Invited by the Women’s Center, the Queer Student Union, the Health Center and the Claiming Williams Steering Committee, among other groups, Dan Savage, a sex advice columnist and author, spoke to a packed Chapin Hall on Monday night in a lecture titled “Savage Love Live!” during which audience members were invited to ask Savage questions on sexuality and relationships.
The talk put Savage in his most comfortable position: doling out advice. In fact, the ambiance and decor of Chapin is such that Savage could not help but feel like a “Presbyterian minister,” as he ironically put it, “in a church where everyone’s going to hell.” The lecture consisted entirely of Q&A, with a combination of questions from the live audience and those previously submitted. As Savage put it, “you have no one but yourselves to blame.”
At the outset of the presentation, the audience broke out into nervous tittering at Savage’s first straight-forward declarative to “eat p—y.” This lasted only for the first 20 seconds, so there was plenty of time left for the audience to recover if possible.
Throughout the talk, Savage addressed all issues hetero-, homo- and bisexual, including questions of sexual technique (“It’s a blow job, not a blow vacation”) and desire. He addressed a number of questions about not wanting to have sex or wanting to have sex with friends.
Savage also touched on gender norms, queer prejudice and leadership and his “It Gets Better” YouTube campaign, a supportive shout-out to queer teens and young people struggling with sexuality. Savage even provided the audience with a sneak-peek into his own sex life (yes, it includes bondage).
By the end of the session, the audience was left more sexually well-informed, not to mention more intimate with others in the campus community. This intimacy was most likely a result not only of the talk’s subject matter but also of Savage’s unique, frank presentation style.
He often responded to questions of a seemingly straightforward type in an interesting way. When one audience member suggested laying down a towel pre-sex to avoid having to sleep in a puddle of sexual fluid, Savage, “the anti-missionary missionary,” had something else in mind – don’t have sex in bed.
Likewise, though he reiterated the oft-used trope “men are pigs,” he also offered a different theory: male self-consciousness that prevents sexual experimentation with other men for fear of being labeled “gay.”
Not only did Savage demonstrate an expert knowledge in his field, but he also demonstrated his skill in simply giving good advice to navigate potentially awkward situations. Sure, in this case the awkward situation posed was how to go about asking a close friend to have a threesome, but his advocacy of an honesty that shuns awkwardness supported Savage’s notion that time heals all. So that friend you asked for a threesome will again have a normal conversation with you, even if he or she says no to the proposition.
Communication – whether in bed, between the heterosexual and queer community or simply between guys and girls (which he admits hardly exists) – lies at the base of Savage’s theory on sexual wisdom.
Everyone who attended “Savage Love” on Monday night got a privileged ear-licking from Savage himself. Literally, Savage enjoyed tonguing the microphone and experimenting with its echoing sound effects. Figuratively, he burst audience members’ tympanums with his sound advice. As Professor of English Kathryn Kent said in her introduction, “it took a lot of legwork” to get Savage to Williams. “I want to thank all those involved for encouraging the rest of us to come.”