The Cardinal Rules

by Cristy Cardinal, otherwise known in these parts as Shaker masculine_lady.

[Content Note: Discussion of various failures around sex, sexuality, consent, and marginalized bodies.]

I am not a resolution maker, at the New Year or any other time. But, it is inevitable that I will review the year as it comes to a close and notice any themes that might inform my plans for the New Year. For example, I might notice that I spent a lot of 2013 ill with pneumonia, so in 2014, I am going to make damn sure to get a flu shot and a pneumonia vaccine (all true).

Two other things I noticed as themes of 2013 were: Dan Savage continues to be a dipshit, and people like to ask me for advice (I also enjoy telling people what to do, so it works out).

Dan Savage, who writes the advice column on sex, love and relationships called Savage Love, lucked into his job when he told the founder of the Seattle paper The Stranger to include an advice column in the fledging publication and was subsequently offered the job. Dan is also the creator of the It Gets Better Project and the alternative meaning of Rick Santorum's last name (please note the irony of creating both an anti-bullying project and bullying a public figure and everyone else who shares his last name, including his children, by making their last name mean something sexually explicit many people will consider vulgar).

He gives terrible advice. He tells rape survivors to "get over it already." He is actively hateful of bisexual folks. He hates on fat people all the time. He is not a big fan of women or trans* folks. He is invested in hegemonic masculinity and white supremacy because they benefit him. He is also a bit of an assimilationist gay man and would prefer that all the queer freaks disappear. It seems that Dan really only likes people who are exactly like him, and his primary advice to give is: Be more like me.

One of Dan's potentially dangerous advice tropes is his conviction that we owe our partners sex, as if it is some sort of bill we pay in order to be partnered whether we want to or not, rather than an expression of intimacy in a whole range of expressions we have available. This is an ongoing theme in his sex advice, so much so that I'll be featuring a whole column (what? keep reading!) on that in the near future.

Dan Savage's terrible advice kept showing up in my life in 2013, with the affiliated groans and complaints that this dude is There was at least a week in October or so where he was on my FB daily. And during that week, for the second time, I casually mentioned that I should do my own advice column, as an alternative. I could answer original questions, but also go back and re-answer questions that Dan had really screwed up.

This brings me to the second theme of 2013: People like to ask me for advice (and I like to tell them what to do). Friends of mine have joked over the years that they need t-shirts or bracelets that say, "WWCCD (What Would Cristy Cardinal Do)" so they could channel my insight when they were in a quandary. Last year, people really did ask me for advice a lot, and I discovered that I enjoyed the hell out of it.

So, when I did the 2013 review, I realized that now just might be the time for a person who practices intersectional feminism, well-versed in rape culture and the components of supportive egalitarian relationships, who values rather than discounts the differences in the people around me, who tries really hard to understand that there is more than one way to be a human being or have a relationship, and can see past the end of her nose, to write an advice column.

Oh—and, unlike Dan Savage, I'm actually a professional advocate and educator.

"Cardinal Rules: 21st Century Advice on Life, Love and Sundry Other Bullsh*t" is that advice column. I launched earlier this week, and the first column is up—a re-answer of a Savage Love question from 2010.

We all need advice sometimes, and we shouldn't have to ask a garbage nightmare like that dude for it. Seriously, he claims to be America's only advice columnist. I don't know if that was true last week, but it's not true now!

I know that when I've asked for advice, I felt pretty vulnerable. When it's our turn to seek answers, we should be able to trust that the advice giver will be compassionate and not a judgmental asshole (I considered "Not a Judgmental Asshole" as the tagline, but it didn't take).

You can ask questions, or submit a Savage Love column for review, here.

(Also, many thanks to Liss for suggesting the name "Cardinal Rules" because she rules.)

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