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Mistress Rowena Lays Down the Law


by Mistress Rowena



What you want, baby, I got.
What you need, you know I got it.
All I askin' is for a little respect


Advice columnists hear frequently from anguished supplicants whose partner is Behaving Badly™ in a way that makes it apparent that s/he is irredeemably a jerk. These heartbroken scribblers are simultaneously looking for confirmation that they should leave and hoping desperately that there is some other option. Dan Savage, sex advice columnist extraordinaire, has invented the perfect acronym for this situation: DTMFA (Dump The MotherFucker Already). One can't beat that for comprehensive, concise and useful advice. As indicated above, most of these cases are pretty cut and dried (or limp and wet, as the case may be) but the fallout from the sexual revolution has left an increasing number of innocents confused about what behaviour is and is not kosher in a relationship.

With the decriminalization of most sexual activity not involving children and/or animals, the cameras of reality TV filming what goes on in bedrooms across America, the Internet—Christ, where do I begin?—the Idiotnet (Remember when it was just the boob tube? That was awful enough!) making annual conventions for every fetish all but mandatory, indoctrinating adolescents into a lifetime of obligatory porn viewership, convincing every college-age girl to bare her boobs and shave her pubes, providing forums for bisexuals and polyamorists and swingers to tell the world that they are all your friends and neighbors and co-workers and don't worry, whatever you do is okay, it's no wonder that people are befuddled. To end the confusion, here is:


Mistress Rowena's Definitive Guide to What Is and What Is NOT Acceptable in a Relationship


It is NOT ok for your partner to:

  • Demand that you shave your pubes, pierce your flesh, ink your skin, dye your hair, augment your boobs, inflate your lips or suction your thighs/chin/arse. The mainstreaming of Internet porn and wannabe starlets, not to mention the popularity of goth culture, has many guys internalizing airbrushed perfection and body modification as the norm. It shouldn't even be the ideal, let alone the minimum expectation for your date. If his head turns every time a chick with pierced nipples walks by, let him date her and good fucking riddance.

  • Suggest more than once that you engage in swinging, threesomes or any other adventures in non-monogamy. There is nothing wrong with asking for what you want—in fact, we advice columnists spend much of our time telling people to do just that. But the current mainstream acceptability of swinging, the saturation of porn, and the publication of data chronicling the rampant promiscuity of everyone from pre-teens to nonagenarians has left many men (and some women) assuming that something is wrong with their relationship if they are not getting it on with a third party, separately or together. It reminds me of pre-revolutionary France, where in aristocratic circles, according to Ken Mondschein's A History of Single Life,"it was considered somewhat déclassé to love your spouse."

    Of all the trends noted here, this one is the most pernicious. Guys are increasingly being led by the aforementioned societal changes to believe that they have a right to expect a non-monogamous relationship. It's not that they are cheating more than they used to. Oh, no, cheating implies that you are doing something that you acknowledge to be wrong; what's happening now is that the perception of the scope of acceptable behaviour has increased. In some respects, this is a good thing. If you don't want to be monogamous, there is no reason for you to even keep up a façade of monogamy anymore. You don't have to worry about what the Jones' think because you've probably seen naked pictures of them on the Web anyway. My advice has always been: find someone who wants the same things you want in a relationship. In theory, it's pretty simple: if you don't want to be monogamous, don't date someone who does. If you want a monogamous relationship, don't waste your time with someone who doesn't. How do you find this out? You ask. "Honey, would you like a threesome with the pocket Venus who lives downstairs?" "Dearest, would you like to swap with that cute goth couple we always see at the bar?" "Sweetie, I want variety, shall we take out a personal ad to look for a third?"

    The catch is—pay attention, now—you have to listen to the answer. If your partner says "no," YOU DON'T FUCKING ASK AGAIN. If you can't live without said threesome or foursome or moresome, YOU MOVE THE FUCK ON AND DATE SOMEONE ELSE. The problem I am attempting to highlight here is the tendency of guys to bring up this topic repeatedly, usually after a one-handed surfing session ("These horny co-eds are doing the whole football team, can't you at least bring one girl home?") and each and every time they see an even vaguely cute girl ("Wouldn't you like to do her? Huh? Huh? Wouldn't ya? You know you would."). You do not have to remain in a monogamous relationship if you don't want that lifestyle - there's no law mandating that anymore - but you do have to stop harassing your partner about it after the first refusal. Believe me, she knows you want it and she will bring it up herself if she ever changes her mind.
  • Justify his thoughts/words/actions with the excuse that biology = destiny. This is closely related to the above because often, in his attempts to explain why he wants the intern in his office to join you in bed, the hairy male will whine that he is biologically programmed to spread his seed. He will implore you to accept that he can't help it, that it doesn't mean he doesn't love you, blah, bloody, blah. Tell him he's free to make that claim just as soon as he relinquishes his opposable thumbs. Of all the trite excuses men will trot out to persuade you, this is the most pathetic. And the most generic. All the latest psychobabble supports him because telling people what they want to hear sells books. Remind him that the door is always open if his urge to impregnate Britney Spears and hunt wooly mammoths with spears becomes overwhelming. If he starts cutting faces out of magazines andarranging them on the floor for bukkake practice, give him a boot and close the door behind him.

  • Act like he is doing you a huge favour by remaining faithful. For the reasons expounded ad nauseam above, fidelity is now regarded by most guys as deserving of canonization. Going to a party without you and not going home with someone makes Mother Theresa seem selfish in comparison. He expects a hummer every night he comes home without having banged the French intern at the office. I LOOKED BUT I DIDN'T TOUCH. PRAISE ME! TELL ME I'M A GOOD BOY. GIVE ME A COOKIE! Fidelity isn't the apex of achievement in a relationship; it's the foundation. If he thinks he deserves a medal (or even brownie points) for every day that he resists temptation, remember what happens to the Ben & Jerry's after you've ignored its siren call from the freezer for a few days. (*scrape, scrape*, last of the White Russian) The next time you thank someone for keeping a promise that they made of their own free will, give yourself a good swift kick in the arse.
  • Pretend he is single when you are not around. Flirting is grand. Flirting helps us feel alive, attractive, puts roses in our cheeks and a sparkle in our eye. Never give up flirting, as long as you live. But if your guy works the bar or the party like he's on a mission to collect as many phone numbers as possible whenever you are not with him, it's time to consider his commitment to the relationship. Where to draw the line? Flirting, as noted above, is fine. Touching, exchanging contact info (phone numbers, email addys), or being alone together ("we just shared a cab") are not. As boys imbibe more intoxicating beverages, the line sometimes appears to waver and grow fuzzy. The no-fail rule to follow is: never say or do anything that you would feel the tiniest bit uncomfortable telling your partner about, in every detail. If you ever feel compelled to edit something you said or did before you can share it with your supposedly-loved one, you did wrong and they should dump your sorry ass forthwith.

  • Excuse unacceptable behaviour by pleading intoxication and/or stress. Neither ingesting mind-altering substances nor suffering from life's many stressors excuses unacceptable behaviour. Period. End of relationship.

  • Comment on the physical charms of other women. Yeah, yeah, we all know that he looks. And we concede that looking without touching is acceptable. But you needn't tolerate your bloke remarking on the boob size or VPLs of passing members of your sex. This goes for drooling over celluloid and jpeg beauties as well. If he doesn't think you are the most beautiful, sexiest, most attractive woman he has ever seen, move on. You can do better. No-one needs their self-esteem shredded on a daily basis. This wasn't always a problem. Believe it or not, there was a time when an idle remark on the beach would have been considered grounds for withholding sex for a week. Now, women are taught to accept it, that the poor guy can't help it, it's just his biological programming to notice and pronounce judgment on anything female that crosses his radar screen. Take it from me, you don't have to put up with it. If you ask him to stop and he doesn't, dump his sorry ass. He's not going to r-e-s-p-e-c-t you any more in the future.

    That's the bottom line here: respect. Whether you're a bottom or a top, you deserve it in every arena of your life, especially your sexual relationships. Letting someone else become physically and emotionally intimate with you is a tremendous gift and an act of breathtaking trust and vulnerability. Modern society makes it too easy to forget that.


    Treated like shit? Don't email me, dump 'em.

    Posted December 7, 2003 5:16 PM






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