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I went to a friendís wedding, a friend whom five years ago I would have called a ďbest friend.Ē I donít know how to describe our friendship now because we donít talk or see each other much. I was reacquainted with her ex-boyfriend (she dated him for three months three years ago) at her wedding and now Iím dating him. Sheís pissed and claims that I am breaking the ďCodeĒóthe unwritten code of not dating your friendsí exes. I assumed that ended if you got married. I have polled quite a few girlfriends to see what they think and most say the code is over when you marry, but some say it isnít. I am curious what you or your readers think.

óEnding The Code

Where I come from, youíre considered a model of self-restraint if you refrain from fucking your friendsí current boyfriends. Exes are entirely fair game. So maybe Iím not the best judge, ETC, but for what itís worth hereís my take:

If your friend had been traumatized by her relationship with this man and if the two of you were still so close that she would be forced to interact with him if you were dating him, then you should have refused to date her ex. But she clearly wasnít traumatized by her relationship with this manóshe invited him to her wedding!óand you guys donít hang out much anymore. Any friends-donít-date-friendsí-exes fatwa would have to be considered inoperative under these circumstances. Your buddy has no right to make you feel guilty about going after her ex.

Finally, I suspect something else is going on here. Your friendship isnít what it used to be: Sheís not making time to see you, youíre not calling. Your friend may be, consciously or subconsciously, latching on to this supposed violation of some ridiculous code as cause to officially break with you. Some people find drifting apart harder to accept than blowing apart, hence your soon-to-be-ex-friendís manufactured outrage. She wants to make herself feel betteróheck, feel superioróabout the end of your friendship, and your supposed violation of this goofy code is the best she can come up with.

The attached picture is the cover of a recent local magazine here in Boston, Mass. My girlfriend says the image is violent because the girl is tied up. I say it is not violent because the context (the alluring half-smile on the girlís face, the hearts on the wallpaper) suggests consent. What do you think?


First, anyone curious about the image weíre discussing can go to and check it out.

Okay, Dave: Whether this drawing represents an act of consensual bondage or an incident of sexual violence is a question only the artist who created the image can answer. We could hunt the artist down and ask him, I suppose, but itís more interesting and more revealing to look inside our own hearts. When I see someone, a man or a woman, tied up with what looks like red electrical tapeóavailable at your finer fetish shopsóand that person has a half-smile on his or her face, I assume itís consensual bondage play, not violence. You clearly had the same reaction. To the enigmatic smile and heart- patterned wallpaper we can add the complete lack of any signs of visible stress. Her forehead is unlined, there is no fear in her eyes. Sheís clearly enjoying an intense sexual experience, not dreading what comes next.

But your girlfriend canít see past the bondage. While it canít be denied that consensual erotic bondage is a kind of ritualized sexual violence, consent transforms even seemingly violent sex acts into hearts-and-bunnies-and-flowers sex. On the flip side, a lack of consent can transform the dullest vanilla sex into an act of sexual violence. Consent is always and everywhere the magic ingredient, and your girlfriendís inability to see the implied consent in this image betrays her discomfort with kinky sex.

Iíll be blunt: Iím straight, Iím smart, Iím funny, and Iím cool. I appreciate art, Iím good at talking to people, and Iím the loneliest damn bastard I know because I refuse to tolerate people who arenít as good as I am. Also, to my misfortune, Iím quite youngó18 years young, in fact. This brings me to my questions: Thing 1: Where do I start the search to find my dream girl? Simply waiting around has not worked for me so far. Thing 2: How do I while away the time? Iíve tried burying my troubles in the random, pretty little bubbleheads that annoyingly populate my tiny, tiny world, but it just makes me that much lonelier when they canít talk about Foucault when we cuddle. Should I abstain until I find someone I can appreciate?

Awaiting your response with bated breath,

óStudied Thoroughly Under Der Derian

Iíll be blunt: Why would I give useful advice to an insufferable little shit like you? I may not want to sleep with women, STUDD, but I donít have anything against them as a people. And while you claim to be straight, smart, funny, and cool, I have only your word on those qualities. I have in my possession, however, absolute proof in the form of your letter that you are an unbearable twat and an intolerable dickweed. I wouldnít be able to sleep at night if I gave you advice that might result in you actually landing a girl.

Your saving grace, STUDD, is your age. An 18-year-old asshole is just as repulsive as a 38-year-old asshole, but thereís still a chanceóa slim oneóthat an 18-year-old can outgrow his assholery. Thereís still time for you to learn that no one is perfect, yourself included, and that we are all damaged goods. Tolerating others is the price we pay for being tolerated ourselves. If you donít learn these things, STUDD, and learn them soon, you deserve to be utterly alone.

I am a 21-year-old single mother. Iím about 5-feet, 6-inches tall and weigh 103 pounds. I run every day and generally try to take care of my body by eating right. My problem is that I hate the way I look. I am actually repulsed by my body. I try to take very brief showers and avoid the mirror when I can. Iím not a prude. The sight of naughty bits doesnít repulse me. But my avoidance of all nudity hinders my sexual encounters. I always want to wear a shirt or have the lights off. This is a problem with my current boyfriend because he says that if I trust him enough to sleep with him I should trust him enough to let him see me naked. He also has told me that we canít continue seeing each other if he doesnít get to see me naked. I have let him see every part of my nude bodyójust not all at once. So he knows Iím not hiding some monstrous deformity from him. I guess I thought my boyfriend would be more sensitive to my fear and let me stay covered up. Do I owe him nudity?

óWrapped Up

You see your boyfriendís insistence on seeing you naked as evidence of his insensitivity, WU, but I see it as proof that he cares about you. Your hang-ups about your body are irrational and theyíre something you need to get the fuck over. Hopefully his ultimatum will motivate you to get your ass to a shrink already. For while you donít ďowe him nudity,Ē WU, you do owe your boyfriend a partner who isnít a complete nutcase.

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