Thursday, January 18, 2018

Much "Consensual" Sex is Non-Consensual — #MeToo and the Muddy Middle Ground of Social Communication


Comedian Aziz Ansari on women who don't go out with nice geeky guys like him. Listen to this brief excerpt, then read below what this "nice geeky guy" is really like on a date.

by Gaius Publius

To understand my headline, read the following short excerpts from Elizabeth Bruenig on the problem women have when men occupy the "social signals" middle ground between rape and "taking no for an answer," then read how that works in practice via an account of a date between "Grace" (not her real name) with comedian Aziz Ansari.

That middle ground is where much of the #MeToo action is, and it gives the lie to our black-and-white thinking about "Just say No" when it comes to sexual assault.

Note: This is not primarily about whether or not Aziz Ansari is a bad person, nor about the degree to which Grace caused her own problem. It's about what happens on dates when people are unfamiliar with each other, how much of the communication between them is social and non-verbal, why painful aggressions aren't always escalated to police reports, and how all of this plays into the #MeToo movement.

This is also not about "these modern times" and "kids today." Using social signals to communicate is broadly characteristic of our species, has been for millennia, and is not just an aspect of "these times." The only thing that's new to us now is that sexual interaction is much less rigidly constrained — and much more a social activity, as well as a personal one — than it was through most of the last century. Cultures in which sex was similarly social — and patriarchy was similarly constrained (cultures without droit du seigneur practices, for example) — would have evidenced these same species-specific problems.

The "Social Signals" Middle Ground

Elizabeth Bruenig, writing in the Washington Post, says this about sex as an intimate social act:
One of the principal outcomes of the sexual revolution was to establish that sex is just like any other social interaction — nothing taboo or sacred about it, no big deal. [Atlantic writer Caitlin] Flanagan points out [here] that, in her day, women were advised to slap men or jump out of cars or scream and shout in order to bring an encounter verging on nonconsent to an end: Sex [...] didn’t need to be treated with ordinary manners.
Yet in most other social interactions, one doesn't move immediately from "I'm kind of interested in doing this with you" to slapping and screaming "Get out!" Which means that, contrary to what Flanagan says, sex is often treated with "ordinary manners." That's just the way it works with social interactions — they're treated with "manners" long before they escalate into fights — and most would say that's a good thing.

In the real world, sexual activity, especially with a new partner, starts with signals and its communication can continue that way for quite some time. This places much of our sexual communication in a "social signals" middle ground, well between between the extremes of saying explicitly No or giving explicit consent.

This places much of our sexual communication and interaction in the field of etiquette. Bruenig again (emphasis added):
Yet, while becoming just another social interaction stripped sex of much taboo, it’s still subject to the everyday pressures of etiquette, which can be just as binding. If a guest were lingering too late after a party, or a lunch partner boring you, or an acquaintance pestering you to borrow your umbrella, you wouldn’t scream or shout or slap them, and you likely wouldn’t abruptly leave. You would likely try to be subtle and transmit certain signals without a confrontation. You would likely go along to get along. You would likely grin and bear it. You would likely do this because that’s what we do in workaday social interactions, and sex is one of those now.
This is what I mean by the "social signals" middle ground, the clear but muddiable middle between two more explicit ends of a communication spectrum.

At one end of this spectrum, the good end, is the man or woman who "takes No for an answer" — even and especially a non-verbal, signaled No (which is how all No's begin, as signals and hints). Interested Party approaches signaling sex, Person Approached signals lack of interest, Interested Party retreats. Message ("No thank you") received.

Note that the communication is clear even though it's not verbally explicit.

 Ignoring social signals. Deliberate? Who can say? (Photo: Thinkstock)

At the other end of the spectrum, the bad end, is the rape attempt. Here all social bets are off, and etiquette and behavioral rules no longer apply. Interested Party uses force, Rejecting Party uses force, and the attempt is fought off until resistance succeeds or fails. In most of these interactions, both parties move to explicit verbal communication rather quickly ("Don't fight me, dammit!" "Get away, you pig!").

The rest of our sexual negotiations, at least in the early stages of a relationship, lie between these extremes, in the same way that most of our social interactions do.

Consider, for example, how you get a dinner guest to leave who wants to stay forever. Do you scream "Get out!" early in the interaction, or do something gentler, then slowly escalate? Of course you do the latter.

Now consider a sexual encounter where one party becomes less and less comfortable, is less and less willing to continue, and the other party persists. Is this rape? It is if the uncomfortable party jumps his or her response to the far end of the social spectrum — with an etiquette-defying punch to the gut, for example — and threatens to call the police.

But what if the resistant party just increases the clarity of his or her social signals without the punch to the gut, or tries to exit without turning the situation into a fight? What if that party is voluntarily undressed at the time? Is it rape now?

Not really, And yet, yes, it is, though not in a legal sense.

The Intimate Act of Having Social Sex

The difference, of course, between the act of having sex and the act of getting a resistant, late-staying dinner guest to leave is that sex is not just a social act negotiated with social signals — it's a deeply personal surrender of one's body to another. Even in the most casual sexual encounters, allowing anyone, especially a relative stranger, the level of access to your body that occurs during sex requires a great deal of trust. And for many of us, engaging in sex grants a great deal of access to our most personal feelings as well.

Sex may be a social act, but it's an intimate and personal act as well. It's both. Which means that when even casual sex goes badly wrong, our intimate sides can also be deeply affected.

Bruenig puts it this way. "[S]ex is a domain so intimate and personal that more harm can be done than in most social situations, and that given that heightened capacity for harm, we should expect people to operate with greater conscientiousness, concern and care in that domain than in others. If you are still hanging around your tired host’s home long after the party is over, excuse yourself and leave — don’t wait for them to order you out or call the police. If you are kissing someone and they’re barely responsive ... then get their coat for them and call it a night. [Aziz] Ansari didn’t commit a crime [see below for more]. But cruelty isn’t restricted to criminal acts."

To be specific, the cruelty mentioned above is in ignoring social signals, even strong ones, because they are "just" social signals and not screaming rejections or punches to the gut.

Because sexual activity is both social and deeply personal, especially between unfamiliar partners. #MeToo isn't and can't be just about rape, or about how "No means No." #MeToo about everything that happens in that social signals middle ground as well.

Example: An Account of a Date Between "Grace" and Aziz Ansari

The following is a perfect example of the "social signals middle" when it comes to sexual communication, of how difficult it can be to say refuse and be heeded when the forcing party won't acknowledge the signals and the resisting party won't escalate to an out-and-out fight.

This was not rape exactly, but it is use of force, and the consequences to the victim were devastating, as they would have been to most people, as they are in fact each day that passes to hundreds throughout the country.

The entire story is here: "I went on a date with Aziz Ansari. It turned into the worst night of my life". Caitlin Flanagan calls this "revenge porn." Perhaps, but it's a perfect example of what happens when a social sexual encounter turns bad. I'm excerpting the story with enough detail to give a feel for what happened. To read the entire encounter, go to the link above.

Note: Is this a lurid clickbait piece presented at one of the seamier sites in the Internet's erotic bazaar? Perhaps. But the story is also likely true, if the writer's claim of having checked contemporaneous messages and accounts passed between Grace and her friends is true. The writer could also be lying throughout, of course, but given Ansari's celebrity and the nature of his defense (below), that seems unlikely.

Ansari: "I misread things in the moment"

Grace (again, not her real name) and Ansari met at the 2017 Emmy Awards after-party and started flirting. As she was leaving Ansari asked for and got her phone number. After a week of flirtatious communication, they fixed a date for Monday, September 25. According to the story's writer, Katie Way:
Her date didn’t go as planned. The night would end with Grace in an Uber [riding] home, in tears, messaging her friends about how Ansari behaved. Babe spoke to the first friends she told about it, and reviewed the messages on her phone.

The day after the incident, she wrote a long text to Ansari, saying: “I just want to take this moment to make you aware of [your] behavior and how uneasy it made me.” To that message, Ansari responds: “Clearly, I misread things in the moment and I’m truly sorry.”
Before we get to details of the date, consider Ansari's defense: "I misread things in the moment." Keep that statement in mind as you read the "things" (signals) that Ansari claims to have "misread."

The date started with dinner, but before the meal was entirely over, Ansari wanted to move quickly to his apartment. Way: "[Grace] recalls there was still wine in her glass and more left in the bottle he ordered. The abruptness surprised her." Note the social signal from Ansari: I want to get you back to my place.

At his apartment, Grace complimented his kitchen counter tops, which he turned into an invitation to sit on them. The sex escalated quickly from there:
“He said something along the lines of, ‘How about you hop up and take a seat?’” Within moments, he was kissing her. “In a second, his hand was on my breast.” Then he was undressing her, then he undressed himself. She remembers feeling uncomfortable at how quickly things escalated.
We're now in the social middle ground. She's undressed, he's undressed, he's been fondling her, and now she's feeling uncomfortable. Here's how her discomfort got communicated:
When Ansari told her he was going to grab a condom within minutes of their first kiss, Grace voiced her hesitation explicitly. “I said something like, ‘Whoa, let’s relax for a sec, let’s chill.’” She says he then resumed kissing her, briefly performed oral sex on her, and asked her to do the same thing to him. She did, but not for long. “It was really quick. Everything was pretty much touched and done within ten minutes of hooking up, except for actual sex.”
Grace is trying, gracefully, to extricate herself with social signals.
She says Ansari began making a move on her that he repeated during their encounter. “The move he kept doing was taking his two fingers in a V-shape and putting them in my mouth, in my throat to wet his fingers, because the moment he’d stick his fingers in my throat he’d go straight for my vagina and try to finger me.” Grace called the move “the claw.”

Ansari also physically pulled her hand towards his penis multiple times throughout the night, from the time he first kissed her on the countertop onward. “He probably moved my hand to his dick five to seven times,” she said. “He really kept doing it after I moved it away.”

But the main thing was that he wouldn’t let her move away from him. She compared the path they cut across his apartment to a football play. “It was 30 minutes of me getting up and moving and him following and sticking his fingers down my throat again. It was really repetitive. It felt like a fucking game.”

Throughout the course of her short time in the apartment, she says she used verbal and non-verbal cues to indicate how uncomfortable and distressed she was. “Most of my discomfort was expressed in me pulling away and mumbling. I know that my hand stopped moving at some points,” she said. “I stopped moving my lips and turned cold.”
There's quite a bit more of this, including several pauses in the sexual interaction before it restarts. For example:
Whether Ansari didn’t notice Grace’s reticence or knowingly ignored it is impossible for her to say. “I know I was physically giving off cues that I wasn’t interested. I don’t think that was noticed at all, or if it was, it was ignored.”

Ansari wanted to have sex [the writer means intercourse; to me, all of this sounds like sex]. She said she remembers him asking again and again, “Where do you want me to fuck you?” while she was still seated on the countertop. She says she found the question tough to answer because she says she didn’t want to fuck him at all.

“I wasn’t really even thinking of that, I didn’t want to be engaged in that with him. But he kept asking, so I said, ‘Next time.’ And he goes, ‘Oh, you mean second date?’ and I go, ‘Oh, yeah, sure,’ and he goes, ‘Well, if I poured you another glass of wine now, would it count as our second date?’” He then poured her a glass and handed it to her. She excused herself to the bathroom soon after.

Grace says she spent around five minutes in the bathroom, collecting herself in the mirror and splashing herself with water. Then she went back to Ansari. He asked her if she was okay. “I said I don’t want to feel forced because then I’ll hate you, and I’d rather not hate you,” she said.
I'll stop here, but there's quite a bit more. Note the last sentences above. He asked if she was okay. “I said I don’t want to feel forced because then I’ll hate you, and I’d rather not hate you.” Even that is an attempt by Grace to mollify without antagonizing, to appeal to his interest in being liked instead of just punching him, gathering her clothes, and racing to the door.

Grace, like a great many people in situations like this, wanted to maintain the relationship, but end the sexual part. We don't know her reasons, nor do we need to judge her for have them. That decision was hers to make and it came with a price. Was it her fault, the price she paid? Or his fault for making her pay it, by unilaterally using her (minimal) social restraint to continually force himself on her?

And if the price she paid is indeed largely his fault — after all, it's his behavior that caused it — how best to enforce constraints on behavior like this?

Grace eventually succeeded in ending his sexual approaches. A car was called and she raced out. "I cried the whole ride home," she said, according to the account. "At that point I felt violated. That last hour was so out of my hand."

Is This Rape? What's the Solution?

The #MeToo movement is about sexual assault in the police sense, but it's also about encounters like these. As my title says, much "consensual" sex is non-consensual. This is certainly a prime example.

What was Ansari thinking? Perhaps this: She let me take off her clothes. My hands have been on her and in her. I read that as Yes. I just need to get her the rest of the way [to intercourse].

What was Grace thinking? Likely this: He's way out of control. How do I out of here without starting a huge fight? 

Are incidents like this rape? No, but they come close. Are incidents like this consensual? Only literally, in that Grace stayed within the norms of etiquette by not screaming, punching or accusing him of a crime. But in no other sense did she consent. She simply chose less extreme, more socially mollifying ways to end the encounter. In this case, she succeeded, but only after enduring hours of aggression before getting away.

This isn't a matter for the police under current law, but it's also not nothing for Grace. It feels as violating as it would have been if it were a matter for the police.

The solution? Again, the problem is the inescapable middle ground that non-verbal and social communication by its nature entails. Do we want to legislate that? The solution comes down to two choices (other than do nothing):

(a) Make aggressive but social interactions like these legally prosecutable, or

(b) Make these interactions, aggressive refusal to honor social non-verbal signals, so socially objectionable and subject to social punishment that few aggressors will cross them.

Which means:

(c) Publicizing events like these as they occur, if only amongst one's friends, so that perpetrators are so shamed and ostracized that few will risk the consequences.

I would strongly oppose solution (a), since that would further muddy the water of social interaction. (I understand though the reasoning of those who would choose that option.)

Bruenig seems to concur with me. "Demanding an expansion of empathy and responsibility when it comes to sex isn’t regressive," she writes, "it’s a sexual revolution in its own right."

Besides, incidents like the above are generally designed to occur in the world of "he said, she said" deniability, with no third parties present. By not using the law and its requirements for proof, and the court's humiliating and demeaning cross-examinations, as an avenue of redress, victims of unprosecutable aggressions like that described above are free to take their case to the "court of public opinion" — their own and the aggressor's social and professional circles — as Grace did here.

Under the law, when Ansari says, "I misread things in the moment," he's home free. In his circle of friends and associates, which in this case is wide if you include his fans, saying "I misread her" may well get him absolutely nowhere. It could even, at worse, deal a death blow to his social and professional life, at least until he rehabilitates himself.

Is that punishment fair? Who knows?

But if Grace is telling the truth, what was done to her was not fair either. As messy as that solution may sound — addressing these assaults aggressively in the "court of public opinion" — that seems a whole lot cleaner fix to me, and perhaps on the whole a more effective one, than writing laws to regulate human behavior in the social middle ground. (We're ignoring for a moment the special case of the cynical use of #MeToo for political gain.)

Because frankly, somehow, these "middle ground" aggressions do have to stop. If vigilante social counter-aggression does the job, the world will be much better for it.


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At 9:56 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What concerns me the most is that something a young man does can and is likely to be used against him when he's older. In the interest of securing a future for a young man, I'd advise him to not ever be alone with a woman. Stay with the herd (so to speak) so that you can't be separated and victimized. Don't expect to get too intimate with a woman no matter how interested she seems in going there, because she can (and in many cases will) change her mind and who's the bad guy then?

I have two sons who practice what I preach. Neither is uncomfortable with the intergender separation arrangement as they tell me that they find today's young women not worth the effort to form a real relationship. Maybe their standards are a bit strict, but they aren't having to defend themselves against harassment charges.

I can see a future form of arranged relationship forming, in which the friends and relatives of young people would act as guarantors of the sincerity of the parties being encouraged to bond. That may be the only way a young person can safely form a relationship at the rate things are going.

But on the other hand, with the way the world is rapidly being made uninhabitable, maybe it's for the best that young people don't breed.

At 10:44 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is a lot different than HarveyTime & perhaps a consent form and arbitration waiver will be required in the future. But sexual arousal and the effects it has on mammalian brains is far more primal than dinner party guest problems. One has to wonder if Aziz was not famous and a social stepping stone; if she would not have shut this down quicker. To say no when he was removing her clothes would have been what most experienced woman I know would do. To try to switch horses midstream is going against a strong primal current. But learning to ride is not easy.
The whole, I want to get close to the edge of the whirlpool without any risk is just stupid. Hormonal arousal is a biological drug and needs to be respected. Huge difference between Harvey and Aziz. Reverse the roles and have her trying to further arouse Aziz after he says he's not into it and Aziz is not going to cry all the way home & try to character assassinate her later on. Suppose her tears were frustration in her own behavior for not handling the situation the way she wanted to view it in retrospect i.e. in her interaction with Aziz she was in the whirlpool of human unknowns i.e. the moment and she wasn't in control. People need to learn via trial and error in life and learning how to handle hormones (your own and others) takes time. We are not born with dinner guest etiquette. Ask any female to evaluate a couple and they will go to who is dominant in the relationship etc.etc.etc. and that control started someplace. Grace doesn't understand males and Aziz doesn't understand females and songs, movies and romance novels are based on this. wierd shit can & will happen. Does #metoo also include my boss was mean to me and made me cry all day? Harvey was a predator rapist who crosses the line. Aziz is involved in the confusion between males & females i.e. he's from Mars.

At 11:37 AM, Blogger Thomas Ten Bears said...

"the sexual revolution" is a reichwing dogwhistle. Whatever follows is propaganda.

At 1:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very thoughtful comment by anon at 10:44. More thoughtful than I could have written. I read this article days ago. This sounds to me like a very naive young woman, and/ or, here I echo anon's speculation: One has to wonder if Aziz was not famous and a social stepping stone; if she would not have shut this down quicker." For example, not go home with him at all. Hopefully, she will live and learn to see signals that spell trouble on the horizon.

I am not excusing Aziz's behavior in the least, as anon seems do be doing. He behaved like a predator.

Anon, I think you threw in one point at the end that I found a distraction. I personally don't see that #Metoo includes bosses who have been mean one day only. But, persistent bullying and denigration by a boss, over the course of years (in my experience, male) is extremely, extremely damaging. And, almost without exception, sexist in nature. I didn't cry; I but had to start taking anti-anxiety meds to deal with it.

Why didn't I quit my job? I was only the second female to get tenure in my academic department. And, I wanted to keep doing scientific research and teaching. I couldn't move, so I toughed it out.

At 3:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

!:12 Aziz was not her boss and they were on a 1st date, She went 1/2 to 3/4 the way with him and then decided to send signals she wasn't interested. Predator and prey is confused at this stage as Aziz was trying to figure out why the stoppage. She had oral sex with him? What if she decides she's not comfortable and wants to stop during intercourse? Is Aziz predatory if he follows his biological passions and keeps going? Aziz was behaving like a confused, aroused male on testosterone. Who confused him? I wasn't there, but I can certainly understand his side of not knowing what to do. Did he prevent her from leaving like a cornered prey?

Compare this to a young actress invited into Harvey's room for a script reading and is raped against her will? One is a predator and dangerous, while the other is confused and aroused. If your in a middle of argument and about to make a great point and the other person stops, turns and walks away, does the average human accept this and say OK? Or do you chase that person trying to continue?

Mean bosses suck for everyone, including males, as do dates gone awry. We all suffer petty tyrants in our ventures in life, not just women. We all sang "Take this job and shove it" at one time or another. Again when males and females interact control becomes an issue. When people and people interact control becomes an issue. I'll bet you're the only one who wanted to quit a job, but couldn't :}. But the #metoo was about people using positions of power to essentially get away with rape or physical abuse. Extending it to resolving bad dates or bad bosses seems to me to be the distraction; but if the matriarchy can pull it off- I'll be the 1st to applaud.
BTW: Congrats on your tenure accomplishment.

At 5:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

IMO, Aziz's mistake was not giving her an explicit out (first date, after all). After kissing on the counter or whatever, he should have proposed they take it to the bedroom and make her say OK. Anything short of OK is a no. More kissing ok. But no more stripping, groping and certainly no fingers or oral.

She should have said no, maybe with a kick to the groin. He should have given her an out.

Been there. Once the blood goes out of the big head into the little head, it's very hard to read subtle signals. Once she puts his little head into her mouth, he's a basket case. She should be made aware of this.

At 6:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon at 3:14. Thank you again for your thoughtful reply.

I take your point about mean bosses, and I did not mean to exclude males from this equation. I had a male colleague who was also up against the same bulling boss. The boss (Chair of the dept.) refused to put my male colleague up for advancement to Full Professor. I recruited a very well known male scientist friend from another university to write a letter on his behalf. And, I kept pushing my male colleague to put his case forward for advancement. I supported him in achieving a particular prize to honor his efforts in mentoring undergraduates. He was awarded this prize eventually, a year later after a male colleague wrote a letter on his behalf. Not saying that that my words had less merit- probably that there was a "waiting list" and it took a couple of tries to get it done.

But, my male colleague gave me kudos for pushing him to go for it. BTW, my male colleague who earned the prize is gay- not widely accepted in the South.

Time came when our bullying boss had to put my friend/ colleague up for advancement to Full Professor, b/c my friend/ colleague was finally willing to push the issue. At the same time the boss (chair) also put up a male sycophant for advancement to Full Professor. The committee in charge awarded Full Professor status to my friend, based on his clear record of accomplishments. But not to the other male. Triumph!

I agree that the #metoo movement is not explicitly about bullying, of course, but it's hard to ignore the power dynamic there, as you say.

Women can be just as guilty of using and abusing power, at least in the lesser known area of academic interactions. I served for 3 years on the "(University) President's Committee on Sexual Discrimination" or something of a similar name. Mostly comprising women. What saw were some women whom I quickly identified as "Queen Bees".

highlight and click to read.

Despite the general notion above and elsewhere that men are not stressed by having a "Queen Bee" boss, whereas women are stressed, I'm not totally convinced of this, that men are not stressed by having Queen Boss, although this is just my intuitive take.

Agreed- in part :Extending it to resolving bad dates or bad bosses seems to me to be the distraction; but if the matriarchy can pull it off- I'll be the 1st to applaud.

I don't think the #metoo movement should be extended to resolving bad dates. And, certainly not on the basis of the Babe article.

And, however, or whatever, bullying in the workplace is a serious issue. Experienced by both men and women. And, this is an issue that needs a different hashtag.

Sorry for going on so long about academia, but it's the world that I know.

And, I've been subjected to a lot of sexual harassment, starting back in college when I was stalked by one of my male professors.

I know I'm not addressing your first paragraph, because it's hard for me to see it from a male point of view. If and when I get the chance, I will discuss it with a few male friends whom I know well. I still say that the woman was stupid/ naive to go home with the guy.

But, thanks again for your thoughtful reply. Very much appreciated.

At 6:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon at 5:11- I missed your 5:11 response, b/c I was typing mine, published at 6:09.

I will reply anon, but probably tomorrow.

At 6:18 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't understand this at all, from what I have read about this she was initial interested in him, they met flirted and went on a dinner date. At dinner he asked her to go back to his house. At this point should she have read the signals, I mean then man hardly even finished eating do you really want to pretend that she did not understand that he was asking her to go to his house to have sex. Ok so lets pretend that she misread that. Now they are back at his house she is sitting on the counter and he starts to to under dress her, alright so are we still pretending that she doesn't know where this is heading.

Come on at what point does the responsibility fall on her, why is most everything that I have read blame him for not reading the signals. Where is her blame for misreading the signals. Your analogy to wanting a guest to leave your houses is backward he is not at her house, she is the guest who supposedly wants to leave ... okay LEAVE!

Why does she go home with him, why does she not speak up?

Equal means equal his signals were very clear from before they left the restaurant while her's are not. It seems likely to me that she went along because she wanted a relationship with him and feared doing anything that might jeopardize it. She made that choice not him.

And now his privacy has been violated by her, his name is being discussed while she gets to be anonymous and this is once again her choice not his.

Yet he is the bad guy

At 7:16 PM, Blogger VG said...

okay, time to clear up some of this confusion with all these anons posting.

I am VG, and I posted at 1:12 PM, and 6:09 PM, in response to "anon" at 10:44 AM and 3:14 PM. Clearly I was responding to the same "anon", b/c of the flow of conversation.

But, beyond that, I'm now not sure that when I responded to "anon" from 5:11 PM at 6:14 PM I was responding to the same "anon".

This post by GP indeed deserves a lot of discussion.

I can understand why people want to use the "anon" i.d. After all, I did. But it would surely be helpful for following conversation, if "anons" would close with something appended, like "anon69" or whatever. imho.

At 10:29 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let's think about this from the standpoint of what rational, more mature men know about sex. The real pleasure comes from taking time rather than getting rushed. The real safety (which is necessary for real pleasure) comes from knowing something about your partner, what she is likely or unlikely to do to you. There's just so much potential downside in having sex with someone you don't know, no matter what your gender is. Dumb idea, IMO, though I certainly was that kind of dumb in my younger days more than once.

I'm struck by one other thing. I haven't seen the word "love" in any discussion about this encounter, anywhere. Not saying that every sexual encounter should be exploration toward long-term partnership. But clearly both parties here were "using" the other. No mention on either side of sex as an act of caring or affection.

At 11:31 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What's love got to do with it, 10:29? Why not advocate for arranged marriages while you are at it? That's just as bad for the guy, for he'll be the one who ends up with the "great personality" that he can't stand once he gets to know her.

Frankly, as bad as women tend to be with regard to sex. I don't understand why young men don't wise up and leave it alone. Just ask any guy whose wife divorced him to empower and discover herself with her physical trainer and stuck him with the tab. Ask any guy who had sex with a girl who promised him that she was on the pill only to be served with a paternity suit.

Far better (and more honest) to hire a professional and avoid all of these entanglements. You end up saving money in the long run no matter how much a pro costs.

And no one has to deal with "love" being involved. The shelters are full of nice pets. Go rescue one and find the love you crave.

At 4:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

sexual urges (in men, at least) are limbic and have "dick" to do with love. The existence of love in a relationship may augment the sex, but is not necessary, as 11:31 points out.

Anyone who believes that love even should, much less could, be a prerequisite to sex is totally ignorant of human NATURE.

However, society does (or SHOULD) demand we supersede our basest urges for the greater good of humanity. Thus in a civilized society we have learned behavior that supersedes our limbic reflexes (love/lust, tolerance/xenophobia, altruism/greed and so forth).

The united shitholes of America, excepted, of course. Our society has elevated the limbic urges to the status of religious dogma since 1980 when greed became the overriding behavior.

At 6:17 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry, but I am going to call it like I see it. Ansari was an asshole-this transitioned from an awkward encounter to assault when she moved away and he followed her without her explicit invitation to do so. He knew damn well she was uncomfortable, he just didn't care. I am not advocating for criminal charges, but lets call it what it is. Nobody is going to blame such interactions on hormonal, chemical, or limbic responses. Man is a thinking individual. In any kind of physical exchange, men are always going to be more powerful than women, and have a well documented history of exploiting that situation. Men are more than capable of understanding and recognizing enthusiastic consent when it occurs, and no we do not need a verbal "Yes" or a "consent form". This is horseshit. As the more powerful party in the exchange, we owe it to our partners to be respectful and aware of their position and feelings. If they are not ENTHUSIASTICALLY responding both physically, and/or verbally, then we need to back off. Period. Full stop. There is nothing new about this position and I know I am not alone in taking it. The difference is that now those that feel otherwise are being called to account and they are trying to manipulate the conversation so that they can continue to exploit such situations when they occur-the sad thing to me is that good people are carrying water for them.

At 8:33 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yet another anonymous —

Both parties behaved badly in different ways. Ansari is a shallow selfish jerk and Grace is blaming him because she gave mixed signals in allowing him to get as far as he did. You are under no social obligation ever to let someone fondle you or take off your clothes or have oral sex. Or maybe social mores have changed so much that getting naked and having oral sex is seen as equivalent to giving someone a quick peck on the cheek. You might let a slightly repulsive person peck you on the cheek to be polite. Apparently politeness extends much further these days. I might be living in a totally alien culture without realizing it.

I would never want a female friend or relative to date Ansari, but I do have a sister who was the victim of someone who tried to force himself on her. He wasn’t strong enough. Ansari didn’t force himself on Grace in a physical way— it was social pressure from a selfish boor.. My sister would have shut him down in ine second, if she had been in his apartment at all.

Hell, I can speak from personal experience. A gay man came onto me in the showers of the YMCA twenty years ago. It took about one second to shut him down. Slapped my butt. He had been expressing interest which, like Grace, I was too embarrassed to react to, but once he touched me I reacted. That was not a rape situation and I would never compare it to that. It was a horny guy behaving inappropriately. When they aren’t violent, it’s not assault.

At 10:11 AM, Anonymous Link777 said...

Anon @6:17AM

I completely concur with your assessment of the situation. Ansari was not just some unreasoning brute. He knew what he was doing. "Grace" was an extremely inexperienced female with romantic notions about how most men behave. A more experienced female would have read his signal of abruptness at the meal as a reason to call it a night.

Unfortunately, experience is something you have to grow into, it is not inherent. I can bet she will never go to a strange male's home again on the first date without understanding all of the possible ramifications.

A painful lesson....

At 2:16 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe the account is true, maybe not.


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