Dear Dan: I’m a 27-year-old straight guy, and I’ve been in a monogamous relationship with an awesome girl for four years. Our sex life is pretty open and healthy, although it has lost some steam since the first couple of years — but that’s normal, right? For the last year or so, every time we have sex, I find myself fantasizing that I’m with someone else. A cute barista, an old fling, that MILF on the bus — in my mind, I’m fucking all kinds of people but never my girlfriend. Am I cheating on my partner? Is this a bad sign for our relationship? Should I admit this to my girlfriend? Should we try an open relationship?
Mind Fucking Other Women
Dear MFOW: If fantasizing about fucking someone else while you’re fucking your partner is cheating, MFOW, then we’re all adulterers. It’s not a great sign that you’re doing it every time — you might wanna will yourself to focus on her at least every other time. As for telling her, well, that depends on how secure she is. If she’s realistic about the fact that you’re both attracted to other people, perhaps you can broach the subject — you may even be able to share your fantasies about others during sex. But that means you’ll have to hear about the baristas, flings, and DILFs who turn her on, too, MFOW. Which raises another question: How secure are you?
Dear Dan: In the wake of the killings at Isla Vista, and all the #YesAllWomen and #NotAllMen hashtag campaigns, I want a change in the dialogue. I want to hear the story of the man who warned a woman after he found out a friend was planning on drugging her, the story of the man who dropped a friend when he found out that his friend had assaulted his girlfriend, the story of the man who blamed the vindictive ex for posting private naked photos and not his female partner who was being victimized. I want to hear those stories. Can you ask your readers to send in stories that will give us women hope that the men who say they are on our side understand and are standing up for us in their everyday lives?
One Sad Woman
Dear OSW: The #YesAllWomen and #NotAllMen were not concurrent, complementary Twitter hashtag campaigns, OSW.
After Elliot Rodger decided to murder the women who had rejected him — women he felt entitled to, per his deranged and misogynistic “manifesto” — millions of women began tweeting under #YesAllWomen about the sexism, sexual violence, and misogyny they experience on a daily basis. When some men — but not all men (sorry) — began responding to those tweets with variations on “We’re not all like that!” the #NotAllMen hashtag was born, OSW, and it was a critique. As Phil Plait wrote at Slate: “Why is it not helpful to say ‘Not all men are like that’? For lots of reasons. For one, women know this. They already know not every man is a rapist, or a murderer, or violent. They don’t need you to tell them… Instead of being defensive and distracting from the topic at hand [misogyny, sexism, violence], try staying quiet for a while and actually listening to what the thousands upon thousands of women discussing this are saying.”
So I’m a little hesitant to invite men to share their not-all-like-that stories, OSW, because I agree with Plait: Maybe men should shut up and listen? And then there’s this: It’s also entirely possible for a guy to do the right thing on one occasion — dropping a male friend who did something shitty to a female friend — and then immediately turn around and do something deeply shitty himself. Men shouldn’t be encouraged to think that one noble act frees them — frees all of us — from our collective responsibility as men to fight sexism and misogyny. (A quick note to my fellow faggots: What’s in fighting sexism and misogyny for us? Well, homophobes hate us because they perceive us to be like women — we’re effeminate, we’re cocksuckers, we’re penetrated. Homophobia is misogyny’s little brother, and a less misogynistic world is going to be a less homophobic world. So if you won’t fight sexism and misogyny for the sake of your moms, sisters, nieces, and female friends — and there’s something wrong with you if you won’t do it for them — then do it for yourselves, boys.)
But I’m running your letter, OSW, and inviting women — stick a cork in it, menz — to jump into the comment thread and share your stories about men who’ve done the right thing. This is not meant to exonerate men of their responsibility to fight sexism and misogyny, or to minimize the problem because “not all men are like that,” but to give men who are reading concrete examples of what it looks like when a dude fights sexism and misogyny.