Friday, November 30, 2012

Guys aren't the only predators

(disclaimer! I only share private emails without permission if they are nasty. I asked if I could share this.)

This was all an email sent to me by a friend/former lover (emphasis his):

"I get self-conscious about posting comments on your blog. I don't want to post anything that would make you uncomfortable in public, like some of the things I say in this comment... so I don't. This is what I wrote:

About getting to "yes:" What if a woman climbs on top of me and starts tearing my clothes off? Despite the fact that I am, like, a 3 at best, this does happen occasionally. Generally, I am so shocked that I can't speak a word at all. Do I need to get a verbal yes from her? Does she need to get a verbal yes from me? How do I know who needs to do the asking and who needs to do the consenting? I suppose everyone should ask and everyone should verbally consent. But then, no woman but you has EVER verbally asked for my consent.

About you: You are not optional. I've sometimes been around you and not liked the emotions I was feeling, but in the end being your friend has never failed to make me a better person, and that is my criterion. Throw you under a bus? NEVER EVER. And I'm certain I'm not the only one.

Be well. May I give you a big, big hug? 

Krissy, I am terribly frightened about my friend I told you about who said I was creepy. She's my best friend in Ithaca, and I know I haven't raped her because we've never so much as touched. But I think I leaned WAY into her and did the emotional equivalent, whatever that is. I need to learn that consent is not just for sex. I spent all this week 3000 miles from home being horrified at myself as the emotional realization of what I had done struck me. It was the worst Thanksgiving ever, for both of us. I seem to hurt everyone I ever care about and I can't stop hurting them. I think that being human might be the unlimited capacity to hurt others. :( 

She reminds me of you. If I have EVER hurt you in any way whatsoever that we haven't talked about and resolved, I am really sorry for whatever it was. I never mean to hurt you."

Ok! I've been thinking about this for six days. Hopefully that is enough time to digest my thoughts. We'll see. First of all I am a lot harder to make uncomfortable than this. Heh. I love comments and questions. They validate my existence. 

Second: rating your attractiveness then self-denigrating is beside the point. If multiple women have climbed on top of you and pulled your clothes off there is virtually a 0% chance they rate you so low. So when you turn around and do so you then you are handicapped in being able to respond because you are not thinking about their actual motives. That's not helpful.

Third: if women are climbing on top of you without your consent, how do you feel about it? Are you upset? Is this something you want to make go away? Is this something where you wish you understood the mechanism because HOW CAN I MAKE THIS HAPPEN MORE?! I can't tell exactly from your message. It seems to be something of a mixed blessing for you. 

If someone is climbing on top of you and moving full stream ahead there is *no reason* for you to freak out and worry about consent in my opinion. In my opinion the more passive "moving slowly" person (regardless of gender) needs to give consent. 

In my experience most sexual scenarios start out with one person being sure and the other person being convinced. Because I have frequently been the more interested party that is why I ask for consent.

I am pleased to hear that you remember me asking you for your consent. That means I did it properly. It was memorable. You were god damn sure you wanted to fuck me before I started doing things to your body. That's the proper way, in my opinion.

If women are doing things to you that you don't like, please for the love of shiny green apples, tell them to stop. No woman is owed a ride on your dick no matter how attractive it is. Seriously. I am not making fun of you even slightly. You do not owe a woman anything. Ever. If you are not enjoying everything that is happening then say no. 

Given what I know about you I think that some kind of assertiveness training might be helpful. You live in an area of the country I know little about so I can't tell you specifically where to go. Non-Violent Communication might be good. If you were here I would tell you to go to HAI (Human Awareness? Institute--something like that) because HAI is all about the naked touchy feely and learning to have boundaries. I think you would fit right in but I don't know if they exist where you are.

I had to sit on this for a week because I had to sit here and think really hard about what I think guys should do if women are initiating sex too quickly--boy howdy that happens. I've had men tell me to slow down in a wide variety of ways. Some of them respectful and some of them not. 

I have had times when I was being very sexually aggressive and the guy in question put his hands on my hands and said, "As much as I am enjoying this--because I really am--I want to get to know you a lot more than I know you right now before we do this. I'm not feeling safe."

On one hand I kind of felt like I had been smacked in the face with a big trout. On the other hand, I didn't take it personally and I didn't feel bad. He didn't shame me. He didn't act like I was doing something bad. He acted like I was doing something he probably would enjoy... after knowing me for longer. I'm absolutely ok with people telling me that. For someone else to tell me what makes them safe is for me to be able to say what makes me safe. 

I've had guys pull back and say, "Ew. Why would I fuck a troll?" Those guys should be smacked. Just sayin'. Don't be like them.

How should you deflect if you aren't enjoying things? I'm shitty at polite/tactful rebuffs. For this I commend you to other places on the internet. (Maybe Captain Awkward?) I am good at forceful rebuffs that freak out people who weren't trying that hard and are barely effective against predators. It's uhm, not a great situation.

Does that at all answer what you were thinking about? You don't need to feel guilt whatsoever. If you are the more passive partner during sex FOR THE LOVE OF CHRISTMAS DON'T FEEL LIKE A PREDATOR. I don't care if your bits are innie or outie. That's not what decides power, control, or aggression. Or even just plain selfishness.

On to this other friend you have. I don't know. You are prone to be very nasty to yourself even when you don't deserve it so I'm having trouble judging how bad this is. You might be feeling like it is a 9 on the scale of awful and she might think it is a 2. I have no way of judging. You assume people get extremely angry with you and hate you pretty frequently (I have a lot of sympathy for this paranoia) but I haven't seen much evidence of it in your life. So on one hand I'm being kind of dismissive but not totally.

I don't know how bad this is. I don't have enough information. I believe it is possible that you leaned in and made her uncomfortable. Should you be crucified for doing so? Oh good grief no. I have ridiculous personal boundaries and I don't crucify people who stand too near me. So I counsel finding a middle ground there.

Have you talked to her? Have you said anything along the lines of, "I have been following the cultural norms for behavior I had previously been taught. I'm getting the impression you have different preferences. May I ask you for assistance in determining how I should shift my boundaries to make you more comfortable? It seems like right now I'm doing stuff that bothers you and I'm not sure what it is that I'm doing and I'm not sure how bothered you are."

Yes, I talk like that.

That's all I've got about her.

Oh good grief no you've never hurt me. You are a gentle, kind, compassionate man. You have taught me a lot of very interesting and useful skills (backpacking, survivalist, physics, relationship skills) all the while being far more physically appropriate and kind than almost any man I've ever been involved with. Do you not understand that part of the reason we didn't have more of a relationship was because you were so nice to me and it made me wildly uncomfortable? I don't know how to act with passive kind men. I always feel like I am stomping on them and hurting them. So uhm I ran away.

No, you never hurt me. I think you are wonderful. I am so thrilled that you are married now. I think your wife is a very lucky woman.

No, you never hurt me. You were very very kind to me. Thank you.

1 comment:

  1. I want to tell you more about me and my friend because I will value your opinion on what happened. But I'm not quite ready for that right now.

    It’s true that I have body image issues. I don’t look like my mental picture of myself, so I tend to obsess over how ugly I am. When I look in the mirror, I really do see a 3. Your point about how that colors my perception of potential sex partners’ motivations is fresh and well taken. The gym has been helping with that a little (and I am pleased to say that I am officially RIPPED).

I’m going to think a little bit about what you’ve said about consent. It might be hard to tell who is sure and who needs to be convinced. It might seem like everyone is sure from outside my partner’s brain even when it isn’t so. But I'm absolutely not stressing out over obtaining her consent when she's on top of me ripping my clothes off; I'm worried about mine. Mainly I find that I can't say no, even when I might want to. The brain says: here's a woman I like who needs the cock--- how cruel it would be to deny it her.

Because while I've often enjoyed women coming on strong to me, I've also had times when I didn’t want it right then, or with that person. I do know that it’s hard for me to say no when I want to, and I wouldn’t be surprised if that were also true for other men. We’re not exactly trained for that eventuality. We’re socialized to believe that if we don’t want sex all the time with anything that moves then there’s something wrong with us. That women who desire cock are the definition of desirable. But the reality is different: I don't desire every woman who wants to blow me and I'm not actually interested in sex all the time. But especially given how much I TALK about sex (because I do want to FLIRT all the time with anything that moves), it might seem to those around me that I am constantly broadcasting consent (if not more) when in fact I’m surprisingly selective and get with a new lover only rarely. Hence my general uselessness at parties. ;)

    Nonetheless, as a side note, any advice on HOW CAN I MAKE THIS HAPPEN MORE when I do want it to is always welcomed ;) I like to think that the answer is that women want to fuck me because they want to fuck excellence, and I am fucking excellent.

    I understand why we didn't have more of a relationship. I consider what we did have to be a fantastic success and a highlight of my life because we had some serious fun and each of us grew a little bit. Relationships are more than their longevity. I couldn't be gladder that we had what we had. And sometimes I ask forgiveness for transgressions overlooked and forgotten, because they might not be overlooked and forgotten to you.

    At any rate, you are certainly correct regarding one thing about the two of us: I was god damn sure I wanted to fuck you.