Flying Solo in Front of Company

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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144 Responses

  1. Kristin Devine says:

    This is really good, Vikram.

    I think you’re onto something here.

    I have heard (unfortunately) a similar defense of men having sex with women who are unconscious. “They didn’t even know it happened, so it wasn’t a big deal”. I’m sure that’s exactly what Louis CK thinks. That it wasn’t a big deal, no harm no foul.Report

    • Kim in reply to Kristin Devine says:

      Except that’s clearly not what he thinks, because he’s said so himself.
      At some point, he probably thought “hey, I asked, and they could have said no”.
      He’s grown up since then — and probably got a talking to about it.Report

      • Kristin Devine in reply to Kim says:

        Well, I find that people say a lot of things when they’re under a microscope and in a hotseat that is not necessarily indicative of their honest feelz and beliefs.

        I do not believe a guy as savvy as Louis CK is that dumb. I don’t believe that he’s had any kind of realization he was not capable of having before. He got caught and has said what he thinks he needs to say.

        And I hope I’m wrong. I would like to be wrong.Report

        • Kim in reply to Kristin Devine says:

          From what I can see, he’s been reaching out to people (well before this came out), trying to contact people he hurt.
          This wasn’t the Kevin Spacey “Hey, I’m Gay!” thing.Report

          • fillyjonk in reply to Kim says:

            And the Kevin Spacey thing had an extra level of skeeze to it, seeing as gay men have had FOR YEARS to fight the “attracted to young boys” stereotype, and it feels like Spacey set all of that back just to try to save his own butt.

            If he had already been openly “out” when the allegations surfaced, the optics would not have been so terrible.Report

            • Kim in reply to fillyjonk says:

              Believe it or not, this has to be the ONE Time when bad PR advice didn’t come from my friend’s company. (They gave advice to netflix about House of Cards, but none to Spacey himself).

              Apparently, everyone knew about Kevin Spacey. Everyone everyone. And he was prone to drama fits if he wasn’t given access to enough pretty young boys. And I got to hear the story about “Why Kevin Spacey spent 5 years in England” (in short: there are people you shouldn’t try to get into their pants — the type of people with Friends in High Places).

              At the time when one is revealed to be a pedophile, saying “I’m gay!” as if it’s a good thing is … inappropriate.Report

          • Kristin Devine in reply to Kim says:

            He made this episode in 2014. He is not a stupid man, knew exactly what he was doing, and yet he is hiding behind his stupidity. “This would be rape if you weren’t so stupid” is the line he has the character deliver.


            • Kim in reply to Kristin Devine says:

              Just because someone depicts a date rapist, or a rapist, in a Television Show, doesn’t mean they freaking approve of the action.

              For the love of god!

              That’s… actually offensive, to me, on a personal basis.

              LouisCK is choosing to confront us about rape, something a lot of people don’t like to think about, in a humorous fashion.
              I’ll say about this exactly what I say about Holocaust Jokes: When good, I’ll laugh. When bad, you’ll burn the house down.
              Proceed With Caution.Report

              • Kristin Devine in reply to Kim says:

                The scenario is virtually identical. Virtually identical.

                Please don’t paint me as some sort of overly sensitive ninny for pointing out that a man who has done something sexually inappropriate has actually written a freaking episode of a TV show in which he acts out not letting a woman leave a room while he repeatedly tries to initiate sexual contact with her. That is fair game given the circumstances just like it’s fair game to look back at Manhattan and say “gee whiz maybe Woody Allen has been playing around with some of this in his head for a long time”.

                I have the highest appreciation for pushing envelopes and open discussion via art but the guy actually did act in a questionable fashion. I think that before we chalk his indiscretions up to “stupidity” we need to actually take a look at some things he’s said in the past and think “hmm has he maybe been pondering, historically, some of these issues and what does it tell us about him? is he really just a clueless buffoon or does he know damn well, and has all along, that what he is doing is gross, douchey behavior at best, and very possibly predatory at worst?”

                And I think that it’s the latter. Some men want to hide behind this befuddled perplexed confusion to explain away bad behavior “I’m just Fred Flintstone, here, hurr de hurr, I’m not that bright” but Louis CK is not a dumb guy and he’s clearly been thinking deeply about these issues in the past.Report

              • Kim in reply to Kristin Devine says:

                NYT is reporting that when women said “no”, he just walked away. We don’t have allegations here that he’s directly hurting people for not saying yes (even afterwards) — or even “pushing”. [I think his agent was trying to hush things up and not have it go public, but that’s a different thing, and that’s his job].

                NYT in their first reporting on the issue mentioned that he’s been giving private apologies for his behavior (which, by their writing’s implication, has actually stopped), so if he’s had a “revelation” it may have occurred sometime in the past.

                This is WAY more like the It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia proposed boat scene (where “the girl won’t say no because…”).

                (I’m definitely cool with “hey, let’s look at this guy’s artistic output, and maybe we can see things that were weighing on him at the time.”)Report

  2. This is one of those situations–and one of those topics–where I think I partially disagree with some of what you’re saying, but I can’t find a way to voice my disagreement without seeming to validate really unethical behavior and without somehow hurting people who have actually been victimized by such behavior or comparable behavior.

    Here’s part of it. You seem to be accusing Louis C.K. of making a non-confession confession, or a non-apology apology when he explains what he was thinking at the time. I do understand that any apology/confession with an explanation attached is suspect, but maybe that was his thinking at the time. And at least sometimes, it does help to know what one was thinking at the time. While I do believe apologies should be apologies without an explanation/excuse attached, I can see another extreme of situations where someone knows how to apologize perfectly but the underlying reasons/motivations don’t get addressed because the apologizer doesn’t delve deeper. (That said, we’re probably much more in danger of not having enough apologies that are sufficient than we are of having the latter situation of not enough explanation.)

    And now that Mr. C.K. has apparently cleaned up his act a bit and is now talking about the violence women face, isn’t that at least partially a good thing and at least one of the results we hope to achieve by criticizing such behavior? (To be clear, while I’ve certainly heard of the guy, I know very little about him other than what I’ve read in your post and a few other places. I’ve certainly never seen his performances.)

    Another partial disagreement I have isn’t really a disagreement, but more of a thought on your last paragraph about “libertinism” intersecting with an insufficient code of ethics. To me, the intersection and the insufficiency of the ethics are the important points, not the libertinism itself (and that seems to be your point as well). Still–and here I’m departing from what you seem to be arguing–it’s fashionable to equate mention of libertinism as a bad thing with a belief in the prudish, puritanical Calvinism that allegedly bedevils besaints America. Maybe what seems like puritanism actually has something to recommend it and maybe one person’s puritanism is another’s acceptance that actions have consequences and that we need to respect others as ends in themselves.

    The above are only partial disagreements. I’ve said nothing about Mr. C.K.’s or Mr. Cernovich’s or other perpetrators’ victims. They obviously need a voice and to be listened to, and I wouldn’t necessarily blame them if they cried foul at some of what I wrote above. And frankly, I’m utterly mystified at the attitude that says it’s okay to self-pleasure in front of someone who doesn’t want to see it because, “hey, at least it’s not rape.” (I’m further mystified at the thought that doing so would actually be enjoyable.)Report

    • In case it’s not clear I want to make it clear that I consider such behavior to be sexual assault and should be (if it isn’t already) criminally and civilly actionable.Report

      • Kim in reply to gabriel conroy says:

        I think it COULD be sexual assault, sure.
        But I’ve known someone who’s walked into a situation like that (guy masturbating to his picture), and he didn’t seem to think it anywhere NEAR sexual assault.

        … this is not to minimize people’s feelings, but to say, “Let the Victim Talk.”Report

      • After having read some of the other commenters here, I’m no longer prepared to say that what Cernovich recounts is (or ought to be) necessarily a criminal action. I still think it’s wrong, and it operates like a threat, as Maribou explains below. I’m just not prepared to say, on the facts alone that Cernovich relates, that we should call it a crime.Report

    • Damon in reply to gabriel conroy says:

      I’ve always thought apologies should be composed of two things: 1) acknowledgment of the harm/hurt committed and said 2) to the party harmed/hurt. An explanation can be used in the apology, such as “i was an alcoholic and couldn’t control my drinking, but I’ve gotten sober and wanted to apologize for my actions”. but i’ts secondary to the apology. Apologizing to third parties or in general, I consider bullshit, unless the offended party refuses to listen.Report

      • Kim in reply to Damon says:

        It looks like Louis CK was trying to reach out to anyone he hurt.Report

      • Mike Schilling in reply to Damon says:

        Yes, exactly.

        Minor quibble: I’d say a first-rate apology has three parts:

        1. I’m sorry
        2. I know why what I did was wrong
        3. I won’t do it again

        And stop.

        It’s not OK to justify your behavior, it’s not OK to minimize it, and it’s not OK to blame anyone else for it. This is apparently harder than it looks, because so many people get it wrong.

        If you’ve covered those three bases throughly, and it’s clear that your further explanation supports at least one of them, go for it. What gets CK criticized, rightly in my opinion, is that his explanation seems like a substitute for “I’m sorry” rather than an enlargement on it.Report

        • I think I can agree with that as long as we’re still talking about the event of the apology itself.

          After the apology, perhaps in another venue, I’d say it’s sometimes appropriate to “explain” what one was thinking. Explanations have the effect, and perhaps the purpose/function, of seeming to justify behavior. It’s the “understanding is excusing” phenomenon. I can repeat the mantra “….I did x for y reason, but I’m not saying it’s an excuse….” but that doesn’t mean I’m not still operating in excuse-making behavior.

          My point is, perhaps there ought to be some room for reckoning with one’s bad behavior and the reasons for it, and any such reckoning will muddy the black/white distinction we hope for from a first-rate apology.

          For the record, I do agree with your first-rate apology criteria. And the apologizee shouldn’t have to bear any burden of trying to “understand” the apologized-for behavior or the thinking about it. Especially so when it comes to behavior that actually victimizes another, as what C.K. is alleged to have done (I really don’t know the back story or even what’s alleged, just that he’s a comedian who apparently harassed some women).Report

          • Morat20 in reply to gabriel conroy says:

            After the apology, perhaps in another venue

            The best venue for that is your therapist’s office.

            Seriously. Your victim very likely doesn’t care as to your deep motivations, wherever they stem from. However, assuming you (the perpetrator) really want to stop doing such things, knowing why you did them is key.

            But using that in part of an apologize often seems to come across as “I’m a victim too” or “it’s not really my fault, I was helpless”.Report

            • Maribou in reply to Morat20 says:

              @morat20 Amen. Plus it has the effect of keeping you and your victim(s) newsworthy, if you’re important enough to have a venue to discuss in. I would guess that very few victims want to remain in the news cycle so that the people who did stuff to them can help a general audience understand their motivations. If they go to the press, it’s because they want stuff to change, not because they want to keep hearing about how the person who did it is a good person, really, and has changed so much.Report

            • fillyjonk in reply to Morat20 says:

              Your victim very likely doesn’t care as to your deep motivations, wherever they stem from.

              Not a victim of (full-on, at least) sexual assault, but yes, having had experiences with “unwanted attention” of various forms in my younger life: I don’t really give a flip if the person acts depraved because they’re deprived or whatever. I want them to apologize, full stop, and then get out of my life and stay out unless I say they’re welcome back in. If they want to explore deeper, they should go to a therapist, or failing that, a religious leader.

              “I was abused myself” or something similar isn’t quite blaming the victim, but it skirts that territory.Report

              • Maribou in reply to fillyjonk says:

                @fillyjonk @morat20 I would add that if they *do* care, *let them be the one to ask*. In sexual violations in particular, part of the harm is the loss of autonomy/choice – and being forced to hear explanations is more intrusion/more of the person who did the thing insisting that their needs are more important than your needs.

                I mean, some victims do eventually want to confront their abuser and may want deeper explanations. But it needs to come from *them*, ethically, not from the person who did the bad stuff in the first place.Report

              • fillyjonk in reply to Maribou says:

                yeah, and there’s also the whole “I really don’t want to revisit memories I put into a box labeled “DANGER” 20 years ago just so you, the perpetrator, could have some sense of closure”

                I have heard of that kind of stuff happening in the Facebook era: people being forced to aggressively block people from their past who show back up, wanting to apologize and explain for the harm they did all those years ago, when the person who was harmed has dealt with and really doesn’t want to revisit it. And shouldn’t be made to be.Report

            • gabriel conroy in reply to Morat20 says:

              I do realize that I’m speaking about something I don’t know firsthand. I’ve never been in a situation many of you have been in.

              I do want to make it clear that the victim shouldn’t have to listen to an explanation at all unless they want to.Report

    • LeeEsq in reply to gabriel conroy says:

      Its not exactly libertinism combined with a lack of ethics that is the problem but more like a lack of discipline to control one’s actions.Report

  3. Damon says:

    I think there’s a big difference between being on a date, which is what Cernovich appears to have been on, from the reading, and a employment/professional situation like you’ve described with Louis CK.

    Boorish behavior on a date could be sexual harassment/assault in the workplace.Report

  4. LeeEsq says:

    Cracked featured a story about five people who did horrible things to their neighbors. These stories keep repeating themselves again and again. There are millions of people, mainly men but more than a few women, that seem to believe that they can behave however they want and everybody else can go fish it. Call them a-holes, the proudly dysfunctional or whatever else you want but they exist. The best of them realize that they are being really anti-social but many of them seem utterly oblivious to even that.Report

    • Oscar Gordon in reply to LeeEsq says:

      Why not, it takes forever for police to do (or be able to do) anything. I mean about the guy in rural CA who just went on a shooting spree. Neighbors were complaining about him for a long time.Report

    • Morat20 in reply to LeeEsq says:

      One of the subreddits I read rather often is “I don’t work here lady” which is, basically, people telling stories about being mistaken for employees by very, very, very rude people.

      Not “innocent mistake” but things like “Continued to insist I worked there after I said I didn’t, threatened to have my fired, etc”.

      What’s shocking to me is the sheer number of stories involving people being grabbed..

      I might, if several minutes of trying to get a stranger’s attention failed, might be willing to tap them on the shoulder.

      But there are people out there who think nothing if just physically grabbing a stranger, yanking them around — like they’re entitled to manhandle another human being.

      I don’t get that. Beyond being unfathomably rude, you’re…manhandling another human. That’s acceptable if you’re preventing them from jumping off a ledge, or trying to break up a fight, but not because you’re made you can’t find the dog food aisle.Report

      • Oscar Gordon in reply to Morat20 says:

        Beyond being unfathomably rude, you’re…manhandling another human.

        I’m not sure if my faith in humanity is bolstered by the fact that more of these kinds of people are not regularly having their bell rung by the people grabbing them, or if I should be a bit depressed that we are so conditioned to such casual acts of violence that no one thinks to clock the rude person who just grabbed them.Report

        • Kim in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

          Cheered that there are relatively few people with severe enough PSTD to fucking murder someone sneaking up on them. (I know someone like that, though he’s partially overcompensating for “zilch reflexes”).

          Sad that people can’t actually convey “Stop, You are not Right” in a way to get through to these people.Report

          • Maribou in reply to Kim says:

            @kim @oscar-gordon My PTSD is under control enough that when people do that to me I whirl around and snap at them, maybe almost hit them if they’re male and bigger than me, but I never actually have physically attacked someone in that situation.

            It’s pretty frustrating, and fairly telling, that when I grind out a “hey i have ptsd someone could accidentally really hurt you if you do that to them,” their response is usually to be miffed that it isn’t perfectly okay for them to grab people, rather than any amount of “oh, I shouldn’t have, sorry”.Report

            • Kim in reply to Maribou says:

              I know someone who purely on instinct removed a knife from someone (the boy wanted his sister to be allowed to cut in line).

              Had he been thinking, he would have let Security handle it. That’s their job, not the ride operators.

              My mind boggles about people who are miffed that they can’t grab people from behind. (Someone got sulphuric acid splashed in their eyes during an impromptu lab safety drill. This is serious, folks)Report

            • Oscar Gordon in reply to Maribou says:

              One of those indications that something is really wrong with that person. I mean, it appears that well adjusted people, even when physically accosted, have the ability to keep their hands to themselves, but these other people feel that it is OK to grab another person just because of an emotional need?

              Seems like a red flag to me…Report

      • LeeEsq in reply to Morat20 says:

        I don’t get it either. Its especially weird to read about anti-social behavior that you never experienced or seen personally. You know that people like this exist because you keep reading about them but your lack of personal experience creates a feeling of disbelief that people can be like this. Its like the Cracked thread I’ve linked to. Many people seem to believe they can act nearly anyway they want and damn anybody else to hell.Report

        • fillyjonk in reply to LeeEsq says:

          I read stuff like this, and I think to myself, “My life-choice to be a near-hermit was not such a bad one, after all.”

          Have never hung out in bars or nightclubs (I don’t drink), rarely go to movies, do my shopping at times when stores are likely to be less busy….also I have a bit of RBF going on so perhaps people leave me alone because of that.

          But I have had the neighbors from Hell, people who partied literally every night until 3 am, loud enough to hear IN MY HOUSE through closed windows and over two fans running. Fortunately, they were evicted after a couple months…Report

  5. fillyjonk says:

    Holy crap.

    And just when I was contemplating getting back into the dating scene.

    Okay, fine: I’ll go out and adopt seven cats instead.

    Has humanity always been this dysfunctional and we never heard it before, or has it gotten markedly worse in the past 10 or so years?

    Also: I’m a big woman and I work out. If a guy started wanking off in my car, I’d reach across him, open the door, push him out, slam and lock the door, climb back into the front seat, drive away. He can find his own damn way home, I don’t care.Report

    • Kim in reply to fillyjonk says:

      Consult Kinsey, 1948, on the Sexual Habits of the Human Male.
      (In short… no, kinda. Actually, I think we’re better now. People who fantasize about Forbidden Shit now can just wank to it online. This is what we want pedophiles and other broken people to do.)Report

    • Joe Sal in reply to fillyjonk says:

      filly, I think with media and all the digital interfaces, there has been a decline in peoples ability to interface in person. Before all of this people had to directly communicate individually and exchange thoughts about preferences in subtle language, and more directly about mapping out expectations.

      Also it appears various flavors of weaponized ridicule have leaked into social norms like corrosive acid, eating at every construct of decency.Report

    • LeeEsq in reply to fillyjonk says:

      Humans are probably more functional than we were in the past but the Internet allows us to hear about all these stories and the politics of the time is to not stand any of the dysfunction left. If you think things are bad now, imagine what they were like pre-feminism.Report

  6. Kim says:

    I’ve heard nothing but good things about Louis CK (a friend of mine considers him a personal friend).
    I would rather we leave some space in this world for people who fuck up to actually apologize and get better, as it seems he has.

    Louis CK hasn’t built a network of blackmail around his sexual misconduct. Unlike certain other people that could be mentioned.Report

  7. Kim says:

    If you’re gonna throw out Louis CK stuff, then you’d damn well better throw out all the Joss Whedon stuff.
    And then start with all the “pro-pedophilia” movies — include Meatballs while you’re at it (And, unfortunately, Stranger Things. Not the writers fault for once! Audience, what is WRONG with you???!)

    And don’t even get me started on politics… That’s a nest you Do Not want to know about.Report

  8. Saul Degraw says:

    These stories are not new. Former American Apparel chairman and founder Dov Charney famously masturbated in front of a female reporter sent to do a story on him. It took years for the American Apparel board to get Charney out of the company and even then, it was the failing business that allowed them to do it.

    The thing that is different about Louis C.K. and possibly Weinstein is that they were powerful during their falls. Though arguably the Weinstein Company was not doing well and Harvey Weinstein was a wanning influence in Hollywood.

    As to why some guys do this. I think it is a power thing more than sex kink thing. The power thing goes with the lack of ethics. Mike Cernovich is a far-right anti-Semite who also gained fame for peddling the Pizzagate conspiracyReport

    • Damon in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      “These stories are not new.”

      No, they aren’t. Frankly, I’d suspect that is also is perpetrated by women, but less frequently, and probably less reported.

      But regardless, everyone knew about Weinstein. Lot’s knew about Charney. I’m sure this crap takes place in gov’t as well. Chandra Levy ring a bell? The Congressional Page scandal?Report

      • Kim in reply to Damon says:

        Depends on what you want to talk about. Soccer moms are a Thing, after all.
        (That level of statutory rape not getting reported depends on boys getting to be “cool kids” because they had “aunts in their pants”).Report

    • LeeEsq in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      There are lots of powerful, and not all that nice or ethical, men that relish in their influence that do not do things like this. There seem to be many not powerful men who engage in similar wild and lewd acts according to many women. I don’t think this really has to do with power or sex but a lack of self-control.Report

      • Oscar Gordon in reply to LeeEsq says:

        I think these people have perfectly adequate self-control, they just don’t want to exercise it.Report

      • Kim in reply to LeeEsq says:

        All due respect, but you REALLY don’t know that there are a LOT of men that relish their influence that do not do things like this. (I, on the other hand, know a porn dealer).

        How many nonpowerful people do you think snuff people out? I mean, really, that’s murder. Can’t do that legally outside of international waters.Report

    • Kim in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      I’m not sure how you distinguish between a “power thing” and a “sex kink thing”.
      There’s upwards of 25% of the american population that takes power things AS a sex kink thingy.Report

  9. j r says:

    Here’s a scenario: a guy and a girl are making out hot and heavy in the back seat of a car. The woman wants to go farther, but the guy is hesitant. Let’s say he’s got a girlfriend and feels guilty. Or he is attracted to the girl, but worries that she wants a a lot more out of the relationship than he does and is wary of leading her own. Whatever it is, he’s freely chosen to be there in an intimate situation with the woaman, but is hesitant to go much farther than heavy petting. The woman, sensing the man’s reluctance, decides to try something to seduce him farther. She leans back, hikes up her skirt, and starts playing with herself. She is hoping that the site will entice the man to take their makeout session farther.

    Would you put this hypothetical woman in the same category as Louis C.K. and Brett Ratner? If the answe is no, then why does Cernovich belongs there? Is it because women playing with themselves is sexy while men doing it is creepy. Or is there is something about the strength differential that makes this behavior from a male more inherently threatening? Is it because we view Cernovich as a red-piller with insignificantly progressive views about women? Or is just because he is a shitty fake-journalist who is on the wrong team? I’m asking less to make an argument and more because I’m curious.Report

    • Kim in reply to j r says:

      I think emotionally, being forced or tempted or teased to do more is probably a bad thing.
      (Neither, for what it’s worth, fall into the category of “can I do it inside you?” being asked twenty times until the girl is incapable of saying no anymore…).

      There’s a difference in that the P goes in the V, and a guy pleasuring himself is also… presenting himself. That’s a low-level biological thing, and as much as we like to pretend we ain’t animals, we is, and it matters.

      I also presume that the level of piggishness shown is part of the problem. If someone was all like, “Dude, you have me so hot that I don’t think I can leave the car until I… cool off, do you mind?” — well, that’s a different level of bullshit.Report

    • LeeEsq in reply to j r says:

      The answer is its complicated. Theoretically, a man has just as any right to be as freaked out about the above as a woman but society is going to see it differently. Men are supposed to react positively to women trying to seduce them in our society, unless they are married or in a relationship but even then, be open to any invitation to sex. Any man finding the above scenario freaky in a bad way and is open enough to tell about it is going to be laughed at by a wide range of people from traditionally masculine men to many allegedly modern and feminist women.

      The situation is also made more complicated because many women feel that they can’t verbally express their desire for sex because of traditional sexual morality still being somewhat enforced and that many women seem to not like to and want men to interpret their body language. An inability to interpret body language is still seen as many as turn off.

      You also have the strength difference to account for in determining the ethics of the situation. There are no easy or clear cut answers.Report

      • Troublesome Frog in reply to LeeEsq says:

        The strength difference and lopsided history of violence toward women seems like a big factor here. I’m trying to imagine myself in that situation, but with a seven foot power lifter who wanted to do something I didn’t want to do. It changes the calculus pretty seriously.

        Iliza Shlesinger was just on the Joe Rogan Podcast talking about it and referencing cat calling in the street. She basically said, “You mostly keep your head down and try to ignore it because whenever you say something back, your first reaction is, ‘Why did I do that? Please don’t let this be the guy who snaps and chases me down and kills me.'”Report

    • Joe Sal in reply to j r says:

      So, pretty much chuck equality out the window and start picking winners and losers in the agency game based on ideology.

      Is that a pretty much the framework you were looking for jr?Report

      • Kim in reply to Joe Sal says:

        I think we’re okay with distinguishing ideologically based actions from What is in Your Head.
        After all, we prosecute people for genitally mutilating their baby girls.Report

        • Joe Sal in reply to Kim says:

          might unpack that one bc I can’t tell if your dancing around the part of taking a knife to boys dangly parts because ‘it makes it more sanitary’

          The part Vikram didn’t really define or wasn’t able to, was what appeared to be bright lines in the areas of rejection and consent (or non-consent).

          jr has the same problem with only defining grey lines of hesitation.

          Pretty much everything is speculation beyond that point and appears to move into forms of monster hunting.

          Now if modern liberalism is about finding the person involved that has the most power and start poking them with sharp sticks, that’s a particular form of ideological monster hunting.Report

          • Kim in reply to Joe Sal says:

            Okay — here’s the deal.
            We have Bright Lines morally speaking. Trying to force your way into someone’s pants who doesn’t want to have sex with you is a BadThing, morally speaking.

            We also have Bright Lines legally speaking — if you’re good enough at hacking that you can get the other person to just… “not say no” (without use of drugs or alcohol), then you’re most probably okay, legally speaking. And you can do that every day of your bloomin life, and still be mostly fine, legally speaking.

            [I was slightly dancing around the idea of foreskin removal, with a laugh that I figured you’d catch. Well done, you!]Report

            • Joe Sal in reply to Kim says:

              There is a bright Moral line in Vikrams piece about not forcing sexual intercourse. There was no bright moral line about Cernovich circusing his monkey.

              There was no bright line in jr scenario where the guy says, ‘I prefer not to see that’.

              The -day after- for Vikrams case was that the woman could be talking with her friends and expressed her subjective value of the experience like this:

              ‘Cernovich was really in the mood last night, but I was too drunk to make it happen, so I enjoyed him circusing his monkey in the back seat, it was fabulous!’

              The -day after- for jr case was that the man could be talking with his friends and expressed his subjective value of the experience like this:

              ‘I was hesitant at first, but she made it really easy and comfortable, it was fabulous!’

              The ability to look at each and find that there may be no monster just doesn’t appear to exist in some ideological circles.

              The part of Vikrams piece that comes off as monster hunting is this:

              “She apparently didn’t feel comfortable enough to stop him, so he succeeded, I guess.

              But we know from recent reporting that men are capable of worse.”Report

              • Kim in reply to Joe Sal says:

                I think the Bright Line he’s trying for is “This is clearly Bad, So don’t do this”, and the actual Bright Line is “don’t do shitty things that other people don’t want you to do.” (which we may elide to “if they aren’t at least pleased you maaay want to reconsider”)Report

              • Joe Sal in reply to Kim says:

                The part I’m not seeing is where people are saying they weren’t pleased by the experience. I mean not all us looking at it from the cheap seats and making moral judgements, but the people actually involved.

                I totally agree ‘don’t do shitty things’. Maybe there is more evidence outside the bounds of what is on this page, but from what is here I only see bright lines sketched in by people not involved in the actual occurrence.

                It looks like the same old problem of creating social objectivity from peoples ideology inclinations:

                Mob: “he’s a monster because we said he’s a monster”Report

              • Kim in reply to Joe Sal says:

                with Louis CK, we’re definitely getting the “I was displeased, and didn’t feel like I could cuss you out for being a total dick.”
                (He admits to what he did to these women, so he’s pretty much saying “I didn’t do it to anyone who liked it for realz.”)
                This is not … quite… worktime situations, but it’s also NOT “dating” situations.
                This is “coworkers chilling in his hotel room” situation, and picture multiple women there.Report

              • Joe Sal in reply to Kim says:

                That’s a lot of baseball not on this page or in the links.Report

              • Joe Sal in reply to Joe Sal says:

                Google later,
                yep, bright lines, elsewhere.

                My apologies Kim.Report

              • Maribou in reply to Joe Sal says:

                @joe-sal I don’t think any of us said Cernovich is a monster. Believe me, my own experiences are that people who aren’t monsters can do epically monstrous things, and none of this is epically monstrous. Just garden-variety awful.

                I think if you look at the part of Cernovich’s archived post where he advises men that if things don’t seem to be going well, they should take out their penis and then tell women, “Either you’re taking care of this [erection] or I am,” it may be clearer why I jump to the conclusion that most women most probably don’t enjoy the experience he is describing.

                Perhaps it won’t be.

                I didn’t need that additional information because I have heard about it happening to women I know many times – women who know I’m sex-positive and don’t care what they enjoy – and NEVER have they enjoyed it. Their reactions ranged from traumatized to deeply irritated and kicked the guy out of the car.

                Wait, no, there was once, but that wasn’t a drunken stranger hookup, that was a consensual BDSM scene. Which Is Extremely Different.

                It’s theoretically possible that it might be something someone might look back on with pleasure and enjoyment, but I have a lot of eyewitnesses telling me otherwise about nearly identical situations, so it would be a fairly high bar to get me to expect that they likely did. Certainly involving, at the least, the descriptor talking like women are not inferior versions of himself and preferably them saying they did.Report

              • veronica d in reply to Maribou says:

                @maribou — Cernovich has been around since #gamergate, and yes I’ll say straight up he’s a monster.Report

              • Maribou in reply to veronica d says:

                @veronica-d Fair enough. I’ve never heard of him before today (or I suppose it’s possible I have and I blocked it out, I don’t remember most of what I’ve read about #gamergate because I have some pretty hard triggers around some of the stuff involved. Dissociation can be a blessing.).

                I tend to reserve that word for serial killers and the like, but I can see why others make different choices.Report

              • veronica d in reply to Maribou says:

                @maribou — Think of his as the puffed-chest ultra-macho (but seriously) junior twin to Milo Y, getting off on sewing discord. He more or less is the guy behind the whole “pizzagate” thing. He’s also basically a “men’s rights”/alt-right guy who loves to piss off other “men’s rights”/alt-right chumps because they just aren’t as alpha as him. Grrr! Flex!

                Plus he thinks women are objects, and not in the sense of a mildly misogynistic subtext, but literally.Report

              • Maribou in reply to veronica d says:

                @veronica-d He sounds like a miserable human being.

                I don’t really see any of that as falling into my “monster” definition. Mostly humans are capable of being really awful (including all kinds of violence that you’re not saying Cernovich did, that still wouldn’t make them monsters by my definition).

                But I had a really different childhood than most people, and those of us who’ve been through that all make their peace with terms like ‘monster’ differently – from each other as well as from the general use of the word.Report

              • veronica d in reply to Maribou says:

                @maribou — He’s not a serial killer. But the #gamergate/alt-right crowd have definitely hurt my friends a great deal. It’s a terror campaign that has, at its outer extremes, men like Elliot Roger carrying their torch. So yeah, when a human freakshow like Milo Y tweets the names, pictures, and biographical details of my friends and coworkers (including at least one romantic partner; and yes this happened), and they in turn have to flee social media and start looking over their shoulders for the next enraged violent lonely man — it’s a real thing.

                They’re monsters.Report

              • Maribou in reply to veronica d says:

                @veronica-d To be clear I’m not diminishing the awfulness of what they have done.

                There doesn’t appear to be a way to explain the distinction I’m making that won’t come across as me doing that, though, so I’ll stop trying.Report

              • Joe Sal in reply to Maribou says:

                Yeah, that particular phrase (“Either you’re taking care of this [erection] or I am,”) has an authoritarian vibe to it. It may work for people into that sort of thing, and that may be part of the issue. If only 10-15% of the people like it and it’s a desirable system for them, it creates a parsing problem.

                We can talk barriers to exiting the interaction, but that is no longer discussing consent, but headed somewhere else.Report

              • Maribou in reply to Joe Sal says:

                @joe-sal To me, as a person who has been bullied by older men my whole life (not just as a child), it doesn’t seem like an authoritarian vibe, it seems like a threat. Like, let me masturbate in front of you, or I’m going to physically assault you. And that environment – the one when men are bullies – is the one Cernovich moves in.

                As such, it seems far more likely that 1 percent (or less!) of people would like it than 10-15. If that 1 percent of people want to enjoy themselves, they need to find a way to not threaten / otherwise upset the rest of us. It’s not just a parsing problem.Report

              • Joe Sal in reply to Maribou says:

                I have no problems with you seeing it as a threat, and probably would advise it’s a healthy way to look at it.

                Anecdotally, in the environment I’m in, there are a lot more than 1 percent of females that want to see a authoritarian male figure circusing the monkey. I’m not an authoritarian, and don’t fulfill the requests, but there is crazy quantum of opportunity out there.Report

              • Maribou in reply to Joe Sal says:

                @joe-sal Are you sure they want that in person, and without agreeing to it in advance, in a suddenly kind of threatening situation? Because that’s the scenario we’re talking about here. Stuff that can be fun, kinky, or interesting when the proper safeguards are in place is not necessarily any of those things without them.

                Just wanting what you say they want is a whole different kettle of fish, without those 3 extra pieces. And it’s the three extra pieces that make me put it at one percent or less. (And assume Cernovich is rather terrible at being a human, even before Veronica put him in context.)Report

              • Joe Sal in reply to Maribou says:

                Ah, yeah, that not being agreeable before the action does make it a much smaller percentage, your correctReport

              • Kim in reply to Joe Sal says:

                This sounds like something that’s mostly practical… on the surface. It definitely has vibes of authoritarianism to it, and that’s… kinda not good.

                I’m not sure ANYONE would like to be told this, in that fashion.
                A sheepish, “erm, I’ve got a problem, and I don’t want to leave the car until it’s fixed?” … that’s kinda cute, maybe? At least it gives the other person the CHANCE to say, “erm, not cool. you can sit there, I’ll get some ice”Report

              • Joe Sal in reply to Kim says:

                Yeah I agree, there are about a million ways not to phrase it that particular way.Report

              • Kazzy in reply to Joe Sal says:

                IF you’re going to engage in a behavior that is desirable to a small segment of people a d threatening to most, you need to confirm who you’re interacting with before proceeding. This is the basics.Report

              • Joe Sal in reply to Kazzy says:

                You do know my camps first rule is don’t agress against people, or their property yes?

                Most of the above was trying to figure out other peoples behavior and values in an analysis that didn’t have many bright lines on the page, about people who aren’t very well known. Then there was interplay about morality and such.

                If I appear a little confused, I’m sorry dude.Report

    • Maribou in reply to j r says:

      @j-r I think you’re misreading the example insofar as that Vikram isn’t saying they all go in the same category, he’s saying that the first person explanation of Cernovich may actually explain the thinking of the other two. That doesn’t equate to holding them all equally culpable.

      Also, I don’t think the woman is behaving at all acceptably in your scenario. Trying to override someone’s intentions and get them to have more sex with you than they want is a consent problem no matter who is doing it. There are factors that might cross the scenario over into sexual assault in my mind. (I’m not saying Cernovich committed sexual assault. I’m saying both he, and your hypothetical woman, are in very very very ethically dodgy territory.)

      That said,
      1) “Or is there is something about the strength differential that makes this behavior from a male more inherently threatening? ” Yes, very much so. Very very much so. I find that most men who are stronger than me are really clueless about how that affects our interactions when they want things and I don’t. Not just in the bedroom but in general. TBH I’m pretty sure a large part of the reason I weigh 300 pounds these days is because it makes me a lot harder to physically push around (even on tiny little micro things). This is a big part of why all and sundry keep trying to get every woman to take self-defense courses. I think that teaching people to be more aware of their power (physical, situational, etc.) would also help a lot, but of course I don’t see Cernovich as someone who would use that knowledge to anyone’s benefit but his own.
      2) Speaking of power, there’s a fair amount of white-dude power going on in both of those situations, more or less inherently, as well. The weight of history – not just or even mostly the current situation, but literally hundreds of years of history – means that anyone in one of those situations with a white dude knows who is more likely to be believed if one partner tries to bolt, who has more power to screw up the other’s life if they’re unhappy, etc. TBF if the woman in the first scenario is also white, and the other person is not, that does shift the balance of power there.
      3) Intention does matter, at least to me, in these situations, when trying to figure out if someone is acting ethically. Or at least, declared intention informs how trustworthy I think their version of the story is, for sure. In the workplace, default assumption (especially when there are many voices saying the same problem exists) is that people don’t want that, so I’m not that interested in intention unless both parties claim it was fine with them. In the back of a car, it’s more complex. I don’t care who the “me” is, or what gender they are: “She let me pull her shirt up but wouldn’t let me take it off. She also wouldn’t let me take off her pants.” doesn’t sound at all like ethical sex. It’s a huge red flag that immediately makes me wonder if this woman actually wanted to hook up or if he was like, driving her home from a date, she wanted to get out of the car without further interactions, and she felt trapped. I realize this sounds like a huge leap – and I’m certainly NOT assuming she was trapped – given that he mentions that she went upstairs I think it’s more likely that she was very drunk (note the mention of the DUI) and may or may not have been able to consent properly. But, you know, the difference between “he said” (whether the guy believes it or not) and the perspective of the other partner involved is a huge part of why date rapes happen. Other red flags for me involve her pulling her hand away. Any time someone admits to physically pushing someone else to do more sexually than they are willing to do, the rest of the story basically reads like “Blah blah blah don’t trust anything this person says they are probably making up a totally different version of what happened than what actually happened and this is the penthouse letters version of what happened.”
      4) My shorthand of the scenario Cernovich describes (which would be the same if ANYONE of any gender described it, unless I had the other person there to tell me I’m wrong) is “I picked up someone who was so drunk they weren’t sure what they did or didn’t want to do, they may have been blackout drunk actually, and then I proceeded to eventually have sex with them even though they would have been horrified by how things went down if they were sober at the time.” That’s a big leap from what’s described, but it seems far more likely to me, based on personal experience and second-hand recountings, than what’s described does. And yes, his creepy red-pill awfulness does come in here – honestly I wonder if he drugged her drink. Now, OF COURSE, there is a problem with how often people end up in a situation where they are basically non-consenting and wandering around. I actually seriously worry about that, and see it as an issue that goes far beyond just the sex part – the sex-they-can’t-remember-and-or-wouldn’t-consent-to-sober part is a symptom, not the disease. But the attitude that sees a drunk person and thinks “ooh, I can have sex with that, how can I close?” is a way worse problem, IMO. Possibly less fixable, less worthy of attention – but still, ethically, far worse.Report

      • Kim in reply to Maribou says:

        So, you’re saying that the guy from Oglaf! who teases a girl into thinking he’s about to have sex with her, then screams “Got your Clit!” and runs off laughing is the person we ought to support? Because he’s the one who didn’t want to have sex?
        [I’m told this was a hilarious prank.]

        We have this whole “If you can hack someone, then you can rape them, no consequences” mentality in the Western World. It sucks, but it stems from the whole “Innocent until Proven Guilty” game. Drugs are a shortcut, and we like to disincentivize them, just like we like to disincentivize unequal status/power relationships.

        Not Fair Game.

        But the game’s fucking rigged even after you take all that shit away.Report

        • Maribou in reply to Kim says:

          @kim I agree with your conclusion. In fact, I don’t think “getting to have sex” should be a game (certainly not a weirdo version of solitaire where the other person’s feelings don’t matter). I think we can find other ways to do things as a society. I also think we’re a long way from that, same as you do.

          And no, of course I don’t think he’s the person we ought to support. There are a million different ways to be an asshole in the sack. I just find him less culpable than someone whose version of Got Your Clit involves coercing sex out of someone who doesn’t want to.Report

      • j r in reply to Maribou says:


        I think you’re misreading the example insofar as that Vikram isn’t saying they all go in the same category, he’s saying that the first person explanation of Cernovich may actually explain the thinking of the other two.

        If that is true then it may be an even worse example. All we have is a piece of an anecdote from his point of view. We don’t know what happened leading up to this bit and we don’t really know what happened after. We don’t know how much is true and how much is made up or embellished for the internet. And most important, we don’t really know anything at all about the other person and her level of involvement and consent.

        We can have a bunch of if/then conversations about how much of this might be true or how the woman might have felt. And maybe those are useful conversations. But they’re not really conversations about the truth or the ethics of this particular situation. And I don’t know how much insight they give us into CK or Ratner or any of those guys. The psyche of someone tactically pushing the limits of consent within an already sexually intimate situation is quite different than the psyche of someone trying to instigate a sexually intimate situation with an act of unsolicited masturbation. Their goals are likely just of a fundamentally different nature.Report

    • veronica d in reply to j r says:

      @j-r — I’ve literally been in that situation, on the receiving end. It was in a bar. She was flirting with me. I wasn’t attracted to her. I kept brushing her off. So she hiked her skirt and showed it all.

      It was really fucking gross.

      Oh and she was a cis woman, if that matters.Report

  10. Pinky says:

    It’s weird to me that an article like this doesn’t use the term “lust”. A system of ethics which includes the Seven Deadly Sins seems sufficient to cover this whole controversy.Report

    • Oscar Gordon in reply to Pinky says:

      Does ‘lust’ cover the underlying power dynamic? I am seriously asking, for myself, because that doesn’t really jive with the definition of lust I have in my head.Report

      • Maribou in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

        @oscar-gordon Lust, at least as I was taught about it post-Vatican-II, is not merely desire but also desire that is object- rather than person-oriented. Making sex exclusively about physical pleasure and the basest form of sexual satisfaction, basically.

        Power enables that, perhaps even increases temptation towards it, so yeah, it’s accounted for.

        Now, as a good little social anarchist and heretic, I personally think that has a lot do with power over people being creepy and awful more or less inherently, and all the fallout that comes from centuries of it nonetheless being how we operate…

        but other ethical structures see power as inherently part of God’s plan that can be, like all things, twisted to evil, and lust as a deformation of healthy sexual desire (for whatever definition of healthy sexual desire – and sometimes that can be a lot more inclusive than one might assume. This is fairly solid left-Christian ethics, too, not just the rightward kind – their definitions of healthy differ but the underlying expectation is the same.)Report

        • Oscar Gordon in reply to Maribou says:

          Being the un-christian that I am, this helps, quite a lot.

          Thank you @maribouReport

          • Joe Sal in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

            I had a similar definition parsing problem. I suppose it pivots on the desire component of lust. If the desire component is to be mirrored by the objectified person then the desire collapses on rejection. If the desire component is purely to objectify then no mirroring is required and the desire continues after rejection.Report

      • Pinky in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

        There can be different motivations for sexual sins, or any kind of sins – although if you’re CK’ing in front of someone, the sexual element of it is inherent. I personally like the old formulation of the threefold temptations: pride, vanity, and lust. Broadly speaking, pride involves one’s relationship with God; vanity or vainglory, one’s relationship toward others; and lust, one’s relationship toward oneself (via one’s pleasures). A person can commit sexual sins based on all three. The way I think of it, and I’m not saying this to judge anyone, it’s just the way I think of it, is that pride, vanity, and lust are Bobby, Jack, and Teddy.

        ETA: Jesus was tempted three times in the desert. One was food – a perfectly acceptable pleasure for a human, but not an appetite that was appropriate for Him to fulfill at the time. One was throwing Himself off the Temple to be saved by the angels, and what a display that would be in front of all the people! The third was ok, let’s drop this whole act, just worship the devil instead of God and I’ll give you everything. That’s lust, vainglory, and pride.Report

        • Oscar Gordon in reply to Pinky says:

          pride, vanity, and lust are Bobby, Jack, and Teddy

          Ya know, I can see how that works.Report

        • Burt Likko in reply to Pinky says:

          Interestingly, lawyers and advertisers are taught that the primal emotional motivators of a persuasion subject are fear, greed, shame, and sex. If you want to persuade someone to act in a particular way, you must appeal to one of these four emotional (or at least, irrational) urges.

          Greed : Pride :: Shame : Vanity :: Sex : Lust. With that said, while ranking the effectiveness of these three varies from individual to individual, “fear” is the motivator that for nearly everyone trumps all of the other three.

          Interesting, isn’t it?Report

  11. Kazzy says:

    It stands out to me that, in different ways, Louis CK and Cernovich ply their trade by making others uncomfortable. It doesn’t seem that surprising that to do so in a sexual context may prove appealing to them in a way that seems the exact opposite to most others.Report

    • aaron david in reply to Kazzy says:

      Is/was that the point of CK? I will admit that I never got his humor, nor that others found him so good. My son and I tried to watch one of his specials, and neither of us was at all impressed, turning it off eventually*. But, I will admit that I have no taste for the humor of uncomfortableness. It is usually so sophomoric. I always preferred clever above anything.

      *He seemed to relish making masturbatory gestures, which in retrospect seems perfectly in line with his life.Report

      • Kazzy in reply to aaron david says:


        It wasn’t sophomoric humor or gross out humor or any of those sorts of cheap “uncomfortable” laps. He dug deep into heavy topics and his humor is/was often rooted in exploring and saying out loud potentially uncomfortable truths. His bits about his children resonated deeply with parents, in part because he said things we’ve all felt at times but would never say out loud. He gave voice to that in a way that would give you pause because it seemed like the wrong thing to say and yet… you identified with it. And that was discomforting.

        He was, in many ways, “woke”… dabbling in racial humor that aimed to call out or challenge racism… while not necessarily being preachy or holier than though. I think of his bit on time travel and how only white people went back in time because the past pretty much sucked for most POCs. So you’d laugh at that joke because, “Hahaha, he’s right… its true!” but then also be left thinking, “Hm… he IS right… that IS true… now what?”

        So, yea, I’d definitely say there was an element of keeping people offcenter, challenging them, and ultimately generating some discomfort.Report

        • Morat20 in reply to Kazzy says:

          Two bits of his stand out to me, both involving his kids and the sort of parenting mistakes that are so very, very common and so very, very painful.

          I can’t really recall much of the rest of his act, but I do remember the bits talking about parenting.

          They’re not comfortable stories, because you feel for both him and his daughter. But they’re funny, and very “true” — he does describe rather real and common experiences raising kids.Report

          • Kazzy in reply to Morat20 says:

            Indeed. And he speaks honestly to the conflicting feelings we as parents feel. It is unsettling… but also empowering.

            I imagine his apparent approach with women had much of the former, but none of the latter.Report

            • Morat20 in reply to Kazzy says:

              In the end, it’s not really surprising. His comedy tends to revolve around awkwardness, conflicting desires, and bad choices, and a lack of instinctive empathy.

              And that last one — you need a healthy ego and a lack of an ability to stand in someone else’s shoes to really do something like that, or be in deep need of a power trip. Or both.Report

  12. Tod Kelly says:

    As to the question being debated in multiple places in these threads regarding how bad Cenovich’s sexual behavior was, I think you have to answer: it’s at least bad enough that no one is even talking about the “Indian girl” parts.Report

    • Maribou in reply to Tod Kelly says:

      @tod-kelly I didn’t call that out specifically, but it was certainly baked into the package of my response to j-r, under point number 2.Report

    • Burt Likko in reply to Tod Kelly says:

      Perhaps it’s because it’s too easy to imagine that Cernovich’s story about whacking it in front of his date would have been identical with any other group swapped in place. He’s still frustrated that his date wouldn’t put out like he wanted, and his notation of her race is a way of venting that frustration. Play the substitution game:

      “Anyone who has dated Indian Israeli Black Catholic girls know how annoying they are, and how hard they are to close. ”

      Indian Arabic Asian Russian girls are selfish teases, and she would have no problem leaving me hanging.”

      Swapping to any of those other groups, I note, does not change the voice of Cernovich’s narrative a bit. Wouldn’t have mattered — what mattered was he was horny and her consent or lack thereof had become irrelevant to him.Report

      • Maribou in reply to Burt Likko says:

        @burt-likko You have a point about the interchangeability, but I think it’s a bit more than just venting frustration. Dehumanizing how you see other humans requires, well, dehumanizing them. Othering – insisting on a group that they belong to that is supposedly Very Different Not At All Like Us Real Humans over here – is part of the dehumanizing process. (Sorry, there are cites for this – granted mostly involving test subjects in the military or college – but I’m too tired to look them up at the moment.)

        Noting SOME other group that she is a member of, let alone TWO such groups (both race and gender), is, to my way of seeing it, part of his process of dehumanizing – it’s a extra brick in the wall of cutting himself off from how utterly shitty he’s being.

        It’s still all his dumb interchangeable awfulness, but there is a reason it is part of his narrative beyond the frustration. And if it wasn’t part of his narrative (internally is just as bad as externally), he might act rather differently.Report

        • Pinky in reply to Maribou says:

          Having thought about this some more, and what a great use of time that was, I’m wondering if we’re barking up the wrong tree talking about power. I can see there being power in the Weinstein story, but the Cernovich story strikes me as a most pathetic example of powerlessness. Where the Louis CK story falls on this, I have no idea. And yeah, I know that some people get off on humiliation, but I really don’t see Cernovich thinking he’s the hero of that story. I think Burt is right that this is all about frustration. Cernovich’s story especially fits more the image of the “beta” loser playing with himself watching porn than the image of the “alpha” guy displaying domination.Report

          • Maribou in reply to Pinky says:

            @pinky “I really don’t see Cernovich thinking he’s the hero of that story.”

            I don’t agree with that at all, actually. I mean, you see a pathetic example of powerlessness and I think Burt does too, but I see a guy who is crowing in public, and as far as I can tell has suffered no real harm (other than to his own soul) over getting a drunk woman to drive him home, manipulating her from some stupid hypothesis of an “anchor heuristic” (that part is clearer – that it’s a deliberate manipulation – if you read the archived original, which I cannot, in conscience, recommend) into letting him jerk off in front of her *because he believed it would lead to him fucking her later*, and later fucking her quasi-successfully (by his lights). To the admiration of his legion of followers. I mean, this guy gets praised up *by the President’s kid*. If he’s a beta, he’s a beta who has made an alpha career for himself out of subverting expectations.

            And from the perspective of “what is the power of the two people in the car in that moment?”, it sure seems like he has power over the other person. The drunk female person of color that he carefully set up to have nowhere “safe” to go other than his apartment. (Note that I’m not saying she doesn’t have agency and I’m not saying her choices were awesome – they’re just Not At All The Central Problem, in the way his power over and lust for her were. They don’t make what happened, if it was harmful to her (which I’m assuming it was), her *fault*. Also note that it has crossed my mind since I read the OP that he might be making a lot of this stuff up, and that in reality the power he commands is based on his disgusting lies and incitement of other people to do awful things.)

            Likewise, Louis CK had/has a fair amount of power *within the comedy world*. Women weren’t putting up with him because they felt sorry for him, either by their own reports or by reasonable intuition – they were putting up with him because a) they believed he could seriously fuck up their careers (much like Weinstein except on a smaller scale), with, I think a side of b) he’s physically imposing to almost any woman – again I can’t overstate how much physical fear *many many* women have that a man will react to rejection by doubling down and making the situation high-contact, and c) until this whole #metoo thing, women in general expected in general to be shamed, doxxed and/or pilloried if they said anything about these things. you can find something invasive, even assaultive, and still more strongly want to not be shamed/doxxed or pilloried over it.

            anyway, I’m wandering off topic, but any time you bring up power:
            1) the question is “relative to whom?”
            2) it’s a kyriarchy, not an absolute binary (which I suppose is just a restatement of 1)
            And in this case I think both of those guys have power relative to the people they’re mistreating.

            Related to my other comment, though, is it possible Cernovich is miserable and in his heart of hearts wishes he wasn’t such a massive utter fished up waste? Yeah, and theologically I think I believe that pretty much has to be the case. Just doesn’t mean he’s powerless to resist his own awfulness. Free will is pretty darn central to my understanding of ethics.Report

            • Pinky in reply to Maribou says:

              I haven’t read the full story. Sincere thanks for not recommending it. What I got out of the story I’ve seen is a guy touching himself because no one else would. If that turns out to be one tactical step in a great story of conquest, well, hat’s off to the gent. But either way, an “alpha” with his pud in his hands is indistinguishable from a “beta” with a pud in his hands.

              If Cernovich’s gal had made the natural human reaction to the sight (laughing at the loser with his pud in his hands), the story would have ended with Cernovich crying. If Weinstein’s gal had laughed, she would have been blackballed and/or black and blue. It’s hard for me to see Cernovich as a powerful person.Report

              • Maribou in reply to Pinky says:

                @pinky “the story would have ended with Cernovich crying.”

                See, I’d like to believe that, but I don’t. The idea that those measly pathetic loser guys aren’t every bit as dangerous to women as the so-called alphas they like to imagine they are is a myth.

                Plenty of pathetic loser types are also dangerous and violent to those they see as physically weaker than them. And antagonizing such types (eg by laughing at their pud) tends to make them more dangerous, not less.

                Evil and dominion show up at all levels, not merely as something the most powerful do.Report

              • Joe Sal in reply to Maribou says:

                I’m kinda of curious about how something is perceived from a social anarchist viewpoint.

                In Burts interchangable exercise about the Cernovich scenario. How do the dynamics-criminality-morality of the situation shift if she were his wife?

                The defining part of what separates social anarchism from individual anarchism is a measure of authority conceded to social order/institutionalism.

                The individual anarchist can just point out that she doesn’t want this whether she is married or not, her individual will is sovereign.

                The social anarchist has to detangle the social rule of order before freeing her from the duties of the order of marriage being a primary ethical construct of society as sovereign.Report

              • Maribou in reply to Joe Sal says:

                @joe-sal No, see, all the “social” part does is give her a voluntary cooperative of likeminded individuals that she can seek justice and/or refuge from, if she needs it, rather than working things out with someone she theoretically knows really well… Her choice, either way.

                You’ve mistaken the role of social in social anarchism.

                As for marriage, I don’t believe in it as a legal / institutional obligation whatsoever, ideally. Historically it’s a power grab used to consolidate power grabs.

                (Obviously we don’t live in the ideal world and in this non-ideal world it serves a lot of purposes, many of which resist the state and/or are extremely noble in nature, eg making sure people can visit each other in the hospital…)Report

              • Joe Sal in reply to Maribou says:

                That sounds good but it appears to be dismissing the social component of justice that would be found in marriage where the society decides what is and isn’t justice as a mechanism of the sovereignty of social society.

                The decision of offering mutual aid is decided by the group, and not her (even if they are similar minded). If she doesn’t meet the criteria for aid there is no reason to expect the group to give aid, justice or refuge (at least formally).

                I just don’t see how your erasing societies decisions while continuing to use social.

                I’m not trying to be ugly here, it’s something that I’ve been trying to define for i guess about seven years now, the differences between right and left forms of anarchy.

                There is a fundamental difference between sovereignty of a group versus sovereignty of an individual.Report

              • Maribou in reply to Joe Sal says:

                I realize you’re not trying to be ugly.

                And really “social anarchism” is a short hand meant to describe whose actual work and writings I resonate with (*cough* overall – some of the old guys really suck in some ways while providing inspiration in others *cough*), who is pointing in a similar direction to the one where my heart points, vs who isn’t. And I would welcome a better shorthand, if and when I find one.

                Some key to our differences may be found in this parenthetical: “(at least formally).” I am not too interested in formally.

                Some key may also be found if you consider that I’m not a pure individualist – on some level I don’t believe that people exist purely as individuals. Even a hermit has been shaped by the people who were around them as a child. Are you familiar with the ethical concept of ubuntu? It’s not directly related but it’s relevant nonetheless.

                And I apologize if I seem like I’m evading your questions – that’s not my goal; but rather I don’t really experience my own existence (let alone anything else) in the same framework as you are proposing so it’s hard for me to address your questions in that framework.Report

              • Joe Sal in reply to Maribou says:

                Ha, there were several old anarchists.
                Even I am not a pure individualist. It is a place I found when trying to figure out how I function/think.

                I was around a lot of people who’s influence should have made me a very different person than I am.
                What I found was I built individual constructs out of what appeared useful/moral/true.

                These constructs could be developed from something I had seen in an instant or something over many years, but either way I adopted and built the constructs I use. If society had done that for me, I would have become a very different person.

                Found the ubuntu concept before but had forgotten about it. There is something not really similar but along the vein of humanity, I may have read or just picked up along the way:

                “if you win the race, but lose your humanity you’ve really won nothing”

                Competition of various sorts have determined much of the poverty and bounty in my life so the race thing appeared to fit. Of course even within that phrase the ideas of humanity are subjective and positional. Is it humane to do the ‘tough love’ thing?

                The ‘live and let live’ one is very subjective. Most everyone has heard it, but there are different meanings from person to person.

                Part of choosing individual sovereignty was the understanding that society would never know my constructs better than I know them. It would not be able to be perfectly informed of my preferences and make the decisions for me that needed to be made. That awareness is why individualist resonates, (plus getting run over by formal social sovereignty many, many times).Report

              • Burt Likko in reply to Joe Sal says:

                Perhaps a bit differently from @maribou , absent further information, if a married couple are both participating in the same sex act, I presume that they’ve both consented to it. In other words, I’d say marriage creates a rebuttable presumption of mutual consent.Report

              • Maribou in reply to Burt Likko says:

                @burt-likko I tend to also assume the same thing, *however* if it were described the way Cernovich describes it, I’d stop assuming that. (If described as j-r does, I’d assume it was a bit weird and uncomfortable but probably within bounds for them unless I was told otherwise.)

                Too many abusive marriages even today (including my parents’), too many centuries of the concept of rape (or lesser sexual assaults) within marriage being literally a legal impossibility, for me to not be nearly as wary of sexual-othering-as-justification-for-dehumanization within a marriage as outside of it.Report

              • Joe Sal in reply to Burt Likko says:

                Thanks Burt, I was hoping you would chime in.

                Is there any way the woman would be able to improve her position other than not being married to the guy to start with?Report

              • Burt Likko in reply to Joe Sal says:

                Protip: Don’t date Mike Cernovich.Report

              • Joe Sal in reply to Burt Likko says:

                Well if the ability to consistently apply logic was part of the human element, that tip would probably work fine.Report

            • Burt Likko in reply to Maribou says:

              …I mean, you see a pathetic example of powerlessness and I think Burt does too…

              No, I do not, and to the extent that my earlier comment makes such an implication, I regret whatever phrasing led to that conclusion. I see it as a theft of power.

              When he made his proposition and was turned down, Cernovich then engaged in a sex act despite his partner’s lack of consent. If all Cernovich wanted to do was whack off to relieve the “pressure” of his own sexual arousal, he could have done that at home, in private, after the date ended, the way a normal person masturbates. That would have been a morally neutral act.

              Instead, he imposed his will that his date watch him engage in this sexual act. Her watching the act was a part of that act and it was, as I read it, something she did not consent to do. Oh, sure, one might imagine different circumstances in which watching one’s partner masturbate is an act one would consent to and perhaps even enjoy. This was not such a situation.

              Okay, so it’s not “rape,” in the sense that Cernovich didn’t penetrate her. Maybe it’s not even “sexual assault” in that he didn’t touch her body while engaged in this sex act. But he did require her to participate in that sex act — she had no choice but to sit there and watch him do himself, and it’s pretty strongly implied that her watching was a part of how Cernovich took his sexual pleasure in the situation. This after she clearly indicated that she did not want to escalate the degree of physical contact underway. Cernovich’s own writings quoted in the OP make clear that this was how he displaced the woman’s power to control the situation with his own.

              Rape? No, but it’s still a violation of her autonomy and so I call it a weak cousin of rape. If I were a prosecutor, I’d call it “lewd and lascivious conduct” and press charges.Report

          • Vikram Bath in reply to Pinky says:

            …I really don’t see Cernovich thinking he’s the hero of that story.

            The story is written as “here’s what I did, and you should try this too. As I mentioned, he is a professional advice-giver. People pay him money to go to conferences he runs so they can learn how to behave from himReport

      • Damon in reply to Burt Likko says:

        In my massively limited research, there does seem to be some correlation of sexual willingness early on in the dating thing with some ethnic groups. I’ve gotten into the sack easier and faster with caucasian women that say most asian women. Sadly, my research efforts are currently on hold. Russian women no like to share.


        • Burt Likko in reply to Damon says:

          Well, I’m happy for you that you’re not completely celibate!

          Since my divorce and return to the dating scene earlier this year, my experimental results have been uniform and yielded no discernable difference between ethnic groups whatsoever. I hadn’t thought until just now to classify my results by racial phenotype, but here you go:

          White woman #1: Went on date (alcohol consumed), no sex thereafter.
          African-American (Black) woman #1: Coffee date, no sex thereafter.
          Indian-American woman: Coffee date, no sex thereafter.
          Korean-American woman: Went on date (no alcohol consumed), no sex thereafter.
          White woman #2: Coffee date, no sex thereafter. (But she is praying for me, as she was deeply disturbed to learn that I am an atheist.)
          White woman #3: Went on date (alcohol consumed), no sex thereafter.
          Latina (Mexican/Salvadorena) woman #1: would not even make a date with me.
          African-American (Black) woman #2: Went on date (no alcohol consumed), no sex thereafter.
          White woman #3: Flaked on three dates in a row, each time about an hour before we were to meet. Thus, no sex.
          Latina (Argentine) woman #2: Went on date (alcohol consumed), no sex thereafter.

          As you can see, there is no variance whatsoever in this pattern, so “racial phenotype” is not the variable that seems likely to yield an adequate explanation for the phenomenon of “did not have sex with me.” Neither, apparently, is the choice of beverage.

          There is one other constant factor in all of these dates, but that common factor appears to lead inevitably to a highly unpalatable conclusion. Therefore I discard this data ab initio and search for alternative explanations.Report

    • Vikram Bath in reply to Tod Kelly says:

      It’s at least bad enough that no one is talking about the “availability heuristic” partReport

    • j r in reply to Tod Kelly says:

      I personally was not trying to debate how bad Cernovich’s sexual behavior was. My point was that it likely has nothing to do with what Louis CK was doing. I really don’t think it is possible to meaningfully debate Cernovich’s behavior in this context.

      If you were teaching a class in sexual ethics, you would probably go about it in a certain way. You might bring up one or two controversial examples and elicit responses, but only as an instructive exercise in how easy it is for people’s pre-existing prejudices and ideological alliances make it to objectively assess the behavior of people about whom we already have string feelings. The bulk of the instruction would be setting out possible ethical frameworks and extrapolating some rules of acceptable behavior based on those frameworks. If you wanted to use anecdotes or thought experiments, you’d want to make them as neutral as possible to keep people focused on the interactions taking place and not on the identity of the participants. At least that’s how you are supposed to do ethics. I do realize that for wide swaths of the internet the focus on identity has almost wholly displaced meaningful ethical discussion.Report

      • Damon in reply to j r says:

        Well said.Report

      • Kazzy in reply to j r says:

        I think there is more similarity between Cernovich and CK than you do. Both men propositioned and/or attempted to have sex with women, were rejected, and proceeded to masturbate in front of them. Their motivations may have been different — it’s unclear — but their behaviors were similar. And, to me, clearly wrong.

        And if the genders were reversed… if I learned of a woman who responded to an unintereted man by masturbating in front of him, I’d criticize that behavior as well. Maybe not in the same manner because there are some differences, but it’d still fall on the wrong side of the line for me.

        I’ve had women pressure or attempt to pressure me into sexual interactions I did not want. It was off putting and ended the relationships.Report

        • j r in reply to Kazzy says:

          Both men propositioned and/or attempted to have sex with women, were rejected, and proceeded to masturbate in front of them.

          I am pretty sure that is not the case. Didn’t CK go straight to asking these women if they would watch him masturbate? I thought that was his whole pitch. And that’s he basis of my claim. If I’m wrong and CK did only resort to the masturbation thing after being rejected from a more traditional come on, then I walk back my previous statement.

          As for all the other stuff. The ethics of pushing for more in consensual intimate situations is completely situational and subject to a whole bunch of preconditions relating to the nature of the existing relationship, the behavior in question, the dynamics of verbal and non-verbal communication, so on and so forth. It’s very hard to have these conversations online because people to default one pre-conceived scenario and ignore all the others.Report

          • Kazzy in reply to j r says:

            I think I heard different stories about CK, which means we either don’t know enough or he didn’t have a set MO.

            I agree that there is much nuance often lost here. But I also think Cernovich’s own story makes clear this wasn’t a miscommunication. Maybe he was doing a shtick but that’s on him.Report

            • Kim in reply to Kazzy says:

              From what NYT is reporting, there’s no “I want sex, okay, no sex, now can I whip it?”

              There’s a sustained pattern of “I masturbate in front of people who are questionably okay with that.” (Aka TheySaidYes, but didn’t really mean it.)

              There’s also CK offering private apologies to people as soon as they speak up (which, mind, is often years later).Report

        • Kim in reply to Kazzy says:

          Can I get a cite on “he asked multiple women to have sex with him, then proceeded to ask if they minded if he masturbated in front of him?”Report