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  The “sexy silence” model is based on two stupid and outdated assumptions: 1) that a man’s pleasure takes priority over a woman’s, and 2) that a woman’s pleasure must be expected and assumed, because how could she ever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???

 

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

  1. Very provocative and well-said. I like like like your proposal and wish many many people could read this and adjust their perhaps unannounced and intrepid notions heretofore unquestioned. Bravo!

  2. Apparently during WWII Margaret Mead was enlisted by the US military to find out why American soldiers were complaining that British women were immoral and British women were complaining that American soldiers were immoral. It turned out it was a cultural difference. In the US it was expected that men would always try to have sex and it was the woman’s job to tell them to stop while in the UK at the time it was expected that men would control themselves and women wouldn’t have to tell them to stop. So the soldiers were carrying on thinking ‘wow, these girls are so immoral’ and the women were horrified that the soldiers did not control themselves. I suppose the very idea that men need to be told when to stop is suggests something about the construction of masculinity that makes me uncomfortable – it is the same something that blames women for wearing short skirts, that dismisses violence and selfishness as natural and that makes many women afraid to walk through parks at night. That is rape culture.

  3. Great idea, but it’s a both gender thing that needs to be worked on. I HAVE asked women that, and they have told me straight out that they do not respect a man that doesn’t take control. Even my current partner says she doesn’t like me asking her if things are okay, and finds it unattractive when a man doesn’t lead. She is absolutely not the only one that’s said that to me, since I’m kind of a shy person and often asked in the past to avoid confusion. That’s obviously a problem for changing this mindset, and not something I am sure can be easily solved.

    • That’s a great point, Jake, and one which I had hoped to address in my paragraph about dominance and submission. I think there can be a difference in women’s minds between a man asking out of nervousness and fear of rejection (a.k.a “not leading” or being confident enough) and asking out of respect or curiosity. Now, I have no idea about your specific experiences, so that may not be relevant at all, but it’s something to consider. Also, if two people in a relationship have an agreement about what the other likes and wants, or have agreed to specific sexual dynamics ahead of time, that’s a completely different story. Communication outside the bedroom about issues of sex is just as important, I believe, but for first-daters, one-night-stands, or casual encounters, it is somewhat unrealistic to have prepared ahead of time, at which point these ideas would come into play.

      Having said that, all the rest aside, there are ways for a woman to actively consent without verbally saying, “YES,” like showing visible enthusiasm, returning the favors, etc. These can all serve as forms of implicit consent. But silence and no real indication of feeling can NOT serve as implicit consent. There needs to be a clear difference.

      • I think that you’ve completely missed the point of that your male critics are trying to make. When making a romantic overture, many, perhaps most, men are nervous and do fear rejection. Men know that many women will judge them based on their ability to exhibit self-confidence. They know that many woman expect them to know what they want without needing to ask. That’s one big reason that men don’t feel comfortable about explicitly asking for consent. They fear appearing weak if they do so. Your article simplistically assumes that the ‘Silence is sexy’ script privileges men over woman, and that therefore only men need to be proactive in
        changing their behavior. It fails to grapple with a more complex reality.

    • Okay, I prefer a man to be… okay, well, dominant in bed. I honestly prefer the taking charge thing, too.

      THIS DOES NOT PRECLUDE ASKING. It really, no kidding doesn’t. I am happily involved with a man who checks in frequently about what I like, don’t like, want, etc.

      You can even turn it into a bit of a dominance game, if that’s your fancy. (It isn’t everyone’s) Whisper in her ear and insist she describe what she wants. STOP whatever it is you’re doing and say, “If you want this, you’ve got to tell me you want it…”

      But the idea that asking and checking in is somehow a turnoff because the man isn’t “taking charge” is complete nonsense.

      • Okay, but your preference is different than the preferences of other women, so how exactly is it “nonsense”? You haven’t proved anything just by stating your preference, as if that somehow dismisses the preferences of other women. Don’t say it’s nonsense just because you’re well versed in blog-feminism, actually consider the other women as well lol.

        As Paul and Jake mentioned, I’d like for someone to take another stab at the issue being addressed, which is, some women are involved in changing this mindset as well.

    • I understand what you are saying. I am one of those girls, too. And I think you are right when you say BOTH genders need to work on this issue. I would like to point out two things for you. 1) In the moment, a women CAN tell the difference between a man who “knows what he’s about” and is confident of himself when he asks a girl for consent out of RESPECT, versus a man who is only nervous. Speaking from personal experience, there’s nothing sexier than being confused (‘Why is he asking my permission??’) and sort of liking it (‘Oh but he’s SO respectful/confident about it’) 2) But I agree that women need to learn this concept too. They can’t expect a double standard. This is something I can say I failed at while dating. I bought into the ridiculous idea that somehow a man would just KNOW what I wanted. Which, as you pointed out is both unfair, and absurdly problematic. But it was only because I had never known anything else. And I hope that men, such as yourself, who are confident and thoughtful enough to talk about something like this, will be strong enough to point that out to any woman who gets turned off by RESPECT.

      • Respect means he stops when you say No. Respect further means he does not use your weak moments to take advantages of your situation, such as when you’re drunk or motionally unstable [post breakup, i.e.]. Respect means he’s as interesed in you getting yours, as he is in himself getting his. And respect further means he’s honest with you about who his partners, how many he has, and when he is with them. If he TRULY respects you, you’re the only one.

        This notion that Respect means he asks you to do things, like a child might ask a parent permission to go to the movies or as a child might ask to stay over at a friends house, well, this is a silly idea and clearly illustrates an ill-concieved power balance. You can’t expect to be treated as an adult if you do not afford other adults the same place.

        We don’t have to ask with words. Words are but one language, and when it comes to sex, we further have our body language, our range of vocal language [that may not be an official language] and we have active feedback.

        Kudos on learning what you want yourself. There’s nothing more powerful than your active role in the matter. Without it, he’s just banging a hole in a sack of potatoes..whether the potatoes consented or not!

        • If you think it is respectful to stop when someone says NO, what is wrong with waiting to start until someone says YES? Yes, we are all adults, but asking for permission to touch somebody else’s body is an adult behavior. Try to imagine for a moment that you don’t want to be touched, and you are afraid of what will happen if you say “no.” This is a privilege that most men don’t have to worry about, but many women feel pressure to say all sorts of things despite what they really want, due to cultural scripts, rules, and expectations. Asking gives somebody permission to be honest. It says that you care what he or she wants and will respect their wishes.

          • If I don’t want to be touched, then I don’t enter into an intimate relationship, at least, not with that person.

            As it is, I don’t necessarily have to ask with words; I do with actions, with small moves. Her response very completely tells me what she does or does not want to do.

            Now if she is afraid that I will reject her if I don’t get what I want, well, this is where we’re at an impasse. Yes, that IS a reason to reject one partner and move on to the next. Or it is perfectly good reason to date more than one girl. Or Cheat. Or, well…there’s a reaction to every action…

            Formally asking is unnecessary, but even if we did ask, the problems would still be present. We ask, she rejects, we move on; the next time a he asks, she waffles on the issue, he sticks around until he asks again. She rejects, he moves on; she relents, he stays, she has sex, or does something she wasn’t prepared to do.

            Hence the pattern develops to what the issue is now: women afraid to stick up for themselves because they will be rejected if they do. My solution to the issue is one of the tree of knowledge, to put the apple firmly back in her hand and to encourage her to fully embrace and discover her body, and to bring that body to the tableto share, come relationship time. Otherwise, well…find someone who doesn’t like touching. You know if they do within 1-2 dates…

    • The root of both of these problems (the cultural pressure for men not to care about consent, and the cultural narrative that women should want a man who sweeps her of her feet and does what he wants) is patriarchy. Everyone is responsible for dismantling patriarchy and patriarchal thought, and women need male allies in this effort. If you really want that damaging cultural script to change, keep working on dismantling patriarchy.

  4. I loved reading this! You elucidated so beautifully this wacky paradigm we operate under. Everyone needs to read this! Thanks for sharing your thoughts and insights.

  5. “since men are expected to make the first move in the majority of sexual situations”…I think this needs to be unpacked more than was accomplished in this article. When talking about issues of consent, this very prominent social paradigm is often ignored, but is nonetheless a driving factor in most intimate relationships. Why not flip the paradigm entirely and give men the option to say yes or no? There is an assumption, often implicit, that men must control all aspects of an intimate relationship. While some men may prefer this, just as some women do not like to be assertive, some do not. In the past I have tried to allow the woman to make the first intimate move in a relationship, indicating only my openness, but all of them (all, not most) lost interest and removed themselves from the relationship entirely. It is not by mistake that the woman I married was the one to call and ask me out on our first date, and also the first one to initiate sexual advances.

    Though feminist perspectives are incredibly important in gendered issues, so is an acknowledgement of the spectrum of masculine perspectives – we are half of the equation after all. An assumption that all men prefer submissive women serves no one well.

    • Absolutely, Jimmi. Masculine perspectives can be varied, and cultural expectations about dominance and consent can be inconveniencing and sometimes harmful for men, but the expectations are there nonetheless. That does not mean that every individual likes it or agrees with it or wants male dominance and female submission. It means most expect it.

    • Men do have the option to say “Yes” or “No,” and we exercise it, often.

      We answer this question before we ever even ask the question, “do you wanna go out” or “hey, let’s do coffee.” We have already decided that “Yes, we want to have sex with this girl.”

      Hence, from that point forward it is already a zero-sum game. The length of the relationship may not be determined by sex or the quality of sex, but it is one axle of the two axles that hold up the power behind a Semi Tractor. This axle is also the power axle, and if the vehicle is only 2×6, woe be the woman who decides to ignore sex. The front axle may decide the ultimate direction, but the back axles determine how long things last – and the sex axle alone has carried more than one relationship far beyond where the latter axle might have carried it. And many relationships with a solid foundation over the “Personality” Axle have gone for a long time, but then they hit the Adultery Speed bump…and whoa, what happened??!

      In other words, we may prolong the relationship just long enough to enjoy that physical interaction and use that alone to decide how much more of the relationship is worth pursuing. This is the rest of our lifetime too, and quite frankly, a sexless life is not of much interest to must of us, even though many of us are forced to resign for such once we get married. So when we walk up and ask you out, we’ve already said ‘Yes, I want to have sex.” From that moment forward, if the woman is playing the “I don’t know” game, she’s playing catch-up from there on out.

      The brutal fact is, if we were to simply wait for women to decide when to have sex, we could probably wait until the cows come home before she makes up her mind, and this is probably a great fail of modern women. You don’t know what you want, and you want to sit around and play the “Being Friends is so much fun!” Game until you figure it out, and then you want to pretend physical sex isn’t important.

      Well, we grew up, and we discovered what sex is, and there is no going back to that place. We’ve spent for the better parts a decade or two playing with our parts, we’vee been intrigued with them since we discovered we have a pee-pee. And now that we’re older, a very fair number of us are equally intrigued with the parts we don’t have, and if they were made available to us, we’d very well play with them for as long as we’ve played with our own.

      If we’re hanging out with you, it’s because we want to have sex, or we find you attractive and eventually, we want to have sex. We’re just waiting for you to make up your mind that you want to have sex too. We want to touch you, we want to play with you, and we want you to play with us…preferably naked…

      What can women do to improve this situation? Stop hanging out with us unless you want to have sex. Learn to sit down and think it through when your sober and ten hours removed from the situation: Ask AND ANSWER the question then, before we’re even together.

      If the answer is No, you need to stop hanging out with us – because you’re on the wrong page. Or you’re on the right page, but you’re using us for Emotional privilege, in the same way we use some people for the Wham bam Thank you ma’am physical privilege. Obviously that is a horrible way to use people, and we should stop, so we’d appreciate it if you stop using us.

      If the answer is Yes, then take down all the fences you have across your bodies and get over them – it’s just a body. Be at peace with our desire for it and entrust us with it; let us play with it. Obviously, there’s still boundaries, hence when it’s painful, let us know. And there are still some places we will perhaps not be allowed, but the fewer places out of bounds, the less likely these issues will ever arise. It’s easy for us to respect the Time Issue if we know there will be ample time [and often] otherwise when we will have our ever desire satiated. if you’re not that girl, though, then stop dating us!

      If you’re one of those girls who will not let anything of this or that nature, you need to let us go if we’re a this or that kind of guy, because we will still pursue this or that. And there are this or that kinds of girls out there, for this or that kinds of guys! [Examples of this or that: oral, anal, public, scat, piss, BSDM, etc.]

      My first girlfriend, by the way, was amazing with this subject. She was proactive and she actively pursued what she wanted. There really wasn’t a time or place [privately, not publically] where her body was off limits to me, just as mine was not off limits to her. Sex maintained our relationship long after it should have ended, but it was what it was. those wheels up front, the steering wheel, that made the difference in our relationship, hence we went in different directions…thus is life…

      • I feel sorry for anyone who is in a relationship where they feel pressured to have sex in order to keep their partner from cheating. That is a recipe for unwanted sex. No-one should be having sex out of fear of losing their partner. They should be having sex because they feel comfortable, safe, and WANT to have sex.

        • Being in a relationship is not entirely about self; it is about fulfilling yourself and it is about fulfilling your partner. If you cannot fulfill your partner’s needs, you are in the wrong relationship. Why is it right to deny someone the pleasures of life you don’t want to do, and yet you hold them next to you because you fear losing their intimacy? To be with someone else, you must be willing to give of yourself those things They desire. If you can’t, the relaitonship is no longer a cooperative but a power struggle, and power stuggles always end up with one person hurt and one person in power.

          It starts at the very beginning, by finding someone who shares your desires. In the old days, this was difficult to do – weeks of courtship, decades of marriage. Today, we have dating sites with a huge volume of datasets determined to help us find the right person – AND YET – so many people, mostly women, don’t take these datasets seriously and instead shop first on looks, second on success and third on excitement, while uttering the phrase “If he Truly Loves Me, he’ll stop wanting all those things I don’t want,” or discoveirng later they’re in a relaitonship with some who’s values completely don’t match…

          When I found my current girlfriend, I matched percentage first and gave her lieniency on her weight. We match so well on paper that there’s really very few points that come up where we’re in disagreement or at odds with each other.

          Perhaps this takes the romance and mystery out of dating, but this is the rest of our lives we’re playing with.

  6. I love this discussion!

    It makes me think back to the first time that I learned the term “cock tease”. It sounded sexy, it was applied to my friend jokingly, and I wanted it to be applied to me. Then I learned about blue balls, about how it was cruel to lead a guy on and then tell him no. What I learned in high school was that if you’re willing to be even remotely intimate with a guy (kissing, for instance), you’d better be willing to give up the whole cake, cause it’s cruel and misleading and unfair not to.

    What I am only just learning now is that it’s ok to be ready for one level of intimacy, but not another. It’s ok to let someone get close, but to keep things from getting too frisky too quickly. It’s amazing it took me so long to get to this point. It just always seemed that if a girl was willing to get frisky, it’s her own fault if things end up going a bit too far. She’s just that kind of girl, she was asking for it. No, that is rape culture talking. I was very proud of myself for realizing this metaphor: if someone gives you their gloves, you don’t expect to receive their jacket too.

    I am so pleased that discussions of little inter-relationship moments like this are being had. This is beautiful and empowering. In this case it tells me that it’s ok to want just a slice of cake today, maybe more tomorrow. It’s ok to put the breaks on when things get a bit much. And maybe if we keep talking about this, perhaps it will mean that the person I’m with will seek my enthusiastic “YES!” rather than pushing as far as they can before encountering a, “um, hey, could you not… no, no, I like you, it’s just…”

  7. Jimmi nailed it: the critical flaw in this article is its assumption that men must do all the initiating, and therefore must also do all the asking.

    But that brings up an even more critical point: that men and women are emotionally and sexually very different. Their thought processes about sex, their approaches to sex, and how much they value it, both in terms of physical and emotional needs and what role it should play in a relationship.

    Does that mean there’s no value in changing the way men approach these situations? Of course not, but I simply can’t agree with the suggestion the article is making, based on the way it oversimplifies the circumstances.

    • Did you read my response to Jimmi’s thoughts? I couldn’t agree more that men do not have to always initiate sex. I even said that a woman with agency could kiss a man or ask him to kiss her. Please don’t confuse my prescription of the problem with my solution: I don’t believe that the expectation of men to initiate and dominate is right, but in America, the expectation exists, and that is what I am proposing a solution for. My solution allows for women to initiate should they choose.

      Having said that, I love your point on assumptions about men and sex. They are toxic. Men grow up believing and expecting themselves to want sex all the time, with anybody, no matter the cost or circumstances, and if they don’t they are not a man. If that expectation could change, much of the problems of rape culture might be solved. Unfortunately, I believe that is a much more deeply embedded and insinuous problem than the “sexy silence” model I describe, so I addressed the first and most widely understood solution. I don’t think enough men think the way you do yet.

      • I would also add that, in addition to contributing to a culture of disrespect for women’s boundaries, the cultural expectation that men should always want sex renders male sexual boundaries practically invisible. Speaking from personal experience, I have often felt my boundaries pushed and even violated by many different women who I have been intimate with. I think that this cultural attitude that men supposedly always want sex is at least partly (and perhaps even mostly) to blame.

        Granted, I have never been a part of mainstream American culture; I grew up and have lived my whole life in relatively hippyish, lefty, feminist environments where the expectations that women shouldn’t initiate sex have largely been disregarded, and it’s possible that I would have had different experiences had I lived in a mainstream environment where female sexuality is still repressed and men are expected to initiate everything (not that I would want to live in such an environment).

        However, the idea of men even having sexual boundaries is still seen as bizarre, even within these subsets of society. Even within progressive feminist circles, I have found the idea of male sexual boundaries to be almost completely ignored to focus exclusively on situations in which the man is seen as the initiator of sexuality and the one on whom sole responsibility for obtaining consent falls. I really wish that there was more of a tendency within these discussions to view getting consent as a responsibility that falls on people of both genders, but it’s not something I see happening nearly often enough.

      • No, you seem to have entirely missed my point about men and sex, or at least my latter point: that men and women are very sexually different. It’s not merely a case of men believing they should want sex, or society believing men should want sex. MEN WANT SEX. This is an unfortunately instinctive and natural default drive, and it is different from women, and that’s PERFECTLY OKAY.

        But for discussions like yours to have any substance, they need to acknowledge this difference first. They need to understand that men and women have very different sexual needs and expectations, regardless of society. Because they do.

      • Umm… No. Not all men want sex. It may be the case that MOST men want sex, but so do most women (they’re just told by society that they’re not allowed to, otherwise they’re ‘sluts’ or somehow otherwise considered worthless). In my experience, when you get rid of cultural pressure, women and men are A LOT less different than society expects them to be.

      • I noticed a glaring instance of this: in the article, your girlfriend does NOT ask her permission to kiss you the next night. While perhaps this can be said to come from the unbroken link between the two sexual episodes, it seems more likely that you, having established yourself as the “predator,” were simply assumed to be okay at all times with whatever sexual behavior her partner deigned to offer. This seems to differ only superficially from the previous “silence” in that now, it is the “predator’s” responsibility to say the first word.

        What I think is more the problem is the dialogue of economics and permission, and THAT is what I believe is truly the most “boner-killing” aspect of the date script. That what is supposed to be an emotional connection is suddenly entangled in external systems of sexual discipline. There are no needs being articulated, only naked economics. The “predator” is not revealing their needs, only restricting their own needs out of what really amounts to politeness, more than respect. It is assumed that the predator is willing to and desirous of complete sexual conquest, but they will hold off…for now, because they are so noble.

        The template needs to change from one of “is this okay?” to “I want this.” This allows the requester to articulate their sexual needs and desires, thereby expressing their sexuality and not simply letting it be assumed that they are a rapacious sexual animal whose urges are only held in check by a thin rein of social discourse. This has the added advantages of circumventing the awkward “sexy head shake”–If your partner says “I want to fuck you” and you do not want them to, merely do not reply–and of removing “prey” roles (often women in heterosexual couplings) from their troubling position of sexual gatekeepers, whose role in sexual congress is only to offer a yea or nay like a Roman emperor. Not to mention even within existing modes of sexuality it’s still sexy as hell.

    • You start with an assumption you have no evidence for: That men and women are emotionally and sexually different at a base level. This is the “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus” fallacy. What if I were to tell you that growing up in different social circumstances changes this? Currently we differentiate boy and girls from each other almost from birth and raise each differently. We give them different toys, different colors, different amounts of physical contact, etc. One of the first things people ask when confronted with a baby is “is it a boy or a girl?” In almost every case how they treat that child varies radically depending on the answer. (If you want to learn more about this you could start by looking up the Baby X studies.)

      I assure you that while there are some ways in which we are hormonally different as men and women, a surprising amount of our attitudes toward social interactions in particular are nurture and not nature. Before you make a blanket assumption about how men and women are emotionally and sexually different at a chemical or physiologically level (as you do in your second post) you should look up some more information about gender rolls and nurture. I think you may be rather surprised. Hormones do make a difference, but not as big a one as you seem to be expecting. You are right, the basic hormonal differences are indeed OK, and that being said they are not an excuse for how we culturally condition men and women into different rolls.

      • AMEN. We have GOT to get rid of the “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus” Fallacy. Look up either “The Mathematics of Sex” [Ceci and Williams] or The Truth about Girls and Boys by Rivers and Barnett.

    • I believethe vast differences between the sexes lies in sexual repression on the side of the female. From the moment we discover our penis, we play with it. Women do not have this advantage. Instead, upon discovering they have parts too, they discover it at the worst of times in an event I’m sure most wish they didn’t have to deal with. The whole situation is, in a rather realistic term, “icky.” Hence, I precieve women have a distant relationship with their half of the equation, whereas men grow up taking delight in it.

      As more women allow themselves to be sexual, and allow themselves to be comfortable in their own skin, these differences go away. Ironically enough, people call these girls nymphos and then find words to cut them down. The most vicious? Women on women.

      For some reason, guys understand gorup dynamics, and are comfortable with one person being in charge and even taking one fo rhte team. Girls, on the other hand, each want to be the number one girl in the room, and if they are not, they’ll tear the number one down, or bond together with others to tear anyone down who gets that number one position, or tear down anyone who does not meet their standard of approval. Why else is it so easy for groups of guys to go into clubs and “Divide and Conquer?”

      Things have to change, but it is the idealists who need to adjust their behavior.

  8. :/ This just bears so little resemblance to my experience of sex that I don’t really know what to do with this information.

    ” 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?”

    Um, no, that doesn’t familiar at all. It sounds insane. Which I guess is your point. But (as a male) i’m relating so much more to the female side of this scenario you’re describing than the male side.

    I’ve actually been told off by women for not pushing forward without asking. I’ve been looked at weirdly for asking “is this alright?”, been told quite explicitly that it does “break the mood”.

    What if you’re a man who hasn’t ever treated sex the way a rapist treats it? What are you supposed to do with this information?

    Equally difficult for me to place within the context of articles like this (by which I mean articles that *sound* good, but are so completely removed from my experience that I don’t 100% know where the author was coming from in the first place before they arrived at these feminist conclusions that should have been self-evident from the beginning), what if you’re a man who doesn’t want sex every time he sees a woman? What if you’re a man who loves just hugging, or just kissing, or just (whatever stage you’re in the mood for); what if you sometimes aren’t at all in the mood for sex?

    Well, I can tell you what my experience is: you’re expected to want to go all the way anyway. If you’re happy to simply because you want to make her happy, but you draw a line at some particular thing (like, for example, not wanting to cum), then you face pressure to do it anyway. You get asked *over* and *over* again to do it. And you’re weird if you don’t want to, or it’s some judgement on her, or something like that. So sometimes you go all the way just as a result of these pressures, and you feel gross about it, and you don’t feel like any of this sexy fun for maybe a week or more afterward.

    So you learn, by being told this sometimes quite explicitly, that women that you’re with don’t want you to ask, and don’t want you to ‘not push forward’, and don’t want to be the initiators. But you don’t particularly find it sexy to act like a date rapist, so you try to approach things the way you think is right anyway, and try to just navigate/deal with it when you find yourself with partners (all of them) who want you to approach it the other way. Which leads you into feeling pressured to do things you don’t want to do, because those are the things you’re supposed to want to do as a man.

    Then you come across articles telling you that you were behaving the right way all along.

    I think this discussion is completely inadequate. There’s more going on here.

    • I really appreciate your comments. It is so gratifying to hear these perspectives from men who have tried these techniques already and who meet resistance from women, not because I am glad to hear about the difficulties, but because it is the perfect example of how the real world is not like the stereotyped world we get from the media. I would love if more men such as yourself and others who have commented here were able to share these perspectives more openly with the world! We need people to understand that men are not all sex-crazed mindless date rapists who don’t understand the word “no” and can’t stand to walk away with “blue balls.” As I’ve said already, this misunderstanding is toxic!! I meant to address the stereotypical, media-driven narrative that most of us (especially those who have not had heterosexual sex) are aware of based on cultural conversations, but let’s change those conversations and adjust them to suit the variety of men, sexual preferences and boundaries that exist in the real world, and not just on the silver screen!!

    • It sounds to me like the women you pick to partner with want you to be somebody you’re not. I can totally understand why the dynamically changing world of sexuality would be just as confusing for men as for women. It’s true that some people want to be “dominated”. If you’re in a relationship with that someone and you’re okay with it then great. If not, then you have a chance to rethink the sexual aspect of your relationship. And some people want the whole romantic, silent scenario that ourlesbianfriend is describing which is okay, too, as long as the relationship is at the point where that works. I’ve always believed that if you can’t talk about sex with a person (eg what you like, don’t like, where, when, how, etc etc) then it’s probably best to refrain from having sex with that person.
      I remember a line from a movie where a father advised a daughter by saying, “It’s easy to go to bed with someone. What’s harder is the getting up in the morning.” This relates to my point because it’s what happens between two people when they aren’t having sex that creates the world of their sexual intimacy.
      And don’t forget, just because you have an enlightened, respectful view of the situation doesn’t mean your partner does. Women who want sex but are afraid of or uncomfortable with their own sexual feelings may not want to draw attention to their sexual actions/behaviors. Lots of women only have sex with the lights off. The “sexual revolution” hasn’t reached it’s zenith yet. Women have a long way to go.
      It sounds like, from your sharing, that men have a long way to go, too.

      • Cathy, I don’t understand what you mean when you say “It sounds like, from your sharing, that men have a long way to go, too” in response to someone telling a story about being repeatedly pressured into sex they aren’t comfortable with. Or when you say “I’ve always believed that if you can’t talk about sex with a person… then it’s probably best to refrain from having sex with that person” when it’s clear that he’s had the same experience with multiple partners. It’s hard for me to decipher your comment because the wording confuses me, but the impression I’m getting is that you’re trying to blame him for the situations he talks about in which he’s had his boundaries crossed. If that is the case, I frankly have no idea how you consider that to be an appropriate response to this kind of story. If the genders in the story were reversed, wouldn’t you consider that attitude to kind of border on victim-blaming?

    • Vincent, I appreciate your response because you’ve given me a chance to clarify. In reading back over the various responses to the blog and the replies to the blog I got confused about whom I was addressing. I primarily wanted to affirm the guy(s) having problems with women who don’t appreciate their style/approach and/or needs/wants when it comes to the sexual component of their relationship that it may simply be incompatibility rather than some other kind of flaw on the part of either party.
      I did not intend to ‘blame the victim’. I didn’t really see that there was a “victim” per se. Just someone describing their struggles with sex in relationships. I don’t really see this as group therapy. But I do believe that people can gravitate to and choose people as partners who aren’t necessarily the best choices for them; it’s not at all uncommon. So if that is the case in any of the afore mentioned scenarios/relationships there is an opportunity to consider this in the event that it can help solve what is perceived to be a problem.
      I was also trying to draw attention to the idea that being able to talk with your sexual partner about preferences etc before hand can help; if it even needs to be said. I have no idea if any of these experiences come from monogamous relationships or one night stands. The dynamics are completely different in either case.
      Some men believe that men want sex a lot and other men don’t. Some men are naturally inclined to be more aggressive, more dominant, more in control. Some men are that way because they believe they are supposed to be. Some men are the opposite and struggle with being true to themselves in the face of a culture that has a specific, and perhaps narrow, definition of what is to be a “man.” Hence my comment about men struggling/being confused etc.just as much as women may be; for both men and women there is a “long way to go” before we figure all of this out;that this “third wave” of feminists has their work cut out for them and said work is for improving the lives of both men and women as is evidenced by the responsiveness of both genders to this blog.
      And this is rather the “point” of much of what this blogger talks about: how societal expectations influence our expression of gender and sexuality.

    • I am one of those women who would think it was a weird and un-sexy if a guy 1) didn’t initiate or 2) asked if it was “okay” to move forward. All I can say to you is – you need a woman who appreciates you for who you are! All of us women are different and we want different things, just like you! I would keep on the lookout for the girl that fits you better in bed. (This is why I believe in sex before marriage!)

    • This sounds really familiar. I have a much higher sex drive than my fiance. Tbh, even though I’ve been a raving feminist for a few years now, I never really gave much thought to my own biases wrt men and women’s sex drives. For a while I felt insulted when he didn’t want to have sex more than once or twice a week. Then we sat down and talked about it, and he told me that I hadn’t been respecting his boundaries and that he often felt pressured to have sex. This is literally something I had not thought of because I have been led to believe that men just always want to have sex. I feel stupid now for not realizing this on my own. And my fiance and I are working on these issues. Thank you for sharing your perspective and reminding me to be mindful of how I treat his boundaries.

      • I had the same problem with my ex and have many friends who feel the same. It is so rarely discussed! Women often have higher libidos than their lovers. Because we live in this world where “men always want sex,” it can be VERY hard to feel rejected by a man. Men are conditioned to pursue, and they expect resistance. But what if you’re the woman pursuing? The man feels inadequate (because, after all, why DOESN’T he want sex all the time like he’s been told he should?) and the woman feels unattractive. In my case, it led to a nasty breakup. I’m glad you and your fiance are working through it.

    • @Name Withheld: It can take time to realize how much cooler it is to get the chance to vocalize what you want. It took a few brave guys willing to ask me what I wanted, or how I wanted it, before I realized.

      And of course that’s just me – all women aren’t the same.Consent should be something you seek just because it’s decent, not because it’s a magic surefire pants-removing button.

      I’m not totally sure you need to hear this, but I’m sure someone will – you are going to feel like a failure if you try to find the magic thing that works for all women (it doesn’t exist), and you are going to feel cheated if you believe sex is something you can win or earn by behaving a certain way (it’s not.)

      A good general rule though? It’s probably better to have a few women want you to be more dominant than to be so worried with whether you’re dominant enough that you don’t notice yourself raping someone.

  9. A big light bulb went off over my head as I read this. “So THAT’S what’s been happening this whole time.” I will definitely be more conscious of this from now on. Thanks for illuminating it for me so, so very well.

  10. Eh… personally… I would roll my eyes if a guy asked me “is this okay?” In my head I would be thinking – first of all – duh! And – second of all – what kind of pansy is this. I am attracted to men who are strong-willed and confident. I would be utterly UNattracted to a man who came off as unsure.

    • The whole point of my argument is that asking “is this okay” is NOT considered sexy. I’m not trying to argue for the opposite. Our culture (and thus, you and me, the people who live it) readily understands this “silence is sexy” model to be…you guessed it–sexy! That means of course women and men are both going to approach this suggestion with trepidation. Naturally, being sure and confident is sexy. I feel the same way. But I bet if somebody ever started doing something you DIDN’T like or think was okay, you would be glad if he asked you. I don’t think that there is ever a one-size-fits-all solution for sex. Whatever works for you is what you should do. BUT I do think the assumption that silence works for everybody is dangerous, and that’s what I want to change.

    • Aleta, I think that the solution to this is in giving that man the benefit of the doubt if he did ask this. Assume the best intentions, and assume he is asking because he was raised in such a way that he was taught that he should hear “yes”, at least until clear sexual boundaries have been put in place. Communication is key, and it is perfectly ok if you tell him that you would prefer he didn’t ask and led instead, and that you would let him know if you were uncomfortable.

      We all have different preferences, and while you may prefer him not asking, if we continue to expect men to not ask, then many more women will get hurt as a result of it. While them asking may be something that turns you off, you only need to express that to him once!

      On the other hand, the current model we have of “silence is sexy” DOES lead to many situations in which a woman finds herself pressured into an act that she finds she is not ok with, and this scenario is much more harmful than someone giving you the chance to express your desires, is it not?

      Also as a final note, I hope you don’t take this as an attack on your stance, I am in no way trying to invalidate your preferences, but rather am just saying that in the scenario the author paints, you could easily express those preferences the first time a man does ask if something is ok.

  11. Pingback: Saying Yes | Mutually Exclusive·

  12. Investigations

    I asked of every thing
    if it had
    something more,
    something more than shape and form,
    and I learned that way that nothing is empty–
    everything is a box, a train, a boat
    loaded with implications,
    every foot that walked along a path
    left a telegram written in the stone,
    and clothes in the washing water
    dripped out their whole existence.
    I went from country to country, never knowing
    where to put down my bundle, now so heavy,
    loaded with all my knowings,
    till with so much seeing and knowing,
    moving and moving, asking and asking
    every chair, every stone, and later
    so many women who never answered,
    they got me used to answering myself,
    replying to myself without speaking,
    talking with no one, to amuse myself.
    Perhaps, it’s what happens to a blind man
    who from so much not seeing then sees everything
    and in a single focusing
    sees
    with all the intensity of a diver
    who descends one single well in the whole ocean
    and in that place all the fish are gathered.

    Well then, when I left off
    shaking the earth
    and moving every thing from its place,
    I thought that each of them would bestow on me
    some little thank you or a smile,
    or congratulations or whatever,
    but it wasn’t like that; and those inhabitants
    of the terrible city
    pointed a finger,
    a long, dead finger, at my life
    and with an indignant eye,
    the eye of a castrated cyclops,
    they scrutinized me thoughtfully.
    And another passed, dressed as a poet,
    most elegant, and furious with me
    because I hadn’t changed my shirt
    and had no love for her manager.
    At that point I said to myself
    the things of this world just go on being
    and perhaps they are right–
    but from such corruption
    I decided to go on knowing nothing,
    not demanding two eyes for an eye
    or a hand for a fingernail.
    I made an unbreakable pledge to myself
    that the people would find their voices in my song.

    -Pablo Neruda

    I lost my faith in womanhood
    I lost my faith in womanhood
    I lost my faith…
    Pretty Girls Make Graves-The Smiths

  13. I agree with one of the commenters above with the if you can’t talk about sex with the person, you shouldn’t be having sex with them. I think women in general expect men to want sex, so when men like one of the other commenters above don’t always want sex..instead of seeing it as they just don’t want it at this time, women can make the mistake of feeling like it’s bc the men don’t want them. I think that’s why women sometimes react badly to men not taking control or pushing. it’s based on their own self doubt. If men all want sex and he doesn’t want sex..what’s wrong with me? Communication is the key. Telling them how you feel. I mean i love pizza, but do i want it all the time? no. Make them feel desired outside the bedroom. Make each other feel appreciated. listen, respect, talk, touch.

      • From main article:
        “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.”

        From Name Withheld’s comment:
        “what if you’re a man who doesn’t want sex every time he sees a woman? What if you’re a man who loves just hugging, or just kissing, or just (whatever stage you’re in the mood for); what if you sometimes aren’t at all in the mood for sex?
        Well, I can tell you what my experience is: you’re expected to want to go all the way anyway. If you’re happy to simply because you want to make her happy, but you draw a line at some particular thing (like, for example, not wanting to cum), then you face pressure to do it anyway. You get asked *over* and *over* again to do it. And you’re weird if you don’t want to, or it’s some judgement on her, or something like that. So sometimes you go all the way just as a result of these pressures, and you feel gross about it…”

        What I don’t understand is why it’s considered rape when a woman is pushed to the point of doing things she doesn’t want, but when that happens to a man it’s just her feeling insecure and needing to be appreciated. Shouldn’t everyone be held to the same standards if we want an equal society?

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  16. I’ve always asked “Do you like this?” and said things like “Tell me what you like.” More than just common courtesy or women having their say, men also aren’t mind-readers in bed. Tell me what you want and what you’re into, and I’ll be a better lover. I can’t stand it when women try to hide what they like in bed as if there’s some kind of shame to it.

    • That’s a great point, MZX. I had to grow into this, though, because our culture places a great deal of shame on the pleasure of women. There IS shame, and a lot of it, and it’s force fed to us from the time we’re little girls. Most women I know (including BUT NOT EXCLUSIVE TO abused women) internalize this shame and when we have wonderful, respectful lovers it’s still difficult to even admit to pleasure! As Ryan Gosling said of Blue Valentine: “The MPAA really needs to…There is something very distorted about this reality that they’ve created, which is that it is OK to torture women on screen…Any kind of violence towards women in a sexual scenario is fine. But give a woman pleasure, no way. Not a chance. That’s pornography.”

    • This shame is why I find it far more important to just go ahead and let her discover what she like and doesn’t like all over again. One experience is not enough, and though some things perhaps should not be done and I won’t do [like those things that result in permanent damage], there are a tone of other things that may surprisingly hither in ways she didn’t know exist…and if she’s confident enough to return the favor of exploring, she may find buttons on you that you didn’t know exist! That’s part of the point of sex, that shared experience of discovery…otherwise we’d all just hit up prostitutes. The Shame has Got to Go!

  17. I would just like to say this- I am a man. A few years ago I had major surgery and was highly doped on Dilaudid. A woman who I barely knew came over to bring me some food. While there she took advantage of me. She preformed oral sex on me, something I would have NEVER allowed had I not been completely intoxicated by powerful narcotics. What happened to her? Absolutely nothing. Had it been me doing that to a woman I would have gone to jail. Because she did it to me she’s considered a “modern, liberated woman”.

    • I am terribly sorry about what happened to you. You are right: that is rape and absolutely not okay, and there should have been consequences. I don’t know any right-minded person who would call that woman “modern” or “liberated” after such a situation. However, I hesitate to agree with your point that you would have gone to jail if it had been the other way around. Unfortunately, our legal rape model is not nearly as healthy or effective as it should be, and it’s entirely possible that you could have gotten away with the same actions she did. While it is true that men are expected to rape more than women are, it is also true that rape-reporters are not trusted, regardless of their gender. It would have been perfectly easy to claim the survivor was mis-remembering due to the narcotics, or any number of other defenses. This is the terrible truth about our rape culture, and that it can be utilized to harm men as well as women only makes it worse.

  18. Pingback: “Silence is Sexy” vs Opt-in Consent & BDSM | Kinkopedia·

  19. I’m also a guy who has respect for intentional consent, and I’m dissatisfied with the script many are working with. I see the appeal of the silent makeout session that keeps the magic alive and growing; I’ve experienced that many times and it was mutually agreeable. But I’ve also been considered “too hesitant” and told to “take me over, take charge” numerous times, and I don’t think I even did so, because it doesn’t follow my nature to take over. I like the idea of two equals, each playing their part in keeping the flame alive. What is so wrong with the idea of speaking about what you are doing, as you’re doing it? asking or discussing or mentioning … it doesn’t kill the mood unless the mood is already quite fragile. I find that older partners tend to be more comfortable with this type of interaction — the idea that you could stop making out, answer a phone call, talk about what you’re about to do, and then get undressed and do it with full intention and awareness of what you’re doing. I think a LOT of people (both genders) rely on alcohol as a scapegoat (“I was so wasted”), or as a way to convince themselves to make the move or reciprocate. I like sober sex that comes from such consciousness and intentionality that the mood can’t be easily shattered. I believe women and men need to re-examine the idea of the magical mood being their path to a sexual interaction. All that said, I also believe we guys are not very good at reading body language and subtle facial expressions. (This discrepancy has been studied, I’ve read some articles on that.) If a guy is clueless about what a woman might be feeling, I can understand that being unattractive to her. Confidence and taking charge are sexy to women only when the guy reads correctly, that her interest was high at that moment. If the guy misreads her and proceeds confidently, that’s called being creepy and “ewww”, not confidence. Guys who have better ability to read body language will “succeed” in getting through this guesswork more easily. But meanwhile the magical silence often prevails, neither party wanting to disturb the delicate process which is underway. That silence may work out perfectly and feel right, so we continue that formula because we believe it’s the only way we can get to the place of fulfilling desires. Other paths are too well-lit, perhaps. But I agree with the author that it’s time for guys and girls to examine our relationship with sober intentionality, conscious awareness, clear communication and the complete individual ownership of our sexual natures and desires. If the burden is on the guy to make the first move, a girl can blame him for the result reached during the silence. If the burden is on the girl to say no, or push his hand away, a guy can blame her for not doing do. And they can both blame the alcohol. (I have nothing against drinking, I just want to see people examine its role in consent, initiation, self-awareness and sexual intentionality.) Any thoughts from the group on any of the above — or on how a guy who is tentative, respectful and cautious, such as myself, can navigate through all this?

    • I want an equal.
      Not “same”, “equal”. I doubt same is possible in any relationship. Besides, if I had a clone, I wouldn’t date her – that your partner is different (here I mean more than the physical differences of heterosexual relationships, but inner differences pertaining to all) makes you stronger together. But at the same time, it doesn’t mean that one person should be stronger, weaker, better or worse than the other. Or more dominant. Especially sexually, where the already intense physical and emotional sensations make it easy to take things too far and hurt someone. I like the balance. I enjoy it when my boyfriend kisses me hard, with that obvious attraction which many women read as dominance. And I like it just as much when he lets me touch him. But the best part of our relationship is knowing that I’m giving him just as much as he’s giving me and we’re both comfortable with it. This couldn’t happen without some form of communication; verbal, physical, or otherwise. It matters less who is being dominant than that someone is. So here’s to mature, consensual, and equal relationships.

  20. Reblogged this on Sarvodaya and commented:
    Interesting point. I’ve always felt that open and honest communication, even if considered “un-sexy” in certain contexts, is vital in all aspects of the relationship. But even as a self-described feminist, I never took into account the importance of how expectations and roles are framed. Thoughts?

  21. I like that the author recognizes that phrasing like “Is this okay?” may be awkward for someone with more of a dom personality. Maybe if they rephrased it to something like “Tell me what you want” it would work better for those people.

  22. What a great conversation! I just wanted to drop in my two cents about women not appreciating men who seek enthusiastic, affirmative consent.
    Well, first of all, thank you for posting and voicing so many interesting thoughts.

    As I’ve witnessed with a lot of my female friends, women are not exempt from the men-are-supposed-to-dominate-not-seek-consent culture. It is ingrained within many of us (women) that we are not supposed to initiate sex. (It is kind of scary, too, to be in that position because, well, you might get rejected.) We are also brought up to subconsciously think that men who break free from their stereotype of a “strong, dominant male” are somehow less manly, that there’s “something wrong”. Also cultural gender models let many women believe it is not expected nor wanted of them to initiate or to express their desires. So not all women understand why they think “men should be the aggressor”. This is not to say you can’t decide consensually that hey, this is the role play we want to play but to say that many women just like men subscribe to the very same patriarchal ideas about gender roles.

    All I’m trying to say is that I agree with the author 100% and I am sorry so many men’s lives are also restricted by these rigid gendered stereotypes. I have met many guys who are frustrated with the societal expectations thrust at them (…) and wishing to be able to meet other people as equal human beings without the “real man, dominant masculinity” baggage hovering over their head.

  23. Indeed, we don’t give women enough agency… actually we rarely ever give women agency. I think that’s what is wrong with the bar scene even, we all know and state why men go to bars, but we don’t ask women why they go to them.

    • So true! I’ve had one man approach me at a bar and ask if I was in the mood to flirt with a stranger, and if I was ok with him being the stranger. I was totally floored.

      I hadn’t really realized until then that I so often have this uncomfortable court intrigue feeling when I talk to a man at a bar (assuming I don’t just tell them to piss off, which I’ve gotten much more comfortable doing over the years) because I don’t have any confidence that the man gives two damns what I want or what I mean by talking to him. Having that guy acknowledge that I might have my own reasons for being at the bar, and even if they included getting male attention, they might not extend to him specifically was actually very sexy.

      I felt so much safer with him that he is to date the only man I’ve met at a bar that’s gotten my real phone number.

    • What’s wrong with the bar scene is that women are going to them for all the wrong reasons…

      Here is how the bar works.

      The purpose of a bar is to make money. The most powerful money maker is Not Alchohol or Music, as you might think, but sex. Alchohol is a social lubricant; musics is a spiritual lubricant. Dance is a Visual displace of physical Prowess. Does this all add up yet?

      The lure of sex is so great that males will pay double, even triple to get in, particularly if it is well known that they place will lead to sex at the end of the night. So what do bars do? They have ladies nights, where the ladies can come for free and barely pay anything for drinks.

      Females go to bars to have a good time dancing, socializing, and singing. The party, for them, is that sensation of the flashing lights. And they get to dress like they’re movie stars, showing off their bits as men like them to show off their bits. Then they dance as they know men like them to dance. Both actions earn them even more drinks and in particular, more compliments. Ever hear the one about the Fox and the Crow with a piece of chese?

      Women want to tell men that bars, dancing, music, the whole party means somethign else. meanwhile, men continue to live in relaity, and actively PREY, yes, I look at it as a predatory tactic, PREY on these naive women. And then they wake up the next morning in some place strange, or with someone strange, or you have a six month relaitonship with the wrong guy. Or luck has it, it turns out to be a great relaitonship…but more often than not, it’s not.

      That’s the whole truth. Beware, be careful, and if you don’t want to have random sex [there’s nothing wrong with it if you do, as many women ENJOY one night stands] with random guys, you may want to avoid the bar scene, or at least stay away from drinking too much, or keep close to your friends…there’s nothing innocent about the bar scene.

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  25. I don’t think a lesbian can fully understand male/female dynamics. I would feel annoyed by a man who kept asking “is this o.k.?” and even more annoyed by one trying to force me to talk dirty to him, “tell me what you want.”

    • Why would you feel annoyed? Please reconsider the point I am trying to make: asking for consent is not currently considered sexy, by men or women. I am not suggesting that women have all necessarily been wanting this all along and men just have to jump on board. I am saying it’s a problem that both sexes have, including myself, regardless of sexual orientation or the sex of your partner. Did the scenarios in the article found like they could be a man and a woman? Sexual relations and dynamics are remarkably unchanged for lesbians. We all carry similar cultural baggage and have similar expectations of sex appeal. Please think about why you would find it annoying and communicate that to your sex partners, giving them another way to get your consent.

    • I think it bears repeating that one woman’s experiences don’t generalize to all women.
      I feel annoyed and uncomfortable, even unsafe, when a man assumes he knows what I want. I want a man to care if I’m enjoying myself – and chances are he’ll do a better job if I just tell him what I like instead of doing the awkward groan signals. Even more, I want a man to care if I’m comfortable doing something instead of just making me do it – I hate being shoved into something when a man doesn’t already know through experience that I’ll be fine with it.
      I find the notion of getting raped because it’s “not sexy” to actively seek consent kind of annoying too.
      Also – I do think a man wanting me to want him is totally sexy.

    • Bu!!$H!t.

      So I once knew this guy who is gay, or bi, or…well, he doesn’t know what he is anymore. The point of the matter is, he was once in this relaitonship with a girl who was his One in life, the one girl he wanted to be with. And then one day he ripped out his heart and killed him.

      So what did he do?

      It so turned out he was in this time getting involved in the pornography business, where he made $300k a year, as a male model. Now before you think this is fun, understand that for most men int he pornography scene, in order to become involved with MF/MFF/MMFF/MFFF scenes, one has to start by doing MM/MMM scenes. In otherwords, he learned through his work that being with a man was no better or worse than beign with a woman, just different, so he thought he’d just get rid of that part that was female and fix the “different” problem.

      He siad his most depressing realization is the reality that MM relaitonships are no more or less crazy than normal traditional MF relaitonships. In otherwords, it’s all the same ball of wax, only there’s a dick attached and not another hole.

      Hence, I have no doubt there are lesbians who get pertubed by partners who ask these questions – though perhaps there’s just as many who have Gone Les becasue they preceive the problem is Men and not Humans, and thus by going with just women it will all revert to formal communications, as there are men who have gone gay so as to avoid all the problems they precieve to be Female issues and thus, not Human issues. How we so trick ourselves!

  26. This is one serious problem with this article. The women mentioned in the first paragraph is placing the sole blame for the existence of patriarchy on men. In truth, both gender’s are responsible for the current social norms.

    For example, lets reread the following paragraph from the article.—–

    “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?”

    This is profoundly ignorant and misguided for several reasons. Lets explain. I’m a 25 year old man who’s fairly good looking. Sure I’m no Channing Tatum, but I’m probably a solid 7.5 out of 10 in the looks department…. worthy of being called fairly attractive I think. During my entire adult life I have only been approached by 2 women. That’s right, only 2 in the past 7 years and 8 months. So, what is the explanation for this? I’m not a social recluse and I’d had enough girlfriends to know I’m fairly desirable. Explanation? The vast, VAST majority of women wait for men to make the first move! The beginning of nearly all sexual relationships begins with the man approaching the woman. I ask you this, how can you ask a woman for consent to approach her without actually approaching her? By reading her body language!

    Nearly every first encounter between men and women begins with the man reading the woman’s body language! If these social encounters are based on this behavior, Is it illogical that other encounters fall in line with this behavior? At what point is a man suppose to withdrawal and give the woman ability to “consent” when the entire relationship began with her in a submissive posture akin to a “lady in waiting”.

    But further, to argue that women truly want “consent’ as defined by the article is ignorant. How many times have you heard a women say something akin to “I was waiting all night for him to kiss me but he never did. I don’t think he likes me.”? A huge number of women will not make the first move no matter the circumstances. She could be as horny as Kim Kardashian in a room full of well hung black men, but she still won’t initiate a sexual encounter. As a man speaking from experience with women, I have experienced this first hand. So, if you’re looking for someone to blame for men not allowing you “consent”, blame the women who encourage us to continue reign of patriarchal tyranny.

    The “sexy silence” is perpetuated by women, not men. I think I speak for men everywhere when I say that we’d love women to tell us what they want! We’re sick of guessing and we’re usually not very good at it! When you want us to kiss you, ask us to kiss you. When you want a hug, ask for a hug. Oh, but I guess there’s one big problem with that. Attempting to get what you want involves risk because there’s a chance you might fail. Why take a risk when you can just wait and probably get what you want with coy body language? Sure, if I could flex my muscles at a woman and have her try to kiss me, I would be in heaven!

    Another thing that bothers me about the article is that the women’s language is misleading. “I think we should take it slow.” Implies that “it” Is the current activity and that’s it’s speed should be reduced. It does NOT imply that “it” should be stopped all together. But yet, she expects the man to decipher this misleading language and then vilifies him for taking her literally.

    I’m not going to end with some comments about a famous Feminist

    Catharine MacKinnon once said “In a patriarchal society, all heterosexual intercourse is rape because women, as a group, are not strong enough to give meaningful consent.” By any stretch of the imagination, this is an extremist statement. It is fueled by a deep seeded victim mentality and represents the natural outcome of a long winded feminist thought experiment. The problem with this conclusion is that the term “patriarchy” has been grossly taken out of context. With her statement, MacKinnon confuses the term “patriarchy” with absolute male dominance and the rest of her argument is contingent upon this faulty premise. In a patriarchal society men have the majority of the influence. That’s it, a majority. This implies that women have the minority of the influence. Although this is terrible, unfair and unethical, it would suggest that women could use their influence in matters concerning consent. To dodge this bit of rationality, MacKinnon uses the conveniently ambiguous term “meaningful” which can skillfully adjust the definition when faced with cross examination.

    To argue from a position of ambiguity is a forfeiture of credibility.

    • First of all, Catherine MacKinnon, while a great feminist, has nothing to do with my article. Second of all, you are right, however annoying, but you read my article with a closed mindset. I do not believe, nor did I say in the article, that only men are responsible for perpetuating this dynamic and are also solely responsible for changing it. On the contrary, the relationship cited in the article is one between two women, and we had the same initial problem. It is not entirely a gender issue, because as other commenters have said, the situation could easily be flipped and it would be equally problematic. The issue is that silence is sexy, not just to men but to women too. EVERYBODY who believes this and acts upon it is perpetuating it, regardless of gender. I say that the system privileges the man because if a man wants sex and he doesn’t have to ask for it, he will probably get it, regardless of what the woman wants, in this scenario. Women have to communicate as much as men do, and we all have reconsider our estimation if what is sexy. THAT is the point of my article, and it is the job of women, men, and everybody in between alike.

    • Joseph…if I go to a bar and wait for 30 minutes I can be assured that a woman will aproach me. However I don’t ever want to meet a person in a bar. I never go out with someone I met at a bar because I don’t want to meet someone thats there to hook up. This obviously isn’t the case with everyone at a bar that winds up talking to someone but thats just me. I’m not interested and I will turn everyone down and therefore I wouldn’t approach anyone at a bar either. Anyhow whenever I go out this always happens. More often than not its annoying but sometimes its funny(at best) Last time I went to a bar I was with my girlfriend and it happened twice that night. Once from a guy sitting at the bar, the other was the woman tending bar while the guy was flirting with me. Way more people are open about it than you think…they just aren’t sitting next to you just as there are lots of women at bars without men trying to sit next to them. Thats life…
      Nobody goes for what they consider a 7.5(men or women) until its towards the end of the night(assuming all they want to do is leave with a number or another person). This scale is relative…my 10 could be someone elses 3 and visa versa. Your mindset comes from thinking you’re wanted but also that you’re wanted to do the approaching. Maybe you just aren’t wanted all that often. Men need to realize that most of them aren’t desireable to most women just like most women aren’t desireable to most men. This would take away a lot of the insecurity people have. People of both sexes need to accept that its ok if someone doesn’t want to sleep with you or if they just want to talk and not sleep with you.

      • Are you a woman or a man? It’s not clear since both genders are hitting on you. If you’re a woman it doesn’t count, since getting hit on happens too frequently for females.

  27. As a guy I have often found the concept of a “traditional” pursuit rather stupid. It is extremely irritating that by those stands I’m supposed to enjoy engaging with a woman that doesn’t show what they are thinking, or feeling, and instead settle for a coin toss over each step forward to where it’s going to end as a successful guess or a resounding mistake.

    When I approach a woman, as we go out on dates, as there is any escalation, the assumption is largely that I’m entirely responsible for controlling the rate of progression and that unless I’m told it’s going too far too fast I need to continue. As another poster brought up on above, the situation can also result where the genders do get reversed and some women assume that as a guy I’m automatically okay with a sexual relationship regardless of how little we know of each other.

    Both of these are acceptable by most people I know and I’m the unusual one that prefers certainty, and will offer the same in return to her, that what is happening is an enjoyable experience. The “magic moment” won’t usually last beyond 90 seconds, but being willing to put in the time to ask can certainly leave an impression even after one night and bring about an unexpected relationship that lasts months (or in some cases, though not my experience, years).

    Given all that I truly appreciate this being brought up and hope more people will take time to examine why silence is considered a positive.

  28. I can only really speak from my experience, but the fact is this situation can easily be flipped, which would lead to a more balanced relationship. What I mean is, yes as a man I will often initiate, and if she doesn’t put the brakes on I keep going. But she also has the opportunity to initiate (and often does) and wait for me to put the brakes on (which, admittedly, is rare. haha). The point is, both genders are capable of taking the initiative when they’re feeling physical, and the non-verbal rejection or acceptance of that initiative is a perfectly fine way to go about it, as long as the initiator is receptive to it.

  29. “A-are you okay with th-this? I j-just don’t want to r-rape you by accident.”

    Sounds sexy

      • Your point is that asking permission before initiating sex can be sexy, and essentially claim that if someone (i.e. the man) does not, he may be raping his partner, or at least contributing to “rape culture”.

        Please point out to me where i went wrong.

        • Making consent sexy is not easy or simple, because as I have said in my article and in various comments, most people do NOT find it sexy. The point is not: consent can be sexy so you should try it! The point IS: consent is really important so you should find a way to make it sexy!

          That is impossible to do if you approach it with mockery or sarcasm. That is where you went wrong.

      • You say I should ‘try consent’. By implication you are therefore calling me a rapist.

        I use mockery and sarcasm because I do not agree with paradigm you propose in this article, and claiming I am “going wrong” by failing to meet or respect that paradigm is both presumptively arrogant and a moot point.

        • If you already ask for consent in your relationships, and your partners do too, then my suggestion does not apply to you. Please use common sense. I am not calling anybody a rapist. I used your own language when I said you were “going wrong.”

      • But this is one of my problems with this piece; that consent is only consent if it’s explicitly asked for and verbally stated. Common sense to me dictates that is not the case at all. In the the medical establishment or on health and safety forms maybe, bit not in the bedroom thank you very much.

      • @medicineman2369 – Or, as the piece also explicitly states, it is possible for it to be obvious through a woman’s nonverbal actions that she consents. The point is that it needs to be an automatic prerequisite to know that you have obvious and enthusiastic consent before sex happens.
        If you need to ask to be sure, you should ask.
        If nothing else, I should think the notion of raping someone would be way more unsexy than finding a way to make sure you don’t.
        Frankly, it’s kind of worrying that you’re that annoyed at the notion of putting forth what is really minimal effort to make sure a partner feels comfortable and safe.

  30. Pingback: Un-Memorizing the “Silence is Sexy” Date Script | Queer Guess Code | I'll Bring Home The Turkey·

  31. My boyfriend & I started as friends. Then later, after he asked me out, I knew he wanted to kiss me but I wanted to take it slow. A few days later we were on the couch in the living room. Our guests had gone home and it was just us. Momentary silence. I said, “You can kiss me now”. He obliged. It was the best 1st kiss ever. Other men I had dated had assumed and taken them. This was different and so much better. It made me feel loved and respected. We’re still together, 2 years too.

  32. As much as I agree with the general message of this article, I am disappointed with several points within it:
    First off, WHY did rape come up? It seems like too many articles supporting the feminist standpoint HAVE to bring up rape. It’s a sociological “kick to the groin” for me. “Don’t forget guys, you are all capable of rape.” This is like causally mentioning to new mothers that they are capable of infanticide. Take it off the table- that’s not the discussion.
    Secondly, I still find it ironic that women (apparently) want men to back off, calm down, check in more, ask questions, and read the woman far more intensely. Yet, this takes away (in general) what women WANT in a man- a man who leads, makes decisions, assesses the situations, and overall takes charge!
    The number one criticism I hear from women today is, “Men aren’t men, they’re boys.” If you look at the psychological and sociological differences between the two, these key elements are exactly the difference.
    Lastly, quite frankly, if men give up this control, are women going to step up and take control? Again this ties into the previous comment- a lot of women may want a voice in this matter, but that doesn’t mean they want to “seize the helm” and become the leader. Frankly, if a woman doesn’t like something, she should simply SAY SO. If the guy is a man, he will roll with, adapt, and move on. The general concept of everyone becoming meek, timid, second-guessing each other all the time forces our society into a pit of apathy: “She looked away when I smiled, does not want this? Should I slow down, stop, back up, offer her a drink? What should I do? Maybe I should ask, but if I do, she may not like it? What if I ask and it turns her, but now I’m backing down…? Aw gawd, I’ll never figure this out!”

    • And if a guy isn’t “a man,” he might decide that’s just too bad and take it anyway, thinking he’s “taking charge” the way women want. That’s why rape comes up – we have no way to know, especially in the “silence” script, which kind of person you are. It is not safe for us to give you an automatic benefit of a doubt.
      But a pretty good sign to a specific woman that you’re in fact “a man” is that you take the time to figure out what *she* wants from *you*, as opposed to acting based on what some monolithic “women” want from “men.”
      If that’s not an effort you’re willing to make, and if being your version of “a man” and getting laid is more important to you than making sure a woman feels safe, I really can’t feel all that sorry for you.

  33. “…could end up doing any variety of things against her innermost wishes. Oh wait! That happens all the time. It’s called rape.”

    I have a problem with this. In the first few paragraphs, you described a scene where you thought you were being considerate, but it wasn’t until the woman vocalized her “innermost wishes” that you realized it wasn’t what she wanted. Rape is a criminal act with additional stigma that can derail lives and careers. Would you have considered yourself a rapist if your partner had not spoken up, and subsequently done things she didn’t really want to do? By your definition, it seems you would have.

      • That’s an interesting perspective, but I don’t think you’re fully grasping the implications. “Shouldering guilt” is a far cry from accepting ones status as a felon, accepting prison time, and accepting a lifetime of stigma and ostracism, simply because your partner didn’t speak up.

        In your example, you were being considerate and surely didn’t think that a potential rape was imminent. I agree with some of the earlier commentators that “rape” is increasingly misused in popular discourse. I wonder if this stems from a different social definition of rape than legal definition… surely in your example you shouldn’t have been sent to prison because your “consideration” was misplaced…?

      • Quick followup – I definitely agree with your stated aim here of showing that “consent is really important so you should find a way to make it sexy!”. Definitely!

  34. Pingback: Scripts: “This” Needs A Referent | words pursued·

  35. i think that one can consent to something against their innermost wishes. To define rape that way in a sense takes consent out of it entirely, wouldn’t you agree?

    • If somebody actively consents to something (without being forced to do so), then it is not rape, even if it goes against his or her innermost wishes. It is still unfortunate, but as long as a decision is being made by both people to move forward, it is not rape. Rape would require lack of consent, which means either saying no or not saying yes in some form. If you voluntarily choose to consent even if you don’t want to, that is strange…and there may very likely be some other dynamic going on influencing such a decision. That, however, can only be dealt with systematically and on a case by case basis. As a general rule, consent is the key.

      • Your definition is in conflict with the legal definition. First definition or “rape” under the CA Penal Code Sec. 261: (1) Where a person is incapable, because of a mental disorder or developmental or physical disability, of giving legal consent, and this is known or reasonably should be known to the person committing the act.

        Look, cultural evolution, including re-defining words and terms, is a good thing. However, I maintain that it’s not fair, and potentially very dangerous, to insist on a social definition of rape, a CRIME, that is different from the legal definition. When someone is arrested for rape because the accuser’s understanding of the term is different than the legal definition, that stigma is going to stick with you for the rest of your life, even if you are not convicted.

      • @ Aaron – First, legal definitions of crimes aren’t the same as dictionary definitions – the definition you cited is the first in a list of circumstances that would qualify as rape, not the primary definition. Every state’s rape law does include some version of lack of consent and at least some circumstances that preclude consent (like coercion or incapacitation) in the necessary elements of the crime. That might help you understand going forward.
        Also, most states won’t release a rape defendant’s name until after a probable cause hearing, so it’s actually pretty hard to get your name out in public as a rape defendant unless there is at least some evidence it’s true.
        Worth noting though – if you’re that concerned about being accused of a crime, it’s pretty simple to obtain explicit consent.

      • While moving toward a “culture of consent” is a good thing, many people still subscribe to “silence is sexy”. Labeling someone a rapist because they haven’t been enlightened (I use that term seriously) is dangerous, because “rape” has criminal repercussions.

        Also, I didn’t say primary, I said “first”. However, this is the only provision that even comes close to defining rape as the lack of consent.

        • First of all, rape very rarely has criminal repercussions, nor does it very often have social repercussions, especially if the rape was unintentional. Just look at the Steubenville rapists: the news media and many others have sympathy for the boys more than for their victim. At this point, I think drawing attention to potential rape is more important than protecting the reputation of a potential rapist.

      • “Where it is accomplished against a person’s will by means of
        force, violence, duress, menace, or fear of immediate and unlawful bodily injury on the person or another.” – California Penal Code 261-269 (2)

        Particularly given that the chapter’s definition of “duress” is not exclusively physical and is explicitly stated to be considered on a situational basis, along with language clarifying “consent” further down in the chapter, yeah, “lack of consent” applies. “The criminal definition of rape” varies from state to state, but the key to every rape case I’ve ever worked on – in five states now – has been the attempt to establish consent or lack thereof.
        I would also note that you cannot even be charged with a crime if your actions don’t meet the threshold for that crime established by both legislative language and legal precedent.
        Your concern is somewhat misplaced.

      • I continue to respectfully assert my disagreement. From ERose’s and yourlesbianfriend’s responses I’m getting the message that changing the culture of consent requires us to expand the definition of “rape”. Despite the fact that rape is rarely prosecuted, it doesn’t change the fact that it’s morally unjustifiable to risk penalizing someone for committing a non-criminal act in order to advance a cultural goal. For example, if yourlesbianfriend’s partner from the essay hadn’t voiced her consent but instead acquiesced by staying silent, yourlesbianfriend would be a rapist, by the definition of rape that’s being bandied about here. I think in no way, shape or form is someone a rapist who respectfully asks a partner to tell them when to stop. I AGREE that a culture of consent is superior from a moral standpoint, and that we should aim to evolve our culture in that direction, but the rhetoric over “rape” for those still following the “old” cultural norms needs to be toned down.

      • By the way, I think my comments are killing the “culture of consent can be fun and sexy” vibe here, so this will be it 🙂

      • I need to point out – I deal with the criminal definitions of rape quite frequently in a professional context. I know exactly what the legal consequences of rape are in multiple states. I know what counts as rape in a court of law.
        And I’m telling you that currently, today, right now, in just about every state, it can be a criminal act to take silence as consent depending on the reasons someone stayed silent-especially if those reasons involve fear. This is where the short skirt type of defense comes up most often, because if she didn’t say yes, you have to establish some sign she consented anyway to create your reasonable doubt.
        This isn’t some ideal Utopia I’m talking about and trying impose by punishing misguided dudes who are just trying to be manly. This is me, trying to prevent women and men from being victims and/or perpetrators of a real, actual, codified in current law kind of crime because they happen to live in a rape culture.

    • Although rape is defined as “unwanted sexual contact,” consent is the way we typically communicate what we want, so it is still the main factor, with very few exceptions.

      • The only difference between sex and rape to the one who is being asked is consent. The only difference between the two asking, if the answers are absent and it happens anyway is…well, there’s isn’t one. It’s just sex.

        The big problem is, we have a number of people who keep putting themselves in positions where they next logical step is sex. These people, however, want to insist that it is not the next logical step. If these people would be proactive and stop putting themselves in these positions where their intent is quesitonable, it would do much for those cases where it truely is rape of the intolerable kind.

        Most rapes happen between two people who know each other – the match in the woods? – yet as a society we focus on the ” fires caused by lightning.” What’s that phrase, Only you can prevent forest fires? My thoughts, at least…I’m not blaming victims, but rather, suggesting we all play a central role in our personal safety.

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  37. So, in a reply to a comment, you said: “Having said that, all the rest aside, there are ways for a woman to actively consent without verbally saying, “YES,” like showing visible enthusiasm, returning the favors, etc. These can all serve as forms of implicit consent. But silence and no real indication of feeling can NOT serve as implicit consent. There needs to be a clear difference.”

    That seems to be directly contradictory to the idea that verbalizing consent and engaging in a dialogue about desires and boundaries is something that (ideally) should (in a more perfect world) be the norm and sexy. Just the two examples you give, of showing enthusiasm and returning favors, can be the results of pressure just as much as the results of true desire or consent. Really, the idea that nonverbal consent is sufficient consent seems to feed into the idea of “silence is sexy.” After all, doesn’t this notion of “actively consent without verbally saying ‘YES.”” lead to the question: why ask when it’s “obvious” s/he wants it?

    Of course, in the real world, nonverbal consent is going to continue to be the norm because both genders find it sexy and so long as that is the case, pop culture will likely continue showing us that and the idea of that as the norm will continue. But if we’re going to point to an ideal, it should be (at least I feel) that outside of relationships with established boundaries, that consent should always be sought verbally and that this is something that ought to be at the very least not un-sexy. Then again, perfect is the enemy of the good, yadda, yadda, etc.

    • “outside of relationships with established boundaries, consent should always be sought verbally” –in many ways, I agree. However, I do believe that sometimes body language can be extremely obvious, at which point verbal consent might be redundant (not undesirable, but perhaps unnecessary). Take, for instance, someone who begins taking clothes off and looking suggestively at another and then smiles when touched, nodding with encouragement. No question has been asked necessarily, but the smile and the nodding make it clear that she is happy with what is happening. Should the smiling and nodding stop, perhaps verbal confirmation of consent would again become necessary. See what I mean?

  38. I am loving your posts the past few days. Your writing is always so insightful! You are the kind of person I would love to sit and share a conversation and some coffee with. (And I mean in the sense of enjoying your company, enjoying some insightful conversation, and enjoying the coffee. Didn’t want you to think I am another guy trying to make some time with you.) Keep those awesome perspectives coming!

  39. To guys who say that women have been turned off by their asking permission, my first thought is to wonder how you asked. If it was something you felt awkward asking, then that awkwardness probably came across as hesitancy or even lack of attraction. In that case, it’s not that your question makes you seem unmanly, but that it makes them worry that they’re unfeminine. A subtle but important difference.

    But if you feel confident and ask with some smoldering, Don-Draperesque intensity, I can’t imagine someone finding you timid or unmanly. A guy touching my thigh while making out? Sure, whatever. A guy touching my thigh and whispering “May I?” in my ear? Whoa, hello!

    Even if my answer is “no, let’s take it slow”, that initiation of communication is SEXY. I think people fall into the trap of thinking there are only two polar opposites of communication available while fooling around: the clinical, mood-killing variety or the dirty, porn star variety. The problem is that the middle ground — telling someone what you like, asking what they like — takes some self-assurance and vulnerability. If you can’t muster up both of those feelings, it could be a sign that this is not someone you’re going to communicate well with, or that you need some more time to get comfortable with them.

    And by the way, “let’s take it slow” is not a bad thing to hear. A lot of people file that phrase away with “it’s not you, it’s me”, but what it really means is “I foresee us fooling around again in the near future.” Not a bad thing to hear at all.

  40. The assumption that bothers me is that men are expected to want sex more than woman, that it is “improper” for a woman to want sex more than a man, that “boys will be boys”. Every human being needs to think about what we really want, not simply fit in to a norm. Maybe a man should turn down sex, now that is sexy! My fiance told me first that he did not want to have sex on our 3rd date, THAT is confidence.

    • The reason “boys will be boys” was revealed to me about two years back when this other guy was essentially staking his chips agaisnt mine. He considered the material and then said, “so you mean to say, I’m ten years younger than you and I’ve had 37 [and here he stopped to think for a minute about a couple that might or might not count] 38 more partners?”

      And here I was thinking that by “being a man” I’d be enjoying a fuller experience. Girls two and three have thus far suggested my decade plus of “being a man” has been a waste. Too late now.

      Boys are being “boys” because that is what they like to do. They’re not going to change because that feeling, that sensation,that activity, it has not changed. “Not having Sex” is not sexy, becasue Not Havign sex is what they do day in day out without a partner. Why would they want to do what they can do without a partner, when they finally DO have a partner?!

      I should have thought about what I really wanted back in High school, and maybe I should have stepped up and done something about it by being more proactive and actually getting some. But eh, I was stuck in the wrong places, on the wrong girls, in the wrong place of mind. Oh well.

  41. Here at Selecting Stones, our scientific editors call for the abolition of the family, and for men and women (Americans especially) to stop being such prudes.

  42. I feel very moved by both the original post and several moments in the comment thread up to this point. I am male bodied and in most ways don’t appear to be anything but one, even though I have next to no idea what (subjectively) it means “to live your life as a man” (common definition of cis-male gender identity). I am queer, but mostly only attracted to women (and my partner in particular!). I also detect more than a bit of disingenuous hostility from some of the “yeah, but” type comments, but nonetheless resonate with several points raised over all about the frustration in communicating (and finding reciprocation of) sexual desire.

    One reaction I have to this is that it really is just the awful mess that yourlesbianfriend is arguing needs correction. Women, as a first step in changing cultural norms, need to be actively given an opportunity for sexual agency to disrupt the habits that can and all-too-often result in rape. It seems good for everyone, whether they are interested in practicing constant consent or not. Another part of me, an awkward introverted communicator, sees this as something far more complex than something we can label as distinctly sexual scripts, as if communicating about sex or physical intimacy happened in another language or with a different brain than we use to communicate generally.

    One of the biggest challenges to communicating consent IMHO is that we often form our desires, in my experience and as I’ve interpreted countless others, with other people. We are not the islands of self-owning agency that we are told we are or are compelled to pretend we are by objective (economic) forces. Other people’s desires are integral to our own, which is why you often find people saying things like “I’m not really that into it, but I like to make my partner happy”. Sometimes this is a gross thing because there isn’t reciprocal affection so much as one-sided servicing. Sometimes though I’d dare say it’s perfectly fine that we decide what matters to us this way. People seem to get this, but have a hard time talking about it. You ask someone in bed (or on the couch as you’re cuddling) “what do you want” or “do you like this” and it seems that some of the time they can’t have an answer that’s simply their own.

    As a Jacques Lacan, a french psychoanalyst, once cryptically put it: “human desire is the desire of the other”. The idea that if asked this kind of question we’d *want* to answer it assumes certain things about how we individually relate to “our” desires that are kind of wonky, IMHO. They come from an ideology of self-ownership that supposes there’s some true deep down self that owns or stores “our inner most desires”. Since I don’t think this is true, I can see where the confusion or discomfort arises, in part, by the demand for active consent. Just as a stereotypical man is shamed for not wanting sex, there’s a painful pressure to somehow identify what we want as if that was our secret to share. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t push for it, but that it’s kind of a tragic situation that we’d probably make people feel less alienated to recognize. That’s what I keep hearing in these crypto-aggro “yeah, but” comments.

    I feel like I’ve gotten astray from my point somewhat. I was moved by the post and discussion because I felt several people getting very close to this, pointing out the “you are just supposed to know” quality of intimate moments.

    Thanks again.

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