Casual sex is unappealing and investing the time and effort to develop a satisfying extra marital relationship doesn't seem possible.
#95/CyndiGuy: "I have an observation along the same lines as Dan's to NFW. I traveled a lot in my job and was away from home weeks and months at a time. I eventually had to stop wearing my wedding ring so that women would quit hitting on me. I guess in their minds the fact some woman, my wife, wanted me, I was worth persuing. Without the ring I was just another single guy."

Women typically complain only about husbands cheating, ignoring the fact that, as you experienced, many women go after married men, knowing full well these men are married. These women couldn't care less about the wives. All they want is their ego stroked.
#98/maddy811: "Maybe married men are more attractive because they're not trying so hard. One of the things I hate about being single is that so few single men just "talk" to me. They're always working an angle, trying a pitch--and I feel manipulated and, on occasion, repulsed by them.

With married men, they interact more naturally cuz they're not trying to score with you. That leaves you more of an opportunity to get to know them...and, surprise surprise, feelings can develop.

I also find that I'm less guarded about myself with men that I know to be taken... so maybe that's part of it too."


I have a feeling you're one of those women who is never going to be satisfied with a single guy's approach to you. If he comes on strong, you'll complain about that. But if he doesn't, if he's willing to just talk to you and get to know you first, then you'll complain that he's not aggressive or sexual enough.

In fact, since you said that "so few" single men just talk to you, there are obviously some single men that do just talk to you. But I'd bet anything you're never interested in those guys.

The reason that single men "try harder" than married men with single women is because -- news flash! -- single men are actually trying to DATE single women. They want to get to know them and, yes, sleep with them too. And because so few single women are willing to take any kind of initiative in dating, that leaves it up to single men. If it wasn't for single men trying, men and women would never go out on dates.
Personally, I have qualms about considering 'retard' to be as insulting as the other words discussed here because it actually IS the descriptor of the target group. Using gay to mean stupid is perverting the word because you are putting an offensive meaning (stupid) onto a word that does not (or should not, rather) have a negative connotation (homosexual). However, being developmentally disabled, mentally handicapped, retarded, or whatever you want to call it, IS a negative thing. The negative connotation does not come from moving a bad thing onto a neutral thing and therefore trying to make it look bad, it comes from simply being a bad thing in the first place.

Therefore it seems to me that retarded became an uncomfortable word because it describes an uncomfortable thing, and in an effort to avoid that feeling new terms were developed to describe the same thing. And those start to become uncomfortable as well, because they describe an uncomfortable thing. So we develop still more terms and start to avoid the old ones, but still the underlying problem remains.

It's a rather tricky situation, because even if someone uses it in a way that would be obviously offensive if they'd said gay instead of retarded ("this new movie is gay/retarded"), there's a somewhat valid defense in that the definition of retarded is loosely similar to that of stupid, whereas it is obviously not the same thing as gay. Try to explain to someone who speaks like that about how retarded people aren't necessarily stupid, just delayed in some aspect, and you'll probably wish you were talking to a brick wall instead, as they'll just brush you off as being a hyper-sensitive loon out to trample their freedom of speech.
#118/Confluence: "Excellent point! I hadn't thought of that, but it's so true. Always being "pitched to" all the time really is unattractive and a buzz kill. And it reeks of desperation. Women are sooooo used to the pathetic pitches all day long that it's refreshing to be around someone that's not playing any game, just being himself. And it draws her in. Makes perfect sense."


Men do what you call "pitching" not out of desperation but because, as I said to Maddy, that's what women expect and require. A man knows that if he doesn't put himself out there and take the initiative, he's probably never going to get a date because very few women are ever going to extend themselves in that way.

142 you're not a lawyer and your story makes no sense. Unless she side stepped HR altogether (if you worked in a DNA lab I'm sure there was an HR)and sought a civil suit, and/or he REFUSED to remove the picture AFTER he was notified that it was deemed offensive there would have been no grounds for a suit or grounds to fire him. Developmental action in terms of a documented discussion perhaps but no lawsuit and no firing.
The manager in the DNA lab either made this up or you misunderstood. This, as described in your post would not get anyone fired. Oh yeah. I'm not a lawyer either just an HR Director for a corporation that covers 14 states.
Do hot young women/men want to sleep with paunchy old men/women? Probably not. I have been the "cute secretary in the workplace you watch way too much porn about" and it disgusts me the number of men who thought they had some kind of "right" to me. Keep it in your pants.

As for SKIRT, you go girls! Don't let the haters keep you from peeing in a seated position! And for those who think men are naturally less hygenic, you have CLEARLY never met a man who identifies as female. They are probably cleaner than most of you, who leave dirty tampons in the toilet for me to find :S.

I don't know about co-ed washrooms in universities...there are some in mine and there are often uh...questionable biological materials in them.

Finally, for the dude who tells women he has a wife, then tells them the relationship is open, then gets all upset when she leaves, it's not really shocking to me that the women he is hitting on fit the typical slut profile. When it comes to girls who hit on boys who already have girls (and yes I do refer to people who do these silly things as children) they have one of two reasons at heart: money or ego. Dan is right about the "I'm so hot I took him away from his wife, and such a pathetic loser I actually believe that" mentality but he forgets the "this guy will buy me guilt presents and maybe a condo so he has a place to make out with me" mentality.

Frankly I think the rest of the comments are from sluts trying to justify their behaviour. As an ex-slut, I really think a person should just admit it. If you're sleeping with another woman's husband, you're not going to get a gold star for your ability to make pointless excuses about it.

And let's face it, if you could make up anything intelligent, weyl, you might have figured out there are other men on earth.

Then again maybe I'm just bitter. Stop hitting on my hubby, you tramps, and my judgement will be a lot less clouded :).
@ 127 Why shouldn't white people be allowed to call black people "niggers" they call themselves that....

um, the term has hundreds of years of oppression based on skin colour (and degree of pigmentation) to go with it. Namely, whites kept blacks as slaves, then in the 18th century, a person's citizenship status was based on whether they were able to identify as "white", "coloured", or "negro" based on the colour of their skin. The darker, the worse. The more "negro" the more derogatory.

A black man who calls a black man negro, is just calling him black. A white man who does it is calling him a lesser human being.

So can we just put the issue to bed? Obviously it's based on connotation and that applies even if black people did NOT use the n word as a derogatory term, which in fact they do.

"Nigger stole my car, nigger stole my girl, nigger a piece of shit" in rap songs.

"You're my nigger" translation: "you're my bitch/slave/so on"

Doesn't sound like a friendly word to me.
Great advice! Thanks for being one of the few non-dumbasses out there, Dan.
NFW, Your recent post reinforces my suspicion that the issue is that some of the straight women who flirt with you don't want to have a real sexual relationship with you at all. They were just casually flirting.

I flirt with some men. They are men I like, but not men I want to sleep with. I'm married, and I'm monogamous, and I'm happy that way. If I thought a guy was "safe" to flirt with, and he told me he had his wife's permission to date me, I'd run for the hills. Because I don't want to date him, and if that's a possibility in his mind then I need to stop flirting with him.

I have a friend who is not (to be blunt) very attractive to women. He once commented to me that he didn't understand why married women were so much friendlier than single women. It's the same thing. Women who were afraid he might be interested in an actual relationship with them tended to keep their distance. Women who believed he would respect their marriage (or would at least not be all offended if they said "no" because they were married) weren't afraid to be friendly with him

So I don't think that women are skeeved out by your being in an open relationship, and I don't think they want to "cheat" with you, I think you are just optimistically interpreting signals that are more about "let's be friends" than about "let's hook up".
Earlier this week I just happened to finish a book on flirting (The Fine Art of Flirting by Joyce Jillson), and I'm already halfway now through a second book on flirting (How to Flirt: A Practical Guide, by Marty Westerman). Before I read these books I would not have really understood the comments here about flirting. But now I understand flirting has nothing to do with dating, it has to do with making the other person feel good, and flirting only happens when you are already feeling good about yourself and also have no other goal at that moment, otherwise it becomes hunting. After reading these books, my radar for detecting flirting versus hunting is better attuned. It is clear that the letter writer talking about flirting was confused about what flirting is or isn't.

Perhaps if the question had been asked, "are you flirting with me?" had been asked, and BTW this is a perfectly acceptable question to ask during flirting, boundaries would thereafter have been clarified and both parties would have been on the same page. Nobody would have ended up running away from anybody else.
Your advice to SKIRT was way off. First of all, why does the employee in question keep being referred to as gay? Gay means being attracted to men AS A MAN. I am tired of transvestites, drag queens, and the gender confused always being lumped in with gays.

Second,"identifying as female" should not mean permission to use the female restroom. He is still a man, no matter what he thinks he is and it isn't fair to the women in the workplace. But the men in the workplace shouldn't have to put up with him dressed like a woman in their restroom either.

HR needs to sit down with this employee and ask him what his intentions are. If he is pursuing a sex change, and is in a doctor-supervised program to do so, the company will have to convert a restroom into a unisex one. My previous employer did so for a MTW transexual until the procedure was completed.

If on the other hand, he is letting his Adam Lambert hang out he needs to be told in no uncertain terms that make-up and women's clothes on men are not tolerated in a place of work. What he does in his personal time is his own business.

After all Dan, if he was a middle-age married straight guy who liked to wear his wife's panties, I'm sure no employer would tolerate him expanding his fetish to other women's clothing in their workplace.

Oh, come on. The women's bathroom has stalls. If the person in the stall next to you has something different in their pants than you do, how does that affect you in any way? You can't even tell unless you are spying under or over the stall. Its not like women get naked and hang out touching each other in the public bathroom. If someone harasses you in the bathroom, THEN you have a complaint about them, regardless of their gender or sex. But the mere fact of them not being exactly the same as you does not make it harassment.
To NMP. Don't be a coward and hide behind HR.

Tell the woman to her face, tactifully, privately. Assure her that you have spoken to nobody about it and that you expect it to stop. If it does not, tell her you will contact HR.

After speaking to her, IMMEDIATELY send an email to yourself documenting your discussion. If she continues with her shit talk, or gives you shit then forward the email in which you documented your discussion to HR, and, cc the woman.

Don't be a pussy. If you want to make a stand, make a stand. Otherwise, keep being a coward.
vitaminwater: using your logic, there is nothing wrong with any man using any women's bathroom then right? I mean, like you said it "has stalls".
Re NFW: I think Dan overlooked a different possibility that is a little less uh, fantastically mean.

Sometimes a woman finds a man, falls for him, and wants him for her own. Sometimes, this man is already taken. But, because she believes that he would be better off with her, and she would be better off with him, she pursues him anyway. If she is the monogamous type, she does it in hopes that he will leave the current woman and go with her. And enter into, for the time being, a monogamous relationship.

I've done this. It worked. We are still together after four years.

But if he had said "well I'll leave my current woman for you, but only if I can have other partners too" I might have thought twice about it.

Serial monogamy and...what do we call it? Complete promiscuity? Total non-exclusivity? These are different things. While serial monogamy may not be monogamy in the truest sense, it at least is an agreement not to be screwing multiple partners simultaneously.

@84: Homosexuals aren't protected under the constitution? Really? I'm an Australian who has never taken a single class to do with American history or politics. I'm not a constitution buff. Still my mind immediately jumped to Amendment 14, section 1:

All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

No-one needs a new article of the constitution to specially guarantee them their rights. Such a law would be redundant, and furthermore it would be sending a message that amendment 14 didn't already guarantee them equal protection. Such a message is dangerous. it paints people as second class citizens in need of special protection because they're not 'really americans' and therefore 14 doesn't apply.

So yeah, go to HR if you need to. Everyone is guaranteed equal protection under the law in your country, and if you are denied it then get the ACLU on your side. shit like workplace discrimination shouldn't stand.
questyman, in our country there is a difference between federal and state law, whereby individual states often have laws that are not constitutional and the citizenry are expected to move away or go to federal court to challenge the status quo. Sodomy for example is illegal in some states, but not others.
In many states workplace discrimination by sexual orientation is not punishable either. There's a link to the state of the Union at my blog.…

Dan's advice is posed for an ideal world which we have not yet created.
NOCLUE is delusional. The husband may not thinks he minds, but he WILL mind. The coworker likely isn't the slightest bit interested. There is no Good Idea in her plan anywhere.

@145: myfairkatie:

I second that!
Some people (married or not) like to flirt. But many don't want to take it any further. Especially if she realized you've had multiple partners while married. All inclusive partners, too. Maybe the straight women you're flirting with have limited sexual experience and you're on a whole different playing field. Maybe she's completely vanilla and she'd be opening herself to something she's not ready for (and probably never will be) but that should be alright. Accept it but my advice would be to apologize. Tell your co-worker you didn't mean to weird her out like that. Don't expect her to be friendly but in the future she might get past it and you could be on 'friendly' terms. I don't mean sleeping with her but just being nice again with some boundaries in place so you don't creep her out.
SKIRT’s bathroom issue is easy: Whatever your sex, you should be able to use the waste receptacle you feel most comfortable using. An establishment’s separation of restrooms by gender is a courtesy to its patrons, offered at their own discretion. People aren’t guaranteed a particular restroom at any public destination. Separate restrooms are a luxury, so I don’t know why someone would tell a person they cannot go into one if they can’t go in the other? As for perverts, I’m sure they go in and do whatever they intend to, regardless of what it says on the door. Could it be that those apposed to SKIRT, or any other genderqueer individuals using certain restrooms, are still under the impression that she and others like her are perverted?
there are women that literally LIVE for the conquest that fucking/entangling a married/attached man, or even an object of another woman's desire, represents.
these women usually like with a prolific and pandemic sense of envy. they usually NEVER admit to being jealous, EVER (it's not fun for anyone, but let's face it- EVERYONE experiences it once in a while... and in some people it is channeled in really healthy ways!) and like to pretend they are completely beyond desiring what another woman has, even though it's taking/stealing emotionally and sexually is what seems to drive them most.

it just isn't desirable unless it's being missed or desired by another woman. that's the bottom line with these classless ladies...
whether you are a male OR female, looking to date/hook up, or just trying to mind your own life and relationships with passion and integrity- the sooner you can spot these creatures and STAY CLEAR, no matter how tempting their pretty faces or whatever the tempting factors, the sooner you can exterminate the ugliest and most insidious forms of drama from your life.

This woman wasn't interested sexually and the guy is dealing with a bruised EGO!

He's only interested in what he can't have. He should stay with persons that are interested in him and someone he truly desires.

He has a significant other and many other people that are willing to put out. He's only 'pining' for the one that got away simply because she withdrew herself completely. His significant other realizes this. If she was slurry enough to put out then he would sleep with her and move on to his next conquest. She wasn't interested and he's spending a lot of time analyzing this. That's what's bugging his significant other.

Get over it and move on. I'm sure there is a kinky str8t woman out there that will sleep with you and you can forget about your co-worker. Don't dwell on it.
@ Deedlydee:

Thanks! You're awesome too.
Hey everyone who is obsessed with Savage saying "retarded": Why don't you take it up with HR?
I find this discussion very entertaining but I am so proud of the men in Houston, especially those local movers in Houston because most of whom are in monogamous marriages and they are happy about it. I don't see why monogamy should be boring or tiresome. It's clean, fun and you don't spread all kinds of diseases in the universe.
I think if you are in a relationship or marriage with someone, you need to be straight with your partner, and it's good to see how each couple above tackle this issue of a non monogamous marriage. Personally though, if you're going to be more open sexually, your partner should be part of the experience, and not left out while you sleep around.

On another note, a lot of women I know are in long-term relationships and voice a want to see more people with their partner. It's not just us guys! :P
Roger Baldwin isn't much of a Shakespearian when he doesn't understand how to conjugate verbs as the English did in the time of Shakespeare. Man, that's just painful to read.
why all the problems all the time? personally, i think the europeans are correct with one bathroom and GYMGOTH is an egomaniac
#139: My, my, I'm sorry that I touched a nerve! Not only did you attack me personally--which I found really over the top--but you really extrapolated from what I said.

"Pitched to" is far more specific and pejorative than "approach." I didn't say that I didn't want to be approached by men who are interested in dating me--that I would reject them out of the gate simply because they're interested. I was referring to a subset of such approaches that are overly canned and scripted--whether overtly aggressive or insecure, they're a turn off, and make it difficult for me to not be on guard.

I was merely offering a hypothesis--that because it's easier to communicate when someone isn't trying to get you into bed, that you may "connect" with that person more quickly or easily. I was thinking aloud, not offering some condemnation of all single men like the condemnation you levied against me.

And, btw? I'd bet it's just as off putting to single men when single woman pile it on too quick, too fast and too perfect. Ever see a gal pretending to be Ms. Perfect Girlfriend on Date #2?
late comment, but here it is,

1. as a single woman who gets hit on by a lot of people in relationships, I would prefer a person who had "permission" from his/her partner. And I might be interested in a 3-some. I do not want to steal anyone's mate, or hurt another person.

1.a. if the person is really hot, though, all bets are off. just being honest.

2. I flirt a lot and most of the time that does not equate to "I want to have sex". It just means I am friendly and flirtatious by nature. If someone responds by upping the ante I will usually clarify that I am only flirting and not interested (unless of course I am).

3. as someone who has had sex with coworkers in the past, it often turns out bad. really bad. same with neighbors.

4. if I come on to someone (more than flirting) and they aren't into it, its up to me to be *graceful* about being rejected!

5. I use a lot of swear words and epithets nowadays and I like it. but if I am told it is offensive, I stop. and I try to only do it around people I am good friends with who know me well and can accurately interpret the context and my intentions.

6. Is there an acceptable epithet that everyone will agree on when we feel the need to name call?

7. girls bathrooms are really gross too. I dont understand why they pee all over the seat! I think we should all of unisex turkish toilets.

thanks, I really enjoy the column and the comments!!!!
Dan, you fucking FAG, way to stick up for slurs. It's always wrong unless you're bashing the differently abled, in which case its perfectly okay. Your papers could use a boycott.
@51 My 23 year-old sister is retarded. I don't call her a retard, but I do tell people she's retarded (her disability is very rare - less than 1 in a million live births - it has a long, confusing name that doesn't mean much to many people). She's not particularly bright, but she's not deluded either (she has the mental age of an 8 year-old). She understands that that she has an intellectual disability, that one way to describe this is "retarded", and that when people refer to someone as a retard it generally isn't a compliment. There's no coaching that's gone on there. My sister is perhaps not outraged when she hears "retard" or "retarded" used in a derogatory way, but she is saddened. It is also true that she has been called "retarded" in a derogatory, if accurate, way. I don't think it's unfair to ask/demand that people refrain from using "retard" as a slur.
@14 I wasn't aware we had gender-segregated restrooms for "millions of years."
@58 I sincerely hope this is a joke... :/
@52 - Sexually abused?
There is another reason many women want nothing to do with open men. Several other actually.

1) They do not want to be sexual entertainment for the couple. Her and him having a "thing" is one thing. Him going home and talking about their sex life to his W, quite another. Not all couples do this. How does she know which he is?

2) In relation to 1, it drives home that the affair is All About Sex. See it's much more tasteful for some women when it's just something that happened and she can believe she's so special and fantastic my god he's willing to break vows for her.

3) There is a more than common strange subset of people who believe if shit happens in your marriage and you cheat, well, shit happens and let's talk about it and it's understandable, but being open is just tacky and dirty and what kind of weirdo does THAT? I have heard many women say they don't want open men because they want to find another man who has unmet needs, not just be with a guy who is interested in having lots of sex with lots of different women.

4) They assume any guy who is open is a complete and total male slut. Many, in fact I would say most, expect the affair to be a side/parallel relationship, not one of many. Yeah I don't get that either but come on how often does Dan get letters where someone says "OMG the CPOS I am screwing became a CPOS on ME too can you BELIEVE IT?!"

5) In relation to 4, if she's married, she often wants someone with as much to lose as she does. If the open dude's wife finds out, it's no BFD, leading to far less reason for him to be discreet in her thinking.

6) Most women really do not like confirmation of their second place status. Nothing confirms second place better than "my wife is so completely non threatened by you she doesn't care if we screw, that's how unimportant you are."

7) If she's had prior experience with open relationships, and it didn't go well, she may prefer cheating. There are a subset of people who tried open or DADT and found it WAY too much drama negotiating this and that and the other and dealing with so and so's issues and so and so's feelings and BLAH in the end keeping everything nice neat and quiet was much more preferable. I could see someone being worried that "oh great so we can fuck but the second wifey says no I'm gone, fabulous, fuck that I'll find someone who chooses on their own merits thanks."

But most of the time it's 1.

Are these assumptions correct? For all open situations? Not always. Just explaining it's NOT about the conquest or keeping one to themselves or anything like that necessarily.

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