But there were puppets!
Disclaimer: I'm not interested in turning this into a tedious thread about how Dan Savage is the worst person who ever lived because he occasionally says something you disagree with. I'm genuinely surprised he gets shit on so much, since his occasional error is inevitable when you're producing a voluminous amount of work on the often-tricky and complex questions of sexual and relationship ethics and choices. Most of the time, people who get shit on as much as he does, it's because the shit-ers believe the shit-ee is sensitive and responsive, and they enjoy shitting on them because they know it gets to them. But Savage strikes me as thick-skinned, so I don't know why the Internet Denunciation Committee even bothers. I don't really think he gives a flying fuck what you think.
This isn't really part of the news cycle and probably isn't the most important thing to be tackling on a Monday morning, but I have to unload my irritation. Last episode of the Savage Love podcast, Dan had on Heike Rodriguez, who claims to be a sex educator who teaches women how to do female ejaculation, should they feel that they aren't spending enough time doing laundry. I'm all for women learning the technique that could get you there, if that's something you're in to, and applaud all sorts of erotic experimentation done for the holy reason called "for the hell of it". I'm guessing that kind of goal was why Rodriguez was invited on the show. Unfortunately, she wasn't interested in educating people on techniques that might work for them so much as pushing her ridiculous and frankly sexist agenda on unwitting women like myself who tune in to the show for purely innocent reasons. (Read: we like to listen to other people's sex problems while running errands or working out.) See, Rodriguez is a first class pusher of woo, but more than that, she's a big fucking bully. And Dan should have cut the interview and told her to suck it.
Basically, what happened was that Dan was trying to get her to talk about the basics of female ejaculation, to dispel a couple of myths (that it's pee being the big one), and go on her merry way. She, on the other hand, wanted to talk about how the G-spot is the emotional center of a woman's being and the if you're not ejaculating on a regular basis, the sole and only reason had to be that you are suffering from emotional blockage. Thus, when asked for techniques on how to do it, she was focused like a laser beam on characterizing those who don't ejaculate as emotionally broken women who need to go into therapy or just generally work on their brokenness until they start ejaculating, at what point they can feel like they're whole human beings without all those terrible neuroses non-ejaculators have.
I was surprised she didn't start to claim that female ejaculation is the process by which your body purges thetans and renders you clean so you can move on to the next level, at least after writing a check to her for thousands of dollars.
To be clear, it was obvious from the interview that Dan was not happy about the way things had turned, and was trying to politely steer his guest in a less judgmental, less wackadoodle direction. As far as I know, he's never been big on the hippy-dippy crap that links sexual health, acts, or performance to some kind of cosmic wholeness or the amount of patchouli in the room. If anything, he's often pointed out that people's neuroses can be the root of some of their hottest fantasies, and I think he generally has a wide tolerance for neuroses, on the grounds that most people have them and it's not a big thing as long as it doesn't interfere with your overall wellbeing. The interview was shorter than usual, and he did eventually get her to the point before shuffling her off. I wouldn't be surprised if he talks about it for the next podcast and clarifies his point of view. Which I suspect is very different from hers, especially since he did try a couple of times to correct her gently. Overall, the interview sounded like a conversation you might have when you get caught in a conversation with someone who has weird, false beliefs but is very insistent about them. Most of us try to politely disagree, give up, and then try as politely as possible to get out of it. That's what he sounds like he was doing.
That said, there was more that had to be done. He should not have run the interview. This is something that people in media have to deal with all the fucking time, and it's a tough one and I get that. I have a podcast (listen to the latest here!), and I've definitely struggled with what to do when I interview someone and they wander off the farm into La La Land. I've cut interviews before because someone just started riding a hobby horse that I thought was counter-factual. Not often—maybe once or twice—but still. A couple more times, I've cut the part of the interview where the guest said factually incorrect things or promoted woo. It's really a matter of how the interview is framed. If I bring someone on to offer an opinion and I disagree, I run it. I'm not endorsing the views of anyone I interview so much as letting them have a chance to express themselves and let the listener decide what they think.
But when an interview is explicitly about educating the audience, I think the standards have to be a little tighter. When I bring someone on because I think they have information to impart and not just because I think they have opinions that are interesting, I raise the standards of what they're allowed to say on my show. I just cannot support setting up an education framework and then injecting untruths into it. It runs against the very purpose of education.
I realize that the line between fact and opinion is blurry, especially when it comes to sexual techniques and whatnot, but this woman crossed it big time. Blag Hag has more information on why Rodriguez was unquestionably in the wrong here. It sucks and feels rude to cut someone's interview, but your responsibility to the people you claim to be educating should take priority in these situations.
One last thought: I have no doubt that Rodriguez considers herself a feminist. Women who push this particular brand of woo invariably do. But I really have to question a "feminism" that centers a woman's life around her vagina and is bullying and essentialist in this way. If you suddenly declared that the amount of ejaculate a man produced was indicative of the state of his soul, because the penis is the emotional center of the man, we'd probably have no problem seeing you as a sexist who blows the differences between men and women way out of proportion. The reality is that men and women have way more in common than not, and that's especially true when it comes to the physiological manifestations of our emotions, which, as far as I understand, are basically the same.