went to a friend’s wedding, a friend whom five years ago I
would have called a “best friend.” I don’t know how to describe
our friendship now because we don’t 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
I’m dating him. She’s pissed and claims that I am breaking
the “Code”—the unwritten code of not dating your friends’
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 isn’t. I
am curious what you or your readers think.
I come from, you’re considered a model of self-restraint if
you refrain from fucking your friends’ current boyfriends.
Exes are entirely fair game. So maybe I’m not the best judge,
ETC, but for what it’s worth here’s 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 wasn’t traumatized by her relationship
with this man—she invited him to her wedding!—and you guys
don’t hang out much anymore. Any friends-don’t-date-friends’-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
isn’t what it used to be: She’s not making time to see you,
you’re 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-friend’s manufactured outrage. She wants
to make herself feel better—heck, feel superior—about 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 girl’s face, the
hearts on the wallpaper) suggests consent. What do you think?
anyone curious about the image we’re discussing can go to
link.thestranger.com/1154 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 it’s 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 tape—available at your finer fetish shops—and that
person has a half-smile on his or her face, I assume it’s
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.
She’s clearly enjoying an intense sexual experience, not dreading
what comes next.
But your girlfriend can’t see past the bondage. While it can’t
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 girlfriend’s inability
to see the implied consent in this image betrays her discomfort
with kinky sex.
I’ll be blunt: I’m straight, I’m smart, I’m funny, and
I’m cool. I appreciate art, I’m good at talking to people,
and I’m the loneliest damn bastard I know because I refuse
to tolerate people who aren’t as good as I am. Also, to my
misfortune, I’m quite young—18 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? I’ve
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 can’t talk about Foucault
when we cuddle. Should I abstain until I find someone I can
Awaiting your response with bated breath,
Thoroughly Under Der Derian
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 don’t 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 wouldn’t
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 there’s
still a chance—a slim one—that an 18-year-old can outgrow
his assholery. There’s 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 don’t learn these things, STUDD, and learn
them soon, you deserve to be utterly alone.
I am a 21-year-old single mother. I’m 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. I’m not a prude. The sight of naughty bits doesn’t
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 can’t continue seeing each other if he doesn’t
get to see me naked. I have let him see every part of my nude
body—just not all at once. So he knows I’m 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?
see your boyfriend’s 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
they’re 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 don’t “owe him nudity,” WU, you do
owe your boyfriend a partner who isn’t a complete nutcase.