Savage Love

Letter Rip



BEARD I have to wonder who you're really mad at. You should be pissed at your ex, he treated you terribly, but I think you're really mad at yourself, and you shouldn't be.

You weren't wrong for loving this man, or wanting to help him, or supporting him through a time. The he didn't appreciate this is his fault, not yours.

Coming out of the closet won't make his issue go away. Dude may be just as terrible a boyfriend to the new guy as he was to you.

One thing that comes to mind is that sometimes having a gay sibling can end up with the 'not' gay sibling getting a lot of pressure to do the 'traditional' marriage and kids act, whether they want to or not.

Maybe this contributed to his closeting?

Of course I have no idea if this is the case but you weren't a fool for caring about this man so don't treat yourself like one.


Your email should recieve "The Stranger's 2021 Reader Survey".

It offers a choice between writing to and a link to short survey. Questions on the latter inlcude:

"Which of these things do you come to The Stranger's blog, Slog, to read about?"
One answer is "Sex!"

"Which of these things would you like to read about or see on Slog?"
Under "Other" I wrote "The return of Savage Love Letters Of The Day"

"Should we let readers write comments on Slog posts?"
I answered "Yes"; another options is "Yes, but only if you regulate comments and permanently ban trolls." (Not sure what "regulating" means or if they'd end up eliminating comments entirely rather than doing so.)

"Tell us the ONE thing you would change or fix about The Stranger."
I wrote "The return of Savage Love Letters Of The Day, and have some answered by Commenters"


Perhaps I'll /also/ write to because something else concerns me.

From what I've heard, if someone gets banned they don't even get notified, they just get sent to the cornfield.

While I'm absolutely not opposed to banning trolls, it seems like some kind of review would be appropriate. I think of this as a community (though perhaps not one The Stranger still feels as positive towards), and it seems to me that it would be appropriate for the community to have some role in it's own administration.
I find myself hesitating to know how to approach this though given what it seems might be a new attitude towards us.


Thanks Harriet for mentioning me. you being one of the few I bother to read now. Makes it real quick going thru the comments. Pity so many interesting commenters have dropped away.


curious2 @102: I did not get that email.

Did anyone else?


@103, 105: I got the email today :)


@73 BiDanFan: I think my biggest challenge growing up was gaining self-respect after years of being a doormat (in my upbringing, the social norm was that "good little girls" remained silent, unfailingly obedient, subservient little doormats, growing up to be willing baby machines).
I have had to establish boundaries to end so unhealthy and unfair a cycle. And yes--I too, have experienced what HUNG is struggling with. I learned the hard way re cheaters with big dicks. Just shy of 34 years later, I wish the occasion of my losing my virginity at an inexperienced age 23 could have been sweeter and more memorable than the equivalent of another HUNG letter.

@79 Harriet_by_the_Bulrushes: The man I thought I knew from college came from a large extended clan of deeply Irish Catholic roots. I learned later that many in his family wondered why he and I hadn't married, had kids in our twenties, and later celebrated the birth of our first grandchild by the age of 40. He mentioned men he was intimate with all the time. I was left stumped. If this guy I thought I knew form college was primarily into men (we never once had sex; in my book that rules out his being bi. He had twenty years to leap into bed with me and didn't. It was just as well, because I was not sexually attracted to him and considered him a friend)--then why the hell was he doggedly pursuing ME?
The answer was this man's 40th birthday. In his very large, extended clan (his sister has nine children), reaching age 40 without a spouse and kids is considered the ultimate family disgrace, unless one is a priest or member of the clergy. He at one time in his twenties after college, did go to study the priesthood. It didn't work out for him. He shortly afterward joined the U.S. Air Force, but for some reason did not complete his basic training. He moved to Seattle where he lived the last fifteen years of his life as an LPN in a nursing home, and singing in a men's choir.
From the series of events happening over a span of two decades, I believe I was dealing with a deeply closeted gay man struggling to hide his orientation from his family and clergymen. Seattle offered him infinitely more freedom than Concrete, Washington and Billings, Montana.

@97 CMDwannabe: Actually, it was the first weekend in February, in 1985. That was a particularly harsh winter!

@100 Endless_Ork: WA-HOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!! Congrats on scoring this week's Big Hunsky Award honors! Savor your glorious new riches and bask in the envied glow. :)


Ork @100, writes scathing comments directed to others that he doesn't realise describe his own comments perfectly. Sporklandia, didn't think you would be able to hide your true self forever.

Fubar @105, I got the e-mail. I reckon it only went to people who have made donations to The Stranger.

Griz @107, I don't think your pursuer was a virgin -- perhaps he never slept with a woman, sure. Why would he want to, other than to make the baby his family was so desperate for? The way he treated you is bizarre at best, but I hope he was able to make peace with who he was and find a new chosen family, as so many of us queers do, before he died.


CMD @97, I endorse the idea of your doing a photo shoot draped across vintage cars in your vintage lingerie. If I were a photographer, I'd be all over that! :D


@108 BiDanFan: Unfortunately, I don't believe he ever made peace with himself before he died. His health was in the toilet, largely from obesity and heavy drinking. I also believe his working graveyard shifts at the nursing home contributed to everything that shortened his life. If he had lost his virginity at some point in his life I agree--it had to have been to another man than to a woman.
I am truly relieved that a "marriage with children" between him and me did not happen. It would have been a bizarre nightmare of an unhappily loveless, sexless, legally binding union, leaving us stuck with "obligated" kids, and, in his own words, giggling wildly: "fighting like cats and dogs", as if that was the funniest thing he ever heard----only two years after I left my abusive husband.
The weirdest thing was that I had earnestly did everything to be a good FRIEND for him. I saw him as a friend, and until proven otherwise, a trusted confidante. I have puzzled and puzzled until my puzzler got sore (I couldn't help adding a little Dr. Seuss line for good measure). But I did nothing to sexually lead him on or anything deceptive--ever.
1991(wartime, U.S..Navy), 2001 (ugly divorce, fleeing for my life), and 2003 (the above story) were three of the most bizarre and frightening years of my life.


Why did tkinms wait until now to wonder? Because "this morning I saw a post saying that her son will be turning seven in May", seems like he never knew when the child was born until now despite reading her fb for 7 years. I don't understand the harm in asking if he's the father, she can lie if she doesn't want him to know. If she chose to have a kid with this man, and stayed fb friends, why shouldn't she be expected to face this consequence? I don't understand the problem if he wants to be involved as a parent, unless he's irresponsible or otherwise a danger to the child. I see how it could be insulting to write that he wants to know if the kid is his son but he's not open to meet this potential son until he's an adult. If he's not open to acting like a father now and he finds out he is one, then he may change his child's narrative from "my mother wanted me all to herself so she didn't tell my father about me" to "my father didn't want me so I only know my mother". That seems like it could be deeply harmful. Hopefully the mom wouldn't tell him he's the father and keep her secret unless he seemed ready to act like a good one. "my mom didn't tell my dad because he might be dangerous for me" even sounds better than "my dad didn't want me". Offering to put together his family medical history seems nice but insufficient if he's not ready to act like a father should he find out he is one. He can reassure her that he'd stay away if she wants although he would prefer to take responsibility for his son, that wouldn't lead to "my father didn't want me". He should really think about what he wants, how he wants to affect the child if he is the father (he is just absent now and should deeply honestly consider whether he will help or harm the child with more involvement), and how he might protect himself in case she lies and tells him he's the father when he's not (paternity test).

Beard, "His inability to accept himself caused me the most severe emotional trauma of my life"
No, the things he did in your relationship hurt you. Maybe he knew he was bi and hid it, maybe he hid it from himself too, sometimes it's hard to accept desires that other people disparage but we can't change how we feel. It looks like if he had told you he felt bi, you'd unreasonably worry that he was lying and it really meant he was gay, since you conclude that a man who dates men and women is gay. Even Dan does it.


HUNG, you don’t say how old you are so to ease my mind I’m going with you being a young woman, early twenties.
It’s ok to enjoy a man just for sex, it’s what some men have allowed themselves to do forever with women, as indicated by some of the lingo they throw around, ie; “you don’t look at the mantelpiece while you’re stoking the fire.” This guy has been upfront from day one, that he’s rude & insensitive and that he’ll hook up but not date you. You ‘hung’ around together for a year. He lied re being exclusive. Seriously, did you really believe that line when he wouldn’t date you?
Then the snowstorm incident and he lied about being your co worker and tells you he never wants to see you again and closes down any social media connection to you. Clearly he was continuing to be a piece of shit, so he’s consistent.
Then he contacts you again, wanting pictures, wanting to hook is where you should have told him to go to hell... yet you ask him if he’s seeing someone? He uses people, he lies, don’t you see that. Why would you return for more of this behaviour.
What concerns me about how you present yourself is you don’t seem to have an antenna for any danger that you may be inviting into your life. Physical danger I’m referring to.
This man is sludge sure, the next might be sludge and scary, and would you even sense that about him?
What life experiences have you been thru that makes you so blind to being used, being so mistreated emotionally, by this man. The next one might not stop at emotional abuse and would you let that pass, too?
Please do some work on yourself, thru therapy, before you become a statistic at the hands of some crazy man.


Phi @111, Dan does suggest to BEARD that her ex may be bi, which she seems not to have considered.


" I got the e-mail. I reckon it only went to people who have made donations to The Stranger"

I have an alternate Stranger username/email address from which I have never donated, and it received the email too.

So if someone doesn't get it, perhaps check the Spam folder. Failing that, write to the email address directly.


@114 p.s.
"I have an alternate Stranger username"

And I wish I could delete it, but unfortunately I discovered that a Stranger username is eternal (which could become problematic if one lost the email address).

I only created it to make a dumb joke using a funny avatar. It's got just one Comment.

So don't worry, I know that one me is more than enough.


Curious2 @115: The way to get a SLOG username deleted is to post a sporklandia-type comment.


BiDanFan @108,

I thought that Ork @100 was not far off. I wouldn’t call it gaslighting though. I’d call it giving one’s own imagination more weight than fact, in a way that I associate with heavy lifetime cannabis use.


Alison @117, really!? Not far off, how? Harriet's interpretation of the letter -- which they are just as entitled to do as Sporky himself -- for once didn't go on any flights of fancy, the way Sporky did.
Just to make sure we're talking about the same thing, here is the comment Sporky seems to have taken exception to:
"She is angry at the deception, at being kept in the dark, and feels she was set up to fail, with her ex not being able to be open about his gayness or bisexuality. These are legitimate feelings."
This seems an accurate summation of her question, to me. What part of this comment seems fuelled by imagination or cannabis?

By contrast, Sporky has characterised "I am angry because my ex is dating a man" as "I am disgusted by bisexuals," simply because that fits with his pre-existing bias against most women for not being open to dating bi men (which is not the same thing as being disgusted -- I won't date people who want children, but I'm not disgusted by them). It's far from conclusive that BEARD thinks her ex is bisexual -- there's stronger evidence that she thinks he's gay (namely the tie-in with the mediocre sex), especially if she chose her signoff. Ork is the one who's giving his imagination more weight than fact, in a way that I associate with lifetime misogyny.

I hope you'll clarify what you meant by your comment.


Hi All, BEARD here. Thank you for the empathy and wisdom from many of you. I have taken your advice and insights to heart and have been reflecting on many of your comments noting where I had clear blind spots. I did reach out to him and received a brief but seemingly genuine apology. Feels like win to me! Thank you, Dan fans. I’m very grateful for your time and compassion.


Good one Iced tea. And great that he has apologised to you.


Yes curious, count yourself lucky you aren’t a POC in the USA. Or you too might be filled with fear and anger and get set off by white women who bait you.


BEARD @119, I'm so happy it worked out for you! Hope you can move on now. x


I'm so glad you got a sincere apology. (And thank you very much for letting us know.) I hear that it was brief, but as they say 'life is complicated': If one goes beyond brief, the next thing you know you've gone on for 80 pages.

I just took another look at your letter, and something else jumped out at me from the perspective of my thoughts @5 that your BF might have been in the process of discovering himself (aren't we all?):

"we started having more discussions about children and making lifelong commitment. He told me he wanted both, yet at this exact time his moderate depression became more severe"

Maybe this came at a time when he was discovering himself in a new way, but also still himself in the old way. In other words, part of him could totally have sincerely wanted those things. As the new part of him emerged that also wanted other things, it could have been a time of difficult inner conflict for him.

In other words, had he written you many pages, I think you'd have understood that the him that promised you those things really meant it. But then he changed; people change; I'm so sorry that happened to you. But hopefully we can be happy for him. Particularly since I bet he does feel bad about the way it affected you.


@119 iced tea (BEARD): Thank you for joining us! I'm glad you got a sincere apology. I, too, like curious2, BiDanFan, nocutename, and others, am sorry this happened to you.
I'm glad everything is working out and you can move onward and upward.


Lava@37 That's my point to the LW, Lava. She had ways to reach him if she wanted to and since she didn't that should be his answer and he should let it be (speaking words of wisdom). She didn't need the money or want his male/fatherly influence, just his seed otherwise she would have reached out. I agree with you also that I would want to know if I were the father, but she probably knew he might get the courts involved and wanted to avoid all that possible nastiness...


HUNG, we learn from our mistakes. So we'll recognize them when we make them over and over again.


@83. venn. My baseline view re 'universal fluidity' is that we want to get to a situation where the person who is 100% heterosexual (the straight man, since we're talking about politics) is also, is in no way prevented from being, 100% antihomophobic, anti-bigoted. The criterion for whether someone is disposed to be tolerant or not should have nothing to do with 'fellow feeling', with whether someone can imagine what it's like to have a desire, or who naturally or with just the slightest effort of imagination sympathises with someone who has a desire (which others deprecate--or badmouth or express revulsion from, and so on).

The criticisms I have of identity politics have to do with the extent to which they presume fellow feeling. If the basis for political solidarity is common membership of a group, then there seems no reasoned way to disapprove of the poor white identity politics of homophobia, antifeminism, charismatic evangelical religion, racism etc.

As to my more subtle view, I don't believe 'God made them straight and gay' any more than 'God made them man and woman'. In other words, there will be familial, social and cultural pressures, unique in each case, that shape the development of someone's sexuality and gender (both as felt from the inside and perceived by close others). But this thought is apt to be misunderstood. It looks like I'm saying that people can change their gender and/or sexuality at will, and I'm not. Or someone could think I might be sympathetic to what you're talking about, the claim that people should be open to expanding their sexual repertoire for reasons of open-mindedness, inclusivity, etc., and I think the demand can be anything from insensitive to grating to browbeating.

The kind of sex I always wanted to have was 'everyone loved up, everyone loving together, doing whatever to everybody else'. This was a political as well as a sexual ideal. I found something like it in bathhouses, which Mr Savage doesn't like and couldn't himself find sexy. But really I wanted to be part of a scene having sex with a woman and move to being part of a scene having sex with a man or men (or some such in various permutations and combinations) on the same night out. I found this in grouping. Personally I don't understand why more people don't want to experience this more unlimited or oceanic sense of sexuality ... but no matter; enough people are comfortable with sex on this basis for me to be gratified, to be mind-fucked, more fully than I thought possible.

@84. Bi. I do not think Endless_Ork is Sportlandia. Sportlandia is a generous and sensitive person.

@100. Endless_Ork. Read the letter. You can see why she's hurt and angry--because the guy she was with did not reveal that he was attracted to men. She thinks this doomed their relationship to failure.

You're giving me the sense you have your own reasons for wanting (or needing) to tar women generally with biphobia--e.g. you're a bi guy treated badly by a het woman. I'm sorry if this is the case. If it was a bad experience, maybe it gave you pointers in how to negotiate being with a purely straight woman as someone with a more complicated pattern of attraction.

Apropos your suggestions re me and the HUNG guy, while hung is always nice, I'm hardly likely to date a presumably het guy who appears to be extremely choosy over how hot, or presentable, his partners are. The height, the girth (the flab?), the dick and the wrinkles would all get in the way.


@89. Fubar. But the view that a family defaults to a mother, a father and a child (in the case of a woman's first-born) is usually coercively heteronormative. The same mindset that says 'daddy should step up to the plate and shoulder his responsibilities' also says (or is tempted to say) things like, 'the kind of well-paying jobs that could help a father support his family are wrongly going to college-educated women' or '...are wrongly being mechanised away'; or (indeed) the view faults a woman for making the choice to break with an unsatisfactory het relationship (unsatisfactory for whatever reason, and to whatever degree) and to begin her life as a mother as a single parent (or, rather, parent with a wide support group of relatives, friends and community organisations).

If a father was absent in your nephew's life, how could the child have been damaged by that absence? What isn't there isn't something a small person can come to want, rely on or miss if it's snatched away. (I'm not taking issue with your saying that there was an absence, merely that only a biological father could have filled that gap). It might be that an infant would be missing something without a 'father figure', or, less strongly, a 'male role model' in his life ... but even then, I'm not sure.... First, in point of fact, very many lesbian couples and single mothers do make a point of having male friends in their children's lives; and second, do we actually want fathers assuming and embodying all the traditional prerogatives of husbandhood and masculinity? There's a lot of flexibility in what these are; and a young boy's knowing a range of adults with different interests, capacities, the potential to play different roles in giving care, would seem to make up for me, in theory, for the definitional absence of the person who's usually the secondary caregiver.


Harriet @129: I was addressing this writer and this letter, and I said none of those things. Your response is a metric shit-tonne of grandstanding.

Perhaps 30 years ago, when my 8-y/o nephew asked "why doesn't my dad want me?" I should have slapped him up side of the head and said "What am I? Chopped liver?".


@117. Alison. Eh? What are you talking about?


@119. Iced Tea / BEARD. That sounds like a very positive outcome. I'm pleased he apologised and hope you can now move forward--especially as it is spring and the pandemic is being beaten.

@130. Fubar. You said 'once born, the child's rights come first'--what did you mean by this? That a child has a right to a father? You granted that biological fathers could do things that were 'disqualifying'--like e.g. slap the child's mother up. But would you say that when a mother of a newborn doesn't like her child's father, doesn't want to be with him or live with him, she is obliged for the child's sake to cohabit, or in, some other way, have a closer personal relationship than is warranted by the degree of contact needed to determine co-parenting arrangements?

How did it get into your 8yo nephew's head that his father didn't want him? Did this come from other children at school? Did his mother say it to him in exasperation? I very much hope he would have accepted that he had many people in his life, adults, who loved him and wanted him.


Harriet @132: "You said 'once born, the child's rights come first'--what did you mean by this? That a child has a right to a father?"


"You granted that biological fathers could do things that were 'disqualifying'--like e.g. slap the child's mother up."

Slap the mother up? I wrote no such thing.

"But would you say that when a mother of a newborn doesn't like her child's father, doesn't want to be with him or live with him, she is obliged for the child's sake..."


"How did it get into your 8yo nephew's head that his father didn't want him?"

He figured it out. No birthday cards. No xmas gifts. No phone calls. Nothing.

No villains in this thread, Harriet. Go pick on someone else.


Harriet @128: "Sportlandia is a generous and sensitive person." That literally made me laugh out loud. Sportlandia is an abusive, misogynistic troll who has been kicked off this board for making violent threats against other commenters. His favourite themes are how women get treated more sympathetically just for being women -- and he likes to "prove" this by "comparing and contrasting" letters from men who've behaved like jerks versus women who have themselves been mistreated -- and how "most" [straight, which he omits] women are bigots because they aren't keen to date bi men. And how anyone who speaks up against him is a racist. His reason for wanting to tar women with biphobia seems to be that he hates women and can't resist any opportunity to say something negative about them. (Why indeed would he go around asking all his partners their views on bi men? Surely that doesn't involve him so why would he care?) He definitely does not come across as a bisexual who has been rejected for this reason. Rather as a straight man who wants to think himself superior and mock those less-desirable bi men who are only considered dateable by more than a third of straight women and a probable large majority of bi ones. I reckon he fears a "once you go bi, you'll never go back" phenomenon -- that bi men ARE better in bed, more sensitive, better communicators -- but that if women won't date them, they'll never find this out, so his position in the pecking order is safe. Whether Ork is Sporty (whose last known alias was Sporklandia) has been theorised by several, and I am now convinced of it too, now that he's brought up his women-are-biphobic agenda and actively insulted another commenter.

Where did you read that Mr HUNG "appears to be extremely choosy over how hot, or presentable, his partners are"? Because he wanted pictures? I read these as nudes, seeing as he already knows what she looks like. I don't think many players are "extremely choosy"; naivete and low self-esteem seem to be their preferred traits in a partner. I agree though that you'd be the wrong age and gender for a guy like that.

Harriet @129: "The same mindset that says 'daddy should step up to the plate and shoulder his responsibilities' also says (or is tempted to say) things like, 'the kind of well-paying jobs that could help a father support his family are wrongly going to college-educated women'..." Another where did you get this from? I think the view that both people who helped create a child should contribute to the child's emotional and financial support is far from limited to misogynists who believe men should out-earn women, or that only a two-OS-parents-plus-kids family arrangement is valid.


@133. Fubar. I'm not seeking to pick on you, but was just asking what you meant. You wrote:

"I'm not advocating for "men's rights" in this context. It's the woman's choice to continue a pregnancy, but once born, the child's rights trump everything."

By implication (if not outright statement), this means that the newborn's rights trump the mother's choices (should they come into conflict). But what did you mean by the newborn's rights? I will leave the question completely open this time, and not fill it in with any inference, so there can be no confusion between my examples and examples you may have had in your head.


M?? Harriet - The short answer is that you're perfectly valid; we just can't share the same spaces, and that would be fine, except for all those people who insist that all those in any variety of the GRSM have to be crammed together in one space and all manifest perfect unity. My version of IP is that, if I don't stick up for the G, I cannot expect anyone else to do so, nor should anyone else. The usual definition I see is the lazy idea that (Almost) All Members of Group A believe/want X. In my view, fellow feeling has little to do with it, as I hope has been shown by my wanting a world where all major parties are equally viable for the G instead of Mr Savage's view of permanent serfdom to the Dems. As for whys and wherefores, it's important we never find out, as that will result in forced prevention. I'll accept your walkback on pushing while noting that it is one.


Something curious from this morning when I was finally able to make a vaccine appointment: while the range of choices in both categories was tolerably comprehensive, "Queer" was listed as a choice for a Gender Identity but not for a Sexual Orientation. (Agender and Gender Fluid were both listed though Bigender and Demigender weren't and Genderqueer was not - perhaps that's what was intended? Bisexual and Pansexual were both listed, though Demisexual was not.) Interesting; I wonder how that came about


@134. Bi. I remember having a good relationship with Sportlandia in his incarnation as such. He was not one of those persons who jibbed at my speaking for women, for claiming certain feminine experiences or characteristics, or who found being bigendered incredible or an inadvertent (or calculated) affront to ciswomen. I didn't know that there was either a 'Sporklandia'. Maybe Sportlandia, Sporklandia and Endless_Ork are one and the same person; but to me, as I recollect the old Sportlandia, the comment that was addressed to me would bespeak a deterioration in this person's sensitivity and intelligence. I remember the Sportlandia many commentators disliked being intelligently compassionate towards young men, men of color, and men whose sexuality wasn't always 'on' and who craved the understanding of women who maybe assumed (in a gendered, racialised way) that guys should be always ready to 'perform'.

I'm less worried by guys like Sportlandia (whose misogyny is easily recognisable) than with people like Alison, who (unless there's been some misunderstanding) make a point of dissenting from the idea I was 'gaslighting' so as silently to endorse the claim I am a 'narcissistic', drug-addled 'piece of shit'. Probably there has been some misunderstanding here.

I got the idea that the guy who was with HUNG was choosy about his gf s' looks from his saying to her (she accepted this) that she would never be his partner--i.e. she was just a fuck. She wasn't impressive enough to be a girlfriend. This could be the wrong interpretation.

@129. Bi. I agree entirely with what you said as written. My point to Fubar was that many people's motivation in saying something like 'fathers should step up to the plate and shoulder their parenting responsibilities' was that they were more comfortable with heteronormative nuclear families than with a wide variety of caring-for-children arrangements in which a 'mother' takes the lead and other adults chip in (or maybe play substantial parts). Heteronormative families are one likely consequence of in-part-reluctant fathers agreeing to have a relationship with their children and to contribute financially towards them. Unfortunately I have touched a nerve with Fubar, who seems to have played a sizable role in his nephew's upbringing when the child's father was absent. I would not at all think that Fubar is a votary of 'Families Need Fathers' ideology.

To a degree, it's hard for me to see what the 'Families Need Fathers' apologists want if they don't want, as a norm, a father to live with a mother in a romantic relationship and co-parent. What often happens in effect is that a woman who wants to break with a possibly abusive, an immature, or just a poorly-matching partner gets corralled into a live-in relationship, which goes even sourer with the arrival of the child (gets more abusive, or the guy gets more controlling; the partners become more estranged; the mother is isolated from friends and family in nursing the baby). This isn't good--for anyone--and, I think, needs to be deprecated as an outcome. But the emphasis on how 'the father should play a role', 'the father has rights in relation to his child', has the opposite effect.


@136. venn. This is perhaps an area on which we intractably disagree. My spaces for recreation, adventure, self-discovery, throughout my late adolescence and early adulthood were gay male spaces. There were always effeminate men, men en femme, 'transvestites', people who would go on to be transwomen, in those spaces. They were understood and accepted. A lot of them have always been more in-your-face or emphatic in their female gender expression than me; and part of my education was finding the courage to emulate them. This was in a gay male space, and no one could have thought otherwise.

As to my 'moving' from nightclubs and bathhouses to dungeons, I have had much less sex with randos since top surgery, but I wouldn't like to think this was because I had made myself anomalous or persona non grata in gay nightclubs. I was very sensitive about 'passing', more frightened of being queerbashed and was anyway winding down with middle age.

There is another sense in which the best of the identity politics is founded on justice--e.g. Black rights must be affirmed because justice belongs to all (and belongs especially to historically persecuted groups). Queer politics has to be coalitional. As you say, it can't be about what we want collectively, or what we're like (since there will be a lot of heterogeneity in those things), but has to take up what's right. Absence of discrimination and equal access will be a good start.

There is genuinely no 'walkback' in that I do not think that anyone should wrt sex do what they don't want. They cannot 'want', 'want to', for whatever reason. Here someone like Dan Savage in reportedly saying that it's morally better to feel both gay and straight sexual impulses (I do not know whether he's said that or not) is, to me, out on a limb and striking an unnecessarily virtuous posture.


"I'm not advocating for "men's rights" in this context. It's the woman's choice to continue a pregnancy, but once born, the child's rights trump everything."

"--what did you mean by this? That a child has a right to a father?"

"By implication (if not outright statement), this means that the newborn's rights trump the mother's choices (should they come into conflict). But what did you mean by the newborn's rights?"

If Harriet were (as Harriet claims) a lawyer (which I don't believe is possible in this universe given Harriet's logical capabilities), I expect that (even though IIRC Harriet lives in the UK) Harriet would know that "the child's rights trump everything" is the general understanding any adult on the continent on which fubar's and my countries sit have of current LAW.


Venn @137, that is interesting. I would associate the term queer more with sexual orientation than with gender, though it does seem an excellent way of stating that one is outside both the gender and sexual orientation binaries.

Harriet @138: "He was not one of those persons who jibbed at my speaking for women" -- no, because he doesn't care about women, so he wouldn't be bothered by someone putting words in their mouths. He does enough of that himself, for instance saying they're "disgusted" by bi men.
"or who found being bigendered incredible or an inadvertent (or calculated) affront to ciswomen" -- but he did state that he refuses to recognise non-binary people, specifically afab non-binaries, whom he insists on seeing and addressing as women.
"I remember the Sportlandia many commentators disliked being intelligently compassionate towards young men, men of color, and men whose sexuality wasn't always 'on'" -- in other words, um, himself. Easy to be empathetic towards people who are like you.
Recall that by the end even LavaGirl, who once championed Sporty as "a young man seeking to learn," had had enough of his outbursts and insults, and was happy to see him go.

I too am perplexed by Alison's comment and hope she will clarify.

Re HUNG, there could be many reasons why he told her she was just a fuck and he'd never date her. The most obvious one was that he doesn't want to be in a relationship, that he just wants to fuck around. Another possibility, he knows she is relationship minded and wanted to head that off at the pass. I didn't interpret that line as "you're not attractive enough for me to commit to," but as "I don't want to commit."

Re Fubar, I'll let him speak for himself, but I'm about the furthest from a "traditional gender roles" advocate as one can get, and I think that if men are going to stick their condomless dicks into vaginas they should be prepared to take on the emotional and financial commitments of fatherhood. If that's what the woman wants -- which was the first thing I said on the topic. I agree it seems good for the child to have more than one caregiver, but this doesn't have to be a mother and father. Could be two fathers, could be a mother and an extended group of related and unrelated "aunties" and "uncles" and grandparents. I would rank the order of rights as: child, mother, father.


"There’s a Name for the Blah You’re Feeling: It’s Called Languishing"


Herriet @138: The only nerve you touched was the gag reflex that gets triggered when someone puts words in my mouth, and implies that I hold points of view that I simply do not.

As for a definition of children's rights, Google "UN Convention on the Rights of the Child."


Ask not for whom the troll trolls; it trolls for thee.


f_m_f @144 And the classic from IASIP: You gotta pay the Troll Toll / If you wanna get into that boy's hole


137-Venn-- They asked orientation and identity in conjunction with giving you a vaccine appointment? In my part of the world (northeastern U.S.) they only ask age, weight, and general health as those more vulnerable to death by virus go first. So those who are older, obese and have co-morbidities get the first shot.


The best evidence that Ork is Spork is that he hasn't denied it.



But the eruption upthread of his real self (through the labored mask of him trying to write and be completely unlike himself so he could be here) was /additional/ strong evidence too. He's in a bind. He's learned that if he admits it, his expulsion immediately is re-applied. OTOH, he didn't deny it the several times I asked because in wanting us to to hear /him/, he can't bear us thinking it is not him.

The initial clues I noticed were very subtle (so subtle I wasn't surprised no one else reacted to them) slips to include characteristic phrases. I wasn't even sure myself until he didn't deny being the toxic troll Sportlandia. And the upthread toxic eruption did doubly confirm it.

Spork the Ork.


Jibe @145 - "Boy's SOUL."
"That's what I said, boy's hole." XD

Bi @141 - "...I think that if men are going to stick their condomless dicks into vaginas they should be prepared to take on the emotional and financial commitments of fatherhood." Thank you, this! I don't understand why some are equating "adult-ass people who bring new humans into the world are on the adult-ass hook for this life they made" with "they must marry and have a cis-het nuclear Leave It To Beaver family." Two very different things. As for the right thing for LW 2 to do.... idk. He's clearly curious (I'd sure as shit want to know if I were in his shoes), but agree he should carefully consider what he's willing to offer and how involved he wants to get. Or, if he is the father but his ex wants him to have nothing to do with the child. How would he feel about that?


I miss CalliopeMuse and could go for one of her well-timed "oy vey"s right now re: the Sporty/Spork/Ork debate. This fox is inclined not to feed the trolls, and gets bummed by those in the commentariat who can't seem to help but bite at troll bait. For me, whenever a troll pops up around here, their comments are so wildly incongruous with what's going on in the SL comment board that I feel they belie themselves and are best left ignored.

That said, having watched the Sporty saga unfold from my position as a lurker for over two years, it's been one hell of a ride. The two folks on the board who always "stood up for" Sporty boggle my mind and frequently make comments that are only just barely on the side of not being trolls themselves. And I'm glad to see everyone's brain is just as broken as mine at Allison's uncharacteristic comment @117. Maybe she's a Sporty incarnation, too (or got her account hacked?).


FMF @150: CalliopeMuse left abruptly, almost mid-sentence. :(


The timing concerns me the most. IIRC she had some mental health challenges. A had just had a difficult time with her brother. And then a global pandemic that has rocked everyone on the planet occurred.

I very much hope we hear from her soon.


Ms Fan - Yes; that's what was so odd. I've seen people begin to se the Q as a gender identifier, but thought that some time away from getting onto forms. And for it to be missing from the orientation list seemed weird.
Ms Fichu - A couple of weeks ago, I'd tried going the short route to get a vaccine appointment, but that went nowhere. This morning, I decided I'd better, with great reluctance, enter The System and set up a genuine Patient Chart. Those were optional questions in a general information section.
M?? Harriet - Your experiences were before your team began flexing and trying to beat my team up. People can be guests in each other's spaces, but our teams cannot co-exist in one space. I'm sure you were a respectful guest, and I'm glad you're in venues that suit you better now. The twenty-somethings on your team now are determined to take over the spaces and drive my team out or convert us.

You've advocated for a world without a gay identity; I can see how you think not pushing conduct on people isn't a walkback, but it seems that you're trying to dance on pinheads.

I'll try to be as precise as possible. It was during that episode of the podcast in which Mr Savage took down the SuperStraight phenomenon which seems to have faded fairly quickly. He also reasonably disparaged the idea of a parallel pseudo-identity with an L, G or B (I had not seen anyone claiming such a label though it would seem consistent with the views of some) and claimed that the REAL SuperGays were those young people for whom sexuality is all about gender and who don't care at all what parts their partners have. He referred to it as their having a "superpower". In a way it seemed as if he were trying to stake out a position between ours, calling your team superiour but trying to maintain some marginal value in the G.


@140. curious & @143. Fubar. But what is the practical effect of granting that 'the child's rights trump everything'? Obviously I know that the words are contrary in sense to 'the mother's rights trump those those of the child'--but this isn't the same as showing what the practical consequences might be of holding the child's rights paramount.

Let's say that a father has not done anything to suggest that he will be a negligent parent, and he has the willingness and financial wherewithal to support a very young child. The mother wants nothing to do with him and resists any discussion of collaboration in child-rearing. Does the primacy of the child's rights mandate decisions in awarding custody--here, to the father? What are the child's rights? Obviously, decisions in family law are made in accordance with the principle of what's best for the child--in the UK and US alike. However, while this may make reference to children's rights, it's a discretionary and subjectively determined principle. I'm trying to get at what you think it means in practice.

Fubar, there's a difference between asking questions and putting words into your mouth; and until you give instances of how children's rights play out in practice, I'm very likely to hypothesise scenarios in which I may attribute you possible (only possible) views.

Curious, I went to public school in England but live in continental Europe. For my sins I hold a British passport. I'm unsympathetic to most things British.

@141. Bi. I'd say I have the same right to speak 'for' women as anyone else--this will inevitably be a case of one person speaking for billions, for an incalculably large number of others, and that individual will invariably misrepresent (by design or oversight), or fail to include, huge swathes of the constituency. But actually I meant something more like crediting me speaking 'as a' woman.

Not recognising NB people is a biggie in my book.

@143. Fantastic. The MRA rhetoric of 'families need fathers' wants women to have to shack up with men whom they find at best antipathetic, and who at worst are abusive and violent to them.

Obviously rights of visiting, access and forms of shared custody have a basis in law and common decency when the parents have split up and the mother is the primary caregiver. Situations like this eventuate when the couple have coparented and the child is (let's say) at least grade school age. How putting a child's interests first plays out when said child has just been born and the mother has no contact with the father is a very different question--one sufficiently open that I asked Fubar what he meant.

Evidently too Bi is right in her boilerplate assertion of the father's responsibilities and in her statement of the descending primacy of child's, mother's, father's rights.


Harriet @154: "until you give instances of how children's rights play out in practice, I'm very likely to hypothesise scenarios in which I may attribute you possible (only possible) views."

How many times do you need to hear me say I'm nor interested in playing your foil?


Also, Harriet @154: "Fubar, there's a difference between asking questions and putting words into your mouth".

There is indeed. And you've been doing the latter, and not the former. As I've said, I'm not interested in playing the part of your villain, so please stop it


@144 fantastic_mrs_fox: That should be on a tee-shirt! Bravo and well done.
I need one as a reminder not to feed the trolls. Sometimes for me, it's too easy. .:)

@147 fubar re Ork: I think you nailed it. That's what I have suspected all along since Sportlandia's departure.

@151 fubar & @152 curious2: I hope that CalliopeMuse is okay. I haven't heard anything from her in a long time, either.


Who's hungry for this week's Double Whammy (@169)? Tick...tick...tick.....


Fox @150, I know I was Sporty's favourite nemesis -- I highly suspect his broken veneer @100 was meant for me rather than Harriet -- and I'm glad there is now a way to block him. It is kind of fun winning battles of wits against unarmed persons, but now that the mask has dropped I expect him to show his whole arse more often, and it will be report and block. I hope it was easy enough to scroll past our spats during the pre-Slogblocker era.

Venn @153, I think your persecution complex is causing you to misinterpret Dan's words. I could say, "Vegans are better people than I am because they're more ethical." What you've described Dan as saying sounds similar. My statement is not a call for all vegetarians to be eliminated, and I'm sure Dan's praise of the genital-flexible gay folks out there is not a call for the extermination of genital-particular gay folks -like himself-.

Harriet @154: "I'm very likely to hypothesise scenarios" -- yes, we know.
"Not recognising NB people is a biggie in my book." Yup, mine too. Recall that I tried to get him to see that misgendering people on purpose is an asshole move by calling him "she" whenever he posted. Unfortunately, most of the rest of the commentariat got the point that it was an asshole move, but couldn't see that my purpose in doing it was to show -him- to be the asshole. As usual, I don't think I got through to Sporky himself.

"The MRA rhetoric of 'families need fathers' wants women to have to shack up with men whom they find at best antipathetic, and who at worst are abusive and violent to them." And nobody here has said that, so I'm not sure why you feel the need to argue against it. Three one-off comments (@48, @51, @57) argued that fathers have rights, which legally they do, but two out of three said "but on the other hand, he probably isn't the dad/he shouldn't contact her unless he's prepared to step up." None of the comments claimed he had the right to a relationship with -the mother-; none of them argued that his rights were absolute regardless of his behaviour toward the mother/child. This rhetoric may exist, but outside the microcosm of this comment section, so I don't know why you've invited this straw man to dinner, especially since those who cited fathers' rights -- like so many real fathers -- haven't stuck around. (Joke.)

Fubar @156, you know there's a handy add-on you can use to block people you don't want to interact with? ;)

Griz @157, I agree! I'd buy an "ask not for whom the troll trolls" T-shirt. Or maybe a mug so I could have it on my desk at all times, to remind me not to bait the bears.


It's funny how eeeee @53, a bi man, thinks Dan is biased toward gay men, while Venn, a gay man, thinks he is biased towards the flexible. That suggests to me that he's probably striking the right balance.


@156. Fubar. For heaven's sake, I have no desire nor intention to cast anyone in the part of a 'villain'. I do not think someone who might in a particular case make a ruling which favors the father at the expense of the mother villainous, nor do I think the villainous judgment would be the other way round. You underscored for you how the child's rights come first, without saying what that might mean in any difficult real-life context. It's as if you started to say something without thinking through what you meant, or have seen certain consequences of your holding a view and are now pulling back from them.

Let's take the present case. Do you think the seven year old boy brought up without a father (apparently) has any rights in respect of having contact with a father willing to shore up his responsibilities?

@159. Bi. He would have to block himself, since he seems to have an aversion to spelling out a claim he began to intimate. Rather than arguing with a straw man, I'm asking Fubar what he thinks his view might mean in practice.

It is plausible that Sportlandia confused me and you.

'Genital-flexible' sounds as if it means something else.

@153. venn. I haven't advocated for a world without a queer identity and overarching queer culture; and I'd think that a gay male identity, and sub-identities of various gay male groups--leathermen, aesthetes, 'drag queens' as were, and so on--would be part of that. I can't quite see, in terms of what people are like and the common features of those with the same sexual tastes, that a singular gay male identity comes to cohere. Gay men are too different from each other. The subcultural spaces they frequent are different. Their tastes in music, clothes, self-presentation, friendship patterns, are too various. Even if we're talking of an identity, we'd have to talk of cultures. It's less that I'm calling on gay men to 'give up' 'the G' as that I don't really believe in any one G to begin with.

Femme-presenting men and transpeople have always been in gay male spaces. Which gay male spaces are you proposing to exclude us from? It would disappoint a lot of the masc gay guys!


Actually, '...without saying what that might mean in any difficult real-life context' is in part unfair, since Fubar said @89 that he thought that if the lw were the child's father, he should have been told.

Evidently this is not a villainous judgment. Personally I would not say, 'he should have been told' in so cut-and-dried a way.

There is an interesting, pointed question this week's letter almost raises, which is: does the intending mother who tries to inseminate herself through a series of hookups, or in a casual relationship to which she has no commitment, preemptively violate the rights of her child, in depriving them of a father?

To me the question invites interesting disagreement, though I have the sinking sense that in putting it, I will be suspected of 'trolling'.


Harriet @161-@162, trolling wasn't the word I had in mind. The word was harassment.

Why are you picking a fight with Fubar? All he said was this:
"I'm not sure that the MRA-leaning commenters are are deferring to male entitlement. Some men are inclined to want to parent their progeny. They're certainly obliged to provide financial support for the result of every errant sperm (and LW seems naively dismissive of that; how is that even a factor in his thinking?), and the right to be listed on a birth certificate is the quid pro quo.
To be clear, I'm not advocating for "men's rights" in this context. It's the woman's choice to continue a pregnancy, but once born, the child's rights trump everything. I have a nephew whose father was absent, and as a young boy, that absence hurt him deeply. If the LW is the father, he should have been told, and should have stepped up... assuming of course that he lacks any undisclosed disqualifying characteristics."

To me, that seems an eminently reasonable comment. I don't know why you're subjecting him to cross-examination. This is not a courtroom and Fubar is not obligated to engage in your game of hypotheticals; he's clearly tired of it. I'm answering on his behalf as a neutral third party and because I suspect he's already blocked you by now and won't be answering himself. Let this drop, m'kay? The rest of us are tired of it too.


@163. Bi. I'm not picking a fight. I'm asking him what he meant:

"Let's take the present case. Do you think the seven year old boy brought up without a father (apparently) has any rights in respect of having contact with a father willing to shore up his responsibilities?"

Supposing you have more confidence in your arguing abilities, or interest in exploring a difficult area, than Fubar, perhaps you could answer? That's an open invitation. It would keep us chewing the fat until this week's instalment.

My interlocutors seem to swing from alleging that I am a throughgoing fantasist with no powers of argument, no likelihood of actually being a lawyer, at all, to quailing so greatly at the prospect of a conversation with me, of being cast as my 'foil', that they decline to press up the interesting points they've first made. Of course Fubar's remark was 'eminently reasonable'--why would I strike up a discussion with someone where there was no prospect of common ground at all? (Do you think I like being reprobated by curious?). Meanwhile you see me in pursuing the same topic steadily and calmly as 'harassment'. I don't know what to say.


Ms Fan - "Group X is better than I am personally," differs from, "Group X is better than Group Y." Mainly, though, I would contend that Mr Savage has only an extremely limited point. Caring exclusively about gender presentation just widens slightly one's pool of potential partners and marks one as more compatible with transtopia. It's only virtuous if one accepts that homosexuality is inherently flawed for being discriminatory.
M?? Harriet - I mean political spaces rather than social spaces, though even social spaces should make it clear who's setting the norms and who's the guest. Gay cannot exist as a mere unspoken subset of queer. It's clear you want it to be unspoken. We require homonormative space, which does not preclude fem-presenting people. Many people have put me in that category, though I would say I have not put enough consideration into presentation as such to count. (It's like the difference between a clearly artificial flamer and someone who's just naturally that exuberant.) Maybe in your day you were able to maintain the belief that your "gay" partners genuinely desired you as a woman or genderqueer person in a way that simultaneously allowed them to think you were really a fem-presenting gay. Currently our teams are incompatible. The popular line of the moment among the kiddywinkles is for non-binary people to tell their gay partners to stop presenting as gay because it invalidates one's gender identity. It's a bit similar to the point that's come up about mixed-orientation relationships. Some bi people are comfortable with considering their relationships to be straight or gay; some aren't. A few non-binary people have expressed satisfaction with fitting into homonormative spaces and relationships, but the usual line is more to make it a weapon with which to undermine the G, claiming that nobody can be all gay because of potential attraction to NB people.


@165. venn. I would hope that anyone who desires, or desired, me desires me for myself, not worrying about my self-attributed gender identity (which in many contexts would have been unclear).

Let's take leathermen, a gay subculture I've chosen because neither you nor I can plausibly claim identity with the brand of 'gay' represented by the set's mores or presentation. For me, it's for individual leathermen to choose whether they want to say, talking of their identity, 'I am a leatherman', 'I am gay', 'I am queer' or whether they're happy to miss out the middle stage. Is being cismale an identity category within gayness? How alike are leathermen and opera fans? For me, it's for a gay male culture to come into being from the bottom-up, rather than its being categorically prescribed, as you seem to be doing.

Of course it's legitimate for gay men to have political advocacy groups. I agree that there's a need for homonormative space, which will be precisely nonexclusionary in the sense you've described, and my views are not the views of any kiddywinkles.


Harriet @164, it's harassment because Fubar has clearly signaled his desire not to continue the conversation. I definitely don't have any interest in exploring this particular area. Not sure why you do either, given that, like me, you have no children and have been at minimal-to-no risk of accidentally impregnating one of your partners. I simply agree with Fubar that, as a general proposition and presuming parental competence, two (or more) parents are better than one, and that feeling rejected by one or more parents can be detrimental to the juvenile psyche. I leave these statements here as uncontroversial to close the book on this topic.


Venn @165 - I appreciate your going into more details about social vs. political space(s). I think it's awful that, tragically and ironically, in the spirit of being more inclusive, homosexual folks are being edged out of their own conversations and hard-won political spaces by "woke" kiddywinkles. It makes absolutely no sense to me.

Harriet @ too many to go back and count - If you want to strike up a "let's discuss/explore some hypotheticals based loosely upon the original SL letter" once it's late in the week and we've exhausted our most relevant commentary, that's fine. That's a game I'd be willing to play. However, I've observed that you have a tendency to take other folks' comments and make wild leaps to conclusion, or at least a wild leap to a hypothetical, without framing it as such; indeed, it's usually framed in a "so-and-so @whatever number said 'A' and therefore they meant 'X'" kind of way. A putting words in people's mouths kind of way. And you've been called out on this tendency one more than one occasion (and you backpedal and explain yourself more eloquently/less argumentatively when called out). It's frustrating because you make a lot of really intelligent, sensitive, cogent points in your comments before you get bored later in the week and start poking the proverbial beehive. The later behavior borders on troll-dom, but I don't get troll vibes from you and I appreciate what you have to offer on this board. If you'd like to engage in a discussion about hypotheticals for the sake of keeping the thread and conversation going, then cool! Awesome! I'd be down for that (probably a lot of other would be too). But please frame it as such instead of making wild statements like Fubar, Bi, myself and others being "MRA" because we think cis men who whoopsy-doodle humans into existence with their dicks should be held to some kind of responsibility (as if this is some kind of rabidly conservative viewpoint). Please and thank you.


Hey CMD and BDF, you two down for an international vintage cars and vintage lingerie photo project?!


Congratulations on the magic number, FMF @169.

You're far more generous than I am. The misrepresentation (which verges on gaslighting; not that I'm agreeing with Relentless_Spork) is bad enough, but the goading to try to force one to defend oneself against the thinly veiled accusations is beyond the pale. The prodding reeks of entitlement, and I'm just not having it. I don't owe anyone a debate; nor do I need to help anyone with their apparent difficulties with basic comprehension.

As for your photo project, I'd certainly buy that book ;)


@77 Endless_Ork Wow. You accuse someone of being a "narcissistic piece of shit" and hitting you with "gaslight bullshit" when you're the one that cherry-picked and stripped context from the letter. "[H]e’s been dating a man," by itself, could easily mean gay OR bi, yet you hoisted that quote as conclusive proof that (1) the ex was definitely bi, and (2) the ex's bisexuality was the reason for BEARD's upset. You also completely ignored parts of the letter that indicated, if not necessarily that the ex was gay, at least that BEARD had inferred that he was gay.

BEARD said the "sex was mediocre" and her "self-esteem suffered." Why would she mention that in this letter, unless she thought it was a retrospective clue that the ex isn't attracted to women at all? Why would she describe herself as "BEARD" if she thought her ex was genuinely attracted to women?


^^Correction, Endless_Ork @100, responding to @77


Correction-- Endless Ork @100, responding to @77


Fubar @170 - I was probably being more generous than I should be. It is a very frustrating pattern of behavior that I know has been pointed out to Harriet on numerous occasions (at least during my three-ish years lurking around and now commenting on the SL comment board). And Harriet does a stupendous job of back-pedaling and better framing their arguments/questions/talking points when called out, and it's frustrating and crazy-making that Harriet doesn't just lead with those points. Clearly Harriet enjoys (and is pretty successful at) getting under the skin of other commenters, or as you yourself so eloquently described: "the goading to try to force one to defend oneself against the thinly veiled accusations." I fell for that BS last week and wound up divulging personal information and experiences that I didn't intend to get into. I'm totally down for wandering into the weeds of hypotheticals once we've sufficiently chewed the fat of the original SL letter, but this can be done without making left-field accusations based on illogically twisting the words of others.

Or in lawyer speak, gavel gavel Objection! Conjecture!


Or to quote BoJack Horseman (please tell me there are some Boj fans on this board!), "I feel like you're willfully misunderstanding me."


Fantastic @169, if only it weren't for these pesky time zones!

Xiao @171, exactly. Sadly, I don't think Sporky will read your comment; he seems to have scarpered after his outburst revealed his true identity for anyone not yet convinced.

Cocky @174, Venn clarified that the questions on gender and orientation were optional.

Fantastic @176, I love Bojack Horseman! Hardest hitting cartoon ever. "Wilfully misunderstanding" sums it up. What Harriet fails to do is separate real people from hypotheticals. Instead of saying, "Supposing if a person in LW's situation were to do X," they posit that the LW has actually done X, Y or ABCW, none of which is even hinted at in the letter. This week, Fubar offered, anecdotally and as a one-sentence aside, one example from his own family; Harriet could not see the invasion of privacy in forcing Fubar's seven-year-old nephew into the spotlight of a "theoretical" debate on children's rights. Of course Fubar -- and you -- felt uneasy at being put on the spot like this. Harriet, you continue to do this and you haven't yet seen the pattern that this gets people's backs up. This isn't a debating society, it's a forum for sharing personal thoughts and experiences. And that includes the right to stop sharing when one decides they've said all they want to say.


A new column is up.


@167. Bi. I wish Fubar had just said something like, 'I'm happy with my statement and wish to leave it at that', rather than suggesting I was seeking to cast him as some sort of masculinist bogeyman (I was not), or was attributing views to him, as opposed to asking questions. If anyone thinks I was attributing views to him, I disclaim that entirely and hereby un-attribute them (in their minds).

I agree with your general statements on parenting, other than I would append 'ceteris paribus'.


"If anyone thinks...I disclaim that...and...un-attribute...(in their minds)."

Harriet, what are you doing in people's minds!


The poster in the marriage counselor's office in Bojack:
"How to Share:
1. Feel 2. React 3. Spill 4. Obfuscate 5. Bottle 6. Unbottle 7. Rebottle 8. Reflect 9. Repeat"


Fantastic @176 & BiDanFan @177: I'm not familiar with BoJack Horseman, but did a quick Google and was reminded of a movie I wish I could un-see: 2018's "Sorry to Bother You" which featured horse persons in a comprehensive dystopian mind fuck.

As a matter of respect and integrity, I try to avoid offering up opinions on things I know nothing about, and I would hate to find myself, for example, denying bi-erasure with a bi person, asserting how jolly far the gays have come with a gay person, or pontificating on non-binary parenting rights with a non-binary person. I'd rather hear their points of view and lived experience.

If anyone wants to hear what it's like to be a white, cis, heterosexual, partnered, liberal, privileged & vaccinated, dominant male, who also knows how to code, hit me up.


Harriet @179: Holy crap. How many times do you have to be told no?


Harriet @179: 'ceteris paribus'.

How about "assuming of course that he lacks any undisclosed disqualifying characteristics." (Because English is the 'lingua franca' around here.)

Let's now debate Autism Spectrum Disorder, or maybe Sociopathy. Or both!


@184. Fubar. I do not know what these 'thinly veiled accusations' I am supposed to have leveled at you are. I made clear I saw you as no sort of votary of MRA talking points.

@168. Fantastic. Re 'hypotheticals': Fubar's initial statement was framed as a hypothetical--that 'if' the lw were the father, 'he should have been told'. The conjectural situation on which I invited him to comment was no different to that on which he had already commented; and it was in fact the situation of the letter. Of course no one is obliged to chase up their points, and one can turn down a discussion with any commenter (politely, let's hope) for whatever reason. But ... it is reasonable, I think, to feel frustration with someone who shuns a debate he fears he might lose, or who supposes that his interlocutor is setting him up as some kind of caricature. You can understand why, after getting on well initially, Lava came to express frustration with Fubar?--because, after sometimes saying his piece, he was reluctant to hear others (esp. women, for Lava) out, and have his views exposed to their programmatic critique. It's wanting to have a free swing without being prepared for the ball game to turn into a slugfest.

This week, it emerges (of course) that there is no perceptible difference, at the level of generality, between his views and mine (or yours, or Bi's) as to the desirability of the biological parents co-parenting. That Fubar thought there might be seems a matter of projection to me: projection of his own liberal nervousness about being a cishet male, and possibly projections of what he thinks the attitudes of someone evidently not cishet might be.

What you say about my (in your eyes) poking the hornet's nest is interesting, and I'm grateful for your perspective. For me, the right advice to give the lw is usually (fairly) easy; it commands wide assent across commenters, and it's rare for Dan not to have offered the advice more incisively than we're able. The most interesting part of the discussion, then, is in debating fine points of relationship morality, etiquette and politics (esp. as these lie across gender politics) with people with whom we are 98% (at least) in agreement. This is all, in my mind, that I'm doing in responding slightly more broadly to points made by commenters; but you're giving me the impression that the children have ventured far enough and do not want to stray more into my labyrinth.


@177. Bi. Of course someone can say, 'thank you for your question, but I've spilled enough and have no more to say on the matter'. I think you a debater in manner, as much as and possibly more than me.

The question about Fubar's nephew was the one he straightforwardly answered, and I didn't query the response.

@175. Fantastic. I'm sorry you revealed something in response to my question you didn't intend. I don't believe you said to me anything more exposing than you volunteered generally; you described a painful experience, and I would think you had everybody's sympathy. I asked, as it happens, not out of sympathy (you had had other people's expressions of support; and I judged you were past the point where you needed it), but out of curiosity. You actually put right a misconception of mine--that you had 'seen' your husband and the woman he had had an affair with flirting--which other people may have had (and so could have done some good in responding).

I do not see where I tarred you, Bi or Fubar with the brush of MRAs or what thinly veiled accusations I made about him. My read of people's defensiveness in talking to me is that my being relatively indeterminate wrt to gender and sexuality allows them to project their anxieties onto me.


Harriet @185: Codswallop. Over and out.


@159 BiDanFan: Oooohhh!! A Coffee mug! Even better! Agreed and seconded. :)

@169 fantastic_mrs_fox: WA-HOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!! Major congratulations on your scoring the highly envied double prize of this week's Double Whammy Award honors (Lucky @69 + Big Hunsky @100 = Double Whammy @169)!!! Savor your newfound riches and bask in the envied glory. :)

@179 Harriet_by_the_bulrushes in too many additional comments to count: I really don't understand your jumping to hasty conclusions throughout this week's comment thread--and your venom at fubar in particular. If you can't play nice don't play here at all. :(

As curious2 @178 has aptly said, a new SL column is up.


Harriet @179, Fubar said MANY THINGS that were like "I'm happy with my statement and wish to leave it at that." You just ignored them all. I do agree that you were casting him as the bad guy, pressuring him to defend abhorrent views which his comments did not indicate he holds, refusing to accept answers you found insufficient (such as "what I mean is the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child"). And even now, multiple people with no horse in this race are calling you out and, as Mrs Fox describes, you're denying your pattern which means hey! We'll see it again next week because you refuse to listen. The way everyone else responds to you is our fault, not yours. Sigh.

Fubar @182, I highly recommend BoJack Horseman! It's on Netflix. I have a friend who reminds me so much of Princess Carolyn. I should watch it again as my own Netflix pickings are getting slim.
I'm like you. I don't have children, I never wanted children, I would not presume myself, even if directly asked, to speak definitively on children's rights. It's perfectly valid to state one's opinion and then move on.

Fubar @184, Harriet has indicated they are on the spectrum. Harriet, this is one of those times when a neurodiverse person needs to be aware that the way their brain works is causing distress to others. You've shown no respect for people who don't think the way you do; you have not offered a single word of apology to Fubar for offending him. Neurodiverse people need to learn to navigate a neurotypical world. This is not impossible but you don't seem to even want to try to respect others here.

Harriet @185-@186: "Re 'hypotheticals': Fubar's initial statement was framed as a hypothetical--that 'if' the lw were the father, 'he should have been told'." Wrong. This is not a hypothetical Fubar spun out of thin air (the way you do) -- it's the central premise of LW's question.
"it is reasonable, I think, to feel frustration with someone who shuns a debate he fears he might lose" -- or who mischaracterises one's argument, or who simply won't let a topic drop. Seriously, if your attitude is that anyone who is less than 100% enthusiastic to "debate" with you must feel that way because they doubt the strength of their position, you are very very wrong.
"after sometimes saying his piece, he was reluctant to hear others (esp. women, for Lava) out" -- I have never experienced this with Fubar. Perhaps he is reluctant to hear Lava out because Lava is prone to ad hominems and lecturing? This is not a ball game -- and that may be your problem. You don't want a discussion; you want winners and losers. This week, you decided that Fubar was the person you wanted to win a debate against, and couldn't accept his taking his ball and going home because this isn't a game to him.
"This week, it emerges (of course) that there is no perceptible difference, at the level of generality, between his views and mine (or yours, or Bi's) as to the desirability of the biological parents co-parenting. That Fubar thought there might be seems a matter of projection to me" -- Don't be ridiculous! You're the one who called Fubar out on his views, stating out of absolutely nowhere that people who hold those views also think men should out-earn women and that biological fathers have the right to "slap up" the mothers of their children. That was not projection; YOU said it. And Fubar isn't afraid of you because he fears being exposed as a privilege abuser. He's annoyed with you because you're annoying.
"What you say about my (in your eyes) poking the hornet's nest is interesting, and I'm grateful for your perspective." Whew! Thank you Mrs Fox for possibly, just possibly getting through to Harriet.
"The most interesting part of the discussion, then, is in debating fine points of relationship morality, etiquette and politics (esp. as these lie across gender politics) with people with whom we are 98% (at least) in agreement." That's not interesting to us; it comes across as nitpicking. If we are 98% in agreement, then why are you disputing the remaining 2%?

"Of course someone can say, 'thank you for your question, but I've spilled enough and have no more to say on the matter'." -- Why on earth would you expect someone to thank you for asking a question they don't want to answer!? No thanks are ever due for a poke of the hornet's nest, which I'm going to steal since it seems to resonate.
"I asked, as it happens, not out of sympathy (you had had other people's expressions of support; and I judged you were past the point where you needed it), but out of curiosity." And this is exactly the problem. You DON'T ask questions out of sympathy, but out of curiosity. And that can be inappropriate. We are all strangers here; nothing in our personal lives is anybody else's business. If we choose to share, that should be accepted as adding to the conversation, but it should not be considered an invitation to ask nosy questions that have no purpose but to satisfy your curiosity. These are painful situations people are sharing -- infidelity, the sadness of a child. You don't respect that at all; you have, as you say, no sympathy, but a sense of entitlement to more information than someone may want to share.
"My read of people's defensiveness in talking to me is that my being relatively indeterminate wrt to gender and sexuality allows them to project their anxieties onto me." Hahaha, nope. Just as the general aversion to Sportlandia has nothing to do with his race, the general defensiveness against your interrogations has nothing to do with your gender or sexuality.

Whoops that was a lot, but I hope you read and actually take on board what I've written. Doubtful, but this week's column is not terribly interesting. I'll sure you'll make an attempt to change that...


@189. Bi. I cannot understand how I was setting Fubar up as the bad guy. I was asking questions, not attributing views. To answer them, to answer, 'how do you think the granting of priority to the child's rights should play out in a case where the biological father wants to move to being a father in practice after seven years?', Fubar did not need to say anything more anodyne than he had already said. He could just have said, 'well, let his father prove his commitment by making a consistent financial contribution first', e.g., and I would have been satisfied, and of course heartily agreed.

The situation of the letter is a hypothetical: what if the lw is the child's father? That was the situation on which Fubar commented, and also the situation I was asking Fubar to say more about. There is no other situation. Making any other distinction between actual and hypothetical situations can only muddy the waters.

I have never had an Aspergers diagnosis, though many unexpected (to me) reactions I have aroused in others, and e.g. my failure to understand what was supposedly implicit in many real-life situations, have made me think I may be neurodiverse. I also score 98-100% female on all the gender identity tests; and autism is often thought of as a condition of maleness. One possibility is that, early on and intensively, in learning to 'do the tests' (understand what was required of me in the tests, and in the thinking in life that the tests modeled) I came to approximate to femininity in approximating to neurotypicality. If we're just talking about my comments on the board, my view is pretty much like the Turing test: if nobody takes me as being neurodiverse on the basis of my comments, then to all intents and purposes I'm not, and do not need any special consideration on those terms (I think more people would, for instance, take JohnHorstman's comments as neurodiverse when he says, e.g., that it's selfish to bring more people into the world). The effect of people supposing that I'm not neurotypical might just be similar to the effect of their taking me as non-binary: that someone like that can have nothing to say to someone who's not like that. If that's going to be the effect, then I'd rather people didn't make the supposition.

Someone can only apologise when they see what they are meant to have done wrong. 'Deep down' I think that Fubar should apologise to me for supposing that I wanted to set him up as a caricature.


@189. Bi. I have to say now that you're projecting in your claim that I don't want a discussion, I want 'winners and losers'. If there is one person on the board who sees it in terms of a Varsity debate, of winners and losers, it's you--see, for only the most recent example, your taking pleasure in besting (the supposed) Sportlandia in a battle of wits 'unarmed'. An interesting discussion is all I want, past the point (of course) when we have given the best advice we can to the lw. (And sometimes the discussion is tense or embattled because there is a deeply-held difference of views on what the right characterisation of the lw's situation is). I do not see why a question from me is taken as a leading question, and have perhaps learnt that when I ask someone a question, whatever my impatience with their reticence, I should not give possible examples of responses from which I'd expect them to differentiate their position.

I had never experienced Fubar not answering a question or seeking a free hit when Lava spoke about this, and in fact I defended Fubar to her.

Fubar is a highly self-conscious liberal, around conflict-avoidant people in Canada (and who perhaps moved to Canada because he was liberal / conflict-avoidant), who accesses his impulses to dominance in his sex life. I am someone inured to most forms of conflict (because atypical in pretty much every respect and accustomed to prejudice) who lets go in my sex life. It's on the cards that Fubar and I will be at cross-purposes. But what I did not anticipate was that Fubar would pin his anxieties about being disqualified-from-comment as a white, upper middle-class, cishet Dominant guy on me. Only fanatics think that sexual and gender minorities have a monopoly of virtue (I hope Fubar hears this and takes it to heart). Of course, as I pretty much supposed, it turned out that there were no theoretical differences of view between him and I on fathers' and children's rights. My own investment in the topic (you commented suggesting that I could have no personal investment) is as someone who was called to be in loco parentis to a teen whose mother had incapacitated herself (and whose father was rapidly doing the same, I feared). You (and Fubar) could both have known this--if you know, for instance, that I imagine I have low or subfertile sperm counts and/or have never had unprotected procreative sex with a woman (you were correct in your statements on these matters). Why would anyone think that someone who had been in that situation would think that fathers had no rights? Or that the rights of the child were always to be with the mother (any mother), and not to such wellbeing as fathers or others could provide?


@189. Bi. Apropos threshing out the 2% of differences: Can you not see that it's more interesting to explore small disagreements (where people might get somewhere, or at least have an interesting discussion) than expostulate with someone you have no hope of getting onside? Of course sometimes, on this board, comments are just so egregious or unhelpful that I feel moved to counter them (like endless-ork's remark this week about women being unpleasantly biphobic). But I note that you respond to people's comments in a more fine-toothcombed way, putting commenters right even when it's highly unlikely they'll agree with you, or be interested in being drawn into a discussion. Why do you do this? It seems the purpose is either to have a discussion (which would be good), or to be right--and I don't see the purpose in your advertising your being right.

Pulling out a bit, what is the fault most commonly found with internet discourse?--that people act out their anger and righteousness unproductively. There is no point my getting into a discussion with curious, or your getting into a discussion with Sportlandia--the parties are too far apart (and curious, in any case, does not want to have any sort of substantive discussion with me). My experience in life is that many people write me off as someone with something to say on the basis of my non-normativity. If I am going to have a discussion (which I can surely at least try to initiate), it has to be with someone who accepts me as an interlocutor, and with whom I share common ground.

I am in sympathy with Fantastic over what she has recounted as her experience of being cheated on. I've said that (it's cheap of you to say that I'm without sympathy here). Asking a further question in no way impugns or replaces the sympathy. There's no social norm of not asking questions--only of offering sympathy--when someone volunteers personal information. Sometimes being incurious is (taken as) unsympathetic (and sometimes not). I said I was sorry if Fantastic was led into revealing what she did not wish to reveal; but, as I see it, from the perspective of a reader or interlocutor, she did not divulge anything more embarrassing to me than she had already made public.

What I'd say to both you and Fantastic is that it's boring when the board becomes Good-heartedness 101. It has to be about something more. If it's only about expressing sympathy to and giving good advice to the lw s, then one would have to say that it's stopped with Dan (as with this week, as you correctly say).


Harriet @190: "Someone can only apologise when they see what they are meant to have done wrong." That's not true. Someone can apologise when they see that they have hurt someone's feelings, whether they think they "did wrong" to cause that hurt or not. Someone can apologise to keep the peace, to be polite. "Someone" doesn't seem to want to.

Trust me, with every word I've typed in criticism of you, I've wondered, "does this apply to me? Could I learn something from my own advice here?"

Re autism, I had interpreted this comment as you being on the autism spectrum, and you may want to get tested because your tone deafness to other people's reactions is a pretty common tell. At any rate, your thinking Fubar should apologise to you for being your victim just proves what I already knew, that there's no point beating my head against the wall to show you why exactly people are reacting negatively toward you. You don't even want to consider that it's not us -- ALL of us -- it's you. Moving on.


@193. Bi. Then let Fubar and me apologise to each other.

I don't see your 'all' as accurate. Lost Margarita, for instance, pulled back from commenting because, among other reasons, she found curious's hounding of me, and perhaps others' toleration of it, unconscionable. I do not accept that the people I upset or annoy are all good-hearted types, and those you upset 'trolls' or 'arses', to adopt your lexicon. Often, the effect of your animosities with commenters (I think particularly of philosophy_school_dropout) has been to coarsen, to render less sensitive or accurate, their contributions, as they became embattled in their defensiveness towards you.

Every Aspie test I've taken has come up negative, but I'm of course very interested in the comments you find 'tells' as to neuro-atypicality. You cannot victimise someone by asking them a question, though I will try to put questions in the future in a more unadorned way.


First, I want to say that I'm more impressed than ever by F.M.Fox. She obviously was a keen observer during her long lurker-hood.

Second, the theory that Harriet is on the spectrum is very interesting, but as I understand it, it would only be a partial explanation.

For example of Harriet's great lack of insight into other people. And for that I have sincere sympathy, just as I do for John Horstman, even while pointing out to him the times he said horrific things because of it. Though I also point out that his being on the spectrum has given him motivation to sometimes be an extraordinarily keen observer of human behavior.

Harriet doesn't seem to make any such effort at all, despite that as BDF said @189:
"Neurodiverse people need to learn to navigate a neurotypical world."

Harriet is so utterly psychologically closed to that, that as BDF said to Harriet @193:
"there's no point beating my head against the wall to show you why exactly people are reacting negatively toward you. You don't even want to consider that it's not us -- ALL of us -- it's you."

I don't think that those psychological walls of Harriet's can be attributed to Harriet being on the spectrum. That's another psychological issue; the same one that makes Harriet utterly resistant to getting any therapy. (Such a psychological mechanism can be envisioned as the issue having a life of it's own in someone's subconscious, and trying to preserve it's [the issue's] own existence.)

And I wonder if we can attribute Harriet's inability to use logic functionally to being on the spectrum. My experience of people on the spectrum is that reason is something they're /better/ (not worse) than neurotypical people at.

So, for example regarding Harriet's long history of making things up to fuck with people, Harriet should I think know enough not to. A couple years ago Harriet even promised BDF (after heroic effort by BDF) that Harriet would stop constantly doing so, and would from then on make plain to everyone when Harriet was making shit up. That promise was kept /once/ only, then completely dropped: all the joy of tricking us was gone when Harriet agreed to make clear what was made up. This, too, isn't AFAIK attributable to being on the spectrum.


Harriet - indeed, you didn't twist my arm and force me to spill anything last week. And I specifically responded to you last week by saying I would be vague because I'd already gone past the point of sharing what would be helpful for the LW and had strayed into the territory of "making it about me." Which was not my intention. Nor was I trying to throw myself a pity part or garner support. But your curious questions were straying into the realm of nosey, trying to dig at really personal specifics of my husband's affair that I didn't want to discuss. And then you made some jab (that I said felt like a jab, that you never addressed) about me, that I must either 1, be insufferable and awful IRL to have my husband cheat on me or 2, that I was somehow so "exemplary" that it prompted my husband to cheat on me. Which I said made zero sense. Because it makes no sense. Again, if you want to discuss hypotheticals or fine points, that's great. But let's frame it as such, instead of "do you think your husband cheated on you because you're secretly awful?" or "does your nephew reeeeally suffer from his father's absence?" You're taking the real life pain and experiences of other commenters, trying to twist it into hypothetical talking points, then acting like the commentariat are cowards for setting limits on what aspects of their personal lives they'd like to share here.

And all y'all, knock it off with the neuro-diverse re: Harriet debate. I think Harriet knows and enjoys exactly what Harriet is doing (because Harriet has said as much, at least once upon a time). FWIW, I have a child who is on the spectrum, who is female, and if anything she suffers from being painfully literal in her use and interpretation of language, and is not given to metaphors, plays on words, or flights of fancy. Indeed, many neurodiverse folks complain of how often neurotypical folks speak in cloaked language, innuendo, and figurative speech, that it is a befuddling and difficult to understand aspect of living in a neurotypical world.

And that's all I'm going to say at this point. I have already indulged this nonsense well more than I would care to. I am not interested in any further "debate" or conversation about it. We all see it for what it is, except for those who refuse to ("refuse" to).


"Harriet knows and enjoys exactly what Harriet is doing (because Harriet has said as much, at least once upon a time)."

That's right, I recall mentioning that I saw Harriet admit (here in an an exchange with someone other than me) that Harriet assumes positions purely because Harriet enjoys arguing. And makes up stuff about themself (and then forgets and denies, for example, having claimed to practice law IN COURT).

"FWIW, I have a child who is on the spectrum, who is female, and if anything she suffers from being painfully literal in her use and interpretation of language, and is not given to metaphors, plays on words, or flights of fancy."

Thank you for that.


@195. curious. I don't see how you square your view that I lack any kind of insight into other people with your saying that I get into other people's heads. In fact, your view of me (which seems unnecessarily complicated and compendious) seems to me entirely contradictory and projective.

@196. Fantastic. I apologise for coming over as nosy. I didn't say your husband cheated because you were either more difficult than you come over as being on the comment pages or because you were 'exemplary' and he found it difficult to live up to you. I said that possibly the reason he failed to confess his cheating the first time, even when you had previously discussed nonmonogamy, was that he felt compelled in some way not to fall below your standard. I did reply to your saying this was a 'jab' by saying that it had not been my intention to jab at you. (You said that I conceivably disapproved of your staying with your husband, and I said 'no', and provided some personal context from my own life). Please do not be primed by curious in his idea that I want to mess with people's heads. No--I want to give people good advice and, to a degree, engage in interesting discussions. I was as surprised by your saying that I was jabbing at you as I was by Bi saying that I was harassing Fubar for not answering my questions.


"I don't see how you square your view....with your saying that I get into other people's heads."

Oh, Harriet. It seems that jokes are not known in your universe. You see my @180 here was clearly a joke:

"If anyone thinks...I disclaim that...and...un-attribute...(in their minds)."

Harriet, what are you doing in people's minds!"

I don't claim it was a great joke. Or that it was nice (it highlighted your muddled writing).

But that you call me on an apparent contradiction WITH A JOKE demonstrates the way you twist reality into lines of reasoning as convoluted as the noodles in a bowl of spaghetti.

You really don't do your cause any aid by defending it.

'Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and to remove all doubt.'

"your view of me (which seems unnecessarily complicated and compendious) seems to me entirely contradictory..."

As I have just demonstrated, my joke didn't contradict anything because IT WAS A JOKE and thus not serious.

As for "unnecessarily complicated and compendious", the recent doubt about explaining your pathologies using the spectrum cause me to be more aware than ever (and I have always been aware) that:

We cannot know what mental and/or psychological disturbances cause your behavior. All we know for sure is that as a result of them you are an intolerable asshole.

"...and projective."

That, Harriet, is pure shit.

How many times do I have to remind you, Harriet, that when you don't leave me alone you end up regretting it? Honestly, do you feel you cause has been advanced by your @198 now that I've replied?

For some reason I don't understand, many on the list read you posts (unlike me for the last year). My advice to you is to start behaving well so that you don't alienate any more of us.


@200 cockyballsup: WA-HOOOOOOOOOOO!!!! Major congratulations on scoring this week's Double Hunsky Award honors! Savor your highly envied and newfound riches and bask in the glow.:)