WHAT'S WRONG WITH THIS PICTURE 


I went to a friend's wedding. Five years ago I would have called her a "best friend" but now 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 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.

Ending The Code

Where 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 "code" would have to be considered inoperative under these circumstances.

I suspect something else is going on here. Your friendship isn't what it used to be. 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 this is the best she can come up with.

The attached picture is the cover of a recent local magazine here in Boston. 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?

Dave

OK, Dave: 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. 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.

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. 1) Where do I start the search to find my dream girl? Simply waiting around has not worked for me so far. 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.

Studied Thoroughly Under Der Derian

I'll 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. 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 is your age. An 18-year-old asshole is just as repulsive as a 38-year-old asshole, but there's a chance 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 and learn them soon, you deserve to be utterly alone.

I am 21 years old, 5 feet 6 inches tall and 103 pounds. I run every day and try to take care of my body by eating right. But I am repulsed by my body. I take very brief showers and avoid mirrors. I'm not a prude, but my avoidance of all nudity hinders sex. I always want to wear a shirt or have the lights off. My boyfriend says that if I trust him enough to sleep with him I should trust him enough to let him see me naked. He told me that we can't continue seeing each other if he doesn't get to see me naked. I guess I thought my boyfriend would be more sensitive to my fear and let me stay covered up. Do I owe him nudity?

Wrapped Up

You see your boyfriend's insistence on seeing you naked as insensitivity; I see it as proof that he cares about you. Your hang-ups are irrational and they're something you need to get the fuck over. I hope his ultimatum will motivate you to get your ass to a shrink, for, while you don't "owe him nudity," you do owe your boyfriend a partner who isn't a complete nutcase.

mail@savagelove.net

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