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Savage Love

What is your stance on maintenance sex? I'd never thought about the issue until reading Amy Poehler's new memoir. I didn't find anything she said controversial, and was surprised when this quote blew up in the feminist blogosphere: "You have to have sex with your husband occasionally, even though you're exhausted. Sorry." I'd never realized many people firmly believe one should have sex with their partner only when they are in the mood! Some articles even made it sound like maintenance sex is a form of nonconsensual sex. I have sex with my husband pretty often when I'm not in the mood. I'd say about 25 percent of the time we are having sex, I am doing it for maintenance purposes. I always enjoy it and I get off the majority of the time, but I don't always go in wanting it or needing it. Is this wrong? Am I not the feminist I thought I was?

Maintenance Sex Supporter

I'm pro maintenance sex, MSS.

Sometimes I sex my husband when I'm not feeling it; sometimes he sexes me when he's not feeling it. We take care of each other. But maintenance sex is not the same thing as enthusiastic sex. The person asking for maintenance sex — the horny partner who's being indulged/milked/sexed by the non-horny partner — shouldn't expect mind-blowing, toe-curling, sheet-shredding sex. Maintenance sex is mellow sex, it's low-impact and low-stress, it's sex that requires minimal effort, and it's likely to be non-penetrative sex — and gratitude is the only appropriate response.

Another important note: Being pro maintenance sex doesn't obligate a person to have sex whenever their partner wants it. Proponents and practitioners of maintenance sex still get to say no. There's a difference between indulging your partner when you're not feeling it — when you could take it or leave it — and forcing yourself to have sex (or being guilted/pressured/forced) when you're too exhausted, too sick or too angry for sex.

And as you've discovered, MSS, and I can also attest, sometimes you go into sex "not wanting or needing it" and then you start to enjoy it, too, i.e., not in the mood when you started but definitely in the mood before you finished.

I've recently discovered that I am a panty sniffer. Though since I'm a gay man, maybe I'm a briefs breather? Whatever. The smell gets me hard and gets me off. I discovered this when a fuck-buddy left his shorts behind, and for the next few days I jerked off sniffing his shorts. That brings me to the young millennial techie guys at my work. They are fucking slobs, and they're always leaving their underwear and socks on the floor of the company's gym in our office. I started checking the lost-and-found bin, and no one ever claimed their shorts. So I started taking a pair every now and then. At home, I fantasize about who they belong to, and when I'm done with them, I just toss them. First question: Am I stealing? Second (and more important) question: Have I become one of those perverted panty sniffers from those old "Chester the Molester" comics?

Singleton Now Inhaling Funky Funk

First answer: technically, yes. But a case could be made that you're reusing and recycling. If there were a Green Building Certification program for kinks, SNIFF, yours would qualify.

Second answer: "Chester the Molester" was a comic strip about a guy, Chester, "who was interested in sexually molesting women and prepubescent girls," says my old friend Wikipedia. This vile comic strip, which ran in Hustler (of course), made child rape look like harmless and hilarious fun. Dwaine Tinsley, the creator of the strip, wound up going to prison for molesting his daughter — I'm guessing she would argue that child rape was neither harmless nor hilarious.

Since you are not interested in prepubescent boys, SNIFF, I don't think you're a pervert in the "Chester the Molester" mold. But a case could be made that your actions have a whiff of the nonconsensual about them — your coworkers would most likely object to how you're reusing and recycling their abandoned underpants — and you should probably knock it off.

Vanilla straight guy here. As a fellow Washingtonian, I feel proud to live in a state that was among the first to legalize marriage equality by a popular majority vote of the people. I avidly follow the NFL and eat fried bologna sandwiches and do lots of other manly things. However, I have always loved musical theater. Whenever I go to New York, I have to see at least two or three big shows. My question: Is it socially acceptable for me to good-naturedly say, "I'm totally gay for musical theater"? Or is it a slur that I shouldn't say, no matter how playful or well intended?

The Cautious Joker

When someone says, "That's so gay," but means, "That's so stupid," they're being homophobic. Obviously. But a straight guy who says he's gay for musicals isn't saying he's stupid for them, TCJ, he's saying, "I love something that many gay men are passionate about — and I'm not talking about cock." Not all gay men are passionate about musical theater, of course, just as not all straight men are into football. But a man with a passion for musical theater is likelier to be gay; if not, he'll at least be comfortable around gay people. I've heard gay guys who avidly follow the NFL describe themselves as straight for football. Likewise, a man with a passion for football is likelier to be straight.

You saying, "I'm gay for musical theater," or a gay guy saying, "I'm straight for football," amounts to a humorous acknowledgment that the majority of people interested in musicals or football are gay or straight, respectively. In neither case is it an insult or a put-down. But while I think you can continue to say that you're gay for musicals, TCJ, some gay men (or some of our more annoying "allies") may take offense. You don't have to pay attention to those people — they're just gay for taking offense.

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