Q: I went to a friends wedding, a friend whom five years ago I would have called a best friend. I dont know how to describe our friendship now because we dont 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 Im dating him. Shes 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 isnt. I am curious what you or your readers think. Ending The Code
A: Where I come from, youre considered a model of self-restraint if you refrain from fucking your friends current boyfriends. Exes are entirely fair game. So maybe Im not the best judge, ETC, but for what its worth heres 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 wasnt traumatized by her relationship with this man she invited him to her wedding! and you guys dont hang out much anymore. Any friends-dont-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 isnt what it used to be: Shes not making time to see you, youre 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-friends 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.
Q: 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 girls face, the hearts on the wallpaper) suggests consent. What do you think? Dave
A: First, anyone curious about the image it can be viewed at the left of this column.
OK, 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 its 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 its 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. Shes clearly enjoying an intense sexual experience, not dreading what comes next.
But your girlfriend cant see past the bondage. While it cant 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 girlfriends inability to see the implied consent in this image betrays her discomfort with kinky sex.
Q: Ill be blunt: Im straight, Im smart, Im funny and Im cool. I appreciate art, Im good at talking to people, and Im the loneliest damn bastard I know because I refuse to tolerate people who arent as good as I am. Also, to my misfortune, Im 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? Ive 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 cant talk about Foucault when we cuddle. Should I abstain until I find someone I can appreciate?
Awaiting your response with bated breath. Studied Thoroughly Under Der Derian
A: Ill 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 dont have anything against them as 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 wouldnt 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 theres still a chance a slim one that an 18-year-old can outgrow his assholery. Theres 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 dont learn these things, STUDD, and learn them soon, you deserve to be utterly alone.
Q: I am a 21-year-old single mother. Im 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. Im not a prude. The sight of naughty bits doesnt 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 cant continue seeing each other if he doesnt get to see me naked. I have let him see every part of my nude body just not all at once. So he knows Im 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? Wrapped Up
A: You see your boyfriends 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 theyre something you need to get the fuck over. Hopefully his ultimatum will motivate you to get your ass to a shrink already. For though you dont owe him nudity, WU, you do owe your boyfriend a partner who isnt a complete nutcase.Send letters to firstname.lastname@example.org