Friday, February 01, 2013

Thoughts from advice columns: the lady who walks her girlfriend on a leash

We live in a family-oriented neighbourhood in the heart of our city. Dozens of kids ride bikes, play soccer and so on while adults chat and watch. Last summer, one of my neighbours (with three sons) told me he saw a woman walking her girlfriend on a leash. I told him he must have been fantasizing. Sure enough, a woman with long dreads and multiple piercings (I’d seen her before; she rents a basement apartment on the street) came around the corner walking her girlfriend on a leash. We’ve seen it many times since then, in the middle of the day. My four-year old daughter asked me why the lady was wearing a leash. I told her that she was pretending to be a dog and that the other lady was playing the owner. My daughter loves inventing her own play scenarios and easily accepted my explanation. This has been going on since last summer, so it’s obviously a happy, long-term relationship. But I don’t love having to explain S&M role-play to my four-year old and would appreciate if the dog-walking happened after, say 9 p.m. What would you do?

I think LW's response to her daughter is perfect and nothing more needs to be said.

However, I was surprised when David Eddie said, in his reply:

I mean, I think you’ve handled your daughter’s questions in a very elegant and clever fashion, so far. But as time goes by, she may come to doubt what you’ve told her – or some older kid will tip her off. And she may resent you for that [...]

I can't imagine the daughter resenting the mother for her answer, because her answer is perfectly true.  Yes, it's simplified and unnuanced, that doesn't make it wrong.  When I was a kid, before I learned where babies come from, my mother would mention in passing that the male of the species has to fertilize the female of the species to produce young.  (I'm pretty sure this first came up in the context of chickens and eggs, but for as long as I can remember I've known it to apply to all animals.)  When I got a bit older and my mother read Where Did I Come From? to me, I didn't feel resentful or betrayed to learn that the fertilization is done with the penis.  I just thought "Oh, so that's how it's done.  Kinda gross." and moved on.


valprehension said...

I totally agree. The way adults pretend that sexual rolep-lay is somehow *totally different* than kid role-play, when it's actually only different when the sexytimes happen (i.e. not when this woman is walking her girlfriend) is endlessly annoying.

laura k said...

You're right. Why on earth would the daughter resent her mother for having given her an age-appropriate response?

I found the mom's explanation perfect, and the columnist's reply disgustingly condescending.

The columnist's assumption that the purpose of the public display is to get a reaction - and then make a huge counter-reaction - is SO annoying. People used to freely say similar things about any same-sex display of affection (and still do, but less freely in some places).

impudent strumpet said...

I know, right? The only time in my life I've ever been trying to get a reaction is when I'm playing with a baby and trying to make the baby laugh.

Interestingly, despite his odd interpretations of anyone's motivations, the columnist's actual advice to the LW is sound. Treat the neighbours like neighbours, don't make their sex life the topic of conversation.

This almost makes me wonder if his reply is a reverse psychology ploy to elicit the desired behaviour in the LW. "Don't scold them about their sex life because it isn't your business and you're not supposed to be judgemental" may not elicit the desired behaviour as well as "Don't bring it up because they want you to bring it up and nothing will piss them off more than not getting the opportunity to talk about."

laura k said...

His bottom-line advice was good, but about his motivations, your proposed explanation is very generous.

impudent strumpet said...

Update: The columnist has had a conversation with the domme in the letter .

laura k said...

Going through old posts again, and I'm so glad you linked to the follow-up. I never would have seen it, and it's wonderful. Good on the columnist for being willing to grow.