Columns May 25, 2011 at 4:00 am

The Choicer Challenge


Pregnancy hormones are just one of the reasons why I would hesitate about electing a female president. C&H needs to think of the BIG picture instead of marinating in her own grief and looking for ways to strike out (yes anger is one of the stages and Dan missed this one big time). I have been through 3 miscarriages, an abortion, and a newborn baby who died so I know plenty about grief. In a long term marriage/relationship you must look down the road beyond your immediate pain. Next year, or the year after that, or the year after that, you will probably be pregnant again. You will get over your loss and new duties, babies, and responsibilities will salve the pain, but never completely.

But the important thing to understand is that through all this your significant other will still be there- assuming you are thinking long term.

Pregnancy hormone induced stress about your hubby (who has not had sex in weeks!) trying to line up 3-somes with what he thought was his partners assent sounds like someone not looking down the road. In fact it sounds downright manipulative, if not cruel. Just saying.

The girl @#!*% who can't keep her clit in her pants is just hitting the destruct button because she is comfortable now that they are moving in together. I thought Dan was harsh on telling her to dump him but after some thought I realized something- if she acts this way when she gets the security of moving in, imagine how she is going to act after the wedding! Way to go Dan!

As to all the feminist anti-patriarch blathering idiots who spew the anti-male bias that permeates our society..I say it is time to grow up and get over it. Women are way, way ahead of men in education, law school, medical school, money for hours worked, health at every stage of life, longevity, accidental death, serious diseases, elementary education, and just about every other measure. Something like 1/2 of young boys grow up without a strong male figure (and the same number are on Ritalin) I think mostly because his daddy/sperm donor is beaten down by his liberated woman. In case you haven't noticed the patriarchy is fast becoming a matriarchy so get over it already.

Now you admit women can make a choice to go to the island of Lezbos and kill all the men. I say fine. I haven't needed a woman since I duck taped that flesh light to my labradoodle. Here puppy..
Regarding drinks out with someone... I like the comment about setting boundaries. So if you want to be in a relationship and still be able to go out solo with people you could potentially be attracted to and get a little toasty, that's pretty important information to divulge upfront. That sounds a lot like a date. And maybe you're cool with it, and there's no hidden agenda that it will turn into something. I say it's tempting fate. So let me know upfront and we'll choose to avoid each other's types when we are looking for relationships. I've been the sap who's trusted someone and lost. I'll trust again, but I'll also be clear that if I'm someone's guy, I expect that to change how they socialize with other guys one-on-one. That's part of my deal. Call me quaint, that's just the way I am.

I was surprised as my last relationship started to unravel to find that my spouse of 10+ years and I weren't on the same page on what was cool and what was not. It would be great if someone came up with a checklist of things people could fill out to say (this is cool / this isn't) and compare up front. It would include in-person behaviors like going out, but would also include things like social network behavior. For example, no big deal to me if you friend your old flame. But not really cool with extended chat sessions with them, or even exchanging flirty 'pokes'.
Why in the world would anyone want to suck Dan's dick?

OK well, I would, even though I'm a total top, but that is like SO not the point...
This whole column makes me realize anew that Dan is the coolest guy ever!
22 & 51, please DON'T go to Stephen Pinker for insight on evolutionary sexuality! He's a linguist, and when he gets off topic he's quickly out of his depth. It's true that "simplecomplicatedme" has an over-simple view of how selection works, but just learning some more biology should help that.
There are more sensible theories out there that try to explain homosexuality in evolutionary terms. Like that it may increase the spread of one's genes by contributing to the fitness of one's RELATIVE'S offspring (e.g., the gay person's nieces and nephews). Considering the number of societies in which the "paternal" figure in raising children is not the biological father, but the mother's brother, that seems not unreasonable. But I'm no expert. Experts exist though, so check them out (just not Stephen Pinker)
Dan's rant about the politician "sucking his dick" put him into the "wronged at high school" category of putting forth an argument. Yea, sure, he was probably a bit steamed when he wrote it but there is a more obvious point to make about one's sexuality being a "choice."
The politician has essentially stated that the default setting for EVERYONE'S sexuality would be homosexuality or lesbianism. To know that one has a "choice" is to have awareness of what one is choosing. Since being gay would be the "odd" choice for one to make then there must be a basis for the choice in the first place. If it were a "choice" at all then there wouldn't be a history of it dating back to, well, pretty much for as long as humans have kept records nor would animals display homosexual tendencies but they DO. Is this guy also saying that animals are on a par with humans regarding cognitive capabilities? Is my cat a lesbian? She DOES like laying next to me watching movies in a "spooning" fashion. Does she fancy me?
He is also implying that each person feels "comfortable" with the freedom of making the choice of their own sexuality but we know that isn't the case. If one is a teenager or a child with enough awareness of how being gay is perceived in just about every society on Earth, then the obvious "choice" would be to be heterosexual yet millions of people do not "choose" this sexuality. They "choose" to be gay but why would anyone choose a life where they are denied some of the protections by law that heterosexual people take for granted? People who put forth the "choice" argument can never sufficiently answer the question as to "why" anyone would go through all that trouble to make their life THAT difficult.
What is astonishing is that there are people like this guy who care so much about who others are or aren't fucking. I predict a "sex scandal" of the same sex variety in this guy's future. It would not be surprising one bit if we find out this guy's been keeping a rent boy on retainer.
My brother is gay and I knew before he did that he would end up being with a man in life. Granted, he is three years younger than me, so he would have just known he "feels different" but probably just didn't have the words for it. He went into the Marines, went to Japan, all the while with my mother saying, "oh, he'll probably bring back a Japanese girlfriend" and I can remember thinking, "or, he'll bring back his bunkmate."
Now, almost 25 years later, he has been with his future husband for about 7 years and I find it hard to believe that this ex-Marine, CHURCH CHOIR SINGING, truck driving, over-sized "bear" of a man would "choose" to have the hassle of being with his boyfriend in Redneckville, Tennessee if he didn't feel it from within his very being.
He could have just brought that Japanese girlfriend back.
#103, your comment about fearing a female president is not just gratuitous but stupid. When has any U.S. president been elected during what would be a woman's "childbearing years"? The one hormone that's done the most to fuck up the presidency is clearly testosterone.
Andy FYI, women certainly do NOT make "more money for hours of work than men." You could find that out with a few clicks of a mouse, if reading is too hard.
As for our patriarchy becoming a matriarchy, I guess all the MEN in Congress passing anti-women legislation missed the memo. But then, what could we expect from someone who after 5 unsuccessful pregnancies, glibly states, "you'll probably be pregnant again in a year"? Sorry if that's mean, but maybe you should take a rest on the fertility marathon and read a few good books instead.
@ Professor - go TROLL somewhere else!
Golly, you get so much attention with all of your emotional rantings so one would hope that that would be enough.
Your words aren't even up to a level worth reading.
Youtube and the Daily Mail are the places for YOU. There are plenty of misogynistic, bitter, overly emotional, ruled-by-their-hormones men who hate women on those sites.
Why not go there.
#71, there IS TOO evidence for gayness being at least partially genetic (as well as evidence that fetal environment has something to do with it). If one member of a pair of fraternal (dizygotic) twins is gay, the other has about a 30% chance of being gay. With identical (monozygotic) twins, it's 50%. 'Nuff said.
As always, I loved the column, but the Sweeney Todd reference will leave me feeling all warm and fuzzy inside for a week. (You know, in a kinda murderous, cannibalistic way.)
@55: ":In short, the husband took on some of her agency in this matter, and singlehandedly set a timetable for resuming relations relatively soon."

Timetables require, uh, times.

I will grant that telling a specific third party that Wife is hot for her, when he hasn't so much as shown Wife a picture, is problematic, but mostly to the third party who is being lied to, and not so much to the Wife who is being left to handle her recuperative process in peace. On the other hand, Husband is not mistaken to operate under the assumption that Wife will _eventually_ be enthusiastic about the idea on general principles, so he is not stretching the truth too terribly much about a particular partner being appealing to his wife. (Surely he knows her taste in women by now.) Mostly he is stretching the truth only along the axis of timeframes, which, again, he is leaving unspecified.

If he is mistaken in this assumption -- in other words, that threesomes may well have been taken off the table entirely, quite possibly permanently, and he should be operating under that assumption -- then that really should have been made clear at the outset. Assuming that she is going to eventually be back in the game, it isn't a horrible transgression to keep the arrangements warmed up, provided that he doesn't actually a) involve her before she is ready or b) follow through on it solo.

Regarding the "THREE WEEKS" that have your knickers in a knot: Letter Writer already made it clear that outside partners are hard to find in their neck of the woods. If he waits six months for her to get back in the mood, and only then begins looking, it may well be six more months before they find someone, vet her thoroughly, and actually go through with the deed, whereupon your "THREE WEEKS" has magically transmogrified into "A YEAR."

One memorable moment from a debate between Kerry and Bush... The narrator asked if w thought homosexuality is a choice and he said yes. The narrator missed an opportunity to ask w the obvious question. If homosexuality is a choice, then heterosexuality is a choice. Mr Bush, can you tell us about the time you had a choice between homo or hetero sexuality and you made the choice to be hetero?
@65: "The red flag for me in C&H's letter was that the husband was making physical plans now in these emails for threesomes- asking when and where they could meet."

Without seeing the wording, it is unclear to me how definite those plans really were. I will agree that the specifics are important in deciding whether he is rushing his wife back into action, or merely keeping his hand in the game.

As much as I do ironically enjoy your I-hate-mommy trolling, I have to raise a couple little points.

Though women in the western world do tend to acheive academically, I would argue that there are more salient measures of success.

Women are more likely to have depression, anxiety, harm themselves or attempt suicide. Though there are a number of mental illnesses for which men and women are roughly equal the only DSM catagory where men strip ahead is the philias. They tend to have lower self-esteem and they have to worry about sexual assualt while men generally don't (outside of prison).

Though women preform academically (it's my understanding that this does not translate to the working realm) I would argue that when a more direct look at their quality of life is examined, it would be pretty stupid to try to assert that in this day and age women have it "better" than men. Men and women face unique challenges to their genders because they are DIFFERENT from eachother. Bitching and moaning about who has it worse distracts from making things better for everyone.

Also, the ritalin comment is pretty spurious since any idiot knows that girls with ADHD are much less likely to be diagnosed (and get help!) than boys because they are more likely to be of the "PI" type (primarily inattentive) than the combined type or primarily hyperactive/impulsive and don't cause a ruckus in the classroom (the number one reason why teachers seem to care about a student's mental health issues).

Oh, and nice job on that theory you pulled out of your ass about ADHD and lack of a "strong male figure". The ratios are the same? (By the way, they're not.) Thats your causation argument? That's not even a fucking correlation. The "professor" name is meant to be a joke, right?

I would by NO MEANS describe myself as a feminist, but your "the pendulum has swung the other way" bullshit is ridiculous and incredibly biased.
Also: Bill Clinton is famous for having let hormones cloud his judgement. He was still a good president.
To GHTR: Let's paraphrase your arguments, as if you were informing dear beloved Boyfriend of the situation:

1) Moving in with you makes me nervous;
2) I no longer find you sexually attractive;
3) I'm completely giddy over this other guy -- who, oh, by the way, fucked my brains out last night, an outcome that makes me feel mostly great and not in the least guilty towards you;
4) I love you dearly.

Sing with me, kids!
"Three of these things belong together,
Three of these things are kind of the same,
But one one these things is not like the others,
Now it's time to play our game,
It's time to play our game!"

Honestly, stupid, what would YOU do if you were on the receiving end of that line of reasoning?
107, danfan-- You're right that Pinker's not the best. He's wordy and complicated, but he does get to the heart of the randomness of natural selection well. I liked his essay on the evolution of the eye. (I forget which book the chapter is in.)

I'd heard the theory about male homosexuality improving the survival chances of a greater number of nieces and nephews also. It made some sense to me when I heard it. My point, though, is that there needn't be an evolutionary reason. It could be random. I don't see anyone wondering how Down's syndrome is an adaptive advantage in disguise, how the brothers and sisters of people with Down's syndrome have more offspring that have a greater chance of survival. Or cerebral palsy. Or miscarriages. Or a dandelion wasting resources on seeds that won't hit fertile ground. Are they helping their genetically related sister seeds by landing on concrete or water?
That's right, @112. And in both cases they shared the same fetal environment.

Also, unrelated, the quotes around "Stephen Colbert" were put in later. I contend that it is still obvious that Dan was referring to his character...
PhD in biology here, let me try and clear some things up.

@22, @51: There can't be a gene "for homosexuality." How would it get passed on? (Even including those who breed anyway, it doesn't add up). However, contrary to what @71 thinks, there IS evidence of genetic bases of homosexuality (e.g., twins more likely than fraternal siblings to both be gay, who are in turn more likely than non-relatives). Genes are complicated, most traits are the result of many genes, whose expression can interact with the environment (including the prenatal environment!). That means that it is likely that many of the alleles involved in homosexuality have increased humans' reproductive fitness over the years, but sometimes certain combinations of genes in certain early environments can result in homosexuality.

As for @22,24's theory about overpopulation, I'm glad you're thinking about this stuff, but your idea doesn't work. Imagine two groups, Group A, which has a trait that curbs population growth, and Group B, which doesn't. Group B grows faster than Group A, and soon outcompetes with A for resources. In the biology jargon, Group A is not an "evolutionarily stable strategy" against Group B.

Finally, @51, @107, Pinker's OK. He knows his evolutionary theory, to a point. SJ Gould is better, being a prominent (late) evolutionary theorist. No single author is going to have everything or get everything perfect - evolutionary theory encompasses a lot (explaining all of life and all), so if you really want to learn about it, you may need multiple sources.
For the lay reader, I can recommend Richard Dawkins' "The Blind Watchmaker," Gould's "Wonderful Life," David Barash's "The Survival Game," and Daniel Dennett's "Darwin's Dangerous Idea" (Dennett is a philosopher, but he's done his homework).
I think a lot of these conservative "choicers" might be so emphatic about this because they are really struggling to "choose" a straight life themselves. I was never politically conservative, but as a gal raised Catholic in a small town I sure did try to enjoy sex and relationships with men as hard as I could (hoping that I was one of those bi girls who could just choose never to act on her feelings) before finally coming out at 23.

There is an element of choice involved, is what I learned. You can choose to be happy, or choose to be miserable.
I think a lot of these conservative "choicers" might be so emphatic about this because they are really struggling to "choose" a straight life themselves. I was never politically conservative, but as a gal raised Catholic in a small town I sure did try to enjoy sex and relationships with men as hard as I could (hoping that I could just choose to never act on my feelings) before finally coming out at 23.

There is an element of choice involved, for sure. You can choose to be happy, or you can choose to be miserable.
Mad lols at the sheer number of people who are bewildered at the sarcastic inclusion of "Stephen Colbert." He even put it in quotations. Oblivious much?
The "choice" argument for discrimination is a big honking fat red herring. I DO NOT BELIEVE THAT BEING GAY IS A CONSCIOUS CHOICE. But if I did, how would that justify treating people as second-class citizens?? Dan's interest in cock shouldn't have any more bearing on his civil rights than mine does (I'm a straight chick). Not only are "choicers" factually wrong, they're arguing for a grounds for discrimination that would be morally indefensible even if it were right.
@EricaP --

Thanks for the reply. I agree with Suzy and avast, though.


Thanks for saying everything I was thinking!

You know what? Religious belief is a fucking choice too, so let's remove all legal protection for religious freedom from our laws.

These shitheads piss me off with their grotesque, hateful hypocrisy.

Make the choice to go fuck yourselves, you conservative dicks.
Wow, I'm Canadian and I had not heard of Cummins statement before. I'm especially surprised since he is a former federal Member of Parliament and our newspapers are usually to pounce on any lunatic statements from Conservatives since they're kept on a tight leash.

I have to correct you, however. Cummins is not the leader of the British Columbia Conservative Party, he is a candidate for its leadership.

The leadership will be decided on May 28, and even though the B.C. Conservatives are tiny and marginal force, we can hope a hateful asshole doesn't end up their leader.
Wow, I'm Canadian and I had not heard of Cummins statement before. I'm especially surprised since he is a former federal Member of Parliament and our newspapers are usually to pounce on any lunatic statements from Conservatives since they're kept on a tight leash.

I have to correct you, however. Cummins is not the leader of the British Columbia Conservative Party, he is a candidate for its leadership.

The leadership will be decided on May 28, and even though the B.C. Conservatives are tiny and marginal force, we can hope a hateful asshole doesn't end up their leader.
I have to agree with others that I'm sort of scratching my head over the inclusion of Stephen Colbert, even in quotes. Dan, you DO realize he is satire, right?
"As for @22,24's theory about overpopulation, I'm glad you're thinking about this stuff, but your idea doesn't work. Imagine two groups, Group A, which has a trait that curbs population growth, and Group B, which doesn't. Group B grows faster than Group A, and soon outcompetes with A for resources. In the biology jargon, Group A is not an "evolutionarily stable strategy" against Group B."

And yet sexual reproduction occurs when parthenogensis and asexual reproduction are far more efficient reproductive strategies and eclipses sexually reproducing species in terms of numbers and thereby competition for resources. The existence of males in general (of all species) seem quite a biological mystery as they contribute practically nothing to the fitness of a species, and are very costly from a fitness strategy perspective to almost all species. The point is that sexual reproduction doesn't seem like an evolutionarily stable reproductive strategy, yet it exists and is, too, mysteriously the product of evolution. I don't know if the red queen hypothesis is relevant here.

Additionally but related, there aren't really any identifiable genes behind intelligence yet discovered, either. But there are extraneous genes that determine intelligence in indirect ways. For example, the gene that determines the width and shape of the uterus contributes to IQ in that mothers with more narrow uteruses give birth to children with lower IQ's due to the fact that when birthed, their brains are briefly starved for oxygen. Perhaps the underlying genetic reasons for sexual orientation (you forgot to mention that the aren't identifiable genes for heterosexuality, either) are related in that they aren't directly linked to expression of the trait, as per your suggestion.
It's not a choice... It's a superpower!
cough, cough, ahem, ahem. HE characterized his wife as tightly wound. not me. she couldn't come along for drinks because she needed to be around when their son got home from school. had he suggested she join us, i would have been all for it. but then we couldn't have reminisced about all that hawt sex we had as horny college students back in the '70s and laugh a lot. when he told me about the situation, i said okay, i don't want to cause any stress. as if i wanted to bonk him! please.
How would it make a difference if the Choicers were right? You don't get to take choices away just because we have them.
It seems like a mistake to argue with Choicers on facts when they haven't even gotten their logic right.
avast2006, when the husband asks the prospective bi partners "when/where we can all hook up", he's setting a clear timetable of "soon". Otherwise, what is he planning to say, when someone replies she's free to hook up on Fridays? Great, keep us in mind and I'll get back to you in six months? Nah, he's just choosing to start this up again, in a way that's both dishonest and disrespectful of his wife's stated feelings.

The three weeks is an important factor to me, yes. People grieve differently, sure, but this couple was trying to conceive for two YEARS and then lost their baby, and now only three weeks later, days after getting the doctor's ok for any resumption of sex, he's going behind her back to rekindle something she said she wasn't ready for yet? If I were her, I'd feel like he wasn't particularly upset about the loss of the baby, and that would be the most hurtful thing of all.
Scary, the fact that "HE characterized his wife as tightly wound" to the old flame with whom he was having drinks is not exactly helping your case that all was cool here. If either of you had wanted to include the wife on at least one of the occasions, you could have simply picked a time when she didn't have to be home with their son. But hey, it's nice that she wasn't there to hamper your happy reminiscing about past sexytimes! Doubtless the only reason she'd have a problem with this is her own excessive insecurity.
That is the core of the "choice" argument...
How many times does a straight person have to choose to be gay before they become gay?
137: "he's setting a clear timetable of "soon".

You don't know their process for choosing partners or how long it takes to come to fruition.

"Nah, he's just choosing to start this up again, in a way that's both dishonest and disrespectful of his wife's stated feelings."

He CANNOT start this up again until she is ready to participate, otherwise nothing goes forward, end of story. Until he at very least brings this to her attention, he can't possibly be said to have coerced her into anything.

(Maybe leaving the email account open was passive-aggressive-deliberate, or maybe it wasn't. Mistakes do happen.)
I really don't get this whole "OMG it's so bad for an attached person to hang out with an ex-lover" thing. You guys are acting as though a person can't fuck anyone without feeling uncontrollable desire for them for the rest of their freaking lives.

I've got a fair number of guys in my life that I've dated (or at least had casual sex with) at some point. Some of them, I broke up with because my attraction to them had faded (or I realized I hadn't been that attracted in the first place!). Others, I broke up with because things just weren't working...and, after some alone-time to grieve the relationship, my attraction to them went away, too...or at least subsided to a buzz of "I'd probably want to have sex with him again...if I weren't already having regular and amazing sex with a hot, wonderful guy I'm in love with."

I mean, good can your current relationship be if you're super-tempted to cheat with someone you'd previously rejected?

My boyfriend hangs out with an old fuckbuddy sometimes. I hang out with my ex-husband and one or two ex-lovers sometimes (and have like ten people in my extended social circle whom I've seen naked). It's not a big deal because in all cases, the feelings are over.

I'd say that it's not inappropriate to spend time alone with an ex-lover; it's only inappropriate to insist on being alone with an ex-lover. I don't really know my bf's ex-fuckbuddy, but he's encouraged me to hang out with the two of them - I just haven't had a chance yet because of schedule conflicts. If I wanted to come with him and he was all "NOOO! You can't!" that would be a different thing entirely.

Likewise, my boyfriend would be bored shitless hanging out while my husband and I traded decade-old inside jokes, but if he wanted to come along, that'd be fine. I have nothing to hide.
Another right on column again, Dan!

@128: I second that!
@EricaP: I have, on several occasions, declined to be involved when the ex-lovers reunited. I have also, on several occasions, reunited with old partners alone. While there's no way to know for certain, I'm confident that nothing untoward happened.

When I was single, I frequently had drinks in bars with people I never groped. If you go into a situation not wanting to make out with someone, alcohol isn't going to magically make it happen. Alcohol gives you an excuse to do what you already wanted to do, it doesn't cause things to develop out of nowhere.
@58 Ooooh! I like that. JLMF (or should it be JL,MF?) Either way tho, thats a good one. Good call!
@3, 80--I vote for DtPTA--poor thing.
@143, I'm not suggesting anything untoward happened in your life. And we could argue all night about which is the "authentic" opinion of a person who didn't want to have sex with an ex when sober, but decided to, after a couple of drinks. Everyone knows it happens. Not to you and yours, apparently, but to me and mine and many others.
@145 Not bad. I vote for DTPSA (poor schmuck).
For what it's worth, BC's party names are a bit misleading. Our BC liberals are really what you might consider conservative and our BC conservative party has about as much popularity as the marxist and marijuana party. It's a fringe group.
I always read ALL the comments before posting, so of course, by that time I don't usually feel like posting, as I'm kind of over it. But Thank You perversecowgirl @ 141!! Up until your comment, nobody else on here considered the possibility that most people are exes for a reason: even if that reason is merely that we're not interested in bangin' them anymore (or that we just sobered up & turned on the lights-whatever). I've been married 16 yrs & my husband has thankfully shed most of his insecurities. Someone posted earlier that its an American issue & I definitely agree. There was a study done just a few yrs ago, where the results were that most (tight-ass) Americans felt that infidelity is worse than incest! Yep... I'd like to meet you for drinks 141- & 12, 13, 17, 20, 64, 67, 77, 86, 106, 109, 128-but, I probably wouldn't be able to control myself.
Hmmm, Dan's comment that "you're about as far from my type as a human being without a vagina gets" got me to wondering...

Does the possetion of the right kind of naughty bits automatically put you ahead of someone with the wrong ones, no matter how disgusting you actually are?

I personally have to believe that even for us non-bi folks, there are people of compatible gender who are so fucking disgusting that we'd really rather go for the other gender. I'm a straight girl, but if I had to choose between Dick Cheney and, say, Rachel Maddow, I don't think it would be a hard choice at all. I'm not into women, but I think I'm into male monsters a lot less.
*sigh* Once you allow this disucssion to be framed in terms of choice, you've already lost. Because -- and this is the important point -- if it were a choice...that doesn't matter. Making choices about how you live your life (I mean, unless they are harmful to others/robbing others of their own autonomy/&c.) doesn't make you less worthy of equal rights and treatment, and, you know, basic human decency. It doesn't matter _why_ you fuck the (legally-aged, fully-consenting) people you fuck, or why you shack up with them or marry them or whatever -- that question of "why?" should not be allowed to enter into the discussion At All. Dan, if you were very much bi, and you could easily see yourself being happily partnered with a person of either gender, and decided to live with/marry someone male instead of someone female, would that suddenly make you less worthy of equal treatment, because you made that conscious choice? I think you would probably say that you should still be afforded the same rights as everyone else, regardless, and that right there is exactly why nobody should play into this discussion of choice. It is doing much more harm than anything else. Not to mention the fact that, in saying "I didn't choose to be this way" what you are at the same time implying is "Look, if I had any control over this, I'd obviously be different, but I don't, and I'm sorry -- please cut me some slack". And apologizing -- explicitly or otherwise -- for who or what you are is not something anyone should be doing. (I mean, look at the recent Slut Walks -- that is their whole point, really -- that it doesn't matter how a woman chooses to dress or present herself or live her life, that still does not give anyone the right to (mis)treat her in any way, or regard her as less-than.)
Even if being gay or lesbian IS a choice (and I don't think it is), so what? The law already protects plenty of choices: the choice of religion, the choice of political affiliation, and the choice to marry someone of a different race or religion. In fact, if the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution accomplish anything, it is to protect individual liberty--which is frankly a way of saying that they protect individual choice.
Although I admire the rhetorical flair of Dan's invitation to choicers to choose to suck his dick, his argument is incredibly flawed. Choicers view being gay as a choice, but they also believe that it is a bad choice, a choice that they would (claim to) never make.

Listing all the homophobic politicians who have turned out to be gay is a far stronger argument. Since those people claim that being gay is a choice and believe it is a bad choice, they have incentive not to make the choice, but they, nevertheless, make it, thereby essentially proving that being gay is not a choice after all.

I understand that rhetoric can often be stronger than logic when you're adressing people who agree with you anyway. But if you want to convince others, try to combine them, to say things that are just as powerful but that also make sense.
I love you, Dan Savage!
You ever notice how people "accidentally" end up having sex mostly when ALCOHOL is involved? It just seems like if your intentions are "innocent" you might actually just have coffee or food. Not an earth-shattering idea, I realize, but how many coffee dates do you know ended up with people inadvertently having sex?
I don't even understand the premise of "if it's a choice, it can't be a right" thing. Religion is a choice, but no one goes around saying that since you chose it, people are free to discriminate against you.

Instead of falling into the trap of arguing whether or not it's a choice, gay rights activists should make it clear that, whatever it is, it's a right.
I don't have a Ph.D in biology, but I would like to point out that PLENTY OF HOMOSEXUALS reproduce and many of those WANT to. Many who don't do participate in child rearing. So, it seems to me that it doesn't hold water to say that homosexuality is some kind of population-reducer.
#51 damn right natural selection is random. However with in the random context gay relationships can prove to beneficial to the hunter gather societies we evolved from. I recommend Dan's often recommend book Sex At Dawn.
Strong agreement with #39, #89, and everyone who followed: the trouble with the "it's not a choice/we were born this way" argument is that it suggests that there would be something wrong with choosing to be gay. I do believe orientation is innate-- whether genetic or due to the hormonal state of the womb or whatever-- but denying that the actions can be chosen or not is just silly.

Dan's point seems to be that the "choicers" (if straight) can't choose to want to be gay or not, and it's a fair point. But it's pretty simple for a choicer to argue that "we all have different temptations to sin-- that doesn't make gambling or lying less of a sin just because some people want one more than the other, or vice-versa."

We like the "this isn't a choice because no-one would choose" it argument because it gets us sympathy. But it's a much weaker argument than "there's nothing wrong with this." I very much like #39 et al's point that other choices are protected (including being of a different religion, which fundamentalists would consider just as sinful)-- why not this one?
perverse cowgirl, I have no problems with attached people hanging out with ex-lovers, even with alcohol involved. I DO have a problem with the person to whom one is attached being called tightly wound or insecure due to failure to appreciate this activity. There are many good reasons why one might not want one's spouse having drinks with a former lover, that could range from the spouse's reluctance to include you, or a former infidelity, and so on. I believe married people owe each other full disclosure about things like this, or at least need some kind of blanket permission to proceed, which is true even if they are nonmonogamous.

Elsalover, I'm not sure that preferring incest to infidelity is, as you apparently assume, a sign of excessive uptightness. Indeed, it seems the other way around to me. Infidelity implies a betrayal that hurts people; incest might involve consenting adults making each other happy despite breaking a taboo against, say, first cousins being together. I'd be much less likely to judge the latter, and more likely not to want the former, but that doesn't exactly make me uptight.
Ms Erica - Perhaps the variable that should be removed from the equation might be the alcohol? But then I'm a lifelong teetotaler and accordingly recuse myself.
@161 - yes, as 155 says, people don't shed their morals over coffee. But the topic at hand is former lovers going out for drinks without their current partners, so I'm afraid if we subtract alcohol from both sides, we can't say much at all.
I didn't read all the comments, but Dan put "Stephen Colbert" in quotes because he was talking about the CHARACTER he plays on TV. Get a clue people.
Get a clue folks. Dan put "Stephen Colbert" in quotes because his CHARACTER proclaims that being gay is a choice. The man himself obviously doesn't believe that.
Sometimes Dan, you're such a fucking man. She might not even be done bleeding yet from this miscarriage and he's already out thinking about fucking other chicks. That's why she's pissed. All that shit should be on hold. He's thinking about strange pussy while she's heartbroken over losing his baby. Goddamn.

I'm in a similar type of relationship and it's taken us seven years for him to GET IT that SOMETIMES it's nto even appropriate to think about fucking. During my grandfather's funeral, while I'm breastfeeding (as in during the actual sucking not during that time period in general) while I am taking a dump, these are times to not think about his penis.

I have found men are really dumb about this in general and need extremely clear instructions. And I get it's upsetting but once I stopped expecting him to be a fucking girl about it and realized that for men there's no such thing as a bad time for fucking, we were able to work through it.
While I take the point that EXs are EX for a reason - and I do personally interact every now and again with my ex-wife - I also see big red flags in things like this:

had he suggested she join us, i would have been all for it. but then we couldn't have reminisced about all that hawt sex we had as horny college students back in the '70s and laugh a lot.

One of the most useful little rules I ran across for knowing what is and is not appropriate to say to someone who might potentially be a sex/romantic partner is this: would you be comfortable saying the same thing in front of your current primary partner? This rule was given in the context of workplace sexual harassment training (mandatory for all supervisors), but it strikes me as useful for everyone in all contexts and types of relationships (including open relationships).

Whether or not you or the partnered person are interested in rekindling anything, the need to have a different conversation is telling. I had to re-learn this recently when I was using a friend (not even an ex) as a sounding board and discussing things (via email) with her I would not discuss in front of my partner.
@122: There have been some studies that showed homosexual behaviors in rats increasing when the rat community was overpopulated and overcrowded. I don't think it is unreasonable to think that under some conditions, the genetic bases for homosexuality might be favored. We have seen before that individuals will sacrifice their ability to reproduce in order to support their kin's reproduction, and I believe that if this hypothesis can be supported, the mechanism might be similar.
We must also commend politicians for taking solid steps to support equality such as Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton:…

In Canada Cummins won't get votes on this social policy belief because largely we only have approximately 10% of an evangelical following country wide. The issue here is has been debated and there's more important things like jobs, economy, healthcare and education to talk about.

A fun history fact: we (Canadians) had our Obama in the 70's and early 80's - with Pierre Elliott Trudeau with his most famous line that, 'Government has no place in the bedrooms of Canadians.' And it has stuck.

Of course we're talking about consenting adults only for those who will split hairs.
We must also commend politicians for taking solid steps to support equality such as Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton:…

In Canada Cummins won't get votes on this social policy belief because largely we only have approximately 10% of an evangelical following country wide. The issue here is has been debated and there's more important things like jobs, economy, healthcare and education to talk about.

A fun history fact: we (Canadians) had our Obama in the 70's and early 80's - with Pierre Elliott Trudeau with his most famous line that, 'Government has no place in the bedrooms of Canadians.' And it has stuck.

Of course we're talking about consenting adults only for those who will split hairs.
Dan, I agree with you that these choicers are nut jobs. And Jim Cummins is a particularly annoying example of the lot, with his "This is what studies have said, but I'm not a scientist so don't question me when I state my personal private views" as a public figure at a Salvation Army rally, which is a public, if homophobic event. But, and this is the point, even if this guy isn't your type -- have you seen Jim Cummins? He looks kind of like the tortoise in that youtube video -- the one humping the Croc shoe, but he isn't that cute...…
this is the video.
(I think I need to credit John Waters' book Role Models), but should it really matter whether homosexuality is a choice or not? Why would it being a choice justify unequal treatment under the law or discrimination?
To anybody making the "it's a choice" argument, here's my response.

Thank you for making your position clear. You are advocating that individuals put aside what is in their hearts regarding whom to love, and instead "choose" some other person who is (apparently, to you at least) more expedient to society in general. In other words, you expect homosexuals to "choose" to renounce the person they truly love, and instead engage in marriage of convenience.

Moreover, once they choose to do this, you won't give their personal motivations a second thought, regardless of whether they choose to marry literally a stranger off the street, solely for the insurance benefits (which is their right under current law), so long as that person is of the opposite sex.

As such, you have just lost the privilege of uttering the phrase "sanctity of marriage."
@165: I don't think it's fair to say that a man should be ordered not even to think about fucking. He's used to getting 3somes, and since that's not on the table atm, he's fulfilling his fantasy by chatting up potential 3some partners for some undetermined time in the future. Maybe he should have found another way to release tension, but he's not forcing HER to think about sex (she stumbled upon his email), and no one is allowed to force him NOT to think about sex.
I love you, Dan Savage.
I love Dan Savage.
Best logic ever.
In a purported monogamous relationship I believe it matters if the ex-lover predates the current relationship or if they were a partner in an affair during the relationship. If the latter I can conceive of no circumstances under it would be appropriate for the former CPOS to have any contact with the ex. Although if a child was conceived as a result of the affair then contact with the ex may be inevitable and until the death of the ex, the child, or the victim.

#100 is quite right. This'll go viral if you link to the money quote.

Consider the opposite argument. I'll gladly concede that HETEROsexuality is NOT a choice, rather than accept a challenge to eat pussy.
I've been reading this "never go out for drinks with exes if you're in a monogamous relationship" and feeling very confused. Then it just hit exes and I aren't huge, out-of-control drinkers. If I'm going out for drinks with an ex, we're having one pint, maybe two. No one's inhibitions are inappropriately lowered. Everyone's safely able to make their way home alone. No more risk than meeting them at a museum or at church.

I only let myself get to the point of "feeling it" with people that are completely safe.
180 go to the bottom :)
@C&H: I'm sorry about your miscarriage! That's painfully hard to plan for and then lose a child. You're in my thoughts and prayers.
@165 sometimes people (and I stress people) want sex quite a lot when they're grieving. My wife did after our miscarriage, probably earlier than I wanted. They also have very raw emotions and make mistakes. Just like people.

By the way, thinking about sex is not a choice - for me - it may be for you - I may possibly not do so when I'm dead. It's "inappropriate" of you to tell me it's "inappropriate".

Of course I'm a "really dumb" man so feel free to diss me and report me to the thought police. You could do with working on the "really clear instructions" for the men who need it though, you sound inarticulate. After all it took 7 years, you say, for your views to be heard with just one dumb man, it'll take an awful long time to change a few billion. Perhaps understanding a bit more, and cutting out polarising generalisations before you mouth off, would be useful in getting your point - if you have one - across.
Dan - here's why the "choice" argument makes me nuts. What if being gay was a choice? Aren't we *allowed* to make choices? In fact, I thought these choices were one of our most basic human rights.

(And while I never chose to be gay, I did choose not to be a fucking closet case who got married and got dick on the side, and that's a choice I'm pretty proud of.)
Can you please tell me the definition of "gay"? I mean, for a guy to suck another guy's dick is a gay "act", but does it make him "gay"? I have consciously made the choice to suck another guy's dick, in the course of sexual self-discovery (just a couple times - honest), but I have determined that at the end of the day, I am not attracted to men. I've never met a man that I was drawn to sexually, but I am sexually drawn to all kinds of women. I wouldn't even call that being bi. I'm straight, but I've performed "gay" acts.

Anyhow, I guess that what I'm saying is that while your challenge to Cummins is witty and humorous, the reality is that what he is inferring is that "gay" men can choose to not "act" gay. He believes that it doesn't matter what you think or feel, what matters is what you do, and people can control (choose) 100% of what they do. He's believes that all people should be capable of controlling all of their instincts, and not do bad things (like interacting sexually with someone of their own gender).

So here is the bottom line: He thinks that it is morally wrong for people of the same gender to interact sexually, and you don't. He thinks that that people can control 100% of their actions, and you don't. He is living in a idealistic fantasy world, and you aren't.
On C&H it seams clear from the letter that C&H did these things together as a couple and that they both liked. There are a number of unknowns.

For example who would arrange the meetings? C&H or her Husband? What was their protocol on this? Did they even have one? Does the Husband even know that his wife is not into this right now? Etc.

It could be something as simple as the Husband wants things to return to normal and part of things being normal is doing things they both liked to do. MFF threesomes it is very clear was something they were both into.

So I think Dan has this one right. Give the husband the benefit of the doubt.

Only suggestion I would have is that the wife should mention in some way that she is no into MFF thing at the moment. Put it as the idea occured to her but after she thought it over she decided she wasn't into it right then.
Publicly inviting another man to suck your d*ck is f*g-baiting, plain and simple. What's more, performing a sexual act cannot determine sexual orientation. Once again, Dan Savage demonstrates why he will never be a legitimate Gay Rights movement spokesman or leader, no matter how many sycophants he has.
on the other hand, choice or not shouldn't matter expression should be a human right, etc. We may be pre-loading the next civil right 'discussion' as a question of choice vs inherent human nature. And people who choose something distasteful to the majority??? well, furries or something will be denied their lifestyles for sake of offending the pure nature of our virgin squirrel populations.
brokephilosopher, dameedna, I'm not sure you correctly read what wendykh (165) was saying. She wasn't saying that her partner isn't allowed to think about sex; rather, she was saying that at certain times, like during a funeral, she considers it inappropriate for HER to be thinking about sex. Assuming she's not psychic, the only way this becomes a problem is if her partner lets her know that he is thinking about or wanting it. And yeah, I agree, it would be totally inappropriate to let someone know you are horny while they're trying to grieve at a funeral!

Similarly, when a wife makes it clear that she's grieving over a recent miscarriage and is not ready to resume threesomes, it's time to let that issue drop for a while. Nobody's forcing the husband not even to think about sex (as if that were possible), but it's still inappropriate for him to go presumptively speaking for her to strangers with whom he's preparing potential hookup arrangements. This is true even if sex is a comforting subject/activity for him during his own time of grief, because to put it bluntly, he wasn't the one who needed a doctor's okay for sex because of what his body just went through.

Like wendykh, I feel the significance of what she experienced in the miscarriage is being a bit glibly overlooked here. Two years of trying to have a baby, followed by a tragic loss only three weeks ago? She needs some grieving time, and his actions interfered with that. From an objective point of view we realize that people grieve differently and sexual desires don't just shut off because of grief, or may be consoling. But from her perspective, I think it would seem like he didn't care that much, which is devastating. Can this be acknowledged, at least? I don't feel like Dan gets that at all.
Hey Dan, you know that gay sex has nothing to do with what you do but rather the sex of the person you do it with.

If you were a right-on guy instead of the wanna-be jerk you sometimes luvtabe, you'd ofter to suck Cumming's dick on camara to enable him to make the gay choice.

Instead you've tacitly accepted the phobe myth that a cocksucking male is queer while a cocksuckee male isn't.

Comming again; that's Cummins' dick which would be cumming.

Cum is in the dictionary, but comming ain't.

Uh, so what's the 'legitimate' gay rights position when cumming? Standing or kneeling or both?

@22 , 69 et al
It makes more sense that this is an adaptive trait to increase genetic population health. The greater genetic diversity the better, and that's maintained by having different people attracted to different things. Some men like Beyonce, some like Michelle Williams, some like Rachel Maddow, and some like Taye Diggs. I'd like a 5-way with all of them, but that's just me.
"She needs some grieving time, and his actions interfered with that."

No. Her decision to snoop in his email interfered with that.
"From an objective point of view we realize that people grieve differently and sexual desires don't just shut off because of grief, or may be consoling. But from her perspective, I think it would seem like he didn't care that much, which is devastating. Can this be acknowledged, at least? I don't feel like Dan gets that at all."

To paraphrase the above paragraph: "It doesn't matter how you actually feel about it. What matters is how I feel about how you feel about it."

Had she had the sense to stay the hell out of his email, both of them would have had the freedom to deal with the grief in their own personal fashion and she would never have had the need to write this letter.
@189: I think I saw it as "you're a jackass, so I'm not into giving you pleasure. You can get me off without any complaints, though."
"Stephen Colbert", not Stephen Colbert. There are enough tin ears here to roof a stadium.
193, beccoid-- No. The trait doesn't know what genetic health in a population is. The only thing the trait does is survive or not, pass its genes onto the next generation or not. It is either adaptive or not. Maybe it's a little more complicated than that because the environment is always changing, and there's social environment to be considered for social animals. Also, traits work or don't work in conjunction with other traits. But just saying that genetic diversity is good for a population doesn't pan out. Diversity consisting of non-adaptive traits is not good for a population.
Your interpretation is a fine example of conventional wisdom.

In Dan's example, pleasure occurs from ego gratification resulting from the challenge itself. Dan has knowingly chosen conventional wisdom as his premise because he gains by doing so.

Dan makes his living from sex talk. Like Howard Stern the more outrageous he is, the more attention he gets, and the greater his potential return.

Problem is in the conventional assumption that sucking someone off only provides pleasure to the recipient. But oral sex may in fact provide pleasure to both, neither, or only one of the participants, and the conventional assumption isn't necessarily gay friendly.


Oh crap, what a waste all this is!

Sorry to have added to it.
It . . . there isn't really a Canadian politician who has the brass to assert that being gay is a choice while sporting the name "Cum Ins", as in the classic gay gangsta saying "I gotta get some cum up ins," right?


Oh, damn. There is.

Well, I might actually pay for a video of him getting cummed in. Suck it good, John.
Suzy @160; the only kind of sex that I judge , or care about, is sex that's NOT CONSENSUAL! Why would I care about incest that's between adults?! Most incest involves people that are raped by cousins, brothers or (even my OWN brother who bugged me ALL thru my early teens to do inappropriate things, or show him my tits, or whatever-I never would). If you think that THAT b.s doesn't wear on you, letmetellya.. All infidelity, however, is CONSENSUAL. & it's fascinating to me how you jumped right on my post, saying that you,re not uptight/insecure/ tightly wound,whatever. Your point would be more believable if you weren't SO defensive. I'm glad your husband & you agree on the same boundaries. & I feel safe in assuming that no one on this board is trying to lure you both out for drinks & have sex w/you.
Being Catholic is not a choice. It's something people are born with.

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