Thursday, February 18, 2016

Savage Love: White privilege?

A hair debate

Posted By on Thu, Feb 18, 2016 at 11:13 AM


My husband is Native American. I’m white. We’ve been together 16 years, raising a couple kids. We love each other very much, so this isn’t a deal breaker. I’ve got a thing for his long black hair. He’s a drop-dead gorgeous man, and while I gave up asking that he wear leggings or a breechcloth once in a while, I wish he would grow out his hair. I’m willing to wear (and do) anything he asks. He’s somewhere to the left of Sherman Alexie when it comes to this stuff, but could you tell me why I’m so wrong? He keeps his hair short, and the one time I made enough of a fuss, he grew it out and never washed it just to spite me. A long time ago, he participated in a sun dance, and he looked incredible. So I guess that makes me a blasphemous pervert, but really? Is asking for a couple of braids really so wrong?
Whitey McWhite Wife

I forwarded your e-mail to Sherman Alexie, the award-winning poet, novelist, essayist, and filmmaker. Your question must have touched a nerve, WMW, because Alexie’s response arrived while my computer was still making that woooosh-sending-e-mail sound. Now I’m going to step aside and let Alexie answer your question…

“What does ‘to the left of Sherman Alexie’ mean in this context? I doubt there are very many Native dudes more leftist than me! And long hair on Indian men is more conservative and more tribal, anyway—more ceremonial. More of a peacock thing, really. And a lot of work! My Native wife certainly misses my long hair. But I don’t miss the upkeep and I don’t miss answering questions about my hair. I mean, I cut my hair 13 years ago (more than 25 percent of my life ago), and some people still ask me about it! Thirteen years! Also, Native men tend to cut their hair as they age. Long hair is generally a young Indian man’s gig, culturally speaking.

“I would venture that Native dude is tired of being romanticized, ethnocized, objectified. We Indians get enough of that shit in the outside world. Maybe this dude doesn’t want that in bed. Or maybe he just likes the way he looks with shorter hair. Because I am getting so gray, long hair would make me look like a warlock having a midlife crisis. Maybe this Indian dude is just sick of all the sociopolitical shit that comes with long hair. Maybe it kills his boner. Talking about it has certainly killed my boner.”

On the Lovecast, Dan and writer Ephi Stempler discuss companionate marriage:
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Dan Savage

Dan Savage

In addition to being a nationally syndicated sex advice columnist and author of books, Savage can also lay claim to being the only person at his home paper to have actually converted his sexuality into a profession. He has a boyfriend and a child. He is also wealthy beyond the dreams of avarice and cheats at racketball... more

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