Various and Sundry, 6/30/11

Holy crap, the year’s half done already. On this day, some various things I’m thinking about:

* I hate to keep linking to Andrew Sullivan and saying, “yes, this,” but regarding his essay on Obama and why he doesn’t just come out and say he’s for same-sex marriage, yes, this. Obama’s not only the president of the six states that currently allow same-sex marriage, he’s also the president of the twenty-nine states that now have some form of constitutional bar against them, and while nationwide there’s apparently now a (very slim) majority of people who believe in marriage equality, that majority is, shall we say, not equally distributed. Obama’s still got needle-threading to do.

Personally speaking, I find it annoying, so I can imagine how it’s playing with people who want those same-sex marriages for themselves. But I think Obama also (usually) has a finely-tuned sense of when and how to jump in. It doesn’t earn him any “profiles in courage” awards, but it does make him a pretty effective politician, and if we know anything about Obama at this point, it’s that he’d rather have a political win than a moral victory.

* Via MetaFilter, this article from the New Republic on transgender folks and the current state of their struggles for equality, which are often tied into — but not always in line with — the struggles of the gay and lesbian communities. I know a number of transfolk, including one who I honestly don’t which gender they wish to be seen as (which is why I’m glad there’s at least a colloquial acceptance of the word the “they” for third person singular). I guess I could just ask them.

I don’t suppose it’s entirely surprising that I think transfolk are entitled to the same protections as the rest of us, but I also know there’s a lot I don’t know about their particular struggle to get to that point, so this article was useful to me.

* And as long as I’m (clearly) on a kick about sexuality, gender and relationships today, here’s an article in the New York Times called “Married, With Infidelities” which looks at the question of whether its monogamy or stability that should be the goal of long-term relationships, and what means for the people involved in them. Dan Savage is prominently quoted in the piece, although there are also some folks quoted who point out that his particular point of view on the subject is an especially male one, which he doesn’t deny. For those interested in my point of view on the matter, I posted something along this line a little while ago.

Thoughts on any of this?

 

83 thoughts on “Various and Sundry, 6/30/11

  1. As much as I (and so many others) desperately want DOMA to just be dead and gone, it would be political suicide for Obama to step out and do anything about it as well. It’s frustrating and I want to stomp my feet and whine at his restraint, but I respect and admire it at the same time. Besides, we’ve got a committee gathering in congress working towards the repeal of DOMA while at the same time the judicial side is being climbed by the prop 8 trial. It’s going to happen. And it’s going to happen as it should, without the quick (but oh so tantalizing) fix of the president stepping in. One will be much stronger and more able to stand a backlash; the other might usher in another wave of conservatives.

    Conservatives who are not cool with cake play, might I add. ;)

  2. Obama’s not only the president of the six states that currently allow same-sex marriage, he’s also the president of the twenty-nine states that now have some form of constitutional bar against them …

    That’s certainly true, but what I think is rather more to the point is that he’s not only the president of people who can currently be legally married, but of all people who are entitled to equal treatment under the law.

  3. It doesn’t earn him any “profiles in courage” awards, but it does make him a pretty effective politician, and if we know anything about Obama at this point, it’s that he’d rather have a political win than a moral victory.

    Yes and that’s what disappoints many of us. All of the big talk about Change seemed to position Obama as someone who would try to lead and transform the discussion in the US. He’s failed miserably at that. He’s a very good politician and I’ll take the wins, but I was hoping for a leader, not a manager.

  4. rickg @ #3:

    Yeah, pretty much. I’m disappointed by how little real change we’ve gotten so far.

  5. I find the ongoing persecution and discrimination against gays, lesbians and transgenders to be absolutely infuriating, but also realize it isn’t something that can be swept away with a single stroke. The reality is, there is a lot of people who believe that marriage will be shaken and destroyed if it doesn’t remain to be just a union between one male and one female. Though I’ve never seen much justification for this side other than their interpretation of a religious text says so or that it ‘just seems wrong.’ Despite the fact I don’t understand their side and find it appalling, I realize their belief it pretty ingrained and firm. So, it does take some political maneuvering and delicate work to actually try to push things in a more positive direction.

    I can’t handle the outright bigotry or condemnation towards homosexuals or trangernders. Especially since I don’t remember ever remember voting or choosing to be a white, heterosexual male. So, I am pretty sure the transgenders or lesbians or gays weren’t polled before their designation either. I openly admit that I can’t completely relate to them because I’ve never been mocked for who I love or what my gender is. But I can empathize and support them. I can also wish that the bigot fueled asshats will eventually take a few seconds to sit down and start figuring out what it is that they are so opposed to and realize they’re being misguided and hateful.

    As for marriage, I’ve always felt that if both sides are wanting an open marriage than all the power to them. The key is that it has to be mutual and it still has to be honest. As for me, I am just fine and dandy with my one wife that I absolutely love and adore and remain loyal to.

  6. Bearpaw:

    “what I think is rather more to the point is that he’s not only the president of people who can currently be legally married, but of all people who are entitled to equal treatment under the law.”

    You and I have no disagreement there. But there’s what’s right and what’s political calculus. I suspect Obama’s thinking here is that if he moves too soon, then he weakens his own position, which doesn’t help him get re-elected. If you look at the current crop of GOP presidential candidates, there’s no one there who’s going to be anything approaching friendly to the cause of same-sex marriage.

    It sucks that the two possible speeds for this on the federal level are “slow” and “apply brakes HARD and attempt reverse.” But that’s what they are.

  7. I’m Irish, and living in Ireland so this doesn’t really affect me but I do have some thoughts. Mainly I think it’s great that change is being sought in America no matter how slowly. And I think it’s also great to have a President that will step up and support a national winner, whether it be for political or popular gain, should the opportunity arise.

    Over here same sex marriage, which is only recently allowed, still isn’t as legal or supported by policy as a heterosexual marriage. It is in fact a poor facsimile of a traditional marriage.

    Our government and the thumb of the Catholic Church would rather bow to traditionalism and old style morality than support the love and commitment of two people. I know what America has isn’t perfect, but it might inspire some change in the more conservative and cruel parts of the world.

  8. Barack Obama campaigned as a leader. President Obama has revealed him to be a calculating weasel of a politician. He has done nothing that couldnt swing at least a plurality of support from the population. He hasnt lead us anywhere. He puts himself smack in the middle of the mob and then moves in whatever direction they are moving.

    when half the population wants to murder a million innocent people and the other half is aghast at the immorality of such an idea, Obama will respond by approving the murder of half a million people and call it compromise. He wil then react with palpable contempt towards those who would expect him to uphold higher principles.

    Obama is a calculating coward who sold himself as a leadrr with courage and I regret voting for him only slightly less than I regret that McCain was even worse and Hillary seems no better.

  9. John – you may be right about him calculating his re-election chances, but that doesn’t lessen the disappointment. It’s one reason I’d love to see the presidency converted to a single 6 year term since it removes the political calculation over his or her re-election. Never going to happen, but it would be nice.

    I just read the NYT article about Savage’s views and I agree with him. People have hard, bright lines that seem to make a relationship brittle. His solution isn’t for all, perhaps not even most, but it’s a perspective worth putting out there and a discussion worth having.

    Charlie Stross did a recent post on what would happen if we suddenly had cheap, working life extension and one thing that I think would change radically are expectations around relationships. It’s one thing to be married for 30-50 years… it’s very much another thing to consider tacking 100 years onto that. Right now, I wonder how many people stick in relationships because they’re 60 and feel that the time left isn’t that long and they don’t want to go through it alone, etc.

  10. and now revealing once again how unhip I truly am, what the heck is ‘cake play’. googling revealed nothing. urban dictionary didnt have it.

    apparently ‘chocolate cake’ refers to a weapon in a fps game that can kill with one shot. but no cake play.

  11. Greg – it’s explained in the article. There’s no general term, he’s talking specifically about that one guy’s fetish. His point doesn’t have to do with specific fetishes, but rather that if people can’t be open with one another about things out of the ordinary they’re trapped between either suppressing that interest or going outside of the relationship. Savage is saying that people need to be able to be open and, ideally, if the partner’s not into the fetish, OK with going outside here and there. What he’s arguing is that not being able to be open or being open but having your partner feel you’re weird and not being willing to try it PLUS being restricted to the relationship puts pressure on the relationship that increases the chances of it ending.

  12. Thanks for pointing out the NYT article. I found it very informative and articulated my own opinions on the matter.

  13. I think the one point that gets left out is that issues like same sex marriage are not necessarily people’s opinion, it’s what they’re told to believe.

    That’s a subtle but important difference.

    In California, I have family who voted no on proposition 8 because they were told to do so by their ministers, not because they’d actually read the measure. They’re not especially anti-gay, but they do want to belong to a particular church so that their kids get a moral upbringing. Go figure.

    Similarly, much of the right wing/tea-party craziness is being frothed up by money from a comparative handful of dangerously wealthy people (names like Koch,Walton, and Murdoch figure prominently here).

    Obama’s not particularly interested in the electorate. He’s interested in getting re-elected, which means that he’s probably more focused on the big money than he is on us little guys. He has to thread that particular needle, denying his opponents targets and money, while not pissing off the people who are financing his election. That would probably be Goldman-Sachs, incidentally (his biggest contributor in 2008), which may explain why he didn’t go after the obviously felonious financial sector in 2009, and why he’s not doing more about sky-rocketing food prices right now (GS is reportedly heavily into commodity speculation at the moment).

    Yes, this pisses me all off, but does it piss me off enough to want Bachmann or Palin as President. Um, no.

  14. Obama campaigned as a leader. President Obama has revealed him to be a calculating weasel of a politician.

    You’re shocked that a politician got elected to be President?

    He has done nothing that couldnt swing at least a plurality of support from the population.

    Yeah, I noticed how he gave up right away once health care became unpopular.

  15. I read through some of the Savage article, skimmed some more, still hadnt reached the end and finally gave up. I must have skimmed the cake play reference part. oh well.

    I read some of Savages advice. I think he is right that folks need to have their fetish cards on the table, facr up, before they get married. I also think a lot of people, likely a large chunk of people, get married before they are ready. and ‘ready’ includes getting any excursions out of your system before you settle down into monogamy, and includes figuring out what your fetishes might be so you can put them face up before some says I do to you.

  16. It’s frustrating and I want to stomp my feet and whine at his restraint,

    I think it’d be healthy to channel that frustration. Let’s aim it at the recalcitrant local politicians and the reluctant segments of our society. Let’s go grassroots on this. And let’s be sure to be visible on this–it may be surprising to folks that politicians get far more phone calls, visits, letters and faxes from the other side on this.

  17. He has done nothing that couldnt swing at least a plurality of support from the population.

    Um, isn’t that the only thing possible for a political leader of a democracy to do? Otherwise, it’s top down authoritarianism?

  18. Greg, from a little over halfway through the article:

    In “The Commitment,” Savage’s book about his and Miller’s decision to marry, he describes how a college student approached him after a campus talk and said, as Savage tells it, that “he got off on having birthday cakes smashed in his face.” But no one had ever obliged him. “My heart broke when he told me that the one and only time he told a girlfriend about his fetish, she promptly dumped him. Since then he had been too afraid to tell anyone else.” Savage took the young man up to his hotel room and smashed a cake in his face.

    The point is: priests and rabbis don’t tell couples they might need to involve cake play in their marriages; moms and dads don’t; even best friends can be shy about saying what they like. Savage wants to make sure that no strong marriage ever fails because an ashamed husband or wife is desperately seeking cake play — or bondage, urine play or any of the other unspeakable activities that Savage has helped make speakable. If cake play is what a man needs, his G.G.G. wife should give it to him; if she can’t bring herself to, then maybe she should allow him a chocolate-frosted excursion with another woman. But for God’s sake, keep it together for the kids.

    Also I’d echo David’s comment about a politician becoming president. Maybe it was easier for me as a Chicago liberal I had a pretty good idea of what Obama was and wasn’t before he got elected. I have been really disappointed by him on civil liberties. It’s great that torture isn’t the explicit policy of the US government, (even if we called dressed it up in Nazi neologisms) but it sucks that the bar’s gotten that low.

  19. From an outsider’s POV Obama may not be the president a lot of people want, but I think he is the one America needed. The people on the left want him to be more radical, to get out and erase the W Bush administration and it’s attendant bigotry and anti-intellectualism, the ones on the right want him to drop anything that doesn’t further whatever #hot-button is being pressed today just like the W Bush (in fact they want him to go further than W Bush to prove he isn’t one of those damn #popular-insult-of-the-moment) and glorify the country at the expense of goodwill.

    If he was to do either of those he’d take what I think everyone has to acknowledge is a pretty divided nation and divide it even further. He’s not made friends on the dyed in the wools on either side, but he has brought the moderates back to the centre in some sort of consensus. And impressively, has been the first of any national leaders[1] to have made that consensus on the centre-left of their respective national axis. Obama the Cool-Headed and Rift-Healer isn’t a bad thing to be remembered for.

    [1]You can add Alex Salmond as the other person to have done it, if and when Scotland ever secedes from the UK.

  20. My disappointment with Obama comes not from his lack of action, but from the times he and his administration have deliberately fought against gay equality. That is inexcusable. But considering the alternatives likely in the next presidential election, it doesn’t look as if anyone better is available.

    We need another president with the balls of Lyndon Johnson, who fought for racial equality even though it hurt his party. Right over politics. Unfortunately, we are unlikely to ever get another one.

  21. @ Frank: (Sorry for the double post, I hadn’t read the Taranto piece yet):

    I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised, but Taranto seems to be saying “Don’t blame it on the gays, blame it on those uppity women.” Or more specifically on:

    female careerism, which reduces the value of the traditional male provider; the social acceptability of nonmarital sex, made possible by the easy availability of contraception and abortion; and welfare and child-support laws that create incentives for childbearing outside marriage.

    Perhaps “uppity women” isn’t quite accurate. “Uppity sluts” might be more on target? And then of course there’s all those gold-diggers who considered marrying but left their poor guys standing at the altar so they could have some babies and cash in on some of that phat welfare loot.

  22. so politicians should simply do whatever the latest public poll says? Really? they have no influence the other way? when a threat comes to our door, they really have no influence on how the people react? ” the only thing we have to fear is fear itself” was an exercise in political futility?

    there is a quote I cant quite recal about how people arent really afraid that the problem is they are powerless, but rather they fear they have the power to change the world for the better but they’ve been sitting on their ass al this time.

    when someone argues that the president of the united fucking states is powerless, it seems pretty clear what they are truly afraid of.

  23. dude, read this URL about how Obama made a back room deal with the health industry to kill any public option, then publicly campaigned for a puvlic option knowing he would allow it to die when the time came.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/miles-mogulescu/ny-times-reporter-confirm_b_500999.html

    You must be so proud.

    Wait, you mean that Obama traded away something he wasn’t going to get anyway*, in order to get chunks of the health care industry to support (or not actively oppose) the final bill?

    Why, yes, I’m quite proud.

    Again, you seem somewhat shocked that a politician got elected to be President.

    * no way does Ben Nelson (the most conservative Dem Senator and thus the 60th vote) vote for a public option, let alone any Republican. For that matter, it wouldn’t have made it out of the Senate Finance Committee.

    We need another president with the balls of Lyndon Johnson, who fought for racial equality even though it hurt his party

    You are aware that the Civil Rights Act passed in the Senate was a weakened version of the one passed in the House because Southern Senators filibustered the original bill? How familiar that sounds.

  24. Jon,

    Perhaps “uppity women” isn’t quite accurate. “Uppity sluts” might be more on target?
    Projecting a little, are we?

  25. David, I am curious, do you rush to the defense of presidents doing immoral things because they are ‘powerless’ against the majority all the time? Or only when its a democrat in the white house.

    back in the day, when Bush launched illegal wars, tortured prisoners, ignored the geneva convention, spied on americans, and generally did everything possible to *shit* on the Constitution, did you have the same response then as you do since Obama is doing all those exact same things?

    you are either advocating any president is subject to mob rule or you are committing a form ot tribalism (its wrong when they do it but ok when my team does it). Either way, your atempts to camoflage that as pragmatic politics and cunning horse trading, when it nothing of the sort, does nothing to impress.

  26. Greg, you’re doing that thing where you’re coming across as making a personal attack on someone. Try not to frame your questions in such an antagonistic manner, please.

  27. back in the day, when Bush launched illegal wars, tortured prisoners, ignored the geneva convention, spied on americans, and generally did everything possible to *shit* on the Constitution, did you have the same response then as you do since Obama is doing all those exact same things?

    And all of these things have what to do with health care, exactly?

  28. Frank, Nope, not at all. But thanks for checking.

    Taranto explicitly blames societal decline on the easier availabilty of employment and birth control to women. I view those developments as good things. See the difference?

  29. There are hundreds of extremely gay-friendly, progressive politicians out there, who actively champion this cause.

    None of them would get elected president.

    People seem to think that the president has some sort of magical omnipotent powers, like a monarch who can just set down the rule of law no matter how many people might disagree. It don’t work that way, folks. Stuff has to get through Congress, for one, and with a GOP majority in the house, that ain’t happening.

    In order to get into a position to have even a smidgen of power to actually change things, you have to get elected first. Being an open advocate of same-sex marriage, at this point in political history, guarantees that that won’t happen unless you’re a small-time rep of a very blue state.

    I think people who live in heavily liberal areas don’t realize exactly how conservative the rest of the country still is. They may see a few news stories or occasionally encounter someone like this, but they write it off as a blip. They don’t realize how vastly outnumbered we still are, as far as the electorate is concerned.

    FWIW, we are getting close. We inch forward every year as (sorry for the morbidity) the older, less-gay-friendly generation dies off and is replaced by new, young voters who have never known a time when gay folk weren’t on primetime TV. And other grassroots efforts are slowly changing other minds.

    But we’re not there, yet. We’re not yet in a position where we can say damn the haters and do what we want. And that means playing politics in the meantime so we can keep making steady progress on what we DO have the power to do.

  30. if I recall, there were calls for the senate to use some rule to bypass a possible filibuster and give the public option a vote only needing 51 votes, because it was clear that it could have gotten 51 votes. I am would shocked, shocked I say, to discover that Obama leaned on Dem leaders in the senate tomake sure that never happened.

    I cant recall who said it but it was pointed out that Senator Snowe of Maine was not queen of the US. we didnt need her approval to vet HCR througb. we may have been able to get the public option through on an up/down vote. but Obama traded away a public option in exchange for campaign money.

    Obama is now making sure there are no criminal investigations into wallstreet in order to keep the money flowing into campaign coffers.

    at what point does this ‘shrewd politician’ become functionally indistinguishable from any corporate lackey? oh wait we were never going to investigate wall street anyway, right? so that makes it ok.

    anyone notice the war against libya is illegal? that gaddafi had just hapened to quite recently demanded that american oil companies pay more money to drill in Libya? I’m sure the history from Iran 1953 is irrelevant here. back then the democratically elected government of Iran was giving British Petroluem a hard time about drling in Iran. And wouldnt you know, MI6 and the CIA overthrew that givernment in operation ajax and put in a puppet caled the shaw.

    but Obama is only doing what the people demand he do anyway, right? overthrow gaddafi and put in some puppet that lets us have oil for cheap.

    we arent going to war against the tyrany in saudi arabia, are we? the monarchy in Kuwait? its all about the oil, and Obamas hands are tied.

    I really should write Bush an apology because I thought he had some responsibility for the actions of the US administration. But now I see the reality is Bush was a slave to the process. He had to invade Iraq, he had to cook up the intel, he had to lie to the american people and the world about wmds. poor little George, completely subservient to the political machine.

  31. Actually, I don’t think the Libya thing can be blamed on the US or the need for oil. This debacle, ashamed as I am to admit it, is a European generated quagmire which managed to snare the US on NATO obligations. Y’see the then new UK conservative Government wanted to set its own stamp on military policy, and France had just had a rather nasty fuckup with the Egypt revolt and needed to generate some positive spin and quick, and they both hated Libya and Gaddafi.

    So when the protests happened in Libya they convinced themselves it was going to be another two week rebellion with a new leader and Gaddafi on a plane to Chad. Which was not going to happen, ever, but they wanted to believe it so badly and they thought “hey, lets get in on this” so that when what they thought was the inevitable result came it would give them a quick hit of national pride, some positive spin, and a nice opinion poll bump (something the UK prime minister really needed and still needs). The idiots.

    Obama has kept the US as out of it as he realistically can without causing NATO to implode and/or causing a permanent diplomatic rift with the EU (something that would be disastrous for both EU and US). It’s a nice reverse of Iraq really, this time US citizens can blame us in Europe for dragging you into an illegal war on strongarm treaty tactics. In this one the oil really is just a bonus, and not the cause.

  32. US military action against Libya is in direct violation of the US war powers act. There was zero congressional approval of the war. the war powers act lets the president use military force in the case of self defense for up to 60 days. this was never a matter of defense and its been way longer than 60 days.

    whether it would harm relations with nato countries should take lower priority to the war being illegal. evenmore so if the war was started by knuckleheads looking to score easy political points by killing human beings only to find themselves up to their armpits in quagmire.

  33. if I recall, there were calls for the senate to use some rule to bypass a possible filibuster and give the public option a vote only needing 51 votes, because it was clear that it could have gotten 51 votes

    Sure; it would have required doing away with the filibuster and the Democratic caucus didn’t want to do it, because–shock, horror–they foresaw a future where they might want to use the filibuster. Obama wasn’t the road block on that one.

    I’m not particularly pleased with a number of things that BHO has done (the war stuff especially, though even here he’s winding down both Iraq and Afghanistan essentially as promised), but I’m also aware of the political reality in which he lives. Given that, I think he’s doing a pretty solid job.

  34. Something about Savage’s GGG philosophy just doesn’t sit well with me, and I can’t quite put my finger on it. Perhaps it’s a sense of inequality between the spouse interested in, say, a fetish and the spouse who isn’t? It feels like the onus is entirely on the latter partner – either they engage in this fetish that they might find unappealing, allow their spouse to have sex outside of the marriage, or get a divorce. There appears to be no onus on the former partner to reevaluate their sexual needs for the sake of the relationship. It feels like blackmail. Or maybe I’m misinterpreting?

  35. it was not the so called ‘nuclear option’. it was a call to use another senate rule called reconcilliation which circumvents a fillibuster. It was used many many times by Bush. Obama could have used it to get the public option through and get real healthcare reform. as it is, a lot of reforms dont even take effect for a couple years.

  36. David @ 16:

    Yeah, I noticed how he gave up right away once health care became unpopular.

    Even during the Summer of Loud Lies, the public supported healthcare reform. The public option was one of the things that had the strongest public support … including a majority of registered Republicans.
    Tal @ 32:

    People seem to think that the president has some sort of magical omnipotent powers, like a monarch who can just set down the rule of law no matter how many people might disagree. It don’t work that way, folks.

    That’s incredibly, obnoxiously condescending.

    I don’t expect him to work miracles, I expect him to do the damn job. He had two full years of significant Democratic majorities in both houses. Obviously, that didn’t make Congress a rubber stamp — especially considering the well-funded bugfuckedness of the opposition — but if you can’t make significant progress (*) in that situation on the things your own party supposedly supports, then it’s perfectly reasonable for people to wonder what the hell the problem is without being dismissed as political simpletons.

    (*) No, the tattered remains of health care reform weren’t significant progress, considering that they were largely retreaded Republican proposals from the 90’s.

  37. Wow. The idea that people are entitled to have their specific kinky sexual fetishes satisfied, either inside a relationship or outside it, is new to me, and has kind of broken my brain. Like…what? I don’t get it. I think everyone needs a hobby, but how about fishing? Sheesh. Anybody that’s going to be with me, should have a fetish for ME, not a cake or whatever. I do agree an affair doesn’t have to be the end of the world. But an affair is often a placeholder for everything else that is wrong in a relationship, so it’s rarely JUST an affair that sinks a marriage.

  38. wait I missed this

    he’s winding down both Iraq and Afghanistan essentially as promised

    as far as I know, Obama is winding down Iraq based on an agreement that Iraq made with Bush Jr. and that agreement will still keep 100k or 50k troops in that country indefinitely. and as far as I know Obama hasnt done anything to reduce the numbers any further than what Bush had already planned.

    You want I should celebrate this like its something Obama gets credit for?

    sandflake: I read some of savages answers to questions sent in by readers aski.g for advice. he did tell one person to cool off the questioning for a while and not ask their partner for some fetish until after a vacation was finished (because the partner asked for a repreive).

    he told a mother who was freaking out about her 14 year old daughter reading about sneeze fetishes that fetishes arent ‘contagious’, that her daughter didnt catch a fetish by reading about it any more than someone becomes gay by seeing gay porn.

    he does seem to lean against traditional views of sex (that it be vanilla). many of his letters seem to be ‘I like this. Is that OK?’ and his standard reply is ‘yes’.

    which seems to be an extension of the ‘is it ok to be gay?’ sorts of questions that young gay people have to face.

    it would seem that the first thing is to get the oerson to a place where they are ‘ok’ with their fetish enough to bring it up without being ashamed about it. only then can a cake player ask to have some cake play from a position of equality in the relationship. if the person is ashamed that they enjoy cake play, then if the other partner reacts with disgust, the person might withdraw from discussions out of shame. which might only result in the cake fetishist looming for someone who likes cake play. On the sly.

    his first point seems to be to get people up to a point where they get its ok to get turned on by something not from mainstreams view of what is a tturnon, and then ask their partner about it from a position where shame isnt present so a real conversation can occur.

  39. it was not the so called ‘nuclear option’. it was a call to use another senate rule called reconcilliation which circumvents a fillibuster. It was used many many times by Bush. Obama could have used it to get the public option through and get real healthcare reform. as it is, a lot of reforms dont even take effect for a couple years.

    Well, no. It was used once. And it can only be used once a year. In very specialized circumstances. And it WAS used once, to get through his particular brand of reform.

    I thought you knew this.

  40. While I generally agree with Dan Savage about nonmonogamy, as ever, he’s a sexist asshole. His viewpoint isn’t just “male” (whatever than means) but male-centric; it never occurs to him that maybe there was a problem with the idyllic Good Old Days of his rhetoric where men were free to nail all the pussy they could buy or take as spoils of war, nor that “egalitarian marriage? Okay, but now we have to be monogamous” was perhaps not all the doing of those spoilsport women.

  41. reconciliation

    One minute you excoriate Obama for imitating Bush, the next you want him to do exactly that. In any case, the Republicans had promised to put a halt to that if tried as well:

    http://thinkprogress.org/politics/2009/03/24/37020/budget-reconciliation/

    So, yes, it would have been going nuclear.

    as far as I know, Obama is winding down Iraq based on an agreement that Iraq made with Bush Jr. and that agreement will still keep 100k or 50k troops in that country indefinitely. and as far as I know Obama hasnt done anything to reduce the numbers any further than what Bush had already planned.

    You know wrong. The Status of Force Agreement requires all American troops to be out of Iraq by the end of 2011, unless the Iraq government asks them to stay.

    You want I should celebrate this like its something Obama gets credit for?

    Honoring American treaty commitments and his own campaign promises? Yes, I would like you to celebrate it.

  42. John, the use of ‘they’ as third-person singular indefinite-gender is ancient and established. The substitution of ‘he’ is recent and stupid. Expunge that 8th-grade English teacher’s simulacrum from your cortex, and use ‘they’ as singular to your evil heart’s content! Split infinitives, too, if you want to, and end sentences with prepositions (two other stupid non-rules someone decided to impose out of a personal fetish, in this case for Latin). Editing! Gerunds! Death!

    heteromeles In California, I have family who voted no on proposition 8 because they were told to do so by their ministers, not because they’d actually read the measure. They’re not especially anti-gay…

    Ah, you mean they voted YES on Prop. 8, which was the one to prohibit marriage equality, not to establish it. Mnemonic: Prop h8.

  43. catherine@41: Wow. The idea that people are entitled to have their specific kinky sexual fetishes satisfied, either inside a relationship or outside it, is new to me, and has kind of broken my brain. Like… what? I don’t get it.

    which part broke your brain? that people get to be sexually satisfied? or the ‘outside the relationship’ part?

    cause I think everyone ought to be able to find sexual satusfaction and find a partner that is compatible with that.

    the ‘outside the relationship’ part, well thats a question for the couple in question. This is probably where Savage oversteps because he argues that people can have their fetisgmh, which is fine, but he also argues that the monogomous partner must allow the other partner to go outside the relationship if they cant get what they want inside.

    what you like is up to you. if you like cake play, have at it. and if you like monogomy, have at it. thre problem with Savage isnt that he is male or male centric or male whatever. the problem is he is fetish centric. if a married couple comes to him because it turns out the woman is turned on by having four men at once and the husband takes issue with that, Savage would suggest the husband let her have her fetish and suggest the husbands reluctance is less genuine than the wifes interest.

    Savage holds the fetish view as more… uhm… valid… than a nonfetish view. It could be a woman or a man. he doesnt care. so he isnt sexist. he doesnt favor males or females. he cavors the fetish view and assumes the vanilla or monogamous view is just cultural indoctrination or something.

    I think everyone needs a hobby, but how about fishing? Sheesh. Anybody that’s going to be with me, should have a fetish for ME, not a cake or whatever. I do a

  44. It’s unsurprising that women think of Dan Savage as a “sexist asshole”. He’s a man, he’s never going to fully “get” the female POV. I kinda like the fact that he’s an in-your-face guy when it comes to talking about sex. I personally think that a consensual relationship can take place among and between as many partners as the whole group deems acceptable, and whether that includes lesbianism, homosexuality, fetishism or any other “ism” that isn’t plain vanilla sex is not, and should not be, the business of anyone except the consenting parties. Several commenters here seem to suggest that if a monogamous couple (one partner or both) seeks satisfaction of their fetishes outside the relationship because one partner is squeamish, that somehow means the original monogamous relationship is doomed to fail. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. I have certain health issues which, shall we say, make intercourse (among other activities) rather uncomfortable at best, downright excruciating at worst. I told my husband both before and after our marriage that if he needed to sow his wild oats elsewhere, I wasn’t gonna stop him. He shouldn’t have to do without simply because I don’t enjoy it. But I love him just as much now as I did when I first met him 7.5 yrs ago, and I don’t see that changing anytime in the near future. Going outside “traditional” marriage for “nontraditional” sex play is, I think, healthier than forcing one partner to suppress their “kink” for the sake of the squeamishness of the more “traditional” partner. It’s easy to say “Well, can’t the nontraditional one just break up/divorce and find someone who shares their kink?” If they genuinely love the person they’re with, and the person they’re with genuinely loves them back, but simply isn’t interested in a particular aspect of sex play, why does that mean, as I said at the beginning, that the original relationship is doomed to failure? I have yet to hear a rational defense of that position.

  45. #47 Greg What broke my brain? You said it: “fetishcentric.” Totally new to me. I don’t get fetishes in general, though. I guess you could say I’m “peoplecentric.”

  46. I dont think there is anything to ‘get’ about a fetish other than it is whatever turns someone on. Savage gets credit for trying to ‘normalize’ fetish views. You dont really choose what turns you on. You dont choose to be straight. you dont choose to be gay. you dont choose to be turned on by leather, latex, chips, dips, chains, whips, candlewax on the nipples (obscure movie quote there). Its just what your turned on by. some people arent turned on much by the idea of sex, and thats just the same thing. there is no ‘right’ turn on.

    the only thing to ‘get’ I think is people have different turnons. and you want to have enough experience before you marry so that you know what you like and dont like so you can choose a partner that is compatible with you. and they ought to have enough experience that they know what they like as well. you dont want to be fifteen years into a marriage and then realize you’re a submissive and you partner is passive. its going to make for a difficult marriage.

    as far as ‘they should be turned on by me’, thats sort of what Savage I think is trying to get to by getti.g people to talk honestly and openly with their partner. so they can be the one who fulfils your fantasy and you fulfil theirs. its not like they are turned on by leather, they’re turned on by *you* in leather. but you cant get to that point if they dont talk about it. and Savage seems to spend a lot of time telling people ‘your fetish is fine. talk to your partner about it’.

    he said multiple times that you should put all you ‘fetish cards face up’ to your partner before the relationship gets too involved so the other person knows.

    i

    if you are turned *off* by most fetishes then that is fine, but it is probably one of those cards you shoukd put face up for your partner to see before you gat married.

  47. I’m rather shocked at the posts criticizing Obama for not being more supportive on gay marriage. He was fairly clear during the campaign that he opposed it for religious reasons. So you shouldn’t expect that position to turn on dime or the latest poll.

  48. I appreciate the comments by #48 & 50 above, as I was getting a bit put-off by the “fetish” line of argument in the thread and wanted to say the same sorts of things in response. There is no real plain-vanilla sex. Amongst consenting adults, what turns their crank is just that – what turns them on. A “fetish” is a label some third party who’s not interested in that particular activity puts on it, and arguing from that standpoint is a way to artificially divide people into “us” and “them” so you can more easily (though fallaciously) attack their position.

    You don’t get to decide what’s good sex for other, consenting adults, just as they don’t get to decide for you. As #47 said above, “I think everyone ought to be able to find sexual satusfaction and find a partner that is compatible with that.” And if I’m so selfish that I won’t ever play in a good & generous way with something my partner wants because it’s not my ultimate turn-on, then I shouldn’t be surprised if she brings up the idea of an arrangement like the one in the Savage article.

  49. I don’t think it should be the feds business how we define marriage.

    In fact, I don’t think it should be any government’s business. If you are religious, then treat marriage as a sacrament – let your church define it. If not, do whatever you wish yourself.

    The state already recognizes implied contracts for parental support and palimony. Maybe create a standard contract which people can sign with their responsibilities.

    Social Security can be treated the same as any other insurance – maybe with shared beneficiaries for someone’s first and second spouse. Or let my brother or sister or the kid I promised to pay for his college be the beneficiary.

  50. Jennifer @48:

    – Being male does not preclude some degree of “getting” other points of view – for example, the notion that a world where men were free to have mistresses, prostitutes and slaves (concubines) was perhaps not such a playa’s paradise for the mistresses, prostitutes and slaves, or, really, for any other woman who had to deal with the double standard.
    – Being unable to 100% appreciate a (not “the”) female point of view does not mean one has to be a sexist asshole.
    – Being open and in-your-face about sex advice does not require a pretense that women are just kinda boring and not all that much into sex anyway, and fucked things up for the poor, libidinous males when they got all those fancy ideas about not being property and “if you don’t want me to have sex outside our relationship, then you can’t either.”

    Which is to say, I think Savage does a lot of good things (like the It Gets Better project) and I agree with a lot of what he has to say. But as the NYT article points out, he is, to put it politely, “old-fashioned”; he is judgmental about certain kinds of sex, he’s fine with the cinq-au-sept model but not really clueful about actual polyamory, and speaking as someone who has been reading since his “Hey Faggot!” days, his constant digs at lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people is really goddamn tiresome.

  51. Howard Brazee @ #55:

    Government-getting-out-of-marriage is a forbidden topic ’round here because it’s been done to death, yet someone always brings it up. Fair warning.

    lil mike @ #52:

    Yeah, he was. US black churches historically have been quite unfriendly to gay rights, and don’t seem to appreciate the irony of being opposed to civil rights for people who aren’t like them.

  52. mythago, I just read a bunch of his advice letters yesterday, I dont have the familiarity with his writing that you do. but the impression I got from his letters yesterday wasnt that he was looming to impose or recreate a double standard FOR WOMEN. the impression I got was he was forwarding the idea that everyone, regardless of gender or orientation, ought to be able to negotiate with their partner to get sexual satisfaction and if they cant find it within the relationship, the other partner might want to consider letting them go outside the relationship to get it.

    He is clearly fetish-biased. he assumes that the partner who wants monogomy needs to change and the partner who wants the fetish should get their fetish. And I dont agree with that position. I think any relatiinship is a negotiation and if there is an impasse, I think the partners should split and find relationships that work rather than say cheating is ok and should be the default relationship mode.

    but what I read of his advicee wasnt sexist. ithe didnt favor men over women. he favored fetish (and being able to go outside a relatioshipto get that fetish satisfied) over monogamy.

    maybe Savage says some sexist things elsewhere, but at least the position I readisnt inherently sexist.

    course none of the advice I rread was disparaging towards lesbians or transgender people, so maybe his bias ony comes out once in a while.

  53. Greg: “This is probably where Savage oversteps because he argues that people can have their fetisgmh, which is fine, but he also argues that the monogomous partner must allow the other partner to go outside the relationship if they cant get what they want inside.”

    Actually, he doesn’t say that (even aside from the minor issue that you said ‘monogamist’ when ‘fetishist’ works more cleanly). What he says is that that’s one possibility that is worth considering. Another is that the partner of the fetishist learns to satisfy the fetish. And yet another possibility is that the fetishist just doesn’t get to fulfill their fetish. Savage is all about people making reasonable sacrifices for the sake of a relationship. The default position for society is this last, that the fetish must be sacrificed.

    He doesn’t take that off the table. He’s suggesting you put other things on the table and talk about those possibilities, and make a choice together based on your combined needs and wants.

  54. correction: when I compared ‘monogamist’ versus ‘fetishist’ I meant ‘non-fetishist’.

  55. drachefly, Savage seems to presume that a monogamist or a nonfetshist is the way they are due to cultural indoctrination. i cant easily quote from my phone, but I recall references to historical stereotypes like the days when men had mistresses and so on. and that the switch to monogamy was culturally created artificial status.

    if someone says to savage ‘I like cake play’, Savge never questioned the sincerity of that statement or whether it had ‘valid’ origins. if someone said to him ‘i lime plain vanilla sex and i cant get into my partners fetish’, I got the distict impresion that Savage would question that persons statements and suggest their view is simply cultural baggage, and if they just relaxed a little, they might find they like cake play or whatever their partner wants.

    he gave the impression of playing favorites.

    I can read through his letters again tonight and double check my impression but thats how he left this reader.

  56. In his newspaper columns at least he never gave me that impression. He’s said things along the lines of we all have little things that turn us on, but not that they are necessarily weird things. After all, ‘normal’ still means something after you strip away its normative baggage.

    As for monogamy – well, right in the linked article here, he makes himself pretty clear. Some, even perhaps most, people can be monogamous. Some have no urges to stray. Some do, but keep them in check. Until recently, there was an asymmetric requirement on the sexes for monogamy. Those are pretty noncontroversial statements, I think. His point is to support realism in relationships. An Honest Nonmonogamous Dude (HND) is substantially better than a Lying Cheating Bastard… in particular if the HND can come clean about this status before getting into a committed relationship, so everyone knows what they’re in for.

    That said, I’ve seen him advise people to ask their partners nicely, even seen him suggest arguments they could use, but going behind their back and cheating? No.

    The letter at the bottom of the page today is the first case I’ve seen where he advocated the kind of pressure you’re talking about, to someone who hadn’t already expressed that it was that-or-cheat. The last thought expressed was sort of alarming.

    He’s a bit erratic, that’s for sure. I think this was an outlier.

  57. drachefly, actualy that was one of the letters I read that specifically gave me the impression he prioritized fetish+poly over nonfetish+mono. his advice came across as stating up front that it was non negotiable for the fetish guy to get his fetish.

    no, not really. thaats the point of negotiation. you ask for what you want, your partner says what they want and you both agree to something. that may or may not include the original fetish request.

    the point is it isnt up to Savage to get into the negotiations and say what is and isnt negotiable. thats for the part.ers to figure out. he is right to get the fetish person to speak up and make the request and talk with their partner. he is overstepping his place and putting himself into someone elses relationship when he says what is nonnegotiable.

  58. I’m a newcomer to your blog, having discovered it by means of Your Hate Mail Will Be Graded , and I agreed with your posts a good deal of the time.

    On the gay marriage issue, I would go further than I have seen others go. I think we need to decouple civil marriage from what kind of or how much sex the adults in the household are having. If they have an emotional bond that makes them comfortable living together for the long term, and if they are willing to share in the duties of running a household together, both economic and social, they should have the legal and tax benefits of marriage. I think civil marriage should be available to any adults who wish to form a household together for mutual economic and emotional support and, if there are or will be children in the household, for the joint support (economic, moral, emotional, etc.) of the children in it. As long as they will commit to raising children, if any, in a responsible way, and treating each other as equals, they should be entitled to civil marriage if they want it. Platonic couples, same-sex couples, two elderly people who enjoy each other’s company, whatever? Even polygamy or polyandry, if it’s all consenting adults — whose business is it, really, other than their own?

  59. My take, not that anyone asked for it:

    “Vanilla” is also an orientation.

    If one person in a relationship is vanilla, and the other person isn’t, the vanilla partner–simply by virtue of their vanilla-ness–doesn’t get to call the shots. If the relationship is truly a partnership, both partners should accomodate their opposite numbers. For some people, vanilla might be something they really don’t wanna do, and would be as off-putting to them as the most outre orientation.

  60. As someone who is currently in a serious, stable polyamorous relationship (or, rather, several of them, depending on how to define it), I completely agree: stability trumps monogamy.

    People often take the suggestion that there can be some honest alternative to monogamy as an attack on their own lives or values, and it’s a shame. We see examples around us all the time in popular culture with cheating and divorce (often over that cheating, or other examples of marital-strife). As most of us who espouse the option of non-monogamy will admit, it’s not for everyone. A lot of people are quite happy with just one person.

    The real trouble happens when someone who is happy with just one person is in a long term relationship or marriage to someone who is not happy with just one person… whether they realize it consciously or not. (and, worse, even those who realize it often think there is something wrong with them due to how hard our culture pushes monogamy despite the prevalence, even glamorization of hook-ups, cheating, group sex, etc.)

    The fact is (at least from a purely secular point of view), there’s not actually anything wrong with multiple partners, group sex, hook-ups, or what-have-you. What’s wrong is when people do it with dishonesty. But our culture is so obsessed with these mutually-contradictory morals that we’re placed into these quandaries, and very often succumb to these temptations that we’re told we should never tell our spouse/partner about.

  61. But our culture is so obsessed with these mutually-contradictory morals

    Uhm, which morals are those again? Monogamy and …. some other moral that contradicts monogamy?

  62. Uhm, which morals are those again? Monogamy and …. some other moral that contradicts monogamy?

    Perhaps “morals” wasn’t quite the right term, but our society’s general taboo against admitting to your partner that you want other things than they may be able to or want to provide emotionally or sexually.

  63. Dan, yeah ‘morals’ wasnt even close.

    “The real trouble happens when someone who is happy with just one person is in a long term relationship or marriage to someone who is not happy with just one person… whether they realize it consciously or not.”

    that would be a screw up due to the non monogamous person. if they were conscious of their nonmonogamy, they really have no right to be in a relationship where the other person expected monogamy. and if they were unconscious of it, that would say to me they got married way too early and way before they were ready. if one expects to enter into any sort of relationship based purely on commitment (whatever that commitment is) then they need to know enough about who they are so they can be honest with their partner about it *before* the ‘I do’ happens.

    as for the taboo against talking to your partner, well, that would be a good guideline to know whether you are actually ready to get married: can you talk about that stuff with the people you date? can you *negotiate* with the people you date? if not, that person is definitely not ready to enter into any sort of committed relationship where the only adult avenue for resolvi.g issues is talking about it and negotiating.

    I dont think the problem is a taboo from society, but rather a fantasy held by people who think if they just find that perfect someone, their soulmate or whatever, that it will all work out happily ever after.

    doesnt work that way, except for the extremely lucky and fortunate few.

    for the most part, people arent born ready to get married. and they have to acquire a whole bunch of skills to become ready. most people think the problem is the other person, when the reality is if you arent ready then the problem with the relationship is at least partly you.

  64. Greg @58: Indeed, he’s not saying that only men should be allowed to screw around, nor does he have any problem calling advice-seekers on double standards. But he’s firmly entrenched in the idea that women don’t really like sex all that much, men are horndogs naturally, and monogamy is a female invention imposed on men. There’s absolutely no awareness of the idea that perhaps people’s sexual behavior is affected by culture, or law, or double standards, or is anything other than reflection of their God-crafted and gender-specific libidos.

    Robin @65: As the saying goes, vanilla is a flavor.

  65. I would say Obama prefers a political win to a moral non-victory. My impression is that he doesn’t see a lot of value in taking a principled stand that doesn’t accomplish anything. I also think he does this to a fault, as he’s unwilling to put himself out there in any way he has to take back should a compromise be possible at a later date. The fact that his opponents simply aren’t playing ball must occur to him (it’s a common theme in his campaign speeches), but I think he intentionally assumes every argument is in good faith, as if by the sheer force of will, it’ll start happening.

    In this particular case I imagine he can see that the gains of this movement will be stronger if they work their way up through the legislature, rather than being pushed from the top-down, where they can be overruled in a few years by opposing forces playing on the resentment of having “their morality shoved down our throats” (a phrase used with alarming frequency to describe damn near everything in politispeak now). Where he’s not actively helping (DADT, not defending DOMA), he’s happy to stay out of their way. He’s said in the past he doesn’t agree with gay marriage. Well, the prize isn’t shaming his beliefs, it’s changing the laws, and he’s not fighting them. Rachel Maddow did a bit on her show about how “Obama is against what just happened in New York”. Well, even if it’s true, so what? I don’t see him taking the proverbial torch from George Wallace and going to stand in front of any churches. There are real enemies in this fight, I don’t see the strategic value in adding to their numbers when not necessary.

  66. DOMA is dead in the water. It’s only a matter of time before it is repealed, and takes down every anti-ssm state law and/or constitutional amendment with it.

    The end of DADT will overturn DOMA by necessity. Imagine what will happen when a legally-out, legally married (in NY or wherever) same-sex couple has children, and the active duty partner is killed in whatever sandbox we’re playing in, and suddenly those kids/the other parent is denied survivorship benefits because of DOMA. Or what will happen when the legally-out, legally-married civilian spouse and any children are denied benefits like base housing, commissary privileges, medical benefits, or the spousal support networks bases have. Imagine just how well the military, which is historically the institution that is the first to integrate racially/genderwise/what have you, will enjoy explaining to its servicemembers that the legal and major financial benefits only apply to some of its members, because of a law that was designed to be discriminatory.

    DOD is aware of this, and is planning for how to execute the transition. Frustrating though the wait may be, the payoff is in sight and it is huge.

    As for the equal protection and general societal kindness for transgendered folks, that’s going to take a lot longer and a lot more tears. I for the life of me can’t understand why it’s such a big deal….okay, Person A has decided that zie wants to live hir life in such and such a fashion, it is harmful to nobody, and is the healthier, happier choice for A. Why is this anybody’s business but hir own, and why is treating hir with respect and kindness and equal financial opportunity so impossible for some people?

  67. I still maintain that we’re not going to get anywhere in discussing the Savage article as long as people are arguing from a “fetish” vs. “non-fetish” standpoint (cf. numerous examples from commenter Greg above). At best it’s a straw man position, and several of the posts above have an ad hominem, poisoning-the-well quality to them as well. All a “fetish” between consenting adults implies is that they’re engaging in some activity that doesn’t blow your skirt up. Heck, I know some couples in which one partner has such a low libido that the idea of pretty much any sexual activity at all is distasteful. Should this person’s partner be labeled fetishistic if they bring up the subject ?

    Sure, Savage may be a sexist jerk and/or homophobic, and it’s valid to bring that into the discussion if it’s relevant. But can we drop the fetish stuff ? It’s essentially meaningless and really muddies the water…

  68. David, fetish specifically refers to getting sexually turned on by some physical object that isnt usually associated with sex. cake fetish. the etymology refers to some physical object with magical properties.

    it isnt inherently an ad hominem, it refers to some specific behavior.

    now it might be that someone might try to use the term as an ad hominem, the way some people use ‘gay’ to mean ‘bad’. but that shouldnt mean the gay community has to rename itself every time some jerk uses their name as an insult and it doesnt mean everyone who sayd the word ‘gay’ is launching an ad hominem.

    and as far as Savage being sexist, the only thing I have seen anyone poi.t to as sexist is Savage’s assertion that women dont like sex as much as men. and the link I posted above says thats supported by study after study on the topic.

  69. Greg, the basis of much of what you’ve written in this thread comes from this argument: “Dan Savage seems to say that wishes of the partner with the paraphlia or non-monogamous desires should always take precedence.” That is a strawman; Dan Savage is not making that claim.

    Heteronormative, non-paraphilic, “Missionary-style” monogamy is the privileged view on sexuality and sexual relationships in this culture. As such, it is often viewed as the default view, the “normal” view. In any debate, the privileged party always has the option to attempt to shut down or derail the conversation by appealing to that default. But that is a fallacy: privileged positions are not the default.

    The letters and responses that Dan Savage tends to publish are from people who are concerned that their desires are going to be, or have already been, rejected by their partners on the basis of this privilege.* Savage’s actual position in his columns is that the paraphilic/non-monogamous partner does not have to acquiesce to the privileged partner. Savage is perfectly aware of the importance of negotiation on any relationship. He is arguing that the under-privileged partner should be negotiating not from a position of assumed weakness, nor one of assumed strength, but from one of assumed equality.

    Greg, you’ve been arguing from privilege in this thread, in ways both subtle and overt. You are anxiously standing up for the “big guy”, effectively saying that Dan Savage wants to marginalize the desires of “normal” people. Most recently, David H. points out how you may be falling back on that privilege and using the term “fetish” to poison the well.** Your first response is to pull out a dictionary definition for “fetish”. That doesn’t address David’s point at all, it’s just deflection.

    *He also responds to letters from privileged partners who want an “under-privileged friendly” way of asserting their own view as the default, and then shoots them down.

    **I agree that David is misusing “ad hominem“.

  70. doc, read post #63 and get back to me. It was advice Savage gave to someone saying ‘tell your partner you will be getting your fetish with him if he wants or without him if he wont play, but that you wont NOT be getting your fetish in.’

    Savage actually enters the negotiations at that point. it is nk longer the two partners negotiating from equal positions but Savage drawing a line in the sand saying ‘you will do this or he will do that’. that isnt his Savages job. that isnt his decision to make.
    its the decision of the people in the actual relationship.

    Savage actually turns the fetish point of view into the nonnegotiable view. and that was one of the letters of his I read that made me say he is fetish centric. if he was looking for peeople to negotiate the differences in their sex lives, he wouldnt be mandating that fetish is nonnegotiable. thats the decision and choice of the fetishist.

    this has nothing to do with privilege and everything to do with Savage handing out preconditions of negotiations that arent any of his damn business to be handing out.

    marginalize the desires of normal people? I would ask for what quote from me did you paraphrase into that spin.

    As for David’s accusation, it seems to me that when accused of using a word wrong, the place to start is the dictionary. my point was that he was reading a lot more into my use of the term than I had ever put there. fetish has ZERO negative connotations as far as I am concerned. I was not using it to poison any well or marginalize anyone’s sexual turnons. but if you are turned on by cake, you have a textbook definition of fetish. Calling it a fetish BECAUSE THATS WHAT IT IS and then being told YOURE DOIN IT RONG! seemed best answered with the actual definition of the word fetish. using a word for its textbook definition, then being told that I am exercising privilege is… interesting tactics.

    If you can find anywhere in this thread where I am actively defending what you call the ‘big guy’, I would like to see that. saying Savage oversteps the bounds and actually enters the negotiations of a private relationship tha is really none of his damn business, is not defending any particulaf side of that relationship.

    thats the fucking point.

    it isnt any of my damn business how a couple comes to decidewhat they will and will not do in their relationship. it isnt Savages business either. sure, he can tell one side they have just as much right to negotiate from a position of equallity on the relationship. thats not the same as handing out preconditions of the negotiated solution.

    what people often cannot distinguish is crticism of someone one their side as being exactly the same as an attack on everyone who holds their point of view.

    i dont care what your kink is. i dont care what your fetish is. i dont care that your vanilla flavored in the bedroom or that you are the veritable 200 flavors kind of person. And I can hold that position and that opinion with congruity while simultaneously saying Savage stepped across a line with his advice.

    and if people cant get the difference between the two, then the problem isnt me misusing a word or me exercising privilege.

    criticizing Savage about a particular approach of his advice isnt the same as criticizing fetistists as a whole or trying to establish some flavor ofsexas being the right flavor.

  71. No, Greg, it is about privilege, whether you chose to recognize that or not.

    “I would ask for what quote from me did you paraphrase into that spin.”
    “If you can find anywhere in this thread where I am actively defending what you call the ‘big guy’, I would like to see that.”

    if someone says to savage ‘I like cake play’, Savge never questioned the sincerity of that statement or whether it had ‘valid’ origins. if someone said to him ‘i lime plain vanilla sex and i cant get into my partners fetish’, I got the distict impresion that Savage would question that persons statements and suggest their view is simply cultural baggage

    First off, you don’t know that either of these statements is true. Second, the privileged half of this statement doesn’t need Dan Savage, or anyone else, to pay lip service to the validity of their views. But they do need it to be pointed out that their views are not the only views, nor the default views . Meanwhile, the under-privileged do need to be told that their views are valid. That is the struggle between the privileged and the under-privileged.

    Resorting textbook definitions to defend the privileged viewpoint is derailment. It’s also poor argument, particularly when the accepted definition and the one being proffered do not differ in significant ways.

    Dan Savage is not “[entering] the negotiations of a private relationship”. He’s answering questions in an advice column, which means his opinion has been specifically solicited. He’s been invited to give his advice. Or course, neither party in the actual relationship is under any obligation to heed his words. He can’t dictate to anyone what they have to think or do. You are welcome to the opinion that his advice is wrong. You are not correct to say that he has no business offering said advice.

  72. doc, its only about privilege because you insist on spinning everything that way. and one thing I have found about every conversation I have witnessed about privilege is that the people saying its ALL about privilege are immune to discussion.

    as for your quote of my ‘defending the big guy’, first of all yeah, as a matter fact I k.ow WITH ABSOLUTE CERTAINTY that they are true because what I said was I GET THE DISTINCT IMPRESSION. I said somewhere that I had read a large chunk.of the articld and that I had read through a few pages worth of Savages advice, and guess what? that was the impression he gave me.

    If you think he gave me some other impression, well, that goes back to me never seeing a person who accused someone of priivilege of ever saying, ‘ya know, I was wrong. my bad.’

    second of all, there is a distinct difference between what you quoted and how you spun it. there is a difference, significant actually, between ‘Savage would QUESTION THE SINCERITY of someone expressing a preference for vanilla sex’ and your version of ‘people in privilege need to be reminded that their view is not the only view’.

    if you cannnot bother to acknowledge the significant difference between what I ACTUALLY SAID versus how you paraphrased it, then, ok, fine, apologize that you paraphrased my words into something else entirely.

    thirdly, resorting to textbook definitions is absolutely NOT derailment if the entire source of contention comes down to people taki.g my words and making them mean whatever they want them to mean.

    if cake turns you on, you have a cake fetish. thats what the goddamn word means. whatever anyone wants to invent about how I used it to poison some imaginary well, when I damn sure didnt, is something THEY are addi.g to the conversation. not me. when people start blaming ME for the baggage THEY bring to conversation, one way to highlight the baggage is to highlight how I used the dictionary definitiin of a word and they used their baggage version of the word.

    if cake turns you on you have a cake fetish.

    thats what it means. thats how I used it.

    as for your entire last paragraph, thats hilarious. he overstepped his place and pushed his own personal baggage into someone elses relationship, and your response, and you primary defense of that, is, well, people dont have to follow his advice.

    Really?

    ok, fine, lets just ignore that mind bending ‘our side can do no wrong’ mentality, and let me ask you one question: what did I say in that part you just quoted?

    my entire point of the part you quoted was… wairt for it…

    Savage is pro-fetish. that he would never question the validity of a fetish brought to him, but that he WOULD question the validity of someine who claims they prefer vanilla. my point is that Savage is biased. and it shows upin the advice he gives.

    And your responseto that is ‘well no one is FORCED to follow his advice’

    guess what? i wasnt saying it was a shame Savage forces people to do what he says. my complaint was that he has a particular kind of bias. it would seem you actually agree with my assessment but rather than admit it, you change the topic to accuse me of privilege and dismiss my point, apparently, on the grounds that it is accurate, but Savage cant force anyone, so whats the harm of a little bias.

    savage gave me the impression as being pro-fetish. as being biased to not question any fetish, while being biased to question the validity of ‘vanilla’.

    note thats not the same as saying Savage reminds people who are vanilla that their view isnt the onlg view. people in the majority of any group MAY need reminding, or maybe not. but thats not what I said about savage.

    also note that my point was ‘oh mygod, that poor guy now has to do everything Savage told him to do, exactly as Savage said to do it’.

    thats notwhatI said, but thatis what you are replying to as if I had said it.

    see, this is why dictionaries matter. The problem isnt I am asserting privilege and using dictionary definitions to derail. The problem is that even when you quote me, you turn it into something completely different and then chastize me for what you turned it into rather than what I actually said.

    Savage gave me the distinct impreesion of being pro fetish and that he would far more likely question the validity of someone expressing the preference for vanilla sex then fetish sex.

    if you want to discuss that point, the part I actually said, then I am open to that.

    if you wish tocontinue turning mywords tomean something other than what I actually said, and then chastize me for what you made them mean, then I dont know what to tell you. because that reinforces the point that you arent reslonding to what I actually write and every response gets translated into something else anyway, so how do I clarify if words dont matter, if dictionaries dont matter, and if what I said versus what you are attacking me for are so far disconnected that I was windering if one of us crossposted to the wrong thread.

    but, hey, at least we agree on one thing. Savage gave bad advice. I read it as evidence of his bias. you shrugged it off as ‘he cant force someone to follow his advice’. so in a weird way, we found somethi.g to agree on. we just made it mean completely different things.

  73. Greg, are you saying that heteronormative, non-paraphilic, “Missionary-style” monogamy does not enjoy a privileged status in this culture? If so, then you’re right, we’re probably not going to come to an agreement.

    “I k.ow WITH ABSOLUTE CERTAINTY that they are true because what I said was I GET THE DISTINCT IMPRESSION.”

    Don’t be obtuse. Obviously that was your impression. The “truth” in question here is what Savage did or did not say to the cake fetishist, and what he would or would not say to “plain vanilla sex” lover.

    Now, in what way is “question[ing] the sincerity” of the privileged view significantly different from “point[ing] out that their views are not the only views” (my actual quote, btw)? I should note that “sincerity” appears to be your word, not Savage’s or mine. And don’t tell me what I should apologize for. That’s just rude.

    the problem is he is fetish centric. if a married couple comes to him because it turns out the woman is turned on by having four men at once and the husband takes issue with that, Savage would suggest the husband let her have her fetish and suggest the husbands reluctance is less genuine than the wifes interest.

    fetish specifically refers to getting sexually turned on by some physical object that isnt usually associated with sex.

    So actually, Greg, you are using “fetish” as a placeholder for any non-normative sexual practice, rather than sticking to its technical definition.

    “your response, and you primary defense of that, is, well, people dont have to follow his advice.”

    No, Greg, my response is that he gave his advice upon being asked. That the readers are free to take or not take his advice is part and parcel with the nature of advice. Perhaps it should have gone without saying. Are you saying that an advice columnist should not give his advice? Or that zie should only give advice that you approve of? If I ask my friend, “Should I buy a new iMac or build a Windows box?” and he replies, “Doc, under no circumstances should you ever buy an Apple”, is he overstepping his bounds? What am I missing here?

    “Savage is pro-fetish.”

    The hell you say. A columnist with a bias? Horrors…

    “that he would never question the validity of a fetish brought to him, but that he WOULD question the validity of someine who claims they prefer vanilla.”

    And here I think you’re taking it too far. “Never” is a mighty long time.

    ” it would seem you actually agree with my assessment ”

    No, no I don’t. Well… I do agree that he has a bias. I do not agree that this is a negative. Rather, I expect all opinion writers, be they advice columnists, political pundits, or film critics, to have and show their biases.

    “accuse me of privilege”
    “I am asserting privilege”

    This strongly suggests that you don’t understand privilege, or that someone unfortunately hit you with the privilege bat once too often. Also, please correct me if I am wrong, but I have been assuming that you are male, heterosexual, in favor of monogamy, and do not have any strong fetishes, paraphilias, or interests in other non-normative sexual practices. If this is true, than you, my friend, are privileged. That’s not an accusation. There is a difference between both 1) privilege and prejudice; and 2) defending privilege and bigotry*.

    “Savage gave me the distinct impreesion of being pro fetish and that he would far more likely question the validity of someone expressing the preference for vanilla sex then fetish sex.”

    Greg, why does he give you this impression? And why is this a bad thing? And how do you square this impression** with Savage specifically stating that he considers the relationship to be the paramount concern?

    I’m not putting words in you mouth, Greg. I am telling you what the implications of your words are. And I don’t think Savage gives bad advice. His advice is that the under-privileged need to assert their position. It’s easy for someone with “normative” sexual interests to fall back to that, to say “I just can’t. I don’t see why you have to.” The often unspoken follow-up to “I just can’t” is “Why should I do what you want. You’re the weird one.”

    *most advocates for the under-privileged would agree with 1, but I do get push-back on 2. My logic is that the defender of privilege is entirely about personal protection and view the continued marginalization of the under-privileged as collateral damage, unfortunate but immaterial. Whereas the bigot sees these things as a zero sum game, that it’s not enough to win, the under-privileged must lose. The push-back I get is that if the end result for the under-privileged (continues marginalization) is the same, then the other difference are irrelevant, if not downright hurtful.

    **an impression, I should not, that seems to be based on a partial reading of one article and references to one column which you have not directly quoted, linked to, or even named.

  74. doc: “Greg, are you saying that heteronormative, non-paraphilic, “Missionary-style” monogamy does not enjoy a privileged status in this culture?”

    I wouldsay the question is a red herring since the accusation you originally made against ME was that I was not only coming from a position of privilege but that I was trying to reinforce said privilege.

    you might as well start out accusing me of racism and then back track to ‘are you saying there are no racists?’ which is a nice bifurcation. either I am privileged or I MUST be saying there are no privileged people at all.

    your question is at best a red herring and at worst a deliberate bifurcation.

    at least I dont feel quite so bad now. I thought you igmored my actual words. but it appears you ignore your own words just as easily.

    ‘The hell you say. A columnist with a bias? Horrors…’

    ah. now weget into a strawman. I said Savage is biased. I didnt say it was the end of the world. I didnt say it was ‘horrors’. I dont recall making any such severe assesment of it beyond pointing out the bias.

    turning into a strawman complete with perl clutching to minimize and dismiss the assessment, is knce again, simething you added to the conversation.

    also note that the part you quoted in the last message? that was your ‘proof’ that I was defending the ‘big guy’. and when I point out that the only assertiin in that quote is that I think Savage is biased, you strawman it into ‘horrors’ and that what I should expect from someone in the media.

    hey look at that. we both agree that Savage is biased!

    isnt that cool? you know whats weird in a wave/particle kind of way? when I say savageis biased you QUOTE IT AS PROOF I AM PRIVILEGED. But when you admit i. your round about way that Savage is biased, its just the way the media is.

    weird how we can say the same thing and I am magically asserti.g privilege but you arent. like quantum physics weird. totally random and unexplainable.

    also, since you agree that Savage is biased, you will need to providvide a different quote to show where I am ‘defending the big guy’. since sayi.g something true shouldnt be a problem of privilege.

    amiright? amiright?

    if we agree he is biased, then me saying he is biased shouldnt qualify as defending this unnamed big guy or asserting privilege.

    Greg: “Savage gave me the distinct impreesion of being pro fetish and that he would far more likely question the validity of someone expressing the preference for vanilla sex then fetish sex.”

    Doc: ” why is this a bad thing?”

    Because dismissing as invalid someone’s sexual preference is a bad thing just because their preference is ‘vanilla’. this is where people invoking ‘privilege’ end up getting into reverse discrimination territory. if you want to hold to the principle that what consenting adults do in the privacy of their bedroom then you have to hold that principle for everyone. even the privileged group. if you want to forward the notion that everyone ought be able to enjoy whatever flavor of sex that turns their crank, then that has to include vanilla sex.

    savage cant be pushing for sexual equality when he isnt treating everyone equal. he is pushing something else.

    and before you strawman me AGAIN with some ‘horrors’ BS, I get the world wont end because savage is biased. I never said it would. It was an observation about savage. he is biased.

    but you turn that into me asserting privilege. you turn that into me defendi.g the big guy. you turn it into ‘horrors’! and yet you yourself agre he is biased.

    now, if we agree on the same point, and its ok when you say it, but its al thoase other things when I say it, tell me where all those other things came from if not from you?

    you see what I mean about definitions being important? we say the same things. its one thing when you say it. its something else entirely when I say it. how is that possible unless you brought your own baggage and history that jad nothing to do with my words and overlaid that baggage on my words?

  75. “accuse me of privilege” “I am asserting privilege” This strongly suggests that you don’t understand privilege, or that someone unfortunately hit you with the privilege bat once too often. Also, please correct me if I am wrong, but I have been assuming that you are male, heterosexual, in favor of monogamy, and do not have any strong fetishes, paraphilias, or interests in other non-normative sexual practices. If this is true, than you, my friend, are privileged. That’s not an accusation. There is a difference between both 1) privilege and prejudice; and 2) defending privilege and bigotry*.

    (end paste)

    uhm, I dont think the phrase ‘defending the big guy’ is the passive categorization that you think it is. in fact it involves an action verb.

    privilege is NEVER purely a passive categorizatiin. EVER.

    if you wanted a category, you would have said somethinglike ‘white’. Or in this case, ‘hetero monogamous vanilla’. if you think ‘privilege’ is purely a passive category, then your not reading your own words.

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