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Struggle Session: Harsh But Fair, Bridal Dread, Trigger Warnings and More…

On Thursdays I respond to comments, emails, DMs, and tweets from readers and listeners. Struggle Session posts are exclusively for Magnum Subs. So, if you’re already a Magnum Sub, thank you and read on! If you’d like to become my sub — which gets you access to the Magnum Lovecast (more guests, more calls, no ads), the Maxi Savage Love column (more Qs, more As), special events like Savage Love Live, the Sex & Politics podcast, and Struggle Session — subscribe here!

Okay, longtime readers and listeners sometimes tell me I’ve gotten nicer over the years. This week, to test that proposition, we reran an old column from February of 2011. (I was also away with family.) So, was I meaner way back when? Am I nicer now?

SohpieTucker thinks I was meaner then and wishes I was meaner now:

I miss mean Dan.

Mean isn’t the right way of putting it, says BiDanFan

I think you mean “harsh-but-fair...

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...f="http://disq.us/p/2vjff93">SohpieTucker thinks I was meaner then and wishes I was meaner now: I miss mean Dan. Mean isn’t the right way of putting it, says BiDanFan… I think you mean “harsh-but-fair Dan.” Coolie agrees with Sohpie: Yay for cunty Dan! More of that please! I will try to ramp up the cuntiness for the rest of the summer, Coolie, just for you. We had a lot of questions about marriages — and weddings — in this week’s Savage Lovecast. JPW saw what we were trying to do… Kudos on the editing! A lesbian wanting marriage and a wonderful and heartfelt monologue by Dan about the very concrete meaning of marriage in the gay community and why it was fought for so hard… followed by a question from a straight person wondering what the point of marriage really is. The juxtaposition really makes a point about how we feel about rights we had to fight for versus the rights we’ve always known we had and might take for granted. And that’s not to say that one is right and one is wrong and this didn’t feel judgey at all. Marriage can mean something immensely concrete and important to gay people (who won the right to marriage less than 10 years ago) and also feel like this weird and pointless expectation for some straight people (a feeling that I totally get from my own experience!). Putting the questions back to back like that just gave a really nice illustration of how much context matters and how different people with different experiences can view the same thing very differently. All credit goes to Nancy Hartunian, the producer of the Savage Lovecast, who decides what order calls come in on the show! Some advice from KayKay for the caller who was mortified by her boyfriend’s big public stunt of a marriage proposal — which felt she had to accept — and now dreads having to go through with the actual wedding… To the caller who asked, “Why do people get married?” Based on your call, I have a bad gut feeling about your situation. It sounded like your BF was mainly excited about having a big party and the big awful proposal and being called your fiancé. Maybe he believes getting married makes him an adult. Or maybe he wants a big party. Find out what getting married really means to him, aside from the wedding, and look for a thoughtful answer. From there, you two can design the type of relationship, marriage or not, that will work for you both. You’ll find out if his vision is compatible with yours, which is crucial if you go through with marrying him. A listener in England reached out via Instagram DM to let me know he appreciated my conversation with journalist and author Jill Filipovic about trigger warnings: Oh, Dan, am so heartened by the discussion on trigger warnings on yesterday’s pod. Have been feeling reactionary for a while now; I work in an SEMH school where our kids — some of who have some serious trauma to deal with — are being prepared for the real world. You can’t teach resilience; you can enskill, empower, and socialize that resilience develops and evolves. The underlying issue we need to confront when thinking about the (as you rightly put it) performative aspect of much of the trigger-warning debate is narcissism… which, as an old-school socialist, is rooted in consumer capitalism. But that’s another huge topic! Another listener on Instagram DM’d to say that she agreed with 100%  agreed with Filipovic… This pandering has harmed social justice movements and. made the people trying to promote change seem weak and fragile, not like leaders. And then they wonder why people don’t take them seriously. Dealing with bad things that have happened to you and moving past it is part of becoming a capable adult. We all have our own traumas. We need to get over it, move on, move forward and stop making victimhood our identities. If someone can’t, they should get help. But another listener reached out via email to let me know they 100% disagreed with Filipovic… Just a quick response to this week’s guest who thinks ‘trigger warnings’ undermine resilience. Does anyone think warnings about flashing lights undermines the “resiliency” of epileptics? Granted: people can heal from trauma unlike epilepsy. But what is wrong with letting them decide if they’re ready for exposure? Do we force people with broken legs to “just try” to walk on it, randomly, with no warning? Do we remove height signs under bridges because “most cars” can make the clearance? Warnings do not stop anyone from testing their own resilience when they are ready to. But they do allow people to decide when they are ready, and to then test what they can endure with foresight. It is a courtesy we can afford to extend — and should — because any of us could suddenly need it, for some duration of time, against our every wish. First, I hope everyone takes a minute to read Filipovic’s piece on trigger warnings in The Atlantic. Filipovic, who is a feminist, was an early adopter of trigger warnings, and used them to courteous and considerate. But she thinks they did more harm than good — as we discussed on the show, and as she explains in her piece. For my part, I’ve always been skeptical about the efficacy and utility of trigger warnings. It has always seemed to me that someone who writes sensitively about a difficult subject doesn’t really need to use trigger warnings and someone who writes insensitively about difficult subject isn’t going to use them. So, when they were everywhere, readers typically got trigger warnings on pieces that didn’t need them and didn’t get trigger warnings on pieces that did. And since anything can be a trigger — a topic, a scent, a sound, a song, a color — trigger warnings on essays or news stories only provide so much protection… and their use often seemed to be more about protecting the writer or publication from charges of insensitivity (for the failure to use them) than about protecting people with actual subject-matter-related triggers from being triggered. There’s also a growing body of evidence that trigger warnings not only don’t help, they harm the people we’re told they’re intended to help. Speaking of authors… Hi, I just wanted to thank you for your book recommendations! Just finished Hi Honey, I’m Homo and just started Carmageddon. So wonderful! A personal question from another Dan came in via Instagram… So, I know you coined the term “pegging” in 2001, but we want to know if YOU have ever been pegged? If we’re using the original definition of pegging — peg classic: a woman fucking a man in the ass with a strap-on dildo (discussed in an academic article here!) — the answer is no, I couldn’t be pegged because all of my sex partners are men and only women can peg men. But even if we were to adopt the more expansive, less gendered, and increasingly popular definition of pegging — “a sex act that consists of someone wearing a dildo with a strap-on harness and performing anal sex” — the answer is still no. No one has ever fucked me in the ass with a strap-on dildo. But who knows what the weekend holds? I don’t think this person has closely read my work… You’re fuckin disgusting! It’s not normal to like young kids! Your wiring is a mutation and shows that men are natural sick and need help raising their consciousness. You do not have to be subjected to your lower reptilian mind as you have a higher mind but men like you make excuses to rape and predatorize young girls! Your wiring isn’t normal it’s a mutation. You’re a conscious being tasked with elevating so you can re-wire your brain! Ever heard of epigenetics? You men are this way because for decades you been raping little girls and normalizing it in your brain so through evolution you men are stuck in the lower mind cerebellum raping everyone and killing and trying to say it’s normal when it’s not. This makes you less than a monkey, you nasty idiot! I have science to prove you’re wrong and justifying your nasty sex nature to normalize pedophelia! Woman need to wake up so we can eradicate your type. You’re dying out anyways! Fuckin creep. …but I read her letter very closely. And considering the tone and tenor of her letter, I was shocked — shocked — that she somehow managed not to get your/you’re wrong even once. If you know trolls, if you get emails or tweets from trolls, you know that trolls rarely get your/you’re right and the number of times this woman used your/you’re in her deranged email without getting it wrong even once was, again, impressive. She may not be able to spell “pedophilia,” which is weird given her clear obsession with it, and “predatorize” isn’t a word, but her your/you’re game is impeccable. (I don’t think “enskill” is a word either.) And for the record… it isn’t normal to “like” young kids (in the like like sense of like), I don’t think anyone (of any age) should rape anyone (of any age), I don’t support adults preying on young girls, I don’t support adults preying on young boys, and — hey — earlier this week the Catholic Church in San Francisco declared bankruptcy to avoid paying damages to children raped by their priests. Southern Baptists, Mormons, and countless pastors and youth pastors have been in the news lately, all for sexually abusing kids. So, if you wanna worry about pedophiles preying on kids, it’s not gay sex-advice columnists in stable-ish same-sex marriages you need to worry about — or drag queens or school librarians or trans women. It’s all those assholes up on there on all those altars. A woman on last week’s Lovecast was concerned when her boyfriend asked her to pay for and oversee renovations for the house where he lives — a house he owns, a house purchased for him by his parents, a house he doesn’t intend to give his girlfriend any equity in. Was this a reasonable request on the boyfriend’s part? I didn’t think so — I sure as fuck didn’t think so — and my Facebook followers agreed with me. Says Scott… That’s an insane proposition. No way under any circumstance should she contribute a dime unless he assigns a perpetual interest in that relative value increase in the house. Courtney was in a similar situation… My bf paid off his house before I moved in. My name is no where on the deed (nor would I expect it to be), therefore I do not contribute financially to improvement projects. We just redid the deck, he paid for all the materials (I did help with physical labor). It’s insane to me that OP’s partner would even ask. Erika thinks she should go further… She needs to plan to stay in her apartment far away from this guy… for the rest of her educational path & the rest of her life. And finally, a follower on Instagram recommended a Taiwanese buddy comedy now streaming on Netflix… …because she thought its stars, Greg Hsu and Austin Lin, had that Muppet-faced appeal. And she was right. I’ll be watching this weekend!

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