I am a twenty-something, straight, cis-female expat. How long do I have to wait to ask my German lover, who is übersensitive about the Holocaust, to indulge me in my greatest fantasy: Nazi role-play? He is delicate around me because I am a secular Jew and the descendant of Holocaust survivors. (Even though I've instructed him to watch The Believer, starring Ryan Gosling as a Jewish neo-Nazi, to get a better grasp on my relationship with Judaism. To be clear, I am not actually a neo-Nazi -- just your garden-variety self-hating Jew.) This persists even though we've spoken about my anti-Zionist politics. Evidently he was indoctrinated from a young age with a hyperapologetic history curriculum. I appreciate that he thinks it was wrong for the SS to slaughter my family, but it's not like he did it himself. I know it sounds fucked up, but I promise this isn't coming from a place self-loathing. Even if it were, it's not like we'd be hurting anybody. We're both in good psychological working condition, and neither of us is an actual bigot. I would try to get to know him better, but we are so different (there's a big age difference) and I don't see our relationship being much more than ze sex.
National Socialist Pretend Party
"Sex writers get all the really good religion questions," Mark Oppenheimer says. "I'm tired of dealing with all the questions about why evangelicals support a thrice-married misogynist reality-TV star who never goes to church."
Oppenheimer writes the Beliefs column for the New York Times and is cohost of Unorthodox, an "irreverent podcast about Jews and other people." I invited Oppenheimer to weigh in because I am, sadly, not Jewish myself.
"First off, I think that Die Fraulein should make her kinky proposal ASAP," Oppenheimer says. "Given the 'hyperapologetic' curriculum that her Teutonic stud has absorbed, he is probably going to freak out no matter when she asks him to incinerate — er, tie her up and fuck her. On the other hand, if he's open and kink-positive, he'll probably be down for whatever. But it's all or nothing in a case like this. She can't win him over by persuading him that she's not one of those uptight, unforgiving Jewesses who is still hung up on the destruction of European Jewry."
While your kink didn't really faze Oppenheimer, NSPP, your discomfort with your own Judaism did.
"In her letter, she assures us that she is 'secular,' 'anti-Zionist,' and 'garden-variety self-hating'—then jokingly compares herself to the Jewish white supremacist (played by Ryan Gosling in that movie) who in real life killed himself after the New York Times outed him as a Jew," Oppenheimer says. "Now, all of us (especially homos and Yids) know something about self-loathing, and I think Jews are entitled to any and all views on Israel, and — again — I am not troubled by her kink. That said, I do think she needs to get to a happier place about her own heritage. Just as it's not good for black people to be uncomfortable with being black, or for queer people to wish they weren't queer, it's not healthy, or attractive, for Jews or Jewesses (we are taking back the term) to have such obvious discomfort with their Jewish heritage."
And finally, I shared your letter with a German friend of mine, just to see how it might play with someone who benefited from a hyperapologetic history curriculum. Would he do something like this?
"Not in six million years."
I am fresh out of a gay relationship, which started monogamous, opened up, dabbled with polyamory, but ran out of steam. I'm heartbroken and need you to weigh in on a disagreement we had. I believe polyamory to be a small group of people all in love with each other, all sleeping together. He believes polyamory to be different pairings, where a relationship between two people would be lived and enjoyed separately from pairings with other people. He thinks my definition would be impossible to find and sustain. I think his definition sounds like child custody in a divorce dispute. Who is right?
Reexamining Relationship Remnants
"They're both right," said Allena Gabosch, a poly activist, educator, and podcaster (The Relationship Anarchy Show). "What the letter writer describes — a small group of people who love each other and all sleep together — is sometimes called 'polyfidelity.' It's less common, and yet I've seen it work. His ex's definition is more common: a primary couple with secondary and sometimes even tertiary partners. There is no 'one true way' to do poly, no matter what anyone says."