Dear Margo: It’s Generational

When did “sluts” become “friends with benefits”? Margo Howard’s advice

It’s Generational

Dear Margo: I often see references in your column (and elsewhere) to “friends with benefits.” Where can I find a woman like this? It sounds wonderful. I can have sex and do nothing for her in return. When did this “friends with benefits” start? When I was a young man, we used to call those women sluts. So today we rename the sluts, and they fall for it. I wish I were 30 years younger. I could use a friend with benefits. — John from Essex

Dear John: Thanks for the laugh. Your sly take on this subject is most likely shared by everyone who is middle-aged. My guess is that this new casual approach to what used to be something meaningful is post-sexual revolution, if not post-post-sexual revolution. Somehow the kids went off the rails and decided sex was just something to do … you know, like a video game or playing darts.

The women you call “sluts” I would call “loose,” and they have been around forever. That behavior, however, was not sanctioned, as it is now; there was usually a reputational price to pay, if not a venereal disease. (Those are still possible, by the way!) Around the 1780s, Count Talleyrand observed: “In order to avoid being called a flirt, she always yielded easily.” So you see, dear, the activity has remained the same; only the name has changed. — Margo, historically

Some Bumps on the Career Military Road

Dear Margo: My fiance is in the military, and for the past few years, we’ve been moving around the South. I am a New Englander, so this has been a completely new experience for me. While I’ve appreciated my time here, have learned a lot and have come to love a few things about this area and culture, I am hopelessly heartsick for home. My fiance and I usually make friends easily, but at our current location, we’ve both had a difficult time doing so, which no doubt adds to my misery. I’ve talked to others who’ve been in the military for decades, and they say it was harder to meet people at this base than at any other. So it’s not just us, but that doesn’t make me any less lonely.

I do what I can and try to enjoy the little things. I get home to visit as often as I’m able. I’m lucky enough to have found a great job here, which is not the case for many military spouses. And I know to some extent I am idealizing home. This is all particularly jarring and somewhat disappointing to me as I’ve always been the optimistic, go with the flow, I-can-be-happy-anywhere type. While I hate our location, I like military life in general, and we are in this for the long haul (18 more years). In his field, it is virtually impossible that we will be stationed anywhere near home. There’s a slight chance we could go overseas, which I would love, but most likely, we’ll be bouncing around the South for quite a while. How do I lessen my homesickness and enjoy it more than I do now? — Left My Heart at Home

Dear Left: My position has always been: “It’s the guy, not the place.” While I understand and sympathize with the problems having to do with your particular base and being parked in a different part of the country, I do see some bright spots. You have a job you enjoy, and you get to go home to visit. I can’t exactly figure out why your particular base is tough in terms of finding friends, but I suspect it can be done if you put some effort behind it. There has to be a town near your base, so perhaps through work or an affinity group you could broaden your horizons beyond life at the base. I hope you’ll start humming the song “Accentuate the Positive” and let the lyrics be your guide. I think you’ll be just fine. — Margo, optimistically

* * *

Dear Margo is written by Margo Howard, Ann Landers’ daughter. All letters must be sent via the online form at Due to a high volume of e-mail, not all letters will be answered.


Every Thursday and Friday, you can find “Dear Margo” and her latest words of wisdom on wowOwow

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211 Responses so far.

  1. avatar James says:

    When John from Essex was a young man, they also had a term for men who acted the same way; they called them “men.” How about pointing out to him, Margo, that if he did have a FWB he would be every bit as “loose” as she is? However a person feels about casual sexual relationships, in the 21st Century it shouldn’t be acceptable to hold men and women to different standards.

    • avatar Karen Lauer says:

      Seriously!!  I couldn’t believe I read that response on a website dedicated to WOMEN!  Holy cow!!

    • avatar cl1028 says:

      Amen! How unbelievably offensive!

      • avatar Diana Danh says:

        YEAH! Don’t hate the player, hate the game! We are all just animals and sex IS just something we are all programmed to want to do.

        • avatar phanie says:

          As I don’t eat my own feces and I can think for myself, I do not consider myself an animal. But thanks!

          • avatar R Scott says:

            Good to know that you, like most other animals, don’t eat your own feces. Thanks for the info.

          • avatar Briana Baran says:

            phanie, you have three choices: animal, vegetable or mineral. Assuming that you have a beating heart, indulge in respiration, and are capable of reproducing in the usual mammalian way, you qualify as a mammal, species: homo sapiens.

            Very few animals indulge in coprophagia. Among those that do regularly are chickens, infrequently, canines. Phagia means eating, or swallowing.

            Humans may suffer from coprophilia. It is very rare, but does, indeed, exist.

            “Philia” comes from the Greek for “love” (though not by Aristotle’s definition). Coprolite is fossilized dinosaur feces, from the Greek kopros (dung) and likithos (stone). I leave it to you to define coprophilia for yourself, and to realize the meaning of coprophilia…and that humans are simply highly evolved, but very capricious, animals.

          • avatar Mandy says:

            So are you vegetable or mineral then?

          • avatar Briana Baran says:

            Well darling, since my small black heart is beating, and I am typing, I’d guess I’m animal. It might have been amusing if it wasn’t such an obvious question. Droll. The query I might ask of you is if you’re a higher or lower animal, but that answer is screamingly clear.

          • avatar Briana Baran says:

            O, mandy, MANY apologies. My computer showed your reply as being to my comment for the better part of an hour…then, after I replied to you, it reconfigured and shows your reply being in regard to the post from phanie. I am truly, truly sorry…and yes, this has happened on this site before.

            I should have reset before I posted. Again, heartfelt apologies.

          • avatar Mandy says:

            Not a problem. I just looked at the screen like a confused puppy for a second and then read your next comment. 🙂

    • avatar Mandy says:

      Well said, James!

    • avatar wendykh says:

      I can’t believe it either. FRIENDS btw is a big part of that phrase, the first word even. Try being a good friend to a woman, performing oral sex enthusiasticaly and competently, and believe you me you’ll get plenty of FWB.

  2. avatar MelG says:

    I wouldn’t say that FWB situations are sanctioned so much as simply tolerated these days. Among my group of friends (and we’re all in our early 30s), such a circumstance isn’t seen as a good thing or empowering; truth be told, we all avoid it as much as possible, particularly those of us who have been in that situation because we’d heard it was “fun”. It isn’t. It’s emotionally frustrating, even if you think that you’ve agreed to the terms of the “friendship” with the friend in question. Most of the people I know aren’t too vocal if they have a friend with benefits. They usually don’t talk about it until after the situation has run its course, as it inevitably does. And when the sex stops, so does the friendship.

    An overriding truth I’ve discovered: if someone is truly your friend and you want to keep them as such, don’t sleep with them. And if there are real feelings there, act on them the right way and save yourself the trouble.

    As far as LW1 is concerned, it sounds like he comes from the era when the only standard was a double-standard. It still very much exists today, no matter how sexually empowered and forward-thinking we’d like to believe we are.

    • avatar luna midden says:

      FWB-nothing new, it has always been around, and normally it fails big time. I am older then the FWB age-but I remember the ‘we are good friends and do not have a GF/BF, why can’t we just sleep with each other to satisfy our natural urges until…. (one or both meet someone to have a relationship with). Besides being a Seinfeld episode, (Elaine and Jerry, exes, decided ‘why can’t we have sex’ if we are with anyone else. They made up a long ridiculous set of rules, which got broke and Elaine got jealous when Jerry started flirting with other women.), I remember an advice column over 15 years ago. The LW was in such relationship with her GOOD FRIEND and got upset when he went out and got a new GF. She wanted to know why he would not continue their agreement, at least until he and his new GF started having sex. I forgot some of it, but she was routed out for having feelings for the guy, she was jealous and it would harm, maybe even delay his new relationship when he had her to fall on for ‘booty calls’. I have known a few that tried this sort of thing, it NEVER ends well. Just like Elaine and the LETTER, someone always started to feel comfortable, started having feelings, normally the girl and the guy did not have the same feelings as her. And once you go down that route with someone, very few can go back to being ‘just friends’.

  3. avatar Briana Baran says:

    Because it’s late, and it’s been along day, I’ll keep this relatively brief.

    John claims to have been a “young man” approximately thirty years ago. Now, if one considers one’s twenties as one’s true youth (misspent and lacking in “sluts”, or friends with benefits, poor dear), then John from Essex would be in his fifties. Like myself, who has evolved to the age of fifty-two rather successfully.

    Now, Margo dear, you made the following statement: “Your sly take on this subject is most likely shared by everyone who is middle-aged.” What do you consider “middle aged”? If your definition does indeed include people in their fifties, and I assure you, I have no problem with this, as I intend fully to make it well past the century mark, then your estimation of our take on the subject may be a trifle off. I have never considered women who had lovers who were also friends, and who could manage that balancing act adroitly, “sluts”, even if I never engaged in that sort of thing myself. Nor would I have said that of women with many consecutive lovers, or even more than one lover. Nor are any of these habits necessarily a guarantee of “accidental” inconveniences in the form of unwanted pregnancies, or STD’s (known in those halcyon days of yore, when men were men and loose women were properly known as sluts as venereal or social diseases).

    I don’t think that John from Essex is being sly. I think he’s being an unmitigatedly sexist, foul-minded, lonely, probably sexually inhibited and deprived aging archaeological find of a goat’s, ahem, member. As well as boorishly blatant. And I think that you’re being unusually judgmental, gender-biased, and archaic in your thinking. While “Friends with Benefits” may be an unusually droll way to express the notion of occasionally having a sexual encounter with a friend…it is not a euphemism for promiscuity…nor is it meant to be. Friends with benefits can be male and female, two females, or two males. The term does not refer to *multiple* partners. It is not a matter of being used…women, Margo and John, have sexual urges too, and may wish to act upon them with a trusted partner. That does not make them SLUTS. Nor does not wishing a romantic, or permanent involvement. Or having sex outside of marriage. Or using birth control to prevent pregnancies, or condoms to keep away things even a Lysol douche won’t remove.

    I’ve been reading your column for years, and this is possibly the most defective answer you’ve ever given. Perhaps, as with old Scrooge, it was a bad bit of potato, or some under-cooked turkey. A touch of dyspepsia. I’m not going to stop reading your column, I enjoy you, and it, far too much, and I’m not given to that kind of pettiness. But “loose women”? “Sluts”? Take some Pepto, and sleep it off, please.

    And yes, detractors of the soulless bitch, I ran on longer than I meant to do. Peace to you and yours. Enjoy Black Friday and all of the conspicuous consumption, leftover bird and beer. Don’t get trampled. Blitz out on triptophan.

    Love and a safe weekend.


    • avatar Melissa Taylor says:

      ^ this a thousand times.

      I am in my mid-thirties and friends with benefits has never meant to me or any of my friends that the persons involved are sluts or anything close to promiscuous. Perhaps you have the wrong idea about this term as it is usually used to refer to two people, of any orientation, that are friends that get together once in awhile (or more often if the mood suits) to enjoy each other with out having a coupled relationship. This does not mean they go around sleeping with anything on two legs.

      Melissa, nonjudgementally

    • avatar dcarpend says:

      Thank you. Thank you very much.

      I am fifty three, and I very definitely had sex in non-committed situations in my youth. Indeed, I like to point out to young people, who — like every generation — think they invented sex, that I was young during that vanishingly small window of human history between the discovery of penicillin and the advent of AIDS, back when sex was the safe vice. We all knew drugs could could kill you, but anything you could get from sex, at least that we knew of, we could cure.

      And it wasn’t just me. Most of my female friends were having sex without having some deep, overwhelming commitment. Indeed, it would have been considered a little unusual if someone were not. Why did we do it? For the same reason the men were doing it: We liked sex. Oh, shock, oh, horror!

      There is a real honesty about two people discovering they have sexual chemistry and running with it. What I find questionable is women who see sex as something they parcel out in return for promises and gifts. So far as I’m concerned, if you take material gain into account when deciding who you’ll sleep with, you’re a prostitute, and it doesn’t matter if that gain comes in the form of $100 on the nightstand, or fancy dinners and jewelry.

      And LW1? The reason why you never had such a relationship is that your fundamental contempt for women and our sexuality is clear.

    • avatar Diana Danh says:

      If this were Facebook I’d “Like” it! LOL

    • avatar Carol Palinkas says:

      I planned on responding, but could not have said it better than you just did. Perfect.

  4. avatar Ajen says:

    I agree with Briana’s comment– John from Essex’s letter did not strike me as sly so much as it seemed tedious and misogynistic. I’m not surprised he doesn’t have a “Friend with Benefits”; I’m surprised he’s got any friends at all with such an outdated, hateful attitude.

    This is a website aimed at modern women, yes? Well, in modern times, we call what John’s doing “slut-shaming”, and a great many women are tired of it. If a woman wants to have an active sexual relationship purely for the enjoyment of sex (imagine that!), then power to her. I thought part of feminism was about the freedom to make choices– this includes sexual choices. By assuming that a woman only makes such choices because she’s too dumb to do otherwise is incredibly insulting. Why is it stupid to enjoy sex with no strings attached? Men have been doing it for centuries without being called sluts OR loose. Funny how that works…

    Shrugging off this sexist attitude as a “generational” thing is like saying oh, well, isn’t it droll how people of color don’t want to be referred to by the offensive racial slurs any more. How delightfully generational!

    Unless, of course, by “generational”, you mean “embarrassingly ignorant”, in which case you’re absolutely correct. But a site that celebrates women and changing the world should do better than that, don’t you think?

    P.S. I think it’s pretty damn funny that John comes right out and admits that when he has sex with a woman, the act offers no benefits for her. I don’t doubt he’s right about that, but I suspect we’ve solved the problem about why he can’t find someone with whom to reap such a “benefit”.

  5. avatar Karen Ferguson says:

    To those who feel that people uncomfortable with the idea of FWB are not “modern” or are sexist, I consider myself immune: I really don’t care what anyone else does and so I’m not judging. But I join John of Essex and Margo in their bewilderment. It was the Casey Anthony case that confused me. One of her FWB’s, interviewed by the police, commented that their arrangement was uber casual and that she’d jump up, dress, and go home immediately. He said “I felt like the girl.” (In his own unknowing way he understood and took care of the sexism question.) But then he said “I asked her to take it up to the next level.” Without being a prude or a moralist –just being a realist– I wondered what exactly that next level was. I asked a twenty-something friend, who said the behavior of Casey Anthony and all her friends was absolutely typical. But I persisted: After sex, what’s the next level? What’s above sex? What do you do when you fall into one of those magnificent madnesses to ratchet it up a notch when you’ve already dispensed with sex with the same nonchalence as you toss out used ketchup packets at McDonalds?

    • avatar Ajen says:

      Karen, I’d like to clarify my remarks re: your comment to avoid misunderstandings. It is perfectly okay if people are uncomfortable with the idea of FWBs. That is entirely their right, and this type of relationship is not for everyone. Not being comfortable with it doesn’t make a person sexist.

      But implying that women (not men, only women!) are stupid or lacking in morals for wanting to choose this type of relationship IS sexist. Calling women (not men, only women!) names and trying to shame them for exercising their right to choose to have such a relationship is also sexist.

      John isn’t merely “bewildered”, he’s being deliberately nasty and dismissive toward women. In some circles, this passes as humor, but I’m glad to see that more than one commenter sees it for what it really is.

      As for your questions, I’m not really sure what you’re asking. Wanting to “take something up to the next level” usually refers to a closer degree of intimacy. Given the brief context you provided, it sounded like the witness wished to take the relationship from the level of “no strings attached” to a relationship complete with romantic attachments. In other words, emotional and romantic intimacy in addition to sexual intimacy.

      As for describing a FWB relationship as cold, unfeeling act (i.e. like tossing out used ketchup packets), I think that’s making assumptions about how other people think and feel without actually knowing.

      • avatar mmht says:

        Ajen, you said it perfectly!

      • avatar A R says:

        In my opinion, I’d guess that Margo also saw the comment for what it was. She simply sidestepped his intended nastiness by calling his comment “sly”.

        I read it as I do when I hear someone snarkily say, “Nice move” to someone who flubbed a moment, and the offender replies, “Thank you for noticing.”

        You *know* the person who snipped it meant to be rude, but by refusing to acknowledge it, you take power from them.

        I read Margo’s reply as such.

        • avatar Ajen says:

          That’s a very generous interpretation, but I’m afraid I just don’t see evidence of that.

          Thanking him for the laugh and then saying his opinion “is most likely shared by everyone who is middle-aged”? Describing the newer generation as having “[gone] off the rails” for enjoying recreational sex? Going on to say that what John calls “sluts”, she calls “loose” and that the price for enjoying a sexual relationship is a venereal disease?

          That is not sidestepping, refusing to acknowledge, or taking power away from John’s opinions, A R. That is a direct affirmation of them and then throwing more fuel on the fire to boot.

          When someone says something demeaning and offensive about an entire group of people, acting as if the comment as funny and perfectly acceptable in polite company and then adding some offensive comments of your own is NOT the classy road, it’s the disgraceful one.

    • avatar dcarpend says:

      What’s the next level after sex? As a woman who asked her husband out on the first date, largely because I hadn’t been laid in a few months and I found him attractive, I’m qualified to answer this question:

      We had really great sex on that first date. Had that been all, we would have had a few fun weeks, and that would have been it. Instead, we also discovered that we tremendously liked and enjoyed one another, had a deep and inherent affinity. We rapidly found that we couldn’t decide which we wanted to do more, have sex or talk to one another. So we saw one another several times a week, both for sex and just because we wanted to be together. We made opportunities to do things together other than get laid. We ‘came out’ to our group of friends as a couple. While neither of us had been sleeping with anyone else — too busy with one another — we eventually formally agreed that we were sexually exclusive. After 2 1/2 years, we moved in together (and, at the same time, moved away from the city where we had met.) 2 1/2 years after that, we married.

      We are still together after 22 years, 16 of them married. We are still crazy about one another. We are more deeply committed than ever, and our mutual trust, emotional intimacy, and understanding are implicit and profound. This all started with sex, rather than culminating in it.

      I find it odd that people somehow think of sex as the ultimate in intimacy, when we all see people around us who have been sharing beds for years with people from whom they are obviously estranged.

      • avatar Diana Danh says:

        That was a beautiful response. I felt the same way with my husband. The first night I met him I saw fireworks, he was just above and beyond anyone else I had ever met before. Everything he said and did even before we met was right on the mark. I think these slut shaming people are just so jealous, insecure and emotionally cold that they have lost their humanity.

      • avatar Michelles11 says:


      • avatar wendykh says:

        I married my husband of 7 years and two kids because he gave me my first vaginal orgasm, no lie. I had been married and divorced previous, spent many years finding myself sexually, was firmly in the sexually liberated single independent woman camp, very aware I “couldn’t” orgasm from intercourse…. he was my best friend and kind of hot and talked a good game so I decided to give him a go although he was SO not my type, and was younger to boot (I was firmly interested in ONLY men 10-15 years older for serious relationships, as a rule).

        Then we started fornicating like rabbits because he smelled right and I knew how to move right and it became passionate and biologically driven and necessary to be in each other as much as possible, while still firmly insisting we were just friends.

        We married about 18 months after the first time we had sex, 3 months after he finally got me off from the rabid screwing (he’d been doing a good job in other ways prior) and while it’s been a wild stormy ride especially the first few years I know I’ll die in his arms if he doesn’t die in mine first.

    • avatar egg99 says:

      Casey Anthony is not the test case.

      Someone who engages in a FWB relationship doesn’t necessarily “dispense with sex with the same nonchalance as you toss out used ketchup packets at McDonalds.” And yes, Karen, you aren’t judging.

      What’s above sex… Hm….. Oh, I don’t know, maybe deciding to spend the rest of your life with someone. That might be a teensy bit more “next level” than sex. Or perhaps deciding to procreate and raise a family together. Or even the experience of your deepening love and emotional intimacy. Or… nevermind… you’re right. Nothing. It’s all about sex. Nothing in your life or relationship could everrrrr top sex.

      For the record, I’m in a longterm monogamous relationship, and I’ve never been in a FWB relationship. That said, I can obviously conceive of such a relationship, which- I know- may shock people, as many believe this is only a cognitive leap only obtainable by men.

  6. avatar lincer says:

    Hey Margo:  Hope you had a great holiday.

    Re:  Slut/Loose:  In this technical age, I prefer to refer to these people as “User Friendly”

    With  emphasis on the words USER and USED.


    • avatar dcarpend says:

      Is it impossible for you to imagine that the women might be using the men? Why do people assume that sex is something women give and men get? Why is it so hard for people to imagine that the women who sleep with men without a commitment are doing it because, like the men involved, they like sex? Sheesh.

      • avatar Michelles11 says:

        dcarpend…THANK YOU!!!!!!  So glad someone thinks like me.  I honestly don’t get it either.  Women DO like sex, and honestly, I can enjoy sex with someone and not want a commitment from them.  Sheesh.

  7. avatar Cindy Marek says:

    L #1: Margo: “Somehow the kids went off the rails and decided sex was just something to do … you know, like a video game or playing darts.”

    Lol!! Yep. And as we all know, there are far more serious consequences to sleeping around. And regardless of how many more generations pass, men will NEVER respect women who sleep around. Double standards are not fair, but neither is life.

    L #2: I can sort of relate. Moved far away from my home territory; nearly 20 years later I still regret it occasionally. You’ve discovered a surprising thing about yourself: “This is all particularly jarring and somewhat disappointing to me as I’ve always been the optimistic, go with the flow, I-can-be-happy-anywhere type.” I can totally relate to that. So now you’ve admitted this, can cherish happy home memories, continue working towards being happy where you are. And one little mental exercise I frequently do, when homesick blues hit me: Remind myself of what led me to willingly leave home; the negative aspects (weather, unpleasant regional attitudes).

    • avatar percysowner says:

      Double standards CAN change, but only if people confront them and call people out about them. Just blaming women for having a sex drive simply perpetuates the idea that men will never respect women who enjoy sex.

    • avatar dcarpend says:

      Really? Men will NEVER respect women who sleep around? Because the man I’ve been married to for 16 years knew that I had a long and active sexual history, and certainly was aware I’d asked him out on the first date because, ur, I liked the way his jeans fit, rather than because I wanted to discuss theology. Yet all these years he’s given every evidence of respecting me deeply.

    • avatar Diana Danh says:

      I for one am tired of hearing the old “venereal disease” excuse for slut shaming. As if people don’t know what condoms are for and how to use one, and yes, they do work very well.

    • avatar butterfly55 says:

      Actually I have never met a real man who not only respected but loved to be around a woman who liked sex and was not afraid to enjoy it.  I was quite happy with both FWB and serious sex until I married, and received more marriage proposals than I wanted, this from men who knew my history.

  8. avatar R Scott says:

    LW1-Why is it so mind boggling to some people that there are adults out there who enjoy clean, healthy sex with each other simply because it’s enjoyabable? And what’s with the double standerd? The LW is my age, or younger and should know better. Every time this bonehead banged a “slut” that made him a guy who bangs “sluts”. Congratulations big man.

    LW2 – I’m hoping the LW was just feeling little down and got it out of her system. She sound’s pretty sensible and is doing the right stuff. Not much to add other than I hope she can make peace with the situation and I’m sure whe will.

  9. avatar sconseter says:

    Oh lighten up, people… John was just making a rather tongue-in-cheek comment on the times….Margo just followed suit…as she should have.

    As a woman approximately the same age (I’m assuming) as John, those professing outrage that the FWB designation shouldn’t be compared with being “loose” or “sluts” are being a bit disingenuous  

    OK, so maybe it doesn’t mean sleeping around/multiple one-night stands, but no self-respecting woman out there really thinks a FWB relationship is particularly healthy or even that desirable.  It’s actually rather shallow…contrary to FWB propopents’ beliefs, there’s everything admirable in wanting to share something as intimate as sex with someone with whom they can see a full future — not just the next hook-up when the mood happens to strike.  

    • avatar carol grzonka says:

      i’m probably older than either you or ‘john'(interesting pseudonym, btw).  names that you bandy around so casually are simply a means of minimizing any woman who owns her own sexuality.  if a woman doesn’t attach her well-being, sexual or otherwise, to a particular man, you have to ‘understand it’ by naming it negatively.  everything doesn’t have to be deep, deep, deep to have value.  by the by, while you’re romanticizing ‘THE BIG RELATIONSHIP’, have you never come in contact with any couple who detested and disrespected each other,  but this is ok because they envision a future together?

      • avatar sconseter says:


        • avatar Briana Baran says:

          What’s the matter, sconseter, literacy challenged this morning? carol’s comment was perfectly rational and coherent…perhaps she ought to have used very small words to reach you.

          Or maybe it’s the concepts that are beyond you. I have excellent sarcasm and irony awareness. John (and yes, what an interesting alias…I wonder if the only women who suffer his attentions are those he must pay for, and if they demand a premium to put up with him) might have thought he was being ironic (o how droll, now sluts are called friends with benefits, who’d have thought it?), but if he considers that a joke, it’s of the same order as the one with the punch line that goes: “Women are just life-support systems for c**ts”. Nice, hmmm? Approve of that one, do you?

          Margo’s reply may have been light-hearted (I think “frivolous” or “trivializing” are words better suited), but it was not amusing either. It was presumptuous (read all of the replies from the “middle-aged”), judgmental, and oddly cruel. If she had been joking, she would have taken a poke at John in her usual manner.

          I’m not choking from apoplexy. Hardly. I even wished a lovely post-Turkey Day-Black Friday-triptophan-filled-blissed-out weekend on everyone. I certainly don’t expect an apology from Margo. For you, I wish an infection of post-Victorian thinking. How many marriages are utterly loveless, and have one or the other party miserably suffering the sexual attentions of the other for years? If you think no “self-respecting woman” should behave in this foul and reprehensible manner, what about self-respecting men” Or should they be allowed to freely follow their penises, and sow their wild oat seeds in as many vessels as necessary to quell their wanton urges (and who are these “vessels”? Must be un-self-respecting-women…or sluts) whilst we self-respecting, repressed, virginal (I don’t know…is masturbation acceptable? Or do we lose Purity Points for having ANY sexual feelings before we find The One? Can one be “intimate” with a vibrator or dildo?) women keep our knees locked together until that someone with whom we clairvoyantly see a full future comes along, complete with Respectable Job, Good Genetics, and Intent of Marriage?

          I do believe that sexual repression causes hysteria, sconseter. They’ve proven that recently…I think it might have been in 1853 or thereabouts. Maybe we ought to go to a physician and have him apply stimulation so that a Thrill can be accomplished to achieve calmness and a return to rational thinking. I prescribe this for you. I hope it helps.

    • avatar mmht says:

      Sorry, Sconseter I think you, Margo’s, and John’s attitude is insulting, ridiculous, and so out of date that I’m surprised you’re even able to function in today’s society. I am a self-respecting woman and I took part in a FWB situation. I’m happily married and this has been many years ago, but at the time that I did it I wasn’t ready for a relationship and didn’t want one. I did, however, still have sexual needs that I wanted to fulfill. We both practiced safe sex, were with no one else sexually during that time, and it was to the mutual benefit of both. We are still friends. It might sound surprising, but mature people are capable of doing that.

    • avatar Ajen says:

      Sconseter writes: “Oh lighten up, people… John was just making a rather tongue-in-cheek comment on the times….Margo just followed suit…as she should have.”

      Calling women sluts and implying they’re stupid because they like having sex is just a light-hearted quip to you? Wow.

      And no, playing along with John was not the right thing to do. Women shouldn’t stand by and let men demean other women.

      “…no self-respecting woman out there really thinks a FWB relationship is particularly healthy or even that desirable.”

      That’s your opinion, not fact. You have no clue what other women might think or want in a relationship, and behaving as if you do is presumptuous.

      There was a time when “no self-respecting women” would be seen wearing make-up, or displaying her ankles, or not wearing a corset. Guess what? Those ideas are behind the times, too.

      “…contrary to FWB propopents’ beliefs, there’s everything admirable in wanting to share something as intimate as sex with someone with whom they can see a full future – not just the next hook-up when the mood happens to strike. ”

      You’re making baseless assumptions again. I think it’s great if people only want to have sex as part of a committed relationship. The difference between us is that I don’t feel the need to insult or demean the people who think differently from me.

      It makes me especially sad when I see women (like you and Margo) condoning attitudes like John’s. Without realizing it or meaning to, you’re both contributing to a horrible, sexist attitude that any women who doesn’t conform to your specific standard (i.e. no sex allowed unless it’s within a committed relationship) is somehow less than human or less worthy.

      It’s this kind of attitude that condones rape and sexual violence toward women. You send the message that it’s okay, even expected, because that’s the punishment for not making the choices you deem appropriate for a “self-respecting” woman.

      After all, they’re just dumb sluts, right?

    • avatar R Scott says:

      I think John made it quite clear that he thinks women who enjoy sex outside of marriage are what he would call sluts. He also made it clear that apparently we wants to get him some. He made it equally clear that he has little respect for women. Apparently, neither do you or Margo.

      Strong, self actualized, authentic women don’t need the promice of marriage, children or protection from a big ol’ man to have a healthy, enjoyable sex life.

      Consenting adults and all that dontcha know. . . .

    • avatar wendykh says:

      The only people who think sex is only special with someone you love are people who are having really crappy sex that is only “good” because it’s with someone they love.

  10. avatar percysowner says:

    Margo, I am deeply disappointed with your answer to John from Essex. His question was misogynistic and sexist. Believe it or not women actually like sex just as much as men do. Having sex with a friend who you know and can trust is sensible and can fulfill a need if someone isn’t in a committed relationship. To imply that women who have sex without a permanent connection are “loose” or “slut” is demeaning and insulting. It does not help change the views on women to placate a sexist jerk. What do you call a man is part of the FWB package? HE isn’t called anything other than lucky.

    BTW, I am in my late 50’s and assuming that accepting that women who have sex are perfectly nice people who are more than who they sleep with is NOT part of how I feel and I am of the same generation. I’m actually insulted that you think because I an middle aged to older woman that I MUST believe that women who have sex are sluts or loose or any other pejorative that you want to use is ageist.

    Fortunately, John from Essex, having told the world that is anyone has sex with you means that they should expect to get nothing positive out of the experience should insulate you from the “sluts” of the world. Hopefully it also will insulate us from you.

  11. avatar marojita says:

    I created an account just to comment on LW1’s inquiry and response – normally I take internet questions and internet answers with grains of salt – the LW and the advisor(s) come with their own unique perspectives and it serves ourselves and our communities well to listen and respond with an open mind as much as possible.

    But it’s very difficult to keep an open mind with this inquiry and response which are both clearly dated and frankly, hurtful, to women (but also men) who can and do have respectful, fun, exciting, delightful sexual relationships outside the confines of traditional structures.

    Clutching your peals as you glibly sigh that kids today have gone off the rails is insulting to a generation of young people who have taken their reproductive and sexual health into their own hands, by taking responsible steps to protect their bodies with birth control, condoms, etc. Not to mention, taking their sexual happiness into their own hands by experimenting and deciding what makes them feel good.

    Further, some advice for Margot along the lines of people in glass houses…not long ago (and even still, which is ridiculous and petty), women who divorced and remarried were often grouped into the “loose” category, no? And John, if you’re so concerned about traditional relationships between men and women, why in your 50s are you looking for a friend with benefits? Why aren’t you married? If you are, what on earth are you doing to respect your wife by looking for a friend with benefits?

    John – Good luck finding such a person in this day and age of women having greater self-respect and knowledge about what they want in the bedroom. I doubt any of my contemporary sisters would put up with your horsesh*t for very long…

    • avatar Raugiel Reddel says:

      marojita, I agree 100%!! Except that I don’t think there is any mystery as to why “John” isn’t married. I think his letter says it all!

  12. avatar carol grzonka says:

    margo, SHAME ON YOU!!!  whether this letter is a ‘joke’ or ‘tongue in cheek’, by buying into this attitude, you have insulted many of the women who read you column or that you come into contact with on a daily basis..  reread what you wrote.  your response is every bit as misogynistic as his letter.  better you spend a night with a caring FRIEND than cling to an unloving partner because he’s your RELATIONSHIP.  or have the many letters you receive taught you that little.

  13. avatar sconseter says:

    People, people!!  He was JOKING!!!!  Maybe it’s not all THAT funny…but please, GET A GRIP!!  

    And Margo, please don’t fall into the “ohmygosh-I’ve-offended-my-readers-maybe-they’re-right-” trap and get all apologetic.   

    It was a trying-to-be-funny, lighthearted letter, folks (and by folks, I mean all the women out there who are choking with apoplexy over this). It is MEANINGLESS!!!  Just eat your Thanksgiving leftovers and thank your lucky stars you have nothing more to worry about than a silly little letter in an advice column.

    • avatar mmht says:

      It was neither funny nor lighthearted. It was disgusting and offensive. Someone can’t say destructive hurtful things and then say “Oh, I was joking!” and make it all ok. You need step back into reality!

    • avatar marojita says:

      Let me make sure I understand you, sconseter – in your opinion, the LW was trying to be funny but in doing so offended a lot of people. And we’re supposed to cut him some slack why…? Just because it was maybe intended as a joke? That’s ridiculous. Jokes are supposed to be funny. Why don’t you re-read the comments if you’re still unsure of what happened here.

      Also – this flippant attitude towards women’s sexuality – that anything this side of “too ardent” can all be contained into one neat little word “slut” (or Margo’s questionable attempt to soften the blow “loose”) is not actually meaningless. As another commenter pointed out, we wouldn’t let some crap comedian get away with an insulting racial joke.

      I highly doubt that this post just happened to attract women (and men) with no sense of humor. Probably more likely the comedian sucks (or this was never a joke to begin with)…

    • avatar carol grzonka says:

      men need to learn that jokes like this are equivalent to ‘jokes’ that use the ‘n’ word or antisemitic humor.  no more. if you can’t restrain yourself from them, stay away!!!

    • avatar percysowner says:

      I’m just joking is the international code for “I really meant it, but now people upset, so I’ll pull plausible deniability”. It isn’t just a joke, it is a slur and the only way to put an end to slurs is to label them for exactly what they are, attacks on, in this case, women. It wasn’t funny, it was mean and demeaning. Pretending it was all in good fun only makes John from Essex feel like he can still be offensive and get patted on the head and told he is a good boy.

    • avatar Raugiel Reddel says:

      Sconseter, how meaningless is this really if you’ve felt the need to comment three times? What’s YOUR investment in his sexist and hateful attitude?

    • avatar Ajen says:

      Sconseter writes: “It was a trying-to-be-funny, lighthearted letter, folks (and by folks, I mean all the women out there who are choking with apoplexy over this). It is MEANINGLESS!!! Just eat your Thanksgiving leftovers and thank your lucky stars you have nothing more to worry about than a silly little letter in an advice column.”

      It was indeed a very silly (and offensive, and sexist) letter, but it’s about a very serious issue– demeaning women for failing to conform to a specific code of behavior. You might not see it as worthy of your attention, but plenty of people do. You do not get to decide what’s important enough for them to spend their time on.

      But if you like, please feel free to explain why calling women sluts is funny. I’d love to hear it.

  14. avatar mmht says:

    I am utterly appalled by you Margo. Not only for printing John from Essex’s disgusting, sexist letter but for laughing and agreeing with him! Why is it that the woman is a slut but men’s reputation are not in the least bit affected by this? And why is it so wrong to enjoy sex? Its completely natural. Many species engage in sex for fun and they don’t have a monogamous relationship nor do the female members of those species have to endure public ridicule for it. Maybe you and John from Essex can take a time machine back 30 years ago b/c clearly both of you are two judgmental and sexist to live in today’s society.

  15. avatar MizAmazon says:

    wow… Apparently I wasn’t the only one to feel offended by both letter writer #1 and Margo, whose advice I usually agree with. Even when I was a young teenager I was always offended by the double standard that said unmarried women who had sex were sluts, while there was no such moniker for men. In fact, the more sexual conquests a man had, the more “studly” and admired he was. Additionally, I spent my teen years attending a fundamentalist church, where we were told by our pastor that it was up to the girls to say “no” and set the boundaries, because guys couldn’t help themselves once they became aroused. So if sex took place, it was the girl’s fault for letting it happen. God save us from those asinine ideas. In my later teens and twenties, I found myself in the “love the one you’re with” generation. Everybody I knew had casual sex, and there was no stigma attached to it. Nowadays, I don’t see it as a morality issue, but more as an issue of personal safety (consensual sex rather than coerced or forced, proper contraception and protection from STDs), self-esteem issues (making sure the person you’re giving yourself to really cares about you and isn’t just using you) and real feelings of love, caring, and mutual respect for your sexual partner. No one is served by labeling young women as “sluts” for sleeping around. Unfortunately many young women have not been taught to respect themselves, have not been valued enough to develop a healthy sense of self-esteem, and may even have been sexually molested, which can contribute to sleeping around indiscriminately, looking for love, but having no idea what real love is. And many young men are in the same position as well, though young men are still admired for their sexual conquests. The only derogatory term I’ve ever heard applied to a man who sleeps around a lot is a “Himbo” (like bimbo).

    • avatar Lila says:

      MizAmazon, you hit some of the key issues, and self-esteem is a big one. I am very concerned that girls are commercially hypersexualized from a very young age these days, and both they and young boys are conditioned to think that a girl’s primary value is in looking good and putting out. Think of things like padded bikini tops for 7-year-olds, Bratz dolls, music videos, any number of TV shows that place underage female characters in explicit sexual situations.

      I don’t mind if a young woman has sex for her own enjoyment; what bothers me is that 1) a lot of girls put out just because it seems to be expected, not because they like it; and 2) I don’t see a whole lot of approval or glorification of girls / women for being smart, accomplished, creative, strong, etc… only for looking and being sexy.

      • avatar Raugiel Reddel says:

        Lila – all those things are problems, but they root from attitudes like Johns. Read his letter again and note how eager he is to get in on what he sees to be a chance to take advantage of women. For him, it is not about women owning their sexuality, its about what he can and can’t get out of a woman. He obviously has his mind set on what he thinks the purpose of a woman is, and it is not stimulating conversation.

        • avatar Lila says:

          John’s letter was so over the top I thought it might be sarcastic… but I am not sure.

          • avatar Ajen says:

            Sadly, Lila, John’s letter and general attitude isn’t that unusual. Lots of men judge women for enjoying sex. The idea that a woman might enjoy sex or have desires of her own and wish to act upon them without first getting the approval of a man is very threatening for some people.

            That’s why we end up with derogatory terms like “slut” and “loose women” for women, while men who engage in the exact same behavior are lauded for their virility and masculinity. It’s a sexist double standard, and I wish more people would recognize such B.S. for what it is.

        • avatar wendykh says:

          John is just pissed these women aren’t “friends” with him. Period.

  16. avatar Raugiel Reddel says:

    I have never felt the need to comment negatively on anything Margo has said here before, and many have already expressed what is wrong with this picture very well, but I can’t help adding to the voices. John has here expressed a hateful and possessive attitude towards women. It is as if he has said “I am upset that I can’t take advantage of women more easily! Since I missed out on the idea of sex being OK, I am going to degrade younger women who are enjoying sex, presume that they will sleep with anything that moves, and toot the horns of young men who are obviously getting to take advantage of every misogynistic fantasy I ever had!” The reply: “Oh yes! Aren’t young women sluts! They have no moral character, but we just accept that now. Don’t they know that sex cannot have any meaning outside of the one relationship structure that our ancestors decided was acceptable? Oh well! Wish I was in the olden days with you, when a man owned a woman and a woman knew her place!” I would be surprised to find that John had any friends, let alone female ones. I don’t see any benefit to anyone from engaging in any sort of relationship with this bitter and hateful man.

  17. avatar Lila says:

    Huh. Recalibrating… Definition of “slut.” ??? If it isn’t someone who sleeps around a lot, or outside her committed relationship… what is it? Is there even such a thing any more?

    Okay, I am officially a stodgy old Victorian, because I agree with those here who observe that FWB relationships generally don’t turn out well. Men and women really do view and feel about sexual relationships differently, in general. While men are more likely to be able to “just have sex” with no emotional attachment to the woman at all, women tend to be more emotionally involved with their sex partners. It is inherently unequal, and for all of the modern push for women to try to equalize themselves with men in ALL ways, including sexual behavior, I believe it just does not work at the most basic emotional level.

    I think there is a biological / evolutionary basis to the differences between “traditional” male and female behavior, understanding always that there are exceptions: in general, historically, women had better reproductive success if they could attract a successful mate and keep him around to 1) father more children, and 2) help protect and provide for those children until they were self-sufficient. Men, on the other hand, had better reproductive success if they could just impregnate as many females as possible. Women are all about attracting a mate, not conquering him. They are emotionally sexually aroused, romanced; it’s psychological. Men are all about conquest, a score, they are visually aroused; it’s often just physical, and for them, it is therefore easy to just leave sex in the purely physical realm. (Again… these are gross generalizations and there are always exceptions.)

    This is why a man, caught in an affair, may defend himself with “but it was just sex.” And they mean it! Of course the wife does not accept that excuse because she thinks of sex in terms of emotional commitment. A woman’s affair is generally NOT “just sex.” It is about an emotional attachment outside her marriage.

    • avatar Raugiel Reddel says:

      Lila “Recalibrating… Definition of “slut.” ??? If it isn’t someone who sleeps around a lot, or outside her committed relationship… what is it?”

      Neither of the definitions you presented here fit FWB. You have described promiscuity, and you have described cheating. Although someone could practice FWB and either of those other behaviors, they are not required to go together. Should women who sleep with their partners before they are married (or, heaven forbid, without ever getting married!) have to wear scarlet A’s as well?

      • avatar Lila says:

        Raugiel, so… IS there such a thing as a slut? Is it only an antiquated notion? When does a woman cross the line? And is there such a thing as a slutty man? (I think not, because I can’t think of an equivalent male term for “slut”…)

        • avatar Raugiel Reddel says:

          In my opinion, Slut is like a racial slur, a comparison several other commenter have made. Like many racial slurs, some people try to “take the word back”. Other people try to banish it from use. I think it is handy, as someone who is using it is probably too sexist and ignorant to be worth my time, and they have given me a quick clue to that fact. Reading between the lines, “slut” has always meant, “women who defies societal conventions regarding sex to the displeasure of those in charge.” There has never been a clear equivalent for men, as they generally have been “those in charge”. Remember, once we weren’t people, we were property.

        • avatar Sadie BB says:

          Lila – yes there is a term for male slut…Or am I the only person who has heard of man-whores?

    • avatar percysowner says:

      Slut is a loaded term meant to degrade a woman who enjoys sex PERIOD. You are repeating tired old stereotypes that are used to try and make women ashamed of actually being sexual.

      Until 1965 some states outlawed the use of birth control EVEN WITHIN MARRIAGE. Since women are the ones who get pregnant and since men could walk away from the consequences of an unplanned pregnancy, women needed to be in a secure relationship for sex to avoid being impoverished and unable to care for a child. Women chose emotional relationships not because of biology, but because of necessity. Society also told them that they were slutty, slut, sluts if they even considered seeking personal sexual fulfillment. The rise of feminism and the ease of birth control finally ALLOWED women to express their biological urge to have sex and to actually find a partner who satisfies them.

      Evolutionary psychology is not a credible science. It makes claims about men, women and biology only to continue to justify the superiority of men and to try and keep women “in their place”. If you are right about women needing commitment biologically, why are we even having this discussion. We wouldn’t have to pound it into women’s heads that if they enjoy sex and don’t want to make a permanent commitment they MUST be bad people who deserve to be shamed.

      Your “concerns” also devalue a woman’s ability to decide for herself what makes her happy. You are informing us that YOUR WAY is the right way because women are too weak in a biologic way to decide any differently. I prefer to believe that most women know themselves and what they want and are mature enough to make decisions about when, where and why they want to have sex.

      • avatar Raugiel Reddel says:

        Amen percysowner!

      • avatar jessica lewis says:

        Preach it, percysowner! Well said!

      • avatar Lila says:

        I speak not of the recent history of the past few thousand years. I speak of evolutionary history of a couple hundred thousand – couple of million years ago.

        • avatar Lila says:

          PS, percysowner… I think you may have misinterpreted my post.

          What is “my way?” I don’t see it in my own post. I also said NOTHING about shame, about keeping women in their place, or anything else of that ilk. I was musing on evolutionary biology (like, before caveman days) and its effect on reproductive success, NOT psychology or societal mores.

          I also intentionally loaded my post with a lot of disclaimers and phrases indicative of opinion… “these are gross generalizations and there are always exceptions”; “I believe”; “in general”; “tend”, etc. When I am musing on unprovable things, I try make clear I am NOT claiming any kind of hard facts.

          Sorry if I touched a nerve, seems like a surprisingly sensitive topic.

          It’s touchy for me too. One of my closest friends is a 20-something who I have known all her life, and she has been very unhappy at times because of the sexual expectations and assumptions of OTHER people. She does what she wants, but she also does what other people want; and I get the IMPRESSION (not based on scientific data) that she is pretty typical for her age.

        • avatar Sadie BB says:

          Lila- sometimes it’s difficult to tell the difference between nature & circumstance …until circumstances change. Once upon a time sex ( or rather pregnancy) could actually kill you. 1/3 of all women died in childbirth. Naturally women were more cautious about sex…until circumstances changed.
          Even after the advent of decent medical care, sex used to lead pretty directly to pregnancy, but once we had birth control 30% of women failed to become mothers. Ever. Now I hear it’s up to 50% in this country. That’s a heck of a lot of women who have forgotten their evolutionary ‘destiny’. Because it never was destiny, it was circumstance.
          From my own experience – For over half a century people have been telling me what a woman is…and either they’re totally wrong….or I’m a man!

    • avatar Briana Baran says:

      Lila, I agree with most of the things you commented on in your post, which is very thoughtful, as usual. Biologically and anthropologically, you are absolutely correct about males and females.

      However, society has changed drastically. Human females no longer need a man to protect, sustain and nurture them sociologically or culturally (I am speaking of Western culture), and are far more independent. Marriage is not a social necessity, nor is procreation. In fact, reproduction may not even be desirable. Also, biologically, human females are the only mammals (with the exception of bonobos) who do not have a specific heat period when they are capable of sexual arousal, and are the only females who can achieve orgasm…any time, all of the time.

      Given all of that, some women, more than you might think, and not just the very young, seek out sex for pure pleasure. No attachments, no commitment (in fact, I’ve known several women…mature women…who had friends with benefits specifically to avoid the pressure of being asked when they were getting married, etc.). I’m not judging whether or not these relationships work the majority of the time, or whether or not they are “wise” decisions…but they do not equate to promiscuity, infidelity or loose morals or ethics, nor are they limited to the young and foolhardy. A lot of women seek out sex with a trusted friend because it is SAFE…there will be no risk of STD’s, they know each other, neither is going to hurt the other, and the physical risks are minimal.

      Of course the potential for complications is enormous…but not just from the female perspective. Sociologically, men have changed a great deal, and I would guess that just as many men get hurt by these these arrangements as women. I found your comments with regard to infidelity interesting. I’ve known both committed men and women who’ve had affairs, and I’ve yet to hear but one man who cried, “But it was just sex!”. Affairs for men involve more than just arousal and sexual attraction…generally speaking, something is wrong in the relationship…just as is the case for women (and in both cases, some people are just untrustworthy, miserable and incapable of respect or decency). I have known one woman who was a serial cheater…who admitted that she did it “just for kicks”.

      But you ask if there are any “sluts” anymore. I’ve never particularly used that pejorative. I HAVE heard it applied to men…frequently…in three different states I’ve resided in. A slut, as I’ve always thought it defined, is a person who will have sex with anyone, anytime, perhaps with multiple someones simultaneously, for no gain other than the thrill of having sex. Sluts are not picky, have no self-respect, and no respect for anyone else. “Loose woman” is NOT the same as a slut. Loose women may have multiple partners, or have had a lot of consecutive lovers, or even a few marriages under their belts…but they still have at least a modicum of self-respect. So, I would say that yes, there are plenty of sluts still wandering about.

      But friends with benefits in no way whatsoever is meant to convey even more than one partner…much less promiscuity…or slutdom. Whether or not one approves, or if, statistically or anecdotally it is the best of ideas, or if it seems peculiar, or even if one agrees…it is not a commentary on loose morals or ethics, promiscuity, infidelity or a higher risk of STD infection or unplanned pregnancy (in fact, I’d wager that the last two are at a lower risk). I’ve even known two people who referred to their partners as “friends with benefits” until they were ready to announce an engagement (one couple) or that they had quietly gotten married (the other) to avoid harassment from over-bearing family and friends.

      It isn’t that new of a phenomenon…just a slightly wifty, silly name.

      • avatar Lila says:

        Briana, thanks for reading, thinking, and providing a thoughtful reply. I like your brain… and your perspectives on things.

        Who’da thunk this would be such a hot-button topic…?

        • avatar Briana Baran says:

          Lila, I like the way you think as well, and I recognize and respect your intelligence and thoughtfulness.

          This is a hot-button sort of topic…and it is something I pay attention to closely. I have a fourteen year old son at home, who is turning into a decent, caring, compassionate (and very shy, where the opposite sex is concerned) young man. I see a change coming in the kids his age…a slightly more cautious attitude, more friendliness, less pressure, less of that frantic rush to get THERE. We live in Texas, in the abstinence only based sex education system, in the heart of the Christian Right…but I don’t think that those things are what’s motivating these kids to proceed with a little more respect and care. He certainly hasn’t been raised with religious dogma (Rusty is an atheist, and you know my attitudes), but he is clear on cause and effect, and the vast, life changing consequences of those little rash decisions.

          He respects women. So does his dad. Rusty and I were friends for nine years before we were anything more…and then it was a tsunami. He knew my rather interesting past…all of it…and it didn’t matter a bit to him. Nor does it after 17 years of marriage. I’ve been called a slut, ridiculed for being twice divorced, reviled on this website for being honest. It is tough to be a woman who is open, and has something to be open about. I can honestly say that the pejoratives and vitriol don’t bother me…but what about others? Does it help for a Margo, normally so level-headed, informed and open-minded, to laughingly say, “Well, we called ‘sluts’ ‘loose women'”, and then state, for the record, that these easy (another anachronism) females are doomed to the hell of venereal diseases? I find that sad.

          I rather think that the reaction is more due to the beloved and respected Margo giving such a response, and WoW (purportedly a site dedicated to evolved women) printing it. The latter is certainly no surprise to me.

          I hope your Thanksgiving was lovely. I always wonder where you’re at in the world, and wish you the best.


    • avatar Sadie BB says:

      Well Lila, I give up.

      If women are not inclined to be as sexually active as men, then who are all these desperately horny men sleeping with? Each other?

      • avatar Lila says:

        Ha, Sadie, that is one of those questions no one liked to talk about in the old days! Ask, and watch ’em squirm. Harrumph, of course men will be men, and they are sleeping with “those other women, never our proper and precious dumpling…” Well, I know of some very proper young girls in our family who got “in trouble” way back around 1920 or so. And a very proper friend who got “in trouble” when we were in college in the 1980s. My past-generation relatives had no access to birth control so I can see how that happened… but my friend was educated and had access… why didn’t she protect herself? “Because nice girls don’t do that,” she told me. She was too embarrassed to buy condoms or ask for the pill. Certainly, more openness and less embarrassment about sex is only a good thing.

        Point is, no matter the time period, perfectly nice girls are the ones that the horny men are sleeping with! It just was not acknowledged.

        Oh, and… I did not intend to imply that women are less inclined than men to be sexually active; just that their approach is different. I am not the first to ponder the origins of this, or to suspect that it is at least in part biological, a vestige of how reproductive success was achieved in an ancient and very different world. Nowadays it is much easier to achieve reproductive success, partly due to an advanced civilization that makes our environment much safer and reduces our reliance on each other, and partly due to a current culture that promotes better (but not total) equality for women.

        All just food for thought.

        • avatar Sadie BB says:

          Well Lila, male and female are born in approximately equal numbers so it’s hard to see how the ‘men are promiscuous, women are monogamous’ theory can possibly work. Unless half the men are gay or celibate!
          Probably the preference for monogamy is a preference for one’s MATE to be monogamous.

          • avatar dcarpend says:

            Uh… some of us slept with a whole lot more than one man. We were taking up the slack for the rest of you. ;-P

          • avatar Sadie BB says:

            Dcarpend – or so men would like to imagine!!! My stepbrother recently gave me quite the lecture on how women were naturally better and more pure than men. I’m afraid I laughed rather cruelly.
            How was I to know he had found religion?

          • avatar butterfly55 says:

            Isn’t it odd how religion gets “found”.  Almost like a scavenger hunt. And of course a good woman is chaste and pure, so that back in biblical times men had to marry many of them to be able to satisfy their lust.  No  thanks, FWB is fine with me.

    • avatar Ajen says:

      Lila writes: “Men and women really do view and feel about sexual relationships differently, in general. While men are more likely to be able to “just have sex” with no emotional attachment to the woman at all, women tend to be more emotionally involved with their sex partners. It is inherently unequal, and for all of the modern push for women to try to equalize themselves with men in ALL ways, including sexual behavior, I believe it just does not work at the most basic emotional level.”

      Even if your first sentence is true– which is definitely not a given, as it is a generalization about gender roles– why shouldn’t women push for equality when it comes to sexual behavior? I’m not sure I understand the logic behind your reasoning.

      Talking about biology and the possible biological motivations behind why women might benefit more from monogamy and men don’t has a limited relevance here. As modern humans, we do lots of things that aren’t compatible with maintaining optimal reproductive success: masturbation, birth control, hysterectomies and vasectomies, etc.

      One could also argue that, speaking in purely biological terms, it’s more advantageous for women not to be monogamous, either. There are animal species where it is the norm for the females to mate with not one, but many males– it offers an increased chance of conceiving, and then she has several males to protect and provide. Polygamy for males and monogamy for females is not universal, even in nature.

      But why does that matter when it comes to gender equality? Hint: it doesn’t. We’re not limited to the gender roles that are traditional by evolutionary standards, nor should we be. Using biological and evolutionary science to argue that women shouldn’t strive to be equal with men just doesn’t make any sense.

      After all, we weren’t evolved to fly, either. Does that mean everyone should abandon air travel?

      “This is why a man, caught in an affair, may defend himself with “but it was just sex.” And they mean it! Of course the wife does not accept that excuse because she thinks of sex in terms of emotional commitment. A woman’s affair is generally NOT “just sex.” It is about an emotional attachment outside her marriage.”

      You’ve polled all the men who had affairs and know for certain there was absolutely no emotional component involved? Likewise, you’ve also polled all the women who’ve had affairs to find out that there was no physical aspect to their sexual infidelity?

      Again, when people make sweeping generalizations about gender stereotypes, it runs the high risk of being incorrect. And frankly, when the “scientific reasoning” in question is used to enforce inequalities for women, I’m inclined to dispense with it altogether.

      • avatar Lila says:

        *Sigh* Ajen, Once again, I am not arguing “should” or “shouldn’t.” I care not a whit about “morals” or “enforcement.” I am merely PONDERING “what is” and “what isn’t” and how, perhaps, it got that way.

        YES, for the sake of conceptualizing things, one must generalize somewhat. NO, I did not personally interview all 3.5 billion females on the planet and compile their opinions. I bet no one else has either. One person’s remark that “women are liberated and happy sleeping around” is exactly as sweeping and wrong (or right) as another person’s “women are not the same as men and not as blithe or happy sleeping around, as men are.” This is why I harped so much in my post about exceptions, but it sure didn’t help any.

        And yes, I fully recognize that we no longer live in caves, hunt mastodons, or worry about being carried off by sabertooth tigers, and that Queen Victoria is dead.

        I am not making up these various observations; it comes from a lot of reading. All the ladies here are pretty sharp, and whoever wants to learn more about studies, facts, trends, and statistics can search them out.

        • avatar Ajen says:

          I didn’t say you were making up your observations, Lila. I’m just questioning how applicable they are to modern situations. Arguing that evolutionarily, men/polygamy and women/monogamy leads to better reproductive success is fine and dandy, an academic discussion separate from the pesky issue of morals. But using that reasoning to claim that for men, affairs are just about sex and for women, they’re only about emotional attachment does not follow. Gross generalizations don’t seem very useful in the real-life application.

          Arguing that women striving to be equal with men in sexual behavior “just does not work” based on your observations re: evolutionary science doesn’t necessarily follow, either. As others have pointed out and you seem to agree, we’re not inextricably bound by biology. So why would women automatically fail at sexual equality based on that same fallible biological reasoning?

          “YES, for the sake of conceptualizing things, one must generalize somewhat. NO, I did not personally interview all 3.5 billion females on the planet and compile their opinions. I bet no one else has either. One person’s remark that ‘women are liberated and happy sleeping around’ is exactly as sweeping and wrong (or right) as another person’s ‘women are not the same as men and not as blithe or happy sleeping around, as men are.'”

          Please note: It’s already been said, but it looks like it needs saying again– promiscuity (“sleeping around”) is not necessarily the same thing as a FWB relationship. You can be FWBs with one person. When people mix up the two, it just suggests they’re judging something they don’t fully understand, and that benefits no one in the discussion.

          But I digress. Where has the claim that “women are liberated and happy sleeping around” been made? I am not finding it in the comments and was curious as to where you’re seeing it. If someone said that, then yes, they’re also wrong. Statements that imply ALL women are this or ALL women are that are far too general.

          I certainly recall making no such claims, because as you’ve said, I haven’t interviewed all the females in the world for their opinions. SOME women are liberated and happy sleeping around– that claim is sound enough. There are quite a few people saying that, and the reason why they’re saying it is in reaction to the comments (not yours, I do not think) that NO woman would be happy enjoying sexual relationships.

      • avatar dcarpend says:

        One could also argue that, speaking in purely biological terms, it’s more advantageous for women not to be monogamous, either.

        One could also argue that it’s historically common for women not to be monogamous. Why do you think so many strictures, from chaperones to chastity belts, were put around them? Everyone knew that plenty of children were not biologically those of their “fathers” — their mothers’ husbands. Extramarital affairs are hardly a recent phenomenon. The fact that for centuries marriage was largely an economic construct, with many women having little say in the choice of their husbands, can only have made the idea of having sex outside the marriage, with a man to whom one was actually attracted, more appealing.

        • avatar Briana Baran says:

          Actually, to be fair, the idea of an extra-marital affair must have been equally attractive to a young man hitched for life to a woman he detested. Remember, THEY had no choice either, and in later polite society, especially Victorian, only the most eccentric and notorious of men were allowed the luxury of misbehavior in the form of mistresses.

          Also, something that seems to have passed everyone by, not EVERY man back then, or now, is a malevolent, soulless bastard. Many husbands would forgo sex in order to prevent the death or discomfort of their wives due to too many pregnancies. A few would seek out prostitutes, but this was not considered socially acceptable (not even among men) and woe to the man who caught the pox or the Syph. The Victorian, and Pre-Victorian age is famous for its subtle, covert (because illegal), illicit homosexuality and lesbianism. It is obvious in the art, photography and literature of the time that powerful male-male and female-female bonds were extremely prevalent, and almost formal in nature as “friendships” masking something far more complex.

          By the early 1900’s lesbian relationships were so common, and so accepted in the country that they were colloquially known as Boston or New England Marriages. It was a very different world than most people seem to be aware of, and I think it is ludicrous that people insist on a constant comparison between today’s culture and society and then.

    • avatar dcarpend says:

      I’m sorry, but the whole “Women are emotionally aroused” thing rings completely untrue for me. I have, in my life, found many, many men sexually appealing whom I recognized from the very beginning as having no emotional or romantic potential at all — indeed, I had one or two night stands with more than a few of them. I also have met many men whom I found engaging on a personal/emotional level without finding them sexually exciting at all. For the very most part, I didn’t sleep with those, and I regretted it when I did.

      I wonder a bit if the legendary tendency of women to lose sexual interest in their spouses after a few years of marriage and a couple of kids is, at least to a degree, to be blamed on women being taught that “women are interested in the emotional stuff” and deliberately ignoring their own sexual chemistry. Which, in the long run, isn’t fair to either the husband or the wife.

      • avatar Lila says:

        dcarpend, people are different and it does ring true for me. I have never once been turned on by a good-looking hunk of beefcake. Some of my female friends are mystified. “You haven’t got a hormone in your body,” says one. Well, yeah, I do, but they are turned on by more subtle things… the way a guy looks at me, how he talks to me or treats me, his smile. But I think pheromones must also be at work in my case, because some guys like that are attractive to me, but others – meh. Or even… ewww.

        Anyway, the visual just does nothing for me. Might as well be looking at a Ken doll.

        • avatar Briana Baran says:

          Interesting comment, Lila. Men are more visually stimulated in general (in other words, it is not just a sexual response. Testing has been done on various subjects, including flower types, colors, shapes, designs, facial expressions, infant faces, movement, that proves this) than women. Women and men register different facial features, and different aspects of people they meet.

          I am a very visually oriented person, but then, I was raised by artists (curiously, neither my mother nor my father were like this) and I am an artist, and I am fascinated by people. Because I am bi-sexual, I tend to notice certain people who strike me as attractive, but it isn’t simply a matter of appearance. I don’t have a type. It will be movement, a walk, a turn, carriage, the entire picture that captures my attention.

          However, I have never been inclined to approach a person simply based on physical attraction, nor do I become aroused by, as you said, “a hunk of beefcake”. Arousal for me is a process of learning a person. Very few people do it. I’ve *thought* far too many people did it, which is why sex was so miserable for so very long. I can’t say that it’s emotional in the same sense that most people mean, but it is something. Something that at one time was potentially very dangerous.

          Rusty and I were friends for nine years before we became lovers, and we had to relearn each other. I don’t want anyone else. I’m still highly visual, still see dreams and fantasies, but they’re just something to speculate about, the subject of drawings (when I can) and lazy thought, and luminous, lazy day visions…but not arousal.

          Not every woman, and not every man, for that matter (talk about generalizations!) desires, or is aroused by, or will have sex with, every attractive possibility seen. The permutations of human sexuality are endless.

  18. avatar AnaT says:

    I shall forthwith inform the two delightful blokes (and one very nice lady) with whom I have, basically, FWB relationships that they are filthy sluts. This will probably amuse them. When one of the lads and I were courting, he was very nervous about what all this “meant”–as in, would there be relationship drama, did I want to meet his family and have his children or god knows what, etc. I came up with what I thought was a pretty good insta-cliche . . . “Friends with benefits begins with friends.” In other words–we’re friends. We go to movies, go out dancing, talk for hours on the phone about stupid stuff (Dungeons and Dragons, sci-fi, politics, etc.). And sometimes we have sex. It doesn’t seem that weird to me but then as a flighty young thing of 45, perhaps I just don’t understand how grown-ups do things.

  19. avatar Rain says:

    Weighing in here: I’m middle-aged and do agree with Margo.  When a sexual relationship is described as “friends with benefits” it does project an idea of a recreational pasttime.  P.S.  A slut is someone who is promiscuous just for the sake of promiscuity – they get off on it.

    • avatar R Scott says:

      And as long it is a mutually respected recreational pasttime between consenting adults why would that be a bad thing?

      FWB and promiscuity are not the same things.

    • avatar percysowner says:

      Well, bowling is a recreational pastime but we don’t have pejorative names for people who like to bowl.

      There is nothing wrong with sex for recreation. It’s more fun than raking leaves or cleaning the bathroom. Everyone needs a little recreation in their lives. Labeling one person who is having the recreational pastime as bad while remaining silent on the other person who is recreating is the problem. Sadly, Margo repeated the stereotype that women who enjoy this particular form of recreation should be labeled as less than good. John labeled them in an even more negative manner. I find both to be offensive.

      • avatar dcarpend says:

        Well, and if we’re talking comparative morality, I slept around a LOT in my youth, but I only ever have made marriage vows with one man — and I meant them, and I have kept them. How many times have you been married, Margo?

        The problem with the whole mindset of it only being acceptable for women to have sex in the context of a deep and meaningful committed relationship is that it encourages women to talk themselves into thinking they’re in love with men with whom what they really have is sexual chemistry. In particular, I believe there’s evidence that kids who take “purity pledges” are more likely to marry young, which makes subsequent divorce more likely. And convincing girls that “nice girls” only have sexual feelings in the context of “being in love” only encourages girls to think they’re madly in love with the first arrogant jock who gives them hot pants.

        It is entirely possible to be strongly sexually attracted to someone who simply is not right for you. Talking yourself into believing that your sexual affinity is more is a recipe for divorce. I long suspected that Elizabeth Taylor had convinced herself that she had to marry every man she wanted to boink.

      • avatar R Scott says:

        “Well, bowling is a recreational pastime but we don’t have pejorative names for people who like to bowl.”

        In all fairness we do make fun of their shoes and shirts. Just sayin.  But yeah, good point.   🙂

    • avatar Raugiel Reddel says:

      Isn’t sex recreational whenever it isn’t for procreation? Does that mean that birth control should be out too?

      • avatar jessica lewis says:

        And if recreational sex is out – does that mean that people who choose not to have children, or those who can’t, shouldn’t have sex ever?

        • avatar R Scott says:

          Yep. That’s what that means. So just stop it Jessica! Stop it right now.

          • avatar jessica lewis says:

            omg and to think I’ve been having sex for years and years and I can’t have kids. Shame on me! Sex for pleasure? What a wild and whacky idea.

    • avatar carol grzonka says:

      i thought that was the purpose of recreational sex,   i never used the term fwb, i always referred to them as playmates

      • avatar dcarpend says:

        Back in the day we called them “f*ckbuddies.”

        • avatar Deeliteful says:

          Indeed we did, dcarpend! I had buddies then and have had FWB in the years since. I haven’t wanted an emotional relationship in 20 yrs (since my divorce at 40), but I have enjoyed the company of men (another quaint phrase) on MY terms.

          I agree with all the posters who are offended by John’s letter and Margo’s response. I really have nothing to add, except that I have known men who were “slut-puppies” and/or “whore-dogs” and they felt complimented whenever someone called them that.    

          • avatar Briana Baran says:

            I’ve heard men called “sluts”, “whore-dogs”, and “slut-puppies” too, by women and other men, and it was never meant as a compliment, or said with admiration. They were the kind of men who had no respect for anyone, including themselves, just like female “sluts”. The people I called friends back in the day where the polar opposite of prudish, but if they referred to someone, male or female, as a “slut”, you got close at your own risk. “Slut” could be defined, using Occam’s Razor, as someone you absolutely could not trust under any circumstances.

            I’ve had lots of interesting encounters in my life (52 years), and I’ve never called a partner, no matter my feelings or lack of such, a “f**kbuddy”, or a “playtoy” or anything much but “a guy I know”. But then, I was an intensely private person, and this gained me a certain degree of respect, and my sex life was my business, good or bad, legit or not.

    • avatar dcarpend says:

      Yes, I’d say that getting off is the point of most sex. Is this a big surprise, somehow?

      • avatar Briana Baran says:

        Mmmm, dcarpend, not exactly. For me, sex is a bit more than just “getting off” a great deal of the time, but probably not in the way you think. My partner and I have been together 17 years, and our sex life IS intimate, and has improved, evolved, grown and developed…not become safe, comfortable and routine. Yes, we can be spontaneous, raucous and not even manage to get shed of our clothing just like a couple of hormonal teenagers…and that is delightful…but there is a lot more than that. So much more.

        And not candles, mood music, diamonds, chocolate and rose petals.

        Your comment was a wee tad specious.

  20. avatar R Scott says:

    Dear Readers,

    Don’t forget that everytime you masturbate God kills a kitten and, everytime you have sex with a friend God kills a puppy.


  21. avatar jessica lewis says:

    I am SHOCKED at this response. This response on a site for women is appalling.

    First, it’s no longer a “venereal disease”. It’s a sexually transmitted disease or infection. STDs can be transmitted by sexual activities other than intercourse. The term “venereal disease” went out in the 1990s.

    Second, why can’t women enjoy their sexuality without being insulted for it? It’s perfectly okay if your choices are to not have casual sex, but what right does that give anyone to judge those who enjoy casual sex, FWB, whatever?

    Third, perhaps you all need to do some reading on this “slut” word. It’s offensive. Google SlutWalk, for starters. Morals are subjective, so you keep your eyes on yours, and I will on mine.

    And before anyone assumes anything – I don’t have casual sex. I’m in my 40s, and know what works for me and what doesn’t. However, it is nowhere near my business what others do.

    I wish John from Essex the best. If he keeps that attitude up, he’ll be alone a long time.

  22. avatar Drew Smith says:

    Oh Margo!

    Seems you really stepped in it today, so uncharacteristic of you.

    I actually believe that you were trying to defuse the repugnant nature of the term slut, by using a cavalier attitude towards the whole matter. In this unfortunately you failed, again, so unlike you.

    While you could light-heartedly acknowledge a generational bias about women who choose to have sex without pursuit of a long-term relationship, you don’t have to agree with it! I, ahem, also wonder what you mean by most middle-aged people? I’ve tended to think of those near 70 and above, past middle age, surely it is the latter part of life for most? But in any case, the point is really, speak for yourself and let’s not generalize.

    I for one am not so sure that recreational sex with someone who is a FRIEND is a bad thing? I’m OK with you thinking it is, that is your moral prerogative. But I’m not OK with your characterizing it in a manner that denigrates women.

    Is there an inherent difference between how men and women view sex that is biologic in nature as an earlier commenter points out? I would tend to agree. But is there an inherently MORAL difference, of that I cannot agree.

    • avatar R Scott says:

      “I actually believe that you were trying to defuse the repugnant nature of the term slut, by using a cavalier attitude towards the whole matter”.

      I applaud your effort to give Margo an out but I just reread John’s letter and Margo’s response and …. nope. I think she meant what she said. If you’re a woman in a FWB arrangement you’re a slut with all the various connotations and definitions that go along with it as far as she is concerned. Ouch.  

      This really surprised and disappointed me. I fully expected her to give him a full on lecture about modern women having control over their lives, bodies and sexuality.  Instead we got, “Yep. You’re right, John”. 

  23. avatar Ajen says:

    As an additional comment for those who are against FWB relationships because they might end badly, please remember– lots of relationships where people are committed both sexually and romantically end badly, too.

    Also remember that for plenty of people, an FWB relationship works out just fine. You might not hear about it thanks to the ugly stigma that people like John (and regrettably, Margo and quite a few commenters here) perpetuate, but that doesn’t mean they don’t exist.

  24. avatar Stepdav says:

    Perhaps  am rather out of touch, but I’m not sure I understand the FWB designation. Is it someone you have no physical attraction to but you sleep with them because you have an itch? Or is it someone you are attracted to physically, but with whom you don’t want a long term emotional, commitment? Is there a difference? I have been attracted to someone, but he was not the person I wanted to commit to. When I found someone who offered the physical as well as the emotional and spiritual attraction, I married him, but there was a time I wasn’t ready for that.  Did that make me a slut or someone comfortable with her own needs and wants?

    • avatar Ajen says:

      I think of FWB as a relationship where the people involved are attracted to one another and decide to engage in a sexual relationship even though they are not necessarily romantically involved.

      Some people regard this as shameful or inferior, but frankly, it’s none of their business what other consenting adults do. 🙂

      StepDav, it sounds like you made a sensible decision, based on your needs and wants.

    • avatar dcarpend says:

      Perhaps am rather out of touch, but I’m not sure I understand the FWB designation. Is it someone you have no physical attraction to but you sleep with them because you have an itch?

      No, it’s someone you find physically appealing, but are pretty sure you could never be romantically/emotionally serious about, with whom you have sex because sex is fun.

      I’ve found plenty of men hot in my day whom I knew had exactly zero long-term potential. Didn’t change the part about finding them hot.

  25. avatar ashulee786 says:

    This is for Left My Heart at Home –

    I know EXACTLY how you feel! I was a new mil spouse and moved from the north to Hood and it was a surreal experience. I went in young and wanting to make friends, and realized that many people were already jaded. We didn’t have children, were a young couple and were actually happy in our marriage which seemed to be different from everyone we met! However after a year, I was sad to leave and even 4 years later still have good friends from that post. My best advice is this:
    1. Try to get a job on post-you’ll build good relationships and hopefully find some people to hang out with on the off hours
    2. Commit yourself to living where you are. I made the mistake of running home every month and I think in hindsight that prevented me from really letting myself feel at home where I was
    3. Make friends out of convenience until you meet those people that have the same values and personality traits you typically look for
    4. Keep your head above the drama. For the cheaters, the fighters and the liars run away! Look for the positive support system you will need for when your husband is away
    5. Volunteer-its nice to help others and makes yourself feel better

    I really do sympathize with you and I’m praying you end up making a good group of friends! Best of luck to you 😀

    • avatar CanGal says:

      @ashulee786 – I am a military spouse too (26 yrs together and still going strong) and I totally agree with you especially #2. Left My Heart at Home needs to stop thinking of New England as home and start realizing that Home is where the Heart is, and if her heart is still in New England, maybe she is not as in love with her fiance as she thinks she is.

  26. avatar Mandy says:

    No, it’s not “generational” Margo, it’s sexist, just shy of neanderthal mentality, and insulting.

    And John, to put a female twist on a great George Carlin line: I wouldn’t have sex with you if my worst enemy loaned me her vagina.

  27. avatar KDR says:

    The most telling part of ‘John from Essex’ letter is the following: “It sounds wonderful. I can have sex and do nothing for her in return.” Read that again: ” . . . and do nothing for her in return”

    Our John-from-Essex believes that sex is only for the pleasure of men and does nothing for women. Speaking as a woman I’ll bet, in the sack, he’s a big old bag of bliss and euphoria.

  28. avatar Katharine Gray says:

    Regarding John’s letter I suppose enough has already been said to excoriate him and Margo for their neanderthal views about sex and that it should mean something more than simply recreation.  I came of sexual age at the beginning of the 70’s.  It was before the age of AIDS but after the pill and VD (as we called it then) was something *no one we knew* would ever suffer from and if so it could be cured with pills or shots so no real deterrent to sleeping with whoever you felt like sleeping with (we called it *sleeping with* then).  Let me just say that looking back I don’t think having the FWB that I did when I was single (and I won’t say how many) did me any particular good or made me very happy at the time.  Some of them I hoped to have a more serious relationship with, others I did not.  Looking back, I cannot believe I dodged the bullet of unwanted pregnancy or an STD as I went off and on the pill and condoms were considered something from the 1950s and the men I met then assumed women took the pill or other measures to prevent pregnancy.  I still believe that Byron’s comment that man’s love is of man’s life a thing apart is true and that women generally attach more emotional weight to sex than men.  But users come in both genders and so do the used.  Women who prey on men for status or money probably do not consider the men who easily fall into their beds sluts but they certainly consider them saps.  And I daresay the man (I’m talking adult here)  who would object to being *used* for sex is a rare bird indeed but some probably exist.   As I have grown  older I just don’t really care to hear or think or talk about other people’s sex lives very much.  I am in firm agreement with Mrs. Patrick Campbell that as long as consenting adults  keep it out of the streets  don’t scare the horses, and provide for any offspring resulting therefrom,  I don’t much care what you do, how you do it, or what gender you prefer to do it with. 

    Actually, the more interesting letter for me came from LW#2 as I have a niece who is a military wife.  I  loved ashulee’s response.   At the risk of getting flamed, however, I wonder if LW#2 might feel differently if she was actually married and could view this as starting her permanent life and her own family as opposed to being a fiancee (which she must have been for awhile since she has moved around a lot).  I’m wondering if she has some reservations about getting married since she hasn’t already.   Also…while a military spouse/fiancee  is definitely in a more difficult position because the service member is always subject to deployment leaving the spouse/fiancee to deal alone with the worry of the dangers faced by the partner, frequent moves are not limited to the military.    Even when the economy was gangbusters, people got transferred in other jobs and their families had to uproot and reroot.   So…decide to commit to the man and your life together and decide to be positive.  If you cannot do this, perhaps its the wrong man or life for you.  The fact that you have found a job where you are  and established enough of a social life to learn that others share your experience of this particular base, indicates you are not a whining ninny so I think you can figure this out on your own.  I think you know how to put your big girl panties on…so do it.   



    • avatar Lila says:

      Katharine, glad you brought up the issue of marriage to the military fiancee. I was thinking, as a fiancee she is not eligible for any military benefits at all; no ID card, no unescorted access to the base, no on-post housing or off-post housing allowance, no commissary or PX privileges, no medical or dental care, no moving expenses… and if he ever did get stationed overseas, multiply the impact of all of that exponentially to include no access to the DoD school, for any kids. This couple is really messing themselves over financially by NOT being married. Not to mention, this also tends to physically isolate her from other military spouses / families.

  29. avatar Priscilla L says:

    Here’s an idea: why not stop judging people for their consensual behavior that doesn’t affect you at all? I am disappointed in Margo for even publishing, let alone agreeing with, John’s misogynist letter. Why is MYOB her answer in all matters other than sexual?

  30. avatar babsg says:

    “It sounds wonderful. I can have sex and do nothing for her in return.” Ugh. John’s letter was loathsome and Margo’s reply equally so. It’s far from “sly” for him to call young women “sluts” when he himself is wishing he could engage in the same behavior. I just registered with the site to say I’m taking you out of my bookmarks and never reading again.

  31. avatar Allaroundtheworld says:

    For the military fiance,
    My father was a military officer and I grew up moving every two years. When I was just a year old we moved to Cuba and from there we went to Greece, Germany, England, Japan, and the Phillipines. In the US we lived in Virgina, Alaska, Oklahoma, California and Washington DC. All I can say is I loved it. Yes, you do miss your first home but you need to look at it from the point of an adventurer. The cultures and art and food that our family discovered is priceless. My education was far advance than any school in the US cause the military knows that you will be moving so we were always taught a year or two ahead of any other us school. It’s hard to move alot and make friends but it’s worth it. I have friends from all around the world that I can visit.  And what with modern technology you can skype and e-mail your family. Don’t throw away the chance to see the world, you will regret it in the future. Just my two cents worth.

  32. avatar Deborah Key says:

    Katherine and Allaround the world are missing the point.

    This base/post she is at sucks sweaty donkeyballs.  apparently you missed the part where she liked/adapted to the previous locales.

    Speaking as both an Air Force brat(I went to 11 different schools) and as a retired Air Force member, I have always had the attitude that I could make any place work for me.  Until I couldn’t.   Longest three years of my life.  

    And this from a woman that had a good time in Haiti, Korea and Iceland. 

  33. avatar Katharine Gray says:

    Actually Deborah, I did miss the part where she liked/adapted to previous locales because she didn’t say she had.  She said she started to like some parts of the culture but has been homesick and making frequent trips home throughout their moves from base to base in the South.  Perhaps this particular base is less friendly than others but I see a young woman who has not completed decided to make this her life and is clinging to her old home to the point of, as she admits, *idealizing* it.  Having lived in places I hated myself, I can empathize with her.  But it is what it is and she can choose to be negative or be positive.  Or leave her fiancee and run home.  Since her letter shows no indication that she is unhappy with her man, going home is only an option if she is willing to be separated from him and risk the relationship.    The good thing is, if it is this particular base and not being in the South in general that bothers her, this posting is not forever.  And thus far, she has been luckier than quite a few military spouses in that her fiancee has not been posted to Afghanistan or Iraq yet.   Margo’s advice to seek friendship and interests in the larger community is good advice and she should take it. 

  34. avatar greyjoy says:

    Why stop at 30 years ago, though? I think people of a certain age (namely, Margo’s and John’s age) seem to think of “30 years ago” as some kind of arbitrary unit of time before which everything was peachy. Thirty years ago, it was 1981. The Iran hostages got released, Chuck and Di got married while millions watched, John Lennon was newly dead, and OH YEAH we were just a few years out of the so-called “sexual revolution” of the late 1960s and 1970s. I mean, hello? I don’t think anybody who celebrates the landmarks of their era such as Woodstock and “free love” has any place whatsoever calling today’s young people “sluts”. No, this generation did not invent the “friends with benefits” concept–yours did! Honestly. I’m nearly 40 myself and *my* generation is full of people whose parents were hippies and who filled our ears with stories about how great and freeing and innocent it all was. (Meanwhile, my childhood is filled with pictures in which we are all dressed in plaid polyester bell-bottoms and shirts with huge collars.) And now these same people are grandparents now and calling today’s college kids “sluts” and claiming they have no morals? Talk about the pot-smoker calling the kettle black!

    Let’s get a grip and remember our own youth. I feel confident that everyone alive today has had their “Animal House” days and therefore has no place to talk about how their generation was such a bastion of morality and propriety. And now we have it all on video on the Internet, so there’s no point in trying to deny it.

  35. avatar secretagent412 says:

    To the Editor,
    I cannot believe you published today’s Dear Margo column! How on earth did a column referring to women as “sluts” and “loose” get past your editors? Those crass words have absolutely no place in today’s society, and perpetuate an oppression of women that any modern columnist would be ashamed to be a part of. I am shocked that you allowed those words to appear at all, let alone that you tacitly approve of the sexist, misogynist message the column sends. You have just told millions of readers that it’s ok to call a woman those words, and that it’s acceptable to insult women about their personal relationships and sexuality.

    I want a retraction and an apology to the women of the world that you are so ignorantly subjecting to a tired, hateful double standard. Whether or not you approve of someone’s private sexual behavior, it’s absolutely none of your business. It is inappropriate to comment, even in general, about anyone’s sexual choices. It is even more offensive that women are branded with derogatory words while the men who make the very same choices are lauded. How dare you? How would you feel if your daughter was called those names? Would she deserve it if she embraced and enjoyed her sexuality just as any man does?

    I  am thoroughly disgusted, and I hope your advertisers vote with their wallets on this issue. I am forwarding this email and your column to every woman I know, and to every organization I can think of that supports women’s rights.

    Christina Buck

  36. avatar egg99 says:

    A hateful, horny old man wishes he could have used more “sluts,” himself immune to to his sexist dehumanizing disgust. How quaint. Margo, you dropped the ball with your response- there was nothing funny about this letter. According to you, men don’t just get a free pass for (oh my!) having sex, but they also get one for- the real problem- being hateful, controlling and dehumanizing towards half the human race. Guess what? Equality is coming. Sorry if it makes you uncomfortable (I’m not actually sorry).

  37. avatar gracem says:

    I am in my 40s. I have had sex with 3 men in my life. My ex husband was my first and only for 18 years until his repeated affairs ended our marriage. 

    Most recently I dated a man for almost a year before having sex with him, after a while he decided to move across the country because that is where his children were moving, and we didn’t see how continuing a long distance relationship was going to work, as neither of us were willing to move away from our children.

    In between, for seven years, I had a sexual relationship with a man I consider my best friend. We met in a support group for people who had spouses who had cheated on them. After both of our marriages ended, we knew we were not emotionally ready for romantic relationships, but we were attracted to each other.
    We were very clear about not having sex with anyone else while we were having sex with each other. We were very clear that if one person felt it wasn’t working for them the other person would be respectful of that and understanding.
    Sometimes we jokingly used the term FWB however we didn’t really feel the need to label our relationship. We never spent the night with each other if our kids were there. It ended because he (the man!!) began to feel like he wanted to find a relationship that would one day lead to another marriage. We both knew that was not in the furture for us. So we stopped having sex and started dating others. My relationship, as I said above, didn’t last. He has had a few, but now he seems to be in one with a woman that he loves very much. I couldn’t be happier for him. We are still friends and always will be. 

    So I suppose, I am a slut, or loose, or I don’t know the difference between sex and a video game, but that has never been something I have considered myself.   


  38. avatar gracem says:

    I want to make it clear I am not condoning calling anyone a slut, I am just pointing out that there are all kinds of people who have sexual relationships that do not involve romantic, “I want to marry you” love and to point out the ridiculousness of calling someone who wants that kind of relationship a slut, or to think it has anything to do with “kids today”.


    • avatar Drew Smith says:

      Very well said and a perfect real-life example.

      I have a cousin who would fit this mold as well, she is very selective about who she dates, who she even kisses, and has a similar history, broke it off with a FWB when it became clear that her feelings were deepening and he was admittedly not willing or able to take things to the next level in terms of commitment.

      That she was willing to take a friendship, to a friends with benefits, and explore if it would go further, makes her brave and practical IMHO.

    • avatar Ajen says:

      Sounds perfectly reasonable to me, Grace– thank you for sharing your experience. 🙂

  39. avatar Belinda Joy says:

    Letter #1 – John I hear what you’re saying and have my own prudish beliefs when it comes to the issue of “Friends with benefits”  because I personally find it disgusting.

    However, I hope this was not lost on you as you wrote your letter to Margo. In the process of taking jabs at the women that choose to debase themselves by way of of engaging in sex just for the sake of sex, and your confession you wish you had a woman of such low morals….you are in the same breath pointing out you are no better than those perceived sluts.  What does it say about your moral compass that you would engage in sex with someone without virtue of love, committment or true intimacy? Nothing more than animals trying to satisfy their animalistic raw desires.

    Dogs in heat don’t roman the streets seeking out female dogs, stumble across one and then stop and think “Ruff Ruff, I really want to plow that bitch (literal term) but, I don’t know her. Maybe I should try and get to know her first….” No indeed, they simply act on physical urges. We as humans are supposed to be more evolved. We are suppose to think before we act.

    You have shown that like the millions of men and women who have convinced themeselves they are mature and responsible because they can have sex without committment, that you too lack morals.          

    • avatar jessica lewis says:

      And who are you to judge anyone’s morals? I’ve had FWB, and my morals are just fine, thanks. Morals are subjective.

      Personally, I find those that sit in judgement on others to be lacking morals. If the Bible or religion is your thing, remember that the Bible also states judgement is a sin. Only God can judge.

    • avatar Ajen says:

      So not only are women who have sex just because they enjoy it debasing themselves, they also lack morals and are little better than animals, huh? I hope you’re trolling.

      If not, congratulations. Out of all the comments on this column, yours comes the closest to rivalling John’s offensive, demeaning attitude toward women.

      P.S. Margo, this is what you’re condoning when you respond to letters like John’s with a humorous affirmative. Ask yourself if all of the above is something you actually believe, or if it’s just judgemental, hate-filled rubbish.

    • avatar Lila says:

      Belinda, look out! You have just stepped into a hornets’ nest! Emotions are running super-high on this thread… and one’s opinions or ponderings will earn a thrashing from those who disagree… folks are really taking things very personally here… I was a bit surprised, myself.

      • avatar Ajen says:

        You’re surprised that people might object strenuously to women being labelled as debased, of low morals and being compared to dogs because they like sex? Really?

        I’d be surprised (and very disappointed) if people didn’t object to such offensive rhetoric.

        • avatar jessica lewis says:

          I’m surprised that there are women who aren’t offended, too.

          Anytime someone insults women, for whatever reason, I take it personally. I am a woman, after all.

        • avatar Lila says:

          I’m surprised that the letter elicited such visceral responses. I just didn’t care much about the content of John’s letter. Neither my husband nor I were virgins when we married. I don’t feel uncomfortable about my past or his, so – whatever, John. What John or other boors think about women and sex is absolutely meaningless to me. The big surprise to me is that what John thinks or says seems to mean a LOT to the ladies here.

          I am also a bit surprised at how the commenters here are so viciously attacking each others’ points of view, even when the points of view are pretty mild and the writer does not condemn anyone. There is a lot of reading-in and conclusion-jumping going on here, all around.

          And now along comes Belinda with a very clear and definite opinion. It’s actually pretty brave to express it, given the atmosphere in here at the moment. One can’t say much of anything without getting jumped on. My own morals are not the same as Belinda’s but she has a right to be true to herself and her beliefs, and to be honest about her perceptions.

          • avatar Briana Baran says:

            Ah, Lila, I was laughing as I read John from Essex’s letter, and looking forward to a wry and witty response from Margo. Her answer didn’t surprise me as much as it may have others, as she has given a several rather divergent responses of late, but it did sadden me.

            Margo is not of my own, but of my mother’s generation. Her sweeping generation regarding the middle-aged was atypical, as was the remark about disease. But then, some of the responses from readers have been just as all-encompassing. I don’t believe that one can define a liberated woman as one who feels free to have multiple sexual partners. I have been rather free with my affections in the past, been married three times, been unfaithful (but not with Rusty, not in 17 years, and yes, he knows my past, and trusts me implicitly and with all good reason)…been with men I haven’t loved, run with the bad boys. I never got a disease or had an “accident”, despite being either a slut or a loose woman as defined by Margo and John and that wasn’t good luck. I am neither proud or ashamed of my past. It was what it was.

            I fully understood your posts, and I recognized all of your efforts to avoid generalizations (perhaps you ought to take my tack and put “disclaimer” before each “there are exceptions”, or “I haven’t polled all 3.5 billion women”, or “anecdotally”. I am not being sarcastic. I’ve learned the hard way that this is necessary on this website, or the blood-seeking hens close in). Also, recognize that anytime you recognize and express anything, no matter how factual and supported by empirical evidence it may be, that presents as potentially being even neutral towards women, you’re going to be the target of the heavy artillery. That would include evolutionary, biological, physiological, anthropological, archaeological, historical, sociological and cultural FACT, not opinion. I get it frequently for having the revolutionary idea that I have no reason NOT to be responsible and accountable for my own birth control (my uterus, my responsibility) and for recognizing all of the reasons that this is the practical, pragmatic, rational thing to do, according to all of the above, without wasting an enormous amount of time and energy in should-haves regarding what oafish, evil, rutting, irresponsible pigs ALL men are.

            My objection to Belinda Joy’s reply is not her opinion, but her blatant hypocrisy. As much as I respect your’, and a few other readers’, integrity, honesty, intellect and thoughtfulness, I find her constant vicious condemnation and brutal damning of other readers, and her absolute hypocrisy appalling, especially when anything sexual is the topic. So please, don’t take offense for her.

            As for Margo, given some of her recent comments, so atypical of her usual generosity, wit and broad-mindedness, perhaps it is time for her pass on her golden pen. John is just a dim, somewhat amusing and probably very lonely boor. But I miss the old Margo.

          • avatar Lila says:

            Briana, “blood-seeking hens”… oh, I almost spewed soda out my nose. Thanks.

            *Sigh* for all the reasons you have noticed, this thread makes me tired. Looking forward to a new Liz column tomorrow… or joy of joys, a Mr. Wow column, perhaps. Think I am done flailing on this dead horse.

          • avatar Ajen says:

            Lila writes: “The big surprise to me is that what John thinks or says seems to mean a LOT to the ladies here.”

            It seems to me that most of the commenters took issue not just with what John said, but the fact that Margo’s response validated it. Do I personally care about John’s good opinion? Well, no. He doesn’t sound like the kind of person whose opinions I would value. But it concerns me when someone so easily dismisses and demeans an entire group and are given tacit approval for doing so.

            “I am also a bit surprised at how the commenters here are so viciously attacking each others’ points of view, even when the points of view are pretty mild and the writer does not condemn anyone. There is a lot of reading-in and conclusion-jumping going on here, all around.”

            What vicious attacks are you referring to? Taking exception to peoples’ reasoning doesn’t exactly strike me as a bloodbath. It seems pretty tame, actually.

            “And now along comes Belinda with a very clear and definite opinion. It’s actually pretty brave to express it, given the atmosphere in here at the moment. One can’t say much of anything without getting jumped on. My own morals are not the same as Belinda’s but she has a right to be true to herself and her beliefs, and to be honest about her perceptions.”

            Of course she does. I don’t see anyone saying that she doesn’t have a right to express her views or behave as she sees fit. Do you? If so, where?

            Belinda’s entitled to her opinion, and everyone else is entitled to theirs. What we’re not entitled to is a forum free from opinions that dissent from our own.

          • avatar Sadie BB says:

            Well Lila, here’s the deal.

            When one agrees with the poster, they’re giving ‘a clear and definite opinion’ when one disagrees, it’s ‘a vicious attack’.

            It’s hard to train oneself out of this mindset…but worth trying.

          • avatar Lila says:

            It is neither the fact nor the content of the disagreement. Much is conveyed in the choice of language.

            Certainly, this thread is nowhere near as bad as some of the political discussions around here used to be, but I still find it a little too strident and shrill to constitute an agreeable discussion.

            Off to other threads.

          • avatar Ajen says:

            And some examples of what you consider to be objectionable language would be…? If there have been so many vicious attacks as you claim, it should be easy to cite a few. Unless, of course, Sadie BB is correct in that any disagreement counts as a “vicious attack” in your book.

            You know, I find it odd that you’re not bothered by John or Belinda’s choice of language even though it offensively denigrates women, but you object to the choice of language in the people who disagree with John and Belinda.

          • avatar wendykh says:

            This, a thousand times this.

            Frankly Belinda sounds like someone who is really angry/jealous women are out having good sex.

    • avatar Briana Baran says:

      So, Belinda Joy, having read your comments on various threads (along with those of all other readers…I have not especially singled you out), and being aware that you are not interested in marriage or procreation, and have not had a single successful relationship with a man, by your own admission…but that you claim to have an extensive collection of erotica (that seems to be a contradiction) and to have had sex outside of a truly committed relationship (you’re about my age, according to your posts, and have had a number of men in your life…which indicates that no relationship has stood the test of time) how do you rationalize your bitch in heat behavior when held up against your rigid, judgmental, so-called moral contempt for others’ animalistic, disgusting behavior?

      Why would you have sex with men, if not for procreation (you claim a very serious adherence to an extremely rigorous and severely judgmental Christian dogma) and outside the sanctified bonds of marriage, if not for pleasure? It doesn’t matter what you refered to your partners as: friends with benefits, significant others, f**kbuddies, toyboys, boyfriends, companions, partners…that’s all nomenclature, and none of them have been husbands. Are you going to claim you LOVED all of them, deeply and abidingly, and this somehow elevates you? If you are what you claim to be, you would not be engaging in sex with them…and you certainly would not have a collection of *erotica*.

      I have a large collection of erotica. Not pornography (though I don’t necessarily object, and that is a discussion for another time, people), but erotica. And while some erotica concerns romantic love, a great deal more concerns sensuality, the pure joy of the physical, the transcendence of human sexual beauty and pleasure. It has nothing to do with god, religion, dogma, rigidity, judgment (good grief), morality, strictures…or necessarily love, commitment, rules or debasement, or bitches in heat, or animalism. You, Belinda Joy, and erotica are a contradiction in terms according to your own self-description.

      Yes, she is entitled to her opinion, and no, I am not simply attacking her because she gave it. Belinda Joy has expressed a great deal about herself over the years, and, given her own history, what she has revealed here is an enormous hypocrisy. Semantics are not important when a person has clearly, by their own admission, engaged in the same behavior, under another name, that they are not just condemning, but reviling in others. I find that absolutely loathsome, and not in the least bit courageous.

      • avatar carol grzonka says:

        i laughed in one woman’s face, because even though our numbers of entanglements were competitive. she thought herself elevated because she ‘cared’ more and was looking to further the ‘relationships’.  i, on the other hand, was perfectly happy with friendships with very attractive young men.  i never wanted to marry and this fullfilled my needs for male companionship. she became very angry because i ‘don’t take them seriously’.
        this memory reminds me very much og john’s, belinda’s and margo’s insistence that if we don’t live by their circumscribed notions of proper behavior, this maked us ‘less’ or ‘bad women’.  but i gotta say,  i’m more than who i scr-w.  are you?

    • avatar R Scott says:

      So….. because I enjoy sex with other consenting adults I’m a debased slut who is no better than a dog having sex on the streets? Wow.

      How’s the view from up there bitch (technical term)?

      • avatar Briana Baran says:

        @ R Scott: O, I almost lost my coke through my nose after that comment. The darling has a serious deficit of humanity, empathy and integrity from spending her entire life with her head in the celestial realm, inhaling seraphic flatus. It tends to give one delusions of divine superiority, moral imperative and messianic purity.

        Somewhere, I hear thousands of mournful female canines howling in despair and shame at your technical comparison. At least bitches can love unconditionally, and don’t judge the one they’re with…

  40. avatar Elizabeth L says:

    I didn’t think John from Essex was funny and I don’t think it would matter if were a young man now he still wouldn’t be getting any.

  41. avatar Michelle says:

    To Left My Heart at Home: We were an active duty military family for the long haul. Some bases are like that unfortunately. You have young families caught up in the busy-ness of being busy and civilian families who in many cases figure you’ll be moving on in a year or two. It can be disheartening and lonely.
    Keep doing what you’re doing! Enjoy work, visit home, take classes, find a church or volunteer activity to get involved in and stay positive! At first, it just keeps you busy, but eventually, you’ll find some other lonely individuals who are as grateful for your friendship as you are for theirs, some for a short time, some become lifelong friends. It really works! Just hang in there!!

  42. avatar Belinda Joy says:

    I think there are a lot of women who are feeling judged (rightly so) by John’s opinion about their loose morals as it relates to sex. And whenever we feel judged we feel attacked and want to lash out and back at the person doing the judging. It took a long time for me to get to this point in my life where I see that for what it is. If I were the type of person that lacked a strong moral code and allowed myself to have a “friend with benefits” I too might feel bad if others judged me because of it. Of course I would want others to respect and condone my actions.

    So it isn’t any wonder that those on this thread that have engaged in such loose forms of sex would feel bad about themselves and want to lash out. My guess is they are subconsciously comparing themselves to others who use discretion and discernment when it comes to sex and they feel bad in comparison. I get it.  John used the third rail term for a loose woman of “slut” and immediately women took offense. The reality is however there are women and men, that are indeed sluts. And those that choose to engage in sex purely to satisfy a physical desire are….well….sluts. Whether they be male or female.

    But that’s just my opinion and as I can see, I have a different opinion than others.  I would suggest others on this thread of conversation need to respect the fact that not everyone is going to agree with your opinions or life choices and let it be. It would be nice if we could all agree on everything, but that’s not going to happen folks. So all of the negative energy on this thread in my opinion is wasted and unnessary. ♥♥♥      

    • avatar egg99 says:

      Actually it seems like most of the women offended here have never been in a FWB relationship. I never have been. However, we have the capacity of mind to either conceive of one (there was a beautiful reply from a woman who had one best friend / lover between two marriages) and/or they have the ability to see sexism in action, and justly point it out. The LW was a hypocrite (he wanted to have FWB relationships with women, while calling them “sluts”), and his hypocrisy was part of an insidious landscape of sexism, which IMO necessitates individuals pointing out if we want a widespread change. The fact that you feel so much more emotionally evolved to make banal observations and judgements about the motivations of complex strangers means you might have a bit more evolving to do (and yes, we all do). Because you know, I’ve been there ;), and it took me a while to get to this point in life where I see that I can’t simplify beautiful, complex human beings into projection screens for my past issues.

      • avatar R Scott says:

        Well, call me crazy but when some of us get compared to bitches in heat and rutting animals I find that just a tad insulting. .. no offence to actual bitches and rutting animals. So, yeah it might get our hackles up (get it? hackles? being bitches and all) and we might just get a bit defensive.

        Peace to you Belinda Joy and I hope you find your bliss.

    • avatar dcarpend says:

      Gee, Belinda, condescending much? You clearly do NOT understand. Many of us do not consider sex-for-fun to be immoral. We don’t have “loose” or inferior morals. I have a strong and well-defined moral code, it just doesn’t include “Having sex outside the context of a committed relationship is wrong.” I don’t feel bad about my sexual history; it’s a part of me that I actually like a lot. I didn’t get hurt, I didn’t hurt others, I never knowingly slept with a married man. My husband is completely comfortable with it. I don’t regret a thing.

      But since you obviously consider me so inferior to your morally elevated self, you can keep your hearts to yourself. It’s pretty clear they’re hollow.

      • avatar Briana Baran says:

        @ dcarpend: you did notice that her devious little hollow hearts were just as black as her soul apparently is…

    • avatar Ajen says:

      Belinda Joy writes: “I think there are a lot of women who are feeling judged (rightly so) by John’s opinion about their loose morals as it relates to sex. And whenever we feel judged we feel attacked and want to lash out and back at the person doing the judging. ”

      Not necessarily. I’ve never been in a FWB relationship, and I’ve only ever had one sexual partner– my spouse. I just don’t feel the need to denigrate the people who enjoy sex as being of low morals, or liken them to dogs in heat, as you have done, or to call them sluts and imply they’re dumb, as John did.

      But nice try re: analyzing peoples’ objections to the offensive name-calling. I’m sure it’d be more convenient for your point of view if people were blindly “lashing out”, but there are perfectly valid and sensible reasons for objecting to demeaning insults. People have empathy, that’s all.

      “I would suggest others on this thread of conversation need to respect the fact that not everyone is going to agree with your opinions or life choices and let it be.”

      Funny how it’s okay for you to call women debased sluts and bitches in heat, but you advise other people to show respect for your opinions. I don’t think you understand what that term means.

      I’m new here, so maybe the regular commenters know better– are you all quite sure this user is not a troll?

      • avatar carol grzonka says:

        no, she’s not.  she just hasn’t been here for awhile.  i, for one, haven’t missed her condescending moral teachings. 

      • avatar Belinda Joy says:

        First of all Ajen, given you say you are new to the site, welcome.  I have been a blogger with this site from the very beginning. There was a time when I posted everyday – all day….those days are gone. I now post to others sites that address topics that speak more to issues that intrique me. I assure you, you are going to find A LOT of people on this site that will agree with your viewpoints. People who think as I do are in the minority.

        As for me being a troll, let me say this: Just because I voice an opinion that is divergent to yours does not make me a troll. You won’t see it often on this site, but once in awhile you may come across a woman or man that voices an opinion so far to the left or right of yours it can leave you stunned. Please don’t fall into the trap so many women on this site relish in, that being the hypocrisy of coming down on others for being judgemental and ignoring the fact that in the process they – themselves are judging others.  It’s not even a subtle line these women walk, its a broad one, an obvious one. I rarely post on this site but I continue to stop in and read what others have to say. I rarely am able to relate to anything said, so I am not surprised you and others are reacting to my comments in the way it is being perceived.  

        As a Christian with VERY strong spiritual beliefs, I do focus heavily on morals and values. Engaging in sex with someone you are not married to or in a committed relationship with (in my view) is morally skewed. However, there are millions and millions of Christians in the world that don’t agree with me on this.  This website is chock full of Athiests and non-believers, so my views which are so cemented in my spiritual beliefs are viewed as extreme. It is what it is. I lose no sleep at night from those who disagree with my beliefs. Life goes on.

        Be well, and again, welcome.

        • avatar Ajen says:

          Belinda Joy writes: “As for me being a troll, let me say this: Just because I voice an opinion that is divergent to yours does not make me a troll.”

          I’m aware of that, thanks. Expressing a divergent opinion is not why I wondered if you were a troll.

          But it is good to know. I’ll certainly keep the atmosphere of this site in mind for future Dear Margo columns, if I continue reading them.

        • avatar egg99 says:

          “Please don’t fall into the trap so many women on this site relish in, that being the hypocrisy of coming down on others for being judgemental and ignoring the fact that in the process they – themselves are judging others. It’s not even a subtle line these women walk, its a broad one, an obvious one.”

          Please seriously read about projection. You should strongly consider that you are seeing the parts you don’t like about yourself in others, as this is exactly how most people on this board perceive you.

          You already admitted you are projecting a personal struggle that you felt you overcame onto the complex lives and motivations of strangers (the struggle to move beyond an immediate defensive reaction). However, having overcome that struggle- and honestly, it’s pretty commonplace- has instilled you with a false sense of superiority and the idea that you can view complete strangers through this limited lens. From my vantage point, it has set your personal growth backwards.

          This is opening up a can of worms, but you keep bringing up your Christian values, and as far as I understand it, Jesus wouldn’t condone the idea of calling anybody a “slut,” nor would he approve the idea of men getting a pass for “sinful” behavior while women do not. And there’s the whole pride/ vanity thing, which after clicking on your name, it appears that you are struggling with :P. We all have our own experience, and if we want progressive growth and development, we do need to speak out against- and this is a very Christian perspective- JUDGING others, which is exactly what Jesus did, and judging others was the ONE AND ONLY purpose of this letter to Margo.

        • avatar Briana Baran says:

          Belinda Joy wrote: “As a Christian with VERY strong spiritual beliefs, I do focus heavily on morals and values. Engaging in sex with someone you are not married to or in a committed relationship with (in my view) is morally skewed.”

          How very interesting. Women and men of WoW, if you bother to look at her profile, and can still access her past comments in the archives (the site may well have lost these posts when it had its great “change for the better”), I assure you that you will find that Miss Belinda Joy has never been married, abhors the institution (for herself, all others must bend to dogma), and has, by last count, had at least nine relationships with men that included sexual activity. This by her own blatant admission.

          Nice that she so loftily proselytizes to others regarding morals and Christian dogma that she will not (her God gave her free will according to her faith) even follow herself.

          I also found the following very amusing: “Please don’t fall into the trap so many women on this site relish in, that being the hypocrisy of coming down on others for being judgemental (sic) and ignoring the fact that in the process they – themselves are judging others. It’s not even a subtle line these women walk, its a broad one, an obvious one.”

          O, my, Belinda Joy, o dear. This is the woman who referred to women who enjoy sex simply for pleasure outside of commitment (and one must ask, if she herself is not married, despises children by her own admission, and has sexual relationships with men, why IS she doing it?) as rutting, depraved bitches in heat. I do not think it is being judgmental at all to call out a person as *hypocritical* when they have engaged in the same behavior that they have just damned as debauched and vulgar, and yet consider themselves pure, anointed and elevated.

          Judging you? No. Feeling a level of personal disgust for people like you? Yes.

  43. avatar Katy Dias says:

    wow Margo, you have officially rendered me speechless with your response. I’ve written to wowowow to let them know how appalled I am that a site dedicated to women would print such nonsense. I hope you come to your senses and offer up an apology for taking women back 50 years. I’ll no longer be reading your column.

  44. avatar Nancy Egan says:

    John from Essex: Whoa! Epic fail — double standard and sexist post offends multitude! Count me in among those who wouldn’t mind poking you in the eye.

    Re the middle aged thing, as a 55-year old, I suggest that John must be elderly. He strikes me as being from the Victorian era – certainly not from MY generation!

  45. avatar Miss Lee says:

    Since my last b-day, I must say that I am now in my upper 50’s.  FWB was a part of my college years way back in the 70’s.  Men who called women sluts were avoided and ridiculed.  I am not attached and would only consider a FWB relationship now.  I am definately not interested in doing a man’s wash or dinner with the relatives at Xmas. I would be interested casual dating with sex involved now and then.  However, I would not consider such a relationship with someone as “sly” as the LW.  He has an attitude problem that I wouldn’t tolerate for a minute and I think he was probably as much of an ass 30 years ago.  Just saying, some things never change.

  46. avatar doodydoo says:

    Wow. I’m appalled at Margo’s response to LW #1. Many of the other commenters have already voiced their protests and have articulated their points very well, so I won’t rehash it.

    But I will say that if we don’t see an apology and explanation forthcoming from Margo in the next few weeks, I’m done with reading this column. Her response was inexcusable.

  47. avatar David Bolton says:

    Damn you, Margo. How dare you publish something controversial. Don’t you know I’d much rather read an open letter on how important it is not to ride a bike on the sidewalk?

    You… cyber-trollop!*

    *Keep up the good work.

    • avatar Katy Dias says:

      David-it’s not the posting of the letter people take issue with. I think it’s actually good to post controversial letters that way you can call people out on their ignorance. The problem is margo’s slut shaming reply. She has never seemed so judgemental or ignorant before. Calling women “loose” is just as bad as calling them sluts and the fact that Margo basically agreed with this idiot is beyond shocking to me (and several others it appears.)

      • avatar David Bolton says:

        I see nothing in Margo’s reply that indicates the “slut-shaming,” as it were. She expresses her opinion that sex is something not to be engaged in casually, as if there were nothing better to do. She also says this isn’t a new behavior. Personally, I have learned a lot of technique by engaging in casual sex. Intimacy? Not so much.

        • avatar Ajen says:

          David Bolton writes: “I see nothing in Margo’s reply that indicates the “slut-shaming,” as it were. She expresses her opinion that sex is something not to be engaged in casually, as if there were nothing better to do.”

          And if she’d only done that, it would’ve been fine. Here’s where the problem lies:

          When an adult woman chooses to engage in sex with a friend because she enjoys it for its own sake, implying she has low morals, calling her a “slut” or agreeing that “slut” is the appropriate term for her is slut-shaming.

          Regardless of whether or not John or Margo agree with people choosing to have sex because they like having sex, there is no need to demean them or call them derogatory names. That seems fair, don’t you think?

          • avatar David Bolton says:

            God—I feel like I’m trapped in a corner at a party with the Ellen Jamesians from “Garp.”

            I don’t think either John or Margo said anything about low morals, or shame.

          • avatar Ajen says:

            David Bolton writes: “I don’t think either John or Margo said anything about low morals, or shame.”

            So let me understand. You think that:

            1) Using terms like “slut”, referring to women who enjoy having sex with dehumanizing language, i.e. “the sluts”
            2) Saying he (John) would like to take advantage of what he perceived was a shortcoming in their intelligence and judgement (“they fall for it”) to have sex with them
            3) Affirming the appropriate use of “slut” and adding “loose women” (Margo)
            4) Indicating that a soiled reputation (this is where the shame comes in, by the way) and “venereal disease” was the likely outcome

            …were all meant to be complimentary? The last paragraph of my previous comment stands. Even if you don’t agree, adults have the choice to have sex with whom they please, under the circumstances they desire. I see no need to call them derogatory, offensive names. Do you?

          • avatar Katy Dias says:

            Thank you Ajen, you said it way more eloquently than I could.

            David-are you dense or just completely clueless? Seriously, I’m curious. The word slut by it’s very definition is calling someone immoral. Also, do you know what it means to infer something? You do not have to say flat out, “women who sleep around are immoral” to actually be saying it.

            John said, “I can have sex and do nothing for her in return.” This implies that sex is only for the man, that women actually get nothing out of it. Well, if John knew what he was doing in bed (highly doubtful since he seems to be there only for his own pleasure) he would realize that women also enjoy sex, it’s not just something we are “giving” to men.

            Also, like ajen pointed out, saying that we “fall for it” also implies once again that women get nothing out of it. That’s the major problem in society and why slut shaming and only judging promiscious women is still so common. A lot of people still see sex as something only for the man, something a woman is “giving” to him.

          • avatar Ajen says:

            Thanks, Katy. I was beginning to wonder where the heck calling someone a “slut” *wasn’t* considered an insult.

            I’ve enjoyed the discussion overall, but frankly, some of the comments have been downright disturbing. Sadly, it goes a long way toward explaining why– in this day and age!– sexual violence toward women is accepted and even considered normal. Some might think that an exaggeration, but it isn’t. It stems from dehumanizing women and shaming them for having and exercising physical desires. (Often in the same ways men do, but with greater stigma.) It stems from thinking it’s okay to insult women, and then announce you’d like to take sexual advantage of them all in the very same paragraph. “Sluts”, “loose women”… those are terms for females undeserving of respect, so whatever happens to them is their fault, right?

            Wrong. I’m really sad that Margo and Wowowow appear not to grasp this, but glad that some of her readers do.

          • avatar Drew Smith says:

            What if I said to David,

            “Only a bitch would make a comment like that”

            Are you going to say that there is nothing in a label?

            Margo has had plenty of opportunity to chime in here and say for instance, “it cuts both ways, for men and women” and I still cannot accept that at 70 she thought she could speak for my generation.

          • avatar David Bolton says:

            Yes, sure, whatever.

            Next thread, please.

          • avatar Ajen says:

            I don’t understand. Is someone forcing you to read this thread? Because it’d be pretty silly to express impatience if you were doing it to yourself.

            For everyone who thought “slut” was a fine and dandy term:

            I hope the women in your life never have to endure such ugly, hateful speech. If this does happen to the women you love– your grandmother, your mother, your wife, your girlfriend, your sister, your daughter, etc., I hope you have greater empathy, compassion and courage to stand up for them than what you’ve shown here.

          • avatar Drew Smith says:

            Nicely Said

  48. avatar Lym BO says:

    Wowowow! I can’t believe a few of you spent the better part of your day reading and responding multiple times to this. I found both John’s view and Margo’s response quite humorous. and the big plus is she got tons of publicity, which , um, is her goal. She also apparently provided lots of fodder for your T Day.
    My opinion is irrelevant, but I , in my early 40s, have to agree with ole John. Who doesn’t want a FWB?! I don’t think he meant that he didn’t have to please the woman but simply he didn’t have to wine, dine or commit to her.
    And yes, morally speaking, sleeping with every Tom’s Hairy Dick can have repercussions of guilt later in life if one has any religious beliefs. I do believe the context was regerring to unmarried people.
    I frankly could care less about who is sleeping with whom. Truly the only reason anyone cares is because they either wish they were doing it as well (guilt free) or they are insecure it might be with their spouse. Seriously, monogamity is all about jealously. Monogamous relationships provide humans with order and rules and any break threatens many people’s security. That’s what everybody is upset about. Wouldn’t it be swell if we went around having a big love fest. Oh wait. The hippies did that. Guess it didn’t work out so well for them or it would still be in vogue.
    On a religious note: Jews and Christians, wasn’t that primary reason God sent the flood related to sexual promiscuity and drug ingestion? Humans fell out of order and all hell broke loose.

    • avatar Ajen says:

      You found it worthwhile commenting on. Why wouldn’t others? 😉

      None of the people who claim John’s letter was humorous has managed to explain why it’s funny to call women dumb sluts and then express the desire to use them for sex, but feel free to take a crack at it. Who knows, maybe you’ll enlighten those of us who are missing out on the laughs.

      “Wouldn’t it be swell if we went around having a big love fest. Oh wait. The hippies did that. Guess it didn’t work out so well for them or it would still be in vogue.”

      But the whole point of John’s letter and Margo’s response was that it was still in vogue. So obviously it does work for some people, just not everyone. That’s true of nearly anything, though.

      “On a religious note: Jews and Christians, wasn’t that primary reason God sent the flood related to sexual promiscuity and drug ingestion? Humans fell out of order and all hell broke loose.”

      Uh, no. The Bible’s rather vague, citing mostly the “wickedness of man”, corruption, and violence. It does not mention drug abuse at all. It does mention angels (“sons of God”) interbreeding with human females and creating great heroes. The Bible also says they married them, so that was in the context of a committed relationship and therefore okay by some commenters’ viewpoints. (But not by God’s, I’m guessing.) This is all in Genesis, for anyone who wants to follow along.

      Not sure why this is relevant, though. Not everyone is religious, and even those who identify as Christian don’t necessarily feel bound to follow Biblical injunction to the letter. After all, the Bible does not condone pre-marital sex, so being “in a committed relationship” is not enough unless that relationship is marriage. The Bible says those who commit fornication will be excluded from heaven. It also forbids divorce and classifies it as adultery. Merely looking at a woman with lustful intent is also adultery, and according to the Bible, adulterers will go to hell.

      Fortunately, I’m an atheist, and don’t believe any of that.

  49. avatar jezbrown says:

    At times I was shocked by how provincial some of your advice was in the Ask Prudence column. You have hit a new low in being judgmental and staid by sanctioning a border-line (tends toward the dark side of the line) misogynistic comment. You follow your self-proclaimed sarcastic response with one that restates your policy of “it’s the man, not the place.” As a journalist who uses print as your selected medium, you must know that sarcasm does not translate to the reader without you providing significant signals to lead the reader to understand your intent. Shame on us for not knowing your craft better than you do and reading between the lines to know that you were being sarcastic with good old John but serious in telling the next writer how to deal with the misery that resulted from her following her man around the globe. Why does Wow even include you in its roster of women who promote strength and independence? Jeanne Phillips is the voice of sophistication compared to you. And yes, I am aware of your relationships with Ms. Phillips and the other women in your family who were well respected in their era–you, madame, are a throwback of the worst sort to that type of stereotypical thinking. Sigh.

  50. avatar Lym BO says:

    Found it worth commenting on, but didn’t spend the entire day doing so. 😉 . There’s a few on here that no doubt spent more than an hour or two composing their numerous retorts.
    The humor was not so much John’s slut comment ,but his candid view that perceptions have changed and that what was immoral in his day is now not because it is called by another name. I think his intention was not to be derogatory but point this nuance out.
    Lol! The biblical reference was drawn from the movie series , “the Ten Commandments” or at least my skewed 25 year memory of it.
    Atheist or agnostic here. I will go with spiritually challenged for now. 😉

    • avatar Ajen says:

      Lym BO writes: “Found it worth commenting on, but didn’t spend the entire day doing so. 😉 . There’s a few on here that no doubt spent more than an hour or two composing their numerous retorts.”

      Some people are very concerned when they see women as the target of misogynistic and offensive remarks, so maybe they felt it was worthwhile doing. I thought it was, but it didn’t take me anywhere near as long as an hour just to write out a comment. I type quickly. 🙂

      “The humor was not so much John’s slut comment ,but his candid view that perceptions have changed and that what was immoral in his day is now not because it is called by another name. I think his intention was not to be derogatory but point this nuance out.”

      That’s a very generous interpretation, but I’m afraid it’s not one I share. The term “slut” is already a loaded one, and his context makes it pretty clear he thinks very little of women who fit his definition of a slut. Then John goes on to say that he’d like to take sexual advantage of such women. That seems pretty derogatory to me.

      His view is quite candid indeed, but I’m not sure where the humorous part comes in. I don’t think it’s very funny when men denigrate women and then announce they’d like to have sex with the very same women they can’t be bothered to speak of in respectful terms.

      “Lol! The biblical reference was drawn from the movie series , “the Ten Commandments” or at least my skewed 25 year memory of it.”

      It’s been a while since I’ve seen that movie myself! I don’t remember them referencing the Flood at all.

    • avatar Briana Baran says:

      Curious point Lym Bo. I never spend the whole day watching a thread. It so happened that I have insomnia, which accounts for the somewhat bizarre times of some of my posts. Second, this Margo column appeared on Black Friday (somehow appropriate), and we are among the sensible, informed who know about the extent of the illusory price/sales deals offered, and don’t think the insanity, fevered lust, and mob mentality conspicuous consumerism worth getting pepper-sprayed or trampled.

      I sometimes don’t post on WoW for weeks. I see others who go missing for equally long periods. This was an interesting topic. I reread because I find the responses fascinating, and the replies to the responses, and so forth. On some threads, I post once, on others, many. Contrary to what some might think, my longer posts that so annoy rarely take more than a few minutes to create (counting proof-reading for spelling).

      But spend *all day* on one thread? When it takes me that long to read, and respond, do send me on to that constant care center. I’m certain others feel the same.

      • avatar Katy Dias says:

        Lym Bo, you know what else is amazing? They have this little feature where they email you when someone else comments, this means I can quickly read through replies without even going to the site. This also means when someone posts something that completely rubs me the wrong way I can click on the little link in the email, type my reply, and *poof* off it goes. All of this is less than 5 minutes. So this means, with all three of my replies (four with this one) I have spent a total of 20 minutes on the site. I might not type as much as some people so I’ll say this process may take them 10 minutes each time (really, I think you are a bit niave if you think people spend hours typing up a reply) this then puts the total time for 5 posts at 50 minutes. So once again, where do you get “hours” from?

        If it takes you hours to navigate a site, I think you should probably invest in some computer courses.

  51. avatar jessica lewis says:

    Does anyone know how to unsubscribe from this thread? I have clicked on “Manage your subscriptions” at the bottom of the thread, and the link in the gazillion emails I’ve gotten with updates, and it tells me I don’t have access and need some key. Help!

  52. avatar JustChillPeeps says:

    So, where did Margo Howard Sounds Off go? I had to use my history to find that thread and see nothing anywhere explaining why it is no longer available. Too many really pissed-off readers maybe?

  53. avatar Briana Baran says:

    All righty then. Here is the Online Etymology (etymology is the study of the origin of words, for those not acquainted with the term, and no, I am NOT being condescending or sarcastic…yet) Dictionary’s description of the origin of “Slut”:

    “Slut: c.1400, “a dirty, slovenly, or untidy woman,” probably cognate with dialectal Ger. Schlutt “slovenly woman,” dialectal Swed. slata “idle woman, slut,” and Du. slodder “slut,” but the ultimate origin is doubtful. Chaucer uses sluttish (late 14c.) in reference to the appearance of an untidy man. Also “a kitchen maid, a drudge” (mid-15c.; hard pieces in a bread loaf from imperfect kneading were called slut’s pennies, 18c.). Meaning “woman of loose character, bold hussy” is attested from mid-15c.; playful use of the word, without implication of loose morals, is attested from 1660s.

    Our little girl Susan is a most admirable slut, and pleases us mightily. [Pepys, diary, Feb. 21, 1664]

    Sometimes used 19c. as a euphemism for bitch to describe a female dog. There is a group of North Sea Germanic words in sl- that mean “sloppy,” and also “slovenly woman,” and that tend to evolve toward “woman of loose morals” (cf. slattern, also English dial. slummock “a dirty, untidy, or slovenly person,” 1861; M.Du. slore “a sluttish woman”).”

    So, actually, many of you are wrong. “Slut” has not historically been a derogatory word in the sense we are seeing today, and its use as a pejorative meaning a woman of loose morals only seems to have begun in mid to late Victorian England, when the Christian Church was responsible for setting all laws governing contact between men and women, and all sexual behavior of both sexes.

    Webster’s 1828 Dictionary defines “slut” as: “Slut
    SLUT, n.

    1. A woman who is negligent of cleanliness, and who suffers her person, clothes, funiture, &c., to be dirty or in disorder.

    2. A name of slight contempt for a woman.” There were actually more names for a man who behaved lewdly, and was promiscuous (rakehell, rake, whoremonger, lech, debauchee, rakeshame) than there were for women.

    As far as I can tell, “slut” as a truly vicious pejorative meaning a totally untrustworthy woman with no self-respect whose sole purpose is sex with anyone, regardless of whom she hurts, including herself, did not gain its meaning until the mid-20th century. Like other words, in the 2000’s, it has gained an additional use (as in shoe-slut, shopping-slut, clothing-slut) in regard to doing anything to self-indulgent, ridiculous excess.

    English is a constantly…changing language. I’d say evolving, but I’d be lying, because the language is crumbling. Take alcoholic, and such terms as “sexaholic”, or workaholic”. People think and believe that “-aholic” is an actual suffix, but it’s just the end of the word “alcoholic” ( -oholic) altered by one letter. It is a colloquialism made real by constant use.

    As for “slut”, eventually it WILL lose its significance. “Nice” used to mean a girl who was a little to heavy with the make-up, and a little too free with her favors. “Easy” meant a girl who was a LOT too free with her favors, and was a serious pejorative. “Weird” once meant “fate”, and “queer” meant strange or peculiar as a noun, or ruined or messed up (as in, “He queered that deal”) as a verb.

    O, and the SlutWalk people have seriously twisted the etymology of “slut” on their websites to suit their needs. Too bad. That’s what happens all too often with Causes. It was NOT a horrible insult directed at sexually free women from its inception. Only relatively recently. To reinvent the past to gain credibility diminishes the Cause instead. Look at the Tea Ba…err…Party. And Fox News.

  54. avatar Parzifal5 says:

    I actually think men also judge their own sexual encounters as naughty, wicked, and dirty, but the difference is they are PLEASED by this; to them it means that they had great sex with someone they were very attracted to, or maybe they lived out a fantasy and it was even better than they imagined. It is a true mystery to me why a man would denigrate the woman who made that great experience possible. 

    I try to make it bearable by reminding myself that some men just aren’t good men and their opinions aren’t worth listening to. I think John should do us all a favor and just continue having a meaningful relationship with his hand and the internet.