Recent Savage Love Letters of the Day: Lesbian bed death, the difference between romance and stalking, Savage Love welcomes a new reader, and micromanaging other people's monogamishamy. Also, last week's column and Savage Lovecast.
On the nerve of me answering a question about lesbian bed death...
I just read your piece in reply to a woman who wrote to you reading her partner's lack of libido. Although I found the article somewhat interesting I would have preferred that a woman, an actual lesbian was rendering advice to other lesbians. As a man, you are not qualified to deal out sex advice to women —especially to lesbians.
Take it away, Free Dictionary: "opinion about what could or should be done about a situation or problem." The only qualification you need to share your opinion? Someone asked you for it. I give advice to straight people despite not being straight, I give advice to lesbians despite not being a lesbian, I give advice to bisexuals despite not being bi, I give advice to trans people despite not being trans, I give advice to monogamous people despite not being monogamous myself—hell, I sometimes give advice to Republicans despite not being a heartless idiot. But when I give advice to someone, whoever and whatever they are, it's because they asked me for my advice. Which is, again, the only qualification I require.
I’m a bit confused after reading your article. Your article sounds as if it is talking about a lesbian relationship. But I’m lead to believe that you are a male.So my confusion stems from the idea that a male would write about a Lesbian relationship. Please help me out and let me know if I missed something.
OMG! Mallory "Dear Prudence" Ortberg, who is queer, is giving advice to straight people! Amy "Ask Amy" Dickinson, a sexual person, is giving advice to asexuals! Jeanne "Dear Abby" Phillips, a straight woman, is giving advice to bisexual women! Carolyn "Carolyn Hax" Hax, a straight woman, is giving advice to gay men! Alison "Ask a Manager" Green, a manager, is giving advice to people who aren't in management!
More on LBD:
There was an aspect of the recent letter from BED that I was hoping you'd go into a bit more, as in some respects I am in a similar situation to BED. Essentially, BED is frustrated with the frequency of sex, and the lack of variety (e.g., "She also doesn't like to add new stuff to the bedroom activities"). These are related but different problems (You could have sex every day with no variety, or you could have sex twice a month with lots of variety). Opening the relationship could potentially solve both problems, but I wonder if opening the relationship is necessary to solve the lack of variety. Speaking for myself, I'd be OK with low frequency sex if it was hotter sex with more variety.
I take your point that "Listening to a higher-libido partner beg rarely induces desire in the lower-libido partner", but is it equally true that "Listening to a non-vanilla partner ask for variety rarely sparks the imagination of the vanilla partner"? In this case, it doesn't sound like BED is asking for a specific kink; she's asking for variety. I realise that, if someone has a low-libido, there is often not much they can do to increase it. However, I have a harder time accepting that someone with an average or better imagination, and a non-zero interest in sex, is unable to come up with a fantasy or two, even if their libido is low. BED's wife isn't asexual -she would want sex three times a year, i.e., there are times when she wants sex. Again, speaking for myself, I wouldn't need varsity-level kink to spice things up; my wife telling me about how they'd want to fuck so-and-so, or showing interest in my fantasies, would be super hot.
Are some sexual people really unable to have sexual fantasies and/or to develop an interest in variety in the bedroom?
I understand that you were trying to let UGH know that it's perfectly okay for her to like rough sex, and so you provided tips on how she can proceed safely and happily. But when you asked UGH (more than once?) if she likes this kind of sex, I feel that your wording and motive may have been careless, even hazardous. She said she'd never really had rough sex before, but was curious. Meanwhile, the rough sex in question caused her to feel shocked and confused after being hit repeatedly. I'm going out on a limb here and calling it an assault. A premeditated assault. Her question was not if rough sex is normal, rather, her question is if assault during consensual rough sex is normal. She may even be wondering if feeling "shocked", "confused", and like "shit" about herself after being assaulted is also normal. Yes, yes it is. And that guy knew it too.
On "getting" pregnant:
Long time reader, first time writer. Sadly though, I am not writing to you but to the person who took issue with the phrase "a man impregnated me." So, I am not much expecting an answer from you but do wonder what you think from this point-of-view. Very often (I hesitate using absolutes, like 'always') when a woman becomes pregnant, it is stated in a way that it was something she did on her own. "I got pregnant", "I'm pregnant", "She's pregnant", "That girl got pregnant", "X number of teenage girls get pregnant each year", etc. In fact, if I mention the phrase "teen pregnancy" I'm guessing you or most anyone is going to visualize pregnant girls, so the teen pregnancy issue is focused on the girls. The boys either get side-stepped completely or it goes to the standard "boys will be boys" bs that's perforated our society for millennia. The girls have to go to special classes to learn how to deal with the pregnancies, the boys go wherever.
I can't say I recall men stating, "I got my wife pregnant." (again, I won't use an absolute, but I really can't remember hearing this and there are 5 living generations in my family). I do hear "They're pregnant" (meaning the couple; really?) or "Stacy got pregnant" (instead of "Stan impregnated Stacy"), etc. Again, the cause (read fault) lies in the woman's lap. So, I was actually impressed to see the phrase "a man impregnated me", which may seem passive, but is no less passive than, "long story short, my girlfriend got pregnant".
The point that the reader noted "It may be a subtle difference, but I think it's a significant one." is valid. As I see it, the other phrases have been accepted for too long; the fact that a man was called out for getting a woman pregnant hit this reader in the face in a way that women have most likely been hit in the face for centuries with male-ego-saving phraseology of the girls just 'somehow getting pregnant'.
This leaks into other aspects of what is being called 'rape culture mentality" i.e. women needing to make changes so men don't rape them instead of men changing so they don't rape women. "A woman was raped at x street during y hours" is what we here instead of "A man raped a woman at x street." The phrases are passive - against the women, instead of actively calling out the actual criminals. So, let's give fair time to leverage the playing field. Say "X number of teenage boys impregnate girls annually," "X number of women are impregnated by men annually", etc. Let women say "a man impregnated me," when she gets pregnant and if men have issue with that, tell them to take more precautions to not impregnate women or to step up and say "yea, I did impregnate my wife". Own your shit dudes - and stop crying when women point it out.
Of course, this does not mean women "have to" say this, but when they do let it be. Thanks for letting me rant.
The writer SQUIRT should be advised to put down a rubber pad topped by a towel before sexual activities with his girlfriend. That made my partner much more at ease... no washing the sheets and the psychological advantage of making it an expected part of the proceedings.
Finally, on stupid jokes
not being stupid jokes:
I felt compelled as a long-time reader to write in response to your recent article, "Sometimes a Stupid Joke is Just a Stupid Joke." While I sort of agree with you that, yeah, the intent of Bezan's joke was "I don't like liberals!" and it was just ill-conceived, it absolutely does fall under the umbrella of harassment.
Not all sexual harassment is being trapped by a man, alone, and fearing for your safety. The majority that I've personally experienced as a woman has been in the form of being publicly humiliated (usually in front of a group of men). It's incredibly pervasive. A joke will be made - usually about how fuckable we are or are not - and we, as women, are conditioned to just be cool about it. Lighten up, it's a joke. But when you hear this kind of shit every single goddamned day of our life, it adds up. Men who would never dream of physically intimidating a woman feel entitled to bring up our fuckability in the form of a joke. And it's everywhere. Walking down the street, in the grocery store, at a funeral home, at work, at home (!) - there is no place on the face of the earth that a woman hasn't been made the butt of a crude, stupid joke.
And women are tired of it. The onus is always on us to be a good sport. The onus is never on men to, I don't know, not bring up threesomes in the workplace. We're not being overly-sensitive victims. We're not "cowering at the mention of sex." We're exhausted by all the super-fun shenanigans being made at our expense, when we're simply trying to go about living our fucking lives.
Years ago, I had a gay, male boss who gave me the nickname "Dilda." Under his leadership, the nickname caught on (with the mostly-male staff), and everyday, dildo jokes were made at my expense. No one in that workplace was actually threatening my safety. No one was graphically describing doing anything to me. There was no quid-pro-quo ultimatum. Just being the butt of a crude joke, where my sexuality was entered into the normal work conversation, wore down my self-esteem and left me a crumpled mess at the end of everyday. I quit, and I felt like a sub-human, unworthy of even the bare-minimum of respect. (Please note! No jokes about my male co-workers' sexual desirability were ever made! They got to keep on feeling good about themselves.)
Women deal with this shit every single day. And this shit adds up. It's not always about the fear of being murdered (thankfully?). It's about maintaining a shred of dignity in a world that has little-to-no respect for us as anything but walking, talking, vaginas.
So while it's possible Romando is playing up her pain and misery, as a sleazy politician might, please bare in mind - this is probably the thousandth time she's heard some iteration of a joke about how fuckable she is or isn't. She probably wasn't wrecked by a single, stupid, ill-advised, off-color joke - it was probably just the straw that broke the camels back. The joker's intent doesn't matter. (Though, how likely is it that Bezan would have made a threesome joke had he been standing with two other men?)
As for Gretchen Carlson — one of the most common reactions I've had to sexual harassment/assault has not been "fight" or "flight." It's "freeze." You freeze because you are so shocked and caught off guard by what's happening. You're just trying to live your life. You're just trying to do your job. And here's some asshole, out of the blue, bringing up your tits.
I love your column. But I urge you not to downplay the more "innocuous" forms of sexual harassment. (The "banality of evil," and all that...) There is a world of shit that women have been dealing with that would leave men utterly exhausted and defeated.