[syndicated profile] imaginarycircustumbl_feed
Opinion | Yes, This Is a Witch Hunt. I’m a Witch and I’m Hunting You.:

“When Allen and other men warn of “a witch hunt atmosphere, a Salem atmosphere” what they mean is an atmosphere in which they’re expected to comport themselves with the care, consideration and fear of consequences that the rest of us call basic professionalism and respect for shared humanity. On some level, to some men — and you can call me a hysteric but I am done mincing words on this — there is no injustice quite so unnaturally, viscerally grotesque as a white man being fired.“

CAN I GET AN AMEN?

[syndicated profile] imaginarycircustumbl_feed

First I see Ivanka Dumpster Fire proclaiming she was a punk in the 90s because she listened to Nirvana and once tried to dye her hair blue (sounds fake, but okay.) And like. 15 year old me wants to put on my combat boots and my Dead Kennedy’s t-shirt and make obscene gestures. I was working in the music industry when grunge broke. You can argue about it having punk rock roots, but it sure as hell wasn’t punk. Hardcore was the more direct descendant of punk. Compare seminal late 70s punk like GBH’s City Baby Attacked by Rats to one of Kurt Cobain’s major influences The Vaselines, who were a Scottish alternative band. Grunge really came out of the post-punk and alternative rock music of the 1980s and was a response to the slick, over produced rock of the 1980s and all the hair bands and I would argue even against shit that was happening at the same time like Pearl Jam. (I really hate Pearl Jam. I’m sorry. You like what you like and I don’t judge unless you’re Ivanka. I knew kids from wealthy families who were also punk rock. They were angry and aware of political and social injustice.)

Then I went to look for chocolate recipes and I found this gem in the NY Times archives. THE WORLD HAS GONE TO HELL.

image
[syndicated profile] greenkangaroo_tumblr_feed

earendil-was-a-mariner:

Bilbo: wait I get it now. The dragon is a metaphor for greed and power. We need to ‘defeat’ it by being humble when we get the treasure.

Thorin: Bilbo, for the last time, it’s a real dragon and it has my gold

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excessivelysesquipedalian:

samuelandcandy:

ok so this is something everyone on tumblr should know

imagine dragons was hired to write demo tracks for spiderman turn off the dark (aka the spiderman musical on broadway) in order to get people to invest in it and have enough money to hire someone more famous to write the musical

then the people who hired them thought, “hey, these are actually good songs we should make a cd of them and sell it”

so imagine dragons changed the words a little so they weren’t about spiderman and became famous

radioactive was originally about THE RADIOACTIVE SPIDER THAT BIT SPIDERMAN

you know I read this and thought “bullshit there’s no way that’s true” but apparently it is

[syndicated profile] barefootchaose_tumbl_feed




















astrollusion:

The best of Irish Twitter in anticipation of this bitch Ophelia, also bonus: my university literally asking the Taoiseach if they count as a college.

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executive dysfunction: you need to do this thing
me: how?
executive dysfunction: idk have you tried sitting and feeling guilty about it?
[syndicated profile] barefootchaose_tumbl_feed
A dog called Odin survives California wildfires after refusing to abandon his goats:

thejusticethatissocial:

As the raging California wildfires encroached upon Roland Handel’s home, he had to make a split-second decision — try to force his dog Odin into the car, or leave him behind.

Odin is one of two great Pyrenees who take turns guarding the family’s eight goats from coyotes and mountain lions, and he was on duty the night the fires broke out.

“I had my 14-year-old daughter and we had to get out,” Handel said between sobs.

So he opened the gates so the animals could flee, then drove off with his daughter, their three other dogs and two cats all packed into the family car.

“By the time we were going down the road, you could hear the twisting metal of transmission towers falling and propane tanks exploding,” he said. “I’ll never forget it.”

He returned the next day, circumventing roadblocks to get there.

He discovered that his home and everything else on his property was completely destroyed.

Except for Odin, who was there waiting for him — with all eight goats.

The dogs paw pads were burnt and his bright white fur was singed orange. 

“He looked small and he was limping. He was lying down a lot. He was clearly exhausted.”

A group of deer had gathered with Odin and the goats, Handel said, perhaps also taking advantage of the brave pooch’s protection. The deer scattered when Handel approached.

He believes the dog led the other animals to a clearing at the center of a high outcropping of rocks to avoid contact with the flames.

“Its amazing he’s in such good spirits. He doesn’t show signs of being traumatized at all. He’s just really happy,” Handel said.

“He’ll make a full recovery. He’s going to be back with his goats.”

Handel is now raising money on YouCaring to rebuild the animals’ barn and water supply before winter. 

Well now I’m crying at my dining room table over a dog and his goats

[syndicated profile] captainawkward_feed

Posted by JenniferP

Dear Captain Awkward,

Over the years, my smart, funny, fun friend Elizabeth has become ruled by her insecurity, anxiety, and grievances. She’s close with my friends from a couple of overlapping friend groups — I met my boyfriend through her — and somehow, her emotional needs have become the center of our lives. We are constantly trying to manage around Elizabeth’s irrational reactions.

Any time she isn’t invited to anything I’m doing, I’ll hear about it directly and again passive-aggressively. It doesn’t matter the reason. Every low-key hangout becomes a dilemma: do I invite Elizabeth, do I lie about my plans, do I just endure the confrontation. If I invite her when I don’t feel like it, she claims I wasn’t happy to see her. If she’s busy when we make plans, she’ll still say how left out she feels. Any time anyone has big news — they’re engaged, moving, pregnant — telling Elizabeth is a whole thing that has to be strategized around.

It’s not hard to tell this is the result of some deep and miserable insecurity and loneliness. I feel terrible that she feels that way. But she is using her anxieties to control everyone around her, and I’ve realized it’s a fucked-up game that I can’t win.

If she weren’t friends with all my friends, I would cut her out of my life entirely. Given the overlap, though, that would be difficult and dramatic (and maybe end up ruining her relationships with people who are frustrated but not yet totally fed up. She does need friends. I just can’t be one anymore). I am trying instead to see her as a friend-of-friends who I don’t care for. I don’t feel guilty about ways I inadvertently hurt those people. I don’t vent for hours about them to mutual friends. I don’t go to parties we’re both invited to and leave frustrated by all the ways they are disappointing me.

But I don’t know how to do this. I don’t know how to react the next time she tries to make me feel guilty or make something about her. I don’t know what to say that doesn’t turn into a big, involved, emotional conversation that I do not want. She always wants more from me. I want to give her less. I know what my boundaries are. How do I make them clear to her?

Hello! I think your question is going to resonate with a lot of people.

Story Time: Once upon a time a group of friends and I were trying to decide where to eat dinner. One of the group members had her sister in town, and Sister is apparently a VERY picky eater. Not medical-issues or food-allergies-picky, more like: Most restaurant food is gonna be too weird/too spicy/too ethnic/contain too many foods, like, the “rocks” and the “trees” might touch each other on the plate, so we had to find someplace that would have something she could eat. Great! A challenge! Chicago is a restaurant-rich environment. Surely there would be something.

I tell this story not because picky eaters are bad and shouldn’t be accommodated as much as possible (seriously, do not fill the comments with details about you don’t & can’t eat, I don’t care and it’s not the topic of this column). I tell it because the conversation went on for almost two hours with people raising suggestions and others shooting them down and because during all of this the Sister never said a word. She never said “Ok, Mexican or Thai is cool, I can eat some rice there” or “The diner is fine, I can get a grilled cheese probably and they’ll put everything on the side for me” or “actually Italian doesn’t work for me, sorry” or “Listen, why don’t I make some Kraft dinner here so I’m not starving and then come keep you company later at the bar” or “Hey, I know this is kinda weird, thanks for trying to help find something that will work for me” or “Can we pull up the menu online and see if there’s anything I can eat?” She just sat there quietly making frowny faces and grimaces for almost two hours while 6 people (most of whom she’d just met for the first time) tried to find something she could eat and auditioned options for her while her sister tried to interpret her face and mediate between everyone else.

It was so weird. It was one of the most amazingly dysfunctional things I have ever seen. I say “amazingly” partly because of the way that the visiting Sister had trained her sibling to anticipate and worry about her around eating and to fear her negative reactions to the point that she didn’t even have to say or do anything at this point. The mere prospect of her being sad or upset or unsatisfied was enough to have everyone strategizing around it. It was amazing how quickly we were all trained, by proxy, to react the same way. Also notable was the amount of effort it took to break out of the pattern that was instantly established among us, the amount of energy that it took to be able to say  “Listen, I’m starving, we gotta goooooooo.” (We ate Mexican food. There were plain quesadillas. It was fine. Also, this dynamic played out before every single meal of her visit, three meals a day).

I tell this story because your story about your friend is partly about habits and group dynamics and the way they calcify. Elizabeth has trained you all to strategize around her and dread her reactions to things. She has to an extent trained herself to be let down over and over again. It has become a self-perpetuating cycle – the more negatively she reacts, the more she’s left out, which makes her react negatively, which makes people want to be around her less. Stir in some Geek Social Fallacies and it sucks for everyone, Elizabeth most of all. Since you can’t change what Elizabeth will do or how she’ll feel, so can you change the way you react to it so that the relationship works better for you? And can your example help steer the group to help break the pattern?

Relationships where one person is always apologizing and the other person always needs an apology are pretty unbalanced, yes? Relationships where you have to strategize around the possibility of them blowing up at you over pretty minor things are also unbalanced and exhausting. Whatever you’ve shared in the past, that’s where you are now. So, since you do have a lot of social overlap and history with Elizabeth and don’t want to ostracize her from the larger group, figure out your threshold for inviting her to stuff (it sounds like big group hangs are where it’s at) and do that. When you want to invite different people, hang out in smaller groups, make plans without her, or announce good news, do that. When you don’t want to go to something she’s organizing say “No thanks, can’t make it” without giving a reason or apologizing. Then, the hard part: Let her feelings be her feelings and don’t work so hard to fix them or manage them. Be kind and polite without being effusive or engaging deeply and otherwise withdraw to the place that you are comfortable and that feels sustainable for you.

Part of setting and maintaining boundaries with others is internal. It’s making & owning the decision that hey, my line is here, and if someone crosses it, I will withdraw from interacting with them, and if that upsets them, that’s sad, but it doesn’t automatically make the feelings my problem or my fault. Once you decide that you can deal with Elizabeth’s negative feelings without making them your problem, you’ll feel a lot more free and relaxed.

If you end up talking about things with her, say, when Elizabeth inevitably notices your withdrawal and pushes you about it, the script you are looking for might be some version of this:

I definitely don’t want to upset you or hurt your feelings, but I also don’t want to apologize for something that isn’t actually wrong. 

For example, if we’re going to stay in each other’s lives, it has to be okay for me to  hang out with other people without consulting you first. It has to be okay for me to do social stuff when you aren’t available. It has to be okay for me to tell you good news about my life and hear ‘congratulations, that’s so great!’ instead of comforting you about the things in your life that you are unhappy about.

I’m not doing those things AT you or in order to hurt you or exclude you, and it’s not okay when you expect me to take care of your feelings when I do them. I find these conversations really exhausting and I don’t want to have them anymore.

For another example, when Elizabeth starts venting about people who have wronged her after parties, what if you said “Hey, let me stop you there. I don’t actually want to listen to this”? Or what if you redirected her away from venting about people and toward talking to them? “You sound really upset with ______, why don’t you talk to them directly about it?” It sounds like there’s a dynamic here where Elizabeth is expecting you and other friends to expend a lot of energy listening to her grievances with others but won’t take the actual steps that might fix the situation. What if you removed yourself as that outlet and put the work of fixing whatever it is back on her? You can’t control whether she actually talks to the person but you can actually control how much energy you’ll expend on the problem.

See also:

  • “Listen, every time I hang out with someone who isn’t you, it can’t become A Thing Where We Have To Have A Giant Talk. I really don’t want to.”
  • “Where is this coming from?”
  • “What is this really about?”
  • “What would make you feel better about this?” 
  • You’re right, we’re not as close as we used to be. I feel like I have to walk on eggshells around you, and I don’t love it.” 
  • You’re right, we’re not as close as we used to be. Sometimes it makes me sad to think about, but also I think it’s okay if friendships evolve over time.
  • “You seem really unhappy in general lately, what’s going on with you?”
  • “But friends don’t have to do everything together.” 
  • “This is really weighing on you, and you seem so unhappy lately, do you think it would help to talk to someone about it?”
  • “I feel like this comes up every single time I do something without you. Do you really think friends need to do everything together?” 
  • “Wait, I just told you good news. Can I get a ‘congratulations’ for a second before we talk about you?” 
  • “Can you not?”
  • Hmmm interesting
  • Okaaaay?
  • Wow.
  • Yikes.
  • “Ouch.”
  • Not cool!
  • “Okay so we’re going with worst case scenarios then?”
  • I can’t talk about this anymore today.”
  • Have you told ____ what you just told me?
  • What are you going to do about that?
  • “If we all suck so much, why are you friends with us?”
  • It’s a giant bummer when every party or brunch needs this giant post-mortem with you. Can we not?” 

There’s a pretty wide variety there, so, find that script or scripts that lets you engage constructively with her behavior and disengage from a performance of feelings. It might be really valuable to have this out once and for all and really argue with her, like, “Hey! You are stressing me out a lot and making it hard to be friends with you! Knock it off!” It might be better to quietly withdraw. Don’t (for example) ask a lot of questions and dig deeper into what’s going on if you’re ready to be done with the friendship.

I think that given your long friendship it’s worth addressing head on and in depth at least one time. If you’ve never actually said any version of  “Hey, this is an unreasonable question, you’re not the boss of my social calendar, knock it off!” before – for example, if you’ve defaulted to mollifying her in the moment (and then resenting the hell out of it later) – remember to start gently and give everyone a couple of chances to reset the relationship. It’s a longstanding problem for you, but it may not read that way for her if this is the first time you’ve pushed back. Does that make sense? Maybe give her a little room to have a less-than-ideal initial reaction and a little bit of time to self-correct things before you tap out forever and ever.

Also, never, ever invoke the wider feelings of the group when you talk to her. Own your own annoyance – “It bothers me,” I’ve noticed,” “I am annoyed by…” etc. Other people may well have these same issues but appealing to the the group will not lend you authority. It will only justify Elizabeth’s paranoia about being left out and distract from the conversation, like, “Wait, everyone feels this way about me? Who exactly? What exactly did they say?” She already worries that she’s being ostracized and/or bullied, do not feed that worry. Keep it focused on you: “I can’t speak for anyone else, but it bothers me when you hear about me having brunch with other friends and take it as a slight.

Speaking of “the wider social group” and “things that you can control,” try to stop talking about & complaining about about Elizabeth with the larger friend group as much as you possibly can. There is power and freedom in venting, but sometimes venting also feeds on itself and it becomes a habit unto itself at the expense of action. While you try to break Elizabeth and yourself of bad habits, what if you also tried to redirect the group’s habits, too? When her “b-eating-crackers” behavior comes up in the group (and it will), what if you channeled the complainstorm into “Yep, that is pretty annoying. Have you tried talking to her directly about it?

  • I know we all try to strategize about how Elizabeth will react to news like this, but what if you just told her ‘I’m engaged!’ and let her feelings be her feelings?
  • Yeah, she can be like that sometimes. I’ve been trying to set boundaries and just talk to her directly when it comes up instead of spending so much energy talking about her.” 
  • “I think we have this weird pattern, where Elizabeth overreacts to stuff and then we all overreact to her overreaction. I’m trying to break myself of the habit and just take her as she comes without too much angst about it. I wish nothing but good things for her, and I wish she could be happier but I don’t have the energy to dissect all this every time we see her.” 
  • “Elizabeth’s gonna Elizabeth, let’s not feed the fire. How is [new topic]?” 

People may or may not follow your lead. Set the boundaries anyway, and then enforce them by changing the subject or walking way from Elizabeth-centered conversations. Go talk to anyone else about anything else (the way you wish Elizabeth would do!).

It will take time and probably a few tries to disengage. Be gentle with everyone, especially yourself.

Finally, if you read this and thought “Shit, I’m ‘Elizabeth,'” here’s some stuff you can do to feel better:

A. First and foremost, if anxiety about your friendships and whether people like you is seriously messing with your life, take the problem seriously and investigate solutions. Here’s a website (with forums) devoted to helping people with social anxiety. There are tons and tons of people dealing with this in the world, you are not alone, there are tons of strategies for managing it, everything from therapy & medication to improv classes. Chances are that you don’t have to feel this awful forever.

B. It’s okay to need reassurance from friends sometimes. If your current ways of reaching out aren’t getting the results you want, can you try out a strategy of asking for some specific action the other person can do that might make you feel better? “I miss you, it feels like we never hang out anymore” or “I feel like everyone is too busy to spend time with me” might be true, real, awful, overwhelming feelings. Sadly, expressed out loud or in text form they read like accusations that require a lot of emotional work on the other person to figure out what to do next. What if you translated those feelings into more actionable requests like “I really miss you, friend, can we have lunch soon? Tuesdays are generally good for me.” See also “I’m feeling really sad today, it feels like no one likes me” vs. “I’m really feeling sad today, what’s your favorite song that really cheers you up?” or “I’m feeling really down today, please send compliments & animal .gifs.” I don’t necessarily know what to do with “I’m so lonely and I feel like everyone hates me” but I do know what to do with “Everything sucks today, can you tell me something nice?” or “I could really use a friend to come over and sit with me and color and watch TV later, do you have a little time?” It takes time and practice to reshape this pattern, so, go slow and be nice to yourself, but try it.

C. If it feels like everyone is always hanging out without you, or like your friend group has calcified into a pattern that doesn’t feel good for you, what can you do to change it up? What can you control?

For example, I get a lot of letters & comments about people who wish they were invited to more stuff. UNDERSTANDABLE. But more often than not, when I scratch the surface and gently ask “Hey, what happens when you plan things for friends to do?” the person says some version of “No + Nobody would come anyway” or “I invited some people once but they didn’t want to come so I stopped” or “Here are 1,000 reasons that this advice is stupid and will never work.” And yeah, okay, maybe so. It sucks, I’m sorry. But you can’t control what other people will do, you can only control what you will do. If the situation is going to change, you’re going to change it, by either changing up how you interact or finding different friends.

Additionally, planning and hosting social events is work. The people in your group who are good at it and confident about it or just defaulted into being in charge of it because no one else wanted to do it also have worries and anxieties:  That no one will show up, no one will have a good time. They worry about accidentally hurting people’s feelings by excluding them, or accidentally inviting awkward exes or mortal enemies, or running out of food or ice, or that they’ll make a ton of food and no one will eat it, or that they’ll suggest a bad movie or a board game that is not fun, or that everyone expects them to do the work and nobody ever helps or even thanks them (I get those letters, too). It’s easy, when you are self-conscious, to forget that literally everyone else is also a giant self-conscious weirdo too.

Mostly, and I swear this is true once we get past high school, most people who like hosting events want people to feel welcome and to have a good time. They do not enjoy excluding people or making them feel bad. With this in mind, maybe you can approach the person in your friend group who does most of the scheduling and inviting and say, “Hey, I really appreciate the work you do hosting trivia night every month, what can I do to help?” “Can I plan something for the two of us where the only work you have to do is showing up?

See also:

  • RSVP promptly when you’re invited to something.
  • If the culture of your friend group is “people bring stuff to parties even when it’s not explicitly a BYOB situation” then be a person who brings baked goods or something to drink. Contribute.
  • Set up chairs, offer to wash dishes, and do other tasks that keep your hands busy.
  • Say thank you to the organizers afterwards.
  • Pay attention to whether other people are having a good time. Is someone new here, do they seem shy? Could they use an introduction to someone else?
  • It’s okay to hide out in the bathroom or on the porch or with the host’s pets for a little while if you get overwhelmed. The person who hosts the best parties I know of in Chicago is a bit socially anxious and take breaks from her own parties.
  • If you don’t really gel with someone, give them space. Find someone else to talk to at the party. You don’t have to have the same level of intimacy with everyone in a social group.
  • Invite people to do smaller stuff, one-on-one. Stop thinking of it as The Whole Group vs. You and think of it as a bunch of people you mostly like and some you like more than others.
  • Try to approach events you’re invited to with the mindset of “People want to be kind and want me to have a good time here.”
  • When you’re not invited to something, try (I know, but try) to cultivate the mindset of “Hey, not everyone has to hang out together all the time. I’ll probably catch them another time.

D. All that said, it’s 100% okay for you, Relatively Lonely Person, to back off from friendships that feel like too much work. If people make you feel like you have to chase them all the time, if people make you feel insecure, if people judge you when you need a little reassurance or cheering up, if people never make you a priority, it’s okay to disengage. You don’t have to make all the effort or have to subsist on crumbs or leftovers to deserve friends.

To be totally honest, I am a recovering ‘Elizabeth.’ I spent my teens and 20s as a needy and socially confused bull in ye olde emotional china shoppe. I had undiagnosed depression and anxiety. I over-relied on friends to process endless streams of complaints and obsessions. I got rejected a lot socially and romantically and received a lot of negative and painful feedback from groups I wanted to be part of. I *often* experienced that moment of saying something and feeling a group of people go kind of silent and limp around my awkwardness, exchanging awkward eye messages with each other, and then changing the subject (“So…anyway…“) while my conversational turd sat there, unacknowledged.

Things that helped: Therapy. Getting older. Reality checks and boundary-setting from friends who were like “I love you but you are too intense sometimes, please knock this off so I can keep liking you” or “Look I know you’re sad but I am done talking about this” or “Do you realize you start every phone call by immediately just talking about yourself and how sad you are and don’t even ask me how I’m doing?” Losing friendships where I didn’t listen to these boundaries and learning from those mistakes. Painful self-awareness and trying to do better. Making the effort to reframe situations where I felt rejected and not automatically default to the explanations that most dovetailed with my poor self-image. Realizing that the “So…anyway…” moments were an attempt to let me save face, and that it’s okay for people to have limits about how much complaining they can absorb. Learning to read the room better and to ask questions before launching in.

It took a long time and it was hard and I still fuck up sometimes. In some cases I let go of friendships that didn’t work anymore and sought less rocky ground. In others I changed my behavior. In all cases trying was better than not trying. In all cases the only person who could really change the dynamic was me.

I hope things get better all around for you and Elizabeth(s). You can’t fix her feelings, so, take care of yourself and be as gentle as you can.

 


Savage Love

Oct. 18th, 2017 09:18 am
[syndicated profile] savagelove_feed

Posted by Dan Savage

Parental Controls by Dan Savage

My only child is 16 years old. He was curious about sex from a very young age and very open with me, so his interest in sexual matters gave me ample opportunity to talk with him about safety and consent. He went through a cross-dressing phase when he was small—mostly wanting to wear nail polish and try on mascara—and I felt like I navigated those waters pretty well, but his father made attempts to squelch those impulses. (He and I are divorced. He has since remarried and is less involved.) That's the background. I've always accepted that he is who he is and done my best to help guide and educate him. Then last year, I caught him trying to shoplift a pair of panties. I'm not the sort of mom who freaks out, but I made him put them back and talked to him about his actions. When I asked him why he stole them, he refused to tell me. I asked: "Did you want them to masturbate with? Did you want to wear them?" He said he wanted to try them on. I told him that if he wanted to explore, he needed to do that with a legal purchase and in the privacy of his own room. Today, I found a girl's bra in the laundry. He says he doesn't know whose it is or how it got there, but this isn't my first rodeo. What on earth do I do? If I send him to a therapist and this is about being trans or cross-dressing tendencies, I'm afraid that will shame him. However, this is now something of a criminal/ethical concern, and I want to nip that in the bud. He is in every way a wonderful human: kind, smart, funny, athletic, no drugs. Is this just the same kid who has always been curious about sex? Or are these warning signs of some sort of sexual deviance? Please help.

Mom In Sleepy South Carolina Lovingly Educates Offspring

Take a deep breath, MISSCLEO, or take two—take however many you need until you're back in touch with your inner mom, the one who doesn't freak out.

Your son may be a cross-dresser or he may be trans or he may find bras and panties titillating because women wear them and he wants to sleep with women (not be one). (Lots of gay boys are titillated by jockstraps—but a closeted gay boy can collect 'em all without freaking out his mom.) We can't know whether your son is a cross-dresser, trans, or merely titillated, MISSCLEO, but he's clearly exploring and wants to do so privately. So while he could go to his mom and ask for a pair of panties and let her know exactly how he intends to use them, he doesn't want to ask his mom for a pair of panties or share his uses for them with his mom. He knows you've always accepted him for who he is (but a reminder never hurts), so if this is about his gender identity, well, you'll have to trust that he'll share that with you when he's ready. But if this is about a kink, he may never share that info with you, because why on earth would he? Kinks are for sharing with lovers, not mothers.

Give your son some space, including the space to make his own mistakes. As teenage misbehavior goes, swiping a single pair of panties isn't exactly a crime spree. If you suspect he snuck into the girls' locker room and made off with a bra (there has to be an easier way for a guy to get his hands on a bra!), you'll want to address that with him—not the "Why do you want a bra?" part, but the risk of getting caught, suspended, expelled, or worse. There are too many prosecutors out there looking for excuses to slap the "sex offender" label on teenagers—especially in the Bible Belt.

My hunch is you don't have a sex offender on your hands or a kid drifting into organized crime. You have a slightly pervy teenage boy who's curious about sex and who may, like millions of other men, have a thing for women's undergarments. You should emphasize the Not Okay–ness of shoplifting panties from stores or stealing bras from classmates (or the siblings of friends or Laundromats or thrift stores) and the possible consequences should he get caught—theft charges, suspension/expulsion, losing friends, coming into the sights of a sex-negative prosecutor. (Seriously: A man like Harvey Weinstein gets away with assaulting women for decades, but prosecutors across the country are throwing the book at teenagers who got caught sharing pics they took of themselves with their BFs/GFs/NBFs.) But otherwise, MISSCLEO, I'm going to advise you to back the fuck off. Your son knows you love him, he knows he can talk to you about anything, and he'll confide in you if and when he's ready—if, again, this is something he needs to discuss with you at all.


My father passed away suddenly. I had a very idyllic childhood and was close to my father and my mother (who is also deceased). Upon sorting through my father's stuff after his death, I stumbled upon his erotica collection. If it were just a stack of Playboys, I would have thought nothing of it—that's just men being men. However, his collection contained material that was quite disturbing to me, including photos depicting violent sexual acts and fictional erotica books and magazines with themes of incest. Additionally, there were letters from people with whom he was obviously having extramarital affairs, including during the time that I was a child and believed that we were a "normal" family. Since discovering this, it has been hard for me to come to terms with it and think of my father in the way that I used to. I can barely stand to look at a photograph of him. I consider myself to be a sex-positive person, and I realize that even parents are entitled to be kinky, but I simply can't get over this. Any suggestions for how to deal with what I'm feeling and how to try to get past it?

Parent's Arousal Really Ended Nice Thoughts

Sex-positive, huh? Could've fooled me.

Your dad was a kinky motherfucker—you know that now—and if you've been reading Savage Love for a while, you'll know that lots of people are kinky and, distressingly, lots of people out there "enjoy" incest porn. "Of the top hundred searches by men on Pornhub," Seth Stephens-Davidowitz writes in his book Everybody Lies: Big Data, New Data, and What the Internet Can Tell Us About Who We Really Are, "sixteen are looking for incest-themed videos." And it's not just men: "Nine of the top hundred searches on Pornhub by women are for incest-themed videos." That's cold comfort, I realize, and it doesn't make it any less squicky, but your dad's tastes weren't as freakish as you thought and/or hoped.

As for his affairs, your happy childhood, and your suddenly conflicted feelings...

Your mother isn't with us, PARENT, so you can't ask her what her arrangement was with your father. But it's unlikely you would have had such an idyllic childhood if your parents' marriage was contentious and your mom was miserable about your dad's cheating and his kinks. It seems likely that your mom didn't have a problem with your dad's sexual interests or she tolerated them or—and I hope you're sitting down—she was an active and happy participant. (Kinky women weren't invented in a lab in San Francisco in 2008.) If your mom didn't have a problem with your dad's kinks (which she had to have known about) or his affairs (which she might not have known about), I don't see why they should be a problem for you.


On the Lovecast, Dan chats with the creator of a naughty, naughty game: savagelovecast.com.

mail@savagelove.net

@fakedansavage

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