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Lauren Slater's Essay [on a Loss of Sexual Interest].

Via Althouse and Reynolds, comes an odd N.Y. Times essay by Lauren Slater. What I found slightly disturbing was not the overall argument about her [lack of interest] in sex, but her two primary confessional stories:

I met and fell in love with my husband for his beautifully colored hair, his gentle ways, his humor. We were together many years, and so sex faded. Then we decided to marry.

Predictably, almost as soon as the engagement ring slid onto my finger, I fell in love with someone else. I fell madly, insanely, obsessively in love with a conservative Christian man who believed that I, as a Jew, was going to hell. We fought long and hard about that, and then had sex. This is so stupid, it pains me to write about it.

And yet this affair, I sensed, was necessary for me to move forward with my marriage. It was a test. I believed, but could not be sure, that just as sex had cooled for my soon-to-be husband and me, it would cool with this man, with any man, no matter what or whom — in which case my fiancé was the person I wanted to marry.

Except suppose I was wrong? Suppose there was someone out there with whom I could have passionate sex the rest of my life? So I continued with my conservative Christian, and we had fantastic, obsessive sex while the whole time I waited to see when (or if) this affair would run out of fuel. I prayed that it would, so I could marry the man I loved.

Actually, I never had intercourse with this man, though we did just about everything else. He did not believe in sex before marriage. Therefore, when my fiancé asked me if I was “having sex” with someone (why was I coming home at 3 a.m.?), I could answer “no.” On the Christian man’s end, when his God asked him if he was having sex with someone, he also could answer “no,” and so we both lived highly honest, righteous lives filled with perpetual sex.

But then the inevitable happened. Sex with this man turned tepid, then revolting. While the revolting part was particular to this crazy relationship, the tepid part was wholly within my experience and proved, for me, that there is no God of monogamous passion. Thus freed from the tethers of this affair, I returned to the gentle arms of my pagan husband.

I wonder if Slater's husband agreed with her that "this affair . . . was necessary for me to move forward with my marriage."

My first orgasm happened decades ago when I was 19, in a rooming house with a broody bad boy who had a muscular chest and a head roiling with glossy curls. We both loved the Grateful Dead. Every time I slept over, we woke in the mornings and listened to “Ripple,” the clearness of the music, the pure simplicity of it, affirming for me again and again that I was part of a people, a species, capable of creating great beauty.

We’d gone out all summer before the start of our respective freshman years: Not once did he ask me for intercourse, even on our last night together. The very absence of his question underscored its implicit presence. When?

I confided to my roommate that we had not yet done the deed. Hers was a pause of shock. I was afraid. I didn’t want to bleed. Sheer fear of that plunging pain is what held me back.

Instead of telling my would-be lover the truth, I made up an elaborate lie. I was raped. Too traumatized to have sex. I needed more time.

Remembering this now, for the first time in a long time, I do not judge myself. I consider it a great deal to ask of a relatively newly minted woman that she offer her intact body up for this frankly difficult deed.

I also find it interesting that shame, an emotion that’s supposedly deeply rooted in the human limbic system, untouched by time or class, is in fact very much subject to time, class and culture, too. In the 19th century, to be raped was to be shamed, forever. In the late 20th century, to be a virgin was to be shamed. And so I lied, to save my skin.

Except one time, on a May night, through the open window, warm liquid breezes poured over our naked bodies, and then he touched me just so and I tipped into the orgasm and was grasped. This was different from whatever I’d achieved on my own. This was softer, gentler, full of a wide-open love, a deep falling-down love. When it was over, I hated him. I hated that man (that boy, really). The intimacy was too much, too wrenching and shameful.

I wonder how the young man felt about spending a summer of intimacy without sex with Slater, not requesting sex in part because of her lie about having been raped, and then being actually hated at the end of the summer because Slater suddenly felt "a deep falling-down love" for him with which she was uncomfortable.

FantasiaWHT:
The amount of rationalizing that woman was doing is absolutely amazing. As is her not-so-hidden self-loathing.
12.1.2008 5:35pm
John (mail):
We Jews like to take the lead in all intellectual matters.
12.1.2008 5:36pm
Matt_T:
How solipsistic and revolting.
12.1.2008 5:41pm
MCM (mail):
I wonder how the young man felt about spending a summer of intimacy without sex with Slater, not requesting sex in part because of her lie about having been raped, and then being actually hated at the end of the summer because Slater suddenly felt "a deep falling-down love" for him with which she was uncomfortable.


Most 19-year-old girls are walking train wrecks these days. He'd probably take it as par for the course.
12.1.2008 5:42pm
spool32 (mail):
You're forgetting that the man's feelings or opinions are socially unimportant, and at times actively to be rejected.
12.1.2008 5:42pm
MCM (mail):
Wow, I apologize for those mixed metaphors.
12.1.2008 5:42pm
PatHMV (mail) (www):
Me! Me! Me! It's all about ME!
12.1.2008 5:43pm
wfjag:
We’ve just seen a 60 hour siege by terrorists in Mumbai, out of which local doctors (who’ve seen people killed by terrorists’ acts and other violence in the past) are reporting something new and disturbing – that the “hostages” taken in this incident were systematically tortured and executed; the Russians have deployed a nuclear-powered battlecruiser and other ships for exercises with the Venezuelan navy while Hugo Chavez is (again) proposing that he be allowed remain President for Life; Iran is proposing to other Muslim nations jointly developing “peaceful nuclear power”; and, President-elect Obama is announcing various high-profile appointments for his administration and its policies, and you think it’s worth expending substantial time on the psychological exhibitionism of someone who’s veracity seems to fail in the face of writing “non-fiction” books that will sell because they titillate?
12.1.2008 5:43pm
Andrew Maier:
We’ve just seen a 60 hour siege by terrorists in Mumbai, out of which local doctors (who’ve seen people killed by terrorists’ acts and other violence in the past) are reporting something new and disturbing – that the “hostages” taken in this incident were systematically tortured and executed; the Russians have deployed a nuclear-powered battlecruiser and other ships for exercises with the Venezuelan navy while Hugo Chavez is (again) proposing that he be allowed remain President for Life; Iran is proposing to other Muslim nations jointly developing “peaceful nuclear power”; and, President-elect Obama is announcing various high-profile appointments for his administration and its policies, and you think it’s worth expending substantial time on the psychological exhibitionism of someone who’s veracity seems to fail in the face of writing “non-fiction” books that will sell because they titillate?


A blog is not a news outlet. Bloggers will write on things they find interesting, not write for your informational edification. If you have a problem with what they find interesting, seek elsewhere. It's silly, however, to try and guilt a blogger into writing about the things that interest you by declaring that there are so many more important things in the world than the subject of one single blog post.
12.1.2008 5:52pm
pete (mail) (www):

President-elect Obama is announcing various high-profile appointments for his administration and its policies, and you think it’s worth expending substantial time on the psychological exhibitionism of someone who’s veracity seems to fail in the face of writing “non-fiction” books that will sell because they titillate?


Exactly. Come on professor, where is your post on the Plaxico Burress story and how it relates to Heller? After all, I pay good money to subscribe to this blog.
12.1.2008 5:54pm
DPNM (mail):
Remember, the man's feelings are unimportant. If a woman chooses to be a self-centered, self-indulgent, self-obsessed, self-righteous liar and emotional cheat, that is her right.

Her husband and past boyfriends only have two choices: either be supportive of this drivel, and toss your dignity and manhood out the window, or else object, and be called a knuckle-dragger and sexist.

I feel bad for everybody mentioned in this article, including the author.
12.1.2008 5:59pm
JosephSlater (mail):
On even the slightest chance anyone cares even the tiniest bit, let me stress: this woman is no relation of mine.
12.1.2008 6:01pm
Randy R. (mail):
I guess it's not so strange to find out that a "Christian" man would think that all Jews are going to hell. What's strange is that he is so willing to have sex with such hell-bound heathens. He's just as messed up as she is.

Of course, people have already weighed in, and the judgement so far is that this is a despicable woman. Sounds like she behaved just like any man I've known. Sorta like most men here at VC. You know -- the ones who lie about sex and rationalize anything to get it.

Now, don't get me wrong. She no doubt hurt other people's feelings and no doubt feels guilty about some of her actions (hence her 'confessional'). But isnt' that part of growing up? Isn't that exactly what most people have to go through? Hurt feelings, and hurting others, is exactly what adolescents do, and even young people, when it comes to sex.

Slater's problem is that she is honest about what she did and published it. Most men are not as honest and certainly woulnd't publish what they've done.

Pat: "Me! Me! Me! It's all about ME!"

Yes Pat, and I'm sure you the only person in the world who was never ever selfish about sex, and only had the utmost consideration for your partner's needs at all times.

(sigh) So easy to condemn everyone else's behavior, isnt' it?
12.1.2008 6:01pm
Thorley Winston (mail) (www):
I wonder how the young man felt about spending a summer of intimacy without sex with Slater, not requesting sex in part because of her lie about having been raped, and then being actually hated at the end of the summer because Slater suddenly felt "a deep falling-down love" for him with which she was uncomfortable.


I would imagine that he might feel story for the guy who ended up marrying her and has to read about how she cheated on him when they were engaged and also more than a little bit relieved to see the bullet that he dodged by leaving her at the end of the summer.
12.1.2008 6:03pm
Sarcastro (www):
Don't you all see? This is a metaphor! This is just like how Obama wants to be all Communist but he can't!

Sure, he'll have fantastic, obsessive wealth spreading once or twice but by the time he's in office being a pinko turned tepid, then revolting

He claimed to associate with radicals in his past. Thus, too traumatized to go full lefty, his supporters would have to give him time.

Now, for the first time in a long time, he does not judge himself. Obama is no longer ashamed of his moderation, and goes full Hillary.
12.1.2008 6:03pm
lesser ajax (mail):
What's the deal with self-identified Christians who do "just about everything else" but not intercourse prior to marriage? I'll never understand this; it seems to me that most of "just about everything else" (premarital or not) is neither substantially less intimate nor more biblically acceptable than premarital intercourse.
12.1.2008 6:04pm
Bleepless:
Lustful she may not be, solipsistic she surely is.
12.1.2008 6:06pm
Steve:
I am really disturbed that even a law professor seems uninterested in preserving the distinction between "disinterested" and "uninterested." If you're disinterested, you're impartial. We all want our cases to be heard before a disinterested tribunal, but presumably not an uninterested one.
12.1.2008 6:07pm
Sasha Volokh (mail) (www):
Lesser Ajax: (To illustrate that everything always comes back to law:) Now you see the appeal of formalism.
12.1.2008 6:07pm
PatHMV (mail) (www):
The author says:

In our culture, sex has lost its sacred quality. If I were mayor or president, I think I would institute some rules for the good of the American Marriage, a prohibition or two — no touching allowed until Tuesday — because longing springs from distance. It is ironic but also absolutely understandable that proximity can kill sex faster than fainting.


Yet her entire life, and her article, are a celebration of refusing to accept any such prohibitions. No sex before marriage? Ridiculous! Silly! But maybe a prohibition on sex before Tuesday... Perhaps if she would occasionally, "judge herself," or at least contemplate that maybe part of her past problems were a result of bad or unhealthy choices which she made (like lying to most of her lovers), she would be better off.

Also, in crying for sex to be somehow separate from the mundaneness of life, she seems to fall into that trap of believing that happiness is some mythical place, that if only everything else got resolved, all fell into place, THEN she would be happy. But happiness is internal, not external. Sex can be sacred, even if followed by morning Cheerios, if she chooses to make it so, if she decides to do something about it, decides to treat it as sacred. If she can't enjoy sex because she's thinking about the laundry in the morning, she should work with her husband to create some date night or date weekend. If sex is bland, kink it up. Try something, anything, don't just assume that the sex is bland and will always be bland no matter what you do.

It's called life, lady. It'll never be perfect. There will always be reasons to be happy and reasons to be unhappy. You won't ever get everything you want. You'll always have to make difficult choices. If you want something, you'll have to work for it, not just whine about it.
12.1.2008 6:10pm
Thorley Winston (mail) (www):
What's the deal with self-identified Christians who do "just about everything else" but not intercourse prior to marriage? I'll never understand this; it seems to me that most of "just about everything else" (premarital or not) is neither substantially less intimate nor more biblically acceptable than premarital intercourse.


I’ll say for the record, I think this woman is bats*** crazy and any account she gives about what some nameless other person thought or believed should be taken not with a grain but with a 50 pound bag of Morton System Saver.
12.1.2008 6:13pm
R Nebblesworth:
I think it's safe to assume that the author of "Lying: A Metaphorical Memoir" meant for every word of this article to be taken as literally true.
12.1.2008 6:13pm
DPNM (mail):
Randy, if a man had written an article in the NYT talking about how he needed to have an ongoing affair while he was engaged in order to "move forward" with his marriage (whatever that means), not only would I disapprove of him, but I can guarantee that people like you wouldn't show up to defend his "honesty." You would see that this hypothetical man -- like Lauren Slater -- views other people as objects to be manipulated and used.

This attitude is creepy and mildly sociopathic. Males with these traits are often rapists. Would you defend a rapist who published an unapologetic and rationalizing article about it?

Your argument is so insipid: "judge not" does not mean "let's celebrate as courageous and honest people who publish articles about how they lied about rape and cheated on their fiances." When I express disapproval about lying, manipulative, and self-centered people, I am not declaring myself to be perfect.
12.1.2008 6:14pm
erp:
What a crock. Not a single woman would believe any of this for a second.
12.1.2008 6:16pm
PatHMV (mail) (www):
Randy... I'm the first to admit I'm far from perfect, and can be plenty selfish. But I usually manage to avoid whining in public about how much life sucks... and when I do, I'm perfectly aware that I'm whining and that people are justified in thinking me to be a selfish, whining brat.

This particular woman has demonstrated a remarkable degree of self-absorption. I can't even begin to imagine how I would feel if I had been the lover to whom she lied about BEING RAPED. That's horrible, shameful, despicable. How did that lie affect him? How did it affect the future women in his life? What happened when (if ever) he found out the truth? Did it contribute to a general distrust of the women in his life? Did it make him doubt other women's claims of being raped? Yet nowhere in this article does the author express any remorse (some guilt is apparent from the fact that she remembers these actions, but no remorse) for what she has done to people she claims to care (or have cared) deeply about.
12.1.2008 6:17pm
R Nebblesworth:
It's also clear that no one in this thread has ever cheated or been cheated upon; or lied to cover up a personal failing.
12.1.2008 6:18pm
Joe Bingham (mail):
Wow, I guess liberation doesn't always cure neurosis... this chick is truly crazy.
12.1.2008 6:18pm
Joe Bingham (mail):
lesser ajax,

It's called false rationalization; I doubt God buys it.
12.1.2008 6:19pm
Cornellian (mail):
Maybe it's my Protestant upbringing but I just can't imagine ever even talking in public about my sex life, let alone writing an article about it. Some things are best left private.
12.1.2008 6:22pm
whit:
a neurotic, narcissistic, amoral, full of herself person.

blech.

note she never even addresses that the adultery was wrong. but it was "necessary".

revolting
12.1.2008 6:27pm
Dave N (mail):
Joseph Slater wrote:
On even the slightest chance anyone cares even the tiniest bit, let me stress: this woman is no relation of mine.
I honestly didn't think you were any relation at all. And I am glad you cleared it up.

I wouldn't want my name sullied by any association with her, either.
12.1.2008 6:27pm
Reader5000:
If a woman ever disclosed to me she was raped there is no way I would continue a relationship with her. This probably makes me a bad person, but I really don't see why--barring serious personality/mental illness--it is difficult to avoid being raped. Even if it was a reasonable and completely freak occurrence, the emotional consequences of a rape, there is no way I am psychosocially equipped to handle them in a partner.

Also the author the article is a prima donna, shocking.
12.1.2008 6:27pm
Spitzer:
It is sad that juvenile navel gazing is what passes for high thought these days.
12.1.2008 6:28pm
whit:

It's also clear that no one in this thread has ever cheated or been cheated upon; or lied to cover up a personal failing.


that's the 1/2 of it. she never acknowledges that what she did was WRONG. that's the part that is so revolting.

adultery is one thing. adultery w/o remorse ("It was necessary") is another thing.
12.1.2008 6:28pm
von Neumann (mail):
This article is why I do not read the NY Times. This and the editorial page, which is of course, the news coverage.
12.1.2008 6:28pm
Randy R. (mail):
DPNM: "but I can guarantee that people like you wouldn't show up to defend his "honesty."

Perhaps you misunderstood me. In no way did I condone what she did. In fact, I said that she was messed up. What I DID say is that MOST people are messed up, particularly during their youth. If a man wrote what she did, it would certainly be honest, and I would of course be praising the honesty, not the actions themselves. There is a difference.

"Males with these traits are often rapists." Please. We don't have to raise straw men up here. Most men actually do 'use' women for sex at some point in their lives. Does that mean that most men are rapists? Not by a long shot.

" When I express disapproval about lying, manipulative, and self-centered people, I am not declaring myself to be perfect." Aside from the biblical injunction of judge not, lest ye be judged (which of course the so-called "Christian" man couldn't bring himself up to), there is the consideration of a double standard. We certainly know that many, if not most, men engage in such selfish behavior, but because they don't do they the kiss and tell, they aren't despised like this woman.
12.1.2008 6:30pm
Pat C (mail):
Eh, I found her article mostly tedious and of little interest to anyone outside herself, but then again I might say the same about Proust if I ever get around to reading him.

How about the good old days, when you had a wife for some functions and a mistress for other functions. Nowadays we can expand that to other genders, so it's not just a male privilege.
12.1.2008 6:30pm
DangerMouse:
Several thoughts:

1. This husband should run, not walk, away from this woman. He's a fool to continue living with her.

2. The woman fits right into the New York Times. Only the NYT would be stupid enough to run this article as a way to teach people about love and sex, just as they're stupid enough to run an article about how their liberal friends in florida have to skip out on this year's designer jeans as evidence of the economic downturn. Clueless doesn't begin to describe them.

3. Sad, sad sad. Sad that this woman has no guilt over her terrible behavior, sad that people use it as a way to condemn anyone trying to create some moral standards. Hey Randy, not everyone is perverted.
12.1.2008 6:31pm
Splunge:
Goodness, who would be surprised that a profoundly narcissistic person should find other people not especially interesting after a while?

Apparently this narcissist. Which just goes to show you can be quite verbally skilled but still really stupid.
12.1.2008 6:31pm
Chris_t (mail):
On the one hand, I am miserable about our lack of a sex life because it makes my husband miserable and cold and withdrawn, and it is so unhappy, living this way. “Have sex with someone else,” I tell him.

“The problem with that,” my husband says, “is falling in love. If you have sex with someone else, you just might fall in love with them.”

“I’d kill you,” I say.

Of course I wouldn’t. But I just might kill myself.


I realize that I live deep in the heart of flyover country, but I really can't imagine ever having this conversation with my wife. I just can't. No matter how bad things got.
12.1.2008 6:33pm
Smokey:
erp:
What a crock. Not a single woman would believe any of this for a second.
That's also solipsism.
12.1.2008 6:35pm
DangerMouse:
Aside from the biblical injunction of judge not, lest ye be judged (which of course the so-called "Christian" man couldn't bring himself up to)...

Randy, you think you're being smart by quoting this as you think it permits you to engage in behavior that Christians frown upon. It doesn't. The passage deals with judging people with ETERNAL DAMNATION. It's a lesson in keeping in mind that forgiveness exists until the point of death. But bad behavior should and always will be condemned.
12.1.2008 6:35pm
MCM (mail):
If a woman ever disclosed to me she was raped there is no way I would continue a relationship with her. This probably makes me a bad person, but I really don't see why--barring serious personality/mental illness--it is difficult to avoid being raped. Even if it was a reasonable and completely freak occurrence, the emotional consequences of a rape, there is no way I am psychosocially equipped to handle them in a partner.


wait

wait

what??
12.1.2008 6:36pm
DangerMouse:
I realize that I live deep in the heart of flyover country, but I really can't imagine ever having this conversation with my wife. I just can't. No matter how bad things got.

I know. Imagine, traditional marriage and values might make people happy! Who would've figured?
12.1.2008 6:36pm
R Nebblesworth:
I wonder how Slater's husband feels knowing that all these VC commenters know her better than he does.
12.1.2008 6:37pm
Randy R. (mail):
Pat: "In our culture, sex has lost its sacred quality."

Gimme a break. Anyone who would believe such nonsense gets exactly what they deserve, and a broken heart is the least of it!

Pat again: "This particular woman has demonstrated a remarkable degree of self-absorption. I can't even begin to imagine how I would feel if I had been the lover to whom she lied about BEING RAPED."

On this we agree. Again, I've stated that she is messed up, and I don't condone any of her actions (hear that Dangermouse?) I'm just saying that men use women for sex all the time, not unlike Ms. Slater, men lie about sex, heck -- they are even known to lie about their marital status to get into bed! I would think that is just as bad as lying about being raped.

So yes, she's an idiot. But to think that this is rare or unique to this woman, and that no one here on this blog has ever done anything romotely unethical or crazy when it came to sex is just as nuts as she is.

Dangermouse: She forgot to mention that she kills babies in her spare time.
12.1.2008 6:38pm
whit:
in regards to cheating, and the last post, in a poll, women were more likely to be upset by a non-sexual love affair that their partner engaged in, then a meaningless one night sexual escapade.

men were the exact opposite, being more offended by their partner cheating on them sexually, then emotionally.


from an evolutionary biology standpoint, this makes sense.

a one night stand by one's female spouse can mean that the male ends raising somebody else's DNA child. a no-no evolutionarily speaking.

otoh, a male spouse who cheats (physically) doesn't place the female spouse's dna (and their future shared child) at risk. he has LOTS of sperm. but if the male spouse becomes emotionally attached, then the relationship is endangered, and that does create genetic risk (he won't be there to care for the child, and he won't be there to create it with her)
12.1.2008 6:38pm
MCM (mail):
DangerMouse:

"Aside from the biblical injunction of judge not, lest ye be judged (which of course the so-called "Christian" man couldn't bring himself up to)...

Randy, you think you're being smart by quoting this as you think it permits you to engage in behavior that Christians frown upon. It doesn't. The passage deals with judging people with ETERNAL DAMNATION. It's a lesson in keeping in mind that forgiveness exists until the point of death. But bad behavior should and always will be condemned."

I think you missed the part where the "Christian man" was judging her with ETERNAL DAMNATION. It helps to read the original post.
12.1.2008 6:39pm
DangerMouse:
But to think that this is rare or unique to this woman, and that no one here on this blog has ever done anything romotely unethical or crazy when it came to sex is just as nuts as she is.

So what is your point then? That other people might've done some other bad things? I really don't see where you're headed by trying to minimize her behavior (even if you're otherwise condemning it). Of course other people are bad. But other people aren't publishing their dreck in national newspapers as some life lesson. Other people are good enough to keep quiet about their sin and hopefully repent in private.
12.1.2008 6:42pm
Randy R. (mail):
Dangermouse: " It's a lesson in keeping in mind that forgiveness exists until the point of death. But bad behavior should and always will be condemned."

Um, that's not what I was taught. It sorta goes along the likes of he who without sin can cast the first stone. And isn't it God's job to do the judging, not you? And just what is it about some Christians who believe that Jews are going to hell? Wouldnt' that mean Jesus is in hell, since he was a jew? (Not to mention, King of the Jews). If you want to condemn bad behavior, which you seem keen on doing, then perhaps you should condemn that man's view, as well as his actions, since this good Chrisian man had sex outside of marriage.
12.1.2008 6:42pm
Paul B:
A quick google of Slater reveals that she is a psychotherapist. Psychologist heal thyself.
12.1.2008 6:43pm
DangerMouse:
I think you missed the part where the "Christian man" was judging her with ETERNAL DAMNATION. It helps to read the original post.

MCM,

You thought wrong. I did read it. He screwed up. But I agree with Thorley Winston: do you trust her on this? I don't.
12.1.2008 6:44pm
MCM (mail):
Dangermouse: Sure, it's plausible on its face. I once had a relationship with a crazy non-denominational minister's daughter, who sincerely thought I was going to hell. That didn't stop her from... well anyway, you get my point.
12.1.2008 6:47pm
DangerMouse:
And isn't it God's job to do the judging, not you? And just what is it about some Christians who believe that Jews are going to hell? Wouldnt' that mean Jesus is in hell, since he was a jew? (Not to mention, King of the Jews).

Are you trolling now, or do you really want me to respond to that drivel?

If you want to condemn bad behavior, which you seem keen on doing, then perhaps you should condemn that man's view, as well as his actions, since this good Chrisian man had sex outside of marriage.

If her story on this guy is true, I absolutely condemn it. Nothing is worse than a wolf in sheep's clothing, and it's despicable that someone would engage in such blatant misbehavior while proclaiming that someone else is going to hell. It is absolutely outrageous. Of course, it also angers me because it allows otherwise philosophically-weak minded people to say that Christianity is false because people don't live up to it (which of coruse is not true).
12.1.2008 6:48pm
MCM (mail):
To clarify, I also do agree with Thorley Winston.
12.1.2008 6:49pm
Randy R. (mail):
Dangermouse: "But other people aren't publishing their dreck in national newspapers as some life lesson. Other people are good enough to keep quiet about their sin and hopefully repent in private."

We learn from other people's mistakes. The only real way to progress and grow as a person is to think about your actions, learn from others, discuss it fully to get as many viewpoints as possible, and then make intelligent and mature decisions. You can't do that by keeping everything quiet.

This is why I applaud her honesty and desire to share. You don't have to read it if you don't want to, but for those who do, it's an opportunity to learn.

For those of you who are so shocked, you really need to get out a bit more. If you have ever read Dan Savage's sex advice column, you would see much worse. And that's why we read the column -- to find out what others are doing, and then making up our own decisions what really works in the long run.
12.1.2008 6:49pm
Nebuchanezzar (mail):
Randy R says: What I DID say is that MOST people are messed up, particularly during their youth.

The problem is that this woman isn't in her youth. She's 39 years old, hates having sex with her husband, and has publicly humiliated him by writing in the New York Times that she hates having sex with him (and incidentally she cheated on him for six months right after they got engaged -- it was necessary, doncha know). Messed-up youthful failures are one thing... but this is a carefully considered, mature sickness that really kicks it up a notch.

It appears the couple has two kids, so I can only assume that her pathetic wretch of a husband is trapped in this nightmarish, sexless, humiliating marriage "for the children". Poor bastard.

Sounds like she behaved just like any man I've known.

What are you talking about? What man hates sex?
12.1.2008 6:55pm
DangerMouse:
Randy,

I guess it all depends on the lessons people are trying to convey. The unapologetic tone of this article suggests it's not a good lesson.
12.1.2008 6:58pm
Steve:
And just what is it about some Christians who believe that Jews are going to hell? Wouldnt' that mean Jesus is in hell, since he was a jew? (Not to mention, King of the Jews).

"Jesus was a Jew, yes, but only on his mother's side," said Archie Bunker. Plus, maybe he was a Jew, but he's okay as long as he accepted himself as his Savior at some point.
12.1.2008 6:59pm
whit:

This is why I applaud her honesty and desire to share. You don't have to read it if you don't want to, but for those who do, it's an opportunity to learn


her honesty that she doesn't feel sorry for what she did, or acknowledge that it was wrong to do so.

i don't where she admits feeling guilt, or admitting that what she did is wrong. that's a rather glaring omission

this woman is truly a piece of garbage. i almost wonder is she has borderline personality disorder. not enough info to do otherwise than playfully suggest it. she is certainly the classic nightmare "psycho chick" that men do best to avoid.
12.1.2008 7:03pm
Buddy (mail):
This lady has got issues. But then again, what do I know? I only have one testicle.
12.1.2008 7:08pm
Thales (mail) (www):
Reader5000:

Yes, you are a bad person. I am certain there are things people *can* do to avoid it in some circumstances--isn't the operative question what things they *should have to* do?

It's not difficult to avoid being robbed--if you are robbed, ought your friends to discard you for being stupid?
12.1.2008 7:12pm
Fub:
Thorley Winston wrote at 12.1.2008 6:13pm:
I’ll say for the record, I think this woman is bats*** crazy and any account she gives about what some nameless other person thought or believed should be taken not with a grain but with a 50 pound bag of Morton System Saver.
I think that is supported, for some value of "bat***", by the last of her story, where she describes
My first orgasm happened decades ago when I was 19, ...

The intimacy was too much, too wrenching and shameful.
Perceiving intimacy as "too wrenching" could be a statement of personal preference, unusual but nevertheless a matter of emotional preference and volition. But rationalizing that preference by perceiving intimacy as "too shameful" does not seem very sane. "Shame" presumes others were judging her experience pejoratively where none were.
12.1.2008 7:13pm
DiverDan (mail):
Is it any wonder that some men become misogynists? A relationship with this women could lead a man to believe that women are, in general, selfish, dishonest, and manipulative in their relationships, making the utter honesty of the relationship with a prostitute far preferable. Now, where did I leave the phone number of that Escort Service?
12.1.2008 7:25pm
Nebuchanezzar (mail):
And just what is it about some Christians who believe that Jews are going to hell?

This isn't really a Jew thing -- a lot of Christian sects believe everyone is going to Hell unless they accept Christ as their savior. (And I should add that the the people who accept Christ as their savior need to mean it -- anyone can *say it*, but you actually have to mean it for it to count).

It's an original sin thing. Under this theory, man by definition is flawed and will go to Hell -- but God (because He loves man), agreed to let His one and only Son take all of man's sins upon Himself and suffer the torments of Hell in man's place. When they say, "He died on the cross for *your* sins", this is what they're talking about.

You can think about it as kind of like a "Get Out of Hell Free" card. Problem is, you have to ask for it (and mean it) in order to get it. Jews (since they reject the notion that Jesus is the Son of God and died for mankind's sins) are probably not in a position to get the special card -- though who knows what people might ultimately agree to and believe in during those few minutes before they die?

I write all of the above as a committed agnostic. Even as an agnostic, I can say without hesitation that the Christian faith makes a lot of sense if you pay attention to what Christian religious texts actually say. If you take the Andrew Sullivan approach ("Christianity basically means all good things like puppies and kittens and, you know, loving each other and stuff") then I agree that you'll find the real teachings quite distressing.
12.1.2008 7:27pm
Seamus (mail):
Yes Pat, and I'm sure you the only person in the world who was never ever selfish about sex, and only had the utmost consideration for your partner's needs at all times.

You know, most of us who have been selfish about sex at least draw the line short of telling the world about our selfishness in the pages of the New York Times, and if we do we have the good taste to at least pretend to be sorry about it.
12.1.2008 7:46pm
BT:
"Paul B:
A quick google of Slater reveals that she is a psychotherapist."

Can you imagine if you were a guy and went to her with a sexual problem? You wouldn't stand a chance. Talk about castrating.
12.1.2008 7:52pm
astrangerwithcandy (mail):

"Shame" presumes others were judging her experience pejoratively where none were.



hehe, they are now...
12.1.2008 7:54pm
bikeguy (mail):

What I DID say is that MOST people are messed up, particularly during their youth.

That statement says far more about the speaker and his circle of acquaintances than it does about MOST people.
12.1.2008 7:56pm
Randy R. (mail):
Bikeguy: "That statement says far more about the speaker and his circle of acquaintances than it does about MOST people."

Touche. Being gay and trying desperately to straight kinda screws up a person, especially when you buy into all that crap that being gay is shameful and all. So yeah, I was certainly messed up for quite a while in my youth until I finally figured out that being gay is a part of me, can't be changed, and it's much better to seek a happy healthy gay relationship than a false heterosexual one.

As for my friends, most men that I've spoken to certainly love to brag about the exploits of their youth, and don't really talk about how sensitive they were to the women they had. Whether they were 'messed up' I will leave up to you.
12.1.2008 8:10pm
goldfish (mail):
I have never done this before....I loved Slaters article!
You read slaters article; it gave you pause and the energy to write about it! isn't that the important thing
She writes charmingly.
Wether you agree with her opinion on sex, doesn't really matter. What matters is she made you want to write about it! It's that she made you think!
we read about our world all day long; it saddens me deeply...... the hate and violence......
Isn't it nice to read something just because its well written!
12.1.2008 8:25pm
Brooks Lyman (mail):
I always thought that some things were too personal and private to plaster onto the pages of a newspaper (or magazine or TV). Seems I was wrong.
12.1.2008 8:30pm
Xanthippas (mail) (www):
Unfortunately I am forced to agree with Lindgren about the strangeness of that particular essay. We Americans definitely have serious hang-ups about sex, but this essay is less insight into that fact and more of a demonstration of it. I suppose there's something "bold" about being so non-apologetic and frank about who you are, and of course none of us know what her private life is really like beyond what she chooses to share, but it strikes me that a dose of humility might help her deal with some of her issues.


This probably makes me a bad person, but I really don't see why--barring serious personality/mental illness--it is difficult to avoid being raped.


I would not say this makes you a bad person, but it might make you an ignoramus or a moron.


Of course, it also angers me because it allows otherwise philosophically-weak minded people to say that Christianity is false because people don't live up to it (which of coruse is not true).


Well actually, it just makes Christians look really bad.


You know, most of us who have been selfish about sex at least draw the line short of telling the world about our selfishness in the pages of the New York Times, and if we do we have the good taste to at least pretend to be sorry about it.


Agreed, entirely.
12.1.2008 8:34pm
PatHMV (mail) (www):
Randy, if those men you know are age 40 and still bragging about the exploits of their youth, without expressing any remorse for the harm they caused along the way, then yes, they remain "messed up."

As for the judging bit, there's no prohibition on judging behavior. This woman engaged in despicable behavior, and compounded that bad behavior by talking about it, by justifying it, by sharing what should be intimate secrets with her husband with the whole world. That behavior is very bad and should be condemned. I similarly condemn the behavior of people who mistreat gay people, without particularly condemning those people themselves. Jesus did not say "adultery is ok, and you should never condemn adultery.' He said don't stone people for engaging in behavior you have engaged in. I'm not calling for stoning the woman, or for inflicting any punishment on her. I'm condemning the behavior she has engaged in and continues to engage in. If we can't do that, then there's no point in having any morals or standards of behavior at all.

Oh, and I didn't say "sex has lost its sacred quality"... she did. I was quoting her.
12.1.2008 8:35pm
Xanthippas (mail) (www):

Is it any wonder that some men become misogynists? A relationship with this women could lead a man to believe that women are, in general, selfish, dishonest, and manipulative in their relationships, making the utter honesty of the relationship with a prostitute far preferable. Now, where did I leave the phone number of that Escort Service?


If a man who does not already hate women begins to hate them after one bad relationship with a selfish and immature woman, then he is weak-minded and insecure. If he begins to hate them after a succession of bad relationships with selfish and immature women, then his ire is mis-placed.
12.1.2008 8:37pm
LN (mail):
What kind of loser marries this crazy woman? Serious question.
12.1.2008 8:40pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Did anybody need to read this? Good Lord, what a waste of a life and of paper.
The only conceivable redeeming quality was for anybody who might have forgotten there are some messed-up people in the world.
I can see a columnist doing this. After a while, you really, really get desperate for material. But a shrink???
12.1.2008 8:41pm
Alexia:

......no way I am psychosocially equipped to handle them in a partner.


That's about the only thing you seem to be right about.
12.1.2008 9:02pm
KeithK (mail):

Sounds like she behaved just like any man I've known. Sorta like most men here at VC. You know -- the ones who lie about sex and rationalize anything to get it.


The desire for sex can bring out the worst in people. Food for thought - maybe that's why many traditional systems of morality restrict sex to marriage. Restrain the worst impulses of man (and woman) while channeling them intoa structure that protects and nurtures families.

Maybe sexual freedom is better than traditional sexual morality. But it certainly comes with a lot of negative baggage.
12.1.2008 9:14pm
Mongoose388:
In reading this I remembered a friend from long ago's axiom,
"No matter how much you love her now, she was somebody else's pain in the ass before". I should have listened because now she is my pain in the ass (and for some time). If only I could get her to be somebody else's pain in the ass NOW!..........
12.1.2008 9:15pm
KeithK (mail):

Jesus did not say "adultery is ok, and you should never condemn adultery.' He said don't stone people for engaging in behavior you have engaged in. I'm not calling for stoning the woman, or for inflicting any punishment on her. I'm condemning the behavior she has engaged in and continues to engage in. If we can't do that, then there's no point in having any morals or standards of behavior at all.


"Let he who is without sin cast the first stone" is an important part of this biblical story. But Jesus' command to "Go and sin no more" is equally important.
12.1.2008 9:16pm
NaG (mail):
That people who are bat**** crazy learn to write charmingly about their horrendous moral failures without a scintilla of regret or apology toward the people whose lives have been damaged by falling into the acidic orbit of a corrupt personality -- that doesn't surprise me.

That a newspaper like the New York Times sees fit to publish this self-absorbed drivel over more thoughtful and interesting pieces -- that surprises me. What, they couldn't find some neoconservative willing to say that the Iraq war was a mistake?
12.1.2008 9:19pm
PatHMV (mail) (www):
Exactly, Keith.
12.1.2008 9:22pm
Nick056:
Poor husband. He must be pretty interesting himself -- either that, or he's been reading this article over and over again all day.

One thought about him: it could be, that, like this woman views sex as a kind of intimacy too strange or mythical to ever live with daily, he also views intimacy as some sort of mythical kind of committment that's desirable, perhaps, but beyond his own reach. So he marries a kook. And one day, asks himself: did I marry this kook because a real committment to an emotionally and physically present woman scares me (what his therapist might say) or because -- hey, do I really even like that kind of thing, in the first place? And so they're both in love, both unhappy. She'd kill him or kill herself if he walked out; he's upset at the thought of forming a meaningful relationship with another woman whom we might come to love.

They sound like a pair. Unless she's so blindingly attractive that he'll put up with anything, and low-self-esteem allowed him to long ago extinguish any hope for a real life.
12.1.2008 9:31pm
JosephSlater (mail):
Thanks, Dave N., although I was mostly joking. But since we're on the topic, I'm also not related to actors Christian Slater or Helen Slater, former NFL player Jackie Slater, or even former pro wrestler "Dirty Dick" Slater. Although I would choose any of these, even the last, as a relative before this woman.
12.1.2008 9:41pm
David McCourt (mail):
Slater is for all the world a conscienceless sociopath, lacking any sense of reticence or human feeling, and more anxious to parade herself than to give those with whom she's been intimate the loyalty they deserve. I'm sure this creep will be delighted with the idea that she has joined that ignoble roll call of literally shameless "literary" self-dramatizers — Kathryn Harrison, Joyce Maynard, Catherine MacKinnon — whose repellant antics have won them acclaim at the NYT, and the disgust of ordinary people everywhere else.
12.1.2008 9:43pm
Another pinhead (mail):
I might have known a couple of women (girls?) like this back when I was 19, but I didn't stick around long enough to find out.

Meh.
12.1.2008 9:56pm
DangerMouse:
They sound like a pair. Unless she's so blindingly attractive that he'll put up with anything, and low-self-esteem allowed him to long ago extinguish any hope for a real life.

Why would he put up with a blindingly attractive woman he can't have sex with? I'm sorry, but after a while reality sets in even for a man as self-conscious as that. That's the friend zone, not the marriage zone.

His marriage should be annulled. It was never consummated. It's a complete sham.
12.1.2008 9:58pm
DangerMouse:
Nick,

Furthermore, she's not blindly attractive.

I hate to say it, but I have to wonder what this husband could possibly see in this woman that's worth staying for, in an unconsummated marriage.

He really should get out. If he has any brains (in both heads) he will.
12.1.2008 10:00pm
David Warner:
Randy,

"Sounds like she behaved just like any man I've known. Sorta like most men here at VC. You know -- the ones who lie about sex and rationalize anything to get it."

Mmmm, kay. Sounds like you need to meet some different men. Not sure exactly how you know about the sexual behavior of your fellow Conspirators...

Dangermouse,

"Furthermore, she's not blindly attractive."

Actually, I think she looks hot. Not that that is terribly relevant one way or the other.
12.1.2008 10:15pm
David Warner:
According to the good old Holy Bible, the fate of the Jews is not eternal damnation (the Bible has remarkably little to say on the topic of Hell). See Romans 9-11.
12.1.2008 10:16pm
Randy R. (mail):
Pat :"I'm condemning the behavior she has engaged in and continues to engage in. If we can't do that, then there's no point in having any morals or standards of behavior at all. "

I can agree with that. And part of my point is that is why is it good that she wrote this -- as a cautionary tale to other people.

"Oh, and I didn't say "sex has lost its sacred quality"... she did. I was quoting her."

I know. I was commenting that she is an idiot to think so. Anyone who thinks that sex was once 'sacred' but now it's not, shouldn't be having any sex at all.

Keith: "The desire for sex can bring out the worst in people. Food for thought - maybe that's why many traditional systems of morality restrict sex to marriage. Restrain the worst impulses of man (and woman) while channeling them intoa structure that protects and nurtures families. Maybe sexual freedom is better than traditional sexual morality. But it certainly comes with a lot of negative baggage."

Excellent analysis, Keith. Whether one agrees with you or not, it is a perceptive statement. And you could NOT have made such a perceptive statement (or you could have, but it would not have nearly the impact) without Ms. Slater's original commentary.

Hence the reason why it is good to get this stuff out in the open, so that no one else thinks that people who have sex are always good, kind, and thoughtful people. Some people -- many of them -- lie about it to get it.

Except, of course, all the men at VC. No one here has ever lied to get sex. My apologies.
12.1.2008 10:26pm
Dan Greenberg (mail) (www):
I admit it. I have typically read the "Modern Love" column in the Sunday Times fairly regularly. For similar reasons, I have typically 'rubbernecked' when driving past the site of a car crash. I am not proud of either course of conduct, and hereby resolve to make myself a better person by minimizing both.

Quite seriously, have commenters not noticed the "Modern Love" column before? It is, on a regular basis, the literal embodiment of, as the kids say, "too much information" -- and, in a better time, internal editorial standards would frequently have blocked many of its essays from appearing in a national newspaper. Surely I am not the only reader who thinks that many "Modern Love" columns are the work of a profoundly disturbed mind. However, those columns do have the salutary effect of making me extraordinarily grateful for my own marriage and for the good fortune that led me to the company of my relatively sane and quite wonderful spouse.
12.1.2008 10:34pm
DianaW (mail):
Unless I missed it she didn't even mention that she's taken SSRI's for decades, which are known to cause loss of sex drive.

I wouldn't bother feeling too sorry for her husband. She is famous for basically making stuff up, adding whatever details make the story more interesting, and he is probably aware that the little vignettes are at best half-truths.
12.1.2008 10:49pm
lucia (mail) (www):
Dan Greenberg--
I don't subscribe to the NYT. So, are all the modern love articles as boring as that one?
12.1.2008 11:14pm
Alaska Jack (mail):
Just to build, in a small way, on the "unreliable narrator" theme Thorley and DianaW were discussing ...

I'm an editor. Although I have many, many -- oh lord, oh-so-many -- faults, one thing I think I can claim is to have a fairly sensitive nose for "too good to be true" embellishments in a story.

When reading the original story, the "affair with a christian conservative" detail jumped right out at me. I'm not psychic, and it would be absurd to suggest things like that NEVER happen. But the detail just fits too perfectly with what we do know about the author's worldview, and how she thinks -- and would like us to think -- about religious conservatives.

If I was fact-checking this article, that's where I'd start. FWIW.

- Alaska Jack
12.2.2008 12:52am
MCM (mail):
Alaska Jack, certainly I'm not defending her, but c'mon. Every year some famous Christian conservative is outed for patronizing a prostitute, propositioning an intern, being secretly homosexual, etc. And of course, liberals are too. It's not really much of a stretch. And I'm not sure exactly how the story encourages us to think about religious conservatives in the way she "would like us to think". It's completely predictable human behavior, what's the big deal?
12.2.2008 2:26am
MikeS (mail):

Actually, I never had intercourse with this man, though we did just about everything else. He did not believe in sex before marriage. Therefore, when my fiancé asked me if I was “having sex” with someone (why was I coming home at 3 a.m.?), I could answer “no.”


Somewhere, Bill Clinton is feeling vindicated.
12.2.2008 2:58am
Brian Mac:

This probably makes me a bad person, but I really don't see why--barring serious personality/mental illness--it is difficult to avoid being raped.

It doesn't necessarily make you a bad person, you might just be astonishingly ignorant or perhaps batshit crazy. Or hey, maybe even some loveable combination of all three.
12.2.2008 8:13am
Happyshooter:
I guess it's not so strange to find out that a "Christian" man would think that all Jews are going to hell. What's strange is that he is so willing to have sex with such hell-bound heathens. He's just as messed up as she is.

Assuming this event really happened as typed by her, I suspect this was one of the items filled in by her inner movie script once she noticed he was Christian.
12.2.2008 8:27am
Dave Hardy (mail) (www):
I pity any person who has ever played a role in the author's life.
12.2.2008 9:35am
Ryan Waxx (mail):
And part of my point is that is why is it good that she wrote this -- as a cautionary tale to other people.


Yes, because the NYT regularly gives column space to sociopaths to provide cautionary tales, right?

Look, you want to peddle this fantasy, then back it up. Show me anywhere in the NYT some sort of evidence this was presented as a cautionary tale.

Otherwise, its reasonable to believe the opposite: that like every other column the NYT prints without commenting on the column, it is the story they wish to tell, not a story that is given space in order to discredit the writer's point of view.
12.2.2008 9:53am
George Smith:
This woman is a complete waste of time. Put her on the list of "they'd none of 'em be missed."
12.2.2008 10:51am
A.C.:
It's fairly normal to fall in love with the wrong person, panic, and run. It's also normal to have a temporary thing with someone who ends up being a growing experience for you rather than a permanent connection.

The thing is, you're supposed to do the first (the running part of it, anyway) when you are already engaged to someone else, and the second when you are young and available and not yet looking for anything permanent. The author seems to have a real problem with timing.

The part where she lied about being raped is inexcusable, whatever you think of the rest.

And has anyone else noticed that people who spend too much time around psychotherapy, whether as practitioners or as patients, tend to be overly forthcoming (almost to the point of bragging) about things the rest of us don't want to hear about?
12.2.2008 3:07pm
Suzy (mail):
So this is for real, then? I assumed it was not supposed to be entirely truthful. Whoa.

I do feel sad that at least one reader here thinks it's reasonably easy to avoid being raped, barring the rare unusual circumstance or two. Sheesh! Go back to bed and try waking up again.
12.2.2008 3:57pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
There's a certain level of sordidity which, once attained, is interesting in itself.
This doesn't even get that far.
12.2.2008 4:45pm