Savage Love

By Dan Savage
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 0 | Posted Sep. 8, 2010

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Q: A few nights ago, I got drunk and knocked on my roommate’s door and confessed my attraction to him while he was lying in bed in nothing more than his Skivvies. And then I asked him if I could sleep in his room because our other roommate was having sex so loudly that I couldn’t sleep. Not being able to sleep on work nights is sometimes a real problem, but one to be addressed with her, not used as drunken fodder to get into someone else’s bed. I feel pathetic and embarrassed for having thrown myself at my roommate. But much more importantly, I think my behavior did not reflect active consent, trashed my roommate’s boundaries, and was generally creepy—all characteristics of sexual assaulters. I am female, and if the situation were reversed, I would commit a huge double standard because I would back any woman who did not feel safe continuing to live with a dude who did what I did. I feel like I should be held accountable and move out, though my housemate has told me he doesn’t feel threatened and that I should stay. Help. I feel like a total piece of shit for having done this and can’t stop wondering …

Am I A Sexual Predator?

A: Calm the fuck down—and no more women’s studies classes for you, OK? I think you’ve had quite enough, and I’m cutting you off.

Look, AIASP, you didn’t assault anyone, you’re not a predator, you shouldn’t have to move out. You made a drunken, ill-advised-in-retrospect pass at a roommate. If that makes someone a “sexual predator,” AIASP, then we’d better build walls around our better universities and start calling ’em all penitentiaries.

As for that double standard: In light of your recent experience—you made a drunken pass at someone who wasn’t interested in you—you might want to revisit the assumptions you’ve made about men who make passes, drunken and otherwise, at women who aren’t interested in them. Making a pass is not grounds for eviction or conviction. It’s how a person makes a pass (did you pounce or did you ask?) and how a person reacts if the pass is rebuffed (did you graciously take no for an answer or were you a complete asshole about it?) that matters.

Of course, men’s passes at women—roommates and otherwise—exist in a context of male sexual violence. So it’s understandable that a woman might feel uncomfortable living with a dude who did what you did. But if the dude wasn’t a creep about it and graciously took no for an answer (if the answer was no), perhaps he should be judged as an individual and not as someone who bears collective responsibility for the crimes committed by members of his sex throughout history.

And even if you were an asshole about that no, AIASP, that still wouldn’t make you a sexual predator. You’re only a sexual predator—or guilty of sexual assault—if you refuse to take no for an answer and force yourself on someone. (Or if you go after people who are incapable of granting consent.) You didn’t force yourself on anyone. All you’re guilty of, AIASP, is asking someone whom you wanted to fuck if he wanted to fuck you. It’s a legit question, and no one gets fucked without asking it.

And that simple question doesn’t magically become sexual assault or harassment when the answer is no.

Q: My mistress wants to deny me the pleasure of regular food. We want to create a “slop” that I can eat four to five times daily that is highly nutritious but as bland-tasting as possible. Any ideas? Can you consult a nutritionist?

Seeking Slave Food

A: Are there any vegan restaurants in your area?

Q: I’m a single male in my mid-30s who over the years developed an incapacitating fetish. I can only get fully aroused when smelling the odor of maple syrup. When I was younger, it was not a problem getting aroused without it, but as I got older, I took to placing it on napkins and while pleasuring myself would inhale the scent of it. Now I can’t perform without smelling it. I have tried to wean myself to no avail. What should I do, short of taking all my dates to the house of pancakes and “accidentally” spilling syrup on them? I don’t think it would be fair to require such a thing from anyone and would not expect it to be tolerated in a long-term relationship. Any advice? I feel I have hardwired myself over the years and am helpless.

Odor Regretfully Generates A Sexual Malady

A: Another food question—kind of a subtheme in this week’s column.

Look, ORGASM, the human brain is an inscrutable bag of slop, and you aren’t the only person out there whose brain saddled him with a seemingly random sexual fetish. But you shouldn’t view your fetish—assuming you’re not making this up—as “incapacitating.” You could be into things that were much worse and/or more complicated and/or literally impossible to realize. Nor should you blame yourself for your growing reliance on your kink. As we age (men particularly), we tend to lean more on those things—fantasies, fetishes, scenarios—that help us get there and get off.

So what do you do?

Stop viewing your fetish as some sort of freakish ailment that disqualifies you from love and affection, ORGASM, and start viewing it for what it is: an endearing quirk and not too much to ask from a long-term partner. People in love and people in long-term relationships—two distinct groups with some significant overlap—like to say things like “I would walk through fire for him” or “I would take a bullet for her.” Well, all you’re asking is for a tiny bit of maple syrup dabbed behind the ears before sex. It’s not fire, it’s not a bullet, and it’s not too much to ask.

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