Savage Love Nov 27, 2018 at 4:00 pm

Savage Love

Joe Newton





Thank you, Dan and Ellen Forney for such wonderful responses to KAB. Ellen, I will be looking for your books soon--particularly Rock Steady.


@3: Fine. Blackface has a long history of being used to play up racist caricatures without meaningful input from black people. Drag, when done wrong, mocks feminine traits with no input from (and often deliberately to denigrate) women.

Blackface done with at least heavy input from black people - and more likely, when the whole thing is done at their direction - could maybe be something different. For some reason, the people who are so insistent about their right to blackface never seem to bother checking in with other people.


So I have tended to be fairly centrist politically in the past, and the older I get, the further Left I seem to go, but so often Seattle and Left.... let's say "leaning" publications like this one give a voice to the worst of the Left that makes such an easy target for the Right.

As a feminist, tell me why I SHOULD NOT be offended by drag. No, you tell me why you ARE offended and explain why it in any way causes a problem that needs addressing. I mean, come on.

Also, the "Blackface is always racist" thing can go overboard, too. I completely get why, in general, Blackface is a racist thing (due to its history and potential current usage). But seeing a kid get in trouble because he painted his face black when he was going to school CELEBRATING Martin Luther King Jr. by dressing up (including face paint) as MLK Jr, any person who calls that a racist act is an idiot. Nobody suggests that a girl wearing a beard and a stovepipe hat is being disrespectful to Lincoln. Not that it was a good idea, because it wasn't. Not because it was inherently bad, but because adults can be idiots.

Basic point is, absolutely fight the good fight and don't let things THAT MATTER go (Sexual Harassment and Assault, inequality between genders or orientations, etc). But if you're just out there looking for things to be offended by, you're the worst, and make everybody who goes by the same label as you (Left, Democrat, whatever) look bad by association.


@6 A person's stupid or ignorant words or actions can be racist, whether or not that person intends to be racist. If you run around uncritically performing racist stereotypes in dark makeup, you are reinforcing those stereotypes and signaling that they are acceptable and true. This is racist behavior, regardless of what the actor knows or intends.

Can a light-skinned person use dark makeup and a performance of racial stereotypes to criticize the practice in a way that's meant to combat racism? I dunno, maybe, I guess. That would be a generous reading of what they tried to do in the movie tropic thunder, for instance. But since it was played broadly, for laughs, it was largely, and correctly, deemed a failure at best. And probably a stupid, racist failure. Maybe because it treated too lightly an issue that's deadly serious to the people who have been victimized by blackface portrayals and the violence of the racist attitudes that those portrayals reflect and perpetuate. You know, the victimized people that you want to remove from the question "Is this racist?"


oldwhiteguy is 100% right. Drag and blackface are obviously analogous; both are created by a traditionally oppressor group (men and white people) to belittle and mock a traditionally oppressed group (women and black people). The idea that people go to drag shows to thoughtfully "explode sexism" and not to laugh at an exaggerated mockery of womanhood is preposterous.The reason Dan says blackface is 100% always bad but drag "celebrates the craft of hyperfeminine presentation" is that casual sexism is far more acceptable than casual racism on the left.


Note that both the question and answer are unilateral. The questioner invites the inference that one is fine with women in male drag.

"Celebrating the craft of hyperfeminine presentation" probably deserves the Bronx cheer it would get from Archie Bunker. I would not get that impression from Torch Song Trilogy or from any of the few practitioners I knew when I was socially active, although I shall pay Mr Savage the not-exactly-a-compliment of presuming him to have been sincere, a true believer in his own line. Now I've nothing against performing as someone of a different gender; I was as convincing in the role of Sister Mary Ignatius as I was in the role of Bunthorne. Mr Savage's whole line of argument is just part of the grand attempt to make gays gynocentric, a most tedious endeavour.


gynocentric would make a nice change from gynophobic, as an alarming amount of gay men are.


I was flipping through channels on the boob tube and stopped on an old movie, "Holiday Inn." There was Bing Crosby in blackface, white mutton chops and a stovepipe hat. Holy crap.
Ironically, Holiday Inn also featured the first appearance of the song "White Christmas."


Eddie Murphy in whiteface as Mr. White was funny and insightful:

Drag when done for laughs by straight men, is usually trite and sexist.

Drag done by gay men or gender-queer people is often poignant, sexy, or radical. Even its misogyny serves more as a deliberate double-edged sword.


Mostly agree with @9. Drag and blackface are entirely analogous, and It’s ridiculous to make an a priori argument that one can be acceptable/liberating/subversive and the other can’t.

But... things are offensive when people take offense at them. Anyone living in this world has to know that blackface will offend, and that drag probably won’t. Maybe some day both will be considered ok, or neither, but for now, those are just the rules.
Maybe the existence of these particular rules makes sense from a historical/societal viewpoint. But it’s fruitless to argue about them from a logical perspective, because they are just rules.


Art Nouveau, Joni Mitchell's blackface drag persona, was racist but not sexist? Personally, I always thought it was racist, despite her claims to the contrary.


I didn't know drag was sexist. I thought they just liked dressing up and didn't have the occasion as fancy dress requires men to wear suits and ties so they made up an occasion.

Also isn't drag a form of gender expression?

Whereas white people can't be black and black people don't have a choice about race, and any blackface is associated with black stereotypes whereas drag is just dressing up how you want and women actually can wear dresses but don't have to.

I just sense that gender is different than race on a fundamental level because it comes from inside, whereas race is imposed.

Educate me.


Funny how the things that seem to offend people the most nowadays are just as shallow as the entertainment industry that we all feed from. We give the outward appearance (this includes our words) a lot of importance because we can't seem to stop the bad shit that really matters. Words are important, sure, but the degree of importance we've accorded them has gone beyond reason and shows how little we've learned from history. The truly evil people of this world know to look right and to say the right things. Words are now eqauted with deeds and it's this unwillingness to undestand this imbalance that will keep people like Trump in power.


Drag is sexist? That's news to me. However, I agree that blackface, on the other hand, is nothing but racism.

@20 seventieslilio: You might want to take a break from Fox TV and right wingnut owned social media if those are your chief news sources. I have been able to see right through Donald Jackass Trump ever since his hideous 2016 campaign of hatred, lies, racism, misogyny, and bullshit propaganda.


MOVEON's letter is interesting because generally marriage comes with some degree of stability, promise, legal protections. None of that is a guarantee, but that is the idea. In her case, if they did marry, she could become responsible for paying for the upkeep on her in-laws' property and still lose out if they die and leave the property to someone else, not her boyfriend.

There are lots of unknowns here-- like if MOVEON paid her fair share when living at his place. Also what the relationship is like when the money element is removed. Is life with this guy wonderful? Would she like children if she could only get him to commit? Does she think she could do better if she kept looking?

So yes, Dan's advice is good. MOVEON should move on or at least look out for her monetary interests. Her boyfriend doesn't seem to be doing that. He's paying expenses at a property he doesn't own, doesn't live in, and has no guarantee of a future for.

Also note. So many of the letters to Dan are about forms of non-monogamy, but Dan's always said that monogamy is a legitimate choice if that's what 2 people want. He's supporting that in his answer in this letter.


Mr White - (as this reminds me of Ms Kahn's performance in Clue, I shall hope that you are divorced) I don't think I could have done the role of Dr King justice, plus it's radically different with a real person.

I will not, however, go so far as to suggest that no white person should ever take such a role. Michael Brooks (Sam Seder's sidekick on The Majority Report) would probably be superb. If (and it is a big IF) one accepts the concept of being trans-racial, he's trans black.


Drag is makeup, hairstyles, and clothing that are traditionally expected of women, but it's not the women themselves. Blackface is mimicking skin color. Even aside from historical context, the two are fundamentally different


Ms Grizelda - That reminds me that I meant recently to hope both that you were already a Majority Report listener (it may be a bit farther left than you prefer, but you'd enjoy the consistently anti-Trump sentiments) and that, if you already were, you might become a regular caller. You'd likely be an improvement over most of their regulars.


Ms Fichu - And here I was just regretting that, being past my prime, I probably shall have no opportunity to portray Miss Brodie. I thank you for giving me the opportunity to Brodiesplain.

Yes, Mr Savage does, on fairly regular occasions, state that monogamy is as legitimate a choice as non-monogamy. But the manner in which he does this is quite clear. It is highly reminiscent of the way Miss Brodie frames the choice when her junior gells (with a hard G, one of my favourite Scots pronunciations) are about to be promoted to the senior school at Marcia (three syllables, not two; this isn't the Brady Bunch) Blaine, between the alternatives of the Modern and Classical sides for their continued education. "There is nothing against the Modern side. Modern and Classical; they are equal," was uttered in such a way that her class quite clearly understood her disdain for the Modern side. Of her set, only the athletic Eunice deliberately opted for Modern, because of the increased scope for games and her preference for learning German instead of Greek. Not just the Brodie set but at least six others who had passed through her hands preferred the Classical.

Mr Savage never seems to recommend monogamy with any enthusiasm except as a temporary phase designed to get the couple back on the monogamish track better than ever. He treats monogamous people as if they were somewhat like Mary MacGregor, who, visiting Miss Mackay with Sandy and Jenny on the occasion of their choices being requested, wished to go on the Classical side ("Miss Brodie prefers it..."), only to be told that her marks didn't come up to the standard. That strikes me as an excellent image for the way Mr Savage treats monogamy and monogamous people, as if it were, while valid, primarily useful only as a dumping ground for people incapable of anything better.

I don't object to his thinking that way (though I'd disagree), but it would be easier to factor for his bias if it were admitted a bit more freely and regularly.


Oh, drat - sorry for the change in tense. I was thrown off by Jan Brady.


Sheesh. White people always gotta get be at the front of the line...


Black face has historically been used to belittle, mock and denigrate black people. Drag is mostly used to emulate female characteristics and celebrate the female side of cisgender men. I see them as fundamentally different in intent. I've never met a drag queen who did drag to specifically mock women.


Oh yay, all the trolls come out to play when the topic of race comes up.

Racism is not about being intentionally mean. Racism is a system that permeates modern society, stemming from a history of slavery and colonization, that privileges whiteness and discriminates against people of color, regardless of intent. It is the water we swim in, the air we breathe. One doesn't have to intentionally look down on people of color to participate. One can invoke a racist or otherwise bigoted stereotype with the sincere intent to compliment ("Oh, that Jew is so thrifty! Oh, that Asian woman is such an exotic beauty!") and still do harm. I don't care what anyone intended when they put on blackface; they are still participating in a harmful practice with a long history of degrading and "othering" black people. If you were ignorant, don't take it as a personal condemnation. Just listen, learn, and do better.

Drag is complicated, but for me the difference is that wearing make-up and heels and glam dresses is a performance even for women nowadays. These are not essential parts of womanhood, and every single one of these things was historically done by high status men too - and not in a mocking way. Check out 17th century European royalty. Or Prince. If drag is mocking anything, it's mocking stereotypes and gender constraints.


TQ didn't get an answer to his/her question.
The complete letter says, "Why should I, a feminist, be okay with drag? How is it any different than blackface?"

You don't "have to be okay with drag," TQ. You are free to find it offensive, misogynistic, or simply not entertaining. You can even have that reaction to it if you're not a feminist.


There's a difference between drag as done by drag queens and that community, and drag done by straight men for comedic purposes. The latter is almost always sexist and transmisogynist, as it involves mocking femininity and women in one form or another.

More typical forms of drag can be sexist (like many things), or performed by sexist/transmisogynist people, but aren't inherently about mocking femininity and women (and don't have, afaik, a history of being done primarily for that purpose).

At least that's my view, as a trans woman who has little interest in drag in any form.


Tired Woman @9

"Drag and blackface are obviously analogous; both are created by a traditionally oppressor group (men and white people) to belittle and mock a traditionally oppressed group (women and black people)"

You're missing a key bit of nuance in that statement. Drag was created by ~gay~ men, specifically camp and/or effeminate gay men. And camp, effeminate gay men are not the "traditionally oppressor group" of cishet women. They are a marginalised group themselves (one can argue that camp gay men oppress cishet women through the fashion industry, but that is a complex topic which requires a separate nuanced discussion, so I'll put it aside for now). I'm not saying that gay men can't be sexist or misogynist, or that they deserve "a pass" on the sexism because they, too, have suffered under patriarchy. I'm saying that drag isn't (usually) about that.

When we are talking about drag queens, we are largely talking about a specific subset of men, men who are very often feminine-of-centre, and have experienced abuse and discrimination on account of their "feminine" presentation, idiosyncrasies, or long-standing fascination with "feminine" pursuits like make-up, dressing up, singing and dancing, etc. In this context, drag performance can be seen as an attempt to reclaim and celebrate the male performer's ~own~ femininity in a humorous, exaggerated way. Similarly, drag king performers, on the whole, tend to be masculine-of-centre, butch or genderqueer women. The parody is, at least in part, self-referential and self-depreciating. This is in no way comparable to blackface.

I'd even say that, by failing to see the difference, TQ is demonstrating a certain amount of unchecked privilege. Dear fellow cis women, not every performance of femininity is about you. 9 times out of 10, drag queens, cross dressers, genderqueer and transfeminine people are not trying to "mock" and "belittle" you - they're just doing their own thing, for their own reasons.

I agree completely with EricaP@16, who made this point much more elegantly than I have, and also with zeex's statement @19 that "gender is different than race on a fundamental level because it comes from inside, whereas race is imposed". Of course, TQ could be the sort of feminist who thinks that gender, too, is an "imposed" social construct with no biological basis whatsoever. I am the sort of feminist who thinks it's more complex than that.


KAB: I assume you are a submissive. In that case, play with a partner or a small number of partners who take the time to get to know you; make sure your partners know your mental health history; start with those junior varsity kinks; communicate with your partners before, during, and after scenes. Learn to understand how you react to different scenes, and what effect, if any scenes have on your mental health. Consider keeping a journal for this purpose. Ramp up the intensity of your kinks slowly. In the unlikely event you are a dominant, be very careful about when and how you engage in those variety level kinks.

MOVEON: The issue of risk taking is a red herring. Your boyfriend made clear that he expects to feel something before committing to a romantic relationship, and he isn’t feeling what he needs to feel in order to commit to you. So DTMFA. If you care about this man, you might offer him some parting advice: if he is paying for the upkeep of his parents home with the expectation that it will become his upon their death, he should have that talk with his parents and siblings now. They may have very differ expectations, and he may find himself out a lot of money with nothing to show for it. That knowledge might clarify his thinking too.


@3, In a hypothetical alternate universe, blackface wouldn't necessarily always have to be racist. But, in the real world, we have a long history of blackface being used to insult and demean African-Americans, continuing prevalent hateful stereotypes of African-Americans, an absolute certainty that a white person in blackface will hurt most African-Americans, and a complete lack of any need for white people to adopt blackface.

In this world, the only reason a white person would do something that hurtful for absolutely no reason would be a racist desire to mock African-Americans in the most hurtful possible way not involving an actual crime and that is very racist. But you knew that. The only reason you're pretending you don't know that is that you are very racist. Congratulations.

If you have a need to see black stereotypes, including some with some basis in fact, being mocked, seek out African-American stand-up comedians. Many of them still base their routine on such stereotypes and some of them are quite funny. Being a racist, you should enjoy those routines for all of the wrong reasons. Enjoy.


@KAB, what your're describing sounds normal AF when it comes to kinks and desire for sex. But taking precautions sounds prudent, so talk to friends or partners saying "It hasn't happened before but if it ever does please chime in. Tell me "I think you're having risky sex you normally would not have, so let's to a check on how you are managing your bipolar condition."


That answer on blackface was so incredibly weak I'm surprised they let you publish it. "Ther different cuz reasons" might be the correct answer, but it failed to answer the writer's question. How is it that hyperfemininity exposes gender as a concept but is incapable of song so for race? I mean, it was an ignorant thing to say in the first place, as we have seen plenty of people use blackface in non racist and exposing manner (say, one mr. spike lee to stay with a softball).


@5, That kid probably shouldn't have been punished. What he did was hurtful, but it is entirely believable that he didn't know that and there is no reason I know of to think he did it with any ill-intent. He should have been taught why that wasn't as good of an idea as he thought and other students should have been tought that blackface is offensive, but that when someone is unaware of that and pusts on blackface with the best of intentions, that person hasn't done anything wrong, but just needs to be educated on the subject.

His parents, on the orher hand, seem to have allowed their child to go to school in blackface. Unless they're mentally disabled or from another planet, they probably did this out of a racist desire to traumatize African-American students. They should have been told by the school that any similar racist efforts to use their son to harm other students would result in expulsion. They should also have received a visit from CPS about their apparent willingness to endanger their son by using him to spread messages of racist hate.


Drag Queens are now HGG classified as "more annoying than deejays, mimes, skaters & golf-pros combined."


I'll cut the Gordian knot: you, TQ, should be okay with anything (as a feminist or not) in the absence of demonstrated harm, so unless you can demonstrate some harm caused by drag, you should be okay with it. The gender theorizing and comparisons/contrasts between race and gender are tangential to your primary question.

Your secondary question reads to me as more rhetorical than genuine, but I can answer that one pretty simply, too (in much the same way as others have upthread). It's different from blackface because gender is different from race and because of the diffenert historical-social contexts of blackface and drag (briefly, blackface has a longer, more prevalent history of being use as propaganda to reinforce racial prejudices than drag to reinforce gender prejudices, and it's been widely used in the entertainment industry to deny Black people work in recent history, while casting men to play women's parts in performing arts has been a statistically insignificant practcice in recent history, though it used to be prevalent).


Gay men can be as misogynistic as straight men. Anyone who disputes this is either a liar or a fool. At it's best, drag can be read as an homage to an iconic woman (Cher, Madonna, I've even seen an extremely memorable Reba McIntyre, fittingly, at a gay bar in WV) and a tongue in cheek nod to the construction of femininity.
At it's worst, it is a grotesque caricature of women as gold digging dimwits. And tedious. So very tedious.


This "feminist" sounds more like a possible TERF. Glad to educate them. The assumption that drag is "sexist" has a faulty starting line... the assumption that femininity is inherent to the genitalia you are born with. Gender expression with makeup, hairspray, etc is a construct/affectation no matter the genitalia


BIPOLAR sexuality is complicated not only by periods of hypersexuality during mania but also delusions. You will believe/perceive things differently than during baseline or a depression. A person with bipolar disorder has to develop perceptions and skills during their baseline to safeguard against behavior they will regret after a mania has passed.

I'll give an example! When I am manic I would fuck absolutely anyone who would fuck me. But I know that when I am not manic I would not. So I have to protect my (for lack of a better term) dominant personality's preferences even when I am manic. It's difficult but possible.


OWG @ 46 - Cluelessness, perhaps?

The road to hell is paved with good intentions, as they say.


I was in a similar situation to MOVEON when my kids graduated & moved out of my house and I moved in with GF. For a year, I let my daughter live in the house as a way to get her started on the road to independence, and then moved her to an apartment. It took a half tear to fix the house up and get it ready to rent out, so in that roughly year and-a-half time period, I was living with GF, but still making all the payments (mortgage, insurance, electricity, gas, etc) on my own house, so couldn't help out with too many of the bills at GF's. We figured it was pretty much the same as living separate, but lots more convenient. The difference is/was, I HAD A PLAN and never intended it to stay that way forever. I got all the renovations done as soon as possible, an now the place is rented and I am paying half with GF.

So, MOVEON, do YOU have a plan? I'd say if boyfriend DOES inherit, you should work out an agreement IN WRITING with him to get paid back as a cost of doing business deal for supporting him while you were waiting, and also have a clause about payment if he DOESN'T inherit.

Only you know how likely it is that he'll inherit, but it sounds to me like he's just a leech hanging on your neck right now. Use your fingernail or a credit card to gently slide over the leech's anterior sucker where it's actually biting into your skin. This sliding motion pushes the leech's sucker off instead of pulling it, reducing the damage it's teeth can do to your skin.


@daddy 49, nothing is traumatizing about a white kid who wants to look like MLK. It is the tradition, history, and connotation of blackface that is offensive / traumatizing / dehumanizing. There are plenty of ways for a white person to dress up as a black icon without blackface. Seeing white kids who idolize black heroes and put the thought into a good costume without blackface is generally well-received and appreciated by people of color.


KAB is doing the right thing, figuring out what this new diagnosis means and how to deal with it. I think she’s off to a good start as she doesn’t mention any sexual traumas nor major regrets, which means she probably didn’t cross any lines even before she was diagnosed.

Drag- I used to dread the term and avoided any shows for many years, “knowing” damn well that this is nothing but a historically safe outlet for performers as well as for the people who want to laugh at them. I was also terrified that many who see me en femme file me under “drag queen,” struggling to control a smile as they visualize me jumping on stage while lip-syncing to Madonna or Britney Spears.

Earlier this year I went to a main stream “classic” show, slick performances in a well-attended venue. As it turned out the sold out audience was almost entirely made up of small groups of cis het women celebrating something.
I have since attended few drag king shows, held monthly in a local venue. Somewhat of an oxymoron, DRAG stands for DResses As a Girl, yet the creative, often political, performances and the very mixed crowd create a very positive vibe.


OWG @ 52 - But we were talking about the parents of those kids.


@Dadddy 54, I'm going to take a wild guess that you're a white guy. As such, maybe try listening to people who are not white about this topic. People casually donning blackface (which, yeah, can include afro wigs) is not silly arbitrary etiquette to a great many black people. Of course not all black people think alike on this or any other topic, but if you know something is offensive to a great number of people, choosing to do it anyway is a statement that you prioritize your own freedom to offend over the people you are offending. And you don't have to choose between "not wearing blackface" and "addressing substantive racism". It is all part and parcel of the same thing. Caring about one does not trivialize the other.

Here are some thoughts from black commenters about how people can dress up as characters or historic figures of another race without blackface or the equivalent.


LM @33, as the Brits say, Two Marks. You cracked me up with this comment: "They are a marginalised group themselves (one can argue that camp gay men oppress cishet women through the fashion industry, but that is a complex topic which requires a separate nuanced discussion, so I'll put it aside for now)."

DonnyK @48, you also get Two Marks for your witty advice on how to ease the leechy BF from MOVEON's home and from her life, if he is unable to commit to her - or at the very least, pay his fair share of the household expenses while he is living there. Your own home-expenses example is a great model for how loving partners can work out a living arrangement that accommodates one party's short-term financial hardships and external responsibilities, while affirming their long-term commitment to the relationship and the shared household.

LW1, KAB: You say that you've only recently been diagnosed as bipolar, and it sounds to me as if you're worried about manic symptoms that you've read about, rather than anything you've actually experienced in your own life history - i.e., reduced inhibitions around sex, and specifically kinky sex. You are worried that your manic persona may want to engage in the varsity-level kink that you have so far only fantasized about. But I think you would have engaged in "hypersexuality" (Dan's word) much earlier than age 30, if the previously undiagnosed mania was the only reason you would ever choose to pursue those fantasies IRL. I agree with Dan here that your kink is most likely unrelated to your bipolar condition, and you can engage in kinky sex without worrying that you might go somewhere unsafe or unhealthy for your non-manic self. I also want to second Dan's comment that if you were truly in a manic phase while writing your letter, you remained much more lucid and articulate in your writing than other bipolar people I have known - so yours is probably a mild case. (But please, take those meds anyway! Your family and friends will thank you.)


@25 vennominon: Majority Report? I like the lefty association, but is it like Twitter? I refuse to have anything to do with Twitter, mainly because Trump trolls it daily.
@28 briavael: Not necessarily.

Who's the Lucky @69 Award winner this week? Tick...tick....tick....


KAB's letter wasn't at all confusing, but MOVEON's was. "I'm growing impatient for him to commit." To what? To moving in? (He did.) To giving up his chance at inheriting property in order to assuage your arbitrary timeline for "commitment"? Are you serious? To marriage? Have you asked him? You didn't need his money to afford to buy a place; do you know how fortunate you are? If you feel he's not contributing enough, have a discussion about what would be fair. If you think you need to be joint property owners to "be a team and support each other" (which you already are), find any of your divorced friends and ask them how much they'd have preferred to be in your position and not have to get out of a joint mortgage. And um, you complain that HE won't "commit" but call him your "current boyfriend"? The answer is in your signoff: MOVEON and find someone whom you take seriously. He deserves better.


As a feminist, I’ve never taken offence with drag. Male do have an X chromosome, I see them express that part of themselves in multiple ways. Regards the other, as a white woman, I hear the offence it causes black fellas, and the historical racism behind it, and reject it completely. It’s been talked about enough for yrs for parents to have heard.


Capricornius @57

"as the Brits say, Two Marks"

They must not say it that often, as I've lived in the UK for 20 years and not heard it once. Blank looks from the British GF, and even Google is no help. Enlighten me?

Dadddy @59

"If you're trying to build an effective political movement, you absolutely do have to choose whether you're about meaningful political progress on issues that matter, or whether you're about nitpicking inconsequential matters of etiquette."

And if you want to illustrate the lesser known fallacy of relative privation, you make arguments like this.


Me neither, Margarita, nor do I recall my British father saying it. I think it must mean "two points."


KAB: You are newly diagnosed as bipolar II which means you have or are experiencing hypomania since that is necessary for that diagnosis. Increased sexual desire (and yes, increased kinkiness) can be symptomatic of hypomania. When you say the doctor is trying to figure that out, you probably mean that your psychiatrist is trying to determine which psychotropic drugs are the most effective and at what dosages. Welcome to the guinea pig stage of drug therapy. Psychotropic drugs can change personality including sexual interests. Your perception of increased kinkiness MAY be a side effect of the drug(s) that you are taking. You need to discuss this (openly and honestly) in person with your psychiatrist.

Capricornius: You must have had limited experience with people who are diagnosed as bipolar II and are experiencing hypomania, which is not generally that incapacitating. Psychotropic drugs are a whole different story. There is a reason that psychotropic drugs have been referred to as chemical lobotomies. The critical factor/variable here are the introduction of the psychotropic drugs and her recent bipolar diagnosis. If, as you suggest, she stops taking those drugs and then loses her new found kinkiness, then her increased kinkiness was just a side effect of the drugs. If her hypomania subsides and she loses her increased kinkiness then it was just a product of her hypomania.

Then again, she may really be naturally more kinky than she had believed previously.

Anyway, good luck to you KAB


I feel a kinship with you British women, as one of my sons is over there with his gf, facing his first English winter.


Me neither, Margarita, nor do I recall my British father saying it. I think it must mean "two points."


Oops, sorry for the double post.
"Full marks" means a perfect score.


Etiquette!, this offensive blackening of face is about Attitude, and it’s not one of equality.
Racism is not a left or right issue, and wherever it shows itself in whatever form, and this is an ugly one, like wearing Nazi uniforms is a nasty one, then it gets called out.


Ms Grizelda - It is a podcast on its own site. The weekdaily (Ms Cute; ought that to be a real word? it seems rather useful) programme is also posted on YouTube, along with a number of their favourite clips for those who can't/prefer not to listen to two-hour blocks. Their motto is, "Left is best." The hosting panel, in order of seniority, includes:

Sam Seder - former(?) comedian, originally from Western Massachusetts, once appeared on Sex in the City opposite Ms Nixon, about the same age as Mr Savage, previously on Air America and not infrequent guest on MSNBC. Recently appeared at Politicon, where he debated Charlie Kirk (the youngish gay who is apparently orchestrating a large-scale campaign to get conservatives into university student government bodies). Recently separated; co-parenting a daughter who just got Bat Mitzvah'd and a son aged five. Observing Jew (I'm not sure which sort though would guess one of the leftier varieties); probably a little too authoritarian in the domestic sphere on religion to gel completely with his politics. Politically the most practical of the bunch.

Michael Brooks - side project in his own weekly programme and various related efforts, mid-to-late-thirties, really needs to do something about his nearly-gone hair, always the one cackling the loudest, usually at things that, though intended as jokes, aren't quite funny. If one accepts the possibility, is trans black. Does impressions, some sounding quite like the target. Has a number of stock characters, often parallel-world versions of people, such as Right Wing Mandela and Nation of Islam Obama. When speaking from the head, comes across as sound, but his impressions of political opponents subconsciously make them all sound gay. Very fond of "ironic homophobia", which Mr Seder apparently believes comes from a place of love (I disagree, and have guessed on occasion that in high school his prom date dumped him on the advice of her gay best friend). Does an even more annoying imitation of Mr Seder, who likely keeps him around as a show of tolerance. Politically very left.

Jamie Peck - side project, The Antifada. Thirtysomething, looks as if she were going for the lead in a goth version of Legally Blonde. Speaks as if her parents were a Valley Girl and a Communist Dudebro, which can undercut her points. Probably half baked most of the time (I am not a good judge of intoxication) but not afraid to advance Out There ideas. Quite likely nearly as anti-gay as Mr Brooks, but for feminist-like reasons, though probably the "feminist" label would be too mainstream for her to accept in general. Politically the most extreme in a Manic Pixie Dream sort of way.

Matt Lech - side project, Literary Hangover. From North Dakota. A superiour sort of raised-Catholic to Mr Savage. Late twenties, looks early twenties, rather a lookalike for Tom York of Poldark (Demelza's serious brother Sam, not the romantic one, Drake) though more pale, rarely wears collared shirts. Good hair, but sadly has recently taken to baseball caps. Seems fairly shy, has the only soothing voice. Also produces Mr Brooks' programme. Perhaps is being influenced by Mr Brooks to his detriment, but politically the most sensible.

Brendan - intern(?), early twenties, looks high school, only gets a speaking chair when there isn't a full house.


@dadddy 59, there's no need to get defensive about your whiteness. You're not being dismissed because of your race. That's cool, I'm white too. It's okay to be white. But it is an acknowledgement that if you're like the vast majority of white people in this country, you probably have few or no black friends who are more than casual acquaintances, you probably don't seek out exposure to black-led media and black authors, and you (we) are mostly ignorant of what people of other races really think about white people and our racial cluelessness. It's ignorance born of living in a mostly white bubble...which is where most white people live, not because we hate people of other races, but because that's where the "good" neighborhoods, schools, and jobs are. For historic reasons. But I digress. It's also our privilege showing...that we think we know better about what offends (or should or should not offend) black people. We're used to having the loudest voice and being listened to.

White liberals did not dream up the fact that blackface is largely considered to be offensive by black people. I handed you four easy-to-digest articles written by black authors about the topic. Did you read them?

Every time I see / hear the term "political correctness" used by a white person with snarling resentment, I am baffled. Why would you not want to learn how to be less offensive? That's what it takes to live in a diverse society. Do you want to go around casually and maybe unintentionally looking and sounding ignorant and bigoted to people who are not like you? I'm assuming (hoping) you don't walk around making Holocaust jokes to Jews you don't know, or defending people who do. You are probably aware of the historical weight of pain, fear, loss, dehumanization, and humiliation that the Holocaust invokes in Jews. Well, now you are at least starting to be aware that wearing blackface invokes similar feelings in many black people. It calls back to a time when black people were not considered to be full humans. When they were expected to be docile, stupid buffoons. When they had even less protection against random violence and death at the hands of white people.

I'm not sitting here to judge you or anybody. I'm encouraging us all to learn and do better. To open our hearts and minds to voices from people who don't look like us. Put down your defensiveness. It's not a personal attack. It's an invitation to be a better fellow traveler to your fellow humans.

You said: "If you're trying to build an effective political movement, you absolutely do have to choose whether you're about meaningful political progress on issues that matter, or whether you're about nitpicking inconsequential matters of etiquette. The former has a grand history of progress on civil rights. The latter has handed the white house over to Donald Trump."

Donald Trump is in the White House because a) the left chose a candidate who has been the target of decades of right-wing smear campaigns and who was uninspiring or offensive to much of the liberal base (and whose past gaffes were endlessly circulated and played up by Russian trolls pretending to be both conservatives and progressives), b) no one believed Trump actually had a snowball's chance in hell to win, so a lot of people who would have otherwise voted blue stayed home or went 3rd party, and c) Trump appealed to the chaotic "blow up the system" fringe element on both sides...who are now getting a taste of what that looks like and regretting it. I 100% guarantee you that Donald Trump is not sitting in the White House because of liberals encouraging white people to step up our game regarding racism and other forms of bigotry, in word as well as deed.


Strange @ 70
I think the main reason Trump was elected is because he tapped into white folks, especially white men, fears of not being the majority anymore.
This explains the ongoing anti-immigrants rant, as well as the anti-feminist/homosexuals/trans sentiment, which I believe all tied together.


@cmdwannabe @71, I agree that Trump is absolutely playing to that. It's not the only reason he got elected, but it's a big factor in understanding his rabidly devoted base. The anti-immigrant stuff especially is designed to slow the demographic shift in this country away from white domination.


Drag vs. black face
In my opinion the main difference is that drag performers have a need/desire to present themselves as the opposite sex for whatever reasons.
Correct me if I’m wrong, but this is usually not the case for a black face.

Whether drag performers are over doing their characters in a possibly offending manner is a different issue, closely tied with audience expectations, what constitutes “funny,” and so on.


BiDanFan @63

Yeah, I assumed it meant "two points" as well, but the capitalisation threw me a bit. Google actually suggested I might be looking for info on Mark Heap's early career street theatre venture, The Two Marks, which - much as I love Spaced and Green Wing - made zero sense in this context :)


I’ve always seen drag as an expression of that person’s inner feminine qualities and/ or a bit of mockery about how differently women can present themselves. We are a pretty wild bunch of varieties from the inside, can only imagine how we look from the outside. And trying to fathom the XX mob, good luck to you.
Dan Savage and Randy Rainbow in drag, how I wished I could look so beautiful.


What Dadddy you gonna present as a racist too now? Or just a oninary, though intelligent, troll.
You are obviously a white Man or you would not be saying such garbage. Not read your papers? Not see the murders by police and assaults and harassment of Black American citizens. For being Black.
You have a closed heart mate, and need to change that or piss Off with your racist bs.


@69 vennominon: Thank you for more info on The Majority Report podcast, and major congrats on once again scoring the highly coveted Lucky @69 Award! May an abundance of holiday goodies rain upon you as never seen before.
@70 strange observer & @71 CMDwannabe: Let's not forget that Mein Trumpfy also tapped into the KGB and his own Russian business ties, along with further financial assistance from the Koch brothers.


@BiDanFan: I know this is late in the game and so last week (SL: Stressfest), but I expressed my agreement with your comment @103.


@78 cont; that’s ordinary troll.
Oh look, one of your brethren has joined in. And James is still unable to keep a woman unless he uses spells.


@84 LavaGirl: I know, right?


No, this thread just confirms for me that you are a troll. Every comment a negative or a put down and always looking for arguments.


I've intentionally not waded into the racism debate but I wanted to applaud Strange Observer @70 for a very well expressed post.
I agree with Lava and CMD that drag appears to be a way to express one's feminine side, or indeed one's masculine side -- don't forget that drag kings exist too. As such it is an homage to the other gender, not a mockery of it. Blackface offers no such redeeming features. If LW is uncomfortable with drag, she can just not go see drag shows or watch RuPaul. Easy peasy.
Where's Sportlandia to tell Dadddy whether he's a racist? That would be an interesting exchange.
And speaking of (actual) trolls, there've been a lot more "faith healer" type spams getting through to the comments pages lately. Annoying.


I'd also like to applaud Dan for resisting last week's word-policing attempt and running a letter with multiple references to "varsity level" kinks. Yes, it's better to err on the side of not offending people, but some folks do need to get over themselves.


Hunter78 @79

"Two points? Is that a basketball reference?"

British basketball? What's that?


BDF @ 89
Yes, the public demands an argument between sporty and daddy.
And speaking of faith healers, oldwhiteguy isn’t only one of them, he even found a compatible soulmate on this thread as indicated @ 88.
What a moving love story.


Surprise @88,owg, this thread goes for days, that’s what a weekly means. Dur.
I think some drag is mockery Fan, exaggerated versions of how some cis women present themselves. Over dressed and over made up women.
As regards to troll labelling, I checked out D over the weeks and that’s my conclusion. Just turns up to be nasty, trying for attention, and wanting to cause trouble.
I don’t see why Sportlandia needs to join the conversation. It’s been widely known that blackface is extremely offensive, to black people. Enough of them have been vocal enough times for a white person who wants to change racist bs and help heal the damage done, stirred up further by a pig president, to hear and respect that response, and no amount of discussion after that is needed.
It is an offensive practice, end of story. That’s if you care enough about the true experience of how life is for Black People.


LM @62, BDF@63, Hunter @79 - "Two Marks" was the highest possible grade that contestants could receive (based on the host's subjective evaluation, looking for both knowledge and wit in their responses) on several British quiz shows that I used to listen to on public radio. BDF says she has heard it as "full marks," and that was what I wanted to convey. I assumed that it derived from the British "public" (i.e., private) school system, and that it was also commonly used by Brits in everyday language. Clearly not the case - I stand corrected! No marks for me.


You think flirting is going to get you a pass Dadddy? This is not a left or right issue, and the racism of whites to blacks is beyond evil and has gone on for fucking ever. I love seeing black people, I bow to their beauty and grace and am mortifyingly ashamed at what the whites did to our black people.


Cap @95: I think you deserve at least one Mark for trying. Which Mark would you like? Wahlberg? Hamill? Spitz? :)


@97~ ...Zuckerberg, Harmon, Cuban, Twain...


OK, just set some lucky bastard up for the Hunsky. You're welcome in advance... :-)


@56 I'm a black guy and I have 100% the same concern as Dadddy does. I see race used as a tool for individuals to gain social power - but the goal is not ending a system of racial determination, that's barely even viewed as a positive byproduct of the movement. I feel the left (and more specifically the far, non-centrist left) has actively abandoned ending racism in lieu of a race-centric society that grants specific rights and responsibilities based on race, while still claiming to be "anti-racist"; in reality, they view themselves as instituting a benignly racist system rather than a non-racial system - "Separate But Equal". This is 180 degrees the opposite of the MLK ideology I was raised with and believe in, and directly contradictory to the US constitution.


My apologies to Lava, BDF, and CMD, my response came before I read further down.

Yes, most people find blackface offensive, but that's besides the point - plenty of white people are still clueless of that.

Frequently, the response of a stereotypical urban liberal is "well then, don't be defensive, listen and understand" - OK, I generally agree, lack of defensiveness is a good trait I attempt to cultivate - but that's ignoring the context of "people want to punish you" - just like they want to punish this kid and his family. Of course they're defensive - you'd be defensive too. Drag is different by degree from blackface, but imagine if we #Cancelling drag queens. Do you think Jinx would be like "oh, I understand and I've listened. I'll never do drag again and I'm happy to report that I'm ashamed I ever did"? Doesn't seem very likely - it feels like an attack. The insistence that attacked people should not defend themselves is... bonkers.


@100; Congratulations, Sportlandia, for scoring the HUnsky Award! Savr it wisely.


@99: And thank you, DonnyKlicious, for so gallantly setting things up for the lucky HUnsky winner. HUgs, VW beeps, and a big AACK-OOP to you and Mr. Bill.


@102: Rats! Why do all my typos happened when I'm sober? Make that Savor (not Savr). Earnest congrats, Sporty, for the well-earned HUnsky.


@104: Not again! Why do all my typos happen when I'm sober?
Geezus! I need a secretary.


@105: Or maybe I should just drink more. Shit.


Thank you for the books rec. on bipolar, Dan. But please consider either giving us links to brick and mortar BOOKSTORES, or if this is too much trouble, author, title and publisher info. - instead of links to amazon website. Please support struggling independent bookstores, where there are real humans that we can have in-person discussions with about books. This is crucial to our mental health, there are many studies out reporting that we are experiencing a very dangerous epidemic of loneliness. Part of the joy and wonder of reading is discovering how other people think and making interpersonal connections, all that is reduced if you're only getting feedback from algorithms.


Lava @ 93
“I think some drag is mockery… exaggerated versions of how some cis women present themselves. Over dressed and over made up women.”
I agree, and it can certainly be offensive at times. Much of it depends on context and venue.


Over the decades I've seen a scant handful of women who dressed like drag queens - two in New York, one in Paris - but seriously, folks, does anyone really think that drag queens dress like women? They don't dress or act like any women I know. If you think doing drag is "pretending to be a woman" you're incredibly inobservant and clueless.

And no, straight men dressing up as their idea of women is not the same as drag. The world is more complex and nuanced than some people will ever understand.


Mr Landia - I think that's a dividing line between gynocentric and androcentric gays, though I don't think the latter category intersects much with drag-doing. The gynocentric types would either defend the practice (Mr Savage) or apologize profusely, repudiate the past, and likely not be forgiven (a very V-gay sort of thing to do). The androcentric types, if they did drag at all, which would be less frequent, would make a point of not being affected by the criticism of anyone outside of the target group.


Is the silence I hear mean that that the far left has abandoned non-racism is a non controversial opinion?


No Sportlandia, Jinx would do just as she likes.. and why would drag be banned? Because a few uptight feminists look to every nook and cranny for ways that boys upset them. There’s enough real issues to confront without going into how drag might demean women or whatever the headline would be.
Not on the same level as blackface, so banning it would be seen for what it is. Absurd.


Not even sure what you mean @115, Sportlandia. I don’t see myself as far anything, and not being American, my experiences of black fellas are very different.
Australian Aborigines have inhabited this continent for over sixty thousand years, and they knew how to deal with our harsh bushfire conditions. And looked after this beautiful land.
How it might have been if the whites had learnt from the blacks from the start. Now we are listening, some of us.


@97 BiDanFan: Did you see my comment in @82 (re my @111 to your @103 in SL: Stressfest)? I don't want to go off topic here. Please email me when you can. I would really appreciate your thoughts and ideas on something.


Sporty @114: No, we far lefties have lives and were all out having fun on a Friday night. :)


I’d have answered Sportlandia’s comment, if I could follow its meaning. You city folk take it to different levels of complication.


@114: Seriously, you know us better than that, Sporty. Like BiDanFan says, we were out having fun. Weren't you?
@118; BiDanFan: Thank you for your email. I emailed you back. Big hugs, positrons, and VW beeps! ;) Griz


@118 @120 congratulations on being cool and popular guys I don't know what that has to do with the question.


It's been centuries since drag was a popular way of excluding women from the performance arts. I thought Shakespeare required drag, but I don't think he did blackface. It's only been decades since blackface was a popular way of excluding black people from the performance arts. Both usually present as overblown characterization of the oppressed group. Some people might wear a swastika as an ancient symbol of peace or dress up in blackface to celebrate black people but they seem oblivious to recent history.

I don't think that Dan does well on financial questions. Does commitment mean marriage, or joint mortgage, or simply developing a roommate agreement with appropriate rent for the area if the home equity is entirely hers.. He should not pay half if he is not receiving any home equity. Financial counseling?

And is good practice to consider any mentally physically or financially risky plans while not manic.


@121 (re @114): Are you afraid of silence, Sporty? Sometimes silence can be quite peaceful. Is it a fear of abandonment?
@122: Don't you know it's not polite to point, Hunter?


Everything, Sporty @121 - you were curious about the lack of replies to your comments, and some of us didn't reply because we were otherwise occupied. (I've stayed out of the discussion because it seems America-specific, and I haven't lived there in so many years that I'm not familiar enough with what goes on there to have an opinion. Besides, I was recently called a racist for making generalisations about a gender, thus showing me that this is not a rational area of debate.)


Philophile @123

"I thought Shakespeare required drag, but I don't think he did blackface"

Didn't he? The first actor to play Othello in the early 1600s was Shakespeare’s company leading man Richard Burbage, who was a white ginger guy. We don't know for certain, but most historians believe he used some sort of dark makeup to play the Moor of Venice.

But I do agree with your general point (if I understood it correctly), that drag and blackface do not have the same historical connotations, and cannot be considered equally offensive as a result. Drag hasn't been used to oppress and exclude women for several centuries, whereas blackface has been used to oppress and exclude black people in living memory. The relevant context is recent history.

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