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STRUGGLE SESSION: Alcoholic Tendencies, Coerced Therapy, Interrogated Kinks, Long Lines at the Vatican and More!

On Thursdays I respond to comments and criticisms from my readers and listeners. Struggle Session posts are exclusively for Magnum Subs — so, if you’re already a sub, THANK YOU and read on! If you’d like to become one of my subs, you can subscribe here! Magnum subs get the Magnum Lovecast (more guests, more calls, no ads), the Maxi Savage Love (more Qs, more As), the Sex & Politics podcast (new one out today!), invites to Savage Love Live, and bragging rights: you’ll be one of my subs. Subscribe now!

First, congrats to recent Lovecast guest Manon Garcia on her new book — The Joy of Consent — being named one the 15 best books of 2023 by The New Statesman!

A caller wanted to get back together with her ex despite their tumultuous relationship and breakup. He was an insecure boy, she was a mean drunk, and their dynamic was toxic — but that was then, before they got into therapy. Says Mythic Fox

Maybe my family’s history with...

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...tps://twitter.com/ManonGarciaFR/status/1717491321764470988">15 best books of 2023 by The New Statesman! A caller wanted to get back together with her ex despite their tumultuous relationship and breakup. He was an insecure boy, she was a mean drunk, and their dynamic was toxic — but that was then, before they got into therapy. Says Mythic Fox… Maybe my family’s history with addiction issues is making me oversensitive, but the caller getting back together with her ex talks about her drinking in a way that concerns me. For example, she says “and I had a drinking problem, I guess” (emphasis mine) and that she has “alcoholic tendencies.” I’m not saying she should have proudly started her call like an AA meeting, but that’s the way an alcoholic talks when they’re trying to convince themselves that the only “drinking problem” they have is other peoples’ perception of their drinking. I encouraged the caller to stop drinking — and warned her that her boyfriend was the same person (he’ll still going to have insecurities) and so was she (she’ll still say an unkind thing now and then). If having to soothe his insecurities was too much for her to bear (despite his best attempts self-regulate), and if enduring the occasional harsh word from her was too much for him to bear (despite her best efforts to knock that shit the fuck off), they shouldn’t get back together. But Mythic Fox is right to flag the equivocating the caller was doing about her drinking. If you’re mean when you’re drunk and you know it and you’re still getting drunk, you have a drinking problem — for sure, not “I guess.” Alicia Roth Weigel argued that 2% of the population is intersex while others put the number much lower. it shouldn’t matter what percentage of the population is intersex, as all intersex people are entitled to rights, respect, and bodily autonomy regardless of their numbers. Says CB… I appreciated hearing from Alicia Roth Weigel about their experience as an intersex person. I am a physician and a woman with PCOS. I disagree with their assertion that the facial hair caused by PCOS characterizes a person as intersex. Many women, often those with darker skin, grow hair in what Western cultures consider “male patterned.” This does not make any of our identities as women less legitimate. While Weigel does argue that women with PCOS are intersex — in her view — she’s certainly not arguing that women with PCOS aren’t women or aren’t “legitimate” women. Weigel is intersex and identifies as a woman! Says Amy at The Bad Place… Alicia said that they’re not testing all infants’ chromosomes — but we are definitely moving toward that world. Fetal chromosomal testing is becoming pretty standard now that it can be done with just a blood test. That’s how people are having gender reveal parties so damn early. Says NINGirlJane… About the woman who was raped on the trail and is now dating her rapist — I’m really, really disappointed in the advice given to this woman. First of all, it wasn’t like she was raped, and then both parties went their separate ways and put in the work to recover from what happened, and then connected later or something. That would be bad enough! But no. The rapist attacked her in the woods, where she was totally alone and vulnerable, and she was then FORCED to work through this with him because she was stuck there with no out. That’s a huge piece of the story that didn’t get enough acknowledgment. Not only did she not consent to the physical act, but she didn’t even consent to the therapeutic work she was forced to go through in the freaking woods on an isolated trail. If they had been at a party or something, this rapist most likely would have gone his own way and never put in any kind of work to change. Also, so much of the advice comes across as rapist apologetics. Is this really the message we want to send to boys and men? That they can rape someone, but as long as they do a little self reflection, that person will not only forgive them but date them? The caller needs to break things off, block him, and get into some intense therapy. I was floored by that question — which is why I brought in the big ethical/philosophical guns and thought it through with Manon Garcia. We both agreed that the situation was fraught and highly problematic, which the caller already knew. We didn’t want to shame the caller for the choices she’d already made — it sounds like she’d gotten plenty of shame from friends she’d confided in — but you’re right to draw attention to the inherently coercive circumstances under which she made the decision to engage with her rapist in the first place, NINGirlJane. Our failure to highlight those circumstances in our response is a fair and legit criticism. Rethinking that call in light of your comment, NINGirlJane, prompted me to revisit this story in the New York Times about how women respond to rape: When asked about how humans or animals respond to danger, most people think “fight or flight,” but the popularity of that phrase has created a false picture of victim behavior. It is statistically uncommon for somebody to physically fight back during a sexual assault. Verbal resistance is more common, but even that is often more passive than people expect…. At some point during rape, most victims revert to habits, usually passive or submissive ones, that have been conditioned by culture or abuse. Many women, for example, have been socialized to be nice to men, to avoid offending their egos and to avoid retaliation. It’s a very important piece and I don’t think enough people read it or talked about it. So, please go read it and please talk about it and share it. (And it’s free to read at the link I’ve provided.) Says Zoftig in response to NINGirlJane.. I definitely agree with break up/processing with a therapist as the solution, which is where I think the advice landed. However, I think the caller presented her experience in a way that suggested that she felt it had been helpful, even empowering, for her to process her experience with her rapist — a narrative that was being invalidated by her friends in a way that left her feeling isolated. I think Dan and Manon Garcia were creating space for that narrative that allowed her choices to have been valid while push against the idea that she needed to keep circling back to the relationship for that to remain true. It’s a fucked up situation — but the caller needed advice, and I don’t she should have to remain silent about her experience for the rest of her life to avoid sending the wrong message to boys and men. John H had some thoughts about FRAUD, the woman who was worried that she’d raped her abusive ex… FRAUD, you didn’t assault this guy; quite the opposite – you did exactly what he wanted. You say, “He would often ignore me and refuse to let me touch him for days and I would wind up making every effort to please him.” This is part of a campaign of manipulation, intended to undermine your self worth and sense of reality; the whole point is that whatever you do is going to be the wrong thing. There’s a lot more to John H’s amazing, insightful, and compassionate comment — do yourself a favor and go read the whole thing. And thank you, John H, for taking the time to compose and share your thoughts. It’s readers and listeners like you that have made our corner of the internet the one place where you should always read the comments. Says BiDanFan… To the woman wondering what the “protocol” is for dealing with a “polyamorous” man who doesn’t want to use condoms or get STI tested, I’ll summarise it more simply: DTMFA. Classic advice! So, I’m sure you all recall that lady-at-a-hen-do-who-blew-her-dad-at-an-Amsterdam-glory-hole story I mentioned at the top of the Lovecast this week. says Gary via Instagram… Hey, Dan and the tech-savvy, at-risk youth! I’m a longtime listener and thought I’d let you know that my friend Anna was mortified over the Amsterdam glory hole story and she did a little googling and found out it was fake. Love the Lovecast! Keep up the good work! I knew that Amsterdam story was bullshit. From the urban legend setup (this crazy thing happened to a friend-of-a-friend) to the high-tech glory hole with magic walls that become transparent at the touch of two buttons (one button on each side to establish mutual consent!), the hole thing was so obviously made up that I knew it couldn’t possibly stand up to scrutiny. Which is why I didn’t scrutinize it. Some stories, as they say, are just too good to check… There’s something well known to journalists as “the story that’s too good to check.” Essentially, either a tale so perfect, or a confirmation of extant prejudices so wonderful, that to actually investigate, to possibly find out that it’s not true, would be a shame. Why would I check a story that confirmed all my glory hole priors? A story that confirmed my extant prejudices? (That could your dad’s dick!) Still, I’m sorry that your friend Anna was upset by the story and please relay my thanks to her for for the fact-check! (Vice looked into the Amsterdam glory hole story, too, and is also calling bullshit.) DrOptomystic doesn’t think much of my longstanding advice to people getting over a breakup (see friends, see movies, work out, fuck strangers, repeat), which I re-upped in last week’s Struggle Session… This is the worst advice I have ever heard. 1. Stay in. Why the fuck would I go “out” when I can stay in, order food (#doordash), order wine (#drizzly), order prostitutes (#prostitutes), and fart (#toots) nonstop? 2. See 1. Whatever works for you, DrO. But if you’re not done farting — or you can’t stop farting — once the sex worker(s) arrive, you better be tipping 5000%. Says Desert via email… Not a question. I find myself listening to past episodes of the Lovecast (I’m a sub!) while standing in line at the Vatican. As I was listening it dawned on me how amusing the situation is and wanted to share my amusement! Not a cloud in the sky, Desert, but watch out for lightning! And please let me know if you spot any glory holes in Vatican City! (Where there’s sure to be a father on the other side!) Jade had this to say at the Bad Place.. I do believe certain “kinks” need to be unpacked & interrogated. Especially the ones that mirror systemic & societal violence in everyday life outside of the bedroom. Why does calling somebody a slur, infantilizing their age, simulating sexual assault, etc., turn you on? Frida tagged me in… @fakedansavage does a pretty good job of unpacking this. I think it’s a yes/ and — and maybe a bit more complicated for people with lived experiences who might be able to overcome otherwise crippling fears. Tagged in, I added this… Kinks should be unpacked, interrogated, and then enjoyed — safely, responsibly, and in such a way that you aren’t perpetuating the negative social and/or political forces that may have shaped your kinks. Okay, that’s all for this edition of Struggle Session! Please enjoy Andrii Shine, our Muppet-Faced Man of the Week (thanks for the suggestion, Paul!) and then go enjoy my conversation with Trae Crowder in the latest Sex and Politics!

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