Savage Love



I've been writing to Dan for what seems like ever, with my interest in outcomes of many letters. Did the cheater tell their spouse about their secret by leaving the Savage Love letter on the bedside table? How did the spouse respond? That sort of thing. And now DTMFA's letter is going to haunt me. How'd she take the news, did they love each other to the end? I crave closure.
Excellent Derren Brown impersonation from Mr Savage. He might even pull it off, too.

As for the last writer, the "She isn't" and the "I'm not" would be more convincing without the exclamation points, but I'm not sure which of them I doubt more. I think I'll hope neither is true, because I'd be happiest really disliking both of them and I can only grade incomplete from the letter.
Wow, that was an unusually optimistic, romantic response to the first letter. Is Dan into the hooch or something, and feeling misty? Okay, fine, I thought it was totally pollyanna. But I hope I'm wrong. Good luck, DTMFA.

As for the second letter: can anyone explain this contradiction to me? "Not being all of who I am sexually is making me resentful" vs. "kinky people interested in BDSM without sex". The first says she needs BDSM to be sexually fulfilled, the second that she's looking for BDSM without sex.
I'm with #1. Maybe the letter-writer's wife will chime in. I wish the two of them the best. But I'd also like some idea of how it comes out.
#3, she wants to preserve her technical virginity. Um, I mean, her technical monogamy. And that might work. If her husband is only interested in vanilla sex, he might not feel too threatened by bdsm that doesn't involve sex organs. Or he might be, but it sounds like it is worth her at least investigating.
I'm with #3. I think the second LW is kidding herself if she thinks bdsm without sex is going to satiate her desires.
Good luck, DTMFA, to you and your wife. I'm sorry to hear about your terminal illness! I hope the two of you can enjoy some wonderful time together.

Also, good luck to SLIM and ICING on getting their kinks fulfilled.

And, for anyone interested: I have one week left and counting down to my outpatient surgery. Here's hoping I can be blessed with normal cycles from this month forward!
I find it super hilarious that ICING's girlfriend was worried that being turned on by the idea of two guys coming on her face made her a bad feminist. The things that people come up with that apparently exclude you from feminism.
DTMFA should either come to an agreement with his wife to have an open marriage, or just divorce and not spend the last few years of his life stuck in a hellish Ouroboros of infidelity.
DTMFA won't have to DTMFA. Unless she really, really loves him--the kind of love that's worth putting up with infidelity for--she'll dump *herself*, as soon as she learns he's terminal. Divorced or not, she'll be out the door. Because after the first shock passes, she'll realize that slowly terminal illnesses usually end with a couple years of bedpans, sponge baths, your choice of doped-up slurs or agonized crying, and a crushing mountain of debt.
To the cheerleaders for C1, are you just Reflexively Saying Nice Things (to someone who could genuinely use them), or do you on sober reflection think that trying to wrap his head around a completely new marital approach that doesn't come naturally to him is a good plan for his final few years? The time frame really has me boggled. If he had ten years, the Savage/Divorce mental coin might be the right answer; one year and we'd probably hope W1 could be compassionate for a short time. But 5-6 years is very awkward.
Ms Kella - I still give the third LW a Gertrude Award (for Protesting Too Much - even after half a decent night's sleep, those exclamation points are enough to make it across the finish line). But I'm now more inclined to doubt him much more heavily.

I know a good many feminists who would be far less concerned by a (potentially questionable) Personal Choice than if such a choice were Unexamined. The letter reminds me of an article by a feminist in which she lamented her general lack of punctuality due to her habit of being on the point of leaving home only to feel a compunction to fix her face for five-ten more minutes. Nobody thought that conforming to that one Patriarchal Standard For Women made her a bad feminist; rather, they called her a good feminist for questioning the implications of her personal choices.
I too saw the contradiction in what LW2 said - she wants more fulfilling sex but kink without sex. And yet, I'm not sure these are mutually exclusive.

I play with people I'm not having sex with pretty frequently. Which means I go home and often have awesome sex with my girlfriend (who is also part of the local community, btw). Sometimes that sex involves our kinks, sometimes it doesn't. Sometimes, the outlet of having played recently is enough to make that sex better.

It's a different situation from hers, but I have to think that what she's looking for is not impossible to find. Especially if her husband knows she's getting non-sexual needs filled elsewhere.
Has Icing even given his gf a facial yet? If it took him 2 years to admit it was intriguing I have some doubts....
If she's serious about pursuing her fantasy she could also try modifying it a bit. Perhaps having guys shoot on her body or hair while reserving the facial privilege for her bf? Seems easier than testing a bunch of guys who ( I'm guessing ) they won't want to see again.
Eh dang it I read #3 wrong disregard the first part of my comment.
#3: That's easy. She's getting sex without BDSM from her husband. She wants to get BDSM without sex from someone else. Therefore she gets all of what she wants. Maybe she'll go home from her BDSM sessions and have hot vanilla sex with the hubby. (And wouldn't it be in hubby's interest to agree to that?)
ICING and his gf could modify their kink slightly and still remain within the bounds of safety re fluid exchange or contact with other men, whether friends or strangers. How? By role-playing that there ARE other men who are about to ... take advantage of her vulnerability and availability.

What would ICING need, besides his gf's willingness to play along? First, a blindfold so that she can't see what's happening (yes, even if she knows it's not really happening). Second, at least one [please don't laugh] turkey baster filled with something that approximates the consistency of fresh ejaculate. Hmmm, perhaps including raw egg whites, as long as the eggs are from a reputable source to avoid potential salmonella contamination.

While the gf is blindfolded, the bf can give her the first facial, playing himself. Then, pretending to be a complete stranger, if he muffles or changes his voice, he can use the turkey basters while adding some extra sounds of coming. Alternately, he can use his real voice and order the phantom men to remain silent while he provides a "commentary" on what they're doing, what their dicks look like, etc., etc.

By the time he's gone a couple of pretend rounds, he may be ready to come again, so they can end the session that way, with him removing the blindfold after he's ordered the phantom men to leave, along with any other activity that is pleasurable and/or orgasmic for her.
Some guy out there who wants to be wants to be a dominatrix has an opportunity.

It happens one way, why can't it happen the other?
@11: apparently the non-monogamous approach does come naturally to him (and her); wrapping his brain around it is what is taking some time. I'm a little surprised that Mr. Savage didn't hawk 'Sex At Dawn' again.

@17: that sounds kinda complicated. But kudos for originality.
anybody else think last letter is a fake?
@20: Who cares? I think they all have the possibility of being fake--so what? For that matter, I think it's possible that any and all of the letters in Savage Love are made-up.
I read Savage Love for the entertainment value and the occasional educational value. The veracity of the letters doesn't affect either of these, and what's the difference?
My sympathies to LW #1, but I do have to say this:

Yes, you promised "sickness and in health" at your vows. But then, you were the one who moved out. You also mentioned keeping separate households, and driving one another crazy when you were living together.

Let's be clear, here. You are ill, and you are not going to get better. At least at some level, are you wanting your wife to be a primary caretaker? When you have trouble even living together in the same house for a long time? After you moved out and sort of kind of not quite really de facto ended the want to hold together, and....then what?

Is it the comfort and company you want? Maybe it's both.

If you can't live together healthy, if you can't keep yourselves together in one piece as a couple when you are healthy, it's not going to magically get better now that you are ill. Being a primary caretaker, whether it's of very young children or a frail and dying person, is REALLY rough on a person. It is mentally and frequently physically exhausting. Truly, honestly: is your wife going to be able to care for you without hating and resenting you the entire time? Or checking out of the marriage entirely, even if you never sigh divorce papers? Because that's a recipe for YOU not getting the care you need when you are dying, and that may mean the difference between a death with more pain and suffering than necessary, or as comfortable and pain-managed illness and death as possible under the circumstances.

You need to talk to your wife, and you need to level with her, and soon. Kindly, I hope, and maybe in front of a counsellor. Before that, though, I hope you can tease out what, exactly, you are looking for, and what you hope to get out of the marriage for the future.

Another possible factor with #1 that nobody has mentioned -- will he need to be taken care of as his disease progresses? And does he want his wife to be a caretaker, or think she's capable of that? If the relationship isn't strong enough to withstand this, will it be more disappointing to split now, or for her to leave when he's weak and vulnerable and more in need of help, if she decides she can't handle it? Seems like an important issue he should consider in addition to unpacking his other feelings for her.
I think #20 is fake.
@16--So is BDSM a sexual activity for her or is it not? She's looking for kink without sex so that she can reconcile her unmet needs with her desire to respect her marriage vows. And yet it sounds like BDSM, unlike, say, tennis or stamp collecting, is an essential part of her sexuality, without which she will go crazy. So BDSM for her is sex. Saying she wants to enjoy BDSM without sex is a little like saying she'd like to have penetration without the sex. Am I right?

I ask out of general interest because, like her husband, I have tried and failed to wrap my head around the attraction of BDSM. It's about as sexy and boner-inducing for me as a trip to the dentist.
@17: Would that ever work? Seems a bit convoluted, even for roleplaying.
@25 People into BDSM are wired that way. A lot of people have spent a lot of time trying to get to the "why". Frankly, unless pursuing the BDSM is seriously fucking up your life in some way, the "why" isn't usually very important or interesting.

Yes, BDSM is sex, but it doesn't necessarily involve what most people think of as sex (penetration). It's a little hard to tell from her letter, but if she's a scene submissive, she's looking for a set of experiences to get her excited and get off. If she's a lifestyle sub, the marriage is probably doomed since that's not really compatible with a vanilla primary relationship unless she hits the Dom with Immaculate Boundaries lottery.

In the interest of helping you wrap your head around it, do you like boobs or ass more? (I am here assuming that like most straight guys I know, you have a strong preference for one or the other with women you find sexually appealing.) Do you have a buddy who has the reverse preference? It's like that. If it doesn't do it for you, it doesn't and that's not likely to change. If it does, it does, and that's not likely to change.
Assuming that LW1's wife will see these comments: depending on the law in your state, DTMFA's medical bills may be half or all yours, if you are still married. Make sure to take steps to protect yourself financially, if you haven't already.
Helenka, you made me laugh out loud. Thank you!
@2 I like how you're so desperate to not let ICING and his girlfriend into the feminist club but the best reason you can come up with is "they say they are feminists". You couldn't even muster a 'problematic'.

And you wonder why they might be concerned about judgment!
Evidently, my purpose in life is to amuse and entertain. [No, seriously, that's something I already figured out many years ago!]

My solution may have been convoluted but, when people are willing to suspend their disbelief (and, believe me, it IS possible when you're motivated in sexual matters), who's to say that it's too much work ... when both parties' satisfaction exceeds the exertion!
@25 I know this is going to sound crazy (I can't' really explain it myself) but BDSM can be fulfilling and sexual without having sex. I mean, ideally I think most people want the two together, but I started off my whole journey into kink with a friend who I absolutely didn't want to fuck. It an be more about a dynamic and an exchange of energy and the activity you're doing rather than the particular person you're doing it with. I reckon LW2 has a good chance of finding someone - and I reckon she could even make the whole situation work well for her. If she tells her husband what she wants to do, that is.
re: LW#2- SLIM could certainly have an outside BDSM relationship that is sexual, but doesn't involve what most people would consider sex. Many people are aroused by being tied up, spanked, humiliated etc. If she can get hubby to agree to it; she could find someone to play with without genital contact. Maybe she could masturbate herself during the encounter or wait until she gets home and get off with hubby. I would liken it to guys who go to strip clubs, have a lap dance, and come home to fuck the wife. Sure, her ideal situation would combine sex with BDSM, but absent that, she might find enough relief/satisfaction with an arrangement like she describes.
I have to agree with #22. If he's looking for a caretaker he should hire one, not drag his reluctant, resentful wife into doing the job out of guilt.

Because if he's expecting her to fulfill some kind of 'angel nurse' cliche he may be in for a rude wake up.
Seriously, just not the best answer to LW1. It's obviously not just the lack of monogamy- he can't even call to tell her he's dying for fucks sake. Dude, you seriously need to talk face to face with your wife. Not just about your illness, but what you each need and expect from each other as partners so you two can stop just reacting to each other and start actually getting somewhere close to understanding one another. Think of what you'd want this relationship to look like at it's best and if you can work as a team to make it that way. Agree on boundaries that are mutually beneficial to both of you and are very clear- regardless of if you choose monogamy or polygamy. Otherwise, someone will just end up crossing the invisible line and it'll blow up all over again.

And don't settle out of fear. If this can't be a positive, life affirming relationship for both of you sign the damn papers and fuck other people while maintaining a friendship.
M? Hind - I'm not at all passionate about the feminist club either; I just cross-examine a lot and I know denials. His exclamation points (if they were his and not editorial - it's happened before) got him a Gertrude Award, but I restrict it to him and not to her because she hasn't spoken for herself. I don't find sufficient evidence for any conclusion that fills me with enough confidence for a bet of one pound, but if I absolutely were forced, I'd back her being more or less okay and his leaning more towards creep than misogynist, but only slightly. There's a definite Denier's Vibration emanating from that letter.

But thank you for reminding me of the line from Clue, "I'm not denying anything!" I'm fairly sure it's Colonel Mustard's line - Mrs White protests that she's admitted nothing and Miss Scarlet says, "Not me!" to differentiate herself from the others who are denying being blackmailed and that they did what they're being blackmailed for - at least at first.
@25, mmmmm "trip to the dentist" >>>>

Try as I might to avoid reading them, but...can some people NOT make literary references and babble about bullshit in every column's comments?

Apparently not.
What happens when a Windows 98 operating system writes a letter to Dan Savage?…
@14, since you wonder, there've been countless facials to date. I could've probably been clearer, but the "nearly two years" part was less about discussing the fantasy and more about the transition from fantasy to reality.

@17, that is a doozy of solution. Perhaps I'll see how many turkey basters I can round up!

@2, sorry we don't meet your criteria. We both passed the "Am I A Fucking Feminist?" test, which is good enough for us, so get bent!
When I read the relationship history for LW1, all I could think was: geez, RUN ALREADY. Life is much too short (and LW knows his will be short) to waste on all this emotional drama. It's draining, negative energy and as a recovering drama-phile, I want to say: seriously, just knock it off, you'll be stunned how much nicer life is! It's not like they can even live together for Pete's sake - how much do they really enjoy each other's company? Still, I suppose Dan is correct: there's no harm in trying to create a new relationship with the wife since the old one is toast either way and LW will have to form a new relationship with someone, yeah, might as well be her.

On LW2 - I'm one more who says her goals are inherently contradictory - she wants to have sex, just not PIV sex, which is very Bill Clinton-esque of her. She should talk to her husband, and unless no-PIV is his price for giving her permission to play, then why add the rigamarole?
LW1's line "I don't want to waste the rest of my life being a divorced fortysomething" is so weird. Stop caring so much how others see you...

Dan's advice to LW2 is solid. For me, the appeal of bdsm is it takes me out of my head (where I usually hang out) and grounds me in my body. My bdsm play with other people doesn't lead to orgasms. But having been grounded in my body (through recent bdsm play with other people or with my husband) really helps me enjoy sex more, even the next day.
And LW3, thanks for writing in @41!
I am a divorced 40-something, I don't consider my life wasted, thanks! Not at all.

Life is what you make it. I am quite happy being divorced and single! Sure, it took me a couple of years to come to that conclusion, time you might not have, I appreciate that, but please don't think that all 40 somethings are sad and lonely if they're single.

LW1, you're either happy or you're not. Marriage or divorce doesn't alter the fabric of who you are as a person, just the outside circumstances, and yes, you can't expect your wife to be your nurse. Either be married to her, or ask her to be your nurse, but you probably can't have both and get through this one.

I would say, get divorced now, and keep the friendship, without the expectation and obligation, while you both still get along.

Dan, thanks for the info about the possible perils of facials. You probably don't remember, but a few years ago my hockey-player then-FWB pal shot a huge load directly into my right eye -- not on purpose, it just happened during some happily athletic sex. My eye swelled up and turned bright red. Not knowing where to turn in our little Alaska town I emailed you and got some good info and practical advice back. The hockey player has moved on to other guys but the advice has stuck with me and I still appreciate it. Here's encouraging you to continue dispensing nuts-and-bolts (um, so to speak) STD advice in the column!
Letter #1 describes as messed-up a relationship as I can imagine. They cheat on each other, living together drives them crazy, they spend a lot of time trying to fix something. Most importantly, the lw hasn't told his wife of his terminal diagnosis (about which more in a minute), and he is relying on her being a regular Savage Love reader to break this news to her, then says I'll have to talk to her about my illness, so at least that won't be an issue.

To recap: this is a man who wants to spend the remaining years of his life with a woman he can't live with without going crazy, whom he doesn't trust, who has cheated on him repeatedly and whom he has also cheated on (a thought occurs: have they ever given any thought to opening up the relationship?), and whom he can't tell his medical diagnosis and prognosis to--which diagnosis and prognosis seem to be the main reason he thinks he should stay with her. This is a man who thinks the ideal way to break the news to your estranged spouse that you are going to die of the disease you've been diagnosed with is to have her read it in a nationally syndicated sex advice column.
I can't even . . .

Okay, on to the diagnosis/prognosis. I don't know what he was diagnosed with, but a prognosis of 5-6 years seems unlikely to be given. Either things progress much more quickly than that, or most doctors are unlikely to give that kind of timeline. Who knows exactly what was said, but maybe it was, "untreated, you have at most 5-6 years." If that is the case, the implication is that with treatment, you can live a lot longer. Many people live longer than they expected to, and in much better functioning health with a prognosis like that.

More to the point, what does he want to stay married to his estranged wife for? So she'll be his nurse? Given their history, that's highly unlikely. Nursing someone through a slow-moving terminal disease is a thankless, exhausting job, hard enough for a devoted spouse to do, but there's zero indication that she'll stick around for that kind of work. And if she does, would the lw agree that she deserves her own romantic and sexual fulfillment, too? Or as his wife, is she not entitled to that, in his view?

He doesn't have the "will to file the divorce paperwork," but he doesn't know if he "can ride this messed-up roller coaster anymore."
Yes, it's hard to rend assunder a marriage via divorce. It's a pain; it's a constant reminder of failure; it is a hassle separating shared property and accounts and extricating yourselves from an intertwined life, though if they have been living apart, some of that has already been done. It's depressing and emotionally crummy. But so is riding that "messed-up roller coaster" they've been calling a relationship. So he wants to stick it out (who cares what she may want) because he doesn't want want to "waste the rest of my life being a divorced fortysomething?" HOW IS STAYING IN THIS "fucked-up relationship" ANYTHING OTHER THAN A WASTE OF THE REST OF HIS LIFE?!

Stephen Hawking divorced his wife well into his battle with ALS, and found new love, and remarried, all while incredibly profoundly disabled by the disease. I am not suggesting that this outcome is likely for this lw or any/everyone struggling with a terminal illness, but I want to add perspective.

Finally, a divorced fortysomething is not the worst thing one can be. And a lot can happen in 5-6 years. Furthermore, no one gets a guarantee of living to advanced old age in perfect health. Who knows how many of us in what seems to be healthy middle age now will be dead in another 5-6 years?

SLIM should know that there are a lot of kinky clubs out there where people meet and engage in impact play without sex. in fact, open sex is not allowed in many of them. My best friend attends one, once a month, and is happy to spank, flog or cane all comers...

Join a social club. Get to know some people and attend a club night. She will find someone she likes, who will be happy to oblige. Even better, if she makes some friends, they will be able to keep her away from the sleezeballs who break the rules.

But don't do it secretly. That will be the beginning of the end IMO
@47 Exactly! Well said.. My ex ran out on me when I had a torn kneecap. I had to fend for myself on crutches for 4 months, living alone, so I hardly think a difficult relationship can survive 5-6 years of something worse than that.

So many people are in relationships because they're just scared of being alone. Well guess what, when you're single, all your OTHER friends, sometimes BETTER friends than your spouse, pitch in. It builds community.

When we're all hiding in our supposedly safe, cozy nuclear-family units, we don't know our neighbors and friends nearly so well. I wouldn't give up that for the world now. I found out I have amazing friends, and that I can be an amazing friend too.

I am currently on nightly hospital duty with a friend with immanently terminal cancer. (We're talking days, atropine, ativan, morphine, etc). He's single, and guess what, his friends all really love him and are helping. It's ok.
He won't die alone.

FW1, get past your fear, and realize that it's safe out here in the single-life ocean. You won't look back.
Hot Damn, Dan, your answers are so awesome this week!!! Thank you (:
How is this headline NOT "Eyes on the Prize"?
@33: "...but BDSM can be fulfilling and sexual without having sex."
Only for narrow, largely heterosexist definitions of "sex". The inclusive definition of the term is more or less* "any activity that results in or is used to express or engage sexual feelings for someone". So in the inclusive sense of the word "sex", if BDSM is sexual, that makes the enacted activities count as "sex".

*Scarleteen, for example, uses this definition: When we say "sex," what we mean is any number of different things people freely choose to do to tangibly and actively express or enact their sexuality; what they identify or know to be their sexual feelings.
Dan Savage---I'm disappointed. DTMFA's spouse created a break in their growth and trust, and SHE never fixed it. If she had, the second affair wouldn't have happened. I am so sick of people getting to eff up relationships, and then go on. If anything, SHE should have gotten the terminal cancer. Selfish people.
So I guess I'm the only one that thinks that having men you don't know group ejaculate on your face DOES make you a bad feminist? Dan himself has said that it's the degradation of the act that makes it hot. So yeah - inviting a stranger to degrade me, whether or not I get off on it - makes me a bad feminist.
@49, excellent points. I helped a friend through a breakup last year. He's in a lot better place now. Helping him even helped me improve my relationship with my husband.
1. You don't know it's cancer. Other illnesses are terminal, too.

2. Unfortunately (or possibly fortunately), the universe isn't "fair." Karma, or no karma, selfishness and illness don't work that way.

3. Wishing terminal cancer on someone because she contributed to what looks like a mutually dysfunctional relationship? Well, alrighty, then.

@54: Not all of us derive our feminist bona fides from the same source. I don't happen to find facials degrading. From my perspective (which is with my eyes tightly shut, because ow!), allowing a man (or multiple men) to come on my face is a very low-investment gift/act on my part, costing me little, and making my partner(s) happy. So why not? I want to do what I can (within my own limits) to satisfy my partner, and if my partner finds something hot, I am inclined to find that thing hot, too, at least within the context of that relationship. Oh, but Dan himself has said that it's the degradation of the act that makes it hot? Well, he is, as we all know and should recognize, the ultimate arbiter on all things sexual and sexy. So I guess those of us who find it hot without finding it degrading, or those of us who find it degrading without finding it hot, need to get with the program and pronto! You do realize that the Almighty Dan Savage is just another human, right?
Clearly, you've planted bombs in others heart and ran before. Anyone with even a remote sense of empathy wouldn't cheat to begin with. IF they did, most people have enough sense to truly fix that issue of trust. This man trust and forgave her. And she clearly did not reciprocate the effort. You're lucky you've been so protected in life.
Mr Firsttime - I thought you protested too strongly and said so. If that's your general personal style, as it appears to be, I am prepared to amend my opinion.

I thought that "Get bent," was on the Not Approved list (as opposed to "Get stuffed") for an anti-same-sexer tone, but I can accept that there was provocation.
So that is what happened to Bob Costas during the Olympics. Not a hair-piece/botox malfunction after-all.
So that is what happened to Bob Costa during the Olympics! Not a hair piece/Botox malfunction afterall!
@57: "Clearly" I've "planted bombs in others heart and ran before"?

On what do you base this? On the fact that I said that your wishing a slow, painful death sentence on someone who has cheated on her husband seemed a bit harsh?
I've planted no bombs.

This man who "trust and forgave her" also cheated on her. And seems only to want to stay married to her because he doesn't want to go through the hassle of filing for divorce or being a divorced fortysomething-year-old man.

He's not quite the candidate for selfless victimhood you seem to want to make him. But even if he was, you want his wife to get cancer?
There are far worse crimes against humanity than marital infidelity, but I don't wish cancer on anyone.
@54: Bad feminists are the best kind.
If DTMFA is an American, it would be kindest to his wife to go ahead and file those divorce papers. Otherwise when he does kick off she WILL be responsible for paying off his medical bills - those don't go away when you die, your spouse gets stuck with them. Unless that's his whole idea and he want's to be a dick from beyond the grave...
@57 People cheat for all kinds of reasons. Not ever cheater is a mustache twirling villain, and not every cheated-on partner is a long-suffering saint.

The simple truth is that we will hurt people in our lives. Some of it is avoidable but some of it isn't.

That doesn't mean that anyone who wasn't perfect deserves a slow and painful death.
@58, for what it's worth, the "(She isn't!)/(I'm not!)" were originally "(I didn't!)/(She doesn't!)" meant to show that when we had our conversation, "Hey, good news, neither of us think less of each other!", but I guess that's editing for publication....

And I should've said "Up your nose with a rubber hose! ;)" in my initial response to better indicate my intended tone. But I right?
:) Thanks @55. Glad your friend is in a better space now and you got something out of helping. Helping others is very rewarding, needless to say.
Something some people take a lifetime to realize.

Mr Longtime - Well, we've seen editing to change tone before. You're far from the first. I could put a permanent caveat at the beginning of all my posts.

I'm glad for the pair of you that you didn't think less of each other, and that your tastes match up so well.

Thank you for clarifying the editing.
Dan's advice to DTMFA was terrible. It sounds like this couple was never meant to be together in the first place. If it was that damn hard from the very beginning, it won't get easier by willing the relationship to improve in the setting of terminal illness. They can't even live in the same house for God's sake. 6 years is a LONG time to get happy. DTMFA, I say you should DTMFA and seek out the most joyful life you can lead for the time you have left.
@54 So, your view is that if you get off on consensual sexual degradation, it's only okay to be sexually satisfied if you're a man, and women who do have to sacrifice their sexuality in order to make society happier? And you think she is the bad feminist?
I'm curious about the "degradation" aspect of facials. A debate is beginning to brew amongst the unregistered about whether or not a feminist can get off on the degradation of a facial and still lay claim to her feminist card. But I want to know why it's taken as truth universally acknowledged that a facial is inherently degrading?

Is semen itself degrading? Does it degrade the recipient no matter where it lands? That suggests that every sex act that ends in a male orgasm short of mutual masturbation ending on oneself is degrading. Is it only degrading to the recipient if it gets deposited someplace previously and mutually agreed to make it that way? Why is it not degrading for a man to come in a vagina or an ass, but it is for him to come on a face? What about coming on a belly or chest? Or in a mouth or down a throat?

Is the face special? I seriously want to know how the facial acquired this status.
@nocutename: It's not the "degradation" of facials and the like that make them enjoyable. What makes them sexy, beyond the inherent visual aspect, is that your partner is prioritizing her commitment to you, your pleasure, and this amazing orgasmic moment, over all those who wag their fingers and tell her she should not! - her parents, church, polite society, feminism, etc.

She's being a very very naughty girl, just for you, and the result, with a right-minded guy, is an explosion of intimacy.
@venominon (re: aeros66) I very much enjoy and look forward to the literary responses! Keep it up!
@seandr: I get the non-degradation aspect of the facial, and understand what makes them enjoyable. But I have noted that in almost all discussions of them, the presumption of inherent degradation is taken as a given. The debate then usually turns on whether it is a misogynistic or at least anti-feminist act, and then to a condemnation of any woman who allows such an act (let alone enjoys it) as having revoked her feminist card and set the movement backwards.
The inevitable counterpoint is that as long as the degradation is consensual, it isn't an anti-feminist act.

But in all of these arguments, no one challenges the "fact" of a facial being intrinsically degrading, and I wonder why. I am an enthusiastic recipient of facials, and have never understood the vehement objections I know many women have to them.

Unless you're talking about semen in the eye, which burns like crazy even before the risks of things Dan mentioned like gonorrhea, syphilis, and chlamydia, there's nothing painful about letting someone come on your face; It doesn't require getting into an uncomfortable position or feeling like you're going to gag, vomit, or choke. There are no bruises to cover or account for later. It's as low-impact an act as I can do. And depending on the words spoken before, during, and immediately afterward, it can be treated as an act of degradation, affection, novelty, or general all-around hotness.

It's true that I am somewhat subby and don't mind--or even like--a little bit of degradation, but I have never been with a man who treats this particular act as an especially degrading one. Instead, men whom I've been with often seem impressed/amazed/grateful that I'll "let them" come on my face.

So I was just wondering why, if the act is so frequently seen as degrading, it is considered thus. I mean, why is it not degrading to have a man come in a vagina, but it is if he comes on a woman's or man's face? Or is it in fact considered degrading to come in a vagina? It baffles me. Does semen itself have magical degradation qualities, turning everything it touches to filth, like some sort of anti-Midas touch?

That's what I am curious about. Though I thank you for your viewpoint.
@usagi, dashwood, Erica et al.--Thank you for the insight. That actually helps me understand something I wasn't able to grasp before.

And I'm also sticking with my first reaction to LW2: she's fooling herself if she thinks she can get her kinks indulged on the down low and still be a good partner. It sounds like she's grumpy/exasperated with her husband's limitations, but it makes as much sense to blame her husband for his lack of interest in kink as it does for her to feel bad about her own tastes. It's just the cards they were dealt. They need to figure this out together, with affection and respect, which means she needs to be honest with herself about what she's asking for. Anything else is poor sportsmanship.

@nocute--there is something inherently degrading about facials, imo. It's got a "do whatever you want with me" feel to it. Which is what makes it so hot. I don't get what that has to do with feminism though. Plenty of staunch feminists into way more degrading stuff. To paraphrase Trudeau (the prime minister, not the cartoonist), feminism has no business in the bedrooms of the nation.

I believe he was referring to consensual bedrooms.
nocute @73, maybe objectification is a better word than degradation. I think to come on someone's face is very objectifying.

Being a sexual object can be empowering [being an object with the power to engender desire in another], or be degrading [being an object to be used at the will of another]. In the right contexts, with the right human dynamics, both can be hot hot hot, and therefor fully compatible with feminism.

Of course in fucked up contexts, with fucked up people, objectification is deleterious.

My take on a common interpretation that facials = degradation from a social science perspective is that semen is not degrading but, to the contrary, is holy and - as such - confers upon the recipient's body an elevated status ... but only when it is deposited within the proper receptacle. As we seem to be talking exclusively about het-sex, that means the vagina. I wonder if it's semen's ability to create life that led to the lopsided perception of the value of semen. Remember that, at least from Biblical sources, women didn't contribute anything biologically to the formation of a fetus. They were only vessels. And, then, there's the story of Onan who was condemned for "spilling" his seed (via masturbation), rather than putting it where he was expected to, by societal obligations and moral standards of the day.

However, if the semen-provider comes ON rather than IN the woman's body, then he is signifying that her vagina does not deserve to receive (and keep) it. So the contempt is that he's shown he'd rather waste a source of life by aiming at her face. As it's likely she'll have to close her eyes (to avoid the burning sensation), she's also being deprived of seeing the look of pleasure on his face, in his eyes. And, then, the semen will get wiped off so that its value is entirely destroyed.

Anyway, that's my two cents' worth.
I agree that coming on someone doesn't have to be considered degrading, but the general consensus is that it is degrading to some degree. I'm thinking it has something to do with it being a bodily fluid. Peeing, pooping, and spitting on someone is generally considered degrading - makes sense that ejaculating would get lumped in there, too.
While I wish to register in advance my objection to participating in an unnecessarily heteronormed discussion (mainly because, if I don't, someone will make a nasty crack about it) - and while I shall refrain from dinging everyone (except Ms Helenka, whose analysis specifically required OS participants, and perhaps Mr Ophian who was close enough to gender-neutral) for not considering the question of how gender-switching the recipient might or mightn't change the analysis, I'll venture that, with an F recipient, it's not so much an anti-feminist choice as one of those non-inherently-feminist choices that become anti-feminist only through lack (or the wrong sort?) of examination. In its OS form, this activity is on a par with wearing an expensive pair of stiletto heels, but I can't decide whether the cost being in four figures is the best fit, or if it should be bumped up to five.

As for the SS version, I'll let one of you start.
Mr. ven @79, "...therefore fully compatible with [human]ism." There, gender-neutralized for you.

I think, in terms of objectification, that SS/OS dynamics are basically the same. As are gender dynamics*, face-sitting and irrumation--and subsequent bodily fluids--being analogous enough, for example.

*Without being gender-essentialist, I think that men and women--on average--do relate to objectification differently.
I haven't read all the comments, but in regards to the first letter by DTMFA, I'm surprised neither Dan nor another commenter has failed to mention the legal implications of divorce or marriage in this situation. It seems there might be significant enough trust issues in the relationship that DTMFA must consider whether he trusts his wife to make the writer's "end of life" choices. Might DTMFA want someone else with Durable Power of Attorney? There's also the question of whether the writer has a Will/Estate plan prepared or, if not, he's comfortable having her share in his estate (& remaining bills). Beyond emotional & physical considerations, DTMFA needs to examine the legal implications of his choice & should contact a local attorney.
A few things that I think may be going on with the facials=degrading idea.

1. Implied prior act. Coming in or near one's genitals or butt implies an act that was, at least potentially, equally pleasurable for both parties lead to said coming. A "facial" implies either oral sex (which has something of a similar vibe of "I am doing this only to please you", often "degradingly" so, consider how the term c**ksucker is used) or the come-er simply masturbating on the come-ee.

2. Passive vs active. Coming in an orifice implies that the person being come in had something to do with the orgasm. Coming on someone's face can involve no action on their part whatsoever.

3. Face vs body. Your face is "you" in a way your body isn't. Consider the implications of someone slapping you in the face vs punching you in the gut. So targeting the face for something at least somewhat distasteful (a sticky mess) is more of an "insult" than doing the same elsewhere on the body.

4. Intentional vs incidental. There's only 2 places I can think of where men typically intentionally aim their semen, rather than just happening to be pointed in that direction when they come. The face, and a woman's breasts. Something is more likely to be "degrading" if there is actual, specific intent behind it (eg ignoring someone that you obviously see vs ignoring someone you didn't notice)
I thought I did rather well finding another method of conforming to patriarchal standards that also carried a health risk, although of rather a different sort.

While I know perhaps less about women than anyone else present in the assembled company, I probably see more octogenarians on a regular basis. I can safely be trusted to advise anyone here who would be on friendly terms with her feet at the age of eighty to begin establishing good relations yesterday.

What interests me is the price point, and I can't recall properly. I do remember a discussion on which there was general consensus that there was nothing wrong with a poor FOC buying a $5,000 handbag, but for some reason shoes are different, perhaps because of manufacturing conditions (I am somewhat ashamed to have forgotten). Past a certain sum, which might be in the five figures or might be lower, there's almost certainly considerable human rights abuse in the production chain.

I remember the handbag discussion because it made me think of Katie Nolan in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn going out for thirty cents' worth of ice cream after the heroine's grade school graduation, looking at the four nickels' change from her fifty-cent piece (of which the customary tip would have been one nickel), thinking to herself that they represented four loaves of bread and telling the waiter to keep the change just to experience what the grand gesture was like at a fairly cheap price.
Erm- guys, I may be stating the obvious here, but the facials thing is just fine according to sex-positive feminism. What's funny is how many people forget the whole feminist point- everyone should feel free to live/f-ck/etc. how they want without going nuts about conforming to outside expectations or being forced into particular roles. But you shouldn't have to go nuts doing everything opposite to expectations either. It's like my favorite definition of individual maturity- doing something *even though* your parents want you to.
BTW, I said, back @73: "I mean, why is it not degrading to have a man come in a vagina, but it is if he comes on a woman's or man's face?"

I was trying my hardest to avoid heteronormitivism. Although the whole are-you-a-real-feminist-if-you-allow-the-facial angle is definitely a het one. But then again, that's where this week's letter and some comments (@54, 69) took the facial thing.
It's hard to believe that some parts of a movement that defies essentialism in more or less every other aspect is so hung up on particular sex acts as inherently and essentially bad/degrading/non-feminist. Attitudes towards sex are obviously just as constructed as gender, sexuality and identity, and any suggestion that facials are inherently anything are about as convincing as "real women are x" or "marriage is about a man and a woman" or "anal sex is inherently a sin".
So, I really should be headed to bed as I've been up for 19+ hours.

Thinking of bukkake (which I'd forgotten was a part of the premise of the fantasy). Instead of considering it from the angle of a controlling man, a woman who wants to receive multiple facials could be saying, "Come on, guys, you can admire me, you can jack off, but the ONLY thing I'll let you do is come on my face. Because it's no big deal to me, even if you think it is. The only guy I let come IN me is my bf."

Well, it's one way to consider facials while trying to maintain some feminist creds. Where she wants to receive ... uh ... tribute.

Though I'll probably stick to the anonymity of multiple sources of the facials so the bf, i/o being cuckolded, is showing off his hot gf.

OTOH, who ever said that fantasies had to make sense!
And, now, the SS scenario (Pace, Mr. ven).

Why would a M/M couple be interested in bukkake? Well, why did/do back rooms exist in gay bars? To satisfy exhibitionistic and voyeuristic impulses. With the added layer of anonymity.

Though, now that I've had a chance to think about the concept of superficial penile involvement with no penetration of either mouth or ass, the guys are boasting, "Give it your best shot ... but we'll still go home together."

And, now, I really have to hit the hay. [On a coincidental side note, I gave myself a pink grapefruit peel-off facial AFTER I'd posted my first comment. It only hit me later!]
@nocutename: But in all of these arguments, no one challenges the "fact" of a facial being intrinsically degrading

Thank you for challenging this "fact".

To expand on your line of thought, if one does think facials are degrading, why stop there? Isn't a cock in your mouth degrading? Or being fucked from behind like some sort of beast? Or being fucked in any position for that matter?

It seems to me that "degrading" is just Victorian-speak for any sex act in which the woman goes further than would be considered "proper" in order to generate a little sexual excitement. The assumption is that the woman is being taken advantage of as opposed to thoroughly enjoying her ability to generate some heat.
@ven: how gender-switching the recipient might or mightn't change the analysis

Indeed. Imagine a man who's into golden showers - if a woman pisses on his face, has he been "degraded"? My sense is that for those who buy into that term, it sticks more easily to women than it does to men.
Dude you're currently separated with, apparently, an intent to divorce originally behind it. You are not the only one making decisions in this relationship. Human nature of course dictates we often think one thing and say another to appear like the kind, caring people we've been taught we should be, but my honest reaction to an estranged husband who revealed a terminal diagnosis (I assume you're talking about a long, debilitating process as well) would involve "dodged a bullet" relief. I'm being honest here. You're speaking like your estranged wife is a house you own that you can move back into whenever you feel like it, but she may very well feel that she should be looking to the long-term future, as she's not getting any younger, and start looking for another partner with longer term potential. So instead of wasting more time dithering about whether you should get back together with your wife, I'd suggest you need to talk to her to find out whether it's even an option so you can get moving on the rest of your life if it's not. And trying to get her to read about your illness in Dan's column is probably not the best way to approach it.
@Hunter78: Any person being peed on is degraded.

They're being "degraded", not degraded. There's a difference.
Thank you everyone for your input. I think that Ophian's point about objectification vs. degradation @75 is a good one and the distinction is useful. I also like LateBloomer's distillation @74: It's got a "do whatever you want with me" feel to it. Which is what makes it so hot, though I would say that could be called a product of objectification, too, which rather suits me.

I like to project that "do whatever you want with me" attitude and I like to be objectified, but I don't ever feel degraded--even if my partner may be thinking/feeling that he is degrading me!

I think seandr might be spot-on when he says @91: It seems to me that "degrading" is just Victorian-speak for any sex act in which the woman goes further than would be considered "proper" in order to generate a little sexual excitement. The assumption is that the woman is being taken advantage of as opposed to thoroughly enjoying her ability to generate some heat.

And again, @96: when he makes the distinction between being "degraded" and being degraded. I think that excretory functions are more straightforwardly degrading than anything strictly sexual--pee and poop are not generally associated with sex, most people don't fetishize them, as opposed to the way that some venerate semen in the way that Helenka (also a Canuck) says @75.

There are two gestures that are universally recognized in our culture as signs of contempt: spitting on someone (which can also be done in sexual context), and urinating on them (which many of us are not generally in literal position to do--and which is far easier for men to do than for women to do). So to pee on someone or to allow yourself to be peed on does seem to me to be a "degrading" act (consensual degradation, of course, which is very different).

I know that I have had a partner spit on my genitals while we were having sex and it does feel very degrading, in a way that being the recipient of a facial does not, to me. I feel flooded with a sense of shame and humiliation, which becomes very hot, in the moment.

Isn't human sexuality fascinating?
Ms Cute is correct. If this were The Chase, she would be the Sinnerman. I could be any of the other three, but should probably (despite being in better trim) take the Governess, being best suited of anyone here to being called Frosty Knickers. That leaves Ms Erica as the natural choice for the Barrister, but I'm having a tough time choosing between Dr Sean, Ms Driasis and Mr Ophian for the Beast. (Should we give Mr Rhone the casting vote?)
That some choices are rewarded by the patriarchy doesn't automatically make them bad choices. Mr Limbaugh once agreed with an opinion I'd long held that cartoons were better during the era of Penelope Pitstop; I did not immediately abandon the position. Now, we could go into a discussion of motivation inspired by either the episode in which Daria gets her belly button pierced because Trent encourages her or the episode in which Brittany says the right thing to help Daria get over feeling hypocritical about wearing contact lenses. I'm more concerned with the end product, though. A woman whose natural taste matches patriarchal beauty standards who is rewarded for this by career success over equally/better qualified women who are less conforming can examine the basis of and then use her influence to create increasingly merit-based standards, or she can perpetuate the status quo, particularly to cover up possible suspicions about her own standing.

In the sexual arena, this reminds me a little of the podcast call from the woman who felt guilty for not turning down an encounter with a hottie who made it quite clear beforehand that he didn't reciprocate oral, only this is in the context of a relationship and not just something that, as Mr Savage admitted, would have helped create a smoother path for his future partners (although that was not enough to give her a red or even a yellow card). Or there was the letter last year from half of a same-sex couple who was able to enjoy encounters in which he was degraded but didn't want it to escape from the bedroom. The key there was watchfulness, not just blindly saying that X was perfectly okay because it was so hothotHOT.

Now I did like the line about doing things even though one's parents approved, which lets me close with some Austensplaining. From the juvenilia and "Love and Freindship" (Miss A's original spelling):

"'My Father, seduced by the false glare of Fortune and the Deluding Pomp of Title, insisted on my giving my hand to Lady Dorothea. No never exclaimed I. Lady Dorothea is lovely and Engaging; I prefer no woman to her; but know Sir, that I scorn to marry her in compliance with your wishes. No! Never shall it be said that I obliged my Father,'"
Mr Hunter - Remember, this is a secondhand account of a feminist discussion. Be thankful I didn't take it to hats. But the crowd having the discussion would find shopping at Walmart problematic unless one couldn't help it. The right to do so would be the sort of thing that would be defended for those hampered by economics or by lack of access to anywhere better, vaguely similar to the way that they oppose the ban on being able to buy 64-ounce sodas.
Vennominon: Fuck you, you pretentious git.
@45 Chandira: Right spot ON, girl! I'm soon to be 5-0, divorced, and happily single! Party on!!

Weird how twelve years later, my ex has tried to contact me online. He has remarried twice allegedly since our divorce. Because ours was such a toxic relationship, and because I feel he really needs to focus on his current wife (D'UH!) and God forbid, any children he may have had with ex-wife #2 and wife #3, I have chosen to avoid contact with him. I'm also glad he now lives in a distant state.

Okay--enough about my history, which most everybody already knows verbatim. On with what's currently going on. Two days to my ablation
procedure. I don't know whether to feel relieved or scared shitless, so I'm a combination of both, and hope all goes well.
Stay tuned.
@101: I think I'll catch a movie tonight for a little safe distraction.
Auntie Griz: Good luck and quick healing.
I thought the "feminist" perspective was that all sex acts with men are degrading to women, especially PIV:…
Who cares who think facial is degrading or not, I think people should do what give them pleasure. I think its tough arranging a group facial...but I give props to the man who is okay with his girlfriend's sexual fantasy.
@103 nocutename: Thanks so much for the kind words of moral support! It's weird---I go in on Tuesday afternoon; the prep work (i.e.: anesthesia, et. al) is supposed to take about an hour, then the procedure itself is only supposed to take about two and a half minutes. I WANT this so BAD!!

I have fervently wished, hoped, and prayed for miracles of modern medical science like this to finally bring relief from the monthly wretchedness I have faced for the past 37 years.
So why am I suddenly so scared?
Because I just want everything to go okay?

I think another restorative Brad Pitt fantasy is in order, and soon!