The “Morning Buns” Edition

Listen to this episode

S1: This ad free podcast is part of your Slate Plus membership.

S2: Dear Prudence Dear Prudence Gifford 0 prudence if it is to the approved here. Do. You think that I should contact him again. Help help. Thank you.

S3: Thank you.

S4: Hello and welcome back to the Dear Prudence show once again and as always I am your host. Dear Prudence also known as Daniel Mallory ort Berg. With me in the studio this week is Elizabeth Freeman a professor of English at the University of California Davis specializing in among other things gender slash sexuality studies. She’s written three academic books. There’s a little postscript here but frankly I don’t think that I want to read it because I don’t know that my audience would find them boring and I refuse to run your work down for you.

S5: I will rather read my audience down for you. All right flipper thanks for all that. OK. So I’m glad that that’s how we began because I think it’s important every once in a while to try to develop at least a slightly antagonistic relationship with one of my guests because otherwise all we do is agree and say things like I think that’s reasonable. I think you’re reasonable. This is so reasonable and that’s not to say that I want you to think of yourself as my enemy today. But I do like the idea of seeking out ways to bring different perspectives wherever we can. OK. I’m ready to have that different perspective. Well would you then please visa get us to read our very first question I shall.

S6: The subject is bisexual problems Dear Prudence I am a bi woman in my late 20s I lost my husband nine months into our marriage in a motorcycle accident the next year I started seeing a woman this news fractured my relationship with my former in-laws and several members of my own family. After that I started to see quite a lesbian I met online. Kit made me believe in love again and I ended up moving across the country to be with her. Our relationship broke down after Kit accused me of sleeping with my married straight co-worker after several late nights at work. I offered up my phone and email so she could see everything. Kit apologized and we tried counselling. It didn’t stick. I ended up moving out and losing a big chunk of my social circle since they were primarily kids. Right now the world feels like it doesn’t want me to be me. It is just easier to slide into a box. Everyone can check off and be done with it. The few times I’ve tried going and making friends and specifically deal Beatty’s bases I’ve been lectured that I have straight passing privilege or the three lesbians I had in my life outweigh the one I had with my husband. I’ve tried dating again with a bi profile and I had to get the creeps or liars cat fishing for a threesome. The icing on the cake was being approached by a straight couple in my baking group who were trying to spice up their marriage and asked if I was interested in having sex with the wife while her husband watched. We had talked to maybe four or five times before I told them I was sorry but I had high standards that they just didn’t match but they could always try hiring a prostitute. I stopped baking. I’m not trying to one up anyone’s struggles here but I feel completely alone.

S4: Is there something broken in me so there’s a lot a lot going on here here. And I feel so deeply for this letter writer who has been through the mill like I think part of what I just get out of this letter is she has not had a lot of people in her life who have been able to help her grieve the death of her husband. She’s been through some really nasty breakups all of which would take anybody a long time to recover from. Hmm. Let’s not forget the cross-country move itself. Yeah. A jolt to the system. Yeah I do just want to throw out there. I think the one reason I left that second to last line in there was because I think often when someone feels like they’re in a really rough place though they’ve kind of turned to like at least they can get a dig in on a sex worker.

S5: And I would just you know again not that this is the most important thing but like you can go ahead and be like upset or offended on your own behalf without kind of saying like don’t worry there are women who do sex work and you can kind of treat them as disrespectfully as you like because I don’t like the implication there that like there’s a category of woman you can go be awful to and that will take it that burden off of me.

S7: But that is a minor minor note. It is reasonable. I’m sorry to actually say that you know since you told me not to but reasonable definitely to have to fight the whole time I’m reminded though of when I thought about this letter how you can go places where you’re not legible sexually. And I’ve had this experience in different cities where subsidies I seem to have a certain kind of hotness and my phone rings and other cities it’s like I just don’t whatever I am is just not what’s on the menu. So part of me wants to tell this person you know give it a couple of years and then find a better city. Yes because certainly there are plenty of places where being a bisexual woman is not automatically doesn’t automatically make you anathema.

S5: Yeah yeah. I think the important thing is to try to stress like the very real ways in which this person has been given like just a lot of flack for her bisexuality and it kind of separate that from just like things that would be bad no matter what. And I think less like losing her husband that’s just awful. Yeah. And then a breakup with a partner who’s like obsessed with controlling you and making sure that you’re not like flirting or sleeping with anybody else that’s also awful. Losing friends in a breakup. I don’t know that any of that is directly tied to your bisexuality other than the fact that one of these people was a man and one of these people was all right.

S6: Right. Right. Yeah. These are these are sort of people problems whereas the descriptions of sort of encountering people who say you have street passing privilege or that you’re three lesbian relationships and how matter more seem more typical of what by phobia can look like.

S5: Yeah yeah. That felt to me more like yeah that is exactly both. And also just like who does that like what support group or gay bar or club or event are you at where someone’s like Hey can I rank your last four relations.

S7: And that’s why I just wonder if isn’t a problem with place is the problem with you know neighborhood or community. And since there’s no locations given here it’s sort of hard to know you know what the writers previous context was and what about the new context isn’t supportive of that particular identity. And so you know my not everybody has the privilege of relocating every time they you know don’t feel legible. But I wonder about. I do think it can take sort of up to three years for adults to get used to cities and figure out who their people are in inner city and I sort of want to believe that there are people out there who who don’t act like this. Yeah but then I want to also hold out that link. Well maybe this place is not a great place to be by wherever it is.

S5: Yeah I think for me like when I look at that last part of it I feel completely alone is there’s something broken in me.

S8: What I what I see in this letter is of course you feel like you’ve lost your husband now you lost your in-laws members of your family. It sounds like disowned you for. For dating a woman after your husband’s death and then you had another round of losses when you and Kip broke up and a lot of your friends vanished like the fact that you feel alone right now makes so much sense to me. You have been through a lot. And so to whatever extent that you can reach out to the friends that you do still have whether they’re near or far. I’m so scared to start going into Celine Dion. That’s going to be a good first step for you. And just letting them know like what you need from them asking like Do you have any parties soon that you can maybe invite me over for or do you want to like go to a movie together. I’m feeling really alone right now. Yeah. In addition to kind of reassessing is this city the right city for me. Yeah. Is there another city where I have more ties that I could maybe afford to move to. And also I think just focusing on rebuilding friendships right now rather than dating because it sounds like dating has been not since then bringing you a lot of joy down does not spark joy. Yeah. I wish I had a really good answer to dating as a bi woman on the apps and and screening for people that you don’t like.

S7: It’s having been on the film who was identifying herself as polyamorous. It’s really hard to get people. Even when you say first line I am not interested in men at all. Not any of you. So yeah. So if this is it it says by profound. This is app dating. And that is not I mean that is I think demoralized demoralizing for for the best of us and for some populations more than others. And so this biking group it sounded like a really good attempt at you know doing something that was sort of face to face and might be different and then had a sort of bad encounter. That’s part of it and maybe meet ups you know anything that was specially for bisexual women.

S5: Often at least when I have talked to other friends about meet ups in general I’ve been surprised by when they show me like look at all the meet ups for four by women who do the following activities like one really great thing about by women is they often like love hobbies and activities and they’re often very social and they often want to connect with one another often because as you have experienced many times other people are like Oh by women I’d like to be very rude to you now which is not a good thing.

S4: I just I just mean the good side effect of that is if you were to search like meet ups for bisexual women in your area assuming you live in a reasonably large city you will probably find you know by women who like to knit by women who like to hike by women who like to go to movies by women who like to have Model U.N. Women who like other by women. Yeah yeah. And I think that that would be a good place to start looking for additional forms of community besides just the friends you’ve had but be gentle with yourself. I’m really sorry. I do not think that you are coerced. I don’t think that this is your the way that the future is going to go forever. But you have been through a really rough couple of years and so it makes sense that you feel misunderstood and isolated. And I’m really sorry. I wish I had you know a great answer to like people you thought were gonna be friendly and are instead like cruisin for a threesome. It’s not you it’s them. Yeah. All right. So we’re sticking on this theme a little bit right now. Bisexuality and like gauging one’s response to the world. So the subject here is gauging parents homophobia. Dear Prudence I’m a bisexual and largely closeted trans man who needs help navigating his parents current bigotry levels. When my sister and I were growing up they used to lecture us about how the lifestyle choices of homosexuals were against God trans people were disgusting and going against nature. My mother was especially vocal about her disapproval and we fought about LGBT rights a lot when I was an angry closeted teenager. My parents are both perhaps surprisingly very anti Trump and on a recent visit home my dad commented how awful it was that the administration was so homophobic. My sister and I were really thrown for a loop but we agreed with him in the moment and then the topic was dropped. I always told myself I’d never come out to them to save myself the heartbreak. But now I feel like I don’t know where they stand. I want to believe that they can change but those lectures still sting. How can I probe them for more insight into their current beliefs without outing myself or my also queer sister. I’m worried I’ll devolve into an angry teenager again and only stir up a lot of resentment. Any scripts or conversation starters would be greatly appreciated.

S6: How about that Trump. That’s a good conversation starter.

S9: I was sort of thinking Trump’s done very little that’s good in this world but maybe these parents having shifted their views because of Trump would be one of very few kind of good outcomes.

S6: And I wondered if it wasn’t possible for this writer to to stick to trump of the topic.

S10: You know in order to draw right because I don’t have a few points that they have in common is like we both don’t like this and that might be a kind of safe way to check in. I do think you say you’re worried that you’d have to out yourself but it sounds like you two you fought with your mom constantly as a teenager and she at least thus far has not said Hey are you gay or trans or bi or trans. So it sounds like you’re able to push back against that idea kind of a lot without either of your parents asking do you do you have a personal connection with this conversation so I actually do think you have more grounds to bring this up without worrying about being outed than you think.

S5: And you know one of the nice things about being closeted is if someone asks you if you are bi or gay or trans you can just lie. That’s that’s the one like fun part of being closeted is you can just like you can lie when they like or you are you buying you like nope straight.

S6: But then there’s also that there is also the Trump conversation might produce little openings like oh wow Mom that’s such a compassionate thing you’ve said that that makes me feel really good.

S11: It’s something that a lot of people that I love would really would really resonate with them. You know you can sort of slowly give your you know where you’re not actually coming out but you’re sort of acknowledging and appreciating the shifts that you see and linking it to something. Yeah real life. Yeah.

S4: It may not be you know that might move them even further and you know if you’re worried that you’ll devolve into an angry teenager and you just want to focus on like asking an open ended question you could maybe try to schedule a phone call or even. I don’t know if you often talk with your parents over email. That’s another possibility. But yeah I think just say you know I was really moved to hear you say what you said the last time I visited and I was just a little bit curious about when that changed for you. And I think trying to find a way to say that that doesn’t put them quite on the defensive of like used to be the worst homophobe in the world and now you’re not what happened. But if you’re you’re hoping to open up a possible conversation that doesn’t begin with defensiveness I think just yeah to start with it meant a lot to me to hear this. I’m curious. We know how you got here. What you’ve been thinking about this. What’s changed for you. Parents do sometimes change their minds or bro. Yeah yeah. And they don’t always do so by like then immediately realizing oh and I did all these things that were really messed up and I need to apologize like that might still take a while. They may just very much be like Oh yeah I guess I used to be a little bit against it but I’m totally great now. Whereas you have a pretty clear memory of just how not great they used to be and that’ll you know be up to you to decide when and and how intensely you want to say like as I recall you really really really were against this when I was a child and we often fought about it that was sometimes hard and that’s OK for you to hold on to too even if they have changed now you’re still allowed to be hurt by the way that they talked about queer people in the past. All right. Yeah. My only other thought there is you get to stay closeted to your parents as much as you would like if at any point you are planning on pursuing any forms of medical transition. It may be good to at least have like a backup plan for if they notice something because sometimes if you do pursue a medical transition it’s not about deciding when you want to tell someone so much as them saying like you sound like you have a cold nine times and then saying why do you sound like you have a cold all the time. And then you have to talk to someone you didn’t plan on talking to and I speak from experience. So just a thought nothing you have to worry about right now of course but maybe tucked away in the back of your mind.

S6: All right. Yeah. So our next subject. This one just like acknowledge like we’re word.

S5: We’re taking a real detour innocently. Very heavy and quite painful so. Yeah. Yeah.

S12: Subject my teenage son filmed his sexual encounters. What now. Dear Prudence my son Sean 17 has been filming his sexual encounters with his girlfriend Maria 15 without her knowledge. My husband Rob discovered the hidden camera by accident and we confronted Sean together. He is shown the videos to a few friends in quotes. Sean broke down sobbing during a confrontation but were unsure if he was actually remorseful or just terrified of the consequences. Robyn I can barely look at Sean. We thought we raised our kids devalue consent and to decry sexual assault. Sean cannot articulate why he filmed Maria and showed the videos around. We’re disgusted by his actions and sick with ourselves for our failure to raise a decent person. Robyn I want Sean to face consequences for his actions and realise this could include legal ramifications. We will not be parents who dismiss the harm our child has caused another. We don’t know how to proceed though. Contact Maria and her parents. Take Sean to the police. I’m also afraid I will never like my son again. Right now it’s hard to summon love for him. Are we being vindictive. Any guidance would be welcome.

S4: I mean this one has just been like keeping me up at night. Yeah. And it’s just really really devastating. And I think I mostly just want to start with. I’m so sorry to both you and your partner. I understand the ways in which it would just feel like overwhelming and I think you know at least for the part of you that’s like worried about whether or not you will ever like your son again I would give yourself a lot of freedom there to not worry about that. You can act lovingly towards your son and also allow yourself to be really really horrified by what he did. And you don’t have to worry about trying to either hold onto a feeling of like so much as just as long as you are treating him with love and love can often look like in this situation consequences if you on top of everything else try to assign yourself the task of liking Shaun in the middle of all of this. I worry that you will of course not be able to. And then you will be additionally angry at yourself and I don’t want that for you.

S12: Yeah I guess the next person to think it out here is Maria. And we may or may not have the same ideas about how to proceed but it seems like Maria should be the first person to know about this.

S13: And we can talk about her parents in a minute. But that filming somebody without their knowledge is is a real violation. Yeah. And that she should be told and she should probably be told not that Sean should tell her and then tell his parents he told her. But that fact she should be told with John’s parents.

S4: Oh yeah yeah. I don’t think Sean should be having any unsupervised contact with Maria of any kind. I don’t even know how I feel about him being present for all of that conversation just because I would want there to be a lot of freedom for her not to have to say I can’t be in a room with him right now. But for that to be assumed. Yeah. Yeah. I also you know I also worry that you know her parents may not have known that she was having sex and I I feel awful that now these parents are in a position where they have to potentially put her in a more dangerous situation but I think that you found the camera by accident.

S10: You don’t yet have a clear sense that he’s been able to articulate why he did it or what he regrets about it so much as just that he’s very very upset about getting caught. He says he’s shown it to a few friends. I think you have reason to you’re not at a point with Sean where you can take his word for anything by itself. I don’t know that I would believe in your position that he’s only shown it to a few friends. I would question whether or not he has upload it. I know you may. Yeah. The biggest and most important question. Yeah. This just doesn’t this doesn’t strike me as a situation where like he’s come to you in total honesty and so I do think one of the things that you have to take into account is even if you had not decided to go to the police it may come out that he has committed like a more public crime and that there is evidence on various Web sites and at that point it would be out of your hands whether or not to go to the police in the first place.

S14: So that means get a lawyer. That seems very clear that this that you need a lawyer whether you know just on hand. And I would say that you need to let Maria know what’s happened. Yeah and then then it’s up to Maria in some way is right that Maria can say I want these tapes or videos destroyed. Yeah.

S11: And then if they come back you know if they’ve been uploaded and they come back then that’s another phase of this whole thing. Yeah.

S4: And then I would just stress to I think the importance of the lawyer is not about making sure that Sean can avoid all and every consequence but also because you know jail prison. The judicial system that is not like a perfect and holistic response to even serious serious harm like the harm your son has caused. And it will be important for him to have an advocate getting a lawyer. I don’t think is the same thing is trying to make sure that Sean gets off the hook. So if there’s just a part of you that feels uncomfortable about hiring a lawyer for him I can understand that discomfort. But I also think that it’s part of the consequences not about escaping them. Yeah I would say 15 such a hard age. Like if she were 18 I would feel much more like you. Yes. We just talked to her. But 15 I feel I can kind of go either way on in terms of like do we tell Maria and her parents together or do we tell Maria and then tell her parents. I’m not 100 percent sure on that one.

S13: I’m inclined to just you know knowing what I know about survivors of various kinds of sexual assault which this is this is a sexual violation. To want to want Maria to get to see something about that. And that’s why I hesitated a take Sean to the police. First and foremost you mean yeah. Yeah. I think because I’m not so worried about Sean you’re actually as I am about Maria. With both her parents and the police. And then at the very least I would want to start and again a lawyer might advise something different and I don’t have the expertise to really to really know. But I would want to start with Maria and say you’ve been violated. What do you what do you want to do. What do you want to see happen. Of course there’s a chance that not having told her parents in the first place will then put these parents in a position of liability.

S4: And I just don’t have the expertise right into that I know that is why don’t the lawyer is good because the lawyer could like this would be my instinct just in terms of like what would you do community justice potentially look like. But if that would put you in a legal situation where you are an accessory to a crime that your son is committed don’t do. You don’t want that. Don’t commit any crimes. So yeah I would say consult the lawyer and then if it is possible to inform Maria first I think the parents should do it. I don’t think she should have to find out from him partly because again I don’t trust him but because I think she will get the complete picture from you in a way that she might not from him. And to really stress both your shock and horror your desire to let her know immediately if you feel like you can’t tell her and then not tell her parents I think to say that rather than to like promise I might not tell them and then to realize that you think that you have to have that decision made before you speak to her it might be that the conversation the lawyer has to come first.

S13: Yeah I know what you can and can’t do legally. Yeah I think legally I want to talk to the parents. Yeah. So yeah that one is.

S8: Yeah. And I think at this point and again I realize we’re both advising a lot of stuff and then couching it in I’m not sure I’m not sure. Consult a lawyer. So I’ll just say at this point once you have had those conversations some of this will be out of your hands and that will be I think at least a moment for you to catch your breath and to not feel like you’re carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders which I think it sounds like you are right now. And to at that point also seek out counseling for yourselves because you’re going through a lot right now. And to spend a lot of time trying to think about in the long run what would be the kind of love I think I could show my son that would not feel like making an excuse. And how can I do that. And maybe that love looks like gently but firmly pushing on. You need to tell us everything gently but firmly pushing on you need to accept these consequences gently but firmly pushing on. You know there’s not a version of this where he gets out of punishments but there’s a version of this where he can embrace not being this kind of a person not making these kinds of choices in the future. And that’s still available to him. So this isn’t just like my son will never be a good person again. There will never be a version of your son who didn’t commit this crime. But there could potentially be a version of your son who comes to not just fear punishment but also to hate the action that he took to not want to harm a woman like that again a girl like that again and to try to find ways to make amends over the course of a lifetime that don’t involve like you know bothering Maria but that involves looking like a life that doesn’t look like this costly mistake. Yeah. And again I’m just deeply sorry. It’s clear that you were shocked and horrified by this. This was not something that you had any idea was going on and I know that that won’t necessarily make you feel non implicated in this. But to whatever extent you can remind yourself that this was not a choice you made I think it would be good to bear in mind.

S14: Yeah there’s a lot of a lot of we are failures. You know we did not raise a decent person. Those make a lot of sense as initial reactions. I think every parent would have them but I’m seeing a lot of meaning good parental instincts and. Compassion here and I’ve seen good people you know.

S8: Yeah. And I think part of the reason to that I would stress in addition to that lawyer to find that therapist and also to find like marriage and family therapists who specialize in this sort of thing is like right now you two can’t look at your son which again I understand that impulse. I want you. I think you know like other people are not going to be able to do this for Sean either because they don’t have the same interest in his moral well-being as you do or simply because they are ashamed of him. But like as his parents I think you have the best opportunity to provide him with at least a vision of Here’s the way through this that doesn’t involve just alternating between self-loathing and denial and repeating of the harm. And that doesn’t mean that tomorrow you have to say like hey Sean we’re gonna help you heal because that again has to start with acknowledgement of what he did the full extent of it why he did those things because he knows why he did those things on some level he didn’t go into a fugue state. He is just too ashamed to admit them out loud to you. But to try to think about what are ways that like even if he goes to jail even if he loses a lot of the things in life that make you feel like you have the trappings of a successful life. What are ways that his life could be useful non harmful full of moments at least of peace or helpfulness or Serenity I want and I believe that that is possible for him even though the road ahead of him looks difficult and hard. I think mostly just you know you’re not uniquely situated to help Maria get over the trauma of her violation. That’s what her family will be for. And the other people in her life and I want you to be able to help Sean if Sean wants real help.

S6: Do you want to come raise my teenager Danny.

S5: You know I could babysit. All right. I could definitely babysit. Grace could see Grace is in the studio nodding like Yeah.

S8: Yeah. So I’m glad that we spent a little time with that one. I just again I’m just my thoughts are with you. And I hope peace upon your house tonight. I am deeply sorry. I think it must be unbelievably hard to think about how to acknowledge ways in which your kids cause harm especially harm of this kind which is real and and awful.

S9: OK so so this will be a little bit on a lighter note very light subject. How do we break it to our neighbors that we’ve had a view of their bathroom for years. Dear Prudence when we moved into our house you could see the toilet next door from one of our half windows the day the neighbors moved in they put up a foggy window cover but not an altogether opaque one. Now this is my favorite moment. Two years later we’ve watched them use said toilet while naked nearly every day.

S15: When we sit down for a meal do we tell them how I’m trying to imagine a conversation that begins for two years watching you.

S4: So this feels frankly like a rebuke against something that I said when I recorded an episode earlier this week which was somebody was talking about killing their partner had done that really hurt their feelings and they hadn’t said anything in the moment. Now they were worried it was too late and I did a whole little speech about like it’s never too late to bring up something that bothers you. Sometimes in the moment we’re just so like surprised or startled by something and heard by it that we just sort of need to retreat and then bring it up later and that’s fine. And now I read this and I’m like What is the matter with you.

S16: This is not what I was talking about. Like the time to mention something was two years ago. Yeah. And if you didn’t like I just that why didn’t you get your own like shade. That’s what I’m thinking. Yeah well big is a half window just don’t look at that half window.

S9: Just put some. Yeah. Put up put your own foggy window cover up or but not having done that. OK. Which is to strikes me as absurd. Yeah. I don’t think you then go humiliate your neighbors by saying by the way for two years we’ve seen you using the toilet naked while we eat.

S4: I just think that’s not a conversation no good can come of that conversation especially because it’s not like oh we’re planning on moving soon and we wanted them to not have to go through this with future neighbors. It would just be like hey we’ve been watching you do this for two years.

S9: Let’s just continue living next door to each other like that would just make your neighbor relationship so uncomfortable so get a shade yeah or move the dining room table or whatever you need to do so you don’t see it anymore. And I would just say say nothing like what’s the point. What what are you trying to accomplish. Get simple says here you have a window.

S10: If it is like a stained glass Tiffany window and just the pride of your home then yeah move the table. There are definitely no one is like coming around at six thirty every night prizing your eyes open and forcing you to stare out the window at this bathroom. This is on you make different choices.

S17: All right. Moving on. I was just so relieved to make it very clear what I was just like there is no moral gray area small stakes your fault.

S5: I like that kind of letter. This last letter is all you. Okay.

S6: Subject not my dream life. Dear Prudence I’m in my 30s. I’ve a wonderful husband a baby on the way in a safe place to live but none of this is what I wanted. This may seem whiny but I feel like a morning my dreams I’ve been rejected from grad schools and jobs so I’m trying to enjoy the life and I never planned I wanted to live on my own. Have a dog work at an office job and have a girlfriend but I haven’t been able to achieve it. I’ve done a lot of work in therapy with my depression and finding joy in unexpected situations. I’m not utterly unhappy.

S10: It wrong they feel sad sometimes no I mean very simply No it is not wrong. You feel sad sometimes.

S13: Is never wrong to feel sad sometimes but yeah.

S10: It sounds like the life that you wanted is very different from this life right now. The thing that I feel the most curious about and the thing that kind of raised the biggest question mark to me was Do you want to have a baby because you don’t quite say I never wanted a baby but you never said that you wanted one and you don’t say whether or not the baby is planned and you don’t say whether or not you’re excited about it. And so I’m just gonna check in. Do you want to become a parent. Do you want to have a baby. And if the answer to that is no. What are your other options right now.

S11: It’s interesting that if that you’ve fastened on that because of course absolutely true and have a dog is not the same as have a baby. Oh not at all right then then the mind for me was have a girlfriend as opposed to a wonderful husband.

S18: I it the other way the life different. The girlfriend thing was my second biggest thing. I just meant like a baby has a deadline.

S11: Well exactly. So I mean I sort of feel like you could actually have a husband and a girlfriend their lives that will provide that for you. There is not a life that can provide you with a baby and not a baby at the same time. So right. That seems like the more urgent question. But yeah.

S4: Yeah. I think that’s when you imagine a girlfriend. Is it like and guys are cool too or is it more like this guy was really nice to me and I felt sort of guilty for not figuring out that I don’t like men sooner. And his house is nice and he’s friendly and I guess this is good enough cause if it’s that one yeah and if you’re thinking like what I want is to be with women I think the sadness makes a lot of sense. I think if you are a lesbian and you are married to a man. Sadness might often result from that especially if he doesn’t know about it and if there’s not kind of like a mutual sense of this is part of the dynamic of our marriage and we figure out how to make that something we can talk about yeah.

S14: Then the other element is the work at an office job right. So living on your own you also can’t live with other people and live with your on your own at the same time. But but you know this sort of there’s a safe place to live. On the one hand and working at an office job at another and the other part of the sort of dreams I didn’t get to happen so that I wondered did this letter writers husband insist that that they stay home right. Is this a person who doesn’t want to be a stay at home parent and yet because there’s a safe place to live sort of has to be. Yeah I know that people do decide that there are jobs that don’t pay enough to pay for the childcare you have to have to work the jobs and so they sort of stay home because that’s what makes most economic sense but it doesn’t make them happy. And so that’s a place where you know if there if this letter writers was looking for certain kinds of compromises like Okay I love my husband I’m not gonna get divorced.

S13: I’m ambivalent about a baby that I think I’m going to go for it you know. Then there’s you know how do you get out of the house in and have you know things that you do that may not be an office job or might be but make you feel functional and you know like you have adult company there’s nothing wrong with not wanting to be a full time parent. Yeah you know there’s just nothing wrong with that. And it may be worth paying for the childcare to have a you know if you go if you decide you do want to be being go through with the baby to to have you know some horizon that’s a work horizon. Yeah.

S4: And I think really that question of like is it wrong feel sad sometimes. No. I think part of the question just facing you right now is how how much do I want to base my future decisions on this level of sadness. And that’s something that I think you learn more about the more you share with other people. So certainly the therapist you know you say that you’ve been talking to your therapist about your depression but I’m curious if you’ve said I really wish I had a girlfriend or I’m not sure I want a baby or part of me like is it like I want to acknowledge and warn these other lives that could have been or is it like when I imagine the next 18 years of my life raising a baby with this man. Do I want to like claw off my own face in despair like yeah I’m gauging how intense the sadness is when you envision a particular future I think might be helpful in terms of OK maybe this is one of those things that I just share about in therapy sometimes maybe this is the thing I share with my husband even if I risk the possibility that he will be scared maybe this is something where it’s like OK I need to hit the eject button with this plan for my life yeah.

S11: And it’s interesting that question about sort of being in your 30s you know where you have chosen a life that has it’s not like choosing a major you know you can’t sort of change your mind tomorrow and it sort of feels like oh my god now the stakes are really high and do you what do you do with the life you thought you were going to have. You know sometimes the answer is Well you sort of realize that the you have good things from this one and it’s okay to let them go and other times you think Oh my God is my last chance to have the life I really wanted to have you know.

S4: And those are things that a therapist can help you work out and think about especially because a lot of like some of these things as you say you can’t have both a baby and not a baby. But some of these things you can’t have elements of this. So like if if part of the living on your own thing is like okay it’s not that I don’t want to be with my husband it’s just that I want more independence to figure out again like you know if you’re close to having a baby getting a lot of independence can be challenging but thinking about ways in which you can set aside time for yourself each week if you would like to work continue to apply for jobs now.

S15: You want a dog and maybe wait till the baby’s you know you’re actually not a newborn but then maybe you can have that dog.

S10: But yeah that bit about have a girlfriend pay attention to that. Talk to your therapist about that. Maybe talk to your husband about that again. Often husbands aren’t like oh terrific great.

S4: I was really hoping to hear that you wanted to be with someone who isn’t me but if it’s a big thing and if you think it’s probably gonna be a big part of your internal experience over the course of your life it will not feel good to hold this one in until you know 15 20 years later you’re like well I need a girlfriend in five minutes or I will scream and scream and scream though I’m here to say if you decide you want a girlfriend in your 50s.

S18: Life is good. Yeah it works for Kelly McGillis. It can work for you. Actually I think she came out earlier than that right. I don’t remember was back in the days when you know there was so much speculation someone might as well have been out. Yeah.

S10: If you’d ever been featured on the cover of The Advocate with like the big fake face over your face and talk about the glass closet. Yeah but yeah this is hard and I think you can also just be hard if you are already dealing dealing with oppression that something like can I even trust my own feelings. And so if you have felt that therapy has only been a little helpful and you have not yet considered whether or not you would try some medication that might be another avenue to feel like again not all medications are safe for when you’re pregnant so talk to a whole bunch of your doctor. But in the medium term considering whether or not that will be the right move for you but yeah if you you know if you as you listen to this year like I don’t want a baby and I don’t want a husband you don’t have to. Nope. Even if you know you’re too far along for an abortion you know giving up a child for adoption is an option that you have. I don’t say that because I think like you can just choose it it’ll be fine and easy no consequences. But I do think sometimes when we’re afraid of making a very daunting choice we’ll try to talk ourselves out of it. I think I could really do that. That’s not really an option to me that’s like that could be an option. It’ll be hard. It’ll be challenging. Other people won’t like it but it is an option.

S11: And sometimes even considering it as an option makes you be like Oh no I’m actually choosing this thing that I thought was just thrust upon me because I’ve considered the options and I’m going to choose the one that I originally chose. Right. It’s a different kind of show.

S4: Yeah I think like when it comes to stuff like pregnancy there’s there’s no bad ideas and brainstorming. Like even if you think like I would never have an abortion just mentally saying I have the ability to get one and test driving like how does that make me feel. And if the net result is like oh a little less panicked and a little bit more like this is something that I get to choose then that was a good mental experiment even if it was not something that you ever seriously intended to go through with.

S18: That’s everybody that’s everybody that’s everybody. Do we fix everybody. We we did something for everybody you know or nothing but yeah. But he made some sentences for them too. I think they all listen to this episode of the podcast.

S10: They may not but I am proud of you and me.

S11: I’m proud of you. Well this is a beautiful moment for me because I was a six year old who read Ann Landers and Dear Abby and learned most of what I know about the world from the two of them. So this was a really fantastic opportunity to live my dream and my last career. I would like to be Miss Manners to see another oh she was great I always love how she spoke in the third person. I think that was the coolest shit.

S10: I was just like this like I responded to Miss Manners speaking the third person the way other people did.

S18: Like James Dean like leaning against the wall having a son man they this lady’s coolness pictures of her that pompadour right and they kind of like the line during Gibson girls sort of oh my idea. She just realized I had a crush on Miss Manners as a child. Oh yeah. My mom told us she is. She was my first Femme on femme crush really miss manners Dear Abby and Ann Landers were. It was not quite sexual with me in them. I was just sort of an Irish and not until they made the 90s a Lifetime movie with Wendy Malick. Then it was sexual. Wendy Malick had a great 98. I think that was around the year she started playing Martin’s fiancee on Frasier did I have any relationship to pop culture in 1998. I don’t know was like being a beginning college professor. Was that the year you had the big like lube experiment. No that was 1992 90s here we tell the whole world about that experiment. We don’t have to but when we have a little time shall we. We got a little. I really want this on the record. You know don’t go to dinner parties. I want this to be like like permanently in the record of like lesbian history so I’m going to tell the story please dear.

S19: So when I was living in Chicago with my ex girlfriend. Okay well you’re not no longer living together but we were both in the city. We Oh We must have been sleeping together or maybe. Yeah I think we were still sleeping together. Okay whatever you’re lesbian so it’s like that. Anyway still we bought our favorite lube and went at it and the lube had suddenly changed texture so that it was it was long sticky strings like a spiderweb bar and it had before been this like really I just want the record to show really good graces face when I said but just like I consider the record to show that. And the new and the new bottle was terrible like it had a it had a dome top so you actually were sort of scrabbling at it you know with your loopy fingers you could tell me and the old one had been just this nice flip top black bottle said probe and was this like Vásquez wonderful thick lube that original was marketed to gay men and lesbians discovered so many way.

S20: So the new lube does seem we bought probe and it was different violently different bottles violently different formula. And we thought what are we going to do. How are we can exercise our power as consumers. So we had a party and invited every lesbian we knew in Wicker Park which I think was maybe 15 nineteen ninety two. This fear had not worked there yet and it’s not a lesbian but you know all the girls and go fish all those kind of people were hanging around in Chicago.

S21: So so we sent out invitations and everybody arrived and we had different loops in little paper cups with different coded letters or whatever you know blind testing. And we had a raw chicken in the middle of the table and everybody was invited to put on a glove and get some nice little cups and try the different textures of the lube. You know squeezed in between your fingers smell whatever they needed to do to have the experience and then to fist the raw chicken ball up their fists slathered up and lube and stick it in that chicken and really work it and see what they thought.

S17: And then we had it out a sort of you know a survey or like a thing make it fill out with the differently ribs and did the chicken have a good interview experience cetera. And then we took these surveys I mean crunched the data with some kind of you know 1982 software I have no idea what it was until we’d come up with some really scientific results and then we wrote the company which was called Darion laboratories which I think was like a guy named Dave and a guy named Ryan I kid you not said you know we had this party we had chicken.

S19: The results are that all this old probe which we had in a bottle of to be part of this test that will improve is vastly superior to your new formula and we beg you please to use our scientific research for the good of humanity and bring back old probe and surprisingly they did and they marketed it as classic probe so as with classic Coke AK summers and I. Elizabeth Freeman brought back a classic probe. I’m not sure how long it lasted I’ll be honest with you. I’m not sure whether they were ever able to make a go of it in terms of marketing but it really is kind of the only research I’ve ever done and I’m an academic and I’ve been an academic for 25 years see only research I’ve ever done that’s really changed the world.

S18: So I’m just really looking this up right now and it does appear that problem is still in business. It does look like they still have the flip tops on the little bottles little bottles but do they have a classic probe anymore. That’s the it might just be the regular. That’s what I’m what was it we’d have to go buy it and see if it’s old formula of a new formula in there.

S22: Their product you’re saying is that at some point you stop using the probe that you had I switched loops at some point or have any brand loyalty.

S15: Don’t know what happened. Look Grace leave as long as you stick with one brand your whole life you’re selling yourself. You know you develop a tolerance for it right.

S11: So I think what happened is that you can’t it’s hard to find probe anymore. And I think we to it. Good Vibrations and I actually have looked for it and not found it. So I think Danny that this is the time this is the time for the probe company which may or may not still be run by dot Dave and Ryan to send you.

S15: Oh yeah. No Dave Ryan dot com for education Ryan diehard right. So Dave and Ryan need to send you a bottle of you know some bottles so that you could maybe have the same test on the air. I’m always open to sponsorship okay.

S22: I have a question. I’m sorry. I know that I’m supposed to be here but. Hey hey. Good question. Did you just use the same chicken the same chicken.

S17: It was kind of a trick. We tried to pull the train on the chicken.

S22: Sorry. That seems like a slightly unfair test because the chicken would be you know it would since going against it.

S15: Maybe we had a controlled chicken and an experiment chicken I can’t remember. I do know that we were really worried that our guests were gonna line up with Sam and Ella. We sort of held their breath for a week I would think if we’d done something terrible.

S18: All I can think of is just that kids in the whole sketch that ends with lesbians. They get so much done in a day. That’s true what is true really did change the world. Your commitment to market research and on that note.

S23: That I think we’re gonna have to call it a day and say that maybe that helped someone. I really hope that it fix some of these problems. Thank you so much for having me Danny. Thank you so much for beautiful person who’s delightful. It was thanks listening to Dear Prudence. Our producers Phil circus our theme music was composed by Robin Hilton. Don’t miss an episode of the show head to Slate dot com slash Dear Prudence to subscribe and remember you can always hear more prudence by joining Slate Plus go to Slate dot com slash pretty pod to sign up if you want me to answer your question call me and leave a message at 4 0 1 3 7 1. Dear That’s 3 3 2 7 and you may hear your answer on an episode of the show. You don’t have to use your real name or location and at your request we can even alter the sound of your voice. Keep it short 30 seconds a minute tops.

S1: Thanks for listening.

S5: And here’s a preview of our Slate Plus episode coming this Friday. I do think that the letter writer has correctly identified where this is coming from when she says both of them have been divorced several times over. Like none of this was said out of a spirit of compassion or love. None of this was like hey I’m worried that your husband doesn’t seem to be treating you well and like leaves you for hours every day to lock himself up in the West Wing and stare at a portrait of his wife that would at least feel like they were motivated by love for you concern about your welfare.

S4: So I think you can just assume they said that because they don’t like that you have a devoted and kind husband and they want you to feel bad about it to listen to the rest of that conversation. Joint Slate Plus now at Slate dot com forward slash Prudie pot.