AskMeFi, not JudgeMeFi March 30, 2007 1:11 PM   Subscribe

I want to express frustration with some of the responses in this thread. [more inside]
posted by schroedinger to Etiquette/Policy at 1:11 PM (97 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

Until now, I haven't found truth in the accusations of a MeFi Boys Club, but damn if it hasn't come out full force in this thread. Anonymous is looking for advice, not judgement. She doesn't need to be called a "crack whore" to know that her drug and sex addiction was a bad thing. She knows that, has managed to work through it, and is now asking how she can now help her husband work through it as well. If you're like the husband and also need to work through the conception of a woman having that many partners, well, work through it on your own, don't shit on the thread.
posted by schroedinger at 1:11 PM on March 30, 2007 [3 favorites]


How edgy. Also how lame, puerile and cheap. Boo.
posted by Divine_Wino at 1:19 PM on March 30, 2007


One of the hidden evils in man is the egocentric need to try to be helpful to others.
posted by Burhanistan at 1:29 PM on March 30, 2007 [2 favorites]


Oh yeah, stayed the hell out of that one. I understand the insecurities of being with anyone who's not a virgin, but Christ, my misogyny sense was tingling (perhaps I was bitten by a radioactive vagina, turning me into a feminist).
The "beg his forgiveness" thing was incredibly warped.
But, on the other hand, I do understand that both of the people in that thread, anonymous and her husband, exist in a larger patriarchy (and I know people just winced reading that), and I can understand the argument that it's not as important to give her morally right advice as it is to give her advice that will work.
Unfortunately, the efficacy and ultimate utility of all of the advice in there is dangerously hard to determine a priori.
posted by klangklangston at 1:30 PM on March 30, 2007 [3 favorites]


I agree. I also think it's somewhat annoying that multiple people are claiming to be authoritative on the subject of what all men can or cannot accept in their partners ("he'll never be able to live with it! No man ever can! No exceptions!").

I find sexual experience to be a turn-on, and I know plenty of people who have no problem with their partners being experienced in this sense (not 200, but whatever). Since the poster is a woman, these responses are dangerous and harmful to the resolution of her problem--she might just assume it's true, and proceed accordingly.
posted by nasreddin at 1:30 PM on March 30, 2007


People are talking all kinds of shit in that thread on all sides.
posted by edgeways at 1:31 PM on March 30, 2007


The crack whore comment is a real pain, because xammerboy's comment is actually pretty reasonable and level-headed; it was an impolitic choice of words, but it didn't read to me as particularly mean-spirited in intent.

It's one of those natural trainwrecks, as askme threads go—a relationship question with a great big amount of personal detail, told from a naturally subjective one-sided perspective, and anonymous and so lacking the opportunity for (or even, depending on an answerer's perspective, threat of) timely mitigating responses or clarifications.

People shouldn't shit in the thread, period. However, the question is so open-ended—"can this marriage be salvaged" with no other clear request—that responses are going to be all over the board. People may have a take on it with which you disagree, but so it goes with a question as subjective and as charged as this one.

As far as the boyzone thing goes, it seems like a lot of the repondents in the thread are women.
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:31 PM on March 30, 2007


What makes you think it has anything to do with her being a woman? Do you think the responses would be different if it were a man who had 200 previous partners and his wife was having trouble dealing with it?
posted by Pater Aletheias at 1:36 PM on March 30, 2007


Why is it relevant that Anon is female? Aside from the misogyny inherent in "crack whore," no one is suggesting that it's OK for a man to have 200 partners but not a woman.

If the question had asked, "I'm a recovered cocaine addict and I've slept with hundreds of strangers. Why does this bother my wife?" I doubt the responses would have been much different.
posted by miagaille at 1:38 PM on March 30, 2007


She needs to go find an Native American elder that does sweat lodges to purify all that gunk of multiple partners and drug abuse from her essence. Something like that, really.
posted by Burhanistan at 1:45 PM on March 30, 2007


It was inevitable that some friction would arise over this at some point, because 200 people is a lot of people to have sex with, whether you're a man or a woman; but if you ask me, the biggest wrong in this whole tawdry tale was the husband's sharing the wife's history with their mutual gross-out buddy. He should be kicked in the ding-ding for that.
posted by Mister_A at 1:46 PM on March 30, 2007


This is one of the rare AskMeta relationship threads where I read it and thought, Whew, I have no idea! I feel bad for all parties involved- doesn't sound like fun for anyone.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 1:48 PM on March 30, 2007 [2 favorites]


It's relevant because we (or maybe just I) assume that people of the opposite gender have a better sense of what their gender tends to think, and several people accentuate the effect.

If several women told me (a man) that not wearing deodorant was going to be unattractive to a woman, I would believe them, regardless of what my good-for-nothing male friends would say. Similarly, if I, as the poster, told a bunch of complete strangers that I used to have sex a lot, and a number of these (mostly male) strangers immediately said that any male partner would never be able to live with it, I would attempt to bail out of the relationship quickly, develop severe depression over the impossibility of finding someone to love, and eventually off myself, probably.

The assumption that the husband was lying to her or himself when he told her he was fine with it is a dramatically harmful one, and one that I don't think is warranted based on the situation at hand. Therefore making recommendations based on it is dangerous.

It's not that it's because she's a woman, it's that the people giving her advice are claiming to speak for their whole gender.
posted by nasreddin at 1:49 PM on March 30, 2007


This is one of the rare AskMeta relationship threads where I read it and thought, Whew, I have no idea!

Exactly. Then the best next step would be to NOT post a response to the question there.
posted by Burhanistan at 1:50 PM on March 30, 2007


I wonder about that (if there would be a different response depending on the gender of the asker), and I bet there would. Not sure exactly how, but wouldn't be surprised if there would be comments to the effect of "how CAN she trust you with that past?", but that's just speculation. I doubt anyone would be extolling it being a "privilege" to have a husband.

Othewises: what cortex said, the questions was a made-to-be trainwreck, and I wouldn't cry if such subjective things never appeared aging.
posted by edgeways at 1:52 PM on March 30, 2007


I also read that thread and didn't have any ideas, though I thought it certainly wasn't as clearcut as the stated thesis "my husband can't deal with my past" so I stayed out of it. Then I read this thread and thought maybe it had gotten a ton worse since last time I looked, but really it hasn't.

I'm touchy about the boyzone thing here, but either I've gotten a thicker skin, or that thread isn't so bad, compared to how threads like this tend to go when they go badly. I thought the crack whore throwaway line was unforunate and lame, but explained and apologized for further down in the thread. Otherwise, I'm not sure what you expect when you write a post talking about experiences that are way outside of most people's normative expriences. A lot of people will OMG it one way or another.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 1:55 PM on March 30, 2007


Once I read the question twice, I saw something that I thought might help (if not now, then in the future), so I gave that advice. Hopefully it will help. Of course, you get what you pay for, and it's possible Anonymous hates us all right now. ::shrugs:: For the most part, it looks like people were trying to help from where they were sitting; whether that advice will help the poster, who can know. We're trying our best. Most of us, anyway.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 1:55 PM on March 30, 2007 [1 favorite]


I have to say the boys-club thing was getting under my skin a bit as well, but it’s an opinion question, which by it’s very nature is going to get a bunch of very perspective driven responses. I personally don’t think it’s a big deal that a women has had a lot of sexual partners. But that is also my opinion.
I don't know, generally it would be nice if people could steer clear of the "Well as an X I can clearly tell you the no god fearing X would stand for Y behavior!"

notice the clever little XY thing...eh? eh? Ooh I'm SO clever. look at me go.
posted by French Fry at 1:57 PM on March 30, 2007


It's not that it's because she's a woman, it's that the people giving her advice are claiming to speak for their whole gender.
posted by nasreddin at 1:49 PM on March 30 [+]
[!]


Anyone who believes that a pseudoanonymous message board commenter - or even a couple of dozen of them - speaks for an entire gender has problems that go beyond this particular AskMe, especially if they feel (as you apparently would) the need to off themselves as a result of such unqualified armchair therapy.

Seriously, sometimes it makes sense to give an anonymous poster the benefit of the doubt and assume that s/he has a brain and higher cognitive functions that include the ability to dismiss any crank claiming to represent nearly half of humanity.
posted by aberrant at 1:59 PM on March 30, 2007


I used the "Boys Club" term because many of the answers addressed the problem as one that was very gender-specific. Comments that say this is something that is very difficult for men to deal with, this is an area where men are vulnerable, comments like "...it is nevertheless not a turn-on for men to *think* about their partner's history. "I'm putting my .... where so many ... have gone before..." This is not a turn-on. Period. It just isn't."

These types of comments imply that the problem lies in not just the partner's sexual history, but the combination of her sexual history and her gender.
posted by schroedinger at 2:00 PM on March 30, 2007 [4 favorites]


notice the clever little XY thing...eh? eh? Ooh I'm SO clever. look at me go.

You're a credit to your family, man.

posted by cortex (staff) at 2:01 PM on March 30, 2007


But, schroedinger, you may be reading a strong inherent gender bias in those answers into what could reasonably taken as a contextual simplification. The question is from a woman, asking about a man; answers (from men and from women) describing how men might react/feel/cope aren't necessarily being made to the literal exclusion of similar behavior in women, it's just that there weren't any women in that role in the question.

Not to suggest you're out of line, because I can see where you're coming from and there's all kinds of stuff in the thread. But there are more charitable and less gender-whacked readings of the many of those answers than you seem to be crediting.
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:05 PM on March 30, 2007


Anyone who believes that a pseudoanonymous message board commenter - or even a couple of dozen of them - speaks for an entire gender has problems that go beyond this particular AskMe, especially if they feel (as you apparently would) the need to off themselves as a result of such unqualified armchair therapy.

Seriously, sometimes it makes sense to give an anonymous poster the benefit of the doubt and assume that s/he has a brain and higher cognitive functions that include the ability to dismiss any crank claiming to represent nearly half of humanity.


In that case, I don't understand why I would trust said cranks to resolve my most major and pressing life issue for me. Someone who is driven to ask a question like this in AskMe is vulnerable because she is going to take any advice seriously, if only out of desperation. If she knew the answers already, she wouldn't have asked the question.
posted by nasreddin at 2:06 PM on March 30, 2007


Just another example of why these anon askme relationship chatfilter clusterfucks should be nuked from orbit instantly. Might as well fire off an automatic e-mail every time someone selects "Human Relations" that geolocates their IP and refers them to the nearest therapist... that could make the referrals from Amazon look like a pittance - and, less importantly, save us from a lot of pointless catfighting in the grey... think of the possibilities!
posted by prostyle at 2:12 PM on March 30, 2007 [5 favorites]


Seriously, sometimes it makes sense to give an anonymous poster the benefit of the doubt and assume that s/he has a brain and higher cognitive functions that include the ability to dismiss any crank claiming to represent nearly half of humanity

I don’t think we should all get stupid passes just because any smart person would clearly know how stupid we are.

I also think that some of the gender stuff really does start to encroach on bashing, and in my opinion I don’t think we would see a mirror image in responses were the genders reversed.

.
posted by French Fry at 2:17 PM on March 30, 2007 [2 favorites]



French Fry offers no solutions however...
posted by French Fry at 2:18 PM on March 30, 2007


Schroedinger, anon's having trouble with her husband, a man, over her past sexual profligacy. While of course no man can speak for all men, some men can speak for most on some issues, and it is a fair assertion that most men would rather their beloved had not had sex with the numerical equivalent of more than four NFL football teams. If the marriage is salvageable, and this is the question that anon poses, then one must indeed consider at some point the feelings of the man, no? Anon may or may not have made some kind of peace with her past, but clearly the husband has not—I suspect that he thought he was OK with it, but really hadn't confronted his feelings yet. It is not out of bounds to point out that this is a pretty typical male reaction, as long as it is done in a respectful manner, because this is something that is very hard for men to deal with. And of course, when the shoe is on the other foot, I expect that it is very hard for a woman to deal with, but I think that men and women in general deal with it in different ways.

To be clear, though, I am not taking the husband's side in this. Talking about her past with his buddy was reprehensible, and to me a far worse threat to the marriage than her past, because she entrusted him with this painful truth, and he betrayed that trust.
posted by Mister_A at 2:22 PM on March 30, 2007


Metafilter:a lot of pointless catfighting in the grey... think of the possibilities!

Also, I have no beef with relationship-filter. People need second opinions and advice, and here's a place to get tons of it from a bunch of different perspectives. The poster is on his\her own as far as filtering the good from the bad, and I think to some extent we have to trust them to be able to do so.
posted by !Jim at 2:23 PM on March 30, 2007


I'm impressed you all were able to actually read the question, much less the responses. For questions like these, its actually better to be brief and vague. Trying to cram every detail into a therapyfilter question usually just leads to people fixating on small points like Talmudic scholars.
posted by Bookhouse at 2:25 PM on March 30, 2007 [2 favorites]


This is one of the reasons I love MeFi. I read Pater Aletheias's response and liked it, because I grew up with the evangelical mindset and his is a nice version of it. But then I read the opposition to his response, and it made me think.

I think they're both valid. On one hand, she's been honest and brave and worked through her shit and shouldn't apologize for that. On the other hand, most people would freak out given that information. Maybe you wouldn't, but most people would, given the risk of STIs, social stigma, etc. So Pater Aletheias's response lets the husband deal with that and come back and say, "Yeah, that's heavy shit, but I love you and accept you and I'm choosing to get over it," and dejah420's response lets the wife stand tall.
posted by heatherann at 2:30 PM on March 30, 2007 [3 favorites]


I can't help but feel that the thread is weaker now that the "noise" comments (including one of mine, natch) have been jessamyn'd. This one cried out for leaving in all different kinds of reaction. Answers to anonymous questions are inherently speculative because the whole thread is a one-way dialogue. If you think the post is strong enough to not be nuked, then the comments should be strong enough as well.
posted by Saucy Intruder at 2:37 PM on March 30, 2007


Off topic, but !Jim, am I supposed to make a !Kung clucking noise when I say your name? Cuz I am doing it, like it or not.
posted by Mister_A at 2:38 PM on March 30, 2007


These types of comments imply that the problem lies in not just the partner's sexual history, but the combination of her sexual history and her gender.

I want to thank the men who replied with thinly-veiled hostility towards the Asker. I have never seen the Madonna/Whore complex laid out in lurid, living color like that before. And it was funny.
posted by Mayor Curley at 2:38 PM on March 30, 2007 [1 favorite]


I think the genders involved do affect the responses at least partly because the genders seem to react differently to the situation. I'm male and if I'm in a certain mood or state of mind the fact that my SO has ever slept with even one other person in her life kind of tweaks me. I know it is totally irrational but this little spurt of jealous hurt kind of rises and, thankfully, quickly passes. I've had male friends (mostly in my younger years) who were much, much worse. With few exceptions the females in my life seem to hardly give a shit who or how many I've slept with in the past. The most intense reaction I've ever gotten is "I don't want to hear about it". Fewer women seem to have insecurities when it comes to the subject.

If I were to attempt to give her advice part of it would be "Look, some men are childish and insecure when it comes to their SO's past love life. I know this because I'm a man and I've felt like an insecure child a time or two when the subjects come up in my life. We seem to take it differently than women so you might want to take that fact into consideration."

Now somebody lay into me. I'm craving some Friday afternoon Mefi crazy.
posted by Carbolic at 2:39 PM on March 30, 2007 [1 favorite]


And what Mister_A said...
posted by Carbolic at 2:41 PM on March 30, 2007


I fail to understand why schroedinger is calling out my comment as somehow representative of any kind of "Boy's Club". Maybe schroedinger ought to read it again? There is, frankly, not one word in it that is in any way misogynist. (Talking about the failings of men is not misogynist.) Cortex's response two comments down is exactly correct.

The poster is female. Her husband is male. I suppose I could have worded my comment to be utterly gender-neutral, but then it would be far more general, and it would include territory about which I have no experience (since I, personally, have only had one gender in my life), and it would no longer be directed toward answering the question. It doesn't matter whether women feel a similar erection-killer sensation when thinking about how many partners their partner has had, because that isn't the question.

Heck, there's been a whole movie just released about dealing with one's partner's sexual history. I tried to work in a subtle reference to it, but maybe I was too subtle. I don't think what I wrote was even controversial, much less out of line.

Some of the responses in that thread are judgmental. Mine is not.
posted by jellicle at 2:44 PM on March 30, 2007


If you think the post is strong enough to not be nuked, then the comments should be strong enough as well.

I didn't remove a single response that answered the question. I can't speak for cortex, but my guess is he didn't either.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 2:44 PM on March 30, 2007


I think there's certainly a bunch of "women must be pure, otherwise they're whores" crap going on there, but it's likely that at least some of that's also going on in anon's husband's head, or in anon's husband's friend's head, or in what anon's husband thinks anon's husband's friend is thinking.

With "Can this marriage be salvaged?" as the question, rather than "Do I have a right to be upset?", I don't know that all the virgin/whore shit is totally out of place (I didn't see the thread before the pruning, though). I think klangklangston's right, that "what works" and "what's morally right" may be in a bit of a conflict here, and I think that communicating in relationships sometimes means swallowing your pride even when you're objectively "right" just so you can get the dialog going. It's great to tell this woman that she has every right to be pissed off -- and she does -- but if you just leave it at that, it doesn't really help her get her marriage back on track. "Make some concessions -- preferably only those that you're comfortable with -- in order to open a dialog" is not really bad advice.
posted by occhiblu at 2:47 PM on March 30, 2007 [4 favorites]


Carbolic

Those shoes. That Hair. WTF were you thinking? WTF?
posted by French Fry at 2:47 PM on March 30, 2007


Mister_A: And of course, when the shoe is on the other foot, I expect that it is very hard for a woman to deal with, but I think that men and women in general deal with it in different ways.

Hmm.. I dunno. I think if the genders had been switched, the responses probably would have been very similar. Hell, I think they'd be similar if it had been a same-sex couple. Only, there wouldn't be the "what, what, WHAT?!" reaction to them.

Talking about her past with his buddy was reprehensible, and to me a far worse threat to the marriage than her past, because she entrusted him with this painful truth, and he betrayed that trust.

< devil's advocate>
It's not necessarily that he sat around with his buddy and tittered about the notches on his wife's bedpost. He could've gone to the buddy in an attempt to get advice about and/or process the situation.

If the situation were reversed, and the wife went to her female friend to get advice about how to deal with having a mega-notched husband, would her actions be reprehensible?
< /devi's advocate>
posted by CKmtl at 2:48 PM on March 30, 2007


200 sexual partners isn't really that many. It depends on if I've gone out both Friday and Saturday nights that weekend.

*high fives Mefi Boys Club*
posted by ND¢ at 2:52 PM on March 30, 2007 [2 favorites]


Well there's the thing, CKmtl. Men and women are different, and we are treated differently in this society. It is generally perceived as shameful for a woman to have more than a handful of sexual partners, but there is little or no stigma attached to a man "sowing his wild oats"--though 200 would certainly raise some eyebrows.

What's good for the goose ain't always good for the gander.
posted by Mister_A at 2:55 PM on March 30, 2007 [1 favorite]


I didn't remove a single response that answered the question. I can't speak for cortex, but my guess is he didn't either.

I don't think I've deleted anything from that thread, actually.
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:56 PM on March 30, 2007


Off topic, but !Jim, am I supposed to make a !Kung clucking noise when I say your name? Cuz I am doing it, like it or not.

um, read his profile dude, it's a [not] symbol; i.e. [Not]Jim.

tho personally i read it as 'BANG' Jim, which makes me chuckle...

posted by lonefrontranger at 2:58 PM on March 30, 2007


I didn't remove a single response that answered the question.

Well, maybe. I felt it was important to attack the comment calling the anonymous poster a "crack whore" because, well, she isn't one. This is no different than the ubiquitous "read the fucking question, people" comments that are well-placed when someone spits out their assumptions rather than actually takes the time to figure out what is going on.
posted by Saucy Intruder at 2:59 PM on March 30, 2007


By the time I removed that comment, this thread was open for business. I removed maybe 2-3 comments from that thread total.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 3:03 PM on March 30, 2007


jessamyn and cortex: I think you should have deleted the "crack whore" answers, at least. (I haven't read the whole thread so I don't know if there were other slurs.) I think you have a greater duty of care to the anonymous questioners since they can't defend themselves.
posted by timeistight at 3:10 PM on March 30, 2007


It's not necessarily that he sat around with his buddy and tittered about the notches on his wife's bedpost. He could've gone to the buddy in an attempt to get advice about and/or process the situation.

I guess we'll never know, but for the friend to make a joke like the one C made might imply that husband didn't relay how serious the situation was (or that C's an asshole and is not to be trusted- either way, doesn't reflect well on the husband). That is, of course, if C's joke was directly related to her past. The poster said herself they have a weird relationship, and were looking at nasty pictures on the internet- maybe it was one of those "Your Mom!" type responses from C. And then everyone else thinks he's talking about her, because it's more on the forefront of their minds. Or maybe it was directly pointed at her, the poster wasn't really clear. Either way, it revealed a miscommunication between husband and wife on what sort of issues are up for discussion with friends, which is a good issue to address, especially this early in the marriage.

On preview: It is generally perceived as shameful for a woman to have more than a handful of sexual partners, but there is little or no stigma attached to a man "sowing his wild oats"--though 200 would certainly raise some eyebrows. Mister_A has it exactly right. I tried going through the poster's situation in my head with the roles reversed, and got caught in the part where the wife's friend jokes in a way that implies, "You used to be a whore!", and that's a show-stopping, bad, embarrassing thing. Couldn't see it happening. Men are "pimps", women are "hoes". I was thinking about American Idol, and all the nude picture scandal this season, and briefly wondered if any nude pictures of male contestants would surface. But of course they won't. And if they did, no one would want to see them, and if people did see them, the guy would be thought of as a weird fellow, not a whore.

I guess what I mean to say is that, unfortunately, there does exist a double standard, and I don't think that advice that assumes the poster is living under it is necessarily misogynist or bad. Generally, threads like this bring out a wide range of answerers, and I'm glad, because hopefully the poster will be able to get at least some advice that applies to their frame of mind, whatever that may be.

Who knew I had this much to say on a Friday. I'll understand if you tl;dr! this comment. Lord knows I would.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 3:13 PM on March 30, 2007 [3 favorites]


Trying to cram every detail into a therapyfilter question usually just leads to people fixating on small points like Talmudic scholars.

I like when they put all the detail, because sometimes it lets you see a bit of truth past their filters.
posted by smackfu at 3:20 PM on March 30, 2007


Deleting the "crack whore" comment outright would have been a blunder, I think: I've already said that the comment as a whole read as reasonable and appropriate for the question and the thread. It was a poor choice of words, but it was unquestionably euphemism and metaphor, and the reaction to it seems out of step with the degree of self-awareness expressed by the poster, and reacting to a bad reading more than to anything apparent to me in xammerboy's actual intent.

Editing the phrase "crack whore" out of the comment would have been a very weird thing to do—that sort of inline editing almost never happens, as I understand it, and this doesn't seem like the sort of situation that would merit it.

Left with that, letting the comment stand seemed like the most reasonable plan of action. Deleting the comment because a bunch of people got into a feedback of bad (and in my opinion seriously over-) reactions to it isn't a great idea.
posted by cortex (staff) at 3:27 PM on March 30, 2007


Am I the only one that finds her substance use (she was throwing up blood everyday?!?) far more concerning than her sexual past, especially considering that she practiced safe sex nearly every time?
posted by treepour at 3:34 PM on March 30, 2007 [1 favorite]


I guess what I mean to say is that, unfortunately, there does exist a double standard, and I don't think that advice that assumes the poster is living under it is necessarily misogynist or bad.

I agree with that. There is a tendency in these types of questions to be self-righteous but ultimately unhelpful. We can discuss the world as it ought to be but the asker is living in the world that is. And, unfortunately, double standards do exist. It's reinforced in all areas of culture. Take a staple of romance novels-the well traveled man and the woman with little or no experience. We can rail about the madonna/whore complex, or misogyny. Me, I think evolution has hard-wired some of this attitude into our brains.

But none of that actually helps the asker who, like it or not, is married to a man that has a not-atypical issue with his wife's significant experience. I hope things work out for them since they do seem to love each other, though I thought it was notable that they've been married only two months with no mention of how long they saw each other prior to marriage.
posted by 6550 at 3:41 PM on March 30, 2007 [1 favorite]


I would include that thread in any collection I'd make of the best AskMes.

The Asker is as direct and forceful as anyone I can recall, achieves a tone of complete honesty, is clearly extremely intelligent, writes like a dream (the density of detail, the level of real feeling! the sheer voltage!) and has lured a good number of male commenters into revealing more about their prejudices and the mephitic contents of the hidden, stagnant pools of their attitudes about their sexual partners and their own sense of maleness than they are going to be comfortable looking back at, I suspect. Pater Alethias in particular has given himself a lot to think about; I hope he turns out to be large-souled enough to be properly grateful to her eventually-- and I do think he might, given the backing and filling he has already done in his comment.

I also hope the Asker is as tough and confident as her question leads me to think she may be, because a startling quantity of those comments seem intended only to harm.
posted by jamjam at 3:58 PM on March 30, 2007 [3 favorites]


ThePinkSuperhero: ... jokes in a way that implies, "You used to be a whore!"

Well, only if "[pointing at a picture of an HPV-ridden penis/vagina] 'Does yours look like that?'" implies past whoredom. Which it doesn't, really. Yes, I know the stigma about STDs and all that, but still. Especially when the friendship is such that crass and crude jokes are OK, it doesn't necessarily mean the friend was implying she's a whore.

Didn't tl;dr, obviously.

6550: ... married to a man that has a not-atypical issue with his wife's significant experience.

I've just re-read her entire question a couple times... It still reads to me like he doesn't so much have a problem with her having had a Phase of Significant Experience-Seeking (aside from the possibility of STDs), but rather that his problem is whether or not that Phase has really ended.
posted by CKmtl at 4:05 PM on March 30, 2007


"Am I the only one that finds her substance use (she was throwing up blood everyday?!?) far more concerning than her sexual past, especially considering that she practiced safe sex nearly every time?"

No, and it's revealing that neither the husband or any of the answerers (to this point) has put the emphasis on it instead of sexual promiscuity. Or, rather, she describes both her drug use and sexual history as addictions, and that points to a serious issue that needs to be worked out in the context of the marriage. I hate to sound all 12-steps here, but an addict never really stops being an addict. IMO.

Personally, I think it's also revealing that a number of answerers, primarily women, combine the judgments of "you did nothing wrong" with "he betrayed your trust by telling his friend about it". I think there's a inconsistency in that which reveals exactly the dynamic that I try to explain in my answer. Specifically, that we all have our own values and standards and even when they are very internalized they still exist in a social context and where the two conflict, that conflict is usually mirrored in our own hearts. We can be very sure of our own positive/neutral/accepting evaluation of our behavior yet find other people's disapproval very disturbing and inspiring of insecurity.

My own strong inclination, being abnormally little influenced by social expectations and judgments, is to be pretty aggressive in standing against social judgments I think are wrong. Therefore, I'm very open about things that others disapprove of and my partners have each been similar to myself in this way (and when less so, use my security about these kinds of things to reinforce their own). I'm not just standing up for myself, but for everyone else like me.1 That's why I'm very reluctant to agree that the husband did anything wrong in telling his friend. However, that's a situational judgment that depends entirely on just how much both parties are like myself. Most people are much more sensitive to social judgment and, in that context, it's at the very least pretty naive of the husband to tell his friend about his wife's past. It's naive in expecting that his friend would be accepting just as he and his wife are, it's naive in expecting that he wouldn't be affected by his friend's disapproval, and it's naive in expecting that even if his wife is open and okay with her past she wouldn't have problems with him telling other people about it.

1. A good example is that my ex-wife is an incest survivor. Both of us feel strongly that the stigmatization of incest (and rape) survivors is a big part of how they are victimized. Because of this, we both present a public face on it that defiantly says "there's no stigmatization as far as I'm concerned". She was very open about this, even talking about being an incest survivor in a radio interview. And so I talk about it publicly, too, because I don't think it's something that stigmatizes her and she feels and acts the same way. And yet people are often taken aback when I talk about it publicly. They assume I'm being indiscrete, betraying her trust. Because, for them, it's hard to imagine that she wouldn't want it to be something only a few people close to her would know. In my opinion, the problem this married couple is having is that with regard to her past, they thought they could be like me and my ex-wife, but they really aren't that socially independent. They're both more insecure about this than they thought there were, and an outsider's influence greatly exacerbates this.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 4:06 PM on March 30, 2007 [3 favorites]


Too many people in that thread read the question as "why does my husband have a problem with my past?" when Anon. was really asking "what changed and what can I do about it?" It's a sort of myopia which is absolutely gendered (though also mostly revealing of a general puritanical outlook).

The issue really is one of mismatched expectations (can the husband talk about the past with the friend) which revealed a deeper unresolved issue (they aren't as settled on the past as they thought). This kind of stuff happens all the time in relationships. The fact that it was about lots of sex and drugs doesn't change things all that much.
posted by wemayfreeze at 4:07 PM on March 30, 2007 [1 favorite]


Derail: I'm tickled at how many people changed the question to "Can this marriage be salvaged?" Apparently they aren't readers of "Can this marriage be saved?" a longtime Good Housekeeping magazine staple.
posted by Carol Anne at 4:20 PM on March 30, 2007


Did that question remind anyone else of the novella, "The Former World Record Holder Settles Down" from McSweeney's #7?
posted by spork at 4:22 PM on March 30, 2007


Heh, Carol Anne, I just kept reading "salvaged" and figured that must have been what the question said, though I wondered why she had added the syllable.
posted by occhiblu at 4:25 PM on March 30, 2007


CKmtl: It still reads to me like he doesn't so much have a problem with her having had a Phase of Significant Experience-Seeking (aside from the possibility of STDs), but rather that his problem is whether or not that Phase has really ended.

That's certainly a valid reading and without further input we can't say for sure, and I don't my comment is incompatible with yours. But my guess is that this is something he never really dealt with, tried to shrug off, and then it came out in a very unpleasant way.
posted by 6550 at 4:25 PM on March 30, 2007


Personally, I think it's also revealing that a number of answerers, primarily women, combine the judgments of "you did nothing wrong" with "he betrayed your trust by telling his friend about it".

I don't see a confict between those two things. Not wanting your husband's friends to snigger at information about a long-ago past revealed in confidence is not unreasonable. Couples know a lot of private stuff about each other that's not for public consumption.

(That said, I don't think that you and I really disagree here.)
posted by desuetude at 4:27 PM on March 30, 2007


Hmm.. I dunno. I think if the genders had been switched, the responses probably would have been very similar. Hell, I think they'd be similar if it had been a same-sex couple

As someone in a same-sex couple, I stayed out of the AskMe 'cause I didn't have much perspective to respond. But seeing this, well, many gay men have over 200 partners in the first year they're out of the closet. After all, 52 weeks in a year -- you do the math.

Of course, there's the questions: "Does it count if we did X?" "Does it count if we did Y" "What about when I was with Z number of guys and some were doing A and some were doing B and some were supportive touching bystanders...?" and so on.
posted by Robert Angelo at 4:36 PM on March 30, 2007


The thing is none of us know and it raises just hypotheticals around the whole situation.

Me? I've seen all kinds of "wild and crazy girls/guys" calm down and do a complete 180 and become a suburban housewife. That's what I imagined, she cleaned up and remembered the part of her life before and married a guy who was aware of everything (and probably thought it was cool and told stories about how wild she was to his former frat friends). She brings her eccentric friend over (who for all we know the husband hates, for being a male and being all over his "territory") and blows up over everything, not for her past (which he uses to control her) but for having male friends at all.

... Or we can recast the story in several different lights and make it all look like the ending to the movie Clue. That's the problem with complicated, drama-ridden relationship questions. Everyone brings their biases and stereotypes going in. Sort of like in Jurassic Park where they use frog DNA to fill in the missing pieces. And we all know what happened in Jurassic Park. I really doubt she will resolve anything, but perhaps one answer will hit the mark, as they do in Cauchy distributions, and she'll get something.
posted by geoff. at 4:38 PM on March 30, 2007


"I don't see a confict between those two things. Not wanting your husband's friends to snigger at information about a long-ago past revealed in confidence is not unreasonable. Couples know a lot of private stuff about each other that's not for public consumption."

Well, the conflict is between the value that says that there's nothing to be ashamed of in her past with the value that says that he shouldn't tell others about it. The latter implies that there is something to be ashamed of.

But, as I said, the inconsistency is a completely normal human situation. To some degree, a person may have a bit of discord between their intellect and feelings on something where their feelings are more influenced by social expectations than are their intellectual beliefs. Additionally or alternatively, there's simply the practical matter of avoiding social conflict when one's values are substantially different than other peoples'.

The practical difficulties that arise from this normal conflict occur when a person is unrealistic about this and expects there to be no such conflict. I think that's what happened with this couple.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 4:49 PM on March 30, 2007


Robert Angelo: But seeing this, well, many gay men have over 200 partners in the first year they're out of the closet. After all, 52 weeks in a year -- you do the math.

That's still usually 4 different guys a week. "Many" is a bit of a stretch. Not all gay guys go straight from the closet to the bathhouse...

The same situation could come up, if an ex-clubslut gets into a serious relationship with a guy who's only had a few steady boyfriends. And the responses the potential Asker would get would probably be the same that this woman got. That's all I meant. [shrug]
posted by CKmtl at 5:03 PM on March 30, 2007


It's funny. I initally agreed with schrodinger's stance on the responses in the thread. Then I thougt about it a little more. Many, if not most, men have problems with their SO's sexual past, especially if it's a varied and colourful one. Many women do to, although I would think to a lesser resect at least in relation to sex. I think, anecdotally of course, that women are more worried about ex-girlfriends rather than ex-lovers.

Yes, genralisations were used in the thread, but most people should know to take them with a grain of salt.
posted by liquorice at 5:19 PM on March 30, 2007


resect = extent
posted by liquorice at 5:20 PM on March 30, 2007


Well, the conflict is between the value that says that there's nothing to be ashamed of in her past with the value that says that he shouldn't tell others about it. The latter implies that there is something to be ashamed of.

Wait, there can't be any other reasons for not sharing personal information other than shame? C'mon, what about good ol' none-of-your-business? I'm not ashamed whatsoever about my sex life before my SO (in fact, I'm pretty proud of some of it. tee hee), but it would be pretty damn tacky for either he or I to hold it up for judgement in mixed company.
posted by desuetude at 5:22 PM on March 30, 2007 [1 favorite]


I think it's hilarious that people would find her past harder to accept than someone with a drug problem. I see lots of people accepting each other's serious drug problem or addictive past or state of recovery. Hell, violent criminals and violent abusers have partners.

The problem is these two people have assumptions instead of communication, the latter being something that can fix these two tiny problems, one of which is her past, the other is his error in telling his friend.

The way she told it made it a train wreck because there were 200 other details to react to, and people did. What else could she do. She couldn't see the main point.
posted by Listener at 5:44 PM on March 30, 2007


"nothing to be ashamed of" is a figure of speech.

Everyone makes mistakes. Don't mean we want em broadcast.
posted by Listener at 5:45 PM on March 30, 2007


It's really odd that this meta-analysis has more interesting and thoughtful (at least from my vantage) comments than the AskMe.
posted by klangklangston at 5:58 PM on March 30, 2007


The anonymous poster has left a follow-up.
posted by schroedinger at 6:12 PM on March 30, 2007


And xammerboy has apologized.
posted by timeistight at 6:32 PM on March 30, 2007


MetaTalk is indeed a warm gray.
posted by Mister_A at 7:06 PM on March 30, 2007


Oh wow, I didn't even read some of the worse parts of the thread. Schroedigner, I think you need to ask me to forgive you for looking through that thread.
posted by geoff. at 7:21 PM on March 30, 2007 [1 favorite]


Apparently they aren't readers of "Can this marriage be saved?" a longtime Good Housekeeping magazine staple.

Thanks; I was starting to worry that I was the only one who'd ever been through a 'women's service magazine' habit.

(Actually a Ladies' Home Journal staple.)
posted by kmennie at 7:26 PM on March 30, 2007


What a hyperreactionary callout.

I'm touchy about the boyzone thing here, but either I've gotten a thicker skin, or that thread isn't so bad, compared to how threads like this tend to go when they go badly.

I think it's the latter, unless you deleted half the comments in the thread before I read it.

And I resisted the urge to post this in the actual thread:
I am astounded at the level of misogyny in this thread.

I don't think we're reading the same thread. There is misogyny in some of the comments, but you're definitely seeing misogyny where there is absolutely none. The backrub comment was definitely out of line (and may even be just plain old bad advice), but if you are really that offended by this thread, you're clearly out for blood, looking to be offended so that you can express your offense. Calm the fuck down.
posted by oaf at 7:48 PM on March 30, 2007


stank ho.
posted by quonsar at 7:49 PM on March 30, 2007


Oaf, you're slipping babe. You missed the chance to call me a feminazi. Silly boy.
posted by dejah420 at 8:00 PM on March 30, 2007


Oaf, you're slipping babe.

Well, at least I don't have to worry about any coherent rebuttal from you.
posted by oaf at 8:02 PM on March 30, 2007 [2 favorites]


I think a lot of people in this thread are being unfairly judgmental of crack whores.
posted by Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese at 8:15 PM on March 30, 2007


At this point, I was gonna say [this is good]; now I'm reserving judgment.
posted by cgc373 at 8:24 PM on March 30, 2007


For some situations, making an anon post to random strangers isn't going to help.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:35 PM on March 30, 2007 [1 favorite]


All attempts at summation and generalization will meet with failure (except for this self-referential attempt).
posted by Burhanistan at 8:40 PM on March 30, 2007


Burhanistan wins!

Oh, wait.
posted by cgc373 at 8:51 PM on March 30, 2007


Remember that episode of 7th Heaven when the Reverend had a really hard time getting over the fact that his wife had smoked marijuana in college?

This whole thing has been dumb on all levels.

You missed the chance to call me a feminazi.

Yes, that is compelling discourse. Hopefully she will ignore all the womyn haters and take your wise advice: lie to the next one, because all the men think they own your vagina. Very helpful.
posted by nanojath at 8:59 PM on March 30, 2007 [1 favorite]


Maybe from the wording of the question it is easy to assume that he is the type of guy with whom a backrub and an "I'm sorry" will save their marriage.

I would think a more enlightened guy might not have reacted like that. Massage oils and lingerie it is!
posted by frecklefaerie at 9:02 PM on March 30, 2007


Anybody else think it was awfully clever of Mr. Bush to change his gender in the OP? (I know it threw me off the scent.)
posted by rob511 at 9:53 PM on March 30, 2007


Remember that episode of 7th Heaven

Sold!
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 10:38 PM on March 30, 2007 [1 favorite]


Until now, I haven't found truth in the accusations of a MeFi Boys Club, but damn if it hasn't come out full force in this thread.

schroedinger: Be sure to read this MeTa post. It is a classic. Read all 218 comments so you do not miss out on what a "mathowie" is and the best use of the *[insert action here]* protocol ever.
posted by mlis at 10:58 PM on March 30, 2007


in the askme thread dejah420 was, as always, spot-on. unsurprisingly, because she always is. anonymous made the terrible mistake of unironically asking for relationship advice on a site that's perfect for solving your computer problems but little more than a misogynistic joke when it comes to actual human relationship advice.

hence, the advice she ended up getting was for the most part a pretty scary gangbang of porcine (I'd say oaf-ish but one does not want to make things personal), women-hating virgins or near-virgins who cannot wrap their nerd heads around the fact that a woman out there would possibly enjoy fucking -- and fucking a lot -- of men. and they were then all too happy to be able to verbally punish someone who, the horror, unlike them, has had a lot of sex.

not that I was crazy about the poster's apologetic tone, mind you -- as the Mayor said in his usual corrosive manner, it's kind of lame that the poster kind of considered her own past sexual activity as something very very bad to be very very ashamed of -- as, I'm paraphrasing of course, "I had sex when I was a bad person and now I'm SAVED and I'm a loving monogamous wife". it was just another version of those who say that they have been saved by their own personal Jesus and they don't sin no more, nossir, no more -- an inherently self-defeating attitude that mostly leads to self-hate.

she had sex because she was single and felt like it -- good for her. someone doesn't agree? tough shit.

of course, her asshole husband is too insecure -- and downright mean -- to live with that fact as mature, non-misogynistic adults would? maybe the two-month-old marriage is not that awesome, then.
posted by matteo at 4:51 AM on March 31, 2007 [1 favorite]


Well, despite the fact that I agree with your first paragraph, matteo, I do believe there's more nuance than you're giving credit for. 200 partners in a fairly brief period is both out of the normal and doesn't speak to a healthy emotional life during that period (though it could in some cases, the poster definitely does not make it seem like it did). Good advice should recognize that as well, instead of trying to slap the hyper-liberal turbo-slut justifications around. It's entirely possible to have emotionally unhealthy sex with even a single partner, but looking and what was described in the question, it's pretty likely that the poster, whose best judgment we must trust (and not condemn for not living up to the enlightened model of Italian communism, or whatever ideal you're subscribed to) has legitimate concerns and is dealing with a complicated issue. The "tough shit" would apply to the poster herself, as she doesn't agree that it was good for her. On that level, you've failed the "be helpful" dictum for advice (which is fine, because we're in MeTa, not AskMe).
posted by klangklangston at 6:35 AM on March 31, 2007


she had sex because she was single and felt like it

This OH so tremendously enlightened, sex-positive, very much advanced beyond you Repressed Puritans sentiment is fine except that it is wholly at odds with the factual representation that the poster makes regarding the reality of the situation in which this occurred (the sex helped me feel accepted... by the time I reached 23 I was throwing up blood on a daily basis... I got evicted and, faced with the choice of homelessness and moving back in with my parents, I went with the latter).

Do I think a person could have 3 figures of sexual partners and be a healthy, mentally well-adjusted person? Sure. Probably not the most common type but if great variety were an individual's passion and they pursued it as honestly and healthily as they could, more power to 'em. Those insisting this is the poster's situation, and that the sum total of the solution is "if he can't deal with it he's an asshole, and better luck next time") are full of shit.
posted by nanojath at 8:15 AM on March 31, 2007


nanojath, I agree that we've got to take the poster at her word regarding the unhealthiness, for her, of her sex life. Just wanted to point out, though, that throwing up blood and losing an apartment can't possibly be a direct result of the number of partners she had. She also tells us she was heavily addicted to coke and alcohol -- much more likely to cause one one to throw up blood and get evicted -- but it seems the thread immediately zeroed-in on her sex life as the primary point of concern. To be fair, this is partly because of the poster's own presentation of her situation -- but I still find it kind of out-of-whack.
posted by treepour at 9:48 AM on March 31, 2007


treepour: it seems the thread immediately zeroed-in on her sex life as the primary point of concern. To be fair, this is partly because of the poster's own presentation of her situation -- but I still find it kind of out-of-whack.

The blood-puking and near homelessness is pretty shocking, but her question was about a relationship problem involving her sexual history. Plus, she says she's pretty much sober now. Commenting on the coke and binge drinking wouldn't be all that helpfull.

Suppose she supplied the same back-story, but that the fight was about her past drug and booze problems. "My husband freaks out every time I have a glass of wine, because I used to puke blood, etc". Would commenting on her sexual tally make much sense then?
posted by CKmtl at 10:06 AM on March 31, 2007


the advice she ended up getting was for the most part a pretty scary gangbang of porcine (I'd say oaf-ish but one does not want to make things personal)

Well, since I never posted in that thread...
posted by oaf at 12:45 PM on March 31, 2007


klang:It's really odd that this meta-analysis has more interesting and thoughtful (at least from my vantage) comments than the AskMe.

IMHO, MetaTalk threads about green or blue threads are consistently more interesting and thoughtful than the original green or blue threads that started them.

In fact, I'd defend a stronger generalized claim: MetaTalk generally has more interesting and thoughtful comments than the front page or AskMe--even in the much derided shitfest pile-ons.

AskMe is not about discussion, so that part is less surprising, but I don't have any ideas about why this might be in the case of the blue.

I don't read projects or jobs or music so I don't have a view about how they fit.
posted by Kwine at 2:08 PM on March 31, 2007


« Older Seeing Double   |   Yay! Strippers! Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments