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Getting back in the saddle

By Dan Savage · October 5th, 2005 · Savage Love
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I hope this problem isn't too boring: I adore my smart, affectionate, sexy husband, but he's impotent. We don't really need medical advice -- we know why. (It started out physiological, side effects from anti-depressants, now it's psychological.) He's currently -- and willingly -- seeing a psychiatrist.

I need some advice on how we can get back in the saddle. Direct discussions about the problem make him feel worse and more inadequate. He's even admitted he avoids situations where we might fool around, because if he doesn't try, he can't fail. I'm getting a bit desperate -- I'm having fantasies about posting on Craigslist and finding some NSA sex -- but really, I just want to have hot sex with my husband! I want to be understanding, but I also really need to get some. Asking him to use a strap-on is just plain insensitive, right?

-- Help One Really Neglected Young Woman

Your husband avoids "fool around situations," or FAS, because he feels like he won't be able to satisfy you, his theory being, "no bone, no satisfaction." That seems to be your theory too, HORNYW, and embracing it is making your problem worse. It's perfectly understandable that he would avoid FAS -- and the humiliation of failure -- until he's absolutely positive he can keep it up. That's why the best approach in a situation like this is to take the focus and the pressure off the guy's dick. Tell him he can't fail to satisfy you with oral sex, masturbation and toys (perhaps working your way up to strap-ons), and he'll begin to think of sex as something he's good at again, boned or boneless.

And guess what, HORNYW? You might find that once your husband is not expected to produce an erection during FAS, his dick starts getting hard. However, resist the urge to jump on his cock the first time -- the first few dozen times -- if he gets hard while he's eating your pussy or using his hand to get you off. If you selfishly jump on one of those early hard-ons and he loses his erection, well, you might as well take a belt sander to his balls.

So those first erections? They're not for you, they're for him. You should both agree in advance that if he gets hard and wants to get off, he's going to beat off. Before you can reconnect with his dick, your husband has to reconnect with it -- i.e., he needs to get back to a time when his dick was something that gave him pleasure, not something that failed to satisfy you. Trust me, HORNYW, when that happens he'll fuck you senseless so often that you'll long for the days of FAS avoidance.

I'm 21 and I've always had trouble coming during sex, no matter the position, size of the guy, etc. But it doesn't bother me because I have no trouble coming during oral or manual stimulation. So it's never really been a problem -- until I started sleeping with this new guy. Soon after I start moaning and getting into it, he starts whispering for me to "come on baby." When he's about to come he's like, "I hope you're getting close, I want to come with you." And then after we're done he'll ask if I got there or not! I've told him that I basically just don't come during sex, but that doesn't deter him and I'm getting kind of sick of the pressure. Should I just fake it?

-- Pestered Girl

A woman should never fake an orgasm during vaginal intercourse, PG, as it reinforces the most damaging misconception there is about female sexuality -- namely, that all women can climax from vaginal intercourse alone. In fact, only 25 percent of women can come during vaginal intercourse. The overwhelming majority of women require additional focused clitoral stimulation -- manually, orally, a vibrator.

If your current boyfriend is really invested in you getting off during sex, tell him that he's going to have to get a hand down there too or be cool with you using your hand while he fucks you. Or he can buy himself one of those cockrings with a vibrator built into the top of it, and grind that into your clit while he fucks you.

I love hearing my boyfriend say nasty things to me while we fuck. My problem is that my boyfriend doesn't like to talk dirty. He says he doesn't think he's good at it. I don't need dirty talk to get off, so our sex life is still great. But how do I coax him out of his shell?

-- Girl Wants a Bedtime Story

Tell your boyfriend that all he needs to do during sex is tell you what he's about to do ("I'm going to fuck you..."), tell you what he's doing ("I'm fucking you...") and tell you what he's just done ("I fucked you..."). He doesn't have to be an expert at dirty talk to do that, he just has to be able to keep his tenses straight. If he's got a high school education, he should be able to do that much.

You recently wrote, "Each and every one of us embarrasses himself in some way when he loses his virginity. Mortification can't be avoided." I thought it would be great if you asked your readers for their embarrassing stories about losing their virginities. That way your yet-to-be-deflowered readers won't feel alone when they have their mortifying moments.

I'll start: My freshman year of college I had been dating my girlfriend for a couple months. We had done pretty much everything else there was to do and we were in love, like any good freshman couple, so we decided to have sex for the first time. Since it was her first time, it was rather painful for her and I went very slowly, moving just half an inch deeper at a time. Finally I was all the way in and stopped. She felt me stop and sweetly said the words every man longs to hear in bed: "Is that it?" She was asking me if I was all the way in or whether she should brace for more, she didn't realize what she had said until it was too late. I was mortified, of course, and it took much consoling to rebuild my male confidence.

-- My Ego Eventually Recovered

That's a swell idea, MEER. Savage Love readers are hereby invited to e-mail their mortifying true stories of losing their virginities. Keep 'em under 200 words and send 'em to virgin@savagelove.net. I'll run a bunch in an upcoming column -- I might even include my own deeply mortifying tale o' woe.

Speaking o' tales o' woe, remember SASA? He was the straight boy who, thinking only with his dick, went to a strange woman's dark apartment in the middle of the night for a NSA blowjob. The oral turned into anal and the woman turned out to be a dude. SASA was a bit stressed -- about HIV, about doing a dude -- and I addressed those issues. He also wanted to know if he was raped and, if he was, what he should do about it. I invited Savage Love readers to weigh in.

SASA wasn't assaulted or raped. Adults are responsible for the boundaries of their consent, and SASA put very few limits upon what he was willing to do. My spidey sense was tingling at the thought of entering, not once but twice, an unfamiliar, darkened apartment that belonged to persons unknown. (Yikes! Run!) Once inside, SASA lies down there to take his fellatio quite submissively in the dark from a stranger, gender and age unknown. Then, while he's making movies in that shite between his ears (in a pathetic attempt at orgasm; I agree that it's still all about his unsheathed dick and no one else, let alone any eye for the potential danger to anyone else in the room), SASA is mounted and inserted into what he agreed to online: an asshole. Literally and figuratively. Finally, he begins to worry about his own protection and stops all the action, leaving, unfettered.

SASA literally withdrew his cock and his consent right then and there, not a moment before. No meant "No." When SASA expressed it, this sad encounter immediately stopped.

Dan, I do not see rape or criminal sexual assault in these facts because SASA was a willing penetrator/perp orally for certain. As to the anal sex, he arguably signed up for the tail at the beginning of his tale (offer, acceptance, performance -- it's damn near a contract as well). Here we have consent coupled (ahem) with clear evidence of intent from the alleged victim.

All this legal analysis just leaves me cold, however, wondering about SASA, the other perp, and whether or not SASA should just go make a police report aside from legal considerations and outcome. I say this only because on the one hand, maybe this is an internet predator who needs a warning shot across his/her bow. The creep may warrant a warning in the form of a visit from the local authorities before someone does get raped, assaulted, killed or HIV. Just one simple act of protection by the police, as it were. (By the way, what are the jurisdiction's laws regarding the knowing, undisclosed transmission of HIV where SASA lives?)

On the other hand, we live in a fickle world, Dan, and the cops may well point that cannon at SASA as well.

What was the age of the other participant? Why couldn't he/she go to a bar? Those ramifications could be quite serious for SASA. We all possess a constitutional right to act stupid in this country, although it does not always rise to the level of criminal behavior. SASA exercised his constitutional right and might actually learn something from it: Responsibility to himself and responsibility for others' welfare in light of his desires and behavior. The golden rule.

-- Another Lawyer Languishing in the Heartland

I am a practicing criminal defense attorney in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. I have handled many cases, including attempted rape cases.

SASA has a very difficult decision to make -- is he willing to put himself up to the agonizing ridicule, the consistent attacks and the humiliation of going on the stand in a criminal rape/sexual assault case? Never kid yourself -- the victim is just as much on trial as the alleged assailant in a rape case. Period. It's not fair, it's not unfair. It's the way it is. The victim is judged by the jury, by the prosecutor, the media, the lawyers and anyone else associated with this type of case. Even his own family. Can SASA stand the mortifying intensity of having his decisions (good and bad) put under that kind of microscope? Only he can answer that question. Here is a glimpse of what he is up against:

The guy who attracted SASA to the "dark apartment" is going to claim any or all of the following:

· That he met SASA on the internet and both stated explicitly that they were either gay or bi-curious;

· That the victim said he had never done this before and was very shy;

· That they agreed to meet at the assailant's apartment;

· That the victim had a fantasy he always wanted fulfilled regarding dungeons or mystery screwing or something in that light;

· That the victim was very willing at first, but then got cold feet and took off;

· That the victim called the assailant back and stated that he was still willing to go through with it (and hence came back a second time);

· That the victim and assailant spoke several times that evening;

· That when the victim returned, he got naked of his own accord and they began sexual intercourse;

· The assailant can claim that they either reached climax or that they stopped when the victim asked him to stop -- either way, that's not rape;

· That the victim left and then called him again.

All of the above, unfortunately, can be corroborated, either in whole or in part, by SASA (with the exception of the bi-curious allegation).

SASA will claim that he thought the man was a lady. But the assailant has so many things going for him that it's an uphill battle for SASA to even prove this. I see nothing but bad things here for SASA. The fight would be hard and, I suspect, unfulfilling.

-- Reality-Check Attorney

First let me say, as a Public Health Nurse who works with trauma victims, I wholeheartedly support your advice for SASA to stay in therapy. Victimization of this kind can leave lasting and debilitating emotional scars. It's important for SASA to deal with this incident in a safe and healthy way so he can hopefully go on with his life.

As far as pressing assault charges, the first instinct is to say, "Yes! Certainly! This man should be punished!" However, this may not be the best way for SASA to seek closure. While I believe more men should come forward after sexual assaults, it's not always easy to get a conviction on such a charge. The victims in such circumstances are often subject to a further victimization at the hands of the justice system that is worse than the original assault.

I believe SASA should consult with police and an attorney to assess the viability of such a charge. If anything, he should provide information about this person's online activities to police so they can perhaps prevent future assaults. SASA needs to examine, with his psychiatrist, the best and healthiest way for him to close this chapter of his life.

-- Meaghan Turner, RN, BScN, BA

To SASA: I'm not a rape counselor, lawyer, cop or anyone with a degree in anything useful. I'm just a rape victim. Listen, only you can answer the important questions in this situation.

· Was it rape? If you think it was rape, if you feel/believe you were violated, then it was. You have to trust that.

· Should you press charges? To answer this question, you have to answer the most important question of all:

· What is best for you? People get caught up in a lot of nonsense about doing the right thing or getting revenge or seeking justice or just not drawing any attention to themselves. You need to take care of yourself because no one else is going to do it for you. And trust me, pressing charges is a whole other ordeal. Our justice system is not there to serve justice to the victim. If 12 average people can relate to your situation and worry it would happen to them, then justice is served. If 12 average people can't, then you will be told it's your fault. And that's if you even make it to trial.

And are you prepared to recount the whole incident five, six, 10 times to various officers, hospital workers, lawyers, etc. minute by minute? And if you manage to keep a smidge of dignity intact, can you deal with being told repeatedly how you are to blame? The rape victim always gets blamed. And in your situation you're going to hear crap like, "I didn't think a man could be raped," and a lot worse.

-- JXJ

You're probably going to get lots of e-mail from survivors, counselors and who knows who else advising SASA to run screaming to the cops and whoever else will listen about his traumatic sexual assault. I hope not -- but just in case, as a rape survivor, I wanted to throw my two cents on the table.

SASA voluntarily (that is, consensually) walked into a freaky-ass sexual situation with someone he didn't know. He also voluntarily walked out of it as soon as he became uncomfortable, which is key -- he was by no means powerless. He should take responsibility for his actions and not blame the person who said "I want to meet you under bizarre circumstances and have oral and anal sex with you while wearing a towel on my head in the dark" for doing exactly what she/he (to mimic SASA) said she/he would. I'm not condoning the mystery person's behavior, but SASA's finger is pointing the wrong way as he plays the blame game.

Hopefully lots and lots of people will point out the fact that the word "assault" would never occur to SASA if he knew he'd found himself in a woman's ass, not a man's.

Obligatory note to those meeting people online (or anywhere) for the first time: Don't go to a stranger's home. Ever. Especially twice, SASA.

-- Survivor Calling Out Ridiculous Non-responsibility

I can't believe you let this guy off so lightly. C'mon, now; he's getting a blowjob, and all of a sudden he's up to his balls in ass? Golly, how'd that happen! I admit that a well-trained and well-lubed ass may be able to swallow a penis in no time flat, but even if our presumed pervert went to all that trouble, it'd be quite a feat to pull off that maneuver without the erstwhile suckee wondering what all the fuss is about. And what about the other odd details of his story? A towel covering the face? Seriously, WTF?

You know it's a thousand times more likely that SASA had a completely consensual homosexual experience, and is now going ape-shit about it. His fear of HIV/AIDS may be real, but his long, elaborate, I'm-dumb-as-shit-but-I'm-still-a-victim story is a lie.

-- Cunning Lies I'm Told of Ruinous Incidents Suck

"Scared And Seeking Advice" claiming rape would be considered a nuisance case. He admits he freely went into a strange and dark apartment, stripped down naked and went into the bedroom for the purpose of having anonymous sex. He allowed a person with a concealed face to go down on him and was trying to climax. When the person repositioned him/herself (while he was "not paying attention to her"), you and I both know SASA thought he was about to have unprotected vaginal sex and didn't care. But because it turned out to be anal sex and it turned out to be a "he," then it suddenly becomes rape?! I think even John Roberts would say, "Give me a break!"

-- Philly Buster

In response to SASA's letter, I do have some advice/concerns. I'm in the much-maligned HIV/STD field (I remember from a past column how much you looooove us), but I have some guidance here.

· A normal psychological reaction (especially in the wake of fear) is for individuals to completely minimize exposure. So I'm somewhat skeptical of the "30 seconds" your dick spent inside of, well, somebody's ass. It was probably longer, and that means that the risk of HIV is still there. Definitely get tested again in three and six months.

· People get all flustered by the big "H" that they forget about all the other diseases out there. Definitely get checked for syphilis, gonorrhea and chlamydia. Those three are runnin' rampant in various parts of the U.S.

· While legally there's probably a case for lack of consent, unless local law distinguishes, you don't have to give "piecemeal" consent. Going to somebody's house for sex is consenting for sex. If it got taken a step further (you thought oral and it became anal), you still gave initial consent for sex. Basically, I'm saying while you could build a case, you are more likely to be laughed out of numerous precincts, law offices and other orgs before somebody finally takes this seriously. Why? Well because...

· You really, really, really fucked up. Really. There are so many "horror movie get the fuck out" moments in that story that most municipal people will look at you and say, "Uhm, didn't you realize something was shady here?" If you manage to get out of it without an STD, I'd suggest thanking whatever deity you believe in and moving on. What happened is wrong, but there's so much culpability here that finding mitigating circumstances would be hard.

-- Steven

Thank you so much for running SASA's letter last week. It came to mind today as I entered a similarly darkened room in my neighborhood. The "woman" who had placed an ad in the local escort pages removed her robe by candlelight and had the same long, dark hair and nice C-cup breasts as her pics. But when we started touching and getting close to each other, something about her muscle tone set off a warning. I moved my hand in to check her true gender. When she repeatedly moved my hand away, I looked at her straight in the eyes and opened myself to the truth. Her facial structure could easily be a man's. I got myself up and out of there and was able to get half my $500 back. "Her" parting comment was, "Are you sure you're looking for a woman? The way you look, I think you really want a man."

I feel for SASA, and thanks to him and to you I learned something from his experience.

-- Close Call

I had an experience almost like SASA had a few years ago. A friend and I went to meet these two "women" we met from a chat line. We got there, and the house was dark. One of them was talking to us in the living room while the other was "getting ready." I felt a strange vibe almost immediately but couldn't communicate anything to my friend in front of "her." To make a long story short, we were there for about five minutes before the one that had been talking to us left the apartment for some reason. The one that was getting dressed cracked a door and poked his/her face out and asked for a cigarette. I got up to bring the cig and that's when I noticed something not quite right with her face. After giving the cigarette to her she closed the door and I turned back to my friend and said something like, "Let's get the hell outta here! That was a fuckin' man!" We left immediately and ran down the stairs of their building.

About a year later I saw the first "female" on the front page of a local newspaper. The story read something like "Transgender man rapes teen." It was pretty big news around Boston for months.

-- Not Important

When I read SASA's story, I was stunned and I could relate. The "victim" of this tale is a 21-year-old straight male who was manipulated into a sexual rendezvous with a dangerously adventurous, presumably gay man disguising himself as a woman to seek the sexual charms of a straight guy. The person I relate to in this bizarre story is the deceptive gay man. For the last 10 years, I have struggled through this pathetic and dark world of lies and manipulative mischief. At the age of 24, I was horny but had no money, was busy in school and had no sexual outlet at the time. Emotionally, I thought I was in a good state of mind. Wrong!

Playfully, I called some phone-chat personal ads. The gay ones cost money and I could not afford them, and I was also aware that my high, feminine voice would not be in high demand on any gay phone-sex line. I noticed that in the straight chat lines the men also had to pay -- however, the women did not. As a joke I decided to call the straight chat line just to see if I could fool anyone. I could. Some men knew what I was up to and loudly voiced their disgust. However, most men were easily fooled. What started out as harmless fun has turned into an ugly mess that has put my life in danger numerous times and made me an emotional mess.

I began spending almost all my free time on the phone, sacrificing any hope for a quality romantic relationship, only to waste time wallowing in the obscene attentions of all these strange men. For the first time in my life I felt men were listening to me. It was all lies, but they were listening.

Here is where I start to sing the blues. My childhood was not good (I know, boo hoo). A quick summation: I am the only child of a white, schizophrenic mother and was abandoned at birth by my black father. At the age of 8 I basically became my mother's caregiver. I was also a pretty little gay boy. When men or boys did pay attention to me, it was always negative. To this day I can't remember one instance of a man saying or doing anything for me that was kind. The phone chat line in its twisted way has proved to be the catalyst in giving me the awakening I needed. I learned that I hated men, specifically straight men. The chat line progressed over the years from simply providing phone sex to arranging to meet guys in public places just so I could watch them waiting for "her," which of course was me. It has most recently progressed to having these strangers come into my apartment for oral and even anal sex in the dark because I was too "shy" to be seen with the lights on.

I have had hundreds of sexual experiences with these men in the last 10 years. Some have been bisexual; however, I am sure most have been straight. I've been with some men who are incredibly handsome and some physically repulsive. In the heat of the moment, looks did not matter much to me. I have had men who have figured out what was going on during the sex act and have freaked and stormed away too shocked to respond. Only once have I been sexually and physically assaulted. In that terrifying moment, my misery, shame and pain was so great that I did not really care if I died. I think most men whom I've been with have not been violent simply because they were so stunned that any gay man would do anything so obviously dangerous.

I know that I am not the only one who struggles with this. I am sure there are many factors that contribute to gay men behaving the way I have. One theory is that effeminate gay men simply are not desired in the gay community. The majority of gay men want muscles and masculinity, not petite and sweet. Some gay men are more turned off by effeminacy than obesity! The places where effeminate men can attract the attentions of horny masculine men are places where they can get away with being women in disguise (internet and chat lines).

To the 21-year-old who was so traumatized by his experience, please, if you can, accept my apologies. However, Dan, I disagree with you in saying that we who commit such acts are "extraordinarily evil faggots." There is a sad, dark undercurrent to why we do these things, and at this time society is not yet able to face this. I hope my story helps in explaining part of it. We are deeply troubled, living in a world that hates not gay men as much as effeminate gay men. As sexual outcasts without visibility to our problem, we are alone in our pain.

I know your readers probably want me to simply climb down from my cross and get over it, but for an effeminate gay man to go through life being the object of ridicule since birth to simply shrug it off and get over it is not realistic. Believe me, it is a slow process to learn to love, forgive and respect men as an adult when as a child they displayed only hatred to me. It has not been an easy life. This is only part of my story. I no longer believe it is so unique.

-- The Voice in the Dark

I couldn't track anything down about that story online, but it sounded very much like a first-person version of an urban legend. I mean, come on, it's a cautionary tale of the first order, you said so yourself. The only part missing was that the dude didn't get AIDS, which he likely would have in an urban legend. Just a thought.

-- Folklore University

 
 
 
 

 

 
 
 
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