Lessons From the Seduction Community, Part Three: Explicit and Tacit Sexual Communication

From safewords to pickup artists to feminists, Clarisse Thorn explores the many standards of sexual communication and consent.

In the first and second sections of this article, I wrote about some distinctions among pickup artists (henceforth PUAs). Some get into the community because they feel a lot of social anxiety and have trouble connecting with women; others are seeking a kind of self-help and, ultimately, a better emotional understanding of themselves and others. But some get into it because they want unilateral power and control over women — or even revenge against women.

An example of the latter group generated this comment: “[Women] really are insipid, vapid airheads. If it wasn’t for the pussy, there would be a bounty on them.” Statements like that make me want to cry, but I try not to let it distract me from some insights emerging from the seduction community. By focusing empirically and pragmatically on the process of sexual escalation, PUAs are approaching gender norms in a way that many people — including feminists — usually do not. Also, I can relate to some PUAs because some PUAs have a similar history of social anxiety to mine, as I discussed in the first section of this article.

I have another personal reason for feeling uncomfortable painting PUAs as “the enemy.” When feminists criticize how PUAs approach sexuality, I have mixed feelings, because I myself am known for sexual desires that are unpopular with some feminists. As I grew out of being an awkward little bookworm nerd, as I began dating and exploring my sexual needs, I started to understand my sexuality as being heavily involved with BDSM: Bondage, Discipline, Dominance, Submission, Sadism and Masochism. (BDSM is also sometimes referred to as sadomasochism, S&M, B&D, bondage, leather, or kink.)

Consensual BDSM is a heavily stigmatized type of sexuality, although some sexologists have argued that it might be viewed as a sexual orientation. Many feminists marginalize BDSM just as much as the rest of society does — or more. Famous German feminist Alice Schwarzer once said: “Female masochism is collaboration,” and a recent history of “Ms. Magazine” quotes a co-founding editor who recalls that:

I threatened to leave over a manuscript by a woman who was a former editor of ours who was writing about why she was a masochist and trying to make it an okay choice. I would rather leave than work for a magazine that published that. And we didn’t publish it.

As a result, notwithstanding my considerable feminist writing and activism, I live in fear of my “feminist card” being revoked because of my BDSM identity.

Yet, simultaneously, my practice of BDSM has greatly informed my feminist understanding. Rape and consent are both very important feminist issues, and much of the BDSM community obsessively examines sexual consent. The dominant BDSM community “mantra” is “SSC: Safe, Sane, and Consensual.” Some people debate whether another “mantra” would be better, but I have never heard of someone removing the “consensual” part. Indeed, the ways many BDSMers think of sexual consent overlap dramatically with the ways that many feminists think of it.

Safewords are a famous and high-profile example of careful BDSM communication tactics. They are specific code words that any participant can use to stop the sexual action at any time. Safewords are important in a context where one partner might want to scream “No!” or “Please don’t!” or “Mercy!” with no intention of actually stopping the action.

Safewords serve another, stealthier, but equally important function: they bring home the idea that consent is a continuously changing process. Consent is part of the ongoing sexual negotiation that takes place between two people. Here, BDSM consent ideas overlap heavily with feminist consent ideas. For example, one article by high-profile feminist Jaclyn Friedman pushes back against dominant conceptions of consent by stating that “consent is not a lightswitch.” As Friedman writes:

Sexual consent isn’t like a lightswitch, which can be either “on,” or “off.” It’s not like there’s this one thing called “sex” you can consent to anyhow. “Sex” is an evolving series of actions and interactions. You have to have the enthusiastic consent of your partner for all of them. And even if you have your partner’s consent for a particular activity, you have to be prepared for it to change.

Safewords are, effectively, a constant reminder that “you have to be prepared for [consent] to change.”

BDSMers and feminists tend to teach explicit, straightforward verbal sexual communication — in contrast to the seduction community, which typically teaches non-verbal or playfully tacit sexual communication. For example, the seduction community has an extensive array of discussions about how to initiate flirtatious touching, which PUAs refer to as “kino.” The seduction community also places a strong emphasis on developing skill at reading a social situation without asking exactly what is going on; if a PUA is good at understanding implicit social signals, he is described as “calibrated.”

For BDSMers and feminists, the sexual consent territory continues to overlap after safewords. Huge factions, if not majorities, within both groups have concluded that the best way to encourage consent is not merely to encourage people to understand that they can withdraw consent at any point — but to encourage open communication and self-knowledge about sex.

Among feminists, an example of this approach is Jaclyn Friedman’s brand-new book What You Really, Really Want: The Smart Girl’s Shame-Free Guide to Sex and Safety. Salon’s Tracy Clark-Flory notes in an interview with Friedman that:

The book is filled with writing exercises that prompt readers to reflect on everything from body image to sexual assault. It’s essentially a guide to writing one’s own personal sexual manifesto.

Among BDSMers, an example of this approach is the multi-page checklists that some BDSMers use. These are essentially lists of every conceivable BDSM-related act; each act on the checklist looks something like this:

FLOGGING — GIVING __________________ O O O O O
FLOGGING — RECEIVING ______________ O O O O O

Each partner rates each entry by filling out 1-5 bubbles, with 1 darkened bubble meaning “Not interested” and 5 bubbles meaning “I crave this!” This type of explicit communication is both an excellent way to help partners understand each other’s desires — and to help partners understand each other’s boundaries. In a way, this sort of thing could be seen as “Master Class” consent communication.

This was the context whence I emerged when I started investigating pickup artistry. I am a feminist, but I’m a flavor of feminist with a troubled history within the movement. I am an advocate for explicit communication, but I believe that no aspect of consent should be ignored, and I am concerned that many feminists and BDSMers give a certain unwarranted privilege to explicit verbal communication over implicit or non-verbal communication.

People seem likely to develop a preference for explicit communication if it seems more necessary. For instance, many BDSMers develop a preference for explicit communication because our desires are unusual and precise, and complicated words will help us get what we want. Feminists develop the same preferences because explicit communication is the clearest way to ensure sexual consent. Accordingly, some people attempt to promote explicit sexual communication by saying: We should make it necessary.

Here’s an example exchange from the comments on a thoughtful feminist BDSM blog. A male commenter asks:

I once had an argument with a very good female friend of mine about kissing. She was perturbed about a date who asked her if he could proceed to kiss her. She said the man should just know. It should be instinctual and u lose the moment as soon as u ask. I said that was bs, the first move is one of the most nerve wracking things, the very fact that he asked shows his politeness and tact and frankly a lack of presumptuousness. … What do you think? What’s the line between politeness and passivity?

The feminist blogger, who goes by the name Holly Pervocracy, responds that:

I don’t say this very often, but “you lose the moment as soon as you ask” girls really are ruining it for the rest of us.

As far as I’m concerned, they can go without ever being kissed until they wise up.

However, I think (or would like to think? augh) that most girls are not like that, and that you should not plan for girls to be like that. I’d definitely rather offend someone by asking than offend them by not asking.

Holly implies that people who don’t like explicit communication should effectively be banned from kissing: she says, “they can go without ever being kissed until they wise up.” I have a certain cantankerous sympathy for this perspective, and I have said similar things myself in the past. But my research into pickup artists made me wonder about whether this perspective is tenable, given a world in which most people seem to enjoy and engage in a great deal of tacit communication.

Speaking only for myself, I must admit that I like it when a man can read my unspoken signals well enough that he can tell when to kiss me without asking aloud. Sometimes it can be nice when a guy asks. But if he can read my tacit communication about kissing, that is a signal that he can read a lot of my other tacit communication as well.

Furthermore, if many people really enjoy unspoken social games and strategic uncertainty, then “the game” will never go away. Evidence that people enjoy those things does not only include the pickup artist subculture — romantic comedies and romance novels consistently find a market, after all.

Additionally, part of improving sexual communication means learning more about unspoken communication — not just spoken communication. The pioneering social economist Peter F. Drucker once said, “The most important thing in communication is to hear what isn’t being said.” This maxim is no less true when it comes to sex than it is in any other area of human endeavor. PUAs have spent years gathering information on tacit sexual communication, so perhaps one feminist goal should be to try and understand what they’ve learned, such as the characteristics of excellent social “calibration.”

Some feminists and BDSMers exist who already think a lot about teaching implicit or unspoken communication. On the feminist side, one webpage about sexual violence features an image of a woman saying: “I stopped kissing you back. I pushed your hand away. I said I wanted to leave. It all meant ‘NO’.” On the BDSM side, there is often an expectation that BDSM partners will discuss their experience and reactions once they are done doing BDSM with each other, so as to learn more about how to read each other’s tacit signals. However, I have never encountered a BDSM seminar on the topic of non-verbal communication, though I’ve attended several on verbal communication.

My perspective on non-verbal communication is not without precedent among feminist BDSMers, though my willingness to deal extensively with PUAs might be. Still, I believe that non-verbal communication is not taught well, and that feminists and BDSMers in particular do not spend enough time discussing its role in sexual interactions. Given that both communities emphasize that consent and communication are crucially intertwined, perhaps both communities might draw insight from some PUA conceptions of “kino,” “calibration” and other ways of examining implicit communication.

I once started a thread about pickup artists on a major feminist blog, to which one feminist responded: “I’m getting so sick of these PUA threads. … So I’ll just come out and say it: PUAs rape women through coercion and manipulation. Full stop.”

There are a lot of things about pickup artistry that I really do not like. There were points during my PUA adventures when I learned about incidents and strategies that blatantly sound like rape. This is a huge can of worms, and I will discuss it more in my upcoming book. For now I will only note that there is an entire PUA area of inquiry called “Last Minute Resistance” (or “LMR”): that is, what happens when a woman resists having sex. “Last Minute Resistance tactics” (”LMR tactics”) are designed to convince a woman who has expressed hesitance, distaste or discomfort to have sex anyway.

“The first two ‘no’s don’t mean much, and should be expected,” advises one PUA while outlining LMR tactics. This is exactly the kind of thing that gives the community a bad name. In fairness, some PUAs talk about trying to understand why a girl is uncomfortable, and then addressing the root cause of her discomfort. For example, a PUA might advise asking whether she is menstruating, and then reassuring her that he won’t be grossed out by having sex if she is. Some PUAs try to claim that most LMR tactics are harmless and communicative, but this is a difficult claim to defend. I have always been more impressed by the few PUAs who simply advocate respecting Last Minute Resistance, such as David Shade:

Do not push against last minute resistance. You will be like all the other guys who objectify women and do not respect her as a real person. And it will reek of desperation.

… In fact, move things along just slightly slower than she’d like it. Make her wait. It builds that sexual tension, and it makes her think. When she is away from you, she is going to think about it a lot. (from The Secrets of Female Sexuality, by David Shade. David Shade Corporation, 2007.)

Of course, while Shade is advising his clients to respect boundaries, he’s advising them to respect boundaries as a tactic for seducing the woman eventually. Another example of this approach comes from Mark Manson, who appears more interested in respecting women for the sake of respecting women, but whose main thrust is still seduction advice:

In [an LMR situation], there’s always a fork in the road: you can do the typical freeze-out/high-pressure PUA bullshit to try to manipulate her or annoy her into giving up the resistance. Or you can be honest about the situation and resign yourself to accepting the fact that you may not have sex tonight.

Guys, listen. Always, always, always go with the second option. It may sound counter-intuitive, but you have to go with the second option. Not only because it’s the right thing to do. Not only because it’s what any respectful human being should do. But because if you make it clear that there is absolutely no pressure for her to sleep with you, if you show her that you can be trusted and that you’re OK with whatever she decides (and by the way, you do need to be OK with whatever she decides), then she’s going to become ten times more comfortable with you, and therefore is actually more likely to WANT to have sex with you.

PUA frameworks and tactics are often consent-friendly. Many “LMR tactics” encourage pushiness or even outright non-consensual behavior, such as ignoring the woman when she says, “No.” Yet things I discussed in previous sections of this article — such as “negs,” and body-language “kino” tactics — are clearly neutral: their usage is shaped mostly by the goals of individual PUAs and the social context in which they occur. Discussions of social “calibration” — increasing one’s capacity to read social situations — as well as “inner game” and being attractive by improving oneself will generally be a positive good. Indeed, it could be argued that no PUA tactics are inherently abusive, but some are more obviously susceptible to being used badly … the same way a sword is more obviously susceptible to evil usage than a table.

Previous feminist writers have usually preferred to complain about the seduction community’s misogyny rather than examining the community deeply. I have been more interested to see whether I could understand and make use of the positive PUA theories. Understanding the “Darth Vader” types might be useful, too. There is a percentage of PUAs who are non-consensually hurting women, and if we learn how those men do it, we might also figure out how to disarm them.

I must acknowledge that I eventually felt that the community was damaging, poisonous, and unhealthy for me — to the extent that I needed to get out and detox. (PUA detox is a recognized phenomenon even among some PUAs … and former PUAs.) However, there are truths within it that are both intriguing and important.

I have never quite erased my fear of having my “feminist card” revoked, although it is not clear how “feminists” — a fractious group if ever there was one — could withdraw my presence in the movement. There is no Central Standards Bureau for feminists. Still, I am unsure what the reception for my book Confessions of a Pickup Artist Chaser will be like, despite my belief that there are important and interesting things to learn from PUAs about gender, culture, and feminist consent models.

An overall lesson here might be that thinkers with a lot in common are increasingly isolated from each other through the accelerating Balkanization of detailed, insular interest-based subcultures. Like the drive towards interdisciplinary research in academia, perhaps a kind of interdisciplinary subcultural approach is being developed by those of us more interested in building bridges than burning them.

—Photo sıɐԀ ɹǝıʌɐſ/Flickr

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About Clarisse Thorn

Clarisse Thorn is a feminist sex writer who has given workshops all over the USA. She wrote a book about masculinity, dating dynamics, and sex theory called Confessions of a Pickup Artist Chaser; she’s also got a best-of collection called The S&M Feminist. Recently, she released an anthology about sexual assault in virtual worlds called Violation: Rape In Gaming. Clarisse has also explored fiction with short stories like The End Of An Age: A Ramayana. To stay up-to-date with Clarisse’s work, visit her blog or follow her on Twitter.

Comments

  1. No surprise at all to see another feminist stick up for PUAs. PUAs and feminists have the same goal: To have women’s every whim and desire catered to at the expense of (other) men.

    PUAs aren’t about helping socially awkward men at all. Just the opposite. PUAs shame such men ceaselessly, calling them betas, omegas, losers, pathetic etc (just like feminists!) unless those men join the PUA cult. For PUAs, a man’s worth in life is measured only by how sexually attractive he is to women.

    • David Byron says:

      Really? It just seems like the PUA thing is a response to a very narrow problem. It doesn’t seem to have much if anything in common with feminism and as for “no surprise” it seems like the author is saying she might be about the only feminist looking into PUA and says she thinks her feminist cred will be attacked because of it.

      2nd para makes more sense but it also seems like an invalid criticism. If PUA is not supposed to be about building character it’s no criticisim to say it fails in that (although in fact some of the articles here about it seem to suggest in some respects it can build character).

      • “Really? It just seems like the PUA thing is a response to a very narrow problem. It doesn’t seem to have much if anything in common with feminism”

        I just explained how it has everything in common with feminism. PUA/Game is about modifying every nuance of one’s behavior and personality in order to please women and gain access to the sacred vagina. Feminism is about (among other things) modifying men’s behavior to be pleasing to women. Their goals naturally coincide.

        “and as for “no surprise” it seems like the author is saying she might be about the only feminist looking into PUA”

        The author is wrong. Several PUAs themselves have declared themselves as male feminists or as having sympathy with feminism.

        “If PUA is not supposed to be about building character it’s no criticisim to say it fails in that”

        PUAs give (knowingly) false advice to desperate men and teach them that they are worthless unless they become sexually attractive to women. That is morally indefensible, regardless of whether PUAs pretend to care about character.

        “(although in fact some of the articles here about it seem to suggest in some respects it can build character)”

        Yes, of course PUAs will advertise their cult as being wonderful in every imaginable way. The more merchandise sales and ego boosting for themselves, the better.

        • Justin Cascio says:

          I don’t agree that feminism is about modifying men’s behavior to be pleasing to women, so that women can then reward the men with sexual access. Feminism is about equality for women and men in every sphere. A movement that talks about women like “targets” or “vaginas” does not respect women’s humanity. In this way, PUAs are the antithesis of feminists.

          • Julie Gillis says:

            Yeah, that’s always been my take on it. Funny. I’d never head the former definition untll I read MRA/PUA sites. I dislike the radicals on both sides of the fence.

          • “I don’t agree that feminism is about modifying men’s behavior to be pleasing to women, so that women can then reward the men with sexual access. Feminism is about equality for women and men in every sphere.”

            Well yes, you are a feminist, so I wouldn’t expect you to agree. As for what feminism is about, actions speak louder than words.

            “A movement that talks about women like “targets” or “vaginas” does not respect women’s humanity. In this way, PUAs are the antithesis of feminists.”

            Feminists may not appreciate the harsh lingo which some PUAs use, but that isn’t relevant to the bigger picture. Their goals still coincide as I previously explained.

            Oh, and note that feminists and PUAs enjoy using the very same insults to dehumanize most men. Losers, creeps, basement-dwellers, small penis, etc. PUAs and feminists do not respect men’s humanity.

          • Peter Houlihan says:

            Just as forweg is wrong to catagorise all feminists as evil incarnate, its not quite correct to imply that all feminists are ineterested in men’s equality, or aren’t interested in modifying men to suit women. Some are.

            Same goes for the PUAs, you’re homogenising a diverse group of people based on the language of a few of them.

  2. Matt Casto says:

    In the business world men and women get rewarded for the art of seduction. Wee call this sales strategy and negotiating. I do not suggest that this behavior is acceptable with intimate relationships but I am intrigued by the skills which one must require to be a “pick up artist”.

  3. Its interesting to see a feminist talking about male game (or any part of the “manosphear” without the condescension, false accusations, lies and misscharacterizations etc. And if you are finding yourself at odds with sex negative feminists and their close cousins – loud mouthed totalitarians from the enthusiastic-verbal -consent -for- every- escalation- and- act-or-else-its-rape movement, that’s probably a good thing.

  4. Guestopher says:

    “The first two ‘no’s don’t mean much, and should be expected,” advises one PUA while outlining LMR tactics. This is exactly the kind of thing that gives the community a bad name. In fairness, some PUAs talk about trying to understand why a girl is uncomfortable, and then addressing the root cause of her discomfort. For example, a PUA might advise asking whether she is menstruating, and then reassuring her that he won’t be grossed out by having sex if she is.”

    I’m not sure why the freeze-out as a response to LMR gives the community a bad name. If I am very sexually aroused or am expecting to have sex then it makes sense to remove the sexual atmosphere when a potential partner says that they do not want sex at that time. It’s a cool down. Also, my freeze-outs involve leaving to make better use of my time. If we’re starting to get serious, then hanging out and possibly talking about no-sex is fine, productive, and possibly fun. Otherwise why would I put aside my needs if I am looking for an end to a fun casual date or am clearly meeting only for a hook up?

    In other news, I find that people are a lot less willing to take away your feminist card in meat space meetings. There are so many people jumping to question one’s feminist standing online. Never happens to me when I’m at feminist/social justice meeting X, Y, or Z

  5. regarding LMR. Obviously no means no. But I had a hilarious moment with my girlfriend recently where we were talking about that and she said “Oh yeah, you’ve gotta say no a couple of times” Then acted out “no, no, okay” and then took her top off.

    no means no, and should always be treated as such. But there are instances when a girl is just trying to not appear easy. But she really wants you to persist. How to recognize those instances, I cannot tell you. and it’s kind of dangerous to acknowledge that they exist, in case somebody thinks he is in one of those situations and forces himself on a girl, when the girl genuinely meant ‘no’.

    forget i said anything.

  6. I am getting kind of sick of every hack blogger judging the seduction community after reading a few forums and interview a few current and ex puas and thinking she’s doing hard hitting investigative journalism.

    These guys are screwed up! And they’re the first to admit it. They know they’re not good with women, they feel inadequate when they’re told by EVERYTHING in society that they should be dating and having a lot of sex and now they’re adults and they still haven’t learnt how to have normal healthy relationships with women they respect.
    And that’s the thing, you can’t choose who joins an online community. Yes, there are some misogynists and yes, there are a bunch of people saying awful things. But you attract the worst of the worst (along with mainly great guys) when you have a community that is aimed at helping guys who everyone else avoids and considers creepy and weird. Where else are these men meant to go? Therapists don’t help people with this stuff.
    So how about you get off your high horse and, considering that most of these guys are just trying to have happy healthy relationships with women they admire and respect, how about you either commend their efforts or better yet, stay out of it all together.

    and to risk ruining my post by making it too long, it’s personal story time!
    There were years when no girl would date me. years! or the girls who would were not women I respected or had much in common with. They were the girls who had to settle for what they could get, and i was the boy who had to, as well. This is not a healthy relationship. Happy, well-adjusted children do not come from relationships like this.
    Only after years of working on myself did things start to change for me. Yes, I was involved in the seduction community. Yes, I made some mistakes along the way. Yes, I have a deep dark past that I don’t talk about much.
    A lot of the things I changed were what you referred to as “inner game” (confidence building, etc). A lot of the things were what would fall under your definition of “outer game”. Things like dressing better, better posture and movement, knowing when to escalate a conversation and when to walk away, knowing how to touch a woman (everything from massages to a gentle hand on the lower back)…
    Now I’ve been in a healthy relationship for over a year and my girlfriend and I make each other very happy. It’s also little things like knowing when to give someone space, and when to show someone you care.
    I don’t see how becoming better at relationships/dating can be seen as a bad thing. All it is, essentially, is becoming more compassionate.

  7. i don't believe you says:

    The mischaracterization of LMR strategy as “rapey” is typical feminist nonsense. Is the pressure that the waitress and the man’s date put on him to pick up the check earlier that evening considered robbery? Of course not, because it’s psychological not physical. Let’s set the record straight. The vast majority of LMR tactics are ones that women themselves use ALL the time. Nothing criminal about the tactics. It’s just that some feminists can’t stomach it being turned back on them.

    And of course Mark is going to advocate blind obedience to women’s LMR. He is a self confessed protector/knight. But chivalry and virginity are dead. If a woman is half naked and all of a sudden says “No”, she has every obligation to include a “why”! As do I when the situation is reversed. Should any respectful human leave another in a state of elevated sexual frustration… without so much as even a half hearted explanation? Me thinks not!

    Let’s be real. In the very rare event that a half naked woman explicitly says “No” with an accompanying explanation, PUA’s do not advocate continued physical contact. However in the more likely event that half naked women tacitly expresses some misgivings then by all means they want you to apply your PUA skills.

    • David Byron says:

      Unfortunately the biased sexist feminist nonsense is rapidly becoming law. For example the NSVS survey in addition to questioning people on whether they were raped asked people of they had been “coerced” into sex a definition which included such things as asking for it repeatedly or threatening to end a relationship. It did not ask how many people had been “coerced” into picking up the check.

      But yes, it did sound a lot to me in hearing the PUA thing described, that it was men learning to play the games that women have long played so well. I actually approve. Let the games commence. But let’s do it fairly.

    • The feminists-in-power have managed to have it made illegal to have sex with a woman that has had anything to drink, whatsoever.
      So think twice before having anything to do with just about any women in the club. She technically cannot give consent if she had that glass of wine with dinner, for instance
      Of course, the far more likely scenario is that if it doesn’t go well, she can retroactively withdraw consent, and have you up on rape charges. It’s much easier if she can show she was drinking, because even a enthusiastic Yes, could have meant no. That you having a been drinking is completely irrelevant. You’re 100% responsible for both everything you do and everything she does.
      *Another* very good reason to never buy women drinks at the clubs or anywhere.

      So they’re ALL jail bait now.

  8. Richard Aubrey says:

    Years ago, in the aftermath of the high-profile–because related to the Kennedys of MA–rape trial of William French Smith, there was a rush of pop-news discussion of whether women have a right to say no. I didn’t see the connection, but anyway, there it was.
    A country-western singer withdrew a song from her concert list and asked stations not to play it. The point of the song, from the woman’s view, was that if you’re a real man, you won’t take no for an answer, you’ll take the risk, and you’ll be amply rewarded. Maybe.
    I figure that the opportunity cost of buying or writing, rehearsing, recording and promoting that song meant it was the best one they could come up with at the time. They were professionals who made their money knowing often enough what resonated with their target audience.
    So, they presumed, there was woman out there thinking, “I didn’t mean forever. I just hadn’t made up my mind.” and a guy thinking, ‘I was trying to do the right thing. Bobby kept after her and they had to get married and now they have three kids. Her sister said she liked me better. What did I do wrong?” And, being pros, I expect they had a pretty good chance of being right.
    Then there are the romance novels, a business bigger than the GDP of some members of the UN, which, I am told, usually begin with a deficit of consent.
    There are other examples, of course.
    The point is that society has a number of memes which lead to the conclusion that sometimes no doesn’t mean no.
    If society is to be relieved of that, a good part of the effort will be on the part of women who will have to, among other things, live with a “no” even if they changed their minds pretty quickly. If they don’t, they’ll be…training men that persistence overcomes “no”. In another situation, that could be dangerous.

    • David Byron says:

      Well here I disagree. While “no” doesn’t mean no, it’s certainly not true that women are incapable of effectively communicating nor is it true that men are incapable of effectively understanding. It’s just that a single word “no” doesn’t necessarily mean no.

      “Get the fuck off me, asshole” for example is pretty clear no.

      This is NOT a question of grey areas or of miscommunication or misunderstanding. This is about an attempt to brand men as rapists when they CORRECTLY interpret a “no” to mean something along the lines of “I would need more convincing”. This is also about putting all of the pressure and responsibility for communication upon men and none on women.

      • Lisa Hickey says:

        I disagree — No should always mean no — and I believe the campaign you speak of is as much geared towards women as it is towards men. For it to have any effect whatsoever, women have to collectively take an active part in it also — so they understand their part in the word “no”.

        Truly, the best way to make sure that the communication is clear is to communicate A LOT before you ever get into a sexual situation. So that consent is actually given way ahead of time. I’ve seen guys make sure they get consent in writing — which seems laughable, but if you are communicating a lot — and some of that communication is by email, it can actually be fun and very liberating.

        If, when you are in the middle of a sexual situation — yes, both parties clearly have to be responsible for communication. That’s why “enthusiastic consent” PLUS “no means no” is really the safest bet. If you are in a situation where you’re thinking you’re about to have sex and she suddenly says “Get the f*ck off me asshole” — you clearly weren’t effectively communicating before that.

        • Joanna Schroeder says:

          I am totally behind Lisa 100% on this.

          And I agree with her that women must take some responsibility for the fact that “no means no” doesn’t seem to be working. Enthusiastic Consent principles should be taught in schools, I think, because there’s a disastrously mixed message being sent to men and women with “no means no”… Enthusiastic Consent and “no means no” fit together well to help men and women communicate.

          Here’s my personal example:

          I was out with a bunch of girls and one guy. He and I had been flirting for a while in my workplace (he was my customer in a men’s retail shop). A mutual girlfriend and I and some other women were out on the town and she said, “I’m gonna call Mike and tell him to come meet us!” I was excited. I liked Mike.

          So we are all there with Mike who was comfortable being the center of attention, and he had us all laughing, I was giving him the big-eyes and touching his leg with my leg under the table. So I get up and announce I’m going to the bathroom (I really had to go, no second message). The bar is almost empty and Mike says, “Me too.” So we get up and go toward the long hallway. He touches my lower back, and this was invited, as I was hitting on him first.

          When I pushed open the bathroom door, I leaned against it very suggestively and smiled at him. He said, “Can I come in with you?” and I said, “No!” but smiled. He said, “okay,” and he walked away. I called after him, “Wow, you really know how to take ‘no’ for an answer” — VERY flirtatiously. And worse, I kept the door open, sorta seeing if he would follow me! WTH?!

          Okay so what was wrong with what I did? Well, it was stupid. It was stupid because I meant that “no”, but suddenly I was sending him a mixed message. I was saying, “Please don’t believe me when I say no!”

          Why am I telling this story? Three reasons:

          1. Mike did the right thing. Despite me sending confusing messages, he heard “no” and listened. See? Men do the right thing the vast majority of times I interact with them and he did it despite me being dumb (I can call myself dumb if I want to, that was dumb).

          2. Women DO need to stop doing this shi* because it sends bad messages about themselves and about other women. It’s just too easy to extrapolate that squishy-no to other women who are making firmer-no’s.

          3. Stories like this need to be told without shame—I’m not ashamed, I’m not even embarrassed, I made a mistake and I observed myself doing it and learned something about myself and society in the process—so that other women, men and especially young people can hear this and see a real example of what behavior creates an “iffy” environment for all. A less safe environment for all.

          I want to be VERY VERY sure that everyone understands that in this story MIKE WAS RIGHT to listen to my “no” and respect that, even when it was unclear. I was wrong to have made that message so unclear. He was right to walk away from me.

          So yes, “no means no” should be observed and respected. But it is up to men and women to make “no means no” make sense.

          • Joanna Schroeder says:

            I apologize for my random italics up there. I clearly forgot to close my HTML tag.

          • Julie Gillis says:

            Great example, Joanna. Women have to be able to be honest about their desires, as much as men. Both parties have to be able, as I’ve written, really really talk aout sex. While game playing may up the arousal level (due to the mystery or etc), it’s a dangerous game.

            • Justin Cascio says:

              You’re absolutely right, Julie. If you like to play at scenarios in which your “no” will be ignored, you can negotiate this with a trusted partner. Doing it and hoping for the best is risky.

              Joanna took the risk that Mike was actually a dangerous rapist, but realistically, it doesn’t sound like she took much of a risk at all. She had already, previously and soberly, decided that she got a good vibe off him. She was in a public place with her friends.

              As Thorn has pointed out in this series, consent is not just a lightswitch; it’s a series of queries and replies, and it goes in both directions. Based on what had already happened, and the fact that Joanna was holding the door open, Mike’s question fit within Joanna’s 20% escalation rule of engagement.

              Her “no” could have been seen as mixed, with her continuing to hold the door, or she could just be seen as still trusting Mike, particularly after he showed that he could take “no” for an answer. It seems clear from the context that Joanna’s seemingly mixed signals were actually that she was still open to Mike, just not to public bathroom sex.

            • Julie Gillis says:

              Sexual communication is complicated. And we do an extraordinarily piss poor job of teaching our kids how to navigate it.

            • Amen to that, we teach them the mechanics, the risks, but we don’t teach them HOW to get it. Condoms are of no use to a person unless they can actually get the date, have the relationship that proceeds to that stage, I swear many just want it to be some magical mystery and let it come “naturally”. Yeah, problem is there is a lot of bad that comes naturally too if people aren’t educated properly in consent for instance.

          • I ask before always, I have very little idea on the body language and other unspoken cues so if my partner wants something, she only has to ask. I never ever want to do something because I thought they wanted it and didn’t, so I’ll probably always ask.

            Mixed messages though are so very annoying especially when you haven’t had too much experience with women and are unsure of what they mean exactly. I’ve missed opportunities with women because of being blind to the body language, I really wish if someone likes me they’d just flat out say it though.

            I am kind of interesting in the PUA stuff simply to figure out that body language to know who to approach, but with an anxiety disorder it’s a massive massive hurdle to cross and I probably have less anxiety looking at a shark when swimming at the reef! No interest in playing women, only to simply find casual MUTUAL fun or a nice solid relationship, even a bit of love:P. The pressure on men to initiate contact I REALLY hope is changing, I know so many shy guys that haven’t had dates/gf’s in years because they’ve been burned once or twice bigtime and are very shy with women. Guys like that, a little bit of effort on her part would probably go a long way to cutting down that initial fear of meeting a new woman.

            So PLEASE do educate everyone you can, and tell the women to ask out/hit on the guys they like, tell everyone too! Enthusiastic consent is also a great idea!

            One more thing, I don’t think women really understand just how many men are truly insecure and even quite afraid of talking to women they like. I’ve seen men who will tackle and stab a few hundred kg wild boar (with tusks that can tear them open, maim and even kill them) yet remain single because of being nervous around the ladies. Fear of rejection can be a powerful thing, I certainly fear it more than other things that are actually dangerous.

          • i don't believe you says:

            Mike didn’t do the right thing. He did the convenient thing … for you and women who act like that.

            If a guy gets a mixed signal from a woman who has been touching him suggestively all night, he has 3 options:

            Follow the “No”
            Call her out for her duplicity on the spot.
            Follow the “Yes”

            And since you don’t even feel embarrassed about what you did, nor did you feel it important to mention if you ever apologized to Mike.. because Mike surely deserved an apology…It’s very evident the that option 1 is a great incentive for other women to behave just as poorly.

            Mike is an enabler. If you are a woman inclined to be unclear and to be inconsistent and to be unapologetic, then he is a dream come true.

            Yup. It is the CO-RESPONSIBILITY of men AND women to make a proper “no means no”, but women MUST have more skin in the game than just the “kindness of their hearts” for this to work. A bunch of “Mikes” is not the solution.

            • I’m not sure that he did the convenient thing… I think I should ask him, we’re still friends.

              I will apologize to him, though, about it. I’m really curious about how he’ll react to that, too.

              The rest of the Mike story goes like this: I was out of the bathroom before him, and I stood outside, in that hallway, and waited for him. When he came out, I stepped into him and kissed him. We made out in that hallway for about ten seconds, then went back and sat down with our friends.

              We didn’t really date after that, there were other things happening in our lives, and he lived a good hour or more away, but it was a great night for both of us (we’ve even talked about it).

              I don’t know if that changes the story, but that is the whole story.

              Also, I’m not embarrassed about it because it’s in the past, and I recognized the complicating elements of it almost immediately, and my intent was not harmful. I don’t see how shame could help any of us right now, in this conversation. If you recognize what you’ve done is wrong, you are on good terms with the other person, and you want to help stop the problem, shame that lasts years is probably just not useful.

              Also, maybe I’m splitting hairs, but regret isn’t the same as embarrassment or shame. I regret having done it, but I’m not embarrassed. Is that just semantics, maybe?

          • Lisa Hickey says:

            Thanks Joanna. To me, this are the types of conversations we should be having more of. Not blaming others but saying “hey, this was the way I acted in a particular situation, and you know what? I’m not sure it was right. Can we talk about why it might have been harmful to others in ways I couldn’t foresee at the time?”

            I’ve been talking to some people about the interplay of individual stories and talking about the big, sweeping social issues and social systems. And how, IMO, it’s very important to talk about BOTH of those things. The bigger social issue conversations to give context and the smaller individual stories to give insights. That’s the way I personally learn best. But I’d love others views on that as well.

        • i don't believe you says:

          David Byron is correct. In a world where men are the primary initiators, have the higher sex drive, and women who rape children routinely get slaps on the wrist… “enthusiastic consent” is de facto sexism served with a big ole side of “power grab”.

          Enthusiastic consent is as much about criminalization as it is about education.

          • Do you mind explaining why enthusiastic consent is bad for men, in any way?

            How does a mutually enthusiastic agreement to have sex function as a “power grab”? What power am I grabbing by not having sex with you unless you are very enthusiastically encouraging me to?

            If by “power grab” you mean that women are trying to “grab” the power to communicate whether they actually want to have sex or not (and in turn men get the same right of refusal or consent), then I’ll grab that power.

            I’ll grab that power for myself, and for females I’ll also grab that power for you, for Archy, and guys like him who wish women would be more clear with him. I’ll especially grab that power for my sons and for my nieces.

            Seriously. I swear, I do not understand what power I’m grabbing at by encouraging mutually enthusiastic communication about the desire for sex.

            • i don't believe you says:

              Wow!

              If you can’t see the OBVIOUS elephant in the room that defining “acceptable sexual behavior” is a massive form of power, then I would enthusiastically say you surely shouldn’t be entrusted with such a power.

              Ever heard of the word “slut”? Would you say that this word is powerless? Do I even need to explain the nature of its influence? No! So then why would any fair, reasonable woman think that defining “consent” is any less powerful. Consent raises the stakes to jail for chrissakes!

              When you touched Mike on his leg did you ask him first? OMG you didn’t did you? That’s a sex offense. Turn yourself in, pervert!

              See how that works?

            • So who SHOULD have the power, then?

              Enthusiastic Consent distributes the power between the two people involved.

              And, by the way, I didn’t ask Mike about touching his leg with my leg, but there was a back-and-forth communication happening between us. I tried it, casually, he responded back by pressing his leg into mine.

              I responded again by doing it again, he did it back again, he looked at me, I looked at him, we smiled.

              There was a dialogue happening there. If he’d not moved his leg, had he not caught my eye in that second and given me “that look” (you KNOW that look), the look that says, “Yes, this is fantastic” and pressed gently back into my leg, I would’ve stopped. I’ve done this before, and not had the affection returned and I backed off. That’s why we start with such subtle moves… They give us the signals that tell us when to go forward.

              In that case, I was the aggressor, and I followed to be sure he was on the same page as me. I expect the same respect.

            • Julie Gillis says:

              I wish there were classes in non verbal communication that everyone could take. I recall buying books in my early teens about it. I was fascinated with language, verbal and non verbal alike (mostly for theater reasons, how to show intent onstage with looks or posture), but it is SO valuable in interpersonal interactions.

              And, like I said, there are ways to incorporate a little flirty verbiage to secure the point if one is feeling weird. The whole, “May I touch your leg?” No one things that’s sexy. But you can make it sexy if you rehearse and practice.

            • I once had a guy say to me, after our first kiss, “I want to tie you to a table and f*** you.”

              I wrote about it on the blog here http://www.shesaidhesaid.me/post/14842306646/what-the-tuck-is-going-on

              So in that instance I was very glad that he asked instead of just, say, tying me to a table and f***ing me.

              By the way, that little violation of the 20% rule led to him never tying me to anything or f***ing me, haha. But like I said, good thing he asked. Maybe just ask for things that are a bit more reasonable next time!

            • Julie Gillis says:

              Yeah! Maybe start with vanilla and let you know he’s into BDSM a wee bit more into some dates. Disclosure is important, but timing is everything.

            • “”that look” (you KNOW that look), the look that says, “Yes, this is fantastic””
              Clear your mind and imagine a man, and he says this. What does it make you think? Not trying to suggest you’re a rapist here but I just wanted to point out of course that there are times where people believe genuinely the other is interested, but what happens when they get it wrong? Should the other person automatically file sexual harassment charges?

              The part that scares me about this unspoken communication is that if I as a man get it wrong, I fully expect to be in court over it and that scares me bigtime. I won’t even try to attempt that unspoken communication reading and flirting because of that fear. I realize it’s probably paranoia, but after hearing so much of male rapists and female victims it’s left me damn afraid to try, I think I’ll just stick to asking to be safer…I’m not sure if women realize this but I’d say that’s potentially a female privilege right there, unless of course you also worried about that. I may be wrong though, feel free to reeducate me.

              I even fear those small subtle moves from being made to feel like a creep, much of which was in high-school (the shy guy that doesn’t talk much is apparently creepy for some reason, I guess nervousness and not knowing what to say is scary to others? Do people learn this stuff naturally, is there an element of making mistakes which would mean crossing boundaries of others? Are those small boundary crossings ok to learn? Being a guy that doesn’t want to make others feel uncomfortable EVER I am quite stumped at how people are meant to learn this whilst respecting boundaries completely? Seems like taking a risk and hoping it’s ok to me and that’s a gamble that could have bad results I feel. I think this fear is quite common in touch-starved people like myself, many shy guys and girls who are unsure of that unspoken language could benefit from early education on it like people have suggested.

            • Julie Gillis says:

              Much like some people take to math or music nearly magically, there are people who “read” other people as if they were born to it. I’m one of those people. I have exceptional skills in it, born out of nature perhaps, but also out of a particular upbringing that made it in my best interest to know how to read people (it was a highly volatile family-depression, alcohol issues). So it’s very easy for me to read interest and to speak with my body.

              That being said, I think things can be taught too. Much like math and music can be taught. And yes, of course people make mistakes. I’ve noted a mistake made in my own past, where I was making out with a boy (we were 19 or so) and he held me down and kind of rubbed himself off on my hip while I froze up and said, um hey, um…

              I could have said, GET THE FUCK OFF ME! He could have notice my body freeze and tighten and realize that was not good. Maybe he did and he didn’t care/was so close to orgasm he blanked me out in favor of his own experience. I didn’t consider that rape, but I did consider it really asshole rude behavior on his part and looking back, I was just kind of freaked out. I wouldn’t behave the same way now of course.

              I think these skills should be taught. PUA does a lot of that, though I think PUA gets things wrong. That’s another topic. The Rules Books teach some of it, I think that’s shit too.

              I also like it when people indicate interest verbally. And I think it’s a matter of rehearsing it, really. Practicing saying, I really think you are beautiful and i really want to kiss you. If she tips her head up, casts her eyes down and blushes, then looks at you, it’s a likely sign she’s happy about it. At least in western non verbal parlance. I don’t know how people speak in Australia. Body language differs based on culture.

            • Yeah practice is probably what I am lacking, I haven’t been around women of a similar age/dating scene much in many years. Part of the anxiety disorder I have is avoiding clubs, nightlife, and in my small town the nightlife and activity scene is quite dull.

              Funny thing is I have been told I am a great judge of character, mostly with men. I knew something was wrong with my cousins husband a few minutes after first meeting him when I was about 8 I think, told my mother I didn’t like him and something was off about him. Turns out he was very very abusive to her, and something tips me off about many guys like that, the tone of voice, the way they act, I see myself noticing how others act around their partners at times.

              I think the more I get out there it’ll probably come quite naturally to me but I do feel women are far more of a mystery, where I can spot the bad guys it can take longer to spot the bad girls. Possibly I am deer in the headlights blinded by beauty, or I notice it and ignore it for the hopes something can build up that negates it. But I’ve found myself to be much more picky with who I hang around and value vs who I was around as a younger adult.

              As you can tell I do question myself quite a bit in my skill level of it, I’ve noticed recently my skill level of reading people has grown a lot and that correlates with me being out socially more and more. After reading a body language book I even started to try notice couples based on the way they acted, and spotted a few successfully.

              I get those inner “senses” of someones behaviour and action, but I feel much safer in speaking what I want and not relying on my perception of what they want. I definitely agree on upbringing being a part of reading body language, after the bullying and abuse I suffered I think this really increased my ability to sense bad people, whilst romance with women is still a mystery to me I can spot the negative women better and the negative men quite easily. It’s part of my self-protection, I only recently realized that I was reading body language all alone but it’s actually one of the good things to come out of a bad situation.

              It went into overdrive when I was at a resturant and saw a father disciplining his child verbally, others had disciplined their kids too that day but he stood out for some reason. Something triggered and I noticed the way he was doing it was odd and I watched how those children acted near him to spot any flinching or ghost-face(fear), I think he was just tired that day because the children seemed ok but it did make me wonder.

              I must say though I can spot romantic interest within others easier now, but towards me is much harder. Not sure if that is because of a confidence issue or if simply it’s easier to see it in others. It is absolutely intriguing though and I am very enthusiastic on increasing my ability to read people.

            • Julie Gillis says:

              Sounds like you have good instincts! Much of it is learning how to identify the intuition. Sometimes, back in the day, I’d assume anxiety was about me, when it really was over empathy towards the situation at hand. There are such times where I wish beaming technology could be in action so I could meet the awesome people I meet on the internet!

        • Peter Houlihan says:

          “I’ve seen guys make sure they get consent in writing — which seems laughable”
          Not with some of the cases I’ve read about :(. Sign on the dotted line please miss.

  9. Another really interesting concept that the community brings up, which you could probably write a whole article on, is the plasticity of attractiveness.
    For a long time I assumed that if you were unattractive, that was it. Especially for men, for whom clothes/makeup/surgery options are not commonplace (okay, clothes are commonplace, but a wide variety of them that hide/accentuate certain aspects)
    I felt because I’d been seen by women as unattractive for years, that was it. I was doomed to be unattractive forevermore. The best I could do was to find a girl with low self esteem or a decent case of visual impairment.
    The main concept of the seduction community (and a groundbreaking concept for me) is that you can change how attractive you are. Through working on yourself, you can become a more attractive person, both physically, and overall. It’s not easy, but it definitely happens.
    Look at the men drawn into gyms in an attempt at body building. Why do you think they’re there? They believe being more muscular will make them more attractive. The seduction community is essentially the same thing, except it goes beyond the physical, to the behavioral and to the psychological. Well, that’s the aim, at least.

    • h ttp://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2012/jan/06/body-image-concerns-men-more-than-women
      Guess this is just in time, “More than four in five men (80.7%) talk in ways that promote anxiety about their body image by referring to perceived flaws and imperfections, compared with 75% of women. Similarly, 38% of men would sacrifice at least a year of their life in exchange for a perfect body – again, a higher proportion than women.”

      We hear so much of body image issues for women, a lot of articles on how gendered it is and how women are expected to be airbrush perfect yet here we go with a study stating men are more insecure. I truly do not believe women realize the level of insecurity men have, I don’t think anyone really acknowledges it yet I can see it plain as day in sooo many men (and women too). We’re alike in so many ways, if only people would start TALKING about it.

  10. David Byron says:

    Since everyone with any knowledge of these things appears to agree that no doesn’t mean no, and that a girl will often say no a couple of times for some reason when she doesn’t mean no, what are we to make of the widespread feminist movement to try and teach people that “no means no”? Factually they might as well be saying “the Sun goes around the Earth”.

    In practise this appears to be a way to shift blame on to men and to make all men look like rapists for correctly interpreting common place social signals. A side effect which may or may not be intended is that this sort of campaign would put a division between men and women.

    Can anybody who is an advocate of this “no means no” phrase explain to me why this campaign should be seen as anything but an “all men are rapists” style anti-male attack by feminists?

    • Julie Gillis says:

      I just wish some women wouldn’t say “no” when they mean “oh, I don’t know if this makes me look too easy.” They should either say, “I”m feeling entirely ambiguous about my role here and enjoy the seduction and hope you don’t think I’m a slut.” or they should say “No.”
      Or they should say, “I’m only up for x, y, z activity tonight but no 1, 2 or 3.”
      Clarity would help. real clarity.

      • David Byron says:

        Right. You COULD have a campaign aimed at such women and blaming them for all the problems by accusing them (correctly) of using deniability and passivity that are just not very helpful. That would be a much more difficult campaign to run because (1) women have the power in relations when it comes to having sex for the first few times and as a result they are just not going to do any of the hard work when they can shift it all on to men, (2) feminists have armed women with a list of excuses for why its just great for them to do this sort of game playing. Stuff like “Oh but if I seem too eager he wont respect me” utter bs of course the exact reverse being true.

        I’m not sure what exactly “freeze out” means in the PUA lingo but if it means responding to game playing by women with breaking off the date then that seems a pretty good response to the “no means no” bullshit. It is in fact acting as if the man actually took “no means no” seriously which is the last thing the woman wants and would have the effect of punishing game playing. However given the woman’s much greater strength how many men could afford to do that?

        At any rate I still want to know how anyone could possibly defend the “no means no” campaign as anything but an anti-male attack.

        • I personally found “no means no” an easy rule to follow. If she said stuff like “no”, “not now”, “we shouldn’t”, “somebody can hear us” I stopped. Always.

          I did miss chances were I later learned that we could’ve had sex if I had pushed on. This is an exaggeration, but I did experience something not unlike this:
          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b4hNaFkbZYU

          LMR acknowledges and plays with women who does this. It would be better if women didn’t. If men in general applied a “no means no” strategy then this behaviour would change. If society at large stopped slut-shaming women that woud help too. If women would think through what they demand of men when they say no when they really want him to push on I’d like to believe that they would stop doing that.

          • Joanna Schroeder says:

            I’m with you, Tamen. The story above that I just told (about me being an idiot and being a part of creating this wishy-washy no) agrees, too, that most guys are like you.

            I’ll tell you who also has to change: The media! I hate hate hate it in movies when women are saying, “no” to a guy, but she’s not firm about it (or sometimes she is) and the guy presses on. Then she gives in because *clearly* she did mean “yes” all along. And it’s so hot and romantic. You get turned on. Suddenly for both men and women there’s this subconscious thing about “no” becoming a really sexy thing to say.

            • The old she pushes him away, he ignores n goes for the kiss, she does it again, he goes back in for the kiss and next minute they’re having wild passionate sex in a movie?
              I mean wtf do these writers think? Is that sexy or something? To me it feels like I’ve just watched rape and magically they go from rape to consensual sex?! Just show normal consexual sex if you want it that way, not a crime or whatever the hell they’re trying to suggest.

              I have to admit, hearing a few women say they like guys that persist and “chase” them also make me think wtf, you say no I’ma take that as a no and give up. If you want me, say yes, it’s easy, Y E S, YES. Maybe we need legal documents for sex and dating, if you would like to date, tick YES, if you’d like to do x, tick yes.

            • Yeah, the sexualization of “convincing” a woman to have sex by a guy pushing himself upon her is just way too common in movies and TV. Like you, I’m repulsed by it.

              However, I will admit to being a little aroused by it in the past. Before I started thinking about these issues (which is now more than ten years), it just seemed sexy. When it’s in a movie it IS sexy because you have no idea what the guy or the girl is thinking. You just see all the hall marks of arousal, and that makes us aroused.

              But it’s a jacked up thing to do to people, to conflate force with arousal. Also, I’d be 100% on board with anyone saying this happens to guys in movies, too, where they’re not sure about the girl and she pushes herself on him and then they’re both having great, consensual sex. I just haven’t really seen that.

              I guess that absence might underline society’s assumption that ALL men are up for ANY sex ALL the time, which we all agree is 100% untrue and very damaging for both men and for women.

              Thoughts on that reversal?

            • I’ve seen a few movies, can’t recall exactly which where the guy was pretty much raped and expected to like it, usually in a comedy setting. Alcohol plays a part in some of the movies, one movie had a kidnap scene and he was tied down and raped by quite overweight and “ugly” characters, it was a comedy film and that was the horror part with the typical shower scene after scrubbing clean for hours.

              I don’t think people realize too much when the guy gets forced into sex in movies, it stands out clearly because of what we know on rape but that expectation a guy’s always willing does probably affect how we view a movie, even in cases of statutory rape. American Pie’s Stiffler’s Mum is potentially a statutory rapist for instance (not sure how old finch was meant to be?) , but was portrayed as milf which doesn’t reflect the reality always.

      • i don't believe you says:

        Julie,
        I enthusiastically agree, but this won’t work without incentives and disincentives in place to promote this behavior in women. Unfortunately I do not think the enthusiastic consent crowd wants to put effort in to that as much as they do telling men how to have sex.

        • Lisa Hickey says:

          This brings up a related point to what I see as a very important discussion. Women need to take ownership that the “enthusiastic consent” is something they are responsible for.

          So when someone else says “Only men can stop rape” — the response is “No”. Men AND women need to work in partnership to prevent rape, and part of the way in which women need to help stop rape is by being clear and honest about their sexual intentions.

          I see nothing wrong, for example, with a woman saying early on in her relationship with a man “Hey, I’m an ‘enthusiastic consent’ type of person, so if this relationship ever gets to that point, that’s how you will know it’s ok to proceed.” Even if it’s at a bar over drinks, or maybe especially if it’s at a bar over drinks. Obviously in one’s own words. But if women want to take responsibility for their own sexuality (which I believe they should), and not being shamed for their sexual activity (which I also believe in), then they need to take ownership in their ability to communicate clearly about their intentions well before they find themselves in a situation they don’t want to be in.

          That is my opinion, but I’d welcome if people wanted to challenge me on it.

          • I’ve written four responses to this and none were right.

            Ugh, this is tough.

            I guess we need to separate out what is an “ideal world” from what is the “actual world” in which we live. Does that make any sense? In an ideal world, we’d all communicate like Lisa suggests in the above example. Earlier, I said we need to teach Enthusastic Consent in schools, so both boys and girls can develop a new way of speaking about sex that makes both men and women safer in all ways.

            In the actual world, No Means No functions to protect men and women from these grey areas. If a man or woman misses his/her opportunity with someone because of that grey area — and not pushing past the “no”, that’s truly the worst that happened: the missed opportunity.

            If we go the other way, though, and say that “no means no” isn’t sufficient and we sorta do away with it, then the worst that can happen is rape (on either a man OR a woman, there are lots of stories here of guys who’ve said “no” only to have women think that men always actually mean “yes” — because of the way the media portrays them as sex-crazed).

            We want to prevent that worst case scenario by maybe being too broad, too careful. It’s probably worth it to do that while we start to inform people of a new way to communicate.

            I guess it goes back to Schrodinger’s Rapist, when it all settles out. Which is sorta just saying “better safe than sorry”. And I truly do mean this for all rape victims, not just female ones.

            (I’m prepared to have rotten produce thrown at me).

            On this same topic, I’ve been thinking about “no means no” and how that should be important to men, at least as much as women. The media and society DOES portray men as being sex crazed and indiscriminate with their penises. That’s one reason that rape against men is dismissed, assumed that guys always “want it”. We ALL know this isn’t true, guys don’t always want it. But when young women have been shown throughout their lives that men are that way, then how could “no” mean “no” to them?

            See, I think there is a protective and important function to “no means no” and maybe the real thing is that it needs to be aimed at BOTH males and females more.

            Still sorting my thoughts on this.

            • Julie Gillis says:

              Enthusiastic Consent as a concept is great for both men and women. In fact, I can envision a world where sex ed goes past the birds and bees, and sees sexual health and pleasure as a person’s birthright. In addition to talking about reproduction, there could be classes on “How to read body language.” “How to ask for consent in a sexy way.” (I like the way my hand feels on your thigh, do you? whispered in an ear at the bar gives the man/woman the opportunity to check in, while letting the person know they like touching them, giving the other person an “out” if they don’t.)

              We don’t live in that world though. In Texas, we live in a world where abstinence only is the name of the game, text books are filled with inaccuracies about birth control, and girls are taught that “True Love Waits.” We don’t have a world in Texas where the idea of consent period really works. Attitudes are “Slut/Dawg, Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, It’s not sex if it’s anal/oral, and god help anyone, boy or girl if they are under the age of legal consent (which I believe is 17).

              So, for me personally, it’s all well and good to talk to college aged students about consent and communication, but the entire paradigm of sexuality in the US is kind of fracked, in my opinion.

              Women play games, men learn games to counterbalance the women’s games, women need “convincing” but don’t own their own agency, men are confused at the mixed messages and how much of this could be solved if we were willing to discuss sex like any other social interaction (and is it different or is it not).

              Lots of people manage consent through body language. Lots of people can’t read body language at all. No one really learns how to use verbal communication in a sexy way, and I think they should rehearse.

              If I’m kissing someone, and I say, “This feels so good I’ could do it for hours.” That’s a pretty huge yes to kissing. And there is, if I’m saying that, an implied “more.”
              People have to own their shit, men and women both. Men should be able to say no. Men should be able to say, “I love kissing you and I want more, you are turning me on so much.” If the woman doesn’t want more, she needs to say so and then deal with the fact the man might want to end the night.

              And we should start with actually teaching about sex ed frankly.

              Also, I think teaching kids about consent and boundaries non sexually is a a great way to start. Don’t take my pencils without asking. I’ll ask you if I can borrow some paper. Jesus, that should be basic no matter the gender and I just don’t think sex should be that different.

            • Julie, Bravo!

            • Amen to that!

          • i don't believe you says:

            Yeah, but those who champion a slogan that categorizes all men as rapists, and pedestalizes all women as never rapists, aren’t really into women doing their part.

            Being sexually honest ultimately means a woman would lose power. She will get less flirting opportunities, attention from men, and may even subject herself to ridicule. A cute guy who wished to do more than “just flirt” will move on. A handsome dude who feels she’s a little too casual about sex, may see her as more a F buddy, than a girlfriend. That’s the reality.

            So ultimately, I’m glad to see you feel the way you feel, but sadly you are more likely to be accused of blaming the victim/being a rape apologist, than you are getting the “Only men can stop rape” crowd equally focused on women being clear and forthcoming.

    • wellokaythen says:

      “Since everyone with any knowledge of these things appears to agree that no doesn’t mean no, and that a girl will often say no a couple of times for some reason when she doesn’t mean no….”

      Just treat the no as a no, whether you think she means it or not.

      If a woman says no but means yes, then let her suffer the disappointment of not getting what she really wants. If you think she needs to feel the consequences of lying, here’s how you punish her: treat the no as a no!

      If she says no but means yes, then let her be disappointed when you STOP doing what you’re doing. People should say what they mean, and if they don’t then you have to let them be disappointed. I remember this point quite clearly long ago from a lecture by Andrea Dworkin, of all people. I disagreed with most of what she said at the time, but this bit seemed quite sensible.

  11. Richard Aubrey says:

    Tamen.

    Somebody, very likely Clarisse herownself, made the observation that if a man stopped when a woman said “no” and insisted on her taking five or ten minutes to explain why it’s okay to go ahead, we wouldn’t be hearing very much of this “no” at all.

  12. wellokaythen says:

    As a teacher who refuses to use standardized bubble-in tests, I think it’s *hilarious* that there are standardized bubble-in sheets used in various parts of the BDSM community. I’ll never be able to look at standardized tests the same way, now. I have to share this with the school administrators. (Then again, who’s to say they don’t already know about these things?….)

  13. Peter Houlihan says:

    Thanks again, illuminating article. And double-thanks for writing about kink-phobia. As before, I look forward to the book.

  14. HeManWomanHatersKLub says:

    Wow, Clarisse Thorn. I’m really looking forward to this e-book. I am thinking of Bjork’s track “Human Behavior” and I find the whole subject of human nature to be downright hideous, yet perversely fascinating.
    Kinda how I felt watching the pathos of Bernie Madoff on a PBS special, or reading Ann Rule’s nonfiction stories about serial murderers and sociopath spouses. As they say, the more you know…….

  15. This is in no way relevant to this article.

Trackbacks

  1. […] My biggest upcoming project is that I’m completing an eBook on the “seduction community” or “pickup artist subculture” Now that is a whole nother thing, but I’ll try to summarize it quickly.  It’s a subculture devoted to figuring out how to seduce women.  I’ve spent a couple years on-and-off talking to pickup artists, learning their techniques, and eventually even giving them (feminist) tips on how to interact with women.  I ultimately decided that the subculture was too much of a mess for me to participate — it was just too damaging and problematic — but it’s fascinating too, and I learned a lot.  My upcoming eBook is titled Confessions of a Pickup Artist Chaser: Long Interviews With Hideous Men and it is going to be super awesome.  I just published a three-part article on the Good Men Project about it, actually: here’s Part 1,  here’s Part 2  and here’s Part 3. […]

  2. […] [ 1 | 2 | 3 ] Filed Under: Sex & Relationships Tagged With: clarisse thorn, confidence, emasculated, feminism, group therapy, misogyny, Neil Strauss, Pick Up Artists, self-help About Clarisse ThornClarisse Thorn is a feminist, sex-positive, pro-BDSM educator and international explorer who has designed lectures, workshops and events for a variety of audiences, including New York’s Museum of Sex, San Francisco’s Center for Sex and Culture, and several universities. She writes about sexuality for a number of online venues; blogs , and Tweets. […]

  3. […] This comment was from Julie Gillis on Lessons From the Seduction Community, Part Three: Explicit and Tacit Sexual Communication […]

  4. […] to a continuum of mutually shifting and changing negotiations around sexuality and the sex act, as ClarisseThorn mentioned in her piece earlier this year. You know my position, as I’ve written about it […]

  5. […] article was originally published in three parts over at the Good Men Project. I’m really close to finishing my eBook Confessions of a Pickup […]

  6. […] off using the mouse * GUI Text color is color customizable * Save/Load optionsRadical Inner Game Status: Undetected [11/15/2011] and will stay like that for a long time because it doesn't inject a…able Aim Key * Auto Zoom ESP: * Distance * Name * Bounding Boxes * Weapon * Explosive * All options […]

  7. […] varios artículos sobre sadomasoquismo (y derivados) utilizan esta foto, entre ellos éste de goodmenproject.com Publicado en Fotografía – Etiquetado bdsm, Creative Commons, […]

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