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Routine maintenance 

Plus, he's "gay for musical theater"

What is your stance on maintenance sex? I'd never thought about the issue until reading Amy Poehler's new memoir. I didn't find anything she said controversial, and was surprised when this quote blew up in the feminist blogosphere: "You have to have sex with your husband occasionally, even though you're exhausted. Sorry." I'd never realized many people firmly believe one should have sex with their partner only when they are in the mood! Some articles even made it sound like maintenance sex is a form of nonconsensual sex. I have sex with my husband pretty often when I'm not in the mood. He would prefer sex every day, and I'm more of an every-other-day or twice-a-week girl. I'd say about 25 percent of the time we are having sex, I am doing it for maintenance purposes. I always enjoy it and I get off the majority of the time, but I don't always go in wanting it or needing it. Is this wrong? Am I not the feminist I thought I was?

Maintenance Sex Supporter

I'm pro maintenance sex, MSS.

Sometimes I sex my husband when I'm not feeling it; sometimes he sexes me when he's not feeling it. We take care of each other. But maintenance sex is not the same thing as enthusiastic sex. The person asking for maintenance sex — the horny partner who's being indulged/milked/sexed by the non-horny partner — shouldn't expect mind-blowing, toe-curling, sheet-shredding sex. Maintenance sex is mellow sex, it's low-impact and low-stress, it's sex that requires minimal effort, and it's likely to be non-penetrative sex — and gratitude is the only appropriate response.

Another important note: Being pro maintenance sex doesn't obligate a person to have sex whenever their partner wants it. Proponents and practitioners of maintenance sex still get to say no. There's a difference between indulging your partner when you're not feeling it — when you could take it or leave it — and forcing yourself to have sex (or being guilted/pressured/forced) when you're too exhausted, too sick, or too angry for sex.

And as you've discovered, MSS, and I can also attest, sometimes you go into sex "not wanting or needing it" and then you start to enjoy it, too, i.e., not in the mood when you started but definitely in the mood before you finished. Those are the times when mellow, low-impact, low-stress maintenance sex turns into mind-blowing, toe-curling, sheet-shredding sex. I would hate to think of how much great sex I would've missed if my feminist principles didn't allow for maintenance sex.

Vanilla straight guy here. As a fellow Washingtonian, I feel proud to live in a state that was among the first to legalize marriage equality by a popular majority vote of the people. I avidly follow the NFL and eat fried bologna sandwiches and do lots of other manly things. However, I have always loved musical theater. Whenever I go to New York, I have to see at least two or three big shows. My question: Is it socially acceptable for me to good-naturedly say, "I'm totally gay for musical theater"? Or is it a slur that I shouldn't say, no matter how playful or well-intended?

The Cautious Joker

When someone says, "That's so gay," but means, "That's so stupid," they're being homophobic. Obviously. But a straight guy who says he's gay for musicals isn't saying he's stupid for them, TCJ, he's saying, "I love something that many gay men are passionate about — and I'm not talking about cock." Not all gay men are passionate about musical theater, of course, just as not all straight men are into football. But a man with a passion for musical theater is likelier to be gay; if not, he'll at least be comfortable around gay people. I've heard gay guys who avidly follow the NFL describe themselves as straight for football. Likewise, a man with a passion for football is likelier to be straight.

You saying, "I'm gay for musical theater," or a gay guy saying, "I'm straight for football," amounts to a humorous acknowledgment that the majority of people interested in musicals or football are gay or straight, respectively. In neither case is it an insult or a put-down. But while I think you can continue to say that you're gay for musicals, TCJ, some gay men (or some of our more annoying "allies") may take offense. You don't have to pay attention to those people — they're just gay for taking offense.

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