Friday, October 22, 2010

Dan Savage advice: "total shit"

**Trigger warning: sexual assault and victim-blaming **

Dan Savage, who writes a nationally syndicated advice column on sexuality and sex, makes me wonder, what the hell was he thinking?

A woman in an open marriage wrote in to Savage explaining that five months ago a former partner had sexually assaulted her and since then she has found herself unable to be intimate with her husband, saying that his attempts to initiate sex made her "skin crawl". At the same time, however, she has not been having any trouble being intimate with her boyfriend, and even said that sex with him "is amazing and leaves [her] feeling loved and whole and wonderful."

The woman said that this situation left her husband feeling "depressed" and "angry" and that he told her to stop sleeping with her boyfriend until their marriage was "back to normal." This woman expressed hesitation about leaving her boyfriend, saying it pained her "to think about cutting out the one positive relationship remaining."

Savage responded, among other things:

"You're being a total shit."

That is a direct quote.

via Deeky at Shakesville, whose post I suggest everyone read as well.


Anonymous said...

Thank you so much, Amelia. I soooo appreciate your bringing this to our attention. Dan Savage gave a *total shit* answer to a woman who was already traumatized. I'm outraged! --diana

Victoria said...

I just read what Dan Savage wrote in its entirety and it is even worse that I imagined. Thank you for drawing my attention to this.

I am writing Dan now to let him know that I don't read misogynist, victim-blaming columns.

Amelia said...

Dan came to my school last year. That was before I knew how...shitastic he can be. Ugh.

Amelia said...

To all the anonymous commenters who want to say "Dan Savage sounded like an ass, but his advice is good": No.

The reason Savage thinks that this woman is "being a total shit" is because she is having sex with her boyfriend and not with her husband (again, they're in an open marriage). For someone writing a sex advice column, and one that apparently takes questions from survivors of assault, he is missing a lot of variables.

This woman is probably feeling triggered by something her husband is doing/saying etc. which is why she does not want sex with him but feels comfortable with having sex with her boyfriend. Dealing with figuring that out is might end up being a long process, but it is one that definitely requires the loving support of the husband who is upsetting this woman (maybe unintentionally).

Nowhere does Savage speak about the husband's cold reaction to the wife's disclosure of assault. This husband does not appear to react with sympathy, but instead gets angry that his wife is still sleeping with her boyfriend (whom he had agreed that she could sleep with). So all we know is that the husband is pissed because his wife won't sleep with him. And that is why this woman is supposedly "being a total shit."

Yeah, let's blame this survivor of assault. Her husband is clearly handling it the right way by being mad that he's not getting sex.

No. That is messed up and that is no reason for Savage to insist that this woman fix her marriage.

No no no no no. Dan Savage, NO.

Amelia said...

I keep rejected trollish comments from anonymous people who assume things about this woman (that are not mentioned at all in her letter to Savage) and using those assumptions to justify her mistreatment.

Again: Just because this woman has sex with someone doesn't mean that she's a "total shit" for not having sex with her husband. This woman never even said that she wasn't going to try to work things out with her husband. All she said was that she doesn't want to have sex with him right now, and that she doesn't want to cut her boyfriend out of her life, which makes sense considering she described her relationship with him in positive terms.

People can stop making assumptions. This woman may very well be trying to work it out with her husband, but still wanting to keep her boyfriend around. That's ok, I think, if it's healing for her.

And it's just stupid to think that this woman, the survivor of an assault, has to do all the work and people like Savage talk down to her without mentioning the husband's role in helping her out (if that's what he wants).

Either way, both husband and wife can get out of the marriage if that's what they want.