Advice columnist tells lesbian not to “ask for trouble” through PDAs

Never been quite the fan of Slate’s advice column Dear Prudence, but this latest bit of crap really got to me.
A 22-year-old lesbian wrote in asking about appropriate levels of public displays of affection, stemming from frequent arguments with her mother. One of her mother’s concerns was that her daughter and girlfriend were “inviting trouble, perhaps even physical trouble.”
Check out Prudie’s response:
Dear Polite,
Prudie’s opinion about the ongoing head-butting is that anybody’s PDA (hetero and gay) should be within the bounds of restraint. Handholding in public is fine, necking is not. (For everyone.) A spontaneous expression of love—a brief one—is fine if it’s not for effect and there would be no consequences … for example, if you’re in an environment known to be homophobic, you would be asking for trouble. If you know someone who might be discomfited by seeing two girls display physicality, skip it. As the erudite Roger Rosenblatt has written, “If you find yourself making accommodations, that does not make you a hotel.” In this case, it just makes you thoughtful.

Um, what the fuck?
Under Prudie’s oh-so-PC veneer of “necking isn’t cool for anyone,” is a really disturbing message: it’s your fault if you’re a victim of violence based on your sexual orientation. Yeah, yeah…she said if “you’re in an environment known to be homophobic.” But the last time I checked, pretty much the whole fucking country is known to be homophobic. Are there any completely safe spaces to be gay?
Not to mention, her advice sounds way too similar to the common (bullshit) argument that sexual assault victims were “asking for it” by wearing certain clothes or walking alone late at night. But I doubt Prudie would ever write that…much easier to blame the victim when they’re gay.
On a smaller scale of annoyance: the advice to forego physical affection in front of someone who “might be discomfited” by it is pure shit.
Rant over. Whew.

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7 Comments

  1. Posted March 31, 2005 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

    what bullshit. we’re supposed to accomodate homophobes rather than tell them to stop being homophobic? screw that. if they’re uncomfortable seeing same sex couples together, that’s something THEY NEED TO GET OVER. we’re here, we’re queer, get used to it.
    would she offer the same advice to a person of color if they were going into an environment known to be racist?
    good lord.
    xoxo, jared

  2. Scott Swank
    Posted March 31, 2005 at 3:50 pm | Permalink

    It seems like there are two components to this “advice”. Firstly, the comment that one shouldn’t knowingly put oneself in harms way is entirely sensible — to the degree that it is restricted to mean no more than this. Secondly, the advice that one should modify their behavior to avoid discomfiting the homophobic is absurd. These two comments unto themselves are tedious and backward, but not much more (to my sensibilities).
    It is the combination of the two that implies what shocks us all. The not so subtle message is that if you discomfit homophobes you’re just asking to get beaten up.
    Sad.

  3. Posted March 31, 2005 at 3:52 pm | Permalink

    “If you find yourself making accommodations, that does not make you a hotel.” In this case, it just makes you thoughtful. What kind of shit is that? Do straight folks feel the need to make accomodations? That gets interpreted as “young love” or some such damn nonesense. As for jared’s response above I would say that she probably would. Pru seems to be more intent on making the majority comfortable than going for any kind of equality. As a queer of color I just fucking tired of folks thinking that I should have to make accomodations of any kind. If you don’t like my presence or PDAs then leave cuz I damn sure won’t!

  4. Posted March 31, 2005 at 4:02 pm | Permalink

    Fuck the homphobes! We heteros have more than plenty of accomidations for us. Such nerve that the people (we heteros in this case) who have an entire culture, society, and government catering to our every whim, would piss and moan about LGBT people “not doing more to make us feel comfortable around them.” People are so stupid.
    We have no problem about hetero people practically dry-humping in public, but if a Gay or Lesbian couple so much as holds hands, then oh no–we shit a brick. People need to grow up and some of my fellow heteros need to get over themselves.

  5. Posted March 31, 2005 at 4:48 pm | Permalink

    Perhaps I’m reading the advice in a different way than everyone else, but I’m not seeing the problem. The advice seems to boil down to three things:
    1) Extensive PDAs are impolite, irrespective of sexual preference.
    You can argue about whether or not that’s really true, I suppose, but I don’t see anything wrong with holding that opinion. In any case, most arguers will have to agree that there is a point at which it *is* socially unacceptable. Very few will argue that it’s polite to just strip naked and have sex in a public place. If everyone agrees on that, then the rest of the argument is simply over where the line gets drawn.
    2) If you’re in an environment where necking will incite violence, and you’re not absolutely confident of your ability to prevail, *don’t do it*.
    This is also good advice, and it has nothing to do with “blaming the victim”. Blaming the victim is when you say it’s okay for the attackers to get away with it because of what the victim did, or when you argue that the violence was somehow proper. This falls into the category of “please don’t be stupid, just because you are right”. I have a right not to be mugged, but if I get dressed up in silks and jewelry and walk around downtown Cleveland counting bills, people will rightfully call me stupid, and tell me that I shouldn’t have done that. I would have had a perfect right, and mugging would still be illegal, but it would still have been stupid, and with the best of training and equipment I might still have been dead.
    3) Try to be respectful of your friends’ feelings.
    When I’m around my single, lonely friends, I try not to snuggle too much with my (heterosexual) partner. When I’m around my pacifist friends, I try to avoid conversations dealing with violence or tools of violence. I’m ashamed neither of my girlfriend, nor of my capacity for violence, but neither am I so insecure that I need to make my friends feel bad just to make a point.
    I have a number of friends who disagree with various positions or philosophies that I hold (my choice of mate is fortunately not one of them, but I don’t see that this one case merits a special exception). They make an effort not to lambast me for them, and I make an effort not to rub my decisions in their faces. It’s not pure shit. It’s respect for the fact that there are things worth liking in each other beyond the thing over which we disagree, and it runs both ways.
    … Now, if she’d said that gays should never be affectionate around *anyone*, because some random stranger might be offended, that would be pure shit — but she specifically restricted it to people you know well enough that you can talk about their opinions on sexuality. I have no problems with offending mostly harmless, closed-minded strangers. ;P

  6. moon_custafer
    Posted March 31, 2005 at 10:17 pm | Permalink

    Does it not occur to this columnist that anyone homophobic enough to attack verbally or physically isn’t going to need a kiss as an excuse? Two women holding hands, heck, two “lesbian-looking” women talking to each other, or standing side by side, would be enough to set them off. What counts as putting yourself in danger? Wearing a rainbow earring? Having short hair?

  7. Ursula Flavioni
    Posted August 2, 2009 at 7:00 pm | Permalink

    Do not notice analogy what anti-semites speak about Jews?… What do Jews put the loyalty the god first of all or the Holocaust? I not lesbian, but I do not suffer a homophobia. Though, once in a night club with me there was a sexual adventure with one young woman. And it was pleasant to me…

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