Un-Memorizing the “Silence is Sexy” Date Script

movie-date

A woman once told me pointedly something that has stayed with me to this day.  We were kissing.  Lying on the cold wood floor, my hand traveled across her stomach and she whispered, “I think we should take it slow.”  I agreed immediately.  Before moving in to kiss her again, I said, “Just tell me when to stop.”

This, I thought, was considerate.  Respectful.  Sexy.  But she quickly corrected my mistake.  Pulling away from me, her face took on a serious expression and the words she spoke illuminated a misunderstanding I had long nurtured, even as I knew myself to be a thoughtful feminist with much respect for other women.

In essence, what she said was, “Women are not given enough opportunities to say ‘yes.'”

Oh, I thought.  Huh.  What a wonderfully radical idea.  But I mean, isn’t it strange that this idea is so radical?  Women saying yes.  It’s not radical because women never want sex or agree to have it, but because the typical “sexy” date script society expects and encourages from us usually involves a man trying whatever he wants and a woman either putting the brakes on, or consenting…by not putting the brakes on.  Sound familiar?

We’ve gotten the idea from movies and magazines that silence is sexy.  Ultimate romance means fireworks and fairy dust sprinkling down from the heavens and instilling in us some magical intuition where both people suddenly just know what the other wants.  Speaking out loud in full sentences would break the rhythm, ruining the mystical thrill of the spontaneous moment.  And GOD FORBID you ask permission to do anything.  I mean, come on, major boner killer.

But here’s the thing.  The “sexy silence” model is based on two stupid and outdated assumptions: 1) that a man’s pleasure takes priority over a woman’s, and 2) that a woman’s pleasure must be expected and assumed, because how could she ever resist a man?  The “just say no” part of the rule didn’t always exist.  That developed later when society realized that women should have some say in the matter.  Duh.

But “just say no” isn’t enough.  Imagine this: since men are expected to make the first move in the majority of sexual situations, where does that leave women if they’re not yet sure what they want?  This “sexy silence” standard makes saying “no” or “stop” even harder for women who want to feel sexy but don’t necessarily want to do what their partner wants to do; who want a hug goodnight, but not a kiss; who are excited about kissing, but uncomfortable with petting; who are enthusiastic about making out, but aren’t ready for sex.  Being forced to say “no” or “stop” will invariably make the experience end sooner than it might otherwise, and on a rather negative note, even if it started positively with both people excited.  Come to think of it, I can’t think of anything less sexy or romantic than making an enthusiastic move and being pushed away, or having to tell someone whom I like to stop what they’re doing.

Even more troubling is the possibility that a woman might not know how or when to put the brakes on, and by simply hesitating for too long, could end up doing any variety of things against her innermost wishes.  Oh wait!  That happens all the time.  It’s called rape.  That’s right.  The “silence is sexy” model is a big part of how we created rape culture.

Soooooo what alternatives do we have?  How do we keep sexy things fun and respectful without placing the heavy burden on the woman to be a killjoy (and in a hurry) in order to maintain her boundaries?

whereisyourline.org

whereisyourline.org

Here’s an idea.  Give women some agency by pausing now and then and allowing them to say YES and ask for what they want!  I swear,  it is sexy as hell to give somebody exactly what you know they want, without wondering if you’re guessing wrong.

Silence is only sexy because we like to assume that everybody is on the same page!  Imagine how much sexier it would be if you didn’t have to assume, if a woman said, “Yes, please do that.  I like that.”  To have a woman actively pursue what she wants, and not just passively receive what someone assumes she wants, guarantees more fun and more pleasure for both parties.  Just think of all the pornography that depicts women screaming “yes!”  Consent is sexy; giving someone what they want is sexy; knowing without a doubt that your partner is satisfied is sexy.

What if you pause or ask and she says “no” anyway, you might wonder?  Wouldn’t that kill the mood just as much?  Well, look at it this way.  It’s hard to say “no” in a sexy way if somebody is already trying to have sex with you.  If you try that it will probably be misunderstood, so firmness is somewhat necessary.  On the other hand, a question or a request for permission can be a sultry whisper, and “no” can be a shake of the head and an alternate suggestion.  Boom.  Sexy.

And it doesn’t have to impact dominance or submission either.  A woman with agency doesn’t necessarily have to kiss someone; she could ask someone to kiss her.  Either way, the positive agency is what is important.  That is, being instrumental in the action, instead of only reacting, and focusing first on what she wants, instead of what she doesn’t want.

For example, when this woman (the same one) and I first discussed our interest in each other, I exclaimed desperately how much I wanted to kiss her, and even though she had already told me she wanted me, she expressed hesitation about the kiss, saying, “I’m not sure…”

Turns out, she just needed to think about it.  The next night I asked her, “What do you want?” and she boldly kissed me for the first time.  Later she told me that she had been pleasantly surprised when I didn’t immediately kiss her after she said she wasn’t sure.  “I honestly thought you would anyway,” she said.

And these are just two examples out of a dozen.  In those beginning days, we both solidified our mutual understanding that consent doesn’t mean not saying no; it means YES!

And guess what?  Almost two years later, she is still my girlfriend.  Shazam.

Kissing Black-tailed Prairie Dogs (Cynomys lud...

P.S. How cute are these kissing prairie dogs???

 

491 responses to “Un-Memorizing the “Silence is Sexy” Date Script

  1. It’s sad and pathetic to read angry crybaby comments from men on the vagina-controls-me-and-I’m-sooooooooooo-angry-about-it school of thought. This great article is not labeling all men as rapists but rather trying to endorse a more colourful, intuitive and involved female (I could say submissive but I mean that from a physicality standpoint) role in healthy sexuality.

  2. Saying NO, when all is hot and heavy, because you didn’t say NO in time…what comes to mind is the ego bruise of the fragile male vs rape. Woman need to learn that it is okay to say NO!!

    • It’s not just OK, it’s wonderful! As a man, there’s nothing so freeing sexually as to know where the boundaries are. A partner who can feel safe and secure can relax into the pleasure without having to keep one foot on the brakes. Expressed consent is sexy. Boundaries are sexy. Being true to yourself and asking expressly for what you want is sexy!

    • On the flip side, women also need to learn that it’s okay to say “yes” or “I want to have sex with you” and shake off this ridiculous conditioning (mostly by fathers and the media) that it is wrong for a woman to want sex and that she must resist as much as possible.

  3. Thank you for every other fantastic post. Where else may just anyone get that kind of information in such a perfect way of writing?
    I’ve a presentation next week, and I am at the search for such info.

  4. Thank you so very much for putting into fluid words the solution to many young men’s consternation around consent and staying hot and sexy in the moment! You grab us right away with the opening and just continue to deepen the beautiful logic and theme of repect being a normal and pleasure-inducing part of intimacy. I take away from it not only a better understanding of my own youth trying to make out and push the envelope, but a much more sophisticated way to engage youth – especially young men in these conversations. Thank you.

  5. I’m sorry, but why is it someone else’s job to ask you what you want? Shouldn’t everyone, regardless of their sex, be able to assert their needs and desires independently of being requested to do so? It is easier to learn to express yourself than to consistently check if someone else needs to express themselves. I’m speaking as someone who used to just ‘let things happen’ and I agree that consideration should be taken on the other side. But, personally, I found it much more effective to find my own voice than to wait for the seeking party to ask me what my opinion was. As for ‘killing the mood,’ isn’t that kind of the point if you are uncomfortable with the set mood? It doesn’t have to kill the connection – anytime I’ve voiced my objection to the action, it has often served to start a great conversation to learn where we both are intimately, and the times when it hasn’t let me know sooner that the person I’ve been interested in might be a real jerk. It’s a very pertinent topic to be discussing, and I’m glad to see it raised, but I still think it is easier (and more essential for self-satisfaction in all areas) to change you, than to try to change others.

    • I agree that it is certainly important for everyone to learn to assert and express their own wants and needs. At the same time, women have generally been conditioned in many ways not to do this or that it’s not “okay.” So men can choose to support women in learning to assert themselves and ask for what they want by checking in. If a man really cares about a woman, this is a great way to show her that care and support and help her learn that her needs and desires really matter.

      • Yes, in general, the unspoken rule is “Women do not get to have needs.” (The corollary is, “Men do not get to have feelings.”) Bringing this out into the open, especially in the context of intimacy is healing on so many levels. Also, it seems to me to be really confusing for some women who are still convinced that men should (silently) make the move and they should accept it (whatever “it” may be). A few years ago, (I was in my late 50’s), I was on a second or third date with a woman and I asked her, “May I kiss you?” She was actually annoyed/offended and told me (paraphrase) that a man should not ask permission but should take the initiative. Hmmm…for me, that was a sad moment as I had hoped that she would have welcomed open communication and respect for her needs/desires. Eventually, she did come to appreciate that I was considering her desires along with my own and that her well-being in the relationship mattered to me. Thank you for this article. It gave me much clarity and understanding.

        • In my books, to ask “May I kiss you?” is in fact taking the initiative. I am sorry that your lady friend did not see it as such, but pleased things have worked out after all. Communication and respect are key indeed.

    • I agree with what you say about it being important to express yourself and your desires. Feel confident and be comfortable about what you want and expressing it as such. However, I am confused by your last statement in relation to this article: “it is easier (and more essential for self-satisfaction in all areas) to change you, than to try to change others.”
      Umm… isn’t the author doing exactly that? Changing himself rather than trying to change others (i.e. the woman)?
      In and of itself, certainly it is a very good and wise comment to make, but I do not see how the author of this article has in any way gone against it.
      After all, he is not trying to change anyone else. He shared his experience of asking for and receiving (or not in some cases) explicit consent, and imparted how this has impacted his particular relationships with women.
      Certainly, perhaps by writing publicly about his experience the implication is that he is attempting to change others (other men who still struggle with asking verbally for consent) .
      And yet… I get the impression from the context in which you wrote that sentence that it is not the author that you are referring to, but rather other women.
      Would it be fair to say that what you are suggesting is that women should change their own stance when it comes to the bedroom, be more explicit without being prompted about what they want, rather than change men so that they would ask explicitly for consent?
      This to me appears to be the implied meaning of that sentence, and if that is the case, then I would beg to differ.
      It is not that I disagree with what you say. Yes. women should take charge. However, this position on the matter – in the interest of empowerment – appears to once again put the responsibility for what happens on women.
      I think there is a point in changing men’s attitudes too. They are also present in the situation.
      It is a 50/50, so whilst women should be encouraged to be more vocal in expressing what they do and do not want, men equally should be encouraged in expressing the same, and each side could ask one another whether they are ok with the level of intimacy reached and whether they want to keep it there or go further.
      Equality after all does work best when it works both ways.

      • [correction] please replace “he” when referring to the author with “she” in the above. If at any point “he” refers to men in general, please replace with he/she.
        In all fairness I ought to write all my comments in gender neutral terms from now on to subscribe to the full equality slogan. If anyone knows of a better way of doing this, please let me know.
        And my apologies to yourlesbianfriend for the gender confusion. I got so absorbed by the article and its content that I failed to check who it was written by first. Mind though, it has some great advice for both women and men. :)

  6. Pingback: Discussing Consent: In ALL of its Importance and Ambiguity | Real Life Athena·

  7. So far I don’t think I agree that “no” is sexy. No means no, and the person that gets told no is not allowed to imagine it means maybe later. That would be disrespecrful. It just means no. If you want sexy then try “not yet,” not now, maybe later, what about this instead, or something like that. Just my impression, for the moment.

    • Wane yeah I was worried about this too. It scared me to wonder what would happen if whenever I asserted myself by saying no I was also expected to deliver it in a way that was still sexually pleasing for my man and then back it up with an alternative. No. If a girl tells you no “party’s” over.

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  9. Yes! I think this mindset still pushes the thought process it’s trying to fight. Intsead of saying “hey make sure to ask your partner bla bla bla” how about telling the other person to take charge. Don’t wait around to have to give concent. You know whats sexy. A woman who is as enthusiastic about the situation as i am. Participate. Don’t just lay around and wait to give concent. Say what you want and don’t want so you dont have to be in a position to be saying no all the time. It shows a lack of communication for your partner to be taking shots in the dark and not knowing if you’re into it or not. Take some initiative or you’re bound to end up where someone else wants you, not where you want to be.

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  11. I agree with this sentiment. But in reality, it just doesn’t work that way. Asking permission to kiss a woman generally makes you look weak/ineffectual in her eyes. That has been my perception, at least. And all the debate about how things should be is sort of irrelevant when it’s not how things are. I don’t see a realistic plan to change the situation in your post. You seem to suggest that all men should voluntarily portray themselves as weak and ineffectual to the majority of women. OK, but maybe you could be more convincing if you could explain how men might go about asking for permission without coming off as cowards and weaklings to women who aren’t as enlightened as you.

    If asking permission were not generally perceived as something that betrays a lack of confidence, I’m betting many men would ask for permission. It’s unfortunate that not all women or even the majority of women view “asking permission” the way you do. Until they do, I wouldn’t count on men to ask permission, at least when initiating romantic/sexual contact. I’m not talking about sex or anything that could be construed by a *sound-minded* individual as rape. It’s more of a societal issue than a gender issue.

    • I’m sure if you explain to a woman you are intimate with that you want to respect her wishes and only give her what she desires because you care about not raping her, she will not think you are weak. And if she does, that is a problem you can solve by telling her you are only interested in women who respect themselves and can value and receive respect from others. If you commit to this new reality of consent and agency, you may find many women will catch on sooner than you might think. The subconscious rule that dictates this sexy silence model is “give men what they want first and foremost,” and so women are conditioned to find it sexy when a man just takes what he wants. If you make consent and self respect top priority on your list of desires, women may start to become more “enlightened,” as you say.

      • “Can I kiss you?”
        “Uhh, what kind of question is that?”
        “Oh, you know, I’m asking if I can kiss you?”
        “Why?”
        “Because you want me to ask.”
        “No I don’t.”
        “You should.”
        “Well, I don’t. I wouldn’t be here if I wasn’t intere-”
        “-I GUESS you just don’t care about consent enough- and I don’t have time for THOSE people.” *errantly throws scarf over shoulder and storms off*

        I’ll get right on that.

        • “May I kiss you?”
          “Uhh, what kind of question is that?”
          “What do you mean, what kind? It’s like any other question.” OR “A simple one, yes or no.” OR “Well you see, I really want to, but I figure it wouldn’t really be fun or nice if you don’t really want to kiss me too. Do you want to?”

          Just to throw out some other possible scenarios. Of course, if it’s just kissing you want to initiate, the movie Hitch gave some good ideas: “you go 90%, she goes 10%.” There’s also the possibility that you know someone well enough to read their body language accurately, but it’s better not to assume unless there is an established relationship. A less awkward alternative to “asking for permission” is to state what you want, allowing the other person to react either positively or negatively. This appears more assertive and less “weak” but still serves the purpose of warning your partner and allowing them more control in the situation.

          • Excellent! Loved the second alternative. Although I do not think many women would even get to the “What kind of question is that” part of the scenario. :) Optimistic as ever.

        • Personally, I support the Hitch 90% / 10% suggestion, but if you want to verbalize, there is no reason it needs to come off as weak. Shuffling your feet while stammering, “So, uh, can I, um, kiss you?” is, admittedly, not sexy. But leaning in, touching her if comfortable, and saying, “I really want to kiss you right now. May I?” can certainly be a turn-on. As is, “I’ve been thinking all evening about kissing you [or some other action…]. Would you like me to?” For one thing, these suggestions respect boundaries yet also communicate your desire for her – which implies confidence, not cowardice.

        • Speaking as someone who has had sexual activity progress farther than I wanted/was comfortable with because I was not asked, I love it when someone asks me for consent. I think you will find that the majority of women have gone along with or been subjected to sexual acts that they would not have chosen to do had they been asked. There is a huge societal pressure on women to be sexually subservient, and it is hard to get past that pressure, because it is so ingrained. I am wondering if you have really had this conversation take place, and if you have, I would urge you to look at the bigger picture. You may think that all women want you to “take charge,” but they may secretly be feeling uncomfortable and would probably be relieved if you verbally asked them for consent.

    • Some ways I have had a partner ask for my permission went along the lines of , “would it be okay if…?” Or “would you mind if I…? When said in a sultry voice in a situation with tangible sexual tension/chemistry, phrases like that actually enhance the mood and my attraction to the person.

    • How about instead of asking permission, communicate with declarative sentences? ‘I’d really like to kiss you.’ <- that is entirely different than 'May I kiss you?' Asking permission turns partners into your parents, and that's often a major mood-kill. Making declarative statements invites conversation, yes, it exposes you, but if you're not willing to expose something, why do you want to kiss anyone?

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  13. my question is, do all women feel this way? do they all want a guy to ask things or would it kill the moment for some? i ask this as a male who who lost his virginity at 22 and am now 24. i also kissed a girl for the first time the day before losing my virginity and i asked her if i could kiss her. things didn’t end up working out though and i think it was partially because it seemed like she expected me to know the answers to such things even though it was endearing that first time. this seems contrary to the message of the article. although, i guess there does need to be a balance.

    • Please, never ask questions like “do all women/men feel this way”. There are no anwers to questions like that ’cause humans don’t have gender specific hiveminds.
      If a person suspects you to know what he/she wants without her telling you, then I’d say it’s completely all right to tell them you’re not a mind reader and that you want them to take responsibility for themselves and the relationship you share by being open about what they want.

      And remember it goes both ways – tell people what you want and keep an open mind toward your partner’s wishes.

  14. I think we should all just stop caring so much about sex. I’m just trying to play some Mario Kart with my lady friend. And I don’t mean that in a sexual, or fetish way.

  15. I don’t have any problem with the idea of men “checking in” But the article has the vibe of “ohh poor poor woman. She doesn’t know how to assert herself and doesn’t want to disappoint her man. We need to all help her because she doesn’t know how to yet.”
    I think this makes women look weak. It gives off the impression that we worry SOOOoooo much about what our dear man is thinking. “Oh no what will he think if I say no and kill the mood?” All this stuff about women being conditioned? God it makes me sick? what am I a mouse in a maze? Come on people. Women don’t need to be coddled! were strong! We can assert ourselves. it makes it sound like we ignorant, especially with some people throwing around the word enlightenment. like were weak women who have to learn that its OK to not want to be raped.

    • Maybe it’s a person (or even regional) thing, but I feel I have definitely been conditioned to put other peoples’ comfort/happiness well above my own. Ideologically, I am deeply progressive and feminist. However, I struggle constantly with trying to find my own voice and my own agency. I have been in many situations with men where things have gone farther than what I was comfortable with, and I basically let that happen because I didn’t want to hurt their feelings/egos by shutting them down. I know this particular problem doesn’t apply to all women, and there are plenty of women out there who have found their voice and who feel empowered enough to use it. But I very much appreciate that a man took the time to write an article like this that encourages other men to be more thoughtful when it comes to what their female partners may/may not want to do.

      This line, in particular, resonated with me: “since men are expected to make the first move in the majority of sexual situations, where does that leave women if they’re not yet sure what they want?” I would really appreciate having a partner who checked in to make sure I was comfortable with where things were going, because, in the moment, I have a very difficult time verbalizing my discomfort and hesitation.

    • I wonder at times whether when people want to make a point (as in myself, or the author of this article), it may not be easier to just write our message in one sentence without any further explanation and leave it at that.
      Or… if we go down the expansive route – which of course we will continue to do – then add one sentence at the start with the disclaimer: – This is the message of this article. Please read through the prism of this message and no other. I apologise in advance if what follows in any way falls short in execution of the delivery of said message. –
      As I read this article the key message was: do not assume that the woman wants what you want, but ask and make sure to get explicit consent before continuing (repeat at every level).
      Now… there is nothing wrong about that. Although I do agree with you insofar as the implicit suggestion of women being unassertive and weak. coming through some of the article. However… it does reflect the unfortunate image that women have of being as such. And it does perpetuate it by not balancing this out with a parallel strong-assertive-woman scenario.
      Still – it started quite a good discussion about this, so best written than not I should think.
      PS: I got directed to this article from your site, so thank you for bringing this and a couple of other articles on the topic to my attention.

  16. I’m all for telling a guy if I don’t like something, or letting him know what I do like, but I think I would hate the above for the same reason I hate musicals. I don’t like things being interrupted suddenly. I’m sitting in the theater, enjoying the story, and suddenly everything breaks into this obnoxious, concentration-killing song-and-dance.

    I agree: Women should be given the option to do whatever they want in bed. And I know that it’s half been coded into my head by society, and half because I’m lazy and bad at this, but I don’t want control. With control comes responsibility. I feel bad for men for (in general) having the stress of making sure their partners are pleased.

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  18. This article may just be the most intuitive and amazing things I’ve read in a long time. I’ve had so many painfully horrible relationships, and this may be the exact reason why. Time to start thinking differently.

  19. In college, we were all taught to basically ask at every step. It was nice, you didn’t have to smack people’s hands away, but it was like “Taco” described, a musical, some annoying interruptions. Hopefully we’ll keep teaching this and it will come natural for younger people. My fiance was playful about it. “Nah, you don’t want me to kiss you.” “Yes, I do…” and I’d melt. Can you tell I read a romance a week?

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  21. I think the issue around ‘consent’ is underestimated, it’s only a symptom of a more basic problem; which is that we tend to bring very little awareness to sex. If we are into mindfulness or meditation we are more likely to understand the problem, but do we apply these skills to sex or not? Verbal communication is a sorry second best to silent communication and if you don’t know what I mean then you are missing out – get yourself on a silent meditation retreat to find out by how much! Then apply that to sex ;) and look up tantra.

  22. Just a question of clarification: you talk about when you asked her if you could kiss her, and she said she wasn’t sure. The next night, you asked her “what she wanted” and she up and “boldly” kissed you.

    Aren’t you positively illustrating exactly what you are condemning men for? Shouldn’t she have asked for your permission to kiss her? You asking her the night before doesn’t mean you want to kiss her then, and she should have made sure.

    Let’s not create rules that don’t go both ways. A behaviour isn’t acceptable because it changes genders, right?

    • “What do you want?” made sense to her in the context of our job together. As camp counselors we had a language of “success counseling” for campers that we often used with each other as a joke or to actually help. In the moment when I said that, we were talking about our attraction for each other. I had made my desire clear and she was still unsure. My demand, “what do you want?” was, in a way, my permission for her to do what she wanted, and she realized that.

      The language of consent and permission, if you choose to call it that, is not always the same. That does not mean the rule does not go both ways. And I would like to remind everybody that I am a woman, not a man. Incidentally, in this case, no switching genders occurred.

      • “The language of consent and permission, if you choose to call it that, is not always the same. That does not mean the rule does not go both ways.” – great insight.

  23. Beautifully said. I think in a sense, it is important to firstly change the stigma around women and sexuality – particularly in regards to this idea of “women putting on the breaks” when it comes to sexual interactions. It still reflects the notions of a patriarchal society, where women’s virtue was such a high-held priority, that females had to tread very lightly when it came to their sexuality. It’s liberating to know that women now live in a time, where they can freely express themselves in this regard, so their decisions on sex can now come from personal values, rather than ones indicative of societal expectation. So in regards to this issue of “taking it slow”, the speed of how fast things occur within a relationship should not be based on gender, where men expect women to put on the break so to speak, but rather it should be seen as an indicator of personal comfort zones. After all, it’s silly to assume that its always the man that wants to move faster than the women, as in this day and age, its not always the case.

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  25. The inherent problem with this article is that it STILL operates under the same “date script” you were criticizing from the beginning. Saying that men should “give women some agency by pausing now and then and allowing them to say YES” is not only not particularly feminist, it’s also quite heteronormative. What about when two women are having sex? Or two men? Or two people of other gender identity? For that matter, who is to say that a woman can’t be the “aggressor” in a sexual situation? Need she not ask for permission if she’s the one initiating sexual contact? Furthermore, are only women pressured to be sexy and please their partner? Can a man not be coerced into more sexual contact than he would like by being too afraid of being emasculated for saying no? Societal norms may be more common than not, but for anyone who doesn’t fit into the neat American patriarchal system you imagine is so self-evident may find this advice less than helpful. A man “pausing” his advances and “allowing” a woman to answer a question is really not too much of a step forward from simply waiting for a “no,” and it certainly has a lot more unnecessary talking. And who’s to say at what point you should ask for permission to touch someone? Do you need to ask for permission to move your hand from someone’s face to the back of their head? Do you need to ask when you move from licking one nipple to the other one? At some point, common sense needs to play into whether or not you ask for permission to do something to another person’s body.

    Basically, just communicate. If you’re going to do something new or surprising, sure, ask for permission: that goes for men, women, and others. But just because a man doesn’t ask permission before, for example, he goes from licking a woman’s breast to her belly buttton, does NOT mean he is raping her just because she isn’t completely enthralled by the new experience. If she adamantly does not want that, then she should say no. We can’t help if some people feel pressured to do certain things at certain times; even asking some people a yes or no question directly STILL won’t make them feel comfortable enough to say no. So then what? Ultimately, it’s up to individual experiences. Do what’s right for you and your partner. If you know your partner is timid, work to make them comfortable. If you’re the timid one, speak up, since no one else will. Don’t let people in articles tell you you’re raping your partner or vice versa just because you don’t adhere to their idea of what your communication should be like.

    • This is the most sensible approach, in my view.

      It is frustrating to see people who clearly have not even the most basic understanding of the world writing lazy, Americocentric horse shit for their nouveau-feministe friends to share on Facebook. Cultural norms set the bar for what is or is not appropriate communication, but the end of the day, how we manage our intimate relationships is our own responsibility.

      If a woman or man is brought up in a culture that has gender-defined expectations, is that a bad thing? I guess if your views run contrary, but the cultural values we ought to be encouraging should be respecting the sovereignty of others. That includes sexual boundaries. We should not be trying to strangle and control human sexuality. That is what religion is for.

      Kidding aside, to the author of the article: if you find this culture is truly so toxic toward women, then find one that isn’t. If that means moving to another city or another country, so be it. That is what truly oppressed people have done throughout the course of history. As it stands, there seem to be a lot of women and men who are not only doing just fine under these denounced social conditions, but are finding fulfilment while simultaneously making the world a better place.

      If you aren’t capable of communicating inside of your cultural context, that is your problem. It is not a problem that is especially common, or consistent, so maybe instead of expecting an uninterested society to recoil at the idea of gender and sex as a worthy substitution for communication and respect, you should seek out a more hopeful outcome. Or grow up.

      Because really, there is more important shit to worry about. You realize that your country just finished killing over a million people on the other side of the world to prop up your standard of living for another 10 years, right? Why don’t any of you eFeminists talk about the women who are being blown up to support the economy that allows you to talk about how hard your life is on the Internet?

    • If men are terrified of being accused of rape, perhaps they should ask for consent to ensure that they are not performing nonconsensual sexual acts. Also, pretty sure the threat of being accused of rape is a lot less scary than the threat of being actually sexually assaulted as a woman (1 in 3 women).

  26. I have to disagree. I think there is much more potential for accidental manipulation when asking hopeful questions than if both partners explicitly know that saying no is ok. Sex is a physical connection between two people and part of what makes it special (in my opinion) is that you can communicate without words. I think making it clear that saying no is an option, and will not hurt the relationship is much more effective.

    Also, I’m a guy and I can’t help but think about if the roles were reversed. I like assertive women and if I was romantically involved with a woman who asked permission for everything before we did anything I would interpret it as a lack of confidence.

    Finally I don’t think making the “no” sexy should really be a priority here. If a guy (or anyone) is asking for something sexually, they’ve already decided they want it and de-escalating can be difficult. If we’re really concerned about a rape culture then killing the mood might be a good idea, and if someone leaves you because you wanted to wait before you did something then the way I see it: bullet dodged.

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  33. Alright.

    This is what it comes down to.

    Us men are going to continue to “make moves” to initiate sexual encounters for the sake of spontaneity and romance, because whether you or your article likes it or not, women who aren’t incredibly up tight do not like being asked “do you want to kiss?” or “do you want to have sex?”

    If you’re in a relationship, sure it’s more acceptable, but if you aren’t, you will come off looking like you’re not “MAN enough”, and that’s not in the eyes of the man, it’s in the eyes of the woman.

    Again, whether you like it or not, this is just the way it is.

    It makes sense from a biological perspective that men weren’t inclined to verbally offer himself to a woman, considering we’re hardwired to want to have sex, and body language is already important in interactions, let alone physical interactions.

    If you don’t want intercourse, then respectfully decline like a grown woman. If it’s not the time for you it’s not the time for you. If the man isn’t immature, he should be able to get over it, even be able to joke about it and lighten the mood.

    Also, rape isn’t defined as “A man having sex with a woman who is going with it because she doesn’t want to say no.”

    This attitude is the problem.

    Feminism is extreme, because men and women are not the same.

    Men and Women both excel in different areas of life, we can’t be expected to be equalized. It wouldn’t even be fair for women if we were.

    Thank you.

  34. Honestly, the woman should be more involved in STARTING sexual encounters. If fairness is desired, then why is the article only advocating situations in which the man is the one initiating contact? The male shouldn’t be the only one asking if this spot or that position is good, both people should be equally invested in making sex pleasurable.

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