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#25954 - 12/04/02 09:36 PM "Savage Love," Column by Dan Savage
Richard Gartner, PhD Offline
Past President
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 09/20/00
Posts: 404
Loc: New York, NY, USA
Dan Savage writes an advice column, "Savage Love," about sex that runs in offbeat newspapers in the US, and perhaps elsewhere as well. In New York, his column appears in the Village Voice. He is gay but writes for both gays and straights. I reprint the column that appeared in today's issue. I would invite anyone who had a traumatic reaction following straight or gay sexual contact with an adult as a late adolescent to write him at:
mail@savagelove.net
I hope to write him myself, but I think it might be more effective for him to hear from traumatized men than from a therapist he can easily dismiss as uptight.

Savage Love
by Dan Savage
December 4 - 10, 2002

Question:
A co-worker and I share a huge amount of sexual energy. The primary issue is that he's 17 and I'm closer to 30. My attraction to him is likely related to a (mild) distrust of men, an issue I'm working through with a therapist. I'm not interested in a relationship, and I'm sure, at 17, he's just looking for excitement and experience. Still, I would make sure we understood each other before anything happened. The age of consent in my state is 18, but all the information I've been able to find talked about older men and girls. Nothing about almost-legal just-graduated-from-high-school-guys paired with older-women-with-issues. Is this something I should leave alone? —Hot Over Totally Tempting Youngster

Answer:
I didn't discuss your problem with a therapist, HOTTY, but I did share your letter with my lawyer, along with an early, much different draft of my advice for you. Ahem. As an officer of the court, my lawyer strongly advised me not to advise you to do anything illegal with him. Until this boy is 18, it would be illegal for you to GO AHEAD AND FUCK HIM, so it would be irresponsible of me in the extreme to advise you to GO AHEAD AND FUCK HIM, even if I think it's highly unlikely that anyone would be harmed if you were to GO AHEAD AND FUCK HIM.

No doubt some people out there reading this are outraged that HOTTY would even consider sleeping with a minor. So let me come to HOTTY's defense: An older person can in good conscience sleep with a younger person, provided the older person obeys the Four Big No's of Sleeping With a Young, Inexperienced Person: (1) Tell no lies. (2) Transmit no diseases. (3) Make no babies. (4) Break no hearts. By making sure they understand each other before anything happens, HOTTY is obeying the first No. She wouldn't be letting the boy believe a meaningful, long-term relationship is possible. If HOTTY obeys the three other No's, however, she and the boy can have a meaningful, short-term relationship. Meaningful short-term relationships don't get much press, and a lot of people aren't even aware they exist. But exist they do, and when pressed, most people can recall having at least one when young. (Yes, Tommy, I'm thinking of you.) While I'll admit that rule four is tricky—despite the older person's best efforts, the younger one can still wind up with a broken heart (and, yes, Tommy, I'm thinking of you)—if the older person observes rules one, two, and three, the older person can't be condemned if rule four is broken.

Finally, my lawyer wanted me to add a fifth No to the list: Break no laws. So in conclusion, and at the insistence of my lawyer, let me emphasize again to you, HOTTY, that you shouldn't initiate a meaningful, short-term relationship with this boy until he's 18. I hope I'm making myself clear: You must wait until this boy turns 18 before you GO AHEAD AND FUCK HIM. Do we understand each other?

_________________________
www.richardgartner.com

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#25955 - 12/04/02 11:28 PM Re: "Savage Love," Column by Dan Savage
Richard Gartner, PhD Offline
Past President
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 09/20/00
Posts: 404
Loc: New York, NY, USA
This is the letter I sent him:

In your answer to Hot Over Totally Tempting Youngster you mention that you did not consult a therapist. I am a psychologist who specializes in working with men who were sexually abused in childhood, and I thought I might add to your perspectives on sex between teenagers and adults.

It is possible for adolescents not to be traumatized by sex with an adult, especially if force is not used, if the adult is of the sex that works for the teenager (whether he is gay or straight), and if the adult is not in a position of power over the him. (HOTTY says he is a co-worker, but I wonder whether they are on the same level at work.) However, my experience (admittedly mostly with men who have come for help because of their experiences) is that often boys, even late adolescent boys, have no way of really comprehending the implications of sex with an adult. Perhaps you remember the case of Mary Kay LeTourneau, the Seattle teacher who got herself pregnant (twice!) by her sixth grade pupil. The boy, who was described as unusually mature, initially maintained that he had been the one to initiate the sex, that he was responsible for what happened, and that they were in love “and that’s all that matters.” Yet by the time he was 16 or so he was suing her. As he lived with the consequences of their “affair,” which included two infants being raised by his mother and a glaring, extended spotlight of publicity, he began to think differently about what happened.

You mention that it is tricky not to break the heart of a teenager. Indeed it is. I recommend that you go to the web site of MaleSurvivor: National Organization against Male Sexual Victimization (www.malesurvivor.org), and read in the Discussion Forum the writings of men who were sexually abused as children or adults. Some of these men were brutally abused, but others were “seduced” and have lived with an aftermath of self-doubt, shame, and a sense of being easily exploited.

No doubt there are men whose early experiences do not leave them scarred. But there is no way for an adult to know if the particular adolescent he or she is tempted by will be one of them.

Richard Gartner, Ph.D.
President, MaleSurvivor
author, Betrayed as Boys: Psychodynamic Treatment of Sexually Abused Men
Director, Sexual Abuse Program, William Alanson White Institute for Psychoanalysis, New York

_________________________
www.richardgartner.com

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#25956 - 12/06/02 01:07 PM Re: "Savage Love," Column by Dan Savage
JamesMichael Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 07/24/02
Posts: 134
Thank you Richard.


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#25957 - 12/06/02 01:32 PM Re: "Savage Love," Column by Dan Savage
Lloydy Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor
Registered: 04/17/02
Posts: 7071
Loc: England Shropshire
I agree with James, thank you Richard

Dave

_________________________
Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you've imagined. As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler.
Henry David Thoreau

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#25958 - 12/06/02 02:32 PM Re: "Savage Love," Column by Dan Savage
Cement Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 06/05/02
Posts: 740
Loc: Southern California
Richard:

The letter is very well crafted. I hope it finds its mark.

I would love to write to this guy about the subtle horror of older female on younger male abuse, but I was only 8 when it started. I feel certain he wouldn't see the analogy.

Perhaps I could write generally as survivor of that kind of abuse?

_________________________
And let the darkness fear our light.

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#25959 - 12/06/02 02:58 PM Re: "Savage Love," Column by Dan Savage
Ken Followell Offline
President
MaleSurvivor
Registered: 12/30/01
Posts: 990
Loc: Bradenton, FL
Richard,

Thank you fro your well written letter. I thought about writing but did not want to open a dialogue with the moron who wrote that column. I hope he has sufficient gray matter to comprehend the words you wrote.

Ken

_________________________
Ken Followell

Everything works out right in the end. If things are not working right, it isn't the end yet. Don't let it bother you, relax and keep on goin
- Michael C. Muhammad

"I get up. I walk. I fall down. Meanwhile, I keep dancing."
� Rabbi Hillel

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#25960 - 12/06/02 04:51 PM Re: "Savage Love," Column by Dan Savage
Roy Offline
Member

Registered: 08/02/02
Posts: 184
Loc: Los Angeles
Richard, would you mind passing along the response from Dan Savage, if and when you get one? I have read his column off and on for years and am very curious about what he would have to say after reading your excellent letter. Thanks.


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#25961 - 12/06/02 08:51 PM Re: "Savage Love," Column by Dan Savage
Lloydy Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor
Registered: 04/17/02
Posts: 7071
Loc: England Shropshire
Richard
Be sure to tell him of the support you have on this subject as well
Dave

_________________________
Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you've imagined. As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler.
Henry David Thoreau

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#25962 - 12/06/02 11:20 PM Re: "Savage Love," Column by Dan Savage
Richard Gartner, PhD Offline
Past President
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 09/20/00
Posts: 404
Loc: New York, NY, USA
Thanks to all for your responses. I have no idea whether he will answer, and if he does it might be in his column, I suppose. He can be pretty breezy and funny, and also dismissive and stinging about a lot of things he disagrees with, but he is no fool. Sometimes he has been surprisingly kind and helpful to people.

I don't think there is any point in my telling him I have support. He will probably just think, "Well, I do too." But if anyone cares to write him yourself, I think that would be more effective, whether or not your own abuse is of the kind he discusses.

Richard

_________________________
www.richardgartner.com

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