Schroedinger’s Consent

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Vikram Bath

Vikram Bath is the pseudonym of a former business school professor living in the United States with his wife, daughter, and dog. (Dog pictured.) His current interests include amateur philosophy of science, business, and economics. Tweet at him at @vikrambath1.

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330 Responses

  1. Avatar Damon says:

    Net net: It’s the guy’s fault. If she says no and you proceed, it’s rape. If she tells you the next day that you “should have gone for it”, it’s your fault for not knowing that. If you’re both drunk, it’s the guys fault as she can’t give consent. Nothing about the guy not being able to consent.

    See how nicely that all works: it’s the male’s fault. I’m glad we had this conversation. No tell me…why the hell would any guy want to engage with women knowing this is the status quo?Report

    • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to Damon says:

      I suspect when in general, a woman doesn’t need to fear being labeled a slut anymore than a man does, this won’t be much of an issue (i.e. our societies concern over the sexuality of any given woman is a big source of the problems we have in this area).Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist says:

        Maybe yes, maybe no. We might also be dealing with some very powerful inbuilt thinking here. It won’t be the first time that people thought breaking down a tradition would get rid of some despised part of human nature and society only to have that part of society persistently stay put and not go away.

        Many people might play hard to get because they like the chase and the game of seduction. Its referred to as having game. Personally, its something that I’m not good at it and find annoying at best and tediously boring hard work at worse. That might explain some problems with my dating. I think that getting rid of slut-shamming isn’t really going to change this aspect of mating as much as people think. Humans are complicated and not necessarily in a good way.Report

      • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist says:

        @leeesq

        True.

        However, in the case where the guy missed the girls signals, we also have the problem that she took it personally & acted hurt about it. This is the other half of the problem, in that people (thanks, I suspect in large part, to media) have ideas & expectations about sex that are un-helpful. One thing my parents did right was talk to me about sex quite frankly. What I was going through during adolescence, what girls were going through, and that one should be careful of games played with strangers when the rules haven’t been spelled out. Getting rid of slut-shaming would help many be more upfront about what they want (you can still have fun playing hard to get when your partner knows the game – hell, it can be even more fun since you can safely make them work for it with gusto!).

        I give the guy props for not making any assumptions about what was going on, even if he did get a bad review.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist says:

        @mad-rocket-scientist, as per the LouisCK skit, a lot of people seem to think that playing hard to get isn’t fun if the rules are in the open. People are complicated. It seems that lots of people believe that having things out in the open as the the power to leach out the sexiness of sex. Men don’t face any issue for really desiring sex and we are getting lots of complaints from them that having to get affirmative consent takes the fun away. There is a powerful and common belief that the most passionate and best sex is very spontaneous rather than planned out in advance or talked about that much. The problem with this is that the potential for misreading signals is great. Getting rid of slut-shamming isn’t going to get rid of this.Report

      • Avatar Doctor Jay in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist says:

        @leeesq There is an attitude I have come across sometimes as “You’re supposed to just know what I want” that seems in play here. As if some people want to be with someone who can read their mind. That seems just possible enough, I guess.

        And then there’s the the people that enjoy watching someone overcome obstacles to have them. It makes them feel powerful and wanted. These people say “no” not because they want the supplicant to go away, but to create a drama which answers the question, “just how much do you want me?”

        I feel that we’d be a lot better off if individuals had some emotional flexibility and could imagine themselves slotted into either the role of pursuer or pursued.

        I feel that we should be talking about these things when we talk about affirmative consent.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist says:

        Lee,
        yeah, you’re nearly saying that the best sex is non-forcible rape.Report

      • Avatar j r in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist says:

        (i.e. our societies concern over the sexuality of any given woman is a big source of the problems we have in this area)

        There is a level of precision missing in that statement that renders it a bit untrue. Who exactly are you talking about when you say “our societies?” I am a part of this society and in almost none of the social circles that I travel in, or have traveled in, is there this sort of blatant slut-shaming. Aside from a number of culturally conservative communities, which are exceptions, women are not being ostracized for having sex with their boyfriends or with guys that they are casually seeing or even for having random hookups. And it is not the conservative exceptions that we are talking about in this conversation.

        Most of the time that I hear men or women calling a woman a slut, that term is being used as a sort of all-purpose insult the way someone might call a man a douchebag or a loser. And even when it does pertain to a woman’s actual sexual behavior, it is almost deployed by someone with an axe to grind (eg a man calling a woman a slut, because she cheated on him or because she rebuffed his advances or a woman calling another woman slut because the latter hooked up with someone that the latter had an interest in).Report

    • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Damon says:

      It is a tricky decision: on the one hand you risk comitting sexual assualt, and on the other you risk not getting laid that night. What’s a fella to do?Report

      • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to Mike Schilling says:

        @mike-schilling

        You forgot the bad review. A single bad review can just make college unbearable.Report

      • Avatar Matty in reply to Mike Schilling says:

        You also going by the third example risk causing emotional pain to someone you care about by rejecting them. Maybe not a huge issue compared to the main one but not a wholly selfish concern for the man either.

        To be clear hurting someone by rejecting them is absolutely not on the same continent as sexual assault in terms of the suffering caused and I would always risk the lesser harm rather than the greater but that doesn’t mean the woman in this scenario is not hurt.Report

      • Avatar bookdragon in reply to Mike Schilling says:

        I’m a bit baffled by the reaction to the 3rd example. It seems to me that the appropriate reaction on the guy’s part wouldn’t be feeling bad that she felt rejected, but “Whew. I really dodged a bullet by not going for it with her. That woman is a head case.”

        Honestly, she’s the one who should worry about the ‘bad review’Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Mike Schilling says:

        When it comes to romance, women seem to expect us men to be mind-readers. We are somehow supposed to know how to tell the difference between real and fake resistance without being told what’s going on.

        The woman in the third scenario probably did feel hurt because of rejection. That’s her own damn fault. Any decent and reasonably cautious man isn’t going to risk a criminal offense for a woman.Report

      • Avatar Matty in reply to Mike Schilling says:

        @bookdragon I suppose I’m too much imagining myself in such a scenario. I tend not to make a move until I am really keen on a woman by which point I care *a lot* about her happiness and worry (a lot more than is healthy for either of us) about the slightest chance I might upset her.

        Did I mention I have issues?Report

    • Avatar Kim in reply to Damon says:

      Yawn. guys can “not give consent” just as easily as girls. Perhaps easier if the girl mistakes physical attraction for consent (guys are um, a bit more visible).Report

    • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Damon says:

      Doctor Jay, many people seem to think that this sort of mind-reading makes things more romantic and sexy. I’m not immune from this line of thought. One of my hang-ups is that if I am explicit with what I need romantically or sexually from a woman that its just going to be an act and insincere. If you don’t have to explicitly tell your partner what you want than it takes away the concern that your partner is going through the motions.Report

  2. Avatar LeeEsq says:

    If we really want to end rape than communication around sex or even dating in general has to be crystal clear and unambiguous from all parties involved. Yes and has to mean yes and no has to be no. Easily misinterpreted body language is not permitted. People who find the game of resistance and seduction to be a big turn are going to have to give it up unless its stated explicitly at the the beginning of the encounter that this is what is going to occur.Report

  3. Avatar LeeEsq says:

    My comments seem to be stuck in moderation or have disappeared along with a bunch of others.Report

  4. Avatar Chris says:

    A lot to think about here, so for now I’ll just ask if every post of yours will now rest on analogies, since you know what?Report

  5. Avatar Saul Degraw says:

    I’m not someone who reads signs very well or sometimes I just freeze up. There have been times when I realized hours after the fact that a woman was flirting with me and I probably missed opportunities inadvertently.

    Almost no one doubts that there are false confessions to crimes. Almost no one doubts that there are false confessions to rape. What we argue about is what percentage of convictions are the result of false confessions? When we debate this there are politics and ideologies involved and questioning a side shows one to potentially be a traitor or fair weather friend. The statistics for false confessions of rape accusations is almost certainly higher than the 1-2 but much much lower than the percent as claimed by male rights activists. Claiming this as my stance is probably going to make me unpopular.

    There is a political angle to how we talk about romance and rejection and that is unavoidable because there are issues of politics and socialization involved with anything that people do. Yet it is also unfortunate because it can involve diminishing the pain that people feel personally. It is very easy to tell a person “he or she is just not that into you” but it is much harder to take that rejection and most of us have.

    Like many other people, I dislike internet dating. I think it makes getting dates pretty easy but it is also a pretty draining experience and it turns out that a lot of people think internet dating is making a lot of people lonely because maybe in the past someone just needed to be a B plus but now people can go looking for the A pluses easily. I don’t know whether that is true or not. I do know a lot of Generation Xers who tell me that they loved meeting their spouses in the years before the internet and something about internet dating scares the shit out of them and they associate internet dating with always going on dates but always being single and never landing.

    There are always going to be missed signals and always going to be people hurt from rejection. The trick and it seems to be a great trick is finding a way to comfort a person for being rejected. We seem to have decided “he or she was just not that into you” is the tactic and I question whether this is a good choice.Report

    • Avatar Kim in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      Saul,
      “they associate internet dating with always going on dates but always being single and never landing”
      I think most of them are failing to understand that this is basically /all/ dating after college.
      In Pittsburgh, where there’s not much of a singles scene, people complain about not being able to even GET dates. I hate to think what Scranton must be like…Report

  6. Avatar Road Scholar says:

    In the abstract, I support the “Yes Means Yes”, affirmative consent paradigm shift but I remain unconvinced as to how much difference it will actually make in the end. I’m glad California passed the law they did so at least we can see how it actually works in the wild.

    The basic issues will still remain; sexual encounters — good, bad, and indifferent — will still mainly occur behind closed doors, in private, with no witnesses, and no corroborating evidence. In the event of an accusation it will still be he-said, she-said and we’re still going to have standards of evidence, burden of proof, and presumption of innocence.

    The main value, in my estimation, will lie more in the changing of normative attitudes than in any changes in the legal landscape. The fact is, hazarding a bit of TMI here, I doubt that I’ve actually gotten the kind of verbal affirmation that the California law seems to require more than a half-dozen times over the course of 35 years and two marriages. Neither woman is/was particularly verbal during sexual encounters. Yet the consent was fairly obvious, as were the not-tonight’s, which I certainly respected. But I wouldn’t be able to prove a god-damned bit of it in a court of law.Report

    • Avatar Kim in reply to Road Scholar says:

      why not put cameras up? it’s standard policy to record the computer room @ college, why not dorm rooms? It’s easy enough to trash the footage after a few days…Report

      • Avatar Glyph in reply to Kim says:

        I see no possible way in which this could go wrong.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Kim says:

        Glyph, as a lawyer I can all sorts of ways that this could go spectacularly wrong. ;).

        Kim, if you can’t understand why this is a supremely bad idea than you really need some help.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Kim says:

        Lee,
        aside from it counting as child pornography if anyone there is underage?Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Kim says:

        So, my daughter’s going off to college next year, and I’m envisioning two possible sale pitches.

        1.
        Them: “We have security cameras around campus so we can capture criminal wrong-doing.”
        Me: “Good, good, keep my little darling girl-child safe.”

        2.
        Them: “We’ll have security cameras inside your daughter’s dorm room so we can….”
        Me: “Fucking perverts!”Report

      • Avatar Glyph in reply to Kim says:

        [Applications for the job of “Campus Security Guard” suddenly go from a trickle to a blizzard following the announcement of dorm-cams]Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Kim says:

        If we make the students (let’s assume that they’re all over 18) sign a waiver at the start of the school year regarding the cameras in their room and, let’s say, halfway through the school year that footage from something or other makes it to the interwebs. Perhaps toweling off after a shower, a mini yoga session in minimal clothing, perhaps even a tryst.

        If the student says “I didn’t understand what I was signing, there was so much going on, I didn’t know that that meant that my Hunka Hunka Burning Love improvisational dance could make it to the tube sites”, do we get to say “you should have understood what you were actually agreeing to, chubby” to the student or do we get to say to the college that while they may have thought they had consent to do this sort of thing, they weren’t even freaking close to having consent to do this sort of thing and, thus, they’ve violated a hell of a lot of rights for a hell of a lot of people?Report

      • Avatar Glyph in reply to Kim says:

        On the plus side, this technological advance would have meant my roommate could have dispensed with the old “a sock on the door handle means don’t enter” ploy, and just relied on this for ‘privacy’.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Kim says:

        1. Security guards wacking off to college kids doing it.

        2. The tapes somehow ending up in general circulation and other people watching it.

        3. The tapes being used to blackmail students into giving money or worse in return for a promise not to circulate.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Kim says:

        Lee,
        1) wasn’t really a consideration for my idea. I was seeing this as forensic evidence, rather than “stop crime now!” footage.

        Today, without this measure, I would tell any prospective college student that they should assume, at a party, that if they are unable to give consent to be photographed/filmed, that they will be filmed, may be filmed in flagrante delicto, and may be filmed being raped. That all this footage may be available online, and may be used to discriminate against them ever being hired for a future job.

        Here we’re just guaranteeing equality of access to the footage.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Kim says:

        And what if they argue, after the fact, that they didn’t want to have been filmed?

        “You knew what you were doing”? “If you didn’t want to be filmed, you shouldn’t have gone to the party”? “You sure seemed like you enjoyed being filmed at the time”?Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Kim says:

        Jay,
        I’d suggest signing consent forms (and/or large signs near the front of the “show boobs to get in” line).Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Kim says:

        Kim,

        I’d like to think that you were joking. Barring that, I’d like to think you had a momentary brain glitch and almost immediately whacked yourself in the head while thinking “I can’t believe I just suggested that.”

        That you responded with a serious defense tells me that neither of those things were true, and that you are seriously making the single most cosmically moronic suggestion ever made on this blog.Report

      • Avatar Dave in reply to Kim says:

        She’s on a roll today.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Kim says:

        James,
        be serious. I’ve made far worse suggestions than this. ;-PReport

      • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Kim says:

        Is everybody familiar with the Manic Pixie Dream Girl trope? The one where a daffy young woman brings life and adventure to an uptight guy? Kim is a good example on why this really won’t be so great in real life.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Kim says:

        Lee,
        “What’s so amazing about really deep thoughts”
        –Tori AmosReport

      • Avatar Troublesome Frog in reply to Kim says:

        Don’t worry, once every university implements it and you can effectively only go to college if you sign the waiver, everybody will agree voluntarily making it a net positive interaction for all.Report

    • Avatar Kim in reply to Road Scholar says:

      Road,
      more and more often, there is corroborating evidence. For whatever reason, folks seem to like taking videos of rapes in progress — including when they’re the rapist.Report

      • Avatar morat20 in reply to Kim says:

        I’d hazard a guess that those videos would fall either into serial rapists (rapists in it for the power and control, who want to relive the high — basically another memento) and drunk, idiot kids.

        The biggest swathe of rapists out there are the date rapists — the ones who often don’t think what they did was rape, and who I suspect aren’t as likely to film it. While rape may be about power in a lot of cases, not sex — I think a lot of date rape is pretty much purely about sex and a feeling it’s either owed — or she’s ‘playing hard to get’.

        Not as much power trip as “I want, you have”.Report

      • Avatar Glyph in reply to Kim says:

        @morat20 – And occasionally, the film exonerates the alleged rapists (talk about your mixed feelings – filming seems skeevy, but OTOH it kept them out of jail):

        http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/jurisprudence/2009/09/smeary_lines.htmlReport

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Kim says:

        morat20,
        Serial rapists (the ones who are good at rape) are less likely to film simply because they can get their rocks off on the next chicka.

        While “daddy bangs daughter’s best friend” is probably MOST likely to get filmed (high-risk, little reason that the sleeping girl would wake up, “hot”)… There’s plenty of footage of “drunk and stupid” out there. Some of it passes the rape test, some of it doesn’t.

        There’s also footage about “my first time” (whether or not it’s rape).

        Lots of reasons folks want to record stuff, as any casual perusal of facebook would tell ya.Report

  7. Avatar Alan Scott says:

    The thing about giving men and women different rules that you lay out in the second to last paragraph seems like it will result in nasty outcomes in situations involving any gender combination other than the classic man targets woman one.Report

  8. Avatar Brandon Berg says:

    In the first scenario, the woman chooses to have sex in order to avoid social awkwardness. It’s hard for me to take this seriously as a crime when we see by her own revealed preference that given the choice between being “raped” and social awkwardness she decided that the former was the lesser evil.

    Incidentally, I was pretty jazzed to hear that the left wanted to join us libertarians in promoting a “culture of consent,” until I realized that they were talking exclusively about sex.Report

    • Avatar Kim in reply to Brandon Berg says:

      Are you pro-torture in other cases, or just when you get to bang someone?Report

      • Avatar Glyph in reply to Kim says:

        If we’ve expanded the definition of “torture” beyond, say, “waterboarding” and into “repeatedly whining, ‘Come on….come ON….aw, come on!'”, then we’ve lost the plot.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Kim says:

        Glyph,
        sleep deprivation is always torture. This is a standard definition, i’m not fucking tailoring this for my convenience.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Kim says:

        Children are torture. I’m not suggesting an invasion, of course, but a boycott/divest/sanctions movement would not be inappropriate.Report

      • Avatar Glyph in reply to Kim says:

        “Sleep deprivation is always torture”

        Well, that tears it. I’ve been calling my kids ‘Cheney’s little accomplices’, and now I have proof.

        More seriously, @kim , if we are referring to the same example, this is a couple who’d been hooking up for months, broken up that night, then climbed into the same bed together (ALERT! BAD MOVE!), probably emotionally and physically exhausted.

        I’ve been in that position in college, and fooled around with someone *I* was breaking up with, and didn’t want to fool around with anymore (well, parts of me still kind of did, but other parts of me didn’t, you know what I’m saying)? She wasn’t about to take the breakup lying down and drove to see me unannounced, and now it’s too late for her to drive back, and I guess she can just sleep on her side of the bed…

        I gave in to her advances: “just this one last time”, and all that. She’ll be driving home tomorrow, and that’ll be the end of it.

        I wasn’t ‘raped’, or ‘tortured’, sleep-deprived though I was.

        I was a person going through an emotionally-confusing transition in a relationship, and so was she.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Kim says:

        Glyph,
        sounds an awful lot like you were emotionally abused/trapped into saying yes to something you didn’t want to do.Report

      • Avatar Dave in reply to Kim says:

        @glyph

        I suspect that having a conversation with @kim is a complete waste of time on this one, especially given the utterly classless response to @brandon-berg. Not that anyone should be surprised though…

        That said…

        Well, that tears it. I’ve been calling my kids ‘Cheney’s little accomplices’, and now I have proof.

        That was my youngest son. Let’s hope he never goes on hunting trips when he grows up.Report

      • Avatar Glyph in reply to Kim says:

        @brandon-berg ‘s point about “revealed preference” and my own admission of ambiguity/inner conflict (I thought this wasn’t the right girl for me in some important respects, and I didn’t want to lead her on or have her waste any more of her time on me, so I broke up with her; but our physical chemistry was off the charts, and we had a real emotional connection, and those were hard things to break off for both of us).

        I still have great affection and respect for this girl. I don’t feel I was ’emotionally-abused’, or ‘trapped’, in ways that make any sense to use those words, in the context of an intense college relationship in the throes of a breakup.

        She felt strongly that we shouldn’t be breaking up; I felt we should. She made her case, multiple times, in ways both verbal and non-verbal; did her efforts rise to the level of ‘stalking/abuse/rape’, or was she just ‘persistent’ and ‘confident I would see the light’?

        I had to say ‘no’ a number of times; but break up we eventually did.

        And certainly, I could have kicked her out of my dorm room and forced her to drive several hours to get home in the middle of the night (or get a hotel).

        But it seemed easier/better just to let her stay the night; and when she made her move, I only put up token resistance.

        If I had totally wanted to resist, I should have at least slept on the floor.Report

    • Avatar zic in reply to Brandon Berg says:

      In the first scenario, the woman chooses to have sex in order to avoid social awkwardness. It’s hard for me to take this seriously as a crime when we see by her own revealed preference that given the choice between being “raped” and social awkwardness she decided that the former was the lesser evil.

      Is it possible that there’s a third option — the woman chooses to not report rape because of social awkwardness? Not reporting rape =/= consenting.Report

  9. Avatar Doctor Jay says:

    Though definitely not as common as cases where men rape women, there are cases where women sexually abuse men, particularly very young men. In many cases, these young men don’t understand that what has happened to them is sexual abuse, since they naively think things like “men always want to have sex” and “since I had an erection, I must have wanted it.”

    Which is why I think that there is a problem with the “separate but equal” system that you want to create.Report

  10. Avatar zic says:

    We are in an age where we’ve finally freed women from being measured by their sexual purity because their highest value is as material to pass on male seed. That is the table that was set; a world where sex was forbidden (for women) before marriage, where men could acceptably stray outside the bonds of marriage but women were forbidden to stray, a world where men could divorce an unfaithful wife but a woman could not divorce an unfaithful husband. Our sexual mores in 1960, the year of the pill, were that young men proved their virility by getting lucky, and the young women they got lucky with got shamed. A very large part of that game was persistence, lowering her defenses, wearing her down. If she was given agency in this at all, it was not spoken about in polite society.

    Now most of you may be young enough to not remember this; to only see it as some quaint dating scenario; but it’s so woven into our culture that even as we say women have say in their own sexuality, it’s not a say that happens easily or comfortably. Much has to do with the unspoken rules and assumptions of any given family; and for many people there’s probably this confusion and conflict between the family message and the messages from the greater world.

    The woman who was trapped in a room? How can you say that was anything but rape? The woman who said no but really wanted it? How can you say she was anything but confused? Unable to give consent, so willing to turn the man she was attracted to into a rapist? He was better off not getting entangled with her; she’s got some serious work to do. But she is one data point, and one that reflects the paradigm of girls get shamed for saying yes. This is not the reason to shape our sexual mores; it’s reason to help make it clear to women that despite the host of shame most religion will heap on them, they do have legal right to say yes and do so so joyfully. Not saying yes, hoping he’ll coerce despite your resistance is not sexy, it’s not good, it’s potentially very evil; and if that’s the thing that gets you going, you’d best seek out others who consent to those sorts of games. BDSM only works when the dominatrix has her ears open for the places it’s time to stop.

    So consent is confusing. Because women to some great degree are still not comfortable with the notion that it’s okay for them to consent. It’s important or them to shoulder the responsibility that if they are not clear about that, they’re potentially helping their partner commit rape.

    And men need to clearly understand that without consent, it is rape.

    And this whole business about fighting them off? That’s freakin’ stupid. You do not try to fight off the thug who’s robbing you; you hand over your wallet.

    Just to remind you — one in five women experience rape. The problem here is that we’re seeing this shift from women getting raped to men being held accountable for those rapes. To men even having to put some thought into the dicey problems of the difference between getting lucky and committing a crime. As a woman who’s been raped, sexually assaulted at 11, and stalked, I can only say that it’s about time.

    I’m really sorry that this is confusing; but I am not the least bit sorry that you might have to actually give some thought to any particular conquest and work out if if you’re getting real consent or acting criminally.Report

    • Avatar zic in reply to zic says:

      I think it would be helpful for people to think this through from the perspective of what they expect of their children.

      Do you expect your daughters to be virgins until they marry? Are you comfortable with the thought that they will probably become sexually active sometime around 17 or 18? Have multiple partners? Do you want them to be able to consent?

      What about your sons? Do you want them to coerce unwilling women? Should they wait until marriage? Are you comfortable with the notion of them having a relationship with women who have had previous sexual relations with other men?

      Probe those questions — what expectations and mores you have for your children — and you’ll see where much of this confusion comes from.Report

    • Avatar James Hanley in reply to zic says:

      You do not try to fight off the thug who’s robbing you; you hand over your wallet.

      I’m not so sure about this. A culture of not fighting back made he 9/11 hijackings possible.

      And of course if we’re talking about someone trying to murder you, then of course you fight back. Someone demanding your ice cream cone, probably not worthwhile fighting back.

      So it seems to me it depends where rape falls on that spectrum. Maybe that’s an individual–subjective–determination?Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to James Hanley says:

        I don’t think a person bent on harming you in the process of committing suicide bears the same set of rational responses as a person bent on robbing or raping you.Report

      • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to James Hanley says:

        @zic

        I know a lot of women who will fight tooth & nail against a rapist. The attitude of lay back & think of England is for when you are truly helpless.Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to James Hanley says:

        @mad-rocket-scientist a lot depends on the woman’s perception of the power differential in any given situation. I’m tiny, I have a lot of structural damage to my neck. While I appear ‘normal,’ my ability to ‘fight back’ would be weighed with consideration to the damage I’d take; what I could recover from and what would set me back years of physical therapy and effort.

        But if I fight back or not, if I haven’t given clear consent, I’d still consider it rape.

        Fighting back is simply a stupid criteria or determining if a rape happened; at it’s extreme it would be interpreted, “well she didn’t fight back, so she consented.” That’s bullshit.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to James Hanley says:

        MRS,
        It’s a lot easier to say you’ll fight back — often against some of Mama Nature’s fucked up instincts, mind– than to actually do it.Report

      • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to James Hanley says:

        @zic

        Oh, THAT is what you were getting at! I thought you were just making a blanket statement regarding the wisdom of fighting back, not the perception of fighting as it applies to rape/not-rape.Report

      • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to James Hanley says:

        @kim

        As I’ve said numerous times, the first requirement for being able to fight back is to decide before hand that you are going to fight back. You may still choke in the moment, but you are much more likely to if you’ve never thought about than if you’ve run scenarios in your head.Report

      • Avatar morat20 in reply to James Hanley says:

        I’m not so sure about this. A culture of not fighting back made he 9/11 hijackings possible.
        No, decades of dealing with airline hostage problems made 9/11 possible. It wasn’t cultural — it was experience, from airlines and governments round the world.

        What was the best strategy for people taking an airline hostage (best being defined as “Best change of not getting people killed”) was, of course, sub-optimal when the people taking over the plane had no intention of surviving.

        People didn’t fight back on 9/11 because for decades that was the DUMB move for being taken hostage. The one flight that did fight back did so, IIRC, because they had learned that ‘survival’ was not going to be an option.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to James Hanley says:

        From what I understand, the “what to do if you are hijacked” paperwork that existed on 9/11 still mentioned “try to get to the Canadian Consulate in Havana”.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to James Hanley says:

        zic,
        a lot depends on the woman’s perception of the power differential in any given situation.

        That sounds an awful lot like my suggestion that it’s an individual determination.

        Morat,
        Usually when someone begins with “no,” it means they’re actually going to argue against someone instead of provide a more in-depth argument supporting that person’s comment.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to James Hanley says:

        Likewise, the culture of stopping at tollbooths is what led to the death of Sonny Corleone.Report

      • Avatar morat20 in reply to James Hanley says:

        His remark, taken in the context of the reply to Zic, indicated he felt “not fighting back against hijackers” had significantly different connotations than my reply.

        Specifically, it implied a sort of cultural issue or tic, rather than a specific practical procedure put in place through experience.

        We didn’t fight hijackers prior to 9/11 not because of our ‘culture’ but because those policies and procedures were adopted by airlines, because they kept more people alive. It had jack to do with culture, since it was a world-wide response to cooperate until the plane was on the ground and THEN use soldiers.Report

      • Avatar Troublesome Frog in reply to James Hanley says:

        If that’s being restrained my grandmother’s restrained me dozens of times.

        The implication here is that unless you fight until there’s no fight left in you, you weren’t really coerced. There’s an important difference between your grandmother grabbing your arm and saying, “Sit down,” and somebody who isn’t your grandmother and who could break you in half grabbing your arm and saying, “Sit down.”

        It’s easy to forget the implied threat that comes from somebody a lot bigger than you starting to get physically pushy when most people aren’t a lot bigger than you. I’m a man of average-ish build–about 5’11 and 190 pounds, which isn’t huge, but it means that only a small part of the population is really physically imposing to me, so it’s easy to forget what that’s like. But if I’m alone with a guy who’s 6’6 and 320 pounds and he gets worked up and puts his hand on my wrist to keep from leaving, my heart is going to skip a beat even if I know I could escape as long as he decides not to tighten his grip.

        Some of the questions about whether somebody is really being coerced are good and fair ones, but I draw a clear line when somebody much bigger than you are physically moves with the implication that he plans to keep you from leaving.Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to James Hanley says:

        @zic

        I have this overwhelming notion, from reading these comments, that a lot of men think women like to play hard to get instead of hear that, in fact, she’s just not into you.

        I tend to view it this way as well, but I was also considering asking you if you think you’re really up to date about how strong the social inhibition against having sex out of wedlock really is these days. Because, though I’m not in anyone’s head particularly any woman’s, that’s not really the tendency I’ve seen in my lifetime. And I think that view is in some considerable tension with what you say above, at least putting such a strong emphasis on it is.

        I feel like women not from deeply religious backgrounds these days pretty much say no and mean it and say yes and mean it these days. But if the social pressure to say no even when they might want to say yes is still as strong as you say it is, and if that’s generally bad like you’ve said it is, I don’t really see how you get to turn around and take this attitude about guys thinking the first no might be a prelude to a possible yes later on, other than that you generally just get to do whatever you want like we all do here. It makes me take thou less seriously than I otherwise would on the subject, though, because you’re basically saying elsewhere that quite often no *is* unfortunately said when the person would like to feel freer to say yes, which is certainly not when she’s just not that into him.Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to James Hanley says:

        Sorry, misthreaded as always happens to me on a tablet.Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to James Hanley says:

        @michael-drew I think a lot of the judgement/perception about ‘it’s okay for women to have sex outside of marriage’ iis deeply baked into culture.

        I asked elsewhere on this thread for people to think about this from the perspective of their children. If you’ve got a daughter, what message have you given them — respectful sex is okay, or avoid sex? We live in an age where many girls are asked to take a purity pledge; and there are still strong taboos against women having sex outside of marriage in religious traditions.

        So I think we’re looking at this through a time of change; and I expect that change to continue on through at least another generation or two, if not longer.

        And while I may be old, my children are going through these things, and they’re both comfortable talking to me about their sex lives; so I don’t think I’m completely out of the loop just yet. I do know that most of their peers I’ve had serious discussion with about sex and consent and birth control say they’re not comfortable discussing these things with their parents, and that would suggest the old, baked-in attitudes still shape their lives to some degree. Their parents may be comfortable with the notion of them living with someone, but not so comfortable talking about hookups, etc.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to James Hanley says:

        If you’ve got a daughter, what message have you given them — respectful sex is okay, or avoid sex

        At what age? My oldest is 17, and I’d prefer she abstain for now because I don’t think she’s emotionally mature enough to deal with it. Next year she’ll be 18 and away from home at college. She may still not be emotionally mature enough to deal with it–at least in her doting dad’s perspective, but I think we’ll have passed the mark where I have anything to say about it, other than to encourage her to be safe, not let guys pressure her into something she doesn’t want, and to know that she can always call her mom and me without fear of condemnation if something goes badly.

        I can’t speak for other dads, and my comment should not be read as a general comment on dads today.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to James Hanley says:

        James,
        I think this really comes down to “how much do we let our kids make mistakes” — you sound like you know/think that your daughter would make mistakes if she was sexually active now.
        In my opinion, kids should be making mistakes — trying things, when they’ve got their parents as a safety net (both for “oh god I really don’t want this, help!” and for “oh, I really shouldn’t have done that…”)Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to James Hanley says:

        @james-hanley thank you for that honest response, it’s very useful to the discussion. That said, I also really really don’t want to make it about you or your daughters; but about parents and daughters (and sons, too); but I can only build what I’m trying to say on your answers. I mean no personal thing about you, read with that intent in mind, please. That is often the biggest cause of friction between you and I.

        I think most parents feel their teen children are ‘not mature enough,’ or at least their teen daughters; I’ve certainly seen fathers boasting about their sons getting some. I also think that that’s the message, verbal or not, that we communicate to daughters; a big part of the message their not supposed to give consent. At some point, probably well before a parent (and most particularly a father, I suspect) is ready to admit a daughter’s ready to give consent, she’ll already have had many chances to give consent and have sex or to refrain; there’s a good chance she’ll have had many experiences of coerced sexual conduct as well. But the message she’s been getting is, “you’re not ready.”

        I’d really prefer a message of, “I trust you’ll know when you’re ready,” and “I trust you’ll know how to be responsible and safe, and I’m here if you need guidance or help.” The other side of this is what she’ll do if and when she’s coerced, assaulted, trapped, or even raped. Often, those things happen in situations where she’s to blame for being there — having had a drink, out beyond curfew, with people she knows you might not approve of, or a thousand other things; these are all the little things that help add up to blaming women for their own rapes. But she will encounter such a situation; someone will pressure her, someone will grope her, for one in five women, someone will rape her.

        How she responds here, in that moment and after as she recovers, will very much depend on the message she’s getting from her parents; if she perceives they feel she’s not ready, a bad situation only reinforces that; she’ll probably deal with it, and never say a word to you. This is a very large part of why so many rapes go unreported; I don’t want to disappoint my dad; I know my mom went through this, and it was awful, and I don’t want to make her relive her own angst, and a thousand other mental barriers.

        I like the message if giving her the message that she get’s to choose when she’s ready to give consent; that she’s trustworthy. Because all the others reaffirm that she’s really not supposed to give consent, she’s not supposed to give in to temptation. That’s the baggage I’m talking about, and as we’ve seen from this entire discussion, it creates a lot of confusion for men, too.

        And again, take nothing of this as anything remotely to do with any particular person commenting here, but as using comments as context to jump to “this is what the baggage restricting women’s consent actually is.”Report

      • I agree that the responses are different, but I’d do a doubletake if a father expressed pride in his son’s ability to “get some.” If for no other reason than “Aren’t you worried that he’s going to get some girl pregnant?”

        That certainly wasn’t how I was raised. Whenever I would call the folks unexpectedly, Mom would ask “[girlfriend’s name] isn’t pregnant, is she?!” (and not in the hopeful way she would ask that years later, with regard to Clancy)

        Rather, I think the difference most likely to see is not fear/shame vs pride, but different degrees of alarm.Report

      • Anyway, with regard to our planned approach with Lain, it’s to start at around 13 or 14 (or before, it it looks like a concern), and basically goes:

        1. Don’t have sex yet, it’s too early.
        2. If you do have sex, please protect yourself against pregnancy and STD’s. We’ll help, no question’s asked.
        3. If you do engage in sex and do get pregnant, please don’t have an abortion. We will figure it out.

        We’ll see the extent to which we follow through on this.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to James Hanley says:

        Will,
        take a look at what zic’s saying. you are strongly affirming your daughter’s agency, but you aren’t teaching her the tools for making sure she’s not getting taken advantage of.Report

      • Oh, that’s a different discussion. One including, but not limited, this thing. (And yes, I do have a father-to-son counterpart.)Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to James Hanley says:

        That was a weird response, zic. You thank me for giving you a data point (and that’s all it was), and say you want more answers (as is right), and then proceed to repeat what you think the real case is, rather than wait for more answers.

        It could be read as you trying to preempt those answers so you don’t have to challenge your belief about what you think the case is.

        It could be read as you backhandedly complimenting me then immediately trying to undercut my data point by emphasizing that it’s not generally that way for other men/parents.

        I imagine there are other ways it can be read.

        What I’m not sure it can really be read as is that you really want to hear from parents as much as you want to make your argument regardless of what parents actually says.Report

    • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to zic says:

      Consent is difficult but do women really have to make it more confusing than necessary? The entire dating scene seems to favor the most socially aware people. If you misread any signal or aren’t good at reading signals than your doomed. You know what, I can’t tell the difference between actual rejection and playing hard to get rejection so I interpret no as meaning no. There no circumstances where I’d be able to tell the difference between the two and I shouldn’t be expected to be a mind-reader to determine whether its rejection or playing hard to get.Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to LeeEsq says:

        @leeesq You should interpret no to mean no. Someone else who gives conflicting signals is likely to give them in other areas, as well; and if you’re not good at reading those signals, you are not going to be good at having a relationship with that person; always be at some disadvantage and in confusion.

        No does not mean yes, it doesn’t mean maybe. If there are a lot of woman playing that game (and I don’t think there are, btw,) they’ve got a problem.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to LeeEsq says:

        “do women really have to make it more confusing than necessary”

        I know you don’t mean it this way, but that phrasing makes all women responsible for the actions of a subset of them.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to LeeEsq says:

        Everyone has trouble interpreting signals, particularly when they’re young. And everyone has trouble giving them too, particularly when they’re young. You aren’t expected to be a mind reader any more than anyone else, and it has very little to do with consent. If you don’t get clear, unequivocal consent, particularly from someone you don’t know well enough to read his or her signs, you haven’t gotten consent. That’s not difficult. If a woman doesn’t give clear, unequivocal consent, particularly to someone she doesn’t know well, she hasn’t given consent, even if what she really wanted was for the guy to keep trying. If this leads to missed opportunities for both parties, so be it.

        The entire dating scene seems to favor the most socially aware people.

        This is an excuse.Report

      • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to LeeEsq says:

        Here’s a fun “No means no” story: I met a girl at a party, and could immediately tell that she was into me. The party was wrapping up, so I asked her if she wanted to go out together immediately afterwards, and she said yes. So we went out to a bar and had a drink, then went for a walk. I asked her if she wanted to come back home with me, and she said no. I tried to persuade her, but she stuck to her guns. By that time the train was about to stop running, so I told her that she’d have to leave ASAP if she didn’t want to stay with me.

        So we walked to the station, at which point she checked the schedule and told me she needed to go to the store. So she went into the store, dawdled around for a solid fifteen minutes, and bought nothing. By that time, the last train long since left, and she had no choice but to come home with me, where of course we had sex. The next morning I asked her if she had missed the train intentionally, and she said “Well…maybe.”

        Feminists have a minor superpower, namely the ability to believe simultaneously that we live in a culture where women are strongly encouraged to suppress their sexual desires (true, but not just women), and also that “no” always means no. This is obviously wrong—it’s tautological that if women suppress their sexual desires, then sometimes they say “no” when they really do want to have sex.

        There’s a fence-around-the-Torah aspect to this: If men always take “no” at face value, then no one ever treads in that danger zone, and everyone’s safe. But a lot of men, and shy women, miss out on a lot of fun.

        A better policy, I think, is to be aware that “no” doesn’t actually always mean no, but that it must never, ever be assumed to mean yes. Which is to say, you can’t rape a girl because you “know” that she really wants it. But you also shouldn’t just give up completely at the first “no.”

        I can’t recall ever having screwed things up with a girl by being too sexually aggressive, but I’ve had quite a few just freeze me out after I gave up too easily.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to LeeEsq says:

        Feminists have a minor superpower, namely the ability to believe simultaneously that we live in a culture where women are strongly encouraged to suppress their sexual desires (true, but not just women), and also that “no” always means no. This is obviously wrong—it’s tautological that if women suppress their sexual desires, then sometimes they say “no” when they really do want to have sex.

        Speaking of smug…

        Anyway, your obvious disdain for feminists aside, you ultimately arrive at the same conclusion they do: “No means no” is not meant to imply that “No” means “no forever and ever,” which you seem to think they mean, but that it means “No” until it’s supplanted by a willing “yes,” which, again, is the conclusion you arrive at in your next paragraph. Maybe if you listened to what people were saying, instead of assuming that they’re just dumb because you don’t like them, you’d know that.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to LeeEsq says:

        Also, I can remember all sorts of missed communication in romantic encounters in my late teens and early 20s, because in those cases both I and the woman I was with were inexperienced and still learning how to communicate about sex. I’m sure I missed some opportunities because I took “No” to be an absolute rejection rather than an attempt to slow things down and lengthen the seduction (in both directions). However, by 22 or so, that was no longer a problem, because I and the women I was with had figured out how to communicate about these things and miscommunications were either unlikely or easily recognized and corrected.

        If you’re over 22 or so and still having those problems with women, it’s probably you.Report

      • Avatar Vikram Bath in reply to LeeEsq says:

        So we walked to the station, at which point she checked the schedule and told me she needed to go to the store. So she went into the store, dawdled around for a solid fifteen minutes, and bought nothing.

        Well, you don’t have to be Gary Kasparov to crack that puzzle.

        There’s a fence-around-the-Torah aspect to this: If men always take “no” at face value, then no one ever treads in that danger zone, and everyone’s safe. But a lot of men, and shy women, miss out on a lot of fun.

        This is true, but I think it would eventually be self-correcting. Women like woman #3 will eventually realize that repeatedly saying “no” means that they go home frustrated. If she meets three guys she’d like to be with and says “no” firmly and repeatedly to all of them, and they all leave, she’s likely to realize she needs to change her behavior or live a frustrated life. And I do think that’s the approach men as a group should take. Don’t indulge such behavior.

        A better policy, I think, is to be aware that “no” doesn’t actually always mean no, but that it must never, ever be assumed to mean yes. Which is to say, you can’t rape a girl because you “know” that she really wants it. But you also shouldn’t just give up completely at the first “no.”

        I only halfway agree with this. It risks endorsing what happened to woman #2 where the guy just kept asking until she felt she couldn’t get away without getting into a fight she’d lose. On the other hand, I agree it would be silly to take a “no” as a permanent answer. We need some way to say that it’s not OK to employ high-pressure strategy in which a person is asked multiple times over the course of several minutes.Report

      • Avatar Murali in reply to LeeEsq says:

        @chris

        For some reason I thought you were gay (not that it is any of my business. And you can tell me to go stuff myself if I’m being a busybody.)Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to LeeEsq says:

        Lee,
        don’t date crazy. don’t fuck crazy.
        Folks who are busy being entitled, stuck-up, self-absorbed people aren’t worth your time.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to LeeEsq says:

        I’m not that private, so no worries.Report

      • Avatar Dand in reply to LeeEsq says:

        Anyway, your obvious disdain for feminists aside, you ultimately arrive at the same conclusion they do: “No means no” is not meant to imply that “No” means “no forever and ever,”

        That what many of them do think.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to LeeEsq says:

        Yeah, you’re as blinded by your anti-feminism as Brandon on this subject, if you think that’s what that post says. She’s clearly not saying “No means never.” She’s saying pretty much what I said feminists are saying: A no that is not supplanted by a willing yes is still a no. She’s talking about a case where a woman was coerced into a giving in. Aren’t you and Brandon libertarians? Presumably you both understand that coerced affirmatives are not willing affirmatives?Report

      • Avatar Dand in reply to LeeEsq says:

        Yeah, you’re as blinded by your anti-feminism as Brandon on this subject, if you think that’s what that post says. She’s clearly not saying “No means never.” She’s saying pretty much what I said feminists are saying: A no that is not supplanted by a willing yes is still a no. She’s talking about a case where a woman was coerced into a giving in. Aren’t you and Brandon libertarians? Presumably you both understand that coerced affirmatives are not willing affirmatives?

        Where was the coercion in that story he never harmed her or threatened to harm her in any way.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to LeeEsq says:

        Ah, the only way it can be coercion is if there is the threat of physical harm. Got ya.Report

      • Avatar Dand in reply to LeeEsq says:

        Ah, the only way it can be coercion is if there is the threat of physical harm. Got ya.

        No the threatening damage to her property or confining her would also be coercion; where in that story did he threaten her in any way?Report

      • Avatar Dand in reply to LeeEsq says:

        I mean in that situation how is he supposed to know that she’s not playing hard get? Is he supposed to read her mind?Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to LeeEsq says:

        Yeah, you and I have very different definitions of coercion. He continued to pressure her physically and verbally, including restraining her from leaving, while she was in a situation in which he had a great deal of power over her (she was in his home, without any mode of transportation, and without her parents’ knowledge). I consider the sex they ultimately had to be coerced. You don’t, which makes me wonder if you think mental illness is a real thing, say (because if coercion can only be physical harm to body or property, presumably mental harm is not a real thing), and if you understand the very nature of power.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to LeeEsq says:

        She verbally and physically spurned his repeated advances. If he can’t tell that she’s not just playing hard to get, he’s an idiot who shouldn’t be having sex anyway.Report

      • Avatar Dand in reply to LeeEsq says:

        He continued to pressure her physically and verbally, including restraining her from leaving,

        He didn’t restrain her from leaving.

        while she was in a situation in which he had a great deal of power over her (she was in his home, without any mode of transportation

        She doesn’t have two feet?
        and without her parents’ knowledge).

        1) It’s not his fault she lied to her parents
        2) There’s no evidence he knew that she lied

        (because if coercion can only be physical harm to body or property, presumably mental harm is not a real thing),

        Causing “mental harm” is not criminalized in any other circumstance. Whenever a person breaks up with a significant other they cause that person “mental harm”, blasphemy laws are justified on the basis of mental harm, so are “hate speech” laws. The fact that exercising ones legal rights causes “mental harm” to other does not criminalize those actions.

        and if you understand the very nature of power.

        He didn’t have any power over her.Report

      • Avatar Dand in reply to LeeEsq says:

        And for clarity I believe the coercion is violating or threatening to violate someone rights; exercising one’s own legal rights is not coercive. In the situation depicted she had no more of a right to his emotional affection or property than he had to her sexuality.Report

      • Avatar j r in reply to LeeEsq says:

        As someone who is a bit of an anti-feminist (or at least anti the particular brand of progressive feminism that is currently ascendant), I am going to split the difference here.

        Yes, dating favors the socially aware (it also favors the tall, the slim and the symmetrical). So what? No women is under any obligation, either explicit or implicit, to make dating easy for you. Just as you are under no obligation to give any woman anything and everything she wants without having expectations of your own.

        Dating, like almost all social interactions, are part negotiation. Negotiations don’t need to be adversarial, but you also shouldn’t expect them to be completely transparent either. Some version of “no ought to be understood as no” has to be the baseline. There really is no other ethical choice.

        That being said, what a man does upon hearing “no,” that is the area where things get tricky. And this is the area where the feminists begin to overreach. To say that “coercion equals rape” is true, but that does not get us any closer to deciding what is and what isn’t coercion. Coercion is defined by the use of force or threats. The use of force ought to be clearly in the rape/assault category. Threats and other forms of pressure, however, encompass a wide range of activities and legal standing.

        “Give me sex or I’m going to bash your head into the wall” is quite plainly rape.

        “Give me sex or I’m going to freeze you out, lose all interest in you, and possibly kick you out with no way to get home” may be morally reprehensible, but I’m not sure that you can say it is illegal. The author of the post that @dand posted, admits as much by saying that the current legal definition of rape is well below the standard that she would posit.Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to LeeEsq says:

        I mean in that situation how is he supposed to know that she’s not playing hard get?

        I have this overwhelming notion, from reading these comments, that a lot of men think women like to play hard to get instead of hear that, in fact, she’s just not into you.

        This is a male problem; it’s not women playing games with you for the most part.

        jeez.Report

      • Avatar Dand in reply to LeeEsq says:

        She verbally and physically spurned his repeated advances. If he can’t tell that she’s not just playing hard to get, he’s an idiot who shouldn’t be having sex anyway.

        From a legal perspective how do you right a law that covers one but not the other?Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to LeeEsq says:

        We’re not even talking legal issues here, really. I mean, I’m not sure anyone would ever be convicted of rape in that situation, even with a “‘yes’ means ‘yes'” approach. The issue is changing people’s behavior.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to LeeEsq says:

        Dand, she got up to leave and he grabbed her. That’s restraint, and the point where she realized she was stuck. You may think it was harmless, but it clearly wasn’t to her.Report

      • Avatar Dand in reply to LeeEsq says:

        We’re not even talking legal issues here, really. I mean, I’m not sure anyone would ever be convicted of rape in that situation, even with a “‘yes’ means ‘yes'” approach. The issue is changing people’s behavior.

        The feminists goal is make to type of activity illegal.

        Dand, she got up to leave and he grabbed her. That’s restraint, and the point where she realized she was stuck. You may think it was harmless, but it clearly wasn’t to her.

        If that’s being restrained my grandmother’s restrained me dozens of times.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to LeeEsq says:

        Yeah, feminists want more expansive rape legislation, and I think they’re right. They do not, however, want rape legislation that says “If she says no, she can never say yes and mean it.” This is what Brandon implied, and what you agreed with, at the beginning of this subthread.Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to LeeEsq says:

        /insert swearing here/ @dand,

        there is no organized ‘feminist goal’ that I know of. There is a lot of women who are tired of being raped, coerced, assaulted, grabbed, kissed, hugged, and otherwise molested as they simply go about their business each and every day. One if five women are raped.

        So we may be not talking legal, but we sure as hell are talking good manners. And far too many women encounter far too many men who lack them when they start thinking with their lower brain.

        This stuff is not difficult. But giving up the notion of acting like a pig and treating women respectfully (meaning respecting their sexual autonomy) is obviously a difficult thing for some men. Should I call them organized, and suggest that the right to continue raping and assaulting is their goal and agenda?Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to LeeEsq says:

        dand,
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intentional_infliction_of_emotional_distress
        And you’re really saying that if I intentionally induced paranoia in you without your consent, you shouldn’t be able to sue me because of that? Even if, in your deluded state, you shot someone innocent? I’m pretty clearly the one at fault if you think your gun shoots marshmallows and that marshmallows will keep the bad guys out of your house.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to LeeEsq says:

        Zic, I feel ya. We’ve seen not only from Dand and perhaps Brandon, but also from Saul and Lee (suggesting it’s not just a conservative/libertarian thing), this weird tendency to place the burden entirely on women: if she says no but ultimately means to say yes, I shouldn’t be expected to read her mind. If she says no but means no, I shouldn’t be expected to know she wasn’t saying you but really meaning yes, because I shouldn’t be expected to be a mind reader. And the real problem is that people don’t talk to rejected men the right way.

        Basically the message seems to be that it’s all women’s fault. If they’d just say what they mean in every situation men wouldn’t have to guess what they mean and occasionally end up accidentally raping them. Also, the real lesson from all of this is that women should date socially awkward men and not reject them.Report

      • Avatar Dand in reply to LeeEsq says:

        Yeah, feminists want more expansive rape legislation, and I think they’re right. They do not, however, want rape legislation that says “If she says no, she can never say yes and mean it.” This is what Brandon implied, and what you agreed with, at the beginning of this subthread.

        I don’t see how one could write a law that criminalizes the actions in the story I linked to without doing that.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to LeeEsq says:

        Chris,
        to lee and saul, it’s easy enough to say — ya know, if you’re getting mixed signals, ya could ask?

        Or bring it up in a sideways manner. “What do you like about Dr. Who? Why do you think so many women like that show?”Report

      • Avatar Dand in reply to LeeEsq says:

        there is no organized ‘feminist goal’ that I know of.

        Huh? Are you saying NOW doesn’t exist?

        There is a lot of women who are tired of being raped, coerced, assaulted, grabbed, kissed, hugged, and otherwise molested as they simply go about their business each and every day.

        Can you find an example of anyone defending that?

        This stuff is not difficult. But giving up the notion of acting like a pig and treating women respectfully (meaning respecting their sexual autonomy) is obviously a difficult thing for some men. Should I call them organized, and suggest that the right to continue raping and assaulting is their goal and agenda?

        Why is that when it comes to rape liberals suddenly start talking like conservatives? When someone says a accused terrorist deserve due-process or that “aid to terrorist” laws are overly broad conservatives say they are being pro terrorist when it comes to rape liberals do the same thing.Report

      • Avatar Dand in reply to LeeEsq says:

        this weird tendency to place the burden entirely on women: if she says no but ultimately means to say yes, I shouldn’t be expected to read her mind. If she says no but means no, I shouldn’t be expected to know she wasn’t saying you but really meaning yes, because I shouldn’t be expected to be a mind reader.

        That’s not what I’m saying, I’m saying that if she says no at first but then says yes it’s not rape unless he threatened to commit a crime against her in between. It’s not rape if she said yes but was reluctant in the back of her mind.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to LeeEsq says:

        dand,
        I’m not a member of NOW. I don’t think zic or any of the other women on this board are either. If you want to cite NOW as a resource, do so, but don’t think that “most feminists” are members.

        I’m all for due process. Really, I am. I am also all for consequences when due process fails. From what I’ve read, the Steelers QB was being a total shmuck… there ought to be consequences for pulling shit like that, even if it doesn’t count as “rape”.

        What’s worse? There are books on the shelves detailing how to legally rape someone. I think there ought to be consequences for that too…Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to LeeEsq says:

        @dand we’ve got two sets of men here. The first are men who commit rape. The second is men accused of committing rape.

        Just to make sure you’re perfectly clear here: the first set (men who commit rape) far outnumbers the second set (men accused of committing rape). And that second set, small as it is compared to the first dwarves a third set of men falsely accused of committing rape.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to LeeEsq says:

        I have no trouble thinking of wording that would make it possible for a woman to say yes after saying no, though I’m not sure I would want to criminalize that particular scenario.

        For example, what if the law said that if a person says no, then any further attempts must be initiated by that person (with, at the very least, a verbal “yes”). After a no, any further attempts that are not initiated by the person who said no are sexual assaults.

        I’m not saying that’s a good law, but it obviously allows for people to change their minds while still recognizing coerced/pressured/manipulated yeses after initial noes. How ’bout we start there and work towards a scenario where we feel like unwilling consent, or manufactured consent, or engineered consent, or whatever we want to call it, is proscribed to the extent possible while still allowing for romance and seduction and mutually-consented play.Report

      • Avatar Dand in reply to LeeEsq says:

        we’ve got two sets of men here. The first are men who commit rape. The second is men accused of committing rape.

        Just to make sure you’re perfectly clear here: the first set (men who commit rape) far outnumbers the second set (men accused of committing rape). And that second set, small as it is compared to the first dwarves a third set of men falsely accused of committing rape.

        So because of that men accused of should lose the right to due process? Why don’t you tell these men that false accusations of rape aren’t a problem Why is it that the left commitment to due process goes away as soon as identity politics prop up?Report

      • Avatar Glyph in reply to LeeEsq says:

        @chris – (note: sorry, the conversation has proceeded and I haven’t been following all of it but dangit, I wrote this long-ass comment and will perhaps-unwisely post it now anyway.)

        the (agreed, unnecessary) swipe at feminists is distracting you, I think, from the point of Brandon’s story.

        Nowhere do we see in his account that he ever got an explicit ‘yes’. In my reading, he (apparently) correctly divined that from her actions.

        But, taking his account at face value and without hearing from the woman, I see no indication that he ‘raped’ her.

        Yet, here in some of the linked posts to the OP and in some of the comments, we see that some might say exactly that (or at least: had the woman later accused Brandon of rape, might support her claim, on general principle).

        They went to a bar (intoxication?); he got an initial ‘no’; he attempted to persuade her (manufactured consent?); he reminded her that she needed to catch a train soon if she didn’t want to stay at his place (pressure/leverage?); since the trains were stopping, it was probably late (sleep deprivation?); then he never got an explicit ‘yes’ before the act took place.

        Elsewhere, you correctly note that signal-sending and -receiving is hard to learn, particularly for young (and horny) people. And my story above relates my personal knowledge of how easy it is to send mixed signals.

        I think all of these discussions around rape are worthy and thought-provoking discussions, rape being a horrendous/pervasive/underreported/underpunished crime that requires close examination of what can be done to reduce its incidence.

        But wading into the minefield of male-female sexual communication/dynamics (and I notice that we keep focusing only on males raping females, when females may also rape females and males, and males may also rape males; and each of these dynamics carry their own twists, per zic’s comments about relative power and the way society views each party) thinking that one blunt rule change* can fix all our problems without also causing others, is at best naive and at worst harmful**.

        *”No” is one of the first, and most useful, words that humans learn. It is a simple, clear, emphatic signal.

        Yet what is prompting this discussion, in part, is that in the sexual arena, “No”‘s useful, unambiguous nature as a signal has been long undermined by the way some people use it (and other people have taken malicious advantage of that known or perceived ambiguity, to take what they want without proper deference to others’ wishes).

        To fix this issue, we propose switching to the simple, clear, useful signal of “Yes”.

        Does anyone seriously think that people won’t do their level best to muddy-up the meaning of this simple signal too?

        And if in today’s world, the rapist can just say “they didn’t say no” and now it’s he said/she said, then why in tomorrow’s world won’t the rapist just instead say “they said yes”, and we’re right back where we started, wondering who’s telling the truth here?

        **By which I mean: I am against, in general, the outward expansion of the word “coercion” to cover “they kept asking and asking, so finally I said yes and brought home that overpriced TV / bad lay, and it’s all their fault”. This seems to me a lot like a ‘devil made me do it’ abrogation of one’s responsibility to govern one’s own life. People should be free to ask, repeatedly, and people should be free to say no, repeatedly. “Coercion” needs to be reserved for more severe forms of pressure (violence, threat of violence, blackmail, etc.)

        Basically, coercion is not wheedling “come ON!”; even if you say it more than once.

        Again, taking Brandon’s story at face value, or my own above: in these specific scenarios, nothing is gained IMO by telling the partner who did not give explicit consent that they were ‘raped’ (no matter what they themselves may think), nor by telling the partner who did not receive explicit consent, that they are a ‘rapist’ (no matter what signals they perceived that were not the letters Y, E and S.)

        Brandon’s story, and my own, is very common, I’d wager.

        So you risk many people tuning the underlying message out entirely, because “No means No” and “Yes means Yes” are little more than catchy tautological slogans that do little to illuminate the way people in the real world actually many times act under these conditions.

        Complicating matters hugely is the fact that many other scenarios, that look to the outside observer identical to Brandon’s and my stories, would in fact BE rape, because the partner that did not give explicit consent, really, truly didn’t want to have sex. Maybe the unwilling partner sent that signal clearly, and it was missed or ignored. Maybe they didn’t do a good job of sending the signal, or sent mixed ones, intentionally or unintentionally.

        Are these scenarios more, or less, common than Brandon’s and my own? By how much?

        Do we even know?

        Do we understand what sort of tradeoff we’d be making, to start calling stories like Brandon’s, and my own, ‘rape’, which is a pretty horrendous crime?

        It’s possible we can know, and that the tradeoff is deemed acceptable, morally and politically.

        But people should IMO be trying to make that argument explicitly, instead of pretending that a potential tradeoff is not there, or waving away any questions or concerns or counterexamples about that potential tradeoff as trivial. Since ‘rapist’ is one of the worst things I can label someone as, with potentially-catastrophic personal, professional, and legal repercussions, it’s not something we ever want to do cavalierly.

        NOTE: none of this is meant to contradict the eminently-sensible advice “if you’re not *sure* they consent, don’t do it, because it could go horribly wrong; and don’t ever excessively-pressure someone, because it could go horribly wrong and also is kind of pathetic and creepy.”

        What I mean to argue for, rather, is caution when proposing we shift definitions in a way that risks starting to call a lot of things ‘rape’ that may not really be.

        If we do that, all we’ve potentially done is *increase* the number of total ‘rapes’ (scare quotes intentional; not to minimize rape, but to reflect its ‘increase’ under the newer definitional schema, and those second scare quotes around ‘increase’ are thus also intentional), while doing next-to-nothing to reduce its actual instances, which is what we truly want.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to LeeEsq says:

        Chris, from personal experience I feel that I’m getting the worst aspects of pre-Sexual Revolution dating and Post-Sexual Revolution dating. That is, it feels like that I’m supposed to do all the grunt work in building attraction while her job is to basically past judgment.Report

      • Avatar Road Scholar in reply to LeeEsq says:

        @chris & @dand : Yeah, you and I have very different definitions of coercion.

        This is a very fundamental difference between the liberal and libertarian worldviews. It’s at the heart of the debates over exploitation and sweatshops for instance, and really suffuses the entire difference between us wrt to economic issues in general.

        Essentially, a libertarian sees coercion as being defined wrt to actions initiated by the coercer specifically against the coerced. And then exploitation can only occur as the direct result of coercive acts perpetrated against the exploited by the exploited.

        The liberal, on the other hand, sees coercion more as a state of being experienced by the coerced with the question of who’s doing the coercing or how that state of affairs came to be as largely irrelevant. So exploitation to the liberal occurs whenever one party takes advantage of the state of coercion experienced by another regardless of the source of the coercive forces. The exploiter and the coercer need not be the same party.

        He continued to pressure her physically and verbally, including restraining her from leaving, while she was in a situation in which he had a great deal of power over her (she was in his home, without any mode of transportation, and without her parents’ knowledge).

        Umm… No. That’s a very dishonest summary of the events. He invites her to stay the night at his home when his parents are out of town. Precisely what did she think he had in mind? (Duh) She accepts the invitation. Arguably, at this point she’s given positive assent, which doesn’t mean she can’t later withdraw that consent, but she’s throwing out some mighty confusing signals.

        Then you claim that he’s physically restraining her. Not really. At no point does she even try to leave. Eventually, she considers leaving but then she thinks, Where would I go? How would I get there? Who would I call? Oh she’s stuck all right. But she’s in a tight spot entirely due to her own actions, particularly lying to her parents, not because of anything HE did.

        None of this, of course, excuses the boy’s actions. Ideally he should have respected her wishes as expressed at the moment. But if you’re inclined to excuse her mistakes on the basis of inexperience, naivete, and just being fifteen, then I think you have to cut him a bit of slack on the same basis.

        I guess what I’m getting at here is that the young woman can experience something which at least feels very much like rape without the boy having actually done anything more coercive than misread signals and be persistent. I can simultaneously feel for the girl’s predicament without necessarily needing to label the boy as a rapist.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to LeeEsq says:

        Kim, I know enough about dating to understand that asking a woman who rejected you the reasons for the rejection so you can do better the next time is a big social faux paux.Report

      • Avatar Glyph in reply to LeeEsq says:

        @road-scholar Excellent comment.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to LeeEsq says:

        Chill out dudes.
        1) it is possible to have nonconsensual sex without having an aggressor.
        2) Yes, it is even possible for the initiator of a “rape” (herein defined as a person attempting to have sex with someone who doesn’t want it) to be completely innocent of any wrongdoing.
        3) We can discuss the above without needing to label someone a rapist.

        I agree that rape is a pretty heavy term. It’s heavy for a reason. If any one of you was to hear someone come up to you and say “you raped me” — i’m pretty sure you’d be on your heels.

        Regardless of the above, we need a system in place to deal with some of the conflicts inherent in “I am a stupid teenager.” This can be parallel to the justice system,and probably ought to be.Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to LeeEsq says:

        @leeesq

        Reading some of your comments here; I can’t help but wonder if dating rejection/sex rejection are muddled for you, and not distinctly different things. It feels to me like there ought be a bit more space between the two in your evaluation of relationships; and you may be having some trouble with reading signals because you’re not clear on your expectations (date vs. date with sex).Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to LeeEsq says:

        Glyph,
        as with many things, we’re talking about feelings.”am I in control?” (as you clearly feel you were, and as Brandon’s date very clearly was.

        That said, we have no trouble having a legal system where perception is part of it for any other crime (say, being cheated or blackmailed).

        The use of the legal system is probably preferable to women just out and out shooting people.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to LeeEsq says:

        @road-scholar , I don’t think my summary was at all dishonest. In fact, it’s pretty much straight what the woman said. He grabbed her, then she realized she was in a pickle that could easily leave her in all sorts of really unpleasant situations. This was a big factor in her ultimately giving in.

        If you’d like to show me precisely where I’m being dishonest in that desription, which is basically her own damn description, go ahead. I am all ears.

        @glyph , in my reading of Brandon’s story, he basically yada’d over everything that happened after they left the train station, except the sex. I’m assuming she did consent some obvious way. If not, then I’d think Brandon very well may have raped her, even if it’s clear from her actions at the train station that she intended to go home with him, and he probably wouldn’t have told the story, because it would be a pretty obvious example.

        That said, I recognize, as I said, that communicating about sex is difficult when people are inexperienced (by the time I was in my mid-20s, I had very few encounters where things were anything but obvious, and in the few cases in which they weren’t immedediately obvious, a little talking cleared things up).

        In fact, I can think of a pretty clear example from my early 30s. I met a woman at a bar, we spent a few hours at the bar talking, and then I said I had to go (this woman was maybe a gazillion miles out of my league physically, so I was thinking, “Good chat, I’ll never see her again”). She asked me if I was headed home, and I said yeah. She suggested that she ride with me. I mentioned that I’d taken a cab there. She said she had her car, maybe we should go to her place. I said, “sure” (in my head I said, “Yes. Yes! Yes! Yes!” and did a little mental dance).

        So she drove to her place, and when we got to her parking lot (she lived in a large apartment complex), she said, “You know, I don’t usually take men home on the night they meet them. Maybe we could just sit out here.” Being 31 or 32, I completely understood (I’d probably have been confused at 19), so I said sure, and we made out for a bit in the car, at which point she said something like, “I need to use the bathroom, do you mind if we go inside?” Now in my head, since she’d said earlier that she didn’t want to go inside, by which she clearly meant she didn’t want to have sex, I’m thinking “We’re going inside so she can go to the bathroom. We might make out some more, but sex is not on the table.” She went to the bathroom, reinforcing my perception of the situation, but then came back out naked (hold on for a second… that is, for the moment, all I can think about…. OK, I’m back). In that moment, I’m a little confused: at this point, and while we have been making out, neither of us had made any move to take it further than kissing and maybe a little petting, but the nakedness suggests that maybe her mind has changed. So I just asked if she had changed her mind about sex. And she said yes. And the confusion was over, with no real awkwardness, no need for anyone to pressure anyone else, no chance at miscommunication, and me respecting her wishes the entire time and still ending up having sex with an exceptionally beautiful woman who was interesting enough for me to have a several hour conversation with earlier without me thinking I was going to ever see her again, much less have sex with her. Win for me (we went out for a while, too, so it must have been a win for her too).

        Lesson: once you get past the awkward learning stage, if you’re just open and up front, and ask when you’re not sure, things are pretty easy as long as you respect that the other person knows what he or she wants, can change his or her mind, and is not just trying to play games. And if the person is trying to play games, and is older than 19 or 20, run.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to LeeEsq says:

        Then you claim that he’s physically restraining her. Not really. At no point does she even try to leave.

        @road-scholar , ah, I see why you think my presentation was dishonest: because you didn’t even the story. Not surprising, given my recent interactions with you.

        The girl bites her bottom lip, in a flash of anger and frustration she stands up to leave. He grabs her arm,

        After which she sees the situation very clearly. Whether he grabbed her hard enough to actually physically restrain her isn’t relevant: the act of him grabbing her brought the situation into stark relief, and she realized that she was stuck. From that point on, it’s difficult if not impossible to describe her ultimate consent as willing.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to LeeEsq says:

        zic, rejection is rejection and something that I’m very famililar with. I understand this on an intellectual level but its not that easy to accept these situations on emotional level. As far as I can tell from my dating life, women consider me a charming, sweet fellow that they don’t want anything to do with romantically and sexually. Thats their right and their choice but going through this experience repeatedly isn’t fun.Report

      • Avatar j r in reply to LeeEsq says:

        @leeEsq

        As far as I can tell from my dating life, women consider me a charming, sweet fellow that they don’t want anything to do with romantically and sexually. Thats their right and their choice but going through this experience repeatedly isn’t fun.

        The other option you have, other than externalizing these feelings and directing them at the women with whom you interact, is to take upon yourself to do things differently. In other words, stop being so charming and sweet to women who are not interested in your charm or… sweetness(?).Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to LeeEsq says:

        Or maybe select from a different dating pool.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to LeeEsq says:

        @leeesq The entire dating scene seems to favor the most socially aware people.

        Yes. All social activities favor the most socially aware. That is, life in general favors the socially aware, given that humans are a social species. That sucks for those of us who are socially awkward, but we’re dealing with people, so there’s damned little to be done about it.

        @chris
        This is an excuse.
        If you’re over 22 or so and still having those problems with women, it’s probably you.
        Don’t make fun of women, don’t mock black people, don’t sneer ar fat people, but thank god we still have the socially awkward to kick around. Sure it’s “you,” but that doesn’t mean much, because not reading social cues well means it’s really hard to learn social cues well. Good lord, Chris, it’s not just about being an asshole, so why are you kind and considerate of all people who face challenges except those of us who don’t read social cues well? Do you have any clue how stressful it can be to be in any social situation?

        @zic
        here; I can’t help but wonder if dating rejection/sex rejection are muddled for you, and not distinctly different things.
        Lee was too kind in response. That seemed an offensively personal comment to me.

        @j-r
        what a man does upon hearing “no,” that is the area where things get trick
        This is the key, and what I think we should be talking about. Everyone here agrees that “no,” means you don’t get to take her clothes off and have one’s way. And everyone agrees that “no” now does not bar a woman from saying “no” later, even in the same evening/date. So the only real question, which almost no one’s addressing directly because it’s turned into a feminists-bad/how-dare-you-you-misogynist snarlfest, is what persuasion tactics following a no-that-potentially-is-succeeded-by-a-yes-but-possibly-is-firm-and-final are ok, and which aren’t?

        And a little help for the socially awkward male in figuring out how to read cues instead of kicking him in the balls for not scoring a 10 on the social awareness scale would be a nice bonus.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to LeeEsq says:

        James, my comment did not come across as clear as I wanted it. What I meant was that dating requires more social awareness than most other human activites. It seems to require courtier level social awareness at times. Of course, one of my problems might be that I know what courtier is.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to LeeEsq says:

        Lee,

        I hope I didn’t come off as criticizing the comment I quoted, because I actually meant to be in general agreement that all of life is social, and so it’s a lot easier for some folks than others.

        Which doesn’t mean that some aspects aren’t a lot harder than others.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to LeeEsq says:

        Wow, what an amazing subthread. Two highlights. This comment:

        He didn’t have any power over her.

        And this one:

        I guess what I’m getting at here is that the young woman can experience something which at least feels very much like rape without the boy having actually done anything more coercive than misread signals and be persistent.

        And with comments like this on a blog like this some people still wonder why feminists are all up in this issue.Report

      • Avatar Glyph in reply to LeeEsq says:

        Given that Maia’s post is intentionally-framed to be at least somewhat-ambiguous (since its purpose is to ask, “how do you see this situation, and why?” and explain her own answers), different people are probably going to read the post differently. That’s the point of the post, it’s why she wrote the hypo as she did, and why she refers to a discussion of ‘grey areas’ and ‘what does coercion mean to her’ right up front.

        @chris – she sees the situation very clearly….she realized that she was stuck. From that point on, it’s difficult if not impossible to describe her ultimate consent as willing.

        Yes, she had an epiphany; one she did not share with her boyfriend, instead immediately (“in a flash”) sitting back down on the couch and making out for another hour (with more “approach and retreat” and repelling of roaming hands), at which point she “gives in”. Does she actually say, “yes” when she gave in? We don’t know.

        And even if she did, as you note, that still doesn’t change the fundamental question: was she coerced?

        If she was, then even the word “yes” – that is, obtained explicit affirmative ‘consent’, the proposed new standard under general discussion here – doesn’t make this not-rape. (I think up to this point, we are mostly still in agreement; please correct me if I am misstating your views.)

        So let’s examine the coercion aspect, the areas in which he has power over her.

        She’s ‘stuck’ at his house, and has no car.

        That’s basically it (well, as a male he probably outweighs her – but the hypo gives us no indication he is prone to, or has a prior reputation for, violence); he isn’t really responsible for her being at his house and having no car, and nowhere does it tell us that she can’t rectify those things pronto with either a phone call or her feet.

        It may not be *easy* to rectify, certainly – walking somewhere else may be inconvenient or impossible, and a phone call is going to possibly make at least her boyfriend, and/or her parents (depending on who she calls for a ride) angry, and any of these options will probably be pretty embarrassing – but the right choice isn’t always easy, and sometimes you have to bite the bullet and get yourself out of the fire and back into a frying pan (so to speak); and any of those options should be a less-unpleasant experience than “stay and possibly get raped instead”.

        She chose to lie to her parents to get to his house; chose not to call her girlfriend to get out of his house (in part because she doesn’t want to make him angry…good thing THAT didn’t happen, just unwanted sex that leaves her feeling depressed and unfocused); chose not to call her parents to get out of his house (they’d be mad at her for lying, but I doubt either they, or she, would see what happened instead as a preferable alternative to continuing the fiction just to avoid some family drama); chose not to explain her epiphany to him, because, again, it might make him mad (he might ‘kick her out’ – again, I fail to see how getting kicked out is worse than getting raped, though I suppose in bad-enough neighborhoods or weather, it could be even more physically dangerous).

        Even him grabbing her arm can be read two ways: it can be sinister, an implied threat to harm or restrain her; or it can be a harmless attempt at sincere apology.

        Have you ever badly upset someone, and afterwards taken their hand or held their arm/shoulder and apologized to them while maintaining eye contact, to communicate the depth of your apology? I have. Depending on the dynamics of the relationship and the internal states of the participants (as well as each participant’s perception of the other’s internal state), such a touch may be intended and/or received as either conciliatory (maybe it turns into a reciprocated hug of reconciliation), or aggressive (“get your damn hands off me!”).

        IOW, just because Ike Turner meant something sinister when he did it, doesn’t mean that every time anyone puts a hand on you and says “Baby I love you, I’m sorry, please don’t go” there’s automatically a threat implied.

        Does this excuse the boy? No. He didn’t do the right thing. He should have stopped, asked some probing questions, listened to the answers, gave her his bed and resigned to sleep on the couch, ceased pushing her so hard.

        But at least from the hypo, the girl doesn’t appear to have done a great job in the decision-making or communication arenas either.

        I’m not comfortable with completely removing her agency and asserting that she had no alternatives but to choose exactly as she did every step of the way; choices which appear to have at least raised the possibility that the boy might misinterpret what was happening between them, and escalate rather than de-escalate his efforts.

        Remember, you were still somewhat confused about signals at 30 (but navigated them successfully); these hypothetical kids are 15.

        But, let’s accept all of the author’s definitions and conclusions at face value, and unambiguously call what happened in the hypo, rape. What does doing that get us here?

        Does the girl feel better, understanding herself now as a rape victim than when she thought she was just a person who made a bad call? How’s her social life, now that she’s properly-understood as a victim of rape: better, or worse? Do we send the boy to jail, since he is unequivocally a rapist?

        Let me be clear – as written (and intentionally), the hypo’s certainly, at minimum, approaching rape. As @troublesome-frog writes elsewhere, “The [obviously incorrect] implication here is that unless you fight until there’s no fight left in you, you weren’t really coerced.” (note: bracketed words in italics added by me, to try to preserve the original context/meaning of TF’s sentence here).

        TF seems obviously correct to me there, but I guess my problem remains that I’m not exactly sure where the line between ‘persistence’ and ‘pushing too hard/harassing/coercing’ should rightly fall; on the one hand, she says “no” more than once, but then says “I’m not sure I’m ready” (an ambiguous phrase in a physical/sexual context, which could be read to mean that one will be ‘ready’ shortly, after more foreplay); she pushes his roaming hands away, but she also made great effort to come there, and makes no (real) effort to leave (even just to leave the couch for more than “an instant”, let alone the room or house), staying at least an hour past the point when she knew she should probably get the hell out of Dodge.

        Now, if that’s my daughter (or son!) in that situation, that boy better look out. I don’t approve of what he’s doing in the least. It’s not OK – it’s neither, to use some old-fashioned terms, gentlemanly nor courteous – and he should have stopped pushing at some prior point – a point which, we’ve mostly agreed, can sometimes be ambiguous; maybe it’s somewhere between the first ‘no’ and the third, or the fourth, or…?

        And because of that ambiguity, I have trouble believing that a jury would (or even should) convict him of rape, in the absence of further corroborating evidence or testimony.

        I think a lot of people are potentially going to see the situation somewhat ambiguously (possibly less as rape, and more as two kids who did not communicate clearly and act intelligently, in part because they are kids); especially if she did eventually say ‘yes’, after deciding that leaving might be too hard; and anyway, I’m not sure what calling it rape accomplishes, except as a thought-provoking, cautionary tale for kids.

        Which in and of itself, I guess I am OK with; I just got the impression we were after bigger society-changing game here.

        But if the main point of the story is simply to warn kids “pushing this hard for sex risks hurting someone else, not to mention risks making you a rapist (and/or getting you accused of rape), so don’t ever do it”, I have no inherent issue with that; it’s excellent advice.

        It just seems to me we can give that same exact warning right now anyway, so now I’m not even sure what change we are advocating for or what we additionally hope to accomplish with it.

        This comment is way too effin’ long as it is, but indulge me in splitting hairs just a little finer.

        Swap genders around in the hypo and let’s see what we get.

        I am a 15-year-old boy, and my 15-year-old girlfriend* invites me to stay over while her parents are away. I like her a lot, so I accept, lying to my parents about where I will be.

        Maybe I have religious beliefs that say I should wait until marriage for sex; maybe I am questioning whether I am really all *that* into girls anyway.

        Regardless, she keeps trying to get in my pants, and I keep rebuffing her (though we keep kissing).

        I don’t call a friend to pick me up, nor my parents; I don’t even leave the couch we are on, and eventually, an hour or more of making out after I decide not to leave, I give in, and we have sex.

        As long as she didn’t threaten me with violence or prevent me from leaving, was I raped?

        Or did I keep repeatedly choosing the easier option, give in to peer pressure, ultimately act against my desires (some of them, at least), and come to regret it?

        It seems more to me the latter.

        *It occurs to me I can change “girlfriend” to “gay male friend who has the hots for me” in the hypo and leave the rest of it the same, and I still feel similarly – that if I really didn’t want to have sex with him, I probably should have made more decisive efforts to not go home with him in the first place, or tried to leave his house/sofa, or tried to not send any mixed signals; maybe stop kissing him, at least. I don’t know if I’d feel ‘raped’ so much as ‘that sure was a series of mistakes that I made, better not do that again’.

        Whereas when I flip it 360 degrees all the way back to the original hypo, that certainly seems to me to be getting closer to rape, if not necessarily decisively all the way there for me as it is for Maia and yourself.

        Which strongly suggests a propensity in me, and I suspect many others, to make the call differently when the potential victim is a female vs. a male.

        This seems problematic to me for a number of reasons; I feel like whatever our standard is to be, it should hold for all people regardless of gender, not just for general fairness-in-rule-applicability sake, but also to preserve the agency of females – the basic assumption that the choices they make are just as relevant and consequential as the choices males make, and they are neither stupid, helpless nor powerless. That’s part of what keeps sticking in my craw in these threads; but is perhaps another discussion entirely.

        Apologies for length, lateness, and incoherence.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to LeeEsq says:

        I’m with you, @glyph.Report

      • Avatar ScarletNumbers in reply to LeeEsq says:

        @james-hanley

        don’t sneer ar fat people

        This is still socially acceptable, as long as we use the facade of being concerned about their health.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to LeeEsq says:

        Too true, Scarlet.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman in reply to LeeEsq says:

        You can also sneer at fat people if you cover it in the auspices of self-discipline, which I think is more common.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to LeeEsq says:

        @glyph , damn, man.

        OK, let me say some things up front, so that we’re clear through the rest of this:

        1.) The story was originally raised as an example of feminists saying that a woman, once she’d said no, could not say yes at a later point. My initial and primary point is that that interpretation is complete and utter bullshit. Complete… and utter… bullshit.

        2.) My interpretation of the situation is as follows:

        Him: he has intentionally created a situation in which he has a girl as a captive audience. He knows that, because she doesn’t really have an out, if he is persistent, he’s likely to get his way through attrition, if nothing else.

        Her: she definitely put herself in this situation, though at 15, pretty clearly out of naiveté. When she realizes that she has no real out, it is in the context of some physical interactions (see Katherine below for a similar interpretation), not all of which were specifically sexual either in their content or their intention. That is, the guy knew what he was doing in demonstrating is physical power over her.

        So, while I don’t think what occurred can legally be called rape, and I don’t know that I’d want to call it rape more generally, I don’t consider her consent to be willing, and I think it’s a clear example of coercion. I understand that a strict libertarian view of coercion isn’t at play, but I find that definition to be absurdly limited. She was in a situation in which she felt she had no out, and was both physically intimidated and emotionally manipulated. This is, at the kids these days might say, at least rape adjacent. As I said above, though, I don’t see any legal definition of rape that could capture this situation and not end up capturing all sorts of situations that are definitely not rape.

        IOW, just because Ike Turner meant something sinister when he did it, doesn’t mean that every time anyone puts a hand on you and says “Baby I love you, I’m sorry, please don’t go” there’s automatically a threat implied.

        This is where interpretation gets tricky. From her description, I think it’s pretty clear that this dude was playing the long con, so to speak, and had the end goal in sight the whole time. I could be wrong. It’s possible he was in the moment and just going with what he felt at the time. I find that interpretation unlikely, however. He set the situation up with one end in mind, and he pushed and pushed until he achieved it. So while he may not have been consciously trying to intimidate her physically, he certainly wasn’t trying to comfort her because he cared she was upset, and the result was to actually intimidate her.

        Does the girl feel better, understanding herself now as a rape victim than when she thought she was just a person who made a bad call? How’s her social life, now that she’s properly-understood as a victim of rape: better, or worse? Do we send the boy to jail, since he is unequivocally a rapist?

        For her, calling it that may in fact help her process the situation better. Certainly she made mistakes, putting herself in a dangerous situation. For him, as I said, I don’t think this is legally rape. Is it conceptually? I don’t know, but it’s pushing the boundaries. What do we do with this, then? Well, aside from calling him out on it (shaming him, socially), if it is a pattern (and she suggests it maybe), using it as an example for young men and women of what not to do seems worthwhile.

        but I guess my problem remains that I’m not exactly sure where the line between ‘persistence’ and ‘pushing too hard/harassing/coercing’ should rightly fall; on the one hand, she says “no” more than once, but then says “I’m not sure I’m ready” (an ambiguous phrase in a physical/sexual context, which could be read to mean that one will be ‘ready’ shortly, after more foreplay); she pushes his roaming hands away, but she also made great effort to come there, and makes no (real) effort to leave (even just to leave the couch for more than “an instant”, let alone the room or house), staying at least an hour past the point when she knew she should probably get the hell out of Dodge.

        And this, really, is where we should be having the discussion. I think one of the main reasons some advocates have chosen to focus so heavily on college campuses is that, as I’ve said elsewhere in the thread, more mature people have this sort of thing figured out a lot better. If an experienced 30-year old man rapes an experienced 30-year old woman, it’s because he is a predator, plain and simple. There’s not much you can do in the way of education to fix that. However, the kids who haven’t the slightest clue what they’re doing can be taught how to recognize when they’re going too far, when being persistent becomes something more, etc.

        My own view is that if a woman says no, that’s it until she says yes. You can try to turn a no into a yes – there are a lot of legitimate means of seduction – but once she’s said no, continued direct attempts at sex are wrong, if not assault. Particularly with young people who are not going to be very good at knowing when they’ve gone too far.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to LeeEsq says:

        ” but I guess my problem remains that I’m not exactly sure where the line between ‘persistence’ and ‘pushing too hard/harassing/coercing’ should rightly fall;”

        And this, really, is where we should be having the discussion.

        J-r said so, I said so, Glyph seems to say so, and now Chris says so.

        And yet we’re not having, and never have had, this discussion. We’re just repeating the same old attacks on feminists and awkward guys. Probably because that’s so much easier than actually thinking about such an intractable issue.

        Choose your teams, everyone, because this bullshit is the only “discussion” we’re ever going to have on this subject.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to LeeEsq says:

        No one’s attacking awkward guys. You’re just stuck in your own head here, dude.Report

      • Avatar Glyph in reply to LeeEsq says:

        @james-hanley – thanks Professor. I woke up this AM fully expecting flames, so it was nice to get at least one response indicating that I wasn’t completely out in left field. Of course, the flames may yet come, and my best protection may be that probably you are one of the only people to willingly read that whole monstrosity. 😉

        @chris – as above, thanks for reading/responding to such a beast of a comment.

        The story was originally raised as an example of feminists saying that a woman, once she’d said no, could not say yes at a later point. My initial and primary point is that that interpretation is complete and utter bullshit.

        I am fine with that. My point about the post’s intentionally-ambiguous nature was intended as a gentle reminder to both you AND @road-scholar – I didn’t think it was fair for him to characterize your interpretation of the hypo as “dishonest”, nor fair for you to dismiss his as “obviously didn’t read the post, per usual”. I originally stated all that explicitly, but took it out; maybe should have left it as-is.

        With meta dispensed with, on to the meat:

        he has intentionally created a situation in which he has a girl as a captive audience. He knows that, because she doesn’t really have an out, if he is persistent, he’s likely to get his way through attrition…the guy knew what he was doing in demonstrating is physical power over her.

        I think this has a lot of initial assumptions baked into it that immediately unfairly implicate the boy (using phrases like ‘intentionally created a situation’ and ‘captive’ and ‘knows he will get his way through attrition’ kind of stacks the deck against him right away, suggesting his malicious intent to override her known-to-him wishes from the start).

        An alternate view is of course that he invited her to a place where they were (explicitly-stated) to be alone, something people do all the time with those they are dating (and when the offer is accepted, *some* corresponding reciprocal signal is often being sent – not necessarily “I will have sex with you there”, but not necessarily “I won’t”, either) .

        My own hypos (and fondly-recalled youthful experience…thank you, M, because my own parents never went ANYWHERE!) suggest to me that girls are just as likely to invite boys over, when the girl’s parents are gone.

        And that is really the crux of our disagreement, I guess; you later use the words ‘long con’, once again suggesting that this boy knew from the start the girl did not want to have sex, and was structuring everything he could to subvert and overcome any defenses; an alternate, and to me equally-plausible explanation is that he simply thought she wanted to have sex as well, as many 15-year olds, male or female, do.

        The rest of your comment, I basically agree with (or at least, see it as very justifiable).

        I just think this is the part that’s on shaky ground, and relies a lot on assuming a 15-year-old boy as a master manipulator (when having been one, I can confidently state most 15-year-old boys are kinda stupid), and a 15-year-old girl (don’t girls mature faster?) as a sheltered flower who had no idea what was on this boy’s mind, and little responsibility to clearly communicate what was on hers and act accordingly.

        I don’t think that’s fair to either males or females as a general statement, though obviously it could be applicable to any specific two people.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to LeeEsq says:

        I suppose part of where we disagree is in whether he would need to be a master manipulator to do what I’m suggesting he did. I don’t think he would. Thinking back to my own time in high schoo, parents out of town was generally considered by boys to be a time to either throw a party or try to get laid. On top of that, understanding that you are a girl’s ride, and she’s at your place all alone, isn’t difficult. From there, what he does is basically try to “be nice” to her while repeatedly trying to get in her pants. That doesn’t take a lot of mental work. It just takes a bit of patience. The physical intimidation and the mental mainpulation are pretty straightforward parts of the game, especially at that age.

        Now, it’s almost certain that he thought she ultimately wanted it (though this is not much of an excuse, as it’s not uncommon for rapists to say that the woman wanted it), and that her protests were half-hearted or merely for appearances, but that’s hardly exculpatory.Report

      • Avatar j r in reply to LeeEsq says:

        The physical intimidation and the mental mainpulation are pretty straightforward parts of the game, especially at that age.

        They are? That seems like a pretty bold statement. And not one with which I am inclined to agree, at least not for the overwhelming majority of men. This is exactly the problem that I have with the default feminist position on sexual assault: that it is something that men, as a group, do to women, as a group.

        Maybe I am wrong, but I just do not believe that the average 16 yo male has the physical presence or the social sophistication to regularly employ these sorts of tactics successfully. What I do believe is that there is a relatively small population of men that regularly employ coercive tactics when it comes to getting sex. And that is a problem that we ought to focus on, but all the talk of “misogyny” and “rape culture” likely do more to posture and obfuscate than they do to get us towards workable solutions.

        That is my two cents at least.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to LeeEsq says:

        Glyph,
        I can’t be all liberal and everything is equal about this.
        The game is rigged — in a bunch of different ways.
        It’s not denying women agency to state facts — including that some guys will attempt techniques that will deny women agency.

        Yes, sometimes people do stupid fucking things because they’re young. Two kids start getting it on in front of the girl’s parents. She feels like getting in trouble is worse (in the heat of the moment) than just lying there and letting him fuck her. This is what we term nonconsensual sex. If he was doing this deliberately, trapping a young girl into a situation where she might let him do something that she’s not consenting to, yeah that’s rape.

        Maybe not legally actionable rape… but he’s clearly using embarrassment/fear of punishment to manipulate and coerce her into giving him what he wants.Report

      • Avatar Glyph in reply to LeeEsq says:

        @j-r I just do not believe that the average 16 yo male has the physical presence or the social sophistication to regularly employ these sorts of tactics successfully.

        I know I didn’t; and I like to think that even if I had them, I wouldn’t have used them; and I like to think that most people I know are the same way.

        As you say, I could be wrong. People (and maybe especially young people) can be selfish, and inconsiderate, and thoughtless, and brutal.

        Maybe I’m being a pollyanna when I want to believe that most people are better than that; just as I believe that most people aren’t murderers, or thieves.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to LeeEsq says:

        Oh I witnessed that sort of thing many times in college. I don’t know about high school, but I wasn’t in the sorts of situations with other guys where I would have seen it as often.

        It’s pretty intuitive, rather than something consciously thought out and implemented.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to LeeEsq says:

        I think this has a lot of initial assumptions baked into it that immediately unfairly implicate the boy

        I think this dynamic makes sense if we look at this as a sort of courtroom.Chris is playing the role of prosecuting attorney here. Maybe someone’s playing the role of defense attorney (I’d have to look back through to see), but not as effectively as Chris. You, Glyph, seem to be playing the role of juror, trying to sift the evidence.Report

      • Avatar Glyph in reply to LeeEsq says:

        I hesitate to refer to this (fictional) thing again, but I think it’s illustrative:

        Who’s the cartoon character in this scene, and who’s the real person?

        I submit the reason the scene is funny (and granted, it’s a black humor) is that the character who is explaining “the implication” is completely, obliviously out there. A cartoon.

        Not nonexistent, exactly; but also not common. He is the transgressor of the right and normal; the straight man is everyman.

        The everyman is reacting, appropriately, to the transgression, “the implication” – “Man, that seems kinda DARK…it sounds like she doesn’t want to have sex?”

        Again, this is one comedy scene, but to me it seems to capture the way myself, and many others, would react IRL to use of “the implication” – a complete inability to even conceive of such a thought process, correctly (and intuitively) understanding ‘that’s not right’.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to LeeEsq says:

        James, R. always tells me that I have a prosecutorial mindset. Maybe she’s right (though I refuse to tell her that, damn it).

        Glyph, yeah, in college at least, I knew guys who thought like that. Maybe not so extreme that they took women on a boat, but there are difficult-to-escape situations on land as well.Report

      • Avatar j r in reply to LeeEsq says:

        It’s pretty intuitive, rather than something consciously thought out and implemented.

        That is the part that I am getting at. Intuitive to whom? Was it to you? It certainly wasn’t to me.

        Pointing out that this sort of thing happens a lot does not speak to who are the men who are doing it and how this proves or disproves the dominant feminist narrative.

        Partly, this gets into underpants gnome territory:

        1. Shame socially awkward men who say the wrong thing about gender and dating.
        2. ???
        3. End sexual assault.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to LeeEsq says:

        The only people making this about socially awkward men are ya’ll, starting with Lee. Read through the thread again and that will be pretty clear.

        The stories in the OP, and the story that launched much of this discussion in comments, are almost certainly about men who are not at all socially awkward. The guys I knew like that were some of the least socially awkward people I knew.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to LeeEsq says:

        To describe what happened here: there were stories about miscommunications or failures and failures to take signals (some pretty explicit, like “no” and pushing away), in the OP. The reaction of a couple guys who comment about their social awkwardness and frustration any time these topics come up was to make it about them (they didn’t do this because they’re socially awkward, but because they both tend to make everything about them, especially when it comes to dating). I reacted, pretty pithily, to one of those two guys attempting to make the difficulties with consent raised in the OP about his social awkwardness. Someone took offense to my pithiness, which resulted in a digression about social awkwardness. That digression has absolutely nothing to do with the story Glyph and I are discussing.Report

      • Avatar Glyph in reply to LeeEsq says:

        @chris I knew guys who thought like that.

        I don’t dispute that, but I should have been more explicit in what I was getting at. Dennis (the sociopath/transgressor) is the minority, insane, exception view; Mac (the befuddled everyman) is, well, everybody else (that’s how straight men work, as proxy for the audience, to react to the insanity). The scene wouldn’t work, if Dennis’ was anywhere near a majority view.

        This was intended to tie back to @j-r ‘s point RE: the perceived prevalence of such behavior/views in the male population, and thus how best to resolve ambiguous situations and decrease rape.

        If we start every evaluation of ambiguous hypos presuming that the boy is a sociopathic Dennis, we risk being wrong every time the boy is a sweet Mac – and there are, I believe, far more Macs, than there are Dennises.

        At least I hope so, or else we’re all doomed.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to LeeEsq says:

        Glyph,
        assume the psychos are 5% of the population (assume they rape 2-3 people per year, age 14-25). Now, we want to give the sweet guys some tools to basically defend da gurlz against the predators.

        Do you know what it looks like when a girl has had a roofie? Would you know enough to stop a guy trying to take her to a “room” at a frat party?Report

      • Avatar j r in reply to LeeEsq says:

        @chris

        I should have made it clearer that my underpants gnome mention was aimed at what I termed the “dominant feminist narrative” of men assaulting women (as opposed to individual criminals assaulting individual women) and not at you.

        I pretty much agree with you that the tendency of some men to project their failures with women into some larger narrative of being preyed upon by manipulative and capricious women is something that we ought to discourage. Of course, I believe that many women can behave manipulatively and capriciously, just as I believe that many men can behave abusively and coercive.

        Mostly my point is that when it comes to matters of criminal justice, and related social norms, it pays to be precise.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to LeeEsq says:

        Read through the thread again and that will be pretty clear.

        Jumping Jesus on a shit stick.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to LeeEsq says:

        James, do you deny this is what happened? I suggest you look at Lee’s comment ,and mine that came immediately after it, to which you took offense and launched the “social awkwardness” digression. What was I talking about in that comment? Consent. Every sentence in that comment is about consent, including the “that’s an excuse” (which was meant in the, “that’s an excuse, not a reason” sense). Nowhere else, except in the context of your subseuqent criticisms of that comment, have I or anyone else other than the ones criticizing talk of socially awkward men, talked about socially awkward men.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to LeeEsq says:

        Nice of you to move the goalposts from “the thread” to “my one specific comment.” Sure, you can tell me what your own specific comment meant. But that’s not what you said in the comment I responded to–in that you were suggesting there was only one way to read the whole thread.

        Read my comment down below, Chris. There’s something about this issue that changes the way you respond to others. You become far more absolutist and intolerant of any disagreement.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to LeeEsq says:

        Ugh, I’m going to go ahead and drop out of this particular subthread after this, but man, I haven’t moved the goalposts. Read my story version of this thread above: Lee did that thing where he makes everything that has anything remotely to do about dating about his dating life (see also, Saul), and I was pithy in response, suggesting that social awkwardness is not an excuse for not listening to women when they’re telling you they don’t want to have sex. At this point, this is the only talk of social awkwardness in the whole thread, and that mainly involved me bringing it back to consent, not social awkardness. We then had a discussion of feminism and the “no means no forever” bullshit that Brandon brought up, then you jumped on my initial comment to Saul, and that started a whole discussion about social awkwardness that had nothing to do with any of the other discussions in the thread. Then several other people chimed in on that discussion, the one you had initiated.

        You also took offense to the “that’s you” comment, but again, took it out of context and made it about social awkwardness. That was in response to Brandon, who is obviously not that socially awkward, talking about missed communication about having sex (women meaning to ultimately say yes when they initially say no, say). My point there, again, is that most people above a certain age say what they mean, and aren’t playing games, so even if you are the most socially awkward person on the planet, you can pretty easily know that “no” means “no.” It might change, but at the moment, it’s “no.” She’s not saying, “I don’t want you to think I’m a slut, so I have to put up token resistance,” she’s saying, “No.” But you made this about social awkwardness too. I didn’t. No one is saying that the message here is that socially awkward men are the problem, as jr suggests people are doing. No one is suggesting that socially awkward men won’t have problems with other signals. But “no” and “yes” are as clear as the English language gets, and if you don’t get that, it’s on you, not her (as Brandon and Lee both seem to suggest it might be).

        In sum: it wasn’t about social awkwardness, you and Lee made it about social awkwardness, others jumped in, I defended myself (unwisely: I should have just told you up front, this ain’t about you and Lee, it’s about consent, and been done with it), J R decided it was an issue with feminism, and here we are. Really fucking annoyed on both sides, I imagine.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to LeeEsq says:

        Everyone else is at fault, and my only mistake is defending myself.

        Yeah, that’s nearly always an accurate interpretation of events.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to LeeEsq says:

        That doesn’t take a lot of mental work. It just takes a bit of patience.

        Well, if you mean intellectual work – or self-conscious self-aware work – I completely agree. I don’t think the type of behavior we’re talking about here requires any sophistication at all, as some folks have suggested. This stuff is basic. Sophistication, in my view, is the ability to cover base desires with a socially acceptable veneer. That some people end up identifying with “sophistication” and all the accompanying trappings and mechanisms doesn’t really change anything on that score. Well, except that those folks are living the meta thinking it’s real.Report

    • Avatar KatherineMW in reply to zic says:

      zic – I think a culture of positive consent (verbal or non-verbal – physical actions can indicate consent pretty clearly) is the way to go. But how would that deal with the second situation quoted, where the woman felt trapped in the room? From her point of view, she felt physically threatened. From the guy’s point of view, he convinced her/won her over and she gave a “yes”, so even by the standards of positive consent he had a reason to believe there was consent. He may not have perceived that she felt any threat.

      So how do people deal with such a situation, where two people are perceiving it completely differently and without knowledge of the other’s perceptions?Report

      • Avatar KatherineMW in reply to KatherineMW says:

        I note that people have gotten into a debate about this, so I’ll add that I’m operating on the description given in the quote, which is that he hugged her tightly, and based on the prior context she felt this indicated physical danger. That doesn’t mean he couldn’t have perceived it as just a hug.Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to KatherineMW says:

        If that boy, in the process of winning her over, never asked himself if she might feel trapped?

        No. He’s got no excuse here. None. Wearing her down without asking if she feels trapped; wearing him down without asking if he feels trapped, does not excuse your behavior.Report

      • Avatar KatherineMW in reply to KatherineMW says:

        Well, that didn’t answer my question at all.

        That question, if it was unclear, is: how are people, not knowing what the other party is thinking, supposed to discern when “yes” does not actually mean “yes”?Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to KatherineMW says:

        The idea is to try hard not to put people in situations where there yeses may not be authentic.

        One obvious way to do this is, when someone says no, take them at their word, and don’t press them until they say yes. Another is to not place people in situations in which they’re likely to feel that saying no will lead to negative consequences greater than those of an unwilling yes.

        When there is doubt, it’s probably best to err on the side of caution. This is certainly what we should do when someone might be too drunk to consent, for example, but also when someone might be too vulnerable or afraid.Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to KatherineMW says:

        Well, say she said no, like 20 times. And finally said yes. He had no compunction about asking 21 times; yet now that he’s got that yes, he never checks again. No, “are you sure?”

        It’s all about what he wants, and I do not, for one single minute, think he thought it anything more than wearing her down, coercing her, breaking her. If he had concern for her, it would have been pretty gosh darn easy to ask again. But no. It was all about what he wanted.

        So what Chris said. But with much, much less tolerance. Because if you can ask over and over to wear someone down, and think that’s consent, and once you’ve got your ‘yes’ you don’t need to ask again, then you’ve got a problem. (I don’t mean you, but the generic person who thinks coercion is a fun dating trick.)Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to KatherineMW says:

        I don’t want to be an ass, but I don’t think we’ve really solved the problem here.

        I fully agree with zic’s “when you have to ask 21 times…” (paraphrased) position. But I think that’s focusing on the easy case, and not dealing with the hard case.

        Chris says, “when someone says no, take them at their word, and don’t press them until they say yes.” A lot depends on what we mean by “press.” I think we can probably agree that holding a person down on the couch is pressing. Emotional manipulation like “come on, baby, don’t you love me, if you loved me you’d do this for me” counts as pressing (at least, I think, it would for zic and for Chris, and for me as well). Is “are you sure?” pressing? Is asking again after another half hour of (willing, uncoerced) making out pressing?

        Depending on how we understand the term “press,” it’s either exactly right or silly. In any social situation, an initial “no” may just mean “I could be persuaded, but I’m not persuaded yet,” and not pressing–not trying to persuade–means never getting to a yes that would in fact be voluntary. But of course in any situation of sales or bureaucratic maneuvering, that persuasion can cross the line into inappropriate pressure. That’s all to say “press” is, I think, too vague to be helpful.

        So we’re still focusing on easy cases and using hopelessly vague terminology to cover the tough cases.

        Does asking again a little later constitute pressing?Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to KatherineMW says:

        Perhaps a three-strikes and you’re out rule should apply?Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to KatherineMW says:

        What is the “when you have to ask 21 times…” position, exactly?

        “When you have to ask 21 times and do so, you’re a disgusting ass”?

        Or, “When you have to ask 21 times, do so, get a yes, and proceed to have the sex, you’re a rapist?”

        What exactly is the topic of this discussion at this point? Obviously I’d agree if the proposition is the first one. But I’m not really clear what the proposition under consideration is.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to KatherineMW says:

        Perhaps a three-strikes and you’re out rule should apply?

        I’d say that’s progress.

        [Edit: It occurs to me that this comment may have sounded snarky. It’s not. I mean that I think moving toward a discussion of it being legitimate to ask more than once but not as many as 20 times is where we ought to be going. And while “3 strikes” is somewhat artificial, being compelling primarily by its cultural familiarity, it’s not obviously wrong–I think–in the way that “you can only ask once”* or “you can ask as many times as you want” are obviously wrong.
        ________________
        *I’m riffing off Chris’s “if she says no, don’t press until she says yes,” but I’m not trying to imply that Chris was literally suggesting a “you can only ask once” rule.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to KatherineMW says:

        Michael Drew,

        Not to speak for zic, but I might suggest the position is “if you have to ask 21 times in one night you run such a high risk of being a rapist that you ought never ever go there.”Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to KatherineMW says:

        Hell, I’ve asked more than once. I mean, there are some noes that are pretty damn clearly, “No, and don’t ask me again.” They’re usually pretty forceful noes. On the other hand, there are noes that pretty clearly suggest that asking again later might get a different answer. “Not right now,” for example. Then there’s a lot of stuff in between. “Let’s slow down,” for example, could mean any number of things (and in the moment, may be intended to indicate that she hasn’t made up her mind yet about where things are headed), and asking again after some time has passed doesn’t seem unreasonable, but repeatedly trying to push things in that direction also seems to go directly against her desire to slow things down.Report

      • I like the three strikes rule. After three strikes, if she changes her mind, she makes the move.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to KatherineMW says:

        Michael,
        I think we’re looking at setting up some normative standards — to the point where you might feel justified in intervening at a party/in a movie theater, if you saw someone exceeding them.
        Is this calling the police time? No. but it may very well be “cut that crap out, you’re being a dick.”

        I think it might be useful for kids in school to brainstorm about what “No” means, what “Slow Down” means, etc. Because it strikes me that guys and girls may have different concepts on what these words mean.Report

      • Avatar j r in reply to KatherineMW says:

        I have to echo @michael-drew’s question. And further question the whole teaching men not to rape meme. Men already know not to rape. Just like men already know not to murder, steal and assault. Unfortunately, among the whole population of men who know better, there are some who simply don’t care.

        The whole idea that there is a large population of men stumbling into rape and sexual assault, because they have insufficiently absorbed the lessons of feminism is just not grounded in reality. The guy who has to ask 21 times is most likely not going to get anywhere with that approach. Women are already very good at saying no to that guy. Those guys are not the problem. The problem are the legitimately predatory men and they tend to know exactly what they are doing.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to KatherineMW says:

        jr,
        a man who actually is asking 21 times is probably a sexual predator — or an ignorant fuck who is turning into a sexual predator. He’s probably in the “whining” school of coercion, but, hell, the girl ain’t leaving (This is probably what happened in Juno, for what it’s worth… and partially explains why the titular character wasn’t very friendly to her friend afterwards — she felt taken advantage of). And he knows if he asks enough times, she’ll eventually say yes. [The game is rigged, folks.]Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to KatherineMW says:

        Grown women may be pretty good at saying no to that guy, but one of the reasons that sexual assault is so common on campus, and one of the reasons so much effort has been focused on campaigns against sexual assaults on campus, is that women that age aren’t always so good at it, and the men aren’t always so good at recognizing when what they’re doing constitutes undue pressure or coercion.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to KatherineMW says:

        @chris

        Exactly, I was trying to emphasize that I don’t think you were proposing a “only ask once” rule.

        the men aren’t always so good at recognizing when what they’re doing constitutes undue pressure or coercion.

        Right, and what I’m suggesting is specifying some concrete approaches to helping them understand that. They’ll learn through experience isn’t sufficient when that experience may include rape, or even undue coercion that possibly falls just short of rape. “Just be respectful” is about as useful as Montana’s old “safe and reasonable” speed limit–while they’re both good ideas in the abstract, they’re both too vague to be useful as standards.

        “If you have to ask more than three times in one night, just stop” isn’t perfect, and it’s certainly not a complete set of guidelines all by itself, but it has the advantage of being really concrete and specific.Report

      • Avatar j r in reply to KatherineMW says:

        @chris

        As I’ve said before, I have a healthy amount of skepticism towards the 1 in 5 number. Even if that number is accurate, however, that still supports the statement that I made above.

        If 20 percent of women are the victims of sexual assault, that implies that the number of men doing the assaulting is lower, as sexual predators tend to be repeat offenders. So, if something on the order of 10 percent of men are predators, how does preaching to the remaining 90 percent do anything to stop sexual assault?

        I suppose you could say that you are preaching to the 10 percent, but again, it’s likely that these guys already know that what they are doing is wrong and choose to do it anyway.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to KatherineMW says:

        Yeah, so far every argument I’ve seen against those numbers has been based on false information or bad math. That number keep showing up in the research, and I can’t think of any rational reason to be skeptical of them at this point, aside from the level of skepticism that people should hold toward any empirical finding.

        Anyway, what percentage of people drink and drive? 10? 20? Why do we have all these educational campaigns when most of us don’t do it? How many kids end up doing crack? 5? 8? Why do we teach kids that crack is bad for them if so many are never going to end up doing it anyway? Calculus. How many adults use calculus in their lives? Why do we teach high school/college students calculus if they’re never going to use it?Report

      • Avatar Glyph in reply to KatherineMW says:

        @j-r

        RE: 1 in 5.

        Of course this is completely anecdotal, but I am closely-acquainted with one woman who was the victim of an attempted rape, and another who was the victim of rape – and both these were stranger-, not acquaintance/date-rapes, and stranger-rapes are by all accounts the less-common variant of rape; and of course, these are only the women who felt comfortable telling me such a thing to begin with.

        All that to say, I expect there are more instances of rape in my immediate circle that are unknown to me; and my circle mostly lives a fairly sheltered middle-class existence, in terms of all crime.

        So 1-in-5 doesn’t seem unlikely on its face to me.

        ETA: forgot: I actually know several other girls, one very well and the others by acquaintance, who were abused by a teacher at my high school (and not some “they thought they were in forbidden love” type-scenario, where the student at least *thinks* they’ve consented to an affair; I mean no-consent completely-unwanted stuff.)

        Though this anecdatum doesn’t argue against “a small subset of people rape”, it does help me believe “a lot of people get raped.” Report

      • Avatar j r in reply to KatherineMW says:

        @chris

        My skepticism is based on the fact that the numbers researchers get is a function of the definition of sexual assault that they use (or individuals’ subjective assessments in studies that rely on self-reported answers) and the subjective experiences of people recalling often fuzzy memories.

        Anyway, I concede your 20 percent number for the purposes of this conversation, but you are trying to reduce my other claim to absurdity. I have not anywhere said that we ought to stop educating kids on sexual assault.

        My point is simple: you hit an inflection point with the whole “teach men not to rape” approach, where the men who are not predators already know not to rape and how not to rape. And when you keep pushing past that point, you’re not actually doing anything to prevent sexual assault. Rather you are just conducting activism for the sake of doing political boundary work.Report

      • (Not necessarily better) alternatives to the ask-three-times rule:

        A. Ask yourself whether you would be comfortable if someone was trying to sell you a car in the same way. Would you feel the salesperson was trying to push you into something you didn’t necessarily want?
        B. By asking, are you trying to convince the other person to have sex with you or find out whether they want to have sex with you? You should aim for the latter.Report

      • Avatar switters in reply to KatherineMW says:

        @chris you just said “and the men aren’t always so good at recognizing when what they’re doing constitutes undue pressure or coercion.”

        But didn’t you agree with Tod when he said the exact opposite down below. Am i missing something (that’s a legitimate question, BTW).Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to KatherineMW says:

        jr,
        do you know what a girl who has been dosed with roofies looks like/
        would you stop that at a party?Report

      • Avatar j r in reply to KatherineMW says:

        @kim

        A girl on roofies looks an awful lot like a girl who has drank too much. And since we are talking about roofies and empirical evidence, let’s mention that the studies done on date rape drugs find that almost all claims of having been drugged are really just cases of people having a lot to drink.Report

      • Avatar switters in reply to KatherineMW says:

        This is going to sound pedantic, but its not meant to. Ask 3 times to do what? For penetrative, or as the Glyph likes to say P-in-V, sex? Or any act that goes further than the previously consented to act, or is different than the previously consented to act. Or simply to redo what was previously consented to because one consent doesn’t equal all consent. If we are kissing, and I (or she) want to put my (or her) hands on her (or my) rear, do I (does she) have to ask first? And if I (you get the point) get a yes the third time I ask, try, do I go back to no strikes with respect to the next step I’d like to request.
        And I get that this sounds absurd. But when we are willing to classify an unwanted touching, with little regard to the context or to what was previously consented to, as a sexual assault, it becomes important. And I may be wrong, but that’s the standard I think I’ve seen advocated.
        So while I get the urge to come up with a standard, I just don’t know if anything is really workable. That doesn’t mean I think rape, or any form of assault is ok, its just means I haven’t come to any firm conclusions myself about what counts as what and where lines should be drawn. Maybe be respectful is the best we can do.Report

      • A “yes” would restart the count on all lesser-includeds, I’d think.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to KatherineMW says:

        switter, I took Tod to be saying something different, namely that it’s bullshit that men don’t realize what they’re doing is wrong when they are pressuring women into sex, or at least that this is an excuse. My point is that there are situations in which the men aren’t the ones pressuring women into sex, but the situation is, and this can lead to inauthentic yeses that men may not be able to recognize as such because they’re not aware of the situation from the woman’s perspective.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to KatherineMW says:

        j r, if, as I think is pretty clear, much of what happens in college is kids who don’t fully understand the implications of their actions, then teaching them about the implications of their actions seems like a pretty damn good idea.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to KatherineMW says:

        I like Vikram’s suggestion. It’s a good general guidance for life.

        Switters–good questions. Hopefully others give good answers; not that I’m blowing you off, but they’re good enough questions that I’m not prepared to give you good answers.

        J-R–you’re right about the 1-5 depending on how we define sexual assault, but it strikes me that being skeptical of it indicates that you suspect we’ve defined sexual assault too broadly. At that point, I think it falls to you to tell us where you think the boundaries of what we ought to call sexual assault are–what actions are included and which excluded–and why. (I’m assuming in this that not all sexual assaults are identical–some can be felonies, others can be misdemeanors, and different ones could receive punishments of differing severity.)Report

      • Avatar switters in reply to KatherineMW says:

        @chris

        Fair enough. Seems kind of the like the same thing to me though.
        I.e., what typically would be considered legitimate persuasion becomes unacceptable pressure based on the subjective, and usually unknown and or perhaps even unknowable, perspective of your partner.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to KatherineMW says:

        jr,
        So, um, let me get this straight. You are skeptical of the existence of use of date-rape drugs (definitely happens far less often than reported), and yet you purport to know about what it looks like? You’re not citing any evidence, and my visual evidence is pretty different from yours.
        Your argument is weak.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to KatherineMW says:

        switters,
        I think it’s good to specify both “Yes” words/actions and “no” words/actions (possibly also “slow down i’m thinking”) — before you’re in the moment.

        You can have a play session where the assumption is “going until you say no”… or you can have a play session where it is “you say yes for each and every little thing.” (I think age & experience plays a lot to do with which kind you’re likely to get, fwiw.)

        Setup the bounds mutually and abide within them. And don’t be a total dick.Report

      • Avatar j r in reply to KatherineMW says:

        J-R–you’re right about the 1-5 depending on how we define sexual assault, but it strikes me that being skeptical of it indicates that you suspect we’ve defined sexual assault too broadly. At that point, I think it falls to you to tell us where you think the boundaries of what we ought to call sexual assault are–what actions are included and which excluded–and why.

        Yes and no. First, the definition is the minor point. There is a little bit of looseness in how these studies deal with the differences between sexual harassment, sexual assault and rape and how journalists and activists use these findings. My real issue, however, is that these studies consist of researchers coding self-reported memories and recollections and making judgment calls about whether to call something rape or assault. Quite simply there is a significant epidemiological difference between the claim that “1 in 5 women report instances that are consistent with the definition of sexual assault” and “1 in 5 women have been sexually assaulted.”

        That is the yes. The no is that the argument that I am making now has absolutely nothing to do with the 1 in 5 estimate and I will even concede that number for the purpose of this conversation. The point that I’m making is that, of the men who do commit sexually assault, the overwhelming majority are not awkward fumbling kids who don’t know how to take no for an answer. Rather they are purposeful sexual predators who know what they are doing is wrong, but do it because they think that they will get away with it, because what they are doing leaves no real physical evidence and has no witnesses other than the parties involved.

        Separately, there probably are a whole lot of awkward, fumbling sexual encounters that happen between young people that end with hurt feelings and regret. And I fully support talking about how to cut down on that, but that is not sexual assault.Report

    • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Patrick says:

      That was a good tread. And post too. Personally speaking, I’m glad you keep relinking it. It’s a nice reminder of the good stuff that this site is all about.Report

  11. Avatar Rufus F. says:

    I think I’ve gone through all of the comments posted here. I didn’t see this article posted, which reminds me how few of y’all are in Canada. It’s all I’ve heard about up here today:
    http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2014/10/26/cbc_fires_jian_ghomeshi_over_sex_allegations.htmlReport

  12. Avatar Roger says:

    Yes and no appear to no longer do the trick. I suggest a code word which both participants have to vocalize (or sign). Perhaps we could consider all sex to be rape unless the person clearly says “Omaha”. Maybe we could have another code word for rescinding Omaha. Perhaps “El Paso.”Report

  13. Avatar Troublesome Frog says:

    Not entirely on the same topic but closely related, I thought this was an interesting exercise.Report

    • Avatar switters in reply to Troublesome Frog says:

      That was…. Illuminating.

      The hardest part to wrap my head around was the quasi-friendly (or at least not overtly antagonistic) “hey, how you doing?”. Because individually, I’d be hard pressed to say any particular one was offensive. I mean, we all, at one point or another, have to get a stranger’s attention to make a connection. And while hollering at girls as they walk by isn’t my approach, I’ve certainly met strangers, some of whom have become an important part of my life, in a similar fashion. I met one of my best friends at JazzFest when i walked up to her and asked for a taste of her ice cream (not my usual approach, trust me), and she said sure, and gave me a lick. We’ve been friends for the last 8 years.

      But from her perspective, they must all blend together, and she must feel like she’s in constant state of being molested. I don’t know what the answer is.

      And god, I had no idea there were that many creeps…Report

      • Avatar Troublesome Frog in reply to switters says:

        I saw that and couldn’t help but think of this (NSFW) Chris Rock bit. Being “offered dick” several times a day kind of changes your perspective on what strangers on the street mean when they come up to you out of the blue and want to hang out.

        I remember (standup comic) Chris Hardwick talking on his podcast about trying to get in touch with acquaintances who had become bigger celebrities and trying to get them to come on his podcast and sometimes being brushed off really curtly. He basically said that while your initial reaction is, “Wow, what an ass!” you need to remember a few things. First, that guy was a professional acquaintance, not a close friend, and maybe you perceived the relationship differently or just remember him better than he remembers you because he’s famous and you’ve been following him. Second, he probably gets 20 calls a day asking for favors from people he doesn’t really remember looking to ride his coattails, so it’s pretty easy to start to look at every friendly, “come on my podcast” invite as a self-serving, “gimme some free exposure on your dime.” From that perspective, you then have to step back and ask yourself how you came across and what you might do differently next time.Report

      • Avatar switters in reply to switters says:

        Couldn’t agree more.

        The hardest part about being young and single to me was, despite how often i did stand back and ask myself how i came across, both because i didn’t want to creep anyone out and because I didn’t actually want to be a creep, I still failed.

        I mean I think i stayed on the right side of being a creep (of course I would think that, right), but I also know that i left some exchanges pretty sure that i’d creeped someone out. Which was the worst. Most importantly, it was bad for the person i approached, but it was humiliating to me too, because i was so consciously trying to avoid being that role. But they were a stranger. And I had no way of knowing how their history would color their perception of my approach. So, to an extent, I just had to role the dice. Which, when your doing that with someone else’s emotions, is kind of disconcerting. But what else can you do?Report

      • Avatar ScarletNumbers in reply to switters says:

        @switters 558p

        The hardest part about being young and single to me was, despite how often i did stand back and ask myself how i came across, both because i didn’t want to creep anyone out and because I didn’t actually want to be a creep, I still failed.

        Hindsight is 20/20, yadda yadda yadda…

        I think you overanalyzed the situation.

        Who cares if some random woman thought you were a creep. Not going out with a woman because she thinks you are a creep and not going out with a woman because you never asked her has the same net result.

        As long as you were never going to see her again anyway, it doesn’t matter what she thinks of you.Report

      • Avatar switters in reply to switters says:

        That’s brilliant, scarlet. Sometimes I forget how ridiculous it is to be concerned with how my actions impact others.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to switters says:

        switters,
        always remember: there’s a great big difference between creeping someone out at a party, versus creeping them out on the bus. (the first one? guess it’s their problem. seriously, they went there to look for fun/dates/compliments, probably. or at least they knew that was part of what a party meant)Report

  14. Avatar Chris says:

    @james-hanley , Do you have any clue how stressful it can be to be in any social situation?

    Sure, I’m human. I am in fact a socially awkward human, a misfit even, and one who has frequently wondered what the hell a person was thinking. Hell, as often as not when I’ve been rejected, and all of us get rejected, I haven’t understood why I was getting rejected, but at a certain level of maturity people rarely leave any doubt about whether you’re being rejected just for the moment or being rejected long-term (when they do, again, those are usually people you should run from). Lee’s in his early 30s. If he isn’t dating women mature enough to be up front about what they’re thinking in those situations, he’s dating the wrong women.

    The reason I say it’s “you” if you can’t figure that out is that most mature people are pretty up front about this stuff. It’s not a matter of reading people’s minds, it’s a mind of listening to what the hell they’re saying or watching what they’re doing.

    And I don’t consider this mocking. I’m being quite serious: if you can’t read people who are not playing games or so inexperienced that they have no idea how to say what they want (or are embarrassed to do so), it’s you, it’s not them. They’re not doing anything wrong, and you should probably be up front about the fact that you’re inexperienced and you’re afraid of misreading what he or she is saying. You’ll probably get an even clearer answer there. If you can’t bring yourself to do this, again, it ain’t the other person’s fault. However, go back to Lee’s comment and see where he puts the blame.

    It’s true, I don’t have a lot of patience for that sort of nonsense. I’d be happy to give him advice, even happier to find him a good counselor who can help him with this stuff, but that said, the tendency to blame women for shy men’s dating failures is not the sort of thing I see any reason to tolerate (particularly since it often doesn’t play out very well in real life).Report

    • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Chris says:

      Chris,

      Yes, it’s “you, not them,” but you’re not exactly helping when you phrase it all in terms of immaturity vs. maturity, as though the only cause of social awkwardness/inability to read cues is immaturity. Telling someone who doesn’t read other people well to grow up indicates that you don’t actually understand that their social awkwardness is not identical to the social awkwardness that you experienced as a kid, just as a person with a physical handicap is not experience the same thing you experienced when you had that growth spurt at age 14 and were clumsy for 6 months.

      Your comment seriously pissed me off. You seem to have a real lack of awareness of what it means to go through life as a very socially awkward person. Difficulty making small talk, losing out on countless career opportunities because of inability to network effectively, experience real terror–nasuea, sweats, shaking–at the thought of social events where you’ll be expected to talk to people–etc.

      I have a former student who’s a really nice guy and very intelligent but will probably never get anywhere in life because his social awkwardness induces nervousness in everyone who talks to him.

      Approaching my 50th year I’m finally starting to get the hang of this shit, mostly by not expecting to get cues and very consciously employing the trick of asking people to talk about themselves. But social gatherings can still induce an overwhelming apprehension, sometimes even when I know that everyone there is someone I know and like.

      You dismissing that as just immaturity is unacceptable.

      That doesn’t mean I agree it’s the communicator’s fault. I just think you’re being a smug ass to socially adept people. For chrissakes, you talk about all the dating opportunities you had and blew. It sounds like you blew more than I actually had, which means you had one hell of a lot less awkwardness from the get go, even if you had a learning curve. I don’t think you get that.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to James Hanley says:

        Yeah, I’m not dismissing social awkwardness as insecurity. I’m saying grown ups are much better at communicating what they want. That’s not to say they won’t fail to do so because they’re shy, but that’s something entirely different. And if someone who is shy fails to perceive otherwise obvious cues, that’s still a different one.

        Said differently, to avoid any further confusion, the maturity I’m talking about involves not playing silly games, and not assuming the other person is playing silly games, games that may help young people learn how to navigate sex, but that only hinder mature people. Not being able to read obvious language or signals is another issue, orthogonal to the sort of maturity I’m describing, which only involves learning to be and expect people to be clear and straightforward. Nothing about shyness necessitates game playing or a lack of charity. My criticism of Lee is that he blames women, not that he is shy or awkward in the first place. Though from what he’s said before, you’re attributing a level of anxiety and introversion to him that is not in fact the case, and reading my comments in a light that has more to do with you than anything I’m saying to Lee in the context of his comments, both on this thread and in the past when he’s made similar points.

        And trust me, I’m still socially awkward to this day. The only difference between a socially awkward introvert and a socially awkward extrovert is that the extrovert finds him or herself in many more awkward social situations. OK, so the other difference may be masochism.

        I will probably stumble through at least three more awkward social interactions with strangers or near strangers before the day is through. And I will assume I came off like an ass in each.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to James Hanley says:

        Not being able to read obvious language or signals is another issue, orthogonal to the sort of maturity I’m describing, which only involves learning to be and expect people to be clear and straightforward.

        Here is precisely where I’m calling bullshit. What seem like obvious signals to you may not be so obvious to someone else, and it may not just be an issue of easy learning. That’s all I’m saying may be the case for Lee, because all he’s really saying is he doesn’t get the signals. He seems to attribute this to game playing, you seem to attribute it to him being immature or only talking to immature women. I’m saying some people have a cognitive difficulty in reading other people.

        I have a hard time putting names to faces, or even recognizing people sometimes–this causes mild embarrassment when I draw a blank on the name of a student whom I’ve had in three classes and as an advisee for two years, or when my friend of 20 years picks me up at the airport and I stare blankly at this stranger walking toward me. Oliver Sachs has such difficulty recognizing faces that his own assistant has to announce her name each day.

        Given these types of things, I don’t find it a stretch that some people would just have a very hard time discerning social cues, in a way that simple learning is not the ready answer for. In fact I’d find it a stretch to argue–as you seem to be–that this wouldn’t be the case.

        Whatever protestations you may make, it appears to me that you’re being very dismissive of people who struggle to understand what other people mean. I’m sympathetic to Metternich’s question on hearing of Talleyrand’s death, “What does he mean by that?”Report

      • Avatar ScarletNumbers in reply to James Hanley says:

        I have a former student who’s a really nice guy and very intelligent but will probably never get anywhere in life because his social awkwardness induces nervousness in everyone who talks to him.

        I was never your student.

        Oh, wait. You meant someone else.

        Whoops.Report

      • Avatar ScarletNumbers in reply to James Hanley says:

        I have a former student who’s a really nice guy and very intelligent but will probably never get anywhere in life because his social awkwardness induces nervousness in everyone who talks to him.

        I was never your student.

        Oh, wait. You meant someone else.

        Whoops.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to James Hanley says:

        James, again, the maturity doesn’t involve being able to read the obvious signals. As I said, in the portion you just quoted, that’s a separate issue. The maturity involves not playing games, not hiding what you want and hoping the other person will somehow guess it, for example. And not assuming other people are playing games just because you can’t read them.

        Lee’s immaturity is in blaming women for his inability to read them, and suggesting that they’re playing games. That also is all I’ve accused him of doing (well, that and making the discussion of consent about his frustration with women). I’m not criticizing him for being socially inept, at least in the dating world, but of projecting his own issues onto women.

        Seriously, you are the perfect contrast. You recognize your social issues, you own them, you know they’ve been harmful to you in many ways, have made your life difficult, but your not putting the blame for any of that on others.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to James Hanley says:

        You’re missing my point, or I’m not making it clear.

        You’re coming across as really dismissive of people who don’t find understanding social cues to just be a learning process. So ok, maybe Lee needs to stop blaming women. But doing that won’t mean he’s suddenly able to read their cues–even if the women are doing their best to be honest and straightforward. And you said, “If you’re over 22 or so and still having those [miscommunication] problems with women, it’s probably you.” In a sense, yes, but your whole commentary comes across (to me) as saying that the person who’s still having that problem is at fault, because they just haven’t learned, like a student who just won’t study for the test.Report

      • Avatar Jesse Ewiak in reply to James Hanley says:

        Sorry, I’m with @chris on this one. I’m not the best at social interactions. But, I don’t blame women for the fact they choose guys who are better at social interaction than me for doing so. I just try more.

        I mean, I’m sorry but Lee’s idea that dating requires some insane level of social ability seems kind of silly when I see dozens, if not hundreds of people who have managed to get together every single day as I walk down the street.

        Now, if you want a witty, educated, attractive middle class to upper middle class Jewish girl who is in her late 20’s or early 30’s? Yeah, sorry, that’s something that’s in huge demand, especially in the Northeast, so you’re going to work a little harder at it.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to James Hanley says:

        but your whole commentary comes across (to me) as saying that the person who’s still having that problem is at fault, because they just haven’t learned,

        I read Chris as saying that his *fault* is in blaming women for his failures rather than owning that as an individual. I completely agree with him on that. (And everything else he’s said, for whatever that’s worth.)Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to James Hanley says:

        Actually, I’m just saying it’s something about the person who can’t understand after the time when most people learn most of what they’re doing in at least the more common social interactions. I suspect you’d agree. This isn’t an issue of blame into someone like Lee, or worse, all those section artist folks who think women rejecting them is a license to see women as subhuman, make it about blame, with all the blame placed on women.

        So again, “that’s you” just means it’s not their fault, it’s something about you — social anxiety, say — that is causing your difficulty. It’s not a judgement. The judgement comes, as I keep saying, when you externalize the source of your frustration. The “that’s an excuse” was about that as well, particularly given the context in which Lee decided to raise the issue of his not getting women.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to James Hanley says:

        “Fault” means more than personal failing. It also means personal responsibility.

        The first refers to a property of who people are, the second to a behavior they engage in.Report

      • The whole notion of “fault” (or, for that matter, “blame”) for nonspecific or general of failure when it comes to partnering up is flawed because it assumes a degree of justice in the romantic arena that doesn’t – and can’t – exist.

        Specific people do specific things wrong (sometimes in repetition), but not in a way that can be assumed looking at the results (without specifically seeing the behavior).Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to James Hanley says:

        Fault: responsibility for an accident or misfortune.

        Will, I get what you’re saying. But there’s an internal application of the term that doesn’t rely on external concepts to be comprehensible. I’d like to think so, anyway.Report

      • I don’t think responsibility (in the sense of culpability) for the misfortune can be assumed, either. It implies, or seems to, that it’s the result of deliberate or negligent action.

        Now, responsibility in the sense or burden, that it’s something you have to live with and cannot alleviate by imparting obligation on others (women, in this case), I’d agree with that.

        Or to paraphrase that quote about addiction: it may not be your fault, but it is your problem.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to James Hanley says:

        You know, I can’t remember where I particularly blamed women for my failures on this blog. I expressed certain discontent but did not damn them as a class to hell for my problems.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to James Hanley says:

        I think I have to disagree. If someone is failing at the dating game, then I think the fault lies not with their stars anymore. There are lots and lots of people who wanna get laid in this ole world of ours. Course, maybe that hypothetical person doesn’t wanna get laid. Maybe they want something more in their prospective mate – properties A B C and on down – and find that they can’t find an ABC woman who’s interested in them. Or who wants to fuck, anyway. And they then complain about all the games women play, and how hard it is to blahblahblah. If that’s the case, then I think the fault is in the person complaining.Report

      • I think that’s very effective at creating the illusion of fairness. If you don’t complain, we can assume you are content. If you do, then that’s the problem.

        I do agree that complaining and blaming can be a problem that inhibits future success, but pulling yourself up by the bootstraps itself doesn’t assure success.

        I personally had little success when I was younger. Then I got lucky and for once didn’t blow it. Then success begat success, but I had to get the experience and learn from somewhere.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to James Hanley says:

        I think that’s very effective at creating the illusion of fairness.

        Damn, my liberalism screws me again!Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to James Hanley says:

        it’s probably you.

        Those were the words, Chris. And while they are bluntly true, I’m having a hard time seeing many contexts in which such a blunt and unqualified statement doesn’t come across as judgemental. This is especially so when it came at the very end of a comment in which you were being very judgemental, even if rightly so.Report

      • And trust me, I’m still socially awkward to this day….I will probably stumble through at least three more awkward social interactions with strangers or near strangers before the day is through. And I will assume I came off like an ass in each.

        What gets me about that, Chris, is, that appears not to be exactly true. Your situation is different from Lee’s. Even if it used to be similar, it is now different. You have, apparently, arrived at a point where in romantic situations, you have, at least sometimes, been able to read cues more successfully. Make whatever argument you’re making and defend it. But saying, “hey, I’m just like that, too [or used to be], therefore it doesn’t matter if I come off as judgmental” seems like a dodge.Report

      • @leeesq

        You know, I can’t remember where I particularly blamed women for my failures on this blog. I expressed certain discontent but did not damn them as a class to hell for my problems.

        For what it’s worth, I agree and don’t remember you ever specifically blaming women for your failures.

        But speaking from my own experiences, there were times when I blamed women, at least inwardly, for my failures. I was wrong to do so, and I used to have a sense of entitlement that I wasn’t fully cognizant of, and that was also wrong. I say this not just to overshare, but to state that I didn’t fully realize how much I had tread into misogyny until after the issue became less pressing for me. Since I don’t know you apart from our brief interactions on this blog, I don’t know if you ever tread in that direction. And I know it’s a mistake for me to assume that my failures and feelings and decisions must be identical to yours just because of one thing we have in common. But I am suggesting that it’s possible the attitude lurks in there. Only you can say if it does, and you have absolutely no responsibility to me for disclosing one way or the other. And if it is, it’s an issue for introspection and not for blaming you because, again, I don’t remember you ever blaming women as a class.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to James Hanley says:

        All,
        With enough time and practice, an intelligence person can learn to fake, well, just about anything. Doesn’t fix nerves, mind — that comes with practice.

        Chris — is a socially awkward extrovert merely an introvert who hasn’t given up yet? ;-P

        No one here is Chris-chan. I’m not saying that it doesn’t take years to learn how to communicate in a socially acceptable manner (or that I’m not still learning, when I can be bothered).Report

    • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Chris says:

      Nor did I say that I find social situations intimidating. What I said was that its dating that I’m not good at. I’m completely unsure of how to escalate a situation safely. Other social situations, I do fine in.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to LeeEsq says:

        See your comment about women making consent difficult, and you having to be a mind reader.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to LeeEsq says:

        @leeesq

        When I started talking about that I was just broadening the conversation to include a larger class of people I think Chris glossed over with his assumption that it’s just a matter of learning. I apologize for poor writing that made it appear I was talking about you (who obviously I don’t know that well at all).Report

    • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Chris says:

      @chris

      You may get mad at me for piling on, but there’s more about your comment that’s been gnawing at me. I think you’re oversimplifying human interactions in a surprising way.

      at a certain level of maturity people rarely leave any doubt about whether you’re being rejected just for the moment or being rejected long-term

      That isn’t the sole problem. As has been expressed by both Lee and Saul in the past, iirc, and has been expressed to me by other people, is that sometimes they get the impression they’re not being rejected, when in fact the women doesn’t want to go out again. And if we look at this from the perspective of women and fear of men’s reaction, it makes sense that a woman might do this. The guy (not referring to Lee and/or Saul, but any guy) might perceive her as smiling throughout the date, and when he asks if he can see her again she gives an affirmative. He’s then later surprised when he calls her up and she declines. The woman might see this as not having enjoyed the date, but trying to be polite and not risk angering the guy, particularly at the doorway of her apartment, and thought that her smiles were obviously polite fictions and not real warmth, and her affirmation to seeing him again obviously not sincere, or given only out of concern for how a guy she doesn’t really know might respond.

      On the one hand, you’ve essentially staked your ground on women justifiably being concerned about men’s reactions, and on the other you’re saying any confusing social cues a women sends are a sign of her immaturity. You can’t have that both ways. I think a mature woman might very well give minimal positive cues, in the hopes that the guy can read the real lack of interest underlying them, and want to avoid being direct enough to give real offense.

      There’s an element of culture, too, that you might be overlooking. What are obvious social cues in some places are not obvious at all in others purely because of culture.

      If he isn’t dating women mature enough to be up front about what they’re thinking in those situations, he’s dating the wrong women.

      Aside from what I said above about maturity and being up front, well, duh. But that doesn’t exactly help him find the right women to date. This isn’t even Dear Abby level of advice.

      The reason I say it’s “you” if you can’t figure that out is that most mature people are pretty up front about this stuff. It’s not a matter of reading people’s minds, it’s a mind of listening to what the hell they’re saying or watching what they’re doing.

      Again, you’re demonstrating the assumption that this is fairly easily done. All you have to do is listen and watch. But the problem is that some people listen and watch and don’t pick up on the cues. Maybe they can learn, but maybe doing so is hellaciously hard. Maybe it takes a breakthrough moment of success with a woman that you had but others haven’t. However we look at this, you’re assuming that the problem is just not listening/watching, instead of not being able to figure out the language (verbal and non-verbal) one is listening to/watching. It’s just so casually dismissive as to be offensive. It’s really no different than saying “just eat less.”

      you should probably be up front about the fact that you’re inexperienced and you’re afraid of misreading what he or she is saying. You’ll probably get an even clearer answer there.

      I remember Burt talking about how he didn’t really start having success with women until he figured out that confidence is an attractive feature. I’ve observed that in the world around me as well. And your advice is to begin by expressing one’s lack of confidence. If you meet the right person that may work out just fine, and it has the value of honesty, but I’m doubtful it’s great dating advice.

      And while I’m quite sure you don’t intend this, you leave the impression that mature people communicating openly don’t still have vast territories of possibility of misunderstanding each other. If normal mature fairly socially aware people do, how much harder must it be for those who don’t read social cues well to navigate that terrain?

      Maybe have a little fucking sympathy for people for whom this is a lot harder than it is for you, eh?

      And +1 to Gabriel’s comment about your own social awkwardness coming off looking like a dodge. It really comes off to me like any other guy who overcame X looking back at all those who haven’t overcome X and sneering that if he could do it then obviously they could, so their failure must be a personal failing.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to James Hanley says:

        @james-hanley That isn’t the sole problem. As has been expressed by both Lee and Saul in the past, iirc, and has been expressed to me by other people, is that sometimes they get the impression they’re not being rejected, when in fact the women doesn’t want to go out again.

        The rejection I was speaking of is strictly sexual. If the woman isn’t up front, in many contexts, about not wanting future dates, we’re talking about a different scenario. In fact, everything I’ve said is about sex, not about dating more generally. Remember, this is a post about consent to sex, and the precipitating comment was Lee’s saying that women make consent, not dating more generally, difficult by requiring him to be a mind reader. If a fully cooked person is being cagy or evasive about sex, it is almost certainly because they feel threatened or vulnerable in a particular situation. If that’s the case, then the person making them feel threatened or vulnerable has more issues than just social awkwardness.

        And your advice is to begin by expressing one’s lack of confidence.

        Not at all! In fact, I’m saying quite the opposite. I can’t speak for the women here, but I bet if you asked them, they’d tell you that men who are able to be honest in those situations come off as confident. The most obvious signs of a lack of confidence are vagueness and evasiveness. If you can say to a woman, “Look, I’m attracted to you, and I think you’re attracted to me too, but I’m terrible at reading signs,” I really don’t think she’s going to think, “Oh man, this guy lacks confidence.”

        Again, you’re demonstrating the assumption that this is fairly easily done. All you have to do is listen and watch.

        I refuse to believe that it’s difficult to listen to what people are saying. It may be difficult to pick up cues, particularly non-verbal ones, or indirect language, but again, you need to take a step back and consider the context. We are talking about having sex and consent. We’re not talking about trying to figure out whether a woman likes you while you’re sitting across from each other in a restaurant. Mature women are not going to beat around the bush when they say no. They’re going to say no. They may say yes later — see my story above — but they’re almost certainly not going to come back the next day and say, “When I said no, I didn’t want you to take me seriously,” because they’re experienced enough to know that such tactics don’t work.

        Look, if you want to have a conversation about social situations more generally, that’s cool. But look back at every single one of my comments, and you’ll see that I’m talking about sex and consent. “Listening is hard” is not an excuse in those situations. I don’t care what sort of social anxiety someone has. Listen to what she says, and trust it. If this comes off as insensitive, then I don’t really care about that either. We’re not dealing with just feelings here. This is serious shit.

        And +1 to Gabriel’s comment about your own social awkwardness coming off looking like a dodge. It really comes off to me like any other guy who overcame X looking back at all those who haven’t overcome X and sneering that if he could do it then obviously they could, so their failure must be a personal failing.

        First, I haven’t overcome shit, as I’ve said multiple times. I’m still just as awkward as I was at 18. But I’m extroverted by nature, so I end up in a lot of situations where I feel awkard. It’s not a dodge. You can dismiss it all you want, but at this point I’m willing to bet a lot of money that I understand your experience much better than you understand mine. And I’m not dismissing your experience, as much as you’re dismissing mine. You’ve decided to make this conversation into something it’s not, and take my comments in the light of what you want to talk about, instead of what I’m talking about. And I’ve been pretty patient with you, because I get where you’re coming from. But now I’m just going to come out and tell you: you’re having a differnet conversation, one I’m perfectly happy to have in another context, but I’m not going to have it here anymore.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to James Hanley says:

        Chris, did you think Lee was just talking about sex? If that’s all you were focused on in that situation then you were totally talking past him because I’ll bet bottom dollar that was not what he was focusing on. If you want to restrict discussion to sex, that’s fine, but then you should quit attacking Lee.

        I’m extroverted by nature,…at this point I’m willing to bet a lot of money that I understand your experience much better than you understand mine.

        Being an extrovert, it’s highly unlikely that you understand my experience at all, but I appreciate your condescension.

        I refuse to believe that it’s difficult to listen to what people are saying.

        I never said the listening was difficult, although I’ve met any number of adults who really struggled to actively listen. I suppose we could write them all off as immature, but that’s a pretty broad brush.

        It may be difficult to pick up cues, particularly non-verbal ones, or indirect language

        Yes, that’s my point. Even if Sam Guy is actively listening s/he may find it very difficult to pick up on cues. We know this is true with autistic people. Is there any reason to believe there’s not a range of innate abilities on this point (even if autism is categorically different and not plottable on that range)? What facet of human abilities does not have such a range? I really feel like you’re stuck on telling someone that if they’d just try they really could run the mile in 5 minutes. A person doesn’t have to actually be physically disabled for that to be false.

        I’m extroverted by nature, … at this point I’m willing to bet a lot of money that I understand your experience much better than you understand mine.

        I appreciate a good dose of condescension as much as the next guy, but if you’re an extrovert I’m very doubtful that you can actually understand my experience at all.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to James Hanley says:

        James, look at the OP again. It’s a post about sex and consent. Then look at the comment that precipitated this, which begins:

        Consent is difficult but do women really have to make it more confusing than necessary?

        Followed up by complaints about having to be a mind-reader. This is what I was replying to in the comments to which you’ve taken such offense.

        Look, you’ve not only made this conversation about you, rather than about consent and sex, but you’ve repeatedly dismissed my experience (“coming off looking like a dodge”) while getting angry that I’m being insensitive to yours. At this point, your complete dismissal of my experience makes my understanding yours better than you understand mine a virtual certainty. Take that as condescension if you want.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to James Hanley says:

        . At this point, your complete dismissal of my experience makes my understanding yours better than you understand mine a virtual certainty.

        I didn’t “completely” dismiss your experience at all. I just said that it doesn’t enable you to understand others’ experiences that have a substantive difference. I fully accept your experience as your experience, not the experience of others. Frankly, I don’t get extroverts, and I’ve yet to meet an extrovert who seemed to really get introverts. You’ve made assertions to the contrary, but you haven’t said anything that sounds–to me, as an introvert–like a reasonable support for that claim. You have an expressed belief, but that’s not the same as actually being correct.

        I stand by that, and I stand by my argument that you are wrongly dismissive of–or at least wrongly downplaying–the real difficulties some people face in trying to read others’ responses, that goes beyond simply “not listening.”Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to James Hanley says:

        Social anxiety and introversion are two different things, also orthogonal. It’s is perfectly possible to be an extrovert with social anxiety. See, e.g., me, but also research on the introversion-extroversion dimension.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to James Hanley says:

        Doubtless true, and totally beside the real point. Which is that your experience doesn’t allow you to define the experience of every other male on the planet.

        There’s something about this issue of sexual assault, I noticed last time it came up, that changes your tone. You go from inquisitive and willing to entertain subtlety and nuance to being rigid and absolutist. In the intentionally ambiguous story you don’t seem to see any ambiguity–you know exactly what the guy grabbing the girl’s arm means, and it means the worst thing possible, and there seems to be no possibility of debate. That’s not you on most issues.

        Yes, this is an issue that justifiably spawns a bit more passion, but in the end you’re either someone who’s open to nuance or you’re a rigid absolutist. It’s your choice.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to James Hanley says:

        Yes, this is an issue that justifiably spawns a bit more passion, but in the end you’re either someone who’s open to nuance or you’re a rigid absolutist. It’s your choice.

        I definitely take a fairly extreme view of these things, but I do so intentionally, not out of a rigid absolutism (you’ve created a false dichotomy, rather obviously), but out of a desire to counter what dominant trends in our society and discourse. The dominant trend, with respect to rape, is to ultimately find some reason to see it as something other than rape. So I push in the other direction. Think of it as analogous to the way Jason adopts rather extreme views of the direction certain trends in the federal government are taking us. I don’t think Jason really believes that fascism is just around the corner, but he pushes against the dominant trend of complacency by pushing hard in the other direction.

        And really, given the fact that Katherine is the only one who really had an interpretation sympathetic to the girl’s in the story, other than me, I think someone around here needs to be pushing pretty hard in that other direction.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to James Hanley says:

        is the only one who really had an interpretation sympathetic to the girl’s in the story, other than me,

        That’s curious coming right after you accuse me of a false dichotomy. Because as I saw it, it’s not that everyone’s interpretation was non-sympathetic to the girl, but that they were also seeing that the guy might have a sympathetic interpretation. If the two–the guy and the girl–are seeing the same things from different perspective, then both might have some sympathetic interpretation. Even if in fact that perspective is inaccurate, a person can (inaccurately) hold it, which means they’re not–certainly not intending to be–non-sympathetic to the girl.

        But you seem to see it as either someone is siding 100% with the girl and totally condemning the guy, or they see the girl as totally unsympathetic. It’s that kind of thing that leads me to say you’ve set aside your normal tendency to see things objectively and to recognize that not everything is clear-cut black and white.

        Think of it this way. Is there any chance at all that you might be even a little bit wrong about any aspect of all this?

        If not, how often is that likely to be true?

        If so, do you think you’re writing like something who thinks there’s any chance at all that you might be even a little bit wrong about any aspect of all this?Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to James Hanley says:

        James,
        a lot of guys get along by appealing to women’s maternal instincts. It’s definitely doable to not be “confident” about everything — and such a person may be more appealing to particular populations of women.Report

  15. Avatar Glyph says:

    @chris – DOWN HERE! Threading is getting impossible on that one.

    I am not deprecating your own youthful experiences or disagreeing with them. I am saying the street works both ways, and no one seems to want to talk about what that means.

    TMI time, in the hopes that it illuminates where I am coming from.

    Just out of high school, still living with my parents, dating M. As I said, my parents never went anywhere, ever, so I spent a lot of time at her house, fooling around.

    (SO…MUCH…FOOLING…AROUND.)

    That’s not exactly the TMI part, which is this:

    I was pretty late to lose my ‘virginity’ (for the purposes of this discussion, defined as ‘P-in-V sex’; though I am well aware that definition is rightly contested, but it’s important to use here for reasons I hope are apparent); I was 23, in college.

    I had a crazy idea I wanted to save that one act, for the person I married.

    Which means that all of that ‘fooling around’ that I allude to above with M, was most everything else, but that one act.

    We made out, hard and long.

    We petted, heavily.

    Mutual oral, mutual masturbation, frottage? You betcha.

    We just always stopped short of “it”, at my behest (and with some extremely close calls that might have only barely escaped on a technicality, if that).

    We were playing around in what we saw as the margins, as hard as we possibly could.

    (As a side note, I’ve had subsequent girls thank me, and rhetorically, M – their view was that by focusing exclusively on ‘foreplay’ in that early relationship, I learned the basics thoroughly, and well).

    Now, M was not a virgin.

    And she wanted P-in-V from me, BAD, despite my explicit and repeated statements from the very beginning that it wasn’t…gonna…happen.

    She liked that I had such a view, even if she didn’t agree with it herself.

    That she wanted it bad, was not a guess or an assumption on my part; that’s what she told me, directly, more than once, at times getting frustrated or angry, that I continued to hold out on that one thing.

    NOW – if, any of those times, when I stayed over at her house and got naked and fooled around with her, flush with hormones, the final frontier had been crossed – would I have been ‘raped’?

    After all, I stated explicitly from the start of our relationship what could NOT (NEVER!) happen; and demonstrated my resolve to that commitment over the course of hours, days, weeks; and she invited me over to her house to be alone, and I accepted willingly and engaged in subterfuge to be there; and I have no doubt she was hoping to eventually wear my resolve down through attrition.

    But had that happened, I wouldn’t have thought, “I was raped”.

    I would have thought, “I failed to do what I wanted to do; I played with fire repeatedly, and I got burned”.Report

    • Avatar Chris in reply to Glyph says:

      It’s tough to say. I’ve known men who’ve said they had sex unwillingly, in situations very much like the one described in the OP where they just felt like they had to give in to avoid extended unpleasantness. That’s pretty close. It’s certainly not willing consent. They may not have been physically intimidated, but they were certainly emotionally coerced.

      On the other hand, if you’ve said no but reach a state of arousal at which you say yes, even if part of you doesn’t want to say yes, we’re dealing with a much more difficult to categorize situation. It’s still pretty shitty for someone to put you in that situation if you’ve repeatedly told them you don’t want to be, but is it rape? I don’t think so, but I can imagine some people would feel it was, particularly given certain social realities.Report

    • Avatar Kim in reply to Glyph says:

      Glyph,
      a large part of the whole thing is “Did you say YES?”
      Because if you didn’t, if she basically took advantage of your arousal to force something on you that she knew you didn’t want, that’s abusive. Call it rape if you like — it’s certainly sexual enough.Report

    • Avatar switters in reply to Glyph says:

      I expected a stronger “not a rape” from Chris there. That is, if Glyph had given into temptation, and gone P in V, in no way shape or form should that be considered rape. Glyph was willing to ride the line knowing full well it was completely within his control (if arousal removes his ability to willingly consent, shouldn’t it remove his partners ability to willingly refrain), at anytime he wanted, to either stay within his boundaries, or to veer off onto the shoulder, boundaries be damned. And he knew full well what being aroused would do to his ability to stay on the side of line his unaroused side wished him too.

      Chris does the same thing Glyph noticed above I think, stacking the deck with his choice of words, stating “It’s still pretty shitty for someone to put you in that situation if you’ve repeatedly told them you don’t want to be”. And he completely discounts the agency of the person who repeatedly and willingly chooses to be in that situation as well. Perhaps he’s talking about an unidentified hypothetical, but if he’s talking about Glyphs, it’s just not an accurate description. Glyph and his partner both put themselves there, willingly, fully cognizant of the risk, time after time. If sex in that situation is rape, I’m not sure the concept remains useful.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to switters says:

        I don’t think I’m discounting the Glyph’s agency. I’m merely pointing out that in such a situation, on person’s choice is not the sole determinant. In fact, that person’s choice may be overly influenced by someone else.

        Glyph’s example is one in which he repeatedly put himself in near miss scenarios, so perhaps it’s not the best one, though I’d note that just because you want one thing doesn’t mean you want the other. Regret does not make something rape, though, so if he made the decision to plow foward, so to speak, that’s on him, but it’s still pretty shitty for her to get him there when she knows he will regret it later.

        However, when I was in college, I spent a lot of time around people who went to Evangelical colleges, and were quite serious about their Christianity, one of the most important tenets of which was “no sex until marriage.” The common way to deal with inevitable teenage/early 20s desires among that set was pretty heavy makeout sessions, with heavy petting, but fully clothed. This was “safe,” because as long as the clothes stayed on, there was no chance of anything that should wait until after marriage happening.

        Everyone at those schools who was dating knew the game, and everyone I knew played it. I had one friend, who was a particularly devout Nazarene, who met his first girlfriend when he was 20 and she was 22. She was also Nazarene, but less devout, and more “experienced” in dating. They did the fully clothed making out thing a few times, and then one time in his car, she took it a step further and started taking his clothes off, which led to much more than heavy petting (but less than p ‘n’ v, as Glyph called it). He didn’t stop her, and they had both chosen to be in a situation where hormone levels and arousal were through the roof, but he did not want that to happen, and was very upset about it aftewards (upset enough to talk to my heathen ass about it) because he thought he had violated that very fundamental tenet. They broke up soon after, and he was very angry with her for what he felt like was a violation of trust: there was a standard line that everyone knew you didn’t cross, and she crossed it.

        Was that rape? Is it denying his agency to suggest that it was extremely unethical, on her part, even though he’d put himself in the situation and he didn’t resist?Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to switters says:

        switters,

        “if arousal removes his ability to willingly consent, shouldn’t it remove his partners ability to willingly refrain”
        Extreme amounts of arousal cause brains to go kinda funky, and in a somewhat sex-specific manner.

        If we can say that a woman in Glyph’s shoes ought to be able to keep her virginity, because even though they knew they were playing around, she said “no”, it ought to apply to him too.

        Unless you’ve experienced extreme levels of arousal — to the point where you are physically incapable of speech, it’s not okay to say “well, they were just doing it” — because your mental state can change very dramatically — sometimes even under the same physical stimulus (um. time of month may play something to do with it).

        Glyph plainly doesn’t want this to be rape. He doesn’t want to confront having dated a potential (declared, even!) person in pursuit of nonconsensual sex.

        Hell, I hate to say this, but she may have had sex with him while he was asleep. We’re all comfortable with calling that rape,right??Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to switters says:

        By the way, it’s not arousal that removes the ability of him to willingly commit. It’s just that arousal doesn’t mean someone has willingly committed.Report

      • Avatar switters in reply to switters says:

        @chris – “it’s still pretty shitty for her to get him there when she knows he will regret it later”.

        But they are both “there”. Not just him (in either Glyph’s case or Christian in the Cars’ case). And they both went “there” willingly, in Glyph’s case repeatedly, knowing the risk. And they both crossed over the line together. I’m just unwilling to grant any type of pass to the one that ends up regretting it later. If she felt bad after it had happened (solely because of what his crossing his own line meant to him), would it be his fault for putting her at risk for that?

        I get that either one has the right to say afterwards, “you crossed the line and I don’t want to be with you anymore”. But for either one of them to say “you forced yourself on me without my consent” doesn’t pass the smell test for me.

        It feels like a hungry vegetarian, who couldn’t resist, blaming the steak. After he starved himself for a day, bought a steak, grilled and buttered it, and put on his plate. Temptation is tough. That’s life.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to switters says:

        switters,
        If they both go over the line, and are affirmatively consenting, then it’s nobody’s “fault to the point of rape.”
        If neither is affirmatively consenting, they’re both acting immorally. But the person who knows he/she is crossing a previously established line is acting FAR MORE immorally.

        Does that seem clear?

        Now, I can perhaps agree that Mr./Mrs. didn’t ask doesn’t deserve to go to jail for the rest of their days. But it’s still rape.

        Why is that important? Because when Mr./Mrs. Betrayed gets the clue-by-four out and knocks the other one unconscious, I’m going to tell them, “you deserved that, fucker”
        [The use of clue-by-four is not an urban legend,but something that actually happened to a person I know. I use it as an example because when you hurt other people’s feelings, they sometimes hurt you back]Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to switters says:

        In the case of my college friend, it was pretty clear, at least in his memory a couple days later, that he didn’t want to go beyond the point that everyone agreed they could go. When she went further, he didn’t stop her mostly because he was confused and didn’t know what she was doing or why, plus he felt hurt (emotionally) in the moment. He didn’t describe it as feeling paralyzed, but it was pretty clear that he was. So we’re not just talking regret.

        In Glyph’s case, he crossed a line, willingly in the moment, that she was pushing him to despite his express wish that she not do so. I still think that’s pretty shitty.

        As for whether going to a certain point and stopping makes the other person taking it further a mutually consented act, I’ll simply note that your position here can, without some serious qualification, lead to excluding cases that I think we’d all see as rape.Report

      • Avatar Glyph in reply to switters says:

        1.) I appreciate the use of my formal title (the Glyph); not everybody knows that “Glyph” is more than an appellation; it is a calling.

        2.) In Glyph’s case, he crossed a line, willingly in the moment, that she was pushing him to despite his express wish that she not do so. I still think that’s pretty shitty.

        To be clear, the line-crossing only happened in my hypo.

        FWIW, I don’t find her actions shitty at all, but very human, and direct; she said exactly what she wanted, and sometimes became frustrated that she couldn’t have it (though she still attempted to adhere to the letter of the law). She figured I’d come around one day, and even if I didn’t, she liked me enough to put up with it. I don’t feel I was unduly manipulated, at least in any way that I didn’t mostly enjoy.

        If anything, I somewhat feel *I* was shitty to *her*; knowing exactly what she wanted, and continually over time refusing to give it to her (while still happily indulging in all sorts of other mutually-arousing behavior together), seems kind of…mean to her.

        I kind of WAS a ‘tease’, and I should have either broken things off and let her find someone more suitable to her needs sooner, or I should have given it to her; but not kept her riding that line of exquisite torture with me for so long.

        Man, I totally should have given it to her. It would have been great.Report

      • Avatar switters in reply to switters says:

        I get it, a little, but at some point, I don’t think its unreasonable to accept that in this world, people need to stick up for themselves. And in both Glyph’s case and your friends, I think that expectation is not only reasonable, but the only reasonable one (based on the facts presented at least).

        Whether what Glyph’s girlfriend or your friend’s girlfriend did was shitty or not is, with the exception of the two that are in the relationship, so beyond anyone’s ability to understand or judge, that’s it barely worth considering to me. It’s just too context dependent. I can’t understand my own relationships, let alone someone else’s. Particularly when I have 5 data points out of millions. But yes, in a vacuum, pressuring someone to do something they claim to not want to is wrong.

        WRT “As for whether going to a certain point and stopping makes the other person taking it further a mutually consented act, I’ll simply note that your position here can, without some serious qualification, lead to excluding cases that I think we’d all see as rape.”

        I don’t recall advocating that point. And if I did, it was unintentional. To be honest, it feels like a bit of cheap shot. But I’ll talk about it anyway. Perhaps you’re talking about your friend when his clothes were removed. I don’t want to sound coarse, but if he had literally stopped, as in froze, its unlikely she could have removed his clothes inside of a car (please don’t tell me it was a full size van or a Winnebago). If he physically froze, as in sat there with his arms and legs still, or otherwise communicated his desire to stop, and she persisted, however, I’m certainly willing to admit that she crossed the line, because I think that would count as a clear sign of stop. What I’d posit is more likely is that at some point he started questioning (to himself) whether he really wanted to take part in what was happening. But while he’s questioning, things progressed, which included his and her hands moving, and/or hips gyrating, and/or continued kissing, (which are all generally, and I think rightly, signs interpreted as “proceed”, if perhaps with caution) because he hasn’t convinced himself that he really wants to stop!

        Regardless of what I posit though – he either continued to participate, or he didn’t. If he clearly ceased his participation, and she continued. Then she was in the wrong. If he did continue to participate though, even less than enthusiastically, and then wished he hadn’t, then, while I can sympathize with him, I am in no way willing to identify her as a rapist. At some point, and to me it sounds like these two had reached it, it’s the responsibility of the party that wants to stop the reaction to at least attempt to stop.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to switters says:

        switters,
        Have you ever wrapped a cat in a towel? That’s the kind of submission we’re talking about when someone says freezing up. It’s a deep biological urge — and even when the cat’s glare promises “I will kill you later”, they don’t struggle.

        Folks have the responsibility to say no (or otherwise objecting), assuming they are capable of saying no. But you’re playing in a rigged game, and centuries of instinct are playing against a girl saying no in the middle of the act. (Particularly “saying no firmly enough to get a fuzzy-rapist to stop”, as opposed to “I’m not ready” or “that won’t fit” or “this is such a bad idea”).

        A girl really can be aroused to the point that she can’t speak. Both sides should be trained in what “oh, god this is probably a bad idea…” signals are and mean. But that’s why we’re talking affirmative consent.

        Because it’s one hell of a lot easier for certain guys to get girls to freeze up, than it is to get them to willingly have sex. (sad ain’t it?)Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to switters says:

        “the Glyph” reminds me that I should edit before submitting, because there was a the something, and then I changed something to Glyph, but neglected to get rid of the “the.”

        Switters, this is what I was referring to:

        And they both went “there” willingly, in Glyph’s case repeatedly, knowing the risk. And they both crossed over the line together.

        If two people repeatedly make out, but never cross a certain point (let’s say, channeling Seinfeld, that the nipple never makes an appearance), and they’ve both been clear with each other that the nipple making an appearance is crossing a line, and then one person unilaterally decides to make the nipple appear, the person who didn’t decide to make it appear has not, by virtue of repeatedly walking up to the line just in front of the nipple appearing, consented to the nipple appearing. And there are all sorts of reasons why the person who didn’t make it appear might not resist in the moment, some of which have nothing to do with consent.

        In my friends case, the close almost certainly didn’t come all the way off (I know what happened, and it requires only partial removal; you’ll just have to trust me on that. Whether he was physically paralyzed, I can’t say, though I doubt it. I meant that I suspect he couldn’t act, which is something different (if you have any phobias, you might understand what I mean by paralyzed in this case).

        Oh, and I remember his car quite well. It was a 1982 Honda Civic hatchback. It wasn’t particularly comfortable to ride in, so I imagine nothing about what they were doing was comfortable.

        http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/3/31/1980-1982_Honda_Civic_3-door_hatchback_01.jpgReport

  16. Avatar zic says:

    Above, in a response to Hanley, I tried to explain the dynamics of parental approval and women’s ability/willingness to give consent. That’s the dynamic that a woman comes from, where she’ll likely have some emphasis placed on her sexual purity, even if it’s not an overt purity pledge.

    But the other force pushing on giving consent is the bad crap that happens.

    I hope you’ll all watch this.

    Report

    • Avatar Chris in reply to zic says:

      TroublesomeFrog (best OT screen name? yes.) linked to that above, too, though I’m glad you embedded it.

      I admit I have some reservations about it (there are some interesting and important discussions about it going on right now on the intertubes, and I had a couple good ones offline last night too) related to race, but it’s still something people should watch.Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to Chris says:

        Well, upthread @j-r talks about the ‘feminist agenda,’ with one point being ‘shaming socially awkward men.”

        But this is what women experience to one degree or another, and it matters that men understand this is what shapes women’s responses to them; and if they’re with a girl walking down the street, these things will not happen. Get that? She’s property; fair game if she’s alone, off-limits (except for the most brassy) if she appears to with some other dude.

        Do you realize how disgusting and degrading that is?Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Chris says:

        Oh certainly. I’m just saying that the video raises some other issues that are worth discussing and that make me somewhat uncomfortable with parts of it.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Chris says:

        zic,
        interestingly enough, women hitting on men are more likely to keep on doing it, even if the man’s partner/spouse/gf shows up.
        at least in my limited experience.Report

      • Avatar j r in reply to Chris says:

        Well, upthread@j rtalks about the ‘feminist agenda,’ with one point being ‘shaming socially awkward men.”

        I used the term “feminist narrative” and the term “feminist views,” but I never said that there was a unified feminist agenda or claimed to know what it is, if it did exist.

        But this is what women experience to one degree or another, and it matters that men understand this is what shapes women’s responses to them…

        This is where I push back. For one thing, the “to one degree or another” covers up a whole spectrum of different behavior going on in that video, from saying hello to legitimately menacing behavior. More importantly though, if how a woman gets treated by a specific group of men walking down a specific block (because most of what gets shown in the two-minute video is happening in one specific place, and it’s a place that I know well) shapes how men relate and respond to men generally, then I am going to call you out for a textbook case of the fallacy of composition.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Chris says:

        jr,
        is there anything unusual about that specific block?Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Chris says:

        jr,
        *nod* it was dand saying that there was a specific feminist agenda that he could point to.Report

      • Avatar j r in reply to Chris says:

        I guess that depends on how you define unusual. It is 125th st in Harlem.Report

      • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to Chris says:

        Get that? She’s property; fair game if she’s alone, off-limits (except for the most brassy) if she appears to with some other dude.

        I can only speak for myself, of course, but that’s one more man than you’re qualified to speak for, and this rings false to me.

        I don’t recognize property rights to people. I will not hesitate to try to tempt a girl away from her current boyfriend, and have successfully done so a couple of times. What they have is between the two of them—he has no proprietary claim on her that I’m obligated to respect. Other men have tried to tempt girlfriends away from me, too. They told me, and we had a good laugh about it, but I don’t hold it against the other men, because I don’t have a proprietary claim, either.

        I wouldn’t bother trying to do this while her boyfriend was standing right next to her, though. Why? Not because she’s “property,” but because I estimate the odds of success as being so low that it’s not worth bothering. Who’s going to give me her number, even if she’s interested, with her boyfriend there to witness it? She’d essentially be ending her current relationship for a small chance at something better.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Chris says:

        She’s property

        The video is disturbing and very educating.

        Your interpretation is womansplainin’, of which I’m becoming increasingly less tolerant. Just because guys have a tendency to be real assholes toward women doesn’t mean you as a woman actually have a special insight into their internal motivation.Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to Chris says:

        Your interpretation is womansplainin’, of which I’m becoming increasingly less tolerant. .

        And?

        I do not require your tolerance.

        I’m telling you that the stuff in this video happens a billion times over to women every single day. This environment, or the version each individual woman encounters, shapes how we react in the giving and withholding of consent, particularly with someone we don’t know. It works with the messages about consent we get from our parents that we discussed elsewhere on this post; and is shaded by the knowledge that if something goes wrong, we’ll potentially be blamed, we’ll probably blame ourselves.

        So with a man you barely know or with a man who’s being too sexually aggressive; as a woman, there’s the mystery of safe/dangerous informed by all those small, threatening encounters with other men. And it’s very obvious that you’ll encourage this alone, but not in the company of another man. (We are talking simply about walking down the street or through the halls at school, and not drinking/social situations, too).

        As to my womansplaining, that’s bull. I’m not telling you what men think when they catcall or grab some tit, I’m telling you that women get catcalled and grabbed, and put into situations where giving in to his need seems the only safe way out. And I’m telling you that these experiences come into play, just like the messages you get from your parents, when you figure out how to negotiate the mindfield of sexual negotiation. You’re assuming that I’m ‘xpaining veers to womansplaining again. A woman cannot have a point of view here, a set of experiences, it’s all about men’s experiences and interpretations.

        And @chris there may be controversy about this particular video; these particular details, but there’s absolutely no controversy about the fact that women live with this shit every day, and it shapes how women respond to men. Then we get a bunch of men complaining that women aren’t nice to them, they’re confusing. Men are confusing, too. That girl you talked about, the one who invited you upstairs? Part of it was that you didn’t hold out any expectation of that happening. You saw her as a person, not a lay. That’s huge.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Chris says:

        @zic oh women definitely have to deal with an insane amount of bullshit from men. I see it with R. all the time. She currently has a bit of a stalker who lives in her building and has followed her around in his car and on foot, frequently told her she’s “sexy” as she’s walked by, asked her to come over repeatedly, and asked a lot of questions about me. It’s left both of us a bit on edge, but particularly her. And that’s just the latest in a near constant stream of harassment she gets from men just about anywhere she goes. It’s absolutely disgusting.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Chris says:

        I do not require your tolerance.

        Of course not. My point is simply that I’m going to call it out when I see it.

        I’m telling you that the stuff in this video happens a billion times over to women every single day.

        Not under dispute. I agreed that the video was both educational and disturbing.

        As to my womansplaining, that’s bull. I’m not telling you what men think when they catcall or grab some tit,

        “She’s property” was telling us what men think of women when they catcall or grab some tit.Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to Chris says:

        she’s property is my (and many other women’s) perspective on the fact that this mostly happens when you do not have a male protector with you. When you’ve got male company, it does not typically happen.

        You explain that to me. I don’t know why; but I know what is.Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to Chris says:

        In thinking on this, the pattern is one to discuss.

        1) girl goes out in the world, walks around alone, and get’s street harassment.

        2) girl goes out in the world, walks around with some male, and get’s no street harassment.

        So what does that suggest? At least to me, it suggests that dudes doing the street harassing know it’s wrong, know to hide it when there’s someone else around to hold them accountable for what they’re doing.

        But I’d certainly welcome other interpretations.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Chris says:

        I’d expect that the likelihood of a more favorable response or outcome is seen as more likely if she is unaccompanied.

        (It’s not free of seismic, to be sure, but I don’t think property factors into it from the guys’ perspective.)Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Chris says:

        So in other words, womansplainin’.

        Look, I don’t have any objection to women trying to figure out why the hell this happens. But look what you’ve done here. You’ve said that this is what you and other women come up with, and after some random internet dude demurs, only then do you think of asking guys what they think. Let’s turn that around and imagine me sitting around with some dudebro friends talking about what women are thinking about X, but not actually asking women. In your best of moods you’d probably shake your head wearily at us and heave a deep sigh of weary resignation.

        It’s not actually anymore acceptable going the other direction. Or maybe it’s equally acceptable going both directions. I don’t know; I only know that it’s really the same thing, so whether one thinks it’s ok or not, they ought to think the same regardless of who’s doing it.

        So, my explanation would be two-fold, but I’m not claiming this is a complete explanation that speaks for all men.

        1. The odds of any particular woman responding favorably to my approach are perhaps not high. The odds of a woman who appears to be already with someone are presumed to be much lower. It may simply not be worth even the minor investment of trying to catch her attention.

        2. That dude might take offense and kick my ass! (I.e., maybe he sees her as property.)

        Or, again, let’s turn this around. Are women more likely to approach a guy who’s alone or a guy who’s with a woman? Not that I get approached much, but my subjective impression of my own experience seems to be that I occasionally get a smile that might be expressing interest when I’m alone, but never when I’m with my wife.

        Do women see guys as property?Report

      • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Chris says:

        Oh, I think it’s definitely the case that the guys know that it’s usually (or at least often) going to be unwelcome. Though an exception is far less likely to occur, and a confrontation more likely to, when there is a guy present.Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to Chris says:

        Your whole response is based on the assumption that approaching might result in some favor from her, else there would not need to be this weighting of chance. She is not a person in that consideration; she’s a magic candy dispenser.

        I’m pretty certain more random women on the street say things to you when you’re with your wife or daughters than when you’re alone.

        But they’re not looking to you for magical candy dispensing, they’re looking to say something, one human to another.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Chris says:

        zic,

        I’m definitely not saying the harassment is ok. The difficulty is knowing when it’s harassment. I wouldn’t call a single “hello” from any particular guy harassment (assuming no leering tone).

        But I can also see how hearing hello over and over and over nonstop could cumulatively have the effect of harassment.

        And for the guys who are going beyond “hello,” do they know it’s wrong? That’s a good question. Some probably do see the girl as the other guy’s property in some sense. Others probably just worry about getting in a fight. Some probably have a sense that it’s kind of a shitty thing to do and do it only in front of their dudebros to look cool to them (I’ve long suspected that a big element of this is guys showing off to their guy friends, but I don’t know that for sure) or when they think no one else is watching.

        I just wouldn’t assume they all share the same motivation.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Chris says:

        Your whole response is based on the assumption that approaching might result in some favor from her,

        How do you think people meet except by approaching each other? Granted I don’t think talking to random people on the street is the ideal venue for this–certainly not one I ever made much use of–but seriously, people meet in all kinds of ways, and they do this by approaching others.

        She is not a person in that consideration; she’s a magic candy dispenser.

        No, magic candy dispensers give you what you want 100% of the time without fail. She is a person that for some reason the guy finds attractive. It could be big boobs, it could be blonde hair, it could be that she’s wearing a Nick Cave t-shirt. The last of those is the best, imo, because it’s the only one that signals some actual common interest. But just because a guy says hello and hopes-to-god-maybe-she’ll-say-hi-back doesn’t mean he sees her as not a person.

        I’m pretty certain more random women on the street say things to you when you’re with your wife or daughters than when you’re alone.

        I’m pretty certain you’ve got a habit of trying to tell me what’s going on in my life as though you actually know me and observe me closely instead of being some stranger living 800 miles away who’s never met me. I’m also pretty certain it’s an offensive and vile habit.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Chris says:

        Trying to get a favorable reaction from a woman isn’t a problem necessarily. A lot of it depends on context.

        The context of the catcalls in the video are not good. It represents an indifference to those uninterested, along with a low (I’d assume) positive yield.

        I don’t think anyone here (yet) is saying the catcalls are okay. Just that the characterization of “property” is off-base (magic candy dispenser is going to be frequently be closer to base, I think).Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Chris says:

        When a woman smiles and says hello to a stranger on the street (male or female) because she finds them attractive and would like them to notice her, is she treating them as a magic candy dispenser and not as a real person?

        I’m sure either a man or a woman could be viewing someone (in each case, either a man or a woman) that way. Some people are surely like that.

        But is there any case–man smiling at man, man smiling at woman, woman smiling at man, woman smiling at woman–where it’s necessarily so?

        That’s something I just can’t see. That in any of those cases we can generalize that way, even though we can assume that in all of those cases some people do see the other as a candy dispenser. And it may even be that men are more likely than women to view the other person (male or female) that way*–I’m not trying to argue that men are particularly good in this respect, or that they’re no different from women, because I do think, sadly, that they tend to be worse in this regard. But generalizing from group level statistical tendencies to individuals is the ecological fallacy.
        _________________________
        *This is, I think, quite backwards. I believe men are much more likely to tumble into bed with a random stranger than women are, so in fact women would be more justified in seeing men as magic candy dispensers than men would be in seeing women that way. That doesn’t imply that the women should like that candy, however.Report

      • Avatar Trumwill in reply to Chris says:

        @james-hanley I think it you’re catcalling women and you know that only one in ten will respond unfavorably, seven will ignore you, and two will respond by being upset, you’re not treating them like people.

        I don’t know if those are the odds, though. But I do tend to assume low positive yields.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Chris says:

        There’s that fuzzy range again. Are we talking about catcalling? Are we talking about saying hello? Are those in the same range or are they different? Are you and I actually referencing the same thing, or at least things that are actually in the same class?

        I’m all weirded out on a lot of this. I don’t think a hello is objectionable, but I get how a non-stop string of hellos would feel like a bombardment of offensive dudeliness. And yet my wife is saying she used to get hellos all the time walking from the train to work in downtown L.A., and if she just said hello back they’d just smile and go about their way, and she didn’t find it that bothersome and yet she agrees that it happened because she’s a woman and those guys wouldn’t have been helloing me.

        I mean, I really don’t know what to think, except that I don’t think every single hello that’s a product of physical attraction is automatically un-personing the recipient.

        If it’s “hey baby,” I’m certainly willing to listen seriously to the argument that they’re all un-personing (while wondering if culture matters there).

        If it’s an offer of dick, or a titgrab, then I’d be hardpressed to listen seriously to any argument that they were not all un-personing.Report

      • Avatar Trumwill in reply to Chris says:

        @james-hanley It runs a spectrum. I think it’s important in the video that the woman had an expression that even I can see carries a “do not approach” expression. The guy who told her to smile could see it, too, though maybe others miss it. Arguably, if you can’t see her enough to notice, that’s not an opportune case for even a greeting (though that’s no great sin).

        I am *mostly* referring to the more extreme cases, though. Not just the following, but the attempts at carrying on a conversation with a woman that is determinedly walking away from you. As well as the “Hey baby ” (though that can vary from culture to culture).

        Ultimately, if you are doing something and you find you are getting what seems to be inordinate negative feedback with greater frequency than positive feedback, and you choose not to stop doing it, you might be being a creep.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Chris says:

        James,
        Guys saying hello to me on the street are… kinda a little out of the norm. Women too, though.

        I think if you’re not being manipulative, and are willing to let it drop, then it’s okay to give a woman a compliment on the street.
        Nice: “I’m probably never going to see you again, so I wanted to say…”
        Okay: “You’ve got a really nice smile, you know that?”
        Bad: “Nice ass!”

        I think anyone talking on the street should be prepared for the other person to respond hostilely, and often through no fault of their own. “Oh great another stalker” might be someone’s response — I’ve done it, gotten a genuine compliment, and gotten about 30 feet from the person before thanking them.

        zic,
        When I’m with my husband, folks flirt with him considerably more frequently than they do to me when I’m with him.Report

    • Avatar Chris in reply to zic says:

      One of the things that bugs me about that video is that in several cases, all the people are doing is saying hello (and it looks like all of the people who just say hello are black men). We have no context, so we have no sense of who else and when else they say hello. I don’t know about 125th St in Harlem, but where I’m from, everyone says hi to pretty much everyone.

      I’m now wondering whether the women I say hello to walking around think I’m harassing them. Perhaps not, because I’m white?Report

      • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Chris says:

        Do they specify whether the greeting counts as harassment?

        Whether we do don’t, there was a lot of disturbing behavior besides.

        I will note that she did not appear to be walking in such a way that invited greeting. While I, too, say hello to random people on the street, it typically does involve something more from him or her than I see here. Being more stationary, for example, smiling, or somehow acting in a manner that doesn’t put off any sort of engagement.

        On the one hand, even the greetings often have some (hard to precisely identify) tone behind them that make them more than a greeting. On the other hand, different people have different ways of saying hello, and it’s not easy to separate out culture, race, and degree of discomfort.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Chris says:

        Chris,
        In my experience in NYC, folks don’t just say hi to each other. (Granted, I’ve never been up to Harlem, and I’m willing to admit that there may be different mores there. Different mores can be creepy/weird/strange.)

        Do you say hi to pretty much everyone? Like, as you’re walking down the street? Because I don’t recall that being common in Austin either…

        I sometimes nod at people, or smile — but saying hello is reserved for people i at least vaguely know.Report

      • Avatar dhex in reply to Chris says:

        @chris

        you don’t walk around saying hi to everyone in nyc. and nyc has a very advanced and entrenched street harassment culture, for lack of a better term. i’ve even known pregnant women who got variations on hey baby baby (and much worse).Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Chris says:

        Will, there is definitely really disturbing stuff in that video. Particularly the guy walking along wither her silently, the men who turn to oggle her, and the guy who keeps trying to get her to talk to him.

        There’s also the disturbing catcalls.

        Then there are black men just saying hi (I don’t think any of the non-black men just say hello or how are you).

        That last part gives me pause. It doesn’t mean it’s not disturbing, it just means I’d want more context before I conclude that it is.Report

      • Avatar dhex in reply to Chris says:

        @chris

        “Then there are black men just saying hi (I don’t think any of the non-black men just say hello or how are you).

        That last part gives me pause. It doesn’t mean it’s not disturbing, it just means I’d want more context before I conclude that it is.”

        the general cultural rule there is “you don’t talk to people without cause”. it’s one of the most beautiful things about the city.

        no adult male stranger – black or white or whatever – is going to say hi to a random unknown woman in the city unless there’s a secondary motive at play or they’re mentally ill. it’s a prelude to a thing, if you will. a violation of social norms, generally by young males.

        is it more common among young black and hispanic males? probably more widely acceptable in those cultures, though i’ve seen young gangs of guidos do the same thing.

        re: talking to people you don’t know – junkies of both genders also do it, but it’s usually a prelude to a touch for money or cigarettes. if you’re male and a random guy is saying hi to you, it’s probably a prelude to a touch for money. or they’re drunk/high/mentally ill. be prepared regardless.Report

      • Avatar Jesse Ewiak in reply to Chris says:

        @chris According to the guy who helped the girl in the video set this up, there were just as many white guys, but a combination of audio issues and bad luck (ie. more of the white guys saying thing in a lower volume or off camera enough it didn’t catch all of their statement) meant much of it wasn’t usable.

        Now, whether you think that’s an excuse or not, that’s up to you, but that’s what they’ve said.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Chris says:

        no adult male stranger – black or white or whatever – is going to say hi to a random unknown woman in the city unless there’s a secondary motive at play or they’re mentally ill. it’s a prelude to a thing, if you will. a violation of social norms, generally by young males.

        This made me laugh. I think you’re right, even tho the city you’re referring to is NY and the one I’m familiar with is Chicago. No one in their right talks to other folks without an approved context: next in line at the train station; next in line at the coffee shop; next in line at the book store. In the (second) city, you just don’t go about talking to folks. Even to say hi.

        Unless you’re mentally ill.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Chris says:

        Ah, I guess that makes sense. Now I’m wondering if people here think I’m mentally ill. I do sometimes get strange looks when I say good morning or hello to strangers (the looks come from men and women). Maybe that’s why.

        Had a conversation about this with two women from New York today, both women of color: my girlfriend (from Queens) and one of her best friends (in the Bronx, from D.R. via Islip), both of whom have worked in the City much of their lives, and they had similar perspectives on what was going on in the video, particularly with the hellos, so I think my small-town Tennessee brain gets it better.

        Does make me long for small-town life, though.Report

      • Avatar dhex in reply to Chris says:

        “Does make me long for small-town life, though.”

        well, having made that jump, there’s the opposite issue – everyone is up in your shit. everyone knows your business. i’ve had strangers come and talk to me about my job and whatnot.

        it feels astoundingly invasive, though i know it’s not intended as such.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Chris says:

        Oh man, you have no idea. When I was a kid, it was not uncommon for me to come home to my mother standing just inside the door, and be greeted with words like this,

        “I just talked to Mrs. Suchandsuch, and she tells me that she saw you at Krogers taking extra cookies from the bakery,”

        or later, when I could drive,

        “I just talked to Mrs. Soandso, and she tells me that you were speeding on Machatcher.”

        Everyone knew my parents, everyone knew who I was, and the only way I could get away with anything anywhere in that town was to do it in the woods and hope nobody was going for a hike.Report

      • Avatar dhex in reply to Chris says:

        “Everyone knew my parents, everyone knew who I was, and the only way I could get away with anything anywhere in that town was to do it in the woods and hope nobody was going for a hike.”

        i think that’s how black metal got started, too.

        but yeah it’s a thing. it may be more of a ruralish/’murica thing, too, possibly. i grew up in a relatively small (<10k) town but people were not quite so ready to drop a dime on the constant.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Chris says:

        Chris,
        If you’re in the woods around here (local park) it’s okay to say hi. It’s okay to say hi if you’re dodging someone on the sidewalk — or otherwise doing something that requires eye-contact.
        Or if you know someone — then you wave and have a nice chat.

        You’d probably find Pittsburgh a bit standoffish (folks are helpful, but often run in pretty closed circles).

        At least now you know, if you’re getting weird looks for saying hi — it’s probably not you.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Chris says:

        Man, I find Austin people stand-offish. Austin, Texas.Report

      • Avatar morat20 in reply to Chris says:

        Regarding that video (and somewhat randomly) — apparently the rather heavy minority mix was ‘coincidental’ according to the folks who made it. There were plenty of white men they caught, but they all seemed to do so from out of the shot, or when something sounded over them, etc.

        I find the odds are pretty stacked against that happening, but I can’t see why they’d bias it deliberately either.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Chris says:

        Plenty of bias is not deliberate.

        And lest we think there aren’t issues here to discuss, check this out:

        I’m pretty sure “affluent” doesn’t just mean socioeconomic status in that tweet.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Chris says:

        I find the odds are pretty stacked against that happening, but I can’t see why they’d bias it deliberately either.

        Now, whether you think that’s an excuse or not, that’s up to you, but that’s what they’ve said.

        If your propaganda has to rely on the good will of your intended audience, you probably need to work a little harder at it.Report

      • Avatar j r in reply to Chris says:

        I find the odds are pretty stacked against that happening, but I can’t see why they’d bias it deliberately either.

        An activist teams up with a professional videographer to hire an actress to make a street harassment video with the purpose of going viral has every incentive to control and manipulate every variable for maximum effectiveness. Not that this takes away from the overall message, but there is no need to be naive about this.

        I call BS on the whole there were lots of white guys but we couldn’t use that footage for technical reasons claim. In that roughly two minutes of footage, about half of it comes from 125th st. If he got the same level of harassment on other streets but the footage was bad, why didn’t he go back to those streets and shoot again. By the way people are dressed this looks like it was shot some time ago, so they would have had plenty of time to re-shoot.

        These guys are full of it on one level or the other. Either the catcalling they got was overwhelmingly in lower-income areas and from blacks and Hispanics and they are claiming that it came from men of all backgrounds to make themselves look more politically correct or they purposefully chose to only show harassment from black and Hispanic men.Report

      • Avatar morat20 in reply to Chris says:

        Now, whether you think that’s an excuse or not, that’s up to you, but that’s what they’ve said.

        You quoted me as saying that, but I didn’t actually say that. So I’m confused where that line came from.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Chris says:

        Morat,

        Control-FReport

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Chris says:

        Morat, I quoted a line from you and I quoted a line from Jesse.Report

  17. Avatar Tod Kelly says:

    I’m reading these threads, and I’m at a bit of a loss.

    There really are no set rules or universal ways people communicate about anything, least of all sex. This is going to sound harsh, but if you feel like you need to hammer out a set of them with people you’re not having sex with, then it’s probably a good idea to either abstain from sex, learn better communication skills, or ask very, very explicitly every time if everything is acceptable to your partner.

    I reject this notion that men somehow accidentally rape women because they just don’t understand what they’re doing is wrong. Likewise, I reject this notion that because some some women will have sex with you and others won’t and they refuse to wear t-shirts that designate which is which that somehow feminism has gone wild.

    I mean, sheesh.Report

    • Avatar switters in reply to Tod Kelly says:

      Why don’t you just ask the commenters to shut up? It would have been just as effective.

      I’m still not quite sure what else your comment says, but it sounds like the first sentence of your second paragraph admits not only the possibility, but the absolute certainty that miscommunications will happen, as that’s what humans do. Which it appears you follow with, if you can’t eliminate the possibility of miscommunication, you shouldn’t have sex. Which would presumably mean, everyone should stop having sex. It would definitely mean my wife and I should, as we miscommunicate about sex ALL the time.

      Charitably, I’d call that unhelpful.

      And I completely disagree with “I reject this notion that men somehow accidentally rape women because they just don’t understand what they’re doing is wrong”. First, you don’t identify what definition you’re using. Are we talking your definition or rape, the legal one, or some other proposed definition? Second, regardless of your definition, it seems to give the game away that different people have different definitions, and different interpretations of the same definition. Which means miscommunications are going to happen. Different people will perceive the same set of facts differently, including the actors in those acts.

      And the corollary to that would seem to be that all accusations of rape are either willfully false, or they are undoubtedly true. But we grant victims all kids of leeway to make sense of an encounter after it happened.

      Sometimes this shit is confusing. Unless you’re you, I guess. I could tell everyone I know what is fair and right and this world, and they should just stop wasting their time talking about it, because I KNOW. But that would be kind of a dick move, right.

      Although, on the plus side, you got a “this” from the guy who analogized his strategy on this subjectin this case to one who adopts extreme views he doesn’t really believe in for strategic reasons.Report

    • Avatar Dave in reply to Tod Kelly says:

      @switters

      Why don’t you just ask the commenters to shut up?

      The thought occurred to me several times throughout the course of this discussion.Report