Who I Am (and Why That Matters)

Spencer Wharton

Any advice columnist is going to draw on their own life experiences when writing advice. Sure, not solely, or even primarily––even the columnists with the most interesting lives couldn’t experience everything their readers write them about. But in establishing connections, drawing parallels, and setting the scope of their column, a columnist is influenced by their own personal position in life. Subjectivity doesn’t just show up in the advice you give, it shows up in the questions you answer and the topics you choose to write about.

Who I am has shaped my experiences and will continue to shape how I write, so before I go any further with this blog, I want to talk a little bit about myself, just to be upfront about who I am and where I’m coming from.

I identify as a mostly straight cisgender man. This means that, though I could try to imagine, I can’t understand personally what it’s like to be non-straight, trans*, not male, or any combination of these three, so any advice I give on topics related to the experiences of people with those identities is generalized and speculative at best. This doesn’t mean it will necessarily be irrelevant––after all, The Stranger’s famed sex columnist, Dan Savage, is a gay man who gives advice to straight women all the time––but it does mean that I’m not in a particularly experienced position to talk about these issues, and it certainly means I have no right to claim knowledge of these fields.

This extends to fetishes and kinks as well. I have some experience with certain niches, including rope play and BDSM, but I’m certainly not a walking compendium of kink. Nevertheless, I want everyone, regardless of their fetish, to be comfortable writing to me. As I’m sure I’ll end up repeating endlessly in my column, human sexuality is infinitely variable, and I despise the common tendency to normalize certain sexualities while marginalizing others. I don’t care if your thing is diaper play or latex, whether you like to be tickled or burned with hot wax; as long as your practice is safe, sane, and consensual, your kink is cool with me.

Because of my limited perspective, I strongly recommend keeping alternative sources of sex education in mind. Scarleteen is a fantastic website geared toward establishing healthy, sex-positive understandings of sexuality and relationships, and should definitely be your go-to resource. My Sistahs is a site dedicated toward sex education for and by women of color. Ev’yan Nasman writes a blog called Sex, Love, Liberation that focuses on encouraging self-love and owning one’s own sexuality. Charlie Glickman and Megan Andelloux are both sex educators who provide sex ed for adults about sex in a sex-positive fashion. This list, of course, barely scratches the surface, so if you don’t find what you’re looking for here, check out this resource list on Tumblr, or just do a quick web search. There is great sex advice on the internet, if you look carefully.

I’m still learning how to give inclusive sex advice, and I may mess up along the way. If I do, or if you have any concerns more generally about Sexcetera, please don’t hesitate to let me know.

With that taken care of, let’s get on to the good stuff.