Thank you so much for advising that whacked-out, sexually ignorant mother to buy her daughter a dildo! As a former sex worker (I was a stripper at the fabulous Lusty Lady in San Francisco as well as a pro domme in a lovely Bay Area house of domination), I understand intimately the ability of parents to turn normal sexual curiosity into something shameful and embarrassing. I myself had a similar incident when I was a teenager. My mother found my stash of porno magazines and the oversized teddy bear that I used to ride to orgasm. She made me burn the pornos and took my beloved teddy away. Needless to say, her tactic did not work. I was a highly curious girl and too experienced in the art of self-love to turn back. All that my mother's reaction ensured was that I would never, under any circumstances, go to her for sexual guidance, support, or information.
I hope all the Savage Love-readin' mommies out there heed your advice and buy their daughters some goddamn dildos and help make them complete, aware, healthy, happy sexual beings in touch with themselves and their bodies!
--Dildo-Lovin' Dyke in San Francisco
Criticisms, rants, and death threats account for roughly 30 percent of the E-mail I receive, and I tend to run an awful lot of angry, hostile letters in my column. And why not? Letters from people who disagree with my advice are more interesting and offer readers a different POV on whatever subject we're gabbing about.
I do occasionally get nice letters from people who want to let me know how much they like the column. Most of the people who send in positive letters express amazement that so much of my mail is negative. "Doesn't anyone ever pay you a compliment?" they ask. Well, yes, lots of people--but unlike certain insecure advice columnists I could name, I don't feel a burning need to clutter up my column with their letters.
But to prove that I get them, there's almost nothin' but compliments in this week's column--specifically, the ones that have been rolling in since I told off Traumatized Over Youngster, the mom who discovered her daughter masturbating with one of her dildos and promptly lost control of her bowels. If you're one of those people who hate me and hate my column and yet somehow can't keep yourself from reading it, well, you might want to skip this one. It'll give you fits.
I realize that an entire column is a lot of real estate to devote to one issue, but I think this particular issue needs emphasis. Moms and dads need to know that their adolescent daughters can, will, and should masturbate. And while I'm not sure how DLDISF will feel about this, I want to emphasize that giving your daughters dildos, as I urged TOY to do, will not necessarily turn them into strippers, pro dommes, or dykes. (OK, maybe one or two of those things, but the trifecta is rare.) In fact, I think DLDISF's letter can be read as a cautionary tale: if her mother had given her dildos and let her keep her porn and her teddy, it's possible she wouldn't have grown up to be a sex worker at all. (That should take care of next week's angry mail.)
Now, on to the compliments...
Dildo use is not only safer than experimenting with broomstick handles, it can also be much safer for a 14-year-old girl than skipping masturbation and going straight to sex--which a lot of youngsters do because they're discouraged from masturbating! If TOY's daughter hadn't found her dildos, she might have come home to find her daughter pregnant and/or STD-infected. Last, right on about the lockable doors advice! --Just Another Reader
Your advice to Traumatized Over Youngster was thoughtful and sound. As a young girl I was discovered "learning about myself" by my mother. She told me that what I was doing was "inappropriate" and that I shouldn't do it again. We never talked about it further. This incident led to years of low sexual self-esteem. Now I'm engaged and have a healthy sex life with my fiance, but it wouldn't have been possible without years of therapy.
--Better Now and Having Fun
When my mother discovered that I had been reading her copy of The Joy of Sex when I was 8, the first thing she wanted to know was if I had any questions for her. When my father caught me masturbating when I was 11, he told me that it was an OK thing to do, but in the privacy of my room. I'm grateful to my parents for handling these situations the way they did; I believe I'm a sexually well-adjusted adult as a result.
Your advice to TOY was wonderful, Dan, and if this woman does what you advised, her daughter will become a sexually well-adjusted adult too. --Healthy and Happy
Teenage-boy masturbation is the subject of countless jokes (and an entire film micro-genre!) and is socially accepted, but female masturbation is still totally hush-hush. I had no clue through adolescence and had (at best) boring sex for years--my first orgasm at 23, which is what? Ten years later than a guy's? I now have sisters who are 12 and 13, and I don't want them to have to go through the confusion and disappointments I did.
--No Cute Name
I find it amazing that you completely ignored the fact that TOY's privacy was violated in the whole "daughter finding the dildo" incident. TOY specifically mentioned that her daughter is not allowed in her closet. She is 14 years old--she should have some respect for her mother, and the thought of sharing sex toys without permission is disgusting. It is rude and unsanitary. Sure, experimentation is normal and healthy, but a total disregard for the privacy of others isn't.
--You're an Idiot
Actually, YAI, I had some comments in my original response to TOY about her privacy being violated, and how that was not OK, and how girls sharing dildos with their mothers is gross and unsanitary, but I removed them because they seemed so obvious. Of course TOY's privacy was invaded and that was a tragedy, but still. Adults with teenage children can have no reasonable expectation of privacy. What I find amazing is how people grow up and completely forget what they were like as kids. A single teenager can tear apart an entire house in search of porn, sex toys, money, and drugs while his or her parents are out at the movies--and have the entire place put back together before mom and dad are done watching the coming attractions. People who don't want their teenage children to find (and use) their dildos or drugs shouldn't keep those sorts of things in the house, or if they do they should keep them under lock and key.
Dan Savage's new book, Skipping Towards Gomorrah: The Seven Deadly Sins and the Pursuit of Happiness in America (Dutton), goes on sale October 10. (More info at skippingtowardsgomorrah.com.)