When Your Safe Word Sucks
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE
OZY’s Eugene S. Robinson addresses queries from the love-weary in ”Sex With Eugene.”
By Eugene S. Robinson
Who’s On First?
EUGENE, SIR: My man and I are well suited for each other, and the last year has been pushing beyond the boring Fifty Shades of Grey crap BDSM to something that feels more real. Yes, we have safe words, but our safe word this last scene wasn’t strong enough (it was “stop,” but when he said it like, “Don’t … stop,” I didn’t understand it) to pull me out of the action, and I almost killed him (I was throttling him with a ligature). Please let your readers know that the best safe words are words you’d never use ever. — Boss Bitch
Dear BB Gun: There’s something happening here … and what it is, is not precisely clear. I mean, there’s no query, but you’re instead passing along advice and you’re passing it along via a column that very specifically also dispenses advice. Which leads me to believe that you’re not here so much out of an urge to help — though that’s there too more than likely — but, like with any confessional, to be absolved.
Of? Of not being on top of it enough to keep this whole thing from being slotted under the “Oh, God I Killed My Partner” part of the sex column. The reality of it is that if Bondage-Discipline-Sadism-Masochism, or BDSM, was easy, everyone would be doing it. And they are not. So it isn’t. And if you’re not willing to pay attention much more closely than you ever would during anyone’s standard sexual expression, it’s perhaps better not to “attempt” to do so at all.
I don’t mean to lecture, but any activity that stops someone’s breathing (see: Brazilian jiujitsu) should be carefully monitored. Unless your end goal is something else entirely. So yeah, use a safe word that no one would EVER consider sexy. Maybe something like “Property and Casualty Insurance” or “Ryan Seacrest,” and pay better attention. And everyone who is reading and is so inclined? Please do the same.
Syphilis + Studio 54!
EUGENE, SIR: I’ve been working in HIV prevention for about 10 years. Love my job and am good at it. Syphilis testing and prevention was foisted upon us in 2016, but have you seen the record numbers the CDC STD B-Team are putting up? I don’t care about the 2.3 million new chlamydia cases or all that curable gonorrhea. Syphilis was going to be declared extinct by the CDC in 2000, but in 2018 there were 115,000 new cases of syphilis. Only half were men who have sex with men, which has complicated things in our wheelhouse of HIV prevention.
Congenital syphilis (from mom to her newborn kiddo) is bad with a laundry list of horrible birth defects (Google: Hutchinson’s teeth), or 40 percent are stillborn or miscarried. Dead babies from syphilis is a huge societal and public health failure. Our unremarkable Midwestern state had just one syphilis baby from 2013 to 2017, but in 2018 we had eight. Syphilis is a real public health emergency, unlike vaping bootleg THC from the Wish app.
So here is my question for you: What do you remember about syphilis before HIV? From your Studio 54 days, how’d people handle syphilis in general? Syphilis breaks the conventional rules of STDs like chlamydia or HIV and is so easy to pick up if someone has the rash or red round, painless little sores called chancres. Open-ended question but wanna get ahead of the coming syphilis train. — PNP Train
Dear Philippine National Police: Well, during my disco days I was 16 to 17 years old. I went to discos like Studio 54, Xenon, New York, New York from 1978 to 1979 — all later brought down by Steve Rubell and Ian Schrager’s tax troubles — and on occasion taught dance, specifically the Hustle, the Latin Hustle and dances called the Spank and the Rock.
One thing I did not do though? Get an STD. Which in a lot of ways is a miracle. But if you’re asking what I remember from back then, it was mostly this: People were much more worried about crabs, of body lice (remember this was back when people had pubic hair) than they were about anything else, it seems. Next up? Gonorrhea. Then, at the bottom of that list? Syphilis. Chlamydia seemed to me to be more of an “’80’s thing” that took a back seat to another ’80’s worry: herpes.
But I was too young to get into sex clubs like Plato’s Retreat or any other public sex venue, and though I started having sex when I was 15, I wasn’t having it with people in that target zone. So you know who got syphilis? Al Capone. Nietzsche. But not a part of whatever entered my head amid all of the drug-fueled music, mania and the dead-end of any other Me Generation-isms.
Sex Fear, Sex Loathing
EUGENE, SIR: Why do men — and to put it into perspective, I’m 51 on bio-identical hormones and peptides — between 30 and 45 run when they have some of the self-proclaimed “best sex I’ve ever had”? I’ve also heard that I’ve “ruined” their sex lives because it was so good, so why run? I’m not a needy person. I’m financially independent, but I do screw the shit out of them until they have to tap out. Anyway, is this an ego issue? I don’t get it. When I find something good, I extract all I can from it. — A. Non
Dear Ms. Ymous: You know how when people talk about suicides, they say that it’s never any one single reason why people kill themselves, suggesting that it’s a complex web of reasons that just got altogether too much? Well, this is like that and realistically, there’s no way for me to judge as an outsider what about the mix has you getting less of what you want and not more.
However, I’m a student of social change and it seems to me, in general, that if people don’t have a reason TO stay? They leave. And despite what the rest of the commercial world might try to have us believe, it’s not always the case that the best sex in the world wins the day. For many men, this is the shortest part of their day, sadly (for everyone involved), and it’s not so much a matter of trying to find the right mix between too much and not enough, but more of a short-attention span issue since in the end, you will still be you. And he will still be him. And once the spark has been struck, why strike again?
People who don’t think like this? They couple up, usually.
Until then, maybe stop expecting/hoping that they stay and just enjoy what’s there to be enjoyed pre–tap out.