Savage Love Savage Love Letter of the Day
posted by November 12 at 13:38 PMon
I come to you with a question about children’s psychosexual development. My son has always loved women’s feet—since he was two. I kid you not. He is now 5. The other night he was laying on the floor playing with my feet. He suddenly got up, face very red, and said he wanted to marry my feet! He also had an erection! I cannot tell you how odd this all is to me—I was never around boys much as a child, so sometimes I am bewildered by how they operate. I told him I loved him, but that marrying me and/or my feet would not work out. I let him know that he would find a nice person to marry one day, and gave him a hug and changed the subject. 1. Could you rate my response? 2. WHAT THE FUCK? So many questions are swirling in my head about his behavior, I don’t even know where to start. Is it common for young boys to be aroused by their mothers? Is he turning into a foot-fetishist? Was the erection purely random and just so happened to be at the same time as the foot playing? Does that seal the deal forever? I asked my husband and he was as confused and slightly embarassed as I was. Can you help? Anonymous
When I put the odds of a five-year old boy that liked musicals, makeup, dresses and Zac Efron growing up to be gay at 99%—you can read that column here—a couple of hundred thousand “Savage Love” readers attempted to rip me a couple of hundred thousand new assholes. After assuring me that they weren’t the least bit homophobic, these outraged readers peppered me with angry questions: What was I thinking?!?! Who was I to say the kid was gay?!?! Didn’t I know that not all kids that like musicals, makeup, dresses and male teen heartthrobs grow up to be gay?!?!
Well, yes. The ones that don’t account for the 1%. Like, duh.
So when this letter arrived I thought… hm… I wonder if I’ll get in as much shit when I tell this woman that there’s a 99% chance her son is going to grow up to be a foot fetishist? Probably not. Because despite the protests a lot of the people that wrote in to complain about my advice for the aunt of that five year-old boy were being homophobic. Just a tad.
The reaction I got to that column reminded me of a reaction I once got from friend at college. We were discussing another kid in our theater program—a good-looking guy that didn’t have a girlfriend and didn’t seem much interested in acquiring one. For that and other reasons I concluded that he was a fag, like me. When I told my non-homophobic friend what I thought, she rolled her eyes. “Oh, Dan,” she said. “Must you always think the worst of everyone?”
Even for many non-homophobic straights, believing someone to be gay—a five year-old boy with a crush on Zac Efron, a 19 year-old boy without a crush on anyone (who came out later that year)—remains the worst thing you could possibly think. When it comes to homosexuality, it seems, even avowed & admitted homosexuals are required to extend benefit of the doubt. Because it is a terrible thing to be gay or even be thought of as gay. So how dare I think that five year-old is gay?
1. Your response was perfect, spot-on. Well done. Bravo.
2. Your son will be a foot fetishist when he grows up. Hell, he’s a foot fetishist now. The deal is sealed—well, let’s say 99% sealed.
UPDATE: Anonymous is reading Slog right now. If you have some advice or insight for her, toss it up in comments.