Some Thoughts on Coming, Catholicism, and Making a Portrait of Trump Out of Dicks

Savage Love Letter of the Day: Reader Advice Round-up



Be Excellent to Each Other.

Dan, you were totally shaped by Bill & Ted as much as you were your own mother.


Dan - please upgrade your Golden Rule immediately to the Platinum Rule!! Treat others as they wish to be treated, and people should treat you as you wish to be treated.


Or if you like the King James style Platinum Rule:

"Do unto others as they would have them do unto them, and others shalt do unto you as you would have them do unto you."

Wayyy better. It's not about putting yourself in the other's shoes, but simply asking them what they want / and not assuming anything.


As an agnostic environmentalist who believes that there are far too many people on this planet, i believe that sex with a chance of procreation is usually unethical. On the other hand, people should be nice to each other, and that's much more likely if everyone is getting laid in a healthy and positive way, so thanks for all the good advice Dan.


Boy would this not be a better world if the Catholic church gave up that whole medieval 'breed as much as possible' thing that was useful for making little soldiers to kill pagans but a complete nightmare for humanity and life on earth? Also, less of the child diddling please Mr. Pope, thanks.


Actually, Dan, I think you already prescribe the Platinum rule in your column: ask someone what they want and then (within reason of your limits / what you want / the common good) do it. Time to entirely scrap the inferior golden rule which is patronizing / narcissistic.


@2 I would like to be treated like a capricious god, worshiped and feared. So, hop to it.


@delta35: Absolutely, especially in the context of this column. There are many things that I do NOT want people to do unto me even though they want me to do unto them.


"As a Catholic guy, I think having sex of any sort is immoral unless there is a reasonable chance of procreating (and hopefully the people are married.) "

Imagine trying to live your life this way. Think about the choices it gives you.

a) Almost never have sex - only during the very brief time in life when you are actively trying to procreate.
b) Have sex with the possibility of having kids regardless of whether or not you are interested in parenting (or parenting again or again or again).
c) Have sex but feel that you are doing something immoral most of the time.

Or does he just mean that sex should come with the risk of pregnancy regardless of whether or not you want to have kids? Like the kids are a punishment? Or does it mean that you should always be happy to have more children?

And how does this work for people who are not fertile, people for whom pregnancy could be dangerous, people who are post-menopausal? I guess those people have to choose between celibacy or immorality?

If you want to live this way and also have a partner who likewise wants to live this way, then fine, there should be no law against it, YOU DO YOU, and sure, live and let live is a pretty good attitude, the Golden Rule as well. There's no end in sight when we start talking about how batshit crazy loads of things are in people's sexuality- cartoon furry fetishes, dog fuckers, people who want to put gummy worms up their vaginas, etc. But I'm pretty sure "I only get off when there is a real possibility of pregnancy and otherwise think I'm doing something immoral" is also a niche kink, just one that has been legitimatized by a powerful institution.


EmmaLiz, I love you!


Aw shucks, thanks No Cute Name, you shouldn't say such things when I've been drinking alone as it makes me want to form a coven. And that never works out long term.


You wouldn't apply the platinum/original golden rule to your children, would you? For that matter, you wouldn't apply it to loved ones, if you felt their desires were detrimental to their well-being. So what makes it a good ethical framework to apply to the whole world? Desire is the wrong foundation for an ethos, unless you're an absolutist of hedonism.


12 you aren’t my parent or gaurdian, so your morality has no place pointed at me. Your child (unfortunately, in too many cases) on the other hand is 100% your responsibility. No comparison. And frankly, that’s exactly the problem with the golden rule. Treating me as you wish to be treated is actually pretty messed up if you think about it. It’s pretty much the argument christians (and other regressives) use to deny marriage equality. After all, I can marry an opposite sex partner JUST LIKE EVERYBODY ELSE...

Basically you’re supposed to love UNCONDITIONALLY, but most people don’t really seem to get that.


The think-of-them-as-pixels suggestion is spot on. But instead of poking the molds through something, they can simply be mounted perpendicular to the backing (wood, metal, etc), which would allow the full dildo in all its glory to be seen, while "just the tips" can be painted to provide the shading for the Trump portrait.
Of course nothing would stop the artist from using the molds to produce actual dildos (in the material of the artists' choice... although compressed Cheetos would be awesome) in order to add more "pixels" to the portrait.
The result could be hung on a wall, offering far different views depending on one's viewing angle, with the portrait coming into view as one achieves distance from the Dildo himself.


Well done, EmmaLiz! I'd join your coven.

I'm not sure how a "rule" could proscribe other people's behaviour. How would you possibly observe a rule like that? You can only control your own actions, and sometimes that's hard enough.

As for Catholic Guy, I can only hope he's having lots of sex and getting an extra thrill out of it because of how "immoral" it is.

And the golden rule should not be taken literally in the context of sex. That would require us all to be switches. It's not "I would have my Dom spank me, so I'll spank them," it's "I would have my Dom indulge my desires in bed, so I will make an effort to indule theirs." Within reason of course. This includes not pressuring a partner to do things they actively dislike, as you wouldn't want them to make you do those things -- unless of course the turn-on for you is being made to do things you don't like -- oh, perhaps y'all are right and the rule falls down when you bring kink into the mix! Hope everyone is having a good weekend.


Graffik @13: Anyone who is interpreting the golden rule as "I can marry an opposite sex partner so you can too" is wilfully misinterpreting it. Obviously the do-unto-others is, if I can marry the person I love, then so can you. It really just means "show people the same respect you want them to show you." Not sure why that's controversial.


@ 9 EmmaLiz

A Catholic friend told me once that it’s ok for infertile people to have sex — as long as they’re open to the possibility of a pregnancy. Remember what God did for Mary! Otherwise, if you’re not willing to risk pregnancy then you shouldn’t have sex, because God only created sex for one purpose.

I found the argument baffling, but whatever.


@ 12 You can absolutely apply the platinum rule to children. You just have to consider things from a couple different angles: How does the kid feel now? How will they likely feel as adults? How would they feel if they fully understood the consequences?

I generally followed Alfie Kohn’s advice to say yes, unless there is good reason to say no. So far it seems to have worked out reasonably well. My middle-schooler is happy and healthy, with no major behavior problems (just occasional mischief). Recently, this “tomboy” came out as a trans boy. Now I’m especially glad he has grown up with relative freedom, and we haven’t had the kind of conflicts that many parents have with their trans offspring. Kids know their insides better than we do, so it’s good to trust their instincts (within reason of course).


RE: the final email: “As a Catholic guy, I think having sex of any sort is immoral unless there is a reasonable chance of procreating (and hopefully the people are married.) However, that notwithstanding, I very much appreciate your consistently decent, moral advice. Keep up the good work, and see you in Heaven.”

Hmm. Does the “Catholic guy” believe that individuals should not be having sex if they are infertile, including those who are post-menopausal? How about those who are in same-sex sexual relationships/marriages? He writes that believes that sex between partners is immoral if there's no chance of conception and/or the couple is not married. Yet, the writer believes that Dan's advice is decent and moral even though the advice more than just occasionally includes recommendations that conflict with this moral code?

Just sayin'


Catholic bull. Has this idiot seen how good these Catholic boys behave in their trump hats, pretending to be pro life. What hypocrites.
Why is this church still going after all the abuse.


I'm trying to figure out why God made orgasms feel so good, consensual sex with someone who is really into sex feel so good, and yet that is a sin.


Nobody would have babies, surfrat,@21, if God had not thrown the pleasure in there. Silly.
Also, in order to get to Heaven, one must prove to God we can resist temptation. And if it doesn’t feel good, there is no temptation to resist.


@20 exactly why the Golden Rule sucks, patronizing feel good shit. Those "Catholic boys" with their MAGA hats exude toxic masculinity and think nothing of mocking a Native American elder. Sooo many Xians and others do bad because of the Golden Rule.


Dicks and dildos are lovely...why attach a negative connotation to them by using them to create Trump's likeness??? I feel like someone would be better off doing a painting or sculpture of him from tiny preserved mushrooms...and auctioning it off, with the proceeds going towards a charity representing one of the many groups Trump has screwed over. (You could pretty much close your eyes and pick one.)


Delta @23: So how was the MAGA teenager demonstrating the golden rule by mocking the Native American? Surely the golden rule would be "you don't want to be mocked publicly, so don't mock others"?


@25 BiDanFan
I think yours is the correct framing. I think the Golden (even better, the Platinum!) Rule is sound.

Maybe delta35@23 is actually addressing some kind of MIS-framing of the Golden Rule. A rightwingnut fundamentalist might irrationalize it somehow, perhaps "I believe I live in a hostile dog-eat-dog world, so others are justified in attacking me, and I'm 'justified' in attacking everyone" (or, 'fuck with others as they will fuck with you'). Oh I know, these constructions do not map to the syntax of the Golden Rule, but then irrationality defines these people.


@2@3 delta35
I'd never heard of the Platinum Rule, but I like it.

I knew an irrational and dysfunctional person who (for a variety of reasons) wanted to be treated uniquely coldly and unsympathetically. They thought that this made it right for them to treat others the exact same way. If a bus had run over this person they would (and they would invite others to please) pretend that nothing had happened to them. They could not see that running up to others who had been run over by buses and pretending that nothing had happened to them was mean.


@20, 23: Surely the Golden Rule would be "you wouldn't want to be judged based on a cherry picked, out of context still photo, so don't judge others on that"? I don't know anything about this incident other than what I saw in an Atlantic article about it (Google "Atlantic" "I failed the Covington Catholic test"). Without knowing context I agree that that looks like a smirk, but with more context it looks like an awkward smile. If a complete stranger walked into my personal space and started beating a drum a couple of feet from my face without explanation or asking for consent, I doubt that I'd handle it as well as that kid did.

As for the Golden Rule, it's a lot easier to understand than the other one, and it works reasonably well with people who are relatively similar to each other, so it makes sense, to me, to teach it to young children first.

@27: I'm in a similar situation to the person you knew, and I disagree that that person is irrational. I read body language poorly, so my main method of guessing what other people want is to try to put myself in their shoes and reason things out. If I'd been run over by a bus I'd want strangers to not be invasive by commenting on it, and so that's how I'd treat others. What else do I have to go on?

There are workarounds (e.g. learning rules like "most people who have recently been sick or injured would like it if you expressed the sympathy you are feeling for them rather than that you hide it"), but overall it's not an easy problem, and I've been working on it and slowly getting better at it all my life. In particular, it's difficult to do something-that-you-dislike-others-doing-to-you to another because of an intellectual understanding that most people like being treated that way. That's actually a pretty dangerous road to go down, because what if your intellectual understanding is wrong? You, curious2, would probably figure that from the person's body language, but I can't assume that I would.


@28 Old Crow
"As for the Golden Rule, it's a lot easier to understand than the other one, and it works reasonably well with people who are relatively similar to each other, so it makes sense, to me, to teach it to young children first."

Good point. The Golden Rule is a perfectly fine aphorism. The Platinum rule is just an advanced implementation.

"@27: I'm in a similar situation to the person you knew, and I disagree that that person is irrational. I read body language poorly, so my main method of guessing what other people want is to try to put myself in their shoes and reason things out."

Wait, while you're in a similar SITUATION to that person (a close, now deceased family member), I'm not certain you can know that they weren't irrational. They were defined by being irrational in all things. But you could be that they weren't aware of ANYTHING, and that probably included body language!

"If I'd been run over by a bus I'd want strangers to not be invasive by commenting on it, and so that's how I'd treat others. What else do I have to go on?"

And this is fascinating; I pay more attention to body language that anyone I know; I can't imagine how hard it would be to read it poorly.

I have infinite sympathy for people in your situation.

A good friend had to train himself to display social cues; I was astounded to discover this since he does so so well. But he actually likes online forums better since they match his natural repertoire.


I've done the training myself for social cues too. Probably not as well as your friend - it's still a work in progress.

You're correct, your late relative might have been irrational too, and you have a far larger data set about their behaviour than I. But, while I'm certainly projecting, there's nothing in that particular anecdote that indicates irrationality to me. "They extrapolated what other people would like from what they would like, and tried to act with consideration based on that, and then didn't perceive that their extrapolation wasn't correct, so didn't alter their behaviour" seems to me the parsimonious explanation.

I don't like it when my hypothesis of the thought process behind another person's actions requires "they're irrational" to work. Such a hypothesis is not falsifiable, and, since any behaviour is consistent with it, it cannot make predictions, which makes it useless, though not necessarily incorrect. But I often find that improved hypotheses will work.

After I realized that I was poor at reading body language, I soon figured out some consequences. One was that people who haven't thought about it, which is most people, assume that everyone else is as good at reading body language as they are. Therefore, my model of other people's minds needed to be adjusted: (1) I have to consider the likelihood that they know much more of me from reading my body language than I do of them, (2) they are incorrectly assuming that I am reading as much of their body language as they are of mine.

I think of other people as having a form of x-ray vision, and you might find it helpful to think of people like myself, and, I think likely, your late relative, as partially blind. Otherwise, I find most people find it hard to conceive how much I am oblivious to.


There are wearing racist hats. They are school children at a Catholic school. The Catholics by inference are saying we are fine with sexism, racism, homophobia, transphobia, bigotry, mocking of Native Americans, locking children up.etc.
For the Catholics to so identify in public with such a man as trump; that is the main take away from this.
That is a smirk by a smartarse kid, there is no fear on that boy’s face.


@30 Old Crow
"you have a far larger data set about their behaviour than I"

Unfortunately I do. They were the most mystifying ocean of issues imaginable. Maybe "irrational" wasn't the best word. They had no ability to use logic; they arrived at conclusions by no means anyone including themselves could determine. (Because in such a case one would perhaps expect that someone followed their gut, but this person /also/ had no access to their own feelings.)

"you might find it helpful"

I think I do, and I thank you. People 'on the spectrum' (is that an good way to term it?) are relatively easy for me to understand; my relative was infinitely less so, such that I think the much vaster shadow /all/ their other issues cast quite easily may have hidden spectrum-ish issues from everyone's notice (no one more so than them, they were firmly convinced they had absolutely zero issues of absolutely any kind; which made sense since they didn't 'think' in any discernible way and they had zero awareness and body/self-awareness of any kind).