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Savagery
March 7, 2011 5:55 PM   Subscribe

Rules of Misbehavior: On Dan Savage, America's leading ethicist. (Via longform.org)
posted by box (144 comments total) 40 users marked this as a favorite

 
It’s not every day that a sitting president takes cues from a sex columnist who once licked Gary Bauer’s doorknob.

I loved that Bauer campaign story. I still think about licking doorknobs when I blame the rest of the world for being sick.
posted by Cold Lurkey at 6:08 PM on March 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


I read Skipping Towards Gomorrah when I was a college freshman, and way deep in the closet. It was one of the few books in the GLBT office's library in rural Ohio, along with books by Paul Monette and Larry Kramer. I came out over Thanksgiving break the next year, in no small part because of the words of these men. I hadn't realized that it was just common sense that it was not only okay to be queer, but normal.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 6:20 PM on March 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Lutheran Pastor feels prudish about Dan Savage. News at 11.
posted by ovvl at 6:20 PM on March 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


This is a great post! I really
live reading Dan Savage's colums.
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 6:24 PM on March 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


*love
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 6:24 PM on March 7, 2011


Did Bauer actually get ill from those doorknobs? For some reason I'm terribly curious.
posted by nat at 6:25 PM on March 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


Lutheran Pastor feels prudish about Dan Savage. News at 11.

Wow, talk about missing the point.
posted by nasreddin at 6:26 PM on March 7, 2011 [31 favorites]


It's quite a good overview of Dan's main principles, actually. If I weren't already a regular reader of his, this article would make me go seek the column out.
posted by you're a kitty! at 6:27 PM on March 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Bad illustrator, you left out Dan's massive biceps

seriously it's like the guy has been curling small children. It's distracting.
posted by The Whelk at 6:28 PM on March 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


I can say that cause I sat in that illustrator's bedroom today
posted by The Whelk at 6:29 PM on March 7, 2011 [5 favorites]


So that is it? He will go on and on in a Dan Savage bio just to harp on monogamy at the end?

Pastors gonna pastor.
posted by munchingzombie at 6:32 PM on March 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


What genuinely fascinates me as a non-American is how thoroughly the Savage principles—an expectation of fundamental dignity, recognition of everyone's self-worth, honesty and transparency in communication, and an entitlement to having one's basic needs met—seem to have become normalised in the fields of sex and relationships, but they don't seem to be as accepted as broadly through your society.

Is there an American ethicist as popular as Savage in the field of, say, industrial relations and the workplace?
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 6:34 PM on March 7, 2011 [21 favorites]


Classical liberalism, however, may prove just as inadequate in the bedroom as it has in the global economy, and for many of the same reasons. It takes into account only a narrow range of our motivations, overstates our rationality and our foresight, downplays the costs of transactions, and ignores the asymmetries of information that complicate any exchange of love or money. For society as a whole, it entails a utopian faith in the capacity of millions of appetites to work themselves out into an optimal economy of sex—a trading floor where the cultural institutions of domesticity once stood.

LOL kids these days...
posted by Max Power at 6:37 PM on March 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


What genuinely fascinates me as a non-American is how thoroughly the Savage principles—an expectation of fundamental dignity, recognition of everyone's self-worth, honesty and transparency in communication, and an entitlement to having one's basic needs met—seem to have become normalised in the fields of sex and relationships,

I'm really not so sure that's true.
posted by rtha at 6:37 PM on March 7, 2011 [8 favorites]


Wow, talk about missing the point.

And mangling the cliche as well: for fuck's sake, it is film at eleven.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 6:39 PM on March 7, 2011 [14 favorites]


So that is it? He will go on and on in a Dan Savage bio just to harp on monogamy at the end?

Pastors gonna pastor.


He questions one aspect of Savage's moral framework in an overall admiring piece, and presents a thoughtful and non-hysterical semi-contrary view. I wouldn't really call it harping, or pastoring.
posted by eugenen at 6:40 PM on March 7, 2011 [9 favorites]


It’s not so surprising, then, that a sex columnist of Savage’s scope and talent would hold the commanding heights of a culture that grants erotic satisfaction such a central role in its view of the good life.

I don't know. The role of erotic satisfaction may be central in parts of the culture, but just as prominent is the role of erotic dissatisfaction -- e.g., the abstinence craze, the morality-mongers of the churches, the shame-ridden politicians who get caught with their pants around their ankles and have to go through public penitence rituals, etc. That's a dichotomy that Savage knows how to exploit and has made a cottage industry out of mining, and bully for him. I don't think that the US is a utopia of "the good that flows from sexuality expressed in happy and forthright ways," and you don't have to look far to find proof.
posted by blucevalo at 6:40 PM on March 7, 2011 [7 favorites]


Pastor Dueholm has written a commentary analyzing Mr. Savage's underlying ethical principles, but Mr. Savage hasn't attributed his advice to those particular principles, much less claimed to be an ethicist.
posted by gingerest at 6:41 PM on March 7, 2011


recognition of everyone's self-worth

Except for bisexuals.

I love Dan Savage, but try as I might, I just can't get past that.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 6:41 PM on March 7, 2011 [26 favorites]


Yeah, in the end he complains about how savage focuses on libido...isn't he a sex advice columnist?
posted by dibblda at 6:43 PM on March 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


Savage is better for the world than he isn't, and I suspect he's truly a stand-up guy. His advice, from where I stand, has always seemed incredibly cold, which is why I like this column. Cold advice is terrific when it's a matter of an MF that needs to be D'd A, or a self-absorbed fool who expects Dan to be on his side, but . . . well, Dan advises people to believe in sex and autonomy, not love and relationships. Sometimes that's what people need to hear. Sometimes it isn't.
posted by Countess Elena at 6:45 PM on March 7, 2011 [25 favorites]


Dan Savage is a nice guy, great at what he does, and an excellent contributor to This American Life. In an paradoxical way, Dan Savage made me realize that my libido was actually lower than I thought, partly because putting my relatively vanilla tastes in perspective helped me realize I wasn't a total pervert, and partly because after listening to dozens of episodes of the Savage Love Cast, I got really bored of other people's sex lives.

That said, you should go listen to this interview with MeFi's own Jesse Thorn.
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 6:47 PM on March 7, 2011


Just fyi, Dan Savage has said they'll restart the Spreading Santorum campaign because Rick "The Frothy Mixture" Santorum has expressed an interest in running for president.
posted by jeffburdges at 6:47 PM on March 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Dan advises people to believe in sex and autonomy, not love and relationships. Sometimes that's what people need to hear. Sometimes it isn't.

This is very nicely and concisely put, Countess Elena. I think you got to the core of the author's concerns in three short sentences.
posted by mr_roboto at 6:56 PM on March 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


You explain the point, and I'll mangle the cliche, just like the newscasters do.
posted by ovvl at 6:57 PM on March 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


MeFi is so disappointing sometimes. If you people could just keep your knees from jerking, some discussions on this site could go so much better.

The author's objections aren't to sexuality or sin or libido or anything else. He's pointing out that the kinds of ethical expectations Savage consistently creates for his readers are precisely the same kinds of expectations that obtain in an idealized classical liberal (i.e. libertarian) picture of the world of economic transactions. These expectations can be harmful, because they inevitably ignore real-world messiness and ambiguity--which would be okay, except for the fact that we often model our ideas and behavior on those expectations. The response, which is common both to Savage and to libertarians, is often to bulldoze over the gray areas and paint clear, bright lines which often have little to do with how human beings actually interact with one another. In the case of subjects as sensitive as love and sex, the author argues, this approach can cause real and unnecessary pain.
posted by nasreddin at 6:57 PM on March 7, 2011 [45 favorites]


If you people could just keep your knees from jerking, some discussions on this site could go so much better.

"You people?"
posted by The World Famous at 6:59 PM on March 7, 2011 [13 favorites]


Classical liberalism, however, may prove just as inadequate in the bedroom as it has in the global economy.

STOP WITH THE SEXUAL ECONOMICS ALREADY.

posted by you're a kitty! at 7:00 PM on March 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


Yes, I clearly meant Jews.
posted by nasreddin at 7:00 PM on March 7, 2011 [7 favorites]


If all men are pack animals, then Dan Savage is the (current) leader of my pack.
posted by Danf at 7:04 PM on March 7, 2011


Except for bisexuals.

I don't know. This has to be the fourth or fifth time in the last few months I've heard that Dan Savage is biphobic and have had to turn around and re-google the reason why. And I'm bisexual. Nothing Dan Savage has ever said about us really bothers me.
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 7:04 PM on March 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


I like Savage, and his advice is often common-sensical and practical and liberal all at the same time, but I also think he's highly overrated. For me, his reaction to Lindy West's criticism of him (previously on MeFi, and the reply itself) kind of crystalized it all: there's a bluster and a categoricalness about Savage, and it can blind him in his opinions and lessen the value of his advice. He's more interested in being all snazzy sometimes than he is in anything or anyone else.
posted by anothermug at 7:04 PM on March 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


Yes, I clearly meant Jews.

Declawed jews?
posted by stet at 7:06 PM on March 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


A careful and thoughtful article about a great American. I don't really agree with his conclusion. Savage is well aware of the profound virtues of stability, partnership, and marriage, and talks about them all the time. He is perhaps more pessimistic than some about the chances of couples to maintain these virtues under difficult conditions; when, for example, one partner wishes to dress as the San Diego Chicken during moments of intimacy, and the other prefers it to be otherwise.

Also unmentioned in the linked article: Dan Savage can write. This is a massively underrated factor in his success.
posted by escabeche at 7:09 PM on March 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


And mangling the cliche as well: for fuck's sake, it is film at eleven.

I grew up in the Central Time Zone, and our news (and film of said news) was at TEN, not eleven. So the Eastern Time Zone people get to own the time of the news, but noooo, not us Central Time Zone people, nobody even knew we EXISTED!
posted by zardoz at 7:10 PM on March 7, 2011 [6 favorites]


ovvl: You explain the point, and I'll mangle the cliche, just like the newscasters do.”

The point, ovvl, is that this is Dan Savage's problematic point. In this very good, very thoughtful essay, it's drawn out well. Savage is an intelligent man, but he does treat sexual satisfaction as the goal and aim of human life. I don't think that can be debated. You can agree with him on this, but I don't think you can debate that he espouses this position.

And it's a position that a lot of us who aren't Lutheran pastors have a problem with, when it comes down. For my part, while I love Dan's columns and enjoy them every week, I can't get past this sense that very few of the people I know have the capacity for healthy open relationships. They are not easy. And his constant sense that it's better to torpedo a relationship trying rather than stay in it because it offers, say, companionship or friendship - I don't think I can agree with him there.
posted by koeselitz at 7:11 PM on March 7, 2011 [6 favorites]


Did anyone else think it was weird that the Dueholm described Savage as "openly gay"? That's a phrase that usually seems to indicate discomfort with gay people, in my experience.
posted by overglow at 7:12 PM on March 7, 2011


I see the pastor makes the point that married, monogamous people get the joy of sharing their lives together, including the little things like paying the bills and the big things like raising children. However, couldn't the same couple get the same things from an open marriage, meaning that they still live with each other, love each other, take on life's problems together, etc, but also have sex with other people when they want to?
posted by mccarty.tim at 7:12 PM on March 7, 2011 [5 favorites]


Did anyone else think it was weird that the Dueholm described Savage as "openly gay"? That's a phrase that usually seems to indicate discomfort with gay people, in my experience.

What. It's straightforwardly descriptive. AP standard, etc.
posted by eugenen at 7:15 PM on March 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


Savage is an intelligent man, but he does treat sexual satisfaction as the goal and aim of human life. I don't think that can be debated.

I've read a lot of the guy's columns and listened to a lot of his podcasts and I don't think that's his position, though I can see how his position could be mistaken for that one.
posted by escabeche at 7:16 PM on March 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


couldn't the same couple get the same things from an open marriage

Sure, and as far as I know that's the deal with Dan and his partner. Dan advises people to broach the topic of sleeping with other people, and then walk away with a clear conscience if your partner doesn't agree. And most people won't agree, so, most people have to make choices in terms of what they prioritize.
posted by moxiedoll at 7:18 PM on March 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


koeselitz: on the other hand, anyone who is writing to an advice columnist about their sex-related relationship issue-- well, to get to that point, the issue must be large enough that it likely *does* outweigh the companionship/friendship/etc benefits.
posted by nat at 7:19 PM on March 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's not very often that I like an article a lot and then totally turn on it in the last few paragraphs, but god damnit fuck this guy. Savage is in many ways a laze-fair kinda dude, and there are some disturbing factors to that. It's a topic that needs to be addressed, because yes, he happens to be an important ethicist not matter if he wants to be or not. But I get the feeling that the authors discomfort with non-monogamy is part of his drive to make this point, enough so that it was his big stinger at the end. So yea, I'm going to leave in a huff now :(
posted by The Devil Tesla at 7:19 PM on March 7, 2011


Savage is an intelligent man, but he does treat sexual satisfaction as the goal and aim of human life. I don't think that can be debated.

Well, there's also food. But...
posted by xmutex at 7:21 PM on March 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


"And it's the force of habit/If it moves, then you fuck it/ If it doesn't move, you stab it"
posted by eegphalanges at 7:22 PM on March 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


he does treat sexual satisfaction as the goal and aim of human life.

Yeah, I don't really get this from his writing either. He treats sexuality as something that can't be effectively ignored or swept under the rug, not as something that must be pursued above all else because of its paramount importance. His point isn't that the guy with a high libido whose girlfriend won't find a way to accomodate it should break up with her because of all the great sex he could be having elsewhere. It's because Savage believes that one way or another the relationship will be doomed from the outset.
posted by contraption at 7:24 PM on March 7, 2011 [6 favorites]


The author's objections aren't to sexuality or sin or libido or anything else.

I disagree -- his primary objection is to the relative importance Dan puts on sexuality. The "economics" stuff is just there to lend support to his critique.

Savage tends to insist that sexual inclinations—from high libido and a desire for multiple partners to very rare kinks and fetishes—are immutable and even dominant characteristics of any personality. [...] The debates that continue over pornography and open relationships are driven less by positive or negative attitudes toward sexual satisfaction per se than by differing views of how sexual satisfaction relates to everything else in life. And this is where Savage’s ethics make their most problematic claims—by separating and elevating sexual satisfaction above other things people value. [...] If there is something to treasure in the old, traumatized ideal of lifelong monogamy, it’s not that it demeans sexual fulfillment. Rather, it’s that monogamy integrates sexual fulfillment with the other good things in life—having someone to pay bills and raise children with, having a refuge both emotional and physical from the rest of the world. It is an ideal that is powerful even when it is not fully realized (as it rarely, if ever, is), not a contract voided by nonperformance. [emphasis mine]

The obvious problem with this logic is that an approach which paints these kinds of "clear, bright lines" around monogamy and domesticity can also "cause real and unnecessary pain", especially to those for whom sex is an immutable and even dominant characteristic. In fact, I see very little hope for any single ethical system to avoid real and unnecessary pain with respect to sex and love; these are tender subjects which are and always have been fraught with vulnerability. Pretending as if this weakness is unique to Dan Savage (or to economic libertarians by analogy, for that matter) would seem to be begging the question.
posted by vorfeed at 7:25 PM on March 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


I like Savage's work, generally speaking. I thought this was a good - and quite sympathetic - piece. The author is several lightyears away from the intellectual and cultural position of the Lutheran pastors I have known well, and it is much to his credit.

In fact, I see very little hope for any single ethical system to avoid real and unnecessary pain with respect to sex and love; these are tender subjects which are and always have been fraught with vulnerability.

This is a very, very good point - but I don't think it's at all at odds with the approach taken by the article, which certainly didn't read to me as a Ringing Defense of the Old Order as Under Assault by Dan Savage, or anything of that sort.
posted by brennen at 7:28 PM on March 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


So Amanda Marcotte has a pretty good post up about this article. Key points:

Dueholm's statement that
Underlying all of Savage’s principles, abbreviations, and maxims is a pragmatism that strives for stable, livable, and reasonably happy relationships in a world where the old constraints that were meant to facilitate these ends are gone"
is gibberish, because the point isn't that "the old constraints that were meant to facilitate" the ends of stable, livable, and reasonably happy relationships are gone, it's that they were never meant to facilitate the ends of stable, livable, and reasonably happy relationships in the first place. Instead, "the old constraints" were meant to create and maintain a radical power imbalance, wherein the happiness, reasonable or otherwise, of well over half the population was simply irrelevant.

And likewise, his statement that
If Savage’s ethical guidelines—disclosure, autonomy, mutual exchange, and minimum standards of performance—seem familiar or intuitive, it’s probably because they also govern expectations in the markets for goods and services. No false advertising, no lemons, nothing omitted from the fine print: in the deregulated marketplace of modern intimacy, Dan Savage has become a kind of Better Business Bureau, laying out the rules by which individuals, as rationally optimizing firms, negotiate their wildly diverse transactions.
is straight up nonsense-speak: first, the analogy between the marketplace and sexual behavior in Savage's scheme is incorrect on a basic level, since the concepts of honesty and openness that Savage espouses doesn't bear any actual relation to market behavior, not even the idealized version of market behavior that Dueholm describes, but second, Dueholm's description of what he calls "unregulated market behavior" itself is simply wrong: rules against "false advertising," "lemons," and so forth are hallmarks of a regulated marketplace, not, in his words, an unregulated one.

Often I disagree, fairly vehemently, with Amanda Marcotte, but she's dead-on right on this one. Dueholm is:
  1. A dishonest writer, and also
  2. a cock
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 7:31 PM on March 7, 2011 [11 favorites]


It's straightforwardly descriptive. AP standard, etc.

*Googles* Hmm, you're right. Sorry, it was all in my head.
posted by overglow at 7:33 PM on March 7, 2011


What genuinely fascinates me as a non-American is how thoroughly the Savage principles—an expectation of fundamental dignity, recognition of everyone's self-worth, honesty and transparency in communication, and an entitlement to having one's basic needs met—seem to have become normalised in the fields of sex and relationships, but they don't seem to be as accepted as broadly through your society.

Is there an American ethicist as popular as Savage in the field of, say, industrial relations and the workplace?


Industrial relations and the workplace are not part of society and not likely to make decisions based on advice from an ethicist. CEOs do whatever they believe will maximize their company's profit, or they get fired. Period. Savage has the luxury of speaking to people, presumably with consciences.

Also, some people seem to be taking the author's opinion of Dan Savage as truth, and I'm not sure it is. I'm a regular reader, and I've never felt like he takes a just-follow-these-rules-and-everything's-fine approach. He does in some cases, but he seems sensitive to the peculiarities of each situation and he definitely understands that people are people and don't always behave rationally. I actually think he does a pretty good job of being realistic in the column. Really, you should read it if you haven't.
posted by Xezlec at 7:35 PM on March 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


So the Eastern Time Zone people get to own the time of the news, but noooo, not us Central Time Zone people, nobody even knew we EXISTED!

Mountain Time Zone, also news at ten. Same thing.

The coastal elites don't call it "flyover country" for no reason.
posted by hippybear at 7:36 PM on March 7, 2011


Industrial relations and the workplace are not part of society

Um.
posted by brennen at 7:37 PM on March 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


Except for bisexuals.

Hmm. Has he changed on this some or am I just missing something? In any recent podcast where bisexuals have called in I thought he was respectful and reasonable.
posted by wildcrdj at 7:37 PM on March 7, 2011


is straight up nonsense-speak: first, the analogy between the marketplace and sexual behavior in Savage's scheme is incorrect on a basic level, since the concepts of honesty and openness that Savage espouses doesn't bear any actual relation to market behavior, not even the idealized version of market behavior that Dueholm describes, but second, Dueholm's description of what he calls "unregulated market behavior" itself is simply wrong: rules against "false advertising," "lemons," and so forth are hallmarks of a regulated marketplace, not, in his words, an unregulated one.

I think this is a bit of a semantics issue. What Dueholm is attempting to describe is an ideal classically liberal market, and I think this analogy to Savages ethics is apt. The use of the word "unregulated" is unfortunate, and I don't think it captures his meaning. He would have better used "ideal" or "efficient".
posted by mr_roboto at 7:37 PM on March 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


I don't know. This has to be the fourth or fifth time in the last few months I've heard that Dan Savage is biphobic and have had to turn around and re-google the reason why. And I'm bisexual. Nothing Dan Savage has ever said about us really bothers me.

Really? I mean, okay, most of these reactions originate from this (last column), which is ancient. Still, if you google Dan Savage + bisexuals, it's pretty easy to find him babbling about how most bisexuals only use that label as a way station or a phase on a path to a more permanent sexual identity and, I don't know, it just seems like the same sort of biphobic bullshit that's everywhere, but he's vocal and self-righteous about it and it frustrates me.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:37 PM on March 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


Or, at least as respectful as he is to anyone else (snarky and sarcastic, sure).
posted by wildcrdj at 7:38 PM on March 7, 2011


Industrial relations and the workplace are not part of society

Right. And, also, there is no such thing as society. There are individual men and women, and there are families.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 7:40 PM on March 7, 2011


Industrial relations and the workplace are not part of society

Um.


I'm serious. Think about it. What is a society? It's a group of people interacting with each other in some way we might call socialization. I think it can be argued that socialization is not a process that strongly affects companies. The relationships between consumers and producers is not social, in my view.
posted by Xezlec at 7:40 PM on March 7, 2011


I've seen Dan Savage tell people to work through their relationships issues plenty, Countess Elena. It's simply that such people are less likely to ask for relationship advice, especially from Dan Savage. Also, if ask.mefi is indicative, their letters are subtle, long, and uninteresting.. and therefore printed.

As vorfeed says, our ministers critique about Dan's libertarian idealism applies tenfold to the idealism of monogamous relationships that has been beaten into us by Christianity for the purpose of spawning the maximum number of good little Roman soldiers.
posted by jeffburdges at 7:41 PM on March 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh God, my grammar is going Bush! That should be *are* not social.
posted by Xezlec at 7:41 PM on March 7, 2011


I think it can be argued that socialization is not a process that strongly affects companies.

By someone who's never seen a company, or a society, maybe.
posted by enn at 7:42 PM on March 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


And even where resistance to these changing mores remains fierce, the goal of a happy sex life has come up in the world. For all the talk one finds in Savage’s columns and comment threads about Puritanism, repression, and sex-negativity, we live in a culture that is almost uniformly and explicitly devoted to sexual satisfaction as a very high, if not necessarily the highest, good.

THIS is what bugs me. I'm a late bloomer when it comes to sex and, though I'm part of Savage's generation, I don't like to see sex this way at all. It's a biological need. It should be subordinate to our emotional, mental, and social needs. It feels like I'm a fast food eater in a nation of foodies.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 7:43 PM on March 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Industrial relations and the workplace are not part of society and not likely to make decisions based on advice from an ethicist.

Um... in Australia, our last government lost an election because they didn't respect industrial relations and workplace rights enough. So it is part of society.

And I don't understand why Savage thinks it's so hard to repress or sublimate your sex drive. He needs to meet more lonely nerds.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 7:45 PM on March 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think this is a bit of a semantics issue. What Dueholm is attempting to describe is an ideal classically liberal market, and I think this analogy to Savages ethics is apt. The use of the word "unregulated" is unfortunate, and I don't think it captures his meaning. He would have better used "ideal" or "efficient".

Right, but he didn't, because the specific phrase "unregulated marketplaces" inspires a certain level of distrust that the words "ideal" and "efficient" don't, and Dueholm wants his readers to extend that distrust to Savage's sexual ethics.

Also, though, I know what he was trying to say under the distortion of his language, but even if you give him the benefit of the doubt there, Savage's ideas of sexual openness and honesty are in fact not derived from the principles of the idealized classical liberal marketplace, and moreover the idealized classical liberal marketplace doesn't have a monopoly on the ideas of openness and honesty. He's saying that I mean, this is a fallacy so old-school that I suspect there's a name for it in Latin.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 7:47 PM on March 7, 2011


My girlfriend and I were just critiquing Dan's sexual libertarianism and buyer's market/comparison shopper mentality the other night, and arrived at very similar conclusions as this author.

You Can't Tip a Buick - I agree that Dan does not advocate a totally laissez-faire, anything goes, caveat emptor type of "market sexuality," but I think the analogy still holds up very well.
posted by ducky l'orange at 7:50 PM on March 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


I also think you can be suspicious of free-market utopianism and still think Dan's awesome. I get the feeling the author does, too.
posted by ducky l'orange at 7:53 PM on March 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


It's a biological need. It should be subordinate to our emotional, mental, and social needs.

I take it you have never tried to carry out a difficult emotional, mental, or social task while you were really hungry.
posted by escabeche at 7:53 PM on March 7, 2011 [9 favorites]



Also, though, I know what he was trying to say under the distortion of his language, but even if you give him the benefit of the doubt there, Savage's ideas of sexual openness and honesty are in fact not derived from the principles of the idealized classical liberal marketplace, and moreover the idealized classical liberal marketplace doesn't have a monopoly on the ideas of openness and honesty.


They end up at the same place though. When I go out to the bar this Saturday night I'm supposed to be a rational consumer who knows what I want and how to get it. But I'm not. I'm a person, with a bunch of needs and drives and desires and, honestly, a 'whatever works' approach. Not everybody is as hyper-ratoinal and knowledgeable as capitalism makes us out to be.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 7:54 PM on March 7, 2011


By someone who's never seen a company, or a society, maybe.

I've seen both, thank you very much.

I don't see companies acting like people. No way a company will follow advice from an advice columnist. I cannot believe this is a contentious claim.

Um... in Australia, our last government lost an election because they didn't respect industrial relations and workplace rights enough. So it is part of society.

By that reasoning, animals and treaties are part of society. Or is it just a matter of terminology? Would "members of society" have worked better for you?
posted by Xezlec at 7:54 PM on March 7, 2011



I take it you have never tried to carry out a difficult emotional, mental, or social task while you were really hungry.


Yeah, it's hard. So I grab lunch somewhere cheap and close by. Once a month or on special occasions I'll spring for something good and I envy those people who can afford good food all the time but I don't put off eating until I can get my perfect plate of sushi.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 7:55 PM on March 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


also Fred you need more Hendricks gin cause I dank it all
posted by The Whelk at 8:00 PM on March 7, 2011


Let me refine that last statement:

"I also think you can be suspicious of Dan Savage's free-market utopianism and still think he's awesome."
posted by ducky l'orange at 8:00 PM on March 7, 2011


Dueholm's description of what he calls "unregulated market behavior" itself is simply wrong: rules against "false advertising," "lemons," and so forth are hallmarks of a regulated marketplace, not, in his words, an unregulated one.

As for this whole business -- Dueholm plainly says that Savage is analogous to institutions, like the Better Business Bureau, or for that matter federal regulators, which place a check on the purely self-interested free market. The analogy is that Savage's ideal is to cold sexual mercantilism as a humane capitalism, bound on all sides by social norms, is (or would be) to the unregulated free market. Whether you take this comparison to be flattering to Savage depends on how you feel about "humane capitalism." If you basically like the idea, it makes Savage sound pretty good. But I take Dueholm to be speaking from the left here, using the analogy to express a certain amount of skepticism about Savage's project.

In either case, I don't think it's a stupid analogy and I don't think it says what you say it says.
posted by escabeche at 8:01 PM on March 7, 2011 [9 favorites]


Weird that the pastor could write this otherwise perceptive article and then at the end so totally not understand Savage's response that he gets it all backwards.

Pastor blithely assumes that Aspiring Honest Nonmonogamous Dude's choice is between a potentially sexually difficult but otherwise good relationship vs starting over from scratch and that Savage doesn't recognise this. Quite to the contrary, Savage wasn't suggesting that AHND should seek satisfaction, he was saying that AHND does have a great thing going - and is almost certainly going to destroy that great thing unless he acts to avert his nature.

Pastor's reasoning suggests he thinks that the girl is going to stay with AHND if he becomes CPOS, and/or AHND can succeed in not becoming a CPOS.
Savage's suggestion is not that satisfaction is important, it's that it's powerful, and you disregard that power (as Pastor disregards it) at great risk to both yourself and others.

The point can be debated (whether AHND can beat the odds and change his nature), but Pastor is simply wrong in declaring that Savage is elevating satisfaction here, or that elevating satisfaction led him to that answer. It's a brutal answer based on observation of brutal reality.

Franky, I'd put money on Savage's brutal advice having a better chance of resulting in a better outcome in these cases than the Pastor's optimistic idealistic advice.
posted by -harlequin- at 8:02 PM on March 7, 2011


Bewildered, Bewildered,
You have no complaint
You are what your are and you ain't what you ain't
So listen up Buster, and listen up good
Stop wishing for bad luck and knocking on wood

(YTL; John Prine)
posted by Made of Star Stuff at 8:04 PM on March 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


Savage's ideas of sexual openness and honesty are in fact not derived from the principles of the idealized classical liberal marketplace

No? Savage pits individual liberty against traditional mores, which is precisely the classical liberal viewpoint. I think you're downplaying the connection quite a bit.

No wonder we have to look to a Marxist for a critique. Maybe Zizek had him in mind when he wrote this:
is there anything more dull, opportunistic, and sterile than to succumb to the superego injunction of incessantly inventing new artistic transgressions and provocations (the performance artist masturbating on stage, or masochistically cutting himself; the sculptor displaying decaying animal corpses or human excrement), or to the parallel injunction to engage in more and more “daring” forms of sexuality?... And what if, in our postmodern world of ordained transgression, in which the marital commitment is perceived as ridiculously out of date, those who cling to it are the true subversives? What if, today, straight marriage is “the most dark and daring of all transgressions”?
Dueholm doesn't quite reach this level of turning the tables, he agrees that Savage's vision is a utopia of natural, ethical, autonomous sexuality. But I think Zizek is correct that in reality, it's a highly regulated, sterile, boring vision and the constant superego demand for more transgression turns into a chore, and Savage would do well to not underestimate the dark and powerful allure of staying home on a Saturday night and falling asleep in front of the TV.
posted by AlsoMike at 8:05 PM on March 7, 2011 [8 favorites]


The Decendents knew it
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 8:11 PM on March 7, 2011


Too bad that Savage is an unapologetic transphobe, as well as contributing to bi erasure, and engaging in fat shaming, racism, and how a victim of domestic violence might be making it all up.

I'm with Monica Roberts: "I don’t care if Dan Savage is your gay super hero with a capitol G; if the man is being abelist, racist and transphobic, perhaps your definition of hero needs to be examined."
posted by ShawnStruck at 8:13 PM on March 7, 2011 [12 favorites]


I am quite impressed with a pastor coming up with this article, all things considered. I think it's a great one. I really do agree with Savage's ethics most of the time-- not everything, but most.

He's not so much a love columnist as he is a sex one, guys. If someone desperately, with all of their heart and soul, craves wearing that San Diego Chicken costume while making whoopee, and no matter what they do they can't stop themselves from wanting the chicken, and their spouse really doesn't wanna, then... yeah, I think it might be a good idea to explore nonmonogamy. It'll keep the relationship intact better/longer if the guy can just get his chicken fetish on elsewhere rather than ruining the relationship through secret cheating or breaking off the relationship that might be great otherwise ONLY for the damn sake of the chicken nookie that he can't get rid of the urge to do. And if someone still wants sex and the spouse refuses to put out AND insists on monogamy and a sexless marriage for life and the sex-wanting spouse has reasons to stay... hell, I agree that if you want to keep the relationship, maybe that's when you gotta cheat. Savage allows for nonmonogamy options in his answers, which pretty much no one else does. Yeah, nonmonogamy is hard, but giving it a shot might make a relationship last longer if you allow for it rather than insisting on MONOGAMY MIIIIIIIINE NOBODY ELSE MINE. Honesty is the best policy, usually, but it'll depend on situation with Savage, and maybe that's right.

He's a surprisingly sensible, practical guy, when you think about it. Sex is important. Especially when you are limiting yourself to only getting it from one person and that one person isn't quite doing it for you for whatever reason. If you can only get something from one person, that makes it damn important to factor into a relationship.
posted by jenfullmoon at 8:14 PM on March 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


harlequin-: "Pastor blithely assumes that Aspiring Honest Nonmonogamous Dude's choice is between a potentially sexually difficult but otherwise good relationship vs starting over from scratch and that Savage doesn't recognise this. Quite to the contrary, Savage wasn't suggesting that AHND should seek satisfaction, he was saying that AHND does have a great thing going - and is almost certainly going to destroy that great thing unless he acts to avert his nature."

That doesn't really make sense at all. "Almost certainly" is not the same thing as "certainly." When a patient has gangrene, a doctor doesn't usually say: "well, you'll probably lose the leg anyway, so we're going to cut it off right now even though there's a chance you might keep it." That's not rational unless there's some other, higher thing in play - for example, if the infection threatens other parts of the body or could be fatal. In this case, there must be some reason Dan asks the person to flatly sacrifice any chance of making the relationship work.

If there's something more than sexual satisfaction at stake, Dan's advice doesn't make sense, because he's telling AHND to throw all that away for sexual satisfaction. And saying "well, he's just accepting the inevitable" doesn't explain it either; I accept that death is inevitable, but that doesn't mean I'm going to kill myself.
posted by koeselitz at 8:14 PM on March 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


I also think it's interesting to note that, while Dan frequently prescribes what I guess we're calling "market solutions" for his reader's problems, he also seems to understand that people's real motivations are too murky to be explained by rational self-interest alone.

When asked about the success of his own LTR, I think I remember him saying something like "A successful relationship is a lie two people agree to tell each other," or maybe something much more artful and elegant than that. Whatever the exact statement was, he seemed be conceding that people often use narratives, not cost-benefit analysis, to help them sort through complex emotional problems. This version of Dan strikes me as much more modest and compassionate than the "market logic" Dan who tells everyone to dump their long-term partners if they're not horny enough, but both strains of advice have their place.

I really, really like Dan Savage; I just think it's useful to point out some of the biases and assumptions that color his advice, and I think this article helps to do just that.
posted by ducky l'orange at 8:17 PM on March 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


stet: "Yes, I clearly meant Jews.

Declawed jews?
"

Dehorned.
posted by Bonzai at 8:26 PM on March 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


ShawnStruck - Thank you for the links. I've been wondering what the basis for the bi-phobe/trans-phone claims were.

I think that Savage is none of those things. I've seen and heard him treat bi and trans issues with sensitivity and compassion, and as seriously as he treats any other issue. I don't have time to go looking right now, but I will try and drop back in later and post some cites.

However, he's clearly said and done some things that bi and trans people could find (and have found) offensive. Then again, he says plenty of things that lots of people could find offensive. In any case, he should have known better.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 8:27 PM on March 7, 2011


That doesn't really make sense at all. "Almost certainly" is not the same thing as "certainly." When a patient has gangrene, a doctor doesn't usually say: "well, you'll probably lose the leg anyway, so we're going to cut it off right now even though there's a chance you might keep it."

Actually, that's exactly what doctors say, and it's extremely rational.
"There is a 90% chance you'll lose the foot, and if we cut it off now, that's all you'll lose, 100%. But if let it be for a few years and see you make it, there's a 10% chance you'll keep the foot and a 90% chance you'll lose the foot AND the leg. We STRONGLY advise you to lose the foot IMMEDIATELY"

If he marries the girl, both people stand to lose a fuckton more further down the line than they risking right now.

Furthermore, you're suggesting that it's not known that the guy can't hold it together. But it's also not known whether the girl will leave if the guy takes Savages advice and be forthright with her.
posted by -harlequin- at 8:31 PM on March 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


If there's something more than sexual satisfaction at stake, Dan's advice doesn't make sense, because he's telling AHND to throw all that away for sexual satisfaction. And saying "well, he's just accepting the inevitable" doesn't explain it either; I accept that death is inevitable, but that doesn't mean I'm going to kill myself.

Except he doesn't tell AHND to throw all that away for sexual satisfaction, and he doesn't ask the person to flatly sacrifice any chance of making the relationship work. He says this:

"I would encourage you to err on the side of screwing up your current relationship with an honest conversation about your mismatched libidos and your natural and normal desire for a little variety. Lies, damn lies, and statistics all demonstrate that, in time, one or the other or both of you will cheat. Better to toss that out there now, even at the risk of calmly winding down this relationship before you revert to form/CPOS, than to see the relationship explode after someone, most likely you, winds up cheating."

"I think you two should talk about this, even at the risk of breaking up" != "you should flatly sacrifice any chance of making the relationship work". Like you yourself said, almost certainly is not the same thing as certainly -- if there really is more at stake here than sexual satisfaction, maybe they'll work things out between them. And if not, maybe an early breakup is better than waiting until even more is at stake.

That's Savage's primary point, and it's much more nuanced than just "throw everything away for sexual satisfaction".
posted by vorfeed at 8:32 PM on March 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Another thing bothering me is that if the guy is a risk to his own relationship, and the Pastor is advising "be strong - you can do it", the pastor is stripping the girl of her right to know that she's building her house and her world on a foundation of sand.

That's wrong.
posted by -harlequin- at 8:34 PM on March 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


Franky, I'd put money on Savage's brutal advice having a better chance of resulting in a better outcome in these cases than the Pastor's optimistic idealistic advice.

That's the real rub, and that's where I question whether Savage's advice is really based on knowledge or prejudice and guessing.

Does he (or you, or me?) really have any basis for saying what advice is more likely to be successful in these matters? Or is he just saying what he thinks is true or wishes were true? Or stuff that seems to work among the self-selected group of people he has contact with?

I have a lot more respect for someone like John Gottman who has spent years counseling couples and keeping careful track of the outcomes, and who can really say, "Statistically, people in your situation are more likely to have a successful relationship if they do this."
posted by straight at 8:38 PM on March 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


I've always read Dan Savage for the amusement it brings. I call it "rich people problems" because the only people I've known who are "Bisexuals In Open Relationships That Aren't Working Out So I Wrote Dan Savage For Advice" have the leisure time for this to be the major problem in their lives. We can't ever be satisfied, so we invent problems. If food and shelter are your life's primary stumbling blocks, you don't have time to be a bisexual in an open relationship that isn't working out. You're too busy finding shelter and food.

So, my rich and leisurely friends can't really be friends because they've outclassed me and I'm bored with their invented "problems":

"Oh, my bisexual girlfriend keeps stealing my girlfriends, but dumped me for a man at Burning Man"
"Yeah, my mother died of cancer because she worked at Walmart & she didn't have health insurance and wouldn't go to the doctor out of spite. She and my Dad were married 50 years."

We have nothing to further to discuss. Keep fucking that chicken, nonetheless.
posted by eegphalanges at 8:42 PM on March 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


It seems like he reduces two decades of writing to a few simple principles, and then attacks those principles as overly abstract and unable to capture the specificity of individual situations and needs. If you think about it, it's a perfect straw man fallacy.

The sad thing is that I DO think Dan Savage is a better ethicist than most philosophers who specialize in the field precisely because of his attittude and attention to the individuals behind the letters. Also, the It Gets Better project makes me cry, and the stinger in the last line of thus article made me feel manipulated and very unhappy.
posted by anotherpanacea at 8:47 PM on March 7, 2011


We need something to give our petty lives meaning. It used to be God, and all things were subordinated to God. Then it was Reason, and all things were subordinated to reason. Now it's Pleasure, because most of us experience it and it seems to provide some objective measure. So all things are subordinated to Pleasure.

I'm not judging. I'm just saying.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 8:50 PM on March 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


-harlequin-: "Actually, that's exactly what doctors say, and it's extremely rational."

No, it's not, and no, it isn't. Did you read my comment? I said they don't say that unless there's some higher consideration to make - that is, that the infection might spread. But if there's no chance of that, no doctor would cut off a still-healthy (but infected) limb. In this metaphor, that higher consideration is, for Dan Savage, sexual fulfillment - the one thing he'd be sacrificing by staying.

If you want a simpler metaphor, try the one I closed with; I don't know if you got that far. As I said: I know that death is inevitable; but I'm not going to kill myself. Yes, it's obvious that life is a value that isn't worth throwing away; but who's to say that a relationship that's fulfilling in every way but sexually isn't a similarly precious value?
posted by koeselitz at 8:53 PM on March 7, 2011


Has he changed on this some or am I just missing something?

I think his views have changed somewhat over the years, but I'm not aware of any repudiation of his earlier statements, and that colors my opinion of him. I want to give him credit for at least softening his rhetoric, but I don't know he doesn't still buy all the stuff he used to say but just learned not to say it. Here's why:

I'm not sure about the date of this video, but it seems to be taken within the last three years. Savage immediately agrees with the statement, "bisexuality exists." It is followed by a discussion of how bisexuals aren't as integrated with the "community" because many of us end up with partners of the opposite sex, and a discussion of why bisexuals shouldn't be upset when a gay or lesbian questions our sexual identities.

That's all hugely objectionable. (Quick and obvious problems: the community is defined as gays and lesbians, bisexuals don't get counted as members of the community when they date members of the opposite sex, gays and lesbians' past discomfort with their sexuality is an excuse to question the seriousness of someone else's current sexuality). And of course lots of bisexuals end up with members of the opposite sex. The dating pool is larger, easier to identify, and the L/G community is notoriously hostile to bisexuals.

Still, taken on its own, I wouldn't be terribly upset about Savage's statements here. It's not the only example of a gay or lesbian mistaking bisexuality as an orientation that only counts as queer when you date a member of the same sex, and it isn't the worst example.

Unfortunately, some of the worst examples are from Dan Savage himself. Here's an excerpt from a 2006 column in which he claimed that most bisexuals are actually heterosexual, or at least mostly heterosexual:
And before angry bisexuals start pounding away at their keyboards, consider this: My current position on bisexuals winding up with opposite-sex partners (you're mostly straight) is a hell of a lot more charitable than my previous position (you're cowards, liars, cheats, etc.).
That changes how I view his more recent video where he says bisexuals just have to accept skepticism and exclusion because so many of us end up in opposite sex relationships. (Full disclosure, I'm in one with another bisexual). So what is going on in the 2009(?) video? Is he offering a cleaned up version of his 2006 view? And just what is the 2006 view? Savage is presenting his opinion as an act of charity to believe that bisexuals are mostly straight, as there was no duty to reject his old view that bisexuals were cowards, liars, and cheats. Does he think in 2006 that his old view is legitimate, but impolitic?

So here's his old view, from 1999.
Outside of San Francisco's alternate-universe bisexual community, there aren't many bi guys who want or wind up in long-term, same-sex relationships -- monogamous or not. Surely it's not news to you that people are put under a lot of pressure to choose partners of the opposite sex. The number of homos who succumb to this pressure is staggering, so it should come as no shock that most bisexuals wind up with opposite-sex partners. And while many straight men are delighted to discover their girlfriends are bisexual, most straight women are not delighted to discover their boyfriends are bisexual. Consequently, bi guys who want opposite sex partners are under tremendous pressure to stay closeted. And when a guy is closeted -- as most bi guys are -- he can't really be there for his boyfriend, can he?

I'm not saying bi guys are bad people, or they don't make great one-night stands. Bushes, bathhouses, and sleazy gay bars are crawling with bi guys. But if a guy wants more, he'll have an easier time getting it from another gay man.
Notice the recurring theme of bisexuals ending up in relationships with members of the opposite sex. In 1999, 2006, and 2009(?), it serves as justification for whatever he wants to say about bisexuals, as if not dating a member of the same sex somehow made bisexuals (in chronological order) untrustworthy, deluded, or partial members of the community.

I'm glad he isn't saying the shit he used to. If he admitted he was wrong (no, the 2006 column doesn't count, but "Wow, I was really off base and I'm sorry" would do), I'd be happy to learn about it. Absent that, it is very difficult to give him the benefit of the doubt on the less-objectionable stuff he says about bisexuals* now.

*I am aware that there are separate criticisms about misogyny, racism, ablism, and transphobia, but I'm not really knowledgeable enough to talk about them.
posted by Marty Marx at 8:56 PM on March 7, 2011 [9 favorites]


I know that death is inevitable; but I'm not going to kill myself.

The only reason we don't kill ourselves is because our desire for self-preservation overrides our logical knowledge that there's no point to anything we do. So maybe Savage is right.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 8:56 PM on March 7, 2011


Dan Savage is a sex columnist.

He is attacked by a pastor for focusing so exclusively on sex.

It would seen as if Savage would come out ahead on these assumptions.

However, sex is inextricably linked to such a host of other issues, that much of Savage's advice seems outrageously dicey in terms of morality, ethics, and compassion for one's partner. Reading his column, I feel like I'm in 1970's Times Square. Sure, his sex advice is sound, but would taking his advice make for a better world?

I guess I wouldn't know. I'm...umm...square, or whatever they're calling it these days.
posted by kozad at 9:01 PM on March 7, 2011


"is straight up nonsense-speak: first, the analogy between the marketplace and sexual behavior in Savage's scheme is incorrect on a basic level, since the concepts of honesty and openness that Savage espouses doesn't bear any actual relation to market behavior, not even the idealized version of market behavior that Dueholm describes, but second, Dueholm's description of what he calls "unregulated market behavior" itself is simply wrong: rules against "false advertising," "lemons," and so forth are hallmarks of a regulated marketplace, not, in his words, an unregulated one."

No, just because you disagree with an argument doesn't mean it's nonsense, and in this case you seem to have missed an important point — Duehelm doesn't say that things like lemon laws characterize an unregulated marketplace, but that modern sexuality is unregulated and that Dan Savage acts as a "Better Business Bureau," something which does not regulate the market but rather provides information for better choices, helping people overcome defects in the ideal market. Further, in the ideal market, things like information asymmetry don't exist, ergo no need for lemon laws.

"Right, but he didn't, because the specific phrase "unregulated marketplaces" inspires a certain level of distrust that the words "ideal" and "efficient" don't, and Dueholm wants his readers to extend that distrust to Savage's sexual ethics. "

This is begging the question with regard to Duehelm's intent and tone, not a valid argument. Your further premises don't follow, and the latin you need is "non sequitor" for your conclusion, not "ad hominem" for Duehelm.
posted by klangklangston at 9:09 PM on March 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


I don't see any evidence that this author is "attacking" Savage for being a sex columnist or that he is being a "dishonest writer" and a "cock". It's an opinion piece. You don't have to agree with it, you can find faults with the logic, but it doesn't mean the author is trying to be an unreasonable jackass.
posted by maryr at 9:33 PM on March 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


Really? I mean, okay, most of these reactions originate from this (last column), which is ancient. Still, if you google Dan Savage + bisexuals, it's pretty easy to find him babbling about how most bisexuals only use that label as a way station or a phase on a path to a more permanent sexual identity and, I don't know, it just seems like the same sort of biphobic bullshit that's everywhere, but he's vocal and self-righteous about it and it frustrates me.

Honestly, even that ancient column doesn't bother me. It's sort of offensive but... oh well? It's not really hateful - it just expresses a frustration with the experiences that a lot of gay people seem to feel that they've had with bi people, and I think that's legitimate enough. Some women have a similar mistrust of men. Some black people have a similar mistrust of white people. And some liberals, including me, think that's understandable. The trouble is that bi people consider themselves to be all in-it-together with gay people and feel sad and angry when gay people don't see it that way. I get that, but I guess I don't really relate to it on an emotional level. Yes, I'm oppressed, but let me also have some grace about the advantages I've had as a result of being able to love men and appear to be straight. Of course a lot of bi people haven't had it as easy as I have (so far), and in any case, people's hurt is completely valid. It just doesn't have to feel the same way for everyone.

Plus, it's just hard for me to believe that Dan Savage really has anything against bisexuals. He generally treats his askers justly and compassionately and well, even if he's phrased some things foolishly or if he holds some awkward views. Of course, I mostly listen to the podcast, and skip the column, where he's much more of an asshole. So I've probably missed things.
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 9:46 PM on March 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


I've thought for a long time without being able to articulate is how much of an logician Dan Savage is. With the premises of how we act as biological animals with often bizarre drives, motives, and behaviors alone and within relationships, he follows through to both logical and ethical conclusions to good human behavior. He never says it outright, but his writing and following has resulted in an acknowledged zeitgeist about proper and ethical guidelines for behavior in today's sexual relationships. Pop philosophy book here we come!

Given that we're replacing the old often harmful rules and mores for relationship behaviors, Dan Savage has almost singlehandedly filled a void for rules for life. Throw his writing ability on top of this and you can see why he is such a popular and potent columnist.

Also that's the second post by Amanda Marcotte that I've read this week where she pugilistically misreads an author for ugly rage and vitriol... calling the author "a cock?" Really?
posted by stratastar at 9:47 PM on March 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


I said they don't say that unless there's some higher consideration to make

You're begging the question. Savage was appealing to a higher consideration. That's why I corrected your metaphor.
posted by -harlequin- at 10:14 PM on March 7, 2011


(Savage was appealing to a higher consideration than satisfaction I mean. Satisfaction being Savage's guiding principle was the pastor's misconception)
posted by -harlequin- at 10:18 PM on March 7, 2011


Savage was appealing to a higher consideration than satisfaction I mean. Satisfaction being Savage's guiding principle was the pastor's misconception

This.

My interpretation of Savage's general approach has always been that he's saying, look, here's how it's going to be if your highest consideration is satisfaction of base desires, and if that's who you are, then learn to live with it; if that's not your highest consideration, then adjust your priorities accordingly and get on with it.

Anyway, I can understand why people get offended by Savage sometimes or find his advice column and podcast a bit annoying at times. But I think he does a ton of good, in spite of my disagreement with a lot of the advice he gives.
posted by The World Famous at 10:30 PM on March 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


Yes, I agree that living one's truth and being honest appears to trump mere sexual satisfaction as Savage's guiding principle. But people are much better at lying to themselves and placing the blame for their dissatisfaction on others, or not sticking to any definable identity, belief system, or partner long enough before chucking it out and moving on to the next try-sexual conquest. Perhaps in one's youth this is to be expected. Playing it well into your 40s and beyond, well, I can't imagine feigning interest in my own projected reflection that long.

I have known these people; I still know these people, they come into my life and then leave when I'm not interested in being this month's fuckee. I'm all for folks finding, fucking, and disposing of each other, and gaining great sexual anecdotes to tell as well along the way, really, but, man, it is tiresome. And I'm sure they find me just as tiresome for not ever fucking them, as well. Most of them give up, and I'm left with actual friends, you know, who don't want to fuck and dispose of me.

I do greatly admire those who can do all the partner switching and sharing yet remain in some kind of attitude of caring about the person--that is, succeed in the rare "let's be friends"-- after all the sex is finished. Those folks I admire, but I don't know them. It seems most people project some weirdness onto a frail human partner who'll never measure up--who betray them terribly, even, or vice-versa-- and then dispose of them for the next projection. There is no end to this, but if that's your thing, okay.

But when I say I'm not interested in your easygoing threesome, well, I'm sorry, but I'm not. I'm not leading you on; I'm not a tease. It's not easygoing. You can lie to yourself, but don't lie to me. Shit.
posted by eegphalanges at 10:43 PM on March 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


Too bad that Savage is an unapologetic transphobe

This is pretty classy, too.
Perhaps I'm a transphobic bigot, but I honestly think waiting a measly 36 months to cut your dick is a sacrifice any father should be willing to make for his 15-year-old son. Call me old-fashioned.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 1:45 AM on March 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


So Amanda Marcotte writes in her rebuttal, "And yes, it assumes that sexual fulfillment is an important part of life, and that history shows people who don’t have it act out," and I'm to take her at her word? I've found the opposite true in my life, that people who need to fuck everything that moves are acting out, and when they confront people like me, who don't or no longer fuck everything that moves--we are labeled a "prudes" not just simply because we're not having sex, but specifically for not having sex with them. I don't have a low libido, no, you just don't turn me on, sorry. You never did. You never will. But, sure, I'm a prude. I hope that your certainty of that takes the sting out of choosing to not fuck you.

Has she possibly heard of sublimation, that not fucking everything that moves frees up a great deal of time and energy for other endeavors in life? And could she consider the fact that chronic fuckers will have endless sex, yet avoid all intimacy? Well, the mind boggles. I have opted out of the fuckwheel. Celibacy has proven to calm the acting out I used to do when I felt I needed to be enmeshed sexually with another to even be worth existing. I know there's a possibility between the fuckwheel and nunhood, but I haven't met him yet, and there are no guarantees that I will. When you can abide with that, it's really quite nice.

Let the fuckers and fuckees find each other, I'm all for it. I think I'd be ashamed to tell another person what their problem is, even though people obviously beg to be defined by Dan Savage, this Lutheran minister, or Amanda Marcotte, whoever the fuck she is. But if you really want to know, sure, I'll tell you what your problem is, all of you, if you'll allow me to whisper it confidentially in your ear...
posted by eegphalanges at 2:56 AM on March 8, 2011


I've found the opposite true in my life, that people who need to fuck everything that moves are acting out, and when they confront people like me, who don't or no longer fuck everything that moves--we are labeled a "prudes" not just simply because we're not having sex, but specifically for not having sex with them.

You've made a fundamental misunderstanding, which is conflating "sexual fulfillment" with "having lots of sex." Nothing could be further from the truth--you appear to be sexually fulfilled by having a small amount of sex, and if that is enough for you, that is great.

The point is, that amount of sex is not okay for some (or most) and as Marcotte indicates, if you're not sexually fulfilled, you will act out.
posted by TypographicalError at 3:13 AM on March 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Sorry, but that's ridiculous. You don't have to have sex, or sexual feelings, nor "act out", which is so trite in a pop-psychological way as to be meaningless. I am saying "sexual fullfillment" as a goal is actually an impossibility. It's like Zeno's paradox, you never really arrive there. It's an imaginary measuring stick you hold up to some ideal that doesn't exist. Yet you still go on trying to reach it and want my approval, as well. It's okay, really. Go on, fuck away at your self-determined, personally fulfilling rate. Some people heave a great sigh of relief when that urge ceases, you know, but we're rooting for you, too. You'll cross that finish line & win, palm to palm with your mutually-appointed fuckee.

And "acting out," really, it's an empty phrase that has no meaning. It's a baseless accusation to bait those who aren't like you. There are many people who don't spend their days trying to manipulate and force other people to fit their fantastical whims, be they sexual or otherwise, or meet another's ideals of what a person should be. These are fuckers and fuckees. They may not have alot of sex, either. But they keep telling me I should. Well, at least I should, and enough.

I don't mind that people line up to fuck and then exchange one another for a new model, or who drop me as a friend when they realize I'm not up for that freaky threesome, or when it's clear our ideas of a fun time don't match up. It's best we move along away from each other, you know? If you're always looking for that mote in someone else's eye when they don't concede every point to you, life can get pretty hectic.

I can understand why anyone would have any particular sexual proclivity, but not why they'd open themselves up to judgment/abuse by Dan Savage, or the Church, or this Marcotte person, or me, for that matter. It's not like anyone's really offering understanding, is it? Assume the position or desist: No thanks.
posted by eegphalanges at 3:47 AM on March 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


"Acting out" is actually the opposite of sublimation. Ted Haggard would be an example of acting out; Emily Dickinson, of sublimation. Yet, I'm sure Ted enjoyed his foribidden nasty sex just as much as he enjoys condemning himself and others for having it. And there are those who might suppose Dickinson's a life wasted for not living a little, though she lived at a time when this was not possible for women of her class. No one should be taking pointers for their own lives from either of them. Figure it out for yourself.
posted by eegphalanges at 4:05 AM on March 8, 2011


Ah, now I understand.
posted by ovvl at 4:27 AM on March 8, 2011


Then again, he says plenty of things that lots of people could find offensive. In any case, he should have known better.

He should know better, and he probably does, but he doesn't care, because at root he's a moralist with a public soapbox. I agree with Dueholm on one thing: Savage has a set of principles that he either espouses or pretends to espouse for the purpose of making a living, and if a given identity or behavior or viewpoint falls outside of the box, he, well, savages it, without mercy. There is a hypocrisy in that stance that made me stop paying much attention to Savage a long time ago. I think he does some good things, but on balance, in my view, he's just another shrill hectorer. He may be shrill on the side of many issues that I find important, but that doesn't make him any less shrill.
posted by blucevalo at 5:13 AM on March 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


"Cornerstone: When you get high in order to break through a sexual inhibition—like when pot helps you 'turn a corner' sexually. 'Sue wanted to peg her boyfriend Drew, but he just couldn't do it until he got cornerstoned.'

Fear the Turtle: What a woman experiences when she realizes halfway through vaginal intercourse that her bowels are full and her enjoyment of the sex has been superseded by her fear of crapping the bed. 'Sue had to ask Drew to stop fucking her because she feared the turtle. She got on the can for a minute, then hopped back in bed, and no longer feared the turtle.'

Diamondbacking: Consenting to anal sex in the hopes that doing so will inspire a boyfriend to propose. 'Sue knew that Drew was totally into anal sex, so she let him diamondback her.' Now they're engaged."


Sue and Drew are interesting folks. They coerce each other into doing things the other finds degrading or painful to extract promises of material reward or fidelity from the other. Drew has to blunt his reaction with drugs to consent to Sue's sexual demands without an ensuing loss of identity or self-worth. Sue's so uptight, she can't void her bowels at opportune, relaxed times. Odd woman, vaginal sex causes her to defecate. It is better than "acting out" like those prudes do!

Please don't tell me that Savage doesn't see all sexual activity as an exchange on a meat market: reading above, apparently he does. Give me a Jack Fritscher, some actual anarchic thrill or transgression, not these titbits and careful, coercive exchanges and advice. Give me an Annie Sprinkle or Quentin Crisp. Something passionate, something real.

Really, he's just making shit up, and you're taking it seriously. Notice it's a college tour where Savage comes up with these things. Only teenagers and young folks could be suckered into this nonsense. Adults, poor working slugging along adults--gay, straight, bi, trans, whatever-- just aren't looking for approval from "prudes" like me. We are who we are, we form our bonds and protect them fiercely.

And why would "Santorum"--shit and lube-- give rise such disgust in supposedly "sex positive" people? You'd think a sex-positive person wouldn't want to taint their shit and lube with the stink of Santorum!
posted by eegphalanges at 6:22 AM on March 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


My interpretation of Savage's general approach has always been that he's saying, look, here's how it's going to be if your highest consideration is satisfaction of base desires

I submit that Dan Savage is just guessing "how it's going to be" and that in real life almost no one can point to any one thing and truthfully say it is their "highest consideration." Life and relationships are almost always more complicated than that.
posted by straight at 6:33 AM on March 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Quentin Crisp: " ....You see, when I was young, I hated all of the sex. It was never satisfying. It simply made me the passive object of another homosexual’s will. When you make your sex life everything, you are doomed. That’s why sex is a mistake. It doesn’t get you nearer to people, it separates you more.

GK: What do you say to people who feel you are not meeting your responsibility as a positive gay role model or helping us to achieve gay rights?

QC: I do not regard myself as a symbol of anything except myself. I think it’s a great mistake for minorities to assume they can demand their 'rights.' I don’t think anyone has any rights. I think you fall out of your mother’s womb, you crawl across open country under fire, you grab at what you want, and if you don’t get it you go without, and you flop into your grave. So, you have to make up your mind whether to grab what you want, fight for it, or ask for it. Now if you’re in a minority, the only thing you can do is ask for it, because otherwise you will lose.

I don’t believe in role models. If I represent anything beyond myself, I represent the idea of living your own life without doing any particular harm to the world. All you can do is be who you are, and then let the world form round you as it will. I once met Mr. William Burroughs. Within minutes of our being introduced, he said, 'What is worth having is worth fighting for,' and I replied, 'That which we can only maintain by force we should try to do without.'

GK: So, it’s only those aspects of ourselves we 'maintain by force' that we should eradicate, whatever our sexuality?

QC: Yes.

GK: Any parting words?

QC: I am for everything and everybody. I want what you want.

posted by eegphalanges at 6:51 AM on March 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


Oh, oh, and Gay Shame, gotta love 'em!
posted by eegphalanges at 7:15 AM on March 8, 2011


I feel all these "transphobic" complaints are paranoid politically correct nonsense. A diverse society does not need to eliminate all stereotypes.

Dan says stuff that's both constructive and funny. I'll read your blog too if you manage being more constructive while being equally funny.
posted by jeffburdges at 9:14 AM on March 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'll read your blog too if you manage being more constructive while being equally funny.

Well, on being funny, I think the target of the joke matters. This is a point I picked up from Shakesville. Jokes that target already disparaged and disadvantaged populations simply uphold the status quo. Truly subversive humor targets the oppressors, not the oppressed.
posted by Danila at 9:29 AM on March 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


I feel all these "transphobic" complaints are paranoid politically correct nonsense.

That's nice. Meanwhile, actual medical care provided to trans people, and actual laws passed (or not passed) to protect trans people, and the attitude of employers towards trans people are affected by the words of famous, influential people.

Seriously, the current media environment in the US (and in scary abroad countries like mine) emphatically does not give screen or page space for trans people to describe our experiences in our own words the way it does with gay men; in fact, gay men often speak for us, and while sometimes that can be awesome (when people get it right) at other times it can be extra-shitty because non-LGBT people tend to give what gay men say about trans people a lot of notice, since we're all part of the same abbreviation and all.

Also, by that I don't mean that gay men are given an adequate amount of screen or page space to describe their own experiences -- in fact, I think ten times the gay exposure on TV wouldn't be enough -- but I look at their meagre showing and I'm jealous.

We have no voice. If you're going to speak for us, it behooves you not to be a complete dick.

Dan says stuff that's both constructive and funny.

Pointing out that Dan Savage has said some fucked-up stuff about trans (and other people) does not equal "Dan Savage has said nothing good," or "Dan Savage has had no positive effect."
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 9:57 AM on March 8, 2011 [8 favorites]


If you're going to speak for us, it behooves you not to be a complete dick.

Oddly enough, I think the fact that he's a bit of a dick (he's really not a complete dick) is part of the reason for his popularity.
posted by The World Famous at 10:00 AM on March 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Pointing out that Dan Savage has said some fucked-up stuff about trans (and other people) does not equal "Dan Savage has said nothing good," or "Dan Savage has had no positive effect."

Well yeah. Savage appears to be very limited WRT understanding transgender, bisexuality, or asexual/low-libido relationships. It's not unreasonable to point this out.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 10:10 AM on March 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


I feel all these "transphobic" complaints are paranoid politically correct nonsense. A diverse society does not need to eliminate all stereotypes.

When I talk about the ways that Dan Savage fails, I'm not talking about the way society fails (though I think these things intersect). I think this particular case is troubling and problematic--that someone whose larger schtick seems to be arguing for acceptance of one's sexuality and who purports to support the rights of queer people is so very exclusionary with his queer umbrella. When I was googling around about him last night, I stumbled across this video, a reaction to the "It Gets Better" project, which I think is incisive. Savage is all about telling young gay kids it gets better, but his messages to young transkids or bikids or fat kids or disabled kids is to participate in the culturally-dominant messages of shaming and ridicule.

And that's fucked up.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 10:22 AM on March 8, 2011 [7 favorites]


I don't think Dan Savage actively intends harm to transgender and transsexual people. I mean, I don't know the guy, but I'm going to assume that's not what he's about. But I've seen him use slurs that dehumanize transgender and transsexual people. Normalizing those slurs contributes to an environment where people think that it's okay not to be respectful of trans people. Not extending a group of people basic human respect makes it a whole lot easier to place or support limits around their legal rights and access to public spaces - which are very real issues that members of the trans community face every day - and makes it more difficult to combat social ostracism, harassment, and violence against a group of people who, taken as a whole, are extremely vulnerable to stigma, poverty, and violence.

I think The World Famous is right about part of the source of Savage's appeal. At this point, Danila and ArmyOfKittens have probably done a better job than I have of pointing out that the fact that he has an abrasive, transgressive shtick plus the fact that he belongs to a marginalized group, even with his history of having done positive things with his role and position, still doesn't give him a pass on getting called out for the negative language he uses and attitudes he displays.
posted by EvaDestruction at 10:27 AM on March 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


And well, why are we in the business of elevating a cranky queen who started writing Savage Love as a joke to the position of expert in liberal sexual ethics? He doesn't understand everything about sexual relationships, so stop treating him as the insightful sage with the truth about sexual relationships.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 10:36 AM on March 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


A diverse society does not need to eliminate all stereotypes.

Sure, you must be right. Because stereotypes about Nordic people eating herring have just as much real-life impact as stereotypes about trans people needing to get over themselves.
posted by blucevalo at 12:18 PM on March 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


Dan Savage occasionally works out at my gym.

The biceps are kickin'.

You may now all seethe with envy.

(And if he weren't in a relationship, I'd bag him like 5 pounds of rice. Just sayin'.)
posted by Vavuzi at 3:04 PM on March 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Based particularly on his TAL contributions of late, I think Savage suggests that the goal of his life, at least, is raising his kids with his husband. In interviews, it always struck me that Savage thinks sex is a topic that people find entertaining and titillating and therefore talking about it is a great way to make a living.
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 4:09 PM on March 8, 2011


I'm pretty sure his in-relationship-status wouldn't preclude that from happening.
posted by stratastar at 8:23 PM on March 8, 2011


Did anyone else think it was weird that the Dueholm described Savage as "openly gay"? That's a phrase that usually seems to indicate discomfort with gay people, in my experience.

overglow, I don't know if it's AP standard or not, but I'm with you. Reading the phrase "openly gay" always makes me think the writer feels gay people should be less than open. Allies say "out."

But then, I'm just some random openly gay chick.
posted by equivocator at 8:52 PM on March 8, 2011


Uganda is attempting to execute gays; Republicans demonize and fight queers at every turn; bashing continues around the United States. Yet somehow, the bulk of Metafilter's outrage is saved for Dan Savage's less than PC statements. Really? No better use of your time and energy? No targets even slightly more worthy?
posted by msalt at 11:31 PM on March 8, 2011


Also: People are starving and in Gitmo and the Turks still haven't acknowledged the Armenian Genocide.

I hope you never stub your toe, because you can't complain about it until all those things are solved.
posted by klangklangston at 11:52 PM on March 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Republicans demonize and fight queers at every turn; bashing continues around the United States. Yet somehow, the bulk of Metafilter's outrage is saved for Dan Savage's less than PC statements.

In reference to those two points of concern particularly, I will quote myself from earlier in the thread: "actual medical care provided to trans people, and actual laws passed (or not passed) to protect trans people, and the attitude of employers towards trans people are affected by the words of famous, influential people."

A less-than-helpful attitude towards trans people and our rights and expectations is par for the course amongst famous American gay men. It's to be expected that Republicans will loathe us, but more liberal people, open to new ideas and willing to fight for the queer cause? They will look to prominent, politicised gay people to help form their ideas about us, and the LGBT rights movement as a whole. And they will find contempt.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 1:07 AM on March 9, 2011


msalt: And I'm certain that if you started a FPP about those topics you would get plenty of outrage.

But come on here. I spend hundreds of hours trying to convince people that I'm not a diseased plague-carrier selfishly trying to play both sides only to have a guy with syndicated column, a book deal, a speaking tour, routine guest spots on radio, and a newly-minted authority as an expert on sexuality say that self-identified bisexuals really are deceptive. Do we not get an option at some point in this process to say, "hey wait a minute Dan."
posted by KirkJobSluder at 4:06 AM on March 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


Also: People are starving and in Gitmo and the Turks still haven't acknowledged the Armenian Genocide.I hope you never stub your toe, because you can't complain about it until all those things are solved.

You think that's a reasonable analogy? Seems kind of like a wild pitch there.

It's to be expected that Republicans will loathe us, but more liberal people, open to new ideas and willing to fight for the queer cause?

This is what worries me. It's like an abused wife saying "Of course men are violent, so there's no point protesting THAT, but Betty wouldn't say hi to me at school yesterday, it's outrageous that she's so mean!"
posted by msalt at 8:25 AM on March 9, 2011


Msalt, when you read the complaints that bisexuals and transgender folk have made in this thread, do you think that they are complaints about something as petty as "Betty wouldn't say hi to me at school yesterday, it's outrageous that she's so mean!"?
posted by Marty Marx at 9:34 AM on March 9, 2011


It's an analogy, of course; relative to its analog, yes. That's exactly my point.
posted by msalt at 11:12 AM on March 9, 2011


It wasn't an analogy. It was reductio ad absurdum.

Further, it's hard to take with a straight face the assertion that the moderate rebukes here against Savage represent "the bulk of MetaFilter's outrage."

But speaking of analogies, you manage to be pretty blithe, insulting and incoherent all in one. Do battered wives generally protest their abuse? In what context, aside from your assertion of misplaced priorities, are battered wives analogous to bisexual and transgender folks?

Finally, you do realize, of course, that bisexuals and transfolk are able, just like everyone else, to simultaneously complain about shabby treatment by public figures and the ongoing discrimination and violence they face? And that it's reasonable to link the former with the latter, something Dan Savage has explicitly done with his pointed rebukes of "loving" Christians who still don't believe gays should have equal rights?

Oh, and that it's kind of presumptuous to lecture a group you're not a part of about what their priorities should be regarding their treatment by society?
posted by klangklangston at 12:31 PM on March 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


All those trans people who are for some reason staying married to abusive Republicans really need to DTMFA.
posted by contraption at 12:39 PM on March 9, 2011


klang: You've made it clear before that you don't like me (or my MeFi online persona, whatever that is). I'm not interested in a personal pissing match.

I don't believe I addressed any group, except MeFites complaining about Dan Savage. You're the one linking individuals and their sexual preferences to which opinions they should be allowed to hold -- not a very useful way to think, in my opinion, especially for this discussion.
posted by msalt at 2:23 PM on March 9, 2011


This is what worries me. It's like an abused wife saying "Of course men are violent, so there's no point protesting THAT, but Betty wouldn't say hi to me at school yesterday, it's outrageous that she's so mean!"

Since the stereotypes that Savage tends to promote are used to justify political repression and violence against the people he talks about, it's not a trivial issue.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 2:48 PM on March 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


That's fair, KJS. Though I think that, on the list of "sources and bulwarks of homophobia in the U.S.," Savage is not anywhere in the top 1,000.
posted by msalt at 3:35 PM on March 9, 2011


Didn't we just go through this? Sources are relative. Liberal people who completely discount the homophobic ramblings of right-wing preachers listen to people like Savage. It's not that he's saying worse things than Fred Phelps, but that he has the ears of people who might otherwise be our allies.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 4:48 PM on March 9, 2011 [4 favorites]


Msalt:

I don't have any grudge against you generally, I just think you're off-base on this in a way that's, well, blithe, insulting and dismissive about something that to you doesn't matter very much, but for people who actually are trans and bi, this is something that does affect their lives.
posted by klangklangston at 5:41 PM on March 9, 2011


Hmm, I continue to think you're on dangerous ground deciding what's important to me or anyone else, especially as we've never met IRL. That aside....

This thread isn't the first time that it felt to me like you sent a very personal attack my way. I could be off base. Just wondering if I push some button or sound like someone you know or something. I don't think I comment on your personal life or tell you not to have this or that opinion. I haven't seen you do that with others, and don't see it around Metafilter that often.
posted by msalt at 8:38 PM on March 9, 2011


msalt: It's primarily a debate about who gets support and included within the gay rights movement. These internal discussions are important to have.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 7:34 AM on March 10, 2011


It's primarily a debate about who gets support and included within the gay rights movement.

I get that, honestly I do. But another way of saying that is that this is a debate over ownership of the gay rights movement, and control over its orthodoxy.

This isn't 1985, or god forbid the days of the Mattachine Society. Every American voter is making decisions on gay marriage, and polls show support just crossed 50% of the general public. IMHO this is now a mainstream issue. Obviously, some people disagree. But isn't that what half the hate on Savage is about? Him (arguably, and in the past) sort of wanting to exclude bisexuals from the gay rights movement for not being fully qualified members? Seems ironic.
posted by msalt at 10:26 AM on March 10, 2011


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