A Savage over-generalization

My friends will tell you that I’m a big fan of Dan Savage. I’m a Savage LoveCast evangelist and I believe most people would benefit from listening to it regularly and reading his columns.

That said, I want to take issue with something he said on episode 365 of the podcast, which was published on Oct. 22.

If you fast forward to about the 17:25 mark in the podcast (click the link above to get to it), you’ll hear Dan Savage say this: “All straight guys have some girly shit going on, too. A little bit. And it terrifies them, because to be a straight guy is to not be a fag and not be a girl and anything girly or faggy that you’re interested in could explode your sexual identity.”

First, some context. Savage said that in response to a caller – a gay man – who wanted to find guys to date who conformed more to what we consider male heterosexual norms (watching sports and other such “manly” things), rather than what people tend to think of as gay male norms. The caller, in fact, said he’d like a guy who wouldn’t mind watching a basketball game occasionally.

But even with that context in mind, I still take issue with what Savage said. Why? Mostly because it’s a gross over-generalization on his part. I’m a straight guy. And I do enjoy a lot of that stereotypically heterosexual stuff that he was referring to. That said, I definitely have some of that stereotypically “girly shit” going on, as well. I love musicals (Well, some musicals. Andrew Lloyd Weber can die in a fire). My love for the music of Lady Gaga and Ke$ha is well-known. Stuff like that.

And you know what? I own it. I own every bit of it. It does not terrify me and I’m certainly not afraid that it’s going to “explode” my sexual identity in any way. And my straight guy friends with the same amount of “girly shit” going on? They also own it and are not afraid of it.

Dan, you’re usually dead on with all the advice you give and yes, there are straight guys who are “terrified” of the “girly shit” they like. But it’s certainly not all straight guys. Don’t stop doing what you do. Just think before you over-generalize.

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Single shaming

Let me set a scene for you.

I’m sitting at a table with 12 family members (Well, technically only 10 because I’m not related by blood to either my sister’s boyfriend or my uncle’s partner, but for all intents and purposes, they’re family). And my grandmother, whose birthday we were celebrating along with my grandfather’s, proceeds to point out that of the 13 people at the table, I was the only one not “coupled” in some way. By that she meant that I was neither married nor engaged nor civilly united nor in any sort of romantic relationship and the others all were.

And then she proceeds to repeatedly call me the “odd one out” because of the aforementioned lack of romantic attachment.

My father and sister, both of whom were sitting to my right, stopped me before I could tell Grandma to piss right the fuck off (which was probably for the best; making a scene at a nice family dinner is not usually worth the hassle). I spent the rest of the night not saying much of anything to anyone.

On my way home, I started thinking about my grandma’s belief that being unattached romantically at age 28 made one “weird” or “odd”. And I realized that it’s not just her attitude. There is still a collective belief in our society that those without romantic partners are inherently worse off than people who have them. And that, for lack of any gentle way of putting it, is just plain wrong.

Before I go on, I need to give you a bit of info about me. I’m not against having romantic partners. Quite the contrary. I’ve had them. I’ve enjoyed having them. I go out on dates and would be happy to have some sort of romantic partner again.

But what I resent is being told that I *MUST* have some sort of romantic partner or my life is not worth living. I resent the implication that my current lack of romantic attachment makes me less happy than those who are romantically attached to someone. My life, while hardly perfect or ideal, is pretty damn good and while a romantic partner would make it that much better, I’m still pretty damn happy with it.

And most single people I know – of both the male and female persuasions – will say the same thing.

Yet society-at-large still believes it’s ok to imply that the lives of the single people in their mid to late 20s cannot be as happy as the lives of people in romantic relationships. Society-at-large still believes it’s ok to constantly tell singles things like, “You’ll never find anyone if you keep being so picky” or “You need to find a nice guy/girl to settle down with. You’ll be so much happier.” And there is still a belief that it is ok to badger single people into being ashamed of their singledom, even if it’s by choice.

And frankly, the single-shaming needs to stop.

Like I said, it’s not that I’m against romantic relationships. What I’m against is the idea that anyone other than me knows better than I do what will make me happy. There are a lot of really damn happy single people out there. For some, a romantic relationship would add to that happiness. For others, it wouldn’t.

What it comes down to is this: Happiness is subjective. Each person has their own idea of happiness toward which they are striving. For some, that includes a romantic partner or partners. For others, it doesn’t.

Let’s stop the single-shaming and just let people be happy.

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Cover letters

Job hunting is tough work.

Not only do you have to read through tons of job postings online, but you have to read them quite carefully to make sure they’re a good fit. You have to make your resume look great. You have to make sure you’re following the application instructions to the letter, lest you be disqualified.

But by far the toughest part about job hunting is writing cover letters.

I’m a damn fine writer. I’m not afraid to say that. But cover letters terrify me. It’s rare that I know what to put in them. It’s near impossible to find the balance between a serious/professional tone and a tone that screams “LOOK AT ME! I’M THE GUY YOU WANT FOR THIS JOB!”

And it’s not just me. I know a lot of great writers. And many of them have told me they have similar troubles with cover letters.

It’s frustrating, honestly. I’m great in job interviews. If I get a job interview, I’ll kick its ass every time. But because of my ineptitude with cover letters, every time I don’t get called for an interview, I’m left wondering if it was because my cover letter sucked.

It’s enough to drive a man to drink. But I don’t think that will help my cover letter writing either.

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