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 one of my Magnum Subs, THANK YOU and read on! If you’d like to become one of my subs — which gets you access to the Magnum Lovecast (more guests, more calls, no ads), the Maxi Savage Love column (more Qs, more As), the Sex & Politics podcast, Struggle Session, and Savage Love Live — subscribe here!
A quick palate cleanser — via email — before we get to the meat…
This is a response to the podcast a couple weeks ago. In the opening, Dan said, “There should be more Burning Mans.” Well, there are! The first “regional” popped up in Texas more than 20 years ago. It’s called Burning Flipside. Now there are several in Texas each year, and many many more events around the country and the world. They have local flavor while still retaining the core spirit of art and exploration and the space to be...
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... years ago. It’s called Burning Flipside. Now there are several in Texas each year, and many many more events around the country and the world. They have local flavor while still retaining the core spirit of art and exploration and the space to be oneself. And, in a time when the “Nevada regional” or “That Thing in the Desert” is increasingly expensive to get to and out of reach for many, they make burns more accessible for so many people. I encourage your listeners/ readers to Google “Burning Man regional network” or “Burning Man (insert your state or town here).”
So, as everyone no doubt recalls, a woman called into the show who wanted to start a book club for women. She told a straight male friend about her book club idea and he ever-so-selflessly offered to work the book club. He would take coats, serve drinks, and clean up. But he wanted to do it naked… and only if there were no trans women in the club. The caller liked the idea of having a naked weirdo at her book club… and she didn’t actually know any trans women… so, at least at first, there weren’t going to be any trans women at the club. Should she let her friend be the naked weirdo at her book club? I said yes — so long as she got an enthusiastic yes from the other members, and so long as she was prepared to give him the boot if and/or when a trans woman wanted to join.
There’s been a lot of discussion about the question and my response — see this comment thread and that comment thread — and it’s safe to say mine was the minority opinion. “Is this a book club or a sex party?” asked Class Queer. “You can either choose to have a book club welcoming all women, or you can choose to make a sex party for this one guy,” said Inspired Desires. “Usually when Dan gets this much negative feedback about a bit of advice, he takes it on board. I was disappointed that he didn’t do so this time,”said BiDanFan.
KM, a trans listener, posted a list of questions, which I read this week’s show and promised to respond to in this week’s Struggle Session:
I’m still mad about the naked book club fuckery. Some questions:
1. What if a woman joins and she doesn’t explicitly out herself as trans?
2. Is the book club organizer going to ask all new members whether they’re trans or not?
3. How uncomfortable will this would-be trans woman be when she finds out that before she could join, the server had to be dismissed?
4. How obvious will it be to all the other attendees that the newest member is trans since the dismissal of the server was a requisite to her joining?
As a trans person, I’m so angry about this. This is a feminist book club, no? Why the fuck would you start it off by enacting some sort of gender-policing bullshit? GAH!
A quick point of personal privilege: The last time I was in a sex club on a men’s night — in Berlin, where tourists are legally required to visit a sex club during their stay — there were trans men at the party. Which was fine: it was men’s night, and trans men are men. Nothing about trans men doing their thing interfered with my ability to do my thing. (Things that, again, I was legally required to do to obtain my German exit visa.) I realize this sounds like the sex club + trans men equivalent of “Some of my best friends are [insert group]!”, but I got a dozen furiously angry emails — all from the same person, but still — accusing me of being personally disgusted by the thought of being sexual around trans people. Which just isn’t true. I don’t know if there’s security-camera footage out there that’ll prove I’m not lying here — like the security-camera footage that proved Lauren Boebert was lying — but if it exists and the club is willing to release it, I hereby consent to its release.
Alright! Let’s do some onboarding!
1. If this trans woman passes for cis, the naked weirdo will never know. Or he might find out later and feel violated. Or he might find out later and realize his hangup about doing something sexual — and this is sexual for him — with a fully clothed trans woman in the room was stupid. There are lots of ways it could go. And since trans women aren’t obligated to out themselves at book clubs or anywhere else, this naked weirdo could wind up (gasp) handing a trans woman a drink… which won’t kill him. (But if it does, well, let’s just say I don’t think my listeners are going to pitch in to send a wreath.) If the small chance he might one day hand a trans woman a drink while naked would literally kill this guy, he should skip the actual book club and stay home and jack off about his fantasy book club instead.
2. I would hope not — but seeing as all the potential invitees are friends of the caller and none of her friends are trans (so far as she knows), she doesn’t need to ask. And if her book club grows and friends-of-friends want to join, she shouldn’t ask. And if the naked weirdo can’t deal the uncertainty and/or existential dread, he should, again, stay home. Really, anyone who’s uncomfortable with the idea of being around a trans person should stay home, since trans people are everywhere.
3. It could make the trans woman who joined the club feel uncomfortable. Or it could make her feel wanted — I mean, the host of the club picked her over her naked weirdo friend, right? And if the presence of the naked weirdo annoyed other club members (which everyone but the woman hosting the book club seemed to think it would) and the naked weirdo no one wanted around fucked off after a trans woman joined the book club… wouldn’t all the other members of the book club be grateful to her? (Alt scenario: Everyone liked having a naked weirdo at the book club and they miss him. Good news: There are lots of naked weirdos out there! Naked weirdos are easily replaced!)
4. Will it be obvious? I mean, if the host doesn’t walk into the meeting and announce, “We have a new member — and she’s trans, so the naked weirdo had to go,” isn’t the group likelier to assume the naked weirdo had a scheduling conflict? (Or a court date?) The host isn’t obligated to disclose where the naked weirdo went or why — if pressed, she can tell a white lie, then ask for volunteers to serve on the search committee to find a new (and better) naked weirdo.
Look, if I was hosting a play party and one of the guys I’d invited said, “Hey, you’re not inviting any Asian men, are you?” (or big guys or black guys or femme guys), I would tell him it didn’t matter who else was on the guest list because he was off it. So, I get it — if you don’t wanna fuck with someone who wouldn’t wanna fuck with (or fuck near) someone who’s trans, by all means scratch that person from your guest list. If someone at the men’s-only sex party I was at in Berlin (which, again, I was legally required to attend) objected to the presence of the trans men who were there, I would’ve told them to leave myself. (No one objected to the presence of the trans men, and a good (and compulsory) time was had by all.)
But I’m having a hard time… please bear with us as me and my jet lag think through this together… I’m having a hard time reconciling a few things I believe.
I think people should have the broadest possible definition of sex — and the narrowest possible definition of cheating — because the broader your definition of sex, the more sex you’ll have. So, while it may not seem like sex to most of you, being the naked weirdo at the book party — basically, a group CFNM scene — counts as sex where this guy is concerned. It’s a book party for the club’s founder and her friends, but it’s a sexual experience for him. Which should be obvious to the host and the other members of the book club. They may not be having sex with him, but he’ll be having what counts as sex for him. If they’re not comfortable treating this naked weirdo to this sexual experience — if the idea of having some naked dude fetching drinks doesn’t sound like fun for them, if it wouldn’t give them some form of pleasure or satisfaction independent of the pleasure and satisfaction he was feeling — then he shouldn’t be allowed to attend the book club meetings, which would instantly make his preferences irrelevant. (Pro-tip for the ladies at a book club with a naked weirdo serving drinks: Do not order a white Russian or a brandy alexander.)
I also think people get to decide for themselves who else is in the room when they’re having sex, as I laid out in this epic post a few years back. People can decide they don’t want someone else in the room for any reason — and Person A not wanting Person B in the room because Person B is trans is a perfectly valid reason to not want Person A in the room!
And finally… I think people have a right to their preferences. That means, when it comes to sex, that people have a right to include or exclude or invite or disinvite anyone they want to include or exclude or invite or disinvite so long as they’re not being assholes about it. (And even if they are being assholes about it. We don’t punish assholes by forcing them to fuck or fuck with people they don’t wanna fuck of fuck with. We punish assholes by not fucking them.) Don’t want to fuck Asian guys? Okay, dude, you don’t have to, your loss. Putting “No Asians” on your Grindr profile? Not okay, asshole, and still your loss.
So, is this guy being an asshole? I don’t think so. He’s being clear about what he wants and what he’s comfortable with, and his friend can decide whether to include or exclude him. He’s not marching against the rights of trans people carrying a sign that says, “TRANS WOMEN ARE NOT WOMEN* (*and that’s why I don’t want trans women around when I’m being a naked weirdo).” He informed one person that his heterosexuality is so fragile and cramped — and some people really are that heterosexual (and some people really are that homosexual) — that he can’t be naked in the same room with a fully clothed woman who wasn’t assigned/observed female at birth. It may not be a boundary you would set, it may not be a boundary you feel is legitimate, it may not be a boundary you feel is tolerable, it may be a boundary you regard as discriminatory or disqualifying. But it’s his boundary.
And unlike the guy who puts “NO ASIANS” or “NO FATS” on his Grindr profile — which hurts the Asian guys or big guys that see it and normalizes the expression of anti-Asian or anti-fat bias on hookup apps — this guy didn’t not put it out there for trans women to see. He told the host of the book club. We only heard about it because the host of the book club asked me about it, which at this point she probably regrets. Hell, at this point I think we all regret it.
Those men in sexless marriages probably think that they are unlikely to get a new woman, so they just stick with their wives out of inertia and for the companionship. Or for the kids if they have kids. Also, having a wife gives a man a lot of social standing in his community. Wives who have sex with other men and expect their husbands to deal with it are probably rare, but not that rare in the context of Savage Love. Just like polyamorous people are rare, but not in this column…. Given all this, I can definitely imagine women saying they will fuck other men, and the husband just accepts it. Especially if she is still a sex having and blowjob giving wife.
Sometimes people stay in sexless marriages because their marriages meet other important needs. Companionship, non-sexual intimacy, someone who’s there to share the burdens of parenting or caring for elderly parents, or just wanting someone around who’s willing to watch Veep with you again — all good (or good enough) reasons to remain in sexless marriages. Also, sexless ≠ miserable. Sometimes neither partner is interested in sex anymore; in some cases neither were interested in sex from the start.
And I make a distinction between a wife who gives her husband a choice between opening the marriage or ending it — a husband who agrees to be open and/or poly under duress — and what the LW described, which amounted to a “forced cuckold” relationship, a la “forced bi.” While a PUD husband might meet the technical definition of a cuckold (and a PUD wife might meet the definition of a cuckquean), he’s not a cuckold in the sense that CHUMP meant — meaning, he’s not a man who identifies as a cuckold because being a cuckold turns him on.
John H nails it:
I feel like “offensive” really minimizes what’s going on in CHUMP’s letter — it’s maximally racist. It doesn’t just trade in racialized stereotypes, and it doesn’t just assume/project racist social judgement as Dan notes, it also purports to validate those racist stereotypes by generalizing one purported anecdote. It’s not just exhibiting a passive internalization of racist ideas that everyone is hit with to varying degrees in a racist culture (and some internalize more than others, sometimes mixed up with sexuality), it’s acknowledging the racism of those ideas (CHUMP used to proclaim it was pure bullshit) and then insisting that actually they really are true. That’s some active, self-aware racism, and whatever his motivation for it, CHUMP should stop spreading it beyond his own imagination and fantasy play with a consenting partner or two.
Says SD via email…
Response to the curvy woman in Paris, that city has a huge population of African and Caribbean men who have — for the most part — very different beauty standards than white men and these men will worship your curves. Expand your dating pool and you won’t have to move!
Another email from a listener…
A comment about Episode 882 related to the woman who wanted the older man supporting her to get cosmetic surgery. Your response to her was perfect, but you might also encourage her to read Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “The Birthmark.”
Come on, Dan! Licorice person displayed some hesitation about her partner’s desire, but said she wanted to accommodate her partner and asked how to do it. And Dan was so busy telling her she didn’t have to do it that he never got around to telling her how to do it if she decided to!
Well, FREE, you’ll be happy to know that Licorice Person, aka, the Dom whose submissive pet/boyfriend had been eating things off her ass and now wanted to eat something out of her ass, didn’t need my help figuring out how to do it…
I just heard your reply to my call! We wound up using turkey sticks covered in olive oil… and it was actually hot! I wrapped my head around it (with ZERO coercion on his part) and decided I liked the idea of him being so subservient that he would do that. But with that said, he is one lucky pet indeed!
I didn’t think it was possible to make turkey sticks any less appealing than they already are — not to yuck your yum or anything — but your note managed to do it.
Okay, gotta wrap this one up. Two quick things before we go…
I’m not into pup play… but who wouldn’t want to be this guy’s dog? (And if eating greasy turkey sticks out of his butt was the price of admission, I’d pay it.) And this week’s reader/listener nominated Muppet-faced boy of the week is FEMBRO William Dolan — his PG-13 Instagram is account is here, his NSFW Twitter account is here, his FEMBRO Only Fans account is here.