My Dan Savage Moment

Much has been said about Facebook by those who claim to not really like it, but still continue to use it. The following is not an anti-Facebook diatribe but a cautionary tale about Facebook involving a guy named Gary, a close friend from high school, me, and everyone on my friend list.

On the evening of my disgrace, I had not had more than one glass of wine, so I cannot claim that the hand that touched the keyboard was the Devil’s right hand. The hand that touched the keyboard was my hand, made reckless over an article Gary had posted.

In order to set up this story properly, I have to describe in somewhat graphic detail what the article said, so I ask for your forbearance and understanding as I throw about words such as vagina, clitoris and coitus.

What Gary had posted, not once but twice, was a well enough written explanation of the mechanics of sexual intercourse specifically addressing the fact that many, if not most women do not possess the same sensitivity in their vaginas that men are blessed with on their penises, and therefore require direct clitoral stimulation to achieve orgasm. The article also addressed the feelings of sexual inadequacy that this lack of sensitivity causes many women to experience.

Most likely, had Gary not posted the article a second time, and had he not once been the boyfriend of someone I know well, things might have turned out differently. When Gary’s post reappeared, it was preceded by his own unique observations on the topic of women’s sexuality and anatomy, and that is when the trouble began.

Could this business about direct clitoral stimulation during intercourse actually be true, Gary mused disingenuously. He went on to imply that “in his experience”, this matter of vaginal versus clitoral stimulation was a riddle wrapped in an enigma. Furthermore, “he had always been able to get the job done.”


As a woman it is one thing to endure on a daily basis the freshet of sexism that pours forth seemingly from everywhere, the relentless attacks on our reproductive rights by politicians, not to mention the outrages perpetrated by men against women the world over, but to have to endure the prurient and clearly provocative musings of an older dude about his magical member was beyond the pale.

It was not the content of the article that I found offensive, it was the setup that Gary had given it that lured me into the ring. Not only that, but the conversation was conspicuously lacking in a female voice at that juncture, so I rolled up my sleeves and jumped into the fray.

My opening volley was probably the rudest thing I have ever written to anyone ever, which is saying a lot because if there is one thing that my family excelled at, it was our ability to produce reams of extremely well written, rage-filled prose to one another instead of sorting out our differences with actual dialogue.

I like to think that in the seven years that I have been using Facebook, I have evolved into a respectable and upstanding Facebook citizen. When I have something to say I post in the first person singular, I refrain from posting pictures of food, I do not put up those weird inspirational placards, and I resist memes. I have trained myself to avoid politics no matter how egregious the topic, except for—apparently–when the topic has to do with womens’ issues– and then all bets are off. Ninety-nine point nine percent of the time I am aware of my audience, and if I do find myself drawn into some irresistible cesspool of discord, I try to be polite and respectful, prefacing my comments with soothing tension diffusers like “with all due respect…”

Due to Gary’s public betrayal of his wife’s privacy, not to mention his braggadocio about “getting the job done”, I completely lost touch with all the niceties that normally keep me tethered to the bulwark of online civility, and quickly found myself slavering with unchecked aggression.

My opening salvo began with “Jesus Buddha” and ended with “they were FAKING it for fuck’s sake. Get a grip!” It quickly went from bad to worse for me, whereas Gary, who had handily achieved his goal of being provocative, was probably laughing his ass off in his lair somewhere far away.

Gary and I had just gone a second round when the little messenger thing popped up on my screen. The person messaging me was none other than my good friend Jim from high school. We chatted for a moment about our upcoming rendezvous and then he asked if I wanted my conversation with Gary to be public.


That’s weird, I wrote to Jim. I wonder why you can see this conversation? Dunno, he wrote back. Probably because you are a close friend. Secure in the knowledge that my privacy settings were up to date and robust, I didn’t question Jim’s explanation of why my conversation was visible to him when he did not even know Gary.

As Gary and I went back and forth, with me becoming increasingly obnoxious with every volley, my friend Jim was offering me his vigorous support via Facebook messenger. He is a good and loyal friend, but because he is gay, he did not feel that it would be helpful for him to debate the ins and outs of straight sex in a public setting.

When I decided that my work as the Clitoral Apostle was done I giddily informed Jim that I was laying down my arms and retiring to bed for some for some well-deserved direct stimulation.

It would be tempting to throw my friend Jim under the bus for his behind the scenes encouragement, but that would not be fair. The true culprit was my hero, Dan Savage. No matter what your orientation is, Dan Savage will give you the vocabulary to express yourself, and on this particular evening I was not lacking for words.

Dan Savage is a gay syndicated sex advice columnist and author. His advice is non-denominational, unflinching, fair minded and forthright. There is nothing he won’t talk about. On the subject that Gary had brought up, Dan Savage is solidly on the side of the ladies, standing by to assuage our anxieties when the Missionary fails to, um, Adequately Deliver the Good News.

In the clear light of day I stealthily returned to the scene of the crime and had a look at the thread. The self-satisfaction I had felt for having done my small part to help weed out misogyny quickly evaporated when I saw that many, if not all of the people who had liked my comments were friends of mine who did not even know Gary. I did a quick mental inventory of who among my very diverse and far-flung group of friends might have witnessed my exchange with the anatomically extraordinary Gary.

The first person who came to mind was the elderly and sometimes starchy woman I had served on a board with at Peace Dale Congregational Church, followed by the thought of my former physical therapist. The thought of my PT buddy brought to mind the slew of trainers from my gym with whom I am friendly. The thought of my gym conjured up the truly nightmarish scenario of my son getting a text from one of his friends along the lines of “Yo dude, your mom’s arguing about vag’s on Facebook with some guy!”

Nearly vomiting with anxiety, I tried to put the brakes on my imagination, which was now careening down my friend list like a runaway train. My blacksmith! My history teacher from high school! My ninety-two year old friend! My sister-in-law! My nephews!!!

I do not regret my sentiments, only the unintended audience. I would have been a lot happier if the general manager at my last job had not seen me write “the clit sits high atop the mons pubis, far, far away from where the action is.”

It took me a few days to shake off the feeling that I had just peed in the punch bowl, but eventually I was able appreciate the comedic and cautionary potential of the whole experience, which I am happy to share with you.

A quick bit of research taught me that even though I might be using sensible privacy settings to control who sees what on Facebook, if the person I am interacting with does not, then his lack of privacy settings will override my privacy settings. For a better explanation of how you can avoid your own Dan Savage moment, follow the link below.








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  1. Ginger says:

    This is great!! I wish I had seen the thread.

    1. admin says:

      The next morning, once I realized what had happened I deleted all my comments and summarily unfriended “Gary” who I should never have been friends with in the first place, since his chief joy in life is to provoke the people around him. Sadly for you, the transcripts of that epic exchange are lost somewhere in the ether.

  2. jcnorton says:

    As Noelle once told me, soon after I started using Facebook, “Nothing is private.” Once again I loved your post and am loved seeing that you had a new one to read.

    1. admin says:

      She is so right about that! And thanks for the kind words

  3. Kathy says:

    I definitely don’t remember reading all of that! I think I might have seen the first comment, but was not interested in anything he might have said after that! Possibly unfollowed him (not you! I love your stuff!)

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