Underneath my yellow skin

Tag Archives: Doctor Nerdlove

Consent is hot as hell

I’ve been struggling with anger in the past week, and now it’s come crashing down around me and has settled into a thick goo of depression. i have a hard time finding motivation for anything, and I have a fatalistic viewpoint. I mean, I do in general, but it’s especially bad right now. I have the tendency to be negative, and the pandemic sure isn’t helping.

Side note: My right eye has been twitching for no reason. This has happened in the past, but not to the extent it’s happening now. In addition, my sleep has been really fucked over the days. Not unusual for me, but it’s reverting back to early days sleep, which is discouraging. I don’t sleep enough, and then I’m drowsy all day. Then, when I try to sleep, I’m suddenly wide awake.

As my readers know, I am a big fan of advice columns. I call them my stories, and I have a loop I do every morning. One of them is, was, Doctor Nerdlove, and I need to talk about it. I want to say before getting into the controversy that while I enjoyed reading his column, I did not like his podcasts or his videos. It was puzzling to me how someone who could write a good column with solid advice could not do videos/podcasts well (in my opinion, of course). In addition, while I agreed with his general advice, his specific tips in dating were borderline cringe-worthy to me. His idea of flirting was aggressive and skewed cliched, and if he were to his tricks on me in real life, I would be very turned off. That said, his general advice was sound, and I allowed it to overcome the grimace I always had when I read his specific advice. This is relevant to the rest of the post, I promise.

So, there has been a spate of stories about sexual harassment in different branches of geek culture. Games and comic to be more specific. Doctor NL wrote a post about a mentor of his who was accused of…not exactly sexual harassment, but of sexualizing the attractive young women in his forum in a way that would assume de facto pressure. He had a lot of clout in the industry (comics), and a leg up from him would do a lot for someone’s career. Add to that the fact that comics are still largely white dudes, and it’s easy to see how he could use his power for evil.

In the comments, there were people who didn’t understand why it was such a big deal. Distressing, but common. There was one dude who ‘just wanted to understand’ and kept asking questions. It was clear that he really did want to understand, but he was coming at it from the wrong angle. I had a Twitter interaction with an Asian friend that was crashed by a rando who was ‘just asking questions’ about a racial issue, but it became quickly clear that he wasn’t arguing in good faith. I muted him and moved along with my life. In the above case, however, it didn’t really matter that the guy was arguing in good faith because the starting point was so different for him and for the actual situation. He didn’t think the behavior was bad enough to classify as damaging, which was pretty myopic of him. But, it’s sadly common in that people often feel that they are the standard of norm. I’ll delve more into that in the future.

A few days after this, the doc then penned a post about his own situation. He was at a con in 2017 and was flirting with a woman at a bar. He’s in an open marriage, so there’s nothing there (unless he didn’t mention it to the woman involved). By his own recount, they flirted and had chemistry. He thought it was going well, so he reached over, gently wove his fingers through her hair, and lightly tugged.


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But is it, though?

One of my daily stories is Doctor Nerdlove. I read his website, and then recently discovered (remembered) he also writes for Kotaku. I’ve been bingeing past articles, and there are a few themes that have stuck with me that I’d like to explore. Before I do that, I would like to say if you’re a dude who is struggling with dating issues, please read Doctor Nerdlove. He is on point 98% of the time, and his writing is clear and easy to digest. It’s refreshing to see a dude just lay it on the line and be quite frank when the letter writer is acting like an entitled prick. Do I agree with him all the time? Of course not, but I think his general principles are sound.

The first principle I want to explore is his belief that love is hard, but it’s worth it. That’s a gross generalization, of course, but it’s pretty much the bottom line of his advice to people struggling with dating for a variety of reasons. It’s mostly dudes wanting to date women, but there have been other permutations as well. His bottom line is that, yes, the dating pool may be harder for some (say if you’re a fat woman of color who dates men, for example), but that love in any shape or form (as long as it’s healthy) is worth it.

To which I’ve been asking myself, “But is it, though?” To be clear, I’m not saying that lifelong love can’t happen. It can. My BFF met her husband when she was fifteen and has been with him for nearly thirty-five years. They’ve had many hard times, but nearly thirty-five years, one daughter, and one move out of state later (still miss ya, K!), they still love and support each other. My other bestie recently met the woman he wants to spend the rest of his life with, and I’ve never seen him happier or more comfortable with himself.

So, I’m not saying it’s not possible or that people shouldn’t strive for it if it’s what they want. The last part is key, though, because it’s too easy for people in this society to think that a long-term monogamous relationship is the be-all/end-all. To be clear, the good not-doctor is not advocating either of these things, necessarily. But it’s still baked into a lot of the questions, and I would love to see people really dig into this expectation.¬† I’ve done it myself over the years, and who I am now as far as romance goes is so different than who I was when I first started dating (I was 16).


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