Advice: Savage Love
The flared-base talk
Q: I had a conversation with a friend who is an emergency-room physician. He told me about removing something from a gentleman’s ass. My immediate response was to ask whether he had the flared-base talk with the gentleman after the fact. His response? “What are you talking about?” I explained that if the gentleman had used a butt toy with a flared base, he wouldn’t have been in the circumstances that brought him to the hospital. He had never thought of that and thanked me for the advice. My partner is a physician and has treated patients with anal “encumbrances.” He gives the flared-base advice to anyone who seems like they might benefit from it — but he tells me this isn’t something they go over in med school. This shocks me because it seems like a topic where a little education could do a lot of good. You should use your column to bring this to the attention of medical school administrators.
A: I am sharing your letter, CC, in the hopes that doctors all over the world read it and incorporate your “flared-base” advice into their practice. If they don’t, well, then we will just have to conclude that flared-base advice isn’t given to patients by doctors because doctors secretly enjoy digging various foreign objects out of the variable rectums of various gentlemen.
Q: I’m a 19-year-old bisexual male. I’ve been in a two-year relationship with a girl who has a low sex drive, so we are in an open relationship and I occasionally have sex with guys. I really liked the last guy I got with and enjoyed having sex with him a lot. The problem was, I couldn’t get hard. Is the problem that I’m still trying to figure out who I am and what I want?
Bisexually Oriented Nervously Experiencing Reversal
A: You say you “occasionally have sex with guys,” BONER, which means this guy isn’t your first. He’s just the first guy — perhaps the first person — that you couldn’t get hard with. Let me guess: This has never happened to you before. Of course it hasn’t — you’re 19. But it happens to every guy sooner or later, and you’re much likelier to seek an explanation or attach some deeper meaning to it the first time it happens. Don’t waste your time, BONER. Sometimes a soft dick is just a soft dick. If it keeps happening, well, then you may have a problem. But if you go on obsessing about an isolated incident — perhaps brought on by nerves — you run the risk of creating a problem.
Q: As I was reading the letters in the last Savage Love, it occurred to me that the debate over polyamory as a “sexual orientation” is primarily one of definitions. Some folks who are poly see that as just as “core” to their nature as their gender preference. Therefore, I propose the following framework. We all have a sexual identity composed of four components:
1. Our gender identity ranging from cis to trans.
2. Our sexual orientation ranging from homo to hetero.
3. Our sexual exclusivity ranging from purely monogamous to purely polyamorous.
4. Our sexual interest ranging from asexual to highly sexual.
In my view, these four components are equal in that they are all things that we are rather than things that we choose. I think we should as a society set a goal of acceptance and nondiscrimination surrounding all aspects of sexual identity.
Just My Thoughts
A: I like your model, JMT, but it has to be said: At a certain point, endless Tumblr-enabled debates about sexual identity, gender identity, sexual orientation and sexual interests take on the flavor of those how-many-angels-can-dance-on-the-head-of-a-pin debates that obsessed theologians in the Middle Ages.
For the record: Each of us is free to identify however we wish and to apply the labels “identity” and/or “orientation” however we please. If a particular person isn’t trying to take anything away from you, then the fact that the person holds slightly differing views on identity or orientation, or the meanings of those words, well, it really isn’t an enormous fucking deal, is it? And, in my opinion, those who spend their time debating, classifying and unpacking sex and identity run a very real risk of disappearing up their own ass in a puff of santorum.
Find the “Savage Lovecast” (my weekly podcast) every Tuesday at thestranger.com/savage.