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Routine Maintenance

by Joe Newton

I’m off this week. Please enjoy this column that originally ran in December of 2014. — Dan

What is your stance on maintenance sex? I’d never thought about the issue until reading Amy Poehler’s new memoir. I didn’t find anything she said controversial and was surprised when this quote blew up in the feminist blogosphere: “You have to have sex with your husband occasionally, even though you’re exhausted. Sorry.” I’d never realized many people firmly believe one should have sex with their partner only when they are in the mood! Some articles even made it sound like maintenance sex is a form of nonconsensual sex. I have sex with my husband pretty often when I’m not in the mood. He would prefer sex every day, and I’m more of an every-other-day or twice-a-week girl. I’d say about 25 percent of the time we are having sex, I am doing it for maintenance...

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...e-a-week girl. I’d say about 25 percent of the time we are having sex, I am doing it for maintenance purposes. I always enjoy it and I get off the majority of the time, but I don’t always go in wanting it or needing it. Is this wrong? Am I not the feminist I thought I was? Maintenance Sex Supporter I’m pro maintenance sex, MSS. Sometimes I need to sex my husband when I’m not feeling it; sometimes he needs to sex me when he’s not feeling it. But maintenance sex is not the same thing as enthusiastic sex. The person asking for maintenance sex — the horny partner who’s being indulged/milked/sexed by the non-horny partner — shouldn’t expect mind-blowing, toe-curling, sheet-shredding sex. Maintenance sex is mellow sex, low-impact sex, low-stress sex, it’s sex that requires minimal effort, and it’s likely to be non-penetrative sex — and gratitude is the only appropriate response. Another important note: Being pro maintenance sex doesn’t obligate a person to have sex whenever their partner wants it. Proponents and practitioners of maintenance sex still get to say no. There’s a difference between indulging your partner when you’re not fully feeling it — when you could take it or leave it — and forcing yourself to have sex (or being guilted/pressured to have sex) when you’re exhausted, sick, angry, or just unable to go/blow there. And as you’ve discovered, MSS, and I can also attest, sometimes you go into sex “not wanting or needing it” and soon you’re enjoying it, too, e.g., you weren’t really in the mood when you started but you were in the mood before you finished. Those are the times when low-stress maintenance sex turns into mind-blowing sex. I would hate to think of how much great sex I would’ve missed if my feminist principles didn’t allow for maintenance sex. I’ve recently discovered that I am a panty sniffer. Though since I’m a gay man, maybe I’m a briefs breather? The smell gets me hard and gets me off. I discovered this when a fuck buddy left his shorts behind, and for the next few days I jerked off sniffing his shorts. That brings me to the young millennial techie guys at my work. They are fucking slobs, and they’re always leaving their underwear and socks on the floor of the company’s gym in our office. The janitor picks them up and puts them in a lost-and-found bin. I started checking the bin, and nothing was being removed. No one ever claimed their shorts. So, I started taking a pair every now and then. At home, I fantasize about who they belong to, and when I’m done with them, I just toss them. First question: Am I stealing? I assume the guys aren’t missing them, since they’ve been in the bin for a week or more. Second question: Have I become one of those perverted panty sniffers from those old “Chester the Molester” comics? Singleton Now Inhaling Funky Funk First answer: technically, yes. But a case could be made that you’re reusing and recycling. If there were a Green Building Certification program for kinks, SNIFF, yours would qualify. Second answer: “Chester the Molester” was a disgusting comic strip about a guy, Chester, “who was interested in sexually molesting women and prepubescent girls,” according to my old friend Wikipedia. This vile comic strip, which ran in Hustler in the 70s and 80s (because of course it did), made child rape look like harmless and hilarious fun. Dwaine Tinsley, the creator of the strip, wound up going to prison for molesting his daughter — and I’m guessing his kid didn’t experience being raped by her father as harmless or hilarious. Since you are not interested in prepubescent boys, SNIFF, I don’t think you’re a pervert in the “Chester the Molester” mold. But a case could be made that your actions have a whiff of the nonconsensual about them — your coworkers would most likely object to how you’re reusing and recycling their abandoned underpants — and, if you want to be scrupulously ethical, you should probably knock it off. There are plenty of guys selling their used underwear and jocks online, from college athletes to porn stars, and if you work at a place with a private gym, SNIFF, you can afford to buy a few pairs. Vanilla straight guy here. As a fellow Washingtonian, I feel proud to live in a state that was among the first to legalize marriage equality by a popular majority vote of the people. I avidly follow the NFL and eat fried bologna sandwiches and do lots of other manly things. However, I have always loved musical theater. Whenever I go to New York, I have to see at least two or three big shows. My question: Is it socially acceptable for me to good-naturedly say, “I’m totally gay for musical theater”? Or is it a slur that I shouldn’t say, no matter how playful or well-intended? The Cautious Joker When someone says, “that’s so gay,” but means, “that’s so stupid,” they’re being homophobic. Obviously. But a straight guy who says he’s gay for musicals isn’t saying he’s stupid for them, TCJ, he’s saying, “I love something that many gay men are passionate about — and I’m not talking about cock.” Not all gay men are passionate about musical theater, of course, just as not all straight men are passionate about football. But a man with a passion for musical theater is likelier to be gay; at the very least that man will be comfortable around gay people and respect gay people for their deep knowledge of the art form. I’ve heard gay guys who avidly follow the NFL describe themselves as straight for football. Likewise, a man with a passion for football is likelier to be straight. You saying, “I’m gay for musical theater,” or a gay guy saying, “I’m straight for football,” amounts to a humorous acknowledgment that the majority of people interested in musicals or football are gay or straight, respectively. In neither case is it an insult or a put-down. But while I think you can continue to say that you’re gay for musicals, TCJ, some gay men (or some of our more annoying “allies”) may take offense. You don’t have to pay attention to those people — they’re just super gay for taking offense. I’m a vegetarian married to a meat eater. I thought the compromise you suggested to a vegetarian wondering how to make it work with a meat eater —”the meat eater agrees to keep a meat-free home; the vegetarian agrees to keep a Morrissey-free home”— wasn’t helpful. But you were probably kidding, right? Here’s the correct answer: The meat eater agrees to allow the vegetarian to be vegetarian (no pressure to eat meat, using vegetable stock when cooking); the vegetarian agrees to allow the meat eater to eat meat (no bitching about meat in the fridge or on their plate). Thanks for the otherwise great column! Very Enthusiastically GGG Thanks for sharing, VEGGG. Got problems? Email your question to Dan here! Or record your question for the Lovecast here! Follow Dan on Instagram and Threads @DanSavage. Follow Dan on BlueSky @DanSavage. HUMP! Part One is still running in Seattle will start touring soon to cities across North America and Europe! Go to HUMP! Film Fest to check out the new films and get your HUMP! 2024 tickets now!  

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