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Savage Love

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Subject: Dan Savage, Dan Savage bibliography, The Stranger (newspaper), Pegging (sexual practice), Wet and messy fetishism
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Savage Love

Dan Savage (2005)

Savage Love is a syndicated sex-advice column by Dan Savage. The column appears weekly in several dozen newspapers, mainly free newspapers in the US and Canada, but also newspapers in Europe and Asia. It started in 1991 with the first issue of the Seattle weekly newspaper The Stranger.

Since October 2006, Savage has also recorded the Savage Lovecast, a weekly podcast version of the column, featuring telephone advice sessions.[1] Podcasts are released every Tuesday.

Since 2002, he has written the column at Eppie Lederer's desk, which he, a "lifelong fan" of her Ann Landers column, bought at auction after the noted advice columnist died.[2]


  • History 1
  • Linguistics 2
    • Recapture of offensive words 2.1
    • Neologisms 2.2
      • Campsite rule 2.2.1
      • Tea and Sympathy rule 2.2.2
      • Monogamish 2.2.3
      • Pegging 2.2.4
      • Santorum 2.2.5
      • Lifting Luggage 2.2.6
      • Saddlebacking 2.2.7
      • Leotarded 2.2.8
    • Acronyms 2.3
      • GGG 2.3.1
      • DTMFA 2.3.2
      • CPOS 2.3.3
      • HTH 2.3.4
    • Usage 2.4
  • References 3
  • External links 4


In 1991, Savage was living in Madison, Wisconsin, and working as a manager at a local video store that specialized in independent film titles.[3] There, Savage befriended Tim Keck, co-founder of The Onion, who announced that he was moving to Seattle to help start an alternative weekly newspaper titled The Stranger.[3] Savage "made the offhand comment that forever altered [his] life: 'Make sure your paper has an advice column—everybody claims to hate 'em, but everybody seems to read 'em'."[4] Savage typed up a sample column, and to Savage's surprise Keck offered him the job.[5][6]

Savage stated in a February 2006 interview in The Onion‍ '​s A.V. Club (which publishes his column) that he began the column with the express purpose of providing mocking advice to heterosexuals, since most straight advice columnists were "clueless" when responding to letters from gay people.[5]


Recapture of offensive words

For the first six years of the column, Savage had his readers address him with "Hey, faggot," as a comment on previous efforts to recapture offensive words. He was criticized for this by some gay activists.


During the run of Savage Love, Savage has popularized several neologisms. He has also debunked several sexual neologisms, including the Donkey Punch, The Pirate, and the Hot Karl, saying "They’re all fictions."[7]

Campsite rule

In a relationship with a large age and/or experience gap, the older partner/more experienced partner has the responsibility to leave the younger/less experienced partner in at least as good a state (emotionally and physically) as before the relationship. The campsite rule includes things like leaving the younger/less experienced partner with no STDs, no unwanted pregnancies, and not overburdening them with emotional and sexual baggage.[8]

Tea and Sympathy rule

Shortly after a 2009 scandal in Portland, Oregon involving openly gay mayor Sam Adams and Beau Breedlove, who had allegedly turned 18 almost immediately before the two began a sexual relationship, Savage created a companion rule to the "campsite rule," now known as the Tea and Sympathy rule. The rule is a reference to a line in the play of the same name, in which a much older woman states to a high-school-age boy, right before having sex with him: "Years from now, when you talk about this – and you will – be kind."[9] Savage claimed in an article in The Portland Mercury that, while Adams followed the "campsite rule" – Breedlove did not claim that Adams had given him any diseases or caused him emotional trauma, and in fact still refers to Adams as a friend – Breedlove violated the Tea and Sympathy rule by making public statements that he knew could ruin Adams' career.[10]


In a July 20, 2011 column, Savage coined the term "monogamish." The term describes couples who are perceived to be monogamous, who are mostly monogamous, but who are not 100% monogamous. Such couples have an expressed understanding that allows for some amount of sexual contact outside the relationship.[11] Savage believes that of all the couples people think are 100% monogamous, a lot of them are more monogamish than people realize. The term has since seen mainstream use.[12][13]


In 2001 Savage challenged readers of his column to coin a name for the sex act in which a woman uses a strap-on dildo to perform anal sex on her male partner. After multiple nominations and a reader vote, the verb "peg" was chosen (despite Savage's aunt bearing the name Peg) with a 43% plurality over runners-up "bob" and "punt."[14]


Savage reacted strongly to statements made about homosexuality by former United States Senator Rick Santorum in an April 2003 interview with the Associated Press.[15] Santorum included gay sex as a form of deviant sexual behavior, along with incest, polygamy, and bestiality, that he said threatens society and the family; he said he believed consenting adults do not have a constitutional right to privacy with respect to sexual acts.[16] Savage invited his readers to create a sex-related definition for "santorum" to "memorialize the Santorum scandal [...] by attaching his name to a sex act that would make his big, white teeth fall out of his big, empty head."[17] The winning definition was "the frothy mixture of lube and fecal matter that is sometimes the byproduct of anal sex."[18] Savage set up a website to spread the term, inviting bloggers and others to link to it, which caused it to rise to the top of a Google search for Santorum's name.[19]

Lifting Luggage

Following the aversion therapy, Dan Savage, along with others including Stephen Colbert,[20] promoted the use of the idiom "to lift one's luggage," meaning to supply one's partner with sexual pleasure. This originated from Rekers who, when outed, insisted he had hired the escort only to assist him with lifting his luggage.[21] Rekers also claimed he "spent a great deal of time sharing scientific information on the desirability of abandoning homosexual intercourse" and "shared the gospel of Jesus Christ with him in great detail."[21]

Originally Savage suggested that "lifting my luggage" refer to listening to the speaker expound on the "desirability" of converting oneself from homosexual to heterosexual. Later, after several political humorists started employing "lifting your luggage" as an implicit or explicit reference to various sexual acts,[22] Savage suggested that "Whatever lifts your luggage" supplant "whatever floats your boat" in common parlance.


In 2009, after a controversy involving the Saddleback Church, the column defined "saddlebacking" as "the phenomenon of Christian teens engaging in unprotected anal sex in order to preserve their virginities".[23]


After receiving criticism for use of the word "retarded"—considered by many to be an offensive slur against those with intellectual disabilities—Savage suggested "leotarded" as an alternative, because "leotard" rhymes with "retard."



Dan Savage coined the abbreviation "GGG."[24][25] It stands for Good, Giving, and Game, and it means one should strive to be Good in bed, Giving "equal time and equal pleasure" to one's partner, and Game "for anything—within reason."[25][26] The term has inspired a cocktail and the "How GGG Are You? Test" on the popular Internet dating site OKCupid.[24]


Dump The Mother-Fucker Already (used at a closing of a response to indicate that immediately ending the writer's abusive or worthless relationship is advised).


Cheating Piece of Shit. (said of a cheater, but usually reserved for one who is chronic or abusive/passive-aggressive about it.)


"How'd That Happen?" (incredulous reply to those to who write in and say they had certain (often sexual) things "happen" to them, as if they had no part or say in the incident, when they clearly did.)


Savage objected to use of the term "pussy" as an insult, saying that pussies were wonderful, popping out babies, and proposed scrotum, plural scrota, as an insult.


  1. ^ "Dan Savage". Retrieved March 19, 2011. 
  2. ^ Savage, Dan (December 5, 2002). "Ann Advises On".  
  3. ^ a b "GLBTQ Literature: Dan Savage". 
  4. ^ Dan Savage, Introduction, Savage Love: Straight Answers from America's Most Popular Sex Columnist (New York: Plume, 1998), p. 2.
  5. ^ a b Dan Savage interviewed by Tasha Robinson, The A.V. Club, February 8, 2006.
  6. ^ Dan Savage, Introduction, Savage Love: Straight Answers from America's Most Popular Sex Columnist, op. cit., pp. 1–5.
  7. ^ Dan Savage (December 23–29, 2004). "No Shit?".  
  8. ^ Q, Dan (May 14, 2008). "Savage Love Readers Talk About the Campsite Rule". Scatmania. Retrieved December 11, 2013. 
  9. ^ Deborah Kerr, Actress Known for Genteel Grace and a Sexy Beach Kiss, Dies at 86 – The New York Times
  10. ^ The Tea and Sympathy Rule Portland Mercury
  11. ^ Savage, Dan (20 July 2011). "Savage Love: Monogamish". The Stranger. Retrieved 8 January 2015. 
  12. ^ Luscombe, Belinda (17 July 2014). "Are You ‘Monogamish’? A New Survey Says Lots of Couples Are". Retrieved 8 January 2015. 
  13. ^ Oppenheimer, Mark (3 June 2011). "Married, with Infidelities". Retrieved 8 January 2015. 
  14. ^ Dan Savage, We Have a Winner!. The Stranger, June 21, 2001. Accessed April 7, 2013.
  15. ^ "Excerpt from Santorum interview". USA Today. April 23, 2003.  
  16. ^ Excerpt from Santorum in an interview: "...if the Supreme Court says that you have the right to consensual sex within your home, then you have the right to bigamy, ... [y]ou have the right to anything. Does that undermine the fabric of our society? I would argue yes, it does.", USA Today, 23 April 2003
  17. ^ Savage, Dan. "Bill, Ashton, Rick", The Stranger, May 15, 2003.
  18. ^ Savage, Dan. "Gas Huffer", The Stranger, June 12, 2003.
  19. ^ Mencimer, Stephanie. "Rick Santorum's Anal Sex Problem", Mother Jones, September/October 2010.
  20. ^ "Colbert Rips Anti-Gay Activist, Throws 'Rentboy' Dance Party" Abramson, Dan (May 6, 2010). "Colbert Rips Anti-Gay Activist, Throws 'Rentboy' Dance Party". The Huffington Post. Retrieved June 12, 2013. 
  21. ^ a b Whittell, Giles (May 6, 2010). "'"Baptist minister 'took ten-day holiday with male prostitute. The Times (London). 
  22. ^ "'Lift My Luggage' Is the New 'Hiking the Appalachian Trail'" by Daniel Kurtzman " --Daniel Kurtzman's Political Humor Blog". Retrieved October 21, 2010. 
  23. ^ "Savage Love". The Stranger. 
  24. ^ a b Ken Walczak, "The GGG Cocktail,", 9 May 2012 (accessed 26 Dec 2012) ("Dan is best known for two things: his advice that partners in any relationship strive to be Good, Giving, and Game (GGG) and . . .").
  25. ^ a b DebHerbenick. "Science proves it: Dan Savage is right". 
  26. ^ Dan Savage, Wrong & Right, The Stranger March 1, 2007 (accessed 26 Dec. 2012).

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