Columns Nov 12, 2014 at 4:00 am



As far as I can tell from my bad memory, I think I felt attracted to the upper half of the boy (cute face, cute personality) and intimidated about the bottom half. And that's pretty much how I feel about sexy dominant women my age, now. I like the face, the boobs, the personality -- I'm intimidated about the bottom half. I'm curious to see if I ever get past my discomfort. I don't pretend to know what life has in store for me.
@Erica: I guess it makes sense that you feel a bit guilty knowing you're getting a woman worked up and you aren't going to get her off, but I presume you're also letting her know that you aren't going to be able to touch her pussy or clit directly with any part of your body, so she knows what she's getting into.

Personally, I can't imagine doing what you're doing: repeatedly sexually interacting with people to whom you're not attracted and hoping that someday, with enough time and repeated exposure, you'll come to feel that attraction. Just as I think some people are hardwired to be exclusively same-sex attracted and some to be exclusively opposite-sex attracted, I think people who are wired bi come to that dual attraction more naturally than what you're experiencing/describing.

I can't tell if you're continuing to try to make this attraction happen because you're intellectually and idealistically committed to idea of breaking past cultural/social boundaries and norms or because it's the only way you can get your kink on, or to please your husband, or to stay even with him in terms of extra-marital contact. It appears you get something out of it, masochist-wise, but it seems like it costs you a great deal.
I absolutely remember feeling intimidated by the bottom half of a man (well, boy, really, as I'm talking about my teenaged self). But for me, that's different from the feeling I have about a woman's lower half.

I love women's faces, and bodies aesthetically. I find breasts beautiful and lovely and arousing to look at, but I don't want to touch anyone's. But I'm more than "intimidated" by a woman's genitals, though I have a strong concern that I wouldn't be able to get one off, despite my best intentions, should I find myself in that situation. I have lots of experience with men's bodies; zero with any woman's body not my own (and with me, I'm operating by feel and habit, not by sight. I'm not relying on external cues, like quickening of breath, or movement, etc. to tell me I'm on the right track). I have literally no idea how I'd make a woman come and no confidence I could.

Thus though it's true I'd be intimidated and anxious about the prospect of being able to please another woman's vagina, the feeling I have about any vagina that doesn't belong to me is more akin to "revulsion" than "intimidation"--probably much like a gay man has.
Yes, women's genitals can seem a little intimidating.
Men's are straight up, in your face, there.
Women's, like some Aladdin's cave, with lots of crevices outside the cave door.
In fantasy, however, much less intimidating.
@112 "repeatedly sexually interacting with people to whom you're not attracted"

I am attracted to them. I find clothed women very attractive. I like touching their breasts and I like kissing women. It's just the genitals that I have trouble with.

When you say this: "it seems like it costs you a great deal" -- that doesn't make any sense to me. No, fondling women's breasts is not a terrible burden. Quite the opposite.

No reason to feel sorry for me. I'm fascinated by my experiences and feel very alive, even if I don't know where this train is going.
@EricaP: I don't feel sorry for you. You make it clear that you're enjoying your experiences enough overall to offset the discomfort you're having with women's vaginas. But my statement that I think it's costing you a great deal was geared more toward your concerns that you're teasing these women and towards your discomfort with their vaginas and hope that it will get better and not towards your fondling their breasts.

I have been thinking about the idea that women are more naturally bi or bi-curious or sexually fluid--an idea which, I can see is borne out by the amount of women who seem to switch orientation in midlife (and I have two close friends who have done just that). It seems to be that what is happening now is that women are almost pressured by the culture at large (represented in this thread by Hunter's attitudes expressed @ 72) to be at least bi-curious and heteroflexible--witness all those women supposedly interested in an FFM threesome or who make out with each other for the purpose of exciting men or because it's just "fun." No one expects a straight man to be at least a little bit bi-curious or heteroflexible; few straight women would say "oh, isn't it hot when my boyfriend fondles and kisses another guy on the dance floor;" people don't routinely try to suggest to a straight man that it's no big deal for him to make out with or give at least a handjob to another straight man. And yet look how hard you're trying to make yourself like having sex with a woman--and for what purpose? To assure yourself that you're alive? To push the train you're on?
I don't mean to criticize you for it, and I give you enough credit to assume that if you're really unhappy with something you wouldn't do it, but I do think that there's a cultural expectation of women's heteroflexiblity at play here that wouldn't be operative with a man.

I've fondled my share of women's breasts, and tongued my share of female nipples (I wouldn't consider any below-the-waist activity), and while it doesn't qualify as a terrible burden to me, either, it also doesn't turn me on. It is for me a supremely neutral experience--one I could repeat if it was requested of me, but one I'd never miss if it never happened again, which is completely different from the way I feel about giving a man head or being up close and personal with a cock: I love that and I'd miss it if it never happened again.
I think culture is a blunt instrument. It's hard to make female bisexuality perfectly fine without also some cultural pressure on women to be open towards it. And I think our culture might be better off if men were also presumed to be a little bisexual -- even if that led to some straight men feeling a little pressure to play with men.
EricaP - Sorry to interrupt you. Pet peeve got the best of me. I know a woman with a penis who I think you would absolutely adore and vice versa. She's thought about moving to cali but wrong state and early 30s though.
I'm all for presumption, but not for pressure. In other words, let's be more open to but not pushy towards greater range of behavior and interest.
@EricaP: Maybe I'm misunderstanding you. I think I understand you to mean that in the service of society adopting a more open and accepting attitude towards bisexuality or homosexuality, straight people should be pressured into having sex with members of the same sex. Or you think that somehow, ideally, all people are or should be at least a little bit bi. And what the more recalcitrant need is a little push?

This explains or at least partly explains why you're forcing yourself to continue trying to have sex with women?

So you're in favor of pressuring people to perform contra their sexual orientation in order to advance the greater social good?

I presume you don't extend that line of reasoning to gay people--that you're not suggesting that in order to help bring about greater cultural tolerance for bisexuality they have sex with members of the opposite sex?

If any of what I'm interpreting is even slightly true, then I have to disagree with you vehemently. It may be that you can force yourself to interact sexually against your orientation in the pursuit of an ideal--more power to you if that's what you're doing.
But I think that's neither necessary or desirable to get the culture to a greater level of tolerance and acceptance.

I can be an ally to someone's gayness, bi-ness, trans-ness, queerness, without being gay, bi, trans, or queer myself.

I can be an ally to any and everyone's quest for their absolutely-deserved equality and civil rights: the disabled, the mentally ill, the non-white, the women, non-Christian, the non-straight, the childless-by-choice or circumstance, the non-monogamous, without sharing a single one of those characteristics personally. I would call that being a decent person.
I don't need to experience repression to want to free others from it, and I don't need to perform homosexuality to believe that homosexuals are every bit as legitimate as heterosexuals.

Your reasoning,if I understand it correctly, while rooted in a good cause, seems misguided to me.

If I'm wrong, I am interested in what you mean.
What is up with questioning EricaP's feelings further than she's bicurious and she's heteroflexible.

EricaP - I think it's ok that you're bi-curious and heteroflexible even if you haven't met a woman who gets you going like a man does (yet?). I really can't picture you as the kind of doormat who could have rotten feeling sex just to keep a guy or fit in or something. And I see nothing ethically wrong with presuming bisexuality in men so long as you respect consent. You'll probably catch some flack from haters though.
@122: Philophile, I don't know if you're lumping me in with the "haters" you see interacting with EricaP. But if you are, please be assured that I don't hate her at all. Furthermore, I think EricaP to be among the most articulate and most capable of defending herself or telling her detractors to go to hell of anyone on this comment thread.

I am not so much questioning her feelings as trying to understand her motivation and perspective, a goal I think is worthy and one of the reasons I read this column's comments. I learn a lot about a lot (and a lot more than just sexual topics) from the discussions that go on here.

I don't think it's not okay for anyone to be any way they profess to be. I just want to broaden my understanding of the human condition, and to that end, I'm going to interact--civilly, I hope--with others, disagree with them--again, civilly--if that's the case, and ask them questions. That's not hate.
I'm not in favor of pressuring people. But I'm wondering if the fastest way to the society we both want, one that accepts bi and gay people as equals, might lie in building a new default. If bi becomes the expected norm, then some straight men may feel a little pressure to consider being bi. Nowhere near the amount of pressure gay men feel currently to be (or act) straight, but some.

Just as fathers now feel some social pressure to change diapers, where their grandfathers felt none.
EricaP: I don't think we can "build a new default;" people are going to be attracted to whom they're attracted to. That can't be changed. Otherwise, you're suggesting something something perilously close to conversion therapy.

I don't think your analogy is a good one: social pressure can be brought to bear on expectations like diaper changing, but I don't think it works well on sexual orientation.
Hunter! Honestly, just can't let you out.
The current default is straight. Do you agree? If you don't know someone is gay or bim you assume they are straight.
Bi not bim
Nocute @116. I don't feel any cultural pressure to be bi curious. My erotic fantasies, that now involve women, came , not from some outward pressure at all.
I do feel women are more sexually fluid. We like men, came from a woman's body. Maybe even breast fed, from a woman.

@128: Yes, the current default is straight. That is because there are more straight people in the world than gay or bi ones. If there are a lot more "invisible" bi people out there, the solution is for them to come out and be visible and counted. If they outnumber straight and gay people, the default will shift to bi. But I don't think it's a reasonable goal to make everyone behave a bit bi-ly in hopes of changing the default.

I also don't think that we have to shift to a presumption of bisexuality as the norm. We can certainly be more sensitive and less heteronormative in our assumptions. I am guilty of this all the time, though I'm trying to be more aware and not to assume that if a letter writer uses the word "husband" that that letter writer is a woman. I admit that oftentimes this is still slow going for me, but I'm trying. But I don't need to assume that everyone is bi; I don't need to go into default bi-mode, to remember that not every husband is married to a wife. I just need to not assume my situation or orientation is everyone's. Why do I need to experience some sort of same-sex sexual activity which I'm averse to, not in theory because I'm homophobic or bi-bigoted, but because my orientation is a Kinsey 0 and I'm repulsed by another woman's genitals and want nothing to do with them? I ask again, does your idea include pressuring gay people to have sex with straights so as to push them more to the bi-middle? If so, it sounds like forcing a type of conversion therapy; if it's not (which I strongly suspect), then I think you're being a bit disingenuous and what you're trying to do is like some sort of affirmative action corrective, which I just don't think works with people's sexuality and which I believe is unnecessary to foster a greater awareness and acceptance.

Here in California, whites are only going to be a majority for a short while longer; soon Latinos will be the majority, the "default" Californian, as it were. But that's not because someone with an agenda, however worthy, is putting pressure on non-Latinos to somehow adopt Latino ethnicity and heritage. It's because there will soon be a legitimate Latino majority. Perhaps there are a lot more bisexual people than most of us realize. But they need to step out and be visible, not have their numbers appear to grow because people have been pushed to participate in sex they don't want to have so as to extend their privilege.
LavaGirl: Perhaps I'm a bit dense this morning, but I don't understand what "We like men, came from a woman's body. Maybe even breast fed, from a woman" has to do with the notion that women's sexuality is more fluid than men's.
@123 NoCute - I wasn't lumping you in with haters. But I did think that assuming EricaP was forcing herself with women was not respecting her professed orientation.

The haters in the sentence, "You'll probably catch some flack from haters though," would be anyone who cried foul about the habit. I guess I use haters for people who are loud and obnoxious about views that hurt a set of reasonable people, just for their preferences or anatomy. Although some anatomies, like a psychotic brain, are dangerous...

I think EricaP's hypothesis on norms is interesting. I see no reasons why norms should work much differently in sex. It would explain the new bisexual ratio in young adults as Hunter was saying. Although I think people ignore the norms more in sex, it might just be me.

@130 Lava - Odd you think women are more fluid in orientation although you haven't done more than fantasize about acting bi.. which you seem to do a lot.. you seem like a bi-curious, probably bi woman who was mad at culture for the straight pressure growing up, but still working up the courage to express your sexuality? Or was that a total miss?

I'm kinda boring I haven't ever really questioned my orientation, only had it questioned and got annoyed, so I don't have any great stories to tell.
Man, communication is hard. Does flirting and match-making count as pressure?

I'm saying that it does. And that currently gay people are pressured to have straight sex, because straight people with their heteronormative assumptions flirt with the gay people and assume that's fine.

But gay men try to avoid flirting with straight men, because of homophobia. Further, they avoid flirting with men-whose-orientation-they-don't-know, because people are imagined to be straight if you don't know their orientation.

I'm proposing that it should become more okay for gay/bi people to flirt with people-whose-orientation-they-don't-know. And in fact I think it is becoming more okay. See this new California law, banning the "gay-panic" (or "trans-panic") defense:…

You wrote: "The current default is straight. That is because there are more straight people in the world than gay or bi ones."

I don't think that's true. How would we know? And why do you get to say this, from your position as a straight person? --
"If there are a lot more "invisible" bi people out there, the solution is for them to come out and be visible and counted."

Why isn't the solution for us to assume people are bi? What is the harm that follows from assuming everyone is somewhat bi, rather than assuming people are straight?

It just means that more people might flirt with you; it doesn't mean that you would give up the right to refuse sex with any particular individual, of whatever gender.
Okay, fine; I can assume everyone I meet is bi until the contrary is proved. We can do that. And I agree that everyone should be gracious about being flirted with even if they're not interested in the person initiating the flirting, for any reason, not just orientation. "Being gracious" doesn't mean having to flirt back (though if someone wants to, sure). It means not freaking out or being rude or saying hateful things if someone you aren't interested in or attracted to for whatever reason attempts a flirtatious interaction.

I hear that as a far cry from what you said @117: "And I think our culture might be better off if men were also presumed to be a little bisexual -- even if that led to some straight men feeling a little pressure to play with men" and @124: "If bi becomes the expected norm, then some straight men may feel a little pressure to consider being bi. Nowhere near the amount of pressure gay men feel currently to be (or act) straight, but some."

I don't think we should be pressuring straight people to consider being bi any more than we should pressure gay people to be straight.
As far as the "matchmaking" example you gave goes, I guess I don't see it as hugely offensive or burdensome if someone who assumes the default orientation is straight says to a gay man, "I know a lovely girl I'd like you to meet," and he answers,"I'm sure she is lovely, but I'm gay," so long as the first person then just nods and says, "oh, in that case, I'd like you to meet my nephew," or just nods and says, "well, nothing ventured, nothing gained."

Maybe I'm displaying rampant straight privilege in assuming it's not necessary to change the default in order to change the culture's level of acceptance and understanding, but I'm going to make a comparison to being a different kind of minority.

I'm Jewish (I think you might be, too, from something you once wrote), and since I don't walk around with a giant Star of David or a Chai around my neck or hang out in orthodox circles, I am generally presumed by those who don't know me well to be Gentile. That's fine with me as long as:
1) People don't make anti-Semitic comments in my hearing.
2) if, when someone asks me a question I identify myself as Jewish, they don't try to convert me or question me about why I'm not Christian.
3) People, upon finding out that I don't celebrate Christmas, don't try to tell me it's not a Christian holiday, but rather an American one, and there's no reason I shouldn't celebrate it.

I am fine with being a minority and one whose status is presumed to be other than it actually is, in other words, as long as I'm treated with respect. My Jewishness is less of matter of religious observance than it is an ethnic and cultural heritage and identification for me.

I confess that for a multitude of reasons, I think the world would be better off without any and all religion, but I also don't know if that is possible to achieve, and so, while I would love to see a worldwide or at least American cultural shift to a presumption of atheism on everyone's part, I also see that as unrealistic. If I want to live in a place where being Jewish is the norm or the majority, I can move to Israel; otherwise, I accept that I will be forever explaining that no, I don't have a Christmas tree. As long as the discussion remains pleasant and I come away from it thinking someone has learned something, namely that not everyone is just like themselves, I am perfectly content.
@135, I meant the same thing @117 and @124 as I did @134.

At no point did I say that someone should engage in sex they don't want. Being pressured to have such sex doesn't mean having such sex. I gather that you took the word "pressure" to mean "successfully pressured" rather than "unsuccessfully pressured"?

(I say that because when I changed pressured to flirted with, you began to see my point.)

Also note that I disagree that bisexuals are in fact a minority. And, yes, I'm Jewish, but my Jewish parents had a Christmas tree, as did their Jewish parents before them. (Christmas trees are a pagan tradition and were seen in my extended family as part of being American, not being Christian.)
EricaP, @134 you said: "I'm proposing that it should become more okay for gay/bi people to flirt with people-whose-orientation-they-don't-know." Well, sure. But why do we have to have a presumption of universal bi-ness for this to happen?

Why not just teach your children to react nicely even when they're offered something they don't want and teach them that there's nothing wrong with or evil about being gay or bi? If what you're after's making the world safer for gay or bi men to flirt with other men without fear of brutality, those two things should do the trick.

This whole discussion started with Hunter's suggestion that women are more naturally apt to be bi @72 ("Bicurious means very little, esp if you're a woman. Bicurious means you think about it, but you've never actually committed a SS act; otherwise you'd just be bi. Women have been so highly sexualized, it's not surprising one might wonder what it's like to kiss that beautiful woman"), and your response @89: " if I labeled myself “bi”, women would rightly expect me to be comfortable with pussy. But I’m not. . . . But touching a woman’s pussy with my fingers, let alone going down on her, is still very difficult for me. It feels icky and unappealing, although I like these women and wish I felt differently about their genitals. I’ve done it, oh, a handful of times, always hoping that I’ll meet the right person and start to feel comfortable. And I remember that when I was new to cock (age 16, 17), that also seemed a little weird and icky to touch. I got over it. So I keep waiting to see if I’ll get comfortable with pussy; maybe I just haven’t met the right woman yet."

I think that you're pressuring yourself to do something, to feel something that you actually don't like. And your explanation seems to be that this is in the service of the greater social good of making it less threatening for gay men to flirt with straight ones.

By the way, I've thought of another analogy to my discomfort with vaginas.

When I was a young adult and dating (25 years ago), I never encountered anal as an option. Not anal on me, not anal on the guys I was dating. Not rimming, not fingers, not toys, not anything. I did receive spankings, and I loved that.

Over the years, Mr. P. gradually has revealed more and more interest in receiving anal, and we've begun to incorporate it into our repertoire, though it's still not standard. I propose it about once a month, but about half the time he declines.

When I began dating in my 40s, I discovered that many men like receiving anal sensation, and that it is part of the expected repertoire for at least 1/3 of the guys I dated.

I still feel awkward giving anal. I still feel that I don't always find the hole smoothly, that I don't have a handle on how to apply lube well or what kind of pressure will be fun for the guy. I don't find it sexually stimulating for me (although I love receiving anal sensations). But I'm game to keep trying to improve my skills and get more comfortable with giving anal pleasure, because I feel that's now part of being GGG to a partner who likes receiving. I'm not "forcing" myself to do it, I'm just stepping up and expanding my skill set.
@137 "I think that you're pressuring yourself to do something, to feel something that you actually don't like."

I'm pressuring myself to grow and change. Sometimes that involves some work. I think if women were my only option for sex (in prison, say), I would enjoy sex with women and within six months I would enjoy pussy. I'm not in prison, but I'm still open to challenging my discomfort with pussy, and with anal.
I disagree with several premises you make @136: I don't think that the majority of people are bi; if more people were bi rather than straight, and had always been, there wouldn't be so much homophobia. There may be a lot more bi people than we realize, but I don't have any reason or evidence to assume that most people are bi.

I also disagree with this "I gather that you took the word "pressure" to mean "successfully pressured" rather than "unsuccessfully pressured"?

(I say that because when I changed pressured to flirted with, you began to see my point.)"

I see a vast difference between "flirting," and being pressured, whether successfully or not, to have sex with someone. I flirt with people all the time, nearly every day. There's the much-older (like in his mid 80s) married man I flirt with all the time. It's understood without being stated that we're not seriously trying seduce one another. But we are complimentary and flirtatious, both of us pretending that it's only the fact of his marriage that stands in our way.
I smile and joke in a mildly flirtatious way with people all the time, and they do the same with me. And it's understood that these are not serious attempts at seduction.

Even when the flirtation is more intense and more serious, it often doesn't lead to more, which I think is part of the nature of flirtation. It is often merely a social lubricant.
I get wanting to expand your skill set. But again, I don't see the comparison of trying to get better at giving anal stimulation with learning to be less uncomfortable with pussy.

Because to me it comes down to a question of orientation. I'm straight, so even if I am not good at or comfortable with a particular sex act, as long as it's between me and a man, I'll work on cultivating or honing it in the spirit of ggg-ness. But if it involves a woman, even if the act itself is one that is pretty easy to do (say nipple play), I don't want to do it--not because it's awkward or because I'm not sure I'm doing it well, or because it's not stimulating to me as I'm doing it to another person--but because I'm not sexually attracted to women and therefore don't want to have any sexual interaction with them. I've had some very lovely women flirt with me, and I've felt flattered and told them so and explained that I'm as straight as it gets as I graciously (I hope) declined the overtures. They didn't seem to hold it against me. No harm, no foul. It's really been straight men who have been more invested in my being more heteroflexible or bi-curious.

(I could do an FMF threesome for a male partner, but only if it was strictly FMF; I couldn't do FFM. Most of the men that I've known who've wanted a threesome have wanted FFM. Many of them had a hard time seeming to understand my reluctance--probably, I suspect, because of the presumption of bi-ness for women, that "fluidity," or that over-sexualization of women as bi for men's pleasure. When I've asked if they would participate in an MFM or an MMF, they immediately see the distinction and concede my point.
I've always assumed people are a little( or big) bi. Just that one orientation becomes the prevalent one. That to love and find some erotic interest in ones own sex , is everywhere. Some people block it, are scared of it- but I do just assume it's there.
@141, ok, you're a Kinsey 0. I'm not.
@143: So do I have to challenge my straightness, do I have to be pressured to be a little bi so that I empathize with and am respectful to people who are bi or gay?

Or can I, in my Kinsey 0-ness be as understanding and tolerant as you, in your (presumably learned or acquired) Kinsey 2-or-3-ness?

That's the question, right?
I say "yes," and you seem to think "not really."
And have some erotic interest in the opposite sex, too.
I don't believe our orientations are set in stone. People shift often. Get married to one sex , then go off with another. I don't see that as someone has denied their true nature, cause I don't see sexuality is just in our nature.
Our erotic gaze comes from lots of sources and needs. IMO. People are fluid. Women seem to me, more comfortable in this fluidity.
I'm not just talking of touching or not touching genitals. Our sensual connections to others, the range is greater than that.
> I say "yes," and you seem to think "not really."

You are misunderstanding me. You be Kinsey 0. Just don't assume anyone else is Kinsey 0. If you have to guess, guess Kinsey 1.

The intensity of some people's homophobia is to me a direct correlation of their fear of this same desire in themselves.
They have erotic impulses, unconscious desires, whatever- and instead of just accepting themselves, they push these thoughts etc away. And burden those who are free with themselves with their projected self hatred.
(Ms Erica and) Ms Cute @135 - It has occurred to me a number of times that, if I were on trial accused of bisexuality and had to prove the contrary beyond a reasonable doubt, that might be beyond even the skills of Rumpole.

There's a difference between presuming anyone *might* be bi and making the default an assumption that everyone *is*. I don't mind the former in the interest of bi-inclusion. But changing the default assumption to everyone's being bi will suck in those of us who currently never get taken for straight and create the assumption that those of us in the gold star gang have a healthy (though presumably minor) interest in the opposite sex; to that I do object.

I'll put the bar at civil rather than gracious; the definition Ms Cute provides strikes me more as civil than gracious anyway. I'd suggest that gracious would require a sense of being complimented, which is beyond my capacity in such a situation (being presumed an opposite-sexer outweighing the compliment of potential romantic interest). For my base line of civil, I refer the assembled company to my previous citation of Claire Simmons declining an unwanted offer of employment from Peter Champion with a "No, thank you," that could not have been icier had she been packing a lorgnette.

I'm going to rise to great heights and not only offer Ms Cute a mulligan on the misgendered matchmaking but spare the assembled company a comparison to Emma. On the infrequent occasions when I have attempted to assist a match, I have at least been sufficiently well acquainted with the intended recipient to be aware of that person's orientation. If anyone were to see me receiving such a misdirected attention, I'm going to guess that my response would remind Ms Cute of how Mr Darcy responded to Mr Collins' introducing himself at the Netherfield ball.

As for what's a majority, it may well depend on which definition of bi is used. I think Ms Erica is trying to use a broad definition and fit it into a somewhat more narrow application - there may be enough people meeting her criterion for bi to constitute a majority, but that would include many who were not bi enough to fit the presumption she desires to spread (needing a 1 or a 0.8 minimum but counting down to 0.05, at a guess). I'm inclined to be in sympathy with the end, if it can be brought about without oppressing the Kinsey Sixes.
A civil response is fine. I just don't like straight men taking offense if some man flirts with them.
I really hate mind readers who KNOW how other people feel, and everyone MUST feel similar to themselves or they are LYING! I can see inside their head and they're LYING!

You are just saying that you feel nice so others will like you but you're LYING!

You say you think other people should be treated as well as yourself but you're LYING!

You say you don't hate people but you're LYING!

You can't really feel that differently from me you must be LYING!

I'd really prefer you feel differently so I'll assume you're LYING!

I think I'm not a bigot but I'm LYING!

I read too much bs about doubting stated feelings and I had to spew. A default or a norm is one thing. But feelings are UNTESTABLE! To doubt them is insulting if there's not a great reason. Only behavior has any meaning in real life, outside our own viewpoint, if you believe in such a thing. I get philosophical when inebriated.

EricaP - Awesome plan. Default assume bi, just maybe not DOUBT THEIR STATED ORIENTATION LIKE A JACKASS!
Mr. Ven: I have never even attempted to make a match for someone whose orientation I knew well (as well as other tidbits). I don't like to yenta.
I mentioned matchmaking only because EricaP gave it as an example of times when someone who is gay or bi would potentially be hurt by the presumption of straightness (@134: " Does flirting and match-making count as pressure?")

For what it's worth, I always feel complimented if someone flirts in a not-disgusting way with me, and were I ever to have someone try to match me up, I would also take it as a compliment, and be correspondingly more gracious than merely civil, though civility is really all I guess we can any of us reasonably expect.

@-101- think of all of the 10 year old "suspected enemy combatants" that will overrun your fortress unless someone has the courage to send a middle from a drone into their families car ? What about the police state ? Think of all of the hard work setting up a domestic staying operation all the while denying its existence ? Who will think of the banks well being, us lazy plebes !? No.... What about the war machine ? It's been at full speed, hoovering up all of that extra tax revenue that's been cluttering up the place... And you want MORE from him ?! Selfish...
@153; yes, yes.
We are a small country though. Only 26 odd million. It would take him just a little while to adapt.. Our Leader and his cronies are morons. Stupid , right wing and boring.. I think Barack would do well with our little country..
@154 Hunter78: I only mentioned Alan Cumming and continued into that part of the thread because you, LavaGirl, and others did, too. I thought I had found some common ground for this week's Savage Love column blog.

E: I don't consider myself bi, but that's just me.

Happy November 17th, everybody.
Hi auntie grizelda,

I'm not telling anyone to be bi.

Within US culture, most people presume men-of-unknown-sexuality are straight. For women-of-unknown-sexuality, some presume straight, and others presume bi.

I see benefits to shifting to a new system where both men and women are presumed to be bi, until they specify otherwise.
Ms Erica - Yes, but must those benefits come partially at the expence of the gold stars? Many of us have had to do a great deal of work to get away from the assumption of OS interest, and really don't want to go back there just because some of us will derive some benefit from it. I can live with presuming anyone can be bi (although I think it's beyond my range personally) but not with presuming everyone is.

Ms Cute - Yes, it wasn't yours, but you were being a *little* too prescriptive for my tastes (but I can live with a difference of opinion). And "I'm sure she is lovely but I'm gay" is a very Prudie statement unless the speaker is fairly strongly closeted. Could I really trust the judgement of someone who couldn't even get my orientation right and tried to match me with a woman? How highly would you rate the acumen of someone who did the same to you, however complimented you might feel? That error would be at least a strong point against.
@EricaP: I've come to believe everyone has bisexual potential. For some it's just a matter of whether circumstances bring it out of them.

I'm pretty much a Kinsey 0 - no fantasies about men, and the only remotely bisexual experiences I've had were drunkenly kissing a drag queen and drunkenly having the impulse to kiss an effeminate twink this one time. My interest in cock doesn't go any further than my own.

Yet, if you banished me to an island of men, I'm sure I'd be trading blow jobs within a couple of years, and I'd be grateful to do it, as horrible and unimaginable as that sounds to me right now.
Mr. Ven: Of course you or I couldn't trust the match-making judgment of someone who didn't know our orientation; I was trying to think of a match-making scenario to suit Erica's example, and all I could think of was meeting a nosy busybody at a wedding who was taking it on herself to arrange for future weddings. In my imagined scene, the would-be matchmaker didn't know the person she was intending to match at all.

In real life, though, I don't know how often this happens. No one's tried to match me up since I was 19 and met the aunt and uncle of a friend of mine. They were charmed by me and insisted on setting me up with their 25-year-old son who only agreed to go out with me after getting corroboration from his cousin, my friend. In this case, his parents knew what they were doing, and we dated on and off for quite some time.
Ven @160, I'd be happy to revise my proposal as below, to alleviate this problem of all the Kinsey 0s and Kinsey 6s coming out to scold me:

I see benefits to shifting to a new system where people don't assume anyone is straight.
Who is this Kinsey guy and should I be reading his blog?
EricaP: I think your final line @163 is 100% true and much more logical and accurate--not assuming that everyone is straight is a far cry from presuming everyone is at least a Kinsey 1. But I'm not sure how the whole of society is going to get there.

In the meantime, I am for preaching radical acceptance and civility. Would that do, do you think?

@seandr (161): Yes, I guess if you put that level of necessity on it, we could all be a bit bi--maybe. (I don't know that I wouldn't prefer to just masturbate.) But that's hardly "bisexual potential."

Mr. Ven, I know there's a history behind such expressions as "Gold Star Gay," but I find them as insulting as whatever the equivalent would be about a straight person who's never had sex with a member of the same sex (yes, I do see the baggage and social expectations, and being closeted and trying to prove to others--and maybe oneself--that one is straight, etc., not to mention the lack of greater options, number-wise, but the intent of the phrase is what I find bothersome). How about just declaring oneself a Kinsey 6 and being done with it?

nocutename @165, is there a difference between "not assuming everyone is straight" and "not assuming anyone is straight"?

I'm a fan of civility. I like the Serenity Prayer's balance between accepting what you can't change, while working for positive change where possible.
EricaP: is there a difference between "not assuming everyone is straight" and "not assuming anyone is straight"?
Now that is an interesting question.
Let me sleep on it.
It was a joke, Joyce..
I mean, this man has been dead like how many yrs and you guys still follow his scale?
LavaGirl: People use his scale because everyone knows what it means and it's a useful way of talking about measuring degrees of hetero or homo sexuality. What scale would you prefer us to use so that we all understand each other?
Ms Cute - I'm not crazy about Kinsey Six; is there a designational equivalent of gold star on the more comprehensive Klein scale so that we don't have to include those who did what they knew they didn't really want to just because the prizes were so enticing? I can accept Mr Savage as a Kinsey Six if he claims such a label and give him second-tier sympathy (out of five or more tiers, that's not a knock), but Mr Miller, who yielded not unto temptation and pressure, gets first-tier sympathy and, I think, belongs in a separate class that Kinsey Six doesn't provide, but which I think the Klein scale likely does.
@154 "Phil goes apoplectic when someone (I) presumes to challenge someone's self-declared orientation."

I see, doubting someone's orientation to you is challenging them. I hope you enjoyed my challenge to you and you've decided to suck some dick instead of splaying your insulting conclusions of everyone else's orientation across Savage Love. Challenge as used here reminds me of the use in "intellectually challenged" or "socially challenged".

@160 Ven - "Many of us have had to do a great deal of work to get away from the assumption of OS interest"
Hate to break it to you but unless you never go to the grocery store or meet anyone new, you haven't gotten away from the assumption. If you mean that you proactively state that you're gay, then it wouldn't matter whether the initial assumption was straight or gay.

Straight or bi, I mean. Hmm what's the abbreviation for bi? ES - for each sex? BS for both sexes?
I think I have a really clear analogy to illustrate why I think doubting stated feelings is completely rude. Using legal precedent. Accusing people of being mistaken or lying about their feelings or beliefs is analogous to a charge. You have the burden of proof. Usually behavior is challenged in court and in real life, not beliefs or feelings. But the analogy should hold. You can challenge someone's beliefs pretty successfully (The earth is not flat it's round, I have this nifty picture from space to prove it.) But you can't challenge someone's feelings successfully by definition unless you're a mind reader. I can tell someone that I believe they are angry when they tell me that they are not angry. I can attempt to prove this by noting they are frothing at the mouth, yelling, sweating etc. But they could have rabies or just act abnormally for a human. Even with all this evidence I can't actually prove it! Cause I can't read their mind! It's stupid to try! It's insulting as well to accuse!

I do believe that cognitive dissonance, when a self description doesn't match the behavior well, is a sign of bad character or a mental problem.
"So don't disappear on your ex because you have a hunch his new girlfriend might be jealous, AHW. Talk to him, let him make his own choices, and be there for him."

I agree with this advice. It's always best to open up dialong, emotionally process and talk about it, and try to move towards closure. As it is now, if left unresolved, you'll keep going forward into the world, unsure about what might have happened had you had the discussion. Just my two cents.
@173: Well, you're right that you can't tell what someone else is feeling beyond any doubt. Sure. But if I've said something to someone else in a debate, and then they're yelling at me and frothing at the mouth, it's pretty unlikely they have rabies. It's likely they're mad. If they then say to me, "No, I'm not mad," I don't think it's insulting of me to think they are wrong, or lying. My evidence says they're mad. And not everyone is truthful all the time--to others, or to themselves.

Or do you always believe a partner when they say "everything's fine"?
@175 "Or do you always believe a partner when they say "everything's fine"?
Yes. Truthful is the default assumption and crazy is the assumption when things aren't matching up.

"I do believe that cognitive dissonance, when a self description doesn't match the behavior well, is a sign of bad character or a mental problem."

No I don't assume people are lying about how they feel. I do believe there's a lot of crazies in this world.
@175 I do assume that the really bad dissonance is lying sometimes. But I'd never say it to someone's face and get into an argument about it. Because I can't prove it.
The same way that you don't bring charges against someone when there's no proof or chance of winning. Frivolous lawsuits can benefit the one bringing charges, of course, but it's an abuse of the system.

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