America's Ethicist: Sex Columnist Dan Savage

Profile: He's gone beyond how-to columns into modern morality
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 3, 2011 9:34 AM CDT
America's Ethicist: Sex Columnist Dan Savage
Writer Sarah Vowell, Dan Savage, radio personality Ira Glass and Jonathan Goldstein in a 2007 file photo.   (Getty Images)

Dan Savage has been writing his Savage Love sex column for 20 years now, much to the horror of chaste readers who stumble upon it at its original home at Seattle weekly the Stranger or one of its many syndicated sites. Given his ever-widening media reach—an MTV show is reportedly in the offing, for instance—Savage is arguably "America's most influential advice columnist," writes Benjamin J. Dueholm in a profile at Washington Monthly. What's more, as it odd may sound to his Puritan critics, Savage also is emerging as one of the nation's most prominent ethicists. (Author Dueholm, it's worth noting, is a Lutheran minister.)

"While he built his following by talking without fear or euphemism about the technical aspects of intimate life, Savage has moved inexorably over the years toward focusing on the moral ones," writes Dueholm. In the "free-fire zone of modern sexuality, he has codified a remarkably systematic—and influential—set of ethics where traditional norms have fallen away." One of the pillars, for instance, is "full disclosure." Savage won't cast judgment on your fetish or, say, your need for multiple partners, but he insists that you be open about it with your partner. Dueholm, by the way, isn't sold that this brave new world is the best place and makes a case of his own for good-old-fashioned monogamy. Read the full profile. (Read more Dan Savage stories.)

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