by Dan Savage
on Thu, May 3, 2012 at 3:02 PM
I've been a reader of yours for about five years now, and generally think you do a lot of good and provide sound advice. However, this weeks column was so callously offensive, as you clearly realized since you started your reply with "At the risk of my inbox filling with angry e-mails;" that I felt compelled to write in for the first time.
For one thing, you tell BSTD that he can justify getting his kink on secretly because it won't physically harm his relationship partner, yet then tell him he'll eventually have to explain his betrayal. Unless you think his betrayal is justifiable, Dan, you've just completely contradicted yourself. If you do believe that it's justified, you've contradicting yourself and everything GGG stands for. Within this same terrible paragraph, you write "when your girlfriend inevitably stumbles over—read: snoops and finds-evidence," which is a punch in the clit to every privacy-respecting female reader you have. In the comments other readers left, someone suggested that you believe everyone [all genders] snoops, this may be true, but that's not what you wrote here. What you wrote is sexist, and particularly troubling given the current political climate.
I've saved my biggest complaint for last: equating SSRIs to chemical castration, and saying, flat-out, that taking SSRIs is more extreme than your kink (which here equates to: more extreme than lying and betraying your girlfriend, and abusing your body to the point of likely causing permanent damage) is so extraordinarily fucked up, that I'm clearly at a loss for the appropriate words. Phenomenally irresponsible?
SSRIs don't work for everyone, and the side effects can be serious, but they can also, very literally, be the difference between life and death. There's a reason anti-depressents are the third most prescribed types of prescription medications in the U.S. I would've committed suicide before I reached 10 years old (my first attempt was in third grade) without SSRIs. I'm not suggesting that BSTD needs drugs, and certainly not that they should be his first option, but by dismissing SSRIs the way you did, you are putting people who hold your opinion in too-high esteem in danger.
I commend you for advising BSTD that there's nothing wrong with him for having the kink he does, but everything else about this letter is so horrifying that you should consider how much damage you're doing to those you purport to help.
Seriously Affected, Dan
My response after the jump...
I'm going to take your objections one at time:
1. Yes, I told BSTD that sneaking out to get his balls busted six times a year could be justified, as discreet ball-busting sessions pose no threat whatsoever to his girlfriend's health. But saying that something can be justified isn't the same as saying that same something is good idea. A person can justify putting pineapple on pizza, stretching their earlobes with plugs, or voting Republican—all self-evidently bad ideas.
2. I don't believe getting a bizarre and no-risk sexual need met safely and discreetly "betrays" the concept of GGG. Even partnered people are entitled to some shreds of a private life. And some people are burdened with sexual needs that are impossible to explain to a partner without panicking or losing said partner. If that need can be met safely and discreetly outside their relationship, if getting that need met presents zero risk to the partner's physical health, if getting that need met doesn't result in the sexual neglect of a partner, if getting that need met isn't a strain shared resources (like, say, seeing a $500-an-hour pro-domme would be), then it might be better idea for the person to get that need met safely and discreetly than to 1. never get it met and live in a state of constant sexual frustation (which will lead them to sabotage an otherwise solid relationship so they can get that need met) or 2. confess all (which might lead their partner to end an otherwise solid relationship).
All that said, SAD, I ultimately came down on the side of honesty, disclosure, and negotiation. (And with all due respect, SAD, GGG is my concept and I think I'm a better judge of what it stands for than you.)
2. Everybody snoops—a little bit, here and there, at the margins, myself included. I've said that a million times. This particular reference to snooping featured a girl-as-snooper because BSTD dates women exclusively. If a Republican legislator cites this line in "Savage Love" to justify either denying women access to contraceptives or requiring women to submit to transvaginal ultrasounds before obtaining a legal abortion, I promise to send that legislator a sternly-worded letter.
3. I did not equate "SSRIs to chemical castration." I was talking about two different drugs: SSRIs, which are anti-depressants, and Lupron, "an antiandrogen that is sometimes used to 'chemically castrate' sex offenders." Later in the column I wrote...
Now, I'm generally a fan of Western medicine—prescription drugs, invasive procedures, hospital cafeteria Jell-O—but I think taking SSRIs or chemically castrating yourself to suppress an urge to get kicked in the balls six times a years... well, BSTD, that's even more extreme than your kink.
It's clear that I'm talking about two different drugs here, SAD, and that I didn't describe taking SSRIs as chemical castration. I didn't slam SSRIs. I didn't praise them either and maybe I should've tossed in a line about the good I've seen SSRIs do. (I've certainly seen them do wonders for friends and family members who needed them.) But I stand by my advice to BSTD: taking SSRIs on a daily basis, for the rest of his life, to tamp down his desire to get kicked in the nuts six times a year seems like a disproportionate, even extreme, response to his "problem." That goes double—triple, quadruple, quintuple—for a chemical castration.
And finally, to lift your spirits BSTD, a letter that proves that there are girls out there for you:
I'm a bi 32-year-old gal who's into both sub & dom roles with men. But I'm probably more of a fem sub. I'm GGG and always excited to trying new-to-me kinks. Reading BSTD's letter and you response was the first time I had ever pondered sexless guy/guy ball bustingn and don't know if I should thank or curse BSTD for giving ME a new kink. I think watching this would be so hot! (I don't hate men! I swear!) Afterwards I imagine having hot sex with the bustee. Is that even possibe?
Bad Acronym Lass Loves Sex
Yes, BALLS, it's possible to have sex with a freshly-busted bustee. Just give him ten minutes to uncurl from the fetal position.