Dan Savage: Love him or hate him?

I’ve been listening to a lot of the Savage Love Podcast lately.
I don’t read a lot of Dan Savage’s blogging, and some things he said around Prop 8 and race really got me angry.
That being said, it’s been nice to listen to something that isn’t about the state of the world, or the economy, or other depressing topics. I always say when the world is getting me down we can always talk about sex.
So that’s where Savage Love comes in. For those of you who don’t know, it’s a sex advice podcast where people call in with questions (about all sorts of things) and he responds. Sort of like our Ask Professor Foxy Series, but definitely less feminist and a lot more vulgar. If only Professor Foxy had her own podcast! Maybe one day.
I’ve probably listened to ten of his old shows by now (lots of long distance driving lately) and I’m undecided about him. Sometimes I love what he says and think he gives good advice, other times he’s a total jerk and gives terrible advice.
What do you all think about Savage Love?

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117 Comments

  1. Joe
    Posted April 21, 2009 at 8:55 am | Permalink

    I was hoping that just meant you were a German Goo Girl :D

  2. NellieBlyArmy
    Posted April 21, 2009 at 9:49 am | Permalink

    Of course, whether or not he’s attracted to vaginas is never relevant to the question he’s answering, so I have no idea why he keeps bringing it up.

  3. Whit
    Posted April 21, 2009 at 10:47 am | Permalink

    Yes, by all means, disagree. But being a bisexual, fat, or member of any group that Savage points his Stereotype Laser Gun at to let loose some stupidity does not mean that he is not a bigoted jackass saying some fucked up shit about said group.
    Just because some bisexuals/fat people/minorities/etc. enjoy his writing and find it personally inoffensive does not invalidate criticism of his biphobia, racism, sizeism, etc.

  4. demolitionwoman
    Posted April 21, 2009 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

    As a queer, I fucking HATE that he is asked to represent the queer communities on a national level (i.e. guest on radio and tv shows). He’s a sexist, racist, childish asshole.
    When he became the editor of the Stranger (one of our weekly papers here in Seattle), most of the female staff at the time quit. Coincidence?
    He responds to any sort of critique with schoolyard name-calling (literally – I have the emails to prove it).
    He deliberately spread lies and misleading exaggerations about a queer health organization that I once worked for – simply because he disagrees with the concept of harm reduction.
    He deserves no respect and he certainly does not deserve the national platform that he has. He’s a privileged white asshat. Just because he’s occasionally funny (I’ll totally give him credit for santorum) doesn’t mean that he gets a free pass.

  5. Jamie Zane
    Posted April 21, 2009 at 3:18 pm | Permalink

    I don’t have the time to read through the ups and downs of the previous posts…so I’ll just leave my opinion and move on.
    I’m deeply offended by the implication that Dan Savage is anti-feminist. I think that is the most ridiculous statement ever made about him…especially since there are so many different types of feminists and they don’t agree on the same issues.
    I have been reading Dan’s column for many years and have only recently started listening to his podcasts, but love them more than the column and love him more than ever. I saw him speak once in my city – Philadelphia – against the awful Rick Santorum and thought he was not only funny, but incredibly insightful and a great speaker.
    I had the opportunity to meet him very briefly so that I could score an autograph on a “Rick is Watching” anti-Santorum poster that I promptly removed from the wall after his talk.
    My greater point in this matter is that people think they have some special right to never be offended. If Dan Savage offends you somehow, boo fucking hoo. And if you’re jealous that he’s become the “spokesperson” for queer America because of his national status, then I have some news for you…
    Dan is a realist. He’s not overly concerned with what is PC. He’s not into bullshit. He doesn’t beat around the bush. (Pun intended). And women don’t hate him. I’m a woman – studying to be a sex therapist, in fact – and I FUCKING LOVE DAN SAVAGE.
    The end.
    Insightful? Probably not…but I don’t give a shit. And here’s to school-yard name-calling…

  6. Bees
    Posted April 21, 2009 at 4:09 pm | Permalink

    I’m a big fan of Savage, I read his column every week, though I do prefer his podcast. His advice is always bold, honest, and more often than not meticulously executed, though he may add in a subjective opinion here and there. He’s a very intelligent and thoroughly researched fellow, and I’m not too proud to say I’ve learned quite a bit from him and re-examined how I think after listening to one of his many rants. His thoughts and opinions may not be perfect, which he does acknowledge regularly(by playing counterpoints and criticisms on almost ever podcast). He lays it all out on the line more than any other person in his field, and is continuously honing himself to the whim of his audience.

  7. Pantheon
    Posted April 21, 2009 at 4:14 pm | Permalink

    I just tried listening to the podcast for the first time, and I only lasted a few minutes. There’s nothing wrong with it per se, but somehow its easier for me to read that kind of explicit language than it is to hear it spoken.

  8. BStu
    Posted April 21, 2009 at 8:14 pm | Permalink

    This whole perspective, while quite common, is still very much fat-phobic. I’ll grant that Savage gets called out by fat activists for stuff a lot of people just accept, but that’s kind of the point. In a society which enforces fat hatred at the earliest ages, its just not reasonable to assume we can know what someone’s body really should be. What Savage does is aggressively endorse the notion that if you were ever able to maintain thinness, you should always be expected to maintain thinness. That’s just not a fair assumption. Turning it around, how many gay men and women were ALWAYS out? How many of them never had a period when they were trying to understand their sexuality? Now, I don’t expect Savage would say all of those people should be expected to stay straight. So why does he endorse the notion that people should be expected to stay thin?
    The simple answer is that he doesn’t respect fat as a natural state. Oh, I get that he sorta acknowledges and “tolerates” it, but he doesn’t respect it. Ultimately, he doesn’t respect that some people are naturally fat. He just thinks some people haven’t tried to be not fat, so why bother forcing them. But if have tried to confirm to social expectations, they have to stick with it.
    Look, I’d actually agree with him that if your partner is not someone you find sexual appealing anymore, that this is a valid enough concern. If its a relationship deal breaker, though, the solution is to end the relationship. He gets this for most things, so the fact that he continually expects fatties to drop pounds to please others shows that he ultimately just doesn’t respect us. So I don’t respect him. Its a shame, but as far I’m concerned, its HIS call, not mine.

  9. BStu
    Posted April 21, 2009 at 8:25 pm | Permalink

    One of the big issues the “fatosphere” had with Savage is his moral disgust with “girl love handles” a phenomenon that was defined as something found on the women with an “extra 17lbs” not an extra 170.
    Thing of his advice is that he doesn’t tell people to dump partners who gain weight. He tells them to berate their partners for gaining weight and THEN dump them. That’s a pretty key distinction. If someone’s sexuality requires a thin partner, I could respect that. But that’s a priority they need to recognize while also recognizing that its not something they can have a long-term expectation for given how many people in our culture artificially maintain lower weights in service of social mandates. That’s the context they need to understand. Not simplistic bigotry coddling.

  10. Electra310
    Posted April 21, 2009 at 8:35 pm | Permalink

    I like Dan Savage, largely because his influence is all that kept me from becoming the sexphobic guilt-ridden introvert that I was raised to be. When I discovered him in college, it was like seeing into a whole other world, where women were sexual beings, and where masturbation was healthy, expressing needs was healthy, and sex toys weren’t the tools of Satan. I married the first man I ever dated (true love, not conservative-related), and Dan’s column helped both of us learn where to get information on, you know, how to do things properly so everyone had a good time. The best sex education I ever got came from Savage Love.

  11. kingballs
    Posted April 21, 2009 at 9:04 pm | Permalink

    “He responds to any sort of critique with schoolyard name-calling (literally – I have the emails to prove it). ”
    And now we have your comment as proof that you use schoolyard name-calling.

  12. raq
    Posted April 21, 2009 at 9:14 pm | Permalink

    I can understand this! I discovered Savage Love when my boyfriend and I were starting to become really sexually active. (This was just after I had gotten out of a bad, very sex-negative relationship). It was really hard trying to decent information on ‘how to have good sex’, and we were reading sites like Ask-men, or the ivillage, Cosmo like sites (obviously terrible). Covering yourself with chocolate sauce and spreading rose petals on the bed does not guarantee a satisfactory sexual experience. Anyway, discovering Dan’s column really helped us out, and taught us how to be good, giving and game, and really explore our kinks, and talk openly and frankly about what worked for each of us, and what didn’t.
    Anyway, I still enjoy listening to Savage Love. Yeah, there are some things he says that rub me the wrong way, and many things I disagree with, but that doesn’t preclude my enjoyment. He is an asshole, but, when he says something that offends certain groups, he will acknowledge the controversy, and publish the letters of people who disagree.

  13. kingballs
    Posted April 21, 2009 at 9:16 pm | Permalink

    I don’t understand how anyone with basic reading (or listening) comprehension skills can evaluate his responses as biphobic, fatphobic, misogynist, etc. If you read and listen to his responses in their entirety, you’ll see a use of the language that considers human limitations, sexual realities, personal experience, and respect for one’s self and one’s partner(s) and delivers advice that may often miss the mark, but is usually dispensed with the intent of promoting good sexual experiences for everyone, except assholes who oppose gay marriage.
    OTH, I wish he’d lay off of complaining about vagina, as I have one and don’t particularly care to hear about how much he thinks it’s distasteful. I do find it amusing that he can go on and on about sounding without any apparent judgment while basic pussy discourse repels him. If the subject of vagina is so repulsive to him, maybe he’s in the wrong business.

  14. demolitionwoman
    Posted April 22, 2009 at 1:07 pm | Permalink

    Ah yes, cuz this post is about ME.
    If anyone’s ever actually interacted with him or lived in the same community as him, you know what I’m talking about.
    “I don’t understand how anyone with basic reading (or listening) comprehension skills can evaluate his responses as biphobic, fatphobic, misogynist, etc.”
    So just because you’re not offended means that everything’s just fine and anyone who is offended is clearly just stupid. Interesting. People have different experience and bring different context to situations. If you can’t understand that your experience or reading of a situation isn’t the same as everyone else’s and that others’ thoughts, feelings and experiences are just as valid as yours, that’s a problem.

  15. megan
    Posted April 23, 2009 at 2:29 pm | Permalink

    Dan’s the man. The Savage Love Podcast is awesome, I’ve listened to every episode, so i consider myself an authority. Do you know the theme song and phone number by heart?
    I love Dan’s advice about sex, but most of all I love how Dan makes sex something you can talk about openly and honestly, and that nobody should be ashamed about. As a woman who loves sex, porn, and all of the above, but has always been made to feel awkward or like a slut when I express my interest in sex, I really appreciate how Dan has made me feel comfortable and confident about my sexuality. Dan’s podcast has made my sex life better and I haven’t even ever called in…..love you Dan, oh but you are totally an asshole sometimes : )

  16. alexgrey.wordpress.com
    Posted April 24, 2009 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

    I’m not even gonna try swimming through all these comments. But I do feel that I should mention something that Dan himself often brings up when giving advice. He’s not a psychologist, or some professional advice-giver; he’s just a regular guy who tries to give his take on things. Whether or not someone chooses to listen to him is another thing, and he often tries to find guests who can answer questions guests give him. That or he tries searching the internet.
    If there’s anything that makes Dan different, maybe even better, from all the other advice columnists, is that he’s speaking in very general terms. He’s not high-and-mighty about his knowledge; he’s no Dr. Drew who’s going to psychoanalyze you. Plus, if anything, he does try to the best of his ability. His answers are sometimes very touching, very honest, and often quite good. And if he doesn’t know, he tries directing you to someone who might.

  17. Posted April 28, 2009 at 9:30 am | Permalink

    I agree with Dan before he speaks. Love his sensible approach. Love his sex positive advice, “Go forth and do whatever.” Love his boundaries, “As long as it’s not with animals, children or siblings.” Love his practical advice on how to do it. Love his “Communicate!” angle. Love that he says the words, no euphemisms. Love that he speaks like an actual person. Love that he is an actual person with opinions, and not a persona.

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